Let there be light

Rocky Point Oregon clear and 59 degrees F  Today’s low 42 high 75

blooming in june (15) It is mid June already.  Solstice is less than a week away and the skies are still light late into the evening.  I know there is rhythm to the patterns of the seasons, but it always seems to me that the longest day of the year should come in mid summer and not while I am still trying to feel summer is coming.  Even in our forest, where sunrises and sunsets are obscured by the huge firs that surround us, the light lingers.  I remember my days living in North Idaho, when the skies would be light after ten pm and I would rise with the sun and the birds at 4:30 in the morning.  Sometimes I miss that, those incredibly long days, but I really don’t miss the winter dark at all.

skylights (25) Speaking of light, we have honored the solstice month of June with light.  As mentioned before, we live in the forest, and in addition, the house has long wide porches.  I love the porches, but they do limit the light coming into the house.  We started the project last year, ordering special heavy snow load, no leak skylights, but by the time they were delivered, the weather had turned and our contractor thought better of opening up the roof to the skies during winter.  I was getting impatient with the wait.  Somehow as spring progresses and the sun moves higher into the sky, we get even less light in the house than in winter when it is low on the horizon.  In winter, we also get reflection from the snow that makes the house brighter.  As spring progressed, everything just seemed to get darker and darker. 

Let there be light Until finally, Peter showed up with the windows and his happy crew to install our skylights.  Peter is one crazy guy.  I know contractors can be an eccentric bunch, but Peter was especially so.  Still, he did a great job, got it done on time, and kept us entertained in the process.  He was the proud poppa of a new baby and wasn’t getting much sleep.  The nice thing about Peter was that he actually worked right alongside his crew throughout the project.  It is wonderful to have light in the house, somehow it just changes everything.  Jeremy loves to sleep on the carpet in the brilliant beams.  That warm sunlight is good for his achy old bones, I am sure.

skylights (26) Of course, with all that gorgeous light, it became obvious that we needed a good carpet cleaning.  I called some company called Blue Heron in Klamath that uses a dry cleaning method involving organic materials made from corncobs.  He did a great job, with barely any dampness to the carpet at all, so now everything feels really fresh and nice. 

We were looking around today and talking about just how incredibly busy we have been.  I guess June is always like that, and if you throw in a second house to think about, it just gets a little bit crazy.  We spent some time at the cottage, after Mo had an arborist take down the two most dangerous trees that were hanging over the roof.  I am sure some of those oaks must be at least 100 years old.  The madrones are probably not as old, but they seem to lose their tops with age, so I suppose more tree work is in our future. I counted more than 20 trees on that .89 acre Grants Pass property.  Love that shade, though.

skylights (29) Right after we got back from our camping excursion, Dan and Chere (Mo’s brother and his wife) brought their motor home to the cottage for a long weekend visit.  Mo and Dan spent the entire time working with wiring, eliminating some of the most glaring problems, and figuring out what was what with the breakers.  It IS an old house, and for some reason almost everything was hooked up to just one circuit.  Dan and Mo are a great working team, and Chere and I spent a lot of time watching them run back and forth with a mission.  Then part of the time Chere and I just went to town to check out the Old Town section of Grants Pass, buy goodies at the Saturday Farmer’s Market, and do a little shopping.  I found a pair of Oofos, and after reading Sherry’s rave about them, decided to get a pair.  What luxury.  It is kind of like falling into one of those Memory Foam beds, only for your feet.  Luscious.

trees gone from the cottage After all the hard work, we went to dinner at the wonderful Taprock Grill and watched the beautiful Rogue River sliding by on what felt like a very summery evening.  Of course, we had picnic lunches out under the trees, and big breakfasts to share.  It was a nice time spent with family and we got a lot done.  I spent a long time dealing with a weed in the field that is on the noxious weed list for Oregon.  We will see how that goes.  I took some hand quilting and knitting with me, but I haven’t had my sewing machine out for more than six weeks now.  Mo thinks summer isn’t quilting time.

Gardening has been big on the list as well, at both places.  After being in Grants Pass with our limited water, I love so much coming home to Rocky Point and our deep, cold, fabulous well with unlimited water.  Here I can hose down driveways and run sprinklers as long as I want to.  Funny though, I keep catching myself thinking I need to turn off the hose.  Oops, nope, I am not in Grants Pass where I have to make sure the hose trickles at 2.0 gallons per minute.  I test it with a bucket, and that way I can run the hose all day to water the fruit trees and shrubs without running the well dry. 

oak overhanging the cottage is out nowThen of course, there is kayaking.  I am sad to say that today was the first time we have had our boats out this year.  But oh what a perfect day it was.  We were on the water by 9am, early enough that it was still cool and the birds were out in force.  We decided to go south into Pelican Bay, and then back north through the marsh on Crystal Creek, crossing the Wocus Cut back to Recreation Creek and back south to the Rocky Point boat launch.  Crystal Creek was thick with birds today, especially the terns, which must have been breeding with the black tipped orange bills and all the ruckus they made as we passed.  It was fun to watch them dive for fish.

Crystal Creek Kayak (33) I saw a beautiful great egret, a couple of blue herons, American white pelicans, some kind of hawk, and even a turkey buzzard, a bird I don’t often see soaring over the lake.  Red wing blackbirds were everywhere, and I am pretty sure I saw a tri-color blackbird as well.  The surprise was a night heron flying right in front of my boat, low over the water to disappear in the tules.  The weather was perfect, and the stiff breeze coming from the south made paddling against the current in Crystal Creek a bit easier, and wasn’t hard enough to slow us down when we were traveling with the current on Recreation Creek.

Crossing the Wocus Cut is always beautiful, and this time of year the water was deep enough to make the crossing easy.  There are canoe trail signs to mark the route, because it is easy to get lost in the refuge when the tules are high.  On the northern horizon are the peaks of the Crater Lake Rim, to the west is Mt McLoughlin, to the east, the expanse of Klamath Lake, and to the south the beautiful, still snow covered Mountain Lakes Wilderness. 

Great Egret shaking it up We have been just so busy this spring, and when the weather would break, it seems we were always doing something else.  Out there on the water I was reminded of why I should just drop whatever I am doing and get out in the boat more often.  What a treasure we have right here in our back yard.  Of course, I took my camera with me.  I do have a Pelican waterproof case, but I usually hang the camera around my neck while paddling so I can get photos of the birds.  I also had my cell phone with me so I could play with the MotionGPS app that tracks our route.  Coming into the landing, I decided to put the camera back in the case and took off my life vest (where the cell phone was located) before exiting the kayak.

Does anyone remember my little video from last year about how easy it is to exit a kayak?  Well I am glad I wasn’t taking a video today, and I am especially glad that I had taken off my vest and stowed the camera.  Today I managed to dump myself right into the lake as I was trying to get out of the kayak.  The very cold lake!  Luckily we live less than a mile from the launch, and when we got home I dumped my very shivering self right into the hot tub in the bright afternoon sunshine!  I was warmed up in no time!

Crystal Creek Kayak (60) Speaking of back yard, we are planning some summer camping trips to take advantage of our choice to stay around home this season.  After the fourth of July we will go camping at our favorite little lake just south of the state line, Medicine Lake.  I think the last time we were there was in 2009 before I moved back here from California.  A short trip to Lapine and the famous Sisters quilt show will be extended by camping up at East Paulina Lake south of Bend.  In August we hope to get back over to the beautiful Oregon Coast and try out a new campground that we always drive past and never actually camp.  Harris Beach is so wonderful, but it is time to give some of the other coastal campgrounds a try.  Then right after Labor Day when the heat dissipates a bit, we will head for John Day country, Joseph, and Wallowa Lake. 

Crystal Creek Kayak (67) I spent some time fiddling around with the blog, attempting to use a new template.  It seems that my old template (borrowed from Laurie of Semi-True Tales) is out of date and won’t allow me to add the Google plus buttons at the bottom of a post.  I thought it would be nice to have that, since I do use Google Plus, but some long time honored readers didn’t think much of my new plan.  No one else said much, but if one person was disturbed, I suppose others might have been as well.  Besides, it was really bugging me that I no longer had that nifty “stretch” feature I inherited from Laurie, and that I couldn’t get the header photo to be in the center of the page.  I backed up the old blog template before changing, and it was a simple matter to just reload the old template.  So no Google plus buttons. 

common tern I also tried to shift to the new Google plus comments, but that was a fiasco as well, since anyone who isn’t a member of Google plus could no longer comment.  Like Erin, I dumped that one as well.  Hopefully with all the Google changes, everything will still work.  I do really enjoy reading Rick’s updates on what Google is doing, and how to deal with the little stuff that comes up now and then.  Every single time I have asked Rick a question, he has responded almost immediately and unselfishly with help and advice.  They charge big bucks for that, you know, and Rick just pops in and answers detailed complicated questions for so many of us. 

In my spare time, (yeah right!) I decided to get down to the real planning for our winter trip.  As usual, after Christmas this year, we will travel south to our favorite little desert haunts, Joshua Tree, Desert Hot Springs, and Anza Borrego.  This time, however, we are just going to keep going and travel east and south for at least three months.  I am having to plan a bit more in advance than I might like because we will be in Florida in February, busiest time for some of the places we want to go.  It is hard to try to figure out exactly where we will be on an exact date in order to make some kind of reservations.  But I am trying.  I have been pinning and saving all sorts of campground, kayaking, and sightseeing information from some of my favorite southern bloggers including Sherry and David, Karen and Al, Randy and Pam, TravelBug Susan, and lots of other blogs.

Capture No, we didn’t start in the middle of the creek, that is just when I turned on the MotionGPX app.

We hope to be in Big Bend National Park in Texas by mid January.  Although I read several blogs that talked about visiting Big Bend, I didn’t keep track of who was there when.  If you happen to read this blog, and you happened to have posted about your visit to Big Bend, could you drop a note or comment and let me know where to look for those posts on your blog?  I have tons of stuff of everything from South Padre Island east to Key West and back north into Georgia.  We have traveled south to Tucson and Bisbee and east to Las Cruces, so those are knowns.  I even traveled across I-10 with my daughter last year, and Mo and I looked longingly south toward Big Bend on our very first trip in the MoHo after we bought her in New Braunfels.  But Big Bend?  Nada.  You know who you are, send me a note, please?

Oh yeah, in the midst of lying around eating bonbons, I decided that I needed to refinish my dining table.  I am just doing the top, thank goodness, because the rest is fine.  Sometimes I can be really stupid, and last year when learning to quilt, I used some spray fabric adhesive without protecting the table properly.  Wouldn’t you know it, it took the finish right off!  Ugly and yes, very stupid.  So I bought a can of Formby’s, some steel wool, some oak stain, and some polyurethane and tackled that project this week.  By the time company arrives on the 24th, I’ll have a very smooth, very shiny, very new looking table top.  It is actually kind of fun  seeing the transformation, and so far it is looking really good.

Crystal Creek Kayak (58) Stuff comes in threes, and my third stupid move for the week was freaking out with Jeremy.  Now Jeremy is very old, 17 years, and he has been a perfect cat for all those years.  Until recently.  Now sometimes he gets confused and forgets where his box is.  Gah.  Thank goodness at least he doesn’t spray or urinate.  But still, I saw him in a familiar pose on the newly cleaned carpet and picked him up and put him out on the porch.  Jeremy is an indoor cat, and he is also very arthritic.  Within minutes he was gone like a shot, and we had no clue where he was hiding.  I felt really bad, and Mo and I walked the area for a couple of hours calling him.

0009 Finally, just as it was getting dark, he came up to the porch.  He was pretty quiet and very slow, and was completely saturated with dark brown heavy dirt.  Who knows what hole he found to hide in.  The rest of the evening he was quiet and stayed under the bed.  I woke up at 5 this morning thinking I had probably killed my cat and was scared to look under the bed for him since he never came up to sleep with me as usual.  But no, my very dirty cat was in the living room waiting for Mo to build a fire.  The mornings are still cold enough for a fire here, and once the hearth was heated I dunked Jeremy in a warm bath and tried to get the worst of the dirt out of his fur.

My gorgeous, sleek, 13 pound perfect cat has become a very skinny crippled up 7 pound old man.  He can still see and still hear, although not as well as before, but his life most of the time seems good.  Most of the time he is happy, but sometimes when he gets quiet and sleeps all day and doesn’t move around a lot, and when I see him stumble when his back end doesn’t work properly my heart knows that he won’t be around for long.  Like so many of us, I may have to make that choice someday if I see he is hurting too much, or if his eyes tell me it is time.  I certainly don’t want him to disappear into the forest and get eaten by a coyote because I have put him out on the porch in a fit of frustration!  Geez!

Winter Ridge and Summer Lake and John C Fremont

Home in Rocky Point: partly cloudy and breezy with 80% chance of rain, 64 F high, 34 F low:

4d8ec1305636e.imageThe photo at left was taken from an internet site.  The photos below are all mine.  We stood in the same place but as you can see in the monument photo, it was clouded in.

I have a book I bought several years ago in California, it is big and heavy and isn’t available on the Kindle.  But after seeing the John C. Fremont monument at Fremont Point Overlook on Winter Ridge, I had to go dig it out and read. The book is “Memoirs of My Life, by John C Fremont, Explorer of the American West.” It was on the second expedition after leaving the Tlamath Indians (Klamath Lake) during mid-December of 1843 in a snowstorm that this amazing explorer wrote these words:

We made it to the overlook, but it was completely shrouded in clouds “….toward noon the forest looked clear ahead, appearing suddenly to terminate; and beyond a certain point we could see no trees.  Riding rapidly ahead to this spot, we found ourselves on the verge of a vertical and rocky wall of the mountain.  At our feet – more than a thousand feet below – we looked into a green prairie country, in which a beautiful lake, some twenty miles in length, was spread along the foot of the mountains, its shores bordered with green grass.  just then the sun broke out among the clouds, and illuminated the country below, while around us the snow storm raged fiercely.  Not a particle of ice was to be seen on the lake, or snow on its borders, and all was like summer or spring.  The glow of the sun in the valley below brightened up our hearts with sudden pleasure; and we made the woods ring with joyful shouts to those behind; and gradually, as each came up, he stopped to enjoyed the unexpected scene.  Shivering on snow three feet deep, and stiffening in a cold north wind, we exclaimed at once that the names of Summer Lake and Winter Ridge should be applied to these two proximate places of such sudden and violent contrast”

morning storms near Plush OregonFremont and his men still had to find a way down from the ridge to the lake below, and in the process rode several miles north and still had a mule roll over and over several hundred feet into a ravine, but “he recovered himself, without injury, other than to his pack”.

 snow and hail ahead driving south on the Plush Cutoff road toward Highway 140 We drove from Plush to Summer Lake in heavy rain and hail storms, and arrived at the campground happy to be protected from the wind and rain.  Our campground host at the Ana Reservoir RV Park has to be one of the nicest we have encountered.  He met us at the entrance in the rain, and talked our ears off before leading us to a nice pull through site at the upper end of the campground.   We settled in, relaxed into the afternoon and decided that it was a good time to catch up on blogs and email since we again had a signal with the Verizon Mi-Fi.  In this area Verizon works fairly well and ATT is just about useless.  So no phone, but at least a slow internet connection gave us some catch up time. 

Ana Reservoir RV ParkOur evening entertainment consisted of a walk around the campground viewing the very few other rigs that were there, and making sure we did each loop.  The reservoir is down the hill a ways and we didn’t see any route down from the campground and with the threatening storms, decided that exploring on foot wasn’t on our agenda for the evening. Mo had finished her book and we thought maybe the little community of Summer Lake just three miles back might have something around for her to read.  We found the Summer Lake Lodge, all closed up, and the Refuge Wildlife Loop, an 8.5 mile drive on soggy roads through the wetlands. Silly me, I had thought we were just going to find a book and didn’t have the camera with me that first evening, but we enjoyed the little outing and the birds, even without the camera.

We then took advantage of the power hookups to watch a movie, “Dreamkeepers” about a young man on the Pine Ridge reservation who drives his grandfather to the All Nations PowWow in New Mexico.  I loved the movie, it was filmed in some beautiful locations, including the Black Hills, and the characters were real, not dressed up romanticized versions of the noble Native American.  Mo was less enthralled than I was with the “stories” that Grandfather told, but I loved all of it.  Especially the Coyote and Spider silliness.  It was great.

remnantws of the tool Box fire in 2002 The next morning we woke to stormy skies and rain after hard rain and wind for most of the night.  We really wanted to see Fremont Point, and knew that the 18 mile trip on FS gravel roads might yield nothing but clouds, but it was still worth a try.  The road leaves Highway 31 just a few miles north of Summer Lake, and travels up the beautiful Winter Ridge area of the Fremont National Forest.  I also noticed that Highway 31 is called the Fremont Highway.  No wonder! 

hard to tell if there is actual water in Summer Lake from this elevation Traveling through huge old ponderosa forests higher into thick fir, we came to large burn areas left from the Tool Box Fire Complex that raged through in 2002, the same year that fires all over Oregon including the Biscuit fire on the southwest side burned more than 200,000 acres.  Amazingly, I had five bars on my Verizon iPad and managed to navigate the fog and cloud shrouded roads to the overlook.  As we imagined, the point was completely clouded in, and we could only see that there was nothing, just nothing, beyond the rocks at the edge of the cliff.  I took the first photo at the beginning of this post from internet images to show what we would have seen if it had been clear. At the edge of the cliff there used to be an old cabin, once the residence for lookout personnel,  that the Fremont National Forest would rent for overnight stays.  It was destroyed in the fire, and now volunteers are rebuilding another cabin at the same location. 

forest road 29 toward Summer lake We decided that a loop route would be more fun than backtracking and with the help of the BLM map, the iPad, and the gazateer, we managed to find our way south through the forest to the Government Harvey Camp Road that led down the steep escarpments to the southern end of Summer Lake.  Looking down on the lake from the ridge when the skies opened up a bit was fascinating.  The lake is so shallow and the bottom is white, and we couldn’t actually see where there was real water or just white mud.  Someday I do have to go back and see the view from Fremont Point.

interior of the bath house and the spring poolNot far east from our intersection with the Fremont Highway was the Summer Lake Hot Spring Resort.  I think the word “resort” is used loosely, but there are basic cabins there and an old historic bath house built in 1927 to serve hot spring customers.  There is an inside pool, but it seemed kind of scummy and not that warm.  In addition there are three outside stone man made pools for soaking. 

  I stopped into the office and met the owner who said he would only charge me $5 to soak instead of the customary $10 fee, but there were a bunch of kids in the big pool and the stone pools I would have preferred were filled with soaking young couples.  It didn’t excite me, especially after my little dip at Hart Mountain, so I declined.  I can see that the outside pools would be nice if they were less crowded, and the fact that there is enough water exchange to not require any chemicals is a big plus.  The views toward Summer Lake were beautiful as well. Too many of these developed springs are adding chlorine to their pools.  Yuk.

the Summer Lake Hot Springs bath house, built in 1927 On the way back to camp, we decided that a good dinner at the well reviewed Summer Lake Lodge was in order since it was raining again and we didn’t really want to haul out the BBQ for the steaks I had thawed.  The place looked rustic and fun through the windows, and even though the CLOSED sign said they would be open at 5, no one showed up.  We talked to some couples who were staying in the cabins there and they were not happy that the restaurant wasn’t opening.  Later our camp host told us the owners were basically just burned out and had the place up for sale. 

low hanging rainbow over Summer Lake Refuge We decided to take another little tour on the wetland refuge road and try to get some photos in the rain of the campgrounds and the kayak launch on the Ana River.  The skies opened up just enough to be gorgeous, to give us a very different and beautiful rainbow, and we added another boondock site to our list.  It would be wonderful to camp here in late April or early May when the birds are here in force.  The nice thing is that being only 150 miles or so from home, we can decide to come on a moment’s notice when there is a break in the spring weather.

American avocets like brackish shallow water I must say the the Ana Reservoir RV Park was a surprise.  Not only because of Jay, our host, but everything was so spiffy and clean, with an open fresh feeling.  The second night we were there, most of the campers had left, since it seems that the park caters more to weekend types than full time RV’rs or retirees.  There are no lights except for a small bulb over the washrooms, which are locked and the skies were completely dark.  I think this may have been one of the quietest campgrounds ever.  During the night it felt like we were almost as alone as we had been in our boondock site near Plush!  If you are in the area and want some hookups I would highly recommend this little park.  Just talking with Jay is fun enough to make it worthwhile.  He gave us the inside scoop on the reservoir, where to kayak and put in and take out, the stories about the local people, and about Fremont Point. 

Fremont Point is still shrouded in clouds 

Our trip home was beautiful, passing Silver Lake and the road to Fort Rock, crossing the beautiful Klamath Marsh and connecting up with our very familiar route home Highway 97 through the Wood River Valley and safely into Rocky Point.  Home looked lovely, except the cold snap had completely killed the dozens of buds on our three hardy azaleas.Map route

Snow in November Snow in March

Home in Rocky Point Oregon: current temperature 36 Degrees F  high 43 low 25 partly sunny

snow flurries on Klamath Lake Winter is long in this part of Oregon.  The snows start in earnest in November, with a few skiffs sometimes showing up in October.  The snow can be deep, and while we can get down to zero F for a week or so, the winters aren’t nearly as bad as places like Minnesota or the Dakotas.  Still, they are long. I love winter at Christmas time.  I love winter in January when I can enjoy it and then take off for California.  I love winter in February least of all, and ever since I moved from California to snow country in Northern Idaho back in the early 70’s I have done everything possible to get out of winter in February. 

But winter in March is different.  Even though it is cold and the snow is really tiresome by now, it feels different.  The days are getting longer, just a bit, but it isn’t dark any more at 4:30 in the afternoon.  When it snows, it is usually a bit wetter, and there are patches of blue amid the fluff of snowy clouds. The air feels different.  And the birds are back.  snowgees

Early in the morning I can hear them down by the lake, but they are out on the water in places we can’t get to yet with the snow and ice all around.  Still, we walked down there this morning to get the mail.  Gingerly picking our way through the re-frozen slush in the driveway and hoping our boots didn’t crash through the crusty snow banks down by the water.  When I went in to town yesterday, in the midst of a blustery snow storm, I saw open water along the edges of the lake, and saw that the swans had returned.  I only had the iPad with me, and there was traffic and snow, so it was a quick photo, but it still made me really feel the difference between the deepening winter feeling of December and the promise of winter eventually ending.  Maybe not in March, but still eventually it will end.

There is an aerial survey of the birds in Klamath Basin that is updated regularly, and even back on January 30, we had almost 44,000 tundra swans in the refuge complex.  I love the swans especially, and the snow geese, they look like flapping sheets in the wind when they fly in unison and rise and fall over the landscape.

Horse Fever horses in Ocala will always bring back great memories of sharing this with BelI  am still having a bit of trouble writing about Florida.  My friend Bel, in my life for 19 years, passed away while I was there.  I was with her when she passed, probably the hardest thing I have ever done, and yet a gift I will always be grateful for. If you read my blog in the past, you know about Bel and my visits to her, my worries over her access to health care, some of her life difficulties.  This is our happy fun travel blog, how in the world do I talk about this here?  I guess I just can’t.  Up close family, up close friends, real words coming out of real mouths with sound, seem to be the only appropriate way for the moment.  I didn’t plan to say anything at all when I started this blog, and yet some of you are those real friends with real words who were there for me on the phone and on Facebook, of all places, as I was going through it.  So I needed to acknowledge that somehow after all and thank you.  Enough for now.

visiting Deb in San Antonio (15)On the way home from Florida I was so happy to have almost three full days in San Antonio with my daughter Deborah.  She took off work on Thursday and Friday and we spent our time together driving around to places she loved in her new home, seeing where she worked, eating great Texas food that her sweetie prepared for us.  I ate ribs and cole slaw and Texas beans and cheese bread and brisket and omigosh…the heartburn!  I am not used to eating like that, but it sure was fun to let go for a few days in spite of the heartburn.

IMG_3481 We checked out some quilt shops and picked out fabrics for the quilt I will make for her someday, we wandered off to Palmetto State Park and Lyndon B Johnson State Park, and spent a night in lovely Fredericksburg.  It was cool and breezy while I was there, but the sun was brilliant and gorgeous.  South Texas is a great place this time of year, even though the blue bonnets have yet to burst.  The grasses are greening up, and did I mention that sunshine?  Ahhhh.  It was so healing to be with Deborah, who knew and loved Bel, to have her to talk with about it.  I was blessed by two daughters on this trip actually, with Deanna re-routing a Tampa load to go through Ocala, where she met me for a long breakfast full of big hugs. Daughter Melody stayed with me on the phone a lot and son John called a few times as well, and of course Mo and Maryruth and my long time friend Laura from Coeur d Alene, a respiratory RN.  It was wonderful to have so much support and understanding.

It was good to get back home.  I did a deep clean on the house before I left, and Mo was away at her brother’s while I was gone, so we came home to a cozy, clean, wonderful home.  Mo beat me home by a day, so when I returned the house was still sparkly but was WARM with a nice big fire going.  Snow still on the ground, but sunshine and blue skies were wonderful.  And silence.  The nights are so dark and starry under the hot tub and the silence is just so SILENT!  No street lights, no traffic, no trains, all the stuff of towns and cities are absent here in the forest. 

We are settling in, enjoying home a bit before we decide just when to wander off to the cottage in Grants Pass and maybe get some beach time. Here at home I have a big quilt to finish binding, and fabric to play with, soil survey work waiting and all sorts of “retirement” projects that I still have yet to get to after three years as a retiree.  I am never, never bored.  Ever.

St Paddy's around home-002

Tomatoes, Eagles, Pelicans, Klamath Lake, Colorado…it’s life

late summer_30The title thing is making me crazy, especially when I choose not to post daily when I am home. Maybe I will revert to “Thursday September 22” or something equally as creative.  For now, however, I just wanted to hit the highlights.  It has been a delight being at home this time of year.  I think September and October in the Klamath Basin are the most beautiful months.  The days are warm and still long enough to accomplish something. The nights come earlier, but they are cool enough for early bedtimes with good books and the soft summer down comfortor.

Mo has been filling her days with outside tasks around the property, while I have been catching up on work, mostly at home, but going into the office every now and then.  Sometimes it’s great to go to town for work, since otherwise I would just think the drive too long and the gas expense not worth it.  When I go to town, I get to have great conversations with Chris, my local boss, about all the interesting mapping he is doing, all the soily gossip about what is going on in what survey office, and just general good stuff.

late summer_16I also have a chance to shop, get fresh groceries and do the (wandering around kind of) shopping that doesn’t interest Mo in the least.  Joanne’s Fabrics is always fun, and I walk around feeling everything and daydreaming about the great things I could make if I had a sewing machine.  My sister is a quilter, my daughter makes amazing costumes for theater and her pirate gatherings, and for years I used to love to sew.  My life changed, and I haven’t had a sewing machine in 20 years.  Often I say, “well, if I had a sewing machine I could do X, or Y, or whatever”.

ripe tomatoes at Rocky PointEnter my 66th birthday, and with some various contributions from various folks, including myself…ahahaha….I have a sewing machine!  My sister suggested I try to find a used Bernina 1230, her go-to machine even though she has a much newer one.  After some searching on E-Bay and on the local Craigs List, I actually managed to win the bid on a machine. After paying for it with a credit card, with my CURRENT ADDRESS on the card, I received a lovely email from the gentleman saying he had just mailed it with full insurance to my CALIFORNIA ADDRESS!?!?!  OHNO!  I guess that address was still buried somewhere in EBay even though I haven’t lived there for almost two years!  With some panicky phone calls and some retracted insured mail, eventually I will get my sewing machine.  Hopefully I will remember what X and Y were.  We actually have a tiny quilt shop right here in Rocky Point and I have never checked it out.  I guess it is time I did.

Beautiful warm days call for tomatoes, and finally I can say that the greenhouse is providing.  The heirloom Brandywines I tried to grow are still green, but Yellow Boy is producing bundles of incredibly sweet yellow good sized tomatoes, and the Willamette variety is doing well for big reds and Sweet 100 has provided bowls of cherry tomatoes.  With the fresh lettuces, spinach, chard, peas, onions, basil, baby carrots, 3 cucumbers, and a very few green beans, I declare the greenhouse a success. 

sweet tomato chili sauce from the old hunsacker recipeI actually had enough ripe tomatoes to dig out one of Mo’s old family recipes for Tomato Chili Sauce.  It was fun to make, a bit like a relish or chutney, with tomatoes, green hatch chilis, onions, with cider vinegar and some sugar, and then some very interesting combinations of spices including cinnamon, allspice, lots of chili pepper, and other sorts of things that I wouldn’t normally use in this kind of recipe.  The resulting sauce/relish is delish on meat as a condiment, and if I ever stop dieting, I plan to try it on a hot dog! 

house_washThe other major project going on around here is house painting.  Mo found an outfit in Klamath that seems to be a bit more thorough than the last folks who stained the big cedar house.  Even so, they seem to come and go at odd times, they are getting the old sealer stripped off in preparation for the new stuff.  Living in the forest as we do seems to cause a lot of mold to grow on the cedar siding in spite of regular care.  They have been power washing for a few days now and hopefully will get it sealed again before the rain starts. 

I love this time of year, especially the Halloween season, and fall in general.  My orange totes full of goodies are calling to me, and I keep finding little halloween-y things to add to my stash.  One of the reasons for a stix and brix, I can decorate to my hearts content and somewhat to Mo’s consternation.  I am using all my will power to NOT put out a single fall decoration until October 1st.  Just a few days.

temps in the 70's and not a speck of windWe celebrated the gorgeous late September days with another kayak out on Pelican Bay.  The water is getting low this time of year, and the water plants and algae are thick.  Even so, the water is still incredibly clear in Recreation Creek and out into the Bay.  Only when you reach Klamath Lake proper do the weeds and algae get so thick that paddling is no longer fun.  We have paddled some incredibly gorgeous lakes, with crystal clear water, and not a water plant in sight.  They are beautiful, but then there a no birds, often we are lucky to see a lonely duck in those lakes. 

looking toward the east side of Klamath Lake from Pelican BayOur Klamath Lake is fecund with life, and has been so since the 1850’s when John C Fremont declared the lake unfit for even horses to drink.  It’s not all about pollution, it is about the natural life span of a lake formed many thousands of years ago, and filled with phosphorus rich volcanic ash from the Crater Lake (Mt Mazama) eruption 7,700 years ago or so.  That beautiful, rich, smelly, plant life, brings in millions of birds in the spring and the fall, with many spending their summers here getting fat on all that food. 

kayak_104When in Alaska, one of the exciting things for folks are the eagles, with eagle traffic jams and many photographers excited about seeing eagles in the wild.  I did take photos of eagles there, but was a bit less excited than some folks because we have eagles here in the basin.  There are nesting pairs along the lake, and several hundred birds feast on ducks and fish in the wildlife refuges. 

I actually get more excited about my favorite white pelicans than I do the eagles, but yesterday on the lake I was treated to both.  We spent a couple of hours on the water and invited a Rocky Point friend to go along since we now have extra kayaks.  It was a perfect way to spend a late September afternoon.

young white pelican on Klamath Lake.  See the dark streaks on his head?This weekend I will be running off to Colorado for my grandson’s wedding.  First a drive to Portland to spend the night with my oldest daughter, then the two of us will board a flight to Denver, Colorado tomorrow.  There we have rented a car to drive to Sterling, where Deb will hostess (and pay for!) the Rehearsal Dinner for her son and his bride-to-be and about 20 other folks.  Saturday is the wedding with most of Jessi’s family, and only some of us from Matthew’s side who can manage to get away to Colorado.  It should be a lot of fun, as well as a bit interesting, with all those side stories that go on in families providing some extra entertainment. 

Life IS good. 

There are photos of the gardens here and photos of the kayak on the lake and the birds here.

 

It is time

morning kayak toward Pelican BayTime for what you say? Time to write something again that isn’t related to the Alaska Trip.  I know, I know, we got home on the 15th, and I think it now is the 27th of the month.  The first week home, of course, was spent cleaning up and settling in.  The second week home I had to go back to work and put in a good 40 hours or more trying to get everything to work properly again after a government software upgrade.  Can you say “nightmare”? Finally, today, I managed to finish writing about the last few days of the trip.  Somehow I just couldn’t make myself write about it, and each morning my ‘todo’ list had on it, “FINISH BLOG”.  I am also not sure when I will be ready to change my header photo from that picture of Joe Lake on the Denali Highway.  I am just not quite ready to let go yet.

Sunday kayak_5539At least I am finally caught up. At least I will be until tomorrow! The MoHo is lined up in front of the Tracker in the driveway tonight as we prepare for launching once more tomorrow morning.  This launch is a short one, though, just a 2 night trip to Silver Falls State Park a few hours north of here. We will hike waterfalls, check out all the amazing dahlias in full bloom at the Swan Dahlia Farm festival, and sit by the campfire in the forest, this time under starry skies. We will cap off the trip on the way home with a much anticipated visit with Donna K and Russ from TRAVELS IN THERAPY.  I’m tickled about getting a chance to meet our fellow Oregonian blog friends.

Sunday kayak_5507As I write, Irene is bearing down on the east coast, and Al has posted photos of the sad damage in the Ontario town of Goderich. So far, everyone I know who is east is doing OK. My daughter the trucker was in Connecticut, but traveled south and is now in Orlando.  She managed to get out of the way of the storm.  So far, all the RV’rs back in that part of the country seem to be hunkering down and doing OK, at least the ones who can blog about it.   Out west all is calm, a few forest fires ignited last week in a thunderstorm are burning in Central Oregon, but everything around here is peaceful.  Nights are in the 50’s, days are in the mid 80’s, humidity is low and skies are brilliantly blue.  Oregon in the summer, when summer finally comes, is perfect.

pelican morningWithin a few days of getting settled back in, we had the kayaks out for a paddle.  It was a gorgeous morning, just cool enough to need a long sleeved shirt out on the water for about half an hour before we started peeling off our shirts.  The lake was so calm and there was a bit of smoke hanging over the mountains to the east, but I didn’t care. Snow was still on McLoughlin, and just a bit on the rim at Crater Lake and Mountain Lakes Wilderness.  It felt good to be out in the boats in familiar water.  The funny part about familiar water is that on Klamath Lake it is never the same twice. 

Sunday kayak_5491The lake levels vary and sometimes the refuge can get pretty low, but on the morning we went out, the water was deep enough that we had no trouble paddling across what is called “The Wocus Cut”, a route that nearly did us in for a late fall paddle last year. At that time we were paddling in late evening and our paddles were scraping bottom.  That was a rough ride that I don’t want to repeat!  We traveled the beautiful canoe trail through the refuge and so enjoyed all the birds.  I packed the camera along in the waterproof pelican case and took bird photos.  Since I just bought a serious wide angle lens, battered though it may be, I won’t be getting a fancy bird lens any time soon, so I have to settle for the best I can do for now.  I’ll let Judy take the fancy bird photos while mine will at least remind me of what was out there and how lovely they are.

Sunday kayak_5524The greenhouse has created a jungle of tomato plants and at last a few are getting ripe.  You have no idea what an amazing feat that is at Rocky Point! I planted some more spinach and lettuce for the fall, and am enjoying having a little bit of veggie garden to putter in.The daylilies are blooming beautifully, and so far the deer have left us alone.  I sprayed the Liquid Fence almost immediately, and I don’t know if it makes the difference or if there just aren’t any deer around this year.

gardens_5584The birds are back after a few days of filling the feeders, of course there aren’t nearly as many as there were in the spring before we left.  It seems the finches and wrens are the most prolific right now, and I have seen several flickers and this morning a tanager graced my office window.  For some reason the flicker was harassing the tanager as they both fluttered around in the sprinklers.  Strange.

I am not a daily blogger, unless we are traveling of course. I often wonder about whether I need to even write anything at all when we aren’t moving. Then I realize that I want to share the birds, and the lake, and the daylilies, and what better place to do it than here?  While on our Alaska trip we gained quite a few new followers, and I thank each of you for checking in and paying attention. 

The rest of the photos for our kayak outing are linked here.gardens_5591