04-20 to 04-24-2021 Another Little Beach Trip

We hadn’t planned on returning to the beach, but when Mo’s brothers said they were gathering in Nehalem for some family time we decided to go.  At this time of year the mountains are still getting snow flurries, the California deserts are getting a bit too warm, and most of the waters we love to kayak are still a bit chilly.  Another trip to the Oregon Coast was added to our calendar for the month of April. 

Ever since we have had the MoHo we try to make sure that we get out at least once a month on some sort of camping adventure.  The only years we didn’t completely succeed was when we were selling our homes and the apartment building in Klamath Falls and Rocky Point and building our present home here in Grants Pass.  It was a bit hard to get away then, especially when our lives seemed to be all about hauling the trailer around with mowers and yard equipment trying to keep all our places in order.  Whew!  So glad we have only one home and yard to manage now.

Even though we had a few warm days here at home, the weather on the coast was predicted to be chilly and possibly rainy.  What is new!?  We planned accordingly, and decided that hauling the kayaks along wasn’t particularly important.  Dan and Don recently purchased new inflatable kayaks and planned to try them out for the first time on the Nehalem River.  Last time we kayaked with them on the Nehalem, Mo and I both decided that exiting our kayaks from the water to the dock was way more work than we wanted to do.  Never again.  From now on kayaking for us will be in warm water with nice easy launches so we can get back out of the boats without a lot of pain.   I discovered last summer that if the water is warm and the launch is reasonable I can get out with a simple roll into the water. Looking forward to more kayak time as the weather warms.

After our days at the beach, with some lovely sunshine interspersed with lots of wind and chilly clouds we were glad we hadn’t bothered to load up the boats.  With only three days to spend with family, kayaking wasn’t a top priority.

Dan had saved a spot for us in Nehalem Bay State Park, in Loop F.  Loops A, B, and C are all reservation only throughout the year, but D, E, and F are first come first serve through April.  It was surprising how full the park was, with A, B, and C completely filled.  Dan and Chere, and Don and Wynn arrived on Monday to get sites for all of us so we had a place to be when we arrived.  By the time we left, most of loops D, E, and F were almost full.

Most of the state parks along the beaches in Oregon are a bit inland, with a trek over various distances of sand dunes to get to the beach.  South Beach, where we often go near Newport, is especially distant with a long sandy slog for at least half a mile to get to the beach.  Here at Nehalem Bay, the slog over the dunes is only a few hundred yards.  Still a bit difficult for old legs and knees, but at least we can get there without having to drive a long distance to an easier access point.

The arrangement was for each family to bring their own main dish but share our evening meals together.  On our first night, Wynn assured us she had plenty of soup for all.  She made a yummy tortellini soup with a rich full tasting clear broth that was a delicious and warm meal for the windy, chilly evening.  It was so windy and cold that Mo and I didn’t even bother to trek the few hundred yards to the beach.  Instead we hunkered down after supper in the warm MoHo to watch a bit of Netflix cast from the phone.  With a great cellular signal and no local TV to speak of, this is a great option for us.  Especially since we are so spoiled with recorded TV that we can barely stand to watch commercials.

The next morning dawned beautifully.  It was Chere’s birthday, but she told Dan that she didn’t mind him spending some time with his new boat as long as she got to pick where we had her birthday dinner.  The guys readied Don’s boat for its first launch while Dan explained why his boat was still at home.  Seemed there was a problem and the company has to replace the boat they sent him. 

We drove the short few miles back to Nehalem and the river launch in the brilliant morning sunshine.  The guys managed to get the boat in the water and to figure out how to get in the rubber boat.  One of the reasons for the inflatables is that Dan and Don think their ladies will have an easier time getting in and out of them than they do with the hardside boats.  I had no desire to even try.  The Saturn is a bit more like a sit on top, with a strong bottom that is rigid.  You can supposedly stand up in one.  Not me!  I’ll stick with my treasured Adirondack until I can no longer figure out a way to exit.  One nice thing about the Saturn inflatable however, is that it is self bailing.  It is actually a sea worthy kayak that can take the waves and when water gets in, it flows out without letting more in.  A nice feature.  On a warm day I would love to launch it on a beach somewhere in some nice easy waves.  Mo thought it might be a good idea to be sure to tether the thing to your body somehow in case it dumped. 

The guys and their wives went back home while Mo and I drove to Manzanita, another nearby town, to visit the beach.  Chere said that is where they often go because the parking area along the beach is right adjacent to the water, without all the dune hiking.  The beach was nice, and there were lots of dogs and people walking about in spite of the windy chilly air.  Even though the sun was brilliant in Nehalem, it was foggy and windy at the ocean.  Mattie did her thing, running wildly in the sand until she finally stopped, panting.  She loves doing that, but I have noticed that she wears out a bit sooner than she used to.  Maybe a bit like her moms.

We drove around Manzanita a bit to explore the small, somewhat upscale town.  Unlike Nehalem, Manzanita has some fancy shops, eateries, art galleries, and a coffee place that fit in perfectly with the vibe of the town.  Signs for Black Lives Matter, organic dark chocolate, hand dyed yarns, and organic candles were scattered throughout the shop.  I stood in line for a really good cappuccino while Mo waited in the car.  Couldn’t resist taking photos of the charming little place.  It reminded me of places we visited in California coastal towns.

By noon we returned to camp to meet with family for the drive to Tillamook, where Chere was excited to visit an area with several food trucks, her choice for an early birthday meal.  When we arrived, however, most of the trucks were closed and the stiff chilly breeze made outside dining less than pleasant.  We decided instead to hunt for an indoor dining venue.  The Pelican Brewery was just across the street, but with limited inside dining, it was more than an hour wait.  Chere suggested returning to Manzanita but Dan was much too hungry to wait another hour for our meal.  We searched around town and finally found a place to park right in front of The Dutch Mill Diner

 Dan and Chere with a pal

Wynn and Don

It was a 50’s diner with juke boxes, lots of 50’s music, and hamburgers and milk shakes.  I think it was a perfect choice for Chere who loves all the 50’s stuff.  Lunch was good too, and Mo and I shared our sandwich and milk shake.  We have been doing that more often lately, a great solution to the huge meals that most restaurants like to serve.

Dan and Chere’s rig with his crabbing boat parked in front. 

Dan loves to go crabbing, but he doesn’t like crab that much.  He had a successful day on Monday, but none of us were in the mood for it for dinner, so instead Dan offered his big beautiful crab to some campground walkers who were thrilled to get it.  They couldn’t believe their luck.

Returning back to camp, we rested a bit before joining the rest of the family at Dan and Chere’s place for a birthday celebration. I made a lemon cake with lemon curd filling and cream cheese frosting back home, packing the parts and waiting until this day to put it all together.  Funny moment was when we realized that the MoHo might not be perfectly level when I couldn’t get the 4 cake layers to stay upright, sliding sideways on the lemon curd filling.  Took a bit of doing, but finally the cake was good enough to take over to Chere’s for the candles and birthday song.  After cake we laughed and visited, skipping the fir since the evening was so chilly.

On Thursday, Mo took another walk on the beautiful Nehalem Beach.  The dune hike wasn’t too much, and we spent a long time out there walking and enjoying the sound of the ocean.  Mattie had her usual wild run, eventually settling down into a nice walk with us.  Mattie is almost 7 years old, and does seem to be slowing a bit in her healthy middle age.

Mo and I played some cards and as evening came we all gathered at Chere and Dan’s camp table for shared supper.  This time we did eat our own food, splitting a hot dog between us, and sharing the mac salad I had brought from home.  Again, I made all the parts at home, but didn’t build the salad until that afternoon.  It is still fresh and homemade, but much easier than taking time during a camping day to chop stuff, and boiling macaroni and eggs.  We circled around the lovely campfire for a time before calling it a night.  Once again, with the chill and our full tummies I didn’t bother to bring out the marshmallows.

When we originally planned this trip, we though it would be fun to travel east from Nehalem toward Silver Falls State Park to visit the waterfalls and maybe check out the Oregon Gardens near Silverton.  I tried to get reservations at Silver Falls, but not surprisingly, the park was completely full.  There are 12 first come first served sites in the park and we thought we might take a chance to see if we could get one.  Our backup plan was to attempt to get a space at the Silver Spur RV Park, a decent enough place near Silverton where we have stayed in the past.

With hard rain predicted for the rest of the weekend at Silverton, and no sure place to stay, we had second thoughts about driving inland.  There are very few ways to get across the coastal mountains between the Willamette Valley and the Oregon Coast that don’t involve curvy, narrow roads.  We decided that if we had to drive a curvy narrow road in the rain we might as well take the coast route home.  Somehow once we had decided to do that I felt much better.  We could check for possible open sites at any of the beachside state parks that dot the coast route all the way to Brookings.

Beachside State Park with no dunes between the campground and the beach

As expected, it was raining hard when we got on the road Friday morning, but as always, rain or shine, the Oregon Coast is incredibly beautiful.  Driving south toward Newport and Florence I realized once again that the section of the coast between Newport and Florence is my favorite.  Highway 101 in this section is curvy, perched high above the ocean with views that stretch forever.  It is here that the famous lighthouse at Heceta Head is located, one of the most photographed places in Oregon.  Of course, my only photo was through an open window in the rain this time, but I took it anyway.

Many of the state parks along the route had “campground full” signs posted on the highway, especially the ones near the bigger cities.  South Beach was full, and that is a big park!  It was Friday after all and we knew that getting a spot could be iffy.  Just about half way between South Beach and Florence, is Beachside State Park.  It is smaller and closer than many of the other state parks, and the camp sites are right on the beach, no intervening dunes.  However, the campground is sandwiched tightly between the beach and the highway, without a lot of spaces for rally big rigs.  That and its lack of proximity to a bigger town might have something to do with the fact that there were spaces available on this Friday afternoon.

We settled in and realized that it was barely noon and we had plenty of time to relax.  We walked the beach, played cards, and took a short walk or two around  with Mattie.  It was a quiet time, much different than it might have been if we had tried to go inland.

On Saturday morning we left around 8:30, traveling Highway 42 inland from the coast toward Roseburg.  In my opinion, this is one of the better roads between the coast and I-5.  This time of year everything is greening up beautifully.  I was surprised at how much farther along the springtime green was here than it had been farther north toward Nehalem.  Amazing how much difference a latitude difference of a couple of hundred miles can make from north to south.

I’ll leave you with a photo of the MOST PERFECT marshmallow I have ever roasted.  No dry crackers or chocolate needed. Mo’s campfire at Beachside was a perfect bed of coals for this one.


December 2020

The sun is shining brilliantly through the office windows.  After a morning thick with heavy fog, it seems almost a miracle. Maybe that is what we need.  A miracle to come after the difficulties of the day before this one.  We need some sunlight to shine on us.  On all of us.  Some optimism, a reason to hope for a better year ahead.  I have struggled with trying to write this post.  It is easy to write about travels and camping trips, fish and chips at the coast, rain on the roof of the MoHo.  It is easy to be in the moment when traveling, maybe that is why we love it so much.

The rare sunny afternoon at Sunset House in December

The break in fog and rain gave us a chance to rake and haul the last of the oak leaves

It isn’t so easy to write about family gatherings, holidays that have been quite different than past years.  December darkness, more days of deep fog and dark skies than I remember even in Grants Pass.  We wake in the morning and it is dark, with light penetrating the fog only after 7:30 or so.  By 3:30 we are surprised to see the darkness descending again and by 5:15 it is pitch dark. 

This is actually a bit better than it was two weeks ago when it was pitch dark at 5.  Solstice has come and gone and the days are getting longer, miniscule second by second. I guess that is why a day like this, when the sun bursts through illuminating every tiny green blade of grass with a golden halo it seems like a miracle.

The Christmas season for us started even before Thanksgiving when I put up the outside Christmas lights.  Once again, we had help from Grandson Matthew, young and agile enough to climb our tall roof and line the edges of the gutters and the roof shingles all the way around the house.  Even though our home is just one story, the western side of the house is more than 18 feet off the ground, thanks to our sloping lot.  I know I wouldn’t manage to get up on the roof and even though Mo was a famed roof climber not so long ago, she isn’t about to climb up there either.  If Matthew moves away we are in big trouble.

Here in Southern Oregon our restaurants opened enough that one of our favorites, The Twisted Cork, advertised a special Sunday brunch, reservations only, limited indoor seating.  We were excited, made reservations for a birthday celebration downtown with friends Maryruth and Gerald, who celebrate December birthdays, and Daughter Deborah and Grandson Matthew to join us for the party limited to six guests.  Sadly that all fell apart when the numbers in our county began rising and once again dining was limited to outdoor seating only.  The Twisted Cork decided that with the cold and very wet weather, it was too much, and cancelled the party.

Mo and I decided the heck with that and I called Deborah and said, “Let’s do our own brunch for Maryruth and Gerald!”  Daughter Melody also drove south from Eugene for a Christmas time visit.  Her honey Robert had to travel for two weeks, returning before Christmas so she decided to quarantine at home for Christmas Day rather than taking a chance on Robert carrying the virus with him from Texas on an airplane. We had our little bubble of six and Deborah and I had fun trying to make the Sunday brunch as decadent as possible. 

We made real eggs benedict, and had lots of fruit and fruit dip choices, and Deborah made homemade pastries and we had lots of very cold champagne to wash it down.  It was such a simple but lovely way to spend a day with our friends.  In fact, we all decided that it was much more fun that it would have been in the restaurant.

The next week before Christmas we made a date with Maryruth and Gerald to drive around town to see all the Christmas lights.  It was great fun, and there were some truly fabulous light shows to enjoy.  I must say that the winner, a computerized laser light show with music to match, left me unmoved.  It wasn’t very Christmasy, and while quite loud and glitzy, it didn’t feel right. 

We discovered that the people in cars piling up all around in the tiny cul de sac where the lights were blaring didn’t agree with us.  It was incredibly popular.  We tried to follow the newspaper printed maps, tried to use google, but the four of us wore out before we could see all the various neighborhoods that were recommended. 

Grants Pass isn’t very big, but it was too big for us to cover it all that night.  Maryruth and I both grew up in Southern California, with amazing memories of Christmas Tree Lane and Story Book Lane in Pasadena, and the most amazing Christmas light neighborhood ever in a high end housing development that at the time was called Hastings Ranch.  Every single street was decorated with a matching theme for each one,  It was something to see and one of my best kid memories.  Maryruth felt exactly the same way. Still, we loved our lighted evening in Grants Pass and topped it off with hot chocolate from the downtown Dutch Brothers, just a block from where the chain was first established.

When Christmas actually came, Mo and I were perfectly content to enjoy Christmas Eve with just the two of us and probably the very best clam chowder I have ever made.  It’s a tradition for us, the closest I am willing to get to my childhood Christmas Eve oyster stew, which thank goodness I was never forced to eat. We topped off our evening with another drive around Grants Pass, finding the neighborhoods that we had previously missed and noticing with surprise how many homes were surrounded by many cars as people were gathering for the holiday in spite of the warnings.

On Christmas Day I invited Maryruth and Gerald and Deborah again for Christmas ham, another tradition that we seem to repeat each year.  I buy ham once a year, either Christmas or Easter, and the leftovers in the freezer are enough for some bean soup and scalloped potatoes and ham throughout the year.  We sat around in the living room together with whatever YouTube channel was Christmasy and enjoyed the company until early evening when Deborah decided to brave the heavy rain to drive the hour long trip back to Shady Cove and Maryruth and Gerald retreated the short mile back to their home.

The day after Christmas, with no more company to come for a meal, we pulled out another great puzzle.  The Paint the Town series by Eric Dowdle is great fun, and he even has a PBS show about each town that he visits.  It only took us a bit less than 3 days to find all the little people and figure out the many high rise buildings in the beautiful Portland puzzle.

New Years Eve was even more quiet than Christmas, with no visits and no real celebrations except for the local fireworks and gunshots that in our somewhat rural neighborhood started up around 9 and kept going until long after midnight.  I think I woke up for a minute or two at 12, and thought about the New Year to come.  The calendar is such a man made thing, and the days just shift as they will do.  Who knows if the energy of a year changes just because a man made number has changed, but this afternoon in the sunlight I can feel a bit of hope.  Vaccines are coming…eventually.

One more Christmas behind us and look at that sunshine

Our travels for the coming year have already shifted in spite of the hope of 2021 being a bit more free than 2020 was.  We had planned to travel south to California for our annual desert trip toward the end of January, but have put that plan on hold.  I just can’t get really excited about traveling through California yet.  I called Catalina Spa and learned that the pools are open but the spa and showers are closed as are most of the other amenities.  With restaurants and movies and such being closed in Southern California, and COVID numbers off the charts, the trip just didn’t seem very smart.  We will wait, and maybe travel south in March.  If things in California haven’t improved by then, we may slide south through Nevada into wild places in the desert where we can boondock without worrying much about running into too many people.

Our other big travel plans included a May cruise to Scotland, cancelled last year but still on the books to depart from London on May 22.  We will wait for Oceania to cancel this one before we make any big decisions about it, but something tells me our cruise to Scotland will not happen again this year.  It takes a long time for cruise ships to get going again, if they ever do.  I spoke with my doctor this week during a virtual checkup and was told that I shouldn’t expect to get a vaccination for weeks and possibly months in this part of Oregon.  Each state has their own priorities, and for Oregon it is health care workers with folks over 75 a bit farther down on the list.  I guess, just like 2020, 2021 is still a wait and see year. 

12-08-2020 Writing About November

It seems that as we travel through almost a year of COVID-19 life, I am lucky to get in one blog post a month.  It isn’t as if I don’t have time.  It has to do with inspiration.  Every day runs into the next, bleeds over from the previous day, moves slowly through time only to completely disappear into one long running sentence.

I realized a few days ago that I hadn’t even processed the photos that I took throughout the month to mark the changing of the seasons.  The leaves remained on our huge old oaks long into November, and now in early December there are still some clinging to the branches.  Sitting in the hot tub in the dark, we see one or two flutter down, illuminated by the nearby Christmas lights.  They look ever so much like lighted butterflies.  The next morning there are more on the ground, slowly littering the work that Mo completed the previous day.

Mo seems to be the one doing almost all the raking this year.  I have managed a bit here and there, and we travel together to the compost facility to empty the trailer, but raking times for me have been rare.  I try to make up for her extra effort with house chores but it isn’t much of a trade in my opinion.  Leaf raking really needs to be a two person operation. 

Early in the month we needed to make a quick trip to Portland to meet with the new neuromuscular specialist at Oregon Health Sciences University who will be taking over my case.  We are lucky that Mo’s brother Dan and his wife Chere live in the Portland area and are kind enough to let us stay at their home.  We arrived in time for dinner, which I provided as a way of saying thank you and spent a great evening visiting and laughing together. My visit at 8am the next morning went smoothly and the drive through morning traffic in downtown Portland wasn’t difficult.

In mid November, restaurants in Oregon were still open for inside dining with social distancing.  We decided to take a chance and made our annual trek to Applebee’s to enjoy Mo’s free dinner for veterans.  We wore masks, as did everyone else entering the restaurant, and the servers were all masked as well.  There were plexiglass barriers between booths and every other table was unoccupied.  I was a bit nervous at first, but it seemed safe enough.  We had a simple meal and enjoyed it thoroughly.  We don’t eat out all that often, but when we can’t, I notice how much I miss that small bit of entertainment.   It was a good day.

The weather was till nice enough mid month that we were able to plant the tree that the girls and I bought to mark my son’s passing last year.  We chose a beautiful sweet gum tree will honor his life. Deborah and Matthew were here to help Mo and I dig the hole and set the tree, but with COVID rampant in Oregon and Washington Deanna and Melody decided that they would stay home and stay safe.

(The funny part about this part of the story is that we actually planted the tree in late October and I somehow lost track of the day and the photos until now)

We originally planned a small Thanksgiving dinner celebration at daughter Melody and Robert’s new home, looking forward to her turn to host the big family dinner. Then COVID reared it’s ugly head in a more personal way, with Robert required to travel by plane to Texas for his work two weeks prior to the holiday.  All plans were put on hold.  There wasn’t time for Robert and Melody to quarantine before Thanksgiving Day.

Mattie LOVES Robert  and Melody and LOVES being at their home

Mattie has learned to be calm around the cats and they do great together

Instead, we made hasty plans for an early celebration on a Saturday before Robert left.  Mo and I drove the MoHo to Brownsville, where the city administrator was kind enough to let us park overnight in the city recreation parking lot, right in front of the “no overnight parking” sign.  Deborah came, but her son Matthew couldn’t make it at the last minute, so we had a lovely turkey dinner with just the five of us.  Melody, Robert, Deborah, Mo and me.  We enjoyed all the yummy traditional foods with an extra dose of sweetness because we knew we were lucky to have even this small celebration.

Wonderful table with Melody’s Spode China

We got a lot of laughs getting this photo is the big dining room mirror

Melody and Deborah enjoying the front porch on Sunday morning

Deb stayed in Melody’s guest room, and Mo and I returned to the MoHo where a sheriff was waiting for us in the pouring rain.  Somehow he hadn’t received the message that we were approved to stay there.  It was a little bit of a touchy moment, but he smiled and said all was good and we could stay.  The pouring rain kept us company throughout the night.  The next morning Mo and I joined everyone for a wonderful breakfast and some more visiting time before we returned home to Grants Pass. 

Once home again, we returned to our daily schedule of raking and hauling leaves, and Matthew and I started the annual Christmas lighting project. This year we opted for replacing our white icicle incandescent lights with old fashioned looking lights, modernized with LEDs. We replaced 13 strings of hundreds of lights with 8 strings of LED’s and according to the packaging, our power output was about 10 percent of what it had been in previous years.  It is a good investment and will help considerably on the power bill.

LED Christmas Lights 2020

Christmas Lights from 2018

I also decided to put up the Christmas Village even before Thanksgiving Day.  Usually it doesn’t go up until early December. Deborah stopped by for one of her Sunday visits at just the right moment, and was a great help with unpackaging  and placing all the little “stuff” that makes the village so charming. 

It started with just the village, but within a few days the house was filled with all our Christmas decor and the outside was sparkling with lights on all sides of the house.  It makes for a bit of cheeriness during the darkest time of year, both literally and figuratively.  I love Christmas lights and decorations, and it matters not that there will be no visitors this year, once again, COVID is keeping our family celebrations to a minimum.

Mo and I decided that rather than sit home for Thanksgiving, we would pack up ourselves, the dog, and our Thanksgiving dinner and head for the Coast.  We made reservations at Bandon, where the choices were slim. There are three loops at Bullard’s Beach State Park, and 2 are closed for the season.  We were lucky to get a spot on the inside of the loop, something we usually avoid. 

It was a great way to spend a few the holiday isolated in our MoHo  Next post will tell the story.

09-14-2020 A Wheel of Fortune Birthday

As I write this morning, the air is cooler, insulated from the September sun by the thick smoke that surrounds us and extends over much of the United States. I am grateful for every little bit of relief, no matter how small

After Jimmy and Nickie left for Farewell Bend and Crater Lake, we settled in to what seemed to be a gorgeous day.  Clear skies with winds still over 20 mph didn’t hamper our work on the property raking up debris from the huge windstorm from the previous night. 

What we didn’t realize on that Tuesday was that the huge windstorm had triggered huge fires that were moving at warp speed toward communities all over the state of Oregon.

I monitored the fires and made repeated efforts to contact Nickie to no avail.  We settled in and enjoyed the gorgeous skies here in Grants Pass for another day.

Melody and Robert’s home in Brownsville

On Wednesday morning messages were flying back and forth between me and my two daughters.  Melody, youngest, was in Brownsville north of Eugene with what is now called the Holiday Farm fire racing toward her community. 

We had some good meals while the kids were here

Moments later after extended conversations with Deborah, oldest daughter, where she insisted she would be fine, I received a terse message saying, “We have been evacuated, I am coming there.”  Shortly after Deborah arrived, I got a message from Melody saying that she and her family were evacuating as well.  Their home wasn’t in an evacuation area just yet, but the speed of the fires frightened her and she needed to leave.

Melody has been working from home since COVID began and continued to do so from here

Before all this started, Mo and I had made reservations with Maryruth and Gerald to have a very special dinner at Morrison’s River Lodge on the Rogue River.  The young chef is new and his reputation was stellar. 

We thought a beautiful dinner outdoors on a lovely deck overlooking the Rogue was just what we all needed to take our minds off what was just beginning to be a week from hell in Oregon.

We added Deborah to the reservation and Maryruth’s daughter was also visiting from California, escaping her fires and smoke near Sacramento. 

Deborah and Cathy are just 3 days apart in age, and have known each other since they were 8 months old, when Maryruth and I first met.

It was a wonderful evening, with absolutely stellar food presented beautifully. 

In addition to the most tender brisket I have ever eaten, (sorry Janna), we had salads and veggies from the on site garden, and iconic Oregon blackberry creme brulee for dessert. 

Excellent Oregon Pinot Noir and a local rose accompanied the lovely meal.  What a treat! 

The air remained crystal clear until just a few minutes before our departure for the river and by the time we settled down for dinner the skies were murky and the sun was orange.  It was only the beginning.

The next few days are a blur in my mind, with Melody and Robert keeping their cats company in the closed garage since we didn’t want to lose them in a strange house.  Deborah and Melody spent much time attempting to keep track of the changing evacuation zones near her house, and trying to see where the fires were headed. 

Mattie loves having company and adores Robert

The smoke was thick every single day, and as we watched the small towns of Phoenix and Talent between Medford and Ashland were decimated.  The destruction is horrendous, and so far we have no clear numbers as to homes lost or casualties, which is also true for the rest of Oregon.  Law enforcement keeps saying they want real numbers before they say how many lives have been lost.

On Friday, Deborah decided to return home, and using her identification was able to get through the evacuation barriers to her home, which was fine.  Today the fire is growing in the opposite direction and we are all fairly certain she will be OK, except for the smoke which is awful no matter where you go.

By Sunday morning Robert and Melody felt safe enough to return home as well.  The fires are still burning but the horrendous winds which fueled the initial onslaught of destruction have dissipated.  Those winds were to use Nickie’s least favorite word, unprecedented.  Our weather comes from the coast to the west fairly consistently until an occasional winter storm will bring and east or a north wind.  This time 75 mph winds from the east were hot and dry, very unusual for this time of year on the west side of the Cascades where most of the fires are now burning.  Unprecedented.

Baking a birthday cake for my day

It is now Tuesday.  The news is ongoing, but the fast moving fires have so far slowed a bit, communities are beginning to assess the damage and everyone is basically in a holding pattern.  COVID receded to simple background noise during the worst of the onslaught, except for the difficulty encountered with sheltering people who were evacuated.  Once again instead of checking fire and smoke maps, I am checking the website that tracks COVID numbers.  We have a total of a bit more than 29,000 confirmed cases in Oregon and the deaths in the state are fairly consistent at 3 to 8 deaths per week.  Here in Josephine county we have had a total of 178 confirmed cased and only 2 deaths since all this began back in March.  I am grateful to live in Oregon.

All our travel and camping plans for the rest of the month have been cancelled.  Nowhere to go with all the forests and campgrounds closed and the skies all smoked in.  We are still hoping to travel north on the first of October to visit family in Northern Washington.

A long time ago I delved deeply into the study of the Tarot, not as a fortune telling tool, but as a psychological study of archetypal images and how we can be affected by them.  One of those great timeless archetypes is represented by a card called “The Wheel of Fortune”. 

Now cheapie kinds of fortune tellers will say if you get this card you might win the lottery, but when one goes a bit deeper into the psyche of the image it tells a completely different story.  I mention this because based on my birthday (today), I am in a Wheel of Fortune year.  Fun.  What it really means is that whether for good or bad you can expect your fortunes to change and your goal is to figure out how to stay centered and balanced in the midst of the wild ride.

I can’t think of a better way to describe the year that almost everyone has experienced, beginning for me with the death of my son.  My meditation for this 75th birthday is to focus on the center of that wheel and to do my very best to remain balanced as our fortunes spin and turn from good to bad to  terrifying. 


September Transitions, and some Fabulous Visits from Fabulous Folks

Current Location: Rocky Point, Oregon with blue bird skies and  41 Degrees F at 10AM

Deer in the yardDeer in the back yard here in Rocky Point.  Good thing I have a deer repellent that works.

It has been an interesting year for me.  A time of decisions, transitions, changes, and progress.  When my birthday rolls around, I like to take a few moments to re-evaluate.  Turning 70 is a milestone, one that seemed an anti-climax after thinking I was “almost” 70 for so long that when it happened, it didn’t seem all that different.

IMG_5100I had a great birthday, made more so my social media, Facebook of all things.  I love getting birthday cards, but the plethora of greetings that come my way from all over the country and even far parts of the world really add a celebratory air to the day, even one spent doing errands.  Of course, the errands in town were topped by a celebratory cocktail at the luxe Basin Martini Bar right in Klamath Falls, and tasty tapas for supper.  Lots of cards, fabulous presents, phone calls, a wonderful day.  Lucky me.IMG_5090

More is on the agenda in the coming two weeks, but that story will come later.  For now, my big job is to try to track what has happened and where we have been during the last few weeks since I last had time to write. Thank goodness for calendars and photos, or I wouldn’t have a clue where to start.

After our visit with Judy early in August, we spent much of the month working in earnest at the apartments and in Grants Pass.  It seemed as though every day we were driving one place or the other with tight schedules, deadlines, meeting contractors and realtors. 

The realtor part was a bit tiresome, because in spite of the fact that I sold my house on Painter in 11 days, the closing hasn’t been so timely.  Once again we were delayed by the big California lender, with more requests showing up even after I had signed my part of the closing.  After the last snafu, where we all decided to start over with a new lender and a closing date in December, some details shifted, and once again closing is imminent.  We will see.Getting close to being done (16 of 35)

Getting close to being done (23 of 35) The rest of the projects were incredibly successful.  The apartment painting project is at last completed, and looks great.  Did the final walk around this week with our contractor, who does great work if always a bit behind schedule.  The flooring project was completed through Home Depot, a process that entailed repeated trips to the store in town, myriad phone calls between shippers, installers, coordinator, schedulers and such.  What a process!  Still, the contractor also did a great job and we love the results. 

IMG_5060 The apartment is at last completed and ready for us to begin moving in some of our furniture.  We have tentatively planned to have it habitable by November. 

flooring carpet and divider in apt a (1)love love love the weather maple laminate flooring The Grants Pass cottage was also part of our projects.  With the high heat and low water well numbers, we make it a point to return at least every week or ten days to spend 2 or 3 nights there.  My biggest job is moving the single water hose, attempting to keep the few plants alive and healthy.  The grass is doing fine with the daily watering at 2GPM that I have set up on a timer.

walnuts, plums, and pears (31 of 36)  Exciting forthcoming project for the cottage is the installation of a new water holding cistern, scheduled in mid October.  Once that is completed, we will be able to set up timers and sprinklers for more areas on the property without worrying about running the well dry.  Grants Pass water is notorious for salts and iron, but we won’t bother setting up filtration systems until we have a new house to protect once we move there for good.

1-cottage acre  (7 of 12)-001 In the mean time, Mo is working on all sorts of projects, including clearing out the main part of the old building she plans to use as a workshop.   She tore out the old windows to make more storage space, re-worked and removed a bunch of old cabinets to build a workbench, and managed to install a nice window air conditioner that Melody gave to us when she moved out of the Painter Street house.  Yay!   

walnuts, plums, and pears (1 of 36)walnuts, plums, and pears (10 of 36)walnuts, plums, and pears (33 of 36) On an earlier visit we cleared out all the old stacked carpets in the mud room, cleaned up and painted it, and Mo fashioned new frames for the door and window from some old wood she had on hand.  Looks great.  Every project we do at the cottage must be tested against our willingness to see it come crashing down when it is time to raze the cottage and build the new house.

Mo redid the window trim in the mud room Lots of wood working stuff over there to keep Mo happy for years to come!

I haven’t quilted a thing.  The sewing machine managed to come out for a few days while I worked on my first quilted clothing project, a jacket I plan to use for traveling.  It was so much fun, but oh my, don’t let anyone look at it too closely.  So many mistakes, and I learned so very much about what NOT to do when making a quilted jacket.  Photos of this little project will probably show up in the next posts which will be sometime after early October. 

MoHo traveling has been on hold as well, with our last trip to Waldo Lake the last time we tucked away in our cozy rolling home.  Both of us are getting serious hitch-itch, day dreaming about the time when we will get that baby rolling again for something longer than the trip back and forth to Grants Pass now and then.

Family Sunday (41 of 99) With all the work we were doing, Mo and I still managed some fun times during August.  Melody and her clan, along with the new guy in her life came out for a great family day/BBQ with us and we laughed ourselves silly playing Bocci ball on the very sloping lawn.Family Sunday (97 of 99)Family Sunday (85 of 99) Mo and I took a break to chase down the SuperMoon rising over the boat launch in Rocky Point, a quiet and lovely moment in the midst of all the busy days.Waiting for the Supermoon at Rocky PointSupermoon over Pelican Bay at Rocky Point

I spent a lot of time walking Mattie, who seems to think that our long walks are the perfect time to find the biggest thing possible to carry home.  She carried this bone for more than 3 miles, and it was worth it, because I think two weeks later there are still remnants of it lying around the house.

IMG_5079 Daughter Melody is one of the lead stars in the play Chicago, put on by our Klamath Falls Linkville Theater.  I have tickets for the closing show in October, but decided that I had to see it before then, so I’ll be in the audience tonight, in the front row.  I have heard my daughter sing “All That Jazz” for years, but never starring as Velma on the stage.  I am thrilled!

Chicago 2 As the month of September continued, however, all work stopped.  For some reason, all our friends who had promised visits seemed to converge at once on Rocky Point in the first week of September.  We knew Phil and Joanne were coming, and I had scheduled Jeanne’s visit for months.  But suddenly Jimmy and Nickie were heading our way and I was not about to miss time with them.  To add to the fun, an old friend from my working days in the 80’s in Idaho retired, and called to say she would like to stop in and say Hi.  I hadn’t seen Marti in 40 years maybe? so of course I wasn’t going to say no. 

Scheduling all worked out perfectly, in the long run, with one set of folks replaced by another set within hours, and sometimes overlapping. 

Badger Lake Hike with the Hartwigs (17 of 36) First to join us were Phil and Joanne from Eugene.  Our history goes way way back, to 1977, with some gaps in between, but you know how that can be with old friends.  They came down on Labor Day weekend, and settled into the cabin before we had a make it yourself lunch of vegetarian wraps and fruit. 

Badger Lake Hike with the Hartwigs (6 of 36) Our destination that first afternoon was a six mile round trip hike on the southeast side of Fourmile Lake, just west of Rocky Point near the Cascade crest and into the Sky Lakes Wilderness. We had a wonderful time on a lovely hike that meandered around Fourmile Lake with views of Mt McLoughlin, and a final destination of Badger Lake. 

Badger Lake Hike with the Hartwigs (35 of 36) We earned our supper, and enjoyed the planked salmon, zuchinni rice ( a new recipe I love with shredded uncooked zukes added to hot rice, corn, black beans, and peppers), cole slaw from an ancient recipe Joanne remembers from the 80s, and my favorite dessert to make, a French Apple Gallette.   

The next day was supposed to be hot, so we planned to get out on the water early.  Phillip is a great cook, and I remember the days when we shared working weeks at the Forest Service work center and Phil would make huge breakfasts, eating three times what I ate and staying skinny forever.  He is still pretty darn slim, but maybe the marathons have something to do with it.Hartwig making eggs before we left (1 of 1)

I made the potatoes but Phil scrambled the eggs with leftover salmon, cilantro and who knows what else.  They were so good and I don’t even like eggs.

Phil and Joanne on Pelican Bay (1 of 1) We decided to kayak from the main dock in Rocky Point, traveling southward toward Harriman Springs so that they could get used to paddling on flat water and not be out too terribly long. 

We were treated to lots of pelicans and smooth silky water and Joanne, unused to all that shoulder work, did just fine.  As often happens when we introduce folks to paddling, by the time we were done they were asking about kayaks.  Of course, Joanne is hoping for a tandem kayak so she can ride in the back and Phil won’t know when she isn’t paddling.

Melody and Robert drove out from Klamath Falls just in time to see Phil and Joanne and take a little paddle of their own on the bay.  Joanne and Melody figured out that they hadn’t seen each other since Melody was just 16!

Robert and Melody kayaking Pelican Bay (1 of 1)

That evening we decided to try out the Harriman Resort for dinner.  The resort is still trying to get it’s sea legs and still doesn’t have a liquor license.  Instead we shared a great bottle of wine before we left, and trundled down the few hundred yards to the restaurant.Pelicans on Pelican Bay (1 of 1) Pelicans on Pelican Bay (1 of 1)-6

It was an interesting experience.  The restaurant is beautiful, and we all ordered halibut, which was quite tasty.  However, Phil and Joanne are fish only people and the garlic mashed potatoes came smothered in a rich, dark beef gravy!!  Now what chef puts beef gravy on a fish plate!  The waitress was quick and accommodating and the offending gravy was gone when the fresh plates were quickly replaced.

We rounded out the evening with our favorite Racehorse dominoes before everyone crashed happy, tired and satiated from too much food and laughter.

I think I’ll continue the rest of the story in the next blog since this just keeps on going and I want to share all the photos. 

Next: Jeanne arrives from Vermont and Nickie and Jimmy arrive from points north