07-31-2022 July High Summer

July marks the beginning of full-on all the way High Summer. Not quite the dog days just yet, as our lovely summer temperatures in the high 80s have held up until this very week.

High summer means much time spent monitoring the drip irrigation system, checking the well cisterns to be sure everything is working correctly, watering dry spots, and watching some plants that are determined to wilt even when the ground seems to be wet enough.

At the beginning of the month, we broke away from all the home chores to escape for a morning kayak. Applegate Lake (actually a reservoir) has had low water for a long time due to the prolonged drought in the west. With all our spring rains, the bathtub ring around the lake was barely visible for the first time in years, with water levels at 97 percent. The skies were blue, and the temperatures were perfect when we loaded up the kayaks and traveled an hour and a half south to Applegate Lake.

We launched at the no-fee Copper boat launch. There is plenty of parking and a long, gentle, sloped cement launch with a nice, easy water spot on the edges perfect for the kayaks.

We knew from our last trip to this lake that under the bridge is access to a lovely side paddle up an unnamed creek. It was much less crowded with our early launch this time, but by the time we returned to the lake, the kayakers were launching in significant numbers. A few first-time kayakers were hogging the ramp, trying to figure out how to launch and get in their boats., and then sitting on the ramp fishing. We waited our turn because neither of us wanted to be observed getting out of our boats. Lucky for me, there were some willows right next to the launch, and instead of rolling into the water, I just pulled myself up and out, holding on to the trees.
It was a lovely paddle, not tricky and not windy. Couldn’t ask for better. Wildlife was limited to a few ducks and one lone bald eagle perched on a branch on the east side of the lake.

Phone shots are only a way to record that we saw him since my telephoto on the phone simply goes fuzzy.

It was a lovely way to begin the month of July.

Cool evenings on the porch deck are delightful when the sun goes down.

It has been more than ten years since we had such a temperate summer. Until recently, our highest daytime temperatures were in the 80s and a rare low 90s. There have been no fires and no smoke, although a few days ago, there was a small fire about ten miles to the west. After a lovely afternoon, I stepped outside, smelled the all too familiar acrid smell of a forest burning, and saw the giant plume rising. It was terrifying to see it so close to Grants Pass, the Applegate Valley, and a good friend’s home within spitting distance.

It was started by humans, possibly a homeless camp up a creek drainage. The good thing about it is that there were no other fires, no lightning strikes high in the unreachable mountains. They were on it instantly, with a tanker drop, several helicopters dropping water from buckets pulled from a local pond and the river, and five 20-man crews. By the next day, they contained it at less than 30 acres, and everyone was safe.

Finally the riding mower was repaired and Mo and I got up early in the mornings to work on the rest of the gravel project.  With temperature rising to the century mark by early afternoon, we could only do hot work like this for a few hours each morning.  In a few days, we had all the gravel down and raked.  It felt good to check off on more project completed.

The delicate balance of a low producing well and gardening almost an acre requires some creativity.  We have beautiful tiny lawns for a soft green place to walk and gravel cover to reduce water useabe, and non irrigated areas that go completely dormant in summer.

After trying for a few years, we have managed to create a wooly thyme pathway. I have wanted a path like this since I first started studying the English Garden style in the early 80s. Somehow in the various climates I have lived in since then, I have never been successful. Until now. The lush pathway tends to cover the paving stones and still gets a few weeds in the thin parts.

I have to weed it and trim the thyme with scissors around the stones. It is an early morning job on my knees that I absolutely love. The smell of the thyme and its extraordinary lush growth amazes me after so many years of trying to get this to work. Some things on our property grow so well that it is hard to keep it all under control. Especially surprising since we have only been gardening this property for less than five years.

Our string of breakdowns from June continued well into July. A bi-yearly check-up with the dermatologist yielded requirements for a biopsy. No big deal, only on my arm, not my face, and it won’t be difficult if it has to get cut out rather than burned. As usual, she found precancerous spots to hit with nitrogen. I sometimes wonder if she does that every time to ensure I am diligent about check-ups.

The next day Mo’s computer decided to act up. The weakest link in a laptop computer seems to be the input for the power cord. Sure enough, that little input was wiggled and loose and refused to take a charge. We managed to run it on emergency power long enough to ensure all necessary files were completely backed up.

Mo found a lovely little laptop with everything she needed, and the following day we picked it up at Best Buy in Medford. I spent the next two days setting it up and decided that it was time to put my ten-year-old Dell desktop to bed. I have a laptop I bought almost three years ago waiting in the wings. Moving everything from the desktop to the laptop wasn’t difficult, but getting all the photos moved and imported into Lightroom took the most time. The laptop is super fast and has 2 terabytes of storage. I have used it when traveling but had no idea how much quicker it was than my desktop until I started using it as my main computer. Geez, why didn’t I do this a lot sooner?!

Toward the end of the month, we began the first real heat wave of the year. Finally, the pasture grass is mostly brown, and I have to watch dry spots in the lawn and hand water early in the morning after the well cistern has filled completely. It is a delicate dance between watering several timed stations that we have set up and how long it takes to replenish the water used for each station.

I barely had the computers up and running when the freezer portion of our LG fridge decided to go on the fritz. Everything was melted, and the ice maker no longer worked. I panicked and called Maryruth, who has a small garage freezer. I emptied everything and stored what I could in our garage fridge freezer, and took the rest to Mayruth’s house before I settled in for the expected long phone call to LG.

The photo is a panorama hence the crazy bend, but it shows how tightly the fridge fits in her space.  Would be hard to find another one with that exact fit.  After a few hours of back and forth, it was determined that I needed a repairman. The associate informed me that there was no authorized LG technician in my area. I would need to find a local service and make an appointment. Then the local company would have to fill out forms and send them to LG to get authorization to fix the fridge. The fridge was purchased five and a half years ago, and my extended warranty expired after five years. I had visions of an expensive repair at the least and maybe another 3000k fridge. Remember when a refrigerator lasted 30 years?

I have no idea what happened, but the next day the freezer was again freezing, and the ice maker was working. Possibly I had piled too much food against the air intakes. Who knows, but for now, all seems OK. Dodged a bullet there.

Three days later, the winding spring for the hour on Mo’s beautiful pendulum clock broke. After some searching, we found a local clock repairman and took the clock to his home. He had an interesting workroom with lots of old clocks and clock parts. Initially, he said it would be at least two months before he could complete the repair. Still, when we said he would have to keep the clock until October, he grumbled and said he didn’t want it in his space, so he would have it ready for us before our late August departure. $450 bucks! Clock repair definitely isn’t cheap.

Mo bought the clock in 1962 for $125 bucks in Porterville, California, so at 60 years old, it qualifies as an antique.
I miss the gentle chime on the quarter hours.  It has become background music that I sleep through without any effort, but we do turn of the clock when guests are here at night. I will be happy when she is back home.

So far, that seems to be the last of our repair needs. Our fingers are crossed. Although we did have another bit of a kerfuffle when we set up the MoHo at our campsite in Brookings. But that story will be continued later in this post.

The monthly book club meeting was held on a very hot evening at a member’s lovely patio.  We had a lively discussion about future book choices.  Many of us were not particularly enamored with the current month’s choice, a book by Kristin Hannah.  Her previous book that we read last year, “The Four Winds”, was wonderful, but this one read like a very predictable family drama with a predictable ending and cliche characters. 

Mid-month, I had a chance to do something I have always wanted to try. Paint and Sip events seem to be quite popular with friends here and there. When an entertaining painting was featured at a local farm, I reached out to see if anyone wanted to go with me.

This is definitely not something that interests Mo in the least. My book club friend Lisa has been looking for one to do on a day she was free, and this one fit the bill. Asked Daughter Deborah if she wanted to go, and she was excited to join us.

It was a lovely but hot day and a great experience. All three of us were a bit stressed. (Isn’t this supposed to be a relaxing activity?) For our entry fee, we each received a complimentary glass of wine, a lovely lunch with wood-fired pizza, fresh garden salad, and fresh crusty bread. The only problem was that we were trying to get our paintings completed before the end of the three-hour session and had little time to eat our lunch.

The teacher kept telling us what to do and demonstrating, but it took a lot longer than it would have if we had been a little more experienced. When it was over, she told us, “Well, this was really a more advanced painting and not necessarily a good one to choose for your first time.” Ummm…now why wouldn’t you put that in the ad? We all had fun, and it was interesting to see the difference in our individual abilities to accept imperfection. Lisa was great, fully embracing her painting. I was less so, feeling I needed to do much more work. Deborah was the least accepting, insisting that she would throw her painting in the trash. Kinda fits our personalities, I think, with my precious daughter being the most likely to be a perfectionist and the least accepting of what she perceives as a failure. I didn’t expect this to be a life lesson, but it was. The good thing is that Deborah finally accepted that her painting was perfectly adequate, especially for a first-time painter!

Mo may not be interested in a girly event like painting a picture while drinking and eating with friends, but working with wood is something she has excelled at for years. When she lived in Rocky Point, she saw an example of a huge water wheel in Coarsegold, California. She took photos and then spent a long time building that water wheel on a smaller scale. It was installed out by the small pond and the windmill on the Rocky Point lawn. Neighbors loved it. We loved hearing the falling water and groan of the wheel as we worked outdoors. But we couldn’t see it from the house.

Mo brought the water wheel here to Sunset House when we moved in late 2017, and it languished along the back side of the MoHo shed until this summer. Finally, the time had come when all the pressing repair jobs were finished for the moment, and she could begin the giant water wheel project.

After much sanding, caulking, and painting, it was ready for installation. With no pond here, Mo decided on the rustic country look of a galvanized steel tank to provide water for the pump. Placed up against the west side of the MoHo shed, the sound of falling water and the groaning wheel is a delight to hear and watch as we sit on the deck. Her water wheel was a LOT better than my painting.

Around mid-month, Mo suggested we try to go to the coast for our monthly getaway. I had no expectations that I would find an open reservation anywhere. With so many people RVing, most state parks and campgrounds along the coast are booked months ahead for the summer. Lo and behold, I checked with the Harris Beach State Park website and found two and only two nights open for a full hookup site. It was in Loop D, where we have never camped. We usually go in the off-season, and loop D isn’t even open then. I didn’t hesitate and immediately booked the site for the two nights during the last week of July.

As luck would have it, our trip to Harris Beach was timed perfectly. The cool, fresh summer finally exploded into record heat just a few days before our scheduled departure. I think everyone in the surrounding area was heading for the coast to escape the heat. When we arrived at our campground, it was more packed than we had ever seen, with lots of kids, dogs, and people everywhere we looked.

The park guy at the entrance gate was stunned when I told him I had only found this reservation two weeks ago. He said the park has been booked solid for weeks. Just goes to show that it pays to keep checking back for cancellations, and being willing to be flexible with dates is another plus.

With temperatures in the hundreds from California to Portland in the inland parts of Oregon, the coast was protected by the typical summer marine layer, and the temps never got to 60F during our entire visit. We arrived in a chilly fog and began setting up camp. The site wasn’t very level, so we spent a bit of time juggling the rig around to find the best possible spot. Now for what I hope is the last kerfuffle of the season. While Mo hooked up the utilities, I started opening the slide. About 5 inches from full extension, I heard a deafening and terrifying bang/pop/noise. UhOh. What broke?? The springs that open the slide? Something holding it up? Now what?? The slide refused to extend. We could bring it in without any weird noises, but it still seemed odd. Mo hunted on the floor and tried to see what was wrong. We went inside and out checking and found nothing to give us any idea what was wrong.

What made this especially scary was knowing that with only 3 weeks until our planned departure for a long trip, we would have trouble finding an opening for a repair. I shrugged my shoulders and said, “Well, if we have to travel cross country with the slide closed, so be it.” A few minutes later, after Mo fiddled with the space between the slide, the wall, and the floor, I saw a small piece of white plastic. We both recognized the piece as part of the tv antenna handle assembly that had broken on our last trip. Sure enough, the entire piece of plastic had fallen on the top of the slide, and the horrible bang was the heavy white plastic exploding as it was crushed by the slide. After finding the culprit, the slide extended and retracted smoothly with no more scary noises.

We settled in for the afternoon. Even with the chilly fog, it was essential to get down to the beach to let Mattie get a run and walk on the sand, listening to the surf. Summer surf is much calmer than winter surf, and even high tide was much lower than the King Tides we experienced last winter. The walk was lovely, and seeing the shifts and changes in the beach landscape over time was fascinating. There was a lake where a stream used to be, and the stream was far removed from where we remembered it to be. We were surprised at the number of people sitting in chairs in a row along the water’s edge, wondering if they were waiting for the sunset that was most certainly not going to happen in the fog.

Back home for a beautiful cool evening and a chilly night, using the small electric space heater to keep the rig from getting too chilly. Remember that only two hours away, the temperatures never cooled below 70, even during the night!

The next day brought a visit from our friends, Maryruth and Gerald. They decided a break from the heat was in order and drove the short trip to the coast to escape. We met them outside the park just in time for an early lunch at Catalyst Seafood. Mo and I ate there often in our early days visiting Harris Beach. At that time, it was a small, slightly funky place with three-dollar glasses of wine and fabulous fish and chips for 9.95. How times have changed. It has been remodeled and updated, with a nice bar and outdoor seating. Wine is 8 bucks a glass, and the fish and chips are now 14 bucks, with only fries and no cole slaw. Still, it was a good lunch and excellent fish.

After lunch, the four of us sat by the beach. The picnic table where Judy (the bird lady) used to set up her telescope when she made presentations for the public about Bird/Goat Island was empty and waiting. I saw no volunteers doing anything like what Judy did for the summer she was at Harris Beach. Still, the views were excellent, and we enjoyed sharing one of our favorite beaches with Maryruth and Gerald.

We drove back up to the campground and settled into the long picnic table for a game of dominoes. Our friends left late afternoon to get home to Grants Pass before dark. Mo and I settled in for a quiet evening with leftovers from lunch and some good internet tv, mirrored to our TV from the phone. This is an excellent option if there is a good enough signal from the phones. No data is used to watch movies on the phone for us, and casting it to the TV doesn’t cost a thing. The only time this seems to be a problem is when we are in a crowded RV park with lots of rigs close by attempting to do the same thing. Then the phone sees too many TVs and gets confused. Otherwise, this method works almost everywhere when we have decent reception.

We didn’t have to check out until 1pm the next day, and with temps at 108 in Grants Pass, we stayed until the very last minute. The long morning gave us another chance to walk the beach with Mattie, this time in full, gorgeous sunshine. There was no jacket required at a sunny 60 degrees and no wind.

We only had a few days in ridiculously hot weather ahead of us when we returned home. Dealing with 114F degrees isn’t easy, but it isn’t a terrible hardship for us. We garden outside from 7 am until it gets unbearable around 11 or 12 and then escape to the perfect coolness of our air-conditioned home. So far, so good, with no power outages. I struggle to imagine how impossible it would be to deal with that kind of heat without air conditioning. I see homeless people around town with dogs on their shoulders to protect their feet. My heart breaks for them. There are only a few cooling centers where these folks can escape. It is a scary situation, even worse than the cold of winter. I am so incredibly grateful for the safety, comfort, and protection that we have that so many people do not.

We had just one more happy event to enjoy on July 30th. Mo has some friends who are much like an extended family living in Ohio. The three daughters of these friends, Stephanie, Amy, and Susan, have wonderful memories of Mo from their childhood when they lived closer and visited often. We plan to revisit them as we pass through Ohio in late September. However, Amy, Susan, and their husbands were celebrating their 25th anniversary with a trip to Portland, Oregon. The husbands wanted to see the Columbia Gorge and play frisbee golf and do some other guy things. Amy and Susan asked if we could meet in the middle Between Portland and Grants Pass.

Mo and I chose the halfway point near Creswell, Oregon, just south of Eugene, for a meeting spot. I had read about the Creswell Bakery in the past. I was reminded again when we went to the big Cheese Festival last spring that it was a destination we had yet to explore. The bakery is on a lot of “foodie” maps of places not to miss if you are traveling through Oregon.

Lunch was great, but the laughter and conversation between us was stupendous. Lots of stories of their memories of Mo when they were younger. More stories of their current lives in Ohio, their kids, and their dad, who lost his precious wife Millie a bit over a year ago. The girls were incredibly close to their mom, who was one of Mo’s dearest friends. Their dad Don is a beloved friend as well. We all had great memories of Millie, and the girls told us about Don’s adjustment to life without his wife. It is wonderful that all three girls and their kids are close by, and they spend a lot of time with Don, cooking with him at his home at least three nights a week. Some families have an incredible closeness that is such a treasure.

02-24-2022 From Lodi to Brookings on Highway 1 and other stuff

Our time in Lodi came to an end on Saturday morning. The temperatures were in the low 50s, and the sun was shining when we departed Flag City RV Resort. Fuel at the nearby Flying J was $4.49 per gallon for regular, and I am glad regular gas works perfectly fine in the MoHo. Another little delight at the Flying J is the Cinnabon kiosk. An excellent sugar rush and oh so sinfully good!


I planned one last visit for our trip. My sister lives in Vallejo, California. We don’t see each other often, but it is always a kick. Sally is a true homebody with no desire to travel anywhere, so a trip to Grants Pass for Sally won’t happen any time soon. Sally has good reasons for staying close to home. At 72 years old, she has chickens, bees, dogs, cats, and a horse that she rides almost daily. Sally also quilts and makes all sorts of lovely goodies that she sells to local shops.

In addition, Sally works full time, at home a couple of days a week, and in an office the other three days. I am in awe of her energy, and visiting is always so much fun.Before her current legal secretarial gig, Sally’s job was driving a semi-truck cross country. She managed that one for a few years before settling back in Vallejo, the town where she was raised and lived much of her life. I am still amazed at how Sally has turned a duplex on a city lot into a small farm. It was a fun visit, and we left with jars of honey, homemade peach jam from her trees, lemons, and giant brown eggs.


We had a great visit before continuing our westward journey toward Bodega Bay. Within minutes of leaving Sally’s house traveling Highway 37, we were at a dead stop. Stuck in traffic for half an hour wasn’t as bad as it could have been. I was driving and had plenty of time to check our route, look up the campground reservation, eat a snack, and recuperate from all the wonderful high-energy time at Sally’s.


We arrived at the Westside Regional Park and Campground around 3, in time to settle in and settle down a bit for the afternoon. The weather was sunny, but the cold wind made walking along the bay somewhat challenging. Even Mattie was ready to go back inside after her walk.


Mo and I paid no attention to the coincidental holiday dates when making our trip plans. We landed at Bodega Bay on President’s Day weekend. In California, we discovered it was also President’s Day Week, with schools suspended for the entire week. Happy families filled the park with lots of kids and a good kind of noise. I enjoyed watching the big extended family come to their joint campsite next to us for huge pots of boiled crabs and clams cooking on the big bbq. The families were loud but not obnoxious, and there wasn’t a single noisy motorized anything disturbing the sound of gulls and laughing kids.


After settling into our supper, we fell asleep to the sounds of people laughing and talking around the campfires. When I woke up to the moonlight at midnight, everything was silent. Unlike some horror stories I have read from other bloggers about holiday weekends at regional parks, this was a pleasing experience.


The following day, Mo took Mattie to walk along the bay before we drove south on the spit. The campground is on the bay, but nearby side roads lead to high cliffs with views of the Pacific Ocean in all its wild glory.


The wind was strong and cold, and the steep trails weren’t very inviting. The view from the cliff was terrific. Whale watchers lined up watching for the migrating blue whales that pass by here daily at this time of year.


The sun was brilliant, and the winds were not too strong when we pulled out of the park. Google wanted us to return inland to Highway 101, but we had other plans. Highway 1 is narrow, winding, and gorgeous. On 101, the ocean is several miles west, but on Highway 1, the route is adjacent to the steep, wild cliffs that make for spectacular views. It also makes for breathtaking driving, especially in a motorhome.

In the past, we drove Highway 1 through rainstorms and road closures due to slides. On this day, our drive was beautiful and easy.

Yes, the road is curvy, the pavement can be rough, the cliffs are close, and sometimes I thought ferns hanging off the rocks on the passenger side were cleaning the rig. However, the most challenging part of the drive isn’t the part along the coast.

The stretch from Westport to Legget is not an easy drive over the coast range. The road is steep, and the cliffs are close and crazy winding. We were worn out by the time we reached Legget, just a few miles south of Richardson Grove. We agreed that maybe we didn’t have to drive Highway 1 again.


We had no plan for our day other than meandering along the highway to our night destination. I couldn’t get a reservation for our park of choice near Richardson Grove, and no one ever answered the phone, and there wasn’t an option to leave a message. We took our chances. Over the years, we have parked at Richardson Grove RV Park without reservations several times.

A church group runs the park in a relatively loose manner. When we arrived at Richardson Grove, the office was closed. We were used to this from past experience. A note on the board stated the price for a site and envelopes and a slot for payment. There wasn’t a soul around until we parked, and I walked back toward the office. A young woman appeared and asked if I needed help. The current price for a spot is $56. I questioned if they were still a Passport America park, and she said no, and the best she could do was $50. for the night. The most we ever paid at this park was $18 with our PPA discount. That is a BIG change, but we paid the price, glad for a place to land for the night after our challenging drive.


The following day we took our time leaving to travel north toward Brookings. When we left Richardson Grove the sun was shining, but as we continued north on 101 the predicted clouds began to appear.


I had a bit of trouble making our Harris Beach State Park reservations back in December. There was nothing available, and we decided to take our chances with first-come, first-served sites or a possible stay at BeachFront RV Park in Harbor. Before leaving in February, I rechecked the ReserveAmerica website and found a vacancy. 


Our site was on a loop toward the back of the park. We have camped in several spots at Harris Beach, but this loop was a first for us. To our surprise, the site was private, and with high trees all around us, we still had late afternoon sunshine. There was no beach view, but we have enjoyed those beach views many times and didn’t mind.


We were awakened by the rain on our first full day at Harris Beach.  Neither of us minded much.  I made a short run to Fred Meyer for a few groceries.  We enjoyed hanging out in the MoHo doing absolutely nothing except catching up on news while I finished a blog post.

The next two days at Harris Beach were relaxing and uneventful. The rains left, the skies were gorgeous, but temperatures in the 40s with the wind weren’t conducive to long hours on the beach. We managed a fantastic walk with Mattie on Tuesday down the South Beach Trail where Mattie could run off leash outside the official boundaries of the park.


On Wednesday we wakened to another very cold, but sunny day.  We followed a leisurely breakfast and computer/tv time with a mid morning walk on the northern portion of Harris Beach.  The tides were out farther than we have seen in several years.  Much of the time we go to Harris Beach it is during the fall and winter during high King Tides.  It was fun to walk around the rocks between sections of the beach that aren’t usually accessible to us so easily.  The wind was cold, but we found a couple of protected spots to warm ourselves in the sunshine.

\We filled the rest of our days with cards, campfires, relaxing, and reading. Our initial plans included driving a few extra miles to buy fish and chips from our favorite spot in Crescent City on the way home to Grants Pass. By the time Wednesday rolled around, that idea didn’t sound as appealing as it did initially. Instead, we decided to try out a restaurant in the Harbor Area that we often frequented a few years ago. 


Catalyst Seafood was preciously known as Chetco Seafood. Mo and I loved Chetco Seafood. The fish was fresh and only lightly breaded, the wine was three bucks a glass, and the coleslaw was perfect. When it changed hands, we never bothered to try it out. 


When we first walked in, the change was noticeable. The place was packed, and the decor was very different. The owners updated the pastel decor to dark woods and tables. There was a bar in the back rather than the fish counter. We opted to be seated at the bar where two young men were sitting. They moved over for us, and we mentioned that we often ate at Chetco Seafood. One of the guys said, “My grandfather owned that restaurant.”  It turns out his grandfather sold the place to the new owner, the young man’s father. It was fun hearing a bit of the history of the business.


I missed the old place a bit. Especially when it came to paying the bill. Our $8.99 fish and chip dinner was now $20.00 if we wanted cod instead of rockfish, and there was no coleslaw. My Lemon Drop was made well and was a reasonable price at $9.00. The fish was good, but not as perfect as we remembered from the old days at Chetco Seafood. Still, I understand that businesses have to change with the times. Judging from the busy bar and restaurant, I imagine that the change has been profitable for the owners.


We had plenty of leftovers for dinner the next day. We were heading home on Thursday morning, and it is always lovely when dinner is easy on homecoming day.


The only tiny bit of entertainment I enjoyed in town was a leisurely exploration at the “Feather Your Nest” shop. I needed absolutely nothing but still wanted to browse a bit. It tickled me to find a little bit of artsy wall decor for the master bath at home. Hopefully, we can figure out a way to put a ladder in the bathtub and hang it up where it will fit perfectly with my beachy bathroom decor.


A great trip! Easy, no problems, no issues, everything worked perfectly.

12-15-2020 through 12-19-2020 Another December Escape

When winter comes, our best option for a short getaway is to head for the coast.  We had barely returned from our Thanksgiving trip when Mo said, “Can we make a plan to go somewhere again before Christmas?”  Ummm….took me an overnight minute but by the next morning I was ready to search Harris Beach for a reserved campsite.  Harris Beach is beautiful, and close.  Just a bit over 2 hours for us from Grants Pass.  I guess that is why you will see more photos and blogs about Harris Beach than just about any other location we have traveled.  So be it.  If you are bored…just move along.

With all the sites being full on our last trip, we didn’t want to take a chance.  Reservations are so easy, and for me personally it is much less stressful to know I have a place to land.  Especially when the weather is stormy I really don’t want to be wandering around hunting for somewhere to by dark.

The weather report for our four days at the ocean was grim.  Wind warnings, gale warnings, high seas and king tide warnings were many.  Still, we have camped at the coast enough to know that in between all these dramatic events the skies can clear unexpectedly and the sun will break through.  We planned accordingly.  I think I packed more outerwear and footwear than I have in a very long time.  Four days, four weeks, if it is cold and variable, I need all those alternatives to being wet.  Glad I did.

As we departed from home around 11, the skies were that gloomy gray dull that I like least of any, and the rain was spotty.  Just enough to be wet and boring, but the trip down the Smith River past the Jedediah Smith redwoods is a familiar one.  I usually like to drive home from the beach since the steep drop-off to the river is on the passenger side in the east bound lane.  Mo was happy driving to the beach that morning.  We switch off as needed, taking turns.  I function better earlier in the day so usually leave later trips to Mo.  We avoid night driving most of the time anyway and especially when traveling in the MoHo.  Lucky for me, Mo is still a great night time driver if need be.

Much of B Loop and part of C Loop are closed for the winter.  We are in A2

We arrived at our site in the A Loop and were delighted to see that most of the row was still empty.  I was relieved to see that unlike our last campsite at Harris Beach, the campfire ring was a decent height.  Mo had loaded up enough wood for four nights of campfires, in spite of the rainy forecast.  After settling in we put on our coats, including Mattie, and braved the inclement but still dry weather to go check out the beach.

It was just a little short walk to the overlook and we managed to walk down the path toward the big rocks before I had to give up.  Steep rocky stuff is out of my range now, especially when wet and slippery. 

Mattie did NOT want to turn around.

The view was great from that spot, and we could see that the beach was almost completely empty.  After walking back to the MoHo we picked up the car and drove down the steep road that leads to the main beach at the park. 

Mattie was in heaven, running wildly the minute there was space for Mo to let her off the leash.  The high tide had brought in some interesting tidbits that someone decided to arrange into a lovely still life that just begged to be photographed. 

Mattie ran and played and climbed rocks, her favorite thing to do other than running wildly in soft sand. 

Back home we settled in with some TV shows cast from the phone and a nice little steak on the BarB as the rain held off a few more hours.  By dark, the rain was coming steadily.  The rain drumming on the roof was as soothing as ever and we slept in much longer than usual the next morning.

We knew that Wednesday, the 16th, was to be the most intense day of the storm and we planned accordingly.  Snuggling in with hot coffee, some news on the TV and cozy sweats we enjoyed the indoor day completely.  I had come fully prepared with all my handmade Christmas cards ready to address and mail.  It was much more fun writing little notes and stuffing the envelopes in the MoHo than it would have been back at home. 

I started making Christmas cards back in the early days of COVID in the late spring.  The most fun is deciding which cards go to which friends.  The worst part of this is that if I make a similar card in the coming years I might not remember who got which ones the last time around.  I guess I need to keep better notes!

It rained all night but the next morning on Thursday the skies had cleared somewhat.  I decided to see if the Brookings Post Office was open and was delighted to find not a single person in the line and a friendly postmaster who checked each of my cards for weight and thickness. 

The skies were clear and beautiful as we piled into the Tracker for the short trip south to Crescent City and our favorite fish and chips restaurant, the Chart RoomWe stood in line with Nickie and Jimmy last September for our outside dining only fish and chips.

It was still outside dining only but the big difference was the weather and the lack of the long line of people waiting to order.  Although the sun was just as brilliant, the air was chilly and we wore coats.  Very few people in line and we had no trouble snagging a nice picnic table with a view.

We decided to check out the beach that we had attempted to visit last September.  At the time, it was too crowded and there was no place to park.  This time there was plenty of parking, but with the high tide coming in quite close there wasn’t much walking room.  We weren’t impressed with this particular beach, actually called Crescent Beach.  The sand is more like dark brown silt and while the surfers are fun to watch, the homeless tents and garbage strewn around was less enjoyable.

After lunch we drove north of town along the coastline to the remote headland trails at Point St. George.  I have written about the amazing historical lighthouse that is just barely visible from this point in a previous story here. There were a few people parked but only a few hikers walking along the beach.  The beach was gorgeous, wide open and clean with big breakers roaring from the high tide to keep us company.

Home again to a lovely evening with the rain holding out long enough that Mo built us a great campfire to enjoy before retreating to the cozy MoHo. As usual, Mattie had to have her own camp chair and blanket for fire time.

Most of the next day was sunny and beautiful with enough time to walk the beaches once again.  We were surprised at how the temperatures moderated after the rain and the winds were almost non existent.  It was a gorgeous day and we enjoyed every minute of it.


Mattie found many mini mountains to climb

For our last night in camp Mo once again built a beautiful campfire and we opened a bottle of champagne to enjoy by the fire and to drink with our truly delicious fish and chips.  It is great when a good dinner is enough to last for two great meals.  I am pretty sure that the Chart Room fish and chips at 14.95 each is one of the tastiest and best deals ever.























Saturday morning dawned gray and foggy once again and we took our time getting ready to leave. Even though we have an RV dump station at home, it is a bit easier to dump right there at Harris Beach.  It is a good dump with a perfect angle for a complete clean dump.  RVr’s will know exactly what I mean.  It is also easy to get to and rarely busy.  It’s the little things that matter when out traveling!

The trip home was uneventful, except for one minor detail.  In Kerby, about 25 miles west of Grants Pass, there is a fair style food booth with hot dogs, hamburgers, curly fries and yes, corn dogs!  Best corn dog I ever ate was at the Albuquerque Balloon Festival in 2019.  Mo said, “Hey, want a corn dog ?”  I didn’t exactly slam on the brakes in the middle of the highway, but I did find a way to turn around and get back there.  Yup…Albuquerque quality corn dog.  Once every year or so isn’t that bad for some truly delicious junk food.  Then again, I might have to be sure to remember that place is there on our next trip to the beach!

11-24 to 11-27-2020 Bandon Thanksgiving and a night at Harris Beach

Don’t forget that you can click on any photo if you wish to see if full resolution in my gallery

Site A47 had more privacy than we
expected

Between the time we made our reservation and our trip to the coast, COVID numbers began rising in Oregon and the governor once again shut down restaurants for indoor dining.  One of the reasons we chose Bandon over Brookings for this trip was to have an opportunity to spend some time in the little shops and restaurants that make Bandon so charming.  The weather forecast was for rain most of the week, so we wanted to have other things to do than walk the beach.

We traveled north via I-5 toward Roseburg and turned west toward the coast via Highway 42.  However, instead of following the Google Girl directions to stay on Highway 42 all the way to HWY 101 and then back south, we thought the quicker route along 42 S made more sense.  In hindsight, Google Girl sometimes gets it right and we don’t.  I spent most of the time hanging on while Mo navigated the very narrow, very winding road toward Bandon.  It was not fun for me, but I think it might have been for her.  She used to drive a TR7 among other sports cars.

Don’t try this route in a motorhome

It rained a bit along the way, but the afternoon was dry enough that we had time to enjoy a walk along the beach after we settled into our site.

The campground is about a mile from easy beach access at the Coquille River Lighthouse


We were a bit disappointed in the condition of the lighthouse

Adjacent to the town of Bandon, the Coquille River empties into the Pacific Ocean. The river extends inland a great distance and was a natural link to the virgin stands of timber in the area, but the bar at the mouth of the river, formed by the interaction of the river and ocean, was a major obstacle for ships entering the river. At times, only a few feet of water would cover the bar, but vessels still attempted to navigate the river in hopes of reaping the rewards that lay upstream. In 1880, Congress passed a bill funding the construction of a jetty on the south side of the river’s entrance that created a deep channel, resulting in a rapid rise in the number of ships entering the river.

A lighthouse at the entrance to Coquille River was the next logical step for improving navigation. Congress appropriated $50,000 for the project on March 3, 1891, but it would be four years before land was purchased, plans were solidified, and the construction crew was assembled.

In 1939, the Coast Guard assumed responsibility for Coquille River Lighthouse and decided it was no longer needed. An automated beacon was placed at the end of the south jetty, the dwelling was disassembled, and the lighthouse was abandoned. The lighthouse stood neglected for twenty-four years, until Bullards Beach State Park was created on the north side of the river. The grounds of the original eleven-acre light station were included in the park, and the park assumed responsibility for the lighthouse.

Over the years there have been several attempts at restoration, since park funding isn’t sufficient to maintain the old lighthouse.  In normal years, the lighthouse tower is open for visitation from May through September, however at the moment the old lighthouse looked quite sad.

The air smelled so incredibly fresh, and the surf was loud enough that we could hear it in camp across the dunes at least half a mile from the beach where we were camped. 

There were high tide and surf warnings posted for the next couple of days so one evening we drove through town in the dark to the south jetty where we could watch the huge noisy waves breaking over the jetty rocks.  Lots of warnings for “sneaker waves” kept me alert and when a big one came roaring in I immediately jumped back into the car.

It rained off and on that first night and the next morning dawned cloudy and wet. We settled into the MoHo for a cozy morning before driving the a mile south to Bandon to explore the small town.  The rain came and went all day, usually with a downpour at just the moment we would head for the car after visiting a shop.  About half the shops in town were open, with masks and social distancing, and we especially enjoyed the beautiful Second Street Gallery, Winter River Bookstore, and the Coastal Mist Chocolate Boutique, where we had two tiny cups of creamy drinking chocolate, to go of course. 

This photo is from last year when there was still inside service

The rain poured down as we ran to the car with our little cups of chocolate. I also purchased my first ever macaron (not a macaroon).  I wasn’t impressed, although I do think that maybe the high humidity at the ocean makes it hard to make a light crispy meringue cookie. Who knows.  I don’t have to try again.

We then meandered around the famous Cranberry Sweets.  The store has been in Bandon for more than 50 years and specializes in all sorts of cranberry confections.  I learned that more cranberries are grown around Bandon than anywhere else in the west. Although Bandon is referred to as “The Cranberry Capitol of the World”, more research informed me that most cranberries come from Wisconsin and Massachusetts. Five states grow almost all of the country’s supply of cranberries with Wisconsin producing more than half of all cranberries in the US.  Massachusetts harvests another third, and New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington produce most of the rest.  So much for “Cranberry Capitol”.

Still, the shop was charming and old fashioned, with lots of candies and confections behind the counters.  The hostess told me that they usually had lots of samples around the shop but due to COVID we had to settle for a little bag of free stuff. 

I decided it was time to get some fish and chips to go and tried out Tony’s Crab Shack where I was politely told that Tony didn’t fry ANYTHING, and perhaps I might like to try to fish tacos. Made with fresh caught crab and halibut, they were delicious.  Everything in town was take-out only, with all the restaurants closed for inside seating. We returned home in the pouring rain and it continued to rain all night long.  Funny how wonderful rain on the roof of a motorhome can sound, especially when accompanied by the roar of the ocean.  Great for a good night’s sleep!

The next morning was Thanksgiving, and we woke to beautiful clear skies.  I had precooked much of our dinner, and simply had to reheat the turkey, bake the sweet potato, mash the potatoes, cook a pot of Stove-Top stuffing, and open a jar of gravy.  It wasn’t gourmet, but was completely and totally delicious for the two of us and our socially distanced Thanksgiving dinner.

On our first day in camp I discovered the tsunami evacuation trail.  The path is narrow with signs leading to an area high on a heavily timbered hill behind the campground where people are instructed to assemble if the tsunami warning horns go off.  It would do no good to attempt to drive out of the campground in that situation since most of the highway is in the tsunami zone.

It was a lovely little trail, with moist moss, and lots of mushrooms in the duff under the trees. 

On this beautiful morning it was a perfect time to share the trail with Mo.  Mattie loved the trail and we enjoyed walking in a place where there were no dogs or people around.  Mattie gets so excited when she sees other dogs and always wants to “play”.  That entails lots of energy and training time, trying to get her to sit and calm down.  Walking around the campground can be challenging sometimes when all I want is a nice simple walk.  The trail was perfect for that.

It was surprising how full the campground was on this holiday weekend.  By the time Thursday rolled around, all sites were full and everyone seemed to be having a great time celebrating.  We even saw an outdoor TV broadcasting a football game. 

After our early afternoon dinner we went for another great beach walk, and were amazed that the weather was so perfect.  There was very little wind and the temps must have been in the 50’s.  Beautiful day. 

Home again to the MoHo where after many years of hearing about it, I actually figured out how to cast the phone to the TV with the included app on my Samsung phone.  We turned on Netflix on the phone, and with our unlimited Verizon plan we were able to watch movies and even live television on the big TV with the right apps.  My daughter Deanna told me about this capability a long time ago, but I never managed to figure it out until this trip. On a chilly evening having some TV was great entertainment.  The Verizon signal in the park was perfectly adequate to stream a movie.

Bullard’s Beach State Park has some beautiful picnic areas

On Friday morning we took our time with a lazy breakfast, a little bit of news, and some reading time before packing up.  Checkout time wasn’t until 1PM, and we only had a little over two hours to travel along the coast south toward Brookings and Harris Beach State Park.  I didn’t make a reservation for Harris Beach, thinking that winter on the coast would be open without a problem.  We planned to arrive around 2 in plenty of time to snag an open site before evening.  Things have changed in the camping world!  When we arrived the park was completely full except for one site, the only ADA site in the park, number 37 in the B loop.

I must say I was grateful for once to have my little blue disability card to hang from our windshield.  We settled in to enjoy our last evening on the beach and Mo built a nice big campfire.  Only problem with the campfire is that the ADA site has a very tall metal fire ring, I suppose so that it is safer.  It took a very long time to get that metal warm and I spent campfire time in LOTS of clothes and blankets trying to warm up.

One of our favorite holiday treats are the wonderful lights at Azalea Park in Brookings.  We knew that this year the big light show wasn’t happening, but the city of Brookings was attempting to do something at least and made arrangements for businesses that usually displayed their lights at Azalea Park to put lights up on both sides of Highway 101 and down into Harbor.  We hopped into the Tracker at dusk to go check out the show.  I must say that it was a bit of a bust.  There were a few nice lights near Fred Meyer, but the rest of them were scattered along the road with lots of space in between displays.  Oh well, at least they tried.  We heard the next morning that someone had stolen one of the big displays on the very first night of the show, the 4 piece Dragon.  So sad.  Maybe that is why so many businesses chose not to display their lights in the unprotected lots along the highway.  Eventually the dragon was recovered.

Here is a photo of the dragon from the park show last year

The next day we didn’t have to check out until 1PM and with no rush to get back home we enjoyed every last minute of park time.  I took Mattie around the campground, and walked out toward the overlook that has such a beautiful view of Harris Beach.  I felt no need to climb down to the water. 

There were so many people on the beach I was amazed.  More people and dogs running around on Harris Beach than we have ever seen even in summer.  I guess as many people have said, RVing is the great COVID escape and everyone and their dog or dogs is on the road and filling up the campgrounds.

We left in brilliant sunshine, driving as far as Cave Junction about 30 miles west of Grants Pass before we encountered the fog.  Grants Pass is often foggy in winter, sometimes without any lifting in the afternoon.  This was one of those days.  I always say, if we must have fog, we might as well have it at the beach.  It was nice to get home to our cozy house, the steamy hot tub, and TV without having to figure out the casting thing.  It was a great four days of ocean time, and a perfect way to handle a quiet Thanksgiving for just the two of us.

06-08-2015 Blowout on the way to Brookings

Current Location: Rocky Point, Oregon Sunny and warm at 79 F

Ah yes, every RV’rs worst nightmare.  Believe it or not, it wasn’t nearly as terrible as you might expect. 

blowout on 199 (4 of 10) Finally, after a couple of months of working on projects, preparing and recuperating from surgery, and enjoying our little Mattie, Mo and I headed for the beach.  We wanted to go to Harris Beach State Park for several reasons.  We love it there.  Judy is volunteering there this summer.  It is only a 2 hour drive from the Grants Pass cottage. 

As soon as I knew when Judy was going to be working, I made a reservation.  That was two months ago, and it is a good thing I did.  Seems as though Harris Beach is fairly popular in the summertime.  I realized as I looked back that we haven’t actually visited very often during the summer months.  Both of us know that the coast is often just the opposite of inland when it comes to temperatures, and summer fogs are common.  I warned Judy about that.  When people refer to Brookings as the “Banana Belt” of the Oregon Coast, they are usually talking about those gorgeous sunny days in December that can sometimes reach the 80’s while the rest of Oregon is cold and rainy.  Mattie at the Beach (13 of 22)

Summertime, however, is a different story.  Hot inland, cold at the coast.  Chilly inland, warmer at the coast.  Oregon was in the midst of some record breaking heat last week, so we expected it to be cooler in Brookings.

The day we drove west, however, last Monday June 8, was hot and gorgeous just about everywhere.  We left early enough to arrive around 1, even though check in time is technically 2pm.  blowout on 199 (5 of 10)

The winding drive from Cave Junction to Hiochi along Scenic Highway 199 next to the Smith River is impressive.  Lots of curves, drop offs, gorgeous views of turquoise pools far below the cliffs adjacent to the highway.  The very narrow highway.highway 199

BOOM!!  on a curve, with a vertical cliff upward on the passenger side, and another vertical cliff down to the river on the driver’s side, that boom wasn’t something we were expecting.  It was LOUD.  and SCARY.  Adrenalin pumping, Mo had no trouble keeping the rig going forward and we realized that the blowout must have been an inside dual.  We slowed way down and crawled to the closest turnout, which happened to be on the other side of the road going the opposite direction.   tire 1

No cell service.  Not a hint.  Nada.  Sure does make us appreciate that we have a toad!  Mo unhooked (this surgery recuperation thing is a true pain, I can’t lift the hitch for another couple of months) and I drove off west to find a spot with a signal.

blowout on 199 (2 of 10) Calling AAA wasn’t a problem until the dispatcher (someone somewhere in a far off state with a very difficult accent) said that AAA can’t change an inside dual, and that we would have to be towed.  Where did we want to go.  I told her several times I didn’t have cell service, but it didn’t click and she kept saying she would call me to keep us updated.  Nope.

Instead I drove back a few miles to Mo and the waiting rig where we were conveniently parked in the shade in one of the prettiest spots on the entire route.  Many times as we have passed this turnout we have wanted to stop, but usually it is full so we haven’t done it.  Shade, a view, no cell service, but who cares.  It is a gorgeous afternoon and we have a reservation so we can be as late as we need to be.  Whew. 

blowout on 199 (6 of 10) Within an hour a van pulled up, with a guy who said AAA sent him out to find us since they couldn’t reach us by phone.  He couldn’t change the tire, but he also said that we could obviously not be towed because we had a flat tire!.  He said that Les Schwab in Crescent City could do the change if we were willing to pay for the repair and then get reimbursed by AAA.  Sure.  Another hour went by and the Les Schwab truck showed up, but the guy didn’t realize that our hubs had covers on them and spent a very long time trying to find a lug wrench that would fit over the caps before we realized what he was doing and told him he needed to remove the covers to get to the lugs.

blowout on 199 (8 of 10) After a lot of work, he did manage to get the tire changed, but rather than straighten out the bent mud flap before putting the tires back on, he thought he would just pull the flap down.  Another half an hour went by before he decided he needed to take the tires back off, work at getting the flap untangled, and put the tires back on.  While we were waiting, I enjoyed every little moment of fluttering maple leaves against the brilliant blue skies.  It was an incredibly beautiful day to be sitting outside. By 3:30 we were once again on our way west. blowout on 199 (9 of 10) We at first couldn’t figure out why that tire had failed, and had failed so badly.  This set of tires was a full set of six that Mo got as part of a recall by Michelin in late 2013 just before we went on our three month trip to Florida.  What both of us had forgotten, however, is that back in Florida we had a flat, and the spare was installed in the inside dual position.tire 2 We didn’t find out till the next day in Brookings, when Mo bought a new Michelin tire, that that spare was one of the original tires from the MoHo with a date of 2005.  UhOh.  I guess a tire might fail if it is ten years old. 

We managed to get to Brookings by 5, a little bit worn out, and I walked up to Judy’s spot to let her know we had made it to camp. The next few days were great, with beach time and Judy time and some new places to explore in Brookings that we had never seen. 

But more of that in the next post…