03-22 to 24-2021 Off to the Smith with Deborah

Once again we decided that a shared camping trip with my daughter Deborah would be a great way to spend some time in a beautiful place.  Our plan was to camp near the Smith River in California so Deb could hone her fishing skills.

Mo and I had camped at Redwood Meadows RV Resort in Hiouchi back in November of 2010 in a nice little spot adjacent to a tiny bubbling creek.  Even though there is a bit of road noise from Highway 199, it isn’t terribly intrusive and the site we like is set a bit apart from some of the other sites.  We made reservations, and during the process discovered that Redwood Meadows is owned by the same people who own the Shoreline RV Park where we camped in Eureka.  When talking with Brenda at the office while making the reservation I mentioned Shoreline in passing and Brenda made sure I received a 15 percent discount since I had camped at one of their parks.  I never asked if the discount had an ending date, but was happy for the little bit of additional savings, more than the 10 percent we usually get for AARP, AAA, or military discounts.

After spending several days with Deb in the MoHo last month, we knew how to manage the small space and enjoy being together.  This time Deb was insistent that she provide one of our meals, and had a great pot of beef stroganoff with wide noodles all pre-cooked and ready to go.  We hoped for another supper of fresh caught fish, and maybe a third night of fish and chips at our favorite spot in Crescent City, not far west from our camping site in Houichi.

Deb purchased a 2 day fishing license for California, in addition to tags for both salmon and steelhead, and came prepared with pole, bait, and a tackle box of goodies.  She read up on local fishing stories, best bait to use, and where the good holes were located.

We left Grants Pass around 11, knowing that we couldn’t check in to Redwood Meadows until 1PM.  Since it was Sunday, no one was in the office, but I knew exactly where to find the envelope with our check-in information.  I have to say that Brenda was so helpful and considerate throughout this entire process.  She called a couple of times before we left home to double check how we were doing and make sure we knew that she had saved our requested spot.  I was truly impressed with how well everything was managed at this park.

We knew the weather might be a bit iffy for a day or two during our visit, but Deb was undaunted.  She had no qualms about fishing in the rain if need be.  That first afternoon after we set up the rig Mo settled in with Mattie while Deb and I got in the Tracker to scope out where the fishing holes were located, what Mo called, “A reconnaissance trip”.

Some of the maps that Deb had were hard to understand and it took awhile to get a good picture of where the various sections of the river began.  For fishing these waters it is imperative that you know exactly where you are on the river since the rules vary by section.  Deb also discovered that the entire section of the river required barbless hooks so she needed to pick up some of those on her way to our home before we left. 

Our RV park was just a short distance from the main entrance to Jedediah Smith State and National Park, right along Highway 199 where the Smith River flows west and north toward the ocean 7 miles distant.  With a bit of wandering about we found all the fishing holes Deb wanted to try, and even saw a few people fishing in the late afternoon.

Back home we settled in for supper, a truly grand meal thanks to Deborah, with plenty for leftovers.  By the time we returned, Mo had started a lovely campfire and after dinner we sat outside to enjoy the evening and roast a few marshmallows with the super roasting sticks that Deborah sent to us as a gift after our last camping trip.  My old sticks were short, and these new ones extend to a perfect length, with two prongs on the end to keep the marshmallows from dripping off as they get hot, and metal that stays cool to the touch, maybe titanium?

After a great night’s sleep, with no problems from the highway noise, we woke to a cloudy morning with rain predicted for much of the day.  After breakfast the three of us piled into the Tracker, Deb with her gear and Mo, Mattie, and I with coffee and phones and a book to read while Deborah fished.

The first site we explored was right near the bridge where Highway 199 crosses the Smith River.  Named Society Hole, we were tickled to see the fishing symbol on the sign at the entrance to a parking area that even had a small outhouse.

Deb headed down to the river, and in spite of the chilly and damp weather was thrilled to be fishing once again.  It has been awhile since she got out with her poles.  Her favorite fishing was during her years in Texas along the coast where she fished in the ocean with great success.  She also fished successfully for trout in Pelican Bay near our previous home in Rocky Point.

She walked the rocky bar adjacent to the river, casting into the deep pools as far as she could reach, but to no avail.  We noticed that with the incredibly clear water of the river we should have been able to see a fish or two.  Not a one appeared, either visually or on Deborah’s hook.  Still, it was a lovely morning for all three of us, especially when the sun peeked through now and then. 

I spent some time walking the gravel bar as well and was amazed at the gorgeous river worn rocks.  Most of the geology of the upper Smith is in serpentine and various types of metamorphic rocks, including jade and jadeite.  I have no clue which of these rocks were actually jade, but picked up one to take to daughter Melody, who informed me if I didn’t bring her one, I didn’t love her!

By early afternoon I received an expected text message from an old friend.  Ben Marshall, a soil scientist who worked for me in 2008 and 2009 in Sonora California was traveling from Coos Bay to his family home in the Mother Lode area in California.  Ben now lives with his wife Meghan and two young boys in Maryland, where he is an MLRA Leader for soil survey.  That is the position I was in just before retiring when Ben worked for me.  I remember long conversations with Ben about how he really wanted a wife and kids, to build a family.  Ben met Meghan at a Basic Soil Survey training class and they fell in love.  Meghan applied for a job in my office, and it was a bit of a difficult thing because my supervisor was adamant that having partners in the same office was not a good thing. I told my boss, “If we don’t hire Meghan, we will lose Ben”.  The rest is history.  Meghan came to work for me as well, she and Ben got married, moved to Maryland and now have two sweet little boys. 

Ben, traveling with his youngest boy, arrived in late afternoon.  Masked and careful, even his young son, we had a great visit, catching up on old times and laughing with the memories of soil survey in those years.  It was great to see him.  It is lovely when people from a past life care enough to make an effort to visit.

Without fish for the Monday evening menu we settled in with a meat loaf I had prepared, just in case.  It was also delicious and once again we enjoyed a nice campfire with marshmallows.  Mo and I put out our awning, a new one that we replaced a couple of years ago and haven’t used since.  Often the winds are too unpredictable to leave out the awning.  This time we were protected from the wind and had no problem.  However, Mo was careful to put the awning up at enough of an angle that the rainwater would run off without pooling and causing any problems.

Another good night’s sleep and we were ready for a day of exploring more holes along the river.  This time we traveled Walker Road, a dirt track that meanders through Jedediah Smith State Park toward the river.  On our last trip through this area we stopped at the visitor center where we learned about Walker Road, but chose to skip it since we were on the way farther south and didn’t want to have to unhook the Tracker to explore it. 

It was absolutely gorgeous!  Most people traveling through this area visit the main park road or the access road to Stout Grove farther north in the park.  It was the first time in all the years we have traveled this route that we had a real reason to explore Walker Road.

Once again, the fishing area was beautiful, the river gorgeous and incredibly clear.  The morning fog began to lift around 9, earlier than we expected, and the sunshine made everything sparkle.  After a few hours at this hole, once again Deborah decided that it might be time to try another spot.  We decided to go home for some lunch and a bit of relaxation before Deb and I drove back to another highly recommended spot.  Mo and Mattie stayed home in the Moho for some down time.

This time Deb and I decided to try another route, a dirt track that showed several access points that we had seen that morning from the west side of the river. The road wasn’t too bad, but we did have to drive through a few deep pools left from the recent rains.  We hoped to get all the way to the area across the river where we had been in the morning, but the last deep pool was too much for the Tracker.

I thought I might need to double check the depth, and it was a good thing I did because the water was 3/4 of the way up the tires, with a soft mushy bottom toward the end, and deep enough to bury the exhaust pipe of the car.  I was glad Deb had some waders with her.  She never used them, but they sure helped me as I crossed that deep pool.

We had Mattie with us on this sunny, gorgeous afternoon and she loved following Deb as she fished along the shoreline.  I managed to wrangle my walker out of the car to help a bit with walking the distance over the rough gravel bar, but I think I had to carry the walker more than I used it.  Still, it was nice to sit there in the sunshine and listen to the river and watch Deb fish.

Once again, incredibly clear water, but no fish.  Deb loved every minute, though, insisted that she didn’t care that much and was just happy to be out there fishing.  It was a magical afternoon.

When we got back to camp, Mo had been visiting with a camping neighbor who had fishing gear in his truck.  He told her that all the fish were gone for the time being, with the local river guides taking vacation time until the fish come back!  He managed to catch trout by traveling 20 miles upstream to his friend’s home right on the river bank and sitting there all day.  Ah well…who knew.  Deb and I thought that maybe next time she might like to go during the Christmas steelhead season and hire a guide to help her learn the river from a local.

With no fresh fish, our plan for Tuesday evening was to take the short drive to Crescent City to visit our favorite spot for fish and chips, the Chart Room.  I knew they were closed on Monday, so we saved that trip for Tuesday.  It was a lovely drive, and when we got there I discovered that my memory of the place being closed on Monday was wrong.  It is closed on Tuesdays!  Ah well.  Instead we rambled back through town along the highway and found another place, one I still only thing of as “restaurant” because that is what I saw on the sign.

The place was funky and charming in the way the coastal coffee shops often are with a laid back vibe and lots of souvenir racks in the middle of the room, fish murals on the walls, and friendly waitresses. We had excellent service, good decent ordinary food, and yes, we ate indoors!  Everyone was masked as they entered the restaurant, and tables were more than 6 feet apart.  Even though Mo and I have only had one vaccination, Deb has had her second, and with numbers going down we felt safe enough. I had forgotten how much fun it is to actually sit in a restaurant, sharing food and background noise with all sorts of people you don’t know.  Why is that fun?  I have no clue, but it was nice to be able to dine inside again.

We went home to enjoy our last campfire of the trip, laugh about the closed restaurant and the lack of fish in the river, and spend another night together in the MoHo.

It was a simple trip, a bit less than 2 hours from home, and yet it felt like another vacation from everyday life.  Deb kept worrying that we were making the entire trip about her desire to fish.  I told her that was great!  It is always nice to have a focus for a trip.  We learned a lot and saw parts of the Smith River that we wouldn’t have seen without Deborah along.  Mo and I love our own company, but having another compatible, easy person to share a trip with had been delightful.  Deb is now hooked of course, and wants her own camping rig. She might decide that a trailer is better for her than a small van, especially since vans are becoming so popular and so highly priced, even for used ones. She spent the entire last part of the trip looking up trailers and vans.

Our trip home was uneventful.  We are used to traveling Highway 199, high on a cliff above the Middle Fork of the Smith.  Such a gorgeous river. We left on Wednesday.  Once home, we discovered that just a day later on Thursday, right near the intersection of Highway 199 and Walker Road a huge redwood fell across the highway, killing two unsuspecting people traveling along in their car.

When Deb and I first explored Walker Road we saw a big tree that had fallen across the road that was being cleaned up. Still, it never really occurred to me that those huge old trees could fall without warning on a perfectly clear, non windy day.  Of course, if you spend any time walking the redwood forests, you will see huge trees everywhere that have fallen at one time or another.  As many times as we have driven through the redwoods on our way to the coast, I never gave it a moment of thought.  I might think differently next time, but it won’t keep me from driving the Redwood Highway.

02-13-2021 Three People Traveling in the MoHo

Once again we headed for a coast, but this time instead of the Oregon Coast our destination was the Northern California coast.  For the first time in the 13 years we have been traveling in this MoHo (not counting the two prior years in the baby MoHo) we had a guest traveling with us.

My eldest daughter Deborah often visits on Sunday mornings.  She only lives an hour away and comes to spend some time with us and with her son who lives across the street from us.  Especially in this time of COVID she and her son are part of our “bubble” and the visits provide a sweet interlude.  On one such visit, as we were talking about our upcoming travels, we came to a great idea.  Deb has been working from home, has had her first vaccination, and has lots of leave accumulated that she needed to use.  In moments, we decided that a joint trip in the MoHo would be a great way for her to use her leave.

It was in 2013, three years after purchasing the MoHo, that Mo and I had the large sofabed replaced with a comfy dining booth with seats that make down into a reasonably comfortable bed.  In all that time, except for when it was first installed, we have never used the bed.  Mo and I tested it before this trip to be sure we remembered how to convert the booth to a bed and packed a large cushy sleeping bag for Deborah. 

On this Saturday morning we woke to rain, but we had been following the weather and knew this would be the case.  Predictions for our six days on the road indicated rough weather for most of the trip.  Undaunted, we didn’t even consider trying to reschedule.  Changing dates is easy for us as retired folks, but not so easy for my working girl.  Besides, we were all excited for the trip.  Deborah works hard, has a partner who is disabled, so doesn’t get away very often. 

The predictions for the weekend included rain and snow over some of the passes, including sections of Highway 199 that is our route to the coast from Grants Pass.  The predictions were just a bit off, thank goodness, with temperatures on our route remaining in the low 40’s and no snow except on the mountains around us.

For Deborah, the winding road along the cliffs bordering the Smith River was thrilling, with waterfalls cascading down the mountainsides at every turn, and the Smith at the highest level we had seen yet in our years of traveling this route.

When we began the trip, I prayed to the travel angels to be with us and let it be a memorable time for Deborah with no glitches.  The first day out lived up to every expectation in spite of the rain.  As we approached Jedediah Smith State Park the rain stopped and there were a few moments of sunshine peeking through the clouds.  It was Deborah’s first visit to the redwoods.

We parked the MoHo and took the Tracker on the park roads.  The campground had recently opened and the day use area was easily accessible.  The Smith River was running high and wild and people were fishing along the bank. The park road meanders beyond the river to a place where we know there is a very large tree and a little bit of a wide place in the road to park. 

We stopped, the sun came out again, and we enjoyed taking photos of the huge tree that seems to draw us each time we visit this area.  I have photos of Nickie and Jimmy and Erin and Mui at this same tree.  I used the opportunity to teach Deborah how to do vertical panoramas with her phone the same way Erin taught me at exactly the same location.

Leaving the park, we continued on the Redwood Highway toward Crescent City, with the mist making the redwoods even more mysterious. 

Once again the travel angels were with us, bringing out a bit of sunshine and letting up on the rain as we parked at our favorite Chart Room to order fish and chips to go.  The dining room was open for inside dining, since numbers in Del Norte county are down.  Deb and I looked inside and it felt claustrophobic even though people were spaced well. 

Sticking to our “to go” plan, we ordered our fish and took it back to the comfy warm MoHo for a perfectly fabulous lunch.  The servings are huge and we knew that there would be plenty for our early lunch and for dinner once again when we got settled into our park in Eureka.

Leaving Crescent City, we traveled along the coastal highway 101 through misty rain.  At a location about 20 miles south of town there was a traffic stop due to a huge slide that was being repaired. 

As we were parked waiting for our turn to pass, we saw large amounts of mountainside continuing to slide toward the road. UhOh.  We were lucky to get through, and learned later in the afternoon that Highway 101 had been closed at that slide after we passed.  Thank you again, Travel Angels!!

Checking the map, we decided to take a short alternate route south for about ten miles that meanders through the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.  For reasons I cannot explain, in all our trips south on this route, Mo and I have never stopped at this state park.  It was gorgeous with huge groves of trees that seemed even taller due to the steep slopes on either side of the road.  We parked at the closed visitor center where Mo took Mattie for a walk in the meadows and Deborah and I ventured onto a short trail where dogs weren’t allowed.

For Deborah, it was even more fascinating to be up close to the big trees in the beautiful groves along the trail. I had the camera and the phone, but Deb was the one snapping away with her phone.  I think she had more than 1000 photos when we returned at the end of the trip.  It isn’t easy getting good shots in the dark woods, but between the two of us we managed a few good ones.

The rain held off again for our short hike, and only started up when we got back on the road.  By the time we reached Eureka, the rain stopped long enough for us to enjoy an easy setup at Shoreline RV Park, right on the edge of town close to Highway 101.

I think Deborah got a kick out of watching Mo and I do the unhook/setup thing since she hadn’t experienced it before this trip.  We take it for granted and are pretty quick at the shared process after so many years traveling together.

Mo and I have stayed at this park in the past.  It is convenient and close to town for exploring areas around Eureka, but not particularly exciting, with sites spaced fairly close together. Still, it was for only 2 nights and the main purpose of staying at this park was to have close proximity to Eureka and Samoa.

The biggest surprise of the evening happened when Deb and I decided to take Mattie for a walk and after crossing under the highway on a paved pathway found ourselves on the beautiful Eureka Waterfront Trail.  Completed in 2018 and meandering along the salt marshes of Humboldt Bay the trail was a complete surprise.  Reading about the concept and construction of the trail was wonderful.  The project is beautiful and a great accomplishment for the city of Eureka.

There were many interpretive signs along the paved path and long boardwalk.  We also enjoyed the creative benches scattered along the way, although it was too dark to get good photos of any of them

We walked much farther than we planned and it was dark when we returned to the MoHo.  Mo was getting a bit worried about what happened to us, and it hadn’t occurred to me to take a phone with me to explain why we were gone so long. After all, we were just taking the dog for a short potty break when we started out.

After our left-over fish dinner we settled in to watch a little bit of TV.  Seems as though the park now uses some kind of cable box for TV that requires plugging in a bunch of stuff to the TV. Ours is installed behind the wall and we have no easy access to the back of the TV without removing screws and such.  Instead we once again decided to try the mirror casting capability of the phone.  That wasn’t very successful at this park because there were so many rigs so close to us that the phone kept trying to cast to several tv’s that weren’t ours.  Funny stuff! 

It only took a few minutes to shuffle things around a bit for Deborah to make down her bed. We settled in for the night listening to the rain on the roof of the rig, a wonderfully soothing sound for all of us. 

09-06-2020 Great Times with Great Friends

When I last wrote, it was Tuesday morning and I was reeling from the overnight devastation that blew up in Oregon with very little warning.  I had no idea then just how extensive the damage would be, and wrote about our winds and our trees and our friends who had only disappeared the day before into the beautiful Cascades for a camping trip along the Rogue River.  It was a few days before we heard from Jimmy and Nickie (Out and About with Nickie and Jimmy) and if you would like to hear their version of this wild and wooly week, be sure to check in on Nickie’s blog.

However, on Saturday when they arrived at our home here in Grants Pass, the skies were gorgeous and if memory serves me right, there were no big fires burning anywhere near us. 

It was great to see them pull into the driveway and we were happy to share our home and fresh air with the refugees from fire and smoke in California.  Little did we know.

With much to catch up on since our last in person visit, we settled into the house for conversation and some relaxation before supper.  Even though our skies were clear, it was much too hot for al fresco dining on the deck, so I only stepped outside long enough to grill the marinated chicken for some tasty fajitas.

On a bit of a silly side note here:  I have to note how my word choices may have changed over the years.  I say “al fresco” much more often to describe outdoor dining since knowing Erin who now writes on FindPengiuns, and of course “tasty” was a favorite word of Awesome George the keeper of almost daily blog posts and many great “tasty” recipes.

But back to the weekend. Saturday was hot, but the air conditioning worked beautifully and dinner was enjoyable indoors.  After watching the weather predictions for record heat coming on Sunday we thought it might be nice to spend the day at the coast. It is just a 2 hour drive, much of it along the beautiful Smith River.  Highway 199 passes Jedediah Smith State and National Park on the way to our destination in Crescent City.  The entire idea seemed just perfect until the smoke began to thicken as we headed west.  What??  Smoky at the beach?  Unheard of! 

We watched the thermometer drop from 95 degrees at 10 AM in Grants Pass to just under 85 degrees in the shade of the huge redwoods in the forest at the park.  Even the smoke cleared a bit under the trees as they pumped oxygen into the surprisingly warm air.

Driving into the park, we had planned to travel the back route along the Howland Hill Road but were told that road was temporarily closed at the end closest to Crescent City.  Instead we drove to the day use area, and as fate would have it, found one of the few open spots for parking right under a favorite giant redwood along the narrow one lane road.

In Nickie’s blog she mentions light traffic on 199, but as regular travelers of that road Mo and I kept remarking to ourselves that we had never seen so many cars heading toward the beach as there were on this day. Admittedly, we rarely go to the coast in summer, for this very reason, usually much too crowded this time of year.  On a day of record heat in the Rogue Valley, it wasn’t surprising that everyone was headed for the coast.

We enjoyed the trees in the park, laughing and trying to figure out how to get panoramas that would depict the incredible height of this magnificent tree.   Nickie wandered off, (something she does often), and came back exclaiming that she had found a trail along a river down the hill through the brush.  We followed her through the thick vegetation till we came upon a lovely flat trail surrounded by huge trees, ferns and thick vegetation.

The walk was superb until I realized we were in the midst of legendary poison oak, with some of the evil vines extending 20 feet up in the trees.  Time to turn around! Walking through poison oak isn’t too difficult if you don’t have a happy little dog along that wants to explore every single thing.

Yes, the red stuff on that tree is poison oak

We returned to the car and continued toward Crescent City and our major destination, The Chart Room.  It isn’t a fancy place, and dining is often accompanied by the loud barking of the resident sea lions that take over the pier.  Today they were out on the floating docks nearby, and the pier was thick with parked cars and many people lined up waiting for the same legendary fish and chips that brought us here.  The last time Mo and I were at this restaurant as we drove south last February it was a Monday and was closed.

We were really looking forward to the fish and chips, the predicted 69 degree coolness of the coast, and the fresh air.  Sadly, the temps were in the 90’s, feeling much hotter as we stood in the hot sun for 50 minutes waiting to place our order.  We then waited another half hour to receive the order.

Then it was a matter of deciding where to eat our glorious meal.  The beach was thick with people and hot with blazing sun.  No tables, nothing to sit on, no shade.  Instead we decided to drive south toward Crescent Beach looking for a parking spot.  Every single wide place in the road was filled with parked cars and people, people everywhere! 

Driving farther south on a side road to the west of Highway 101 toward Endert’s Beach we were thrilled to not only find a space to park, but perfectly level rocks in lovely shade for tables and a distant view of the ocean below us.  I wasn’t sure if the fish and chips were as good as they seemed or if they were enhanced by what it took to get them and the fact that we were really hungry since it was after 2PM.

After lunch we continued down to the end of Endert’s Beach Road to the beach trailhead.  The parking lot was filled to the brim, but one of the little compensations of a crummy disease is that little blue card I can hang in the windshield that gives me premium parking when it is needed most.  We parked in the handicap site right by the bathroom at the head of the trail.

The sign said it was only .6 of a mile to the beach.  Piece of cake!  I hiked Boundary Springs, and National Creek Falls, and through the redwoods.  I could do a mile standing on my head.

I discovered that a mile isn’t always just a mile.  The trail started out smooth and level but then descended rapidly over the coastal cliffs and ended at steep rocks that were a barrier that I couldn’t manage to navigate. 

Even Mattie couldn’t go down and run on the beach because of the many other dogs off leash with the same idea and they were a lot bigger than she was.  Still, in spite of the struggle for me and the disappointment for Mattie, I was glad we did the hike.  It was hot and a bit smoky, but the little beach tucked away at the bottom of the cliffs was delightful.

Back in the car we decided to try to find a spot of sand for Mattie to run free a bit, her favorite thing.  Mo parked across from Crescent Beach and took Mattie out to the sand.  She ran wild for about 20 seconds and then stopped cold and tried to run back to the car.  Either it was just too darn hot for her, or she was exhausted from all the previous hiking.  Our little girl is getting older, I guess, just like me.

We piled into the car and I think as Mo drove home along the winding Smith River, all three of us and the dog slept at least a little bit. 

Even though the smoke had been present at the beach, as we approached Grants Pass we were greeted with extreme heat and hot temps.  Dinner wasn’t needed after our late afternoon meal and we settled in to visit a bit before bedtime.  It was then that we heard reports of a wind advisory for the following night.

When we woke on Monday, skies were clear and except for the wind advisory, everything seemed to be just fine.  After more visiting, and waffles and farmer’s market peaches for breakfast, Jimmy and Nickie packed up their rig and headed east toward the Cascades for their camping trip along the Rogue.

Not one of us had a clue what the coming week would bring.  But that is the rest of the story.

09-07-2020 September Times

Such a great weekend we just spent with our California friends, Nickie and Jimmy Wilkinson. However,as I write this morning, I am watching wild winds blowing all sorts of debris across the property, depositing much of it on what just a few days ago was a nice litter free lawn and drive.  Change comes fast this time of year.

The workshop isn’t really crooked, just a phone photo that wouldn’t adjust properly

I am also looking at fire maps, smoke maps, photos from friends and family in other parts of our state that are undergoing a firestorm of huge proportions.  Smoke is thick and dark all the way from Eugene to Portland.

Iconic landscapes that define the Oregon Cascades and their foothills are burning or evacuated.  MacKenzie Bridge along the MacKenzie River, the Mt Jefferson Wilderness, the gorgeous Santiam Canyon, and even our precious Silver Falls State Park are evacuated and in the line of fire.

We were awakened at 1 by 40 mph winds and smoke so thick it infiltrated the house with doors opened for just a moment to check the property. Back to sleep at 4:30 AM, restless, still with power researching as much as I could find out.  A new fire at Collier State Park heading for Chiloquin, that this morning I see has managed to turn just enough west to run into Klamath Lake and miss the town of Chiloquin, but not the many homes scattered in the Oregon Shores developments of Agency Lake.

Power out here for just long enough to make us nervous, but it came back on in time for morning coffee.  Talking to my frightened daughter Melody on the phone, whose home in Brownsville is located between the two huge fires, one to the north and one to the south, and so far her town isn’t in danger. Incredibly, her power outage didn’t last long either.

Melodys house on 09-08-2020

Melody’s home in Brownsville this morning

Our friends left yesterday around noon for their planned camping trip to Farewell Bend, with clear skies and fairly hot temperatures.  They had seen the predictions for a “major wind and fire event” to come.  Their home in California is thick with smoke, and they needed to breathe.  When they left, the smoke maps showed clear skies at their destination, but in the middle of the night when I woke up and checked the map, I can see they were surrounded by thick smoke and being battered by ridiculously high winds.  “Unprecedented”, using Nickie’s current least favorite word.

I worry, of course.  Farewell Bend is high enough in the mountains to have no cell phone coverage, much less internet coverage.  I am reasonably certain that if there were anything to fear, the forest service people would close the park and tell them to go.  So far I have heard nothing, so must assume they made it through the night without any trees falling on their rig, any fires starting in their area, and hopefully the ability to breathe.

I planned to sit and write about our truly delightful visit with them, but couldn’t even begin to do the happy la-la-la story that was completely overwhelmed by the events of the last 12 hours.  It happens so very quickly.

Speaking with daughter Deanna in Lincoln, Washington, I discovered that the fires in that area are even more devastating than they are here in Oregon.  The Whitman County town of Malden, population about 200 people,was largely destroyed by a fast moving fire.  Interstate 90, Highway 395, Highway 2 all closed.  Much of Washington under threat from even higher winds than we have here in Oregon.

The workshop isn’t really crooked, just a phone photo that wouldn’t adjust properly

The sun is shining here, the smoke has thinned considerably, and the erratic winds come and go.  I may even get outside to water in time, but for the moment I will wait for the craziness to ebb a bit.  Those winds kick up with no warning whatsoever.

In the meantime, I will wish the best for my friends camping in the Oregon mountains, for my daughter and her many friends in the Willamette Valley and the beautiful canyons on the west slope of the Cascades, for so many people in so many places that are dealing with what is turning out to be another devastating, unprecedented season of wildfire.

When I am ready, I will slip back into the pleasant recent memories of our time with Nickie and Jimmy, both here at home and on our day trip to the Oregon Coast.