August 3 “Bird Lady of Blogland” Visits Rocky Point

Current Location: Rocky Point, Oregon  74 Degrees F and Mostly Sunny

back yard conversation (1 of 1)-14 Mo and I have been lucky enough to meet some delightful people as we travel around in the MoHo.  Most readers know about the infamous meet and greets of people who have known each other only through the internet, and the extended family of RV bloggers who read and comment on each other’s blogs over the years.

back yard conversation (1 of 1) For people like the two of us, somewhat solitary and not especially socially inclined, the people that we have met in this way have been an incredible treasure, and some have become life long friends.  Judy, Travels with Emma, is one of those.  We have enjoyed each other’s company in the past out on the road.  It was great to have her volunteering here in Oregon, close enough that she could manage a short visit.

smoke from the Stout Fire and California fires converge on Rocky PointSmoky skies at Rocky Point

Mo and I drive that road between Rocky Point and Brookings often, so much so that we are almost immune to the narrow curving highway and its steep drop-offs.  It is a four hour drive, a little less than 200 miles, and most of the time, the scenery is gorgeous.  Not so much this time for Judy, with smoke from both the California and Oregon fires converging in the Rogue Valley, and coming over the crest of the Cascades to settle into the Klamath Basin as well. 

Judy kayaks Recreation Creek (1 of 1)-2 In spite of the smoke, when Judy arrived mid-day, after a bit of visiting and a few snacks, we loaded up the kayaks and headed down the road to the public boat launch at Rocky Point.  Even though there were some towering thunderheads overhead, the skies were quiet, and no sign of thunder or lightning frightened us away from the glassy, still waters.

Mattie on Recreation Creek (1 of 1)-3 It was a perfect day for Judy’s second foray into a kayak, nice and still, no wind, no current.  I was impressed with her ability to slip into the kayak easily, (well almost easily), and do a pretty good job of keeping up with us.  We wandered around Recreation Creek a bit before deciding to paddle south into the Harriman Creek spring run so Judy could see the incredibly clear water.  Recreation Creek (2 of 2)

Even though some rather fat drops of rain fell on us, it wasn’t enough to dampen our spirits or get us wet.  Judy on Recreation Creek (1 of 1)-7

It was Mattie’s first trip out in the kayak, and she wore her new little vest with pride and did great.  She stood up most of the time, watching where the boat was headed, often turning around to Mo to be sure that everything was all right. 

Mattie on Recreation Creek (1 of 1)-4I so loved being back on the creek, on the bay, in the boat once again.  I have really missed our times kayaking this year and hope that in the next few months before winter we don’t wait so long between paddling days.

Back home in the late afternoon, I finished up the ribs, making sure I did some “naked” ones for Judy and some gooey sticky ones for us and with some roasted potatoes and a salad.  It was the first time that we had introduced Mattie and Emma and the two did just great. 

Mattie meets Emma (1 of 1) I was amazed at how gentle Emma was with little Mattie, getting down to her level and so gently putting her paw on her to subdue her.  Mattie would have none of that, however, and because Emma was so good with her, she was all smartie pants hot stuff, thinking how tough she was. It was great fun watching them tussle around.

back yard conversation (1 of 1)-7 Judy seemed to enjoy the cabin, although the extensive booklet of instructions that Mo left for the composting toilet were a bit much.  We told her, “Just turn the crank, Judy”.  I guess it worked fine, since I never did notice Judy sneaking outside to the old outhouse.

After breakfast the next day, Judy and Emma and I headed east through Klamath Falls toward the Tulelake and Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuges.  It would have been a beautiful drive if not for the smoke, and I spent a lot of time telling Judy what she would be seeing if the skies weren’t so murky.

birds at Tulelake (14 of 50) I’ll let Judy tell you about our day, but the best part for me was Judy’s excitement when she saw the birds.  “Oh, I am back in my element”, she exclaimed when we pulled off Stateline Road at the first sighting of birds in the marsh.  It was great fun for me to view the refuge through Judy’s eyes, and as usual, when I am with Judy, I learned so much.birds at Tulelake (13 of 50)

birds at Tulelake (47 of 50)Loved seeing the mama grebe feeding her babies

After a long day exploring, we arrived home late afternoon and settled in a bit before I built a taco supper for the three (five) of us to share at the picnic table.  We have lots of places to sit around the property, but often find that we end up in the same place most of the time.  It was fun having Judy here, because we sat around in some different chairs, and ate at the picnic table instead of on the porch table.  Silly how you can get in a rut sometimes.

After breakfast Judy headed back to the coast, and Mo and I slipped back into work/chore mode.  Tomorrow we will be going again to Grants Pass and the Cottage.  We try to get there at least every ten days or so to be sure things are OK, and keep the little patch of lawn watered.  cottage acre  (7 of 12)The “Cottage” in Grants Pass

Our other projects are coming along, bit by bit.  My house on Painter Street is waiting for the appraisal and the closing and with the buyer renting from me until that time, Mo and I no longer have to maintain that property.

painting has started for the exterior (5 of 5)The Old Fort Road Apartments in Klamath Falls

Mo’s apartments in Klamath Falls are coming along as well, with the exterior painting and repair nearly finished, and the interior of the apartment Mo and I plan to use all freshly painted.  Daughter Melody with grandson Xavier, and granddaughter Axel are well settled in their two apartments, and Mo and I plan to spend time there this winter when we aren’t here in Rocky Point or out traveling.  It is smaller, easier to maintain, less snow to plow, and yes, cable internet…unlimited bandwidth.  You have no idea how much I am looking forward to that!

House at Rocky Point Lumix (4 of 7)The “Big House” at Rocky Point

Then again, with more than a decade of treasured time here at the Big House in Rocky Point, there will be a bit of nostalgia of course when it comes time to actually downsize and leave it behind.  That is for a future time, however, and for now we are enjoying having this place to share with family and good friends now and then.

9-27-2014 A Day on Lopez Island

Current Location: Rocky Point Oregon Clear and 37 F at 8AM

boat launch at MacKay Bay I was so excited when I went to sleep after our beautiful evening sunset, knowing that the skies were clearing and we had a sunny day ahead for our trip to Lopez Island.  What I forgot about being around all that water, was the clear skies often bring fog.  We woke early Saturday morning to thick fog blanketing our campground with all views completely obscured.

Lopez Island (1 of 51) Ah well, it should lift eventually, right?  The weather people were predicting a gorgeous sunny day in the San Juan Islands.  Hoping for as much time as possible on the island, we left camp around 7 and arrived at the ferry terminal in Anacortes before 8.  What I didn’t understand properly was how to interpret the ferry schedules, and after we paid $44 for our round trip fare, the cashier told us to get in line in lane 1 for the first ferry to Lopez that would leave at 10:30 AM.  Hmmm.

Lopez Island (3 of 51) I knew we were supposed to be in line an hour early, but two and an half hours wasn’t exactly on our agenda.  Especially in the fog.  There was a small coffee shop near the lines that advertised fresh hot coffee, but when I reached the cashier, they were out of coffee.  Just down the road, however, in the terminal building was another coffee shop and I didn’t mind the wait in line.  Not much difference between waiting in the car or in the terminal.  I picked up a couple of coffees and gathered a big stack of brochures for the islands.  It was the smartest move of the day, since there is very little phone service on Lopez, and my most useful find was an excellent fold out map of Lopez Island.  Our day would have been much more difficult without that map.

Lopez Island tour The fog refused to lift or lighten, and by the time we were actually on the ferry traveling west, the skies and the views were still completely obscured.  The fog was so dense that they had a person spotting at the front of the ferry to give notice to the bridge of any hidden obstacles.Lopez Island (5 of 51)

Arriving at the tiny ferry terminal at the northern end of the island, I was impressed with the number of bikers in their northwest gear that lined up to get off on Lopez.  With a more level landscape than the other major islands, Lopez is very popular with bicyclists.  Driving up that first hill off the ferry and as we continued south along the two lane roads toward “town”, it did not look level to me!  I was glad to be in a car.

Lopez Island (7 of 51) In the fog shrouded landscape, a visit to Holly B’s Bakery  was a perfect way to begin our tour of the island.  Kayaking in the chilly fog wasn’t big on the agenda.  Holly B’s was busy on this Saturday morning, and I must say that the cinnamon roll I purchased was perfect.  Dense and not too sweet filled with nutty goodness, it was my favorite kind of pastry.  Next to the bakery is the local bookstore, with both new and used books.  A “real” bookstore, and we spent some time perusing the shelves and enjoying the ambiance of the place with lots of other folks who were visiting Lopez on this foggy Saturday morning.

Lopez Island (6 of 51) I knew there was a Saturday Farmer’s Market but it ended in mid September.  A nice surprise was finding two small booths filled with fresh produce from the local farmers.  I bought some heirloom tomatoes, one called “the mortgage lifter” because the variety paid off someone’s mortgage.  Yum!  I also bought some kind of giant purple carrot that we sliced for carrot chips and some greens, some fingerling potatoes, and a couple of ears of tiny corn.  I should have taken out the camera a bit more, but the fog was dampening my photo spirits and I didn’t bother.

Lopez Island (38 of 51)Best part of the farmer booths was the young man running one of them who told me, “Just head south!.  The southern end of the island is in full sunshine right now.  I had to leave it to drive into the fog to come to market”.  Yayay!  It was already after noon, and in Lopez Village the fog was thick.

Following our trusty little map, we traveled south over the narrow and picturesque roads right into the sunlight shining across the beautiful pastoral landscape.  The forests are dark, but where the land has been cleared the light is gorgeous and the farms are lovely.

Lopez Island (9 of 51) Our destination was Mackaye Harbor, suggested by Laurel, who volunteered on Lopez for a couple of months, as a good place to kayak.  The skies were clear and the sun was gorgeous as we arrived at the boat launch, and the winds were almost non existent across the bay.  Perfect.  As warned, however, that water was cold!  I have heard since forever that kayaking in the San Juan’s requires good skills and either a wet or dry suit because of the cold water.  We had neither, but with the sunshine and light winds it seemed perfectly fine.

Lopez Island (13 of 51) For a long time it was perfectly fine.  The water was clear and the rocky shoreline on the north side of the bay provided interest.  Our plan was to head north along the shoreline, hopefully rounding the point toward Davis Bay.  The closer we got to the narrows, however, the rougher the water became and the swells although not bad,  I had no idea how bad they could get.  After all, it was Puget Sound, it was cold, the wind was coming up, and we had no wetsuits.  I have to say I got a bit wussy, and suggested to Mo that maybe we should head across the bay toward the southern shoreline rather than going farther out into the straits between Lopez and San Juan.

Lopez Island (27 of 51) Even though our time on the water wasn’t as long as expected, it was good that we turned around, because by the time we got back to the launch, the winds were rising considerably and I could see little fog fingers coming across the hills toward the south. Our kayaks are wonderful on lakes, even in the wind they track well, and we have managed mild currents in rivers and high waves on windy lakes.  Still, something about these waters gave me an inner chill and I didn’t want to push my luck.  Especially with Abby in Mo’s boat and that cold water. 

Lopez Island (30 of 51) Laugh if you will, but kayaking dark clear rivers in Florida with alligators on the shoreline didn’t create the bit of apprehension that I felt in the cold water of the San Juan’s.  I know I would like to go back again, maybe when the weather is a bit more predictable, if it ever is, and explore the many other bays and shorelines of the islands.  I might like to actually pay for a guided tour in a sea kayak with someone who understands how these waters work and then it wouldn’t be such an unknown.  Still, I am so glad that we managed to at least get on the water and that the fog cleared up enough in the afternoon for us to do it.

Lopez Island (31 of 51) The timing was all good, and we loaded up the boats and followed a different route back north to the ferry landing.  The ferry was scheduled to leave at 5 and we were in line by 4.  However, because of the fog, the ferry was delayed and we didn’t board until 5:30.  So again, our lovely tiny bit of afternoon on Lopez was bracketed by several hours of ferry time. 

The ferry  trip back to Anacortes, however, was clear and beautiful, with no fog to mar the view.  I again went outside to try for some photos, but that cold wind drove me back indoors.  I wasn’t dressed in fleece and windbreakers the way locals know how to dress.  We arrived home at Cliffside RV Park on Whidbey Island just at dark.

Lopez Island (45 of 51)Our day on Lopez was wonderful in spite of the fog and the delays, and I am so glad that we managed the trip.  I re-read Nina’s post about visiting the San Juan’s again recently, and can only say that she is so right about her suggestions.  It is incredibly spendy to travel on the ferries with a motorhome, and there are delays and weather to consider.  We will go back for sure, possibly to Orcas, possibly to San Juan, and will pay the big bucks to get the MoHo to a spendy campground on one of those islands and actually stay for a few days. 

Lopez Island (41 of 51)The islands are beautiful, the water is everywhere, I would love to have more time to go slowly and see more.  I am not sure when the weather would be best, I think that part may be a crapshoot, with summer fog a possibility and winter cold rains a complete deterrent. 

Lopez Island (48 of 51)We planned our exit from Puget Sound perfectly, leaving Whidbey Island early on Sunday morning and traveling the dreaded route north to Mt Vernon and I-5, skipping the ferries.  We passed right through downtown Seattle around 8 am, without any traffic to speak of, and were in Portland in mid afternoon as the traffic started picking up.  In the future, when we go back to the islands, our choice might be to stay at Fort Lewis on a Saturday night and drive north to Whidbey Island via I-5 early on a Sunday morning.  It could work, and then our only big ferry expenses would be getting the rig onto the islands.

Deschutes River (1 of 14) Spending the night in Beavercreek near Portland with Mo’s brother Dan and wife Chere was delightful.  Hookups on the driveway and a great Mexican dinner topped off our visit.  On Monday morning we decided that rather than taking boring I-5 and Highway 58 back home, the longer route over Mt Hood on Highway 26 would be beautiful.  Sunny skies and a nice rest stop along the Deschutes River mid morning gave Abby a chance to test the waters and us a chance to warm up a bit. 

Deschutes River (8 of 14) No big trips for the MoHo are on the agenda in the next few weeks, but I am heading east to Vermont in a couple of days for Jeanne’s wedding.  It will be my first time in Vermont, and from what I hear the leaves are waiting for me to get there before they fall.  Mo will be holding down the fort here in Rocky Point this time while I go off adventuring on my own. 

Lopez Island (25 of 51) Abby is still with us, still eating and doing OK for now.  She does sleep a lot, and now she pants loudly and snores even more loudly.  The vet said that is a common side effect of the prednisone.  But she is still here, she still is smiling, and still enjoying pets and hugs and Mo and I are appreciating the time we have with her beyond what the vet predicted. 

08-13-2014 Four Days in Kaslo

Current Location: Home in Rocky Point Oregon

I spent a lot of time reviewing the few options for RV parks in the vicinity of Kaslo before we made our reservation.  I know that reviews are not always accurate, but if there are bad reviews, I try to check for the date and then see if the good reviews are a response to the bad ones.  Sometimes it is fairly clear that the park owners or managers have tried to offset the negativity.

Kootenai Lake and Kaslo (41 of 71) In this case, I decided to ignore the few bad remarks about the Municipal Park and pay attention the bad remarks about some of the other places.  Turns out I made a good choice.  I wanted hookups, and what I didn’t learn from the reviews is that anything more than 15 amp power is rarely available.  The Kaslo Municipal Campground had just three sites with 30 amp power, so I was extremely glad that I had made a reservation.

 Kaslo Municipal Campground When we arrived, there were a couple of other rigs in line, and as I walked up to the crowd of people, the manager said, “Excuse me, but I need to attend to Sue here before I check you in because she has a reservation”.  She knew who I was from our rig!  Pretty nice.  Then she gave me a choice.  We could take the nice shady site on the hill, not very level, and with 15 amp power, or we could take the crowded sunny (hot) site with a sliver of lake view next to the park and 15 amp power until the next day when we would get the 30 amp post.

I was all for the shade, but Mo opted for the 30 amp.  Either way, our first night was going to be a hot one.  Once again, we put the fridge on gas only and didn’t even bother trying to turn on the air.  The fan had to be enough and with the temps a hot and somewhat humid (for the west) 90 degrees F we waited for a breeze.

Kaslo Municipal Campground Nice thing about our site, however is that it backed up to the park, with just a few hundred yards to a spot where we could launch the kayaks.  With fairly strong winds on the lake, we didn’t unload them the first night, deciding to wait for better weather the next morning.  Instead we had supper before taking a lovely stroll along the lake and up toward the sweet little town of Kaslo.

Kootenai Lake and Kaslo (66 of 71) It still had the charm that I remembered, but just a bit more so, with many eateries, little shops, and the beautiful Kaslo Hotel right above the shoreline and the marina. Even with the smoky skies, the surrounding mountains were magnificent. 

Kootenai Lake and Kaslo (47 of 71) My favorite moment, however, was spying these two ladies in their rigs visiting along the park in front of their lovely retirement home.  If it weren’t for winter, this might be a really nice place to spend your last days.

Kootenay Lake kayak (4 of 27)Kootenay Lake kayak (3 of 27) The next day we launched the kayaks, in spite of the strong breezes and managed a few miles south of town along the shore, and then back north and into Kaslo Bay.  The water was deep and clear, but the beaches near the campground are made up of large rocks, making for some gingerly walking to get the boats in and out of the water.

north of Kaslo (26 of 46) On another day we decided to explore the road north toward Duncan Lake, and took the long dirt road to the towns of Argenta and Johnsons Landing.  We read about these two historic places in the Kaslo travel guide and Mo loves old small historic towns, so 30 miles or so round trip on a dirt road seemed worth it.  To our surprise, Johnson’s Landing is completely locked up and private, and we didn’t drive as far as the world famous trailhead at the entrance to Fry Canyon.   There are a LOT of day hikes and longer hikes in the Kaslo area.

Someday, when Abby doesn’t need to be pampered with short walks, we may come back and hike the canyon, but on this day we knew long hikes were not on the agenda.  Abby is doing well, but long hikes are out of the question.

Kootenay Lake north of KasloOn a bit more sober note, I took several photos of what looked to me like a glacial outburst type of landform, adjacent to the lake near Johnson’s Landing.  Nowhere did I find information about this until today, researching links for this blog, when I found the story of the devastating Johnson’s Landing Landslide of 2012. (link here)  It is somewhat disturbing to me that I could blithely drive around this area, that I could talk to people in Kaslo about being there and going there, and not one local person mentioned this tragedy.  Just for perspective, here is another ( link ) to what we read about Argenta and Johnson’s Landing from the BC tourism website.  Sounds great, doesn’t it?

north of Kaslo (45 of 46) We did finally find something to look at in the community of Argenta, where the travel guide said “there are many self sufficient types located here.” I imagined hunters and fishermen, but instead we found huge organic gardens and lovely tanned men in colorful sarongs and young women with beautiful hair driving older SUV’s.  Not many mind you, but enough to realize that this area was an enclave to hippies in the best sense of what that word can mean.

Today, while researching this post, I found this rather fascinating story about Argenta that wasn’t in the Kaslo Visitor Guide.  Seems as though a group of California Quakers established the community, building the Argenta Friends School where they taught homesteading skills and welcomed draft dodgers.  The school was closed but the nature of the community has remained intact.  Peace loving, simple living Quakers and peace loving, simple living hippies have a lot in common.

north of Kaslo (18 of 46)We drove north toward the Duncan Dam, found the beautiful overlook and gorgeous lake, and then traveled north even further to the tiny hamlet of Howser. 

north of Kaslo (28 of 46) There is a lovely Provincial campground at the end of the road, and we were really sorry we hadn’t put the kayaks back on the car after our day on the water at the bigger and windier Kootenay Lake.north of Kaslo (35 of 46) I took photos of campsites where the MoHo could fit, with only a couple of miles of dirt road to navigate.  I am sure we will return to this place.  Both of us loved Duncan Lake more than Kootenay Lake: it was far more remote and protected with the glassy water kind of kayaking and bird life that we love.

north of Kaslo (12 of 46) We also checked out the two Provincial campgrounds right on Kootenay Lake just a few miles north of Kaslo.  Both Davis Creek and Lost Ledge campgrounds are on the water with beautiful views.  No hookups and no reservations, but there were spaces available on the day we visited, so we do hope to someday return and camp.  We decided a few days of boondocking would be interspersed with a day or two at the Municipal Campground where we could charge up and dump before going back to the north.

north of Kaslo (27 of 46)A nice advantage of returning to Kaslo was the delightful outdoor eatery, boasting gluten free sourdough bread, and non GMO foods.  Healthy alternative lifestyles are the norm in this part of British Columbia and it was so refreshing.  Of course, I had a Rueben hot dog, not very healthy or gluten free, but oh so yummy!  They had home made ice cream there as well, but we never managed a return visit.

Kootenai Lake and Kaslo (54 of 71)Our last day turned out to be cooler and rainy, and we just took some time to relax, go for town walks, and in the afternoon Mo drove me 12 miles or so back south along Highway 31 to Ainsworth Hot Springs, high on my list of todo’s in this area.  Mo didn’t want to leave Abby for an extended time, so while I went to the springs, she explored the lakeshore toward Balfour and found a gorgeous beach with beautiful water and sand where Abby played and swam.  Mo said she even swam all on her own just for fun without Mo having to throw something to encourage her.

(I took no camera or phone to the springs, so these photos are from the internet)

ainsworth_hot_springs_bc_02 I spent two glorious hours, for the paltry sum of $11.00 Canadian, soaking in the hot odor free mineral waters that have made Ainsworth famous.  The springs are no longer in their natural state, but the water is wonderful, and in the big pool the exchange rate is about 6 times per day.  I was glad it wasn’t a weekend, but the place was quite crowded with kids and people, mostly Canadians, but I heard many different languages being spoken.  French, of course, but also Russian and I heard a woman with a beautiful accent from South Africa.

img_ainsworth_pool It was fun being there alone, and I didn’t engage much, but listened to the Canadians talking about their country and their towns.  Especially interesting were the conversations about Calgary becoming way too big with crime coming into the neighborhoods and Lethbridge being a gorgeous place to live with a wonderful university.  I do love my country, I wouldn’t choose any other, but I did find myself unwilling to give away my US accent.  I felt like a true foreigner in a foreign land.  Don’t let the similarities fool you, Canada is NOT the USA.

ainsworth_caves2The best part about Ainsworth Hot Springs are the caves.  They are shaped like a big horseshoe, and the water is about waist deep and the temps were 104F on the day I visited.  You enter the cave, and then walk through into the dark hot steamy interior.  Part way in a very hot waterfall provides a great neck massage if you can stand it and by the time you reach the other end of the horseshoe you are ready for some cool air!  The cave ends in another hot pool, and adjacent to that is the ice plunge pool.  On this hot day, the ice plunge was a balmy 49 degrees F, but after the heat and steam it was still enough of a shock to get your blood tingling.  The ice pool also has a waterfall that is a bit harder to stand under than the hot one.

Ainsworth-Hot-Springs-Cave-2-by-Marcin-Chady After a few rounds through the cave and the ice plunge, I would go back to the main pool and eavesdrop on all sorts of nearby conversations.  When Mo returned two hours later to pick me up I was limp as a dishrag.  Once again, don’t pay attention to the negative reviews.  Ainsworth is a treasure to enjoy for exactly what it is.  Not fancy, not natural, but a special place.

north of Kaslo (31 of 46) There is so much to see in the area, great art galleries and some small museums in Kaslo, including the beautiful sternwheeler the Moyie, but on this trip even three full days and half another didn’t give us enough time to enjoy all of it.  The S.S. Moyie is the world’s oldest intact passenger sternwheeler and has been lovingly restored in the last few years.  It represents a great era of the history of Kootenay Lake and Kaslo.  I loved hearing the loud steam horn blow in the afternoons.

Kootenay Lake kayak (27 of 27)It was with a bit of melancholy that we left on Thursday morning.  But there was something very special waiting for me back in  Klamath Falls on the coming weekend and I wasn’t about to miss it.  We knew our time wouldn’t be long enough but it was OK.  We saw enough to know that this is a place we will return without question.  It is under 1,000 miles from home and best of all, it isn’t at all crowded!  After being in the Canadian National Parks of Banff and Jasper when it felt like a crazy zoo, it was so refreshing to enjoy the beautiful Canadian Rockies in such peace.  

Drive to Duncan Lake If you are interested in ALL the photos, they are here in my SmugMug trip gallery:

Next: the Long Way Home


Medicine Lake Once Again and Some Sad Abby News

Current Location: Rocky Point Oregon 59F and smoky at 7AM

evening at Medicine Lake It has been hot here this summer, hotter than we are used to in Rocky Point at least.  We don’t have air conditioning at this house, and except for a very few days in the summertime, that is just fine.  The forest cools us and the open windows let in the evening breezes for good sleeping.  Most of the time.  The big fans spin high above us to keep the air moving.  Even so, when it is in the high 90’s in Klamath Falls, in the triple digits in Grants Pass, our low 90’s out here in the woods can feel pretty darn warm.

the sun burns off the fog quickly Great time to head 100 miles south to our favorite little lake south of Lava Beds National Monument high on the Medicine Lake Highlands at 7,000 feet or so.  In the last post, I put in a link to my writings from our previous camping trip here last summer.  (Here is the link again: Medicine Lake 2013). With a simple 2 hour drive from home, it is a great getaway. 

morning clouds on Medicine Lake on our last day Many things we love about this sweet little campground, not the least of which is the absence of mosquitoes.  I have no idea why that is the case, but for the entire six days we were there, I delighted in being outdoors without having to fight the little stinkers.

Hoffman Lookout_025 When I read what I wrote last year I thought there was just no way I could write about this place again.  We often do the same things when we visit.  The highlight is kayaking at least twice a day from our campsite, having beautiful sunset campfires, and sleeping well through the chilly dark night skies. Gayle and Wes in the casita at Medicine Lake This trip was a bit different, however.  We managed to convince our neighbors, Wes and Gayle, to spend a few days with us.  They have a sweet little Casita that they brought north from their Tucson home for the Rocky Point summer and it was a perfect time to show them our favorite little camping lake.

There are three campgrounds lined along the northern shore of the lake, and our favorite is the Al Hogue camp.  We planned an early arrival, just before noon on a Tuesday, hoping to at least snag some kind of site with a lake view.  The local tribe has a Medicine Gathering at this sacred land every year, and we arrived on the weekday after the official gathering was over.  They close the third campground, Medicine Campground, for this gathering, but there is usually quite a spillover after the weekend.  It is expedient to check with the Modoc National Forest for the dates of this gathering.  It isn’t open to the public as a pow wow might be, and things can get quite rowdy and very busy around the lake during their celebrations.

MoHo view site 43Imagine my delighted surprise when we pulled into the campground with our two rigs and found not only our favorite site 43 wide open, but our second favorite site 45, right next to it, open as well.  Without a bit of difficulty, we unhooked our trailer and parked the MoHo in our favorite spot overlooking the lake with the short easy trail down to the beach.

casita view site 45 Wes and Gayle parked their little Casita in 45, with a gorgeous view, albeit with a steeper rocky path to the lake.  It couldn’t have been a more perfect introduction to Medicine Lake.  On that first afternoon, it was cloudy and 15 degrees cooler than the Klamath Basin, with thunderstorms predicted and even a bit of wind and hail to greet us.  Maybe that is why we managed to snag the best sites in the entire complex. 

Wes and Gayle at the Medicine Lake Glass Flow With the cool temperatures and windy conditions at the lake, it was a perfect time to show Wes and Gayle the trail from the campground to the Medicine Lake Glass Flow, just 1/4 mile north.  The trail was a simple one, and there was barely a breeze once we were away from the lake.

Mo and Sue enjoying Gayle's famous cosmos at Medicine Lake Gayle and I had planned shared meals, with each of us being responsible for one dinner, and then a shared meal.  Our first night was a delight of BBQd beef ribs that were tasty and in addition provided Abby with a nice stash of bones that lasted the entire week. Gayle and Wes also have the Happy Hour thing down pat, and Gayle arrived at our dining table before dinner with a shaker of perfectly concocted cosmopolitans and some yummy “snacks” as she calls them.  We were very happy to have room at the dinette for four people since it was too chilly and windy outside to sit at the picnic table.

burger bites for Jeremy Of course, Jeremy is quite polite, but thinks he should be at the table as well.  He doesn’t beg much, and will patiently wait for someone to decide to give him a snack as well.  Gayle was very good at dispensing the tiny bites for my geriatric cat.

Jeremy also entertained us in the evenings with his daily walk down to the water to drink.  Reminded me so much of a big old lion at the watering hole.  He would lap and lap and watch the horizon as he did so.  Jeremy loves to be in a campground where he can roam free, and he especially loves the lakes.

Jeremy loved going down to the lake to drink every evening

In the last few years, when we have camped here, we only bring the trailer with the kayaks and bikes instead of hauling the baby car.  While that makes for a relaxing week, there are some local sites that are a bit too far for walking that we were able to explore this time with Wes and Gayle along to drive their car.Hoffman Lookout_032

Wes drove the ten miles round trip of dirt road to the high point at Hoffman Lookout, where Mo and I went a few years ago.  The skies were incredibly clear and we could see Mt Lassen to the south and the Klamath Basin to the north.  Mt Shasta was shrouded in clouds, only adding to her mystery and beauty.  Hoffman Lookout_020

This morning as I am writing, smelling the smoke from the fires south of us, I realized how lucky we were to have chosen last week for this trip instead of the current week.  On July 30th, a lightning storm exploded in the Cascades west of us and east of Ashland/Medford, burning thousands of acres so far.  Currently the fire is only 5 percent contained, and has grown south into California.  I am sure the skies are thick with smoke over Medicine Lake this week and the views from the Hoffman Lookout would be nil.

obsidian at Glass Mountain But last week was different, and we had gorgeous blue skies during the rest of the time we spent in the Highlands.  After our trip to the lookout, we relaxed at the campsite a bit before embarking on another dirt road journey to Glass Mountain. The Medicine Lake Highlands and caldera have been volcanically active in the last 1,000 years, with the obsidian of Glass Mountain formed about 950 years ago.  This link from USGS has more detailed information about the Medicine Lake Volcano.  In addition, if you want even more detail, here is a link to the volcanic history and types of lava that erupted during five major stages of volcanism. 

walking on tinkly sounding glass obsidian We had a great time hiking around Glass Mountain.  It is extremely important to have good shoes when you are here because that obsidian is sharper than any knife.  I wish I could share the sound of walking on tinkly glass shards.  The weather had warmed quite a bit on this afternoon and the breeze lightened up enough to be only a slight deterrent to the heat.

silky smooth water in the early morning ready for a kayak at Medicine Lake(Notice the difference between the first photo in this post in the afternoon and the morning stillness on the water in this photo)

The next few days we stayed closer to camp.  With the winds dying down and the heat returning, we enjoyed early morning kayaks on the glassy water, and afternoon paddles across the lake in the evening winds. One morning was so chilly that we woke to ice on the kayaks, but once out on the water it was perfect.31 degrees on Thurday morning

The most dramatic difference this year, however, was the lake level.  I have never seen the lake like this, with the severe drought in California reflected in the extreme low water at Medicine Lake.  Across from our camp was a sweet man with his grandsons, who said he had been coming here for 50 years and he had never seen the lake this low either. 

Medicine Lake lower than we have ever seen itSurprisingly, when we took a morning to hike to Little Medicine Lake, we discovered that the level of the water in this small spring fed pond to be perfectly normal.  Medicine Lake has no outlet and is fed by a few springs and snow melt.  It is a closed system, with no outlet, however the ground is porous pumice so who knows where the water is going.  I can’t imagine that evaporation can account for the visible daily drop in water levels that we saw while we were there.Little Medicine Lake

That same sweet man and his boys were catching a LOT of trout, and one afternoon he came over with a bit string of fish and asked if we might like to have some.  I looked a bit guilty as I said, “I don’t know how to clean them”.  He laughed and said, “What if I cleaned them?”.  The result was a fabulous supper of fresh caught trout on our grill, with a couple of sweet pink native brookies in the mix.  Yum!

fresh trout Fishing is very popular on this lake, with rules that don’t allow fast boats until after ten in the morning and before 5 in the evening so people can fish in peace.  We saw only two jet skis on our last afternoon at the lake, and they weren’t out there very long.  Nice.  I even managed to get in for a swim when the weather warmed a bit.  The lake was chilly, but not so bad that I couldn’t get my head all the way under water a couple of times.

campfire time at Medicine Lake We got our friends out on the water in the kayaks and they found it was much easier than they thought it might be.  As experienced canoe paddlers, it took a bit of convincing, but once on the water they were hooked.  Who knows, a couple of kayaks might be in their future.Wes and Gayle try out the kayaks

Medicine Lake Day 2-49 

Mo I have no reason for adding this photo of Mo I took at Little Medicine Lake other than the fact that I just love it.

Wes and Gayle left a few days before we did, and Mo and I continued to enjoy days on the water and evenings by the fire until we left last Sunday to return home.  The week ahead was supposed to be leisurely, with time to prepare for our next big trip coming up, the Oukrop Family Reunion in Spokane, Washington,with an extra trip north into British Columbia for the MoHo.

Cottage work (10 of 14)Cottage work (2 of 14) Instead we spent a few days camped at the Grants Pass Cottage, working with the plumber to rework the cottage bathroom and trying to stay cool in the MoHo with temperatures at 104 degrees each day we were there.  Whew!  I did manage to finish the cottage curtain tab top panels that I worked on for much longer than I had thought it might take.  Sewing something with all that fabric and all those long seams takes a very long time!  I can’t believe I never got a photo of the finished product, but I can do that next time we are there.  I think Daughter Deb will enjoy have pretty lined curtains to keep out the heat rather than the 80’s nubby heavy drapes that were too dirty to clean and were also ugly!IMG_4288

Coming back home this weekend to Rocky Point was quite a shock, because the smoke from the Beaver Fire is hanging heavy and dark over much of the landscape.  Highway 97 east of us has been closed due to smoke, and our neighbors had heavy ash raining down on them the day before we returned.  We are safe enough here for the time being.  The fire is many miles south and west of us, and the many lightning fires triggered by the storm that started nearby in the Sky Lakes Wilderness, near Crater Lake, and on Pelican Butte behind us were suppressed almost immediately by diligent fire crews.local current smoke 08-04-2014

On a final note, our lives were saddened before we left for our Medicine Lake trip with Mo’s trip to the vet with Abby. 

up the trail to the MoHo from Medicine Lake We knew that things might not be good, and Abby was tested positive for lymphoma.  We have decided to not subject our sweet 12 year old dog to chemo or radiation, which would be terrible for her, and instead she is on a special diet and prednisone. 

morning coffee on Medicine Lake For the time being, she seems her sweet self, and isn’t unhappy or uncomfortable.  She is slowing down a bit, but aren’t we all.  The vet said maybe three months, but that doesn’t seem real, and we are hoping for more.  We are taking it a day at a time, and treasuring every extra day with our sweet girl.


What is it about the Fourth…

Current Location: Rocky Point Oregon 88F and clear with a predicted high of 95F

I got an email this morning from friend Jeanne telling me all about her great weekend on the lake in Vermont, shared with family and friends and her sweetheart.  I don’t know what it is about this holiday that triggers such summertime nostalgia, but I love it.  Loved reading about Jeanne’s adventures and loved remembering the holidays of my childhood as well as the more recent family times we have managed to share.

Fourth of July 2014 (26 of 63)At the moment, I am at the computer in my home office, windows wide open, breezes cooling the house from the morning banana bread bake, and sunlight lighting up the elm leaves under the forest canopy.  The elms were supposed to be a hedge, purchased a dozen years ago by Mo from a mail order catalog.  Some are still hedge size, but most of the row have morphed into tall if rangy trees, reaching for the tiny bit of available sun.  They are home to lots of birds and bugs this time of year, and make a great backdrop for gazing out the window instead of focusing on the task at hand.

Fourth of July 2014 (1 of 63) Sorry to say, it certainly isn’t patriotism, although I do like flying the American flags on this day.  I love my country, but am not rabidly patriotic, celebrating the Fourth as the birth of my country.  I celebrate the Fourth as a reminder of family tradition. 

As a kid we got up before dawn and foster mom Dorothy would pack up all the fixings to make biscuits in the coleman camp ovens on half a dozen coleman stoves.  We made biscuits for the entire church picnic gathering at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia.  There was a “plunge” for swimming, baseball diamonds for one up softball games, lots of grass for sack races.  We had a huge breakfast, and usually there were more than 150 people from the church that participated in the day’s activities.

Fourth of July 2014 (31 of 63)Bocci Ball at Rocky Point

By evening, after the hot dogs and potato salad, we gathered up our blankets and found a spot on the grass to watch the fireworks, shot high above the park.  There were sparklers and smoke bombs and of course those amazing fountains that everyone loved.  There was the smell of sulfur and the fear of stepping on a hot sparkler wire among the blankets.  In California in July, the days were always hot and the nights were warm.  The fireworks were spectacular.

Arcadia Park (1)Arcadia Regional Park in 2014

I searched the internet to find that the park is now the Arcadia Community Regional Park, administered by the county of Los Angeles, and nary a word about a fireworks display on the Fourth of July.  Some great memories are destined to fade into the past, much like the old Firefall at Yosemite.  Not many remember what that was like either, but I do, and treasure that memory as well.Yosemite_Fire_Fall

Now we make new memories.  Most of the time, in July, we are close enough to Rocky Point to gather at least part of the family for a celebration.  Potato salad is always part of it, but I no longer force my kids to do sack races.  Sometimes we don’t even bother to go to the fireworks, even though there are displays in Klamath Falls at Veteran’s Park and just 15 minutes away at Lake of the Woods. 

Traffic, crowds, mosquitoes, midges, all have a bit of a dampening affect on our best laid plans.  Instead, we stayed right here and played bocci ball into the dark of night.  No fireworks here at Rocky Point.  Not a one at our place.  Even though we are on the edge of the national forest, where fireworks are illegal, the drought knows no boundaries and there is no need to take chances with fire and explosive stuff.

Instead, we listened to distant neighbors shooting either guns or firecrackers or both.  Maybe next year we will actually get a reservation at Lake of the Woods and go camping 15 minutes from home so we can watch the fireworks and not have to drive anywhere when they are finished.

Fourth of July 2014 (23 of 63)Daughter Deborah

Daughter Deb came up from Grants Pass, and daughter Melody and my grandkids came out from Klamath.  We ate lots of summer fruit and veggies, with sinful dips to offset the healthy stuff, and Deb shared her Dijon marinated chicken with all of us.  Melody came with three, yes three watermelons and we did manage to eat two of them. 

Fourth of July 2014 (24 of 63)Daughter Melody

I made brownies that were perfect and my favorite potato salad that wasn’t so much.  I learned that if you put too much celery and onion into it, the dressing gets watery as it sits.  Can’t believe I didn’t know that, and also am amazed at the world we live in where I can type in “watery potato salad’ and get answers in seconds. 

Our closest neighbors, Wes and Gayle, are here for the season, and we were delighted to have them join us for supper and lawn games.

Fourth of July 2014 (3 of 63)We got out on the lake twice, a nice long paddle up Recreation Creek toward Malone Spring in the afternoon wind and then the next morning another beautiful paddle on the glassy bay toward the main lake.  Midges are just beginning to hatch, the lake is just beginning to show an algae bloom so it was great to get out there before the season progressed further.

Fourth of July 2014 (63 of 63)Paddling out on the main Klamath Lake from Pelican Bay.  That is daughter Deborah out there.

We punctuated the day with a few silly old movies that I converted from ancient VHS to DVD.  It was a happy sadness as we laughed at my deceased husband Lance making silly jokes and watched my iconic grandmother, also deceased, being her famous self.  Melody made sure the grandkids watched, since they have no memory of this matriarch of our family.

Fourth of July 2014 (39 of 63) Granddaughter Axel

Of course, there was a “flower walk”, another tradition that has followed us through many homes in many places since I started gardening in earnest back in the late 70’s.  Gotta share all that is blooming, all the successes and some of the failures.  I think the grandkids disappeared into the cabin before the flower walk, checking out facebook and phone messages.  Some things stay the same and others definitely don’t. 

Fourth of July 2014 (40 of 63)Grandson Xavier

Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and the Fourth of July.  And oh yes, don’t forget Halloween.  Somehow these days have come to mean far more than what they stand for in our family.  They are the times that we all do our best to get together and participate in some of the old family rituals that have come down through the years.  Our family is small, it is me and my kids and their offspring. I do hope that the grandkids will remember some of the times that we have shared in the same way that I remember Fourth of July at Arcadia Park.