03-22-2022 Sharing a Favorite Spot with Friends

Some people I know have many friends they have known since childhood, and some still maintain contact with friends from grade school, high school, and college days. Maybe I moved around too much throughout my lifetime. Still, I managed to keep some treasured friends for a very long time. It is hard for me to believe that Phil and Joanne have been my friends since 1977. Is it possible that it has been 45 years since Phil and I started working together in soil survey?


Phil and I in 1984 in the St Joe NF

Phil was the first person to take me to the field in Bonner County, Idaho, where we dug pits together and tried to put together the puzzle of soil types in those holes and make a coherent map of how they occurred in the landscape. While mapping soils with Phil, I met and became friends with his wife, Joanne. They were around for so many milestones in my life. When they returned West in 2012 after many decades in the Midwest, I was thrilled to have a chance to again spend time with the two of them.


Here are Phil and Joanne with their firstborn son, at my wedding in 1980.  For blog followers who know daughter Melody and friend Maryruth, they are on the right side of the photo.

Phil and Jo have been campers, hikers, and backpackers for years but only recently made the jump and purchased a motorhome. When Joanne called me a couple of weeks ago and said they were possibly picking up their new rig on March 15, Mo and I were excited. First on the agenda would be overnight at Sunset House, where we could compare RVing notes, and they could enjoy their first night in the Unity. Joanne was excited and wanted to head for the coast after their night here.


Great idea, but as most RVr’s know, getting a last-minute reservation on the Oregon Coast is nearly impossible. I went to Harris Beach State Park campsite reservations on the web and wasn’t surprised to see that all sites were reserved for the next few weeks.


They planned to arrive on Saturday, and on Friday morning, I thought I would check one more time. Sure enough, not only 1 but two sites were available. Even though it was Spring Break, someone had canceled Site A10, front row overlooking the ocean, and Site A7, just across the road from A10. I had 15 minutes to confirm the reservation and took a chance that Phil and Jo would be on board with my choice.


Even though sites in every state park on the Oregon Coast are booked for months in advance, cancellations sometimes appear. It pays to be flexible and vigilant and never give up until the last minute.


Traveling south to Grants Pass from Eugene, our friends arrived mid-afternoon on Saturday. Mattie was thrilled to see Joanne again. When Mo and I traveled to Ireland in 2015, Joanne and Phil kept Mattie for three weeks, saving the trauma of boarding her in a kennel. Joanne and Mattie have a sweet bond. 


The four of us checked out their Unity 25-foot motorhome. We talked about the little details of RV traveling that we so often take for granted. Before supper, there was plenty of time to go uptown to the Weekend Brewing Company, a relatively new spot in Grants Pass. The beer was great, and the location was trendy on this sunny afternoon. Dogs sat indoors with their proud owners, food trucks provided sustenance, and kids and families played on the green lawns in the sunshine. I somehow never thought of a brewery as a place for kids.


Back home, I loaded up a large cod filet with spices and lemons, popped it on the grill, and made coleslaw and roasted veggies. We decided it was a great time to open the bottle of Bokish Verdejo that we purchased on our recent trip to the Lodi wineries.


WeatherUnderground predicted decent weather for Sunday and Monday. The days would be cloudy but with no rain. Sun would arrive in full on Tuesday, but that didn’t matter. Any day at the beach, even cloudy ones, is good. With the park just two hours west and check-in at 2 PM, we had a leisurely morning before leaving Grants Pass around 11:30. The drive was easy. Anyone who has driven Highway 199 knows it is narrow and winding. There are turnouts, but sometimes they are a bit short. I was in the lead and tried to ensure that any turnout I used could accommodate both rigs.


Pulling into the park just before 2, we settled into our respective sites quickly. Even with the cloudy skies, the ocean view was lovely from the A row. A short walk around the park before dinner allowed me to point out the various trails down to the beach and the Bluff Trail.

Here we are in A-7 with Phil and Jo across from us in A-10

Supper was easy, with pre-cooked veggie taco meat for Phil and Joanne and spicy beef taco meat for us. Homemade salsa and lots of condiments rounded out the meal. Before supper, Mo started a campfire, and by the time we finished eating, the coals were almost ready for marshmallows. Lucky for me, Joanne brought chocolate to stuff into the hot marshmallows to melt into gooey goodness.


Here is a photo of A10 one year when Mo and I took that site

Even with the park full of kids celebrating Spring Break, the park was surprisingly quiet all night. Monday morning, low tide was at 8:30, and Mo and I headed for the beach in time to see one of the lowest tide levels we have experienced at Harris Beach. At first, I lamented the lack of sea stars on the rocks, but I discovered many as we walked north along the water’s edge. The sea stars species are at risk, and it was a thrill to see so many of them tucked into the rocks.


Mattie loved her walk, as usual, tearing around in the sand and leaping over the little streams on the beach. She found rocks to climb and enjoyed the ability to run leash-free on the nearly empty beach.


We returned to the park in time to ask a ranger if there was an available site for that night. When we asked on Sunday, they told us to check again around 10 AM on the day we wanted to stay. We were lucky enough to get another canceled reservation site right next to our existing site.


Phil and Jo ran a few shopping errands with our little car before returning to the park to prepare for our afternoon excursion. We planned a walking trip to Chetco Park Trail, where Mo and I had taken Mattie on her first visit to Harris Beach in 2015. The trail isn’t long, paved near the entrance, and reasonably smooth and nearly level in most parts. 


The parking lot is a surprise unless one knows where to walk beyond the sewage facility. Near the trail’s beginning is a nice new dog park where Mattie could run. We saw many dogs on our walk, but there were none at the dog park when we arrived after our walk.


The views from the peninsula are beautiful, with pristine beaches below the rocks, wide-open ocean vistas to the West, and tiny wildflowers tucked among the windblown shrubs and grasses along the trail.


We ended the afternoon with an early supper at Super Fly Martini Bar, a trendy place Mo and I discovered in December when we visited the festival with Maryruth and Gerald. As before, the martinis were stellar, and the food was delicious. We had excellent service, good hot food, and an atmosphere that wasn’t noisy despite the holiday week.


After supper, Mo drove around town a bit, showing Phil and Jo some of the things we love about Brookings. Sadly I got no photos of our lovely walk through Azaela Park, where the rhodies were beginning to bloom. I showed Joanne the Azalea Light Festival pictures from our previous visits in December. Already plans are made for reserving sites for the four of us at Harris Beach during the festival next winter. 


Once again, we concluded our evening with a campfire and marshmallows. Phil and Joanne decided that the park was so wonderful that they wanted to extend their reservation for another night. The following day they walked the beach at low tide, but not before checking with the ranger for a site for the coming night. They were successful!


I learned that even though everything is fully booked, it is sometimes worth it to double-check with the park rangers for possible cancellations or open sites. As I told Phil, I would always have a backup plan if this didn’t work, especially in the summer. There is nothing worse than having no place to go and having to settle in somewhere unknown in the dark.


Mo and I enjoyed Tuesday morning with brilliant sunshine lighting up the skies. We took our time getting ready to leave the park. With check-out time at 1 PM, there was no hurry.

I took a bit of time to hike the short but steep trail up to Harris Bluff.  I went alone so I could test myself a bit but I did take the phone.  The view was worth every slow, careful step!

We watched Phil and Jo drive by to their new site before heading up the hill to wish them goodbye and happy travels.


One last note. Mo and I often hook up the Tracker outside the park at the parking area along the upper trail. We learned that it isn’t smart to expect that area to be empty, and I had to return to the parking lot adjacent to the dumpsite to have room to hook up. Neither of us is comfortable hooking up in the park roadways. 


Our trip home was uneventful, with some traffic and sunny skies. We were parked and unloaded within an hour of arriving at home. I talked with Joanne this morning. They were happy with their decision to stay another night, even though it meant that Joanne had to cancel some necessary appointments. Her last words to me were, “I can see why people want to do this all the time. I want to run away forever.”

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.

08-03 through 08-06-2021 August Reunion at the Beach

I was suddenly awakened from my blogging slumber when I read Janna’s blog this afternoon, Restoration Cowboy Style.  Blogging has become a chore for her and she is no longer going to blog about their great ranch life in Montana and Arizona.  After so many years, Janna’s blog remains one of the few that I still read and I am sad to see it go. 

I know that with my commitment to very little more than a post or two for each month my own readership has waned.  At least I suspect that it has, although the counters on the blog dashboard pages insist there are thousands of folks reading every time I post some mundane thing about every day life.  Bots, I am sure…not real people.

Still, I am not ready to give it up, in spite of the fact that it can sometimes be a chore.  For me, it is only a chore when I am thinking about doing it, but after I begin, most of the time it becomes a sweet delight.  Sad to say, I enjoy my own writing!  Is that embarrassing or what?  I write as I think.  My grammar and syntax aren’t always by the rules.  Incomplete sentences.  Incorrect punctuation.  Too many or too few commas.  Mo tries to keep me in line, reviewing the blog and making suggestions.  I usually edit accordingly but not always.  Hence, you get what you get.  But the better story is that I get what I want.  I get stories that remind me of how it felt to be doing whatever we were doing at the time.  So it is, my faithful handful of readers, that you still get my stories, and I have something fun to print in a book and read again as the years pass by.

We are in the deepest of the “dog days of summer”, with August burning holes in my brain with heat and smoke.  I check the fire and smoke maps on a daily basis, hoping for a hint of some relief.  Once again, Grants Pass is thick with smoke from the many fires in California, in addition to the chain of fires ignited by lightning along the Cascade crest to our east.  Winds are predicted to come to help clear out the smoke, but they have yet to appear. 

Most of the time there is a nice view of mountains in the distance beyond the trees when the smoke clears.

I walk around the property, the ground beneath my feet cracked and hard as cement except for the small patches of green grass that we tend carefully.  I know about xeri-scaping, planting drought tolerant species instead of water hungry lawns. We don’t water half of our property in the summer. 

I also know that when it is 105 degrees or so for days on end, those small patches of green make stepping outside the front door almost tolerable, a bit of an oasis.

I spend the mornings checking the well and the cistern levels, and calculating our water budget for the day.  With extended days of triple digit temperatures, everything suffers.  I ease my frustrations by going to the computer and looking at the photos of summers past, and hunting for the images that reflect that a change is in the air.  Maybe by mid-September?  Most certainly by the first of October, although rain may not appear until November and hopefully by then the fires will be snuffed out completely.

Such is life in the heat of summer in Southern Oregon.  Such is life in summers that each year break records for the hottest temperatures and the highest number of acres burned in the fires.

The big gravel driveway on the side of the property is great for getting in and out with the Motorhome, and for hosting guests occasionally.  It does capture a LOT of debris from our ancient black oaks. It is too hot to rake, even in the early mornings.

Still, there is a silver lining, or maybe I should call it a silvery gray fog lining.  Just a short distance west, the Oregon Coast waits with cool temperatures, foggy days, and only rare hints of the smoke that lies to the east. 

The Oukrop Family gathering had been planned for several months.  Roger, Mo’s brother, passed away just four years ago, but his wife Nancy took it upon herself to make reservations for the extended family at South Beach State Park once again, a favorite of Roger’s. 

Family members came from Oregon, Washington, Illinois, and Colorado to gather at the beach.  We stayed in a mixture of motorhomes, trailers, yurts and local hotels.  A few members of the family couldn’t make it this time, including Mo’s sister Edna and her youngest brother Don and his extended family.  We missed them all.  I think we tried to count a few times and got up to 33 before losing count once again because it was hard to get everyone in the same place at the same time.

South Beach State Park is about 5 hours north from Grants Pass.  There are several options for crossing the coast range between I-5 and the beach, and this time we chose to travel north to Sutherlin and follow the Umpqua River Highway 138 toward Reedsport, turning north towards Newport on Highway 101. South Beach is just two miles or so south of the lovely coastal city of Newport, famous for the Newport Aquarium and one of the prettiest bridges on the Oregon Coast.

When we arrived Monday afternoon, the skies were surprisingly clear and surprisingly chilly at 59 degrees F.  A big difference from what we left behind at home!  I was surprised that even though I was craving cooler temperatures I had a bit of a time adjusting to the chill on that first evening.

Left to right: Rachel, Mike, Mo, Sue, Chere, Dan

Since much of the family was still in transit, Mo and I decided to go out to eat in Newport with brother Dan and wife Chere and their daughter Rachel and son-in-law Mike. Many of the restaurant choices in Newport were closed, with several reasons posted on websites.  Some said they couldn’t get employees, some said they couldn’t get enough food, some were closed completely due to the limitations of the past year of COVID.  We did finally find an open restaurant, The Taphouse Brewery at Nye Creek.  The wait to be seated was over an hour and with a chill wind blowing we were at a bit of a loss as to what to do during the wait.  The beach was just down the block, so we braved the wind and wandered down to watch the waves and the few people who were doing the same.

Our dinner was a mixed bag of not so good and absolutely delicious.  We were seated at a large table, with plenty of social distance between tables, but still had another hour or so wait for our food to arrive.  The ordered appetizers didn’t show up until after the main courses were delivered and seemed a bit redundant by then.  The sweet potato fries and french fries on some of the meals were literally cold.  Who knows my luck, but my sweet potato fries and fish tacos were hot and some of the best fish tacos with the most interesting condiments I have ever tasted!

“Semolina crusted NW Pacific cod, Taphouse slaw, chipotle aioli, pomegranate chili molasses syrup, avocado, lime, smoky tomato salsa and house made tortilla chips.”

I was in heaven.  In fairness, the server found some hot fries for the rest of the people at our table and took the cost of the appetizers off the final bill.  The entire evening was just a taste of what small towns are experiencing during this time of COVID shortages with food and personnel. Sad.

We settled in quietly that first evening, and slept well with the distant sound of waves and the foghorn on the jetty just north of the beach.  Tuesday morning dawned surprisingly clear.  I had somehow expected fog.  I offered to take Mattie for her morning walk and ended up following the path to the beach.  We were camped in the A loop, a choice I learned to love because the beach walk was just 1/4 mile from our site.  When we have camped in the loops to the north the walks to the beach aren’t paved all the way and are 1/3 and 1/2 mile respectively from the campsites to the beach.

That first morning was gorgeous.  I wasn’t up to slogging down the sandy slope that morning and with an empty beach it was easy to let Mattie off-leash to run in the sand.  If you have read this blog much in the past, you know that running in soft beach sand it Mattie’s favorite thing.

Look closely (click on the photo above to enlarge) and you can see Mattie running freely on the empty beach and my shadow at the top of the dune taking her photo

By the time I returned and Mo and I had coffee and a bit of breakfast, family members were gathering at Dan and Chere’s campsite with discussions of what might happen during the day.  Our choice was to walk back to the beach once again with one group while another group chose to visit Newport. 

Left to right:  Rachel, Susan, Danny, Marci, and her husband Jon, with Dan and his dog Sophie on the low far right in the distance.

Jon, Sue, Mo, Sophie, and Brother Dan

The wind was blowing and the temps were quite chilly, but the dogs and kids didn’t mind in the least.  I discovered that it was much warmer sitting in the sand and I realized that I could actually enjoy sitting at the beach rather than walking along the shore for miles and miles.  Learning to sit and enjoy and be quiet rather than having to be on the move all the time is quite a lesson for me.  I had to have help getting up, but it was worth it to just relax and enjoy with Mo’s nieces, Susan, Rachel, and Marci, and watching the younger kids play.

Rachel, Susan, and Marci

The afternoon slid by with a bit of reading and napping for Mo and I before we walked across the campground road from our place to Dan’s place.  Most of the family gathered for a meal with some folks bringing their own food in addition to the spaghetti that Chere provided. 

Mo’s niece Juli and her husband Hallie on the right, with another niece Angi in the blue hat.  Angie’s daughter Ashli and her beau Evan facing the camera.

We enjoyed watching Dan and Jon teach Mo’s great-nephews, Danny and David, how to chop wood and build a fire.  We didn’t last long that evening thanks to the chill but the fire was nice.

Mo with her great nephew, Susan’s youngest son, David

The next morning again dawned bright and sunny with no fog in sight.  That is rather unusual for the Oregon Coast in summer where a chilly marine layer often hangs over the beaches. The plan for the day featured some kayak time on Beaver Creek, a wildlife area where we have kayaked in the past when visiting South Beach.

We offered our kayaks to Susan and Danny , and Dan took the younger David on his inflatable kayak.  The group only had about 90 minutes on the water because it was important for them to get back to camp in time for the next exciting activity. 

Mo’s nieces Juli and Susan trying to get David into his wetsuit.  Right: David, Kalli, and Danny

Kalli,  (Mo’s great-niece), had arranged to rent skip boards and wet suits for ocean play.  The best entertainment of the day was watching the kids try to get the wet suits on and the biggest laugh of the trip was the moment when Danny suddenly realized that his wetsuit had a space for boobs.  He and Kalli had somehow managed to put on each other’s suits.

We all walked to the beach once again to watch the kids play.  This time however, I chose to remain high on the dunes and watch from a distance.  My rubber IBM legs were complaining a bit with all the walking I had been doing and deep, soft sand isn’t easy even when everything is working properly.

After a wonderful afternoon watching the kids play in the waves we meandered back home to relax a bit before supper.  Several of us thought it would be nice to get everyone together, so made a plan to meet at 5 at Dan and Chere’s place.  With different folks arriving at different times we did finally manage to have some time with the entire family together for a meal and a campfire.  Dan brought out an antique corn popper that Mo had given him years ago and the boys were delighted to try some real campfire popcorn, not something out of a microwave.

Different groups managed to enjoy some of the other sights along the coast, with side trips made by some to the Newport Aquarium, the Tillamook Cheese Factory, Depot Bay, and portside shopping in Newport.  Mo and I skipped the excursions since we have spent lots of time seeing the Oregon Coast.

Our last full day at the beach dawned foggy and cool. Once again the plan was to spend time on Beaver Creek with the kayaks. We left camp around 11, with the tides turning around noon.  It is helpful to go with the tides in the coastal waterways so that you aren’t fighting the tide coming out in addition to the natural current.

Dan took Kalli in his kayak and the four of us paddled about 3.5 miles up Beaver Creek toward the end of the wildlife area.  Even with the overcast, it was a beautiful morning with very little wind to trouble us on the trip back down the river toward the ocean.  We saw two eagles in the same area where yesterday’s group had seen them in the firs near the creek.  We also saw otters, and many ducks.

Once again I had an opportunity to exit my kayak without much difficulty in knee deep water at an easy launch without any current to fight and a smooth bottom.  Every year at the beginning of the kayak season I worry, and yet so far so good and I am grateful.

The rest of the day was quiet, with a walk to the beach and a quiet afternoon in camp. Some of the family played horseshoes and some folks gathered at Dan and Chere’s place with others at Mo’s niece Juli’s yurt.  Mo and I  gave up on visiting and hung out at home watching one of our TV series on Netflix cast on to the MoHo TV.  It is wonderful to have the opportunity to spend time with family, but all the visiting, talking, and fun times wore us out.

The evening rain that was predicted never showed up, but the next morning Mo and I were still happy that we had packed up the outside rug and chairs the night before.  Breakfast was easy, and we spent a bit of time visiting with everyone before each group began the process of packing up and heading out.  The skies were gray with threatening rain that never materialized as we hooked up the Tracker and headed south on Highway 101 toward Florence.

Many years ago I discovered a wonderful quilt shop in Florence, Joy of Quilting.  Sadly, it was sold and I thought the owners went out of business.  Just recently on a Facebook quilt group I heard that they had opened a new store in Florence down in the old port area where the cute shops are located.  We arrived in Newport right at 11 when the shop opened and I delighted in the new shop.  It wasn’t as extensive as the old store was but they still had beautiful floral quilt fabrics that are sometimes hard to find elsewhere.

The drive home from Florence was easy.  We enjoyed the brilliant clear skies along the route beside the Umpqua River, savoring the 80 degree temperatures and the lack of smoke or haze.  It wasn’t until we gassed up the rig at Seven Feathers on I-5 that hints of the smoky conditions south of the Umpqua Divide appeared.  By the time we reached Sexton Mountain Pass north of Grants Pass it was apparent that we were returning from our cool, smoke-free, idyllic time on the coast the the heat and smoke that has been plaguing our part of Oregon for so many days. 

It was nearly 100 degrees when we arrived at home, and Mo and I for once decided that we didn’t need to empty the MoHo completely right away.  We got out the food and our night bags and escaped into the blessedly cool house.

That was ten days ago, and I have no idea how time has passed so quickly.  I have been completing the binding on the king sized quilt I made for daughter Deanna.  I also was under a deadline to complete a small lap quilt for daughter Melody’s birthday on the 12th.  Sadly, I didn’t make it in time, so her birthday present will be a bit late.  Lucky for me, she had somewhere to go for her long 4 day birthday weekend so a late present isn’t quite as awful as it could have been.

The rest of the time we have been managing the well, hand watering mornings when the cistern is full, and scheduling laundry loads between weekly shrub waterings.  As I write, at this very moment, a slight breeze is beginning to blow some of the smoke from our valley. I just stepped outside and I can see the peak Mo and I lovingly call “Pointy Mountain”.  I haven’t seen that peak in at least two weeks.  It is a good sign that maybe we get a bit of relief from the smoke and heat. 

It is easy to get down in the dumps with the heat and smoke.  Sometimes Facebook does good things, even though I usually just scroll past all the memes.  Recently a note came up from my youngest daughter, asking what you do that makes you want to get up in the morning, that feeds your soul each day.  I was especially shaky the morning that message showed up, and I had to think about it a bit.  But each day since I have paid more attention to the things that bring me delight, a reason to get up.

One of them is watching Mattie wake up.  Every single morning she sleeps till 8, and when we let her out of her crate she does big long stretches on the rug before tearing down the hallway to spin around in front of the back door.  I love the rat a tat tat of her paws on the hardwood, and am glad it doesn’t damage the wood! She does little doggie dances waiting for us to catch up and let her out.  She then races around the property for a few minutes, doing her business as far away as possible along the fenceline, and then races back up the stairs. 

She waits till we tell her she can come in, races past the kitchen island, does a two circle dance on the Turkish rug before racing down the hallway away for her breakfast.  Her tiny portion of breakfast finished, she races to the rug again for her morning treats, each earned with a trick:  lie down, sit up, roll over.  Next on the agenda is a run to my lap, making sure that I have the appropriate quilt over my legs where she can snuggle.  I can’t tell you have wonderful this little morning routine feels.  Such a lesson in joy that isn’t dependent on a single thing except life itself.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Dan and Chere with a pal

Wynn and Don

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


12-16-2021 Last Day at Bastendorff Beach and a Scary Dog Story

When we woke on Saturday after such a foggy Friday, we were thrilled to once again see brilliant sunshine.  The temperatures had warmed a bit and the winds were quiet.  It was time to drive down to the beach parking area once again for a last walk.

Being a Saturday on a three day weekend, the beach was already filled with people and dogs by the time we arrived around 9.  We had Mattie on a leash, but some people didn’t follow the rules and big and little dogs were running free everywhere.  One dog especially was a problem.

The owner of the dog told us that his dog didn’t like other females, but he didn’t leash her.  She was an older chocolate lab and we avoided them as we walked in a different direction.  We didn’t realize that he and his dog were coming our way until it was too late, and the big brown dog that was off leash came after Mattie.  It was too fast for us to pick her up which we try to do in these situations.  Instead, as the dog was attacking Mattie, I tried to push the lab away with my walking sticks as the owner came over trying to control his dog.  She wasn’t paying any attention to him but finally she backed off.  In the mean time, he started yelling at me saying I had no reason to beat his dog!!  Right!!  Am I supposed to just let my dog get injured?? 

I lost my temper, and yelled at him to get that dog on a leash!  I was so furious and my adrenalin was so high I yelled at him that I would beat him if I had the chance, along with some choice colorful words.  He said, “Yeah right”, but at least he didn’t come after me.  I was ready to light into him physically whether he killed me or not!  Don’t make an old lady with a cane angry.

It took awhile for my adrenalin rush to ease as we continued our walk toward the jetty.  The ocean was wild and the waves were huge and finally that inner shaking settled down as we watched the drama unfolding along the jetty.

People were walking along the edge of the rocks as the waves crashed over the sides of the jetty.  I heard one guy tell another one, “Hey Buddy, don’t be walking on that jetty today”.  Sneaker waves that sweep people away are notorious is this part of the Oregon Coast.

It was a lovely walk and by the time we got back to the car the bad guy with the mean dog was gone.  I was grateful for that since I had no more adrenaline for another confrontation.

We took our time packing up the rig, thinking we had until 2 PM to check out.  I thought it might be nice to get some photos of the rest of the campground in the sunshine.  As I relaxed in the MoHo working on those photos in Lightroom I suddenly saw a photo I had taken of a sign that said “Check-out at Noon”.

Oops!!  It was 11:45.  We had the MoHo packed up, unhooked, slides in and jacks up and Tracker attached in 15 minutes.

Our drive home over the coast range was gorgeous, with brilliant sunshine the entire distance.  We traveled Highway 42 again toward I-5 and then south toward home.  It was lovely driving in good weather and the weekend traffic was very light.  Delightful!  We fueled again at Seven Feathers to beat our Grants Pass prices and pulled into the driveway around 4 PM.  A perfect ending to a very nice getaway.

We enjoyed the beach and the campground was nice, but after our experience with all the people and dogs we decided that limiting our adventures to Oregon State Parks would be a bit safer for all of us.