A Wild Ride to California

Current Location: Back on Old Fort Road in Klamath Falls  and it is snowing

Last fall, when lifetime friend Maryruth asked Mo and I if we would come to Maryruth’s mother’s birthday party, I felt a bit of hesitation.  The party was scheduled for the 19th of December, way too close to Christmas.  But it was Elsie’s 90th birthday, and the celebration was drawing friends and relatives from far and wide.  I really couldn’t miss it.

IMG_5437_thumb3Traveling south on I-5 toward Ashland

Of course, at this time of year, in this part of Oregon, there is no telling what kind of weather we might encounter, so we took our chances and decided to skip making reservations at the Feather Falls Casino KOA.  We like the campground, just minutes from Maryruth’s home, with all the amenities we could want.  Somehow I wasn’t too worried about the park being filled up on the weekend before Christmas.

We now are living in Klamath Falls, 45 minutes east of our former home in Rocky Point, adding that time and mileage to the trip over the mountain to Grants Pass to the west.  The MoHo was waiting all cozy in her big shed, the baby Tracker is already over there, so we just needed to fit everything required for a couple of days in Rocky Point as we travel west, a couple of days in Grants Pass, to load up, do a few small chores, and get ready to go, and a couple of days in California.

I can’t begin to explain how crazy making it is for me to try to think of food for each stop on the way, for clothes appropriate for the various weather conditions we will be encountering, and deciding just what I want to wear to the big Saturday night party.  The truck was filled to the brim with sweats, jeans, some slinky dress up’s, way too many shoes, working clothes, snow boots and coats, lots of hats and gloves, and of course all the gear for the dog.

Mattie is a bit like having a kid.  We have her crate and bedding, her round bed for non sleeping comfort, another blankie since she gets cold so easily, and a bag of “doggie stuff”, which includes her shampoo, her favorite toys, treats, leash, a sweater, and a raincoat.  As I read this, I am beginning to think we are really eccentric parents.  That is a lot of stuff for a very small dog!

Snow-at-Rocky-Point-7-of-17_thumb2When we arrived in Rocky Point, all was well.  When I found out that the power was off for many hours, I was really glad that Mo and I had returned home to the apartments for a couple of days in between trips.  This time the power was on and all was well. 

The next morning we headed for Grants Pass, driving over High Lakes Pass in some snowy conditions, but nothing unmanageable.  The weather predictions were not encouraging, however.  Winter weather warnings were going off every hour for extreme weather impacting most of Southern Oregon and especially the passes, including the route south on I-5 over the Siskiyous.

IMG_5436_thumb2Leaving Grants Pass south on I-5

We waited till Friday morning to make the actual decision, waking up to heavy pouring rain, and reports of temperatures above freezing at Siskiyou Summit.  We hoped we could get over the mountain before the snow levels dropped.  Neither of us have any desire to chain up the MoHo.

IMG_5440_thumb1Siskiyou Summit south on I-5

Sure enough, the snow at the first summit was just flurries and the temps were above freezing, so no black ice.  Whew.  A nice long stretch to Weed and then once again the snow started blowing.  As we passed the turnoff to Mt Shasta City and McCloud, we breathed a sigh of relief. 

IMG_5457_thumb1Slush and snow coming at us near Mt Shasta City

That sigh was a bit premature I guess.  It snowed all the way to the Pit River Bridge just north of Redding and much below the 3,000 foot elevation snow prediction.  It was wet slushy snow, but not so much that it made driving impossible, and no chains were required.  Thank goodness.

Once past Redding, the snow turned to hard pourning rain, not much easier than snow for driving, and there wasn’t a bit of letup till we got to Oroville. 

IMG_5460_thumb1Feather Falls Casino KOA Site 38

Finally settled into our campsite at the only KOA we have ever really liked, we relaxed, knowing that we didn’t really have to think about the drive home for a couple of days.  We could just relax and enjoy the party.

01-party-preparations-6-of-14_thumb1Decorating the winery for the party

Maryruth and her sisters held the party at a lovely small local winery in Oroville, Purple LIne Winery.  The owners are good friends of another of Elsie’s daughters and were happy to share their lovely venue with the 100 or so guests who arrived on Saturday afternoon to celebrate.

02-Elsies-party-7-of-29_thumb1Elsie and Maryruth

I have known Maryruth for 53 years, and of course have known her mother for that long as well.  Elsie was a part of my extended family and I am so glad that Mo and I were able to be there to honor her.  She was genuninely happy with all the attention, something that Maryruth had been a bit worried about.  Today when I talked to Maryruth, she said the party was wonderful for her mom, that it elevated her mood and lifted the bit of depression she had been dealing with because of ongoing tiresome health issues.  Elsie is a trooper, has always been a strong and incredible woman, and some of the issues of aging are extremely frustrating for her, as they would be for anyone.01-party-preparations-7-of-14_thumb1

Gerald built the big block numbers for all the photos

Mo and I managed to get a bit of time to enjoy the casino, which is really quite nice.  I even won enough money to pay for breakfast the next morning and our wine at the party.  We don’t play the slots all the often, but it seems lately that I have been pretty lucky when we do.  Lucky as in tens of dollars, not thousands of dollars.  LOL  I never play big enough to win that big.

After the casino Sunday Brunch with Maryruth and Gerald, we once again tackled the long drive home over the passes.  By the time we left, the rains had started up once again and after getting gas in Chico for 2.15 per gallon at Costco, we drove 99 to the interstate and watched the road cams, the weather warning signs, and listened to 1610 AM radio for chain updates.

IMG_1344_thumb1Radar image for our route to Grants Pass and then home to Klamath Falls.

The predictions were rather scary, and chains were required earlier in the day over the Siskiyous.  We pressed on, hoping that the warm temperatures and rising elevation of the snows would stay with us till we reached Grants Pass. 

IMG_1352_thumb1Again, the snow was wet and slushy, the chain requirement for the Siskiyou Summit was lifted just before we reached that point and by the time we landed in Grants Pass it was just raining.

Neither one of us was really concerned about the drive from Grants Pass back home to Klamath Falls via Rocky Point.  We have driven High Lakes Pass for dozens of years, and the Dakota has 4 wheel drive.  We packed all our stuff back into the pickup once again, put the MoHo to bed, and headed back up the mountain.

UhOh!  That drive took us both by surprise!  There was a LOT of snow on the side of the road from the previous storms, and yet yesterday the temperatures were rising.  We had deep slush and ice on packed snow at the top of the pass, and neither of us could remember a transit as hairy as this one for a long time. 

anitas-van-in-our-road_thumb1Easy Street doesn’t look so easy with Mo’s plow in Klamath Falls

In Rocky Point, the road that Mo usually plows, was unplowed.  The neighbors who live farther up the road than we do don’t have a plow and evidently couldn’t get anyone out there.  We drove up as far as we could and then walked through the deep snow to get to the house.  Don’t laugh.  I have three houses and two vacuum cleaners.  I refuse to buy a third vacuum, and I had taken the main vacuum from Old Fort Road to Rocky Point.  I needed that vacuum.  I refuse to live through Christmas at home without a vacuum!  Ha! 

Back on the road to Klamath Falls, the snows were deeper than we have seen in years.  And that snow just keeps coming.  Sometimes it gets a bit warmer and rains on the snow, and then it dumps some more of the white stuff.  Mo has a lot less to plow here at the apartments, but this thick wet stuff is keeping her busy.

Daytime-Christmas-on-Old-Fort-Road-2Snug and cozy in the apartment on Old Fort Road.

I am glad to be home, glad to have a few days at least to make cookies and fudge, get ready for Christmas dinner with the family members that are close, and play in my craft apartment making cards.  Christmas will come so quickly, and it seems that we didn’t have a lot of time to do some of the small town Christmas things that I like to do, but with the really yukky weather, I really have no desire to brave the storms to try to go look at Christmas lights.  I think I’ll just enjoy my own.

The Solstice has come, the days are getting longer, Christmas is here!!

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What Happened to February?

Current Location: Rocky Point Oregon at 35 degrees F and spitting snow mixed in the rain.

February used to be a really tough month for me.  Back in the days of working and living in Northern Idaho, the sun was still low in the sky, the days were still short, the snows deep and tiresome.  I had a tremendous dislike for the month, and when I would call Maryruth, my friend in California, all pissy about whatever, she would say, “Oh, Sue, it’s February.  You will be fine soon”.

too early for spring (4 of 6)-2 Somehow the old paradigm no longer holds.  February can still be long and cold and tiresome, but not this year.  I have no idea what happened to February.  I have daffodils up in the yard, some even with buds on them.  We haven’t shoveled snow even one time this winter.  The tiny skiff that showed up on Christmas lasted for a long breath and was gone. 

Last year we spent February exploring Florida, so that winter doldrums thing never had a chance of finding me. Last winter we had Abby and Jeremy with us as well.  Still trying to adjust to not having them with us.St Joe SP_013

At the beginning of the month, Mo and I were thinking we only had a short time at home after our January travels to do some house projects before she would be leaving again for Beaverton for a couple of weeks caring for her brother’s dogs while he and his wife vacationed in Hawaii.  We decided to paint Mo’s bedroom.  It is a project that has been on the agenda for a couple of years now, and with all the goings on and traveling that we do, it just never seemed to get top billing.mos bedroom (6 of 6)

Took us just two short days to get the job done, but going to town for paint was another day, with some color adjustments here and there before we settled on the pale spring green for the walls.  Mo already had the Cranberry color chosen to match her original watercolor painting gifted by a friend a few years ago.  We enjoyed the project.  Felt good to be doing something around the house again that wasn’t just the everyday kinds of maintenance that a house in the forest always needs.

mos bedroom (1 of 6) Immediately after we finished painting, a huge windstorm hit the Klamath Basin and knocked our power out for 19 hours.  We pulled out the oil lamps, heated coffee and food on the wood stove and settled in for the duration.  It was actually kind of nice, although I am glad it didn’t last any longer than it did.  We were within minutes of packing up all our food in the freezer and heading over the mountain to Grants Pass and daughter Deborah’s freezer when everything blinked back on into brilliance.

windfall (3 of 4) The rain was needed, but again, it didn’t bring any real snow to our sadly deficient snow pack.  The high winds and saturated soils did create a real mess.  Many trees tipped right out of the wet ground and crashed on the power lines.  The funny thing for us was that we were somehow protected in our little concave draw and the winds went right over us without causing any real trouble on our property.  The worst damage was about 4 miles away where it looked as though a tornado had ripped through.

Another week was spent dealing with complex and tiresome business issues for Mo, with me acting as administrative assistant.  Mo does the hard stuff, but I manage to keep the computers on track.  I even figured out how to create some complex forms that were needed.  That week flew by!  It was almost like working again!!

Another tiresome time thing is an ongoing health issue for me.  Not a big deal, but the surgeon I will be seeing is nearly 200 miles away over the mountain, and as things often go for these kinds of things, we have to make several trips before it will all be resolved.  Tiresome, but I am glad it isn’t anything particularly serious, just irritating.  And did I say Tiresome?  Surgery in April, and recuperation will require no lifting of anything over 5 pounds for something like 90 days.  I haven’t quite figured out how to put a stick of wood on the fire that weighs less than five pounds! 

We enjoyed a day in Medford shopping for Valentine chocolate and having a late afternoon lunch at Olive Garden.  And shopping at the quilt stores, of course.  As I write, I realize that a big part of the past month for me has been finishing a quilt that I saw in Palm Springs when we were there and immediately coveted.  I bought all the fabric and the pattern, and for once actually started on the quilt immediately, while the inspiration was still fresh and the fabric all new and shiny.  Ocean Dreams in the Desert (2 of 4)

I call it “Sea Dreams in the Desert”.  I started with an idea to make it a simple throw, but loved it so much that I decided to continue and make it a full queen sized quilt for my summer bed.  First time doing something called a “pieced border”.  I guess that explains what happened to February.IMG_4743

Mo left for Beaverton mid month, and on the same day my friend Maryruth drove up from California to spend 8 days of girl time with me.  Her husband held down the fort at home, and Maryruth came loaded with her new sewing machine and lots of fabric for a quilt that she wanted to make.  It was her first and she was excited.maryruth visits (3 of 13)

Sometimes in the past we have managed girl time, with a trip to a B and B somewhere, or a meet in the middle kind of visit, but this was different.  We had a whole week at home just the two of us and our sewing machines.  It was like a quilt retreat for two that didn’t cost anything.  We went to Medford to the quilt shops, and had a fabulous dinner at McGrath’s Fish House.  Maryruth ordered the mile high mud pie, but missed the “mile high” part, and we burst into incredulous laughter when her dessert arrived.  What fun!IMG_4735

One night at home we cooked up a fabulous Thai Green Curry Chicken with Pad Thai and it was wonderful.  I had never made a green curry from scratch, so that was a first.  All the traditional Thai flavors of lime, tons of cilantro, lemon grass, ginger, garlic, hot pepper, and about a dozen other herbs and spices went into the curry that was so fragrant and perfectly sweet and spicy.  Mo isn’t all that excited about Thai food and Maryruth’s husband isn’t all that excited about spicy, so it was a food cooking adventure for the two of us that probably won’t be repeated till we get together again.maryruth visits (13 of 13)

We took another break from sewing and went to breakfast at our local Harriman’s Resort on Sunday morning.  It was cold and windy, but the sun streaming in was gorgeous and the food was fabulous.  Maryruth has a nice little Nissan Hybrid and will NOT drive in snow, so this was an extra special treat.  In a normal winter, she would have been unable to visit during February. 

maryruth visits (6 of 13)maryruth visits (9 of 13) Maryruth managed to finish her quilt for her mother, and I managed to finish putting the last big border on my quilt on the day that she left.  It will take 9 yards of fabric to back my quilt.  At 12.99 per yard, that was a bit daunting, in addition to the cost of having it quilted.  I certainly wouldn’t attempt something this big on my own.  Found a perfect batik online for 5.99 a yard so problem solved.maryruths first quilt (1 of 5)

With Maryruth gone, I now have five days to myself here at home, hoping to do some of the detailed chores that I don’t do when Mo is around.  Who knows why.  It is nice having alone time to catch up on details, but I will definitely be happy when Mo returns next week.  Managing the fire alone is a full time job.  It seems I am either starting, stoking, taking away ashes, or bringing up another load of wood all day long.  Mo does most of the fire management when she is here and I help out a bit, but I can see now that what I do isn’t nearly enough.  

Today I am dealing with “stuff”.  We have a five year plan, and sometime during the next five years, I will have to move my stuff.  I really need to get it more organized.  I can’t believe how it gets away from me.  I am fairly well organized, but there are places where that breaks down, such as the office drawers.  I also have a couple of drawers for crafting, and of course I have bins of yarn for knitting and many containers of fabric for quilting.  I am not quite sure how this stuff keeps multiplying, maybe it is those trips to the quilt shops.

So today, I decided that I would try to go through the office “stuff”.  Most of it has been in a small set of drawers beneath my desk, but it seems that I never actually get into those drawers for anything.  Scotch tape, scissors, a bazillion pens and pencils, who knows if they work, and a whole lot of other little thingies that I have no clue what to do with except I can’t quite bring myself to throw it all away.  Ocean Dreams in the Desert (4 of 4)

I started the project, and then in frustration gave up.  Here is the result!  It is packed and ready for the next stop, and someday maybe I’ll get the nerve to try to figure it out one more time, or just throw it all away.  I can hear you laughing from here.Ocean Dreams in the Desert (3 of 4)

As the evening progresses, the rain/snow/sleet spitting continues.  Predictions of an inch of snow at our elevation for tonight, but I’ll believe it when I see it.  Can you imagine, no snow all winter and it shows up at the end of February?

 

01-18-2015 Nevada City and Oroville and time with friends

Current Location: Rocky Point Oregon

no snow winter 2 (6 of 6)Talking about the weather is silly.  There is no snow, there is no rain, there is no winter to speak of anywhere to be found in our part of the world.  Crazy.  The skies are cold but clear tonight.  The thermometer might drop a bit below freezing before morning, but c’mon…is this really what January is supposed to look like in Rocky Point?  no snow winter 2 (1 of 6)

It usually looks more like this around here in January.  

Happy New Year's EveBut with snow like that I would be shoveling and blowing the pathways and complaining about the ice on the driveway.  We were gone for three months in winter of 2014, and heard rumors that there wasn’t much snow then either, but it is surprising that the lack of snow is still persisting.  Water?  Snow pack? Drought?  Those thoughts lie in the background as we enjoy the moderately warm, snowless winter.  Maybe it will snow in April as it usually does.  Just in time for Easter.

Leaving the gorgeous sunny skies of the Mojave Desert and Joshua Tree NP was tough.  I needed to be home, but that didn’t make the journey any more enticing.  As we approached the western slope of the Sierras crossing the Tehachapi Pass on Highway 58, we could see the thick blanket of gray brown smog/fog hanging low over the Great Central Valley.  Didn’t look a bit different than it did when we passed this same way two weeks ago.

I never tire of this view from Highway 58 toward the Grapevine The distance to Orange Grove RV park from Joshua Tree is a short 200 miles.  Of course we could have traveled farther, but why?  Why go beyond the waiting oranges!  I have to confess, I did take more than the loudly proclaimed one bag limit.  Signs everywhere said that limit would be “strictly enforced”.  I am sure they are talking to someone other than me, right?  Maybe the signs are for those greedy people who might try to pick bags and bags of the sweet things and sell them on the side of the road.  The sign wasn’t for me, the innocent little old lady from Oregon who just wanted an extra bag to share with friends along my route home, right?heading south_008DSC_0008

I remember blogland a long time ago when someone, can’t even remember who, “stole” oranges from a tree along side of the road.  Lots of moral lectures resulted from that little confession.  I am a good, mostly honest person.  Just don’t let me near your orange trees.

The park was about 1/3 full when we arrived, but by dark every single space was filled.  I would highly recommend getting a reservation if you are a big rig and intend to stay in the park en route or returning from the desert.  Seems as though the snow birds have found it and keep it very busy.

Once again we drove north along I-5 on a Saturday, leaving at 6:30 AM so that we could get all the way to the Grass Valley County fairgrounds before nightfall.  Just 370 miles or so, but that is still a long day for us.  The fog was thick when we gassed up at the Bakersfield Costco for a measly 2.06 per gallon for regular gas.  Who knows how long those prices will last, but we sure enjoyed them on this trip.

After a somewhat long and boring day traveling north, the fog lifted and we whizzed through Sacramento traffic onto the 80 and then north on Highway 49 to Grass Valley/Nevada City.  The two gold towns in the Mother Lode country of California are not far apart.  Our friends Jimmie and Nickie, are living in Nevada City, and in spite of their generous offer of driveway hospitality, we thought it would be smart to park the rig down the hill at the Nevada County Fairgrounds.

Visiting Jimmie and Nickie (47 of 49)It is a fairly nice park, as fairground camping goes, and in no time we were set up and on our way up the hill to Jimmie and Nickie’s lovely home on a lava cap ridge of the Sierra Nevada mountains.  Just high enough in elevation to be out of the poison oak but not into deep long lasting snow.  Perfect.

Nickie told me that when they walked into the house, within minutes, they knew it was the one.  I had an experience like that once myself, when I stepped into my little bungalow in Klamath Falls back in 2002.  Within 24 hours I had an accepted offer and that little home now shelters my daughter and her family after some delightful years sheltering me.

Nickie and I have kept up our correspondence after meeting in person a couple of years ago…neither of us could believe it had been two years since we met, but it has.   Thank goodness for the blog where I could check out the original date of our delightful get together the first time.  Walking into their home is so comfortable and their hospitality is wonderful.

nickie and jimmie I have seen photos of their canal walk, and was delighted to have Nickie suggest that we get a bit of movement in before dinner walking the canal.  What a great place close to home to get in daily walks.  The water was a bit low, but I could see what a shady retreat this pathway would be on a hot summer day. 

Another walker took some photos of all of us together (thanks for this photo, Nickie), and the happy smiles on our faces just gives a hint at how much fun we were having. 

Visiting Jimmie and Nickie (12 of 49)Later Nickie treated us to a wondrous supper of hand made spinach rolls smothered in her very own home canned marinara sauce, and a Caesar salad drenched in the fabulous dressing from the restaurant we had visited two years ago.  Fresh steamed broccoli and artisan bread rounded out the perfect meal.  Jimmie is so funny and friendly and kind, and he and Nickie are so much fun to be around.  I just love how they treat each other with such love and respect.  It is a joy.

Visiting Jimmie and Nickie (14 of 49) My favorite part of the evening was listening to the stories of how Nickie and Jimmie met and their travels and how they found their homes.  Flow!  These two definitely know how to live in the Flow of life at its finest. The best indication of the great time we had showed on the clock when Mo and I finally drove back down the hill to the MoHo.  It was almost 11 PM when we got to bed.  Geez!  We are early birds most of the time.

The next morning, with a brilliant sun bursting forth, we met again for a morning walk around the fairgrounds.  Nickie has a great sense of humor, although the wet bleacher seats weren’t exactly to her liking, but she wanted a photo in the bleachers, so I obliged.  Visiting Jimmie and Nickie (25 of 49)

I also got a kick out of taking pictures of Nickie herding geese.  She kept saying, “They love me!”.  I am sure that they did.

Visiting Jimmie and Nickie (45 of 49)We drove the short distance to Nevada City and a wonderful breakfast at the South Pine Cafe.  The food was incredible, and my choice was a lobster scramble with lots of mushrooms and avocados and Jalapeño Hollandaise!  It was even good when I ate the other half for breakfast the next day!  Once again, the fact that we were having a great time was evident as we lingered over our breakfast table long after the meal was finished.  Hard to say goodbye to such great people.

Of course, we had other great people waiting for us in Oroville, so we buttoned up the rig and took the back road from Grass Valley to Oroville via a road that I would NOT recommend, but it was fun. 

IMG_1217 The sun was brilliant in Nevada City, but by the time we dropped down the hill just enough to reach Oroville, the fog was again shrouding the landscape.  Spare me from California Valley fogs!! ick! That gray line you see on the horizon is the thick fog down in Oroville and the valley!IMG_1216

We camped once again at the Feather Falls Casino, not a cheap night by any means at $47 per night with no discounts.  Still, it was an easy hookup, a nice park that we like, and just minutes from Maryruth and Gerald’s home up the hill.  Readers know that Maryruth is my very best friend of more than 50 years.  It is always wonderful to see her and her husband Gerald, and to visit their home.

Maryruth has a new sewing machine and has completed more decorating projects in her home that I wanted to see.  After the look arounds, we drove down the hill again to her mother’s house, who has lived in Oroville for more than 50 years.  It was great seeing the family, people I have known and loved as my own family for all these years.

Later, Maryruth and Gerald took us to their friends winery, The Purple Line Urban Winery, right in downtown Oroville, and we sampled some great wines, including something called “Red Panties”.  We then ambled on to Papacito’s Mexican Grill and Cantina where I finally got my urge for some really GOOD Mexican food fully satisfied.  What a great little place with excellent food!  Their tortilla soup was the best I have ever had anywhere.

Once again we made it back home to the rig at a very late hour, proof of our wonderful time spent with good friends.  In case you are wondering where the photos are for this part of the visit, Maryruth did that thing when I pulled out the camera…”Oh Sue…Really?!?!”   So I put the thing away and didn’t take a single photo of our visit.  Only once, and only for you, Maryruth.  Next time I am taking photos!!IMG_1220

Because I honored Maryruth’s request, Instead of photos of Maryruth and Gerald and their wonderful home, the winery and the wonderful food, you get to see a photo of my daughter with her three little grandbabies, my youngest great-grandchildren. 

 

Home in December

Rocky Point, Oregon 25 degrees F and partly cloudy with a high predicted of 40F

reflected sunset in the eastern sky When we planned our winter trip south, we knew that December in this part of Oregon can be cold, snowy, and wintry.  Still, I wanted to be home at Christmas in spite of the weather.  Daughter Deb is close enough now that she can come over the mountain to share the holidays with us, and Melody and her family always come out for Christmas as well, with just a 25 mile trek from Klamath Falls to mom’s house in the woods.  We have some great family traditions, one of which includes sledding down our hill on Christmas day.

winter comes to Bel's little barnThere have been times when there was no snow, but not often.  Last year the snow started in November and I counted 13 consecutive days of plowing and blowing as the snow dumped on us.  This year November was sunny and the grass was still green. Then WHAM, that Big Chill that gripped the nation landed in Oregon as well, and our temperatures were as low as 20 degrees below Zero F.  We broke all time records for cold for any day in Klamath Falls with readings of almost 30 below.  Yup, you read that right.  30 miles north of the California border and it was -28F.

moon in the blue blue sky at five below zero in Rocky Point The good part about this cold spell however, was that it was just too cold to snow very much.  Around the 5th of December, the snow started falling and Mo and I plowed and shoveled for two days, unable to keep up with the dumping white stuff.  Then the true cold hit, the skies turned bluebird blue, and the snow froze in place, clean and dry after all our snow management.  With temps that cold, there wasn’t much ice in our driveway and on our road, and we haven’t had to plow since then.  The rest of the area wasn’t so lucky, however.

Daughter Deb over in Grants Pass spent a few days without water when the pipes froze.  Grants Pass and the Rogue Valley are not used to that kind of weather, and there were hundreds of accidents on the local roads and freeways and most of the schools have been closed for more than 5 days now.  We didn’t winterize the MoHo but left a heater running inside and the RV shed is completely enclosed, so we think all is OK.  Our reason for buying the Grants Pass property had to do with lowest winter temps being an occasional bout with the teens and most of the time above 30F or so. 

deanna2 Daughter Deanna was right in the midst of the worst ice storm, just 30 miles from Dallas, where she and her husband spent 13 hours trapped in their semi on one of those “fake” hills at an overpass that no vehicle could manage.  Deanna said someone would try and they all would slide backwards.  Traffic was backed up for 40 miles or something like that.  They finally got out of the mess to deliver in Memphis, run down to Miami to pick up some other kinds of fancy engines, and take off for Manitoba, where the cold was just normal Manitoba cold and not impossible to navigate.

Here at home, I managed to work on quilt projects for Christmas presents, and finally got the house decorated.  I do love decorating for holidays, but for some reason it was a bit hard to get into it this year.  I was dragging my feet.  Possibly because I knew we were leaving just two days after Christmas, not to return until April.  I definitely want to get it all packed up and put away before we leave, and of course I know there will be a bit of crunch time in that short two days as we finalize our packing for three months on the road.

Winter_031 Still, on Wednesday this week, I finally went out to the very cold garage (it was still around zero F, and Mo and I brought down the Christmas bins and I started unpacking and deciding what to use, what to skip.  This year I will skip the Christmas villages, and those bins remain untouched.  I decided to decorate the perfect little Christmas tree this year with the heirloom little pieces that have been with both of us for more years than I care to count instead of my fancy fruits and shiny globes that I bought for my Klamath Falls home when I moved there 11 years ago.  The snowmen came out, and I laughed with Mo, saying “No matter how old and worn out I get, I’ll always be able to manage the snowmen, even if I don’t do anything else!”

my favorite Last night I finished up the lights on the porch, and in spite of the lack of enthusiasm I felt during the process, as I stood out in the snow looking at our cozy house I was so glad I had made the effort.  Somehow it finally feels like Christmastime.  Today I’ll go down to our Rocky Point community place and set a pretty table for eight for the ladies luncheon held here every year.  The kids will come for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and the house will look like a Mom’s house is supposed to look.  I’ll start baking cookies and make some fudge, listen to some Christmas music and be grateful that we decided to stay home once again for Christmas. 

This year I even made the effort to do Christmas cards and the Christmas letter.  I saw on the news not long ago how this old tradition is rapidly dying as we all seem to be communicating in different ways with social media and the internet.  I decided that the letter and a sheet of photos was still a nice gesture.  I still have old Christmas letters from lots of friends who used to send them.  Mo gets lots of cards every year, I get very few.  I do think I have friends, but maybe our friends are different kinds of people.  Hers are more traditional, mine are all over the map.  All over the map kinds of people tend to not send Christmas cards.  So what am I, all over the map or traditional??!!

testing different methods for shooting the Christmas lightsWho knows if we will be here every year.  Sometimes we might like to take a break and travel somewhere warm BEFORE that winter snow and cold hits Rocky Point.  Each time I have done that, however, my heart misses the old traditions of Christmas and my family, at least as many of my family that I can gather in one place at one time.  Mo would much prefer to be elsewhere at this time of year, and when I first knew her, she would almost always be off somewhere in December, avoiding all the Christmas hubbub, calling me from Spain, or Costa Rica or some other exotic location.  I am glad that she is tolerant of my need for family times and patiently waits for two days after Christmas to escape.

Snow in November Snow in March

Home in Rocky Point Oregon: current temperature 36 Degrees F  high 43 low 25 partly sunny

snow flurries on Klamath Lake Winter is long in this part of Oregon.  The snows start in earnest in November, with a few skiffs sometimes showing up in October.  The snow can be deep, and while we can get down to zero F for a week or so, the winters aren’t nearly as bad as places like Minnesota or the Dakotas.  Still, they are long. I love winter at Christmas time.  I love winter in January when I can enjoy it and then take off for California.  I love winter in February least of all, and ever since I moved from California to snow country in Northern Idaho back in the early 70’s I have done everything possible to get out of winter in February. 

But winter in March is different.  Even though it is cold and the snow is really tiresome by now, it feels different.  The days are getting longer, just a bit, but it isn’t dark any more at 4:30 in the afternoon.  When it snows, it is usually a bit wetter, and there are patches of blue amid the fluff of snowy clouds. The air feels different.  And the birds are back.  snowgees

Early in the morning I can hear them down by the lake, but they are out on the water in places we can’t get to yet with the snow and ice all around.  Still, we walked down there this morning to get the mail.  Gingerly picking our way through the re-frozen slush in the driveway and hoping our boots didn’t crash through the crusty snow banks down by the water.  When I went in to town yesterday, in the midst of a blustery snow storm, I saw open water along the edges of the lake, and saw that the swans had returned.  I only had the iPad with me, and there was traffic and snow, so it was a quick photo, but it still made me really feel the difference between the deepening winter feeling of December and the promise of winter eventually ending.  Maybe not in March, but still eventually it will end.

There is an aerial survey of the birds in Klamath Basin that is updated regularly, and even back on January 30, we had almost 44,000 tundra swans in the refuge complex.  I love the swans especially, and the snow geese, they look like flapping sheets in the wind when they fly in unison and rise and fall over the landscape.

Horse Fever horses in Ocala will always bring back great memories of sharing this with BelI  am still having a bit of trouble writing about Florida.  My friend Bel, in my life for 19 years, passed away while I was there.  I was with her when she passed, probably the hardest thing I have ever done, and yet a gift I will always be grateful for. If you read my blog in the past, you know about Bel and my visits to her, my worries over her access to health care, some of her life difficulties.  This is our happy fun travel blog, how in the world do I talk about this here?  I guess I just can’t.  Up close family, up close friends, real words coming out of real mouths with sound, seem to be the only appropriate way for the moment.  I didn’t plan to say anything at all when I started this blog, and yet some of you are those real friends with real words who were there for me on the phone and on Facebook, of all places, as I was going through it.  So I needed to acknowledge that somehow after all and thank you.  Enough for now.

visiting Deb in San Antonio (15)On the way home from Florida I was so happy to have almost three full days in San Antonio with my daughter Deborah.  She took off work on Thursday and Friday and we spent our time together driving around to places she loved in her new home, seeing where she worked, eating great Texas food that her sweetie prepared for us.  I ate ribs and cole slaw and Texas beans and cheese bread and brisket and omigosh…the heartburn!  I am not used to eating like that, but it sure was fun to let go for a few days in spite of the heartburn.

IMG_3481 We checked out some quilt shops and picked out fabrics for the quilt I will make for her someday, we wandered off to Palmetto State Park and Lyndon B Johnson State Park, and spent a night in lovely Fredericksburg.  It was cool and breezy while I was there, but the sun was brilliant and gorgeous.  South Texas is a great place this time of year, even though the blue bonnets have yet to burst.  The grasses are greening up, and did I mention that sunshine?  Ahhhh.  It was so healing to be with Deborah, who knew and loved Bel, to have her to talk with about it.  I was blessed by two daughters on this trip actually, with Deanna re-routing a Tampa load to go through Ocala, where she met me for a long breakfast full of big hugs. Daughter Melody stayed with me on the phone a lot and son John called a few times as well, and of course Mo and Maryruth and my long time friend Laura from Coeur d Alene, a respiratory RN.  It was wonderful to have so much support and understanding.

It was good to get back home.  I did a deep clean on the house before I left, and Mo was away at her brother’s while I was gone, so we came home to a cozy, clean, wonderful home.  Mo beat me home by a day, so when I returned the house was still sparkly but was WARM with a nice big fire going.  Snow still on the ground, but sunshine and blue skies were wonderful.  And silence.  The nights are so dark and starry under the hot tub and the silence is just so SILENT!  No street lights, no traffic, no trains, all the stuff of towns and cities are absent here in the forest. 

We are settling in, enjoying home a bit before we decide just when to wander off to the cottage in Grants Pass and maybe get some beach time. Here at home I have a big quilt to finish binding, and fabric to play with, soil survey work waiting and all sorts of “retirement” projects that I still have yet to get to after three years as a retiree.  I am never, never bored.  Ever.

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