07-05-2018 Playing Close to Home

Current Location: Grants Pass Oregon at 86 degrees F with strong breezes and mostly clear skies

It has been a precious summer so far.  For the entire month of June I breathed in the blue skies and fresh air without a touch of smoke from wildfires to mar the loveliness.  Sometimes during a simple quick run to the grocery store I would be completely awed by the technicolor blues and greens that made me wonder if I hadn’t perhaps ingested some sort of mind altering substance without knowing it. 

The colors were almost psychedelic, cartoonish, so brilliant that I would just breathe and drive and gasp out loud all alone in the car.  I know the fires will come eventually, the clear air will go gray and dingy when the smoke from the wildfires that are already beginning to dot the maps of the west finds our valley once again.  Then again…could we really be lucky enough to skip the smoke this year?  I haven’t lived here long enough to really know if that is a possibility.  Smoke always seems to come when everything is at its most beautiful.  Maybe not this year, I’ll wait and see.

This is our first summer actually living in Grants Pass full time.  Mo and I are enjoying having more time to fiddle around with projects.  Mo’s most recent creation was an arbor for the old front gate area, where she used two old doors that we saved from the cottage as side walls.  Thank you, Pinterest, for the ideas!  We loved the old doors in the cottage, built in 1926, and I think these doors were originals.  Mo cut and sanded and painted, figuring out the puzzle of using the old existing gate posts as standards, and making the whole thing fit in, level and even.

I love the arbor, and the old gate that it surrounds.  Somehow it feels like a portal to me, a portal from the outside world into a magical world of our own making.  I love the feeling of memories of the old cottage contained in those old doors.

July 4th was quiet this year.  Daughter Melody and her family had other plans.  For years she has missed sharing time with her old theater friends from the days she lived in Albany, and now that she is in Eugene, just an hour away from Albany where those friends live, she was able to attend the annual Fourth of July party with the theater group.  She told me a year ago that she would NOT be available this year for our traditional family time.  

Instead she and Robert drove down from Eugene on Saturday to spend the weekend with us, and on Sunday daughter Deborah showed up for yummy brunch, family time, and the traditional game of Bocci Ball, which seems to show up every year on the 4th, no matter where we are.

On the actual 4th, Mo and I decided that we needed some sort of entertainment that was out of the ordinary house work, yard work, book work, and such, and decided to try out the trails in our nearby county and BLM park.

Cathedral Hills is a big park, with several miles of trails for mountain bikes, hiking, and horseback riding, no motorized vehicles allowed.  Still, when hiking, a mountain biker barreling down those trails can seem quite fearsome, especially when getting off the trail involves negotiating the thick stands of poison oak and corralling Mattie!

This view from the Hogback Trail is facing east toward our house, which lies on that terrace at the base of the mountain to the right of the big pine tree.

Close friends know that Mo has been having some ankle trouble lately, and it has kept our hikes short and to a minimum.  She has been seeing a physical therapist and felt good enough that she thought she could handle at least a couple of miles of walking.

We started early in the day, while it was still cool, and found our way to the main entrance to the park, farther west than the Walker trailhead that is just half a mile down the road from our house.  I hiked the Walker trail a couple of years ago, and knew it was terrifically steep with tight switchbacks to the Hogback trail on the ridge.

There were quite a few people in the parking lot when we arrived, but the multiple trails were not the least bit crowded.  In our entire 3.5 mile hike we passed just a few people, horses, and dogs.  Mo’s ankle held up well, and she was only a little bit sore the next day.  Both of us were encouraged, since for the past 16 years one of our major forms of entertainment has included hiking and walking.  We surely don’t want to give that up!

My crazy hip did fine as well, with the buckets of Aleve that the doctor said I should take, insisting that my kidneys were strong.

After our hike, we came home and relaxed a bit, did some chores, had a early supper, and decided to brave the city crowds for the fireworks show at Reinhart All Sports Park in Grants Pass.  Once a long time ago, when we first bought the property in Grants Pass, I discovered the pedestrian bridge, but hadn’t explored the park.

Official parking was less than a mile from the park grounds where the fireworks were going to be set, and the walk through the park and across the river was lovely.  Mo’s ankle did start barking, and we decided that if we do this again, we will save the big hike for another day and save our steps for the park.

The music was loud, but in the distance, the crowds were pleasant, and not too thick, the police presence was there but not intrusive.  We set up our chairs and waited, hoping we were in the right place.  Many people around us hoped for the same thing since the city fireworks show hadn’t been in this location in the past.  In fact, last year, Grants Pass didn’t even have a fireworks show.

The show itself was interesting, and quite different from any I had seen before.  Gone were the big loud booms, with the wait, and then the bursting flower of color high in the sky.  Instead, some sort of machine shot out many bursts at once, in all directions.  They were lower in the sky, but very colorful and there were a LOT of them.  We enjoyed the show, but I did miss the big ones.  There were no fireworks allowed in the park, so the scary prospect of a firecracker set off underfoot by some crazy person wasn’t a problem.

The parking was handled exceptionally well, and we were surprised at how orderly and easy it was to exit the parking area and within minutes afterward we were back home.  It wasn’t a typical July 4th celebration for us, and I did miss the family time on a lake somewhere, but it was still very nice.  My kids know I get all silly about July 4th if I don’t have family around, but this time I was perfectly fine.

When Mo and I returned from our trip to South Beach, we left the kayaks on top the baby car, thinking that we would find a lake to kayak soon enough.  On the last Wednesday in June, we traveled south through the Applegate Valley beyond Ruch and the wineries, to Applegate Lake.  It is actually a reservoir, with only a little bit of shoreline showing and the water wasn’t terribly low as is the case in some of the other reservoirs in this area on the west side of the mountains.

I remember a couple of decades ago when Melody lived in Ruch, and saw Applegate Lake for the first time.  I still lived in Idaho, and she called me in a panic saying, “What is wrong with this lake??  It has a huge bathtub ring?!!”.  She had the luxury of being raised in the Northern Idaho Eastern Washington lake country, where every lake is real, and very few have dams that let out the water to levels that make for those ugly steep brown exposed shorelines.  Here on the west side, every lake we have found is actually a reservoir, with associated levels that are affected by the spring rains, snowmelt, and irrigation.  This year, with a drought officially claimed, those levels are going down fast.

Still, our day on the Applegate was perfect.  The skies were again that technicolor blue, with only a light breeze.  We first checked out the official campground and boat launch site, but it really didn’t have much to offer and was at the northern edge of the lake, without much to see on the shoreline.  There was also a $7.00 fee to launch and the manager of the place was rather rude.  I told him nicely we would look for another launch, and he said, “Your stuff won’t be safe there, why in the world would you want to be on that end of the lake?!”  Duh, we are kayakers, not boaters, and we want complex shoreline, little coves, and no big fast boats getting in our way!

The Copper launch was just about perfect.  Clear water, no silty mud, and nice long paved launch where we could take the car right to the water. Something I read on Wiki was fascinating.  The boat ramp is the upper part of the road that once went to the town of Copper, buried forever when the lake was filled in 1980.

Once on the lake we traveled south, and found a beautiful little cove the meandered back into the forest, shrouded with shady firs, and huge rock cliffs.  It was back here that we did see some birdlife, mostly geese, but with their little ones they were very entertaining.

There were a few more kayakers on the water, but they weren’t intrusive, and told us about another cove farther south past a place they called “The Orchard”.  Sure enough, we continued south and found this inlet, along with a big open park that looked like a campground.  Still planning to check if it is a day use area only or includes overnight camping. 

We spent about 2 1/2 hours on the water, enjoying every single moment of crystal clear skies. clear clean water, and brilliant sunshine. I am sure we will return to this lake in the future, since it is the best place so far on this side of the mountains for kayaking.  As I said before, the mighty Rogue River is a bit much for us, with a strong, fast current.  It is a big river, with lots of rapids in between the quiet places, and neither of us is particularly interested in that kind of kayaking in our long lake boats. 

I packed a picnic for us and we shared it on a real picnic table overlooking the lake.  I have no clue what we did for the rest of the afternoon, but were back home by 2. 

Being on the road and traveling in the summer can get so tiresome, with overcrowding, parks full of kids, hot weather, and no vacancies plaguing so many folks any more.  Our idea of good summer times is enjoying all the beauty of our own local world.  I think we are off to a good start.

Klamath Falls: Change is Coming

New Information:  Just received an email from George saying that he could find no way to comment.  I discovered that if I am looking at the blog from the main website, I cannot see the comments, however if I click on the individual header for the current post, I can see comments and can make a comment.  Folks must have discovered this somehow, since there are many comments, but if you are having trouble and want to comment, give this a try.  I have no clue why it works this way, but it must have something to do with my template and I hesitate to mess with the template!

Current Location: Old Fort Road Apartment Klamath Falls.  Raining lightly and 55 degrees F.

Klamath Falls has a reputation among many people in the state of Oregon.  Especially those on the West Side.  The town has close to 50,000 people if you include the “suburbs”, an area intertwined with the city limits that should actually be considered part of the city.  The official population is just over 20K.  Most people only see Klamath Falls as they pass through traveling north or south on Highway 97, assuming there is nothing here worth exploring.

Other folks know that Klamath Falls is the gateway to Crater Lake National Park, but that doesn’t really say much for the town itself. The best word to describe the prejudice against our town is one I have used myself.  “Klamtucky”.

Most of my blog stories revolve around the outdoors, camping, hiking, kayaking, sharing the beauty of the Klamath Basin.  I thought that it would be fun to shift a bit and share my town, to honor the change that I feel coming in our sweet and precious city.  Klamath Falls is shifting.

I have an interesting relationship with Klamath Falls.  I came here for a job promotion in 2002, having only experienced the town as a blip on the map as I traveled from Northern Idaho to California.  I fell in love almost immediately with the landscape, the open roads unmarred by traffic, the volcanic mountains surrounding me, the great fir forests on the edge of juniper deserts fragrant with sage.  My job here was to complete the soil survey for the area and I got to see it in a way that folks living in town don’t always experience. 

Klamath Falls has not been a progressive place.  We do not have a single seafood restaurant, although as I was walking the downtown streets this morning I did see a Mexican and Seafood place.  Guess we will have to try it!

For all our beautiful architecture, there are a few eyesores like this around. 

Klamath Falls is NOT Bend. My daughter and I have railed at the backward politics, the lack of progressive thinking and the extremely conservative bent of the area.  I was a hard core liberal when I moved here, but learned to really appreciate the local farmers and ranchers and to understand why they felt as they did about how things should be managed here.  So although I am still a liberal, I do have a better understanding and acceptance of more conservative ways of thinking.

My daughter, on the other hand, moved here from the progressive west side.  She went to work for the local country radio station, and later for a well established jewelry store that served many of those wealthy ranchers.  She was inundated constantly with, sad to say, racist, xenophobic, and homophobic commentary from her customers and others in her up close circle.  It didn’t endear her to Klamath Falls.  She didn’t have the opportunity like I did to work in the beautiful and wild parts of the county.  I am retired, I can pick and choose the people I care to interact with.  She didn’t have that option.  It colored her view of the city.

A couple of years ago our commissioners voted out a winery and tasting room, saying it would bring in the “wrong element”.  They refused to advertise to “burners” because they didn’t want “hippies” showing up.  We are on the major route to the Nevada event.  But things are shifting.  I would imagine that the winery and tasting room proposed right here on Old Fort Road might someday become a reality.

Some of the local politicians are moving toward a strong and more progressive view of what we need to be the new “Bend”, a view toward drawing to Klamath Falls the money and tourism that she deserves.

In the last few weeks, with our days living near town at the apartment, Mo and I have had the chance to participate in some great stuff.  We are seeing a different kind of person come to town, some of those with money to spend.  Klamath Falls is waking up in a good way.

Two weeks ago we attended the Klamath Kruise, a tradition that has been going on for several years, but somehow it felt different.  There were a LOT of people here on the streets enjoying the parade of old cars, and like us, reminiscing about wonderful old cars we once loved. As I walked the streets enjoying the car parade, I noticed new murals in town that I hadn’t seen before, wonderful murals showing of some of the history of the area.

After the show, Mo and I went to the Klamath Basin Brewery, where we had magnificent onion rings and one of the best crafted beers I have tasted lately. We listened to a delightful band playing some really good blues as we watched the last of the old cars turning the nearby corner toward downtown.

On the same weekend, at the same time sadly, was the annual Kinetic Sculpture Race, another event that draws people to town.  Mo and I attended last year, but decided we couldn’t do everything, so the sculpture race took a back seat.  Nice to have options, though.

Last weekend I was delighted to be living close to town where I could drop in on the local farmer’s market.  I hadn’t been to this particular market for a few years, mostly because it would require a 45 minute trip to town when we lived in Rocky Point and was just too much trouble.  The difference in the offerings was amazing.  There were several great organic farms offering wonderful produce, including ripe heirloom tomatoes from geothermally heated greenhouses.  There was range fed meat, fresh eggs, and local honey.  A musician serenaded the shoppers and dogs on leashes had fun meeting their friends.  It felt wonderful. 

As I drove to the market, I encountered dozens of folks on tandem bicycles.  The promoters of our town had managed to corral the Tandem Bike Rally, and there were more than 600 participants enjoying the streets of the city, spending money in the hotels and buying stuff. 

Speaking of the city, downtown Klamath Falls has some fabulous architecture, with buildings dating to the 20’s.  The Oregon Bank building downtown boasts an historic elevator that is operated by a real person.  There are beautiful streetside trees, colorful flower baskets, and nice flags with local artwork.  I love walking around downtown in the summer.  The downtown shops are evolving.  While there are not a lot of them, there is enough to be entertaining, to do a little shopping, albeit not the kind of high end shopping that is available in Ashland or Bend, or other historic towns in Oregon that people visit.

I enjoyed walking around today before the traffic started up, waiting until the 9AM bell for the Farmer’s Market.  It gave me a chance to enjoy my town in a way I haven’t done recently.

One of our old buildings downtown has been replaced by a community square, Sugarman’s Corner, a lovely place for afternoon music, and picnics.

Not far south of Klamath Falls, near Tulelake, is the site of one of the large concentration camps for Japanese people during WW2.  They call them internment facilities, but that is the nice way of putting it.  Every other year, the Tulelake camp has a Pilgrimage, with several hundred people from all over the country participating in the three day event.

They ended the Pilgrimage with a ceremony at the Ross Ragland Theater, our historic downtown institution. emceed by George Takai, (Sulu from Star Trek), who was incarcerated there as a child.  Daughter Melody now works at the Ragland, and made sure that we got tickets to the event.  It was a fabulous experience, with poetry, stories from people who had been held at the camp, music, and Taiko drumming.  The paid attendees were in the front of the theater, and there were 300 seats in the back saved for locals who wanted to be there.  As a friend said, it was like we were observers of a family reunion. 

I learned much about how important it is to the Japanese people to keep the memory alive, to not sweep it under the rug, and to do everything they can to be sure it never happens again to American citizens.  It was a cultural experience that in the past I never would have imagined finding its way to Klamath Falls.

A few weeks earlier, Mo and I spent a Saturday afternoon enjoying our local casino, Kla-Mo-Ya, where we added to our cash stash and had a great lunch that was very inexpensive.  Later that weekend, we went to the first ever Progressive Dinner Theater, a joint project between the two theaters in town, the Ross Ragland and the LinkvilleMelody and Jeff played newscasters in the Saturday Night Live Style.  Melody is trying very hard here not to crack up.

Melody was in the play, a comical farce called Crazy Town.  The first part of the play was at the Ragland, with drinks and appetizers, then we all walked down the block to a local eatery, M.C.’s on Main, where we had dinner and the second part of the show, and finally dessert and champagne at the Linkville. 

Melody’s view of the city is changing as well.  Now employed with creative, artistic, progressive people at the Ragland, she is involved again in the good side of city politics, and surrounded by people that think more like she does about the world.

In addition to some of the town projects, the community is developing many trails for local hiking and biking.  The trails above Moore Park overlooking the lake are waiting, as is the new Spence Mountain trail along Highway 140.  Mo and I keep looking longingly at that trail head as we pass by, traveling between houses.  Someday there will be a bit more free time, and we aren’t complaining.  There have been some fun times for us.

Another wonderful amenity in town is the geothermally heated Ella Redkey Pool.  I still haven’t managed to take advantage of that wonderful place, but have friends who swim in those lovely waters daily. You can even learn to roll a kayak in that pool!

On the Fourth of July there were many options open to us.  Klamath Falls had a downtown parade, and fireworks on the actual 4th.  We chose instead to spend the day at Lake of the Woods, not far from Rocky Point.  Once again we drove the MoHo to the day use area at 6am, got a parking place and a table right by the boat launch, and set up a great spot for a family day.

The kids arrived a bit later, and we spent the day kayaking, walking the trails, and cooking some great food.  Lake of the Woods Resort chose to have their annual fireworks show on Sunday the 3rd, so Monday was a bit quieter than it was last year when we spent the day waiting for the nighttime fireworks show. 

In addition to those two fireworks celebrations, I learned that a local rancher in the Wood River Valley puts on a fireworks show as well, and someone at my quilt group said it was better than the one in town.  Maybe next year we will have to try that one. There is a great museum out there that I have yet to visit, probably because it is too close to home.  One of these days I am going to go to all the museums close to Klamath Falls and write about them.  I love reading Erin’s museum posts, and every time I do I realize how lax I am in visiting my own local museums.

I feel the shift in energy here, a sense that the people in political power in the city and the county are making progress in the way they promote our town to the world.  Klamath Falls may one day overcome its reputation as a place not worth visiting.  Lately it has felt interesting, vibrant, and fun.  I am keeping track of the good stuff and making sure that I get out there to enjoy it whenever I can.

I would like to leave you with some images of our local murals.  The sun came and went this morning as I wandered about town, but I didn’t mind.  At 8am on a Saturday, there were no cars parked in front of the artwork to distract from the imagery. 



I took this photo from the Discover Klamath website, but I do think it is a wonderful image of our city by the lake, and a good way to end the story.

July 4th at Lake of the Woods Oregon

Current Location: Rocky Point Oregon on a coolish partly cloudy day at 57 degrees F

I must say, after the heat wave we experienced during the latter part of June and early July, this cool, rainy weather is a welcome blessing!  But I also must say that I am really glad that July Fourth was hot and sunny and gorgeous, in spite of a late thunderstorm in the mountains.

map to lake of the woodsFrom home to Lake of the Woods is an easy trip

For several years now, we have talked of trying to camp at Lake of the Woods for the Fourth of July weekend.  Only ten miles away, Lake of the Woods is a high mountain lake that is clean and swimmable.  Unlike our magnificent Klamath Lake, filled with birds and ripe with food for them during the summer (aka algae).  In fact, blue green algae is harvested on Klamath Lake and sold as an expensive food supplement.  My grandmother swore by this stuff, along with liquid chlorophyll, and lived to be 86 eating bacon, chicken fat, pure butter and lots of cream.

1-6-19-2004 Sailing Lake of the WoodsMo and I sailing at Lake of the Woods back in 2004

We have tried several times to get a reservation to camp at Lake of the Woods.  There are two main campgrounds, Sunset and Aspen Point.  Reservations are allowed at a maximum of six months in advance, so on January 1 I started calling at 8am.  Too late.  Every single reserved site through July 4th was already taken.  A couple of times in the past, we have driven up a few days early to see if the non-reservable sites might be available.  Nada.  All taken through July 5th.

Camping_Jul16003Tent camping with the grandkids at Lake of the Woods pre MoHo days

We even tried for the expensive campground at the Lake of the Woods Resort.  People must reserve these sites years in advance.  Who knows, we have never been able to get any kind of site anywhere at any of the campgrounds around the lake.  Maybe it is the fireworks, maybe it is the evening music at the resort, maybe it is just because it is a lovely lake that is boat-able and swimmable and it is summer time.

Last year we scouted the entire perimeter of the lake hunting for possible parking spots along the roadway where we could hike into the lake.  We found a couple, but much of the lake is ringed by privately owned residences leased by the Forest Service and the shoreline is off limits.  Last year with plans to drive the ten miles up the hill after our day at home in Rocky Point to see the fireworks, we decided that dealing with traffic and people and all that was just too much trouble.

July Fourth_149Klamath Falls fireworks were great when over Lake Ewauna and Veterans Park in the past

This year, the Klamath Falls City fireworks show was moved from our lovely Veteran’s Park to the local fairgrounds.  Bleachers, dirt, pavement, crowded parking, and crowds.  Not even a grassy park to have a picnic or a pleasant place to hang out while waiting for the very late hour of darkness to arrive.  No thanks.  They even moved the parade from early evening before the fireworks to mid morning.  Much too long to wait around all day between the parade and the fairgrounds fireworks, so our little town of Klamath Falls was a no go this year, in spite of the many holidays we have spent there in the past.

Once again, we came up with an idea for going up to Lake of the Woods for the fireworks and it worked perfectly.

2015 Fourth of July (11 of 51)That is the MoHo next to a random truck in a ‘no parking’ spot, and our convenient picnic table.

Mo and I got up early on the 4th, and drove the MoHo and a second car to the day use area at Sunset Beach.  We arrived just a little bit after 6am, and were happy to see that there were still parking spaces available for boats and trailers on one side and more long spaces that didn’t specifically prohibit vehicles without boat trailers on the other side.  We parked the MoHo in a spot right next to the picnic area near the boat ramp, and staked out our tablecloth on the big picnic table nearby.

2015 Fourth of July (1 of 51) We then drove back home and loaded up the kayaks on the small trailer and hauled them up with the baby car, leaving the trailer in front of the MoHo. When Melody arrived at the Rocky Point house at 11am, we loaded ourselves into the baby car and drove to the day use area.  Of course, by then, everything was jam packed full, and after unloading the rest of the supplies that we brought up in the car at the MoHo, Melody and I parked the baby car in a wide place on the main road and hiked back to the picnic area.

2015 Fourth of July (12 of 51) The best part about using the MoHo for a day trip was the convenience.  We had a refrigerator to keep everything nice and cold.  We had our own clean bathroom and a place to change, a bed where Melody enjoyed an afternoon nap, and a place to retreat and wait for the fireworks safe from crowds.  The price was perfect!  $5. parking reduced to $2.50 with our Golden Age pass was a lot less than trying to pay for an entire week or two of camping just to get a space.

2015 Fourth of July (13 of 51) The day was perfect.  Gorgeous.  Blue skies and warm temperatures.  It was my first day in the kayak since my surgery, and Mo and Melody obligingly hauled the kayaks down to the beach for me.  It was heaven getting back on the water again at last.

2015 Fourth of July (27 of 51)2015 Fourth of July (8 of 51) We had fried chicken, potato salad (of course), watermelon, and chocolate cupcakes to keep us well fed throughout the day and evening.  We had our comfortable chairs, the great picnic table in the shade, and lots of entertainment watching the people playing, swimming and enjoying the perfect family Fourth of July day.

2015 Fourth of July (16 of 51) Later in the afternoon, Melody and I kayaked over to the main resort marina to watch the huge crowds mashed in together along the beach and hear the loud and happy rock music playing out over the water.  Everyone was having a great time, and it was pretty noisy and looked like the “in” place to be if you wanted to party.  We were extremely happy to be at the other side of the lake!

2015 Fourth of July (19 of 51)We found out during the day, from a helpful ranger, that the fireworks would be shot off on the southern shore of the lake, and that the trees between us and them would block our view.  Ah well.  Hiking around a bit for a better viewing site didn’t yield much, so we accepted our losses and decided that hearing them would be enough.

2015 Fourth of July (41 of 51) As sunset approached, the skies were filled with color and the water was still warm enough for swimming.  Lo and behold, once the fireworks started, we found out that we only had to wade out into the water a few steps to see at least part of the huge colorful blooms exploding in the sky.  I love the sound of fireworks, and one of my favorite moments of the evening was hearing the incredible echoing of that sound from the opposite side of the lake.  It sounded like distant thunder.  Amazing.2015 Fourth of July (47 of 51)

We had already decided to load up the kayaks and hook up the trailer while it was still light, thinking it would expedite our departure.  Of course, it did do that, but next year, if we do this again, we will leave the kayaks unloaded and take them out a bit from shore to watch the show.  There were many boats on the lake, but not any close up near the dock to worry about, so it would be perfect.2015 Fourth of July (50 of 51)

When we pulled out after the show, we were the first ones out of the parking lot, Mo leading the way in the MoHo, and both of us were amazed at the quick escape without any traffic problems at all.  Most people had to get to their cars or get their boats out of the water, so it took longer for them to get moving.  We were down the mountain and home in minutes.l

2015 Fourth of July (5 of 51) On another sad note, most people know that fireworks are deadly for dogs, and we saw a beautiful retriever in the road that had evidently run from its owner in fear and was killed.  Broke our hearts.  The statistics are awful.  More dogs are lost during the Fourth of July than any other time of year.  Lucky for us, Mattie was safe in her crate tucked away in the motorhome sleeping.  She seems to be not the least bit disturbed by the noise so we didn’t have to worry about her at all.

I have such good memories of the Fourth, and this year added to them once again.  Even though we had just one daughter sharing it with us, it was nearly perfect. Stories from the other daughters and grandkids about their day in other parts of the country were perfect as well, so I wasn’t too sad about not having the big family gathering that I sometimes enjoy on this great family day.

One last note: I decided that I needed a “bridge” camera, something smaller and lighter than my DSLR for our coming trip to Ireland, and for times when I might not want to haul around the big heavy camera and lenses.  I tried out a Canon SX60.  From what I hear, it isn’t as good as the SX50.  I tried it for the entire July Fourth weekend, but couldn’t come to terms with some of the features, and the picture quality.  (All the photos in this post  from 2015 are with the Canon)

I know lots of Canon users that will think I am crazy, but I took it back on Monday morning and my check had not yet cleared.  I must say that our local Leo’s Camera Shop was great about the return.  I just wish that they carried the Panasonic Lumix FX1000 which shipped today.  I would have loved to have purchased locally.  At least I tried.

We will see if I can be happy with this one.  As Erin says, nothing will truly replace a DSLR, so it is always a trade-off in one way or another.

What is it about the Fourth…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arcadia Park (1)Arcadia Regional Park in 2014

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

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

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

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

Fourth of July 2014 (23 of 63)Daughter Deborah

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

Fourth of July 2014 (24 of 63)Daughter Melody

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

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

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

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

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

Fourth of July 2014 (39 of 63) Granddaughter Axel

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

Fourth of July 2014 (40 of 63)Grandson Xavier

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


July Fourth

In Rocky Point, Oregon Sunny and Clear Current temperature 70F Hi today family fourth86F Low today 59F

I know I must say this every year, but I LOVE the Fourth of July.  No reason that makes any sense, I love my country, but I don’t get excited just because she is having a birthday.  I just love the day.  I have “issues” around it.  If I am somewhere my family is not, I will get as weepy as a kid at Christmas without Santa.  My kids know this about me and just shake their heads.  Even truck driving daughter Deanna has managed to surprise me with a July Fourth visit now and then from half way across the country.  My kids remember two things, I am sure.  Potato salad and sack races.  They all hated those dang silly yard games that I made them play when we all got together for the holiday picnic. 

Grandpa Lance with Matthew and Steven on the 4th at Tubbs Hill in 1986

Lance with our grandsons, Matthew and Steven in 1986Back when they were younger, and we all lived in or near Coeur d’ Alene, we would pack a picnic and hike around Tubb’s Hill to watch the fireworks over the lake. There are family stories that have grown to mythic proportions about those hikes to the lake, and then the hikes back around in the dark to the car.  Just a couple of miles, with flashlights, and lots of people.  It was fun.  I was insistent that we have a picnic, no matter the weather, and there were some very wet, very rainy picnics on a blanket under the big red wagon in Riverfront Park.  Our favorite family story includes a rainy hike around the hill and a place we dubbed Guacamole Cave, named for our snack entertainment while we waited out the storm on the way to the lake. My husband Lance was alive, my two little grandsons were just 3, and now they are both 30 years old.  It was a different world and a different life, but we still have potato salad!

Guacamole Cave on Tubb’s Hill (our own personal name of course)

Lance, Michael, Sue, Matthew, Steven, Deborah, Melody, and friend in Guacamole CaveIn recent years, since I have been in Klamath Falls, we have trundled ourselves downtown to enjoy the local parade, and then waited for the very late fireworks over Lake Ewauna, with varying degrees of delight.  Sometimes the midges are out, sometimes the wind blows too hard for the big booms to make it high enough over the trees.  Sometimes it is hot.  Sometimes it is wonderful.  This year I didn’t care how wonderful it might be, I just decided that maybe the potato salad and family games on the cool green lawn in the cool Rocky Point shade would be enough.  It was.  In fact, it was very nearly perfect. 

Deb to the cottage-014 Mo and I were recuperating in the quiet house this morning and she said to me, “You know, I think this was the best Fourth of July ever”.  I couldn’t agree more.  Of course, there was an extra little treat that made it even more special.  I got to have TWO daughters here instead of my loyal youngest who lives nearby.  My eldest daughter Deborah has returned to Oregon, and was here for the holiday.  In fact, she is now settled into the cottage for the time being, as she readjusts her life and leaves Texas behind.  She loved some of Texas, in fact she loved most of Texas, but other parts of the situation weren’t acceptable, and she decided the best place to be was home near family.  Mo and I never intended the cottage to be a place to live, but we still have been fixing it up so it was perfect for Deb.  We now have a caretaker, and with the third interview in the works for a local Grants Pass job, Deb may just be settling in to an even better situation in the near future. 

family fourth-001 Of course, with family coming, all the little places we have around for people to stay needed a bit of sprucing up.  We spent several days over at the cottage working on details.  Mo fixed doorknobs, made sure the plumbing was all working properly, made drawings of which plugs were on which circuits, and I raked.  I discovered that those beautiful madrones, evergreen leathery leaves, drop big batches of old yellow leaves as the new leaves emerge, meaning I get to rake that acre in June as well as in the fall!  Oh, wait….Deb is there now!

We also have the little cabin here at Rocky Point, next to the house, and it is a great place for Melody’s family to stay when they visit.  It even has its very own composting toilet, a nice little kitchen and refrigerator, and hot water heater.  We love having people stay there, and it is nice to open it up and freshen the air, and dust the cobwebs away. 

Gardening has taken a big priority this time of year as well, and the flowers are just now coming into full bloom.  The incredibly hot weather we had last week has dissipated and now we are back to cool nights and mornings and days in the low 80’s with bluebird skies.  Ahh….perfect.  Of course, with all these projects going on, quilting has taken a very back back seat in the list of priorities.my favorite columbine

Melody came with her family the night before the 4th and we celebrated the beginning of the holiday morning with a big pancake breakfast.  Even though the heat has lessened a bit, it was still a good idea to get out on the lake before the sun was high and hot, and we were on the water in the 4 kayaks before 9.  It was a perfect morning paddle with me, Melody, Xavier, and Axel while Mo waited back at home for Deb to arrive.

kids at Harriman We paddled south into Pelican Bay from the Rocky Point launch with a plan to continue into the Harriman Spring run and then back out through the marsh into Klamath Lake.  love that osprey

The spring run was gorgeous, and we saw pelicans, cormorants, lots of common terns, several great egrets, a few blue herons, Canada geese, and a beautiful osprey who posed nicely, and a beaver who was too fast for me.  Is he making bird sounds?

Xavier has only paddled once before but by the time we finished our 2.5 hour trip he was leading the pack. 

which way did you say to go? We couldn’t find our way to the lake through the vegetation, even though the water was high enough, but the wocus and rushes and tules were just too thick to paddle through easily so we backtracked to Harriman Spring.I think Deb likes the kayak, and she is wearing Bel's Habitat for Humanity hat.  Nice.

When we returned, Deb was relaxed in the living room, and after putting the final finishes on the potato salad I went out for another 2 hour paddle with a different group.  Melody and I went out with Mo and Deb and went the opposite direction, south into Pelican Bay and through the marsh back to Harriman Spring. 

Mo and Deb led Melody and me into the marsh from Pelican Bay and we found the way through this time on the afternoon trip This time we made it through, but it was interesting to see just how different the trip can be depending on the time of day.  The morning was still and full of reflections and the afternoon had fewer birds and a lot more wind.  Both trips were wonderful and by the time we all got back to the house we were ready to fire up the bbq for burgers and POTATO SALAD!  Yum.

Axel On the previous evening we pulled out the Bocci Ball set and played some good games with Melody and the kids, so we were ready to redeem ourselves again with another round on the grass.  Bocci is so much fun, very little equipment needed, just those balls and a place to throw them.  By the time we finished the last game and Melody and her family departed for Klamath Falls, we all felt perfectly satisfied with our family fourth.

Xavier I didn’t hear a sound out here.  Fireworks aren’t allowed in the forest, and even on the private land I think most folks care about the fire danger and don’t want to jeopardize our beautiful forest home.  I love fireworks, but I surely didn’t miss waiting around until 10:30 at night for them to start, fighting the traffic, and then driving home around the lake near midnight.  Deb spent the night here before going home.  I can’t say just how much I missed her.  Even though we were as close as the phone and email, Texas is still a very long distance and knowing she is just over the mountain is soul satisfying in a deep way.  Two out of four kids close by is a pretty good ratio, I think, in this day of dispersed families.

checking the distance We are now planning for a short trip next week when I will finally get to visit the famous Sisters quilt show.  Roger and Nancy (Mo’s brother and SIL) will be sharing that with us, and after the show we will all go up into the Newberry Crater east of Bend for a couple of days camping at East Paulina Lake.  Excited about that one.  I remember the last time I was there it was raining, but I had a magical kayak trip one evening with fish jumping all around me and practically jumping into my boat.  I also know now where the lakeside hot springs are located and plan to check them out.

family fourth-028 I am still making progress on our plans for next winter, and with the help of some blogger friends have managed to get plans and reservations firmed up as far as the end of January and South Padre Island.  The planning process, especially so far out in time, seems a bit daunting to me, especially with the necessity to know where we will be in February in Florida so I can make reservations there.  We traveled all of Alaska for almost two months without reservations, but I don’t think that would be very smart in Florida that time of year.  Of course, the Military Fam Camp in Key West, our most distant destination, doesn’t take reservations anyway, but I still need to have a general idea of when we will be there.

A couple of weeks ago I was incredibly stressed, going through all sorts of stuff with kids and such, and a friend listened to me saying, “I know it sounds trite, but it will pass”.  You were so right, dear friend, it has passed.  It all worked itself through, the daughter is here, the kids are fine, and I am back to enjoying my lovely little stress free life of retirement!  Good advice!!