05-07-2018 Magical May brings Erin and Mui to Oregon

I told our friends that May was the best month to visit Oregon.  Not early summer when the tourists show up in droves. Not late summer when the wildfires in the western forests fill the days with murky smoke.  They listened and began their trek north to Washington State at just the right moment. Lucky us, their route brought them close to us.  We had four Magical May Days with them.

I am enamored with the progression of Spring this year. I have watched the progression for a bit more than a month now, with changes every single day.  Every trip to the grocery store or to town or to the Grange to buy annuals or Bi-Mart to buy mulch is rewarded with another evolution. I don’t think I have actually noticed before that the flowering trees come and go in a beautiful sequence, slow motion waves of color beginning with that first blush of pinky pink on the flowering plums.  The leaves aren’t out yet at that stage, but the pinks are everywhere, and some whites as well, with the early flowering pears sprinkling snowdrifts of white blooms against the skies.

In just days, the plums begin to fade and the cherries begin their ballerina pink show, fluffy big flowers that up close look exactly like tutus. I noticed this year that Grants Pass must be a perfect climate for the cherries, especially the magnificent Kwanzan cherries, with some trees covering half a parking lot with their pinkness and solid trunks the size of oak trees. 

About this time all the yellows begin, with daffodils everywhere, especially along the roadsides where they seem to have naturalized on their own.  I can’t imagine anyone could actually plant that many daffodils.  In our own yard, where I planted a few dozen when we first got the property, they seem like a small dab of yellow compared to those huge drifts I see along the roadway.  I kept wanting to figure out a way to park and take photos of some of those drifts, but with narrow roads and fast traffic I never quite figured it out.

The cherries must have lasted three weeks, with a world dominated by pink and yellow but still very few leaves.  As the cherry flowers began to mature, the rhodies burst into their brilliant reds, pinks and purples, and right about that same time was the magical “leaf day”, the moment when suddenly a backlit tree in the late afternoon sun is glowing with fluorescent green.  It is an amazing moment, with willows showing first and then the birches and aspens, the maples, and finally in a crazy wild burst of incredible magic, the oak leaves unfurl from their pale reddish curls into full green magnificence.  Suddenly the world is somehow completely different.  The oak leaves leave shadow traces against the house and make sunlight flicker through the living room windows. This time of year, the green is still new, still lime colored and shades of chartreuse, unsullied by dust and hot summer winds.

The cherry blossoms are giving way to leaves as they begin to fall, but just as that pink fades, the brighter coral pinks of the dogwoods have burst into bloom and other white dogwoods light the skies with their clouds of happy flowers.  The daffodils have faded but in their place the irises are opening.  We are a mere 300 feet in elevation above the main part of town, but the irises bloomed there a full week before mine opened up.  Now we are in full on iris season as the brilliant flowers of the rhodies begin to fade and fall.  Other shrubs are beginning to bloom and the colors shift from pastel  pinks and yellows to brighter shades of late spring and the lime green leaves turn a darker green with every passing day. The roses and peonies are now covered with fat buds, waiting for their turn.  I have a lovely pink oriental poppy that is opening in the afternoon sun today, one flower at a time, joining in the noisy wild joy of spring.

Erin and Mui arrived Monday, after a long 300 mile day driving north from Reno, landing at Valley of the Rogue State Park late in the afternoon after a bit of a scary moment on the highway.  I’ll let Erin tell you about that one in her own blog. (Erin writes one of my favorite travel blogs of all time, with amazing photography and wondrous detail.  Don’t miss it!).

I put together an early summer supper of Copper River Salmon on the grill with pineapple-mango salsa, an “interesting” side dish of quinoa, lentils, and pine nuts that they were kind enough to enjoy, but Mo said maybe don’t make that one again.  Ha!  Plated Greek salads with reduced balsamic drizzled over the feta dressing were a hit, though, and kept us all entertained while the fish cooked.

Crème Brule for dessert, a choice of vanilla or latte flavors were fun.  The only glitch in the day was the failure of the culinary torch to fill with butane.  I panicked, drove wildly to the kitchen store, bought another torch and another canister of butane, only to get home and have it not work, again.  More panic, the brule’s were sitting on the counter with the raw sugar waiting for the fire!  A quick internet search and a You Tube video informed me that I was holding the canister right side up instead of upside down.  What in the world did we do without online videos?!

Even though we have not actually visited with Erin and Mui in person since our trip through Texas in 2014, it was as though no time had passed at all.  Erin and Mui are so incredibly delightful and easy to be around.  We sat on the porch of Sunset House long into the evening, and confirmed sight seeing plans for the upcoming week before they returned to the Phaeton at Valley of the Rogue.  Sad to say, even though we have a sewer hookup and 30 amp, our drive cannot accommodate a 40 foot rig.

Mo missed out on our first day sight seeing due to a required follow-up visit with her doctor.  She was just a week out from an emergency appendectomy and needed to be sure everything was OK.  We have been to Crater Lake often, so it was an OK day to miss, although we all really missed having her with us.

I picked Erin and Mui up at the park and we headed up the highway, over the hills, crossing the Rogue River several times before we arrived at the mandatory Natural Bridge Viewpoint where the Rogue roars in and out of lava caves and tunnels through a gorgeous wild canyon.  Erin and I share a love of photography, and I enjoyed following her around and watching how she framed shots so carefully. 

Continuing up the mountain toward the lake, we saw the green leaves of springtime give way to the more somber greenish black of conifers at an elevation where spring is still to come.  Mui wasn’t yet 62 when the price of the Senior Lifetime Pass went from $10 to $80, but with that birthday behind him, he was happy to go into the visitor center and purchase his new pass.  Even at $80, that pass is a fabulous deal for visiting national parks for free for the rest of your life, among other benefits, including half price camping at federal facilities.

I was excited to see my home country through new eyes.  Somehow showing people our beautiful part of Oregon who are seeing for the first time, reminds me to really look at my surroundings in a different way.  Approaching the Rim View area is always thrilling, but this time not quite so much because the snow banks were so high that we couldn’t yet see the lake.  We drove toward the beautiful historic lodge, which was closed until May 18, and finally found a snowbank we could climb to at last get that first view of Crater Lake.

So gorgeous, and the blue really IS that blue.  Somehow the surrounding snow on the cliffs and mountains added to the drama, and the ribbons of cloud in the sky make the lake reflections even more interesting.

I had planned a picnic, thinking we might find a table, but all the tables were deeply buried under the snowbanks, so we opened the tailgate and had a picnic right there in the parking lot. As we were finishing up our lunch, I mentioned that during the winter the Park Service has free snow shoe trips around the trails and even provides the snow shoes.  Within minutes after I spoke, a big long line of kids appeared over the ridge, clomping on the snow shoes as they reached the parking lot.  I had no idea they did the tours this late in the year, but we decided it must have been a special school tour of some sort.

The road around the lake was still closed with deep snows, and we were only able to drive up the west side road for an additional mile to Discovery Point for a few more amazing photos.  With a twinge of sadness, we left the lake behind and traveled east and down the hill into the beautiful Wood River Valley, not far from our old Rocky Point home.  We took a side trip to the Headwaters of the Wood River, but by the time we got there the skies were gray and threatening, and the mosquitos were out, so we were quite happy that we had already had our picnic. Still, I think Erin got some photos of the gorgeous blues of the spring where the Wood River emerges almost fully formed.  I didn’t even take out my camera this time!

As I said, I didn’t take out my camera.  This photo of the Headwaters is from last summer

Continuing back toward Rocky Point I showed them our previous home in the woods.  It looks very different now, since the new owners have yet to live there full time and the gardens and lawns are unkept.  I felt no sadness as we drove past the house, our new life and our new home is wonderful and while we have great memories, I am so happy to live in the sunlight and openness of Sunset House.

For our next day, we had originally planned to do a shorter trip through the Applegate Valley, viewing some of the wineries, maybe picnicking somewhere along the way, visiting Jacksonville and then home.  A nice short day for people who have been on the road a LOT lately.  That all changed as we checked out the weather and Mo and I started talking about maybe going to the coast instead.  I wrote a note to Erin suggesting a change of plans and they were right on board. 

Neither of them have seen the Oregon Coast, or the Redwoods, and with Brookings just a short 2 hours away, they were up for another long day of sight seeing with a great destination.  Once again, I loved driving 199 with guests so I could appreciate the drama of the Smith River below the winding road, and savor the ferns and waterfalls along the way. 

Mattie even got to go with us on this day, with Erin and Mui being great sports about sharing the back seat with her.  Mattie loves company, and made another set of good friends who enjoyed her almost as much as she enjoyed them.

We got to the coast in early afternoon, just in time to find a perfect picnic table at Macklyn Cove Beach where we once again brought out the goodies for lunch.  Mo and I love this little beach because Mattie can run free here in the off leash area, unlike Harris Beach State Park where leashes are required. 

After lunch we decided to hike the Chetco Point Trail, a perfect little jaunt to a beautiful spot overlooking the ocean, the town, and the beach below. 

A short drive north after our hike led us to Harris Beach, but along the way we found a small 55 plus community that had the biggest rhododendrons I have ever seen in my life.  It was like something out of a dream, with these huge pink trees completely covered in blossoms dwarfing the small modest homes beneath them.  Amazing.

Another walk down the South Beach Trail took us to the water once again.  Mattie had a great time running and playing ( beyond the state park boundary) and Mui did his favorite thing of walking right along the water.  It was a bit early for sea stars but the weather was incredible, with warm temperatures, full sunshine, and no wind.  What an amazing lucky treat for a quickie day on the Oregon Coast.

The trip home along Highway 199 gave us a chance to stop in for a drive through Jedediah Smith State Park to let Erin and Mui experience the huge redwoods for the first time.  We had great fun trying to get the phones and cameras to do the proper vertical panoramas to capture the incredible height of these ancient trees. 

By the time we arrived back in Grants Pass it was almost 7, and everyone was tired and ready to retire to their own space.  Mo and I talked about how we live here most of all because it is so accessible to everything we love.  We can do the beach in a day, do the high Cascades in a day, can kayak our favorite creeks in a day, and can even get to the high desert in just a day if we choose. 

Erin and Mui are thinking about the long term future, where they might want to settle down someday.  Mui asked me specifically what I DIDN”T like about living in Oregon.  I spent three days trying to come up with something and all I could think of was that what I like least are the late summer fires and smoke season.  Maybe a bit more fog in the winter than I might like, or a bit more heat in the summer, but nothing at all that would convince me to live anywhere else.  Ever.

The next day was to be a quiet one, with Mui preparing for our luncheon feast.  Mui brought Erin to the store where I picked her up so she and I could play around in Grants Pass with our cameras and I could show her a bit more of our charming small town.  We wandered about taking photos of the murals and the town bears that are brought out every summer to grace the street corners.

Wonderful to have a great photographer around to take really good pictures.  Thank you, Erin

Back home, we picked up Mo and Mattie at the house and drove again to the State Park where Mui greeted us in his fabulous Harrod’s apron.  I learned that Harrod’s is NOT Harrah’s.  The first being a very classy high end place in London and the second a big casino in Reno and Vegas. 

Ha!  Mui definitely earned his apron stripes with the lunch he has prepared for us, including homemade hummus with olive oil and paprika, Turkish ‘cacik’ cold yogurt soup, grilled beef and lamb kofte (Turkish meat patties) that were moist and tender, a delicious ancient grain dish that was exponentially better than my attempt, and home made brownies and ice cream for dessert.  I love Mui’s cooking, and he loves doing it as well. 

We visited the rest of the afternoon. laughing and sharing stories, talking about future plans and upcoming adventures.  We talked about ‘friends’ and ‘acquaintances’, and agreed that we are truly friends.  It was a bit sad when we left, wondering when we might cross paths again.  I am sure we will, and in the mean time, we will share blogs, and photos, and emails, and facebook posts, and private messages about whatever.  It’s what friends do.  And when we get together again it will be as though no time has passed.

Let’s Go to the Beach!

Current Location:  The Sunset House in Grants Pass Oregon

Let’s go to the beach!  I suppose that is something said more often in summer, or even spring or fall, but probably doesn’t fall off one’s lips in the middle of winter, at least not in this part of the country.  But now that we are at last settled into our home, Mo and I have been itching to get the MoHo on the road, and the beach is just two hours west.  That was one of the reasons we chose to build our home in Grants Pass;  it is a reasonably easy drive to the ocean, without having to live in the salt air and summer fogs.

Is it surprising that once again we ended up in Brookings at Harris Beach State Park?  Probably not to readers who have been around awhile.  What can I say about Harris Beach that I haven’t said several times a year for the last 15 years?!  Brookings is the Banana Belt of the Oregon Coast, and is known for great December weather.  With a foggy inversion hanging around Grants Pass for the last week or so, we were definitely ready for some sunshine.

The beach complied with a great day of sun and temperatures in the 60’s.  At least that was the case when we arrived on Monday afternoon.  Packing up was a breeze, the MoHo was nice and clean inside and out, waiting in the RV shed, everything we needed for a simple two night stay took less than an hour to load.  We had to bide our time before leaving since we didn’t want to arrive too early.  Check-in time at the State Park is supposed to be after 1pm.  Perfect.

We left in fog, but by the time we reached Hayes Hill just west of town on Highway 199 the sun was so brilliant I had to find my sunglasses.  Ahhh.  The drive was gorgeous, as always, even with the water in the wild Smith River at fairly low levels due to the recent lack of precipitation.  Someday I am going to make an attempt to drive that road in a car and stop often enough to capture some of the beauty of the river and the mountains and forests through this part of the coast range. Taking photos out the window of a moving vehicle can’t begin to do it justice, and since I was driving that was even more of a problem.  I had the same thought today as we returned, and I wasn’t driving.  I did manage to get a photo of the snow surrounding us at the higher elevations, thankfully not right on the road, but real photos?  As I said, maybe someday.

When we first arrived, the front row appeared to be completely empty?  Really?  What a delight!  We didn’t have reservations, insisting to friends who asked that they were completely unnecessary at this time of year.  Approaching the park entrance, we had a bit of a shock.  The front row was completely empty because most of the park was shut down for a complete overhaul of the sewer and water system. 

There were only 2 sites along the front row that were useable and as we continued around the C Loop (most of the back side of A and most of B loop were closed) we saw that C4, one of our favorite sites, was open with a reservation scheduled for late December.  Score!  A big rig followed us in, and gave up and left the park, shaking his head at the vacancy sign.  Vacancy doesn’t mean anything is useable for big rigs or that the available sites would actually have hookups.  Most of the vacancies were tent sites.  The park volunteers let us know that the work was supposed to be completed by mid June of this year.  We will see.  But I don’t imagine we will try to get back to Harris Beach any time soon.  Loeb Park is open, and is only $24 per night, but it is up the Chetco River, and is some distance from town and the beach.

Thanking the RV gods for our good luck, we were in our spot and set up in no time.  One of the nice things about C4 is that it still has the tall trees and overgrown bushes that used to make Harris Beach so charming and private. The new thought for the park is to take down many of the trees (they aren’t native), and trim all the hedges into nice even rectangles.

Much of the privacy between sites is gone, and while the views of the ocean are accessible, so are the views of your next door neighbors.  I miss the old overgrown feeling of the park, but I don’t imagine we will give up camping at Harris Beach in the future.  It is just too convenient to town, to trails, to wonderful beach walks, and to home.

The sun was still out, and there was very little wind.  We knew the forecast for the next day called for 100 percent chance of precip with high winds, so we quickly set up camp and headed down to the beach.  It was so wonderfully warm, with no wind at all, and our light jackets were almost too much for us.  We walked north from the main beach parking area where we can let Mattie off leash when no one is around. 

She had a great time tearing around in the sand.  That little dog loves to run and is sooooo fast!  It was impossible to catch her in a photo since I didn’t bother to lug the camera with me and only had the phone.  We sat for a time watching the water and the sky, and letting Mattie play as the sun began to go down over the waves.

There was more entertainment on the agenda that needed to be enjoyed on an evening without rain.  The annual Nature’s Coastal Holiday was once again lighting up Azalea Park with over 500,000 lights.  We attended the show in 2013 and didn’t want to miss it. We thought a fish and chips supper before the show was a great idea until I started searching and found most every fish and chips place in Brookings and in nearby Harbor are closed on Mondays.  Note to self, bring food for Monday nights in Brookings!  Luckily I had some great chicken enchiladas in the fridge so we didn’t go hungry.

It was completely dark by a bit after 5 when we paid our nominal $2.00 fee to enter the park.  The show was breathtaking, even more wonderful than we remember from our visit four years ago.  I have never seen so many lights, wrapped around every bush and tree and even spread over the ground to look like flowing water.  The pathways around the park were lit, the gazebo on the hill was a beacon that could be seen from most every vantage point, and the music was pure Christmas, with Bing Crosby crooning, and of course, Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.  I think the only light show I have seen that could come close to this one is the Christmas light show at Silver Springs in Ocala, Florida.  I have no idea if they even still do that show now that Silver Springs is officially a state park and no longer a private amusement venue.

Everything was so lovely we had to walk around more than once to take it all in.  Somehow all those lights and Christmas music are what makes the holiday the most fun for me.  I am so glad that we went.

Afterward, we stopped off at Fred Meyer, the main shopping place in Brookings, and lo and behold out walked Doni, from Quilting and Life in General, a blog I have read for years.  I had never met her in person, but recognized her face instantly.  I can only imagine how it must feel to be leaving the grocery store and have some stranger accost you with, “Doni?!  It is YOU!  I have read your blog for years!”  Doni is a quilter, and I found her blog through Paulette of Rick and Paulette from the very old days of early blogging.  Such fun.  And such a small world.

Yesterday we woke to hard rain and very dark skies.  Somehow breakfast slipped in at almost 9am, unheard of for the two of us who are usually such early risers. The winds were high and wild and the rain was blowing sideways for most of the day.  We decided it might be a day for a book instead of a walk, and wandered off to the Goodwill store in search of something used to entertain each of us.  We also thought a stop at my very favorite local quilt store was in order, and imagine my sad surprise to find that the store was closed and the owner had retired last summer.  I was heartbroken, but I guess after 30 years a woman can get tired and want to let it go.  Our favorite bakery still had hours listed from 6am on Friday mornings through Sundays only, so I was glad I brought a stash of Christmas cookies that I baked last week to keep us fortified.

Fish and Chips are an important component of any visit to the coast, even a short one.  We have spent several years passing by the Crazy Norwegian in Port Orford.  Sometimes we pass because we are on our way somewhere coming or going, or the place is closed (probably a Monday).  Nina talked  about it often when she and Paul were staying at the lighthouse in Cape Blanco, and other bloggers have waxed poetic about the fabulous food to be found in the tiny establishment.

In spite of the driving rains, and high winds, we thought a 55 mile each way trip up the coast along Highway 101 would be a good way to spend part of a rainy day, especially with good fish and chips to reward us.  The Crazy Norwegian turned out to be a great little place, with everything fresh and homemade.  I loved the chowder especially, not too thick and homemade with some kind of herb that didn’t appeal to Mo but really tickled me.  I think it was tarragon.  The cod was from Alaska, and on the menu it stated that the supply of good fresh cod from local sources was too undependable, hence the Alaska version.  It was moist and tender and done perfectly, as were the fries.  The coleslaw was different, and the waitress said the secret ingredient was horseradish.  It wasn’t my favorite.  Coleslaw should have mayo in it!  We were really glad we made the trip, glad to have tried out the Crazy Norwegian, but also decided that in the future we might be perfectly happy to return to the Sporthaven Marina that we found last time we were in Brookings.

Back to the RV in the rain, we settled in for card playing, skipping super since our two o’clock lunch held us over just fine, and reading our new books.  I found a new author, Martha Grimes, and I am loving the book, “Dakota”.  I think I’ll have to search out some more of her writings.

We watched the weather report, listening to the winter storm warnings for the coast range and for the Cascades, hoping that things would clear out by the time we had to leave at noon.  I checked the weather channel this morning, and we played more cards while waiting for the snow to melt that covered the roads at the Oregon California border.  I didn’t relish the thought of traveling Highway 199 in the snow.  That road along the Smith is gorgeous and treacherous as well, with steep mountains formed from slippery serpentine rock that slides easily, and narrow lanes that drop directly to the river sometimes a hundred feet below the tiny almost non existent guard rail.  Just ask Judy about that road!  Ha!

By the time we left however, the temps were in the 40’s, the rain showed no signs of scary snow at least as far as Patrick Creek, and the road had no ice to mar our journey.  Mo drove and I did manage to get a couple of photos out the windshield of the snow around us, but thankfully not on the road.  When we got home, the sun was shining through the clouds surrounding Grants Pass.

Within a hour of arriving, we had dumped the tanks into our own RV dump, unloaded everything, and had the MoHo all backed into her shed, safe and sound.  I made another batch of Christmas cookies, we ate our leftover fish and chips (of COURSE we had leftovers), I processed photos, and wonder of all wonders, here I am writing the blog!  Photos probably won’t go in till later since tomorrow morning I am off to see daughter Melody and her family just two hours north in Eugene.  So excited!  Two hours isn’t that far, but it seems a long way after two years of having Melody living in the same apartment building with Mo and I.  I really do miss having her close by and seeing the kids come and go and getting hugs on a regular basis.  I’ll have to catch up on hugs tomorrow for sure.

May 15 2017 Manifesting a Dream

Current Location:  Grants Pass, Oregon. Mostly cloudy, damp, and 57 degrees F

A drive on the back roads along the Oregon Coast can yield some great views

Back a few decades, when I was a bit of a New Age thinker, I believed the mantra, “You Create Your Own Reality”.  I still believe it, but in a bit of a different way than I did then.  Still, there is nothing quite like watching an ephemeral dream materialize into something physical. 

Staking out the house location on March 22

We are watching 5 years of dreaming and planning become real.  It is an incredible process.  Some weeks crawl by, and others fly past us with barely time to catch our breath.  Last I wrote, we watched the little red cottage disappear into a pile of sticks, and now block by block, board by board, we are watching our new home grow from the ground up. 

Footings poured and foundation set by April 22

Fill added for the garage floor base

We are here every other week, for 7 or 8 days, returning to Klamath Falls for my 5 day alternate work weeks.  We are here enough of the time to see progress as the weeks pass.  Life has been dominated by Grants Pass house thoughts, meetings with the builder, with the foreman, with the flooring people.

I have worked at gathering all our nursery storage into small groups of plants so that we can keep them watered while we are away.  Many of the plants have been with me since I lived in Idaho before 2002, many others are from Mo’s property at Rocky Point.  We brought what we could manage, hoping to keep our little nursery alive until time to plant at the new house next fall or spring.

We made the final choice on our interior paint, after a trip to Benjamin Moore in Medford (no Ben Moore store in Grants Pass).  I succumbed to the gray trend, deciding on a warm gray color called Revere Pewter, guaranteed to reflect nicely on the interior walls without turning blue or green or pink, to feel warm rather than cool, and to set off the White Dove woodwork.  I bought a small jar of test paint for a piece of drywall and now we haul that around, along with a few of our antique tiles, while spending a considerable amount of time with the salesperson at the local Lippert’s Flooring store.  Hardwood has been selected.  I love the style and color, but have to say that even more exciting to me is the silky feel of the slightly distressed solid oak wide plank flooring.  I stand on the sample barefoot and imagine walking into the kitchen in the early morning sunshine on the velvety solid floor.

Mo and I spent some time this week cleaning her stash of Batchelder tile, deciding on the design for the tile area in the foyer.  The tiles are from the 30’s, the height of the Craftsman era in Pasadena where they were fired, and we are excited to have places in the new home where we can use them.

All the little details that we have attended to are minor compared to watching the really big stuff happen.  In mid-April, the major excavation began, and when we returned for our Grants Pass week on April 24, footings were poured, foundation blocks were set, and the footprint of the house was at last visible. By the end of the week, we could see just how high the floor would be above the ground on the western side of the house where the land drops in what seemed like a gentle slope until it was actually surveyed.  The elevation of the living room will put our view above the neighbors house to the west, and give us enough height to see over the trees to the north to the mountains in the distance.

During that week as well, the septic system was hooked up and the RV dump station became operable.  Very handy!

On the right, an image of the layout for the antique tiles on the foyer floor

By the time we returned on May 7 all the ditches for the utilities were filled in and the ground had been somewhat smoothed out and most of the dirt piles leveled.

We are going for a softer coastal palette in the new house, influenced a bit by Joanna Gaines I would imagine

On last Monday morning, as we were having our morning coffee around 6:30 AM, a row of pickups started lining up along the road next to the property.

We wondered who those guys were having coffee and shooting the breeze so early in the morning. Turns out it was the framing crew, getting ready to set the huge floor joists and begin getting the house ready for framing.

There were 6 of them, and according to Gary, this is his “A team” framing crew. I asked if he has a B or a C team, and he said yes, but it was worth waiting for the A team because they get things done so quickly and so well.

We watched those guys work together like a well oiled machine with every gear in synch all day long, and by 3 in the afternoon, the floor joists were all in and we could see even better how this house will look. Even though we have the MoHo, and we have a swing and chairs sitting outside, we didn’t want to bother the crew, so spent the day in the RV shed while they worked. It feels a bit strange to be at our home with all the people running around, so we lay low when they are here. The exciting time comes when the crew leaves and we get to walk around and check everything out.

Floor joists installed on May 8

There are days like that one, and then there are days when nothing happens at all. It is all about scheduling. Mo and I have been dealing with some serious hitch itch, without any MoHo travels away from home since we returned from California in January. I think that is the longest time we have spent without getting away.

If you arrive at noon on a Tuesday in May, you just might get a front row site with no reservation

This week we pulled in the slide, unplugged the rig, and headed west to Brookings for a much needed beach respite. We laughed a lot about the delight of not having to pack or unpack a single thing, a pleasure that full-timer’s know well. Just rolled down the road, landed at the park, and opened up the slide again. It was great to not have to worry about packing the right charging cords, the laptop, or food and clothes. Everything was already right here with us.

The beach cooperated with magically clear and sunny weather most of the time, even if it was a bit cool. We tried a new place down in Harbor, The Sporthaven Marina, for fish and chips.  I had Baja fish tacos that were delightful, and we started our meal with fried zuchinni done in spears rather than slices. Yummy. The view of the harbor was wonderful, and the cool breeze was muted by the glass walls that protected the sunny patio. Curious, a little research on the internet showed that the lovely glass enclosed, sail covered patio where we had our great meal is a new addition to the restaurant, and a fine one for sure. Check it out the next time you are in the Brookings area.

Mattie loves to scout trails over the rocks for us

All three of us were so happy to be once again walking the beach, finding pretty rocks and enjoying the sand. Mattie loves to tear around in soft sand. She met a couple of doggie friends who actually let her play. Mattie can get a bit excited with new dogs, and even though she isn’t aggressive, she can be a bit of a pain until she settles down.

Mo built a nice campfire for us and we managed to sit outside for a time at least until the chill winds drove us indoors. What a great moon there was that night!

The next day we decided to do some exploring with the Tracker, traveling first on the road that parallels Highway 101 a couple of miles east and goes north from Brookings to Pistol River. It was a bit cool for the native rhododendrons to be in bloom, but some of the domestic plants on local homesteads were as big as trees and in full brilliant glory. Gorgeous.

We then took the road that follows the Pistol River, where most of the land is privately owned and access is limited. We drove on up the road, climbing higher into the mountains. The road was steep and narrow, and the river far below. Using the Gazetteer was helpful, but the road ended without warning with a very large no trespassing sign. The wildflowers were gorgeous in the big clear cuts, and if there is any place in the world that a clear cut is acceptable, it is the Oregon Coast range, where most of the timber has already been cut, there isn’t any old growth left, and it might as well be used for tree farming. Regeneration is natural and incredibly fast in this climate. It is also kind of nice to be able to see a bit.

A picnic in the sun sitting on the back of the Tracker was perfect, if still a bit chilly. Checking out the map, we decided to find another back road to explore, searching for Hunter Creek Road, just a couple of miles south of Gold Beach. I had to check in with the Forest Service office to be sure that we could actually drive the road. There were yellow “no trespassing” signs everywhere. The rangers assured me that it was a main forest access road and I could drive it, but the lands on either side of the road were privately owned by timber companies, and they didn’t want anyone trespassing. Again, no way to access Hunter Creek, and most importantly, they don’t want anyone picking their very valuable mushrooms.

This is what happens often when a state decides that it cannot manage its lands, and sells them to private interests. The lands are no longer accessible to the public, of course. It is no longer public land. Don’t get me started. States want all that federal land so they can sell it back and make money on it, and the people who eventually will own the land will shut it down, fence it, and post no trespassing signs everywhere. Keeping public land public is a particularly hot issue for me as an RVr, and a boondocker, a hiker and a lover of wild lands. OK off the soapbox.

A few miles up we found a high bridge with a gorgeous set of cliffs, waterfalls, and deep pools far below. A couple of young women and their big dog were enjoying the sunny weather. That dog smelled us way up on the bridge, and started coming our way. Scared the daylights out of me. I felt like I was being hunted by a wild animal. I got to the car quickly, as Mo talked him down. He barked, but thank goodness didn’t attack, and finally his owners called to him. I have no idea what kind of dog he was, but he was definitely scary looking! Bet those women don’t have any problems at all with people hassling them!

The day ended with another big campfire, a yummy dinner, and of course, marshmallows and chocolate. I don’t need graham crackers, just stuff little pieces of chocolate in the hot marshmallow and it gets all melty and gooey. Wish I could eat more than two! Mo doesn’t eat them at all, but we still have to buy a whole bag of marshmallows. Good thing they only cost a buck and a half, because by the time we do it again, they are all hard and dry and we have to buy more.

When we packed up and left on Thursday morning, the rain was coming in earnest, after a windy rainy night at the beach. It was perfect timing, with the drive home uneventful in spite of the rain.

It was important for us to get back on Thursday because it was “door and window day”. Gary wanted to finalize the window choices because they need to be ordered for the next phase of building. It is amazing how much scheduling is involved in this entire process, getting supplies and subcontractors set up in the right sequence. We spent a couple of hours in Gary’s office going over window and door choices and finalizing the order. Other subjects came up of course, aka how high above the bathtub should the window sill be; which direction should the tub face for the best view; when do we need to meet with the cabinet maker; what kind of rock for the Craftsman porch pillars, and so many more little details.

Once again, we awakened yesterday morning very early to a crew of guys unloading pipe for the under plumbing, the parts of the plumbing that are beneath the floor. The upper stuff will come later when the house is closer to being finished. This time a crew of 4 had all the plumbing, sewer pipes, hot and cold water pipes, all ready and finished by 2 PM. Once again Mo and I walked the property trying to see just where each toilet was placed, and trying to imagine how it was going to look. It is hard not to be impatient even when things are moving this quickly.

Under-plumbing finished on May 12

The rest of the day was quiet here, and after another meeting with the carpet people, Mo and I took off exploring the Rogue River, following some hints about where we might be able to put in our kayaks. About 7 miles from town is Whitehorse County Park, with a great boat launch into a wide part of the river. We were told it is only a 4 hour lazy kayak to Robertson Bridge, but that water looked like a bit too much for us this time of year at least. We will wait and check it out in the fall.

We drove on west to check out the park and launch at Robertson Bridge where the river looked big and wide and a bit less intimidating. Returning east along Riverbanks Road we checked out another lovely launch at Griffin Park, another county park with RV camping with hookups. Lots to check out when we get a bit of free time and when the high water of spring settles down into lower summertime flows.

This morning, at 7AM the heating and cooling truck showed up. What? Seems as though his job was to install the dryer vent, and he had that job finished in about an hour at the most. Mo and I did a few yard chores around home before taking another little break to attend the annual Rogue Valley Piecemaker’s Quilt Show at the fairgrounds. It was a lovely show, with about 150 quilts and I got to meet a few of the ladies that may eventually be cohorts if I decide to join the quilt guild here in Grants Pass.

We then took time to visit the Rogue Roasters, just south of downtown Grants Pass before the river bridge, for organic, fair trade, locally roasted coffee in a great old building that looked like it once was a tire shop. Best cappuccino I have had in a long time.

We brought the tractor back from the apartments this week, since snow plowing season is hopefully over.  Mo is very happy to have her tractor back so she can work on smoothing out some of the messy piles of rock and debris scattered about.

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. Two of my girls and their kids are coming from their homes to spend the morning with us having brunch at the Taprock Northwest Grill. We did this once before, three years ago, but at that time had no clue that the builder who built that great building was going to be the builder doing our house. I’m really looking forward to the day with my family enjoying a lovely meal overlooking the beautiful Rogue River.

Tomorrow afternoon we will once again return to Klamath Falls and the apartments on Old Fort Road. Our long weeks in Grants Pass are wonderful, except for the minor detail of laundry. We no longer have a washer and dryer here with the cottage gone, and with most of our work here being outdoors, by the end of the week we definitely have a pile of dirty stuff to haul home for washing.

When we return toward the end of May, it will be time for framing. Once again the A team will take over and we will watch the full form of our home take shape. Shortly after that will come the roof trusses, and then the bones of the house will be set.

11-20-2016 Escape to the Coast

Current Location: Harris Beach State Park, hard rain and 52 degrees F

It is raining hard right now, and the wind is blowing.  It rained all night and most of the day yesterday.  Mo and I laughed about how much fun it is to be rocked to sleep in the dark listening to the sound of rain on the roof.  Not something often experienced in the stick and bricks. 

We expected rain when we set forth on this journey.  The predictions were for rain and gale force winds in Brookings, with small craft warnings all up and down the coast.  We left the apartments in Klamath Falls on Wednesday morning, leaving behind a skiff of snow as we headed west for the cottage and the waiting MoHo. 

Mattie is ready for some chilly days at the beach

I spent most of the afternoon in Grants Pass raking up more leaves, but the good thing was that at last the huge oaks seemed almost completely bare.  The neighbor across the way came over to talk and said, “At least this should be the last time you have to rake.”  Yeah, maybe, but there are a LOT of leaves waiting to be hauled off, all scooted off the grass and to the long driveway, hopefully they will still be where I put them when we get back to Grants Pass.  Rumor has it there was a huge storm there as well, with lots of wind.

Cozied up in the cottage, for a moment we questioned our sanity.  Are we really heading for the coast and a big storm instead of laying low?  The answer was a resounding “Yes”.  Every time I moved the MoHo out of the RV shed when we were unloading “stuff” from Rocky Point, I would smell that familiar MoHo smell.  Familiar, comfortable, a reminder of almost ten years of happy times cozied up in that sweet little rig.  Couldn’t wait to get out again after such a long hiatus.

When we left Grants Pass on Thursday morning, the skies were dark and gray, and we fully expected to be fighting rain and wind all the way. There is a big tunnel, just beyond the California state line, and as we entered the tunnel it was cloudy, and when we emerged on the other side, the skies were a brilliant blue and the sun was gorgeous.  It was the strangest thing.  I was driving, so didn’t get any photos, but the winding road along the Smith River was breathtaking.  The canyon is deep, with incredibly steep mountains along the river, and much of the highway was darkly shadowed where the sun never gets high enough this time of year to touch the river.  Then from that dark shadow we would emerge into sunlight so blinding that it was hard to see.  Talk about contrast.  The skies were bluebird blue all the way to Highway 101, with just a bit of cloudiness visible in the distance on the ocean horizon.

We arrived at Harris Beach State Park around 2pm, without a reservation on a mid week day.  In spite of the season and the weather, most of the front row ocean view spots were already taken, but we got lucky and slipped into one of our favorite sites, A23.  There were three rigs right behind us.  Lots of space still available in the park, including sites with cable, so they found a home as well, just not as perfect as ours.

After visiting Judy at Harris Beach State Park in the summer of 2015, and reading her blogs about how she felt about spending that summer as a volunteer, (discussing the down side of crowded conditions and summer fog) we were glad that we were here in the off season.  Suzanne of Take to the Highway, had trouble finding a spot when traveling during the summer as well and it seems that our opinion and love of Harris Beach State Park is colored by the fact that most of the time our visits have been off season, often in November, December, and early spring.

Dinner for our arrival night was already determined, “Fish and Chips!” Our little Chetco Café and Seafood place where we have enjoyed so many great fish and chip meals is now closed.  Instead, in the same area of Brookings Harbor, we returned to a previous find, The Hungry Clam, which had a tremendous plate of halibut and chips.  The only thing about this little spot is that they have no liquor license, so a glass of wine or beer with the chips isn’t possible. Still, it was a great meal, and the leftovers fed us for another night at the beach.

Friday morning I took a few hours to wander around Brookings, shopping at a favorite quilt shop, Keepsake Quilting, and discovering another wonderful shop called “By My Hand”.  I walked away with more fabric and some yarn for knitting, always hard to resist.  For me, it is all about the color and texture, and I could walk around and touch and smell yarn to my heart’s content.  In the same little mall, I finally found the bakery I had read about, “Bakery by the Sea”, and bought the best six inch apple pie I have ever tasted.  (That bakery was so great that I had to return this morning for another pie and some crullers.  Yum!)

Another stop at a favorite local gift shop, “Feather Your Nest” yielded some goodies for my Rocky Point Ladies Luncheon Christmas table decoration that will be coming up soon.  By the time I returned home, Mo and Mattie were ready for an outing. 

Heading down the South Beach Trail at Harris Beach

We decided to take Mattie down the South Beach trail for some sand time.  Walking toward the north instead of the south, the familiar sea stacks welcomed us back home.  Everything looks much different this time of year, when the leaves are gone from the shrubs and the skies are wild and gloomy.  There was still very little wind, and once again we discovered that the winds up on the bluff where the park is located are sometimes completely absent down on the beach.

After some time there, later in the day we decided to try the dog beach at Maklin Mill Beach.  There is no leash law here and people love to bring their dogs for play time.  Mattie was beside herself excited, and there were lots of dogs around, but this time we found no friends for her to play with.  A few big dogs, with owners who kept them at a distance, and one little six month old Jack Russell who was a bit scared of Mattie’s exuberance.

Friday evening the rains started in earnest  and the predicted winds were wild.  I did spend a moment or two wondering about the big trees near the MoHo during those winds, but everything held and we had no problems.  Something I have noticed, is that our slide awning seems to be resistant to the flapping problem that people often talk about during wind storms.  We didn’t have to pull in the slide in spite of the wind.

Saturday morning was stormy and wild, and Mo and I decided that it would be fun to try to get in between the rain for a beach walk.  The skies kept changing and the wind made the weather dramatic and fun instead of simply dark and boring.  Instead of walking the long slope down to the main beach, we took the Tracker down so we could escape the rain if needed.  Mattie was excited to be on the beach for about five minutes. No one was around, so we took her off leash.  The rain started up, pelting us in the face so hard it stung, and Mattie decided that this was just plain stupid and took off back up the ramp toward the car.  All the calling and coaxing couldn’t convince her that the rainy beach was a decent place to be.

She and Mo took refuge in the car while I kept walking a bit to try to get some photos of the wild surf.  Taking photos in a rain storm can be a bit daunting, but I would hide behind a rock, pull the camera out from my waterproof coat for a fast shot.  The weather was exhilarating!  I decided then and there that I love the coast more in the winter than in the summer.  Summer beaches should be Caribbean or Floridian in nature, and the Oregon Coast is always wild, summer or winter, but at least in winter it is mostly empty.

After that little weather moment, we decided to try Mill Beach once again, and surprisingly, we got a parking place right at the beach, and the wind was much less crazy than it had been back at Harris Beach.  We walked for an hour and a half with Mattie off leash most of the time and no other dogs to worry about.  The surf was crazy wild and gorgeous.

I included this photo for the wind effect.  See how fast our flower is spinning?!

Our planned entertainment for Saturday afternoon was some time at the Lucky Seven Casino, just a bit south of the California border in Smith River.  We had visited this casino a couple of times in years past, but it was quite a surprise to see all the remodeling and rebuilding that has happened since we were last there.  The gaming areas are a lot bigger, and the slot machines are a lot fancier.  Big things, and all 1 cent machines which we love, but the fine print is that the minimum bet on most of them was between 40 cents and a buck and more.  I guess they have to pay for all the fancy new stuff.

We aren’t big gamblers, and usually I am only willing to shell out 20 bucks for some entertainment, and if things are good, maybe 40 bucks.  I never plan on winning and sometimes I do, but at least I get a bit of fun for a time.  This casino wasn’t that much fun, in spite of the glitz.  We lasted about an hour before leaving with our free machine cappuccinos. Probably won’t have to go back there anytime soon.

Once again we were rocked all night with wind and rain, and woke to a gray Sunday.  After breakfast I made another run to the wonderful bakery, open on Sunday!  Home to processing photos, and writing this blog, and now as I look outside, the winds have parted the clouds.  I can see the wild surf below us, and I am sure before long we will attempt to convince Mattie that walking on the beach with imminent rain isn’t as bad as she thinks.

 

06-08-2015 Blowout on the way to Brookings

Current Location: Rocky Point, Oregon Sunny and warm at 79 F

Ah yes, every RV’rs worst nightmare.  Believe it or not, it wasn’t nearly as terrible as you might expect. 

blowout on 199 (4 of 10) Finally, after a couple of months of working on projects, preparing and recuperating from surgery, and enjoying our little Mattie, Mo and I headed for the beach.  We wanted to go to Harris Beach State Park for several reasons.  We love it there.  Judy is volunteering there this summer.  It is only a 2 hour drive from the Grants Pass cottage. 

As soon as I knew when Judy was going to be working, I made a reservation.  That was two months ago, and it is a good thing I did.  Seems as though Harris Beach is fairly popular in the summertime.  I realized as I looked back that we haven’t actually visited very often during the summer months.  Both of us know that the coast is often just the opposite of inland when it comes to temperatures, and summer fogs are common.  I warned Judy about that.  When people refer to Brookings as the “Banana Belt” of the Oregon Coast, they are usually talking about those gorgeous sunny days in December that can sometimes reach the 80’s while the rest of Oregon is cold and rainy.  Mattie at the Beach (13 of 22)

Summertime, however, is a different story.  Hot inland, cold at the coast.  Chilly inland, warmer at the coast.  Oregon was in the midst of some record breaking heat last week, so we expected it to be cooler in Brookings.

The day we drove west, however, last Monday June 8, was hot and gorgeous just about everywhere.  We left early enough to arrive around 1, even though check in time is technically 2pm.  blowout on 199 (5 of 10)

The winding drive from Cave Junction to Hiochi along Scenic Highway 199 next to the Smith River is impressive.  Lots of curves, drop offs, gorgeous views of turquoise pools far below the cliffs adjacent to the highway.  The very narrow highway.highway 199

BOOM!!  on a curve, with a vertical cliff upward on the passenger side, and another vertical cliff down to the river on the driver’s side, that boom wasn’t something we were expecting.  It was LOUD.  and SCARY.  Adrenalin pumping, Mo had no trouble keeping the rig going forward and we realized that the blowout must have been an inside dual.  We slowed way down and crawled to the closest turnout, which happened to be on the other side of the road going the opposite direction.   tire 1

No cell service.  Not a hint.  Nada.  Sure does make us appreciate that we have a toad!  Mo unhooked (this surgery recuperation thing is a true pain, I can’t lift the hitch for another couple of months) and I drove off west to find a spot with a signal.

blowout on 199 (2 of 10) Calling AAA wasn’t a problem until the dispatcher (someone somewhere in a far off state with a very difficult accent) said that AAA can’t change an inside dual, and that we would have to be towed.  Where did we want to go.  I told her several times I didn’t have cell service, but it didn’t click and she kept saying she would call me to keep us updated.  Nope.

Instead I drove back a few miles to Mo and the waiting rig where we were conveniently parked in the shade in one of the prettiest spots on the entire route.  Many times as we have passed this turnout we have wanted to stop, but usually it is full so we haven’t done it.  Shade, a view, no cell service, but who cares.  It is a gorgeous afternoon and we have a reservation so we can be as late as we need to be.  Whew. 

blowout on 199 (6 of 10) Within an hour a van pulled up, with a guy who said AAA sent him out to find us since they couldn’t reach us by phone.  He couldn’t change the tire, but he also said that we could obviously not be towed because we had a flat tire!.  He said that Les Schwab in Crescent City could do the change if we were willing to pay for the repair and then get reimbursed by AAA.  Sure.  Another hour went by and the Les Schwab truck showed up, but the guy didn’t realize that our hubs had covers on them and spent a very long time trying to find a lug wrench that would fit over the caps before we realized what he was doing and told him he needed to remove the covers to get to the lugs.

blowout on 199 (8 of 10) After a lot of work, he did manage to get the tire changed, but rather than straighten out the bent mud flap before putting the tires back on, he thought he would just pull the flap down.  Another half an hour went by before he decided he needed to take the tires back off, work at getting the flap untangled, and put the tires back on.  While we were waiting, I enjoyed every little moment of fluttering maple leaves against the brilliant blue skies.  It was an incredibly beautiful day to be sitting outside. By 3:30 we were once again on our way west. blowout on 199 (9 of 10) We at first couldn’t figure out why that tire had failed, and had failed so badly.  This set of tires was a full set of six that Mo got as part of a recall by Michelin in late 2013 just before we went on our three month trip to Florida.  What both of us had forgotten, however, is that back in Florida we had a flat, and the spare was installed in the inside dual position.tire 2 We didn’t find out till the next day in Brookings, when Mo bought a new Michelin tire, that that spare was one of the original tires from the MoHo with a date of 2005.  UhOh.  I guess a tire might fail if it is ten years old. 

We managed to get to Brookings by 5, a little bit worn out, and I walked up to Judy’s spot to let her know we had made it to camp. The next few days were great, with beach time and Judy time and some new places to explore in Brookings that we had never seen. 

But more of that in the next post…