Sunday, April 19, 2009

We'll call it a good weekend!

Saturday we drove into Spokane to go to Manito Park to walk around, we never made it to the park, and we ended up at Riverside State Park. It’s a long story which revolves around our search for Panda Express.

As we drove into visit Manito, I mentioned it was time to get some food. My mouth is still a bit sensitive from getting my wisdom teeth out, so we decided that I could eat the noodles at Panda, while Linda had her usual. This discussion took place just a bit after we passed the Valley Mall exit, the one place we know that there is a Panda. I though, no problem, there are Pandas all over the place, boy was I wrong!

We drove up to the Manito Park area and didn’t spot a Express so we kept going way up on the South Hill to the Prairie area, but failed to spot a place to eat. I circled back and then we headed North out Division and failed to find one along there either. I believe that they were hiding all the Panda Expresses as an experiment to see just when Linda would start getting surly. We past North Town and at that point I said that we would find a Panda or else. Can you believe that I never saw one the rest of the day?

We ended up eating at Qudoba, which we really like anyway. I had pulled pork which was easy to eat so all the hunting had been in vain. We had passed about five Qudobas and a million SUBWAYs, but once we had our sights on the Panda all else was lost.

Since we were out that far north we headed west and found our way to Riverside State Park where we took a beautiful hike on the west s

ide of the river. We crossed over the bridge at the Bowl and Pitcher and turned north on the trail. There were a million hikers on the trail and it was a good “teachable moment” hike for Kobi. We returned to the Jeep and on the way home we stopped at REI. We didn’t find anything at any of the stores we visited, so we came home, ate dinner, and watched some TV. Linda mentioned taking a ride on Sunday and the planning began.

Sunday morning we packed all our biking gear in the Jeep, loaded the bikes and took off to Enaville to ride the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes. I figured we would get there and ride about ten miles and call it good. Oh, I forgot who I was with. We rode about 25 miles total. Linda did a bunch more because her training called for sprint intervals so she would spring out and then ride back to meet me. It is the human way of playing fetch, like with Kobi; except there is no stick and Linda always came back without me getting mad.

The trail was real busy today, everyone really in anxious to get out and have some fun in the warmer weather. The ride was beautiful and it really pooped me out. I took a few pictures; I like the one of Linda in my bike mirror. It’s titled, “You bet I got yelled at for that one.” I would rate our weekend, pretty darned good, and I am glad the weather held out so we could make the best of it.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Oregon Trip Blogging #4

Diana, Al Dee, Kenyon and Alayna arrived Thursday evening and we stayed up late to meet and greet them. This weekend they are Yurt people and their little home made me quite curious. I had never seen the inside of a State Parks Yurt and so I really wanted to get inside and see what they are like. This Yurt had a bunk bed and a futon as the main furnishings, a table with a lamp on it was also provided. The unit was heated by a single electric wall heater and there was one large light on the ceiling above the door. That was all there was inside.

We talked as long as we could before everyone’s attention drifted off. The Yurt people had not slept well the previous nights; Alayna had a bad ear infection which caused everyone to miss sleep. Linda and I had hiked a lot today and so we were beat and it was well past our 9:00 PM bedtime.

Morning brought scattered clouds, but some very high winds. We loaded into the cars and drove north to the cutoff road we took when we drove down to Bandon. Once on the cutoff we found the Hidden Creek Watershed Trail on an estuary called the South Slough. We hiked the trail and enjoyed looking at the plants along the boardwalk.

We then drove up through Coos Bay to Umpqua Lighthouse State Park and went through the small museum. It was very interesting and an enjoyable stop. On the way back we stopped at Lake Marie and took a walk around the lake trail. Kobi spotted something in the lake and jumped in. He needed the bath so that worked out well.

Back at our camp I created a chicken pot pie in the Dutch oven. I didn’t have a recipe, but had some ideas how I would do it. Everything worked out great and in an hour I had a chicken pot pie that everyone enjoyed. We sat in the Yurt and talked until about 9:00 PM. Linda and I had to get up early to leave for home so we said our good-byes to the kids and Diane and Al Dee.

At 6:30 AM we were on the road, at 6:30 PM we were in our driveway. There is not much to tell you about the drive home, everything went well and we have logged another spring break trip in our blog. Wish we didn’t have to go back to work.

Oregon Trip Blogging #3

Today while Linda ran I got Kobi ready and we took a hike. I followed the road south to the Norton Gulch group tent area and then followed the headwall trail around where I could look out over the ocean, Sunset Bay and also see the Cape Arago Lighthouse. It was a moderate hike, but what made it a bit dangerous was the shear dropoffs the headwall to the shore rocks below. I kept Kobi on lead because he probably would have fallen if he was free to run ahead. Some of the undergrowth actually hung over the edge and if you were to step through it you would just keep on going to the jagged rocks below. The sun was out as we hiked and I took some photos of the rugged shoreline. Once we were away from the headwall areas, I let Kobi run as we returned to the camper to see what Linda wanted to do today.

We made a decision to go into Coos Bay so that Linda could get the cell phone messages her sister had left us earlier in the day. I wanted to up-load more posts and pictures to this blog so we got ready to go as quickly as we could. As it started to rain I grabbed the computer and put it into the Jeep. Kobi watched me load things, and for some reason went into the bushes behind our camp and hid. Linda came out of the camper and called the dog, but he refused to come out. We tried everything, but he just crawled in deeper and lay down. I got the chuck-it out and tossed the ball and he shot out of the hiding spot, but before Linda could grab him he headed back in, carrying the ball. I believe Linda caught him by the tail and he pulled her into the thicket. His hiding place was a wild raspberry patch and Linda was then fighting Kobi and the thorns. She dragged him just enough for me to get a hold of his collar and I immediately lead him to the Jeep. We cannot for the life of us figure out why he does not want to ride in either vehicle. We think he might be getting car sick, but he really shows no signs of illness. We finally got things locked up and everything loaded into the Jeep. I looked at Linda and she had two little blood drops on her cheek. She must have gotten scratched when Kobi tossed her into the briar patch.

We drove into Coos Bay and as soon as we were at the city limits Linda realized that she did not have her cell phone. In all the dog commotion she had left it in the camper. Since this was one of the main reasons for going into the town, we just drove around and looked at the city. We stopped at a Fred Myer and picked up a couple items and then headed back out of town. On the edge of the city we spotted a small coffee shop that had a big “Free WIFI” sign painted in their window. I needed to up-load and check emails so we stopped in. I feel less of a thief if I use a shops free service, then when I sit in my car outside a random location where I can get internet access.

Java Jones, home of “Free WIFI.” We ordered up a coffee and a hot chocolate, bought a muffin and a cookie and sat down to connect to the World Wide Web. First thing my computer asked was for a password. No problem, I just went up and asked the lady at the front. “It’s a secret; well actually it is our phone number.” She passed me a business card and I went back to my seat. I tried the password but it would not work. She came over and said that I had to type in the name of the coffee shop as the log-in and the phone number as the password. Nothing! “Oh, use all small letters for the name!” she said. I tried every combination of their password and business name that I could try. I ate the dry muffin, while Linda ate the mediocre chocolate chip cookie. I still could not get logged into the system! The lady mentioned something about changing providers and disappeared into the back room. I can’t say that I would recommend Java Jones Coffee to any of my friends. I thought that “Free WIFI” meant that we could get on line and get our emails; I guess it meant “Free WIFI” like bumper stickers proclaim “Free Tibet!” We drove down the street and parked outside the bed and breakfast and stole their internet.

The beach at Bastendorff was calling us to play chuck-it with Kobi so we stopped and let him run. No ill effects from the drive, he just takes off and runs after the ball until he can hardly move. Once Kobi had enough we drove back to Sunset Bay and hiked the north headwall trail out to a point where we could see the Cape Arago Lighthouse.

It was a real good hike but the trail went real close to the cliff. Both Linda and I did not like to be that close to the edge, but we kept moving forward. When we got to where we could see the lighthouse, Linda was also able to get cell phone coverage and she called her sister. Our hike accomplished three things, it got me out for exercise, we were able to take pictures of the lighthouse, and we were able to check our cell phones for messages and make calls. Isn’t life just great!

Costco cooked us dinner and we enjoyed the meal while the rain pelted the roof again. We had chicken alfredo and garlic bread. We have the meal at least once a trip because it is so easy and very tasty. After Linda did the dishes we got our rain gear on and headed out to walk the dog. The wind had picked up and it was raining hard, Kobi didn’t care, so off we all went.

The gray sky met the mouth of the bay and only changed a slight shade darker. Waves were crashing the entrance causing white foam to erupt and disappear again. We looked out into the surf and spotted one lone figure standing on a large body surf board. The wetsuit clad man was tall and skinny and used a single bladed, long handled paddle to move himself out into the break. Using the paddle and rotating his body, he would find a wave and position the board so that he could catch his ride and slide gently toward shore. Once he wave lost its strength, he would turn to board and paddle back out where the wave break was most consistent. We watched him ride as Kobi ran along the shore, darkness crept in and we return to the warmth of our camper.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Oregon Trip Blogging #2

If you could have heard the sounds that Linda and I made as we drove along 101 South today, it may have sounded like one of scores Bach had tossed in the waste basket. The score would have opened with a baritone voice uttering a long slow “WHOOOOOOOOOOA” with a staccato soprano voice repeating “OH GOD, OH GOD, OH GOD”. This would crescendo to and end with a loud sigh and the grand release of fear. When the sign says 30 mph, in a camper, it means 30 mph. The curves of 101 can sneak up on you, and after I wheeled us around one declining radius curve, all I could say to Linda was “I promise to slow down much, much sooner.”

We left the Beach Side State Park camping spot with a little reluctance; it was very cool to be staying in a spot where the ocean was just out your back door. If I were to rate the park on a scale from 1 to 10, I would have to give the place a 7, but also rate individual parts of the campground. Beach side row I give all spots an 8. They are close together, but right on the ocean. Site 63 is the primo view site. Second row in gets a 7.5 and then it is downhill from there. All other sites are just ok. They are close together, but you are just yards from the beach. If possible avoid the sights toward the roadside. Just like the beachside sites, but the opposite, they are right on Highway 101. If you are into watching traffic go by then these sites are just right for you. The shower facilities are normal for state parks. They were clean and the water was hot in the showers. Showers were a bit small, but if I can get in and get clean then most anybody can do it also.

Our next camp site was located at Sunset Bay State Park about 85 miles below our Beach Side camp. It only took us about an hour to get the equipment stowed and ready to travel. The route took us through Yachats and into Florence. In Florence we walked the streets of Old Town for about an hour, but none of the residents took any of our money. We just didn’t find anything we liked or felt we needed so the economy of the town was not stimulated by Idaho dollars.

When we came over the bridge into North Bend, Linda said she remembered the sign over the road. She had lived in North Bend for two years, 27 years ago. As the entry sign faded behind us nothing we passed registered in Linda’s memory. Nothing looked familiar until we passed the Coos Bay area athletic club where she played racquetball back in her days here. She said it was unnerving to not recognize any features of the two towns.

Arriving at the campground the rain changed to a mist as we set up the camper. Our spot is nothing like the one at Beach Side. We are tucked back against an elevated road that leads to a golf course. When I reserved the spot I had done so because it was located near the yurt that Diane and Al Dee had rented. On the map the yurt looked to be about 100 yards across the campground, in actuality it may be about 25 yards from our location. The map didn’t show the road to the golf course.

After we were finished with our set up, we drove into Coos Bay and found a spot where I could access wifi to upload our blog and check our emails. Linda called Diane and talked to her for a bit and then tried to get ahold of Loretta, and then we stopped and got gas in the Jeep. On the drive back we stopped at Bastendorff Beach and ran the dog for about an hour. We met some forks from St. Maries, Idaho who were down on vacation; it seems we have run into a lot of people from our area. I don’t blame them; John Sutherland said they got six new inches of snow today.
We got up about 7:00AM, Linda got on her bike and worked out, and I made coffee and then took Kobi for a walk. I walked a ways down the road and ran into our neighbor. His name was Michael and he was going to walk his dog Kayla. We walked to the grass picnic area together and let both dogs off to run. They took off, and for the next 45 minutes did not stop running. Michael and I talked the entire time about many different subjects, but mostly we talked about our dogs, past and present. One thing that he mentioned about Sunset Bay was that it was the playground for the Tsunami Warriors, a group of hard core surf kayakers. He said that they will go out into the huge break that happens at high tides and stormy seas and kayak the most outrageous conditions. Michael says it’s sick!

The dogs chased down to the beach and Kayla led Kobi into the surf, she was chasing seagulls and Kobi was chasing her. Kayla was much faster than Kobi, and it became obvious that she was in much better shape than our dog. We walked back together, just two guys and their mud covered dogs.

When we returned Linda had taken a cold shower and was ready for the day. I had taken my shower just as soon as I got up and my shower was hot. I guess we need to make sure that we either get our bathing done early or later in the afternoon. Morning crowds may affect the temperature of the water.

I fixed a light breakfast and we put everything away. Kobi was cold and shaking when we loaded him in the jeep so we fixed him a special spot and turned up the heat. We first drove out to Cape Arago State Park where I took some pictures and we checked out some of the facilities. Linda had visited here when she lived in Coos Bay; in fact she had skipped work on the first sunny day of the year to come out to the point and sun bathe. As the story goes, she called in sick and then drove out to lie in the sun. She drifted off to sleep and when she woke up she had a terrible sun burn. It was hard explaining that to her principal.

We talked a bit and decided to take a drive down 101 to Bandon by the Sea. We had heard of Bandon cheese, so we figured that there would be cheese factories and cheese shops all over the town and if that was the case, we had to see it. We left the Sunset Bay area and were headed to Coos Bay when I spotted a sign that said Bandon, 24 miles. I hit the brakes and turned. I guess Linda had a different plan in her head, because I spent the next five miles explaining that everything would work out just fine and that we have to take these impromptu side trips to make the drives more exciting. Linda wasn’t buying it.

The mystery road connected with 101 about ten miles out of Bandon. The cutoff may have saved us about 30 miles of driving which turned out to be very nice. As we drew closer to Bandon we saw a sign for Bullards Beach State Park, I hit the turn signal and off we went to explore. The park was nice, so we drove the camping loops. Spots again are close together and boy, there were a lot of them. I guess Oregon really packs out during the summer, so the more camping spots, the merrier.

At the end of the road we came to a lighthouse. I walked to the monument to explore, Linda took Kobi to the beach to play chuck-it. The lighthouse was being supervised by a husband and wife team of volunteers. I checked out the historical photos and then climbed to the top of the light tower. The gentleman who was volunteering sat in a chair at the top and when we had four folks crowded into the space, he started his speech explaining the history of the house. This lighthouse was built as a channel marker house on the Coquille River, as opposed to a dangerous headwall/rock lighthouse. It was the last lighthouse built on the Oregon coast, and is the last one to be restored. Restoration is far from over; in fact they are just getting started.

Once the tale of the lighthouse ended and everyone except me had departed down the steep stairs, I chatted with the fellow about his job as a volunteer and about his retirement. He told me that retiring was the best thing he had ever done, and that his retirement at the age of 55 gave him wonderful opportunities to travel and volunteer. I was once again glad to hear that retirement is something to look forward to and that it is only as exciting as you make it. You have to get out there and do things that will give you wonderful new experiences.

I met Linda at the Jeep and we drove on into Old Town Bandon where we walked around and stopped at a coffee shop. We had a snack, loaded up and found a grocery store where we bought a couple items we needed. Heading North on 101, Linda said to look for our cut-off road, it really proved to be “a serendipitous adventure.” I smiled to myself and drove home.