Sunday, June 22, 2014

Oregon Coast Pt. 3 - South Beach State Park

Linda and Kobi at Seal Beach.
On our last post I spoke of local knowledge and how Al Dee fed us trivia about the area around Eugene. For our trip from Eugene to the coast, Al Dee gave us directions that would cut off about a half hour driving time by going around the outskirts of Corvallis.

We had short lived, great intentions of following his directions but in just a few blocks and after the second right hand turn we came upon a train connecting its cars. We sat, and sat. After 20 minutes of just sitting there watching a very slow train go by, we abandoned his directions and took a right trying to get past the train.  

We zigged and zagged and finally wound up on the same road that we started on, only three blocks past the train crossing. This set us back about a half hour, but we were back on track following Al Dee’s advice.

Waldport bridge in the background.
Our second mistake came when Linda was talking and I blew past the road we were supposed to turn on. Once past the road Linda tried to get us back on track but I blew past that turn also.  I pulled over, checked a map and decided to try the next road, but blew past that one too. Frustrated, I turned into a parking lot and proceeded to get stuck by not being able to make the turn around. The only way out was to get out and unhook the Jeep, make the turn and then re-hook everything.  This maneuver took about 15 minutes, and we were on our way. We drove back to the original road Al Dee suggested and we were back on the trail.

The two boys on South Beach.
The final thing that happened was a missed turn caused by the driver not being able to see and read the road name.  This put us directly in the middle of a small town and we spent 10 minutes cursing side streets trying to find a way to the highway.

By now if you add up all the goofs, Al Dee’s short cut took us about an hour longer then he thought it would.  The rest of the trip to South Beach State Park was un-eventful, except for when I pulled off the side of the road to go to the bathroom and we sank deep into the shoulder. That’s another story, for another time.

Spouting off at Depo Bay.
Our campsite is OK, these beach state parks draw a huge number of campers. The showers are good with continuous hot water and we have had no problems getting in.  On Monday we explored around Newport and drove as far up as Depo Bay. The day was uneventful. I don't think we even bough any trinkets.

On Tuesday we loaded up and drove to Lincoln City. Our first stop was the outlet stores where Linda bough out Under Armor as I slept in the Jeep with Kobi. After the shopping frenzy we stopped at a store and purchased sandwiches, drinks and chips for lunch. We drove back south to Boiler Bay State Wayside and enjoyed our lunch.  As we finished up we spotted a whale and spent the next hour watching it play in the foam just off shore.
Boiler Bay State Wayside looking south.

The whale show after lunch.

On Wednesday we hooked the Jeep up and headed back to Cd'A.  We stayed the night at Peach Beach RV near Biggs and then got up early and drove home.  We were in the driveway by 2 PM and had almost everything cleaned and ready to go back into the camper by 4:30 PM.  We both have said that we are ready to get going again!

Oregon Pt. 2 - Eugene & The Coast

We visited Diana, Al Dee and the kids at there home in Eugene.  During our stay we spent the day hiking and exploring the coast around the Florence Oregon area. We hiked to the beach, by way of crossing Tahkenitch Creek and then climbing over sand dunes. Once there we did some beach combing trying to find sand dollars. After that we drove up the coast to Cape Perpetua and visited the sights there.

Al Dee must  had just finished reading a book called “Trivia of Eugene and Lane County” because everywhere we went he had little factoids about the area’s history.  Most of the stories ended in someone dying either by being crushed by a falling object, being sucked into water or mud, or by having a plane, train or raging animal hit them. By the end of the stay we were afraid to ask any local knowledge questions for fear of the gory story that would follow.
Oregon's second longest covered bridge.

Al Dee crossing Tahkenitch Creek.
"I'll give you a quarter if you run up the sand dune."

View from Cape Perpetua.
From the shelter looking south.

Thor's Well at high tide.
The Spouting Horn at Cook's Chasm.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Oregon Pt. 1 - Alfalfa, Horses and Birds of Prey

About all Linda said was “I need to be an Aunt for a few days!” so we got on the phone and invited ourselves down to Eugene Oregon for a visit to her sister and family.   They are in a new house, one we hadn't seen, making our visit easier to validate. On Tuesday morning we forced Kobi into the truck and started our adventure.

When we planned the trip we contacted our good friend Shawna to see if we could stop off and visit her for a few days.  She lives in Alfalfa just outside of Bend on a ranch.  She OK-ed the visit which broke up our travels.

The other thing we did was to drive down to a RV campground on the Columbia River near Biggs, OR. We arrived at the Peach Beach RV Campground about 2 PM and got the rig set up.

As I inspected everything I noticed that the Jeep had three screws in the passenger rear tire.  I immediately panicked and started to change it out for the spare.  Once I got my head under control I Googled tire places around Biggs and found that ten miles away there was a Les Schwab in Goldendale.  I put my tools away and hit the road.

The wind had been blowing hard all day and boy it had its way with Stinky Jeep.  I fought the wheel for the ten miles up to the flats and into Goldendale and found Les’s place. The young man got me in to the repair area right away.  found the screws and made the repairs informing me that two out of the three were leaking air. This made me feel better about my freak out.  I drove back to Peach Beach and Linda made dinner. Kobi and I went for a walk and then we all went to bed.

Morning was a bit lazy because we had all day to get to Alfalfa. We loaded up and were on the road by 10 AM.  The drive was uneventful and we found the ranch very easily. 

Shawna was still at work, so we set up the camper and soaked up the sun in our lounge chairs.

Once Shawna arrived we started catching up while we doctored two of their houses.  RH (Red Horse) has some kind of infection in his hock. He needed to have cold water sprayed on the area and he also had to take some medicine.  The other horse, John Wayne, had a cough so he also got to choke down a bit of goo. I learned that when administering medicine via the horse’s mouth, you will probably get most of it on your cloths.

Evening brought a great sunset and we ate dinner then called it a night.

Shawna got up and did her horse chores and we got ready for our day.  Linda and I went into Bend and visited the High Mountain Dessert Museum and Shawna went to work.

The Museum was very interesting and we both really enjoyed all the exhibits. Our favorite was a live birds of prey program where they flew live birds around us while a ranger told us facts about the bird’s lives. The Raptors of the Desert Sky Program, included a Barn Owl, a Great Horned Owl, a Vulture, two hawks and a falcon.

We met Shawna back at the ranch and she had brought pizza home for us. We stuffed ourselves and talked until about 10PM.  We were moving on in the morning and Shawna had a big orientation program that she was in charge of so we called it a night.

I guess I Otter end this post.

Monday, June 09, 2014


The other day I took on the task of weeding the flower garden area of the back yard.  This is one of my least favorite lawn care jobs that are required to keep the yard looking good and I usually put it off for most of the summer.

As I weeded I came to a small area hidden behind one of our natural bushes. The area is not completely hidden, but to see it you kind of have to look beyond the bush between trees to find this little piece of my past.

There in the shaded light stands one of the gifts given to me in one of my last years that I worked with ASNIC.  A smile came to my face as I remembered the story behind the VW van and the circumstances behind the little gesture.

Here is how I remember that I came to have this gift.
It was the end of the year, probably two years prior to my retirement.  This time of the school calendar has always been one where our students were finishing up projects, cramming for tests and generally getting ready to escape college and head for their summer jobs. Over the past couple years ASNIC was made up of some real great students.  One of them worked in our offices, worked in Student Events, was in student government, was an OARS Leader and practically had her fingers in everything that went on around our area. Her name was Fatima.

I remember sitting at my desk when Fatima ran into my office.  Just like she always did, Fatima had a smile on but she was in a hurry.  She gave me the VW bus and said that she was going to make it real artsy and cool but she ran out of time due to finals and the end of the year.  She said something about her lack of artistic talent and handed me the bus.

The VW van was a toy that she had decorated with peace signs and cut out photos of all the students who had participated in ASNIC that year.  Fatima expressed to me that, due to the time limitations she had cut out the faces and used tape to stick them to the van, but she really wanted to do more and glue them making them more permanent.   What a great thought!

I love the whole thing and the idea of our group of students together in the VW.  For the next few years the van was a fixture in my office.

When I retired I packed my office up and brought it home.  I went through all the historic things and they all brought back great memories. Most of this history went into a box and is now hidden up in the attic of the garage.  The VW was different. It not only was a cool little toy, but it held so many faces of so many great student friends that I couldn’t just pack it away.  I walked it out to the back yard and place it next to a rock cairn that we built in our flower bed.  Over the years, since retirement, when I come across photos of students that I met at NIC, instead of putting them in a box somewhere, I cut them out and put them into the van.  It’s a memorial to the friends I met at NIC.

Now you have to realize that much like Fatima I am not artistic, so sometimes the photos that I cut up are a bit rough. Usually I cut the head off the person in the picture of sever a limb, but it is the thought that counts.  I want to make it perfectly clear that I in no way do I look at this as a Voodoo related shrine.
I don’t cut off heads and stick pins in the pictures to cause them hardship.  My cuts and rips are simply due to a lack of talent and that is it.  You won’t find the bus being used to hold the tormented likenesses of students who made my life beyond interesting. You know what I mean? EXACTLY!

That day last week my yard work continued but the great thoughts of the VW van kept tugging at me. I shot some pictures and told Linda about how it made me smile.  Again I want to thank Fatima for the gift and also thank all the students that have made my life so wonderful.  

Friday, June 06, 2014

Early Midweek Priest Lake

Moose on the way up to Priest Lake.
Life on Laurel was getting a bit mundane since Linda finished her marathon Sunday, so we loaded up the camper and followed the Unchurches north to Priest Lake.  That’s not exactly how it went, but we did camp up at the Beaver Creek Campground from Monday through Friday.

During Linda’s run I got a phone call from Daren inviting us up to Priest for the week.  We talked it over and then took Monday morning to re-supply the camper and make sure we had everything.  Daren and Marcy drove up in the morning and saved us a spot.

Group photo at Plowboy,  Upper Priest Lake.
On our drive up we enjoyed all the usual pre-camping conversations. We wondered how busy the camp would be and where our camp site would end up. Our conversations darted back and forth between this adventure and future trips that we have on the books. Halfway through the drive Linda turned on the audio book that we started on our last trip and that kept us entertained.  Just a few miles before the turn at Nordman we spotted a bull moose out in a field near a stream.  I was able to get a picture of him; he looked to be about two years old.

When we arrived at the campground we found the Upchurches sitting in the sun. It was easy to spot their camp; they were the only people in the entire campground.  In fact, that was about the way it was during the entire week.  I think the most campers in the park at one time were six groups and that included both of us.

Tuesday morning was sunny but by the afternoon thunder clouds came in and it started to rain.  We did some mushroom hunting and found about seventeen Morals growing in the campground area.  Our evening was spent moving in and out of the sprinkles.  Marcy made a great dinner and we stuffed ourselves.

Wednesday we took a long hike up to the upper lake.  We hiked up to Plowboy and had lunch. Kobi ran about a million miles and that evening he was a very tired dog.  The Bennetts cooked dinner this time. We had a long evening of talking by the campfire; the day had turned out to be just beautiful.

Linda got up and took a long mountain bike ride on the road.  She came back with wide eyes; turns out she had come upon a bear on the road. She said that she made all kinds of noise but the bear was not a bit concerned with her.  Eventually it headed off the road and into the woods.

Thursday morning brought calm winds and a flat lake so Daren and Marcy took their kayaks up to the upper lake. Linda and I hiked the Lakeshore Trail south to Teacher Bay.  On the way down we came upon a yearling moose. It turned tail and made tracks away from us. We continued on but did not encounter it again.

Back at camp we read and waited for Daren and Marcy to return.  When they did they had stories of two more moose and a great trip up to the upper lake.  We ate dinner and went to bed at about 9:30 PM.

We left the campground for home on Friday morning. The camp had been completely empty for two days, we were the only campers.  That is what early midweek camping is all about.  School is out for the kids around the area this Friday and I imagine things will change quickly; the campgrounds will start filling.

We made lists as we drove home. Tried to think of the things we needed and didn't have with us.  After about ten miles we were talking about where to go next.  Life is so good, knock on wood.
The chance encounter moose, on the lake trail south.