Monday, June 25, 2018

Grand Ronde River - Boyz Trip

Rainbows over the Palouse.
As soon as I got back from Mexico this year, Ryan Edwards invited me to join him and the River Boyz on a river trip on the Grand Ronde River in Oregon. The trip was put together by a couple of folks that Ryan knew and all I had to do was pay and show up with my boat and gear. You can't beat that, so I was all in.

We had everything together by Wednesday night and so to make things easier, I stayed out at Ryan's place that night. In the morning we were able to get up, eat, and get an early start. We met up with the group at 7:00 AM, at the group leader's house, Andy Groves. When we arrived we found out that some of the fellas were going to be a bit late, so we jumped in and helped load the final items onto the truck.

The second truck arrived about 45 minutes later. We loaded it with gear and supplies and we were off. The convoy rolled along the roads of the Palouse; green fields of spring grass glistening with moisture from the morning's rains. We spotted several rainbows as we cruised along. Our next stop was Colfax where we picked up two more of our boyz.

Cutting across southwestern Washington we headed for Minam State Recreation Area in Oregon, just a mile and a half from the put-in on the Wallowa River. We spent the night at the campground and in the morning we stowed our gear and launched.

Our launch went relatively smoothly though the launch ramp was a zoo. I think everyone in Oregon decided to hit the river this weekend. Four of our boats launched from the west bank of the river and the other launched from the Minam Store located on the east bank. With all the other river runners and our double shore launch, it took us a few miles to gather up and get organized.

The Wallowa River flows ten miles down to join the Grand Ronde River. We floated on down and looked for a campsite. With all the folks on the river, we had to keep moving into the late afternoon and finally found a large spot at about river mile 22. The long day was unexpected but it also gave us a lot of time to fish as we went. Fishing was a bit off. The water level had risen a bit and was a little off-color. This trend continued throughout the float. I did OK, but I wish we would have had better fishing.

We set up camp and had a wonderful meal. All meals on this trip were amazing and no one went hungry.

We floated the next two days and took off the river at a bridge just above Troy, Oregon. Fishing wasn't great, but being on a river is always the best.

Takeout was easy and everything went well. We loaded up and said our goodbyes. We caravaned for the first part of the drive home but after a couple stops, Ryan and I passed the others and beat feet on home.

Sunlight on Ryan's butt.

My tent on the second night.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Weekend With Friends

We spent Thursday through Father's day at Farragut State Park with our friends Raina & Dean and Bridget & Dennis. When this group gets together we basically laugh, eat, and just catch up on each other's lives.  I took one picture with my good camera and then used the phone for the others.
(R to L) Linda, Dennis, Dean and Dean.
Buttonhook Bay, Lake Pend Oreille

Linda's deer that she visited on her runs.
Controversial bug tag found on big trees.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018


Several weeks ago we had the pleasure of having a visit from our two good friends from Canada, Jacquie and Grant. Before they arrived, Linda and I cleaned our house from top to bottom. One of the tasks led us into the guest bedroom where we set about cleaning the window glass. Linda was inside and I went outside and we started cleaning. When Linda pressed on the glass to clean it, the whole window glass fell out and I barely caught it in time.

I pushed it back into place and rushed into the garage, grabbing some caulk. I smeared the glass and the window frame with the calk and pushed it back into place. It held and our visitors had a window. My next big project was crystal clear (like our windows). I would have to replace that window and two others.

All the windows in our house need a bit of attention, but three were very bad. I checked the size and found that they were standard-sized window frames. Then I priced them and did some research dealing with replacing the windows myself. My neighbor, Steve, said that he didn't think it would be hard and offered to help.

On a sunny Monday morning, I walked into the backyard and tore off the window frames exposing the old window to the world. It didn't look like a huge task so I took everything off down to the window. I then went over and got Steve.

For the next four days, Steve and I played home improvement and tore out and installed three windows. These pictures will tell the story. I finished painting today.

Linda's Quail

For the past 10 days or so, Linda has been nesting. Actually, Linda has been doing everything she can to draw quail to our backyard. She loves to listen to their calls and always laughs as they run across streets, their little legs spinning like a Peanuts cartoon character would. My wife has liberally distributed bird food designed to attract quail. She has even placed a little lid out by the food in which water collects. Our backyard has become quail nirvana.

The problem is getting those cute little things to find that our yard is their bird utopia.

As I worked on a housing project (check out the next blog post for the specifics) I noticed one lone male quail intently watching me work. This silly bird would stand on top of the fence and stare at me as I went about installing new windows. When I walked out to the front, he would walk along the fence to the front yard and watch me. While in the backyard, I called Linda out and told her about this quail's strange attraction to home improvements.

We watched as the quail watched.  After a bit, Linda said that she thought this quail was the one she had spotted a couple of days earlier hanging around on our neighbor's roof. At this point, Linda started calling this bird Quincy.

We were both amazed and intrigued at how comfortable Quincy seemed to be as he sat and watched us.

Our work took us inside the house and after a few minutes Linda called me over and pointed out the window. There was Quincy on the fence and huddled below on the grass was a very puffy female quail. As we watched, we could see movement underneath her. She was hiding six ping-pong sized babies under her feathers!

The rest of the afternoon was spent watching this little family feed in our backyard. We figured that they had a nest somewhere near because the chicks were so small.

The past two days we have kept a close eye on them. They move about our yard and sometimes venture out into the front area. I had to chase a cat away yesterday; it was a close call.

We will continue to watch them and hope they all grow up happy and healthy!

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Birthday Trip

It’s not cheap to keep our truck and camper in tip-top shape. When we bought both items we agreed that we would do what needed to be done to make sure they are taken care of and in the best working order when we travel. The last time I had work done on the truck we had the front breaks replaced. During that shop visit, they noted that we needed some work done on the rear pinion area. 

When we returned from our Utah/Redwoods trip I made an appointment to get the needed repair done. As the appointment neared we experienced a huge wobble in the right front wheel area. When we dropped off the truck for the pinion appointment I told them that we had a second problem and asked them to fix it.

The wheel problem turned out to be a bad barring and all the items that wear out on the right front end. The work was completed in time for our trip to Eugene OR. It cost us $3030 but the truck has been running like a champ!

On Thursday afternoon we headed out on a special trip to visit our nephew Kenyon, on his 16th birthday weekend. The driving goal was to make it down to the Columbia River and find a free place to stay for the night and then continue on into Eugene on Friday. 

Everything was going well and so when we hit the Tri-Cities, we pulled off at a station to fill up with diesel. I started filling the rig and Linda went in to use the restroom. With the diesel pump running I thought I would step over the hose and get the window washing stuff to get the squished bugs out of our view. As I stepped over the hose, it clicked off and when this took place the hose jumped. This jump in combination with my lazy bad knees hooked the toe of my shoe and I proceeded to fall straight down to the concrete. I had just enough time to get my hands down in front of me, but not enough time to catch my full fall.  With my hands on the ground, I caught my body, which then whipped my head down on the concrete giving me a lump on my forehead, simultaneously breaking my sunglasses. I quickly scampered up and retreated back to the truck cab.

When Linda arrived back from the restroom, I told her what had happened and she noticed my lump and a bit of blood where my broken sunglasses had poked my face. I was OK, a little shaken and embarrassed, but nothing I couldn’t shake off and continue. I guess that these small accidents might be happening a bit more as I get older, so I promised Linda that I would never again jump over the pump hose like a young service station attendant, “Fill her up mam?”.

The camp spot we found just off the freeway by the Rufus OR exit. There are a bunch of spots along the river on the gravel bar that allows camping. We set up in the middle of a flat rocky area and faced the truck into the upriver wind. I probably don’t have to tell you about how hard the wind blows in this area. The fact that this part of the gorge is the wind board capital of the Universe probably gives that away.

Set up and ready, we faced the wind. Though it blew all night long, we were able to get a good night sleep and woke up eager to continue our journey to visit our family.

The rest of the trip down was very uneventful. We arrived in early afternoon and by 5:00 PM the Sollingers were all home and we were making plans for Kenyon’s birthday weekend.
On Saturday morning Kenyon decided that he wanted to visit the Cascades Raptor Center and look at the many rescued birds of prey. We had a fun visit and learned a lot about the birds that were being cared for and on display. All of the raptors had been rescued and were found to no longer be able to take care of themselves in the wild. My favorite birds were the Owls. They were all so calm and I love their huge eyes. This was our second visit to this center and we have really enjoyed each of the visits.

The birthday weekend continued with a little shopping and a stop at a specialty store to purchase a cheesecake for Kenyon. Everyone brought a small cup of gelato ice cream which we all agreed was fantastic.

Later that evening we played games and celebrated Kenyon’s birthday. The next morning we packed up and said our goodbyes.

We drove out of Eugene and headed northeast through Sisters to Redmond where we visited our good friend Shawna. Once we arrived and got set up Linda and Shawna went over to where Shawna’s horses are stabled. They went for a ride and had a great time.

The next morning we got up and drove on towards home. When we arrived at Rufus the wind was really blowing so we decided to drive on home ending our travels early.