Time for a new house

Time for a new house
Time for a new house

Monday, November 29, 2010

Soup on a Monday night

Zuppa soup The last few days have been mostly about snow.  I got tired of putting up photos of snow and more snow, so decided to take a break from it.  The photos, that is, not the snow.  We got more than a foot again on Saturday night and spent almost 3 hours Sunday morning shoveling, plowing, and running the snow blower.  I still managed to put up some Christmas lights on the big front porch, and take down a few Christmas things to make home all bright and cozy.  I’ll be leaving on the 9th, and with the exception of the short space of time between my flight’s arrival at midnight in Medford, and our departure the next morning by 7 or so for Southern California, I won’t be home until after Christmas.  I’m thinking I need to find a small little something to take with us in the MoHo.  When we traveled during December in 2007 we had a nice wreath on the grille.  Guess I can do that again, at least.

Today I went to work, but I must say, the sweet commute was anything but sweet this morning.  The temperatures haven’t been above freezing for many days now and the road was icy and treacherous.  In town it was just plain cold.  Klamath Falls is in a basin, and the fog  sometimes lies in thick during the winter.  It’s ugly.  My least favorite weather is cold, icy, gray fog, with steely, leaden skies.  Ick.  When I got home tonight I cooked up some great soup, a bit of a break from all the Thanksgiving leftovers.  It made a nice supper for us while Mo watched the 49’rs do their thing and I escaped to the computer room to write and play with photos.

Zuppa Toscana Soup is one of my favorites.  I think there are several recipes out there attempting to copy the famous Olive Garden soup, but my friend Maryruth of course, found the best one.  I wonder if all that fresh kale offsets the Italian sausage, bacon, and cream.  Hmmmm.  Maybe I should get shoveling again.

After Rick showed us how to put a video in our blogs, I thought I would share this clip of Abby running through the pathways made by the snow blower.  I couldn’t seem to get the clip under 15 seconds, however, per Rick’s suggestion, but 44 seconds  is a lot better than the 3 minutes of video that I started with.  Just like Rick’s dog Rylie, Abby gets all excited about playing in the snow.  She loves it when she thinks we are heading out for a walk.  She also loves the paths, and thinks they are made just for her.  Sometimes an occasional neighbor dog will come down to try the paths out as well, much easier doing your business on a nice path than in the deep snow, right?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving

thanksgiving

My Thanksgiving celebration turned out a bit smaller than planned, due partly to weather and the long miles between Portland and Klamath Falls.  My eldest daughter and her sweetie didn’t make it this far south, and I missed her. However, my youngest daughter living in Klamath Falls came with my granddaughter Hillary and their new exchange student from Thailand, Kwankae.  The man behind the camera is Melody’s long-suffering husband, Kevin.  My sweet little grandson had to do the court ordered thing and spend the holiday with his father in Portland.  Families can certainly get complicated, can’t they!

With horrendous icy road conditions, my sister was afraid to drive out to Rocky Point in her 2 wheel drive vehicle, so Mo made the trip to town twice to pick up Sally and my niece Savannah and return them late in the evening.  That amounted to about 4 hours of icy driving, but Mo felt it was worth it to get Sally and Savannah to our home for the celebration.  Thankful.  I am just really thankful for so very much.

Just a little aside here: My sister and I share the same mother, she died when we were small children, and we were separated.  I didn’t find her until 36 years later.  Sally lived in many parts of the country before coming to live with me in Klamath Falls in 2003.  After a year, she moved out on her own, making her own life and focusing on raising her fantastic, talented daughter Savannah.  Of course, sisterhood isn’t without flaws, especially since we didn’t grow up together and came from such different backgrounds.  For 36 years I didn’t have a sister, and now I do. 

Thanksgiving 2010 (25) I had fun spending most of Wednesday cooking all that I could do early so Thursday morning was a breeze.  Woke up too dang early, though, probably just excited, but at least I was awake in time to get the 20 pound turkey stuffed and in the oven before 8.  Got a comment from a friend about our Thanksgiving table…not yet piled with food.  Usually I forget to get the photo before dinner and then it’s too late after dinner and all the food is all messy looking.  This time I forgot to take a photo of the food!  LOL  Here’s one of everything on the counter where we filled our plate.  Turkey, old fashioned bread  dressing with onion, celery, and tons of sage, mashers, gravy, homemade cranberry sauce, southern sherry glazed yams with pecans, fruit salad, that silly green lime jello thingy (for old time’s sake), and 4 kinds of pie for dessert. The daughter that couldn’t make it had our traditional cream cheese veggies with her, so we didn’t have them this year.  Somehow the plates were completely full anyway, even if two chairs were not.

Thanksgiving 2010 (19) Mid-afternoon, with the sun shining and making the frigid air seem a bit less daunting, we all bundled up to go outside and try out the new Costco sled I picked up the other day.  Of course, Mo’s antique sled with runners, a real one, did much better in the snow and the three teenagers had a good time laughing and falling and playing in the snow.  They were great sports, no complaints at all about the weather, the cold, or Grandma’s silly plastic sled.

Just for fun, here is a photo of the last time I had Thanksgiving for my family.  A few more managed to get to Klamath back then in 2003, and it wasn’t easy then either. Thanksgiving has always been special to me, it’s the holiday that is specifically for family, without any other agenda, and I love that about it.  Well, of course, there is the food part, but without family that would be irrelevant. 

family copy

Melody is in the front row with my grandson on her lap, Hillary and Savannah have changed a bit in seven years, I think.  I am on the right, next to my first-born daughter, my sister next to her, my two grandsons in the rear (both now Iraq veterans), my middle daughter next to her husband holding my first great grandchild and a step granddaughter.  These family pictures track the history for us, the changes in family dynamics, where everyone has been, where we are going perhaps.  Yes, it’s a bit nostalgic, and yes, so very much fun, and yes yes yes, I am grateful for my family.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Heck of an early winter here

Nice to have a new follower, I am always amazed when that happens. Thank you. Barry and Linda are talking about boondocking sites, always an interesting subject.

The guest cabin is getting buried!

IMG_0905 Although for the last few days I haven’t been spending much time reading.  Every morning I have shoveled 2 to 4 inches of snow from the driveway, enjoying it actually, until today when we had more than a foot dumped on us overnight.  It seemed like a little bit too much, I had nowhere to throw it and it’s only November.  Mo tried to start up the snow blower to finish the job, but it wouldn’t go, so I shoveled and she plowed and after about 3 hours we had the driveway and road passable. This big storm has rampaged across the northwest, leaving snow in Victoria, ice in Bellingham, and wreaking general havoc on roads and highways all over the place.  We knew it was coming, but the predicted temperatures tomorrow are below zero, and that’s Fahrenheit, not Celsius! The wind blew hard all night and covered the wide front and back porches with hard, icy snow that I couldn’t scrape off no matter how hard I tried. I think I am ready for a break already. Yeah, I know it’s only November. 

I’ll be off to visit a friend in Florida for a week in early December while Mo keeps the home fires burning and the road plowed.  The day I return, we are jumping in the Tracker and going to pick up the MoHo in Redding and find some sunshine in Desert Hot Springs for Christmas week.  Whew!  I am having Thanksgiving this year, so there will be some good family time there, and told my Klamath daughter and grandkids that I would celebrate a late Christmas with them when we return.

 IMG_0885The road to Medford on the way to Costco

The road home from Medford.  Class A with no chains??

IMG_0899 Yesterday Mo and I decided to make a Costco run.  For us, that is a 45 mile drive to Medford, over the pass on Highway 140, past Lake of the Woods and down the Crater Lake Highway.  It’s usually a beautiful drive and we can be at the Costco parking lot in less than an hour.  Not so yesterday.  After our morning snow exercises, we left around ten and the storm was already coming on fairly strong.  By the time we left Medford and headed back east, it was in full force, with many sliders and slow vehicles trying to get over the pass.  I was especially surprised by the big Class A motorhome stranded on the pass trying to get out the the Basin.  I have no clue why someone would attempt to drive a big rig like that over a stormy, snowy pass, with chains required signs everywhere, but with no chains. 

Today we had to go the opposite direction, again after morning snow exercises and on another snowy, icy road.  I ordered a free range organic fresh turkey from Howard’s Meats in Klamath Falls and of course needed to do the rest of the Thanksgiving shopping there as well.  On the way home, we saw that Klamath Lake is beginning to freeze already, and there are still hundreds of ducks in the bay, and even some Canada geese. IMG_0913 Tonight that little bit of open water is going to close in even more.  I worry about the birds.  Our lake and basin is on the major Pacific flyway and these little ones are on a clock that didn’t include subzero temperatures in November.  Heck, we rarely get sub zero temperatures in the deepest of winter!

The MoHo is in Redding, where tomorrow morning the temperatures are predicted in the low 20’s.  Pooh. We drained the tanks, but didn’t put antifreeze in the drains.  The whole reason for that expensive storage place is that Redding rarely drops below 30 degrees and we wouldn’t have to winterize.  Sigh again.  Mo thought about driving down there today while I did the Klamath shopping, but 3 hours each way in a winter storm isn’t particularly fun.  After talking to some folks we decided that the rig would probably be fine.  The temperatures will go low, but it is inside, and the sun will be out and the temps in the 40’s by 10 am.  Tomorrow is the coldest day, so we are watching the weather map on weatherunderground and hoping it won’t be as bad as predicted.

Tomorrow is the big cooking day, so as long as the power grid holds up I should be busy.  Mo also got the snow blower running this evening so my shoveling time might be a bit less.  Who knows.  I love winter, and I love being able to leave it as well!  It’s the best of all worlds. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Snowy weekend

Rocky Point snow The snow has come for real to Rocky Point, with enough on the road yesterday that Mo had to plow.  She fires up the tractor for the road leading to the house (aptly named Easy Street), and I get out the shovel and do the big driveway by hand.  We have a snow blower as well, but I only get that out when the stuff is really deep, at least a foot or two.  Yesterday it was just 2 inches, and this morning another 2 inches. I think an hour of shoveling up and down that driveway qualifies for at least half of my ten thousand steps a day, (which I haven’t actually done in a very long time). Difference between our snow and Rick’s snow is that ours probably won’t melt.  If you have a dog, or know a dog, or just want to laugh from joy, drop over to Rick’s page and check out his video of Rylie running around in the snow.  Abby doesn’t get quite so excited, although I do have some videos of her doing similar silly stuff in water, warm! water that is.

 

Rocky Point snow (8) When I moved back to Rocky Point last year, I packed up a lot of boxes of stuff, even after a year of thinning and selling and giving away stuff, I still have stuff to deal with.  Mo has a small shed out back, and in that shed are some chests and boxes, including a great drawer full of travel brochures and memorabilia.  I went out there yesterday to find something and came upon an old travel journal.  Mo and I have traveled together since mid 2003, and it was great to find all those old handwritten stories tucked away with places, dates, all the details that we forget as the years continue.  Sometimes we go to the blog to try to remember a trip, or a date, and it is a bit frustrating to find that what we are trying to remember is pre-blog. 

Rocky Point snow (4) I decided it would be a good idea to go back in time and add those old trips and photos here.  I was a little bit concerned that the posts would show up all over the place as recent, but I checked a few blog rolls and it seems that as long as I remember to put the right publish date, blog followers won’t be bombarded with ancient history.  It’s fun to go through the stories and photos and get it all down in proper blog format.  I find I enjoy my own memories more with the illustrations accompanying the text, so it’s a great little trip down memory lane.  Mo thought is would be nice to have everything in one place as well.  I didn’t start blogging our travels until we were on our cross country trip back to Florida, and we started that trip in the baby MoHo and bought the current one on our return trip, but that story is here.  The prior stories are coming along.  I know that I don’t often crawl back in blog archives to see someone’s history.  So much is going on right in the present it’s often hard to keep up!

DSCN5843 This week I get to remember that I really am retired.  I don’t have to work at all!  The weekend has been great, with shoveling, hauling another load of crackling dry juniper to the porch for the fire, cooking, cleaning, and some good knitting and tv watching as well.  We had three Grey’s Anatomy shows stacked up on the DVR so that was great fun, not having to wait a whole week for the outcome, just fast forward.  Today I am continuing with the cleaning projects, and have all my Cooks Illustrated magazines out on the counter looking for some new recipes for Thanksgiving. I know better than to mess with family classics, but I can at least experiment with an extra here and there. Half my children will be here with spouses and kids, the other half are in other parts of the country.  I am really looking forward to a big dinner, to the cooking and camaraderie, to family time.  The four years I was in California were hard for me, my family couldn’t manage the distance to travel to me, and I haven’t hosted the holiday at my home since 2003, when I still lived in Klamath Falls. Family and food and fun.  Mo’s brothers are up north, and her sister is in Colorado, so they don’t often manage to get everyone together for Thanksgiving.  So Mo will be here as well, patiently tolerating and even enjoying my family and all it’s craziness.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Back to work

surnise on the way to work (1) 

After being home just part of a day, it was time for me to make up for two and a half weeks traveling and head back to town to work.  As the weather deepens into winter I will be working from home more often, but I still have to go to the Soil Survey Office in Klamath Falls on a regular basis to get “official” emails on my “official” government computer, and check in with each of my four bosses.  Just thought it might be fun to share my early morning ride with you. 

surnise on the way to work (2) 

Rocky Point is about 30 miles or so west of Klamath Falls, and Klamath Lake is nestled into the basin between here and there.  The morning commute is never boring, and what I love most about it is the lack of cars.  Sometimes I will see 2 or 3 cars at the most traveling west to Medford, and maybe a truck or two will pass me going east. 

surnise on the way to work (3) 

On a clear morning I can see Mt Shasta in the distance as I climb over Doak Mountain.  The sweetest moment of my 35 minute drive however, is when I round the big curve and the southern arm of Klamath Lake stretches out before me. This morning my timing was just right to catch the early light over the lake. “Commute” is a relative term, don’t you think?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sharing time with friends in Oroville

Oroville visit (5)Our time on the water, on rivers and beaches, came to an end on Thursday with the beginning of our inland route to Redding. Garmin Girl really wanted us to travel south on 101, cross the Bay Area near Vallejo, and then go north again on I-5. Ugh. We turned her off, and headed north again and over the mountains toward the northern part of the great wide Sacramento Valley.

Sonoma County was beautiful, and in the slanting fall sunlight, the vineyards were many shades of red and gold. I tried for photos, but traveling was the order of the day and I can’t seem to manage much from the windshield. We stayed on 101 to Ukiah, a town I repeatedly get mixed up with Yreka and Eureka, although now I should have them straight in my head. Arcata is another one in the mix, that I now have some experience with so should remember.

Ukiah was a pleasant small town along the freeway, with a bit of a rural feeling to it except for the big shopping center with a Target and an Applebee’s. Mo and I both had the thought of a big juicy hamburger at about the same time. It’s amazing how we can drive in companionable silence for a long time and suddenly we’re both saying, “Gee, what do you think of a burger?” We got to Applebee’s just in time, about half an hour before lunch, before the crowds started filling up all available seats. To our delight, it was Veteran’s Day and they were giving free meals to all veterans. Mo pulled out her military ID and we had the best burgers we have had in a long time.

Oroville visit (20)The afternoon was sunny and pleasant, and in no time we pulled into my friend’s driveway in Oroville. Maryruth has been my friend since 1963, (that is 47 years if anyone is counting!) and she and her husband of the last 23 years or so have a nice spread on the hills above town with plenty of space for us to park for a couple of nights and enjoy some visiting time before we continue north.

Maryruth and I met across the fence one day back in Arcadia, California where I lived as a very young mother. Maryruth also was a young mother of three, and we discovered over that back fence on an October afternoon,Oroville visit (8) that her youngest and my oldest were just three days apart. Some friendships are so integral to your soul that they withstand all that life and time can bring. We shared births, and deaths, divorces, incredible tragedies, and delightful adventures. We shared a home for more than a year when we each had three children, yes, that was six children in our home, ages 1,2 3, and 3, 4, and 5. We were welfare mom’s for a short time, husbandless, hard working, and incredibly poor. Life brought a lot to us, but most of all it brought our love and support of each other through it all. I am incredibly lucky to have her as my lifetime friend.

Oroville visit (25)Gerald, her husband, is a sweet man, who totally adores Maryruth and is generous and kind. While he worked outside on his gardens, and Mo washed the MoHo and caught upon the news, Maryruth and I played Hand and Foot and enjoyed just hanging out together. Maryruth is also an incredible cook, and she had breakfast, lunch, and dinner, all planned for the entire time we were there. I had to beg for mercy, and talked her out of the lunch. Two big meals a day is all we can manage, and we had to give up one or the other. The marinated salmon won out and we had a great dinner, played more cards, and slept through a movie on the big comfy sofas. It was a nice way to end our trip.

Oroville visit 2 (8)On Saturday morning we packed up and headed north to Redding to settle in to the Redding RV Park, right next to I-5. We didn’t want to try to find the RV storage, empty out the rig, and then still drive home that night. Camp Club USA made the stay worthwhile, even if there was Interstate noise all night and the WiFi didn’t work for beans. Mo settled in for a bit while I drove back south to visit my ex mom in law in Red Bluff before returning to Redding for supper and a very early bedtime.

Oroville visit 2The Sunday morning sunrise out the back window was gorgeous, and the noise didn’t penetrate our little haven. It was a bit laughable trying to get all our “stuff” that we normally just carry in the MoHo to fit into the baby car for the trip home. We didn’t want to leave any kind of food, even dry packaged food seems to be a haven for mice, and we also had all our clothes, kayak paddles and PFD’s, books, bathroom stuff, and the ever present cords, batteries, computers, and phones. Of course, we also had the dog and cat. The baby car is just a little Tracker, lightweight and small, great for pulling, but a bit tight for traveling 150 miles back over the pass to home.

We found the RV storage without any trouble, but once there had a few moments of worry, wondering if we could actually fit into that tight space. Mo backed her in, carefully, and with only a few inches on either side of the rig, it was a bit dicey. Once inside, however, everything was fine. She hooked up the battery keeper and we pulled down the big door and breathed a sigh of relief.

I’m not sure when we will get back out again. I have to catch up on work, and Thanksgiving is coming along as well, with plans for a big family dinner. But it’s good to know that when the whim strikes, we can jump in the baby car and go get our rig and find a warm, sunny escape from the snow. The deserts are calling me, especially when I keep reading Al’s blog about the dark skies of the southwest. I would imagine that will be the next adventure.

      

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Sonoma Coast and the Russian River

Sonoma Coast (5) We wakened to a bit of fog this morning, but the rain had stopped and by 9 most of the fog was gone as well.  Once again the weather was with us.  Today we planned to kayak the Russian River, starting at Jenner on the ocean and paddling upstream with the tide until noon or so before turning with the tide and going back down to the ocean. 

The route to Jenner along Highway 118 follows the river and passes the eclectic town of Guerneville along the way.  The road is narrow and thick with trees, so dark that the street lights were still on at ten in the morning. We didn’t stop at Guerneville, in spite of the cute little shops there, the river was calling.  Once at the launch site at the Sonoma Coast State Information Center our plans came to a screeching halt.  The wind coming upriver from the ocean was cold and stiff, and I really didn’t want to spend my day cold and stiff as well. 

Sonoma Coast (41) Instead, we drove on north through Jenner, toward Fort Ross, a Russian settlement with an amazing history, and the magnificent views of the ocean along this part of Highway 1.  The skies were clear and the ocean was gorgeous.  We stopped for a hot cappuccino and a decadent muffin at the Timber Cove Lodge overlooking the bluffs.  At Salt Point State Park we walked the trails out to the surf with Abby.  Continuing north we checked out the state park campgrounds along the way.  They were completely empty, and no wonder since there are no amenities except wild ocean, and the charge is a flat 35 dollars per night.  Gerstle Cove campground was beautiful, with sites that were level enough to be manageable, but we would have to really want a view of the ocean to maneuver Highway 1 for all those miles to end up with something close to boondocking for 35 bucks.  I don’t remember State Park fees in California being this high before.  Maybe they have raised the rates to help out the bankrupt state, but if no one is in them, it isn’t going to help much.  More photos of the Sonoma Coast are linked here.

Russian River Kayak (12) When we got back to Jenner and the Russian River, the skies were still clear, and once inland at the Highway 1 bridge south, the winds seemed much calmer.  We took the old dirt road on the south side of the river leading to Willow Creek State Park, closed to camping, but with a path leading to a wide rocky beach perfect for a river launch.

By the time we got on the river it was nearly 3, but that gave us enough time to paddle upriver about 2 miles before we turned back.  The high tide was supposed to max out at 12:00 or so today, but it seems that sometimes the river mouth closes off and slows the outgoing tide. Paddling upstream was effortless, with calm still water and very little wind.  Again, we saw cormorants and several kinds of ducks, and I watched a great egret fishing intently along a gravel bar.

The reflections of the surrounding hills on the silky water were mesmerizing.  It turned out to be a perfect day of ocean and river and we got to do it all. More photos of the Russian River are linked here.

Russian River Kayak (43)

Traveling from Fort Bragg to the Russian River

Fort Bragg to Forestville (5) When we left Fort Bragg yesterday, it was raining hard.  Our route followed Highway 1 along the coast for several miles before we turned inland at the Navarre River on Highway 128. Gasoline was just 2.99 a gallon on the south end of Fort Bragg, so we put another 75 in the MoHo and hooked up the baby car right there in the gas station.  We are both amazed at how quickly we can hook up that car.  The Stow Master hitch works great if we hit it every now and then with a bit of silicone.  I can just slide it onto the ball without any effort at all. 

I checked our route on Google Maps, on the iPhone, and with Garmin Girl, all set for the fastest, not the shortest route.  I didn’t say anything about avoiding highways.  All three of them sent us over 128, but not a single one gave us a clue what we were in for.  The first part of the road was narrow, following the Navarre River through huge old redwood forests, damp and dark in the misty rain.  After a few miles we emerged into the Anderson Valley, and official wine country.  Picturesque small towns dotted the landscape every few miles and even in the rain the vineyards were beautiful in their fall colors. 

Fort Bragg to Forestville (21) Once we began ascending the mountains of the coast range however, the road got more and more narrow, and more winding even than Highway 1 was a few days ago.  The last five miles before we reached 101 were probably the most harrowing so far on this trip.  Mo handled it with aplomb, I wore my wristbands, and Jeremy only got sick once.

If we had known the route was this bad, we would have taken the more direct route straight south on Highway 1 along the coastline all the way to Jenner.  Ah well, neither of us had been on this route before, so it was ok.  Of course, Garmin Girl was still programmed for “shortest route”, so she took us along the even rougher “Westside Road” to get us into Forestville rather than going farther south on 101 and taking a major road back west.  By the time we got to the campground in the dark pouring rain, Mo’s opinion of Garmin Girl was diminishing.

Fort Bragg to Forestville (4) This trip was an opportunity for us to check out as many Camp Club USA parks as possible, and we only came this far south to try out this park.  The web site looks great, but if you look at Street View on Google, it’s another story entirely.  When we arrived at the River Bend RV Resort, the office was closed (it was barely 2 in the afternoon) and there were some very vague instructions about “finding a site”. We had a reservation, and had no clue where to go because the park is very tight, convoluted, and completely full of old trailers, rv’s, campers, all surrounded by old cars and trucks. 

River Bend RV Park (6) While I stood around looking helpless, the owner showed up saying, “Oh, I was just making a map for you”.  He charged me the half price fee of 24 bucks a day, and then said, “Wi-Fi is free for one hour a day, otherwise there is a 6.00 charge” . What?? It didn’t say THAT on the internet.  He proceeded to give me a huge spiel about the high cost of real estate in Sonoma County and how he didn’t let anyone else stay in his park for a measly 24.00, and didn’t I realize that there were 150 wineries within a fifteen minute drive and he wasn’t about to pay for free Wi-Fi for people who just abused it by downloading movies.  Hmmm. It was also interesting reading the “rules”.  My favorite was the one warning about going in the river intoxicated, and another one referred to no loud partying after 10PM.  Interesting clientele, I think.

Our site was right on the river, a bit away from all the permanent residents, so that was a relief. I think we are the only people in the park who aren’t permanent.  I decided to do some laundry, going back and forth in the rain, dealing with the dryers that quit when the power went out from all the rain, but of course the timers didn’t quit and I lost 4 bucks.  Froggi Donna, another blogger, asked recently what we love and what we hate about RV’ing and last night I through that what I dislike most is the dang laundry thing. 

River Bend RV Park (3)I decided to read the “101 Things to Do Sonoma” for some ideas about the area.  Unlike the Mendocino publication which was full of great information, this one had page after page of wineries and restaurants.  I guess if you are in Sonoma, you are supposed to go wine tasting and then eat.  Ha.  Mo and I both love wine, but the wine tasting thing sometimes just seems way too expensive and pretentious for either of us.  I’d rather go kayaking and buy my wine at Trader Joe’s or Costco.  Maybe a nice wine tour would be a fun thing to do another time, but not this time.

We settled in after supper and listened to the hard rain, drowning out most of the heavy traffic noise from the highway nearby.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Perfect Day on Big River

Big River kayak (14) It was a perfect day to go kayaking.  Once again there was an eight foot high tide predicted for just after noon, giving us a good two hours before to paddle upstream, and another two hours to paddle back down with the ebbing tide.  The launch site at Big River just east of the Mendocino Bay Bridge on Highway 1 is huge, with a boat ramp, but also with a broad sandy gentle beach perfect for us. 

The weather was clear and crisp, if a bit cool.  The current on the river was negligible, and with the incoming tide paddling upstream was easy.  It was Abby’s first time out in the new kayak, and it was a perfect place for Mo to adjust to paddling with Abby while she learned to settle in to the bigger cockpit.

Big River kayak (4)

On a Monday morning in November, we very nearly had the entire river to ourselves, with a single rower passing us going downstream, a lone kayaker going back downstream toward the beach, and a young couple paddling a large wooden outrigger canoe.  The rest of the trip we were completely alone in the silence of the river and the surrounding redwood forest.

Big River kayak (17)

We saw ducks, herons, cormorants, and on our way back to the mouth of the river, a group of seals. Reading about the trip in the Sea Kayaking  book suggested a nice sandy beach about 3.5 miles upriver where we could take a break and get out of the boats.  I think the combination of high river water and a very high tide completely obscured the beach, however, because we never found it. After a couple hours on the river, a bathroom break became somewhat of a necessity, so we improvised.  In an area that looked just a bit less abrupt than the rest of the banks, we tied both boats up to a small stump and managed to crawl out of them from the deep water.  Abby was glad for the break as well before we saw the tide turning and decided it was time to head back downstream. 

Big River kayak (38)

Paddling downriver at about 4mph was effortless until we were within less than a mile from the launch site where the winds picked up considerably.  I didn’t get any photos of the big wind generated waves because I was busy paddling hard, and that last half mile was the hardest of the day.  We had been warned of this, so it wasn’t unexpected and I’m glad it didn’t last any longer than it did.

Big River kayak (41) On the beach once again, we easily loaded up the boats, but by then the wind was darn cold and we were definitely ready for a break.  The tiny, incredibly picturesque town of Mendocino was just a stone’s throw from the launch, and we thought a good dose of fish and chips would be perfect. Many shops were open on this slow Monday afternoon,but open restaurants weren’t easy to find.  A shopkeeper told us about Patterson’s Pub, suggesting they had the best food in town.  She was right  The pub was perfect, with an Irish theme, small warm and cozy, great beers on tap and truly wonderful food.  I had a Bass from the tap, and Mo’s house Chardonnay was crisp and dry.  Lobster bisque drizzled with very green virgin olive oil was a perfect beginning to fresh cod and sweet potato cross cut fries.  Yum!!

Since daylight savings time ended it seems that it is way too dark at 6pm and settling in to a warm MoHo, cruising the blogs, and watching TV was a perfect way to end a great day.

More photos of our trip on the river are linked here.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A quiet day in Fort Bragg

Pomo RV Park (18) It rained hard all night, pounding on the MoHo roof and making me really happy that I wasn’t in a tent!  Someone said that there are two kinds of slides, ones that leak and ones that will.  So far, there are no signs of any leaking anywhere in the MoHo, even in the hardest rains and wind.  I guess the Dynamax reputation for solid coaches is holding up for us.

I took my time cooking breakfast this morning while we watched the Sunday news shows.  Mo and I both love Fareed Zakaria, he brings such a different perspective to the world view. Then Mo balances all that out with a good hit of Fox News while I retreat into the computer.  Ha!  Guess you can tell who is ex-military and who used to be a tree hugger! The rain let up after breakfast and we took Abby for a walk around the park.  Fort Bragg day (4)On the way  we met a couple from Victoria, just out on the beginning of a five month journey through the western US.  Wayne and Lynn were very conversational, and we had a great time comparing notes on campgrounds, RV’s, and destinations.  It’s amazing how easy it is to talk with strangers in this RVing world, no such thing as a stranger, really.

I love my new kayak, but there were a couple of little problems with it when it finally arrived.  Somehow the bubble wrap used to protect it caused the paint to discolor on the side exposed to the sunlight and it has a small area of bubble wrap design along one side.  In addition, the rim around the cockpit has a small split that shouldn’t be there.  I called the company as soon as I unwrapped the boat and they called me back to make sure everything is taken care of properly.  Bill Swift is the owner of Swift Canoe and Kayak in Ontario, Canada, and I am so impressed with his customer service.  He is building a new boat for me and paying for the shipping to my home in Oregon.  My boat was a sale boat, with a few minor flaws, so he asked if I wanted to pay a bit more to get a new boat, or if I wanted to send this one back for repairs.  Either way he would pay the shipping, so I decided to opt for the new boat and the chance to pick my own colors.  In the mean time, he said I should use the boat I have now as much as I want to until the new one arrives some time next January.  Great customer service, great product, and great company!  I highly recommend them.

Fort Bragg day (12) We spent the morning walking through the Mendocino Botanical Gardens, senior discount fee was 7.50 each, and well worth it.  The gardens have several areas, with more formal perennial gardens close to the entrance, and then about a half mile of wilder gardens that lead to a great ocean bluff overlook.  At this time of year, the flowers weren’t that exciting, but the plants and foliage were lovely.  The trails were nice too, and we took our time enjoying them even more than the gardens.

 

 Fort Bragg day (33)

After our walk, we drove to the main part of town, but it didn’t seem to have much to offer, not enough to actually get out of the car to explore.  Nothing caught my eye and Mo isn’t a shopper anyway.  I think we got our fill of browsing back in Ferndale, anyway.  At the northern edge of town is Elm Street, leading down to the hidden Glass Beach.  Once the town dump, it is now covered with beautiful tiny smooth pieces of sea glass.  Somewhere we read that you aren’t supposed to pick up the glass, but once at the beach, it was filled with beachcombers looking for that perfect piece of glass and filling hands and pockets with the tiny treasures.  We took a few as well.  My favorite is the pale light turquoise pieces.  We didn’t find anything particularly fabulous, but had fun looking and enjoying the beach and the surf.

Fort Bragg day (69) We traveled up the Noyo River to check out Liquid Fusion Kayak Company, only to find an open lot with some kayaks and a sign that said to call them if you wanted to rent one.  I had hoped for an actual shop with information, so we later stopped at the dive shop along the highway.  The young man there was really helpful and told us that Big River ten miles south at Mendocino was the best paddle around, with easy access and fewer people.  Big River is listed in the Sea Kayaking Northern California book I bought recently, so after looking it up and reading we decided that for sure this will be tomorrow’s destination.

Fort Bragg day (63)

It was just a napping kind of day, so instead of doing anything else we went back to camp, had a late lunch snack and I took a great nap, snuggled back in the comforters watching the trees outside the window as I fell asleep.  I love the chance that we have had on this trip to actually slow down and relax.  An afternoon nap is just about as decadent as I can imagine!   When I woke up a bit later, it was starting to darken and we took Abby for a walk around the nearly empty park before coming back home to make supper.  I’m really looking forward to getting out in the kayaks tomorrow, it should be a sunny day, and again the tides are with us perfectly.

Photos for our day at the ocean are linked here.

We are staying at a park in Fort Bragg that had many reviews: Pomo RV Park and Campground. It seems it is the best place to stay around here, since most others are merely parking lots. Some of the reviews complained about the rules and policies, but we had no problem with anything. It is a cash only park, and doesn't honor anything but Good Sam ten percent discount, so at 40 bucks a night it's not a cheap place to stay. The sites are huge, however, and as private as a good state park. We wonder if maybe at one time it was a state park. I haven't seen a private RV park anywhere laid out with this kind of luxury of space. CeiPui asked for some photos of the park, so I linked a separate album here. 

 

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Northern California Coast

Eureka to Fort Bragg (15) We have been here in the fog, but even so, the town of Eureka seems rather drab.  There are a lot of interesting people walking around, people who look like they have been in the same mode since the 60’s. Last night we decided to take an evening tour of the local co-op.  North Coast Co-op has a huge mural on the street side facade, and is bigger than most major grocery stores.  I love natural food stores, and while it wasn’t Trader Joe’s, it was bigger than some and filled with amazing stuff.  Mo is at a loss in this environment, so I walked around explaining some of the lingo to her and some of the reasons for buying this or that instead of the everyday brands you get in a regular grocery store. 

The produce was fantastic, and if our refrigerator wasn’t full I would have hauled tons of colorful stuff home.  We can’t eat enough to support all the temptations so gorgeously displayed. We managed to get out of the store with some great looking green tea from China and two bottles of “Our Daily Red”, an organic red table wine with no sulfites.  Keeps the migraines away for me.  I love a good red wine, but will certainly settle for a daily red glass of this good stuff full of antioxidants and other good things.  It was a fun way to spend a dark rainy evening in Eureka.

Eureka to Fort BraggToday we are going to try out the Samoa Cookhouse, the last surviving lumber camp style cookhouse in the west, built in 1893.  The meals are all served family style and breakfast today will be French toast, sausage, and who knows what else.  There is a lumberjack museum with the cookhouse that should be entertaining.  Another treat will be breakfast company, with some soil scientist friends of mine located at the Arcata Soil Survey Office who have agreed to meet us there this morning.  Looking forward to it.

Later:

Eureka to Fort Bragg (6) Our breakfast was wonderful, and visiting with Sue Azman made it even more so.  I’m not sure if Mo enjoyed all the soil survey talk as much as I did, but we all had a good time talking about kayaking the coast.  Sue is an avid sea kayaker and we had fun talking kayaks and possible trips.  Back to camp in plenty of time to button up and we actually left the park at 12:01.  Gas in Eureka was a whopping 3.35 per gallon, and we knew that in Fort Bragg it was only 2.99, so we only put 50 bucks in the MoHo to get us on down the road.  Again, our travel day was a short 130 miles or so.  BUT!  What a trip it was!!

 

Eureka to Fort Bragg (30) We traveled south on 101 for some distance before turning off on the alternate highway that travels 32 miles through the redwoods, called the Avenue of the Giants.  It was a leisurely, meandering drive through huge trees and narrow roads, but with no traffic at all.  Stopping at several of the auto tour sites for photos, and some short walks in the forest was refreshing.  Once more, Abby wasn’t welcome on the trails, even on a leash, so Mo stayed in the MoHo so I could walk through the forest a bit and take pictures.  I had been enjoying the subtle light on a pale yellow vine that seemed to be in many of the trees and wanted to photograph it.  Closer inspection revealed the bane of my California soil survey life, poison oak!  It was creeping at least 40 feet high into the trees, and covering the forest floor, mixed with the ferns and oxalis.  Poison oak is ubiquitous in the Mother Lode where I worked, but I had no idea it was so prevalent in this high precipitation redwood forest.  Ugh!  I am extremely allergic and had to do a couple of hospital visits while working in California.  It was one of the main reasons I was so glad to finally retire and get back home to Oregon.

Eureka to Fort Bragg (86) At the terminus of the Avenue of the Giants, it wasn’t far to our turn west from 101 to Fort Bragg. Although Highway 1 is famous as one of the most beautiful scenic byways in the country, this part of “one” crossed the last of the coastal ranges via an incredibly curvy and steep road before arriving at the ocean cliffs a few miles north of Fort Bragg.  I think this may have been the curviest road we have driven in the MoHo, and I’m glad Mo was the one doing the driving.  Jeremy wasn’t too happy about the curves either, and he insisted on riding on the dash board, twisting and turning and trying to get comfortable.  I tend to get car sick when it’s bad like this, but on this trip I remembered to bring my “sea bands”, wrist bands with knobs that create pressure on meridian points on the wrist.  I was starting to get queasy when I put them on, and was afraid they wouldn’t work, but they did!  Amazing little tool, these wrist bands.  On the way down the hill we saw a flare and then a rolled over car with several people trying to turn it back upright.  It all seemed a bit strange because there must have been eight people there and only 2 cars, the rollover and another car.  Hmmm.  Which car had that many people in it?  They all looked a bit sheepish, and a bit strange.  We didn’t stop.

Eureka to Fort Bragg (94) At the bottom of the hill, a pickup in front of us pulled over and a poor girl jumped out and got sick right there.  I realized then that I wasn’t sick at all!  Not a bit.  Thank you wrist bands!  The last few miles of the route followed curving cliffs along the Pacific.  The fog had lifted, and the clouds were heavy but not raining.  On the horizon of the ocean, the light caught in a brilliant band among all the grays of sky and water.

We arrived at the Pomo RV Park and Campground around 4:30, and settled in to our very private, very quiet spot at the upper end of the campground.  Here again we have good TV, good Wi-Fi, and power and water.  All this excitement for a whopping 40. per night!  No discounts here except Good Sam, which we don’t have.  This park is also on the Camp Club USA list, but there are so many restrictions that we probably won’t manage a visit here when we could get a discount.  Camping sites on this part of the coast are few and far between, and most consist of a parking lot surrounded by ugly stuff.  Even the state parks are all 35 per night and don’t have the amenities.  Tomorrow we will drive around a bit and see what is here.  The prediction is for hard rain tonight and tomorrow but sun on Monday.  Perfect!  We can check everything out and plan for another kayak adventure Monday morning.  Again, we are staying 3 nights.  First night to settle in, then two days to explore before we move on to the next horizon. 

Of course I took a gazillion photos, and even managed to delete a good number of them.  You can see them linked here.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Kayaking Humboldt Bay

Eureka fog (6) 

I think we would have traveled to the California coast for this trip even if we didn’t have new kayaks.  It’s a beautiful place when the fog isn’t hanging around.  Fall is usually the prettiest time of year with cooling temperatures inland creating conditions that keep the coastal fog at a minimum.  Everyone here knows that when it’s hot inland it will be foggy at the coast.  Right now there is a high pressure system inland.  Guess what.  It’s foggy.

We woke this morning hoping for a bit of a break, but it wasn’t to be.  Today was even foggier than yesterday without  even that small afternoon sun break coming through to light things up a bit. The tides were with us today, however, and we didn’t want to miss the noontime high tide.  Hookton Slough is just a few miles south of Eureka where we are parked, and we checked out the launch site when we first got here on Wednesday.  The dock is built to adjust to tide depth, with easy access even at low tide.  It makes it a bit less likely that we would get stranded out on a mud flat somewhere when the tide receded.

Eureka fog (8)

This morning we realized that in our five years of kayaking, we have never attempted a dock entry to our boats.  Who knows why, I guess because we never really needed to try it.  Today was it, there was no other way to get in the boats since the edge of the slough was rocky and descended abruptly to deep water.  Either way it would be a deep water entry.  We unloaded the boats…soooo dang light….. and dropped them into the water along the dock.  With life jackets on we gingerly knelt on the dock and into the boats.  Easy.  Experienced kayakers will laugh at this, I am sure, but it still was something new for us.  It felt great to be in the boat in the water though, once there everything felt just fine.

Eureka fog (16) 

The bay was fogged in, the estuary was fogged in, but the tide was plus eight feet!  One of the highest tides in a very long time according to some local folks at the launch. It made for a very easy kayak along the south part of South Bay, and we traveled about 3 miles west to the edge of the bay.  We could hear the ocean again, but this time there was no breach and the bay was quiet.  By the time we got back to the launch site, the tide was receding but still was plenty high.  We were out a bit less than three hours and during that whole time the fog never really lifted.

Eureka fog (24) 

We didn’t see any river otters, although there is a family of three living near where we boated.  We did see lots of shore birds, blue herons, white herons, a great egret (black legs), huge flocks of cormorants and geese, brown pelicans, and of course, lots of seagulls.  With the dark and the fog, my zoomed in bird photos didn’t turn out too well, but it was still great getting out on the water.  Of course, the fog and cold day made for incredible silence and beauty. It was just us and the birds out there on the water.  Beautiful.

There are more photos for our days in Eureka linked here, here, and here.