Christmas at Rocky Point

Christmas at Rocky Point
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Sunday, October 2, 2011

October Heaven

Home on a quiet Saturday afternoonAs much as I love the delight of Spring, I don’t think there is any time of year in Rocky Point more beautiful than early fall.  Our springs can be wet and cold, and when they warm a bit, the mosquitoes tend to visit.  Mosquitoes bring bats of course, a good thing, except a bit the lawns are still nice and green in the morning lightunnerving when they swoop down from the eaves while we are in the hot tub.  As summer progresses, the frogs proliferate like the proverbial rabbits, tiny little green guys lining up on door sills, and sometimes sneaking into the hot tub for one last too warm swim.

When October comes, however, all is still.  The leaves haven’t yet turned, flowers still in bloom, mosquitoes have gone to sleep and frogs are thinning out.  Morning sunlight filters through the trees lighting up the now lush grass. It takes much of a summer for Mo to get that grass as thick and lush as she likes, with careful attention to dry spots, brown spots, moss, and edges.  She is the lawn person, and am mostly the flower person.  It works well.

I wait very impatiently for October 1st, refusing to put up any kind of fall or Hawedding_190lloween decorating before then.  Then down come the bins, out comes all the fun stuff, the fall harvest flags go up, and we start building morning and sometimes evening fires.  I love the smell of the juniper when it catches, and the feel of that warm glow.  Jeremy loves it as well, lounging in front of the flames stretched to his full length to absorb all the warmth.  The knitting comes out, wedding_310homemade stock for soup on the stove, and the evenings are dark before 7.

Of course before this auspicious day, I had many things to do to fill up the last great week of September.  My grandson, first daughter Deborah’s son Matthew, got married last weekend and I was able to fly to Colorado to share in the wedding.  It was a lovely occasion, held at the only golf course in Sterling, with a sweet ceremony and a sit down supper and dancing afterward. Jessi’s family all live in Colorado, but our family is a bit more scattered and all weren’t able to be there.  As always, weddings are such emotional times, with moments of gaiety and moments of nostalgia all wrapped up together in the tradition.

Sue and Deborah at Edna's for lunchDeb and I had a day long layover in Denver and decided to spent it with Mo’s sister Edna.  We visited at home with a chance to once again have lunch with dear Lucille, now 103 years old.

Lucille comes to lunch in the dining roomThen Edna, Deb and I checked out the Bear Creek Regional Park, a lovely campground not far from Edna’s home where she is planning a big family reunion next summer.  It looks like it will be a perfect spot as long as Colorado doesn’t hit all of us with really hot summer temperatures.  There are miles of biking and hiking trails, some shady escapes from the heat, although not actually in the campground itself.  There is a swimming beach, and three reservoirs for kayaking and dog swimming.  The group site holds 5 rigs with electric hookups and room for tents as well for only $70 per night for all. In addition, for family without RV’s there are two very lovely comfortable yurts, one in beautiful shade. 

Denver (127)After exploring the park, the three of us drove 15 minutes farther east to Morrison and the southern entrance to Red Rocks Amphitheater.  It was Deb’s first time to see the historic venue and she was enthralled. As a lover of music, Deb at Red Rocksshe really enjoyed all the posters and history of so many great artists who have played there in the past. We enjoyed the gorgeous view of Denver from high above the stage, and especially enjoyed reading about the history of Red Rocks.  Again, this is a place that would not exist without the efforts of FDR and the CCC who built the amphitheater around the existing natural stage of red rock.  In the early teens, musicians would play there and the visitor center has some truly great photos of those old performances. The geology of the place is magnificent, with the great unconformity of the Rocky Mountains in full view here below Dinosaur Ridge. As a lover of the wild red sandstones of Utah, I thrilled at the color and beauty of this place carved from the same stuff.

Our flight back to Portland was uneventful, even though we arrived close to midnight and Deborah had to work the next day.  I drove south on the 5, thinking of Russ and Donna, but they were off somewhere else having a wonderful time in Therapy so I didn’t stop in Eugene.

crystal clear water on Harriman CreekThen Tuesday morning Mo’s brother Roger and his wife Nancy came down from Lone Pine to share a few days with us at Rocky Point.  They just bought a brand new motorhome, a 2012 Winnebago Aspect, 28 feet, with a full down queen sized bed, something I do envy! They decided to leave it behind and take advantage of our little cabin instead.  The cabin is really comfortable, with cozy furniture, lots of farm and ranch antiques about, a very good little wood stove, hot water showers, and a composting toilet. My favorite part of the cabin is the light, huge windows on the east bringing in morning sunlight in a way I don’t get here in the main house.  It’s lovely, and it’s always nice when folks choose to stay in the cabin.

visit_35We spent one day kayaking Recreation Creek, and the next day paddled south into Harriman Creek to the springs and back.  It was perfect weather for being out in the boats and we had a great time. 

Thunderbolt CaveAfter our morning kayak on Thursday, we all decided that a trip to Lava Beds National Monument was in order.  Time for a bit of caving!  I was game, although going down into caves isn’t particularly on my list of important life events.  Even in Carlsbad Caverns I didn’t feel particularly comfortable.  I was awed by the beauty and the formations, but still just didn’t want to be down there.  Caves are a place for unearthly beings.  Spirits and ghosts and who knows what.  Bats and white crawly things and dampness.  Ugh.  Oh, right, I am a scientist, who supposedly doesn’t believe in spirits and ghosts.  Ask me again when I am in a cave sometime, which won’t be in the near future!

visit_107Still it was a fun trip.  Lava Beds is a quiet park, in the middle of almost nowhere beyond the Lower Klamath and Tulelake Wildlife Refuges and resting below our favorite Mountain Lake Highlands from which it emerged.  Lava has flowed here for thousands of years, last time was less than 800 years ago, so the area is fresh and hot with jagged a’a lava.  There are many lava caves, some as yet little explored, and only one that has light.  We chose instead to follow the cave loop and see how many caves we could see in the time we had left on this afternoon.

visit_102After checking for our possibility of carrying bat disease, the ranger gave us a brochure that listed all the caves, with check marks for “can walk upright” “Must duck walk in some part” “Must crawl in some part” and the length of the cave.  We started with Thunderbolt, and the very scary, very uneven trail descended some steep steps before crawling off into blackness and low hanging rock guaranteed to give you a serious head bump if you stood up too quickly. Deep into the tunnel, we did the thing all cave tours do and turned off our flashlights.  That lasted just a few seconds before we all creeped out and turned our lights back on!

visit_103The next few caves that we explored weren’t quite as deep and black, but I still wasn’t exactly having fun and was glad when we emerged from the last cave of the day. Even with my heebie jeebies, it was still fun to go exploring and a great thing to do with company who have never been to Lava Beds.  I guess if I have company again who want to see the park, I will have to go down in the caves once more.  Ugh. We topped off our visit with a trip up to Lake of the Woods for a great dinner before the restaurant closes for the season.

I love having company, and I love when I have no company.  Quiet days with a bit of gardening, some knitting, catching up on the DVR recordings, no deadlines, nowhere to be.  Next week will be full again, I will work another 40 hours and hopefully the guys staining the house will eventually complete the prep and get to the actual staining!  Toward the end of the week, another round of excitement will come to Rocky Point with a visit from Laurie and Odel!  Yippee and Hooray!  We are really hoping for a few more perfect kayak days to take them out on the creek, for what I think will be their first time kayaking.