Getting Closer

Getting Closer
Getting Closer

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Treat in Grants Pass, Cathedral Hills and a Skunk

Current Location: Rocky Point Oregon, 34 degrees F with a 50 percent chance of snow

The cottage in Grants Pass is a great stopover spot when we are returning from our coast travels.  Daughter Deborah is living there now, so we camp in the MoHo when we are there.  During the winter months we pull the MoHo inside the big RV shed for protection, and sometimes we decide to camp inside as well when we are there. 

day at the cottageReminds me of those RV storage shed campsites that were developed in North Dakota for the oil workers.  Although the shed has all around windows at the top, the interior is rather dim.  Wouldn’t want to live there indefinitely, but it is great protection from weather and falling tree limbs in a windstorm.  Yes, we do have some very large, very old white oak trees on the cottage property.DSC_0029

There are always chores associated with staying at the cottage.  Mo is still working on the bathroom drywall and taping project after we put in a new bathtub, and now there is finally a shower as well.  Deb is quite happy with that project since she has had to settle for baths in the morning before work until now when she can jump in for a quick shower. 

This time of year there is always leaf burning, and leaf raking, but Deb has kept on top of most of the raking, so Mo had a big pile to burn this time.  Of course, inversions are common in the Rogue Valley of Grants Pass, and Josephine County is judicious about allowing burn days.  The first day was a no burn day, but on the second misty rainy morning the 6am phone call yielded good results. OK to burn!

day at the cottageFunny thing, though, those big sloppy leaves didn’t want to burn, in spite of the big tarp that was protecting the pile.  Mo burned most of the day and only managed about 1/3 of the pile.  I raked a bit, and then retreated to the cozy house to finish the binding on some kids quilts I have been making for Christmas.  kid quilts (2 of 7)

The house was cozy because we finally managed to get the new gas stove heater installed and running.  When the Avista guy came last month to light the pilot, he refused to approve the old stove, which had seen better days.  It heated great all last winter, but was no longer safe.  Time for a new stove.

That whole process was a bit of a kerfuffle, because no one in several towns had any gas stoves in stock.  After much research, we finally found a great little Williams stove with a bit of a fire view for several hundred dollars less than anything we could find in town.  The town shops said they could special order something, but even so the big delay was finding someone to do the installation.

IMG_4565 Total Home Supply on the internet provided excellent service, with free shipping, and we had the stove at our door within two days.  It took another month to get the installation completed, but now the cottage is again warm and cozy, and safe!  Deborah hung in there as the month got colder, staying in front of her little electric heater most of the time.  Now she has heat AND a shower.  All that is needed is some kind of way to figure out the crazy electrical problems.

IMG_1142 Remember, this little cottage wasn’t really something that we needed.  Our only wish was for a place to store the MoHo.  When Mo was trying to trouble shoot the electrical situation in a house built in 1926, she shook her head and wondered whether it was worth it or not.  Someday we will get it all figured out, and it is still great to have a warmer climate for storing the MoHo in the winter.  No winterizing, and we can head north or south without worrying about deep snows in the Klamath Basin.  That was the plan.

summit loop The cottage is in a rural neighborhood, with rather narrow roads and deep ditches on either side of the pavement.  The amount of passing traffic is a bit surprising, but I thought I would have enough room and warning to manage it for walking.  What I didn’t expect was the number of big dogs, although why I wouldn’t expect that in a rural Oregon neighborhood, I have no idea.  Big barking dogs, even behind fences, scare me.  Adding to that fear is the sight of a big barking dog that has managed to get outside his fence.  I have to remember to get some pepper spray.

After one day of walking Summit Loop for a few miles, I decided I needed another alternative for my walking project when we are at the cottage.  Enter Cathedral Hills County Park.

IMG_4626Just a mile west of the cottage lies the hidden treasure of 400 acres of BLM protected wild land with more than 12 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding.  Douglas-fir and ponderosa pine dominate the forested portions of the park, with madrone, manzanita, and yes, poison oak on the warmer southern slopes.

IMG_4627 I drove to the Walker trail head, with a small parking lot for just a few cars and found it completely empty.  I also found a nice notification of a black bear seen in the area just a few days prior to my visit.  I wasn’t concerned, however, black bears usually stay well hidden and run when approached.  I was worried that there might be loose dogs or crazy people wandering about, but turned out I had the entire trail to myself.

IMG_4624 It was a great hike, accompanied by a large flock of turkeys, I walked up the steep eastern flank of the hills toward the ridge, enjoying the switchbacks.  Unlike Humbug Mountain, these switchbacks actually have level areas in addition to the steeper parts.  Good knee resting sections for the trip back down!

IMG_4629 I was appreciative of the trail signs, and once on the ridge hiked south to get some amazing views of the Applegate Valley and the coast range mountains to the southwest.  It is easy to forget just how mountainous this part of Oregon is when driving around in lower parts of the Rogue Valley and Grants Pass.

IMG_4632The cottage in on the terrace mid photo toward the east

I had the iPhone tracking my route, and as I continued on the ridge trail, was having a big of difficulty figuring out how that route fit with what I was seeing on the trail.  Turns out I was completely turned around in my head, and thought I was looking west toward the valley, and instead, with closer inspection realized that I was looking directly at the terrace below where the cottage was barely visible toward the east.  Sheesh.  I don’t think you could actually get lost in the hills, but you can definitely get turned around and end up somewhere you might not want to be.

cathedral hills trails I am so happy that there is this amazing resource for me to explore so close to home.  I only walked a few miles, and later, looking at the park map, realized just how much there is left to discover through the seasons at this hidden gem.

Our last adventure at the cottage was a bit less fun, but no less exciting.  Deb had been hearing activity under the house, and there was a large excavated hole indicating that some creature really liked living there.  She bought a trap and set it, with no results.  However, a bigger trap did the trick, and when Mo and I got up on our last morning, we saw the cute little black and white visitor curled up in the back of the trap, watching us with her twinkling eyes.

IMG_4634 Skunks are really cute critters.  Really.  Deb had to go to work, and couldn’t wait around to deal with it.  Oh dear.  Too Bad.  Mo and I said not to worry, we would handle it.  We not only had the pickup, but had the trailer with us for hauling the lawn mower, so figured the skunk could be relocated without much damage.

IMG_4635 Mo threw a blue tarp over her, but she didn’t spray until Mo actually picked up the trap and put it in the far back part of the trailer, covering the tarp with the wheel chocks so the tarp wouldn’t blow away as we drove down the highway.  Critter control had told Deborah that at least 20 miles away was required for release to keep the animals from returning. 

IMG_4636 We settled for about 15 miles, where we found a nice area near the Merlin dump, with no houses around, lots of brush and a ravine with a small stream.  Ms Skunk should have been delighted to jump out of her cage.  Instead she hung back, and when Mo upended the trap, she managed to stick to the back of the cage and refused to come out!  Finally with a bit of pushing and shaking and some more spraying (did you know a skunk can spray straight up?!), she fell out of the trap and ambled off into the brush. 

IMG_4637 Mission accomplished.  I do hope she doesn’t try to find her way home.  So far there has been no activity under the house, but we saved the stinky blue tarp just in case, and will know what to do next time.  Even though Mo didn’t get sprayed directly, we had skunk smell everywhere, especially on her shoes and clothes and in the truck and in the baby car.  That smell is just amazing.  I found out that hydrogen peroxide and baking soda works better than tomato juice, but in the absence of a quart of peroxide around the house, I learned that ammonia works almost as well.

Mo’s shoes are still on the porch here at home airing out, and the truck still smells faintly skunky.  Ah well…at least we didn’t get hit directly and Deb’s cats didn’t get sprayed either. Life can be fun if you let it.