Time for a new house

Time for a new house
Time for a new house

Monday, November 30, 2015

October and November

Current Location: Old Fort Road, Klamath Falls, Oregon, at 9 degrees F and cloudy.

1-11-03-2015 Hiking to the TowerOur new digs: closeup on the upper right is a view of the apartments from the tower trail.

I am sitting at the same desk as usual, but the view outside my window has changed.  Instead of the dark forest I am looking at open sky and the back side of Plum Hill in Klamath Falls. Life has finally shifted a bit, and Mo and I are now spending most of our time at our cozy apartment only 3 miles from town.  Yes, we still have the house at Rocky Point, decorated for Christmas, on the outside at least, and still comfortable for Rocky Point stays now and then.

Putting up the decorations (2 of 10) We also have our little cottage in Grants Pass, where we also spend time, working on the property, enjoying the little cottage and the green grass that pops up when the first fall rains come to the Rogue Valley.

Cottage before dirt leveling (34 of 40) It is all part of the transition from living in the woods, plowing snow, driving 45 minutes each way to the grocery store, and our plans for the future, living in mostly snow free Grants Pass.  We chose Grants Pass because of the lack of snow plowing and shoveling days, the proximity to the ocean, and the ability to travel north or south on I-5 when we want to soothe the hitch-itch that strikes often.  We are gypsies.  That travel bug is ingrained, and not likely to dissipate any time soon. 

Hiking to the tower with Melody and Mattie (1 of 1)-5View of Klamath Falls from the tower trail near the apartment

The apartment in Klamath Falls is an interim stop, at least that was the original plan.  At the moment, I feel so comfortable and cozy here, enjoying it so much that I don’t think I will ever want to leave it.  I love the Klamath Basin.  Here on Old Fort Road, we are at the edge of the high desert, with tall ponderosas and a few Doug firs around, but the hills are also covered with sage.  Love that smell, love that air, you all know I love the desert. 

Each of our places has its own special feeling.  Rocky Point for the huge cool forest in the summer, the beautiful refuge just a short walk from the house, the birds, the deer.  It is a wonderful place to live in many ways.  Grants Pass is wonderful in spring and fall, ten to twenty degrees warmer than either Rocky Point or Klamath Falls, with good shopping just minutes away, and yet a lovely rural feeling on our little piece of land that was once part of a walnut grove more than 100 years old. 

Old Fort Road is part of the magical basin, with views of Mt Shasta, the Klamath River, the dry winter air, and as stated before 10 to 20 degrees cooler than Grants Pass in the summer.  I am glad that at the moment I don’t have to choose any one of these places over the other.  Of course, the MoHo always waits as well, with the road to the desert, to the ocean, to other mountains always waiting for us.  It may be a bit complex at the moment, but it is so good and I feel incredibly lucky.  And thankful.

I keep waiting for life to settle in a bit, for things to slow down.  I have waited since mid October when we returned from Ireland, all through the month of November, and here, finally, on the last day of November, I have some time that isn’t allocated to anything else.  I can write.

I began this post as usual, with a visual cruise through my photos.  I have to admit I was a bit shocked to realize that I haven’t written a thing since we got back from Ireland, six weeks ago!  Geez. I do have some good reasons.   IMG_5337Just a couple of days after our return from Ireland, best friends Maryruth and Gerald drove up from California to spend a long weekend with us at Rocky Point.  Daughter Melody was starring in the musical Chicago, playing Velma Kelly, and they wanted to see the show.

Chicago the Musical (36 of 300)Chicago the Musical (226 of 300)The final performance of the show was amazing, and the reviews reflected what a wonderful job the Linkville Theater did with the staging, the casting, the dancing, and of course the music.  It was wonderful.  I was amazed at how a small community theater could put on a production as lavish and complex as Chicago.  Fabulous.  And not just because my daughter had a major role. Lower Klamath and Tulelake NWR (20 of 27) Lower Klamath and Tulelake NWR (22 of 27)We had a fabulous weekend, visiting the Lower Klamath Refuge where Judy volunteered this summer, enjoying the gorgeous skies and the birds. We shared good meals and lots of talking and laughing and fun.  It is so wonderful when friends can visit.  Next month we will go south to visit them and share in Maryruth’s mother’s 90th birthday celebration.  Elsie has been in my life since I was 18, and is like family to me.  Looking forward to seeing everyone at the big gathering.

Kayaking Pelican Bay (3 of 46) A few days later, Mo and I managed to get out on Pelican Bay for another gorgeous paddle.  With the fall migration in full force, there were so many birds out there.  Gorgeous skies and perfect weather are part of the Klamath Basin wonder in October.  Late September and October are the very best months to be here, in my opinion.  Nearly perfect, and no mosquitoes.

installing the cistern (13 of 17) We spent a few days in Grants Pass, for an exciting project on the property.  With a low GPM well, Mo decided that our solution would be to add a cistern, rather than taking the chance on a new well.  The cistern holds 1750 gallons, is filled automatically by the well pump, then the water is pumped from the cistern through the pressure tank to the cottage.  Now we can water the trees and small lawn during the summer without fear of drawing down the well too much.  Cottage before dirt leveling (15 of 40)

There are 27 trees on the .89 acre, several of them are gorgeous old oaks and a couple of pines and firs that are more than 100 years old.  Tree work was in order, and it turns out that the guy who ran the backhoe for the cistern installation was also an excellent arborist.  He did a great job on our trees, removing dead branches and making it much safer. He also removed 5 huge stumps that were still in place from tree removals prior to our purchase of the property.

moving with Don and Dan (17 of 19) Then it was time for the “big move”.  Late in the month, Mo’s brothers drove down to Rocky Point to help us with the heavy lifting.  Dan and Chere came from Beavercreek near Portland, and Don came all the way from Spokane.  I have no idea how we would have managed without them, short of hiring some expensive movers, which we promised both brothers that we would do when it comes time for the next move.

don dan and dogs We had fun in the midst of the moving stuff, and I did my best to cook good meals and make sure that both homes had food and beds for everyone, even though said beds were in transit.  Dan and Chere’s two dogs were especially helpful, making sure that everything done just right.  They also provided a bit of entertainment and company for Mattie, who has developed a great love for big dogs.  Most of the time, they know how to play with her and like Judy’s Emma, will lower themselves down to her level for playtime.  It is fun to watch.

Apartment A as we settle in (2 of 16) By November 1, our target date, almost everything we needed to be comfortable in the apartment was moved and we settled in. We spent five beautiful days doing the “nesting” thing, enjoying the sunshine, the smaller space, all the little things that can make moving to a new place fun and exciting.

Apartment A as we settle in (7 of 16) As the main cook, I was a bit concerned about my new kitchen.  Compared to Rocky Point, my current apartment kitchen is about the size of my big counter in RP!  I discovered that a small kitchen has some advantages:  I can reach all the drawers from one standing position, the floor is a quick wipe up rather than a major mopping event, and without a dishwasher, running a sink of soapy water as I cook keeps things in line.  I am actually enjoying it, although I still sometimes open four cupboards before I remember exactly where I have stored a particular item.

Another fun thing about the apartment is that we actually have two.  One for living, and the one next door for an extra guest bedroom, storage of “stuff” and best of all, an entire dining room and living room for my sewing, craft, and quilt room!  I can make a mess and don’t have to keep cleaning it all up mid project.  I do love that part.  In RP I did my sewing on the dining table which required lots of bringing out and putting away of stuff when meal times approached.

Hiking to the tower with Melody and Mattie (1 of 1)-3 With the early November sunny weather, I took some time to explore places to walk nearby.  Daughter Melody  and grandson Xavier live in another apartment in the complex and it is fun to walk down the path to her door and go for a spontaneous walk together. 

IMG_5359 Granddaughter Axel and her room mates also have an apartment here, and just last night Mo and I were invited to dinner at her place.  This family compound thing can be pretty nice at times.

Mo has had these apartments for years, and decided last year that property management companies and weird renters were no fun at all. Now it is an inside deal, everyone pays their rent on time and pitches in to keep the place looking nice.  It is a good place for us to be while we transition, and I get the benefit of being closer to my daughter and grandkids.  Mattie at Mills Beach (8 of 41) Mattie at Mills Beach (12 of 41)Mattie LOVES the beach!

At last, with the major chores of moving behind us, it was time for a quick trip to Brookings.  The MoHo was waiting patiently in Grants Pass and we needed a break.  Seems as though the only way to get a break from chores is to leave home where there are no chores! 

IMG_5373 We had a great three days, enjoying the clearest skies I have seen in a long time at the ocean.  Judy had mentioned that Harris Beach SP would be closed to camping this season, so we didn’t even bother checking.  We decided to stay at Beachfront RV Park, on the Harbor.sunset and sunrise at Beachcomber campground (11 of 12)

It was so much fun to listen to the surf all night, and to watch the waves right outside our front window.  One morning we drove up to check out Harris Beach, and were surprised to discover that the campground is still partially open, albeit without reservations.  As usual, the front view row was full.  We were glad that we did something different this time.

morning beach walk (2 of 16) I loved taking Mattie for walks right out the door to the beach.  It did rain on one day, but that was the day that we had scheduled some maintenance for the MoHo generator.  Seems as though the fuel pump gave out.  Brookings Harbor RV Repair had good reviews, and Mo decided that a trip to Brookings was worth it to get someone we could trust for the repair.  They did a great job and I would highly recommend them for this kind of work.

sunset at Harbor (17 of 23) With a few days of gorgeous beach time and quiet afternoons in the MoHo reading and napping, we were rejuvenated and ready to return to Grants Pass.  We hauled the tractor from Rocky Point to the cottage on our way to the beach, and Mo was ready to make an attempt to level the huge pile of dirt left behind from the cistern installation.

Cottage after dirt leveling (3 of 5) She made quick work of that pile and got most of it leveled and moved in just one day!  We raked  and moved a LOT of rocks, and then seeded the sticky red soil with a good fall mix, hoping that it will take before spring. 

Back to the apartments with a load of firewood from our stash in Rocky Point, and we settled in for the rest of the month.  I enjoyed cooking and sewing a bit, going for walks with Mattie, visiting with kids, and doing a little bit of shopping in town (takes 8 minutes to get to the main intersection of Klamath Falls!).  First snow at the Apartments (3 of 17)

The day before Thanksgiving, we got hit with the first snow and some really cold temperatures.  It is still white out here, and Mo was really smart to haul the tractor back from Grants Pass so that she could plow the apartment parking lot.  With just a tiny walk to shovel, we got the snow removal job done in record time.  One BIG benefit of not living in Rocky Point.

First snow at the Apartments (7 of 17) By Thanksgiving day, the skies were clear, and the temperatures were in the single digits.  It was a great day to travel over High Lakes Pass on Highway 140 to Shady Cove, where daughter Deborah  and her sweetie Bob hosted a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner for us, and for Melody’s family, and Bob’s parents, who live in Rocky Point. 

Mo, Melody and Robert, Deborah, and Bob carving the turkey All I had to do was bring the candied yams!  Such fun having daughters who take on the big family celebrations sometimes and being only a guest.  We had a lovely day, with sunny skies and a warm cozy home to enjoy. 

Front row: Sharon (Mo), Sue, Axel, Melody, Xavier Back row: Jack, Bob, Jean, Deborah, Robert and Mattie watching it all Instead of driving all the way back to Klamath Falls, Mo and I opted to take the short drive to the cottage and spent the night there before returning home to the apartment the next afternoon.  thanksgiving travels With a shortage of groceries in the Grants Pass fridge, we decided to go out for breakfast.  Sitting at the warm and cozy dining room at Elmer’s, with the sun pouring in through the windows, the fire crackling in the fireplace, and a fabulous breakfast, I felt that crazy happy feeling that comes without warning.  I do love that feeling so much, can’t make it happen, can’t really explain it, and it comes quite often ever since I first noticed it while hiking in Joshua Tree last winter. Later we actually managed a little bit of shopping on Black Friday, something I usually avoid like the plague.  However, most of the stores we visited mid morning in Grants Pass were not busy at all. First snow at the Apartments (2 of 17)

Home now, settled in and cozy with a nice fire going, office space all set up and comfortable, quilting and card making projects waiting in the apartment next door.  Life really IS good.

 

 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

10-04-2015 Last day in Ireland

St Buite Monastery (1 of 1)-28 As we fly high over the Atlantic Ocean on our way home, (I wrote this post from the airplane) it is fun to roll around in my thoughts a bit, examining what stands out most for me from the last two weeks.  Surprisingly, the last day we spent in Ireland was also a highlight, and that will be the next story.

Park-Inn-by-RadissonIn Belfast, the night before our day in Northern Ireland, Mo and I skipped going out into the seedy streets of the city and opted instead for dinner in our hotel.  It might have been the very best dinner of all for me, with succulent baby back ribs, corn on the cob, cole slaw, and sweet potato fries, all done up high end chef style.  Wow!

Belfast to Dublin (1 of 1)-2 The next morning, we were on the road at 8:30 as usual, and with Dublin just over 100 miles south, didn't expect much.  Our route was along A1, the very fast, very smooth, very nice "flyover" between the two cities, but again, within minutes of crossing the border back into the Republic of Ireland, we all cheered.  It was nice to see the Gaelic signs again and the castles dotting the landscape which seem to be missing in Northern Ireland, at least the parts that we saw. St Buite Monastery (1 of 1)-5

Isabella stopped again at one of her little trip extras at an historic site with one of the most magnificent Celtic crosses in Ireland.  The ancient monastery on the edge of the Boyne Valley was founded in A.D. 521.  Although none of the original buildings are still there, there are three high crosses and the round tower that all date from the 10th century. 

St Buite Monastery (1 of 1)-11 St Buite Monastery (1 of 1)-14 The crosses are beautiful, intricately sculpted with biblical scenes.

St Buite Monastery (1 of 1)-26 The cemetery site was wonderful, with graves marked back some hundreds of years. 

St Buite Monastery (1 of 1)-20 The round tower seems to have been the treasury as well as the belfry since the records indicate that it was burned in 1097 along with all the books and treasure of the monastery.

St Buite Monastery (1 of 1)-27 It was a lovely place to visit on a beautiful sunny morning after our somewhat dreary days in Belfast.

We arrived in Dublin around noon, with plenty of time and unbelievable weather once again to explore the city and see one of the most important things that we missed on our first time around.  We walked from the hotel, via O'Connell Street across the Liffey River toward Trinity College, beyond Gaston Street and down Kildare Street to the entrance to the National Museum of Archaeology.

The Last Day in Dulbin (1 of 1)-6 What surprised me most was how different the city felt from our first day when we explored it on foot.  After two weeks in Ireland, we had a much better sense of how things worked, and how Dublin was put together as well.  On this beautiful Sunday afternoon, the city was absolutely teeming with life and people, there was some kind of demonstration across the bridge and people literally thick everywhere.  Walking in Dublin requires concentration, the Irish walk very fast, at least in the city.

The Archaeological Museum (1 of 1)-34To our delight, we arrived at the Museum at 1:59 only to find out that on Sundays it was only open from 2 to 5PM.  How incredibly lucky!

I couldn't help thinking of Erin as we perused the magnificent displays.  She does such an amazing job of documenting these world class museums.  I can only hope that the photos I took are as good as I think they are and that the camera, set on the "hand held night shot" setting, caught the beautiful detail of the art and archaeology that we experienced.

The Archaeological Museum (1 of 1)-9 The Archaeological Museum (1 of 1)-12 The Archaeological Museum (1 of 1)-19 The gold "hordes" were magnificent, dating from the Bronze Age around 1200 B.C.  I enjoyed the extremely well done interpretive displays, and got a real kick out of image of a person draped in gold.  It must have been incredibly heavy to wear.

The current special exhibition of Brian Boru, Irish King who brought the Celtic tribes together and defeated the Vikings in the late tenth century was impressive.   The name had been bandied about throughout our entire time in Ireland, and it was good to see this famous king with some kind of perspective about when he lived and the great battle for which he became famous.

The Archaeological Museum (1 of 1)-24 Precious religious pieces from the 12th century were beautiful, including this gorgeous silver chalice and the relic cross that allegedly once held a piece of the original wooden cross of Jesus.The Archaeological Museum (1 of 1)-26 However, nothing I have seen can quite compare with the special display Kingship and Sacrifice, the story of the Bog Bodies of Ireland.  Preserved for centuries and in some cases millennia, in the boggy peat lands, are the bodies of people who were killed somewhere around 300 B.C.The Bog Bodies of Ireland (1 of 1) It is incredible to look into the faces of real people who lived thousands of years ago.  It is an unforgettable experience.Hiking to the tower with Melody and Mattie (1 of 1)

The Bog Bodies of Ireland (1 of 1)-11We were impressed with the tasteful and respectful way that the remains were displayed.  The mood is somber, respectful; the lighting subdued. The written material is displayed on the exterior of simple circular enclosures that contain the softly lit preserved bodies in glass cases. The Bog Bodies of Ireland (1 of 1)-9 Mo and I were both enthralled with the kind of painstaking work required by archaeologists to retrieve everything from the peat bogs. We read with fascination how archaeologists have determined what each person ate before they were killed as well as what they ate for several months prior to their death.    Here is a link to more extensive information about the Bog Bodies of Ireland

Ireland is 17 percent peat land, only Finland and Canada have a greater percentage of peat.  I have mapped organic soils, knew of fens, peat bogs on a slope but really had no understanding at all how these thick peat deposits formed over bedrock and on hills.  I loved the detailed animated video of the development of these peat soils on this landscape.

When our own bodies finally wore out and we left the museum, we walked with the huge happy crowds toward Temple Bar to look for a good pub to have one last glass of Guinness and a bite to eat.  The Last Day in Dulbin (1 of 1)-7The Last Day in Dulbin (1 of 1)-11 The Temple Bar area was teeming with tourists.  We found an outside table at Gogarty's, where the music was loud and lively, but certainly not Irish.  A sign proclaimed music to start at 10:30 PM until 2 AM.  Not for us.  We still enjoyed sitting there for a time where we had one last plate of crispy chips and watched the people walking by.  The Last Day in Dulbin (1 of 1)-8 It was easy to pick out the tourists: they were walking slowly and gawking up at the buildings.  The locals walked fast and never looked up at all, and were outnumbered by the tourists at least 3 to 1.

Back to the hotel, we actually had time for a short nap before our farewell dinner at the hotel with the group.  Once again, it was just OK, but gave Isabella the chance to give us instructions for our morning departures and to say goodbye to everyone.

This morning when we woke it was raining.  Actually dark and drizzly and raining.  Just such amazing timing!  even 12 hours earlier would have seriously messed with our 7 mile walk about the city yesterday.  Breakfast was included, and our group didn't have to leave until 8:30 am for the airport.

Dublin airport is really quite nice, but the security level is definitely time consuming.  Isabella had warned us that three hours wasn't too much and that we would need to be ready.  She got us as far as the first check-in kiosk and then we were on our own with a few other travelers to negotiate the security checks, two of them even before you get to Customs, the tax refund kiosks, US Customs, and then two more security checks in the US Pre Screening process.  Shoes and even iPads out four times!  Then more passport checks with some kind of screening machine before we finally made it to our gate.

Before entering the fray, Mo and I stopped in the main part of the airport to fortify ourselves with one last Irish Coffee.  With only 7 Euro left, it wasn't enough for the coffees, but I did manage to find a trinket at the Duty Free shop just before our last gate.  We left Ireland with no excess pounds or euros.  Meaning money pounds.  I won’t know about personal pounds until I get home, but even with the food we have been eating, I am reasonably certain that all the walking (always much more than 10,000 steps per day according to the FitBit), the pounds added will be minimal.

Once on the plane, it pulled away from the gate right on time.  Perfect.  I was impressed.  Until the pilot informed us that we were overweight and would have to return to the gate to offload cargo and burn up some fuel before we could take off based on the conditions.  Bummer.  We finally pulled away from the gate 2 hours late, so what would have been a 9 hour flight became 11 hours on the plane.  At least they brought us water and let us get up and about to use the bathrooms.

Once again, we are satisfied with the GoAhead experience. Although the focus on education isn’t as strong as some other travel companies, we were lucky to have an excellent tour guide who taught us much about the country. I would love the  luxury of staying in one place long enough to really explore an area, and do hope to do that when I visit Italy with daughter Deanna in the future.  For now, however, I am at a time in life where I have no idea if I will ever get the chance to return to Ireland.  I would rather see as much as possible in the time I am here.  GoAhead kept us moving, with only 2 or 3 nights at the most in one place, and days packed full with activities. I can't think of any of the sights I would have chosen to miss, but now that I have seen a good portion of the country, I do know which places I would chose to return.

A tour like this is a bit like a cruise, it gives an overview, and a taste, and if you want more there are other ways to do that.  The hotels were OK, and some were quite nice.  The included tours were good, the excursions that we chose were excellent.  Of course, another highlight for us was the Newgrange Tour which I researched and booked myself.  I wouldn't have wanted to miss that.  I am so glad I took the time to study a bit  and booked that tour a couple of months prior to our trip.

We will be in Portland tonight, and we are both so ready to get back on the road to Eugene to pick up Mattie!  Joanne has sent a few photos and stories of the time they spent, and it is wonderful to know Mattie has been loved and coddled and so well taken care of.  Now we have to hope that she still remembers us!  Tomorrow, after a good night's sleep at the Radisson Portland Airport we will once again have the little dog safely tucked between us for the long trip home.IMG_5329