Kayaking Woahink Lake

Kayaking Woahink Lake
Kayaking Woahink Lake

Monday, June 3, 2024

06-03-2024 More May that I Forgot to Write About

I was reading some emails and comments after posting the last blog and suddenly realized I forgot to write about some other happenings during the latter part of May.  

The big event was our Memorial Day celebration here in Grants Pass.  There is always a town parade, but after attending for several years we decided we could skip it this year.

Obviously, I stole this photo from the Kingsley Field website with Mt McLoughlin behind the jets

However, the one thing I refused to miss was the Memorial Day flyover of the fighter jets from Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls.  Last year I made sure that we were in the park in time for the flyover, and after the invocation and flag ceremony, we all waited for the planes.  They came in a flash, just a streak of gray through the tree tops and a roar as they flew just 500 feet above the river.  It was impossible to photograph and we barely saw anything.

People waiting on the bridge for the planes to appear

This year I planned it differently.  I found free parking near the big fire station on the south side of the Rogue River and scoped it out last week.  Sure enough, it was a short walk from the parking area to the main bridge over the river with wide open skies to ensure we would see the planes.

View of the Rogue River from the Bridge

Here they come!

Right over us on the bridge!

And there they go!  It was almost too fast to catch with the camera.

Sure enough, at exactly 11:45 AM as scheduled, two F-15 fighter jets flew toward us from Medford, right over the waiting spectators on the bridge, and then down the river toward the other two bridges over the Rogue by the park.  They then did a big loop straight up into the sky.  It was glorious.  I do love those airplanes, and I have no clue why, I just love them.

The other important thing to enjoy is the annual and traditional corn dog, purchased at the city park where the carnival is in full swing for 5 days throughout the Boatnik festival which has been a tradition in Grants Pass for over 60 years.  

I brought my walker to the bridge and then decided I felt good enough for us to walk to the park rather than attempting to deal with traffic and parking.  It was about 2 miles round trip, but easy on pavement and sidewalks.  The carnival was in full swing, and sure enough, my favorite corn dog vendor was there.  We walked around a bit, listening to the jet boats and the hydro boats on the river in preparation for the races to commence that afternoon. We had no desire to wait for the noisy races, especially since all that is visible is the beginning of the race before they disappear down a bend in the river.

The corn dog was luscious, as perfect as the one I had years ago at 5:30 AM in Albuquerque waiting for the balloons to lift off.  We left before the races began, returning home to a lovely afternoon.  It was a perfectly easy way to celebrate the holiday.  

The weather was close to perfect, on the cool side on the morning of the parade.  By Sunday mid-day, however, when it was time for the flyover, the skies were the deepest shade of incredible blue, the sun was brilliant and a slight breeze made it all so comfortable.

The day after Memorial Day I went downtown on the sunny morning to meet my book club friend Lisa for coffee at a lovely little shop in town.  New tables and chairs set up for outside dining were lovely and we had a nice visit.

Downtown Grants Pass is charming, especially historic G Street

Just a few days later we celebrated Matthew's birthday.  It wasn't very exciting but Matthew seemed to enjoy the BBQ rib dinner and the store cake I purchased.  We shared the evening with Matthew and Deborah, once again happy to have Deb living so close. 

2024 birthday for Matt

We all loved remembering the birthday we celebrated with Matthew when the house was being built. I also made BBQ ribs then, and we ate on the recently installed subfloor of the as-yet-unfinished house.  It is still a fun memory for us and for Matthew as well.

2017 Birthday for Matt when Sunset House was still a dream

On the last day of the month, Mo and I took ourselves out to dinner at a wonderful restaurant located right next to the Applegate River.  The Lindsay Lodge was recently sold and we heard that it had improved considerably since Mo and I went there with Maryruth a few years ago.  

The reviews were right, our shared dinner of a wonderfully seasoned flatiron steak, with flavorful green beans served with some kind of delicious sauce, and another secret BBQ sauce with dates as a main ingredient.  

My spicy fruity "marguerita" was also interesting and delicious.  We will definitely be returning to this lovely place.  We did learn that reservations might be smart since on this early summer evening they were booked solid and we were lucky to get a table when they opened at 4:00 in the afternoon.

Our table overlooking the river was delightful, and Mo and I finished our dinner before they ran us off to make way for one of the 80 reservations they had for the evening.

When we left the restaurant, our route home led directly past our favorite spot in the valley, Schmidt Family Vineyard.  We decided it would be nice to stop for a glass of wine accompanied by a bit of live music.  I didn't think to take photos since we have taken so many over the years of the beautiful grounds at Schmidt.  It was a perfectly pleasant way to end the month of May.

Sunday, June 2, 2024

05-31-2024 Springtime Will Continue for a Few More Days Before Our First Summer Heatwave

 I started writing this blog post a couple of days ago, following my usual routine of checking the calendar, looking at the photos for the month and making sure all were uploaded to SmugMug, and even checking the Google Timeline app to see where we had been during the last 30 days.

This morning I looked at the blog to remember where I left off.  It took a minute for the shock to wear off as I discovered that my April post was actually on April 5th!! I am fairly certain that doesn't count for a monthly post for April.  And here I am at the end of May.  Goodness. As many long-time bloggers have mentioned, blogging is becoming a thing of the past.  So few left who blog on a regular basis, and even fewer who still blog daily.  Al at the Bayfield Bunch is still doing his thing, and I am so impressed that he does. I still check in for his amazing photography and for news of Kelly and her heroic struggles.

The daffodils opened in late March and lasted for more than six weeks

Thank goodness for photos and my calendar or I wouldn't have a clue what we did during the last two months.  I used to journal obsessively, but lately, even that old habit has gone by the wayside.  This blog will keep me honest, and even if I have to work at remembering what to write about it is worth the effort.  I write to remember much like the few bloggers who remain in this world. The older I get the less I remember without all these helpful little tools like cell phones and calendars and lists and most of all, the photos.  So I will begin.

Tulips on April 11.  I used deer spray since tulips are one of their favorites

April and May here at Sunset House are mostly about springtime, with winter cleanup in full force, and watching the daily parade of flowers that break ground and then unfurl with incredible beauty.  I take photo after photo of the process, following each new change in the mornings as I walk around the property.

Between walking around and taking photos, we made time for the extensive list of various doctor appointments that seem to aggregate around this time of year.  Mo and I both managed eye and skin appointments, and doctor appointments with our GP who specializes in sports medicine and gives the best cortisone shots ever.  My shoulder thanks him.  Then there is the irritating swallowing issue I have that goes along with IBM.  After an especially scary choking incident, the doctor insisted on an endoscopy.  That also required more than one appointment before our delightful and superb gastro doctor let me know I had simple issues, which he fixed with some stretching and some meds. I can eat meat again!

In early April, I took a mini vacation with my lifetime friend Maryruth.  We wanted to celebrate 60 years of friendship, and although the actual date when we met was in September of 1963, we didn't manage to get time scheduled for just the two of us until April.  

We spent two luxurious nights at the Ashland Springs Hotel, in the top floor room with a view of downtown Ashland and the mountains in the distance.  It was a perfectly lazy bit of girl time, with eating and shopping and lying around all high on the agenda.  After 60 years we know each other well, and the friendship is something I treasure.

Home again after our little outing and back to the springtime chores with Mo.  We started working on the sprinkler system in mid-April, always a bit of tweaking required after the winter months.  We were lucky this year and didn't have to make a lot of changes, but with our home installed drip system it seems there are always blowouts somewhere along the line that need replacing.

This is the view of the blooming rhodie from the bedroom window.  

April was cool, sunny, and absolutely gorgeous, and I spent a lot of time just walking around and soaking up the beauty.  In between yard chores Mo and I found time for another puzzle.  I think we are addicted to puzzles, but there is no way I would want to go more than 1000 pieces.

As April came to a close, we spent an evening playing dominoes with Maryruth and Gerald, and then invited blogger friend Bill Joyce to the house for lunch.  No photos this time, even though Bill brought a full quilt bag so that he could show us all the quilts that Diane made over the winter.  They were on their way north and once again stopped in Grants Pass for a few days and let us know that they would be around. Diane and Bill stay in Arizona all winter at a park where she can quilt to her heart's content.  She is one of the most prolific quilters I know.

The photo is from last year's visit since I neglected to take a photo this year.

As we talked, I learned that Bill and Diane were good friends with Laurie and Odel and Rick and Paulette back in the early days of RV blogging.  Bill hasn't blogged for years and I had no idea who he was when he started commenting on my blog last year.  It was a bit embarrassing to ask him "Who are you actually?" in an email and find out he had been following my blog since 2009.  Sheesh.

Toward the end of April there was a bit of excitement as Daughter Deborah made the decision to look for a place closer to Grants Pass.  Her teeny tiny apartment in Trail was getting to her, with too many problems associated with living on someone's property on a very rural dirt road.  No matter how "cute" the place was, it was really too small for Deborah, and the local dog that barked a lot, the visiting pigs that rooted through her flowers, and the sound of logging trucks on a nearby road were a bit much.  She started looking at rentals, but things shifted when she realized that she could buy a house.  Mo and I went with her shopping, but Mo is the one that was with her when she found a place she could afford and that was in decent shape.  It has a new roof, and while small, is twice the size of her tiny apartment and there probably won't be roaming pigs and loose dogs roaming through her nice fenced yard. And no more steep stairs to climb every night when she gets home after a long day at work.

Best of all, it is right here in Grants Pass, just 15 minutes from us.  Deb is thrilled that she will no longer have to drive an hour each way to visit us and check on her son Matthew, who lives across the street from us, and won't have to drive home in the dark on rough roads any more.

Donna at American Title was kind enough to take a photo to celebrate the closing

The house closed fairly quickly, and by mid-May Deborah was out of the apartment and moved into her new place.

In the midst of the simple everyday stuff of life, Mother's Day showed up with flowers and cards and lots of love from all three of my daughters.  I am so darn lucky to have such sweet and loving girls in my life.   

Mother's Day flowers from Daughter Melody 150 miles away in Brownsville, Oregon

Mother's Day flowers from Daughter Deanna almost 700 miles away in Eastern Washington

Mother's Day lunch from Daughter Deborah right here in Grants Pass.

Deborah and her son Matthew on Mother's Day.  The Red Robin thing is becoming a tradition.

After celebrating Mother's Day it was time to prepare for a trip to the coast.  Mo and I wanted to go to a place at the beach where we could also do some kayaking.  Many times on our way north toward Florence we have passed several inland lakes and thought they would be great for kayaking.  A few years ago we camped at Honeyman State Park, just south of Florence, and remembered that it was quite pleasant there.

The park is adjacent to the huge sand dunes that are so popular for 4 wheelers, and we avoided it thinking it would be noisy.  Instead, the noisy vehicles are restricted to certain areas, and what we discovered was that in the park they are restricted from May 1 through October 1.  I managed to get a reservation, with Honeyman for some reason being a park where everything isn't booked solid months in advance.

Site 192 in the D Loop

The park isn't close to the beach, with the huge dunes forming a great barrier between the ocean and the campground.  Hiking the dunes is fun and exhausting, and getting to the beach across the dunes is an activity for people much younger than we are. It didn't matter, though, because we decided to focus on kayaking the local lakes rather than spending much time at the beach.

Phil and Joanne were right next to us

I made our reservation, and then when talking with my friend Joanne, got a real suprise.  "Suzanne!!" (Joanne still calls me by my official birth name I used back in the 80's).  "Maybe we can go too!"  Within minutes I got another call and Jo told me that they had a reservation right next to us.  The next day Joanne called me again saying our mutual friends, Harvey and Colleen, from Bellingham, Washington, were on their way back home from Southern California and got a reservation right next to the four of us.  Oh my.  Our little two person getaway turned into a social event.

Harvey and Colleen were right next to Phil and Jo

I had forgotten how lovely Honeyman State Park was.  It was surprisingly uncrowded, with just a few rigs around us, well hidden by the old growth forest that graces the park.  

On that first night, Phil and Joanne were responsible for our shared supper.  Both couples are vegetarians and Phil made spaghetti and "meat" balls which were delicious.  It was a lovely supper and the six of us settled around the campfire that night laughing and sharing stories and memories.

Before traveling to Honeyman, Mo and I read about Cleawox Lake, located near the entrance of the park, and knew it would be a good place to kayak.  On our first morning there, we launched at a small spot referred to locally as the Eye of the Needle.  It was a perfect easy place to get in and out of the boats, with shallow water and not too muddy.  

On that first morning we meandered around some of the small arms of the lake before returning to the large dune that we learned later is encroaching on the lake.  The lake itself is created from small streams that enter from the north but are then blocked by the dune from continuing to the ocean.

The water was quiet for most of our paddle, and we had no trouble getting out of the boats for a dune walk with Mattie.  She did her usual sand zoomies, but at nearly ten years old, she is beginning to wear out a bit sooner than she used to.  Still, it is wonderful to see her zooming around in the sand.

The winds were up by the time we got back to our launch site, and rolling into the water was definitely a bit chilly.  I was happy to get back to the MoHo with the heater going and another cup of hot coffee to warm up.  

The afternoon slipped by easily with a couple of walks and some visiting with our friends before it was time for supper.  This evening was my turn and I chose to make tacos.  I brought my big electric pancake grill and set it up outside to grill corn or flour tortillas to order, had a big pan of sauteed peppers and onions fajita style to add to all the extras for tasty tacos.  They were a big hit.  

Left to right:  Mo, Harvey, Joanne, Phil, Colleen

That evening, with Colleen being sensitive to smoke, we sat by their propane campfire for the evening visiting time.  It was pleasant, and easy, and of course there was no smoke, but I missed the crackle and Mo does love to fiddle with the campfire, so she missed that.  I don't think we will be interested in a propane campfire any time soon. I had forgotten that marshmallows contain gelatin, a no no for vegetarians, so the pack I bought to share around the campfire remained unopened.  Next time.  I am not that crazy about marshmallows, but I do love to cook them over the campfire.

The next morning Mo and I went kayaking again, leaving at 7:30 in order to beat the winds.  On the previous day we met some women kayakers who were part of a local kayak group and they told us that if we followed a nearly invisible arm of the lake to the north we could paddle a mile and a half to the headwaters of the lake.

It was absolutely gorgeous at that time of day, with very little wind and silky smooth water.  We paddled in the morning silence all the way to the end where there were a few houses along the shoreline.  

I laughed when I told Mo I could never live in such a beautiful place.  It was so dark and shady and so very damp.  Lovely to look at but I could only see mold and mildew inside those houses so close to water and fog and the ocean.

Native rhododendrons in bloom on the shores of Cleawox Lake

When we returned, it was time for a bit of relaxation before saying goodbye to Harvey and Colleen as they departed for their home in Bellingham.  We then piled Phil and Joanne and Mo and I into the Tracker for a trip just a couple of miles north into Florence.  

I stole this photo from the website of Pono Hukilau

It was a lovely sunny afternoon with a chilling breeze so we were grateful for the glass walls that protected us as we sat outdoors at Pono Hukilau for a fancy cocktail.  Their menu looked interesting, but Phil and Joanne had another place in mind for supper in the waterfront section of Florence.

When we asked for "cruise cocktails" we got umbrellas and pineapple treats

We first enjoyed a visit to Joy of Quilting, one of my favorite quilt shops.  The ladies were helpful and delightful and Joanne fell in love with some gorgeous fabric and I said sure, I can make that for you.  So they bought the fabric and pattern and I now have a lap quilt project to make for their motorhome.  I couldn't resist buying a few yards of fabric for myself, in spite of the stash I have in my quilting closet.

We spent some lovely hours wandering the streets of Old Town Florence, enjoying the high end galleries and the kitchy souvenier stores as well.  Phil and Joanne live in Eugene, not far inland from Florence, and have eaten at several of the restaurants there.  Their choice for the evening meal was a place called Nosh Eatery.  

The evening special was meat loaf, although I never saw one presented like this before

The restaurant didn't feel especially fancy, but the food was excellent.  By the time we finished our meal the place was completely packed, so evidently it is very popular.  We didn't choose to eat at Mo's, the famous fish and chowder restaurant just across the street.  It seems the food isn't as good as it used to be so it was time to try something new.  

The next day it was time to pack up and head home.  With checkout time at 1pm Mo and I decided that we should leave by 11.  There was just enough time for me to take a walk with Phil and Joanne on the park trail that led to Woahink Lake, just east of the highway.  There is a pedestrian bridge on the trail that crosses the road to avoid having to deal with traffic on 101.

Woahink Lake was beautiful at that time of day, although afternoon winds would make kayaking difficult.  As the women from the kayak group said, most of the time the winds come up by 11 so it is imperative to get out early for peaceful kayaking.

Phil and Joanne on the pedestrian bridge that crosses Highway 101

When I returned from my walk, Mo had readied everything for our departure and I was sorry I had dallied so much on the walk.  

Woahink Lake just east of Highway 101 at the edge of Honeyman State Park

On the way home, we stopped along the highway at the elk viewing area where a large herd of Roosevelt elk could be seen in the distance across the meadows.  It was much warmer inland than it had been at the coast.  

Roosevelt Elk at the O.H. Hinsdale Elk Viewing Center

Even though our focus for this trip was kayaking, I was a bit surprised that we never actually made it to the beach.  It was an excellent trip with time spent with good friends that we don't see very often.With almost two months to write about, I am feeling a bit disjointed.  What have I forgotten?  What do I remember most?  Looking back it seems the times spent with daughter Deborah as she went through her transition from a rental to her own home was the most memorable.  She spent a few weekends with us, saving her the need to drive back and forth from Trail to Grants Pass.  We had good meals, watched some fun tv together, and as a mom, there is nothing quite as sweet as waking up in the morning to a sleepy-eyed daughter meeting me in the hall.

I will end with the other incredibly memorable moment that happend on the 10th of May.  Right here in Grants Pass, we were treated to a truly spectacular light show as the aurora lit up our skies for several hours that night.  It was one of the nights that Deborah stayed with us so I got to share it with her.  Deb and I sat outside on the hot tub deck watching the lights toward the northern skies.

People have said that the photos must be enhanced, but I am here to say they are not.  The photos I took with my Galaxy phone captured light in a way that wasn't quite as visible with the naked eye.  All over the internet when people discussed the lights, which were seen as far south as Alabama, they talked about how phone cameras were one of the best ways to truly capture the magnificent display.  

This shot was taken at 11:22 PM on May 10.

So yes, these photos are exactly as they came out of the camera.  I used no enhancements or contrast or saturation fixes as I sometimes need to do with everyday photos.  It was a beautiful experience to share with Mo and my daughter Deb.

This shot was taken 11 minutes earlier at 11:12

This was a bit earlier, taken at 10:49, before we knew how bright it would get.  Notice the Big Dipper at the top of the photo.

I will end with the last photo we took of the aurora on the following night, May 11, from the back deck at 9:42 PM PST.  It was barely visible to the naked eye and we very nearly missed it.  This last bit of the aurora on that night only lasted 20 minutes or so unlike the night before which lasted until almost 2AM.  What a truly amazing experience to see lights this spectacular this far south and in reasonable proximity to the city lights of Grants Pass.  No doubt a once in a lifetime experience.