Sue and Mo at Harris Beach

Sue and Mo at Harris Beach
Sue and Mo at Harris Beach

Sunday, October 31, 2010

10-31-2010 Loading Up for our Trip

Finally! It is Sunday and we are loading up the MoHo.  Tomorrow we will be on the road again, certainly not another long jaunt, but almost two weeks of ambling down the California coast with our new kayaks. The snow melted, and even though it’s raining today, the snow level is above 6500 feet or so, higher even than our pass crossing to Medford tomorrow.  Once over the pass (I can’t believe this pass doesn’t have a real name) we will be out of snow country. Of course, rain and fog are distinct possibilities, but with a cozy home, lots of fleece, and raincoats, that isn’t a problem either.  The ocean is wonderful even in the rain, and fog just makes the redwoods more mysterious.

I guess you can tell who takes the most pictures around here.  It looks like Mo does all the work, but not really.  I am just the one with the camera.  Mo has been raking and burning to hopefully get a head start on the pine needles that will accumulate in drifts by next spring when the snow melts.  I worked all last week, but managed a few work days at home, which gives me a chance to run laundry loads in between uploading data.  I also got the house all spiffy for our return in mid-November. 

Mo is checking the tires and the air shocks while I load up the food and clothes.  She also did a bit of retrofit on the cubbyhole that holds the DVR so it would stay in place.  The little wooden fence will keep the remotes from hitting the driver on the head when the road gets too curvy!

I stood in the MoHo for a minute and couldn’t for the life of me remember just what I needed to pack.  It’s only been a month since we landed, and I cleaned everything out back then to hopefully starve the mice.  Hmmm, what has to go back in? ??  I laugh when I read about everyone packing their computer cords, batteries, computers, cameras, all that techie paraphernalia.  Someday maybe batteries will be implanted in our bodies and run everything wirelessly?  I put in the dry foods, the kayak clothes, too many shoes, and started to get back into the routine of living in the MoHo.  Only took half an hour or so to get back in the groove.

Our new kayaks are coming from Canada.  It’s been a bit worrisome because of the bad weather this week, and the trucker was trapped in Montana for a couple of days.  I have to say that the company has worked extra hard to get them to us in time for our trip.  We are meeting the driver in Medford tomorrow (on our route) mid day to finally pick them up.  It is pretty exciting.  Of course, we could have taken our old trusty boats, but since we paid for these back in September, it sure will be nice to have them with us.

I have been reading the RV blogs  more and more lately, and thanks to some prolific writers who mention mine now and then, I am actually enjoying some readers following Mo and I as well. Welcome to these  new followers.  You inspire me to take better photos and write more often.  Gail Durham looks like she is enjoying Halloween very much and  Kathy talked about how unique each person’s story is, and I so agree with her.  The only problem I am having now is trying to read everything.  The list just keeps getting bigger and bigger!  whew!  Life and work and travel might get in the way now and then, but it certainly doesn’t mean I don’t really appreciate this great group of people. Hi and welcome as well to Randy and Pam who are working on a Habitat for Humanity home, and to Loree, tucked away on beach making gorgeous afghans.  Donna found me, both here and on Facebook, and I had to tell her I had been reading her blog a long time before she and Stu got together.  Pidge and Don,  The Frugal Travelers, go to some really great out of the way places I might never find without her blog.

Happy Halloween everyone!  I am going into Klamath Falls tonight to celebrate with my daughter and her family.  They live in my home in a neighborhood known “the terrace”.  Pacific Terrace is a double boulevard with a grassy median lined on both sides of the street with old unique homes from the 40’s.  There are big beautiful trees, sidewalks for walking, and every year the entire street lights up for Halloween. 

Almost every house is decorated, and there are lights and kettle corn, and one person has outdoor scary movies projected on his garage door.  People bring their kids from all over town to trick-or-treat here. It is like we all stepped back into the 50’s when kids could be out late and there were no scary people doing scary things to the treats.  On Pacific Terrace, Halloween is still fun and fabulous.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

10-26-2010 First Snow!

I thought I had nothing to really talk about, and promised myself I wouldn’t get caught up in trying to blog every day.  But then it snowed last night, and this morning it was just too gorgeous to miss. Especially since my last conversation involved the very same trees.  This morning the snow is frozen solid and weighing down the young ones. 

Our back yard maple is just 8 years old and with the extensive shade, it doesn’t grow as quickly as it might in a warmer, sunnier climate.  It really lights up the forest at this time of year, and again in the spring.  Hopefully the weight of the snow won’t break any branches. 

The little fern leaf maple is under the fir canopy and with it’s small leaves, a bit more resilient to the snows. 

Hopefully this late fall storm will pass.  Monday is our day to get the MoHo out of snow country, driving west to Medford over Highway 140 and a fairly high pass.  Either way out of Klamath Basin involves crossing a pass, so we are really hoping that the snow melts over the weekend and we can get her safely south without having to drive on icy roads. Can’t leave till the kayaks get here, anyway. Seems we are cutting things a bit close for this year if the snow really is coming to stay this early in the season.  Often it doesn’t really hang around on the ground until after Thanksgiving.

Jeremy is quite content to sit inside when it’s cold. Of course, on the table is a serious no-no, but does he look troubled at all?  The “still life with cat” was too much fun to miss before I scolded him and he ambled off to a more appropriate cat resting place.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

10-23-2010 Colorful Fall Saturday in Rocky Point

The rains are coming, with forecasts for high winds tonight, and it was a dark day at Rocky Point.  I have had an absolutely fabulous day doing absolutely nothing.  Well, almost nothing.  I made a killer good navy bean soup. I also managed to download and read Rick’s blogging tips file, and have been buried in Picasa most of the day tagging photos and organizing.  It’s easy to get sidetracked when doing this, especially when I find old scans of my children from the 60’s. 

Welcome to the Bayfield Bunch, it’s nice to be followed!  Thank you, although the blogging responsibility is starting to feel a bit bigger. I still really don’t plan to blog daily, but do hope to pay more attention to participating in this great community instead of just lurking around reading everything. After seeing all the photos of Al’s yard, I was inspired. Once or twice the sun tried to peak through the clouds and I ran outside to get some photos of the leaves turning before the winds blow them all away tonight.  Of course, I had to try out the Picasa collage tool.  I used this in the past, but had completely forgotten about it.  I also had a ton of fun erasing telephone lines from some of my photos with the retouch tool.  I can’t believe I never even saw that one before, since I used to use Photoshop a lot.  I had no idea it was the same thing.

This morning we also had great fun planning a possible route for our California coastal trip commencing on November 1st.  We are using the CampClub USA card and trying to find parks that will accept the discount.  It’s not a small task with so many restrictions, especially on weekends and months other than January.  Also, it seems that many of the campgrounds in the California state parks are closed after October. Somehow our trip is now scheduled with reservations and plans.  I don’t know quite how that one happens, since I keep thinking we can just wander off and land where we land.  But of course, that could put us in an unfriendly Wal-Mart with parking lot cops knocking on our doors in the middle of the night, so we opted for plans. While planning, I got lost in Google Earth, cruising around the estuaries on the coast.  Our new Canadian made Swift kayaks should be here any day now, and we are excited about trying them out on the upcoming trip. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

10-21-2010 Winter is Coming

Winter is coming to Rocky Point, and to the entire Northwest, maybe even this weekend according to the current weather forecast! We are in a La Nina year, and that portends a cold winter for the northern part of the country and a warm dry winter for the southern portion. Probably great for all the snowbirds heading south right now, and good as well for the Klamath Basin which has been struggling with drought this year. Hopefully a good snow pack will alleviate the situation a bit and our lakes and rivers will be full again in the coming season.

However, a cold winter in the northwest means deep snow at Rocky Point. The last few years I was working in California, with a convenient place to keep the MoHo during the winter. We didn’t have to winterize it and could take off on a spring time trip whenever the notion hit. Of course, I was working full time, so that often meant Mo took off without me. This year, since I am mostly retired, we now want to be sure that we can head for the beaches or the desert or southern mountains whenever we want.

I do love winter, though, especially when I know that I can escape when it drags on too long. Winter in late December in Rocky Point is gorgeous, with deep snows to sled with my grandkids, and a warm fire to accompany my knitting. It’s baking and soup time as well, my favorite kind of cooking. We spent the early part of last summer putting up 7 more cords of good dry firewood, so should be well equipped for whatever cold Old Man Winter sends our way.

After some looking around, we came up with a plan. We are taking the MoHo to Redding for the winter, about 2.5 hours south over I-5 and Mt Shasta, and out of snow country. I don’t really want to shovel a few feet of snow and put chains on that rig during a winter storm.

The enclosed storage facility is just at the northern edge of Redding, an easy jaunt even in a snow storm with the Tracker. We are excited about this plan, and the extra cost of winter rent seems a small price to pay for the delight of February wildflowers in California and the Oregon Coast during spring storms. Last year was an exception, but the photo below shows just what Rocky Point can look like sometimes in March! With La Nina waiting, I have a feeling this could be the case this year as well. Redding only gets very occasional snows and rarely has temperatures below 30 degrees F.

Of course, now that we have a plan, and the rent is paid on the storage facility, we have to go there! Yaay! Another trip is in the making, and we will head south during the first couple weeks of November. Right now we are planning to use our CampClub USA pass for a park in Crescent City, and then will amble down the coast for a few days before traveling inland. My lifetime friend and her husband live in Oroville, so we will visit there, and my once upon a time mom-in-law is in Red Bluff. It’s a perfect travel loop from here to the Redding storage facility, just a bit of meandering and a couple hundred extra miles along the way.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

10-20-2010 You are a What??

I have been quiet the last few days, out of respect for the tragic loss of Margie and Bruce, two people living the full time rv life and sharing that life in their blog.  Their sudden, senseless death, caused by a crazed driver in Pismo Beach, California, saddened so many and reminded us all how precious life really is. I haven’t really followed blogs until recently and I am just now discovering what a great community is here.  Thank you especially to the people who have added my blog to their list, who have made comments, and who continue to inspire me. Rick and Paulette, I am learning from you in leaps and bounds, but I’ll never measure up. Karen, I love the South, and your stories of kayaking in Florida make me want to get up and go there right now! CeiPui, is that your given name?  You are such a sweetheart, and so full of kind thoughts.  Laurie, you are my morning addiction, as you know. I’m so lucky to have met you and Odel in person!

What follows is just another piece of my story, an attempt to continue writing, sharing, talking, and learning. 


I was a mother, a wife, and a waitress for a gazillion years before I became a soil scientist in the late 1970’s. At the time, my career choice was based on a desire to be something OTHER than a waitress, and a vague idea that I wanted to “work outdoors in the soil”. I had a beautiful garden, loved being in the wild forests of Northern Idaho, and wanted to do something where I could actually make a decent living.

Hence, soil science. My journey from waitress to soil scientist is another story, much too long for this space, but the title “Soil Scientist” always brings up the same response.

“What do you do?” “I am a soil scientist”. “A what??”  “A soil scientist”.

“Oh” (drawn out silence that usually includes glazed eyes while the questioner envisions me in a lab coat somewhere hunched over test tubes filled with dirt.)

In reality, my particular niche in soil science is nothing like that. For 30 plus years I was part of the National Cooperative Soil Survey Program, an effort to map the occurrence of soils throughout the US. My work had two parts, collection of the soils information and managing that information.



Soils occur in the landscape as a natural entity, and soil in place is what I study. The maps I made were much like geology maps, and the soils themselves reflect not only the geology, but the vegetation, the landforms, and the climate. As a field soil scientist, I had to understand how all these factors came together to make different kinds of soil, and to use these clues to decide where the boundaries between soil types would occur. Then I dug holes, 5 to 8 foot deep holes unless I hit bedrock or water or some other limiting factor, and described all the layers of those soils in minute detail. And yes, most of the time those pits were dug by hand, by me, with a shovel! I marked the location on a map, filled in the hole and moved on.

The managing of this data has changed so dramatically over the last 50 years that it is nearly unrecognizable. In the 70’s, I drew soil boundaries on black and white aerial photos with a stereoscope so that I could see the landscape in 3D. Now I use sophisticated GIS and GPS tools to make soil maps and instead of handwritten soils descriptions, we now have one of the greatest databases in the world to store soils information. If you are interested, go to Web Soil Survey and you can actually see the soils mapped in your world, on your property, and see all the associated information that is part of the soil survey product.

My career was amazing, and gave me the opportunity to see the wild parts of the world in ways I never would have managed as a lay person. I also developed my understanding of the art and science of making soils maps enough that I could mentor young folks new to the field. With this in mind, I knew that continuing to participate in the process of soil mapping and soil survey was something I wanted to do.

My agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, has a great program for retired scientists that allow us to work part time and share our collective expertise. I am now working for the last two soil surveys that I managed, only with no management responsibilities and no stress. It is absolutely wonderful, and has the added benefit of providing extra income for me to travel. I don’t know just how long I will continue doing this, but for now it’s really great. Since sometimes in the blog I will talk about having to get back to Klamath for work, I thought it might be fun to share just what that work actually entails.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

10-13-2010 October at Rocky Point

I love October for many reasons, not the least of which is Halloween.  There is something about the decorations and colors that just make me smile inside.  I grew up in Southern California in the 50’s during a time when neighborhood trick-or-treating was safe and fun, where we all stayed out without our parents hovering late into the night.  That time of year in California is often punctuated by Santa Ana winds, clearing out the smog and bringing the smell of smoke from the wildland fires. As a kid, though, the smoke just smelled like campfires and scented the moonlit nights and hayrides along the dry riverbeds with a pungent sweetness.

For me, Halloween decorating is one of the delights of this last month before the frosty gray and brown days of November come to the basin. Walking through Fred Meyer, affectionately known as Freddies, (our local mini-mega grocery store) was tempting me at every turn with orange lights and black spiders, but I promised myself that this year, before buying anything, I would take down the bins and put up what I already have. 

This is the first year Mo and I have actually shared a home, and this is a bit of a change for her.  Mo is a very practical person, not particularly prone to collecting random “stuff” and she has just a few simple decorations for fall. Mo just shakes her head at my colored bins of holiday decor, and patiently builds more shelves in the garage. I put up the little village on the side table, hang the witch curtain on the patio doors, and drape all sorts of orange and purple lights on the porch. I don’t even live in a town where kids might show up for trick-or-treat.  My daughter is on the way to visit this afternoon with my grandkids, and a neighbor might drop in now and then, but mostly it’s just for my own pleasure.


Here in Rocky Point, the colors of the aspens down by the lake are turning gold, but in the yard our maples have a way to go.   While we were traveling last month, I must have received  two dozen “weather warnings” for hard frost and freezing temperatures in this part of the world, and yet the impatiens under the trees are still blooming as if it were high summer.  

I have been spending some time in the gardens, pulling the random grass that insists on taking over the flower beds, enjoying the slanting fall light and crisp air. 

In the cool mornings, Mo builds a fire and we watch the news, amazing how things haven’t changed much after six weeks on the road without much television.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

10-09-2010 Bear in the yard

Rocky Point is nestled in between the east facing slope of the Cascades and the Upper Klamath Lake National Wildlife Refuge.  We are on what is known in Oregon as “the east side”, with sunny skies and much less rainfall than the western part of Oregon.  In fact, much of the landscape east of the Cascades is considered desert, high desert, and dominated by sage and juniper.  If you look at a map of Oregon, you will see that the moist and rainy west side is only about a third of the state.  The major population centers of Oregon, however, are on the west side, the rainy side, and most people who don’t know the state well think of Oregon as green, lush, and rainy.

I happen to think that I have the best of both worlds here in Rocky Point.  We have the brilliant sunny skies of the east side, but since we are right at the base of the Cascades, we have enough rainfall to support a beautiful white fir/ponderosa pine/sugar pine forest.  We also have snow in the winter, much more than the western part of Oregon, in fact, Crater Lake, just a short drive from here has some of the deepest snow packs in the country.

With beautiful forests comes the added benefit of lots of wildlife.  No matter how frustrating it is to see my roses chewed down to the ground, I still enjoy seeing the doe and her fawns slipping around in the woods near the house. Mo built this house in 2002, and in all that time has never seen a bear on the property, although there have been rumors of bears roaming the neighborhoods now and then.

While we were away, our neighbor reported that bears were finding the garbage cans, and roaming about.  Our can was basically empty since we weren’t here, but when we returned home I found a large pile of bear scat in the yard.  I know, of course, that this is the number one rule of living in the woods.  Your garbage MUST be secured against wildlife intrusion.  Instead, we thoughtlessly left the large can out in the yard, forgetting that a bear was possibly roaming about. 

Sure enough, last weekend when I was unloading the MoHo, I turned around to see a very large black Newfoundland in the yard, and wondered who in the world had a dog that big around here.  I looked into his face, maybe 10 feet away, and looked again suddenly realizing I was looking right into the eyes of a very shiny, very pretty, young black bear.  He looked back at me, and I tried to figure out how to yell for Mo, who was around in the front of the house, without bringing the dog or scaring off the bear.  I got way too excited, and by the time Mo got around the house and I found the camera, Mr. Bear was gone.

I do hate to admit that we neglected to bring in the garbage can right away, but planned to take care of it this weekend.  Yesterday, while I was at work, Mo called to say she had a surprise.  Mr. Bear had returned, again in broad daylight in mid afternoon, and was happily nosing around in the dumped over can.  Mo had time to find the camera, get the dog inside and then go back to shoo the bear away.  She told me she went out there with a broom.  “A broom??!!” I said.  “You were going to fight off a bear with a broom?!”.  “Well, he was just little and cute and didn’t seem very scary at all”. 

First she threw a couple of rocks to get his attention, and he stamped his foot and woofed at her a little, saying “Don’t bother me”.  She waved the broom at him and he ambled off, not too disturbed by her, even stopping to take a nice long drink from the bird bath before walking off into the forest.  And Mo got photos.  I think she may not be quite as excitable as I am.  Ha!

Needless to say, we did the responsible thing and put the garbage in the shop, locked up tight.  The sweet little bear is probably a 2 year old, just recently sent off by his mother, and is trying to find his way in the world. He will grow up into a nice big bear, and hopefully other folks around here will also keep their garbage put away and he will go off into the woods to make his living. Sweet little bears that get too used to people turn into not so sweet big bears that can be a problem.  I hope he stays wild and forgets that this yard once had a tasty morsel lying around.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

10-02-2010 Clean Up Day

It’s a gorgeous morning in Rocky Point, with 37 degrees and brilliant sunshine.  The sprinklers are still all hooked up and going, a good thing since daytime temperatures still are in the 80’s.  Sleeping in a big bed in a big house felt strange last night, but with the window open to the dark night, and an evening soak in the hot tub under the stars, I slept really well anyway.  That first coming-home-night always feels a little bit strange after traveling, and even more so after so many weeks in our baby house.  I get so comfortable in the small space, stepping two steps to the bathroom and three to the kitchen sink. 

After hauling in all the food, the clothing, the computers, cords, books, peanuts, and other flotsam of six weeks of travel, I decided to wait a bit before tackling the dirty rugs and bedding.  Today Mo will clean up the outside of the MoHo and I will clean up the inside. I think I have the better job, judging from the dried bugs on the front of the rig.

The laundry is going, and probably will do so all day.  I couldn’t see paying for a laundromat in the last 10 days of traveling, so it’s a big job.  The accumulated mail was delivered yesterday afternoon, and I was glad that I drove the truck to the mailbox instead of walking. We spent a good deal of time going through it all and throwing out about 90 percent of it. Lots of fun things for me since I turned 65 while we were away.  The best one was an offer of free cremation among all the offers of social security medical supplements.

This morning Mo built a fire and it felt wonderful, helped things to feel a bit less cavernous in the house, and Jeremy thought it was a great idea as well.  This home is heated with wood through the winter, although there are some small electric wall heaters that will kick in when we are traveling when it gets below 50 degrees. Going through the bills was fun too, the electric bill was about a third of what it usually runs. “Gee, Mo, we should just stay gone all the time!”.  Surprising that the money to run the well pump to keep the sprinklers going and the refrigerators is still more than 50 bucks a month.

I looked around the house this morning, and what struck me first was all the photos and art on the walls.  I am not sure what the difference is, because I look at photos online all the time, but the large format senior picture of my only granddaughter hangs in my bedroom, beside a restored photograph of my grandmother in 1927.  As much as I would love a full time life style, I am not yet ready to give up the “stuff” of living in a stick house with walls. 

Also, it is October, and time to put up the Halloween stuff.  I have a few bins stored high on shelves in the garage, all orange and black, that hold my fall decorations.  Such a silly thing, I know, but I love it.  In the next few days, since it is officially October, I can put up the lights and the pumpkins and the witches that herald one of my favorite months. Among the goodies is a fabulous witch painted gourd that I found in a tiny town in Illinois last month on the road.

In spite of all the good things about settling in to being here, I still am coveting the freedom of life on the road.  When Laurie (Semi-True Tales) and I met last month, I asked if she and Odel might eventually settle somewhere, and she laughed, “well, sure, maybe, but where??”  There are so many amazing places in the country that are incredible for a short time, for a few months of the year, but certainly not all the year long.  However, Rocky Point is a place that is wonderful in October, and I am glad to be here, and in another few days I am sure the nostalgia for the road will fade a bit.

Friday, October 1, 2010

10-01-2010 Boondocking on 447 and Home at Last

Yesterday, as we left Ely, we both thought that our last night out would be a great time to actually boondock. Looking at the map, there were many miles of open range, what looked to be a lot of BLM land, and we imagined that finding a wide place to pull out would be simple. 

What we didn’t count on was the temperatures in late afternoon along our route.  Nevada is hot.  Most of the time, Nevada is hot.  I know this, but after all, it IS the last day of September.  After turning north on 447 from the Sparks area we started looking for a boondock site.  What wasn’t at first noticeable on the map that I was using was that many miles of the route were included in the Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation, not a place to try to camp without specific permission.

The other problem was the temperature.  It was five o’clock in the evening and the gauge read 100 degrees.  Stopping for just a few minutes to take a break and let the dog walk around a bit gave us a pretty good indication that we couldn’t really settle in until the sun went down, or we found a shady side of the hill.  We continued past Gerlock, and after several miles found a wide place in the road that would suffice, but I had a vague memory of a small lake and camping spot where Mo and I had stopped on a day trip in 2003.  There was nothing on my map, but the phone, when it worked sporadically, showed some green areas a bit distant, so we kept going.

The best moment of the day was rounding a steep curve and dropping down to the small reservoir, then realizing that the closed gate wasn’t locked.  The signs indicated private property but allowed recreational use if the rules were followed.  After some maneuvering, we settled the MoHo into a wide spot on a bumpy road, managed to get level, and opened up the fans and doors to the cooling evening breezes.

We camped with the slide closed, but still had plenty of room to cook a good supper and relax with a movie.  I have to thank Laurie Brown once more for helping us to finally understand our inverter!  We have traveled in the MoHo for two years without understanding that the tv and dvd would work if the inverter was on. 

The night was starlit and perfectly still, and even though we were fairly close to the road, the closed gate and complete absence of traffic made it feel perfectly safe. I watched the sun rise this morning over the basalt hills and felt incredibly grateful for this perfect last night.  Our trip home today through Alturas is on familiar roads and landscapes.  Mt Shasta will rise up in the distance to mark the passage and tell us we are close to home. 

I will call my daughter, we will stop at Fred Meyer for gas and groceries for home, we will dump the tanks at our local city park on the way out to Rocky Point. This trip of 7,714 miles will end, and it will be time to start thinking about the next one.

Home at last.