Sue and Mo at Harris Beach

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

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Rocky Point Sunday

another view from the mail boxNo, I still haven’t put together the rest of the stories about our cruise.  Hopefully I can get motivated on that project before I completely forget all the little details.  Instead, we arrived home last Sunday night and Monday morning I immediately went to work at my “real” part time job, the one that needs to have 40 good hours of attention every two weeks. Working from home is great, as long as the home computer does its thing without hitches.  Instead, my old Dell computer running XP (for the government software) decided to burp and then basically throw up.  So it was off to town for me and a couple of days working on the reliable government computer at my official office.  I am lucky in that my bosses have all agreed that it is smart to have a real workstation available for me here in Klamath Falls, even though I technically work for Portland, Oregon, for Davis, California, for Sonora, California and for Klamath Falls, 30 miles away from my home in Rocky Point. 

the back yard mapleAfter some serious time with my computer guru in town, we managed to get the Virtual PC XP operating system working inside my new Windows 7 Dell.  I only barely understand what is going on here, but with this system, I can actually install the government (XP only) software on my new machine.  Good thing, since my old machine is still at the computer guru’s house getting gutted.  Possibly too much information here for anyone but Rick, but what the heck, I need to have an excuse for not writing about the cruise yet! Back home with a working system and functioning software the rest of my work week went just fine.

DSC_0115I didn’t write, but managed to try to keep up at least a little bit on the blog world.  Something interesting appeared that I thought would be fun to check out.  It seems that several RV bloggers have dogs that are some kind of blue heeler, or blue heeler mix.  We have figured out that Abby is mostly blue heeler with cocker spaniel overtones.  Check out Travel with the Whippets and read their stories about the ability of their dog Bandido to disembowel any toy in a matter of minutes.  Hmm.  Abby does that.  Check out Pheebs over on Al’s website.  Al has regaled us with stories of the Pheeb’s energy repeatedly since she became a part of the Bayfield Bunch family.  Abby. Another story, that I seem to have lost track of, talked about another heeler’s separation anxiety and panic attacks when left for even a moment in a car or a house.  Again. Abby. Could it be possible that all this energy, toy destruction, separation anxiety and absolute complete devotion is a characteristic of the blue heeler breed?  Just a thought.

fall color_66fall color_90The colors have changed here in Rocky Point, just a bit later than last year, but still beautiful.  In fact, the aspens seem to have more pink and orange tones than usual.  I thought that the pink color in an aspen was related to the variety, but some of these trees are usually just yellow and this year are many shades of pink and orange, so I guess my original thought is completely wrong.  Back to aspen research, I guess.  In the mean time, I am just really enjoying all our fall color right here at home after traveling clear across the country and missing out on most of the seasonal brilliance on the east coast.

The burning season has opened again for a short time and yesterday Mo raked some pine needles while I cleaned out the greenhouse.  Mo also tore up the old boards on the back cabin deck that need replacing and built a very serious bonfire with them. Just one whiff of that wonderful wood smoke reminded me of hot dogs.  Yes, hot dogs.  I said, “We have some dogs and buns in the freezer, let’s do it!”  Within minutes we had defrosted the dogs and buns in the microwave, skewered the dogs to the end of the pitchfork, drug the chairs to the bonfire and had ourselves a quick, impromptu perfect hot dog supper.  I’m not on the diet officially any more, but still doing the maintenance thing, so Abby lucked out and got 2/3 of my bun.

walking home from the mailboxI noticed as we were enjoying  this wonderful home moment that I had no desire to run for the camera, to turn it into a blog moment, fully documented.  I just wanted to enjoy the bonfire, the fall leaves in the background, the smell of wood smoke.  So, no photos, but still worth writing about so I don’t forget how wonderful simple moments can be.  Last night in the hot tub there was no moon to dim the brilliance of the stars. 

Today we will continue a few outside maintenance jobs and start to load up the MoHo for the short trip to Brookings.  This year the snow has held off for us, unlike the east coast and unlike last year.  We as yet have no snow at home or on the passes, so our journey to the coast will be in time.  With night temperatures dropping into the teens and the MoHo un-wintered, we will be glad to get her safely to storage where the temperatures don’t go below freezing. A couple of nights at Harris Beach and some days walking the sands will be fun.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Cruising New England with Princess

morning view from the Ramada in RenoWe are comfortably settled in to our room at the Ramada Inn in Reno, great view of town, comfy bed, fat pillows, inexpensive breakfast downstairs, and screaming fast free WiFi on the tenth floor.  One of the disadvantages of living in the west is the dearth of cruise ports, meaning if we are to cruise anywhere but Alaska or Mexico, we have to fly east to board a ship.  Yesterday was a very long day, awake at 5 or so as we sailed into New York Harbor, then the long process of disembarkation, airport shuttles, airport security and time changes.  We definitely needed a good night’s sleep before getting on the road today and traveling back to Klamath Falls.

setting sun from our balcony on the Caribbean PrincessI plan to write about each day of the cruise in the next few days.  For those who do follow along using the various blog rolls, those posts will not show up because I plan to set the post date for the actual cruise day.  A heads up in case you are interested in reading about this particular cruise.  Just pop over to the archives and there you will find titles based on the date and the port.  Eventually. 

This morning I tried to count cruises, and I think this was the 8th one for me, and the 3rd cruise on Princess.  To say it was disappointing might be an exaggeration, but to call it memorable would be a serious stretch.  We have discussed a bit just what we missed on this cruise, and came to the conclusion that it was that sense of luxury that makes a cruise so enticing that we missed most.

New England_New York-67In fairness, the Caribbean Princess was a beautiful ship, one of the biggest in the Princess fleet with 3200 passengers on board.  The common areas were lovely, the ship spotlessly clean, the staff friendly and accomplished.  Our stateroom was roomy and the balcony a nice amenity, our steward unobtrusive in the background, but everything was done well.

Caribbean Princess anchored at NewportWhat I missed most was truly great food.  The Palms dining room was basically adequate, but not spectacular.  In fact, it was so nondescript that I felt no need to take food photos or even document the menu for the day.  The one night that we passed on the dining room and chose to eat at the Horizon Court Buffet was a huge mistake.  If we thought the dining room was bland, that was before we had the truly awful supper at the buffet.  Another time when Mo decided to try the Calypso deck pizza for a late lunch was a huge bust, with crust that competed directly with thin cardboard and toppings thin enough to match.  Ugh.

arriving in Bar Harbor MaineIn addition to the bland and boring food, there were no great artistic presentations, beautiful ice sculptures, carved fruit, not a single special deck food event, not a midnight buffet or dessert extravaganza.  Breakfast was tolerable, but the pastries were dry and nondescript as well, the bacon greasy and flavorless and the fruit not very sweet.  ah well.  It isn’t just about the food, but it should be at least more fun than a local cheap buffet restaurant.  After paying big bucks for a cruise it just irritates me that to get a good meal we are expected to pay 25 per person extra for a meal in the steak house or the Italian restaurant.

We chose this cruise to see New England in the fall, minus the traffic.  New England wasn’t in much of a mood for color, however, and we only saw a little bit of color here and there.  That certainly has nothing to do with the cruise line, of course, but was still disappointing.  We also discovered that when booking a cruise, we need to be sure that there are sea days spaced in between ports.  Day after day of walking and exploring new places left us fairly well exhausted without much time to actually enjoy that relaxing thing that can happen on a longer cruise.  Next time it will be a longer trip, with more sea days, probably somewhere WARM, and probably with a different cruise line.

Cliff Walk in Newport, Rhode IslandI will save my leaf peeping for a time when we are willing to drive to the east coast and visit with the friends I have there.  Yes, the traffic will be awful, the roads narrow, the campgrounds expensive.  Hopefully when we do it we can take our time and follow the leaves on their terms.  I do so much love hardwood forests and want to see them in their full glory of color.

the historic church steeples have all been dwarfed by the skyscrapersThere were definitely high points in some of the ports.  I loved seeing Newport, Rhode Island, a place I barely heard of before we spent the day walking the town and the Cliff Walk.  The weather was gorgeous, the town lovely.  Boston was a treat, and we walked all day and enjoyed a wonderful bowl of truly good clam chowder at Cheers.  The beautiful surprise of the trip was Bar Harbor, (or as I am told Bah Hahbah) Maine, on Mt Desert Island, home to Acadia National Park.  We WILL return to Bar Harbor and the park someday with the motorhome and take our time exploring the breathtaking Maine coast.

it is a lobster roll in Bar Harbor MaineSaint John in New Brunswick was an interesting city, with very old stone buildings and nice shopping.  We don’t do cruises for the shopping, however, but we did enjoy seeing the Bay of Fundy in spite of the overcast day and dingy buildings. Halifax Nova Scotia was a complete bust, with our ship’s captain making the decision that 50 knot winds and 14 foot seas would not make for a comfortable ride.  Instead we were routed into Portland, Maine.  Docking in the rain, we looked out over the gloomy city with apprehension.  Once walking around, however, we enjoyed the town and even found some great Mexican food to offset all that bland stuff we had been eating on the ship.  Hot salsa and more jalapenos please in my lobster quesadilla!

Shore Walk in Bar HarborHere in Reno the sun is shining and the skies are clear with temperatures predicted to be in the 70’s.  Our route home via 395 will be beautiful, and we are both really looking forward to picking up the dog and the cat at the Double C and getting back home to our cozy house in the forest. We miss the MoHo as well, and the expense of this trip, the uncomfortable hard bed with a lumpy foam topper surely reminded us that RV travel is the true luxury, even if I do have to cook my very own fabulous food.  At least it is fabulous and tasty!

I hear that the aspens are turning in Klamath, and am looking forward to seeing how our trees are doing and if the green tomatoes I put on the counter before we left have turned red. I look forward to writing about our port visits and having the time to review the photos as I think about what we enjoyed most about this cruise.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The beginning and the end

thunderheads are building over New YorkIt is the beginning of our New England cruise trip but the end is all about the last hour of our flight to New York’s La Guardia airport!  Our non-stop flight from Denver was 3 hours of simplicity until we reached the east coast, until we  reached New York, where there was a wild mess of storms that spawned tornados in Virginia. Thinking of Erin and Mui, of course, and hoping you two didn’t get hit by all that wind.

We circled over La Guardia for almost an hour with rumors of a diversion to some smaller airport who knows where before the pilot finally received the notice that we could land.  The turbulence was a bit exciting, and watching the plane circle around those big thunderheads made for some interesting views.  Our seatmate was a frequent flier from New York, you know, those kind of folks that are supposed to be so calm and jaded??  This lady was NOT calm, and with every jump of the plane she screamed and even said once, “I want my mother!”

circling the thunderstorms while we wait to land at La GuardiaEven though I had my camera packed and buried, I suddenly remember “airplane mode” and the camera in the iPhone 4 (no not the 4s yet) and pulled it out for some great photos of truly dramatic clouds.  Once we landed, it  was amazing to me how one dimensional the cloudy sky appeared compared to the three dimensional shape changing views as we circled.

We began our trip with a nice drive from home to Reno, down 139 to 395 into the wide open dry and very warm deserts.  Staying at the Ramada, with the Park and Fly option, our room only cost 79. with all the taxes and ten days of parking for the car, including free shuttle to the airport. The room was lovely, and just 12 blocks from downtown where we parked right on the street near the Silver Legacy Casino.  After dropping a bit to support Nevada in the slot machines we found dinner at Sterlings Steakhouse.  A bit of a sticker shock didn’t stop us, though, and we proceeded to have one of the finest dinners we have had in a long time. In addition to perfectly mesquite fired steaks, our dinners came with amazingly seasoned spaghetti squash, butternut squash,  snap peas, and sautéed spinach.  Yum and double wow!

laughing while we are circlling and shaking over New YorkMy daughter has supported me through the 40 days of 500 calories a day, and now I am on maintenance, and wow, maintenance is so much fun, Deborah!  Somehow skipping the bread and potato and dessert didn’t feel a bit like any kind of suffering at all.  Can you believe I brought my scale along on this cruise and will be watching daily?  I don’t want to mess up all that hard work, and this morning somehow I was down another 2 pounds. Yay for Deborah and all her encouragement!

Our flight from Reno left at 6am, calling for a 3am wake up call and a dark ride to the airport. Check-in was simple, and security in Reno wasn’t the least bit daunting and we were in the air as the sun rose over the Rockies.  Denver is a huge airport, but lucky for us we didn’t have to change terminals so spent a lovely 90 minutes wandering the great shops and eating some more of last night’s yummy dinner that I carried with me.

our view from the East Elmhurst Comfort Inn in New YorkOnce in New York, an hour late, we called the Comfort Inn shuttle to pick us up.  No lost baggage was a relief, and in a short time we were settled into our very tiny room.  Here in New York, the rooms aren’t cheap, with 157 dollars, yes that is US dollars, for our one night here.  We are actually in East Elmhurst, Queens, not far from the airport. The room is at least very clean, but the bed is a bit hard and as I said, it is TINY!  I guess that must  be a New York thing.

We walked a couple of short blocks to the local recommended restaurant, Joey’s, an Italian place.  A glass of wine and some simple antipasto with a ceasar salad was the perfect ending for a long day.  We were entertained by a couple of big Italian guys at the table next to us speaking rapid Italian.  I realized that on the west coast where we live there aren’t a lot of Italian neighborhoods, except maybe in San Francisco.

I have never been to New York before and am looking forward to our drive to the Brooklyn pier today and a gorgeous sunny, if windy view of the Statue of Liberty as we sail from the harbor tonight.

La Guardia to Hotel and Brooklyn

Sunday, October 9, 2011

My blogging mentor comes to Rocky Point!

Laurie and Odel_35I am reasonably certain that just about anyone dropping in to read my blog already reads Laurie and Odel’s blog, Semi-True Tales of our Life on the Road. I read Laurie’s blog long before I knew there was such a thing as an RV blogging community, and when we met in person in 2010, Laurie gave me a ton of pointers on how to do a blog, and where to find some of the other bloggers I might like to read.  My “stretch” format for this blog was stolen almost directly from Laurie, with her permission and help of course.

Laurie and Odel taking off in the kayaks for the first timeOur paths have crossed a few times, and it was with great delight that I discovered they planned to be here on Saturday before leaving Oregon for the season on their way back to California. I spoke to the weather gods, who teased me with early morning freezing fog before bringing on a gorgeous, wind free, sunny day in the mid-60’s. Perfect kayaking weather!  Especially for someone not familiar with that unsteady feeling when you get in a kayak for the first time.

Laurie and Odel are getting comfortable after just a few minutes out on the water“Just like a bicycle”, I told Odel.  Watching that first wiggle as Odel got used to the boat reminded me of my first time after we bought the kayaks.  I remember thinking, “OMIGOSH, I will never be able to do this”. Within minutes, Odel was racing along like a pro, although the exceedingly calm waters without a lick of current were probably a bit helpful. I was so busy worrying about Odel in that first few moments that I have no clue how Laurie did as Mo helped her first launch.  I am pretty sure it was flawless, though, because I heard no splashes or exclamations in the background and when I finally looked up, Laurie was racing along even faster than Odel.

Odel said it was hard to get romantic in a tippy kayakWe spent a couple of hours meandering down to Harriman Springs, laughing and talking and enjoying every minute of the gorgeous sunshine and bluebird skies. Turns out it was opening day for duck hunting season and we were entertained by men in camouflage  and boats that looked like some sort of grass hut plying the waters out to the main part of Klamath Lake where they could shoot. Lucky for us, there was no shooting in Pelican Bay or down Harriman Creek, and the white pelicans just meandered around as if everything was just fine.  Surprisingly, we didn’t see many ducks, and from what they said, neither did the hunters!

time for a cool one after a great kayakAfter our kayak, we walked the short distance to the Rocky Point restaurant, still quiet enough in the early afternoon that we snagged the perfect windowside table for our refreshments.  The laughing and conversation continued until we all realized that our late lunch/early supper plans were turning into much later than originally thought. We drove back to the house with hungry bellies. Before long Mo had the baby BBQ going and I had a Copper River salmon filet on a plank with a new homemade citrus rub I decided to try.  Our guests brought some great Chardonnay to flesh out the meal. Dessert was a big adventure, since I decided to try the new “thing” that seems to be going around food circles recently.  Fresh strawberries with a good 18 year old balsamic vinegar over vanilla ice cream.  The real kicker to this recipe is the call for fresh black pepper.  Yes, that is pepper!  I was chicken to put it on, but in a flash Odel had that pepper shaker out and was peppering the ice cream with abandon. 

His bravery inspired the rest of us, and amazingly, it was really good!  Mo, who is the least adventurous eater among us, opted for chocolate on her vanilla. I offered my little bit of leftovers in my bowl (yeah I am still dieting and only ate a tiny bit!) to Mo, who smiled and said, “I’ll bet Abby will like this.” Abby of course, thought it was great, pepper and all.

Laurie and Odel_103CaptureHere is a map of where we kayaked today.

A few more photos of our visit are linked here.

Happy October Everyone!

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.