Sue and Mo at Harris Beach

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

Sunday, September 23, 2012

September - a Chatty Catch-up

Crystal Creek on a smoky September day at very low water Being the month of my birth, I am somewhat partial to September.  Here in Rocky Point, and in this part of Oregon in general, September can be the very best time of year in so many ways.  The mosquito population has finally decided to disappear to wherever they go, the midges are at least confined to places you don’t want to be anyway, the skies are blue and bright, the days warm, the nights cool.  Several bloggers that I read regularly have found out just how delightful this part of Oregon can be, with RV Sue hanging around just over our hill on the Rogue River, and Paul and Nina up at Diamond Lake. 

Mo and I have spent some quality camping time in both those places and it’s fun to read about folks finding out just how wonderful this part of Oregon can be.  Everyone seems to know the coast part, and lots of folks travel there, but fewer have found the wonders of the Cascades waterfalls, magical lakes, beautiful forests and SUNSHINE. Welcome to my world.

Once again, Mo and I planned to travel a couple of hours south to camp at our favorite Medicine Lake, and once again we were thwarted.  In the midst of extra work hours for me, some other business needs for two of us, and the smoky skies from California fires, we put off our planned mid-month camping trip for another time.  The month was anything but quiet however, with visiting friends, Rocky Point get-togethers, and of course, my birthday!

jeannejeanne 01 It started off with a visit from Jeanne, long time friend I once worked with here in the basin who has returned to her native New England for good.  Everyone needs a friend like Jeanne, probably the most amazing athletic woman I have had the pleasure of knowing.  Jeanne treks Nepal, climbs the second highest mountain in the word, does back country skiing down the cliffs at Crater Lake, jumps out of helicopters to ski in British Columbia back country, launches her tiny white water kayak over 23 foot waterfalls in Costa Rica.  Yeah, I could go on and on.  She runs and rides her bikes for hundreds of miles and travels the world.  How did I get a friend like Jeanne, you might ask?

IMG_3548 I almost didn’t.  Anyone from New England knows there is a special New England persona.  Anyone from California knows there is also a definite West Coast Persona. Jeanne and I were complete opposites, and on my first day of work in 2002 in Klamath Falls, I met Jeanne, who instantly disliked me.  I was all gushy and open and “chattery”, and Jeanne of course, being from New England, was all reserved and “don’t touch me” and would you please just shut up!? I disliked her almost as much as she disliked me!  All it took was a long day in the field to discover that even with our different ways of being in the world, we had the makings of something deeper that grew into a great, strong friendship.  Of course, I can’t even come close to keeping up with her, but she has a great batch of friends who do that very well.

having fun making wocus sun hats on Crystal Creek with JeanneJeanne came “home” to Klamath for a long visit with all of us, spending time biking, and hiking, and kayaking, and then came out to Rocky Point for a couple of days.  We went kayaking on Recreation Creek, a far cry from the adrenaline pumping kinds of boating she and her friends are used to, but we still had a good time, at least Jeanne and I did.  Some of the other friends thought it was great for a one time thing, but too dang boring to do again.  Me, I love the slowing down part, I love seeing the birds and the wildlife and the reflections.  Adrenaline is not one of my favorite things, and I will avoid it if at all possible!

quilt work In between visits and work time, I managed a bit of quilting,  working on my queen sized quilt that got started from a single jelly roll of fabric my sister picked up for me because I thought it was pretty.  It is kinda scary how a $39.00 jelly roll can morph into a LOT more money by the time all is said and done.  I took a break from the big quilt by piecing a bright little table topper that I have yet to actually quilt because I can’t decide just how I want to do it.

DSC_0058Another fun project was completed when Mo and I worked together removing a bazillion staples from my ten year old dining chairs and recovered them with a gorgeous fabric I found after two years of looking for just the right thing. 

 IMG_2717The greenhouse is a bit later this year, with our tomatoes just barely ripening toward the end of the month, but we have had cute little peppers, lemon cucumbers, lots of green beans and of course lots of good lettuces and greens.  I made a trip over the mountain to Medford to buy some gorgeous sweet tree ripened peaches from the local orchards and made peach jam, froze some peach pie filling and experimented with some hot pepper jellies.  The Peach Habanero is good but the Pineapple Habanero is fabulous.  Some of the Peach Bourbon jam didn’t set up and it is now a quite delicious Peach Bourbon Sauce, ready for waffles or ice cream on a cold winter day.

The very next week I got a call from Maryruth, saying, “Hey, are you and Mo around?  I want to come up for a few days for your birthday.”  What a treat!  She left her husband Gerald at home to take care of everything while she drove the 6 hours north from Oroville for some very much wanted “girl time”.  We usually manage this once or twice a year but this one was an unexpected surprise.  We filled up three days with lots of laughter, lots of “hand and foot” (a game I can’t get Mo to play with me), and good food.  Well almost good food.  Sadly the Rocky Point Resort has changed hands since we were there and I would definitely suggest that folks visiting this area avoid the restaurant if at all possible.  Or maybe just go in for a drink.  The view is gorgeous, the place is historic and charming, it is just the food that is probably the worst I have ever actually paid for.

Maryruth and Sue at Rocky PointMaryruth was barely gone when it was time for my ‘real’ birthday.  Seems as though I celebrated this one for a very long time and it wasn’t even a biggie.  I still have three years to go before I think a birthday is really worth paying attention.  Seventy even sounds scary to me, but I have a bit of time yet.  On this minor birthday, however, I went off to town to have breakfast with my sister, visited with Melody and the jewelry store where I got a FREE bead for my Pandora bracelet, and came home for a nice bit of quilting time before Mo said, “Let’s go out to dinner at Lake of the Woods”.  Whew!  Birthday breakfast,  and dinner on the same day?  Thankfully, our dinner up at the lake was incredible, with the gorgeous view, great service and wonderful food.  It may be a 15 minute drive rather than 5, but oh so worth it.  Thank you, Mo!!

DSC_0049 Then on Sunday, Melody, Kevin and grandson Xavier came out for an afternoon visit bringing even more wondrous presents.  I am the lucky beneficiary of a daughter who works in a jewelry store, so I am sure the “giftie bits” she brought to me are something I never would otherwise have.  Of course, everyone keeps saying no jewelry when traveling, but this pendant is definitely going on my November cruise even if I can’t wear it to Europe! The diamond hoop earrings however, are small and tasteful, and don’t scream “steal me”!  I AM wearing them.

What I didn’t even know yet was that the plant and twist movement I made jumping out of bed that morning had torn my knee cartilage.  In the next couple of days the pain got worse and worse until I couldn’t walk at all, even with a walking stick.  Sigh.  A trip to the doctor, xrays, MRI, another trip to the orthopedist all confirmed my worst fear.  Torn meniscus and a long healing time.  Actually it was my second worst fear.  Surgery was my worst fear, and so far that one has been avoided.  I can’t take pain pills or medication, so surgery isn’t a lot of fun.  Anyway, I have been hobbling around on crutches, and graduated to the walking stick and even a bit of hobbling without anything this morning, so am encouraged. 

jam Mo is dealing with yard work and house work all alone right now while I gimp around like a useless piece of moving furniture.  Sigh.  It is not fun feeling completely useless around here.  I can’t even quilt since that requires lots of jumping up and down from the machine to the iron, so instead I got back to knitting.  I even finished Deanna’s sweater and have it all wrapped up to mail.  Yippee, at last!! I started it back in December of last year.  Guess you could say I am not a fast knitter.

A week from Thursday my daughter Melody and I will drive to Portland to board our overnight flight to Amsterdam and then on to Budapest. I have been planning this trip and looking forward to it for soo sooo long, and am excited to see this part of Europe, but even more excited to see it through the eyes of my daughter.  It will be her first overseas trip, and I remember how incredible I felt on my first such trip with Mo back in 2005.  Everything was so new and exciting for me, as I am sure it will be for Melody.  She is beside herself excited right now.

Deanna's sweater I sent an email to a great photographer (Mark) from Mark and Chris’s Phaeton Place, who knows a LOT about techie stuff and traveling and he kindly wrote some very detailed answers and I learned a lot about traveling with technology. Thank you Mark!  I bought an iPad, and ordered the global data features for both the iPad and the iPhone, bought the photo transfer doohickey for the iPad and the camera (no usb on an iPad), and hopefully I’ll be able to carry all this stuff along with my walking sticks which will be going on the trip for sure!  Once again, the Cotton Carrier I bought for the camera will likely be a lifesaver when I need both hands to manage the sticks.  I will never never never measure up to Erin’s photos, but hopefully I’ll get shots that at least won’t embarrass me. I have learned so much from Erin, from Two to Travel and Two to Travel’s Phaeton Journey about blogging and photography. Thank you, Erin!

And on a final note, I just have to really thank all the blogging friends who saw my post on FaceBook about my knee and sent good wishes.  It is amazing to me that people take the time to pay attention and care.  So many are dealing with really difficult health issues that are about the internal operating system and mine is merely mechanical.  Mechanical issues are a pain but it isn’t life threatening, so I consider myself pretty lucky.  Does everyone have to get all silly when they first discover Apple’s crazy photo stuff? 


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Trying out Blogsy

With a new iPad and a big trip on the horizon, I thought it might be time to figure how to post from Blogsy, the app that is supposedly a reasonable way to replace LiveWriter when not using a compatible device. Gates and Jobs really hate talking the same language. So far I am not impressed, but neither am I all that impressed with my typing speed on this glass screen!

Ah well. Life does throw curves now and then. For my birthday on Saturday I had a great day, unaware that the twisted knee that I started with would morph into a torn meniscus making it nearly impossible for me to walk without crutches by the following Monday.

A much better surprise was the huge flock of young pelicans I saw on my way to town for a birthday breakfast. Or the gorgeous diamond hoop earrings my daughter brought to me on Sunday. Or the special pieces added to my heirloom dishes found by my other daughter on eBay and shipped my way.

Still, this way to post leaves a lot to be desired so for now this will have to suffice. Just practicing.



Friday, September 14, 2012

The Big Horn Mountains and the Medicine Wheel

August 4

The Bighorns from I-90 On the border between Montana and Wyoming, rising to the west of Interstate 90, are the Big Horn Mountains. Referred to locally as “The Bighorns”, and source of the Little Bighorn River, I still haven’t really figured out whether they are the Big Horn Mountains, or the Bighorn Mountains.  Either way, bighorn sheep live in these mountains and they do have big horns.

Living near Spokane and Coeur d’Alene for nearly three decades, Interstate 90 was my most often traveled route east, and many times I passed these gorgeous mountains wishing I could see them up close.  I once knew someone who traveled there yearly for hunting, and a very long time ago (in 1971) I traveled across the southern part on the way from Yellowstone to Rapid City.  The memories stayed with me, and as we planned this trip I knew that I wanted the Bighorns to be part of our explorations of this part of Wyoming. 

day 14_022DSC_0060 There is something mystical and mythical about this mountain range, considered sacred to the Sioux, the Crow, and the Cheyenne for millennia. The centerpiece is the Cloud Peak Wilderness, with a network of hiking trails to remote areas and alpine lakes.  On this trip, I knew we wouldn’t have a chance to explore the roadless wilderness, but I planned for three nights in Buffalo so that we could at least explore the three scenic byways that traverse the range, US Routes, 14, 14a, and 16.

view west toward Dayton from the Big Horn Mountains Scenic Byway 14Unlike the Black Hills, created when a pluton of magma pushed up through the earth, the Bighorns were created during the Laramide Orogeny, the same geologic event that built the Rocky Mountains. Thousands of feet of sedimentary rock laid down when the landscape was covered by an inland sea were uplifted to build these gorgeous mountains. 

The highest peaks are in Wyoming, and Cloud Peak itself is 13,167 feet high. Although there are many evidences of past glaciations, Cloud Peak is home to the only remaining active glacier in the mountain range.   Much like the east side of the Sierras, the east flank of Steens Mountain in Oregon, and the east side of the Rockies, the east facing side of the Bighorns rises abruptly from the plains with dramatic, breathtaking views.

one of my favorite parts of Wyoming...Geology signsWhen we embarked on our Saturday morning journey, we were thrilled to see that the skies were completely clear all around us except for a low gray-brown pall far to the east. From our route north on I-90 toward Sheridan, we could see Cloud Peak sparkling in the morning sunlight.  Highway 14 leads west across the northern part of the range from the small town of Dayton, climbing directly up from the foothills at Dayton, and the views were breathtaking.  I discovered one of my favorite parts of Wyoming travel were the clearly marked signs documenting the name and age of each of the geological formations as we crossed them.

a photo of Cloud Peak, as close as I will get on this tripBy the time we reached the Bighorn Visitor Center near the junction of 14 and 14a I felt thoroughly educated in the geology of the Bighorns. The visitor center was well done, with my favorite 3D maps of the mountain range, and many educational exhibits telling of the human and natural history of the mountains.  Hanging over all, in the center of the dramatic timber frame building, were photographic panels of Cloud Peak, majestic in her isolation.

The Medicine Wheel in the Bighorn MountainsSomehow, in all these years, I had never heard of the Bighorn Medicine Wheel, and yet after talking about it I have discovered that many of my friends have been there.  Having never even heard of it before this day in the mountains though, made it all the more special to me. 

We drove the high winding road to the summit before finding the side road to the Medicine Wheel site and the head of the trail to the structure.  There is a road that goes out there, unless you have a documented disability, you must walk the short 1.5 mile trail to the site.  Later we laughed with friends who had been there, since it is one of those trails that seems to be uphill both ways!    Maybe it is because of the elevation, who knows. 

the Bighorn Medicine Wheel is at the top of the mountain in the center of the photo The walk is beautiful, with views in all directions to the plains to the east, the Wyoming desert to the west, and the canyons to the north. The Medicine Wheel is at nearly 10,000 feet near the summit of Medicine Mountain.  It is built from stones gathered from the surrounding area, with a circular rim, 28 spokes extending from the rim to the center, and a series of seven cairns. It was built between 700 and 1200 AD and has been used since then by many local tribes for prayer, fasting and visioning.  To this day, Native Americans come to the wheel to pray and for ceremonies, and the enclosure is hung with prayer flags of all sorts. 

day 14_064DSC_0106An astronomer studied the wheel in the 70’s and published his discoveries, showing that the cairns were aligned in the direction of the summer solstice sunrise and sunset.  He also found that the rising points of the stars Sirius, Aldebaran, and Rigel are marked by other cairn pairs. More information about this interesting study of the wheel can be found here.

Walking to the Wheel, standing in the high place where so many others have stood, was an experience I won’t soon forget.  I felt much as I did when standing at the Mnidra paleolithic temple on Gozo, and in the Grotto of St Paul on Malta, and in the Hagia Sophia in Turkey.  Sacred places are made sacred for so many reasons, but this one felt as sacred as any I have visited.

playtime with Roger and Jackson in the Bighorn MountainsTalking with the ranger at the site was fascinating.  She enjoys her stint on the mountain, living there for the summer months.  She told us that the day before had been fogged in completely in the morning and then smoked in completely in the afternoon.  One more time we were blessed by the wind and weather gods for incredible views of an incredible place.

Shell Falls on the Big Horn River  We lunched near the summit back on the highway, and then drove down the steep canyon to the dull brown of the Wyoming badlands before reaching Worland and the eastern route, Highway 14, back up over the mountains. The road climbs up the canyons to Shell Creek Falls, with paved trails and overlooks, lots of interpretive signs, and a visitor center.  Much to our dismay, however, our dogs couldn’t even walk on any of the trails, and we found it hard to find a place where they could relieve themselves.  Again, we appreciated traveling in pairs so that one pair could go see the falls while the other took care of the dogs back at the cars.  By this time in the afternoon, the sun was hot! 

getting ready to go, Nancy and Roger are a great teamContinuing over the mountain back to our junction near the visitor center gave us views of the rolling summits of the Bighorns, with broad areas of dark conifers accented by green high mountain meadows.  We even saw a bit of the Cloud Peak Wilderness to the south.  By the time we drove back down the steep east face of the range, it was late afternoon. All of us were too tired to even think of stopping in Sheridan, a town that according to everything I have read is a place worthy of its own visit.

Instead we ambled back to our camp in Buffalo, appreciative of the grassy open spaces, the big shady trees, and the comfortable sites that were far enough from the highway that we didn’t have a lot of road noise.  I can highly recommend Deer Park Campground in Buffalo.  Our three nights there were perfect for the time we had to explore the surrounding area.  The Bighorns were on my bucket list, and I finally got to see them.  There are a lot more photos of this great day including the Bighorn Mountains and the Medicine Wheel 14_194DSC_0237