Saturday, July 30, 2011

Can't Judge a Book by It's Cover

7/29 Evening ~ 7/30 Morning

Just after dinner we hear and then see 6 motorcycles come down off the knoll to the tent camp area at the opposite end of the site. We're thinking oh boy here we go again! With age comes some wisdom and you realize that first visual impressions aren't always the correct ones. From the plates we see the group was from Boise, ID and all about our age. How bad can bikers be with a stuffed dog lashed to the top of one of the riders backpacks? They we're funny, quiet and respectful of other campers ~ so there you go!

Built a fire last night and spent and hour or two mesmerized ~ drifting back to ancient times as keepers of the flame. We let the fire die down about 10:30 and stretched out with pillows under our heads. Rod has an app on his IPhone called Star Walk. You hold it up to the sky in any direction and it will identify what stars and constellations you're looking at. Almost directly above us was the Alpha Capricornid. On the screen you could see the meteors not visible to the naked eye, pretty amazing stuff. We did okay with our primitive style of skywatching and spotted quite a few. Rod got up at 1:30 and saw 5-6 more. I was up at 3:30 and saw a huge one go all the way across the sky. 

We're up a little after 6am thanks to the resident goose and his gang of mallards who hang out at the dock. We've got chairs, fishing gear, a campstove and other gear out on the picnic table next to the rig. We're sipping coffee and gazing out the window when the owner's quad come down the hill to our site. Rod's first thought is jeeze louise he's come to complain about all our gear being out. Not! A gentle knock on the door and he tells us his wife has fresh coffee and hot pancakes at the barn if we'd like to join them. From Rod a sheepish grin and perfect eye roll (Nancy understands). Met and chatted with other campers from around the country.

Because we're only about 15 miles from the coast the Siuslaw River is tidal driven. Really low this morning so after breakfast Rod took his book and fishing gear down to the dock to watch the river rise and got a couple nibbles. We learn that mid-September through mid-October it not unusual to catch a 30 lb. salmon or steelhead from the dock, we may have to come back in the fall.

Settled in for a day of reading and cribbage. We can rent large innertubes for $2 and the owner will drive us up river and drop us off to drift back. Might be a great afternoon adventure. Lazy Days Rule!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Down a New Trail

7/27 -7/28 ~ Rod got his August schedule last night and the realization hits us that we can stay out another week. This will be our first 3 week vacation ever (we're talking 30 years here people)! On the spur of moment we decide to spend a couple of days with his 93 year old pop in Sublimity, OR.

We hadn't planned to go that far north but what the heck we have the time and the drive East on Hwy 22 from Lincoln City is gorgeous. This time of year there are acres and acres of oat hay ready to be harvested, best described as a golden ocean, waves created by ruffling winds. Before we drop down into the Willamette Valley we spot Mt. Hood and Mt. Rainier in the distance ~ a bit of a miracle these days with all the haze.

7/29 ~ It's in the mid 80's so we decide to head back towards the coast about noon. We sacrifice a little time to I5 to expedite the trip south and turn off at Halsey to pick up Hwy 126 west to Florence. We've never driven this route before and it's another winner: ranches, forests, rivers, creeks, organic farms and small towns.

There are two lesser known meteor showers tonight and tomorrow night, the Delta Aquarids and Alpha Capricornids, so we look for a place off the beaten track to camp. There has been a marine layer at the coast so we're thinking inland a bit. We discover Mapleton and the Maple Lane RV Park on the Siuslaw River: $25/night, water, electricity and wifi. What more do you need?

The site is level grass (we can run around barefoot) and 30 feet from the river. There's shade under the trees for reading and a small dock. Rod's down there now trying his trout mojo while a chicken simmers on the BBQ. I'm off to the "reading room" for a bit, deep into a Jeffery Deaver mystery. We're thinking the dock may be a good place to watch the skies the next two nights.

The owners told us of a place across the river and about 15 miles west called Sweet Creek Trails and Falls. Excellent for hiking and photographs, so we'll head up there tomorrow afternoon or Sunday morning on the way to the coast.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


We depart Lakeside midmorning and turn north. Rod has a couple of days left on his Oregon fishing license so we're off to find a fishing stream. There's a little BLM campground at Smith River Falls just north of Reedsport and 26 miles east on a delightfully uncrowded (5 cars) scenic drive along the river.

As we near our destination the river bottom changes from rocks to sandstone steps peppered with water worn cavities created by eons of rocks spinning in the river current. The falls is at a summer low, but in spring it's about 150' wide. There is a very intricate cement fish ladder that climbs the north side of the river and a great network of pools and natural slides.

The 10 space campground is on the river and we find a nice spot to set up camp. We're in a bit of a rain forest so it's warm and humid. Spent some time wading in the river.

Rod is off to fish and I decide to stretch out on the couch and read. He's back 4 hours later grinning like the Cheshire cat. Dancing with the fishes. From Rod:
$70 for Oregon fishing license 
 7 brook trout caught and released
found graphite pole and reel
on a grass hummock in the river
when the lure snagged my vest
4 hours of grinning

BLM and other free campgrounds attract all kinds. Our neighbors ranged from college students, to young families, to a middle aged man quietly practicing the guitar. The spoiler appeared about 5:30, a man being a really bad role model for his two young daughters: beered, loud, bad eighties music and firecrackers. So much for peace and quiet.

Rod and I look at each other and say uh-uh, no way, we have choices. So we pack it up and head back to 101 and north about 10 miles to a little RV Park on Woahink Lake ~ sand dunes, hot showers, dinner and some reading. The drive, the fishing and the photographic opportunities were well worth the trip. As for the camper from Hell ~ Oh Well!

Wednesday morning coffee ~ breakfast and laundry next. As you can see nose to the grindstone and shoulder to the wheel. We'll plan today's journey over breakfast. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

The African Queen

The last time we were here, in Aug 2007, Rod went bass fishing at o'dark thirty on a Saturday morning. The silent calm of his casting near a structure (fallen trees and weeds along the shore that provide a safe haven for bass) was suddenly broken by the roar of dozens of high powered engines and bright lights. He found himself smack dab in the middle of the start of a bass tournament. Boys with expensive toys.

We got here late Sunday morning and Rod decided to rent a little boat for some bass fishing today. At the rental desk we find out another bass tournament was just ending. What? He went out for a bit Sunday evening after all the boys were off the lake and again and early this morning. He only got a few bites and figures the bass were pretty wary after the weekend. Next time we come up we'll make sure it's before or way after a tournament.

As requested the overcast burned off so Mr. Allnut and I took the African Queen up the channel to the north lake to explore. It's much less developed and is all private property. There are a lot of sweet little lake front homes for sale and it got us to fantasizing about gathering a few friends together to go in on a place.

Think we'll move on tomorrow to explore someplace new for a couple of days. Now I'm going to go sit in the sun while Rod fixes dinner ~ I was smart to marry the chef!

Ducks Aloud (for Bonky)

Norther We Go

07/23/11 ~ After breakfast we left Gold Beach and headed north to Bandon. One of our favorite camping spots is at Bullards Beach, but it's Saturday and sure enough the campground is full, so norther we go to Coos Bay. The Mill Casino has great food, awesome views and a nice RV park on the shore of the Coos River where it meets the bay. We decided to spend the night and do some recon on our next move. Tough day today, covered a grand total of 80 miles. We left a little cash there but were entertained for hours so no complaints.

07/24/11 ~ After breakfast at the Plank Restaurant (why mess up the rig kitchen) we decided to continue north. The Rodster is up for some bass fishing so instead of backtracking to Bandon we head to Lakeside to spend a few days on Ten Mile Lake at Osprey Point (a whopping 15 mile drive). Our site is right on the lake. We took a little walk up the small channel that connects the lakes and found these water lilies.

It's overcast and cool, but quite pleasant. Here's the view from the campsite. We've seen osprey, blue herons, geese and mallards from the shore. Red bean soup with fresh garden veggies for dinner. Popcorn and a great Oregon Public Television special on photographers called "Outdoor Idaho" before bed. We're definitely going to have to put Idaho on the adventure list.

Hoping the sun will break through tomorrow so I can get out with my camera. If not no worries, I've got a murder mystery and some earring making parts so I'm a happy camper.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Mighty Rogue

07/22/11 - Morning dawned with a couple of robins doing the two step on the roof of the rig (tickita - tickita - tap - tap). We eat a good breakfast and though we'll lunch up at Agnes, we pack a couple of sandwiches, my camera, binoculars and put on layers of clothes.

The jet boat picks us up at the dock at 8am sharp.  We have the same driver as we did 4 years ago. Jeff is the grandson of the man who started the mailboats in 1958. He's a skilled driver, a great storyteller and historian. We'll be venturing 52 miles up river through public lands, national park and wilderness.

One of our first sights is this magnificent bald eagle. Whenever Jeff or one of the passengers spot something worth seeing he'll pull over so we can all see what's up. We did spot the rear end of a small bear heading into the underbrush, but are told we may not see any others. Blackberry season is so late they haven't ventured down to the river.

Our driver knows a lot of the fishing guides and we stop along side of a friend of his who is happy to show us the morning catch. Rod's eyes get as big as saucers.

The Rogue originates at Crater Lake. There are only two dams left on it, but a visible side effect of the dams is it's opaque green color. It's not crystal clear like the Illinois River that merges with it up stream. The Rogue is higher than normal for this time of year and is warming rapidly. Some of the fall run salmon, like this one, are being caught 30 miles up river which is unusual. In a matter of days, a majority of the fish will move down to the cooler waters of the bay.

The Rogue is a magical and spiritual place, around every bend is something unexpected. Herons and ospreys abound, otter families play along the banks. We learned that once pups are born, the male otters take over rearing and educating the youngsters.

One the perks of traveling the Rogue in a jet boat (no props) is that it can navigate in eight inches of water. Though there are miles of smooth water with fast currents, we also experience class 3 and class 4 rapids. Whenever we come upon rafters, or campers along the shore the boat is slowed so as not to create waves. On the other hand we're all giddy with the thrill of knifing through the rapids, some quick stops (the front end drops everyone on the boat gets a shower) and doing 360 donuts which soak everyone. There were about 10 kids on our boat and what we noticed as the trip progressed is that all adults became more childlike: laughing, screaming, requesting more spins. Yeah Baby! Wahoo!

We dock at Agnes and have lunch at the little restaurant on the hill, the finishing touch is sharing a slice of still warm from the oven blackberry pie with vanilla ice cream. It's hard work playing on the river.

The return trip is just as heartstopping and fun as the way up. We are absolute toast by the time we're dropped of at camp about 3:30 in the afternoon. We opt for cereal for dinner, a little reading and early to bed. We head a little way north tomorrow.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Southern Oregon

07/20/11 ~ None of the reports of rain ever materialized for us but we heard a storm rolled through a few days before we got here. Glad we left Tuesday instead of Sunday (Thank you Andrea for scheduling the BBQ for Monday night!). We spent our first night out near Trinidad at Emerald Forest under the redwoods.

Off to the Smith River this morning to see if we can find a spot to camp at Jedediah Smith State Park. We’re used to travelling in fall and winter when the rest of the world is home so we knew we were taking our chances. Sure enough it’s full. If our return trip brings us down 101 perhaps we’ll make reservations for a couple of days stay. It’s a gorgeous place with some great hikes and fishing.

We decide to continue north on 101 into southern Oregon. The wind is screaming on the coast. At several places we spot some fearless surfers kite boarding at Pistol River. I’d rather take my chances with a zip line thank you.

Just outside of Brookings we decide to call ahead to a place we’ve stayed before called Kimball Creek Bend, about 8 miles up the Rogue River from Gold Beach. They had a spot open up due to a last minute cancellation. We end up with a primo spot on the river with full hookups (for the uninitiated that means power, water, and sewer). We be roughing it here boss! View from the site.

After we got set up Rod headed for the river (about 50 yards from our site) to do some fishing.

Dinner is roasted home grown veggies (beets, carrots, zucchini and crooknecks) and Sonoma County corn on the grill. It’s about 65 and breezy. We’ve been watching four turkey vultures peering into the river from rocks just above the waterline. We’re trying to figure out what they’re after so we get out the binoculars and head for the beach. Just below the rocks we spot an otter dragging a huge salmon out of the water onto a postage stamp patch of sand just out of reach of the birds. The otter munches for a bit and then takes off down river about 20 yards to a little beach. All of a sudden there are 4 of them: two adults, a juvenile and a youngster. It’s time for a late afternoon roll in the warm sand. We watch them play for about 10 minutes and then they’re back in the water and disappear behind a small island. The vultures continue their vigil unable to figure out how to reach that salmon.
As we’re walking back to camp we hear an osprey and turn to see it gliding towards the opposite shore. Binoculars up, we watch it land on a huge nest in the top of a tree and feed its chicks. I’d say we had a home run of an afternoon. Tonight: a campfire, stargazing and reading until our eyes close.

07/21/11 ~ Today we are going to read in shade and perhaps walk the river a bit, I mean someone has to do it.

Tomorrow we are headed up the Rogue on a 104 mile round trip on one of the jet boats: layers of clothes, binoculars and camera - wahooo!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

D-Day Approaches ~ Right or Left?

The adventure begins at o'dark thirty on Tuesday morning. We've been watching the weather and due to the haze and heat down near Sequoia and Kings Canyon we're going to head north instead of southeast this trip. The parks are still on the top of our list, but think we'll wait until a storm or two has rolled through and cleared the air, perhaps in the Autumn when leaves are changing and the crowds are back home. This trip we could end up at any of these incredible places or somewhere else altogether.

Falls on North Umpqua River

Today and tomorrow are the preparation trifecta: pack the rig, soak the gardens and clean the house (there's nothing like coming home to fresh sheets on a real bed after a couple of weeks on the road). We don't consider any of these activities chores, the payoff is the freedom to wander for a couple of weeks or more (Rod gets his August schedule in late July, so if he doesn't have time scheduled the first part of the month we can stay out longer - yeah baby!).

 Oregon Coast 

We'll be ready for any kind of weather Mother Nature chooses to throw at us, but it does seem a bit odd to pack rain gear, long johns and swim suits. The beauty of a motorhome is that you can take whatever you might need and you don't have to pack and unpack every day.

Imnaha Nights

A little side note: After our last trip to SE Oregon in May I did a spreadsheet on actual costs (fuel, camp fees, food, etc.) and created the same hypothetical trip taking the Honda, staying in lodging and eating out. In spite of the cost of fuel we saved about $500 taking the motorhome. The biggest perk and true value is that we were able to stay in the woods, along rivers and at the ocean.

Rogue River

Fishing gear, cameras, walking sticks, hiking boots and binoculars ~ check! Books, books on CD and music ~ check! Next comes clothes, foodstuffs and systems checks. I'll keep you posted as we go. We may be off the grid for periods of time, but that's half the fun. There is a "follow by email" button on right side of blog, sign up you'll get notified of new posts.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Omne Trium Perfectum

Loosely translated it means "everything that comes in threes is perfect". In writing the "rule of three" is a principle that suggests that things that come in threes are inherently funnier, more satisfying, or more effective than other numbers of things like: Three Bears, Three Stooges, Three Musketeers, or Three Little Pigs to name a few.

The Three Bears Cooking

It's taken on a whole new meaning at our house. To quote the one and only Madeline Kahn from Blazing Saddles "I'm so Tired" but not in the context you'd think. We're really talking tires here.
Fix a Flat - Norman Rockwell

1. Friday - We take our little motorhome in to have the tires rotated and find out that the two inner tires of the dualie axle need to be replaced. Duly (pun intended) noted and ordered.

2. Monday - I have a soft rear tire on my jeep and so I take it in to my tire gurus at Valley Tire in Santa Rosa. They find a three inch sheet rock screw but are able to repair it for no charge.

3. Tuesday - My husband calls me from work at the coast to say he'll be a little late ~ flat tire on the Honda. What? There is a three inch gash with a utility knife blade wedged in it. I call my guys again arrange to bring the Honda in this afternoon. 

As I finish my conversation with John he says "be careful these kind of things happen in threes". My response, as I snort with laughter is to tell him we already have it covered. We're done with this triumvirate, the triple crown, threes a crowd, and triple play week. The tire is too badly damaged to repair but at least the tread on it's mate is good enough we only need to replace one. Phew!

We're pretty sure #2 and #3 are the direct result of a remodel we did a couple of months ago - dude left behind some flotsam in our gravel parking area that finally found a place to call home. Oh Well! So total damage for the three tires is about $660 ~ oh look it's divisible by three!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Creative Road Trip ~ Part Deux

My parents were both accomplished artists. I always wondered when I'd find my artistic niche. The answer came in 1990 with the simple gift of a handful of vintage beads and the opening of a local bead store. Artisans and customers have often asked about my creative zone, my place to play.

My original studio was on the "L" counter that divided our living room and kitchen. My first creative endeavors were earrings so each project was pretty self contained and there was ample space for a few bead boxes and a place to work. The second year I added necklaces and bracelets to my repertoire and we prepared for our first craft fairs. My husband makes walking sticks and canes, so we've done local fairs as Sticks and Stones for over 20 years.

My munchkin assistant is goddaughter Casey. She is now 26 and a graduate student at University of Chicago. How time flies!

I soon realized I could no longer afford to shop retail. I got my resale license so I could enter the world of wholesale: license to shop and a whole new understanding of the term "business expense". As my body of work expanded space and storage became an issue. Rod wanted the kitchen back and we also wanted to get our office out of the bedroom. 

We decided to demolish the rickety old sun room attached to the back of the house and build a studio/office on the same footprint. The best decision we ever made.

You can never have too much storage space, the key to sanity is being organized. The cabinets and shelves are the main storage areas for my varied crafting interests, the tall workbench is where I prepare packages for shipping, easy on the aging back.

The creativity zone is the old oak desk I got at a garage sale 25 years ago. The magic of this spot is that I can walk away from a project and not have to put it away. I can also store several works in progress on the nearby shelf which gives me options on any given day.

One corner of the room is set up with a "tabletop" studio. I need digital photos for my online store at Etsy and for applications to juried shows. I taught myself how to do product photography and practice has improved my skills. No matter how good you are, the editing tools in your photo program can often be your saving grace.

The office corner: In addition to our craft businesses I also do consulting work so an office space is a must. The light and airy nature of the room is good for focus and the back door to the yard is a great incentive to get up and away from the computer. It doesn't have to cost a lot to furnish your space. Except for the "L" desk unit every other piece of furniture and shelving in the studio/office came from the flea market, garage sales or second hand stores for pennies on the dollar.

So there you have it. Your creative space can be a kitchen counter, a dining room table, a corner of your bedroom or a studio. The key is that you find a place to let your imagination run free. Most important thing is make sure the welcome mat is always out for your muses.

This is my 4th blog in a series about creativity and marketing, if you'd like to catch up on older blogs check the archive for:

12/22/09 The Creative Road Trip
08/21/10 Marketing Close to Home - A primer for the Craft Fair Season

11/19/10 Marketing Close to Home Part Deux

Saturday, July 2, 2011

A Sunday Drive on Friday Morning

The paper said it was going to be 93 today, not my cup of tea. Give me 75 and light breeze and I'm a happy camper.

The gardens are still moist from the rains at the end of June and the pasture's been mowed. No chores? After breakfast and cribbage we decide on a local field trip. We'll head to Armstrong Redwoods for a hike in the shade, and if that doesn't do the trick we'll head for Walk On Beach up the coast and post our butts next to the ocean for a few hours and stay cool.

We pack a picnic and head for the woods about 11. Hungry by the time we get there, we eat first and then head up towards Armstrong Tree with the idea of doing the Pool Ridge Trail Loop (about 2.3 miles).

Fungus on a dead fall - Rod called them Turkey Tails

What we had forgotten (we did this hike about 20 years ago - 20 years younger ago) was the 500 foot climb with lots of switch backs. It was like walking up our 45 degree sloped road. Can you spell shin splints? And of course the temperature and humidity climbed as we did. About 1/2 a mile up the trail we looked at each other and shook our heads - not working, so back down the trail we go and head out to the coast.

Hwy 116 has just been repaved, the temperature falls into the 60s as we head west and there is no traffic - the trifecta of awesome. The drive up Hwy 1 is gorgeous. Even though it's July there are copious amounts of spring wildflowers and the hills still show a hint of green. We do have to watch out for the occasional sidehill salmon ~ grazing cattle to you city dwellers. Flights of pelicans are cruising gracefully up the coastline and then drop out of the sky, like wayward missiles, diving for food.

Walk On Beach is just south of Gualala and the trail allows you to walk along the cliffs at Sea Ranch. Fortunately for us part of the agreement for allowing development of the area was public access.

Walk on Beach trail view

After a walk of about 2 miles we decide it's time for a snack so we head north to Gualala. Here we discover Bones Roadhouse (BBQ, brews and blues music) and split a delicious seafood sampler. In answer to your question ~ no we haven't fallen off the Vegan wagon ~ we are now what Rod calls Flexitarians and occasionally we allow ourselves chicken or seafood. After dining we hit the local bakery for a few cookies for the ride home.

The return trip just as gorgeous and cool, as we head inland towards home the temperature rises, but by the time we hit the driveway it's a reasonable 80 degrees. We read on the porch until dark and then called it a day. A good day!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Adventure Planning

We've just discovered that the last two weeks of July are open for interpretation: no work scheduled, no commitments, and no promises to keep. You know what that means ~ Road Trip!

We rarely plan more than a general direction which is known as the "shall we turn right or left" school of planning. This time we added a few parameters:

  • blue highways
  • temperate climate
  • fishing
  • hiking
  • photography
  • bird watching
If the weather cooperates (not too hot) we may head towards Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon.

Sky Parlor Meadow

If it's unseasonably warm in the Sierra's then perhaps we'll head north to the Smith and Rogue Rivers along the coast. We've travelled Hwy 101 to Oregon every year for 30 years and never get tired of exploring or the view.

Smith River Walk, Smith River, CA

Rogue River

Something to add to your bucket list is a Rogue River Jet Boat trip. It's a 104 mile round trip through some of the most beautiful wilderness you've ever seen. Prepare for an experience of a lifetime and prepare to get wet. It's been 4 years for us, so if we decide on the Oregon Coast for our trip we're going to do it again. They even picked us up at our campground. Here's a link to Jerry's Rogue River Jet Boats to learn a little about the company and it's history:

Life is short ~ don't waste a minute!