Thursday, November 15, 2012

Bandon Thanksgiving Visit 2012

Thursday, November 15

     We have been gone for four days now and I am finally getting around to starting in on my travel blog.  Guess I wore myself out over the past few months and I was enjoying the reprieve! 

    We left Baker City on Monday morning, the 12th, around 10:30, hoping to have time for a leisurely drive over the mountains and into West Linn (Portland area) well before rush hour hit the 205 interstate.  However, it was already lightly snowing in Baker as we left, which should have been an omen!  The roads north of town was icy, we passed an accident at the rest area 8 miles north of town.  Slowly made our way over Ladd, to find signs at the Flying J interchange south of La Grande announcing that the interstate was closed for the next 20 miles.  I quickly pulled out my cell phone and dialed the road conditions number - accident on the freeway.  No word about how long!  So....we continued on to travel over Tollgate Summit.  Only I couldn't check it with road conditions because we can't find a map in the car for the state of Oregon!  I don't know the number of the road!  Call Cherrie and she and Shannon bail us out.  Hwy 204!  Conditions are packed snow, so we continue.  We have the studs on the car! 
Tucker and his Grandpa Dave
     It was actually quite pretty, but then again, I wasn't the one driving!  Little traffic, only a few trucks, which does make the route more appealing than the freeway except for the extra hour it takes to head north and then head south again on the other side! 
     We stop in Pendleton to make an exchange at Wal-Mart and switch drivers.  I drive to the Memaloose Rest Area near Hood River.  We are amazed at the green grass growing along the freeway, especially as we enter the gorge area.  There has been so much rain, but mild temperatures, so everything is lush.  Some trees are still in the gorgeous color stages.  We commented that we have been able to drag fall colors out for nearly three months, starting in early September in Pagosa Springs, CO! 
     Arrive at Liz's shortly after 5pm (205 was a mess!) and out to dinner at the local pub where Liz and Dave are regulars twice a week!  Then over to Gretchen and Shawn's house for a little niece family time with Tucker, etc. 

     Yesterday Rick called Luke while we were driving and Luke indicated he had time and desire for us to stop in Newport enroute down to Bandon.  So we are up and on our way shortly after 8am, bound for the coast!  We took the freeway route - down to Corvallis on I-5 and then over to Newport.  Took us about 2 1/2 hours.  Thick fog in a few places, but it was nice on the coast (and just got nicer the further south we drove!)  Good chance to catch up with Luke, see pictures of his seminary visit, and then enjoy lunch with both Luke and Kady at a little Mom-Pop place right behind their house.  Kady had meetings in Newport for the morning, so she wasn't out in Toledo as we thought!  Glad she could join us because I was afraid we wouldn't see her at all. 
     Pretty afternoon driving down the coast.  Sun dancing in the clouds, lots of color, especially shades of green!  We arrived at Mom's around 5pm.  Rick stopped down in Old Town, got out of the car, and said, "I'm walking the rest of the way!"  He needed to stretch the kinks out!  So I drove the last couple miles down to Beach Loop Drive, and Rick showed up about 45 minutes later! 

Setting sun behind the
pampas grass. 
     Today was a pretty lazy day!  Catch up time, plan out what Mom needs done, church errands. Rick worked on straightening out the drainage of the gutters over the front porch.  Stir fry for dinner (trying to use up some of the wealth of vegetables we brought over!) and then Mom and I went in for the tone chime choir practice.  I ended up getting to play some bells because people were absent.  That was fun.  I worked on some Christmas invitations for Mom on the computer today and we printed them off tonight and will get them all colored in by Sunday.  We did have a gorgeous sunset!  

One of our mushroom finds...
     After a relaxing morning, and with the sun still shining, Rick and I took off around noon to take a hike out to Blacklock Point - just north of Cape Blanco.  We hiked this trail once before about five years ago.  Figured we went about 6 1/2 miles all together as we wound in and out of the myriad of trails in the area which connect the point, the Oregon Coast Trail, and trails over to Floras Lake.  Much of the terrain is impenetrable salal, huckleberry, and rhodedendron bushes (with enough gorse intermixed to make life interesting!)  I was on a quest to find a blooming flower and sure enough, ONE purple aster greeted me!  Mostly I called this hike a stroll among the fungi flowers!  The mushrooms were popping up EVERYWHERE!  I found so many different types and colors.  Wish I had known more about them, but I took lots of pictures to show my expert, Pastor Katy!  We hiked out to the point, where you can look south over some rocks to Cape Blanco and the blinking lighthouse, north along the shoreline past Floras Lake, and out over a point of rocks breaking up the surf.  By the time we arrived, clouds were drifting in and the skies were hazier than earlier in the day.  We explored the point, then backtracked to where the Coast Trail heads north and followed that for about 1.5 miles to a point where the trail drops down from the headland and follows the beach for another mile.  We stopped before the drop, but found a really cool arch rock down on the beach. 
Out on Blacklock Point (view north)
Porcupine friend
    Besides the variety of mushrooms our wildlife discoveries for the day were twofold:  a little salamander that posed for us in the middle of the trail, and ....a porcupine!  The latter was only about 20' away from us!  We watched from the distance and made sure not to anger him.  I have never seen one that close in the wild before!  Pretty cool! 
This was one of Rick's mushroom
discoveries!  Lemon yellow beauty! 
Arch or Tunnel Rock down
on the beach
     The hike was wonderful, but overall most of the trek was in the damp, wet woods!  This particular trail has many little side trails to route you around lakes that have formed in the middle of the main path.  One section even has boardwalks - slippery - but effective to avoid much of the water!
     Back to the house around 4:30 to cook up our corn on the cob, chicken, and make a huge tossed salad.  Good dinner!  Now to finish downloading the pictures!  

     Today we have planned an outing to the big city - Coos Bay and North Bend!  Errands to run!  But we have to wait for the housecleaner to come (Susie comes once a month to help Mom with the big cleaning projects), so it is nearly 10:45 before we leave Bandon.  The day has turned out better than forecast - sunshine in the morning.  We don't get rain until the trip home! 
     Visits to Joann's Fabrics, Dollar Tree, BiMart, and Perry's with lunch at Sizzler sandwiched in the middle.  Mom picked up supplies for the Advent craft, favors for the women's Christmas party, a new faucet for when the plumber comes on Monday.  We bought paint for Rick to do the basement walls, including a first time painting of the concrete wall in the basement bedroom.  It was NOT an inexpensive day for Mom!  We  drove home via Charleston, picking up about 7 pounds of fresh tuna off a boat basin seller.  Stopped near Seven Devil's Road to scope out the property that Mac and Diane have purchased.  

     Work Day!  Mom went to a baby shower and was gone about 5 hours!  Rick and I did a few chores and I worked on my Santa project as well as finishing up Mom's birthday present (I had to get it sent in to Blurb while the coupon was still good!).  The weather progressively went downhill as the day progressed, although there were moments of beauty scattered about.  

Rick puts primer on the main basement wall
     These two days were marked by some of the most intense winds and storms we have experienced here on the coast.  While Newport recorded upwards of 100 mph, and parts of Portland were without power for over 24 hours, Bandon JUST had wind gusts of 85 mph and about 2 1/2 inches of rain.  The south windows rattled and shook - and leaked!  We weathered it all well, but there were moments when you wondered!  I was very grateful for the warm shelter we had!  
Huge Bible we found in the bottom of the trunk
     We spent the two days with church activities, shopping for Thanksgiving, and working in the basement on Monday cleaning out the trunk and basement shelves while Rick put on the primer coat of paint.  Mom and I discovered a Bible in the trunk that belonged to my Great Grandfather Walker....circa 1880.  It is about 5 inches thick and includes poetry of all the Psalms, a concordance, a dictionary, an illustrated glossary of the Bible, and is a parallel Bible to boot - both King James and Revised Version.  (That's NOT Revised Standard which came much later!)  Not much family history inside unfortunately, just the record of the five children who were born.  Mom's wedding dress has yellow stains all over it.  I was hoping maybe it could be donated to the theater group, but at this may be terminal.  We did wash the embroidered quilt that was given to Dad upon his retirement from Northminster - it spruced it up considerably!  

     Can you tell that I have waited an entire week to catch up with my blog/journal??  Bad girl, Ginger!  Hence the brief and somewhat dry and dull narrative.  
     By late Tuesday the storm had abated.  The winds only howled for two days!  We spent Tuesday working on projects and baking....rolls for Thursday and a pecan pie.  The rest of the pies were baked on Wednesday, along with prep for soup for Wed dinner, planning out dishes, fixing decorations, etc.  We also finished up Mom's Christmas cards!  
Shore birds in foam
Foam on the beach
     Rick and I took a walk Tuesday afternoon and marveled at the amount of water along the road, the battered pampas grass, and run-off water everywhere.  Wednesday the sun came out once again late in the afternoon after an intense high surf.  I was between baking and the rolls were rising, so I escaped to the BEACH - my first time down since arriving over a week ago!  What a shame!  I walked down past Face Rock viewpoint, where I couldn't go any further.  The beach was covered with frothy foam - blowing and tumbling like tumbleweeds across the sand.  Found three birds huddled in the foam, uprooted trees, and enjoyed photographing alphabet letters from the kelp, etc.  I found a bottle on the beach with Asian writing on it and covered with barnacles.  Tsunami??  After a magical time on the beach, we finished it off with a stellar sunset!
Sunset Wednesday evening
     Rick worked much of Wednesday finishing all the painting in the basement - stairway cement wall down, storage shelves and doors, sewing wall, bedroom wall and closet!!  It looks so nice now!  He left a window open to vent things out since Luke opted to stay in that bedroom!  
     Other highlight of Wednesday?  Luke arrived!!!!    And in testing the roll recipe for Thursday, I misread the time to bake at 25 minutes instead of 15 minutes - our rolls were a little heavy on crust!  Oh well - they were edible when dipped in the soup! 

Luke and his Grandma Mac
     What a beautiful day!!  Sunshine most of the day and for the second day in a row, ending with an amazing sunset display of color in the western sky.  Mom and I worked in the kitchen much of the morning, although Rick and I left for an hour for a walk in the roads on either side of Seabird Drive.  Luke helped Grandma decorate and set the table while we were gone.  We were experimenting today by cooking the turkey upside down and in a cooking bag.  We found it cooked FASTER (only 3 hours for 18.5 pounds) and it was VERY moist!  
     Rick left for about an hour around 12:30 to help with the community dinner and in particular to deliver a meal to one of the women in the church who fell and injured ribs.  
Rick, Bobbi, Jenna, and George
     Bobbi, George, and their daughter Jenna arrived around 1:00.  We managed to sit down for our meal shortly after 1:30.  Menu included turkey and dressing, gravy, mashed potatoes, yams, broccoli, apple salad (Bobbi), relishes (carrots, celery, olives), rolls w/ pumpkin butter, cranberry juice or sparkling cider, pecan, apple, and pumpkin pies.  In other words, a pretty standard Thanksgiving meal!  
     Jenna had to leave by 3pm to go to work, but Bobbi and George stayed and played a round of dominoes.  Then George went out to talk with Rick and watch football, while the rest of us played a round of Quiddler.  Good game day for me personally, as I think I won both rounds!  Later in the evening we also broke out Sequence!  

Friday, November 23: 
Sunrise Friday morning! 
     Here I am again, trying to play 'catch up'!! It is Tuesday, the 27th and  I haven't written in the blog for five days!!  
Rick & Luke build a railing. 
     Friday morning Luke and Rick built a railing for Grandma along the ramp built off the porch deck - she uses the ramp to wheel the garbage can out and to get the mail, etc.  We want hand holds everywhere!  It came out nicely, although too damp to apply paint until a drier time of year! 
Mom tries it out! 
Luke enjoys a moment on the beach. 
Sea scape at the entrance 
     Mom and I ran errands and checked chores off "the list".  After lunch Luke and I took a walk on the beach while Rick and Mom delivered pumpkin pie to Betty and bought some more safety handholds to install.   Mostly we watched the weather and tried to decide if we should venture up to Coos Bay and Shore Acres for the Christmas Light Show.  When the forecast rain still hadn't arrived by 4:30, we decided it was time to chance it! 
Cruising the lights
Reflections in the pond. 
     And we timed it perfectly!  A very light mist subsided as we arrived at the state park and the rain didn't return until we were preparing to leave!   Mom made a very WISE decision in suggesting maybe she should use the wheelchair!  It was dark, and the paths are bumpy and a little slick.  The wheelchair made it so much easier to navigate!!  And I think Mom thoroughly enjoyed it!!  The lights are incredible - the animations just get more complex each year!  I especially always love the area down around the Japanese Garden because the pond reflects all the lights in so many amazing ways.  Afterwards....we were going to stop at a Chowder House, then Luke remembered there was a Thai Restaurant.  We opted for it, only to discover it was closed already!  So we ended up at KumYon's Chinese in Coos Bay.  Good meal!  Ended day with games .... and a chance to try out my new mini cribbage board with Luke!
Saturday, November 24:
     Relaxing day with Luke - he and Rick watched alot of football including following the Baker Bulldog game on the computer!  What a game that was...and the Bulldogs are again playing for the state championship next week!  
Back side of Grand Army of the Republic star. 
     Mom and I went through the "heirloom cupboard" up above the refrigerator - recording with a photograph and description what the items are and where they came from.  Then we got to looking at some of the jewelry in her dresser, and discovered Civil War medals and memorabilia from my Great Grandpa Robert McLean (brother of Eneas).  That was kinda fascinating!  

Sunday, November 25: 
Traditional Grandma Visit photo! 
     A beautiful day today!  Luke is up and ready to leave by 8:30 am.  Ends up he has to drive up to Vancouver, WA to pick up Kady.  Her ride clear back to Newport fell apart.  Hence, no church this morning for Luke!  Mom and I take off right after Luke for her SS class and church, while Rick takes a long walk clear down to the jetty.  
Reflections were awesome at low tide. 
     Sunday afternoon I returned to the basement to finish up some projects.  Late in the afternoon I headed down to the beach for another walk.  I went down to the end of Coquille Point and watched the waves crash into the tunnels there!  The tide was quite low and will get even better in the next few days.  Did see a few star fish!  

Monday, November 26:
     Baking day!  The women's group has a bake sale tomorrow at Hennick's and Mom wants to take a couple of pies, in addition to nut bread.  She is up early and busy in the kitchen! Nut bread done before we head into town to recycle cans and fix the bulletin boards at the church.  Back after lunch to make two apple pies.  Mom handles the crust while I peel and chop apples and fix the 'innards'!  
     Later afternoon Rick and I head over to Betty's house.  She has asked for some help in putting up a wall hanging.  It takes Rick about 5 minutes to finish, but we stay and visit a little.  She is lonely!  
ANOTHER gorgeous sunset! 
     I spend part of the afternoon reading through magazines!  We had a stack delivered by Jed in Pagosa and I still hadn't finished looking at them.  Mostly pulled out recipes, pages to fold, and then recycled them.  
     Been cooking a roast in the crockpot all day.  Mom had a hankering for a pot roast.  I am a little disappointed - the meat got overcooked while the veggies were undone.  I had to put them into the microwave!  
     A few games and then Mom goes to bed, while I head downstairs to finish up my projects in the basement!  I can't do any more for lack of polyfiber stuffing!  But I have accomplished alot!  (One complete Santa, and partially completed Santa and two partial snowmen!)

Tuesday, November 27: 
Mom's Tree all pretty! 

A couple of Jed ornaments! 
      Up really early today for some before 6am.  I finish my devotion and drawing by 8am.  Most mornings I have spent until 9 or later in getting everything done.  Mom is intent on having an apple pie to eat, so that is the first item of business on her list today!  I peel more apples!!  We get that into the oven and then begin bringing all the Christmas stuff upstairs.  TODAY IS DECORATION DAY!  
     With a short break to deliver the nutbreads and pies to Hennicks and pick up a few items (including wheat bread to serve with tonight's dinner), we work until 3 to decorate the Christmas tree, hang all the banners, change greenery, and put up the lights outside (Rick did that part!).  What would have been a tremendous job for Mom alone!  All looks really good and festive!  
Sunset behind Face Rock (a little too north to see
much of the Face!)
     Rick and I take a walk down on the beach to Coquille Point (low tide and sunset) and then walk back along the road to Mom's.  In the meantime we have had turkey soup simmering all day in the crock pot.   No more turkey in the fridge....just soup stock in the freezer!  
     Games and apple pie in the evening, while I also try to get caught up on this blog!!  


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Elkhorn Peak in November!

FRIDAY, November 2
Click HERE to view the best of today's pictures!

Turning off on Marble Pass Road
     So...Rick and I decided to climb Elkhorn Peak one final time before the snow really flew for the year and snowed the night before!  Friday morning I looked up at the mountains and thought, "they have more snow on them now than they did yesterday!"  We took off up Marble Creek Pass Road anyway, figuring we would get as far as we could get and make our final decision from there as to our goal for the day!
Honda on top of pass
     The Elkhorns were gorgeous with their fresh dusting of snow and the tamarack trees, along with lower elevation cottonwoods, still in golden glory.  Western dock, which Luke long ago renamed Wild African Turkey Grass, was a flaming red-brown, a beautiful contrast with the white snow, blue skies (MOST of the time), browns and greens.  We found Marble Creek Road just as awful as usual, particularly with the rocky sections always worrying you about punctured tires.  Rick wondered if the snow didn't pad things a little on the higher stretches.  It takes about 50 minutes of slow, deliberate driving to trek the six miles to the top of the pass.  But...the Honda is a trooper!
Western dock reds contrast with the snow. 
     Windy on top!!  We put on plenty of windproof gear, warm gloves, and take off up the Elkhorn Crest Trail.  It is about 3 miles of gradual uphill to the point at the base of the ridge that cuts UP to the summit of the peak.  The trail has more snow than we expected - remains of the heavier snow two weeks ago - but in patches in odd places!  Much of it had been shaped by the wind into interesting fins and cornices already.  The red dock provided bold splashes of color against the white of the snow.  In one place I thought, 'why is there an orange electric cord across the trail?' when I then realized it was stems of the dock broken up and scattered!  (Rick said it was a LONG extension cord to light up all the Christmas trees!)
Ice Flowers! 
Twin Lakes Basin from Elkhorn Peak
     We love this section of the crest trail for the many 'peek-a-boo' saddles where you can capture a glimpse of the Baker Valley even though you are hiking for the most part on the Sumpter side of the range.  The Wallowa Mts. were visible in the distance with their own fresh cloak of snow.  The skies were EVER changing - with the gusty winds, clouds were moving quickly over us in swirling fashion.  Sometimes black clouds, sometimes puffy, sometimes just wisps of fog.  Everything was layered on the southwest side with a covering of hoarfrost.  I remarked to Rick at one point that I couldn't find any wildflowers, until I realized I was seeing plenty of white flowers: ICE FLOWERS!  Many of the flower seedpods were totally covered in frost, giving them a petal-shaped crystal flower formation.
Rick in a reflective moment...or was he waiting for me?
     We stopped at the point of the trail where we were going to start the cross-country UP, grabbed water and snacks, and then became the actual climb.  Footing in the partial snow was better than we expected - but glad we were wearing our summer boots with excellent traction (although by the end of the day our boots were definitely soaked through!)  I commented to Rick at one point that I felt like a true mountaineer: bundled up, wind howling, slowly climbing with hiking poles providing a little extra stability (Thank you, Jed and Luke!)  It was beautiful!!   We climbed to the top of the the false summit, and decided that was good enough.  We had a view from there and at the moment the peak was hidden in the clouds.  It would have been another 10 minutes to gain the actual summit, but not necessary.  (With old age comes great wisdom as when to stop!) We didn't stay on top long.  I didn't even get an inuksuk made for Luke. (Sorry, son, but I did THINK of you!)  We were never sure which of the dark clouds might decide to linger and actually produce something white and wet that could make a great day spiral downhill fast!
     Back to the truck at 3 - total trip was four hours up and back.  What a great adventure!  And a view of Elkhorn Peak we hadn't seen before!  Thank you, God, for the opportunity and health to experience your glorious creation!

On top of Elkhorn 'false' Summit.