Monday, December 31, 2007

Riverview and Redwood Nature Trails



Happy New Year! I completely lost track of the date. I couldn't believe it when I looked at the clock/calendar and discovered that it was New Year's Eve. The place we are staying seems to be the local "strip" and we have traffic going by all day long. We're not sure what these folks are doing, but they seem to just drive by checking out the surf and then drive on. We figure they must be trolling for surfer dudes, because this is a big surfer dude hang-out. We've enjoyed watching them through our living room window.
Today we hiked the Riverview and Redwood Nature Trails within Alfred E. Loeb State Park, here in Brookings. Very nice. We learned of these hikes in a book we've used many times. For a book of great hikes in Oregon, check out this link:
We've used this book many times, and it has never disappointed us. This hike took us through a forest where we could see Myrtlewood trees and Coastal Redwoods. It turns out Myrtlewood trees are in the same family with Bay, Laurel, Cinnamon, and Sassafras trees. We picked some leaves and broke them in half. They gave off the most heavenly fragrance of camphor--sort of sweet and earthy at the same time. While the book told us about the various trees we would see, it didn't tell us about the fast moving waterfall that we crossed over many times via wooden footbridges. It was a good hike to start out on. Not too difficult. We are both testing out what our knees can tolerate, and this seemed a good level. While the book rated it "easy," we both agreed that it was more "moderate." On the other hand, maybe it was our knees that told us the difficulty of the hike. In any event, we enjoyed ourselves, and we were treated to something we hadn't seen before in the Myrtlewood trees.
Tomorrow we'll head on and stop in the campground we found in Redwood National Park. We've enjoyed this spot, but there is an awful lot of traffic going by during the day. George and Gracie haven't appreciated all the people walking by, the cars, and especially the dogs. The place we're heading is fairly remote. There was one motorhome there on Sunday, but we figure we will have the place to ourselves now that the work week is returning. We're hoping we will see some of the Roosevelt Elk that are rumored to hang out in the meadow across from the campground. Im hoping I'll get a chance to try out my new long lens.
We may be out of cell phone reach, which means we won't have an internet connection. If that's the case, we'll check back in a few days. In the meantime, have a safe and and enjoyable new year celebration.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Brookings, OR





We got as far as Brookings today. We need to get groceries and get organized. We are staying at a place with the surf crashing right outside our window. There are surfers in wetsuits. Brrrrr. I think I'd be cold in a wetsuit if I were wearing it on dry land. It rained most of the day today, but the sun came out for a few glimpses of the beautiful southern Oregon coastline. South of Bandon, I took a few shots of the outcroppings. If my "test drive" of this wireless internet service lasts long enough, I'll try posting a couple of them. I don't want to stay on too long because I don't know how much time I'll have. We are going to explore the Redwoods tomorrow. Crescent City is just about 27 miles down the road. Tonight we'll be visiting our favorite Fred Meyer! Two floors! Do we know how to have fun or what? So, when I have another free shot at the internet, I'll tell you more. To use this beyond our "test drive" is 10 bucks for 24 hours. Sheesh. Til later . . .

So now it's later--the next day in fact. Now I'm using my fallback method of getting onto the internet--Mike's cell phone. It pays to live with a techie. We've spent the day checking out Brookings, which is a town we kind of like. The Fred Meyer store is only the beginning! But today, we also left TLOFM (The Land Of Fred Meyer) and headed across the border into California. We explored a small (very small) part of Redwood NP (From the Redwood Forest . . .) and found a terrific campground inside the park that even has a water hookup. When camping without hook-ups, it's great to at least have water.

We discovered that Redwood NP is actually a national park within a series of state parks. When driving down Hwy 101, you actually go into and leave the park several times before reaching the end. The park stretches 50 miles down the coastline, which is rocky and rough. There is a spectacular lookout with big breakers, rocky outcroppings, and foaming waters. Mike was better able to capture it photographically with his video camera.

We took a short (very short) hike on a trail where we saw the Big Tree, and it was incredibly huge. 304 feet tall and estimated to be 1,500 years old. Steinbeck wrote, "The redwoods once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always . . . from them comes silence and awe. The most irreverent of men, in the presence of redwoods, goes under a spell of wonder and respect."

We learned that around 200 feet off the ground, and living as a part of these tall trees, is an separate ecosystem with species that live their entire lives within this tree-top world, never touching the ground. Fantastic. Although I've seen the redwoods many times, I never get tired of looking at them, and I never get over how big they are.

Our plan is to spend tonight and tomorrow night here in Brookings, and then we would like to go down and spend at least one night within the park. The campground we saw is across from a meadow that is well marked with signs warning not to approach the wild Roosevelt Elk that roam the area, especially in the evening. We were treated to a rare sunny day in the park today, and we are hoping the weather will hold just a little bit longer so that we can enjoy our time there in the sunshine.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Winchester Bay, Oregon

http://maps.google.com/maps?q=Winchester+Bay,+Uninc+Douglas+County,+OR,+USA&sa=X&oi=map&ct=title



We managed to get out of Dodge this afternoon. We made two stops, one in Sherwood, to get Mike the hiking boots he forgot; only when we stopped, he realized he didn't have his wallet. So . . . we ditched the hiking boot effort and drove to Newberg, where we unhitched the trailer in the abandoned parking lot of the old Wilco (which had conveniently moved in September), while Mike drove the truck home to fetch his wallet, his hiking boots, and the cash he'd left sitting on his desk. (Sigh.)



Ok! So we finally got going around 4:00 p.m. and drove in the rain and dark until we reached Winchester Bay, which is just south of Reedsport. You can check out the link above to see exactly where we are. This area is great for ATVers (like us!). It is near the southern part of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. We arrived here around 7:30, and we're presently waiting for our homemade chicken pot pies to come out of the oven. And hey! There goes the timer now!



So, since I don't have anything of interest to say, except that we actually got off the mountain, I'll stop here. Tomorrow, we'll continue on south along the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway (aka Hwy 101), until we reach Redwood National Park, or whatever else suits us. We expect a very short day tomorrow. Take care.

Still here . . .

It seems the snow has stopped, but we didn't get enough rain to clear the roads. We had about 10 inches before all was said and done. While we were promised a higher snow level (400 feet above us), the snow that fell still remains. As I write this Tractorman is out plowing the road so we can get out. The place that concerns us most is the dipsy-doodle on our shared driveway. Many a car and pick-up truck has slid off into the ditch at that spot, including my old Jeep Grand Cherokee. The idea of towing a 35-foot long, 14-foot tall fifth wheel trailer over that spot is more than a little bit terrifying! So, the temperature has risen, and we expect the snow will continue to melt today. If Mike plows the road, we should find only slush at that spot. However, if it happens at all, it looks like it will be late in the day before we can be on our way. We may get only as far as the nearest RV park, but we will be down below the snow level. We're keeping our fingers crossed.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Plan B

We're promised another 6-plus inches of snow today, and THEN we're promised melting and rain. Plan B is to leave on Friday, the 28th. And if that doesn't work, then the next day and the next day. As it turns out, everything seemed to take this opportunity to break, and so Mike has been spending his packing time fixing things. Maybe today he'll have time to pack.

So that's the plan for now, and I'll keep you posted daily on our progress, even if it is only in our own driveway. Pretty exciting so far, eh? (We're not going to Canada, but I always take every opportunity to practice my Canadian.)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

White Christmas? Bah! Humbug!






We awoke to about 8 inches of snow. Unless it starts raining soon, we won't be leaving tomorrow as planned. From what we understand, the weather will start warming up by Friday; however, not much is said about what will happen at the higher elevations--1,400 feet for us.

When we decided to leave after Christmas, we discussed the possibility of snow. We agreed that in our many years in Portland, we hadn't seen snow on Christmas. The weatherman agrees. We heard on the news that the last time there was "more than a trace" of snow on Christmas was way back in 1937.

We seem to be able to control the weather with our actions. When we installed an air conditioner one summer at our other house, we caused the wettest and coolest summer ever for all of Portland. When we went to Europe for our 25th wedding anniversary, bad weather (in mid-May!) caused a cancellation of our flight. And so, this just seems another in a string of weather bad luck for us. No problem. We still have plenty to do to get ready.

But enough whining. We will continue to keep you posted on our departure date. Until then, take care all.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Teeth Chattering



And not because of the cold! Our teeth are chattering at the prospect of a major snow event, which would block us from leaving on Thursday. How can we be snowbirds if the snow keeps us from leaving?
We had a nice farewell dinner with our family last night (Christmas Eve). All of our kids are doing so well. It's always a treat when we can all be together.
Here are some pictures. The snow shot was taken with the new camera Santa brought. Wow! My shutter finger is itching, but not for snow. Even the cats are bored. We want to go!
Merry Christmas to all. Any other time we'd be happy about this white Christmas; and so, while it has us worried about our departure, we hope you are all doing well and enjoying this rare weather event on Christmas day.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

This Land Is Your Land

As I write this, we are in the final preparations for our trip. December 27th is the big day--after the trash goes! We figured three months sitting in the trashcan would be an experiment, the outcome of which we were not interested in viewing.

The title of this blog is taken from a Woodie Guthrie song that I have always loved, This Land is Your Land. I like it for its upbeat toe-tapping rhythm, and also, I love the message. When I chose the title, I did a search for the lyrics. As I read them, I was surprised at how completely Guthrie was able to touch on America's geography, her culture, and her people. If you are interested, you can see for yourself at: http://www.arlo.net/resources/lyrics/this-land.shtml. As we travel, I may make reference to lines from the song as we see other things, beyond the Ribbon of Highway, that are relevant to our adventure. Politics aside, I believe fortune smiled on me the day I was born an American citizen, and I'm glad that I am able to call her beautiful landscape my home.

I hope you will enjoy the pictures and the narrative to come because, after all, this land was made for you and me.