Thursday, July 29, 2010

THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES

Our first destination for this day was Rocky Point Lookout and required us hauling the 4 wheeler up Highway 12 to the Powell Junction where we would again get on the Lolo Motorway. So after another cold cereal breakfast we were on our way. This part of the Motorway was vastly improved over what we had traveled the previous day. We made good time and after only one wrong turn we made it up to Rocky Point. The lookout attendant had arrived just ahead of us. She stays up there about 5 days at a time and often has her two children with her but didn’t this time. She knew about the geocache which we found quickly. She invited us up in the lookout tower and had us sign the guest book. It’s a great location for a lookout as there were panoramic views in all directions. After looking around a bit we made a quick trip back to the truck having traveled only 18 relatively easy miles in contrast to the day before.

Our next goal was to hike into Jerry Johnson Hot Springs and find a cache that we suspected was going to be a problem because the only 2 finders had indicated that the coordinates were at least 100’ off. I thought I knew where the footbridge was that we would use to cross the river so I didn’t even have my GPSr turned on. After traveling well past the bridge I realized we had somehow missed it. As it turns out the bridge was right in the middle of a road work area where we had been stopped while workers were clearing a slide off the road. I guess I had been looking at the slide and road work when we passed the bridge. So we reversed course and this time parked at a pullout within the work area.

It was about a mile and a half one way hike up to the springs. We had been warned that there might be “nudies” about. We saw one couple that Jack swore had no clothes on but they were wrapped in towels when we saw them. There was, however, a young lady from Holland in a bikini that could have qualified for a Playboy Bunny. The cache was just as difficult as we suspected but we did eventually find it. We posted accurate coordinates so future geocachers shouldn’t have so much trouble.

It was a hot day so it didn’t take long for me to get enough of the hot springs and make my way down to the creek which was only about 50’ away. Besides, that’s where the Bunny was (with her parents). Tenderfoot that I am I didn’t want to walk back to the hot springs so I called to Jack to bring me my boots. He didn’t come but kept protesting but I couldn’t hear what he was saying due to the loud roar of the creek. Finally I gimped my way back to the springs to find that a Jaccident had occurred. He had slipped on a rock and torn the toenail loose on his pinkie. I had a small multitool with me but it had no scissors, just wire cutters. I said, “Jack, this is going to hurt you worse than me”. Actually, I just cut a small portion of the nail back so his sock wouldn’t hang on it. Jack bravely limped the mile and a half back to the truck still ready for more.

The next cache attempt was a real nightmare. The writeup made it sound as if it was an easy cache just down by the river. However, after busting through the brush down to the river we found it was on the other side of the river. To make a long story short we drove a mile or so back to the Wilderness Gateway campground which was across the river and eventually found a trail we thought might lead to the cache. After a laborious hike of a half mile or so mostly uphill we still couldn’t get any closer than 1/3 mile from the cache. Of course, Jack is doing this with a very sore toe. We gave up on that one and I tried to temper my language. The only positive note was that we saw a moose near the trailhead.

Our last cache of the day was way down below Lowell called “Life’s a Beach”. As you would think, it was on a beautiful beach and a family was swimming there. This one took a bit of looking but we finally found it under a tree root obscured by a rock. The hint was “At the base of a fir tree”. Guess what? There are fir trees all over.

We didn’t get back to the farm until after 8:00 where Kathy had a delicious hot lasagna dinner waiting for us.

We pretty much took it easy the next day although we did go over to the Gilbert Cemetery where I gave Jack some supervision in getting my “Gilbert Scale Pine” cache. It’s been there several years but it wasn’t until this year that I felt he was big enough to tackle it. The cache is a jar that hangs about 40’ up in a big Ponderosa pine. As you can see from the pictures, he made it just fine.

We did a little rifle shooting in the afternoon and generally took it easy although I did take a 16 mile mountain bike ride in the late afternoon. I told Jack it was necessary for me to do those things so I can continue to keep up with him for a while. And it’s true.

The next morning we headed into town. I had several caches lined up for Jack so he could reach the century mark. He lacked about 7 or 8 and I had already done all but two of them. The most eventful one was near the river a few miles out of Lewiston. Jack got over anxious and slid down into a steep little ravine. However, the cache wasn’t down there and he didn’t have his hiking boots on so he took forever to get out. What was down there was the mother lode of biting insects. He counted 55 bites and was itching like a man on a fuzzy tree.

Before we took a nice swim in the Snake that afternoon Jack had accumulated 101 caches so, mission accomplished.

We had Jackson at the airport in Spokane for his 6:15 a.m. flight the next morning. If he had nearly as much fun as I did it was a successful visit. M/W

JULY AFTERNOON STORM

Wednesday (July 28) we were out the door right after breakfast. Mike and Nellie continue to practice their backpacking skills while I tag along for the exercise. I laugh to myself that Mike exercises regularly to be able to do this hiking while I call the hike my exercise. We walked up Dobson Road and out Curfman Road toward the cemetery -- just short of two miles. If we had known the distance was short of two miles, we'd have walked a bit farther.

I am so happy to report that the repair I did to Nellie's pack is working well. I simply sewed denim over the top of the fleecy fabric tabs that protect her belly from the buckles. Unfortunately the fleecy stuff acted as a magnet for weed seeds, but the denim does stay clean.

It was a beautiful morning, but in the afternoon the dark sky to the south west announced the possibility of a storm, which brings a different kind of beauty. "I'd better get my bike ride then, " said Mike. (See what I mean about the exercise.) Nellie also let me know that since Mike was riding his bike, we should go for our afternoon walk, despite our earlier hike.


So I took the camera for some shots of the distant storm. Here's a picture of the farmhouse over the top of the barley in the north field.




These pictures just look off across the prairie. I love the grain in the foreground and for miles around with the backdrop of the dark sky. I saw only a few lightning strikes on the other side of the canyon with faint thunder. "Did you hear that?" said Nellie, her eyes asking for reassurance. Nellie doesn't like thunder and lightning. "Come on," I said. "It's way over there."




It's times like this that I wish I knew how to use the panorama feature on my camera. Hmmmm . . . daughter and husband coming for visit. Something to play with . . .



Evening sun through the clouds after the storm. Very little rain came from it. KW

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

MORE ADVENTURES OF THE DYNAMIC DUO

After a good night’s sleep we got up early and had cold cereal for breakfast. It was just a short trip to where we parked the truck and off loaded the 4 wheeler. Our objective was to find geocaches at 3 lookouts. I had waypoints in my GPSr for all of the roads we would have to take. A good portion of our journey was to be on the Lolo Motorway which has been used for centuries for commerce and trade among several Indian tribes. Our starting point was on Saddle Camp road which was about good enough to take your family auto. I figured the famous Lolo Motorway would be at least as good – wrong. I would not enjoy taking my truck on a good portion of the Motorway. We were in 3rd and 4th gears most of the time on the 4 wheeler.

We arrived at Castle Butte Lookout about 9:30 and found the geocache immediately. We were only the 3rd party and the 2nd this year to log this cache. We looked around the lookout and area and took a little break before departing.

Our next destination was Indian Post Office Lake which not only has a lookout but a geocache that Ken and I placed there seven years ago. We had to do some back tracking before arriving at the lookout site (the actual lookout is gone) about midday and again found the cache along with a benchmark right away. This cache was placed in 2008 and we were the first to log it. After a brief look around we traveled the short distance back to my cache (Indian Post Office Lake View) which Jack found and logged. We had lunch right there and enjoyed the beautiful view.

After lunch we had to back track a ways west before turning north toward Horseshoe Lake Lookout. We arrived at the lookout site (the actual lookout was long gone here too) in about an hour. The rock formations at this site were absolutely fantastic – very much like something you would see in southern Utah only a different color. Unfortunately, we did not find the geocache. I had seen recent 4 wheeler tracks up to this area and I’m pretty sure the cache was stolen. The same party owned this cache as the other 3 lookouts we visited and they were all well done and easily found.

We arrived back at camp before 5:00 after having traveled 65 rough miles on the 4 wheeler. That gave us plenty of time for a refreshing swim before supper. I had planned on this being a longer day than it was so we had a cold tuna/chicken macaroni dish for supper. Again Jack made us a nice camp fire for the evening. We turned in fairly early and Jack hung his flashlight up in the tent so we read for a while. I slept even better this night than the one before. To be continued. M/W

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

BACKPACK PRACTICE WITH MIKE AND NELLIE

"I thought maybe you would come with us today," invited Mike. "I can use the company to take my mind off the pain," he laughed. Mike and Nellie are practicing for the upcoming backpacking trip into the Boulder White Clouds area of central Idaho accompanied by Hallie, Nick and Clint. I will stay at home. I am the self-appointed anchor person. When they arrive at the house, my role is to say the important thing: "Go take a shower. Dinner will be ready in half an hour." Without me they would be tired and at a loss to organize themselves and get dinner and I know it.

This morning at Gilbert is cool and overcast, though not cold -- a great morning for a hike.

So, Mike snapped a very excited Nellie into her pack, hefted his pack onto his back, and picked up his walking poles. Off we went. Much of the time was passed in silence. I could think of nothing to say and he was concentrating.


At the corner I stopped to take these pictures as Mike moved on down Curfman Road. I paused for only a few minutes, but Mike was walking with uncharacteristic speed and I eventually had to break into a trot to catch him. At the Belding place we turned back, which would make a hike of three miles. We felt drops of rain -- didn't amount to much.



The wheat is turning from green to amber, and it looks good. A farmer never knows until harvest, but this crop of wheat appears exceptional.



And then, as Mike walked back down "Plank's Pitch," I thought the vista in front of me was beautiful -- the dark clouds over the grain fields on Central Ridge with the sun glowing off the wheat on this side of Little Canyon.

We were glad to be back at the farmhouse. Nellie's pack weighed in at 11.5 pounds, Mike's at 41. That's more weight than either of them will carry on the actual trip.

My sewing? Sunday I made a pouch for the water purification kit embroidered with the "M/W" that Hallie designed for us. I made it of some lightweight polyester fabric we picked up at Jo-Ann's as we left town on Saturday. (I tried to talk Mike into letting me re-purpose a cycling shirt he tore when he wrecked his bike a couple of years ago. "I wear that shirt on the farm," he replied incredulously; "that's a nice shirt!" Well, I tried.) Yesterday I repaired Nellie's backpack. Today? Not just sure yet. Several projects call out for finishing, and so do a couple of machine embroidery designs. Hmmmm.

Yesterday I spend some time working at my dilapidated raised bed garden. It can't be said that we're growing our own vegetables -- not yet -- though the other night we had some spinach I had frozen from the garden in town. Here at the farm I have bush beans and lemon cucumbers coming up well, but the carrots, beets, and lettuce were mostly no shows. Why? Old seed? Some critter? Too late in the season? I don't know. But yesterday I replanted -- beans, carrots, beets, lettuce. We'll see. It's probably too late but I had the space . . . KW

Monday, July 26, 2010

MORE ADVENTURES OF ACTION JACKSON AND THE GETALONG GRAMPA

We picked up grandson, Jackson, from Denver last late Friday evening in Spokane. Saturday we made some final preparations for our adventure and then headed for the farm. The next morning we were off early in the Dakota towing the 4 wheeler heading up Highway 12 along the Clearwater river and later the Lochsa river. Our first stop for a couple of geocaches was in Greer a few miles up river from Orofino. We were successful on only one, however, which was hidden just off the highway toward the river.

We stopped in Kamiah to gas up both the truck and 4 wheeler and then made a stop in Kooskia. We went to a nice park there where Jack found the smallest cache he had ever found. The next stop was a short way up river where we took a Pathtag from a cache. A Pathtag is a collectable enameled decorated coin about the size of a nickel with a small hole in it.

Our main mission for this day was to do an 11 mile hike up Fish Creek and back to find a geocache there. Many years ago Murray and I had backpacked this same route so it was somewhat familiar. I had a belt that would carry two 34 ounce bottles of water and at first I considered carrying just one but fortunately decided to carry two. As it turned out, we could have used four. Unbeknownst to me at the time, Jack drinks water like an elephant.

We started up the trail at 10:30 and it was already very hot. The first two thirds of the trail was in good shape but we could have used a machete for the last third. It is an old well packed trail and nothing was growing in it but there were bushes grown over it that you had to push through. We finally arrived at the cache site a little before 1:00. We looked and looked and looked some more but could not find the geocache. We stopped for lunch and then looked some more to no avail. It was very disappointing but that’s the way it is sometimes. We were already out of water by this time and I was fervently wishing I had brought my water purifier filter along. I cannot remember when I’ve been as thirsty as I was by the time we got back to the truck. We drank our fill of ice water and downed a couple of Dr. Peppers immediately.

We had planned to stay at the Wilderness Gateway campground nearby but after looking it over we didn’t like that it wasn’t really close to the river. Also it was 40 miles from our next morning starting point with the 4 wheeler. So after picking up a couple more geocaches we headed up river. We checked out two river access places but campers were already there. Finally, less than a mile from our next morning starting point we found the White Pine River Access. It was absolutely perfect – room for one campsite (ours) a beautiful beach and a little stream right behind the tent. There was also a little spot to put the trailer. We had complete privacy and a great camp.

I set up the cooker and did a beer butt chicken and vegetables wrapped in foil. It was pretty good but I should have brought more charcoal. We also had a nice swim/bath after setting up the tent. Jack expertly made a fire and after supper he roasted some peanut butter Golden Graham cookies that Kathy had made. I passed on that but he said they were really good. To be continued: M/W

Friday, July 23, 2010

2:45 A.M. -- UP AND AT 'EM

"Now -- what time did you say we need to get up?" queried Mike. Grandson Jack's six-day visit has been all too short and it's time to return him to his parents.

I have learned from experience that someone has to think through these details and insist on timeliness. I had it covered. "His flight leaves Spokane at 6:15 a.m. We should be at the airport by 5:00. I think if we're on the road by 3:00 we'll be okay. Perhaps we should have driven to Spokane this afternoon and stayed in a motel."

"Why should we have done that?" asked Mike in a tone of incredulity.

"So that we would get some sleep tonight," was my response.

Before I went to bed, I had baked some muffins and packed cereal and drinks. I set two alarm clocks for 2:45 a.m. Jack advised me that he would be all packed and ready to get into the car when awakened. We were settled for sleep by 10:15.

Mike started talking to me at 2:31 a.m. Shortly after 3:00 we were in the car and headed into the darkness. Jack fastened his seat belt and collapsed onto a pillow. He would sleep all the way to Spokane.

Once again we traversed the rolling hills to Spokane, this time watching as the horizon grew lighter and lighter and finally we began to see the sun. It was daylight -- and surprisingly chilly -- when we reached the airport at 5:00.

The Frontier Airlines counter appeared to be just opening. We didn't have to wait in line long, but it took 20 minutes to check in. First the clerk couldn't find Jack's reservation. Next -- that would be $20.00 to check Jack's bag, which Mike charged to his credit card. Oh -- and um -- he's a "UM" (unaccompanied minor), so that's a "UM fee" of $50.00. Mike uncomplainingly handed her his credit card again while I squelched the urge to say, "What! I'll just keep him if that's the way you're going to be!" While other passengers were completing their check-ins on either side of us, the process for us seemed unending. Now Mike was asked to show ID and to fill out a rather lengthy form. There was no place to write comfortably as counter space has been replaced by kiosks. Finally after 20 minutes Jack was ready to pass through security and Mike had a pass to accompany him to the gate. What Mike didn't have was something very important to him -- a receipt for his credit expenditures.

By 5:40 Mike had returned to the lobby where I was waiting, reporting that Jack was on the plane. Returning to our parked car we ate the snack breakfast I had packed. We had discussed the possibility of shopping in Spokane, but since we'd have to wait until at least 9:00 for the earliest stores to open, we decided not to do so. A new Jo-Ann's has opened in the Spokane Valley and I hear it's pretty wonderful, but three hours of waiting for 10 minutes of looking around just didn't seem worth it to me. So, we took advantage of the still early hours, cool temperatures, and light traffic to drive back home.

We were crossing the Snake River at the Southway Bridge into Clarkston when my cell phone rang. "Gramma, we've landed," said Jack. I thanked him for letting us know.

And now it's on to the next thing -- the annual backpacking trip with Hallie and Nick which comes up next weekend. Beds have to be changed, food planned, shopping done. KW

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

THE MORNING AFTER


Jack and Mike enjoy some restful moments on the porch watching the hummingbirds. Jack had just gotten up. Mike was already at morning break.




And here's a little outfit for Emmy I made while Mike and Jack were camping. When I heard that Emmy likes frogs, I made a trip to Jo-Ann's for buttons and notions and used some remnants from my stash and Butterick pattern 5439. Jack will take the outfit with him when he leaves on Friday. KW

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

OF MICE AND AFGHANS

On a chilly evening at the farm last month, Mike and I were sitting side-by-side on the sofa watching tv when he reached for his "Dallas Cowboys" afghan and unfolded a despicable sight. The mice had made themselves "to home" in it. I'll spare you the description except to say they had gnawed through the yarn and it was badly stained. I was heartsick at the sight.

When Hallie was 14 or so and just learning to crochet, Mike wordlessly handed her a copy of Herrschnerr's Needlework catalog turned to the page listing sports afghans. "I think Dad wants me to make this Cowboys afghan for him," Hallie said to me. "Will you order the kit for me?"

Frankly, I had my doubts that she could do it. The pattern required the making of afghan stitch panels to be embroidered with a football helmet in the team colors, blue and gray. Hallie had made only a couple of afghans and this one seemed pretty ambitious to me. If she didn't like doing it, what then? I knew the answer. I would be finishing the afghan and it might take me years. But it seemed endearing to me that she wanted to comply with Mike's wishes. So I ordered the kit, which came as a pattern booklet and sufficient yarn to complete the afghan. I had also ordered the long afghan hook. I remember showing her how to pull up the loops, being sure to catch the very last stitch on the row, and then draw them off again. After that I didn't see much of her for about a month as she spent long quiet hours crocheting in her room. Sometimes teens need that. I knew what she was doing and didn't worry. I had anticipated that she would have questions and I would help her. She never asked and I didn't pry. Before long the afghan was completed beautifully and wrapped for Christmas. My only part was to put a backing on the pillow.

Returning to the now damaged afghan, I was particularly distressed that I had been so stupid as to have left this particular afghan on the sofa. Honestly I never thought about an acrylic fiber afghan being susceptible to damage, a mistake I won't make again! We couldn't exactly pinpoint when it had happened either because otherwise we hadn't seen much mouse sign in the house since installing the little sonar gadgets. At least we thought that was the reason. I never imagined they were hiding out in the afghan. And – I still had to tell Hallie about it.

"I have to tell you something bad," I said into the phone during one of our regular conversations. "Remember the Cowboys afghan . . . ."

"Oh," Hallie laughed, "I thought you were going to say the dog is sick." She was more philosophical than I about the afghan, reminiscing about how she had enjoyed the process of making it, more or less saying nothing could take from her the satisfaction of having completed the afghan successfully.

So, I stuffed the afghan into a large "Penney's" shopping bag I found and took it to town to wash in my gentle-action front-loading washing machine. It took some weeks for me to get to it. Once Nellie caught a whiff of the bag as it sat by the washing machine. "Do you know about this?" her eyes seemed to ask. Then one day when Mike was off to Oregon, I donned surgical gloves, removed the afghan from the sack and carefully stabilized the holes with yarn. I was so pleased when the horrible stains washed out. I'm sure I can repair the holes somehow, but if the stains had remained, I would have had to think again about saving the afghan.

I was trained to treasure things for their special significance in my life and also to keep anything that might be useful, and I kept the leftover yarn from this afghan. Not only had I kept it, I found it! "It's just white yarn," observed Mike, but those who work with yarn know that it's not all created equal. Having the original yarn means one less problem to solve in the process. I also found the instruction booklet, though I probably won't need it.

So the lesson I have learned in this is that when fighting the great rodent war, you can never relax your vigilance. If you live in the country, the problem is never solved. The enemy is out there and it's name in the broad category is "rodent." KW


Sunday, July 18, 2010

HEEEE-RE’S JACK

"We should probably leave," I remarked to Mike after supper Friday evening (July 16). He thought it was a little too early, but I reminded him that last year Yancey had called to say Jack was on the plane while we were still at home. The flight from Denver to Spokane is two hours, and our drive from the Lewis-Clark Valley to Spokane is also two hours – plus the 15 minutes it takes us to get to the highway. "It would be good," I said, "if we could at least say we're in the car when Yancey calls." Mike agreed, so we put Nellie to bed and set out for the Spokane International Airport to meet Jack, our 12-year-old grandson. We were mid-way the Lewiston Hill when Yancey called to say the plane had departed a little early. No matter. We would still be there in good time.

It was a lovely evening as we wended our way through 100 miles of eastern Washington agricultural country, called the rolling hills of the Palouse. We started out heading into the setting sun and then watched the shadows lengthen and deepen as the mid-summer sky darkened. Except for the last 18 miles, the highway between Lewiston and Spokane is two-way, still very much a country route.

I don't fly often anymore, so I'm out of step with the airport scene. We were surprised to find the place mostly closed. There was no one to serve us, no one to provide Mike a pass to the gate so that he could claim Jack. Instead we waited in the lobby, which was in rather gloomy darkness. Yancey had told us Jack would call as soon as the plane landed. (That meant: "Take your cell phone with you and keep it on." Hallie would have said it outright.)

Sure enough, the plane landed about 10:30 and Jack called. Then we waited – and waited – and waited. Most everyone was off the plane and we were still waiting. That's because 12-year-old Jack had to be delivered to us by security. Mike was asked to produce his ID and sign the necessary form. After getting Jack's bag, we drove back to Lewiston over the same country highway. The three of us were mighty glad to fall into bed at 1:30 a.m.

Saturday morning Nellie was prancing her feet at the back door as soon as she heard Jack's voice. This is the third year that Jack has come to spend a week with Grandpa Mike, so Nellie is well-acquainted with him. When Jack decided to read for a while after breakfast, Nellie stretched out at his feet.

Once we had loaded both the car and the Dakota, we started for the farm. Mike and Jack took Nellie and headed in one direction in the pick-up while I took the car in another for gas and a few groceries. I was just unlocking the door of the farmhouse when they pulled into the yard. They had stopped for a couple of geocaches, of course.

We had planned that Saturday would be a day of rest, but in reality we were busy. Mike continued to pack the Dakota for a three-day, two-night camping / hiking / 4-wheeling trip on the Lochsa River. I washed and watered and made a fresh strawberry pie.

This morning (Sunday) Nellie trotted into the kitchen to lick a bowl I had for her. "Now Nellie," I said, "Mike and Jack are going camping and you and I are going to stay." She didn't say a word or even lick the bowl but turned on her heel and marched back to her pillow in the living room. I thought I heard her snort as she curled into a ball and turned her back to the room. You could say I'm making a good story, but she didn't get up again until well after Mike and Jack left. About noon I took her for a walk, and she stayed outside a long time, watching the lane for some sign of their return. Now she's resting under the maple tree near the hammock.

It's 85 degrees this afternoon but the breeze is pleasant. It moves the barley in waves of shimmering green. KW


Friday, July 16, 2010

OREGON TRIP 3 – DAYS 4 & 5

My cousin, Den, is and has always been a motorhead. He is currently building a dragster from a `98 Dodge Dakota. Each year there are big drag races at Woodburn, just north of Salem, where competitors come from all over the Northwest. This was the weekend for those races and Den had reservations to stay at the track all weekend in a trailer with friends. So early Saturday morning Den was off to the races and I was off to Mollala to pick up some caches for Clackamas County.

The first cache was called “Big vs Big” and was located between McDonalds and Burger King in some shrubbery around a sign. Another interesting one there was called “REALLY Close to Home”. It was located right in a front yard next to the house. [This cache will surface in the tale again]

Mollala isn’t too far from Woodburn so after finding 3 or 4 caches I headed for the drag strip. I got there about noon and it was hot and crowded. With some help I finally found Den’s friend’s trailer. These trailer spaces are right adjacent to the track so you can watch the races from your trailer spot which will have an awning to shade you from the sun plus most all the conveniences of home. Mike was there too along with 3 others. We saw some really fast and loud vehicles. Some of the faster machines would do the quarter mile under 6 seconds. There were also motorcycles which I especially enjoyed. However, by about 3:30 I had had my fill of watching cars go down the track.

I said goodbye to Den who would be spending the night there and headed back down to Albany to pick up a backup cache for Linn County. You will recall I didn’t get the backup Friday due to the GPSr accident. It was about a 30 mile trip on the Interstate so it didn’t take long. The cache was in a vacant parking lot just off the Interstate so it didn’t take long to find either. Salem is about half way between Woodbury and Albany so I reversed directions and went back to Salem.

That evening Jan, Aunt Alice, Mike and Teresa and I went out to eat at a gourmet hamburger place on the east side of Salem. It was so crowded we had to wait outside a while before we could get in. The burgers were good but they had a special do on hash browns that was really super.

I said goodbye to Jan and Aunt Alice that evening and the next morning after breakfast at Mike and Teresa’s I hit the road. I had always wanted to go through Boring, OR, and I finally did and it wasn’t really all that boring. However, before I got to Boring I wanted to get a cache located on Warnock Road in a rural area south of Oregon City. A fellow geocacher in Portland named Don Warnock who I had previously contacted because I had seen his handle (Warnock3d) on a log had told me about it and said I had to get it because of where it was located. It was at the end of a short road out in the country and the second house said Warnock on the mailbox. I noticed on the cache log that the first to find the cache were “Mr. & Mrs. Warnock”. I assumed it was the folks on that road so I stopped on the way out and knocked on their door but no one was home. Later I emailed the cachers who had placed that first to find log and told them I had knocked on their door Sunday morning. It turns out I hadn’t but I had been in their yard. They live in Mollala and owned the “REALLY Close to Home” cache I had logged the previous day. They are Chuck (Don’s brother) and Kathy and, like Don, are very active geocachers.

As I had logged only one cache in Multnomah County I wanted to get a backup. At Den’s I had entered a cache at Bridal Veil Falls in my GPSr in case I still couldn’t find the other cache located at some other falls. Without the benefit of a GPSr that would give me road directions like my old one I was more than a little handicapped.

I exited the Interstate on the Old Historic Columbia Highway about where I thought the falls might be and stopped to check my GPSr. To my surprise I found that I was just a short distance from the Bridal Veil Falls cache. I took a road in that direction but the road quickly played out and left me down in a creek bottom although less than .2 of a mile from the cache. I walked to the end of the densely wooded road (it was too rough for the motorcycle) which was no more than 200 yards and found it terminated at a fence that had the established trail to the falls on the other side. The fence was perpendicular to the creek so I climbed around it and joined the Bridal Veil Falls tourists. I didn’t realize it at the time but the falls were less than 100’ away. However, the cache was up the trail at the Columbia viewpoint.

I hiked up the trail to the viewpoint and must have looked for half an hour before I found the cache which was hidden under some moss that was all over the ground. I was pretty determined to find it. Retracing my steps back down the trail I did locate the falls which were spectacular. I recrossed the fence and went back to my motorcycle. The day had become very warm so I stripped off some clothes and had lunch in the shady little grove where I had parked. Just as I was finishing lunch a couple of sheriff deputies showed up in their vehicle wanting to know what I was doing down there. I explained and they cautioned me to be careful (do these guys know me?) and left.

I felt pretty good because this was my last needed cache as I had found at least two caches in all but 1 or 2 of the 36 counties. Rather than fight the Interstate back I crossed the Columbia into Washington at White Salmon and rode Highway 14 back to the Tri Cities area where I crossed back into Oregon briefly and then on to Walla Walla and home. It was windy, of course, but nothing compared to my last trip back earlier. I stopped and logged a couple of caches on the way just to give me a break. It was by far the hottest leg of my journey.

To fulfill the “Counting the Counties in Oregon” cache I had to submit all my caches in a list to the owner, get them approved and then I would be given the coordinates to the final cache located in Bend. I submitted my list and the owner said two of my caches which were close to the county lines were in a different county from what I had figured. Fortunately my backup caches passed muster and I got approved to log the final cache. I don’t know when I’ll make the trek back over to Bend but the pressure is off and I can do that whenever I want. I had traveled 4,000 miles on my motorcycle and like the Idaho trip the previous year it was a great adventure. I saw some fantastically diverse country and feel like I know Oregon about as well as any non-native. M/W

Thursday, July 15, 2010

HERE'S OUR TWO-YEAR-OLD

Here's our Emmy wearing the "lady-bug" jumper with matching panties that I made her last summer. She can finally wear it this summer. And from the looks of it, she'll still be able to wear it next summer.

I bought this pattern (Butterick 5439) in the large and extra-large size and agonized over which cutting line to use. The pattern said it was for "infants," not toddlers, and I was just sure I needed to use a larger size. All I had to go on in making my decision was her weight.

Well, better too big than too small, I always say.

Dog lovers -- that's Harley (I think) in the background. KW

Monday, July 12, 2010

WINDY DAY

It was windy today, and I couldn't help thinking of daughter Hallie. You see, she doesn't particularly care for wind chimes, and we have several sets that we enjoy. The set on the kitchen porch is especially troublesome for her, I think. It's a lovely, five-tone set that Mike's sister and her husband sent us for Christmas one year. We have another set -- large and clanky -- that came from my mother, and that one hangs in the barn where it can be heard -- well, everywhere in the yard, but especially at the pond. And then there's my special "Big Ben" set that hangs on a tree in the grove. I love it there in that protected place where the wind moves it gently, sending deep "bongs" across the yard but not commanding too much attention.

As I said, it's all too much for Hallie, who appreciates silence when she is here. Sometimes we take down the set on the porch in deference to her wishes. Some people -- like Hallie -- genuinely find wind chimes disturbing. Occasionally the issue comes up in "Dear Abby." Someone will write in to ask how he can get his neighbor to take down the wind chimes. At least our wind chimes don't bother our neighbors.

The other day Mike and I happened to pass through a little town in this region and when I saw all the wind chimes on the porch, I had to have a picture. When Hallie complains, I'm going to send her to this place. I'll bet there were at least 25 sets. Overkill even for wind chime lovers like Mike and me.

We've been cleaning the farmhouse -- spring housecleaning for 2005-2010. We have re-organized some cupboards, moved things to and from the attic, hung a few pictures, cleared out clutter. Then this dust storm happened. No dearth of dust in this place. Oh well. We made a lot of progress. I even cleaned the kitchen floor on my hands and knees! KW

Sunday, July 11, 2010

OREGON TRIP 3 – DAY 3

After the long tiring previous day I slept in a bit on this Friday the 25th of June. I was on the road about 7:30 and I stopped back by the cache on Deadly Street to drop off a Travel Bug since I had picked one up there the day before. The day dawned clear and sunny and I was gloating over what I was going to say to my cousin Den when I got to his place in Salem. When I had discussed my trip with him he had said, “If you’re going to do the Oregon you WILL get wet”.
My first stop was in Bandon where I picked up a cache I had skipped the day before. It was right on the highway in front of a church. As the Sea Crest didn’t serve any breakfast, I stopped at a convenience store where I gassed up and had a big banana muffin. It was just north of Bandon where I took Highway 42 east toward Roseburg. It had begun to cloud up a bit in Bandon and it was about here that I started getting into rain. Soon it was raining hard enough that I stopped and put on the rain gear. So much for gloating to Den. However, it lasted only about 10 miles or so and then it was sunny again.
My first cache was “Tim’s Timber” which was just off the highway and required a hike up a hill over an old clear cut. You can see in the picture the Poison Ivy. I came back with a little on my hand but it didn’t amount to much. This was Douglas County and I picked up another one in a little park just south of Roseburg.
Now on to Lane County and “Carrie’s Cobalt Cache” located just south of Eugene. This was one weird cache. A lady had placed the cache in memory of a departed friend who had introduced her to geocaching and whose favorite color was cobalt blue. You were supposed to trade something blue, preferably cobalt blue, of course. When I first saw the cache which was out in the woods a ways I thought someone had just thrown out some garbage. But I couldn’t find a cache. I reread the cache description and saw that it said it was wrapped in a plastic bag to protect the container so I opened the garbage bag and found this little plastic suit cache you see in the picture.
The next cache was in the same area and near a gas station where I gassed up and ate a snack. The cache was suspended from the cap of a chain link fence down inside the post. The hint was “Post” and I found it quickly.
I got off the Interstate and on to Highway 99w which paralleled the Interstate to the west and would put me in the eastern part of Benton County. This cache was in the residential section of Benton in someone’s front yard. The coordinates took me to a wood fence bordering the side of the yard where a birdhouse was attached. I opened the birdhouse and found a note that said, “Not here Dodo bird”. Next I looked under a wooden mailbox a few feet away and found another note that said, “Not here either”. On the inside of the fence was a garden bed but I couldn’t find a thing there either. There was some kind of box on the other side of the driveway so I went over to check it out but only found another “Not here either” note. About that time a girl with a Boston Terrier came out of the house and we struck up a conversation. She suggested I go back on the other side of the driveway where I had already been. Finally I found a rock (one of three) beneath the birdhouse that when you picked it up part of the ground came up with it which was attached to a sprinkler box top. I really got a kick out of this one. It was perfectly camouflaged.
The last Benton County cache was north near Bellfountain Junction. It was in the crotch of a huge double tree and easy to find.
I was soon in Eugene which is in Lane County. I ate lunch in some shade at a convenience store and then turned east to get back on the Interstate. Just before hitting the Interstate there was a cache called “Count de Monet”. You were supposed to exchange some type of play money. It was located at the edge of a parking lot and I got so close that I didn’t even take the GPS off my motorcycle.
What happened next may not be the very worst that could happen to a Geocacher on a long road trip but it ranks right up there. I got on the Interstate and very quickly hit 70 mph when I heard a kind of sickening little crash. My GPS had popped out of its cradle and hit the pavement. It took me a moment or two to decide what to do. I figured if I continued on to the next exit I would never be able to find the spot where I lost it so I pulled over. Of course, by that time I had gone close to a mile. I jogged back and found my totally destroyed Garmin GPS MAP 60CSx which had all my data consisting of caches found and those yet to be found. I don’t remember doing it, but I suspect that I popped the GPSr loose from the cradle at the last stop and then when I decided I wouldn’t need to take it off the bike I forgot that I had loosened it when I got back on the bike. I still had two counties to go plus I wanted to get one more in Linn County to have a backup. While I was stopped a fellow motorcyclist going in the opposite direction had seen me, crossed the median with his dual sport bike and came back to see I if needed help.
It was mid afternoon and my next stop was at my cousin Den’s place in Salem. I didn’t want to get another expensive GPSr without doing some research so Den took me downtown to a Best Buy where I bought a Garmin etrex H which is a base model for $80. Fortunately I had backup copies of the caches with me so I was able to enter manually the ones remaining to do. Slow, but better than nothing. I’m glad I made that decision because I eventually ordered a just released Garmin GPS MAP62st which will allow me to do paperless caching among other things. I can still use the etrex for hunting.
Cousin Den and wife Jan live on an acreage on the east side of Salem. One of his sons and my namesake lives on the adjoining acreage. I actually stayed at Mike and his wife Teresa’s place in their new camp trailer. It was kind of like old times as I have spent many nights in my Aunt and Uncle’s trailer in the same place where Mike and Teresa now live.
I introduced Mike and Teresa to geocaching and we initiated the new etrex with a couple of finds that afternoon to take care of Marion County. We had pizza that evening at Den and Jan’s and I had a nice visit with my Aunt Alice who lives with them and is 92. Den and Jan added a little apartment on to their house which is absolutely perfect for Aunt Alice.
Den is not much of a computer guy but he had a laptop in his shop that allowed me to catch up on posting my finds for the day. What a day! Plenty of fun and stress combined.
To be continued: M/W

Friday, July 9, 2010

PAMMY -- READY FOR LIFE

Here's Pammy -- ready to go to her little mistress, Emmy, who has just turned two.

If I may provide a pattern review, I was a little disappointed in the outcome. I suppose I overstuffed Pammy. I think she was meant to be little more than a two-dimensional doll. And now her clothes fit snuggly when they should be loose. I even cut the sleeper a little beyond the cutting lines, and it's still snug. But -- especially when dressed in her minky sleeper, she's very soft and cuddly.

Pammy is still with me. We have learned that Emmy's big brother, Jack, is coming for a week's stay next Friday, July 16. I'm sure Pammy can slip into a corner of Jack's bag for the trip back to Denver. Who knows? Maybe I'll make another diaper set. I really think I could improve on some of the stitching methods suggested in that pattern. I may be out of practice, but I remember a thing or two about making little articles of clothing.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

OREGON TRIP 3 – DAY 2

This was to be my longest day and I was concerned about getting it all done. I had nine counties to cover and some remote territory along with some coast with lots of slow traffic. The plan was to angle southeast from Astoria to get some inland counties and then turn back out westward to hit Lincoln City and travel the coast south down to Port Orford. The motel breakfast wasn’t until 7:00 and I planned to be on the road long before then so I had taken a packet of instant oat meal and a banana from the motel office the evening before. Unfortunately, that morning I discovered it was plain unsweetened oat meal but slicing the banana into it made it edible.

I was on the road at 6:00 and again was thankful for no rain in Astoria. I knew leaving that early in that country I would have to keep alert for deer. And sure enough, those little black tailed deer were all over. I would blow my horn as soon as I saw one and that worked pretty well. However, just as I was coming out of a curve a couple went right into my path at the same time the sun hit me in the eyes. That was the only close encounter I had.

My first cache was in Washington County. It was called “Fuzzy Wuzzy” and was at the base of the moss covered tree you see in the picture. I was traveling in deep shady woods. As I went further into Washington, Tillamook and Yamhill Counties it became more and more remote. The narrow, twisty and bumpy tree covered roads not only had no speed limit or curve speed warning signs but eventually they didn’t even have lines. A time or two I was sure I could hear a couple of dueling banjos.

The first cache in Tillamook County was called “Bridge Creek Falls” which was an absolutely beautiful falls about a hundred yards or so up a trail from the road. The next one was at the top of an old boat slide that in the old days had been used to slide boats down to the creek. It was difficult to access as I had to bushwhack through some thick bushes to get to another access road.

My favorite cache in Yamhill County was called “Have Some Grass” because you had to go through some really tall grass to access it. However, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I had feared and it was located in the crotch of a vine covered tree which was kind of neat.

As you probably know, in Oregon there is no self serve gas. Consequently you don’t find gas stations in every little community. In fact, some fairly well populated areas don’t have gas stations at all. In Polk County I was counting on getting gas in Willamenia which I felt certain would have a station. No such luck, and I was getting low on fuel. After inquiring about the nearest station I was told it was down the road at Spirit Mountain which is a big Indian casino. I skipped the first cache on my list because of my low fuel situation. The casino was in a big complex which was really nice so in addition to gassing up I ate my lunch there in the shade. Now I turned west toward the coast. The next cache was supposed to be on the way but it wasn’t there. I was getting a bit concerned because that left only one for Polk County. Fortunately, it was easily located in a hole bored in a post on the side of the highway.

Lincoln City was very busy with high traffic. The first cache was supposed to be at the Chamber of Commerce office with the hint being “at the corner”. I could not locate that cache at the corner where my GPS took me. Then the “Chamber Maid” came out and pointed me in the direction of the corner of a boardwalk outside the building where I did find the cache. The next one was at a beautiful little park that had a shady tennis court (reminding me of the old LCSC courts) and a covered picnic table and rest room. I needed to use the rest room but had to wait for a long line of kids who were there on some sort of outing. Meanwhile I found the cache which was in a water control box under some bushes.

Now onward south to Lane County. Traffic was slow and passing was interesting. The next cache was in Florence called “No Dogs Allowed” and was placed by a lady in honor of her departed geobuddy, a one eyed Lab. In my log I mentioned that I knew how meaningful a dog could be in one’s life and it was a shame they didn’t live longer. I got a reply from her in response to my log stating she knew I must be a dog owner. The other cache in Lane County was near the water in a big old leaning vine covered tree.

In Coos County the first cache was “Stopin' & Shopin' in Hauser”. It was at an old country store just off the highway. You know those old canisters with sand in the top that were used to extinguish cigarettes? Well, you had to lift the top part off that held the sand and the cache was down in the cylinder. The only way I found it was the hint, It’s not IN the sand. I stopped at the Gateway to the Bandon dunes for the next cache. The Bandon Dunes is a recreation area on the beach.

On to Curry County which is the southernmost one on the coast. Just north of Port Orford there was a little picnic type restaurant that specializes in hot dogs where this cache was located. There are grounds with picnic tables to eat your hot dogs and a sign that says “Bikers Welcome – Free Water”. They are open only through lunch time so I was far too late for a dog.

I arrived at the Sea Crest Motel in Port Orford, the most westward point in the U.S., about 7:00 pm

The Sea Crest is an old motel on a hill facing the ocean. Although old it appeared to be well kept. Every room has a beautiful view of the ocean. After getting settled I picked up a cache at the top of Deadly Street on the way to eat. I have never seen a street this long this steep. Slippery conditions or faulty brakes could have given this street its name. I had a pasta dinner at a cafĂ© that was more than I could eat – and that’s a lot. After dinner I was in the motel lobby posting my caches on their computer until 10:00. When I hit the sack I was one tired puppy.

To be continued. M/W