July 29, 2007

Yaquina Bay

"Travel Day"...is far more than starting the ignition and driving off to the next destination. To be road ready, Hannah is dusted and wiped free of any dirt...a clean coach equals a happy driver...all coach fluids and tire pressure are checked, holding tanks are emptied and hoses cleaned and packed, cable and electric service disconnected. Next the interior. Imagine putting your home on 6 tires, driving roads with stop and go traffic, winding curves and up to speeds of 65 mph. What would you have to do to prevent precious cargo from breaking? No different here. All items are removed from counters and packed snugly in our cabinets. Plants are placed in a box to prevent toppling over. All "air space" in our refrigerator is organized with food, cans, storage containers, etc. to prevent toppling over. All drawers, cabinets and pocket doors are locked shut. Slide outs are retracted and turned off. Now then, just maybe...yes maybe...we have not overlooked anything and our coach is ready to move out.

Outdoor Resorts Pacific Shores in Newport, Oregon…self acclaimed as “The coast’s finest exclusive Motorcoach Resort” does offer stunning ocean views, pool , spa and sauna, manicured pads and very “orderly and quiet” surroundings…but falls a little short of being the best of the rest (minimum $50.00 per night and still a fee for wireless). Our perspective on this trip is that this resort is “black & white”…not the “tapestry” of colors we so much enjoy to experience while on the road. Part of the joy of being in a motorhome, is the opportunity to not only experience scenic wonders, but also to meet a rainbow of unique fellow travelers. Here we found little contact with our neighbors (we tried), who seemed to prefer to hold court in their high line coaches or sitting alone in monogrammed lawn chairs…this felt like a pre-planned community without much personality...during this visit.

But we do have some very nice takeaways from Newport. The wide, white sand strands are gorgeous and uncrowded…you are truly a lone “castaway” as you walk the shoreline. Standing alone and bold on the point of Yaquina Bay is the Yaquina Head Lighthouse, the tallest lighthouse in Oregon.

A tour around the Otter Crest Loop brought us to Cape Foulweather, a 500-foot high point named by Captain James Cook in a blustery March day in 1778. Backward leaning shore pines give witness to the 100 mph winds that still materialize along this shoreline. We could easily entertain ourselves for a week, but we now must head our nose east over the coastal range toward the Willamette Valley…next stop the…the RV Resort at Mallard Creek Golf Course in Lebanon.

July 24, 2007

Winchester Bay

On Tuesday, we thoroughly enjoyed our drive on a country road as it followed the Umpqua River west to the sea. No steep climbs or descents, only a handful of menacing logging trucks and tight curves...but mostly just pure, scenic beauty. Here in the Lower Umpqua Region, on its last rush to the sea, the river widens and moves lazily, slipping quietly by densely forested hillsides, rich bottomlands, through tide flats, salt marshes and vast sand dunes...then into the Pacific at Winchester Bay.

This spectacular bay, surrounded by pine forests, welcomed us with clear skies and beautiful sunshine. Temperatures here were almost 20 degrees cooler than Canyonville...aided by the strong sea winds. The Winchester Bay RV Resort is located on the upper end of the harbor in the photo below.
Known as the "crab capital" of Oregon, Winchester Bay provides prime breeding waters for delicious Dungeness crab, which can be caught right off the rocks. After parking Hannah, we rode our bikes to Salmon Harbor to purchase a 2lb fresh crab for our evening dinner (its sweet meat was delicious). The harbor, which is adjacent to our resort, is also one of the largest recreational facilities on the Oregon Coast, offering fishing trips, water tours and mooring slips.

Our surroundings are beautiful!! The photo above is taken right in front of our coach... a glimpse of Salmon Harbor, while behind us the Pacific greets the Umpqua river. In the hills above the bay sits the Umpqua lighthouse and just a short distance, north or south, are dunes, lakes, trails and ....

The Dean Creek Elk Viewing area is the year round residence for a herd of about 100 majestic Roosevelt Elk...Oregon's largest land animal. Believing that all living things had a spirit, the Indians of the coast range had a great respect for the elk. This bond between elk and humans has existed for thousands of years. This mosaic of mountains, meadows, marshes and creeks is also the home to Black Tail deer, beaver and Canadian geese.

The Umpqua Discovery Center is a unique interpretive center that offers it's visitors an opportunity to "Hike the Pathways to Discovery"...an indoor trail that features beautiful hand painted murals illustrating the different habitats, animals and plants of the Lower Umpqua Region. Next, you can visit "Tidewater Country" and glimpse how the Native Americans and early settlers impacted the cultural history and shaped this area.

The largest expanse of pure sand in North America extends over 40 miles of shoreline in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. A four mile hike on the John Dellenback Trail, led us to these wonderful rolling hills of sand.

The grains of sand in the Oregon Dunes have traveled 55 million years to get here, starting with the building of the Coast and Cascade Mountain Ranges. Following the mountain's formation - glaciers, rivers, wind and rainfall began to grind these peaks down to tiny grains of rock and carry them to the ocean. There currents push the sands back onshore, where the wind sculpts them into dunes.
As we walked up and down 147' high dunes, we looked back at our isolated tracks...in minutes...blowing sand fills footprints, in hours...flat afternoon sand gives way to intricate evening patterns, in days...huge dunes move many feet in one storm and in months...summer soft, rolling dunes become winter's hard angular scuptures.

Perched on a scenic bluff high above the Pacific Ocean is Shore Acres State Park. It all began as a luxurious private estate for pioneer lumberman & shipbuilder Louis J. Simpson. His summer home featured a three-story mansion and five acres of formal gardens. Fire destroyed the mansion and the depression caused the grounds to fall into disrepair. Purchased by the state of Oregon in 1942, the formal gardens were beautifully restored and now features year round displays of floral and scenic beauty.

Mail Delivery!! When you are on the road fulltime you need to have your mail forwarded to you via General Delivery to the local US Post Office. In Winchester Bay, the post office is located in the General Store and our mail arrived just as arranged.
After picking up the mail we went to visit the Umpqua Lighthouse, one of nine historic lighthouses that light the way down the Oregon Coast. Perched on a hillside high above the mouth of the river in Winchester Bay, the Umpqua River Lighthouse signals it's location to mariners as far as 21 miles out to sea.

The rhythm of a harbor...the sounds lull you into a quietness…a fog horn in the distance, sound of outboard motors, as fishing boats make their daily pilgrimage to and from the ocean, the splash of a crab pot landing in the water, clanging of ship's line against the mast, gulls squaking, ospreys calling.

This "neighborhood" is quite unique for it's soothing personality overcomes you. No matter where people come from , what they do for a living or what they thought they would do when they got here...the coastal life tranquilizes one into timeless pace. Our days and nights just melt into each other, with no defined boundaries other than a sunrise or a sunset...

July 22, 2007

Cow Creek Band...A Tribe Of The Umpqua

Seven Feathers RV Resort in Canyonville offered our first glimpse of a true motorcoach "resort." The park is surrounded by pine covered hills..creating an illusion that you are actually nestled far and away in the mountains of Oregon, isolated from all of civilization. But actually, you are less than a mile from Interstate 5 and the large gambling casino who owns this park. A wide array of ammenities are available for it's travelers...landscaped extra long pads, an indoor pool,spa and fitness center, showers, laundry facilities, walking trails, wi-fi, cable tv, free shuttle to to the casino, etc.

No sooner did mom and Pete disembark from their bus, when the search for the winning machine commenced. We managed to win enough for a tank of gas for our car...but they ended up contributing to the tribe's retirement fund. Fortunately for Seven Feathers, "One with the Machine Cha-ching" Susie, could not make the trip up here, otherwise we'd probably have to pay for pool and internet use to cover their losses...and Sus...the "Dueces Wild" were so wild, they took the night off. The next morning we had to bid "hasta la vista" to mom and Pete, wishing them a fun-filled Canadian Rockies tour.

But the most beautiful attraction in this area is a legendary flyfishing river ...The Umpqua. The river attracts anglers from all over the world in search of brown & brook trout, chinook, coho & sockeye salmon...and the king of them all...the native steelhead, which makes its run to the sea in the summer. The clear emerald waters flow literary wild, with miles and miles of uninhabited shoreline. And we were rewarded for our search for wildlife. Our short drive following the river west showcased a mighty golden eagle (the size of a turkey) demonstating it's hunting prowess as it flew over the shallow bedrock of the shoreline with its most recent catch in its talons.
We now ready ourselves again for the road, as we head west toward cooler tempertures and Winchester Bay...

July 21, 2007

The Valley of the Rogue

On Wednesday, July 18th, Hannah traveled only 61 miles, up and over the Siskiyous…a trip that would have taken Scratch 4 days to complete.

Crossing into another state was just that…a state of illusion. No boundary lines (just lines of trucks at the weigh station), no fanfare, no second thoughts ... but isn’t that how adventures begin? We have the dream, we create the vision, build the foundation and then make it reality! When it is all said and done…we can then celebrate, share the photos, tell the stories…take that deep breath…and then start planning another adventure anew. And since Oregon leads the way when it comes to stewardship of natural resources and advertises that it “loves dreamers”…this move may be a good fit.

The Valley of the Rogue State Park is situated right on the Rogue River. Campsites are quite large, surrounded by lush green lawns and pine trees, river walking paths, play areas and for the car camping enthusiast…offer flush toilets and free showers. Whoopee! We did notice throughout our stay that the campers were here to experience “true” camping. No generators, no loud music or shouting (yes, kids are kids and we did notice the occasional dog barking), no nonsense…and only friendliness and courtesy demonstrated to your neighbor. To say this is the norm for state parks in Oregon would be a stretch…but for our first experience

of an Oregonian state park…we graded the stay an “A”.

After years of keeping our bikes in storage, we decided to rack them onto the CRV and use them on the wonderful paths featured in Oregon. The park had access to the Green Way Trail which followed the bank of the river northward right into the town of Rogue River. Although a 10 mile bike trip may be a warm-up to some, it proved to be just perfect for these two novices…especially when the entire ride had river views and every new turn provided beautiful murals of the forest and mountain peaks surrounding the park. A late afternoon stroll to pick dessert yielded 4 cups of wild blackberries…a perfect foundation to a thick topping of whipped cream.

A daytrip to the headwaters of the Rogue led us up to Crater Lake…the only National Park in the state of Oregon. How many hues of blue have you ever seen? Now, try to recall how many hues of blue have you seen in a moment? Behold Crater Lake live! It is truly breathtaking…surrounded and guarded by magnificent 1,000 foot cliffs, it is the clearest and deepest lake (over 1,900 feet) in the United State. With a combination of sunshine, as it is able to penetrate to depths of 400 feet…add a little cloud cover, some shallow coves and voila…you will see before you an irridescent and brilliant living sapphire. Quite stunning!
Although the lodge is not a Jackson Lake Lodge or El Tovar, the Crater Lake Lodge is poised right on the rim of this caldera, so views of the entire lake are spectacular….
and lunch wasn’t too bad either.

Following the Rogue downstream, we managed to stop at two beautiful spots, the Farewell Bend Campground and the Rogue River Gorge. Steep rock walls sheltering deep pools and cascading waterfalls highlight this part of the river…quite a contrast to the scenic banks at the state park where we are staying. And all along this byway of forests, rivers, lakes, hiking trails and bike paths are signs…BlaNics, please, please stay.
Next stop…a brief reunion with mom and Pete in Canyonville…

July 16, 2007

Blue Heron at River's Edge

The roadquest continues...with an overnight stop to see Cathy & Bob at the Rolling Hills Casino in Corning. We looked so much forward to seeing our “Camp Host Mentors”…for they did enable us to truly embrace this new volunteer effort called “hosting”. We had a wonderful evening of conversation with them and then an awesome all you can eat seafood buffet. As they headed home and the vibrant sunset disappeared we both agreed that the next time we were in the area we would connect with our friends again.

The name Klamath is taken from the Native American word Klamet…meaning swiftness and the river and it’s fish are considered sacred by the Native Klamath Tribes. The Blue Heron RV Park proved to be a hidden jewel on the banks of the beautiful river. With high end resort quality pads positioned just 50 feet from the river’s edge, each site offered us an unobstructed 180ยบ view of this beautiful river. Owners Jim and Kathy Burney, and the entire Blue Heron staff, not only welcomed us to their wonderful resort and tasty dishes offered at their Fish Hook Restaurant…but demonstrated the true meaning of “Mi Casa es Tu Casa”.

Each morning we awoke to the “stressful” task of choosing what form of relaxation to try and what to barbeque. Watching the wildlife, lounging, wading, walking, reading or just visiting with our neighbors were among our most popular choices. We were introduced to two delectable wines by vintners Joe and Shirley. Their Lobo Loco Shyraz and Viognier are superb! And then Country Coach Inspire owners, Don and Linda, provided us free “consultations” toward some innovative solar energy upgrades. We look forward to seeing our new friends on the road again.

Sitting on the bank of the Klamath, we became observers of life on this abundant river… Osprey soaring above as they taught their young to catch trout, the Blue Herons, statuettes patiently stalking their prey, Canadian geese floating through the rapids, the Kingfisher scanning the pools for small fish…and as this swift river flows west, providing haven to it’s sacred salmon and steelhead, we prepare to head north to our “new home state”…
Tomorrow the BlaNics invade Oregon!

July 10, 2007

The Nicolais of Cloverdale

Our arrival into Cloverdale was greeted by deep blue skies, mild summer weather and tree covered hills. The fertile Alexander Valley is lush with vineyards as evidenced by acres and acres of healthy vines that surround the many world renowned wineries.

As we entered Clover Springs and meandered our way through the neighborhood to "Creekside Motorcoach Resort", we drove with anticipation at seeing mom and dad. As we rounded the last corner, there they stood in front of their home! Mom with her ever present camera in hand, taking photos and dad looking on with smiles of joy...or maybe it was the of look of...Wow, that sure is huge! When you have over 60 feet of motorcoach and car pull up in front of your home, it can be an imposing sight.

Although our width filled almost half of the street, there was ample room to safely park...and with the entire block of homeowners aware and so receptive to our visit, our perfect "pad" was secured for our stay. And as always mom and dad had the red carpet rolled out for their favorite daughter and son-in-law (as they only have one daughter). Chilled wine, ice cold beers, thick steaks for the grill & decadent desserts awaited our always grateful and "empty" palettes.

As is the norm, the home was immaculate and the gardens meticulously maintained. The rear garden tantalized your vision with a rainbow of vivid colors and the sound of a burbling waterfall soothed you into complete relaxation...one could say this is the Shangri-La of Cloverdale. And we did relax, eat, relax and then eat again during our stay...with only minor "interruptions" to burn off some of those great meals with walks on the serene hiking paths throughout the neighborhood. We shall return many times to the only 5 Star Motorcoach Resort in Clover Springs!

Visits from the many loving friends that mom and dad have met during their years in Cloverdale also provided some wonderful conversations. All were quite impressed with our coach and enjoyed the 5¢tours we offered them. And we found a common bond with these dear friends…they too are adventurers…with a stage not of the highways of the U.S….but of the world.

As usual time was too short here and our morning of departure snuck upon us. Although our hugs and waves may be interpreted as a “goodbye”…we both know that miles, states or countries are insignificant when it comes to our parents, brothers and sisters. Staying connected is as simple as a keystroke on the computer or dialing a number on our phones, but our daily thoughts and love transcend all forms of communication and is the most direct link….that of the heart.

July 9, 2007

Always...Just Being Leif

Yesterday was Leif’s memorial held at the Oakland Center for Spiritual Living. What a wonderful celebration of this man’s life. Stephen and Orlena created a beautiful slide presentation of photos highlighting special life events, those happy places and candid moments in his life. It was the first time I viewed Leif as a toddler, “kid” and teen…god, he was such a beautiful boy…one whose beauty only deepened as he became a young man. I do believe all in attendance left touched and impacted by Leif whose message in passing was a parable for the living. This gathering of family and friends cannot be called a “final” tribute to Leif for he will continue to provide us vivid memories of his childish joy, experiencing life on his own terms, his vibrant displays of emotions and his curiosity for the unknown.
Again this morning…my first opening thought was of Leif…with the same questions…where you be? What is it like Leif? Although all my moments or days with Leif over the sixteen years I knew him were unique, happy and many times insightful, Our last visit together was a weeklong, 277 mile rafting adventure through the Grand Canyon during the summer of 2005…which proved to be the final time I saw him prior to his untimely transition (Untimely?… I never saw Leif wearing a watch…time was irrelevant…days timeless). And if there ever was a time when I could create an example of “lifedancing”, providing a pictorial slide show of Leif experiencing the Canyon over these 7 days would be it. Jumping off cliffs and waterfalls, embracing the waves rapids head first, being the last one to arise in the morning even as we noisely broke camp around him, habanero sauce drizzled over anything labeled food, collecting scorpions in his clothes bag, forgetting or losing gear…he was “typical” Leif on this trip (Leif was anything but typical). Over the years I realized that Leif had this attraction to what most people would classify as bizarre, grotesque or even weird…but think about this…don’t many people see life with their eyes closed, with fear and judgements, half empty versus half full? Leif viewed the unseen…and to my knowledge he saw with no man made filters or barriers. And in his 36 year lifetime, he offered himself to more experiences than those twice his age, those among us who live life with blinders on…those with daily duplication of habits, creative talents used only mastering the functions on the tv remote and whose “pictures” of life are dictated by the same control. Life is food for the soul. We are offered choices to sample it…through a feeding tube, a straw or on an “all you can eat” platter. I always choose the latter…but Leif chose to be the tastebud…seeking and experiencing life in its rawest form.

My simple remembrance of a very loving and complex friend...who will be missed and thought of often...

As a memorial to Leif...on the one year anniversary of his passing...we celebrated his life under a "timeless" Cambrian oak tree (and so fitting that it engulfed us with its loving canopy of branches), sharing Leif stories, his writings and honoring his being.

July 4, 2007

Jellies, Hawgs and Trees

A short morning drive up Highway 101 finds us tucked in on a tree line pad at the friendly and very quiet Betabel RV Park...quite the change from the recent highly active weekends at San Simeon Campground. The nice pool was supposed to provide us an opportunity to "activate" those hidden pigmentation cells and elimate any hint of our albino ancestry...but the weather was Cambrian...a cool 55-60 degrees, overcast and a persistent breeze.

Complimentary tickets from a generous soul to the Monterey Bay Aquarium provided us an opportunity to spend a wonderful afternoon on the Monterey Peninsula. The Aquarium offered us a reminder to be playful, carefree and thankful of our life experience...like the otters... and to sometimes just float around like the jellies. A recommendation to dine at the Fishwife Restaurant in Asilomar proved to be a perfect way to exit this beautiful sanctuary. We also highly recommend this eatery.

We visited the town of San Juan Bautista which again made us realize how much we love small communities founded by courageous pioneering families. On this 4th of July weekend over a hundred thousand (yes, 100,000) bikers rode their "hawgs" through this the town on their way to Hollister as part of a two day rally...one could almost picture horses instead of "Harleys" lined up outside the saloon. Many of these motorcycles are being towed in enclosed trailers behind motorhomes which are also being parked at Betabel.

Our state docent/volunteer experiences continue to provide rewards and enrichment...a tour of San Juan Batista State Historic Park was offered by the park rangers on staff as a thank you for our services. Upon reflection of our docent experience, volunteering has fueled our love and passion toward our state and national parks and motivated us to continue to be strong stewards of these beautiful parks, caretakers of the natural resourses they provide and guardians of the flora and fauna they provide homes for. At the mission, you can visualize in one compact area, the several "successive phases of California history", the Native Ameriancs, the Spanish Missionaries, the Mexican Californios and the early American settlers...all leaving a rich, colorful culture filled with many stories.

A yearning to walk among the "big trees" led us to Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park nestled in the Santa Cruz mountains. Strolling through the trees quiets our mind "chatter", while the power of the old growth groves humbles our existence. It is magical how our senses become heightened in this realm of living giants...the scent of pine, the sponginess of the earth beneath your feet, distant sounds of a stream as it flows over a bed of stones and the strands of sunlight filtering through the tree tops. We wonder how individuals CANNOT find the time to experience this soul charging. As we wandered off the main trail and explored the "less advertised" paths, we found ourselves enjoying this beautiful sanctuary with peace, quietness and harmony....a mirror of what can happen everyday when you choose to live life "out of the box".

We filled out our week here with a visit from our dear friend Joan, catching up on stuff and enjoyed an early grill with a nice bottle of wine. We also became acquainted with a few new friends, fellow travelers on the road to anywhere.

July 1, 2007

Cambria...In the Rear View Mirror

This morning we bid a fond farewell to the Central Coast and a warm hello to the next destination. As we drive eastward and see the deep blue coastline in our rear view mirror slowly disappear we can both agree that the “Pines By The Sea”, was truly the first waypoint that we created together. Although we arrived at separate times, we were both drawn to the of lure Cambria, for rest, healing and strength for the “unknown” paths and destinations that we knew awaited us. Little did we know that a decade of growth would pass before the moments were right to depart on this wonderful adventure. Over the years here, the enchantment of the Central Coast filled us with many joyful moments, provided a myriad of loving friendships and leaves us with the knowledge that it will indeed be a place that we will call “home” and shall someday return to.

For now though, all road leads us north...