November 10, 2017

Temporarily Grounded...

Normally at this time of year we are planning, packing and surveying daily our travel checklist for our fall desert trip. The warmer climate beckons the fact that I don't want to put on a pair of pants yet. But this year, that all changed.
First, let us introduce you to the newest member of our pack...Kiah (pronounced Keey-ah). The word Kiah is an Aboriginal word meaning "beautiful place". We rescued her from Woods Humane Society, an awesome no-kill shelter in our county. We found out later, that they had rescued Kiah from the Animal Shelter in the hot and barren town of Avenal. She was a runaway with no tags or an embedded chip and had been kenneled for over two months before she embraced our arms. 
Kiah at Woods Humane Society...eyes say it all...please adopt me
Kiah returns to Woods Humane Society as a student
We love Australian Cattle Dogs, so we when we decided to rescue another pup we were seeking either Blue Heelers or a Heeler/Mix. We saw of her availability the first evening it was advertised. Imkelina drove down to Woods the next morning, spent some time with her and immediately fell in love with the 2 year old. But our adoption was held up as another family had put a hold on her and was coming in later in the day to claim her. All Imkelina could do was commit to being the "backup" if they chose not to adopt. She came home crushed, but optimistic that this puppy was meant to be part of our pack. Well long story short, destiny prevailed...the other family baled on the adoption and we celebrated for Kiah was ours!!! 
The look of joy on her face the first time her toes touched the beach was priceless!
One of her favorite beaches...San Simeon Cove
She has to personally choose which ball to fetch
Over the last 5 months, Kiah slowly adapted to a new home offering a property full of trees, cooler weather, indoor living, multiple choices of comfy beds, wonderful food and daily outings on our local trails, dog parks and beaches. 
Volcanic Tablelands
She loves staring beyond the horizon
As mighty as a Henry Woods State Park
She really does know how to relax...sometimes
Plus all the new adventures and wonders she gets to experience via our motorhome getaways. Kiah is our pack's new baby...loved and spoiled rotten, all deservedly so. 
One of our favorite benches at Fiscalini Ranch Preserve
Every sunny day is a beach day!
On the bluffs at San Simeon
She tries to embrace Sydney as her new step-sister during all the time they spend time together day after day. But this relationship still needs more time to ferment as there are many times Kiah wants to be the Alpha Female in her pack and Sydney has not forgotten that she was once the only "child". So with that, the bonding process of our two girls has progressed at a snail's pace, although the other day we did catch Sydney licking Kiah's ear.
Now back to the story...
The same day we returned from our late summer fishing safari up in the Eastern Sierras, Kiah decided to go after a plump gray squirrel in a nearby oak tree. Unfortunately, that "mix" terrier blood was stronger than the common sense of a heeler and "forced" her to jump over a 4 foot high patio railing, onto the overhang 14 feet above un-level ground. Naturally the squirrel easily got away, as gravity aided it's escape. Kiah, unable to stop her momentum plummeted straight down upon a rock lined landscape stream bed and bounced upon the hard walkway pavers. We believe that the bark wood chips surrounding the stream bed softened her fall, preventing more extensive damage, but her front legs, which took the brunt of the fall, could not withstand the massive compression upon her wrists. Bones snapped and ligaments were torn. Surgery, metal plates, screws and dual leg casting has been required...and then up to 3 months of recuperation time to get this little girl back to critter chasing form.
A "you can't lick it" bonnet
Post surgery healing nap
But our Kiah is pretty damn fierce...a "rez" dog for sure. We are confident it will be only a short while before she once again enjoys the spacious queen rv bed and snags her preferred space in the cab of WeBeGone.
This legendary girl will see many more of those spots that her namesake inspires. She certainly has made our world a more beautiful place!

October 27, 2017

Cape Lookout State Park...the trail home.

"There's nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline,
no matter how many times it's sent away"
Sarah Kay
Along with Dick and Melinda, we departed Henry Rierson Spruce Run Campground, and headed southwest toward Tillamook, Oregon and Cape Lookout State Park. The park is nestled in a very lush coastal forest on a sand spit between Netarts Bay and the Pacific Ocean, offering terrific views of the ocean while at the same time easy access to it's beautiful beach.
This park proved to be a wonderful destination for sightseers, campers, hikers, beachcombers and of course "Lifedancers" who appreciate the harmonious blend of nature and recreation. 
Imkelina and her "girls" never grew tired of walking the miles of open beach. It seems her day is different at the beach as her passage doesn't move hour to hour. Her adventures are guided by the currents, planned around the tides and follow the rise and setting of the sun. Her day seems timeless...and they are as she never wears a watch. As I watch her stand before this beautiful beach, I can hear the waves whispering to her...continue to choose the simple things and find the joy in nature's simple and living need not be so hard.
There is also a short walking trail, The Nature Trail, through the campground which is pretty tame. The Cape Lookout Trail, a five mile round trip hike, is also located nearby. During World War II, a B-17 bomber was flying north along the Oregon coast on a transit run. On that day in 1943 Cape Lookout was shrouded with fog. The pilots mistook the cape for a cloudbank and flew straight into its 800-foot cliffs. There were no survivors. Although the trail passes just above the crash site, the wreckage is no longer visible.
Santa Maria Ribs and grilled veggies
We enjoyed our last day here, savoring weather that stimulated Weber time and a vivid sunset that provided an opening act to our campfire talks. Soon it would be time to head south and home to our "Central Coast Hidey Hole." Driving south along the coastal headlands, soaring sand dunes, massive rock formations, mile long beaches and old growth forests always leaves a lasting remembrance of this beloved state.

At Waypoint 45.366820, -123.962148

October 15, 2017

Nehalem River

"Mother Nature is always speaking. She speaks in a language understood 
within the peaceful mind of the sincere observer."
Radhanath Swami
Nehalem River
We had never heard of Clatsop State Forest. But our wish was honored for this beautiful wilderness area provided welcomed reprieve from the smoke of the countless fires within the state. We later learned, this northwest corner of Oregon is very historical as it was the terminus of the continental Lewis and Clark expedition two centuries ago. 
Established in 1947, Henry Rierson Spruce Run Campground is one of the oldest established campgrounds in Clatsop County, Oregon. Located on the Lower Nehalem River, with Spruce Run Creek winding it's way through the camping area, it was a stunning backdrop for a reunion of friends. 
All our grassy campsites provided some filtered shade and were choice waterfront locations. A short walk to the river's edge offered us some nice rifts to float a fly or a serene deep pool for "water boy and girl" to take a brisk dip (Patrick and Imkelina). Camp life was pretty blissful and relaxing. Abundant quality time to catch up, reflect our blessed offerings and solve the trials of the world. 
Spruce Run Creek Trail
Lost Lake 
The trailhead for the Spruce Run Creek Trail is located right at the campground, teasing all of us to attempt this difficult two-mile climb over the Coast Range ridges. We did take a "snapshot" of this heavily wooded trail, before deciding we prefer the sanctuary of the river and a cool drink. Sydney and Kiah were disappointed as the trail scents and sights were way too alluring to turn back. Imkelina, Cheryl and Melinda did find the time though to hike around Lost Lake, a 14-acre natural forest lake. Thank you Patrick for your enduring and devoted efforts toward the discovery of this natural was perfect.
Thick healthy forest canopies, a steelhead rich river and a canyon skyway for mighty eagles to soar...a perfect tripod to create a snapshot of my thoughts. I imagined a drop of water flowing steadily along the upper part of the river, tumbling over hidden rocks, swirling through the soft rapids and riding the current downstream. I thought, a true metaphor of my life. I am like a drop of water in this river. Life has moved me along, occasionally banging me against some hard, sharp rocks, tumbling me over an unknown edge and offering deep, blind fall, but that is not the end. I swirl around awhile, once again gain momentum and pick up the current once more, continuing on my life journey.
As we gathered for our last fire, we pondered what new talking points we would have during our next rendezvous. It seems our world is at the will of who has the largest ego and alienation is the trend. Times are frail indeed and there may be a high cost for those of us seeking only peace, compassion and understanding. Sydney and Kiah just don't see why swim time had to end. Until then, we head west to the coast and the Pacific Ocean. 

At Waypoint 45.811876, -123.61111