I’m Listening

I’m listening to my lovely wife, Diane. She told me a couple days ago that I haven’t posted anything during the month of July. I checked and, by golly, she’s absolutely correct. I haven’t. I can only attribute this lack of posting to old age or, perhaps I’ve simply used up most of the words available to me in a given period of time. I’ve heard that’s a ‘thing’. Diane has a cousin who, when she’s at a loss for words, says “…I must have used up all my nouns.”

Considering the amount of time that’s passed I’m pretty sure I can’t possibly remember things in proper sequence, if I can remember things at all, so I’m just going to ramble and see what happens. That way I can be just as surprised as you when something profound sneaks out.

Let’s see … on July 15th Jerrie Anne Diane Cate celebrated her 8th birthday which means the school district has no choice but to allow her to attend 3rd grade when school resumes in September. She’s pretty stoked about that. Matter of fact, she actually cried when the school year ended because she likes school that much. Her older sisters love school, too, so it’s apparently a genetic ‘thing’ that comes from their mother’s side of the family. I guess it could be from Diane, too, but it’s surely not from me. I was perfectly OK when summer showed up and I was still wearing little boy clothing.

Shortly after Jerrie’s birthday we fired up the bus and returned to Paradise Cove for a few days of R&R, by ourselves. You may recall we took The Littles there in June for about a week. We had big plans to spend a lot of time in the hot tub but I don’t remember doing that even one time. Instead we spent our time either sitting on or walking along one beach or another, watching the waves. The high light of the sitting part was when we parked ourselves on a tall dune above the remains of the Peter Iredale which has been a fixture on the beach at Fort Stevens State Park my entire life. We were there to watch the sunset and saw some whales playing along the shore spouting a few times, showing us their tails, then disappearing. It was pretty special which is good because the sun went behind some clouds and there was no proper sunset. It just got dark and chilly. Be we had whales!

We returned from that trip on Monday and had a few days days to recover, we thought, until Diane discovered that we had reservations at Big Eddy County Park near Vernonia on Wednesday. This was another trip with The Littles because it’s a yearly Family Camp for Jennie’s and Daniel’s church. We’re always invited and we almost always go because it’s great fun. The Littles went last year for the first time and loved it. They got to spend days, literally, in the Nehalem River, and they made lots of new friends. The great thing about this is that the church rents the entire park so the kids can be free to go wherever they want with no fear of something bad happening. They just had to check in with their home camp on a regular basis so we knew where they were and they could not venture into the river without adult supervision. All we adults had to do was sit around our campfires talking and eating snacks. Once in a while kids would show up and we’d have a meal. The big deal with food culminated in a dessert social where I cut Jerrie a piece of very rich chocolate cake that was far too large. She savored every morsel but wound up giving it all back, plus, later that evening. I suspect it tasted much better the first time it passed her lips. She recovered nicely the next day and was able to spend lots of time with her friend Lilly.

The bigger Littles (Gilligan & Baylee) put dozens of miles on bikes, riding all over the park with their friends. Most of the bike riders were careful but we had to be wary of the smaller ones with training wheels. They weren’t overly concerned about who was in front of them as they pedaled around, talking to whoever was riding next to them. Diane was almost run over many times because she either didn’t hear the rattle of those training wheels or she thought they actually knew about the rules when encountering old people. Like, don’t run into them. They tend to tip over and break things. Thankfully, that didn’t happen.

I exercised our small little BBQ for one meal by cooking hamburger and chicken patties. I don’t use it often, and only clean it when I do figuring that whatever bad things may have grown on it since the last use would surely be consumed during the warm-up phase. It’s worked so far and has provided us with some tasty hotdogs with a hint of steak and old hamburgers. They are a culinary treat. Now that we’re home I’m reminded that I need to remove the 4 chicken patties I left on the BBQ when I put it back in the RV. I have no valid reason for doing that. It just seemed to be OK at the time. I can already hear Diane calling my name, in large capital letters — “JEROLD BRADLEY CATE” — when she reads this.

In case you’re wondering about the danger of little kids playing in the Nehalem River, fear not. It’s not a big river. It’s more like a large creek. And there are always lots of people around lounging on a variety of different kinds of floating devices. It’s pretty safe.

That’s about it for this time. Hope everyone is having a wonderful summer.

Thank You …

… to everyone who wished me a Happy Birthday recently. I sincerely appreciate it and feel blessed that Diane has allowed me to live this long. Three quarters of a century is a significant number … and, she made it so much better by spending half a century of her life to get me here.

God bless you all.

On the Beach – Kinda

Today is May 19th and we’ve been gone from home since Thursday May 9th. Tomorrow I will officially be 3/4 of a century old. Some folks may think I passed that lofty goal long ago simply because of my frail appearance but that’s deceptive. Only my legs and arms are frail. The rest of me is quite robust and beefy, almost because I always eat what I order, or dish up for myself at home, even if I don’t want to. This contributes a great deal to the beefy reference.

Our first stop on this adventure was Wheeler, Oregon where we stayed for three days. Upon arrival I found a likely spot to disconnect Diane’s vehicle from the RV. When I disconnected the flat four connector for lights i discovered that one of the male pins was missing when I apparently turned too sharp and pulled it loose from the RV and dragged it all the way from St. Helens to Scappoose where the propane guy pointed it out to me when we stopped to fill our tank. I didn’t notice the missing pin when I plugged it all back in so we didn’t have a right turn signal showing on the tow vehicle, which really wasn’t a problem because the RV lights are higher than the car.

I didn’t, however, notice the missing safety cables until I went to disconnect them, also. I blame Jeff for not noticing they were missing before we left because he helped me put the RV and car together before leaving home. Yes, it’s surely his fault. I never forget things like that when left to my own devices. Well, maybe I don’t forget most of the time is more accurate.

Considering the necessity for getting replacement parts I deemed it good fortune that we were at Nehalem Bay, a mere 36 nautical miles from the nearest Costco and O’Reilly’s one of which was bound to have the parts I needed. We went the next day and confirmed that belief then had lunch at Norma’s in Seaside. Normally it’s a good place for a good crab Louie, but that wasn’t the case this trip. It was pretty, but not as tasty as I would have liked.

The second day we visited Rockaway Beach which is just a wee bit south of Garibaldi where we visited with a nice lady in the Chamber of Commerce caboose next to the public parking lot. Yes, it’s really a caboose and you can’t miss it. Didn’t get her name but that’s OK. She was very informative and helpful reporting that the Kite Festival they normally have this time of year was cancelled by the city. But, there was one hardy fellow that had numerous huge kites in the back of his Tahoe and was busy anchoring them on the beach and getting them into the air.

When we first walked down to the water only two were flying and we walked under them.

On the way back to the parking lot he’d anchored a third kite but the breeze had dwindled to the point where the originally aloft kits were down and the third was just kind of rolling around on the sand. Still, it was quite magnificent. The owner said it was called a Bol. I don’t know what that means and I’m not going to look it up. This thing is easily 25 feet in diameter.

After having our fill of kites, we continued south to Tillamook where we indulged in lunch at the Cheese Factory. Amazingly, the parking lot was far from full even though the weather was pretty nice and a good time to eat
Tillamook ice cream outside. Even so, we chose to partake inside with the other riff raff. We both had Tillamook Cheeseburgers with one order of fries. I think I read somewhere that the beef used to make these hamburgers from retired dairy cows from which they obtained tons of milk to make unknown quantities of cheese over the years. Some may find that a hard fact to deal with, if it were true, but I don’t think it is. Actually, I just made that up but, really, who knows where hamburger comes from.

We arrived at Beverly Beach State Park, the second stop on our trip, on Sunday May 12th. It was a grueling 4 hour drive which I had to do all alone because Diane has yet to drive the RV. One of these days she will, and she’ll do a great job, I know. Just not yet …

On Monday we drove down to Newport and visited old town by the fishing boats. While there we bought a pound of Dungeness crab for a mere $40. That way we could make our own crab Louie’s that tasted really good, which we did, twice. I’m happy to report, so far, that over indulging in crab has not caused my gout to rear its ugly head. I’m always prepared for that but don’t worry about it because I figure the crab is worth the terrible pain and the need to limp for a few days. I have a cane for just that reason.

On the way back to Beverly it started to rain and we returned to a semi-flooded camp site.

On Wednesday, May 15th we did the longest leg of our trip south to Harris Beach State Park in Brookings which is anywhere from 1/8 to 1/2 an inch from the California border depending on which map you look at. Either way, it’s close, and made it possible for us to revisit the Trees of Mystery down that direction. Perhaps you’ve been there and might recognize these guys …

One of the main reasons we made this section of the trip, in addition to seeing such magnificent forests, was to purchase another giant sequoia to plant at home. We had one from our trip two years ago and it was growing well until we killed it. Now we have a replacement and it was good to see all those incredible giant trees. It’s a very humbling thing.

On the trip back to Harris Beach, we stopped in Crescent City for lunch at The Apple Peddler where we stopped with Lydia and Ceiarra two years ago. They welcomed us back with open arms and tried to give us the same booth we had then but we refused and sat in the booth just inside the front door. Perhaps Lydia and C remember this stop. One thing is different there since we visited … they apparently have a machine that cooks chicken like colonel Sanders. Unfortunately, the day we visited, it was broken. They said so.

Had it been working we could have purchased a 100 piece bucket of chicken for about $96. I was so bummed.

After eating we wandered around town and found signs that led us to the water front and a lighthouse that’s been there for many, many years. So, we visited it and Diane convinced her knees that it would be OK to climb all the way to the top, up narrow winding stairs and a short vertical ladder. She did it, enjoyed it and didn’t come down with any debilitating injury because of it. That made me very happy.

Then we went back to Harris Beach to just hang out. It rained most of the time until today, which was beautiful so we went to Harris Beach to watch the water. It was very entertaining.

After that, we took a tour around Brookings to see what’s here. Diane said she did some research and discovered that according to some obscure survey, Harbor, Oregon is the best place to retire to in the state. Harbor, in case you don’t know, is separated from Brookings by the Chetco River. Interesting. We drove out into the wilderness on either side of that river to see what was there and kinda liked both sides.

To end the day, Diane lounged in our private yard at the campground …

Grants Pass

Grants Pass is a small village in southern Oregon that we generally pass by without a second look except for one time in 1990 when we actually visited the town on purpose so I could attend the Oregon State Bowling Tournament at which I bowled an astounding single game of 265 (or thereabouts) but failed to win anything. But, we had fun anyway.

Anyway, Grants Pass is where we are for this last night on the road and it’s a bit more than a small village now. There’s actually a lot of history and I’d share it with you if I knew, off hand, what any of it is. If, during the course of this discourse, I stumble across something related to history I’ll be sure to share it.

We left Modesto somewhere around 9:30 this morning and arrived at our chosen abode for the evening at 5:36 on the dot according to our GPS. Between those two significant times we traversed approximately 412 miles of mostly scenic territory that included one significant mountain, Mount Shasta, which we saw from 3 specific angles:

I took photos to show you …

1) driving toward it;
2) driving around it;
3) driving away from it.

It is a very pretty mountain from all three points of view even if it’s raining. If you ever make that trip, which Diane and I have done numerous times over the years, you can catch those views going south or north on I-5, and going east or west on Highway 89. Highway 97 also gives wonderful views for southbound travelers which can be extended by connecting with I-5 south and heading east on Highway 89 just past the village of Mount Shasta which, I’m pretty sure, was named after the mountain, as was Shasta Lake.

Hunger and the need for gas occurred about the same time while passing Chico on Highway 99 before connecting with I-5 at Red Bluff. After getting gas at Costco we found a listing for Home Town Buffet which was right up our alley. When we found the place it turned out to be the Hibachi Grill Buffet which was a little disconcerting considering how reliant we are on the information provided during searches on our phones. Normally the information is accurate. In this case we decided that perhaps it was deemed important that we eat at this Hibachi Buffet. We like oriental food so what the heck. We actually said that to each other … “What the heck.”

A little south of Weed, California we encountered a small accident. Before I go into that I feel compelled to dispel any concerns about this town and the reason it was named Weed. The truth is that I actually don’t know the answer but have to agree with you that encountering a town named Weed conjures up all kinds of possibilities, don’t you think? The accident appeared to have involved only 1 vehicle, a truck, but could have easily caused lots of problems for many other vehicles considering how the truck driver landed. Looking at the photo it’s difficult to understand how the truck wound up as it did without without the driver giving it a lot of thought before engaging in this evolution. You decide …

The first photo shows a skid mark going off under the pickup truck that’s being towed by the motorhome, and the second photo shows some stuttering skid marks possible made by the truck from wheel(s). We’re guessing that the driver lost control, for some reason, and ran his truck off the road and completed some truck acrobatics in order to get his vehicle oriented as you see it. The second photo also shows someone tending to the driver. We were there right after the first policeman arrived on the scene so this was brand new. I cannot imagine what was going through the driver of that RV as this unfolded in front of him. What fun.

That was the only excitement during the trip but there was more excitement waiting for us at the hotel. Something in the plate of things I collected to have stir fried (maybe the raw shrimp) revisited me after we checked in demanding a rapid exit for some unexplained reason. Not being in a position to deny this request, I gladly granted it with a sigh of relief that it chose to complete the tour of my intestines instead of demanding release using the portal it used to gain access.

Now I must rest and worry about which part of my stir fry meal will demand release next. It seems to be an on-going thing.

Perhaps tomorrow will be better. I can only hope.

Fresno to Modesto in 9 Hours

Yes … nine hours from Fresno to Modesto. These two cities are only 104 miles apart – a 1 hr 36 min trip for normal people according to our GPS. Extending that 1.5 hours to 9 was accomplished by taking a side trip to Yosemite National Park on the way. It was just on the way and begging for us to visit. So, we did.

I suspect for most folks planning a day trip to Yosemite is kind of lame, but we’re old, don’t climb up the sheer face of cliffs, and do not hike on trails that scale incredible heights or hike extremely long distances. We just enjoy looking at stuff, not interacting with it. A hike for us is climbing upstairs from the basement.

I gotta tell you that we had the best time ever looking at stuff. We even walked a lot farther than planned and enjoyed every minute.

From Fresno we took California Highway 41 to the park which goes through a very long tunnel that ends with parking lots on either side so folks can park and check out the incredible first view of el Capitan, Half Dome, and Bridalveil Falls.

Driving further in gave us better views.

We stopped at the chapel and took a photo requested by our friend Carolann.

The view from the chapel’s front steps.

Not all of the surrounding forest on the way in and out of the park is pristine green. Recent forest fires came close to totally devastating the entire park, but by some miracle that didn’t happen.

That’s a nasty photo, and typical of a great deal of the forest. Still, there are plenty of beautiful sights to take your breath away.

Leaving the park we took Highway 120 to Modesto. It reminded us a great deal of Highway 1 along the California Coast. Very curly cue for many many miles. It was a long day, but a really good one.

Tomorrow night we plan to be in Grants Pass for the last stop on this trip.

Fresno ?

So, here we are in beautiful downtown Fresno, a city we’ve driven past dozens of times over the years but never stopped. I actually don’t know anyone who ever stopped here on purpose. This time, however, we have a motive. For us it’s the gateway to Yosemite National Park on our trip home from Palm Springs. Yes, we could have stretched our day a little further and driven closer to the park, but Fresno was our choice mainly to because of the difference in price for rooms as one gets closer to the park.

Getting here was about a 5 hour drive which is about the extreme limit of how far we like to travel on any given day. We could have gone further today, however, because Diane let me drive for almost a couple of hours. OK, I drove about 1.5 hours. Technically, that’s almost a couple of hours when you round up.

Tomorrow morning we’ll be driving a couple of hours in to the park for the day. Once we’ve seen what can be seen in 5 or 6 hours we’ll drive out to Modesto to spend tomorrow night.

I took a bunch of photos on the drive up, mostly of highway signs to document where we were, so they aren’t very scenic. Just lots of lanes of cement traffic lanes on Highway 99 and I-5 and many other lesser important tributaries of those magnificent roads. Since I took them, I’ll show a couple of them.

Just leaving the northern extreme of Palm Springs. Snow. Who knew?
Flowers blooming all over thanks to a wet winter & fall.
That brown smudge up ahead is LA air making its presence known as we passed Pasadena.

Regarding that last photo, it’s just more evidence that people who live in LA, and the surrounding area, don’t breath anything they can’t see. Once we got over the first hill the air cleared right up.

Makes Fresno look fantastic!

Happy Easter

Today we went to Easter service at Our Savior’s Community Church that we’d scoped out a few days ago. We got there at 9:30 for their 10:00 service which turned out to be a good time. Everyone was friendly and the church was beautiful. Unlike other churches, to which we’re accustom, this one didn’t have a bulletin so we could follow the service. Instead, it was all on screens on which were projected lyrics to the songs and scripture verses read by Pastor Rob. It was OK working without a bulletin, but bulletins hare meaningful to me because I’m the one who prints them for our home church, Bethany Lutheran in Warren, Or.

After the service we returned to the condo where Diane whipped up a terrific Easter dinner of ham, tiny peas, and tiny klondike gold potatoes. It was a pretty awesome meal.

Instead of taking a nap after eating, we jumped in the car and drove all over the area, even to the east side of I-10 just to see what was over there. Turns out there are just more towns with Palm(s) in the name and lots more houses. Choices are: Palm Springs, Thousand Palms, Palm Desert, Desert Palms, to name a few. Actually, that’s all the towns I can find with that common word in the name. Still, for a newcomer to the area I can see why the city names could cause confusion. We’ve discovered, in our short visit here, that Ramon Ave is a link that always leads us back to Palm Springs Tennis Club Resort. At least it’s been working so far.

An interesting thing about Palm Springs is that no where in the city is there a parking meter. Parking is free everywhere, including the parking garage located on the main thoroughfare. Also, as our Jennifer pointed out, the streets are amazingly clean. It’s almost like people care enough to NOT litter. Maybe keeping it clean is a tradeoff for all that free parking. That, or people are just proud of their surroundings.

Solar panels are everywhere here which makes perfect sense since the sun shines most of the time. By everywhere, I mean lots and lots of houses have their roofs covered with them. What surprised us was the prevalence of wind power options. We drove through an entire forest of the wind turbines when we arrived last Tuesday, but today we got up close to them so I took a photo. This field is located near the I-10 corridor …

We have these in Oregon, too, but not in such mind-boggling numbers, so close together. Ours are typically scattered loosely across the tops of hills which is nothing like the above photo. If you can enlarge the photo, you’ll see that the turbines seem to taper off into infinity toward the far away hills. If I had to guess how many wind mills are out there, I’d have to say a couple of million. Easily. But, I’d be wrong. Data from 2013 states there were 2700 of them at that time. Another undated report states there are 4000 of them. Now, who knows?

While looking for that information, I was surprised to learn that the Wind Turbine farm in Palm Springs is the oldest facility of this nature in the US. Who knew?