Friday, September 30, 2011

Mountain Chickadee

We took several bird walks while at Collier Memorial State Park.  Yesterday’s walk up Spring Creek produced this photo of a Mountain Chickadee, a rarity for those of us that live west of the Cascades.  I was actually able to add three birds to my Life List.  Besides this Mountain Chickadee, we also saw a White-headed Woodpecker and in the evening walking along the Williamson River I saw a Fox Sparrow. We came back home to Elkton today ahead of the rains and with hopes to recover from our colds.   

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Some Office Time

Jeanette has been suffering from a cold almost our whole trip and today it seems that I have succumbed, so it feels good this morning to stay inside the warm motor home and spend some time working at the computer desk on Cascade Ramblings.  We had already decided last night to spend an extra day here at Collier Memorial State Park, so it seems a good fit. Collier is the park we volunteered at last October, we love the area and find it extra enjoyable to be here as campers not workers.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Collier Memorial State Park

Here is our campsite in Collier Memorial State Park.  We arrived at the logging museum area of the park late morning to meet friends Ron & Beverly Noble.  While Ron and I wandered through the logging equipment, the girls made lunch.  After lunch the Nobles journeyed on and we moved our motor home to the campground. I got out the chairs and we actually sat down to just relax and enjoy the nice weather.  We soon noticed bird activity and were pulled into watching, identifying and counting. We counted a dozen Yellow-rumped Warblers that were busy feeding on aphids in the aspen leaves. Most active and entertaining however were the squirrels.  Douglas Squirrels chattered away with their squeaky calls high in the tall ponderosas where they were harvesting pine cones. Chipmunks scurried through the campsites looking for left-overs. Golden-mantled Ground Squirrels poked out of their burrows and scampered to boulders to sit in the sun, their bodies fat from a summer of feeding. Ah,-- we may stay another day.   

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Dan the Man

We stayed last night in Bend with friends Dan & Charlene Lawry.   Dan is show here pointing to the 400 watt inverter he installed today in our View.  This will allow us to use our TV and also charge up our computers when not connected to an electrical connection. Which means we will have the freedom to camp in small campgrounds that do not have electrical connections and we will still have all the comforts of life. Dan, you’re the Man!
Tonight we are camped at La Pine State Park, tomorrow we travel on to Collier Memorial State Park and meet up with friends Ron & Bev Noble.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The New View

This is our new Winnebago View which is proving to be the perfect vehicle for my own new personal view as I shared in yesterday’s post.  We are currently camped at Champoeg State Park as a part of a little trip we are taking. We left Elkton Friday taking the back-roads through little towns such as Lorraine and Monroe in route to Rickreall where we planned to stay at the Polk County Fair Grounds for the night.  Arriving there we found it full for a special event.  No problem, we called my daughter Lisa in Dallas for permission to camp in her drive way.  We were in fact going to watch her boys play soccer the next day.  After soccer on Saturday we continued on to Champoeg State Park taking the back-roads through French Prairie, roads I have bicycled many times in years past, arriving to find the campground full.  Again no problem, we called Jeanette’s cousins Larry and Ginny in nearby Donald to see if we could park in front of his house, which we did and had a great time visiting, walking the historic streets of Donald, having dinner, and watching the Ducks play.  Today we came back to Champoeg, and with the crowds of the weekend leaving, easily got a site.  This new View (view) is working out pretty good.   

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Slowing Down

For the past several years my family and close friends have had to listen to me complain about getting old and slowing down.  I have been in an almost constant state of agitation and depression at finding myself no longer having the energy and desire to pursue the fast active life style I once did of fishing, backpacking, skiing, and bicycle touring. In fact, a person who shall remain nameless who sort of serves as my pastor/counselor/friend, suggested over coffee one day that I should make up a list of some of the positive things that are happing to me in my elder years.  Are you kidding me??? What is positive about getting old and slowing down? I’ll tell you, nothing!  Well, my attitude turned the corner on me this week.  I was driving back to Elkton from the Eugene area in our new smaller motor home that we have recently purchased in part because I was getting too old to confidently drive or back up the last huge ten ton beast. I turned off the Interstate at the small town of Goshen to proceed down the old Highway 99. As I turned on to the old two lane highway, my face suddenly broke into a huge smile, I remembered this was the route Jeanette & I had cycled in the fall of 1999 on our way from Canada to Mexico. After Goshen came Creswell where we had a snack, then on south through Saginaw to Cottage Grove where we stopped for lunch, before cycling on to Curtain, through Drain and to Elkton where we camped at the RV Park. (Click here to see Trip Journal)  I continued to smile as I drove on past small farms and tired businesses, 55 mph, then 50, down to 45.  I had forgotten at 45 mph you can drive with your window down. And I continued to smile as I thought how this new motor home was just the ticket for enjoying the less traveled roads. Shorter, narrower, with a nimbleness of it handling, it is a joy drive.  I’m not just talking about life in the slow lane where the young and energetic zoom by on either side; this is about choosing to get clear off the Interstate, and traveling down the back roads, the country roads, the forgotten places passed by with time.  This is about leisure, appreciation, and memories.  Ah, yes I’m slowing down, slowing down on purpose, enjoying the journey, and smiling all the way.     

Friday, September 23, 2011

Swallow Update

After being gone from Elkton for three days we are back and did our morning bike ride out Henderer Road this morning.  To my astonishment, not a single Violet-green Swallow was seen.  The power lines that only a few days ago sagged with the weight of hundreds of birds now were completely bare. Which leads me to conclude in regards to the two questions I pondered in my post before last that this was a collecting site that grew each day until the time was right, or everyone one got there, and now they have all left in-mass.  

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Minto-Brown Birding

Minto-Brown is one of Salem’s outstanding city parks, and Jeanette and I have enjoyed it for years for hiking, biking, and now birding. Its natural setting with a network of paved paths makes it an easy destination to enjoy the outdoors through all the seasons. We had some free time this morning so we went for a bird walk there.  We saw the usual assortment of small birds, lots of Song Sparrows, some Black-capped Chickadees.  We also saw quite a few Steller’s Jays that where busy harvesting filberts.  They employed a cleaver method of opening the nuts; they would drop them on the path in front of us expecting us to step on them and crush them open.  Our most surprising sighting of the day was the Peregrine Falcon shown above.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Massing Swallows

Every morning when we ride out Mehl Creek Road and back we observe a large number of Violet-green Swallows collecting on the power lines.  Today I walked out and made an actual count.  To my amazement there were over 1,300 swallows. This is an annual event every September at the junction of Mehl Creek and Henderer Roads. It leaves me with a couple of puzzling questions. Is this a collection site where the swallows gather until some critical mass has collected or certain secret migrating date occurs and they all scurry off to Mexico together? Or is this a collecting spot where swallows collect and leave daily? In other words, am I seeing the same birds collecting daily in anticipation of their great migration date?  Or am I seeing new birds each day that collect and then fly off together, only to be replaced the next day by birds on their way south from further north?    

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Always Prepaired

Walking through Elkton this morning we spotted this RV pulling a trailer loaded with a backhoe.  Jeanette said, “Hey, you never know when you will need one of those, maybe you will need to dig a latrine.” “Or”, I added, “Maybe you’ll need to level your camping site”. Being RVers we know how important it is to always “be prepaired”.  In other words to have with you in your RV what you will need to meet most situations, but I have to admit this struck us as overkill!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Follow Up

To follow up on yesterday’s post, I did contact the State Police and report the snagging incident, and in fact an officer did call me back later in the day to check with me.  I am aware of the public’s perception on the value of reporting.  The conversation around the coffee table goes something like this.  “Did you call about the snagging?”  Someone usually pops off with, “A lot of good that will do.” So I am very happy to report that the police did follow up. This morning I did see and talk with the trooper that called me yesterday.  The snaggers from yesterday had not returned but he had been there early just in case and was prepared to make an arrest. It does make a difference to call, they do follow up.  The number to call is 1-800-4252-7888.  

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Patience Snagged and Snapped

Since returning home to Elkton in June, I have begun a daily regimen of bike riding.  Five mornings a week at 6:30 I join some other riders and we ride out a quiet road along the Umpqua River for an eleven mile round trip. For the last several weeks when we ride across the bridge we see men attempting to snag salmon. It’s an annual thing, and although illegal, it gets to be accepted as just part of the season. However, this morning on our return trip I noticed they were attempting to snag the fish using a rope and a grappling hook! My patience snapped. I rode on home, got my camera and returned to take some photos.  By then the sun was fully up and they had discarded the grappling hook and where using traditional fishing rods to attempt to snag the salmon. “Snag or attempt to snag gamefish” is unlawful. Oh, by the way here is their license plate.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

A New Chapter

First, let me apologize to my faithful readers for the recent lack of posts.  We have been way too busy with several things, one of which was trading for a new smaller motor home.  It seems that since making the decision in June, to give up volunteering at state parks and such, that our Holiday Rambler coach was overkill.  We no longer needed an RV that we could live in for months at a time, but instead needed something that would work a little better for short trips, be easier to drive, cheaper to operate, and allow us to camp in the smaller sites of national forest campgrounds.  We ended up with this 2010 Winnebago View which has an economical diesel engine, is 7 feet shorter in length, a foot and a half shorter in height, and a foot narrower.  It’s also 5 tons lighter, and should get two to three times better mileage.  So, we begin a new chapter in our lives, one in which we hope will involve lots of short trips to ramble around in the great outdoors in comfort appropriate for two elderly persons.