Saturday, August 6, 2022

It Doesn't Suck

Typical of the scene we see from our kitchen window and through my office sliding glass door.
Photo credit: harrison-haines-3536248.jpeg
Mornings and evenings I marvel at the hummingbirds, amused by the fierce territorial fury of these tiny creatures. There are multiple "flowers" full of the "nectar" yet they are unwilling to share. They chitter angrily at me if I'm too near. and I chuckle, wondering if they know my very presence is often necessary to keep their flower "full." There are hummingbird friendly-flowers in the yard, there will be more next year.
Daylilies, purchased from the O'Dell garden club's fund-raising plant sale.
I fill the birdbath, another excellent kitty torture device, water my plants, pluck a few weeds, take a look around to see what's blooming, note whether it's time to harvest more tomatoes. I remind myself to finish dead-heading the lavender, whose spent blossoms sweeten our home when I bring them in. Doves coo their who-who call while I wander.

While I miss this hiatus from the novelty of exploring new places around the world, I love the structure and stability of watching the patterns of change that it takes staying in one place long enough to observe. Whether in the boat or in a vehicle, to me their role was to transport me to the wonder of the world around me, and while I may luxuriate in a well-insulated, air-conditioned home when temperatures soar over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the outdoors still calls to me, and it is there where I feel most at home. 

Here, the great Columbia River wends its way through the Gorge. Mount Hood soars to the southwest of us, Mount Adams to the Northwest. Their towering peaks collect snow in the winter and as the weather warms, their melt waters the brilliant profusion of wildflowers—sunflower-like yellow arrowroot balsa and the indigo and white spires of lupine—the most iconic.

Shiva, my work buddy.
By day, Monday-Friday "9-5" (theoretically, but generally more) I do my best to help landlords and tenants facing eviction find a path forward. I told the Executive Director, who hired me, that I was "uniquely qualified" for the position, thanks to ample meditation training and experience,  and also because I've been both a landlord and my life path altered due to an eviction. I understand the importance of a stable place to live, and the dreams that property income can enable as well as the headaches that come with the responsibilities.

The sun dips over the ridge to the southwest of our backyard.
The work I do reinforces to me how lucky I am to live this life.

I also remember it is summer, and summer is fleeting, so it's time to stop writing (and for you to stop reading) and get out and enjoy the day. When the darkness of night and the grayness of late fall set in, that is the time to reflect and write more. 

Sunset view from Sorosis Park, looking east up the Columbia River and Gorge.
Get out there and make hay while the sun shines!

Location Location

The Dalles, Oregon, retains the determiner in English for its derogatory descriptive French noun, "The Ditch." Yes, it sounds better in French, and it's a far more interesting place to live than its same implies.

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

A Little Misadventure

Our RoadTrek posed in front of Mt. Adams.
With the weather forecast to hit into the 'teens (114F) in The Dalles, Wayne planned a great escape, up, up, and away into the higher altitude of the Mount St. Adams area. The goal was to find a place cool enough, beautiful, with good hiking, and a free, level, readily available campsite—on a Saturday. 

Big Spring. Around 4,000 elevation. 
This spot looked worthy of a stop along the way—a babbling brook descending from a little waterfall. threading its way through a vibrantly green wooded area. The problem? The mosquitos loved it too. They were hungry. We were fresh meat. Sharing this photo was worthy of the bite I got for it, but not worth hanging out longer to be the main course for a mozzie feast, with mommies thirsting for their blood meal to create future vampirish progeny.

Besides, the longer we dallied, the less likely we were to snag a campsite.


Okay, it was really more of a dragging noise. The rough gravel road prompted the metal bar supporting our water tanks to choose that moment to hit the ground.  The dusty gravel road wasn't a good place to fix it. We were less than two miles to the campsite. Wayne crossed his fingers and drove.
Council Lake, Gifford Pinchot Forest, Washington.
We snagged the last RoadTrek-suitable ast campsite. Wayne crawled under the RoadTrek with a pile of line and the mosquitos took full advantage of Wayne's prone position while he firmly secured the water tank into place. We also drained the water tank before we took off again to minimize the weight held in place only by rope.
Wayne's McGyvered solution. Not a thing of beauty but. it held.
We walked along the lake for a bit, enjoying the lush forest understory, rife with lilies, huckleberries, ferns, bunchberry, salmonberries, elderberry, and much more than we could identify. I even spotted a last, fading trillium.Sups abounded, making their way from shore to the massive party float, while fishermen blamed the partiers for scaring the fish. A pair of eagles exuberantly swooped in intertwining loops, their duet on par with a Blue Angles show,. Was it a courtship dance? Regardless—a glorious sight! The ospreys, with their less regal wingspan, nonetheless flaunted their fishing superiority while they uttered their deceptively innocent-sounding "cheep"s.
Crawfish molting, we believe. But where was the crayfish?
We settled in for an easy supper of leftovers from the night before, huddled up to watch "King Richard" and called it an early night, though we made sure to check out the stars from a nice log alongside the lakeshore. Best Milky Way I've seen since two years prior when we left St. Helens, when we headed up to a dark skies spot in the Mt. Hood forest. We miss the uninterrupted spectacle of the universe from a boat.
Our view wasn't quite this amazing, but it was still worth every mishap of that trip.
Photo credit:
The next morning I ambled up the Boundary trail to Council Bluff, to the territorial view other campers promised a territorial view: Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens (through the trees), and Mt. Hood. Round-trip, the trail is 3.2 miles.
Boundary trail Council Lake overlook
with 12,281 foot Mt. Adams towering in the background. 
Breaking spider webs along the way, I had the trail and the viewpoint to myself. The trail climbed 950 feet, to a viewpoint at 5180. Despite a string of hot days, the view was still relatively crisp. Click the arrow for a 45-second panoramic view.

Our next stop was an old favorite, Lewis River Falls. We took a route in we'd never taken before. We wished we hadn't.
Five miles with more potholes than road.
Wayne slalomed through them expertly but had to slam on the brakes, hard, a couple of times. Between that and the hot weather, our brakes jammed, rubbed, and started smoking. 
Mt. St. Helens overlook near Old Man's pass.
We stopped to let the brakes cool off a bit. Not too much of a hardship to stop here while to give our brakes a breather.

New development in the Lewis Falls area.
We didn't stop at Lewis Falls after all—our whole reason to endure five miles of potholed road. There's no cell phone signal, so parking reservations need to be made ahead of time.  We briefly considered risking it, but the couple removing an $85 ticket for their lack of permit changed our mind, pronto! We found out the forest service felt compelled to adopt the policy because the area was getting trashed from too much "love."

Wayne descended most of the way to Carson in first gear, to minimize brake use. Then, they were ok. We made it home without a tow. Our local Les Schwab service department ran diagnostics so we can prevent it from happening again.

We crossed the Bridge of the Gods (click the video for the view off the bridge) to cool off ourselves.

We were not the only ones with that notion.
Hot spot to cool off in Cascade Locks.
We made it home.
Home, sweet kitty.
Shiva was excited to see us. Or so we tell ourselves.

Location Location
Council Lake and Council Bluff are in the Mt. Adams Recreational area of Washington State's Gifford Pinchot National Forest, in between Randall, Trout Lake, Cougar, and Carson. We'll be back. Err, we will replace that rope tie holding our water tank in place with a little something more substantial first.