The Dangers of Rest Stops

I now have a fear of rest stops. Not for the reason you may think. Today I was traveling down the I-5 to visit my folks in California.

Here’s what happened. I arrive at the rest stop to stretch my legs and tinkle. I get into the restroom which has 3 stalls. I could see the first stall was clearly occupied, but I wasn’t sure about the other 2 stalls. I lean over to do the ‘foot check.’ Can’t tell…lean a bit further and see that the farthest stall is occupied but no feet in the middle stall. Awesome.

As I open the door, the slow motion kicked it. You know the way time stops when you A) realize you’ve done something you should not have and B) you cannot believe what your eyes are telling you? I experienced both simultaneously. As I opened the door, which was not latched, it FLEW open! But it was promptly stopped by a woman’s head. Who was standing on the toilet seat and squatted over the toilet doing her business. Yep she had both feet firmly planted on the seat of the toilet and skirt hiked up around her waist. The slow motion horror show continues, because as I whacked her in the head it threw her completely off balanced. She falls over to the side and hits the wall. Her her left foot hits the ground, which must have been taboo, thus the reason for standing on the toilet and her right foot is now firmly entrenched in the toilet itself. I am mortified! So I grabbed the door and pulled it shut saying “Oh I am SO sorry”…but this will do no good. What I had not realized was that, as she fell sideways she had grabbed the top of the door to stable herself. As I grabbed it from the side to close it and step away I then pulled her off balanced and she is now in the position of right foot in toilet, left foot on taboo floor and now both hands on the ground in front of her. A nightmare version of Downward Dog.

I quickly left, no one was behind me, I am so grateful. I get to my car and make a quick get away. I knew I could not wait and see her walk out. Making one sad wet squishy footprint. Of course I couldn’t stop at any other rest stops for the rest of way for fear they would be following me. I can only imagine the story she told to those she was traveling with. If you hear on Facebook about a crazy lady who opened the door on a woman doing her business…could you ask her why she was standing on the toilet please?

This is something that may traumatize me for life.

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SShhh it’s a Secret do not tell anyone…but your closest 100 FB Friends.

So many restaurants and some have secret menu’s. If you weren’t happy with what they display on their shiny billboards or slick menu’s you have options!

For example – In and Out Burgers. I adore these burgers and stop at one anytime I head down to California. We’re all familiar with the Double Double and Animal Fries but there is so much more! Here is a link for you see all the different ways you can order burgers, non-burgers, fries condiments you name it! Secret Menu

Being an Oregonian I must learn to embrace the coffee experience. Up here when I tell folks I have but one cup of coffee in the morning, and water the rest of the day, they look at me like I’m purple. Seems Starbucks has a very secret menu too. Secret Menu

Smoothies are one of my favorite snacks (makes a mental note to add a blender to my wish list). So when in town I hit Jamba Juice. They have a whole slew of flavors not on their menu billboard. Secret Menu

My daughter turned me on to Chipotle. I love their rice. Their burrito’s are massive and no way can I eat a whole one. So if I’m gonna go for it and leftovers of all leftovers I’m gonna go BIG. And what’s bigger than a Burritodilla! Secret Menu

I was amazed at how many places have secret menu’s. So before you head out to your favorite establishment to order the same ol’ thing, you might want to check if they have something yummy on a secret menu.

Exploration is Key…to fun!

Wenatchee Washington is a wonderful area to explore.

We recently had the opportunity to stay a few days and camp in the Wenatchee River County Park – http://www.wenatcheeriverpark.org/c.aspx?n=about

WONDERFUL place to camp. The spaces are on ‘spokes’ leaving amble room between trailers and it was about a 100′ walk to the shore of the Wenatchee River. I had hopes of Derek getting some fishing in, but being as we have an Oregon fishing license and not a Washington one, that made it a bit difficult.

The next day we took off for Leavenworth WA. Such a cute town based on Bavaria Germany. You may ask “So…just what does one do in a themed town?” *inhales deeply…like Jim Carrey on Ace Ventura* You can – shop, eat, explore, stroll, snack. You can check out local artists, taste wines, taste beers, find new cheeses and bakery treats. Indulge in mustards, chocolates and sausages. There are museums, a delightful summer theatre, and a water front park. *inhales again…* A two story Christmas shop full of every Christmas trinket you could ever want. Or head over to Eagle Creek Ranch (http://www.eaglecreek.ws/) and take a trail ride or sleigh ride. *whew* So I guess you get the idea now eh? There is a lot going on in this little town!

Did I mention when we arrived it was Apple Season! Yep seems those trees were ready to give up their tasty morsels a few weeks early and we got to reap the benefits. A friend of mine turned me on to Honey Crisp apples a few years back and since then I buy them whenever I can find them. Had I known how they would taste in WA, not to mention the sheer size of them, I would have driven to WA to pick my own. Now taking one of these and slicing it to enjoy with a new sheep’s milk cheese I found in Leavenworth, Ossau-Iraty and you have snack like no other. I hear you nay-sayers “Pfft, sheep’s milk cheese Plueease!” Well step back and be amazed! I have lactose intolerance. I cannot eat dairy products (cow’s milk) and thus missed out for years on cheese. Well no more! If you are lactose intolerant I simply must urge you to visit a local cheese shop and talk to the cheese monger. I know that any decent cheese shop will have sheep’s and goat cheeses on hand. Not only that, but be more that willing to let you taste them. Based on our tasting alone we ended up buying a nice hunk to enjoy.

After our day in Leavenworth it was time to check out two other things. Farmers Market and Cider Mills. Oh yes *rubs her hands with glee* First up Smallwoods Harvest http://www.smallwoodsharvest.com/ This is a local owned store that not only offers fresh produce from their orchards, but a petting zoo for the kids, a culinary store for us kitchen freaks, a beautiful park area, cow train, duck pond and all sorts of entertainment.

And then it was time to taste some cider. Only here in the US they call it Hard Cider. Don’t give this stuff to your kids! Our stop of choice was Snowdrift Cider House. http://snowdriftcider.com/ You can also find them on FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/snowdriftcider After visiting these folks, tasting their wares and learning so much about how various ciders are made, I have a whole new appreciation for what a real hard cider is (which is NOT that stuff like Mikes Hard Cider which is nothing but fermented glucose and apple flavoring – YUCK!) . We even bought a case of 3 of our favorites. And I can honestly say we will be back again! I love a family owned, family run business. Be sure to watch their video on the About Us page and you’ll see what I mean by family owned and operated! I am truly in love with this cider! And when you go in for a tasting you will get to see the process that is involved in making hard cider. I really cannot say enough about this place! Oh wait yes I can – Their phone is 509-630-3507 and they ship!

On the way home we stopped at a campsite called Columbia Riverfront RV Park http://www.columbiariverfrontrvpark.com/ What a neat place to stay! You are right on the Columbia River and folks this is a BIG river. So big in fact you will see this sauntering by –

Massive Ship

Massive Ship

This ship was huge and the engines could be felt more than heard due to the low thrum of the engines. I must say very impressive to see so close. We walked down to the beach and then we were able to walk along the beach for quite a ways. It was so cool to find seashells and lots of drift wood. I had forgotten how good driftwood smells when burned in a camp fire. It doesn’t  smell the same as regular wood. There is a distinct smell of salt (in ocean driftwood)  and moss as it burns that takes me back to the days when I went camping as a kid in Doheny State Beach in California a kid.

So here’s to camping!

Camping Snack

Camping Snack

Vacation – Work or Relaxing?

So I’ve been gone for a few weeks as we have been on vacation 🙂 It’s a long post, get that coffee or iced tea. (Those of you who are family, sorry but you are obligated to read the whole thing…there may be a test at the end.)

Well back in January we decided to head out and explore more of the Great Northwest. Where we erred was, in doing our first trip in July. And to make matters more complicated the holiday weekend of July 4th. I guess once you retire you forget you can go at any time. You don’t HAVE to go during one of the busiest weekends of the year when you have an extra day off. Our itinerary would include heading north thru Oregon into Herminston and checking out the desert area of Oregon…but before that could happen you have to prepare.

A lot of work goes into a camping trip. It’s not just about throwing a few hotdogs and hamburgers into an ice chest and rolling up a sleeping bag. We’re just not that type of campers. I truly admire the true “outdoorsmen”. The ones that can pop up a tent, unroll a bag and cook up some basic grub over a camp fire with wood they collected in the forest. Seriously, who does this?

Despite the fact that camping has changed dramatically in the last 25 years (more on that later), I am really starting to enjoy it again!

You know how they say things happen in 3’s (or in our case 5’s)?

The first thing we had to do was prep the trailer, this is basically making sure the fresh water tank is ready, the gray and black water tanks are empty. So we start running the water…holy cripes what is that smell?! All joking aside, it smelled like someone was conducting a sulfur experiment and all the water running and flushing in the world wasn’t helping any. Time to deploy the killer of all things bad – bleach. A good soaking and a couple of rinses later and smell was gone….this was issue 1 of 3.

After all that rinsing our gray water tanks were now pretty full. Fortunately for us we had an old house on our property that had a septic system. Hubby spent many hours first just trying to find the darn thing and then making sure it was useable. Yay we can! So time to hook up our new rig set up which allows us to have the truck, our motorcycle for sight seeing and our camper.

Here we have our truck, Goldwing and camper.

Here we have our truck, Goldwing and camper.

We pull the trailer down to the end of the property to dumb our tanks. The hoses barely fit but fit they did.. *crunch*…um what was that sound? “@#$&%!!” That would be hubby now cursing and me with a big question look on my face “what happened?!” “I just stepped on my glasses!” “How on earth did you do that?” “I put them on the ground here because….well I just did ok?” “Um..ok..still not sure why but let me see if I can fix them. Omg Derek these are your prescription sunglasses! Why did you leave them on the ground?” Well that conversation went on for about another 15 minutes and needless to say we couldn’t fix them…this was issue 2 of 3.

So we get everything packed up, food, clothes, tools, dvd’s etc and head out for the great adventure. 1 hour into our trip and I realize I have forgotten to pack our summer clothes and just as unicorns poop rainbows an ungodly heat wave hits the NW. “@#$%&!” And that would be me…this was issue 3 of 3.

Now that we have those issues behind us, we can now enjoy our vacation…right?

Day 1 (June 28th)

We arrive in Herminston Oregon. It was like getting out of the truck and into a furnace that was cranked up to incinerate bones. What’s worse is we still have to set up a bit before it gets dark. It is 102 degrees outside. Then we get inside and have few moments of utter panic as we cannot get the trailer AC to work and the temp inside the trailer is 98 degrees. We’ve never had to use it before and since we don’t have a 30amp breaker at our house with a proper plug there was no way to test it before we left. But after 15-20 of fiddling with it and finding the manual to the thing it’s up and running. Hallelujah and pass the cheese and when we get home install 30 amp breaker!

Around 2am the lightning started that had to be close because of how loud the thunder was. We had to jump up and cover the motorcycle, darn weather.com never said anything about thunderstorms, and to also bring in the awning and my plants. The lightning was massive streaks in the sky. Just an awesome display of nature! And after we busted our butts getting everything secure the rains hit…all 30 seconds and 100 drops of it. Lol figures.  But for over an hour we had a wonderful show that was worth getting up for.

This is what we saw - Photo Courtesy - US National Weather Service Pendleton Oregon

This is what we saw – Photo Courtesy – US National Weather Service Pendleton Oregon

We get up at 7am to continue our trip and it’s already 84 degrees outside. We’re off to Wallace Idaho. I sure hope it is as quaint as I remember it.

Day 2 (June 29th)

Uneventful trip this go around, but in a very good way! Park is situated in the back of this old mining town. (For those that have seen the movie Dante’s Peak with Pierce Bronson this the town that blew up because it was on a volcano in the movie.) Many of the original brick buildings remain making the streets very pleasant to stroll up and down.

Such a cute small town.

Such a cute small town.

One of the interesting buildings here.

One of the interesting buildings here.

What was very interesting to see was the back alley that has all the electrical for the town running through it. Numerous transformers (no not the robots), wires, poles etc.

Back alley electric company?

Back alley electric company?

One thing to note, if you have the app on your phone, or tablet or other device called The Urban Spoon – Trust it! If you don’t have it, get it. It’s a great app that helps you find places to eat and often times includes pictures of the menu and food, reviews from folks that have eaten there and directions for getting there. We found one place while walking thru the town that looked quite interesting. A little BBQ joint called the Smoke House BBQ and Saloon. The US gave it a 50% rating and we thought, oh come on, smells wonderful let’s give it a shot. Worse dinner ever hahaha. That’ll teach us.

The campground has new owners and they’ve made some good changes, adding a few camping cabins and a Pub/Grill.

My heart broke however, when I found that the one place I just adored was no longer in business. I guess I will only have one absolutely, perfectly baked, lavishly frosted, tender and delicious cinnamon roll in my lifetime. Ah but the memories still make my mouth water.

Bit of a snafu (for those that don’t know this word it’s a military acronym. I’ll let you look it up on your own *smile*) when we left, the tract on the main slide came loose, but having a hubby who’s very handy in these matters makes all better quickly. We are off to Garrison Montana…why? Well it’s a nice half way point to stop before heading into Yellowstone. Don’t like to drive more than 6 hours a day max. So we’ll drive 4 hours to Garrison and then another 4 the next day to Yellowstone.

Day 3 (June 30th)

Garrison Montana. What a beautiful area! Found a lovely campground along the Blackfoot River. (Note to those that are planning to go camping but haven’t experienced it. Always, and I do mean always, carry bug spray and use it generously.  If you don’t, the next day you may wake up and look like you have the pox.) The campground was all grassy and had a great view of the ‘big Montana sky’ and hills. The camp site had a few wild kitties running around and I think I now know why our Ranch Kitty adopted us. I cannot seem to control myself when I see a wild kitty and promptly call out in a high sing song voice “Kitty Kiiiitttty!” which I have found out in cat tongue means “I have tuuunnaa!!” Now we have 2 wild kitties following us on our camp walk. Derek just looks at me and shakes his head. (Don’t roll your eyes at me mister who stoops down to pet and love on them.)

We get up early because we’re off to Yellowstone. I’m in the trailer getting it prepped for today’s travels… “Denise…can you come out here please?” I figure he needs help with something so hop right out and he’s pointing to the motorcycle in the back of the truck that is covered in kitty footprints. Seems the wild kitties decided to sleep in the seat of the motorcycle. Quick check inside the truck to make sure no kitties are in there and we’re off!

Day 4 (July 1st – July 8th)

We arrive at the Rocky Mountain RV campground around 1:30 in the afternoon. We made our reservations back in January and boy am I glad. They reserved a prime spot for us and I mean it was perfect!! The back of our site overlooked Yellowstone River, we only had another camper on one side of us and the hillside and overlook on the other side. Magnificent! Being as the day is half done, we decide to take our time setting up, it’s 95 degrees again but here it’s a very dry heat.

Our spot at the camp grounds. We overlooked the river behind us.

Our spot at the camp grounds. We overlooked the river behind us.

The next day we head on in to the monument. Thank goodness we found our cooling gear.

Sidebar – allow me to elaborate on cooling gear. We ride a big Goldwing motorcycle on our trips. While riding on the back of a motorcycle you are exposed to all the elements. On this particular trip – heat. Now some of you may be thinking “wait a minute you’re on a motorcycle it’s like having the AC on all the time!” Um..no. You’re exposed to the radiant heat come up from the asphalt (100+ degrees at time) and the air that’s flowing around you while you drive is 95+ degrees so it’s like having 1,000 hair dryers pointing at you on a high heat setting. Not exactly refreshing. So we wear cooling gear. This consists of a neck wrap that is filled with dehydrated silicon beads. We soak them for about 30 minutes and they expand and fill with water. We also have vests that are similar. We put the vests on while they are soaking wet and then put our breeze jackets over them. This creates a cooling sensation while the water evaporates while we’re driving. It can mean the difference between a horrible trip and a wonderful one.

We now continue with our regularly scheduled posting…

We decide to head to the Ol’ Faithful geyser. And while he was about 30 minutes late in erupting it was impressive!! He used to go off like clock work about every hour, but with earthquakes opening fissures underground it takes longer for the pressure to build.

This did not disappoint! He was a bit late but so impressive.

This did not disappoint! He was a bit late but so impressive.

Here is Ol Faithful and in the back to the left was another geyser that went off and looked to be even bigger.

Here is Ol Faithful and in the back to the left was another geyser that went off and looked to be even bigger.

We then ran into a bison, almost literally. These creatures are massive and they know they own the park. They will walk right out in front of you and slowly saunter across the street, or stop and look around. You never, ever honk at them or get our of your car and ‘shoo’ them. This is their home and you’re driving through their living room, so their rules. Later we found a small herd, and one made it’s way across the river.

Herd of buffalo caused quite a traffic jam.

Herd of buffalo caused quite a traffic jam.

He made it safe to other side.

He made it safe to other side.

The elk here, we only saw the females, are also brazen. Here is a picture where they come into a small community and lay on the grass, even go so far as to walk up the steps of some buildings. We drove by one very up close. The top of my head comes to their shoulders on some of the bigger females. (I’m 5’ 7 1/2” btw)

They wander all over and the rangers put up cones to keep the people away.

They wander all over and the rangers put up cones to keep the people away.

On the way back to our campsite we came to a spot in the road where many were stopped and pulled over. We couldn’t because there just wasn’t enough room, so going by at a snails pace we see it…a grizzly bear!

Grizzly bear I saw as we were heading back to camp.

Grizzly bear I saw as we were heading back to camp.

Here let me zoom in a bit…

Close up of bear.

Close up of bear.

The next day we decided to hit some of the ‘pools’. It seriously impresses me when we stop along the side of the road in a small pull-out and there  by edge is a pool of boiling water. You can feel the heat coming off it and it’s very small, no bigger than 3 feet in diameter! As we continue up we get to the bigger pools. Some look so beautifully blue and deep and refreshing, only to find out that their temperatures could cook boiled eggs (which is what a lot of these pools and geysers smell like).

There are also mud pots. These are formed when sulfuric acid dissolves the rock and water pools into the mixture.

Boiling mud...yeah boiling!

Boiling mud…yeah boiling!

This pool was so incredibly deep blue and about 200 degrees.

This pool was so incredibly deep blue and about 200 degrees.

Even with the ground being so hot, bacteria and small organisms still flourish.

Even with the ground being so hot, bacteria and small organisms still flourish.

Looks so inviting, but at 90 degrees outside the steam was still rising. This pool is above boiling point.

Looks so inviting, but at 90 degrees outside the steam was still rising. This pool is above boiling point.

It’s really interesting the topography of this park. You’ll be going through hills with scraggly trees, wide rivers and then come out to a huge open plateau.

On July 4th we opted to hang out at the campsite. Even with cooling gear, getting on and off the bike, shedding and donning helmets and jackets wears one out. So a lazy day it was. Went into the small town of Gardiner (very touristy but adorable) and did a bit of shopping. Evening arrives and that’s when the fireworks start on the west side of town. The main show started around 9:30 pm. Then another show on the north side of town started. These went on till midnight! I just adore a good firework show, but that long of one and I was beat.

More fireworks Yay for fireworks

July 5th we had planned on heading back into the park to see the Yellowstone Grand Canyon. Mother nature had other plans. A large summer storm has arrived. Lots and lots of rain, thunder and lightning. Looks like another relaxing day of reading is ahead 🙂 Well the rain, lightning and thunder started at 6am and as of 6pm has not let up one bit. The temperature outside at 6pm is 60 degrees. 36 degrees cooler than yesterday! I figure this is a good evening to bake pizza.

Unfortunately the rain did not let up until we left on the 8th. We did get one other morning which was great and we headed off to Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon. A much smaller version of Arizona’s of course, but just beautiful. This drive we saw breathtaking vista’s.

Breathtaking Vistas

Breathtaking Vistas

Makes one feel so tiny

Makes one feel so tiny

Then you can hike down trails to see the canyon.

Yellowstone River

Yellowstone River

River from other direction.

River from other direction.

Another Fall. The sound water makes at this volume is incredible.

Another Fall. The sound water makes at this volume is incredible.

We started back because we noticed the clouds coming back over and sure enough because we “need” to get back is when a black bear would run across the road, stopping traffic. To make matters worse, people started jumping out of their cars to get a picture snarling up traffic even more. Lucky for me my hubby has some mad motorcycle skills and I can take pictures while on the back of the bike.

Black Bear that captivated many.

Black Bear that captivated many.

The temperature on this ride started out about 86 when we left and as we climbed higher in the mountains it is a wonderful 75.  Also in Montana they do not have a helmet law. While it’s been proven that wearing one A) can keep you alive if you crash it also B) keeps your head cooler in the sun. I already mentioned our cooling gear and all this brings me to some of the smiles and light head shakes from the Harley riders. Now I’m not going to get into which is better Harleys or Goldwings but suffice to say I know there were some that looked down on our safety ‘antics’. But we got the last laugh. As we started down the mountain I mentioned those clouds…well the temp dropped from 75, to 60 to 50 to 42 degrees in about 7 minutes. Then the hail started. I wish I could have gotten a picture but I was afraid of ruining my camera. Hail is over 1/4 of an inch and we are wearing leather gloves and our breeze coats which have shoulder, elbow and back armor and this hail HURTS!! We both have our face guards down and now the hail is coating road and very thick I might add. Derek and I keep yelling “ouch!” “Ow! that one got my knee!”  and then I got a case of the giggles at the absurdity of it all. And look there are the Harley riders..no coats, no helmets and no gloves. They are getting pummeled! They all had to stop and get to the side of the road and hide under the trees. Who’s laughing at the safety riders now huh?

This is what it looks like before you get the crud beat out of you by hail.

This is what it looks like before you get the crud beat out of you by hail.

Side note – Uno is a fun a game while camping. However Uno after a martini or two is a GREAT game! The next morning our sides and face still hurt from laughing so much. Who knew?

July 8th – we pack up and head to Garryowen Montana and 7th Ranch RV Park to tour Custer’s Last Stand. I am not a big US history buff, but I must say this was a very interesting park to visit. We took the bus tour which gave us just a wonderful tour.

220 soldiers are buried beneath this monument alone.

220 soldiers are buried beneath this monument alone.

Custer's Tomb Stone. This is where he fell. He was exhumed and buried at West Point.

Custer’s Tomb Stone. This is where he fell. He was exhumed and buried at West Point.

The Battlefield

The Battlefield

Nice tribute and honor paid to the horses that lost their lives too.

Nice tribute and honor paid to the horses that lost their lives too.

Our Indian guide Amber who is Crow Indian.

Our Indian guide Amber who is Crow Indian.

I then became fascinated with some small signs they had by various plants explaining what they were and how they were used by the Indians. I even bought a book going into more detail – Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West by Gregory L. Tilford. Just a wonderful book.

Sunset in Garryowen MT

Sunset in Garryowen MT

July 11th we started heading home and while we had planned to take a couple of side trips we were just exhausted from the heat, and tired of it. We got to Missoula and stayed at Jellystone RV park and what a cute place. More geared to those with kids of course, but a really nice park! The next night we got to Pasco Washington and to the KOA camp site. All our camp sites up till now have been mainly Good Sam or other privately owned sites. There is a difference between GS and KOA. GS does not allow modified, homemade or van conversions. They don’t want debilitated vehicles. KOA’s have a more lenient policy which why we got parked next to what I am calling The Beast.

A behemoth...I think it killed the tree.

A behemoth…I think it killed the tree.

I wish the picture showed the whole image. This thing was leaking water from 4 different points. Their sewer hose did not have a fitting but rather was just stuffed down as far as they could stuff it. A giant cardboard box was under the front end and soaked from all the leaks. Then, our site, had a dead tree. We walked the park and our site was the only one with a dead tree. Why they didn’t just cut it out is beyond me. Then I worried why it was dead and looking at the leaks from next door again. We opted to sit inside our trailer and watch a video rather than sit outside and look at the beast.

We got home on the 13th and happy to be home! My garden went nuts in the 16 days we were gone and all my lettuce bolted as did my dill. But got the first zucchini of the year and had it for dinner. Ranch Kitty was happy to see us as well.

And now, some more random vacation photos.

This one of several spots we would stop and have picnics.

This one of several spots we would stop and have picnics.

Eerie when you look to the hills and see vapors and steam coming out of the cracks.

Eerie when you look to the hills and see vapors and steam coming out of the cracks.

These are mineral flats 'Minerva Terrace'  that have formed over the centuries.

These are mineral flats ‘Minerva Terrace’ that have formed over the centuries.

This big guy held us up for 10 min while he sauntered across our path.

This big guy held us up for 10 min while he sauntered across our path.

Lily pads in full bloom.

Lily pads in full bloom.

We made it!

We made it!

No it's not a golf course.

No it’s not a golf course.

See I told you it wasn't a golf course.

See I told you it wasn’t a golf course.

A beautiful art piece commemorating the unification of the tribes.

A beautiful art piece commemorating the unification of the tribes.

This is an Indian saddle. How they managed to have children after using this I will never know!

This is an Indian saddle. How they managed to have children after using this I will never know!

Bye Bye for now :)

Bye Bye for now 🙂

Paradise is so close to home

“Hey we have a few extra days, where do you want to go or do?”
“I don’t know, where should we go? Is there something going on we could do?”
“HHmm let me get on Google and see if I can find something.”

With gas prices soaring, and time for many being a precious commodity, it’s very hard to decide what to do. For those that are my age (no no don’t ask) I remember being piled into the family car and taking that ‘Sunday Drive’. As kids we had no idea where we were going. We didn’t complain (much) and we didn’t have every electronic gizmo in the world to distract us. We actually talked *gasp* with our family. We played games that spark our imaginations and challenged us.

I live in a very small community. And it is a wonderful community filled with folks that will start up a conversation like they’ve known you for years. The people here are humble, friendly and will often times be more than happy to come help you with a project you have going. If you head into the bigger town about 15 miles away you can walk into a Lowe’s or Home Depot where a nice man will, for the next 30 minutes, help you with every detail of getting your next project going. He’ll look at your list and make recommendations. As he walks off you suddenly realize he doesn’t even work there. Now that’s small town living.

So I decided to take off my city girl hat once and for all. I am a country gal now. I shall embrace all it has to offer. Here are a few of images of what can be seen within just a couple of miles from me.

A calm oasis.

A calm oasis.

Plat I Reservoir offers a peaceful setting where you’ll often times find folks fishing quietly by the shoreline. On Saturdays during the summer kids are out jumping off the docks and laughing.

Will need more foraging skills before I eat these.

Will need more foraging skills before I eat these.

Not sure what kind of mushrooms these were. But the cluster was about 6 inches wide and piled upon itself about another 6 inches up.

Even the ladybug seems happy to be here.

Even the ladybug seems happy to be here.

My pear tree was just magnificent this year! The blossoms are so beautiful with the white, yellow and red.

It's just amazing to watch them roll in.

It’s just amazing to watch them roll in.

A late storm rolled in at the end of May. I wish you could smell the air! If I could bottle this I would make a fortune.

Many were in full bloom, but the geese preferred I stay a bit farther back.

Many were in full bloom, but the geese preferred I stay a bit farther back.

Here at Cooper Creek Reservoir you will find lily pads in full bloom with big dragon flys buzzing along in all colors imaginable.

These little guys were very friendly

These little guys were very friendly

And I defy anyone to not go “OOhhh how cute!” when confronted by a friendly group of baby geese.

Late spring blossoms and a field of hay. Just beautiful.

Late spring blossoms and a field of hay. Just beautiful.

You know it’s early summer when the fields are being cut and the hay is rolled. Even some late spring flowers make for perfect quintessential scene.

A Symphony of Nature

When I lived in Southern California going for a daily walk was a chore. It still is a bit, as I don’t enjoy exercise.

But since walking up here I’ve had 2 major changes and not the ones you may think.

First off I no longer walk with an electronic device plugged into my ears. In S. CA it was a must. Between the noise of traffic, sirens, lawn mowers and blowers a walk without something plugged into you head to block out the noise is a major chore. You can’t even think straight and forget about getting fresh air.

And second I can actually hear myself think.

I always thought that was part of the reason for walking, other than obvious one of getting some exercise, was to get out get some fresh air and clear your mind.

Now I can, but to such a symphony of sound, rather than noise. Let’s go for a walk shall we…

South side of the reservoir

South side of the reservoir

As I leave my house the sparrows are chirping, a few larks are flitting about letting me know I’m in their territory with their kissing sounds. A mechanical ‘bark’ is heard. No worries it’s just a pheasant. Let’s head west towards the reservoir. Now we have the Red-winged Blackbird, sentry of the marsh  announcing its territory to all present with its oak-a-tee song. The ‘wind instruments’ are increasing in crescendo as now we hear the ducks both mallard and ring necks along with the Canadian geese calling to each other to check in. A whooping sound begins as a loon begins his song. Keep listening and you’ll hear the screech of a hawk above you or perhaps an osprey. Far across the reservoir the egrets with their guttural squawks are heard.

You would think this is enough, but not only are the birds singing, but so are the frogs. Some with their mellow croaks and a few that sound like a dog barking. Now tune out the wind instruments, do you hear the string section. It’s there, below you. The crickets are chirping because it’s so warm. Along with the raspy cicadas.

But don’t worry we have the percussion group of wood peckers pecking away at the trees and the sap suckers looking for a meal. The stink bugs and black beetles are there with their incessant tapping.

In walking a little over 3 miles I have listen to the most natural musical symphony I could ask for.

Take a chance and discover new places. I did and found a beautiful forest road.

Walking Trail

So next time you go for your walk, stop and listen to natures symphony. If you can’t hear it, ride your bike or even drive to it. It’s well worth the fresh air and being able to hear your own thoughts.

We gotta to ride man!

So Derek and I are looking for a new motorcycle group within the GWRRA. Unfortunately for us, the nearest group is about 2 hours away.

By the way this translate to Gold Wing Road Riders Association.

These groups are a hoot! We went to an event sponsored by OR-G (Thanks Trent) called the Right Turn Ride where the entire long ride consists of only right turns. No you don’t get dizzy. There were about 60 riders there. Some were Flamingo’s, others Aliens and even a cartoon character.  No I really can’t explain here, it’s something you have to experience.  Now don’t go thinking it was an early halloween party, these are mascots of the various chapters. And they are cherished and protected. Nothing like the thrill of stealing a mascot from another chapter or the victory of returning yours to home base. Afterwards we all went for a great ride of 121 miles through scenic twists and turns, over green hills and forested areas. The scenery cannot be beat when riding on the back of a bike. Nor can the smell of cows stuck in your helmet…I love this life!

But I began to wonder…If I was in my 20’s I’d officially be in a ‘motorcycle gang’! However, when you’re in your 50’s you’re in a group…with stuffed animals. Ah momma never told me.

Needless to say, great group of folks, lots of beautiful bikes and miles of open road 🙂

This is about 1/2 of the riders for the event. That's our bike - front left.

This is about 1/2 of the riders for the event. That’s our bike – front left.

More bikes are pulling in.

More bikes are pulling in.

With over 60 bikes descending on this small store I can hear them now "OMG it's the Del Fuego's!"

With over 60 bikes descending on this small store I can hear them now “OMG it’s the Del Fuego’s!”