On the Road to Las Vegas… Was It Winter or Spring?

This is what Peggy and I saw what we looked out our window on Thursday morning. It was beautiful but possibly not the best conditions for a road trip.

This is what Peggy and I saw what we looked out our window on Thursday morning. It was beautiful, but possibly not the best conditions for a road trip.

We are watching the Oscars in Las Vegas, which may be the best ever, especially in recognizing what is positive (and wrong) about our nation, with humor. They just sent a tweet to Trump.

The Oscars can go on, however, so I have time to put up a blog on our trip down here. We woke up at our home in Southern Oregon on Thursday to several inches of fresh snow. It was beautiful, but I immediately begin to fret over road conditions. Would I have to put on chains to get over the Siskiyou Pass? If so, it pretty much guaranteed I would be delaying the trip for a day. I hate putting on chains.

As it turned out the road was dry, the Siskiyou Pass and Mt. Shasta were gorgeous, and the Sacramento Valley was showing signs of spring.

There was a bit of water about, however. The Yolo Causeway, which is normally farmland, looked like an ocean with overflow from the Sacramento River.

Anyway, here are some photos that Peggy and I caught along the way.

The Madrone in our backyard had a new coat of snow.

The Madrone in our backyard had a new coat of snow.

Our ceramic jay was looking cold.

Our ceramic jay was looking cold.

The sun came out, however, and the highway report told us that no chains were required over the Siskiyou Pass.

The sun came out, however, and the highway report told us that no chains were required over the Siskiyou Pass.

And Doodle, our rooster, was glad to warm up.

And Doodle, our rooster, was glad to warm up. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

I had the first shift driving, so Peggy used my camera to get these shots of the Siskiyou Pass.

I had the first shift driving, so Peggy used my camera to get these shots of the Siskiyou Pass.

Another snowy shot going up the mountain. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Another snowy shot going up the mountain. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

It was looking more like spring along the Klamath River.

It was looking more like spring along the Klamath River.

And even flowers.

There was even a crocus blooming.

Peggy found Mt. Shasta peeking out from behind the clouds.

Peggy found Mt. Shasta peeking out from behind the clouds.

Black Butte, which hangs out next to Mt. Shasta looking small was free from clouds. (Photo by Peggy.)

Black Butte, which hangs out next to Mt. Shasta, was actually free from clouds. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

The Central Valley was showing signs of spring.

The Central Valley was showing signs of spring. The Coast Range is in the distance.

Rice paddies were covered in water with thoughts of draught far behind.

Rice paddies were covered in water with thoughts of draught far behind. The mountains show recent snow.

A reflection shot.

A reflection shot.

The Sacramento Valley was filled with blooming fruit trees.

The Sacramento Valley was filled with fruit trees in bloom.

More...

More…

And finally...

And finally…

The Yolo Bypass filled with water reflecting the extensive flooding that Northern California has experienced this winter.

I’ll conclude with this photo of the Yolo Bypass filled with water reflecting the extensive flooding that Northern California has experienced this winter. Normally, this is farmland.

 

Sorry, Sully, I Was Distracted… Oregon’s Gorgeous Harris Beach State Park

This is what you find on a sunny day at Harris Beach State Park near Brookings, Oregon. Peggy and I had to deal with stormy weather.

This is what you find on a sunny day at Harris Beach State Park near Brookings, Oregon. I was particularly pleased with the seagull who decided to photo-bomb my picture. Peggy and I had to deal with stormy weather when we visited there last week.

 

So, I was going to write about Chesley Burnett “Sully” Sullenberger III today, the heroic American Airlines pilot who saved 155 people in 2009 by landing his goose-disabled US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River, but I got distracted. It happens, you know.

Peggy and I took a trip over to the Oregon Coast for Valentine’s Day and ended up at Harris Beach State Park in Brookings. It was a stormy three days filled with 40-60 MPH winds, slashing rain and crashing waves— the perfect weather for romantically snuggling down in our 22-foot RV and eating chocolate as the world roared by outside.

We had our rain hats, rain coats and rain pants, however, so we got out for a couple of walks: once when the sun was threatening to shine and once when the heavens were threatening to open up and dump oodles of rain. And we took our cameras. Peggy wanted to play with her new Canon EOS Rebel T6i with a Tamron 16-300 mm telephoto lens. I took my trusty little Canon Powershot G7x. The conditions weren’t ideal for photography— grey skies matched grey seas matched grey rocks, but we had fun seeing what we could capture.

Harris Beach State Park near Brookings, Oregon

This sea stack was in the background on the lead picture for this post. Again, I took this photo on a sunny day. Note the large crack/cave on the front. (Sea stacks are rocks in the ocean that have been created by the endless waves eroding the shoreline.)

Storm tossed seas at Harris Beach State Park.

This is what it looked like last week. A wave is crashing into the cave. (Because of a high tide abetted by the stormy weather, I had to take this photo from a different angle.The sea stack on the left is included in photos below. Brookings is on the distant cliff.)

When we arrived home, I was eager to see the results and process the photos. I did that instead of working on the photos I took of Sully’s plane at the air museum in Charlotte, North Carolina when we visited there in early January. Bad Curt. As a result, today’s post is on Harris Beach. Sorry, Sully. Next Monday is yours. But then I will be in Las Vegas. Hmmm.

Harris Beach State Park sits on the edge of Brookings and is about three scenic hours away from where we live. We followed back roads to Highway 199, otherwise known as the Redwood Highway, to US 101 on the Pacific Coast and then followed it north to Brookings. It is a gorgeous park filled with imposing sea stacks and Oregon’s largest island, which happens to be reserved for the birds. Some 100,000 hang out there during mating season, including tufted puffins who use their webbed feet to dig their nests into the ground.

The island is off-limits for two-legged types like us, however, so we were left with taking photos of rocks, waves, and driftwood.

Split rock at Harris Beach State Park allows waves to go under rock.

Our semi-sunny walk took us behind the large sea stack (small island?)  and showed us that the large cave we had seen on the front went all of the way through. The waves coming in had developed a small cove. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Harris Beach State Park on the Oregon Coast.

The waves created this interesting, fan-like look. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Massive rock face at Harris Beach State Park.

As we hiked down to the cove, I turned around and photographed the rock cliff we were walking around. Note the couple on the lower right for perspective. I felt that the grey sky set the cliff off more than a blue sky might have.

Peggy Mekemson hiking down trail at Harris beach State Park near Brookings, Oregon.

I caught a photo of ‘my Valentine’ appropriately dressed in red as she made her way down the trail. I had her move to the center of the trail so the Pacific would outline her and provide depth.

Rock 'bower' along trail at Harris Beach State Park on the Oregon Coast.

This rock overhang provided a bower for the trail. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Rock overhang at Harris Beach State Park near Brookings, Oregon.

I took a close up of the overhang.

Water caught in crevice at Harris Beach State Park near Brookings, Oregon.

Another close up that intrigued me was this water caught in a small crevice that provided something of an abstract photo.

Down on the beach, Peggy caught a shot of a wave come through the split in the rock.

Down on the beach, Peggy caught a shot of a wave coming through the split in the rock. Blue skies may have provided more depth but I felt the grey skies placed the focus on the wave.

Split rock at Harris Beach State Park on the Oregon Coast.

I moved back to capture some yellow rocks in the foreground to add color to our grey day.

Photo of sea stack rock by Peggy Mekemson at Harris Beach State Park near Brookings, Oregon.

A sea stack  just south of the split rock caught Peggy’s attention and she filled her lens with it.

Photo of sea stack rock by Curtis Mekemson at Harris Beach State Park on the Pacific Ocean.

I placed the sea stack in its surroundings, again using a yellow rock on the beach for a splash of color.

I then rendered it in black and white to honor the black and white of the day.

I then rendered it in black and white to honor the black and white of the day.

Conglomerate rock at Harris Beach State Park near Brookings, Oregon.

A conglomerate rock and driftwood caught my attention next.

Photo of conglomerate rock by Peggy Mekemson at Harris Beach State Park on the Oregon Coast.

Peggy focused in on the incredible color and texture of conglomerate rock…

Driftwood at Harris Beach State Park.

While I went for the driftwood and the rock it had managed to capture.

Our second walk took us down to the main beach area at Harris Beach State Park. The weather was more iffy so Peggy was more careful with her camera, but my small Power Shot G7x is used to being abused.

Scotch Broom photo at Harris Beach State Park near Brookings, Oregon.

I used Scotch Broom to add color to a shot looking north up the beach.

Peggy's telephoto lens provided a better view of just how many sea stack rocks are found on Harris Beach State Park.

Peggy’s telephoto lens provided a better view of just how many sea stacks are found on Harris Beach State Park, and a sense of the grey day.

Sea stacks at Harris Beach State Park near Brookings, Oregon.

I used these waves to provide a lead in to the sea stacks.

Drift logs at Harris Beach State Park on the Oregon Coast.

Talk about a lead in… What about this drift log? The driftwood speaks to the power of storm-tossed seas. Note the colorful roots on the left.

Flat roots on driftwood at Harris Beach State Park.

I also found these ‘moose antler’ roots interesting. With a little imagination I found the moose’s eye and nose.

Turtle-like rock at Harris Beach State Park near Brookings, Oregon.

While I am on the subject of wildlife, I dubbed this Turtle Rock.

Another clear day shot take from the beach area. Bird Island is in the background.

Another clear day shot taken from the beach area. Bird Island is in the background.

Peggy took this shot of the turbulent Smith River on our way home. She really like the contrast of the green moss growing on the oak tree.

Peggy took this shot of the turbulent Smith River on our way home. She really liked the contrast of the green moss growing on the oak tree with the white rapids. The weather had been so wet we found 74 waterfalls careening off of the mountain and into the river as we drove up Highway 199.

I'll conclude with this hill hugging rainbow we found welcoming us back to the Applegate Valley. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

I’ll conclude with this hill-hugging rainbow we found welcoming us back to the Applegate Valley.  Peggy shot this photo through raindrops on our windshield. Note: there is a slight double rainbow.

NEXT BLOGS:

Wednesday: It’s back to the Sierra Trek and a 16 mile day without any water sources. One Trekker is lost and I face a rebellion and a rattlesnake.

Friday: More great mutant vehicles at Burning Man.

Monday: Will it be Sully?

 

Three Hundred Cups of Tea and The Toughest Job… More Tales from West Africa

Three Hundred Cups of Tea and the Toughest Job by Asifa Kanji and David Drury

 

Peggy, who is President of Friends of the Ruch Library, came home from a Jackson County Library meeting this summer and told me that two Returned Peace Corps Volunteers had just given a program at the Ashland Library on a book they’d written about their experience in Mali, West Africa. She also had their names, David Drury and Asifa Kanji, and contact information.

Given the book I’d written about my Peace Corps adventures in Liberia, it caught my attention.  I called immediately and reached David. Asifa was off in Hawaii attending to business. Within a few minutes we had a picnic set up for Lithia Park in Ashland. We’d bring the wine. (For those of you who aren’t familiar with Ashland, it’s the first town you come to when following I-5 north from California into Oregon. The community is renowned for its Shakespeare Festival.)

By the end of lunch, we were on our way to becoming friends and had exchanged books. Asifa and David’s books, Three Hundred Cups of Tea and The Toughest Job, are combined under one cover. My book is The Bush Devil Ate Sam. 

I immediately took their books home and begin reading them. I was fascinated. Both are good writers, have a great sense of humor, and have interesting stories to tell.

I joined the Peace Corps when I was 22, right after I graduated from UC Berkeley in 1965. David and Asifa joined almost 50 years later in 2012 when David was 60 and Asifa 57. They had to have vastly different experiences from mine, I thought. And yes, there were differences. I certainly didn’t have a cell phone or access to the Internet. They still weren’t invented. And David worked in a cybercafe! In 1965, I would have been running to the dictionary for a definition— and not finding it.

But in the end, I was more impressed by the similarities of our experiences than the differences. Working in an impoverished third world country while struggling to accomplish something in a totally different culture is slow arduous work, and often unsuccessful. Both of their book titles reflected this. Asifa’s 300 cups of tea was the number of cups you had to drink with someone to get their attention. Patience and, I might add, a strong bladder were called for. David’s book got right to the point; it was the toughest job he had ever had.

If you want a good tale that will transport you into another world with both compassion and humor, I recommend David and Asifa’s book. It’s available here on Amazon.

The Bush Devil Ate Sam, Tree Hundred Cups of Tea, and the Toughest Job: Books on Peace Corps Experiences in West Africa

If you are among my blog followers in Southern Oregon, Asifa, David and I will be doing a program featuring tales from West Africa on this coming Saturday, January 20 at the Ruch Library from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. You are invited! The address for the library is 7919 Highway 238 (one block past the Upper Applegate River intersection if you are coming in from Jacksonville on 238).

Sunset Bay: Up Close and Personal… The North Coast Series

Millions of years ago, Sunset Bay was part of a large delta where layer after layer of silt, sand, and marine deposits were laid down over eons creating sedimentary rocks. Once flat, these layers were tilted upward by plate tectonics as the Pacific plate crashed into and sank under the North America continent.

Millions of years ago, Sunset Bay was part of a large delta where layer after layer of silt, sand, and marine deposits were laid down over eons, creating sedimentary rocks. Once flat, these layers were tilted upward by plate tectonics as the Pacific plate crashed into and sank under the North America continent. Varying layers of hard and soft rock attacked by waves, wind, storms and salt crystals have created beautiful rock sculptures like this one.

 

Landscape photography is known for its grand views. I enjoy those views, always, but I am also intrigued by small things that catch my eye, a leaf perhaps, or a rock. Today I am going to focus more on the ‘up close and personal’ part of Sunset Bay and Shore Acres State Parks on the Oregon coast as well as touch on the geology of the area. This is my Friday photographic essay. Enjoy.

 

Sedimentary rock warn down by waves at Sunset Bay State Park on the Oregon Coast.

A close up of the tilted sedimentary rock shown in the opening photo. The holes in the rock at the right, BTW, are created by growing salt crystals from salt left behind by tides and waves. Algae grows on the sides of the holes and limits the growth of the crystals, thus creating the rounded shapes.

Another view. The white rocks have broken free from on of the tilted layers of sedimentary rock.

I found this view of the weathered sedimentary rocks at Sunset Bay fascinating. The late afternoon sun added the color. The white rocks had broken free from one of the sedimentary layers.

Sedimentary layers of rocks create tracks into Sunset Bay on the Oregon Coast.

Here, the sedimentary layers stretch out along the beach creating a ‘path.’

Coastline of Shore Acres Park on the Oregon Coast near Coos Bay, Oregon.

The next door Shore Acres State Park provides a different perspective on the erosive forces of nature on the tilted sandstone and siltstone rocks.

Erosion at Shore Acres State Park on the Oregon Coast.

A different perspective of the Shore Acres coastline.

Concretion rock found in Sunset Bay on the Oregon Coast near Coos Bay.

This weird rock is known as a concretion. Calcite forms around a small object such as a broken shell. Layer after layer is applied (think pearl in an oyster) until you get a rock like this.

Concretions found on the beach of Sunset Bay on the Oregon Coast.

If one is good, more are better, right?

Ancient spruce roots at Sunset Bay on the Oregon Coast near Coos Bay.

I figured this was just driftwood on the beach until I did some research. Apparently, this is the root system of an ancient spruce. A massive earthquake struck approximately 1200 years ago and sank major portions of the coast, covering local forests with water. The earthquake was the result of plate tectonics where the Pacific Plate is crashing up against and sinking under the North American continent. Known as the Cascadia Subduction Zone along the Oregon coast, this geological region is still active today and is threatening a major earthquake in the not too distant future. Coastal communities are all involved in disaster planning. We are told that if the Applegate Dam above our house breaks, flood waters will crest right about where we live, even though we are high above the river.

Just for fun, I found this ivy leaf adding a splash of green to the beach.

Just for fun, I found this ivy leaf adding a splash of green to the beach.

A rock added a dash of color...

A rock added a dash of yellow…

A rock with a barnacle found on Sunset Bay on the Oregon Coast.

Another yellow rock, which is part of an exposed sedimentary layer, displays a single barnacle.

Barnacles attached to a rock at Sunset Bay State Park on the Oregon Coast.

This one had a whole tribe of barnacles.

Sea anemones found in a tide pool at Sunset Bay on the Oregon Coast near Coos Bay.

Ever since I was a little kid visiting with my grandparents on the Central California coast, I have been unable to resist tide pools. These are sea anemones— an oldster and a youngster. The tentacles carry a toxin that is injected into prey such as a small fish. The prey is then moved to the center and stuffed into its mouth, which also serves as its anus, a fact I am sure you were just dying to learn!

Seaweed on the beach at Sunset Bay on the Oregon Coast.

This seaweed exists in the intertidal zone and is built with dense root system to grab onto rocks and withstand crashing waves. Recent storm had succeeded in breaking this one free. Tracks show that a seagull has stopped by to check it out. I also liked the reflection captured by water that barely covers the sand.

Another reflection shot, which includes seagulls.

Another reflection shot, which includes seagulls.

Seagull at Sunset Bay on the Oregon Coast near Coos Bay.

And a seagull up close with a touch of attitude that says feed me! Check out the knobby knees.

Dead tree with impressing root system on Sunset Bay near Coos Bay on the Oregon Coast.

Peggy has roots. This magnificent tree has been on the beach for a while.

Downed tree with roots reaching skyward on the beach at Sunset Bay State Park.

Another view.

Natural root sculpture food at Shore Acres State Park on the Oregon Coast.

I’ll use this fantastic creature that lives next door in Shore Acres State Park to wrap up today’s photo essay blog. I’ve used this jumble of roots in a previous blog.

Monday’s Blog: Revolutionary Boston and its message for today. Peggy and I were just there and walked the Revolutionary Trail. “Listen my children and you shall hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere.” —Longfellow

Wednesday’s Blog: The Sierra Trek Part 3— Meet the incredible cast of characters that sign up to go; travel with Steve and me as we preview the route and Steve pees around the camp to scare away bears.

Friday’s Blog: It’s time to start thinking about Burning Man! Sign up is in February. For the next few weeks, I’ll be digging into my archive of thousands of Burning Man photos taken over a ten-year period for my Friday photograph essays.

My apologies to all of my blog friends for my slowness in responding to comments and tardiness in reading blogs over the past month. I will catch up. After a month of travel and visiting family (including five grandsons) on the East Coast, Peggy and I returned to some of the same weather that many of you have been facing. Our property was buried under two feet of snow. As a result, much of my time has been spent shoveling snow off of driveways and roofs, dealing with power outages and frozen pipes, and trying to persuade a roaring creek that it does not want to run down our driveway. Some fun! We are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, however. Or at least the dirt under the snow.

Curt

 

 

Sunset Bay: A Hidden Treasure on the Oregon Coast… The North Coast Series

The setting sun illuminates the cliffs surrounding Sunset Bay, giving support to its name.

The setting sun lights up the cliffs surrounding Sunset Bay, providing support for the bay’s name.

The Oregon Coast is world-renowned for its combination of hidden coves, towering cliffs and crashing waves. Peggy and I are fortunate to live only a couple of hours away from this beauty and have resolved to spend much more time exploring the coastline in 2017. It should be one resolution that is easy to keep.

The Oregon Coast is noted for its crashing waves such as these at Sunset Bay near Coos bay, Oregon.

Towering Pacific Ocean waves crash on rocks just outside of Sunset Bay.

I called and made reservations to stay at Sunset Bay State Park on the Oregon Coast in November. Normally I wouldn’t bother with reservations during late fall, but the Christmas light show at nearby Shore Acres Park attracts up to 50,000 people annually. Odds were that a number of them would be staying at the campground.

I needn’t have worried. The park was under two feet of water when I called. A high tide had joined forces with a flooding stream. The park reservation company in California had happily collected its seven-dollar reservation fee and failed to fill us in on the little detail that we might need a boat to get to our campsite.

Peggy and I already had that experience. We had camped in our small RV at a private campground near Mendocino a few years ago and woke up to discover a seagull floating by our window. Water was lapping at our doorstep. We had departed quicker than a jack rabbit on steroids, not even stopping to pay our campground fee. They probably would have charged extra for the seagull. Besides, a warning in the night that the area was flooding would have been appreciated.

Fortunately we lucked out at Sunset Bay. We weren’t even aware of the flood until we arrived and the water had already receded. Apparently we had missed the flood by a day and a gang of prisoners had swept through the campground and cleaned up the debris. Other than the campground host, we pretty much had the area to ourselves.

Sunset Bay is a hidden jewel, snuggled in along the coast near Coos Bay. It is part of a 6000-feet thick geological formation known as the Coaledo Formation after the coal deposits found in the area. For a while, starting in the 1850s, coal mining was a major industry in the area. By 1904 there were some 40 active mines. The coal was used primarily for running steam locomotives. The appearance of diesel engines in the 1920s had reduced the demand for the Coos Bay coal, however, and the last coal mine was shut down in 1940.

Coal fired steam locomotives are mainly a footnote in history now, but Peggy and I ended up on a train being pulled by one just before Christmas. Our son Tony and his wife Cammie had purchased tickets for the family to travel on the Polar Express out of Essex, Connecticut. We arrived just about dark and the locomotive was warming up to leave. Manny Mistletoe entertained us on our way to the ‘North Pole’ where Mr. and Mrs. Clause greeted us and entertained our grandsons who were appropriately decked out in their pajamas. Hot chocolate was served.

Steam train rides are featured throughout the year in Essex, Connecticut.

The ‘Polar Express’ locomotive of Essex, Connecticut prepares to leave the station on its journey to the ‘North Pole.’

The sedimentary rocks of the Coaledo Formation, laid down in layers over millions of years, have been tilted steeply upward by the crashing Pacific and North American tectonic plates. Varying levels of hardness found among the sedimentary rocks have allowed for different levels of erosion and account for the interesting land formations found at Sunset Bay. I am going to do two posts on our visit. Today’s photos are focused on looking out toward the ocean. On Friday I will do a photographic essay on the fun things we found along the shoreline. (Wednesday’s blog returns to the Sierra Trek.)

Low tide at Sunset Bay on the Oregon Coast near Coos Bay.

Looking out toward the Pacific Ocean at low tide from the beach at Sunset Bay.

Seagulls and sunset at Sunset Bay near Coos Bay on the Oregon Coast.

Seagulls take advantage of the low tide to search for dinner.

A November sunset at Sunset Bay.

Shooting toward the sun provided this view. The sun is more centered on the bay during the summer months.

Tide pools at Sunset Bay in Oregon near Coos bay lit up by the sun at sunset.

I also liked the ‘black and white’ feel the sunset provided with these tide pools.

Early morning at Sunset Bay on the Oregon Coast near Coos Bay, Oregon.

Early morning light the next day and high tide provided a totally different scene at Sunset Bay.

Sun lights up small waves at Sunset Bay on the Oregon Coast near Coos Bay.

I liked the way the sun lit up these wavelets.

Backlit wave crashes over rock at Sunset bay near Coos Bay, Oregon.

And how it lit this wave as it crashed over a rock just outside of the Bay.

Waves crashing over rocks outside of Sunset Bay near Coos Bay, Oregon.

And a final view of the restless Pacific Ocean outside of Sunset Bay.

WEDNESDAY’S  BLOG: Part 2 of the Sierra Trek, a nine-day hundred mile backpack trip across the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.

FRIDAY’S BLOG: The wrap up on Sunset Bay… a photographic essay.

 

The Glass Forge of Grants Pass… From the Sublime to the Wacky

Two bowls from the Glass Forge of Grants Pass Oregon.

The Glass Forge of Grants Pass creates a wide range of glass art ranging from the sublime to the wacky. I loved the tree like pattern in the left bowl.

Red lipped blue fish produced at the Glass Forge in Grants Pass, Oregon.

How can you not fall for a blue fish with red lips. While the artists of the Glass Forge produce much traditional glass art, they also have a wonderful sense of humor.

It’s Friday, so this is my day to produce a photographic essay for my blog. My choice for today is the Glass Forge in Grants Pass, Oregon. Peggy and I visited the studio on one of our Wednesday Date Days in November. (We’ve been having Wednesday Date Days for 27 years!) When we arrived the staff was working on glass art for the Lodge at Yosemite.

The Glass Forge of Grants Pass, Oregon was founded by Lee Wassink, shown above creating a vase.

One of the neat things about the Glass Forge is that you are encouraged to watch the artists at work. In this photo, Lee Wassink, founder of the Glass Forge, demonstrates the creation of a vase.

Groups and individuals have an opportunity to attend a workshop and create simple glass work of their own, such as these Christmas ornament.

Groups and individuals have an opportunity to attend a workshop and create simple glass work of their own, such as these Christmas ornaments.

Vase found at the Glass Forge in Grants Pass, Oregon.

The studio provides an opportunity to peruse the wide variety of glass art available, such as this vase. As I posted this photo I notice a slight reflection of myself, a selfie.

Looking down into a vase at the Glass Forge Studio in Grants Pass Oregon.

I always like looking down into glass art for a different perspective, as in this vase…

Looking at the patterns inside a glass bowl at the Glass Forge in Grants Pass, Oregon.

And this bowl. I am amazed at the patterns, variety and beauty created.

Humorous mugs created by the artists working at the Glass Forge in Grants Pass, Oregon.

I really like weird and wacky. These mugs certainly qualify!

Glass fish with character at Glass Forge in Grants Pass, Oregon.

And here’s another fish.

Variety of bowls displayed at the Glass Forge in Grant's Pass, Oregon.

This collection of bowls demonstrated the variety available.

A tall, graceful vase at the Glass Forge in Grants Pass, Oregon.

One of several tall, graceful vases.

Glass paperweights available for purchase at the Glass Forge in Grants Pass Oregon.

Someday, I am going to return to the Glass Forge to find out how these paper weights are created.

We were able to watch a vase being made. The furnaces used to melting the glass are over 2000 degrees F (1100 degrees C).

We were able to watch a vase being made. The furnaces used to melt the glass are over 2000 degrees F (1100 degrees C).

Furnaces for heating glass at Glass Forge in Grants Pass, Oregon.

A bubble is blown into the glass. Layers are added by returning to the furnace for more glass. The larger the piece, the more returns.

Bins that hold colored glass to add color to glass art created at the Glass Forge in Grants Pass, Oregon.

These bins hold colored glass that will be added to the various pieces.

The following series of photos follow the artists as they work together to finish a vase:

Color has been added to a vase at the Glass Forge in Grants Pass, Oregon.

Check out the gorgeous color!

Top is added to vase at Glass Forge in Grants Pass, Oregon.

A bottom is added.

Shaping a top on a vase at the Glass Forge in Grants Pass, Oregon.

And shaped.

A close to finished vase at the Glass Forge, Grants Pass, Oregon.

The finished product.

If you are driving up or down Interstate 5 in Southern Oregon or live in the area, I highly recommend stopping off at the Glass Forge in Grants Pass.

If you are driving up or down Interstate 5 in Southern Oregon or live in the area, I highly recommend stopping off at the Glass Forge in Grants Pass.

Glass Genie created at the Glass Forge in Grants Pass, Oregon.

I’ll conclude my Friday photographic essay today with this marvelous glass genie.

MONDAY’S BLOG: We will return to the Oregon Coast and visit the scenic Sunset Bay.

WEDNESDAY’S BLOG: Part 2 of my Sierra Trek series. I have to persuade a reluctant Board of Directors (“You want to do what?”), decide on a name, hire Steve, and determine our route.

FRIDAY’s BLOG: California mountain wildflowers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wandering through Time and Place… The 2016 Year in Review: Part III

Peggy and I arrived home from our three month to this thunderhead hanging over the Red Butte Mountains. The view is from our patio.

Peggy and I arrived home from our three-month trip around North America to see this thunderhead hanging over the Red Butte Mountains. The view is from our patio.

When Peggy and I returned from re-tracing my bike route, we were more than happy to hang out at our home in the Applegate Valley of Southern Oregon. The wildlife entertained us and the surrounding country provided scenic views. It wasn’t until fall that we returned to our wandering ways with short trips to the coasts of Northern California and Oregon.

We finished off our year with a trip to Connecticut to visit our son Tony and his family, and North Carolina  to visit our daughter Tasha and her family. In between we worked in a trip to Boston. There is a lot of good blog material! Right now I am sitting in Google’s Charlotte, North Carolina office where our son-in-law Clay works. One of my blogs will be on what it means to be a Googler and be Googley. I find the company fascinating!

Another view from our patio. The clouds frequently provide us wit beautiful sunsets.

Another view from our patio. The clouds often provide beautiful sunsets.

The mood changes dramatically when the mountain mists roll in.

The mood changes dramatically when the mountain mists roll in. The Applegate River runs through the canyon.

The Applegate River showing its fall colors.

The Applegate River showing its fall colors on a sunny day.

And fall colors in the Upper Applegate Valley.

And fall colors in the Upper Applegate Valley.

On the opposite end, a pair of bucks go at it in preparation for mating season. I face my writing chair so I can see all of our back yard action and keep a camera handy!

Fall is when the bucks go at it in preparation for mating season. I face my writing chair so I can see all of our back yard action. I keep a camera handy!

And I am sure that most of you remember Little Buck. "Does anyone have an apple?"

And I am sure that most of you remember this photo of Little Buck. “Does anyone have an apple?” He was December on our Family Calendar.

Whipped cream, anyone. If you've never see sea foam whipped up by a stormy sea, that might be your first thought. I took this photo on our recent trip up the North Coast. It's a preview of blogs to come.

Whipped cream, anyone? If you’ve never seen sea-foam whipped up by a stormy sea, that might be your first thought. I took this photo on our recent trip up the North Coast. It’s a preview of my next blog.

As is this: the Humboldt Lagoon north of Eureka.

As is this: the Humboldt Lagoon north of Eureka.

Peggy and I had a great year wandering and sharing our adventures. I’ve also taken great pleasure in wandering around the world with you on your adventures! I am looking forward to 2017. My New Year’s Day blog will feature my plans for 2017.

Happy New Year!

Curt and Peggy

The two of us on top of a lighthouse on Prince Edward Island, Canada.

The two of us on top of a lighthouse on Prince Edward Island, Canada.

A Truly Unique Set of Holiday Lights… The North Coast Series

Grey whale featured in Holiday Lights display at Shore Acres State Park in Coos Bay, Oregon.

Not your parents’ (or mine) display of holiday lights! This grey whale rising out of the ocean had to be at least 30 feet long. Over 10,000 lights provided a back drop.

A giant grey whale rose out of the water to a backdrop of ten thousand lights. It wasn’t quite what I had expected when Peggy and I drove over to Coos Bay, Oregon to check out the Holiday Lights display at the Shore Acres State Park. I thought we’d probably see sheep, cows, donkeys and a baby J or two. There might even be deer. They’ve become a common fixture on people’s lawns at Christmas. But frogs leaping into ponds, pelicans flying across the sky, a parade featuring an earthworm, turtle, grasshopper and snail— no way! And these were just a few of the sky, sea and land creatures on display, all created out of holiday lights.

This green fellow was part of a parade that included a worm, two turtles, and a snail, that was going the wrong way, slowly, I assume.

This green fellow was part of a parade that included a worm, two turtles, and a snail, that was going the wrong way, slowly, I assume.

This had to be one happy lady bug working three flowers at once. Aphids beware!

This had to be one happy lady bug working three flowers at once. Aphids beware!

There was a butterfly...

There was a butterfly…

Dragonfly at Shore Acres Park.

A dragonfly…

Holiday frogs at Oregon's Shore Acres State Park.

And frogs.

Seals dive int the water at Oregon's Shore Acres' State Park Holiday of Lights display.

Seals leaped into the water. They actually moved and made a splash. As did frogs, and whales.

Pelicans at Oregon's Shore Acres' State Park Holiday of Lights display.

Pelicans flew across the sky.

Pelican at Oregon's Shore Acres' State Park Holiday of Lights display.

A close up.

Crab and octopus at Oregon's Shore Acres' State Park Holiday of Lights display.

There was a crab and an octopus…

Flowers at Oregon's Shore Acres' State Park Holiday of Lights display.

And beautiful flowers…

More flowers at Oregon's Shore Acres' State Park Holiday of Lights display.

More.

Animals look over fence at Oregon's Shore Acres' State Park Holiday of Lights display.

A porcupine, raccoon, deer and rabbit peeked over the parks fence to check out the display.

It wasn’t all about the wildlife you normally find on the Oregon coast, however. Some 320,000 thousand lights decorated the hundreds of shrubs that turn Shore Acres into a floral delight during the spring, summer and fall. There were lots of Christmas trees. A choral group sang traditional carols. The historic garden house on the site reminded me of fantasy gingerbread homes. And Santa was there! So what if he happened to be taking a bubble bath with a tiger and a moose. Fortunately, he was wearing his long johns. Old men with round bellies that shake like bowls full of jelly shouldn’t be seen in public with their clothes off.

Holiday lights at Oregon's Shore Acres' State Park Holiday of Lights display.

A small pond at Shore Acres reflected some of the 320,000 lights.

Green lit arbor and Peggy Mekemson at Oregon's Shore Acres' State Park Holiday of Lights display.

Peggy was turned green by an arbor while the dragonfly hovered above her head.

Gingerbread house at Oregon's Shore Acres' State Park Holiday of Lights display.

The historic garden house looked like a gingerbread house.

Another view of the house. A pelican, instead of a stork, hangs out on the chimney.

Another view of the house. A pelican, instead of a stork, hangs out on the chimney.

The Shore Acres Holiday Lights display is a tradition that goes back to 1987 when Friends of Shore Acres decided to ‘string a few lights’ for the holiday season. It’s been growing ever since, both in number of lights and number of people who visit. This year, the visitors should top 50,000. Volunteers do all of the work. Lights are donated.

Shore Acres Botanical Garden

During the spring, summer, and fall, Shore Acres turns into a beautiful botanical garden, reminiscent of English gardens. This is the ‘Gingerbread house.’ All of the plants were covered in lights for the holidays. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

Shore Acres Botanical Garden, Coos Bay, Oregon

Rhododendrons at Shore Acres State Park. Two of thousands of beautiful flowers.

Peggy and I discovered Shore Acres two years ago when we were staying at Sunset Bay State Park, which is located a mile down the road. The flower garden reminded us of England. As soon as I saw a newspaper article about its Holiday Light display, I knew we had to return. Peggy lives for holidays. Since we were heading back East for Christmas, she wouldn’t have the opportunity to break out her seven large boxes of decorations and turn our house in to a museum of Christmases past, present and future. I figured the lights provide a substitute. They did.

With Santa, Peggy and I would like to wish each of you a joyous Holiday and a very Happy New Year.

With Santa and friends, we wish each of you and your families a Joyous Holiday and a very Happy New Year. —Curt and Peggy

NEXT BLOGS: I jumped ahead in our recent North Coast travels to include the Shore Acres display for Christmas. My next three posts will serve as a wrap up for 2016 featuring some of our favorite photos from the year. Twelve of them we used in our annual family calendar. In January, I will return to our drive up Highway 101 to be followed by our visit to Sunset Bay State Park in Coos Bay, which, in its own way, is as special as Shore Acres.

We Interrupt Thanksgiving to Bring You a Message…. the Turkeys

We, the United Turkeys of America, have a message for you.

We, the United Turkeys of America, have a message for you.

Just because we stick our necks out, doesn't mean we want them chopped off.

Just because we stick our necks out, doesn’t mean we want them chopped off. Besides, we walk around on two legs just like you. Eating things with four legs or no legs is better.

We believe that you would be much better off eating cow or pig or sheep or something slimy for Thanksgiving— or any other time. We know that you are bright, caring, loving human beings who will listen to our reasons, that you are not like Dumb Tom who seems to have problems with where he should stick his head.

Dumb Tom, in the rear, so to speak.

Dumb Tom, in the rear, so to speak.

So listen up folks… Here are four reasons why there should not be a turkey on your platter:

We are tough.

See the glint in my eye. That's a 'don't mess with me glint.'

I am one big, mean, fighting machine!

That's a 'don't mess with me glint' in my eyes.

That’s a ‘don’t mess with me glint’ in my eyes.

We are pretty.

Really, can you think of anyone more beautiful than we are?

Really, can you think of anyone more beautiful than we are? Now if we can just persuade the girls…

We are cultured, we dance!

The fan dance...

The fan dance…

The Conga line.

The Conga line…

The Tango...

The Tango…

Ballet...

The ballet… Check out the toes!

And for the respected elders out there: "Me and my shadow, dancing down the avenue."

And for the respected elders out there: “Me and my shadow, dancing down the avenue.”

We are native, Native Americans.

Long before Europeans came to America we were here, as ancient rock art attests to.

Long before Europeans came to America we were here, as this ancient rock art attests to. In fact, we are even more native than the Natives.

Wow, we are so pretty!

Gobble, gobble. Gobble, gobble, gobble. Translated: Eat snake, that’s what I am doing.

So, my friends…

In closing, I would like to recommend: Eat tofu.

In closing, I would like to make one final recommendation: Eat tofu.

A very Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family from Peggy and me. PS… We will be eating turkey. Don’t tell the flock.

 

 

Oh Deer!… Another Quickie

Deer looks in door of Curt and Peggy Mekemson's home on Upper Applegate River in Southern Oregon.

Anybody home? A deer looks in our screen door. We are glad we don’t have a door bell. The deer would likely use it— constantly.

 

It’s time for another quickie: A break from my bike six-month bike trip with a little humor to counter our serious times.

I’ve blogged before that a deer herd actually owns our property on the Applegate River in Southern Oregon. They take their rent in apples. If they aren’t paid on time, they come and stare in our windows— our front windows, our side windows, our back windows, and our bedroom windows. Or they eat Peggy’s flowers. She always runs out to discuss the matter with them. They think she is just being polite, asking them how the flowers taste. Or they deny that they have been eating the flowers at all.

A nosy neighbor. If one window doesn't work, the deer go around our house, peering in each window.

A nosy neighbor. If one window doesn’t work, the deer go around our house, peering in each window.

Come on! I know you are in there.

Come on! I know you are in there.

Deer sniffs flower for edibility in the Applegate Valley of Oregon.

Mmmm, is this edible. Checking out a daffodil. Peggy is constantly searching for plants the deer won’t eat. Daffodils are one, but that doesn’t stop the deer from biting the flower off and spitting it out.

A thorny issue. This deer is receiving a lecture from Peggy about not eating her rose bush. Check out that stance!

I have not been eating your roses! A thorny issue. This deer is receiving a lecture from Peggy about not eating her rose-bush. Check out that stance of rightful indignation!

Buck lips lips after eating an apple.

Wow, that apple tasted like I want another one! Always.

Deer licks lips.

Me too! (We get to see the deer in all stages of development. The first buck above had fully grown antlers. This guy was just beginning. Bucks lose their antlers in late winter/early spring and have grown another set by mating season.)

When they aren’t eating, which is what they do most of the time, they do other deer things: fight, mate, have babies, raise their kids, groom each other, sleep, and lie around chewing their cuds. Since we are a part of the herd, more or less, we are invited to witness all of these things. Sometimes it can get a little hairy, like when a doe ran behind me when a lust-driven buck was chasing her…

Pregnant doe sleeping on back porch in Oregon.

Okay, already! I’ve been pregnant long enough. Women can probably feel great empathy for this pregnant doe who couldn’t seem to get comfortable sleeping on our back porch.

Soaking in the sun and chewing their cuds. It isn't unusual to have several deer sleeping around our house. When Peggy and I arrived home after redrawing my bike route this summer, it was like the deer had taken over.

Soaking in the sun and chewing their cuds. It isn’t unusual to have several deer lying around outside our house. When Peggy and I arrived home after re-driving my bike route this summer, it was like the deer had taken over.

You know how it is with families. Even though you have seen pictures of the kids once, you are bound to see them again— and again. It used to be that mother or grandmother (and occasionally dad/granddad would whip out her/his wallet and show you one or two. Now they whip out their smart-phone and show you 40 or 50. 🙂 I’ll conclude with some of the kids from around our place. Odds are you will see them again.

Lean on me. Any parent/grandparent is more than willing to whip out pictures of their cute kids/grandkids/pets, etc. It used to be out of the wallet. Now it is on the the phone... or social media.

Lean on me. This fawn was so young it still had shaky legs and was leaning up against its mom for support.

Fawn in Applegate Valley of Oregon.

A real cutie who is all legs!

Did you remember to wash your ears? I never get tired of watching deer groom each other. They do it all the time.

Did you remember to wash your ears? I never get tired of watching deer groom each other. They do it all the time. This is a mutual effort.

Young blacktail buck with tiny horns in the Applegate Valley of southern Oregon.

And then there are the teenagers. I call this fellow Little-Buck. He, his sister and mom stop by daily and visit. He has high hopes for his small antlers.

Here he is checking out my camera this morning. Next Blog: Join me as I finish my ride in Montana and bike through Idaho.

Is it edible? Here he is checking out my camera this morning. Next Blog: Join me as I finish my bike ride in Montana and head into Idaho.