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Harris Beach State Park, OR

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Today was the day!

A couple of days ago I ran across a pamphlet on the birds of Curry County Oregon.  That’s where I’m at.  Besides a list of all the birds that are possible to see in the county, the pamphlet also tells the best places for birding.  Harris Beach State Park is listed as THE place to see Tufted Puffins.

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They nest on Bird/Goat Island.  Well, let me tell you that I’ve spent 20 hours a week for over six weeks scoping out and staring at Bird Island, and I hadn’t seen one tufted puffin.  They reportedly nest on the other side of the island that can’t be viewed from my overlook spot.  On top of that, they lay their one egg at the bottom of a tunnel or burrow that can be up to seven or more feet deep.  So the only time for me to really see them is when they are out fishing on the ocean.  (photo from the internet)

Well, today was the day, finally!  I saw a pair out floating on high tide about two hundred yards from the island.  There was no way to get a photo, as I barely found them through the spotting scope in amongst hundreds of common murres.  I literally jumped up and down, and turned around to alert folks of what they could see through the scope.  Ha!  A little squall had moved in, and I was just about the only one standing out in the light rain.  Sad smile However, that didn’t ‘dampen’ my little victory dance as I finally got to see this elusive species.  Made my day!

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The rain started coming down a bit heavier, so I grabbed the spotting scope off of the tripod and headed for the car for shelter.  Have to take care of the government’s property, don’t you know.  I rolled the side window down, and this western gull came sauntering over to the side of the car.  I suppose it was hoping for a handout.  Fat chance Mr. Gull!

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I sat there about a half an hour until the rain subsided, and this guy/gal was ever hopeful.  Can you see the red spot on its lower mandible?  It’s there for a reason.  When their chicks hatch, they see that red spot and peck at it.  That trips a response in the adult to regurgitate food for the young one’s appetite; much like a human baby cries when it’s hungry.

After the showers were done, I ended up having my busiest day so far on the overlook with 48 interested visitors.  The main draw for folks visiting here is the beach, and the sand, and the water, after all, so I felt pretty good introducing 48 adults and children to the wonders of the breeding birds that can barely be seen with the naked eye.

_MG_2128I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a wonderful visit earlier this week from my good friends, John and Bridget Hatch.  We volunteered together last summer at Tamarac NWR, and they are just about done with a volunteer stint at Tualatin NWR up near Portland, OR.

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John is my go to guy for problems with my rig, and Bridget and I just had so much fun working together last summer.  I had hoped to show them the breeding birds in the morning before they left, but the pesky morning fog rolled in and obliterated the islands.

Now that I’ve finally seen the puffins, I’m going to leave you with a question.  What do you think you call a baby puffin?

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Memories of redwoods

“The redwoods once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always… from them comes silence and awe.  The most irreverent of men, in the presence of redwoods, goes under a spell of wonder and respect.”    John Steinbeck

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The first time I visited the great redwoods of California was in the summer of 1970; only two years after the creation by Congress of Redwood National Park.  I was a sweet young thing in those days, and had embarked on a month’s tenting trip out west along with my best friend through high school and college, Joan.  What a time we had.  We had both just finished our first year of teaching school after graduation, and I talked her into going on this grand adventure.  Not many girls in their early twenties had the audacity to do such a thing in those days.  We each had just a bit over $300, and we were able to see many of the natural wonders to be found in this country.

After Yellowstone Nat’l Park, the redwoods were the second thing that I remembered most from that trip.  I was in awe of their majesty.  We camped amongst them, and got lost on a hiking trail that made us wonder if we would ever find our way out.  Everything was so huge.  Even the ferns seemed taller than I was.  These big trees left a mark in my memory that I have never forgotten.

So today, I went on a brief trip down memory lane.  Robyn and the grandgirls will be visiting in a month, and I want them to see the redwoods.  My plan was to scope out a day trip that we all will take while they are here.  I had originally thought that we would just drive down to the touristy “Trees of Mystery” park south of Crescent City, CA.  I may have changed my mind.

Not much further south is Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, and the drive along the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway is wonderful.  There are lots of pull offs to stop at and just bask in the wonder of these beautiful trees.  There’s also the Big Tree wayside where I got the above pics.  It’s impossible for me to get a whole tree in one photo, so just squish those two together in your mind to get an idea of the size.

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With my old farts pass, I can also get us to this picnic area amongst some younger redwoods.  The view the opposite way is of a meadow where there are often elk grazing. 

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And up above are the Steller’s jays hoping for a handout. (not going to happen)  I’m thinking I like this better than a concession stand.  I’m not sure how much this will impress a five and a seven year old, but there’s just that tiny chance that this experience among the big trees will leave a mark on those young girls.  It is my hope to pass on a seed of respect and wonder for all that is wild.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Saturday, June 20, 2015

It’s a matter of perspective, I guess.

Well, I’ve spent the last week taking care of business and working at the overlook.  Nothing too exciting to report about that.  I did have to let Anahuac NWR and Imperial NWR know that I would be unable to volunteer there this coming winter since I’ll be residing at Jojoba Hills SKP resort.  I felt a little bad about doing that, but you know what?  I’m looking forward to volunteering at Jojoba when it suits me as opposed to a set schedule every week.  I may even find out what it’s really like to be retired.  No setting the alarm clock unless I want to.

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Once a week, I set up my scope and stuff at a different overlook of Bird/Goat Island in the campground.  This is where I meet with the week’s batch of Junior Ranger candidates to talk about birds and harbor seals.  It’s always an interesting time as kids range from about four to fourteen years old.  Of course, they get the biggest kick out of how parent birds regurgitate food for their young, and how the white spots on the islands are really just places coated with bird guano.  Smile with tongue out  Nothing like puke and poop stories to get kids moaning, groaning, and laughing about nature!  That’s what I did yesterday.

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                         Today, it was back to the day use overlook with, surprisingly, very little wind.

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Early on, I had my usual view of the island with blue skies overhead.  I was even able to find three rhinoceros auklets floating around in the waters.  I imagine most of you are not impressed or even care, but this was the first time I’ve ever seen these birds so I was quite excited that I was able to find them. 

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Then along about 9:45, this was my view of the island.  Can’t see it out there can you?  When the sea fog decides to roll in, it does it in a hurry.  Within minutes, visibility is down to next to nothing.

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I tried looking the other direction, and the view wasn’t much better.  I sat there over an hour waiting for the fog to lift, but to no avail.  You can’t exactly show folks the breeding birds if you can’t even see the ocean or the islands, so I packed things up and headed back to the rig.  Too bad, because I was expecting some famous/infamous(?) fellow full-time RVers to visit this morning.  I let the folks at the park check in station know that I was done for the day, and that I had been expecting some visitors.

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A short time later, Nick and Terry Russell knocked on my door.  Even though I wasn’t at the overlook, they had tracked me down.  And, they had come bearing gifts!

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Ever the business man, Nick handed me the latest copy of the Gypsy Journal.  It’s the newspaper that they publish six times a year about RV travel.  Lots of people subscribe to this newspaper and read Nick’s daily blog.  We had met briefly back in 2007 before the Escapade in Indiana, but our paths hadn’t crossed since then.

Now the next gift truly warmed the cockles of my heart, and here it is:

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Terry gave me a big bag of homemade sponge candy!  I couldn’t believe it.  She has apparently been reading my blog for some time, and knew my love for this sweet treat.  She found a recipe and gave it a try yesterday.  It is just melt in your mouth goodness.  Much better than the stuff I can occasionally order from the Vermont Country Store.  I am one lucky, happy camper tonight!  Thanks, Terry.

The Oregon coast weather is a new experience for me.  It’s kind of a love/hate relationship.  I love it when the sun is shining, but I’m struggling with the cold and dampness of the foggy times.  I like a little fog now and then, and what it does to the views, but I’m thinking I like the sunshine more.

I stopped at the grocery store the other day, and the check-out lady asked what I thought about the three days last week when the sun was shining.  I told her I thought it was glorious.  She thought it was terribly hot (high 70’s) and uncomfortable.  Talk about different perspectives…

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Friday, June 12, 2015

Good friends visit, and details of establishing a home base

When I last posted, good friends Sue and Mo had arrived after a stressful blowout on their rig.  On Tuesday, Sue was ill and our plans for the day had to be postponed.  I was scrambling anyway to try to get things set up for the lease agreement with Jojoba Hills. 

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By Wednesday afternoon, Sue was feeling better and we all finally got together to take a walk on the beach.  They were most interested in seeing how their new family member, Mattie, would do on the beach and in the water.

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Mattie was just a tad reluctant about the water, but Sue persuaded her with a piece of a hotdog treat.  Bribery worked pretty good!  It wasn’t long before she was romping around and hopping up on some of the rocks.

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With Sue recovering from surgery, and me with my back problems we took a break near some driftwood for this portrait.  We spent the rest of the afternoon chit chatting away overlooking the beach, and I got a chance to show them some of the breeding birds on Bird/Goat Island.  We even saw the Goodyear Blimp go by over the ocean.

That evening I fixed NY BBQ chicken, and surprisingly neither Sue nor I took any pictures.  Too busy eating and visiting I guess.

Thursday morning I received word that my funds had been transferred so I could write the checks for Jojoba.  Of course, Thursday is a work day for me, so I headed for the lookout first thing, but left early so I could get all the paperwork and checks to the Fed-Ex office in Brookings before 1:00 for overnight service to Aguanga, CA.  They had to receive all that stuff by Sunday.  It cost me $44 to send, but it was certainly cheaper than driving down there with the forms.

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Sue fixed a tasty dinner last night at their site of pulled pork, scalloped potatoes, corn on the cob, and fresh tossed salad.  It’s such a treat for me when somebody else does the cooking!  Sue is thinking of getting an easier to carry camera, so I brought along my little Canon Power Shot XS 280 for her to try.  I especially liked this shot she took of Mattie as you can see the reflection of Sue taking the picture in her eyes. 

Mattie’s a cute little thing, but I’m afraid I made the mistake of calling her a pipsqueak.  Confused smile  Actually, at one point I may have even called her a puny pipsqueak.  Shame on me.  I think Sue understood that Emma is the smallest dog I’ve ever had, so Mattie’s diminutive size and blossoming barky personality just made me giggle.  I’m thinking it won’t be long before she rules the roost like most of our canine companions do.

Sue and Mo and Mattie headed back home this morning before I even had to go to work.  It was a short visit, but I truly enjoyed it and am looking forward to taking a break and visiting them in Rocky Point in August.

It was back to the overlook for me this morning, and the wind was really blasting.  No wind at the RV site, but once you get down to the shore things are different.  Had a call from Jojoba, just before time to pack things in for the day, to let me know that they had received the overnight delivery of forms and checks.  Good news until they said a form was missing, and things couldn’t proceed.  What?  I had filled out everything they sent me.  The lady said I was missing the Membership Application which needed my signature. 

By the time I got back to the rig, she had sent me an email that said they had neglected to include that form in the paperwork they had sent me.  I knew I hadn’t missed anything.  Thankfully, I was able to have that form printed at the state park office and sent back to her via fax.  Why is it nothing ever seems to go off without some kind of hitch?  Anyway, everything is in order now and I’ve been welcomed in to Jojoba Hills. 

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Peaks and valleys

Well I can tell you that I was flying quite high last night after all the good news of the day.  And I even got an email from Karen and Al with pictures from Google Earth of site 228 at Jojoba Hills.  That was so nice of Karen to do that for me.

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Site 228 is just to the left of center in this photo.  It’s the one with the reddish brown rectangle.  The site is up on a hill and overlooks two ponds below.  With the park map I have, I thought it was a back in site, but with this view it looks like a pull through to me.  I remember walking the road along the ponds with Emma every day I was there, and thinking the sites up above must have quite a nice view.  I’ll see when I get there.

Sue and Mo finally made it to Harris Beach last night after their trauma of the blowout and having to be towed to Brookings.  I was able to visit with Sue briefly, but they were pretty worn out from the ordeal.  I should have guessed that this was a downward trend from the peak of my excitement.

This morning I began work on the 12 pages of documents I had been emailed from Jojoba to finalize the agreement of the lease.  Those signed documents, and a couple of checks, have to be in their hands from me by Sunday or I lose the spot.  First problem was that I don’t have a printer, so couldn’t print off the papers to sign.  Second problem was getting my financial planner to transfer enough funds to my checking account so I could write the checks.

I got the financial planner working on the transfer of funds first, and then this morning I headed to town to find a place that could print the documents.  I had noticed that there was a place in town that said they did copying, but do you think I could find it today?  Nope.  Just by chance I saw a little sign that said Harbor Copy and Sewing along the side of the road.  I followed the directions to find a fountain in a small mall, and sure enough there it was.  An elderly couple runs a little shop that does copying, and the wife also does sewing.  What a combination!  I love it when I stumble upon these unusual places.  Not sure what hubby does, as the wife does all the sewing and did the printing for me off of a thumb drive that I brought along.  Mission accomplished for two copies of everything for $2.40!  We had a nice chat while I was there, and I think I’m going to have her recover my memory foam pad that I sit on to see out the window when I’m driving the rig.  She did make the remark that I was rather short.  Humph! 

I also had an email from Sue this morning that she had become ill overnight, but was hoping to recover by the afternoon.  The plan was for me to make a NY BBQ dinner for her and Mo this evening.  Her plans to recover didn’t happen, so we’re postponing it a day.  Bummer.

Then this evening, I went out to dump the tanks.  Continuing the trend toward the valley of yesterday’s peak, the brand new Rhino Flex hose that I had installed last week came apart shortly after I pulled the black tank handle,  Surprised smileSmile with tongue outCrying face , and spewed its contents all over my legs and feet!  Oh s**t! (pun intended) 

I think most RVers have a black tank ugly story to relate, but at least this time I just pushed the lever in instead of trying to reconnect the hose.  (yes, I’ve made that mistake before as well)  What a stinking mess!  I used the outside sprayer to clean up myself and the area as well as I could, but Emma sure came to attention as I made my way back into the rig after leaving my shoes outside.  I’m not sure the valley can get much lower tonight…

So, I leave you tonight with the washing machine going blue blazes and hope that tomorrow I can rise to another peak.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Monday, June 8, 2015

I slid into home base today!

I often have expectations for what’s going to happen during the day when I get up in the morning.  So today I expected a calm day off with a few things to take care of on my ‘to do’ list.  Little did I know that this was going to be an exceptional day.

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                                     Tonight’s few photos are from around Harris Beach State Park.

I had a couple of phone calls to make on my list for the day, and I started out by calling a credit union in Minnesota.  I’ve been paying off a loan with them for my present rig.  According to my calculations, my final payment was a couple of weeks ago on May 20.  I was calling to confirm that the rig was now totally mine, and that they would be sending me the title.  It is, and they did.  Yahoo!  I’m once again free of debt.  A good feeling for sure.

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Next up was to put in a call to Jojoba Hills Escapees Park to see if I had moved up at all on the list for getting a site there.  When I first applied for membership in the park in April, I was 21st on the list for a site.  Well, it turns out I had advanced to the number 10 spot on the list, and the lady I spoke to said it shouldn’t be too long before I got a call.  That was encouraging.

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Then I headed off to town to pick up a few grocery items.  You see, Sue and Mo would be arriving this afternoon to stay at the park for four nights, and I had promised to make New York BBQ chicken one night.  Well, I was low on vinegar and poultry seasoning, so I had to stock up.  It turned out they had a tire blow out on their way here, and arrived much later than they planned, and were obviously worn out from the stress of the day.  I talked to Sue briefly before she went back to her rig to recuperate.

Anyway, once I got back to the rig from town the phone rang, and it was Jojoba Hills calling to ask if I’d be interested in site #228.  What??  I just talked to you two hours ago, and I was tenth on the list.  How could that be?  It seems the nine people ahead of me had turned down a previous offer because they weren’t ready to commit, and that really made me #1 on the list.  Incredible!

IMG_1073While talking to her, I was scrambling to find my map of the park.  I’ve outlined in red the site on the lower left.  She told me I had until 10:00 tomorrow morning to either accept or reject the offer.  If I rejected the offer, I would be put on a 30 day hold, and not receive any calls if other sites became available during that time. 

It took me about five seconds to say I’d accept site #228!  That’s been my plan all along. Take whatever site is available as there’s the option to trade sites once you’re a member.  Holy Moses!  I was on cloud nine!  I was dancing around the rig.  If I remember correctly, 228 is on one of the top tiers of the park and looks down on pond 3.  I won’t know for sure until I get there in the fall, but I don’t think there is really a bad site in the park.

So that’s how I slid into my new ‘home base’ today.  It’s another one of those curve balls of life, and I hope you can tell that I’m really excited to begin this new phase in my journey down the road.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Friday, June 5, 2015

I even got to wear shorts this afternoon

I woke up to a nice sunny day this morning, and got ready for my five hour stint at the overlook.  I put on my usual three layers of clothing though, because it’s always chillier down by the water. 

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Not too many folks out and about this morning as I checked the views and started hauling things down to my spot.  This is the view from another place where I have the choice of setting up the scope.

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I’ve thought of going there, but it is really out in the open, and when the winds blow I’d probably need an anchor to keep from blowing over. 

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Instead, I set up in the usual place that is a bit more protected; just a bit.  There was another extra low tide right when I arrived.  That meant it was a good morning for observing wildlife in the tide pools.  (Remember this people less view, as it was short lived.)

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It wasn’t long before a big bunch of students from the Grants Pass Elementary School arrived for an all day field trip to the ocean.  One of the chaperones told me that each of these students had to earn their way for this trip.  It’s another week before school is out in Grants Pass.  It kind of looked like an ant hill moving as all the students wormed their way, following Ranger Angela, down the path to the beach for a tide pool hike.

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I was all bundled up while many of these kids were in shorts, and hardly anyone even had a jacket.  They’re a tougher breed in Oregon than I am.  Disappointed smile In the meantime, I had a great time talking to visitors as the winds picked up.

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There were really three stories going on as I took this shot.  The first, as I’ve said, was Ranger Angela leading all the students and chaperones on the hike (right arrow).

The top left arrow points to the four half-way house gentlemen and their two attendants that I’ve mentioned before.  They come here in their little handicapped bus quite often.  The gentleman in the lead is out of his wheelchair practicing walking on the ramp, and the gentleman in the rear is just waiting to get down to look through the scope to see the harbor seals.  (hard to see, I know.)

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The third arrow points to my FWS backpack, and my Yellowstone bag with my cameras, water jug, extra hat, and some snacks in it.  Can you guess where this is going?  Well, after all the kids were on their way, and the seal gentleman checked out the scope, I went up to the car for a minute to get something.

As I got out of the car, all four gentlemen were laughing and pointing at my bags.  The guy that likes to watch the fishing boats called to me, and said, “You’d better get back up there or you won’t have any lunch!”

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Yep, the ground squirrel from the other day was deep inside my bag rooting around.  It had found my stash of a small bag of caramel corn Jelly Bellies and pulled it to the top!  That little bugger didn’t run away until I was close enough to almost grab it.  I hooted and hollered and waved my arms.  The gentlemen were in stitches as I chased that varmint away.

Glad I made somebody’s day. 

Oh yeah, it did get warm enough this afternoon, after I defrosted from the bitter winds, to put on a pair of shorts and bask in the sun with Emma outside the rig.  If the sun keeps shining, this place could grow on me…

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy