When Sue and Mo and I first talked about my coming to their house for a visit when they were here at Harris Beach in June, we thought we’d take a day trip to Crater Lake NP. In the meantime, I made arrangements to do a volunteer gig at Tule Lake NWR beginning August 17. The refuge is only about 60 miles south of their place, so I asked if we could ditch Crater Lake in favor of me making a visit to the refuge to see what I was getting into. I had visited Crater Lake on my way north this spring, and I’ve had one really bad experience arriving at an unknown, to me, refuge in the past. That taught me to be a little more wary, and try to check things out ahead of my arrival if possible.
They were fine with that request, so yesterday Sue, Emma, and I headed south on a little investigation. Sue was familiar with the refuge and told me we would have gorgeous views of Mount Shasta along the way. Well, thanks to the fires in California and Oregon, this was the kind of weather we encountered… smoke filled skies. I think Mount Shasta is somewhere in the distance.
Due to the draught and other politically controlled issues, there was very little if any water along the route that bordered the Lower Klamath NWR. Sue was shocked at the lack of water. We did find one small area of wetlands, and an abundance of white pelicans and great egrets taking advantage of it.
Sorry to say, most took flight as we stopped. In the past, what you see was not dry land, but lush wetlands.
Happily, a nice group of American avocets were not bothered by our presence and continued to work the water for lunch. There were also a few black-necked stilts and mallard ducks.
The avocets just march along swishing their beaks under the water picking up tasty morsels. It was at this point that I started to get excited about the possibilities of volunteering here.
I had made arrangements to meet the volunteer coordinator at the headquarters for the Klamath Basin Refuges Complex, and get a look at where I’ll be staying. Sue and Emma stayed in the parking lot of the VC as I met with some of the staff and was walked over to see the RV site. Well, the site is not the most picturesque I’ve ever seen, but it does have 50 amps, and is within walking distance of the VC. I decided I’d give it a go.
Then we headed out on the auto tour route so I could get a feel for the refuge. I couldn’t believe the number of damsel flies that were everywhere along the route. With the blooming thistle and whatever this plant is, the path was packed with them as well as butterflies and other insects. We even had two young fawns jump out in front and behind us.
Then there were the birds. The ponds and wetlands were teeming with them. I believe this is a gadwall mom and chicks. There were four kinds of grebes, an assortment of ducks, phalaropes, terns, and even a golden eagle along the drive. The smoke filled skies and it being high noon didn’t lend itself for ideal picture taking, but I was thrilled with the abundance of wildlife.
It really was a birding paradise, and the fall migration has barely started. I think I’m going to enjoy the next two months.
My favorite moment of the trip was watching a pair of eared grebes feed their two young ones. What a day trip it turned out to be, and we only did a portion of the roads available for viewing.
When we returned to Rocky Point, Sue prepared scrumptious tacos that we consumed out at their picnic table. There’s nothing as tasty as when someone else does the cooking, and does it so well. My palate has been spoiled the last few days, and I truly appreciate it.
Two things really stand out in my mind about this visit with good friends besides the fun and camaraderie. First is the beauty and quiet peacefulness of their home. It really came home to me how battered by noise these last three months have been for me. What with the sounds of hundreds of campers, US 101 right behind my site, and a lumber mill operating 24/7 a half a mile away, I’ve been accosted with too much noise, and this three days was a most welcome respite.
The second thing I’ll never forget is how to operate a compost toilet. Sue mentioned to me on my arrival that the cabin had a compost toilet, and that it was easy to operate and that Mo had left the instruction booklet atop it. Okay. Well, it might be easy to operate if one knew what the heck a compost toilet was. I did not. After a little while, I took a tinkle and then couldn’t figure out what to do. How does one ‘flush’ a compost toilet? All I saw was a cavernous black hole. (Never thought to turn on the light, since light was coming in the window.) I tried reading the instruction booklet, but after five pages, I kind of gave up since I couldn’t figure out how to actually use it. I was also kind of surprised that it was so tall. When I sat down, my feet dangled in the air. There was no pedal like an RV toilet. What to do???
Eventually, I asked Mo, and she said there was a lever under the seat in front that you pull out and it turns into a crank. You just crank it around and it tumbles the ‘debris’. Oh yes, if you do more than tinkle, you add a cup of what looks like cedar chips to me and crank away. Amazing. No odor to speak of. You don’t use any water. The tub that spins around when you crank kind of reminded me of a bingo game where they spin the numbers around. You know what I mean? I just don’t think I’d stick my hand in there to pull anything out though. Wonders never cease.
Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later, Judy