Horseflies Suck...Literally!

We drove about 45 miles to Alsea Falls today.
It's hot and we wanted relief.
It's a hassle loadin' up kids, dogs, food, swimwear, etc. But, it seemed it would be all worth the work. The thermometer hit 92 degrees, which is plenty hot.

Got to the little town of Alsea and noticed the fuel tank was on empty! Yikes! I was driving Hubby's big truck, and now was going to have to cough up at least $70 to fill'er'up! I wasn't even sure if there was a station in Alsea, but I talked with a local guy and there was. It has those old 70's-style pumps and you have to pull up and honk your horn so the guy who runs the station hears you and comes over from across the road a-ways.

When we finally got to the falls, it was beautiful! Even Theo, the 99-pound Basset was having a blast. We ran and played and the boys swam...


BAM! WE WERE ATTACKED BY HORSEFLIES! I got 3 big bites on my legs. The boys were running and screaming and swinging their arms! The flies actually chased them quite a distance! I HATE HORSEFLIES! They are so aggressive and fearless!

So, after all that driving, we were only in the water for less than 20 minutes!

We loaded back up in the truck, fighting off the damn insects the entire time. The 2 big black dogs (Jim Dandy and Dood) got into the back end of the truck and we put Theo inside, due to the heat and his inability to handle it. He farted the entire drive back. It was horrid!
So, for 45 miles back home, I whined about my bites, smelled dog stinch, and watched my kids and their friends snooze.
What a day...


One Smart Fella, He Felt Smart...

Try saying THAT 5 times quickly! (Actually, you're supposed to say that, then up-the-ante by increasing the number of fellas...(i.e. "Two smart fellas, they felt smart. Three smart fellas, they felt smart, etc.") It's one of my favorite tongue twisters...along with holding your tongue while you say, "My father has a ship full of apples."

I learned both of these stupid phrases from my son. He may be only 15, but he seems to have the world figured out. Yesterday morning, he was sleeping in and I snuck into his room and put my hand on his head. I said, "Do you ever feel depressed?" He opened his eyes and said, "Who doesn't?"


A Trek into the Wilderness...

Castle Crags from the Vista Point above the State Park...

I joined my very good friend, Wendy, for 4 days of absolute luxury. NO! We didn't go to a spa! We went to the forest!

Wendy and I met in 1992 while I was living in the Berkeley area with my "then" husband and our 2 little babies. He was finishing his PhD at UC while I was on a year's leave with my newest babe and my toddler.

I met her at a "kid-gym" program I'd signed MKP up for through UC Berkeley. Wendy has 2 great kids and we all hit it off instantly! Now, 15 years later, we're still buds!

We met at Castle Crags State Park in N. Cal., part of the Mt. Shasta/Trinity area. It was so great to camp as 2 adult women with no one to care for but ourselves! The first night, we arrived, hugged, set up our tents, had a little snack, and quickly took off for some hiking adventures! We traveled along all of the park trails nearby, but it got too dark to venture off (plus, there were lots of Black Bears in the area to avoid).

The next morning, we trekked up to Castle Crags Vista Point. I'm old and out of shape, but kicked in, in spite of the horrid heat and steep incline! What a view when we arrived! When we made it back to camp several hours later, we drove into the little town of Dunmuir. I had a couple of geocaches to find and we wanted to see Hedge Falls. WOW! What beauty! Steep trail, but well-worth the cool water and view of the river below!
The next morning, we packed our day packs well and headed to Dog Trail and PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) for a longer hike. First, we found Popcorn Spring. It was cool and wonderful, especially since there are drought conditions all over CA. We rinsed our hair to cool down and went on our way!We found an abandoned gold mine. I wanted to pull off some boards and head inside, but Wendy said, "No, Val."
We made it to Burstarse Falls, which, of course, at this time of year, aren't really falls. Going back down the mountain was nice...lots of lizards, birds, and even a deer. My feet hurt, but the scenery kept me distracted. The views of Mt. Shasta stopped us in our tracks, even though we'd see it often.
We met a man who'd been hiking for 2200 miles, beginning at the start of the PCT in Mexico. He was headed to Canada and was so delightful. At 67 years, he inspired me. I may just DO that cross-country bike trip I've dreamed of, from Seattle to D.C.

After returning to camp, we refilled our water bottles and drove up to Mt. Shasta City. We made our way up the back roads to Castle Lake. It's amazing...absolutely amazing. We made a pact to meet there with our kids in August. My daughter will be running a marathon at Crater Lake...and we'll head to Castle Lake from there. The campground is primitive (pack in your own water and pack out all garbage) with only 6 sites, but we'll take the risk...



Hubby surprised me tonight! He took me to the movies on a "real" date! We saw "Hairspray!" I laughed and cried at it! What a fantastic, outlandish, upbeat, entertaining flick! Afterwards, we ate a nice dinner at El Sol de Mexico. Yum! My favorite dish is their "spinach enchiladas."

After eating, we headed out in the dark to place my newest geocache: "Utmost Use of Compost" Cache! It will soon be listed on http://www.geocaching.com/!

If you're not a cacher, why not? It's fun! It's easy! It gets you off your butt! You get to see a few neat sites...and walk a few miles...well, not necessarily miles, but, well, if you wanted to, you could!

I'm leaving for Castle Crags State Park in Northern California to meet up with my BayArea Buddy, Wendy, on Tuesday! We'll camp, hike, geocache, and drink good wine! With no kids or husbands to worry about, the cooking will be minimal and the visiting will be maximal!


More Home Improvement!

Start of new project...
...take a quick break to devour a little lunch...
...end of project .
I couldn't be any more lucky! Hubby is one heck-of-a worker! He really seems to be able to do ANYTHING! All I have to do is draw a simple picture and SHA-ZAM! New walls! SHA-ZAM! New interior doors! SHA-ZAM! All new mouldings and floorboards!

Yesterday, he hired a couple of guys to help install our new French doors in the dining room! Now, instead of looking at an aged, moldy, non-locking, annodized aluminum slider, we have crisp "shades in-between-the-2 layers-of-glass" doors! Woo-hoo!


Saw a Scorpion Yesterday...

While out geocaching with my buddy, Carnivorous Hippy, came across this little guy behind a rock. Sorry about the quality of the photo...camera hasn't been the same since taking a dive into the Willamette River.
I had no idea there were scorpions in Western Oregon! I called my friend, a zoologist at OSU, and he laughed at me for being so clueless.
Guess I'll be more care about sticking my hands benihd rocks without looking!
Right after I finished college, I took off with a friend. We headed to Arizona, driving from Oregon in an old Toyota Corolla with no air conditioning. We went to Phoenix to hang with other college buddies. We drank and smoked a lot of stuff while there...

But, one of my best memories? Opening the microwave and finding a HUGE cockroach and a HUGE scorpion inside! What were the chances???


Dancing Boys...

My son and his friend, Jack, get pretty silly around the house. Jack spends a lot of nights here during the summer and they play outside until it either gets too cold or until they get enough mosquito bites.
When the come in the house, they aren't the type of boys who sit and play videogames or watch TV. While hubby and I were watching a movie in the livingroom, we heard a loud crash in the family room. Upon investigation, we discovered...

http://youtube.com/watch?v=8ykf3_RP9xQ (This one is my son)

http://youtube.com/watch?v=RFF5VRHY9hI (This one is his buddy)


Well, We Said Our Good-Byes...

This photo was taken on our first weekend with Albin. We took him up to The Cameo, a favorite eatin' place in NW Portland. It was here that we discovered his passion for all things pineapple and coconut. He ate one of their famous "Acre Pancakes," covered with toasted coconut. In his honor, on his last morning breakfast in our home, I made HUGE pancakes with toasted coconut on top and fresh pineapple in little ramekans.
Albin left today. He's on a plane to Stockholm.
My son and I got up at 3 a.m. and drove him to the airport. Albin was excited because he knew he was going to get to drive part of the way. As an exchange student, he wasn't allowed to drive in the USA...but, since he was leaving today, he'd asked awhile back if he could drive.
As we said our good-byes at the airport, my son began crying. He and Albin have been best buddies for over 4 1/2 months. They'd been friends since last September, but when Alvin moved in with us in March, they became best friends. Basically, since school's been out, they've awakened each morning, scarfed down bowls of cereal, and headed out for a day of adventure! My son like having an older brother. In the car, as we were driving back he said, "I feel sorry for ___ (his sister) because she really didn't get to say good-bye." Right then, my cell phone rang. It was her. She was crying pretty hard, too, saying she wished she'd gotten to say good-bye.
As a mom, my heart hurts so much when my children cry. They were both quite attached to this Swede. Both intend to get to Europe whenever possible in order to see him again. He had quite an impact on our lives.
There were some times that I bitched about him, sort of the way we bitch about teenagers. He didn't help around the house much. He was kind of whiney to me, at times. He ate a lot of food. But, if possible, I'd agree to let him live with us forever...seriously. It got to the point of him getting up in the morning (usually around 11 a.m.!) and coming to hug me good morning. He called me, "Val-Mom" a lot and teased me constantly.
We'll miss this boy, yes indeed. But, with Skype, and a new webcam, the kids will be chatting as often as possible. However, it's not the same...


Ah-ha. The Meaning of My Life has been Revealed!

I took this photo in Newport, Oregon last week. This guy lured me into believing he could tell me my future. He said, "Don't just look at me. Come to me. I will tell you of your future." He said it in that creepy, cool voice we all remember from our days of watching cartoons!
We put our dollar in as he rattled on. Then a little slip of paper jumped out of the slot below. It said, "You will be successful in all that you do."
HA! What a crock! Of course, I guess, if you think about it, anyone can be successful in everything they do. All one must do is change the rules as he/she goes along in life!
What do you think your future holds? Are you successful?
I look forward to hearing from you soon!


I Can't Believe It!

Tonight, on my way home from an evening of geocaching for peace of mind (I needed to escape all the testosterone in my house...3 smelly teenaged boys, 3 males dogs, and a husband), I stopped at DQ to pick up some Blizzards for everyone. When I got home, I was logging my cache finds and hides and, out of curiosity, Googled "DQ Blizzard!" Ha, ha, ha! There's an actual BLIZZARD FAN CLUB!
While reading the history of the Blizzard page, I suddenly was reminded of the day my friends and I, as seniors in college, quit studying long enough to head over to the nearest DQ to buy one of these new things! We walked back to my apartment and sat on the couch, watching Magnum P.I., saying, "Ummm...yum...ooo.We did this without the Blizzards, mind you. We were actually watching Tom Selleck. The Blizzards just added to the fun!


The Camera Survived the Big Dunk!

Geocaching on the coast!

View of Otter Crest from Cape Foulweather! There was a whale hunting down below and we watched him for 20 minutes!

As you know, in an earlier post, I dropped my Nikon in the Willamette River 2 days ago. I opened up all the "hatches" and placed the camera in the cab of my husband's truck. See, I figured it's so hot in there that NOTHING could escape evaporation!

Yesterday, I tried the camera out. It came on, but the LCD screen on back was nothing but a blur of weird colors and designs. Darn! But, I didn't give up hope! I placed the camera back in the truck, once again opening all hatches.

Just a few minutes ago, I got my hopes up.

I turned on the camera...and..

TAH-DAH! It works! I put the memory card back inside and...

TAH-DAH! That worked, too! Now, all of the photos I'd taken while with hubby at the coast are available! So are the photos of dogs swimming in the Willamette, right before the camera went snorkeling!
Dood, posing for the camera. Jim Dandy is heading out after another imaginary stick in the water!

Theo can't swim, as he's a Basset Hound. But, he enjoys cooling down on the shoreline. He has fallen in, on occasion, requiring rescue efforts by his loving owner, however, since his barrel chest makes it impossible for him to paddle. Some folks think bassets can swim. Not so. A friend of mine once told me about a basset she saw fall off a dock on a lake. She looked over the edge and saw him walking on the bottom! Poor dogs. They truly are deformed, you know!


A Series of Unfortunate Events...

Took 4 dogs to the Willamette River today, during the scorching heat of the late afternoon. Hubby and I had just returned from our 10th Wedding Anniversary celebration at the Coast. Good God! Just 10 miles inland and we began suffering! (Not really, we had the air conditioning on...)

While the teens attempted to walk across the entire river, which was actually pretty hilarious, considering they were barefoot and there are all small rocks on the river bottom, I played fetch with the dogs, Jim Dandy, Dood, Cooper, and Theo. While standing about mid-shin-deep, I heard a "plunk" in the water near my foot. I thought one of the teens had thrown a rock at me. When I looked down, there sat my camera on the river bottom.

Last year, at about this exact same time of year, at about this exact location, I dropped my phone in the river.


This Kid's Mom is Cool!

What a lucky kid! His mom knitted him his own personal iPhone! I just might have to try this for Christmas gifts!


OK, today is the day. I'm more than 60 pounds heavier today than the day Hubby and I married 10 years ago. I'm using the above site for guidance and tracking my progress. I may fail, but, by at least planting this info on my blog, I'll feel a bit more motivated to change...


Anita's Lilies!

On the 4th of July, as per tradition, we joined our friends, Joe and Anita, along with 2 other couples, for a grill party! Anita's garden is amazing and we found time at one point to take a tour. I really focused on all of her lilies, as they are truly amazing at this time of year. She and I both decided to put more lilies in our gardens over the next few years awhile back. Their colors, scents, and low-maintenance make them extra special!
One of the couples included Doc and Patty. I have known them for about 23 years. Doc is now 87 years old and was the former head of the College of Zoology at OSU. Patty is only 46. They have been together since about 1983. What a neat couple. He has published many well-known herpetology books, mostly focusing on amphibians and reptiles of the Northwest.
Enjoy the view!