1. Yep, I AM feeling a bit older.....I SO do NOT like this being the year I will pass the decade of the "60"s... ...and hope I stay healthy/lucky enough to continue to "seem" to attract conversations with lots of younger people .....I LOVE talking to people about life....... Why else are we here after all? 2. 2016 summer in portland. Year of the weirdest weather we've seen in our 20 years. Everything ended up growing, just not quite as normal as in other years....the veggie garden tomatoes just ripening here in mid-September... everything else: DONE, FInito...out! 3. Theater. Just began our 2016 season, but besides our Artist Rep Theater tickets (lowered to only 4 shows because we didn't like the plays they've chosen ..... Rodger's boss has "given" a season of tickets to us to Coho Theater Productions as well....and will likely be going to those with Steve and Jo....just did the first one, the "GUN SHOW" on Saturday Night.....a serious, hard look and conversation afterwards with attendees about guns and violence . . . . whew! SO NICE that Steve and Jo love going out afterwards too for a drink and post-play discussion....... then, the very next day, we go with cuz Nancy & Jerry to Artist Rep's first season play, "TREVOR". . . .a ridiculous attempt at humor trying to portray a weird relationship between a chimp and a new widow owner that ends up in tragedy. Not ONE bad review could we find in New York, Los Angeles, or SF . . .or here for that matter, but not ONE of us liked it and wished we'd walked out at intermission (as a few others did)..... Whew! . . . . . AT LEAST, looking forward to a great season for theater for us this year! 4. Night life. What? We have night life? The weirdest thing, it's only a mile away.... since Scott Becker bought the Skyline Tavern (as a sort of "plaything" toy....) . . . it's become quite the hangout for some neighbors (we've met a few we never have met)....intel/nike engineers, the curious from downtown who've read about this new tavern's life, a great MIX of people... Lisa, Mandy, Steve, Alex, all make us feel welcomed completely.....always people to meet and chat with, interesting music on fridays..... we're glad this has come to the 'hood. 5. Dog. Just reached 12, and is showing it. The hips are weaker, his skin chronically dry, the energy not lasting that long.....I'm convinced his swimming has helped keep his health good this long. Sigh. Mac's been a good friend to have around. 6. Dining / Cooking. Continues always to be an enjoyable experience to me. So glad the greatest breakfast/brunch in this town of a 1000 restaurants continues to be John St Cafe just at the bottom of the hill, and glad the Overlook Restaurant, now in its 60th year run by a Greek family, of course, REMAINS the ONE absolutely identical twin of the classic 50's diner/coffee shop / bar in the back . . . . place where you can get liver and onions day or night, chicken fried steak breakfast/lunch or dinner, and on and on.... great little place.. ...
Just saw some old pics taken of our property pre-berm....and now. Even I am surprised how beautifully that has worked out...........we were so exposed to Skyline Blvd then...the property just sloped down to the highway..... Now? Can't even SEE Skyline.........that's good. Pre Berm, 2003, September: and from another view, then: Great neighbor Dave was building his house that month, and had lots of fill dirt without a home...he GAVE us this fill dirt.....and had his guy drive it down and dump it: And from THAT, WE had to fashion a berm along the driveway and skyline: And this pic taken THIS month seems to show things worked out.....WE are happy:
Just a couple pics of the famous Grandma Ray Pickle Day for cousins..... a day or two AHEAD of the event....not so cute...but there is a bit of work required to get things ready. Ah! Jar Lids....Yes, count 'em twice....make sure you have both lids & rings enough for the "planned" count: . . Ah! Don't forget...if you're pickling, you gotta "brine" those cucumbers for a day...so I've got the brining tubs washed, and they're ready for duty beginning tomorrow: . Ah! The Quart "wide-mouth" jars....make sure you have enough for the "plan"...and sometime tomorrow, get 'em opened up, and ready for sterilization: . Ah! Sure....the labels could "wait"....but THIS is the Grandma Ray (youngest of 17 kids...yes, she was "spoiled" as a child).......who introduced us to this snack food, and always made enough right out of her hillside garden so EVERY one of her kids (6) had more than enough pickles on hand for a year (or 3).......... . . Okay. Back to the housecleaning and right now, out to water a dry veggie garden............. Busy Week.
**It's obvious I'll never get back to entering "diary" posts as I used to, but realizing how much I value reviewing some events of past years (birding, gardening, travel)....I'd best get in a tiny review of this spring, 2013: FEBRUARY: TRIP to No California - Redwoods, Wineries, and good ole' Ripon. WHY did we DRIVE down? Lessee, 1) R's new truck had only enjoyed life in the commute lane so far, and seemed to need a foot on the pedal a little further down to experience "life"..... (did that fool anybody?). And we'd "save money" by not boarding Mac. Baloney. Take your dog and you pay extra at motels, etc...etc... That being said, the first 3 days of this trip were just plain fabulous in a time by ourselves n dog leisurely driving down the California Coast. As SOON as we were out of Oregon, the weather seemed brighter...MORE sun, and MAC had his first Ocean swim in years, here just south of Crescent City, CA: **I WAS entirely impressed....that he transferred all his retrievals skills in seconds to a wild SURF....what a POWERFUL swimmer....he NEVER lost sight of those sticks no matter what the surf did to them..... GOOD boy! *I should mention we had a grand time eating in Crescent City ...it was Crabbing Time....and seems the Chart Room Restaurant was the locals hangout. TWICE we ate their... Crab Benedicts in the morning were fabulous. Then we began the south drive....only wanting to get to Eureka. Once again, this day, we ate at a life favorite little dive right down at the fishermen's dock edge in Trinidad, CA. Yes, the SEASCAPE is THE place to go for seafood ...has been for a mighty LONG time...you'll like WAIT a while if you right at lunchtime....(I saw some reviewers say, blah blah...not what it used to be, etc.....it's a DIVE. I don't know what they were told to expect when coming here). Anyways, we kept moving. NEXT STOP: We took off 101 to see Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park since we'd never been there....Talk about peace, quiet, and a sense of wonder. Down to the feel, the smells, stillness, all are powerful feelings these spaces create inside you. The "Big" Tree here, some 1500 years old, among a few other famous ones, numbers among some of the largest in the world. We had to sit and wonder about a tree that could even BE 1500 years old.....and to first time absorb that redwoods used to cover huge parts of this continent and Europe.....yes things have changed, but they get MY reverence for sure: The "nurse" logs are almost unbelievable. This one was almost as tall as I am, and the tree that has grown out of it 100' tall..... Where's Mark? How can you walk through these forests with a big ego. You cannot: So, we arrived Arcata, shopped, loved that town......moved on to stay at Eureka....having a great time sightseeing, shopping....and continuing our drive through the Avenue of the Giants (Redwoods) next day. It was SO fun, even though the entire trip to Guerneville for that night was only 215 miles, it took most of the day....YEP, unplugged, just enjoying California's finest forests. And yes, MAC found water anywhere he went. *At one point, we stopped hoping to capture another one of those "moments"....we heard water, saw two big trees just parallel to each other...one burned by lightning long ago...looking closer, the entire inner shell of the other burned out by that same strike HOW many years ago? Wow...... Doggy Mac, however, had other ideas....he KNEW that mini-river was close....we let him go and in this smaller space, he seemed to think he was in his little mud wallow back home and began howling, vocalizing for his life! We finally began walking back to the car, he'd watch, then jump BACK in for a few paddles.....look back, wait, swim, look, swim....then he finally began coming back. He saw were getting close to the truck.....he seemed to make a calculated decision: Lessee, the creek, I can make it if I run...they'll never notice." He took off...had his final few minutes....and slept the rest of the day in the back seat, happy and tired. Here he was, checking ev few minutes to make sure we hadn't left him: Note: After every swim, he, of course, could no longer ride in the cab and had to endure a cool wind on his coat until he dried a bit, but he sure was handsome in his coat matching the redwoods colors: Sunday night: Guerneville for Friday Night and the finale' of Downton Abbey that would be enjoyed in our little single cabin at Fern Grove Cottages, owned/managed by a proper British Lady...she and I had a delightful 10 minutes debating just "who" was going to have their sad life ended up that night on the Abbey..... We had some fun meeting a local or 5 at what seems now, "historic" Rainbow Cattle Company.....and home in time for the show! How COULD they do that! Now, in Maria Nash's words, "Mary will probably end up marrying Tom and enjoying life finally....until Tom gets run over by a tractor." And finally the next day, we are to begin our 4-5 day stay at the World Mark Resort with cousin Stan and Mary for a series of wine tastings, renewing friendship with Elena & Emilio, and general relaxation time in "Wine Country"...a new experience. It started, however, with MAC being boarded at what seems to be an upscale Olivet Boarding Kennel in Santa Rosa....very close to the resort. We didn't pay for the "extra option" of the deluxe room where we could watch him on camera if WE were "lonely"......what? Geez. Stan and Mary arrived shortly after we did: The next 3 days were a whirl of wine tastings, grand meals (one at the Culinary Institute of America...formerly the old castle called Christian Bros Wineries)....... and we were joined by our good friends....Emilio and Elena. Emilio and Elena are in this Wine Country loving their new life, and it was time to see them.......Wine Tasting was an experience Mark had never even considered ...since he had never really been a wine drinker..... would it work? Could he be turned into a lush? Well at least ONE of these days WAS one to remember the rest of my life. Castello Di Amorosa is where Emilio sells wine...and we HE the grand host, giving us a private tour of the entire castle, great tasting experience, and all. We joined Elena that evening for a fabulous Italian Dinner at a place owned by one of their friends. I was sorry we didn't have the camera along. Next day, Healdsburg where we enjoyed the best pizza we've ever eaten at DIAVOLA PIZZERIA . . . .Italian, wood oven, just fabulous.....and great staff to make sure you enjoyed your time. I'm SURE part of the success is that the pizzeria part has evolved from their time running as a butcher shop....good stuff! The 3-4 days is almost a blur of exotic old wineries, beautiful beautiful country, and the COMPANY of fabulous people. Stan and Mary were patient with us newbies, and their wisdom here was truly appreciated. It was also great to see Elena & Emilio, and.....enjoy our LAST night in town at Franco's Restaurant Italiano . . . .Their friend Franco made sure our table had as fabulous a time as someone could ....a memorable night, with fabulous fresh pasta & seafood. Finally, Feb 25, we moved on the heart of Almond Country, out in the valley, near Modesto. Ripon, Almond Capitol of the World has its annual Almond Blossom Festival last w/e in February, where Rodger's Aunt Paula has hosted a family get-together for what seems a lifetime. The numbers are getting smaller, a generation's changing, and it seemed right to be here this year. We always enjoy this time with her....she does a mountain of work getting ready, and we get to help with last minute details, like: Potato Salad prep, etc. The next day's a whirlwind with the parades, the carnival, shopping, eating, laughing, remembering....and here the family is (One MUST click on the pic to get everyone in): Our last night, we got to join up with cousins Karen T, Bruce & Kevin in Oakdale, "Cowboy Capitol of the World" . . . .for the Oscar Show....again, fabulous food, an grand times with old friends.......... FINALLY! We HAD to move on, and moved our gear along to Alameda where we once again joined up with David & Serafina who've married since our last visit. This was a more relaxing couple of days, and we needed it..... Talk about grand hosts, though, SERAFINA had worked with and has become a friend with the Master Pipe Organist at Stanford University where the Stanford Memorial Church (a cathedral in my opinion)....has 5 organs installed.... Yes, 3 small, 2 large. Robert Huw Morgan said to get us down there and we'd get a private tour of said organs and that turned out to be an unforgettable experience....almost up in the rafters of the cathedral....we learned lots, watched Robert PLAY, and then he let Mark even dabble a few lines, and that was unforgettable: The Cathedral view from that organ spot: Those few days will not be forgotten. Our last night was a big departure, and worthy of big note..... Mark's oldest sibling, the only girl, and oldest grandchild on both sides of our family, died at 33 from Cancer leaving 3 small girls...... None of us were close to the husband, and the kids grew up in touch with my parents but not me or the brothers. A couple years ago, niece Karen visited us in Portland when she was here on a science conference. So, it was perfect that our last night we got to see her and meet her FABULOUS dog JAVA, a Mastiff, who, at 4 yrs, thinks he's a puppy: We had a grand time, talking non-stop......till bedtime and an early start next morning after Karen prepped our five star breakfast for us. GREAT seeing Karen. We DID have one more night's stop in Ashland, but fatigue was catching up with us....it was spent laying on a motel bed watching TV. Sad, eh? A Grand Trip.
Whoosh! The last 30 days have felt like being stuck on a downhill ski slope that doesn't end. Whoever decided remodeling some of this house should happen while garden work is at its peak needs to have a talking to! Hah. IT IS the grasshopper vs ant story all over again....when it's summer in Portland, you'd better make the work get done. We've both fallen in love with the new deck! What a place that breathes relax...... enjoy the woods! NOW, we've moved forward with nice laminate floors being put down and replacing the awful green carpet we've lived with for 15 years.... a quick pic shows a hint how they'll look ..... (in a better pic, hah): **Scott Seger is the craftsman, and make a note, Portlanders...if you EVER want to do floors this is the guy.... As nice as anyone I've ever met and helpful about ANY question, never in a hurry, and a perfectionist. HE IS HERE today and part of tomorrow...today working on the front room and hallway. What did we do in the meantime? Yesterday was a full day catching up on the garden: 1) Rodg trimmed, pruned his sauce tomatoes (marzanos, romas, etc etc) back to the fruit, hoping to get some ripening happening. 2) Mark watered the garden then picked a small bucket of tomatillos (guess what for): **There's most of the ingredients sans lemon juice. This will make the total salsa jar count for this winter up to 76. BUT. 12 of those are EXTREMELY HOT. I WONDER WHO will volunteer to test 'em out. 3) SO many tomatoes and you can ONLY eat 1 BLT a day and a plate of slicers.....so it was time to ROAST these: ** HOW? slice, tumble just a mite in a bit of olive-oil.....place upright on the roasting pans, a light sprinkle of sugar, salt, pepper and roast at 375 about 2 hours.... and they're finger lickin' good right out of the oven: **yum. 4) The sept nites are cooling.....age showing on BASIL. 2 BIG plants were pulled, cleaned and made ready: **YES, once the leaves are free, run 'em through the blender with just a drizzle of olive oil, so they're coated. then, PLACE into ice trays: ***when they're frozen, get out of the trays, pack so they'll be loose, and freeze for the winter. NOTE: THIS IS NOT a real pesto recipe, but almost. WHEN they're THAWED this winter, I'll add the garlic, walnuts, and parmesan "FRESH" and it will truly taste LIKE a just made pesto. Yes, that was a full day.....then, as Scott left after 5:00 pm, we then had to move all the furniture back into the TV room so the front rooms could be done today. So we relaxed, sat down to watch the U.S. Open Tennis matches of the day, and WHAT? RAINED OUT? ARE YOU Kidding? Oh well...... TODAY? Pick MORE tomatoes and maybe make Stach's Scalloped Tomatoes......it sounds delicious.
The season's sudden change almost overnight from cool and damp to steady 80+ days, 55+ nights has brought an explosion to our summer gardens, and production plans. THIS WEEK? The only grower in this area I know of that, for about 2-3 weeks, has: Cascade Delight Raspberries, ...... WEST UNION GARDENS ........called to say they're ready. Next morning, 2 flats were brought home to become jam within a few short hours of being picked: So. Preps are made. Lids gathered sorted and placed for sterlizing dip into the hot water as jars are filled: The jars we've saved or returned to us are always welcomed when the season starts....here they await loading into the sterilizing dish washer cycle: We then begin processing the berries, one batch at a time (about 7 jars yield for each batch): After the mixing, processing, this beautiful berry jam is placed into the jars, sealed, and await cooling: 4 hours later: 48 jars of Cascade Delight Raspberry Jam complete the Raspberry inventory for 2012. NEXT? West Union Gardens has called me this morning to advise the Boysenberry picking begins Saturday.......... Nice.
We're moving into Phase 2 of enjoying Arizona. A few more tour highlights and then maybe more quiet enjoyment with the friends here. But not today. Homer insisted we see the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum . . . . . . .and by afternoon, we were SURE glad we did. It's an Arizona highlight. EVERYBODY's been to Balboa Park in San Diego, and almost any other zoo anywhere is nothing like this animal sanctuary. This place was designed/built around desert wildlife, so it's unique from anything you've seen. We WERE glad we were there before summer heat set in.....almost all the animals were out and active......in wild settings. VERY COOL. ***AGAIN, to see FULL SIZE SHOTS, CLICK..........on the pictures***** Right off the bat....we first saw this guy staring right at us close-up thru heavy glass....soon he was down in the enclosure: This is not a brown bear. I learned that Black Bears can/will be brown in color when they're desert bears: First thinking coyote, I learned this is a Mexican Gray Wolf.....WOLVES in the desert! The bobcats were fun, and SO camouflaged: We spent more time at this little town than anywhere. It was MORNING, they were very active, playful, family groups together......made me sorry they're almost gone in the wild: The Gila Woodpecker reminded me of our Northern Flickers (same family): Finally. The Cutest fox you could hope to see: And finally, those skeery wild pigs, the desert Javalinas.....not very attractive, but we had to seriously "LOOK" for these guys coloured just as the desert floor: I SAW the very FIRST RED CARDINAL I have EVER SEEN here, then learned of THIS new cardinal-like beauty, the Pyrrhuloxia: Just as our migrating Black Headed Grosbeaks have been arriving at home, I was surprised to learn some stay here year round, the lazy guy, but they are one of my favorites in the north summers, they're males calling one of the longest prettiest smoothest fluid calls you'll hear: a CLICK on this shows the full picture of evolution...it needs to be full size: One of the MOST exciting things in the whole place for me was the Hummingbird Aviary...at home we feed about 50 gals of sugar/water per summer to our migrant rufous and local annas.....but have NEVER seen a nest. HERE, they were right in front of you with Momma resting: Again....... A beautiful male feeding right in front of the camera: And one more: Another male resting: A CLICK HERE needed....to see the full scale of the Cactus "Forest" . . . . .they're everywhere....not unlike the old-growth rain forest trees....just very "different" in beauty: It was 1:00 . . . . getting HOT by OUR standards, but Homer HAD recommended we see a certain old Spanish Mission.... So, this AFTERNOON, we got our Catholic on and toured the MISSION SAN XAVIER DEL BAC . . . . Yep, surrounded by Catholic tourists, catholic guides, but the history was fascinating and the place quite gorgeous there in the desert..... A WHOLE way of life occurred here from birth to deaths..... **Yes, the whole history of Spanish Colonization and FORCED Catholicism on the indigenous people flashed through my mind once again....... and now the guide re-telling of the "miracles" that occurred here..... certainly reminded me WHY I'm a non-believer! It never occurs to them that these same "unexplained" miracles happen to atheists too....it's NOT just a Catholic God picking and choosing people he likes. BUT, the love given in donations to keep this part of history alive is nice. **Remember....The colonizers forced many natives to haul GOLD for this sanctuary....... and it shows in the chapel: I loved the artwork on the ceiling...........it fit in with the desert location: We don't know the story of this little piece, but both loved it: We missed the cemetery on the way out, but dropped in to the funeral chapel where about 1000 candles were lit for loved ones IN the desert heat of 95.....it must have been about 250 degrees inside here: . WHEW! We returned to see Homer who'd planned a nite on the town with his friend, and someone newly our friend, Patrick. Patrick taught me NEW things about gardening here... you CAN grow tomatoes, they must be in containers OFF the hot ground....he had some fascinating gardening going on, lush plants.....all in those big WINE BARRELS cut in half...he gave me a collection of poppy seeds to plant at home. He's a wonderful man..... Yep, it was a night of fun and billiards at a local "bear" bar......we had a grand time seeing Patrick and Homer here.....our time in Tucson was drawing to a close. .
Awakening to foggy morning, dark later, cooler days, shorter light spans, the garden is doomed. Until then, however, busy busy busy, yes, like the ant and the grasshopper! I wanted to save some of this 2011 Sept memory to see NEXT year late-summer ..... just in case THAT year's harvest is a bust. Hah. Some things are about done....The herb row for one (except for the fennel seeds that are JUST beginning to form: ***These will be harvested in about a month....dried slowly, and we'll have a big supply ready*** Bruce and Kevin? Ready for your shipment? ) The Oregano (closest) has been harvested, dried, and is being used in salsa. Thyme awaits cutting for drying, and the celery will be around until November for kitchen use: On the other end, things ARE looking perhaps a bit ragged now, but somewhere in this picture there are hundreds of hot peppers that, will either be used fresh, or when it gets some colder, will be cut and dried for use through the year: ***The cilantro in that pic IS going to seed....I'll have enough out of that to keep us in the herb through next summer and beyond. The NEW HARVEST BEGINNING TODAY? CORN! Here's the Corn Chowder ready for supper tonight: **and there's a big bowl of sauteed fresh corn to add to that if one wants ......BODACIOUS corn! VERY Sweet. There is ONE HUGE thing making the garden still look spectacular. SUNFLOWERS. It truly is a beautiful space right now....FULL of BEES everywhere. Here's the big view: Nice! Things HAVE been coming along nicely....... the Sungolds will STILL be giving up those little golden gems for a couple weeks at least: The Tomatillos will ALSO continue to ripen perhaps into the 1st of October, and I'll probably have enough to make another double batch by Friday: BUT....for The last 3-4 days, besides what we've eaten and given away, or taken to a dinner, THESE are ON the island awaiting some attention....... ***AND PLEASE, CLICK on the PICTURE.....You MUST see it in its FULL POSE!!!!**** **NOTE: Tomorrow nite, Rodger will make a fabulous "sauce" with some, and I'll roast the others. Some of his sauce will be in the freezer with the roasted ones. . Other than that we have FINALLY made SERIOUS progress about cleaning up the downed tree mess. Remember all those stump pieces in the yard: Here's that same view now: Lookin' better, but will need to re-seed the lawn in the fall: Then, there were TWO rows of big branches to saw, split, move, and stack: . NOW, there's ONE left that will be gone by weekend: Must post..... many other tasks of catch-up to do still........... **NOTE here: Wednesday, weather appears to seriously be downgrading . .. not bad, but not good enough to ripen tomatoes further..... Must plan on freezing corn next.
Wow! THIS is late..... but that happens when SPRING hits, eh? Life's pace changes to high gear immediately! But. I DID want to capture a highlight or two of the remainder of our CA trip before ....... you know. . . . . . . Previous post mentioned we'd moved on to the 80's Gay Resort town of Guerneville... . . .. ... just north of SF. It's a beautiful place along the Russian River and very near a Redwood State Park...... but..... THIS time, the place was quite changed, and most gay life is gone. This was a town the AIDS crisis pretty much ended as a "gay" destination.... We did find a place to stay, a nice little cottage at the Woods. Hosts were nice, but really nothing to do. We were one of probably 3-4 guest rooms occupied that night. We set out just to explore, and stopped in at the Sports Bar that was rumored to be "gay friendly". We were seated close to the soused straight owners who kept trying to talk with us. Well, it was a karaoke joint and a LOUD one at that. We quickly moved onto the one gay bar left in town, the Rainbow Cattle Company where we had a great time chatting with Lee, the "artist" bartender who's true goal was to become a videographer. I'm not sure with his laid back ways, he'd end up at Warner Studios, but.....he was a great guy to chat with. We were home early and up fairly early, rested and ready to join the family. NOT before we stopped in Petaluma (30 years ago famous as the Poultry Capitol...... to eat at HALLIE's DINER !!! Yes! A simply little coffee shop with fabulous food. Her twist on Eggs Benedict: EGGS PETALUMA is NOT to be missed.......... This is one place, just like the little joint in Trinidad, we will never have to reminded about. IF we're in the area, we will go OUT of our way to eat here. That set us up to complete or southbound journey to Ripon and join Aunt Paula! From there, we crossed the San Rafael Bridge, saw glimpses of the old home place bookmarks: the Bay Bridge, the Golden Gate, downtown SF, Oakland, Berkley...(Spenglers! Ah!)..... We filled the little truck with $4.21 and the scrolling marquee on the pump said, among other things, "God Bless You"..... C'mon, Gas Company! that's disgusting you play nice while reaching for every penny we have. That gave us a day and a half to prepare for Chet's memorial. So, besides visiting with Paula, wonderful, we did the required shopping for what we'd need Saturday. MUST mention the other "favorite" breakfast place, in Salida, CA that we always "must have" a Chicken Fried Steak at, and THIS day, we learned more about how it's done. ONE employee spends 2 full days a week preparing the beef: cutting it up (yes, they get the whole beef)....tenderizing it with the chopper, seasoning it......and letting it sit)..... I don't care WHAT your diet is, once in your life you SHOULD get to eat one of these orders. Rodger and I SPLIT ONE order (extra eggs, yes, but the Steak is....half order on each plate): Saturday came quickly, we were on our way to Bethel Island. With Paula and Mick, we joined Dennis and Pam at the little park across from the Fire Station (yes, there IS reason to mention this place.......) and completed the setups they'd already started. Even the very cute fireman who happened to be jogging around the park perimeter helped us with a tent or two, a NICE guy. Folks began to arrive in a while, and by 1:00, lots of Chet's friends had found time here 5 months after he'd passed away to join up and visit with Rodger, have some food, and relax. Things went VERY well, some of these people I'd never met, this was a nice affair. By 3:30, things pretty much came to a close, we, including cousins, family, moved on over to one of the Sacramento River Delta Channels, and a little ceremony let to the spreading of chet's ashes. Whew! Closure. It was nice, and we didn't have an opportunity for pictures. Oh yes.......the Fireman story! The shorter cute fireman from the morning told us to make sure to let him know if we "needed" anything. (The total firemen stationed here at the moment, due to cutbacks: 3). About the middle of the gathering, Chet's girlfriend, JOYCE.....stumbled on something, and fell....she wasn't "sure" if she was stable enough to get up, we held her steady, and someone ran to get the FIREMEN! They sure came in a hurry. -3-, I tell you, "THREE" very handsome cute firemen showed up, and I have NEVER been so impressed with how gentle, soothing, and kind they were to Joyce and the rest of us. I wonder what I've missed in life not ever having a fireman next to me helping me feel better ...........hah. We got back to Ripon in good time, and to bed fairly early to begin the NEXT day's trip to Morro Bay for Cheryl's little memorial. We, Paula, Mick, Karen, Lori & John made the 5 hour trip in 2 cars. **Mark once again astounded the massive expanse of California's agriculture industry you watch driving south in I5! The California aquaduct....looking more like a large river than a canal stealing No Cal's water for LA and environs is truly impressive. The drive over the coastal foothills into Morro Bay is simply spectacular in beautiful scenery. We arrived meeting up with Karen's daughter Jen, just up from L.A., Norma & Sue Ann, old Cheryl friends, and we're looking for Bruce & Kevin...but, thanks, to Jen, joined her at THE GALLEY......for lunch. (I had a fabulous Crab Louie).... WHEW! We arrived in good shape along with Bruce & Kevin, Norma, so we all checked into our lodge: The INN AT MORRO BAY . We decided on this place simply searching the web, and after seeing the town, THIS couldn't have been a better choice. On the south end of town, it was quiet, but most important: At the very south end of the motel, HUGE SEABIRD ROOKERIES were in the trees just overhead. (***Check the link, it's picture page showing the redtails and egrets too) It was pretty FABULOUS to watch the cormorants nest-building and the three redtail hawks also setting up home patiently waiting near the bottom of the trees for any egg / chick to sadly fall. An egret Rookery bordered the Cormorants. There were California Vultures at the other end of the lodge WHO, the next morning, sat at the very tippy top of the tall trees with wings outstretched in the morning sun.....Beautiful!' one view: another view, but these pics ***(EMBIGGEN THIS TO GET A BETTER FEEL of how CLOSE the birds were to the camera)*** are SO limited....so MANY trees in the surrounding area were FULL of birds making the nests..... the "chortling" interesting sounds were fascinating. WE all gathered togethered together, and escorting Cheryl's ashes, drove to the Rock in the bay....and had the little ceremony. We didn't get a group picture, but a few smiles were captured: The weather / climate was fantastic....so MANY flowers were already in FULL seasonal bloom like Foxgloves that we won't see until late June: This was a perfect day. We ate, shopped, and by mid-day, enjoyed a perfect lunch. That was eaten at a wharf side joint where, not just the fresh catch of the day was mentioned, but which BOAT the fish were caught by. Nice. After lunch, we all needed to get back to our homes, and said our goodbyes. It was a perfect Cheryl goodbye. Back at Ripon, we relaxed for a day, and finally rented the U-Haul trailer planned to bring back what things of Chet's Rodger wanted to keep. So, finally, we loaded up said sad goodbye's to Karen, Paula, and began our trip back home. BY the time things were loaded, and we'd cleaned up everything, we were TIRED....but thought, we ought to GET ON the ROAD....and at LEAST get partway home. It was obvious there was going to be a LOT to do when we got there..... and, it would be raining. We stayed that night in an old rail town near Mt. Shasta, Dunsmuir, CA .............. (the link is pictures....nice) in an old motel, family run, but clean and perfect for us, AND....about halfway home. Our trip next day was quiet, and we were happy to be home in time to unload, relax, and prepare things we needed to get done. We were NOT happy to be back in the RAIN. Pulling a trailer with the Toyota up over Shasta and the Siskiyous is a mountainous trip....we're not always leading the traffic up the hill. BUT.....as if we could get a good luck omen, our U-Haul had TWO markers on it we thought good. The first: The license was from WISCONSIN (hey Thomas / Brenda!!)...so we felt no matter our driving pattern, we'd be forgiven: Our next marker was even more providential. This trailer had a poster of a Chessie on it.....as if MAC would be riding shotgun for us: Finally. Rodger's found closure since the passing of his father and only sister. And NOW? We begin the spring battles inherent in this climate. We arrived home to find these invaders beginning the war on the lawn: This is only ONE of several spots that now look like this: SO. Pellet Gun. Pitchfork? Gas pellets, Traps, whew! It's man vs mole!