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May, 2011 | Scuff Productions

CA Trip – Day 3 – 9

Bloged in Family,Scuff Boys,TRAVEL by mark Friday May 27, 2011

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… 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… 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!

Garden to Mark: Diary entries LATE

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Thursday May 26, 2011

**This is only a note to me ….. ev year I check back to see what was happening in starting a garden vs. what we’re battling this year.

MARK: YOU ARE LATE…….Prob check JUNE 2011 entries to find out what you did in MAY to start your garden.

**Went to Canby – – — cold. bought only few things
**Went to Millenium two weeks later . . . .got all ‘maters, peppers, squash, one new canteloupe
**Planted: May 19…..
**RAIN / cold continue as long term forecasts for NW following the la nina winter and 3rd coldest / wettest spring on record. Gambling things will TURN DRY and warmer soon.
**corn seeds started in cold frame…….may 22

and MORE! soon.

California Here We Come…… Memorial Trip Day 1 – 2

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Saturday May 14, 2011

After months of waiting / planning, the week arrives that begins the trip to CA for Rodger’s Dad & Sisters memorial services. We were set for a CA departure to prepare / organize those services, but. . . . . .decided to take 2 days at the start of the trip to relax from the stress of this winter. We headed down I5 as far as Grant’s Pass, but then pulled the surprise! We turned west and onto the Redwood Highway to the California Coast!

We got an early start dropping Mac at Club K9 where he happily left us behind to play with all his buddies. An Early start also meant we were ON the way and through Portland, Wilsonville, Salem, Eugene, Roseburg in grand time. Whew! What a change from months of gray! We were OUT of Portland’s humid air by then, wearing SUNGLASSES proudly, and needing NO more auto heat! Woot!

I’ve always believed and can plainly see when traveling, Oregon has FOUR climates. Once in SW Oregon, it was plain by the landscape that we were in “dryer” forest land….gorgeous forests with MORE kinds of trees…pine trees are now in the mix. Large pastures and open fields meant large views. On one gorgeous pasture hillside, I saw a lovely little fox trekking proudly, and colorful against deep green.

In 5 hours, we were at the Grant’s Pass turnoff and ON the Redwood Highway! And in just another 45 minutes, we’re IN California. We were in Redwoods! As we traveled along the high flowing blue-green Smith River Nat’l Recreation Area:

, we turned off at Gasquet to enjoy a fine lunch at the Patrick Lodge, a 100 year old lodge on the spectacular Smith River (one of No Cal’s finest Salmon breeding grounds)….

NICE. (Gasquet, by some claims, is the rainiest place in California with an average count at 90 inches of rain).

Soon we’re back ON the road, and feasting on the gorgeous deep blue/green rapids of that Smith River running alongside the highway. We make plenty of stops to humbly stand by the mammoth redwoods….and consider life a little.

**I imagine you noticed Rodger there?

By now, we’ve been on the road enough hours, but ……..not sure of where we’re staying. It’s time for a quiet lunch stop maybe.

Well, we settle into our last hour stretch to make Trinidad, CA, a lovely spot on the coast where one of our favorite all-time seafood dive restaurants, THE SEASCAPE RESTAURANT, has been for a couple of generations. It’s never advertised, it’s simply there for the locals, hard to find unless you KNOW where it is, and worth the little drive to it. It’s right at the edge of the fishing pier of this little working town, it’s not cheap, not fancy, but almost everything is caught there and prepared exactly the way seafood needs to be….. Few if any tourists, quiet, binoculars at the table if you’re on the bay side of the windows…..


A little look around that quiet town, and we decided a night’s adventure and lodging would likely be better in Arcata, a few miles south.

Ah! Arcata! Ever allowed yourself to go to a little town where the word “mellow” takes on new meaning? Arcata is Mini-Berkley. The college is Humboldt State….. an activist town where NO CHAIN business (by law) can open a box store anywhere NEAR downtown…..EVERYTHING downtown is small and independent, quaint, and fun….. EVEN the college students boycotted a Taco Bell who had been “grandfathered” in under the old law …. and it closed within 6 months of opening.

Naturally, that meant we had a grand time, met some NEW people at the suspect “Alibi” that sat on “the plaza” surrounded by tiny bars ALL of whom had their own themes. Most cool evening…….. and…. helped us become relaxed for the rest of our trip.

In the morning we stopped at Don’s Donuts, after two recommendations from locals, and wow….OLD rich buttery donuts….. cinnamon roll, maple bars filled with butter creme, and MORE………that traveled with us in the car through the next several hours of traveling among Giants, i.e., the “Avenue of the Giants”…. the groves of mammoth redwoods that emote such stillness, serenity, that you can’t imagine what kind of giant storms and winters they’ve weathered…..

Can’t forget one stop in Eureka, however………we were just passing through, but couldn’t resist stopping at Pierson Hardware and Nursery ….where I found the little old guy, who happened to be gay, and enjoyed talking his fabulous life as a buyer for this place AFTER he’d been a school teacher for 30 years. NO Chain can give you the wonderful choices these rare independents can. This was fun, an adventure, and we even found several varieties of Teddy Bear Sunflower Seeds we’d been unable to find anywhere in Portland.
We sure DID want to buy this cranky little guy, but had no place for him at this point on the trip:

We’re ON the road, and SOON……..have turned off to enjoy a 17 mile stretch I haven’t seen since I was a kid………and it’s spectacular: THE AVENUE of the GIANTS, Redwoods, that is.

In one spot , Rodger began a new love affair……he became a real Tree Hugger:

We even found a bear napping on an old tree that had been down for years:

The groves along the “Avenue of the Giants” continue to force stops simply to drink it all in…………….

It was amazing to watch what would even grow at the bottom of these high tree canopies……ONE plant abundant was the simple beautiful Oxalis we grow at home, only in shady spots……..

Or I found this tree seeming to wrap me in a death grip:

When a downed tree begins to decay it begins new life… was amazing to look along the truly OLD dead trees and see the new trees beginning:

Well, we gots to make up some time. Past Humboldt State Park, we pass the two ELK herds that are really almost domesticated on refuge sites. At feeding time you can be in the middle of a herd watching them eat, and NO fences…… can we have another woot?

Back on the road again, we set out to make “Guerneville” our resting stop for the day before the afternoon heat passed. It was at least 85!!! A warmth we hadn’t felt in Portland for 6 months…….

2011 Clackamas County Master Gardener Plant Sale

Bloged in garden,Pacific Northwest by mark Sunday May 1, 2011

**I needed to get this done before this new day meant I’d NEVER post this…..forgive any errors……..

Just a quick note on this year’s super Garden Sale. At April’s end every year in this rain forest place, the weather “usually” has turned to warmer spring temps, and things are drying out. This has been by history records, Portland’s 3rd coldest and wettest month ever. That didn’t stop lines of folk blocks long standing at the gates to the Clackamas County Fairgrounds long before the 0900 opening so they can enter OREGON’S LARGEST grower garden/plant/garden art/materials SALE of the year. And, “as if” the Master Gardener’s are “in” with their version of God, the sun shined all day and warmed just enough so you weren’t sweating moving selected buys around in your cart.

Also for some years now, dear friends Nancy G & Carol, Rodger & I (and anyone else who wants to go……) have joined up as a team scouring every booth of hundreds there. This year, funtastical Sandy T joined us and we had a GREAT time. These garden events for OUR crew always end up at the Canby Restaurant & Pub for a leisurely relaxed lunch…… a perfect ending. (& Do NOT forget that we usually stop at one nursery on the way back because…….ONE large Tillamook Ice Cream Cone is something we feel we’ve earned by 2:00 – 3:00 pm.

This year, we joined wagons on this Oregon Trail Trek………a good team:

This is only ONE of several different views I could have selected ALL showing large areas of growers booths:

And a couple pics of “shopping”, haggling:

As you move around these fairgrounds, these wagons enclaves appear everywhere………

In one spot, you can see the mighty Canby Train Station in the background…..

= = = = = Every imaginable kind of person comes to these sales, and most are in a great mood on these early spring sunny days. Not all of ’em:

***WHEN your garden cart gets too “full”, you drop all you have at the Plant Pickup Barn, get a claim check, and return to shopping. This year we had 4 tickets to reclaim.

So, yes, the time came, the ladies moved onto the Canby Pub to hold a table, we moved in to claim our buys, loaded up the truck with everyone’s “stuff” that might have been too big for a car, and joined the crew for a fabulous lunch.

On getting home, of course, MAC required some warm greetings, but we began placing some things where we can think about ’em for a couple weeks before their final assignment in the yard/garden. The two tomato starts I was foolish enough to buy went in to larger pots and then into the cold frame, a couple of trees into pots for now, but THIS little piece of all reclaimed wood is something we both really liked….and the bench will store pots inside in the winter:

In this pic, are other buys, but mostly, I was simply pretty happy yesterday to see that the bird feeding stations, etc., this corner of the yard ARE looking new and springlike:

Ah. Another Canby Sale complete.
**In other notes……. Someone asked, so here’s the pic of the suet cage full of Mac’s fur…… is a tiny thrill to have already seen some Chickadee Mom’s using this fur a lot….it is amazing that they can pack SO much into their beaks that the fur ball they’re carrying is half their size and I don’t know how they’re seeing anything when they fly:

**This birdhouse was taken out of the tree for winter…sat on the deck. When mac’s nose went straight to that opening yesterday and stayed their, I knew I had to open it up. Yes, I had to clean out the mice and the nest inside once it was open. Note to Mark: DO NOT store birdhouses ON ground level next winter.

**And, Emilio & Elena’s gift to us, this elaborate art creation needs to be thoughtfully set in the yard, in a tree soon…….we’re wondering where that will be:

**Oh yep, I really liked my latest pasta dish (Thanks, Emilio, for the inspiration)…..simple. While doing the “next” step, boil water, and cook some small shell pasta….. then Saute’ Onions, Garlic, some chopped carrot, and dried peppers till translucent, remove. Cook Italian Sausage till mostly done, add the vegetables, either some pasta water OR chicken broth, and your Pasta……. NOW the secret comes in: ADD just a cup or two of your 2010 Garden Oven Roasted tomatoes that you’ve had in your freezer all winter……stir ’em in, let “sit” together warm for flavors to meld. Yum:

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