Gaffney’s Grove Disc Golf

Remember when I mentioned that we stumbled upon this addition to the local recreation scene a few months back? No? I talked about it in this post. I decided awhile ago that adding disc golf to our activity arsenal would be fun, and since our full-time RV life might be approaching sooner rather than later, I added a couple sets of disc golf discs to our equipment. And since we needed to scram today while people came in to look at and insult our home, it was the perfect opportunity to take our new discs to the new course and get going on our new sport.

TBG displays his as-yet-unscuffed disc set.

We started at Hole 5 because that is the one closest to where we parked at the Community Center. It’s totally cool at this course, don’t worry.

Mike gives TBG some pointers.

At the 5 tee box, we met Mike. Mike plays on a Disc Golf League, and he knows a lot about how to play. He asked if this was our first time to this course, and when we told him it was our first time to any course, he offered to play the round with us and help us. The world needs more Mikes.

Notice Mike’s bag. It is a special bag made for disc golfers and holds a lot of discs. I was overwhelmed by all the different discs and throwing techniques. At least I already knew the rules of hole golf. This new sport of ours isn’t going to be quite as simple as throwing a Frisbee into a pole.

TBG wings his driver!

Yes, there are different discs for driving, mid-range, and putting. (Note the inside of Mike’s bag.) After a few holes, TBG was driving as well as Mike.

Teeing off with my mid-range disc.

I was not at all good at our new sport. I’m not sure why I thought I might be since I’ve never been very good at throwing. I’m determined to work on this, though, because there are lots and lots of disc golf courses all over the country and the great majority of them are FREE.

Tricky shot!

See his orange disc on the other side of that tree? One of the rules is that you have to keep your forward foot in a rectangle — roughly the size of a sheet of printer paper — behind where your disc has landed. That becomes very challenging when your disc has landed behind an obstacle like this tree. Learning whacky ways to throw your discs is a must! It’s even legal to roll it along the ground, which is creatively called a “roller.” This particular course, as you can see, is studded with obstacles which not only added to the difficulty (like we needed that) but made it ideal for a hot day’s fun.

 

 

 

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Julys Gone By

Big, big things are afoot around here, but none of them are TBG hiking. And if he’s not hiking, chances are good neither am I. Most of it involves plans I’m not going to discuss here right now, and some of it involves a mostly-healed injury that I’m also not going to discuss here right now, so what is the point of me even posting? The point is what it always is, people, and that’s just darn good fun.

But, if we’re not hiking and everything else is so Secret Squirrel, what fun is that? None whatsoever, but I thought it might be entertaining to take a look at what was happening in the Julys of the past. If you do, too, stay put. If not, check back in about a week when I may have something new to amuse you. And if I may implore you, let’s not tell TBG about this particular post since there are about twenty-five million other things I should be doing, OK?

We begin in 2009 when I first started blogging about our hiking, the original posts which can be found by clicking the link in the header of this blog titled Before There Was Here if you’re of a mind to.

The next three pics are from Bullion Basin. Gosh, I miss those pups.

Next we have one enroute to Echo Lake, which we did not achieve on that attempt.

Nothing for 2010, and I have no idea why, so let’s move onto 2011, the first two from Otter Falls, the third from Mason Lake. As you can see, we here in the PNW often don’t have reason to include July in what we think of as summer.

Let’s see what was up in 2012.

Keekwulee Falls enroute to Melakwa Lake. Overcast, but beautiful.

Zuzu finds some sunbeams on the way to Teneriffe Falls.

Still sunny at the falls, finally!

There seems to be a dearth of hiking outings for the Julys of 2013 and 2014, which means we leap ahead to 2015.

Sunny (!) trail running at Federation Forest S.P. Not very exciting, I’m afraid, but that’s all the July stuff I have until 2017 which was when this incarnation of the blog began and which you’ve probably already read. If not, and if you don’t have twenty-five million other things you should be doing, then your day just got made. You’re welcome!

Joemma, Penrose Point, & Kopachuck State Parks

Oh, holiday weekends, how you do vex us, especially when you come with ideal weather. To go out amongst the droves of other humans or stay closer to home and regret “wasting” such an opportunity? I guess the title of this post gives away which choice we made. We did, however, go in a direction we thought might be the least congested.

The conditions for more traditional hiking are not yet to our liking, and even though we’re champing at the bit to take our first RV trip in the big rig, it’s not yet ready. We also didn’t want to drive too very far, but have nearly exhausted the unexplored close-to-home options. The idea to knock off some of the other state parks we’ve not yet visited was all mine, and I chose three that are close to one another out on the Key Peninsula.

We started with the furthest away of the three and worked our way backwards. None of them offer much in the way of trails for distance, but they did each have a few loops of footpaths and lots of beach to walk.

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No Vacancy

No problem, just a day trip!

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Looking out at Case Inlet

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This is what I could see.

We could also see lots and lots of huge anemones in the water below, but no starfish which I was really hoping to see.

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After taking in some rays on the pier, we “hiked” all 0.8 miles of trails.

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TLG commands the route.

This was a little unmapped trail that is part of the Puget Trail which is an Audubon Society’s birding trail on which we didn’t see any interesting birds of note.

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TBGoof

I said, “Show how super-happy you are to be out in the sunshine!” and I got this.

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Next!

Over to the east coast of the peninsula we went.

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So lost.

Because I really can learn from the past, I had taken photos of the park maps before leaving for the day. It’s not like you can get lost at any of these smaller parks, so why someone felt the need to rip off this map, who knows?

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TBGuide finds another map.

This park has a few more trails to wander along than the first, and since almost all the people were busy at the beachy parts of the park, we enjoyed about two miles of near-solitude.

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Non-beachy quietude.

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Low tide.

It is possible to walk out onto a long sand bar at low tide, but if you look closely, you can see an almost single-file line of people doing just that. Eschewing that meant possibly missing sea stars, but we stayed off it anyhow.

Just like when we visited Cape Disappointment, there were signs asking park-goers not to disturb baby harbor seals they might encounter on the beach. And just like then, I was desperate to spot a baby harbor seal in order to show how good I was at not disturbing it. Again, sadly, my skills went untested.

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TBG saving on sunscreen.

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Next!

The website says this park has two miles of hiking trails, so I’m going to credit that, but we thought it was probably not really that much.

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Big tree along the overgrown Interpretive Trail.

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Showing TBG what super-happy really looks like.

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Close, but no cigar.

That cool-looking island a half-mile offshore is Cutts Island State Park, which can only be accessed by watercraft. I told TBG that I should’ve brought my little kayak, and he scoffed at the idea, saying it would’ve been shredded on the barnacles. I say I could’ve made it, but now we’ll never know, and the current total in the Great State Park Grand Scheme is now at 64.

I Went Back to Ohio

One of the things that happens when you live across the country from your family is the necessary combination of vacation and family visits. I was born and raised in NE Ohio, and roughly every two years, I travel back there with or without TBG. (This trip was a “with.”) Unfortunately, we did not have enough time for it to be a cross-country RV excursion, so Essie stayed home.

When you think of great hiking, NE Ohio probably doesn’t top your list of destinations, but there are decent places to get your feet moving, and in the years since I left, the county parks and trails have been majorly improved near where The Folks still reside.

With the family a bit more spread out across the state, we had to visit in waves, with my niece and nephew making the drive north from their homes to connect with us at The Folks’. They were amenable to going on a hike with us, so we got the party started on our first full day there with a visit to Headwaters Park

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TBGuide overcomes jet lag.

This is a place we visited as kids, but more for the swimming beach than hiking.

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TBG and The Kidz

Look what happened since I left in 1992.

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Maple Highlands Trail

They made the Maple Highlands Trail, a 20-mile paved trail. My dad met us there, and rode his recumbent bike along it while the rest of us endeavored to find the more rustic pathways.

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Consulting the map.

The map was a bit confusing, meaning small and hard to read,  but we were not to be deterred.

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Biking, horseback riding, xc skiing, hiking, and…what?!

This is Amish country, and having grown up here, it is perfectly routine to encounter the horse-drawn buggies on the roads, but seeing a buggy sign on the trail marker was new to me.

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Non-motorized use authorized!

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Spring springing.

Ohio had a long snow season, and the white stuff had really only been gone for about two weeks prior to our arrival. But then look what happened:

 

Spring was quickly making up for lost time.

EFBF5425-BB2D-4AE7-898F-454A576FCCCFTBGuide and The Kidz find the Pike Point Trail.

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East Branch Reservoir

Ironically, the weather back home was said to be spectacular. Natch.

There are two different access points to the park, and after exploring a bit at the southern section, we piled back into the car and drove up to the northern entrance about two miles away.

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The Kidz were excited to find the Eagle Trail.

The day was warming up nicely by then, and the sun was peeking through when we started our walk from the north.

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Now that’s more like it!

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Cool trail structure.

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Tributary stream.

All in all, we completed about five miles that were filled with great talks and fun. We were so grateful that The Kidz could make the time to meet us and spend it out in nature together.

The next few days were spent around my hometown, with The Folks, and at my BFFF’s house not far out of town. She made her beautifully-appointed basement-level living quarters available to us for the bargain rate of FREE. This not only allowed us quiet early mornings and late evenings (time-change hardships, doncha know) but made room at The Folks’ for other alternating visiting family to crash.

One of the evenings, we went out to dinner with my BFFF and her fella in Chagrin Falls. Look what happened there:

Us, a few months after we were married in 1998 and now, nearly 20 years later. That high bridge seems to be gone, as does our youth.

We went with my mom to another of the Geauga Parks, called The West Woods. It was not our first time to this park, but look what happened since the last time we were there:

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My momma’s mural!

We needed to see my mom’s most recent mural completed last year for the Parks Department. Pictures don’t do it justice, but it is very nice, and is loved especially by all the kids who come to visit this (most?) popular park.

We also enjoyed the large viewing window where we could watch for the colorful types of birds we don’t have at home. Well, we have flickers, and the goldfinch is the WA state bird, but I miss the blue jays and cardinals. The other pictured here is a rose-breasted grosbeak.

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Main Street, Burton OH

As is our wont, we walked parts of town nearly every day. Look what happened to the fire hydrants:

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Rock on!

They painted them pink. They should’ve gone the whole nine years, and painted the parts that look like boobs like boobs. Anysuch, even though I brought along a few of my own Festones to hide, I never remember to look for others. As usual, TBG spotted this one, and it came back with us to continue its journey.

By mid-week, the weather had definitely brightened, and we headed out just the two of us to yet another Geauga Park, Swine Creek Reservation.

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Will there be pigs?

We saw neither swine nor the actual namesake creek, which doesn’t run through the largest part of the park.

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Killdeer Lake

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Meadowlark Trail

The “meadow” part should have been our first clue that this was a trail through the grass, but what we didn’t know was that it was very boggy grass, and our feet were soon soaked.

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Unlike our feet, these thistles were dry.

The paved Maple Highlands Trail also runs through this park, and our feet dried out a bit as we walked along it to get to the next pathway connection.

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Gray Fox Trail

This trail transitions from the meadow to the woodlands.

I finally remembered to place a Festone.

From this trail, we accessed all the other more woodsy trails. Look what I did:

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Does my head make these burls look big?

Or do I look like Princess Leia?

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A sprinkling of sunshine.

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Not Swine Creek

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Bridge over Not Swine Creek

I was mere minutes away from posting these pictures and asking if any of you, my dear readers, could identify this plant. I was searching the Interwebs every way I could, with phrases like “yellow and brown asparagus-looking rhizome” with (no kidding) no luck. Then, as I was consulting the little map of the park’s trails, I saw that one was called the Squaw Root Trail, and light bulbs went off all over the place. This yellow and brown asparagus is squawroot. Then I Googled that, and now I know more about squawroot than I ever dreamed I would. You should Google it, too, but after you’re done reading this post so you don’t get sidetracked like I did. Seriously, you really should. It’s pretty interesting.

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Red trillium a.k.a Stinking Benjamin a.k.a. Wet dog trillium

Do you think it’s named for a wet dog called Benjamin? Do you think wet dogs stink? I don’t, but, coincidentally, my dad always used to call out, “Wet dog! Wet dog!” if our dog breached the threshold while wet, and we did at one time have a dog named Benji. Curiouser and curiouser.

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Lodge Lake Bridge

Squaw Root Trail rings Lodge Lake and, incidentally, is not the trail on which we saw squawroot.

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Lodge Lake

We opted to walk the paved road back to the parking lot because the wooded trail from here to there looked to be pretty muddy. There is a southern section of the park that has a separate access and through which Swine Creek proper flows, but we’d done about four miles, and decided to forgo it.

The following day was split between time with my BFFF and incoming family (Brotherman and Sissy.) We started with a return trip to The West Woods to show BFFF the mural and have a proper walkabout.

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Peace, baby.

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Obediently following directions.

But our peace was a bit disrupted because look what happened:

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Don’t tread on me.

This ∼5’ black rat snake was actually to the side of the main trail, peacefully sunning itself. TBG was all atingle, as this was the largest snake he’d ever encountered in the wild. They are big, but non venomous and generally non aggressive.

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There are lots of cool geologic features in this park. We walked along enjoying the beautiful sunny day, then something else like what happened at Chagrin Falls happened again. Look:

There we are sixteen years ago and now. I like now better, whaddaya make of that?

Then something else happened like at the beginning of the hike. TBG spotted another black snake. Look at us looking:

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BFFF just before she ran away.

TBG noticed a weird-looking growth on this snake and declared it had a “tumor or something.”

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“It’s not a tuma!”

Upon further investigation by me, I determined it was smack-dab in the middle of shedding its skin, which it completed while we watched it slither slowly through the weeds.

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The still-damp shed.

Part of the skin was still rolled up, but it looks like it was another 5-6 footer. Of course, I have been looking up snake skin info, and have just learned that the ecdysis of a snake’s skin was seen as a symbol of healing, and that is why a snake is on the Rod of Asclepius, the medical symbol. It is only fitting that BFFF and I, both in the medical field, would witness this occurrence together. We also saw a big snapping turtle in the creek, so make of that what you will.

Around lunchtime, Brotherman and Sissy arrived in Burton, and the rest of the day was spent in boisterous reunioning.

 The plan for our last full day in Ohio was for us all to visit Cuyahoga Valley National Park where we would board the train so that those of us who couldn’t walk long distances could tour the park and the visitor centers, and those of us who were able could have a hike or two. The plan didn’t go as well as any of us had envisioned, but I will only highlight what did work, and let those of you who have experienced families, vacations, and family vacations fill in the blanks.

Look at the good parts that happened:

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Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. We caught the train on time!

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The Folks enjoyed the view!

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Brotherman and TBG find our hike!

It was a perfect weather day!

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The sneaky guides find the trail!

Yes, you can drive most of the way to Blue Hen Falls for free. Shut up.

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Almost there!

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Blue Hen Falls!

This chapter ends with a terrible traveling experience on the return home, and I’d rather not relive it in the telling, if it’s all the same to you. Let’s once again admire the Ohio state bird and say so long for now:

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“So long for now!”

 

 

 

 

Lake Wilderness Trail & Arboretum

One thing about selling an RV, and about which I could make a whole post, is that people are insane. They call to ask every question that’s been addressed in the listing. They make appointments and cancel them at the last minute. They call to set up another time to call. TBG is taking the brunt of this since it’s his phone given in the listing, and that is a good thing because I have little patience for such foolishness.

Another thing about selling an RV is that you have to be available to show it when someone expresses an interest. Being available means you can’t get too far from home, and that is how we found ourselves at another local trail on which we have spent a great deal of time but about which I have never blogged.

The name of the trail isn’t really “Lake Wilderness” but rather, officially, Cedar to Green River Trail. The Cedar part makes sense because it connects to the  Cedar River Trail but it never gets anywhere near the Green River (future county plans say it will, but it has a looooong way to go.) It does, however, connect directly to the Lake Wilderness Lodge, Park, and Arboretum, and no one around here would know what you were talking about if you called it by its official name.

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Urban-ish access.

Because this trail runs through town and housing developments, it has several access points. This one is behind the hardware store where we had to make a quick stop anyhow.

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On the trail proper.

Do you see the bun-bun?

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Lake Wilderness Lodge

After about a mile from where we started, the lodge comes into view. You can take a side spur trail to it and the park if you’re of a mind to. We weren’t this time.

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Lake Wilderness Arboretum

In another half mile, you reach the arboretum. To the right of this photo are single-track trails through the woods. To the left, is the groomed arboretum. I had been through those walkways many times, but TBG never had, so we dipped down off the main trail to have a look around.

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Well, that’s new!

It has been awhile since I veered off the main trail, and it seems an 18-hole disc golf course has been completed at the west end of the arboretum. We added disc golf to our list of possible future activities to try. We used to “real” golf — or “hole golf” — as I’ve now learned it is distinguished from disc golf. A nice difference is that disc golf is largely free across the country, save for needing to purchase a couple of discs. In my cursory investigation, I learned that there is a Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA), and there are certain types of discs designated as drivers, mid-range, and putters. That struck me as hilarious, but then I watched a couple videos of professionals switching to their putter-discs to toss into the basket only a few feet away, and I wanted to howl with delight over the utter seriousness of it all. I hope that if we do decide to try it, there is room for just plain fun with a couple of knock-off Frisbees.

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Official Park Entrance

These days, whenever we walk along our local trails, I try to see them through the eyes of someone who is only visiting the area, the way we will see local trails once we hit the road and are no longer locals. I have remarked many times recently that we would be really happy to find these trails here, and it makes me not only appreciate what we have but what we have yet to discover.

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Indigenous blooming.

The rhododendrons and azaleas were all bursting forth.

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Beautiful early-morning sun.

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Tribal Life Trail totem pole.

Both sides of the arboretum are very popular places for hiding painted rocks. Although I know from the online groups that folks place literally dozens of rocks at a time and collect them by the basket-full, the one on this totem pole was the only one we came across. I did not collect it nor leave any of my own, since the Easter-egg hunt type of rocking isn’t my style. It’s a fun activity for the wee ones, though. Rock on, little rockhounds!

Coral-colored azalea, the softest green leaves of a kind of ornamental sequoia (that’s what the sign said) and a peony about to pop.

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All our wandering added up to about four miles by the time we’d retraced our steps back to the car. We were home in plenty of time to NOT meet a prospective RV buyer who had cancelled on us with a 3 a.m. text.

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And people think I’m nutty!

Green River Natural Area

I hope I don’t disappoint all of you who expressed excitement at wanting to read about our first RVenture in the new rig, but it’s going to be a little while yet. There are things we need to get done prior to more traveling and other life stuff taking up our time right now, so it may be July before we’re able to take our first real trip. Never fear! We will still be getting out and about and virtually dragging you with us. Your relief is immense, I would imagine.

Scrolling back through the blog, I see that we haven’t gotten our boots on the ground properly since our family trip to Oregon almost a month ago. Sure, the capybaras were well worth a hiking sacrifice, and buying an RV takes up a stupid amount of time, but Spring is actually springing around here and it was high time to trek.

For some reason, many of us adventurer types get it into our heads that we have to go farther, faster, and higher for an outing to “count,” but when we constrain ourselves that way, we might miss great opportunities in our own backyards.

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TBGuide sticks to the plan.

This place is only about 20 minutes from our house, yet we had never been there.

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Chartreuse buds cover the trees.

The area is bisected by a wide gravel service road. It used to be three smaller park areas that are now all connected with several trails that meet up with this road.

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Pausing to appreciate the sunshine

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and the beautiful Trilliums and Bleeding Hearts.

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Pacific Wren

The songbirds filled the forest with their melodies.

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TLGeneral gives marching orders.

The trails were well-signed and maintained. We encountered several horseback riders and a handful of other hikers, but everyone was pretty spread out, and it was far from crowded.

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One of many tiny waterfalls.

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Literal board game.

I couldn’t resist the opportunity to enhance it with a Festone, not one of my originals, but one that has traveled all the way from Surprize, AZ.

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Love wins!

The pathways offered a good mix of covered and more open sections, and it was not just a stroll but provided an overall gain of 1000’.

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Salmonberry blossom.

Harbingers of the bears to come!

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Terrestrial Gastropod Mollusk

a.k.a. snail

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Orange-striped Western Ribbon Snake

a.k.a. garter snake

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Green River

The name of the area isn’t kidding, and there are many places along the trails that either overlook or directly access the Green River. We made special note of this spot, which would make an awesome place for wading on a hot summer day.

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Bridge #3

One of the trails is named Three Bridges, although it has four, and all of them are prettier than the one in this picture, so I’m not sure why this is the only bridge picture we took.

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Unexpected!

The service road terminates at this delightful park area along the river, with at least one bench, picnic table, and Honeybucket.

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Local Yokels.

We were very pleasantly surprised to find such a beautiful area so close to home, where we were able to log 7.39 miles.  Even so, there were a few spur trails we didn’t get to, and we will no doubt return over the summer.

Bonus Words! I have named the new RV, and I am so enthralled with my foresight and cleverness, that I must share it with you so that you can validate and praise me. Before I tell you what it is, though, I must say that I find the actual name of the RV “Dutch Star” quite lame. What does that even mean? Our other RV (which is for sale, by the way, if you’re in the market) a Chinook Destiny, we called Arvie, which is a little clever, kind of stupid, but she was our destiny.

Dutch Star, though. Jeez.

I have a notebook in which I keep notes (duh) of all sorts of words and phrases and songs and every little thing that relates to our RV/hiking lifestyle. It includes a list of potential RV names because of course it does. Follow me now:

We chase dirt i.e. we search it out. The RV is an engine-powered way to search out dirt. Ergo, it is a Search Engine, and I’ve had that name written down for a long time.

Search Engine = S.E. = Essie

And the name Essie just so happens to mean Star.

Boom.

 

 

Our Retirement Home

There are some unpleasant universal truths about RVs:

  • They are expensive in every way and will only depreciate in value.
  • Most of them are painted with the “classic” swoosh-n-swirl paint scheme. No one knows why, perhaps to create the illusion of speedy fun.
  • Like any vehicle (or home) they require routine maintenance.
  • They have small kitchens. It’s vacation! Who wants to cook, amirite?
  • Water is their mortal enemy.
  • Many of them employ the old mirrors-to-create-the-feeling-of-spaciousness trick. Except for the narcissists of the world, nobody needs that many mirrors.
  • The interior decorating often is just plain awful.
  • Mice adore them.
  • They usually have a lot of TVs and couches.
  • They have self-contained sewage systems, and require that you occasionally haul your…uhhhh…personal contents around. Then dispose of them. Personally.

There are some unpleasant universal truths about purchasing a used RV:

  • Photos are deceptive and, even without any editing, photos of RVs make them appear much nicer than they are in person.
  • People are deceptive. “Showroom quality!” they claim. “Only one owner!” they assure. “New tires! New batteries! New such-n-such!” they boast. “Don’t worry about the smell of cat pee, we’ll have that taken care of!” were the actual words of one seller as we walked through clumps of baking soda coating the carpet.
  • If you don’t do your homework, you’re going to get taken.
  • Even if you do your homework, you might still get taken.
  • It will take many tries until you find a rig that fits all your needs and wants, and it will still not fit all of your needs and wants because perfection isn’t reality.

Despite all of that seemingly insurmountable negativity, we have been determined to retire as full time RVers in a few more years, and this past weekend we drove to Oregon for the third time in as many weeks, and found our retirement home.

38’ Newmar Dutch Star Diesel Pusher in swoosh-n-swirl Cypress with four slide-outs and only 8300 miles on it.

It seemed to be too good to be true on paper and in the pictures, and I was reluctant to waste another weekend in what would surely be a let-down. TBG talked to the seller a lot. We spent a ridiculous amount of time doing online research about this specific coach (although it is a very well-respected manufacturer, and we have been studying this long enough to know what a potential peach this rig could be.) It turned out to be as clean as advertised, and had even more features than the seller had listed. We’re still pinching ourselves and alternately waiting on tenterhooks, worrying we may have been taken.

But enough of all this for now, you want to see the inside, don’t you? OK, come on in!

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That step raises up to become a flat floor. Please remove your shoes. Thank you.

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Because of our height disparity, we required a 6-way adjustable seat and adjustable pedals. 

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Like so many RVs, it has a TV above the cockpit, not our favorite. This model also has the split windshield, which isn’t as view-friendly as a one-piece, but if you get a crack, it’s a far more affordable fix.

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Both front seats rotate, and the passenger seat is a recliner. 

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The leather sofa is also a recliner with a big storage area under the other half. The carpet looks blue in this pic, but it’s kind of a light silvery-green (cypress.)

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The cloth sofa folds down into a bed and has a large storage drawer underneath.

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Known as the curb side of the rig. Note the mirrored backsplash over the stovetop*

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Known as the street side. Note the mirrors behind the dining table*

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Kitchen with a 3-burner propane stove, microwave-convection oven, double sink, and two extender countertops.

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Dining “room”, the table has two extra leaves and two padded folding chairs that stow away in the bedroom wardrobe.

A pleasant surprise was this computer station area.

The two pantries and the (rather smallish) refrigerator. We’re already thinking of making one of the pantries into a small coat closet.

Something like this. The drawers are removable/adjustable so it wouldn’t need any structural changes.

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Pantry and fridge closed, shower

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Inside the shower with its cute little flip-down seat. Potential future site of Turtle’s box.

Bathroom. The wallpaper and faucet don’t thrill me, but the wallpaper is pristine so not likely to change it anytime soon. The faucet will be a cheap and easy fix soon.

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Street side bedroom slide with a queen-size bed (TBG fits!) and a brand-new tempurpedic topper. Note the mirrored* and padded headboard — both in perfect condition, but not really our style. The bedding here is stock and once our budget recovers from the primary purchase, I’ll be doing some decorating.

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Curbside bedroom slide. (The rolled up carpet doesn’t really live there.)

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Teeny combo washer/dryer and wardrobe. The little RV combo w/d aren’t big enough to handle much, but they can keep you in clean unders at least! Note the mirrored slider doors*

*all of the mirrors are going to get some of that peel-n-stick window film stuff eventually

We overnighted on the way home, and marveled at how much like a house and not like a vehicle it felt. TBG handled the driving like a champ (I drove separately as we didn’t want to tow yet until he had the feel of the rig on its own) and now it is waiting by the side of the house for my weekend driving lessons to begin.

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Critter Crossings

 Today, I crossed paths with a critter that I’ve wanted to meet most of my life but never actually dreamed I would. I could just show you a photo on Instagram or Facebook, but I’d rather make a blog post about all the other intentional critter crossings I’ve had throughout my lifetime before we get to today’s excitement because it’s more fun that way.

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Sittin’ astride Topsy

This is my maternal grandfather supervising a “ride” on Topsy the pony when I was no more than three years old. I remember being terrified to sit on Santa’s lap at that age, but no fear of the ponies!

My childhood was filled with pets of our own, friends and family with pets and farm animals, and an uncle who always had the coolest creatures at his country place. On a trip to Florida at the age of 10, my grandparents took my brother and I to a local amusement park where we rode an elephant. It’s strange that I don’t have photos of that as my grandma was quite the shutterbug.

I do have a picture of the elephant I rode when I was an exchange student to Sri Lanka in 1982.

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In the city square of Kandy, Sri Lanka

And I have a photo of when a group of my Sri Lankan family and I took a trip to Sigiriya Rock and the Dambulla Cave Temples.

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Momma and baby monkey take a treat.

I know now that these probably aren’t the best things for the animals, but I didn’t know that then, especially since I was told the locals took very good care of their elephants, and vendors sold the monkey food right there at Dambulla encouraging visitors to engage. I was a 16-year-old animal nut with a few rupees in my pocket, what can I say?

In a previous post Fort Worden State Park, I talked about how I have no qualms about doing things that are more geared to children when it comes to animals, and I will happily sign up and line up to participate.

Such was the case at the New Orleans Zoo in 1987.

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 There was a tunnel underneath the prairie dog enclosure for kids to crawl through and into the bubble porthole thingie. I was small enough to fit, so I did. I’m standing up straight in that dome, for the record, and those are real prairie dogs that incredibly posed just as the photo was taken.

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Tanya the Leopard, 1989

This one I regret a little bit. Tanya was a leopard that I saw at the town mall in Grand Forks, ND, and I was a sucker who paid for the chance to touch her and have this photo taken. She looks happy, and maybe she was, how can we really say if all she ever knew was people and reliable food and shelter? But I cringe a little inside when I think of “mall” and “leopard” in the same sentence. But, oooohhhh, that fur.

For the next several years, my life was mostly devoid of animals, sadly. Then I — or the we that you, my blog readers know as us — had animals of our own and ventured out into nature a lot more than I had before I was part of us.

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Gray Jay aka Camp Robber in Santa Fe NM

Some folks will give you the side-eye if they see you feeding or enticing these birds, but I won’t be one of them. Since the ornithologists of the world still can’t come to an agreement about whether or not humans should be feeding birds, I’m not gonna sweat this one.

Just over a year ago, I hit the trifecta of doing kid things, feeding, and riding animals.

On our last trip to Palm Springs while visiting the The Living Desert Zoo, I lined up and paid up to feed the giraffes (rough purple tongues!) and ride a camel (very bumpy!) I am conflicted about zoos, both loving and hating them, appreciating and being depressed by them all at the same time. They are my kryptonite, though, because they are guaranteed critter-spotting places.

And speaking of that, we arrive at today. A looooong time ago I read this book

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and I learned about a wonderful critter called a capybara, and then I wanted one. You can acually get them as pets, but it was never something I could seriously entertain. For all the rest of my life, I’ve wished to be able to at least pet one.

Then, one day a few months ago, a friend posted pictures on Facebook of her little boy in a petting zoo with capybaras. Whaaat??!! Turns out, the place was right here where I live and I could go touch them for myself. Plans were quickly made with some friends, and The Day of the Capybara finally arrived.

I knew from reading their website that if you were quiet and just sat down, they were very likely to come lay on you.

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Sitting still was haaaaard.

Here comes Hector!

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He climbed right on!

They sell cups of fresh veggies, and one of my friends got one but was getting swarmed by all the animals and her little girl also wanted to eat the carrots, so she handed the cup to me.

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This got Consuela’s attention, and when they’d eaten all the veggies,

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Consuela, who is bigger, pushed Hector off my lap and took his place. Hector peed on my pant cuff as he was leaving, but I don’t think it was out of spite, I think he just had to go.

Soon I was pinned down by even more friends.

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The babiest of baby goats climbed up between Consuela and me to cuddle, a cavy snuggled next to my leg with its legs over mine at one point, and that calf kept nudging my hand to pet it. The baby goats and cavies seemed to realize I was trapped, and used it to their advantage to try to eat my shoelaces.

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Hector before he was chased off.

There were lots of other critters there, and I did check them all out, though I had to make Consuela move and hand over the goat baby to a woman who was still holding it when we left (purposely hanging onto or picking up the animals isn’t allowed, by the way). The cavies were very cute and soft, and who doesn’t like baby goats? But the capybaras were the stars of the show for me.

I mean, come on.

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Somewhere Near Bend, Oregon

For the past three or so years, since they completed building their beautiful home near Bend, OR, TBG’s big brother (TBB) and sister-in-law (SIL) have been encouraging us to come for a visit. The stars aligned, and we were finally able to make the trip.

This post isn’t going to be about the house, lovely as it is, nor will it really be much about our family time itself, lovely as that was because here’s the problem:  There is no good way to write about your family and be completely honest or funny without crapping on someone’s feelings. It’s hard enough to post pictures of your loved ones sometimes without incurring their wrath. Heed what I say on both of these points! My family normally enjoys my witty scribbling, but it’s like my old pal Stephen King said, “It stops being funny when it starts being you.”

So what this post will mostly be about is what it’s almost always about — the hiking! Oh, I’m sure a bon mot or two will force their way in because, well, me, and just know that if you’re related to us, we talked about you.

Deschutes River Trail, Dillon to Benham Falls

I had bookmarked a few hiking places in the area, but we mainly deferred to the locals to guide us. SIL picked this ±7 mile section of the Deschutes River Trail to get the party started.

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Is this why they call it Bend?

It was not a warm nor sunny day, but we were prepared for that.

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TBB & SIL probably talking about us.

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We were definitely talking about them.

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I think they were talking about me.

Before long, this part of the trail entered the trees and began to climb gently. Because of that, you can put in some distance without much trouble.

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The sun gave it a valiant effort.

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Overlooking Benham Falls

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Overlooking Benham Falls without our big heads in the way.

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Overlooking Benham Falls with ALL of our big heads in the way.

These falls were our destination for the day, although the whole trail is 19 miles total with several access points. We’ll revisit that later.

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Awwww!

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Snowfall.

People who didn’t grow up in the kind of snow where you don’t just get the occasional snow day, but sometimes weeks that then get added onto the summer part of the school year or where you have to clean a foot of snow off your car both before and after work on the same day or where you have to keep your car plugged in or else it will never start or where you couldn’t get out of your house because the snow drift was up to the roof — those people will sometimes exclaim, Don’t you think the snow is SO pretty?! and it’s like they’re punching you in the face.

Being that it was still winter, I could hardly be distressed by the appearance of snow, but I could still whine about it.

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I own them now!

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Snow Canada Geese

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Idiots.

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A real sign for TBG

Back where we started, we decided to sample a new chip flavor and keep going the other direction for 1/4 mile to see Dillon Falls. We rate the new flavor a 7 of 10.

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And there they are.

We rate the falls a 9 of 10. (You all understand that “we” is just me, right?) This area was my favorite of the day, with charming little trails throughout the lava rock. Rumor has it that I’m not alone in my thinking, and this is a popular spot for couples to become engaged.

Saturday

We awoke to find the ground covered in a blanket of snow, with more coming down. I told TBG that we should go back out in the hot tub and take pics of ourselves being Japanese snow monkeys, but we dragged our feet and missed our chance when the snow stopped.

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Snow blind!

After breakfast, we took a walking tour of the Ranch, during which we spotted some jackrabbits chasing one another in the snow, but I wasn’t fast enough to get their pic.

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The Klinkes win!

We stopped into one of the many Ranch buildings for a complimentary snack and a lively game of shuffleboard. Just before we were going to head back to the house, it began to snow. A lot. Gargantuan flakes. I wanted to hurry back to see if we could get some pics of us all being hot spring snow monkeys, so we called the shuttle. It whisked us back home, but the flurries abruptly stopped just as we arrived. There would be no snow monkey pictures this trip, but there would also be no more snow. I was understandably conflicted.

Smith Rock State Park

This park has been on my Wishful Whereabouts List for a long time, and we were waiting for the weather to cooperate, which it kindly did on our third day.

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Popular place

The lots were so full, we had to park near the end of the road, but that had us accessing the ridge trail from a different trail than our hosts had done before.

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TBGuide shirks his duty!

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SIL kindly fills in.

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Descending to the Crooked River

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TBGuide says, “Time to climb!”

It’s not a long climb, but it’s pretty steep.

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Step it up, hikers!

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Misery Ridge

I imagine in the summer, this really would be miserable. We all agreed (really this time) that while it is a physically demanding trail, it’s not a misery.

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Unless you’re afraid of heights.

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Which I am.

Do you see the little ant people? They used to be us.

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We made it!

I would explain why we are posing the way we are, but you kinda had to be there and definitely have to be related to get it.

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Monkey Face

We took a break at the top and had our snacks while we enjoyed the view over the monkey’s head. If you don’t quite see the monkey face, you will in a moment.

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Descendants.

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At the cairn wall.

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Take me to the river.

As we were descending, TBG noticed “something” scurrying through the field across the river. None of us could make out what it was, and we didn’t have binoculars. I did the trick with my camera zoom and focused in on the critter.

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A fat hoary marmot!

SIL and I were hoping to espy some river otters, which are known to frequent this area, but this chubby squirrel was the extent of our mammal spotting.

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Don’t ask.

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TBB picks up TBGuide’s slack.

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Rock Canada Geese

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Looking back at Monkey Face

Do you see it?

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Now?

Hint: It’s facing to the right like it’s going to take a bite out of the rocks. People climb that thing, and were doing so while we were there. In fact, people climb everything in this park, the rock walls studded with anchor points. If you zoom in on many of these photos, you can see all the spider-people dotting the rock faces.

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TBG, SIL, & TBB along the River Trail.

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Beautiful trail.

 This was close to the end of our 5.5 mile hike. According to me, it was the perfect hike and the pièce de résistance of the trip.

Out and About in Bend

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The morning view from the house.

Due to an annoying thing with one of my eyes, I needed to find an eye doctor to get a quick (hahaHA) checkup. That meant bigger hiking plans couldn’t be made, but between TBG, SIL, and me, we each had places we wanted to go or see that allowed us to make a day of it around my appointment (which was conveniently right in the middle of the afternoon! I hate being the problem child.) TBB stayed back to clean the snow monkey hot springs, but planned to meet us later for dinner and a short sunset hike to the top of a local butte.

Our first stop was Beaver Coach Sales, the place we’d stopped on our way back from Great Basin last fall. The fine folks there are keeping an eye out for our retirement home, and the three of us poked around inside a few rigs.

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Future leather crafter.

TBG has decided that a good hobby for him in RV retirement will be leather crafting. We had fun moseying around the warehouse, examining all the different types of leather and petting the resident dog. The curly-coated baby calf skins were awfully soft, and I remarked that I felt bad for the wee ones. SIL insisted they had died of natural causes, and I’m choosing to believe that.

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We revisited the Deschutes River Trail, this time accessing it at one of the urban connectors. I’m not sure how I managed to get a photo with no one in it since there were lots of people making use of it on such a fine day.

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Wish I’d had my running shoes on.

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TBGuide’s last job for this trip.

After about two miles, we followed the trail over a bridge to the other riverbank.

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The trail there was more hiking-like, though a bit cooler in the shade. We traipsed along for a total of about 4 miles, then it was time for my appointment (at which it was determined that nothing serious is wrong with my eye — yay) While I was waiting to see the doc, and TBG and SIL were enjoying special coffee drinks, the clouds had rolled in. It was decided that we would scrap dinner out and the sunset hike in favor of eating in and playing games.

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About that sunset…

Oh, well, it’s all relative, and I am hopeful we will have many more chances to catch this view in the future. I guess that depends on what I write about whom, eh?

Saint Edward State Park

I started this post a few days ago, but I was boring myself to tears with my writing, then I ran out of time to finish. Not publishing an outing within a day or so of it happening violates one of my weird self-imposed rules of posting, not to mention being gasp! boring, but I’m going to pick up where I left off. I’ll try to be more engaging, but if I fail, well, that’s why there are pictures.


We’ve had a bit of a spring-teaser weekend, and no doubt we will encounter coworkers tomorrow whose faces are a bit too pink and muscles a bit too sore. Add in Daylight Saving Time, and we’ll all be a bit too tired. In the upper left corner of the country, we grab warm sunshine by the greedy fistfuls whenever it shows up, but on a weekend? Have mercy.

We took advantage of the weekend’s radiance to check off state park #61.

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This is a park I had been to before over 20 years ago pre-TBG, but it only counts in the Great State Park Grand Scheme if we visit together. As they say, the couple who visits together, stays together. They do say that,  don’t they? They should. It’s pithy.

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Does my butt make this tree look big?

Some of the trails are like you see above — nice, level gravel.

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And some are single-track dirt, but all are pretty darn nice.

There wasn’t a particular trail sign by which TBGuide could pose. The following shenanigans were beyond my control.

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…or are you just happy to be here?

Back off, ladies, he’s all mine!

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Lake Washington

Several of the trails lead down to the shores of Lake Washington where there is a beach area (a no-sand type of beach) but there are a few picnic tables and a restroom (yay).

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You can do it!

TBG took the opportunity to adjust his boots and practice his smile. Does anyone remember the Friends episode about Chandler not being able to smile for photographs?

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TBG has the same problem. We’re working through this difficult situation together.

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Togetherness is where it’s at!

Again, we exchanged photo-taking with another couple enjoying the beach area. There were a lot of people in this area, so it is a bit amazing that none of them showed up in this photo.

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Aggressive owls are the worst!

When they say “be cautious” what do you think they mean? Tiptoe? Whisper? Some concrete pointers on what not to do would’ve been more helpful.

After we climbed back up from the beach and away from the raptor attack zone, we headed for The Grotto.

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Galloping to the Grotto

Any time we have visited a grotto, and this isn’t the first time believe it or not, I can’t help but sing “in the Grottoooohhhh” to the tune of  Elvis’ “In the Ghetto.” TBG thinks it’s hilarious. When I say hilarious, I mean he tells me to quit it.

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In the Grottoooohhhh!

This particular grotto used to be used as a place of prayer when the seminary was still active, and there was a statue of a saint on that pedestal. I can’t remember which saint it was, but I do remember it wasn’t Saint Edward, which I thought was curious. These days, this area is a popular place for weddings.

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Dedicated to Saint Edward the Confessor

According to my research, a real estate group will be converting this building to a hotel. I can only imagine that some of the expansive lawn is going to become more parking lots. There is also an indoor pool that has been closed for several years, and if the hotel people don’t refurbish it, they’re fools.

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The path of least resistance.

We took one more trail loop before calling it a day. There are about seven miles of trails in the park, and we did about five of them. We should have gone the other way in this photo, and then we would’ve gotten closer to the seven mile mark.

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But who’s counting?