Getting Grubby

Rain pounding on Brave Horatio’s roof at four am signaled a wet morning.  Good thing we travel with the batwing–too bad we didn’t deploy it yesterday.

After the first points are attached you can work mostly in the dry and it wasn’t raining hard. We were soon drinking coffee and breakfasting on eggs, bacon and polenta while the rest of the camp slept.

Brane Horatio and the batwing (after my adventure in the creek)

We drank after-breakfast cocoa and read in our new camp rockers while the rest of the camp woke. I’m loving our rockers!

Bill joined a group doing some infrastructure work and I headed off to find the creek. Down the newly cut trail, past the treehouse/zen tea room (deer blind) and into DNR forest. There was a scrambly bit to a lower trail. I could see I should have kept going to the switchback. Reminder for return leg.

The trail got a little narrower and a little more scrambly. Pretty clearly marked though and definitely heading downward toward the creek.

I like a good scramble.

My phone had a dead battery so I left it charging at camp. So sad. I wanted to take pictures of the rock cairns I built (one in the middle of a log that spanned the creek).

Looking upstream, the devil’s club was beautiful with the sun behind it. There were also a couple steep banks covered in maidenhair fern. So lovely.

That devil’s club…I was careful. I used two sticks to move those spiky stems so I could climb under and over logs and make my way up the creek. I came out mostly unscathed. Sure felt the couple that got me though.

I wandered up the creek a bit–walking through the water, picking up stones, trying to outsmart the devil’s club, and generally having a relaxing, enjoyable time.

Finally the devil’s club looked to be turning into a thicket and I started to think about heading back. I could have retraced my steps, but a maple and an alder had both fallen down the bank about a foot apart. I thought I could walk up assisting myself with my hands–maybe one leg on each trunk.

Um. No.

Did I mention that the creek was in a ravine? Not particularly deep, but pretty damn steep. At a guess it was a 60-70 degree slope from the creek to the trail. But there were those tree trunks and I like a scramble.

The alder had little broken off limbs on it’s underside every couple of feet. I started out with both feet on one side and my arms around it hauling on those little stubs. The bank was nearly vertical. I ended up astride the trunk on my belly, which worked great until the stubs stopped.

I was more than half-way up. It looked even steeper from here. A dirty slide back to the creek or an impossible-looking inching to the top. I’d stopped right over a pretty vigourous seep. Neat moss and other tiny, tiny plants. Good reason to rest and take them in.

I decided on up.

There were lots of ferns and the base of sword ferns are pretty solidly adhered. I planted my feet, hugged that trunk and inched upward.

It’s an interesting viewpoint and one I don’t think I’d experienced before. Looking down seemed far steeper than it had from the bottom. I looked up into the underside of a large artist conk. Bright white and glowing in the sun. It looked like the path was just the other side of the stump that was hosting it.

A few more thoughtful rests. A few more slow foot placements and slower pressing upward. A final foot on a final friendly sword fern and I was up!

I backtracked along the little trail, passing the point where I’d scrambled down heading for that switchback. The trail just kind of ended so I bushwacked.

I couldn’t get lost. Not a chance. The camp was up. Just up. And the slope was wimpy now that I was over the lip of the ravine.

The trail and I converged and I waltzed back to camp. Wet, thoroughly grubby, and triumphant.

Covid-Conscious Camping

I like working at my office surrounded by other interesting people. I like to explore ideas in coffee rooms and hallways and over cube walls.

I love my team and interacting with folks who do very different work from me. Discovering differing perspectives and different approaches always adds value to what I do.

Back in October, well before Covid, my office space was dismantled and everyone was sent home to work while our new space was configured. That,  of course took much longer than anticipated. I was looking forward to moving into new work digs mid-March…which, of course, didn’t happen.

Instead Bill moved his office into our other spare bedroom and we started commuting upstairs together every morning

I begrudged work intruding into my home when it was due to a poorly planned move. Doing my bit to slow the spread of a pandemic just makes me grateful.

Both Bill and I have jobs and can do those jobs from home. Our kids are adults living on their own. Their old bedrooms are some of the largest rooms in our house and make pretty pleasant workspaces. We’re lucky and we know it.

We both work in Public Health and take modeling safe behavior seriously. We’ve been staying home except for twice a month grocery runs and at least weekly dinner pickup from local restaurants. (and that one day we popped out to buy Freya.)

Socializing has included weekly Zoom meetings with friends, less frequent Zoom or Skype with family and a lovely curbside cocktail hour with our across the street neighbors at least once a week (kind of like a reverse parade, we each stay on our side of the street and wave at the occasional car.) We’ve also been singing “What A Wonderful World” on our front porch at 6pm every evening since March 29.

We miss playing music with friends and miss camping.

Today we’re headed off to do both!

Did I mention that we’re lucky?

Mark,  Jess, and Julie recently organized the purchase of some camp land with a group of friends.  We opted out of buying in, but are joining them there this weekend.

The weather forecast is iffy so this might be the first auquacamp weekend of the year.

Bill missed the Purdy Cutoff so we thought we’d take the Skokomish River Road. Despite the large official looking sign, you can’t use it. You get ready to turn, notice it’s a dirt track with daisies down the middle, drive past, turn around, decide dirt tracks can be delightful, make the turn and see the large no trespassing/no motorized vehicles signs. Brave Horatio’s diminutive size made it possible to ooch ourselves around and head back to the Purdy Cutoff.

Past Two Margaritas and The Robinhood watching kayakers in the canal and the beautiful Olympics.

We knew we were ahead of our hosts so we checked out Belfair State Park. We’re headed there with Ben, Alex and their folks in August.

We’re going to have so much fun.

Three of the 9 spots were occupied when we pulled in.  Jess and Mark directed us to campsite 3 and we bounced between setting up and checking out the camp.

Flamingos guard Jess and Mark’s campsite

Beautiful Dreamer’s spot is tucked in among Doug fir, cedar, and huckleberry. He’s got a flagpole out front that flys a number of Caribbean and yachting flags. He also has his very own shed and yard decorations. Pretty fancy.

We all tried to keep a six-foot distance and generally suceeded. Bill and I sang “What a Wonderful World” at six pm as we have since March 29. We usually sing on our front porch. Today our front porch was the woods.

It was nice to be outside our house and yard. It was nice to be in the middle of trees. It was nice to eat dinner around a campfire. It was more than nice to play music and sing around that fire before heading off to bed.


Success! The Shropshire rock is in the car. I earned my granola and coffee this morning.

We checked the tidetable and headed into Crescent City and Battery Point Lighthouse. The lighthouse is on a tiny island, but as long as you visit when the tide is low you can just walk across a little beach.

It’s an oddity on the Pacific Coast, a Cape Code style lighthouse where the keeper’s house is built around the light. Most of our lights stand beside their houses.

We timed it right and didn’t even get wet crossing the sand (not even me with my typical nonlinear movement. Rock! Seaweed! Thing!).

When the Battery Point Light was decommissioned, the property was transferred to the historical society. Volunteers live there now, a couple weeks at a time. I think the house has never been vacant. Kind of neat.

It’s a sweet little house with interior walls that curve around the light. Cozy. Some of the volunteers were more eager than accurate and some dwelt on odd details like the framed hair weavings. The upstairs living quarters was an odd mix of period furnishings, two barcaloungers and a TV.

We went up the light and looked out. It still functions as an auxillary light, so volunteers work to clean all the glass and keep things running.

I bought a copy of The Extraordinary Voyage of the Kamome: A Tsunami Boat Comes Home, written by Lori Dengler and Amya Miller and illustrated by Amy Uyeki. This sweet picture book tells the true story of a Japanese high school’s boat that ended up in Crescent City a few years after a tsunami. School kids from both countries got to know each other as the California kids restored the boat and eventually returned it to Japan. My copy is going to Kiyoko and Anthony.

We seem to have left the cameras, and even phones at home, though I clearly remember taking pictures. hmmmm.

We met neighboring campers at lunch. They’re attracted to pubs too.

Rocks, snakes, and trees

Rambled to the river with Bill. He patiently waited for shots with his long lens while I walked the rocks and made cairns.  The  sun was shining and it was so peaceful and lovely.

I was startled by a snake. A long snake. Bill took its portrait.

Head left, tail right

We packed sandwiches and drove the length of Howland Hill Road stopping for short walks along the way. Zipped through Crescent City back to a nap in Brave Horatio.

Redwoods have beautiful bark

Bill on a happy photo walk

…and make their own sculptures

A game of cribbage and goat stew rounded out our day.

Our across the road neighbors are on a six-week camping trip—LA to Canada. Nice ladies with two big dogs (Pearl was the one with the pink sweater.)

Solo endeavors and communal songs

Moved the rock to the top of the rocky scramble. Feeling good about my strategy. Picked up some smaller rocks for Kari. I think they might reappear as necklaces.

Ran into Crescent City for gas. Happy to be back in the woods full of bacon and eggs and polenta.

We walked the Simpson Reed Grove, drove the little road until it ended in a boat launch sand bar, and hiked the Myrtle Creek Trail into the botanical area.

Simpson Reed Grove

Myrtle Creek Botanical Trail

I really liked this trail. It follows the course of a mining ditch up the hill. There are interpretive signs about the vegetation and mining. We tossed pebbles into a mine shaft filled with water. It took a satisfyingly long moment for them to plop. The maintained trail stops at a little myrtle creek beach and the looser trail continues onward.

Singing and bed preceded by tuna poke!

Equisetum makes a fine whistle

Smith River has more than redwoods

Yesterday, I found a rock down by the river. Well, I found lots of rocks and, as always some rock hearts and other small lovelies came home in my pocket. But–this was a rock, not a pebble. I could lift it and even carry it, but it was heavy. Looked a bit like a piece of Shropshire blue cheese all golden with veins of bluey-green, white, and gray. That rock wanted to come home with me. I lugged it to the next clump of bushes and put it to bed.

Early this morning I took my coffee and went back to the river. I was surprised by the vast multitude of bushes. I found and old metal plate, an empty crawdad shell, more neat rocks, a cool bit of bark, a tiny patch of iris growing in the rocks and sand…and…at last…my rock. Brought it two bush clumps closer and triangulated better. I have a strategy.

Still life with tin plate and last months carapace

Bill and I explored the riverbank. He took pictures and I made discoveries.

We walked to and through Stout Memorial Grove. Such huge and peaceful trees. Truly a cathedral of a forest. It’s interesting to see how fire appears to melt their bark. I guess fire makes the trees produce that bulbous, curvy, melted looking bark. We saw mergansers up close and Mark learned about equisetum whistles. Equisetum makes a fine whistle!

…and it has beautiful Redwoods

Went back in the evening and moved the rock all the way to the base of the short rocky hill. Tomorrow we move upward. There was that moment when I looked from the last brush clump across the sand to the base of the trail. It looked a lot longer from that perspective. I walked to the edge of the river. Tossed in some pebbles, breathed, and walked back. I crouched, hugged shropshire to my chest and stepped out and out and out each step longer than the last.

On reaching the base of the rock jumble that lead to the trail, I swung the rock out and up a bit, overbalanced and landed on my butt. Luckily the rock didn’t land on me, I steered it a bit to the side. Whump! Naturally nestled next to the little pool.

I looked hastily around. Couldn’t see anyone obviously laughing at my grace. Back to camp.

Brave Horatio in the Redwoods

Hot dogs and baked beans and music around  the campfire…this time at Jess and Mark’s …one space farther away from the camp host.


Oh, and I took a picture of a log that looks like a slug.

Southbound down the Oregon Coast

Coffee morning on the beach

Sunset Bay, one of my favorite beaches

Bill and I brought our coffee down to the beach to enjoy the low tide. Sunset Bay is a nearly perfect semicircle cupped in sandstone bluffs and fronted by a sandy sloping beach. Seagulls were feasting on a quadrapus, a couple of Canada Geese were wading, and we found a fossil fall, Katy chiton, giant chiton (gum boot), and a dead mossy chiton. I’m excited by the mossy—their inner shells are lavender-turquoise-green. Lovely little kite shapes that I’m going to incorporate in the Cormorant Woman mask I’m carving.

Bill headed back to camp and I went rock hopping toward the ocean. I saw a group of folks way out. They had five-gallon buckets and were intent on gathering something.

Turns out they were a group of first grade teachers out on the low tide rocks early on a Sunday morning collecting critters for the first grade salt-water tank. A mom with her little-littles was finding treasures nearby. The smallest gifted me with a tiny purple snail shell. We looked at it together, noticed that it was alive in there and put it back on a rock. I went back to camp happy.

Dedicated first grade teachers
Sunset Bay — textures and shapes

Mid-day gardens and pinnipeds

We left the trailers and drove to Shore Acres and Simpson Reef.

The gardens are always lovely and it was fun to introduce Mark and Jess to them.

There were several elephant seals and the usual assortment of Stellar’s and California sea lions and harbor seals hauled out on Simpson Reef. Not a very big group and there weren’t any surfers. Can’t have everything.

When we got back to camp, the folks across the street were cleaning off their campspace with a yard blower. Cleaning the forest. Well huh.

Hooking up and heading south

Yes, they were blowing the forest clean

We hooked up and headed for Bandon via Seven Devils (which I’m pretty sure some precogs named after me and my six siblings. Hi mom and dad!) and Beaver Hill.

We took the low road into town to view the twig art and found easy parking in the dirt lot across from the boat basin.

Brave Horatio and Daydream Believer found a friend. We had our own teardrop row.

Fish tacos at Tony’s for lunch of course. Then a stroll around old town. I’ve never seen anyone eat so much sugar—I thought Jess and Mark were so healthy. Ice cream and fudge and cookies. They explained that they are on vacation.

We dipped into Washed Ashore. I love introducing new people to my favorite places.

Off to look at the lighthouse and Coquille bar. Not very rough today.

We took Beach Loop out of town. You can’t just pop into Face Rock Wayside when you’re towing a trailer, even tiny teardrops. There just wasn’t room to park.

We had pretty weather all the way down the coast. We braved the wind out to Cape Blanco. Crazy strong as it is most of the time. The lighthouse was closed. Around Humbug Mountain, past Prehistoric Gardens, and on down the coast. All our fruits and veg were grocery store purchased so we breezed through the bug station and into All Star Liquors. 

Raising the tone of All Star Liquors parking lot

I still couldn’t convince Bill that we should pay $600 for the brandy in the Lalique bottle or $300 for the (much cheaper) pear brandy with the blown-glass pear inside. Sad. I expect they’ll still be there next time I visit.

On to Jedediah Smith campsite 8. Mark and Jess were next door in number 6, complete with an amazing Redwood that we could all stand inside. 

Jedediah Smith State Park — Redwoods!

We made a campfire at our site and dined on fish, zukes and onion (Jess does em with bay leaf and basil oil—delicious), and an avocado, mango and onion salad. We drank a gorgeous bottle of Cadence Red Blend gifted to me as a graduation present—thank you Barbara B—that was mighty fine wine!

Guitars and whistles came out. We sang, washed dishes, enjoyed the fire, and got scolded by the camp host for our “noise” though it wasn’t yet 10 and people often pay us to sing. We continued quietly, quietly talking and giggling around the fire before tucking in.

We heard owls—so lovely!

“Why it ain’t no bigger than a bar of soap!”

Spring Trip to the Redwoods in concert with Daydream Believer, day 1

Last night was First Friday, but we bailed out early (about 10:30). Jess and Mark said the last folks left by 11:30, so they got some sleep too.

We hooked up Brave Horatio and were on the road by 7:30, having breakfasted on muffins and lattes. 

Beautiful morning—we traded a few texts to keep track of each other and met for lunch in Cottage Grove.

Brave Horatio parking with the big boys at a rest stop on the way to Cottage Grove

As we drove in I realized that Opal Whitely grew up in Cottage Grove. Brave Horatio was, kind of, home.

On the way out of town we passed an Opal Whitely mural. Next time we’re going to try to get a picture of Brave Horatio by the mural.

Highway 38 through Drain was still very much showing signs of its struggle with the big snow last winter. It was clearer than when were through a month ago but there were still many trees down across every single slope and ample evidence of all the slides.

The weather started to cloud up on the coast side but it was beautiful as usual all the way down. I love the McCollough bridges on the Oregon Coast and always like the approach to my home town—Bandon.

Low tide at Sunset Bay

We didn’t quite go that far today. We stopped for the night at Sunset Bay State Park. Very small campsites and close together—nice nonetheless. The campground is tucked on the land side an easy stroll from Sunset Bay—my favorite beach.

I’ve enjoyed picnics and other day trips to Sunset Bay, but, since we lived less than 20 miles away, I’d never camped there.

I took off immediately to check in with my folks. Dad was at the beginning of treatment for esophageal cancer. They couldn’t join us for the campfire dinner we’d planned months ago, but I was happy to be able to exchange hugs and deliver soup.

While I was gone, Mark napped and Jess and Bill went into Charleston and bought delicious lingcod fresh off one of the boats. We had amazing fish tacos for dinner.

Mark, Jess , and me eating pistachios around the campfire

The Sunset Bay Campground host was an elderly lady from a southern state. She did a double-take when she saw Brave Horatio and exclaimed, “Why it ain’t no bigger than a bar of soap!”

Another comfy night cuddled up warm in Brave Horatio.

Wood Nymphs and Oysters and Slugs, Oh My!

Camping on Hood Canal, day 2

SealRock Campground

The new griddle Bill and I purchased with too little forethought fit Jess and Mark’s stove perfectly.

We drove to Falls View Campground (which was closed for camping) and walked to the Falls View Canyon trailhead.

The short loop had beautiful views of the falls and the canyon trail was so pretty. It ended in a little cove where a creek entered the Quillcene River.

I balanced across a couple logs onto the little beach. My goal was an inviting boulder. I wanted to sit on top. That rock was so smooth.

Too smooth for my shoes. Too smooth for my bare feet.

If the others weren’t around I might have hugged that rock to my belly and tried to squirm up, but even I have some boundaries—if I’d been more certain of success I would have tried anyway. Soaking my feet in the cool water was a nice backup prize. 

Mark put his hand on a slug then Jess found the same slug. It brought back memories of barefooting up the bluff from Bandon beaches. That cool, oozy, smooshy feeling with the lingering goo.

Bill, Jess, and Mark took the extra half-mile loop but Carol and I started back up the hill (we’re slower). Gerald caught up with us near the top and we chatted with each other and with other hikers while we waited.

There were some little daisies nearby so I started to braid them. There weren’t enough so I added other bits of the forest until I had a wreath. Gerald took portraits of everyone who wore the wreath and we were lovely. (Julie arrived just before dinner so her wreath was a bit wilted.)

After some water and a snack lunch, I read homework and took a long walk on the beach. Sitting in the sun at the edge of the canal watching boats and birds and people—lazy and lovely.

When I got back to camp Bill was asleep in the hammock, Carol was snoozing in her chair with her hat over her face and no one else was around. I joined the nappers. Brave Horatio makes a snug nest.

When I woke up, a bit muzzy, I attempted to teach Carol cribbage.

Funny how something you just DO becomes difficult when you actually think about it. I second-guessed myself over the number of cards to deal, forgot to put the cut card face up, forgot to include it in pointing… and on and on.

With the help of my phone and quite a bit of shamefaced flapping we finally got down to playing and Carol won.

Bill, Gerald, and Mark went on an oyster run to the Hamma Hamma Oyster Company. Julie arrived and set up camp, then moved camp—picking up her fully deployed tent and walking it across the street.

Jess woke up from her long nap and we had a fantastic dinner of grilled Hamma-Hamma oysters, grilled salmon, potato salad, asparagus, green salad, and zuchinni. Yum, yum, and yum.

We’re headed home tomorrow. Grateful for the weekend and a little envious of Julie, Jess, and Mark’s additional night