Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Elk in Orick

As we were driving north on US 101 through Orick to go to Fern Canyon, we passed a lot of cars and people on the side of the road. Sure enough there were Elk in a yard and an adjacent field. And of course we stopped too!

I guess if you live in this little yellow house you are used to the herd. I don't see any flowers planted anywhere.

The herd was a mix of cows and bulls. Some were lying down in the field next to the house.

Some were peacefully grazing.









Until this big bull came from behind the house. Then the cows started moving around more and the smaller bulls went across the road to the field.

He did some serious sniffing.

And some canoodling. 

But from the look in her eye I would guess she was thinking: "Not today mister."

He followed her around for a while like a randy stud at a sleazy bar, trying to convince her to give him a tumble. He was ready.

A little later, when the cow in question went over a small fence to get away, this slightly smaller bull also made a bugle "pass" at her. Or, perhaps, he was mocking the big bull's lack of a "score." 

I always enjoy seeing the wild creatures living their lives while ignoring the people watching them. So, if you are driving in Elk country and see lots of cars on the side of the road, there are probably Elk to be seen. But don't get too close, they are dangerous at this time.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

A Return to Fern Canyon

 We visited the Redwood National Park area in July of 2012, on one of our earliest RV trips with the Alfa. I remembered one of the places we saw was called Fern Canyon and I knew I wanted to visit it again.


The drive in to the Canyon parking area is a rather rough eight mile road through a forest that had been logged of its old growth redwoods many years ago.

The new growth trees, around the big stumps,  are very tall, but not very wide. 

Fern Canyon is a stream bed that carved its way through the sandstone creating high walls that are covered with many kinds of ferns. I once read they filmed part of Jurassic Park (the movie) here, and it really did feel like it could be on an unpopulated island.

Craig taking a picture shows the height of the walls.













In the picture below I am wearing a mask because there were other people around, and even though we were outdoors and we tried to keep our distance, we masked up for COVID protection.  Most other hikers do too, but there are always some who do not.

Although it is in a park, and a very popular place to visit, the stream bed trail is not "developed". There is no "trail", and you have to cross the stream many times to go up the canyon. There are some logs that a well balanced hiker can traverse, but once you have gotten your feet wet, it is easier to just splash across a shallow place.

By now, you know I love to take pictures of weird trees.

This one was on the top edge of the canyon wall.

We also noticed this funny tree on our walk back to the Jeep. I don't know what kind of tree it was, but its double trunk and graceful curves with ferns growing on its sides made it look like it had been caught doing a fancy dance.

The coastal areas of Washington, Oregon, and Northern California are among my favorite places to visit. Life seems closer to nature here. So many great short hikes to take.

We will be back!

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Lady Bird Grove

We only have a few more days to immerse ourselves in the lush forests of the Northwest before returning to the high desert of Aguanga for the winter months. 

Saturday was a beautiful day to visit the redwoods. Although the fog was heavy at the beaches, the sun was shining and the temperature was near 70° at the Lady Bird Redwood Grove, located in the Redwood National Park, in Northern California.

You could get a stiff neck here very easily. It's a good thing the trail is wide and free of rocks and roots.

The tops of these giants looked very healthy from below.

You can't help but pose for the classic standing next to the big tree picture .

Or, standing inside the burned out base of a living Redwood.

Many of the trees showed burn scares from past wildfires. Because of their size, moisture content, and thick bark, a redwood can survive a wildfire. The picture above is of only the middle portion of the trunk of a fire-damaged tree. There was just as much trunk below this section, and where the split ended there was significant healthy, living growth going up.

Most of the old growth trees are alive and well. As the natural cycle goes, some have fallen and are decaying to nourish the forest floor. I found this dead trunk interesting because although seemingly dead, broken off, and deteriorating on the bottom, it supported a healthy growth of new plants and/or branches on its top.

Experiencing the magnitude of the forest as a whole is memorable and will sustain my heart in dark future times. I also tried to stop for a moment to savor the perfection of the symmetry and fresh greenness of the needles in the dappled sunshine.

It is hard to take a picture of an entire redwood while walking among them. This was taken in the parking lot where I could get far enough away to capture the full height. 

Although the trees in this grove are impressive, they are not the largest, or the oldest. We will be seeing more in the next few days.

Friday, October 2, 2020

North California Coast


I got the location of the park, where we're staying this week, a little wrong. 

We left Port Orford Thursday and headed south. I wanted to end our summer trip with a stop in the Redwoods. Looking at a much larger map, it looked to me like Azalea Glen RV Park was almost on the edge of Redwood National Park land. In the online blurb it was described as "forested oasis offering RV sites with fire pits, picnic tables & flowers".

Actually it is somewhat southwest of the Redwoods. We are right across from Patrick Point State Park.  which has many great forest hikes. They don't have just Redwoods. It looks like Douglas Firs dominate here.

The best place to walk among the giant redwoods, Prarie Creek State Park, is about 20 miles north. We drove through them.  Oh well, we have the Jeep, and several drives back and forth are not a problem.

One of the reasons I made a week-reservation in advance, was so that we would know where we would be after Port Orford, so we could have our ballots sent to us. This did work out, they were in the park office when we arrived, and Friday we took them to the Trinidad Post Office.

When we got up in the morning there was quite a bit of fog in the air.

We waited until almost noon when it seemed like it was starting to clear.

But in Trinidad on the Pacific shore, the fog was still quite heavy. 






Our hike today was the Trinidad Head Trail, which was said to have spectacular views.

The hike itself was up and around the Head along a tunnel-like, hedge-lined path.

Breaks in the foliage, that normally provide ocean views, were totally socked in.

But even with the fog, it is a great trail and we felt we got a nice bit of exercise.

As we came back down, the fog seemed to clear just enough to let us get a tantalizing glimpse of the bay below.

We noticed this dove in the fog. He didn't seem to mind that there was no view!

We will be redwood-bound on Saturday.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

More from Port Orford

A few days ago we went on a short hike along the Francis Schrader Trail, where there are still old growth Cedars and Douglas Firs. 

Looking up at these natural giants reminded me of how fragile, yet how powerful human beings are. 


Currently, wildfires are ripping through forest land. This old tree was burned in a fire over 100 years ago, and yet it survived and is still growing. We can't say the same for those that were clear-cut harvested in the past. We have seen many old growth stumps on our hikes in preserved areas. 

It will be a couple hundred years before any of the smaller trees around them will tower like they do. But given a chance, they will.

These two giant dead cedars may stand for many years before a storm brings them down if humans don't fell them first. We learned that when the trees die it can take several hundred years for them to fall and fully decay.

These two were killed by a non-native fungal disease that is being spread by bark beetles.







This was another interesting sight. Part way up the trunk of this living Cedar tree was a charred, blown out place. We could not see the back of the tree, but it probably went all the way around. 

The only explanation we could think of was that perhaps the tree was struck by lightning that it traveled down the trunk before exploding out at this point. 

The tree is surrounded by other giants, and perhaps they are holding it up while the living part of the tree continues to grow. If anyone else has any ideas on this, we welcome them to comment.

It was another beautiful walk!

On our way back to Port Orford we stopped at an overlook for "Sisters Rocks".

A few days later we returned to hike down to the rocks below.

The hike was short and not difficult, but I had a headache so only went part way.

You could not see this part of the southern shoreline from above at the overlook, but we could from the path.

As I enjoyed the sea air while sitting on a nice rock part way down the path, Craig went further down and then climbed up to look into the hidden sea cave.  Look for the blue of his jeans.

I was glad Craig had his phone with him, so he was able to share what he saw with me. I had our larger camera up top.

And through the magic of modern photography, I am able to share this gorgeous northerly view taken from my resting spot. 

I feel like we are hiding out, or just passing time, as we sit in this sleepy little Oregon coastal town, Port Orford. This, our sixth summer of full time travel sure didn't turn out as we had planned. But then there is the old expression "RV plans are written in Jello". 

I feel very fortunate to be able to do what we are doing. We feel safe, and I am trying very hard to focus on the smaller good things in my life rather than the big picture. 

It is all I can do.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Radish Tacos and a Walk

I'm starting this post a little different. The following Radish Taco recipe is healthy, tasty, economical, and easy. Even most small groceries will have what you need to make it. Although the green onions I was able to buy at the Port Orford grocery store were a bit sad, the big beautiful radishes were great.

 For Tacos: 

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 can black beans
  • 6-10 radishes
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • corn tortillas.

For Crema: 

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt

You will also need a food processor and a frying pan.

Put all the ingredients for the Crema into a food processor and pulse to combine. Set aside. 

Rinse and drain the black beans, wash and dice the radishes, and slice the green onions.

Heat olive oil in fry pan over medium heat, and sauté green onions for a short while. Add radishes and continue to cook until they are tender and start to lose color.  Add beans and stir often until they are warmed through. Remove from pan and keep warm.

Clean pan, add a tiny amount of oil and warm tortillas a few at a time as required.


To serve, put some bean/radish mixture onto a warm tortilla, top with avocado crema, fold and eat. We find this recipe yields about 8 tacos. Enough to satisfy us without any additions or leftovers.

I know this recipe was not from my childhood; Craig says it came as a Allrecipes email. Actually we didn't eat Tacos in my parents' house, and tortillas were not available in a regular grocery store. I'm glad times have changed.

The Walk:

On Tuesday, we woke to bright sunshine peeking through the slats of the blinds. Sure enough, the slight breeze overnight had blown away the smoke and fog. I knew just where to go for a nice walk, back to Humbug Mountain State Park to try out another of its trails. This time it was the "Fern Trail".


It was another beautiful walk.  

Uphill to the same place as our last hike,  but easy because most of it was on the pavement of old US 101, and the altitude gain was spread over a mile instead of a quarter mile.

I guess it is called the Fern Trail because there are a lot of ferns growing there. The road cut gives them just enough light to flourish.

Instead of turning around and walking back down the 101 grade, we came down on the Amphitheater Trail, which we were on last week. A bit hard on the old knees, but so pretty it was worth it.

The trailhead parking lot is on the side of the busy highway 101, but the trail goes under through a culvert tunnel. It was so nice to get out again after so many days of hiding from the wildfire smoke.

In memory of our friend Judy Bell:
The End

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Labor Day Weekend in Port Orford

Wednesday, 9:00 AM, Port Orford, Oregon.

The sky is yellow with smoke. Not a good day to go hiking!

We stayed in the Alfa over the Labor Day weekend in order to avoid people from other places who came to the coast for the cool air. In general, the local people seem to be practicing good preventive behaviors by wearing masks and keeping social distancing. You cannot enter a store without a mask.  In many stores, if you do you are given one. There have been no deaths in this county. I wonder why?

On Friday, after a hike in the woods, we drove past Battle Rock Wayside and I notice there were a lot of people there, some without masks. Tourists? Or just people who felt safe outdoors? We always carry masks, but I admit, we only put them on outdoors when other people are near. It is really hard to know what is the best approach.

Our hike was up the Amphitheater trail in Humbug Mountain State Park. It was short, just two miles, but the first 1/2 mile was a pretty steep climb.  We learned that the trees with lots of side branches are Grand Firs.



One of the little things we have seen on our walks.






Tuesday was a bit smoky. The sun was a big red disc when it was just over the trees in the morning, but the air did not seem too bad. 

We went over to the Battle Rock Wayside and went for a walk on the beach.  The weekend crowd was gone. The temperature was warm, and best of all there was no wind.

 Not a pretty blue sky, but pretty good ROCKS! We learned that 20,000 years ago the coastline was ten miles further out. The stacks and rocks are the result of erosion leaving harder rocks exposed. Someday they too will be gone. 

It did seem strange that there were very few seagulls on the beach this day. We did see a mob of crows, and two of these red billed Black Oystercatchers. 




We also went to the "port" of Port Orford. 

Unlike many places it did not have a marina full of leisure boats.

The boat storage area was quite high over the water. Two large cranes are used to lift them into the water. There were about 20 fishing boats on the dock. 

We plan to enjoy local fish and chips from the "Crazy Norwegian's" for dinner tonight. We pick them up and bring them back to the Alfa to eat. Just trying to stay safe, and we hope all of our friends and readers are doing the same.

'Til next time ....