Thursday, October 28, 2010

These Boots Are Made For Walking

Ummm…I succumbed to the current fashion. How non-damselfly-like of me, huh? I got a pair of pirate boots…er, knee boots. These ones:


They’re Blondo Marias and way more feminine than my usual footwear. They are also waterproof and have velvet lining in the front for warmth. I blame it all on T-Man. He took me to the mall so we could go see the “RED” movie with Bruce Willis et al. We were early. We walked around the mall. I tried these on. They stuck to my feet and wouldn’t let me go until I paid for them. Not cheap so I hope they last longer than the fad itself. At least my legs will be warm and dry this winter! A reward for finally having clear skin.

Oh. The movie was great too. Lots of bullets but also great characters and an actual plot that one could follow. Helen Mirren with a submachine gun. ’Nuff said. We had popcorn for dinner.

One more FO for you:

Alien’s Frogimono

Aliens Frogimono

For: my impending granddaughter

Begun: Sometime in late September, 2010 (forgot to note!)

Completed: October 9, 2010

Yarn: SRK On Your Toes Limited Edition 4-ply sock yarn with aloe vera, 75% superwash wool/25% nylon, colour 3821, dyelot 2274, 100g = 360m. 1 ball. Small amount of hand-dyed Sisu needed to finish neckline.

Needles: Addi Lace circulars, 3 mm

Pattern: Garter Stitch Baby Kimono by Joji Locatelli (free Ravelry download). Size: 1-3 months.

Aliens Frogimono detail Comments: I chose the second size because I want her to be able to wear this sweater all this winter. I nearly finished it with one ball but ran out just at the end of the second sleeve. I did buy a ball of purple yarn in Jo-Ann’s in Lincoln City, OR thinking to finish with that while we were on vacation but it didn’t look as well as I’d hoped. Luckily I have lots of sock yarn scraps in my stash so this one in aqua-greens coordinated quite well. However I did get the cute buttons at that store so all was not in vain.

Frog button detail This pattern is quite easy to knit though it’s a little confusing to be working the sleeves flat with the seam on the top rather than under the arm. The mattress stitching of the garter edges went quite well – once I got the hang of choosing a top loop on one side and a bottom loop on the other and keeping consistent. It’s nearly invisible when blocked (although one of the stripes doesn’t quite match up properly, but who’s going to notice?). I crocheted the ties with doubled yarn and they ended up kind of curly. A bit fiddly to tie but hopefully it’ll give her a little extra growing room.

I’m nearly finished another baby sweater, this time for my new grand-niece. (Her parents read this blog and they know I’m making it but haven’t seen it yet.) She’s too teensy for it anyway! She will grow into it quickly though, I’m sure. Coming soon.

It ended up being quite sunny yesterday and I managed to finish clearing the pots off the deck and putting them into the greenhouse for the winter. I also cleared out some of the plants in the dye garden, added lime (because most of the dye plants like it) and planted fall rye where the coreopsis was. No need to leave bare dirt over the winter to wash away in the rain. I’ll probably pull out most of the woad too as soon as I harvest the last of it for one more try at blue. I think the weather is supposed to be ok tomorrow so maybe I’ll do it then. I’d like to take it just to extraction and then try to save the indigo as sludge or dry it all the way to powder. I’ll see how that goes. I just don’t have anything that I want to dye right this minute.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Weather or Not

We’ve been having lots of rain for the last few days. It feels odd after last week’s warm sunshine and definitely inching more towards winter. The gorgeous leaves are sadly beginning to fall in earnest. At least I managed to get more than half of the garden sorted before the rains came. I’m actually enjoying the break and my neck, wrists and particularly my right hip are thanking me. But I so want to finish the job! I was even dreaming of pulling weeds the other night as the rain rattled on the gutters.

My weld (luckily harvested before the rain set in) is drying on my basement dye studio table. Before I cut it down the flowers were pretty much finished but only a few partial stems had gone all the way to brown dried seeds. I gave myself a blister trying to cut up the pieces with blunt pruning shears. So I switched to the kitchen scissors and it worked much better, especially after eliminating the thickest stems since I doubt they have much colour in them anyhow. I thought the plant matter might manage to dry easier if it was in smaller bits. Interestingly, no colour leached off on my hands and I suspect this dyestuff needs heat (and apparently alkaline) to give up its yellow. Not at all like the coreopsis which I picked with nitrile gloves this time so as not to stain my fingers until they looked like an old smoker’s. I saved lots of dye seeds to replant: weld, coreopsis and my locally famous monster variety of marigold (not monster as in flowers but the plants are often over half a metre tall and get commented on by all the neighbours). I also get all these as volunteers but I’d rather have a little more control over where and when they turn up. So they get started in spring in the “grow-op” like all my other annuals and veggies.

I still need to deal with the poor pathetic madder plants. I’ve decided that they finally after all these years need a chance in the garden instead of the big galvanised buckets they’ve been lurking in. It’ll be harder to keep control over them but perhaps I’ll get more large madder roots if they have more space to run. I do have to be careful about getting scratched though – my skin comes up in rather nasty welts from these surprisingly bristly sprawlers. The dye garden will have to get a a bit of a makeover to find space but I was pretty happy with the colour harvest I got from it this first year.

So. Let’s have some knitting shall we? I’ve finally given the finished baby things to Milady Daughter though I cheated a little and gave them to her the day before the baby shower Saturday. The party itself was lots of fun: about equal parts family and friends (mostly SCAers) which made for an interesting mix. And I got to hold my new little grand-niece who was only a week-and-a-half old. So cute with her little white rose headband and purple dress! Of course I managed to forget my camera. Doh. Her second cousin, my impending grandbaby, got a huge haul of lovely gifts with the main colour also purple (the theme was “anything but pink”) with a side-salad of green and a splash of blue. Nana and Alien’s Other Grandma both gave her handmade quilts with pink in them though and of course there was no complaint! Less than a month to go now. Mom-to-be is doing really well even though it’s Beached Whale time. She’s on her last week of work before starting maternity leave. Things are getting exciting!

The first of the FO’s are a set:

Alien’s Baby Blankie & Bibs

Alien Blanket Aliens Baby Set

Begun: blanket: May 3, 2010; bibs: September 20, 2010

Completed: blanket: May 24, 2010; bibs: October 9, 2010

Yarn: Schachenmayr/Nomotta Punto Color, 55% cotton/45% acrylic, color 92 (deep pastel rainbow), 50g = 90m. 8 balls.

Needles:  Blanket: Addi Lace circular, 4mm; bibs: bamboo circular, 3.5mm.

Patterns: Blanket: Lion Brand’s Diagonal Comfort Blanket, patt # 81024AD. Like a giant dishcloth! Ravelry link, Lion Brand link. Bibs: Kerchief Bib by Julia Vaconsin, free Ravelry download.

Aliens Baby BibComments:  I managed to get the blanket knit before my hands got so bad over the summer. The bibs had to wait to start until we were on our vacation at the end of September. While we were driving long distances I somehow managed to screw up the pattern several times and had to go down a needle size from the blanket, both to make the bibs small enough and to actually get 3 of them out of the blanket’s leftovers. I ended up Frankenstein-ing the third and last bib out of small lengths to complete it. The yarn was difficult to join invisibly – I used stitched joins (like a half-Russian join) in the blanket but simply tied knots at the selvedges on the bibs and then reinforced every join on both blanket and bibs with fray-check. Not too much though because I was afraid it would be stiff. After I machine washed and dried everything I clipped the tails of the knots closely and they seem to be holding ok. I finished the bibs with a small piece of Velcro for the fastener, machine-stitched in place. She’s going to have to remember to close the Velcro when laundering or the hook end will stick to everything!

I have an even nicer baby gift but it’ll wait until next post.

Monday, October 18, 2010

My Travelogue, Part Four

Oh my! This seems to be taking longer than the real holiday to tell! Meanwhile, life is going on and I’ve hardly blogged at all. It doesn’t help when my knitting projects are all gifts so I can’t tell you anything about them. Yet.

The best news is that I went to see Dr. Seriously Grouchy Dermatologist this morning and he wanted to get rid of me nearly as much as I wanted to get rid of him. Yay! Free at last! Oddly though he said that if my Itchy-Peelies flare up again I’m supposed to get my family doc to send me back to the light therapy clinic. Ummm…isn’t that why they wouldn’t give me light therapy in the first place - because I was flaring so badly? Would it make sense to try that one again? Guess it depends on how badly, huh? Plus I’m not sure that would work anyway. If I’m really fortunate, it won’t come back and I’ll never have to find out! He did actually admit that my “rash” was oddly unresponsive to the usual psoriasis meds. D’you think???? Meanwhile, I’m supposed to use the Protopic ointment on hands and feet for another month. That should just about see me through my current supply. Happily it held out a lot longer than I thought because it spreads very thinly on my skin. Since it’s super-duper-expensive I’d rather not have to get any more if I can help it. I already have enough pricey-but-useless partial tubes and jars left over as it is. Funny that it was The One Thing out of all the meds we tried that actually worked, isn’t it? Too bad we didn’t try it first instead of last.

All righty then. Back to the vacation. It seems like so long ago now but we’ve really only been back for two weeks. Really. So where did I leave off? Oh yeah – Newport. After leaving South Beach state park we made a big jump further north. We passed through cute little Depoe Bay and stopped in Lincoln City for a few supplies, including a stop in the Jo-Ann’s where I got some buttons for the current supersecret project I was knitting on and another ball of yarn in case I ran out. (Which I did. But I never used that yarn, instead waiting until I got home to use some leftovers from the stash box.) I was pretty sad that Jo-Ann’s seems to have gone so downhill over the last few years. Is it the same in other places? It’s not like people have stopped crafting! There were empty shelves and it looked like only traditional quilting and scrapbooking were being actively supported. Any theories as to what’s up?

Continuing north on the more interior route (instead of the usual Three Capes side trip) because we had a long way to go. We went through Tillamook which seems to be prospering more than some of the other places we saw. Didn’t stop at the cheese factory though we sure ended up buying enough of their products in several different Safeways! Onward through the little tourist towns of Rockaway Beach, Wheeler and Nehalem to the Nehalem state park which is one of our favourites.

There’s a lovely little paved loop trail around through the forest and past the bay at the end of the tiny airstrip runway:

Nehalem Bay

Tide’s out! There’s actually a small gap for boats in there between the mountains and the sandbar that protects the bay. The big waves were on the other side of the bar out there. We were having so much fun after the loop trail that we continued riding along the road into Manzanita, a little town to the north of the park. Some of the houses there have a fabulous view of the ocean and beach. Might have to change their windows and refinish their siding really often though! Lots of places were for sale so it’s obvious all is not perfect in paradise. No, we weren’t tempted to buy one.

We stayed two days at Nehalem but were quickly running out of time. North again past Cannon Beach in the fog and a stop at Seaside for ground coffee and fudge. So touristy but a lot of the summer “traps” were closed for the offseason and a number of empty storefronts for rent. There were several big new hotels though since the last time we’d stopped so it wasn’t a total sad story. However they’re crowded close to the beach which made the main street kind of dark in their shadows. Odd planning if you ask me.

We continued north as far as you can go in Oregon to Ft. Stevens state park. It’s huge with miles of paved trails and hundreds of campsites. The weather was sunny and fairly warm considering we were at the end of September. Of course we couldn’t wait to break out the bikes and use our assist to go farther than we’ve ever been able to before. 6 miles to the end of the road where the Columbia River meets the sea. There’s a platform where you can look over the breakwater:


The next day we said goodbye to Oregon and headed over the bridge at Astoria to Washington. This time instead of going along the coast we went straight up through the mountains and cut across toward Shelton where we were hoping to go shopping at Frantz Glass. T-Man hasn’t really used the supplies he got there in a previous trip but of course that shouldn’t stop him from wanting to see what else was available! Unfortunately it was closed for inventory. Boo-hoo. Figures, the one time we were able to get there in years and it was closed.

It wasn’t out of our way though. We just kept going north through Hoodsport where we bought the most expensive bottle of wine of the trip and on to Dosewallips State Park. We got a great campsite right on the river and watched eagles and turkey vultures vie with the crows and seagulls for the remains of the spawning salmon. It felt much more like autumn with the falling leaves all around us. We crossed the bridge over the river and walked out to the mouth of the Dosewallips where it meets the Hood Canal. There was another viewing platform (we love these!) and we spent quite awhile watching the Canada geese beginning their migrations:


From there we continued up to Port Townsend, just in time for their annual Kinetic Cirkus race. Everyone was in a fun mood with various shopkeepers and audience members in costume as well as the participants themselves:

PtTownsend circus

I’ve always been fond of a little homegrown fun and playfulness and this event has it in spades. It’s very much a DIY thing and the people-powered “kontraptions” are hilarious. This is the second time that we’ve caught a piece of the action in Port Townsend. It’s a great little town and another of the ones that seems to be doing well with lots of new construction and businesses.

Before we caught the ferry over to Whidbey Island we went for a walk along Water Street. They’ve built a beautiful new facility at the end of the street for the Wooden Boat Festival and lots of wharf space for the boats. I popped into a fabu little clothing shop that carries indie designers with a consignment shop downstairs. I really liked the styles and the sizes are larger than most of the similar shops here (aka they actually fit someone larger than a skinny 12-year-old). Didn’t buy anything of course but got several interesting ideas. I also checked out the Diva Yarn shop and Wynwoods Beads. Diva has the best and most diverse selection of needles and hooks I’ve ever seen especially for such a tiny shop. I bought another Clover Softouch hook for my collection and two new sets of Clover Takumi 5” bamboo sock needles. I needed a replacement for the one I lost out the van door when we stopped to fix the roof that had popped up because I hadn’t closed it properly. So of course I had to get a whole new double set! I wear those things out even if I don’t break or lose one. Nice to have lots of spares.

A quiet ferry ride while we stayed in the van and then we were on Whidbey Island. We headed north to Fort Ebey state park and got the second-to-last campsite for our last night out. The weather was cool but still sunny so we rode our bikes over to the picnic area and went down to the rocky beach for awhile. I love the smooth glacier-tumbled rocks on this island that come in every size and colour. This time though I resisted bringing any of them home. I already have lots from previous visits!

The border was a breeze and we got home on October 3 to lots of garden clean-up which we are still working on. T bought a new chipper/shredder to replace our old worn-out dangerous one so we should be able to add to our own compost again instead of sending it all off in the green bin to the city’s composting facility. The broken awning is still on the van wrapped up in rope. No word on its repair possibilities yet. I think we’re still afraid to look! Meanwhile I’ve nearly finished with the veggie garden: the garlic and most of the fall rye planted, weeds and debris removed and some pathway creeper plants split and replanted. Still have the front gardens and the dye garden to do but that shouldn’t take as long as the veggie patch and the greenhouse did. The weather is supposed to be good for the next few days anyhow. Moving right along.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My Travelogue, Part Three

Jeepers! This is taking quite awhile, isn’t it? Of course there was Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend. We had a lovely family dinner at the bro’s. MMMMM…I lurve turkey. Now I’m wishing I had one for myself. (I think we’re volunteering for Solstice/Christmas this year though so I’ll still get my chance.) My daughter-in-law made her famous pumpkin pie and we also had commercial cakes and a delish chocolate/graham cracker square from Nana so lots of desserts! I had some of each. Of course.

I am Giving Thanks this year for my lovely warm supportive family and for my recovered skin, particularly my hands and feet. What better could one ask for?

Right! Back to the vaycay. We were heading up the Oregon coast for the last half of our 3 weeks and we managed to travel every inch of it. Our first night was at Harris Beach, just north of Brookings:

Harris Beach

It’s a very photo-friendly beach judging by the number of pics I’ve taken over the years! There’s a steep hill down from the campground to the water so we decided to take our bikes. It was here that we discovered that T-Man’s BionX computer had leaked under the plastic bezel in all the rain and was swimming in water. Not a good idea to turn it on! So he had to ride like an ordinary bike until we could get it dried out. He carefully took it apart (we fortunately have a fairly comprehensive toolkit in the van) and dumped out what water he could and then put it open to dry. It spent some time on the windowsill in the sun and some time in front of the heater’s fan. Took more than a day but it finally dried out enough to work again. Yay! It got a circling of electrician’s tape for the rest of the trip and a plastic bag over top while we drove. Mine was just fine, thank goodness.

Next we were going to stay at cute little Humbug Mountain but the state campground was closed for renovations. It was quite foggy especially in the mornings so we bypassed Cape Blanco, the most westward part of the coast, because we were sure it would be socked in with rain and fog. We continued on to Bandon instead and camped at Bullard’s Beach were we found this little guy:


and a bunch of his relatives hiding under the plug-ins by the light to keep warm. We were happy to have the plug too, though the second day we were there had better weather.

This state park has quite a hike to the beach over the dunes and another 2 miles along it to the Coquille River lighthouse on the North Jetty, across the river from Bandon. Our bikes came in very handy for the trip and we finally got a chance to go up into the lighthouse:


It was hard to see out the windows because they were so etched by the salt and wind and therefore need replacing every few years. You can see why, when we hiked out near the end of the North Jetty:


The waves were high and though the sun was shining there was still some fog around. We didn’t go much further than this.

We did go into Bandon, but we drove because the bridge was under repair and there was only one lane open at a time. We looked around Old Town, bought a huge lunch of fish & chips (delish) and fudge (also delish but we didn’t eat it until later) and hiked up the hill to The Wool Company, where I only bought a Spin-Off. Such self-control. The hike helped to wear off some of the lunch though! We never even ate a proper dinner that evening because we were still stuffed. (US restaurant portions can be a bit overwhelming at times. No wonder there’s an obesity problem. Yeah, I know we didn’t have to eat it all. We didn’t.)

After our fun time at Bandon we moved on to one of our favourite places, Carl Washburne State Park. Unfortunately the weather pooped out on us again. This part of the coast is quite damp especially judging by the moss covering everything in the forest with a thick layer. We managed to get a good walk in the first day despite the intermittent sprinkles but the second day we spent pretty much confined to barracks in the van. We both read a whole book each! It was still foggy when we left but the sun was peeking out a bit:


This time we headed to Newport’s South Beach.


The park has great paved bicycle trails which we made full use of. We parked the bikes and hiked out on the South Jetty, which was hard because it’s just a jumble of rocks, not paved, so we didn’t go too far. We spent lots of time watching a bunch of sea lions feeding and playing in the surf between the jetties. And we saw pelicans and cormorants:


Then we decided to carry on to the Oregon Coast Aquarium, which handily was on our side of the river and not far on our bikes. We started with a yummy lunch outdoors and then checked out the exhibits.


Don’t you love the colours of these ochre stars and anemones? I was sorry that part of this pool (with a realistic tide wave action) was in the shade so I couldn’t capture them better. We also went through the shark tunnel (sharks overhead!) and saw sea birds like tufted puffins and auklets up close and underwater. I also totally love the jellies:

SeaNettle Jellies

These big ones are especially pretty, Pacific sea nettles, but they can sting. (Apply vinegar to neutralise!) They like to swim upside-down a lot. I didn’t get a good photo of the moon jellies since they weren’t lit well and are nearly transparent. This time they didn’t have my favourite egg-yolk jelly which we once saw when we had our sailboat. It was huge and had tentacles much longer than our boat! It’s a much smaller place than our Vancouver aquarium but it’s pretty fun.

OK, I have to go so the last (hopefully!) part will have to wait. It’s nice out again and I must go dig in the garden. More anon.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

My Travelogue, Part Two

I went and left you hanging at about the 1/3 point in our vacation, didn’t I? Sorry about that. I’ve been caught up in getting back to what passes for normal around here. Nearly 6 hours in the garden didn’t get me very far and there’s lots more to do still when the weather clears up. Had a lovely time with my Spectrum Study Group where we planned the next few months worth of meetings and I finished a Super-Secret Project or two. So, back to south-central Oregon and heading towards Crater Lake.

The weather remained dreary as we headed south and a little west toward the “back door” to Crater Lake. The roads we travelled are closed in winter and spring which could be very soon in these parts. They apparently get ridiculous amounts of snow and only plough the main road up to the rim. After that you’re on skis or snowshoes until summer! Luckily for us it only snowed a tiny bit but T-Man had to drive very carefully along the rim road with sheer drop-offs often on both sides. There was no lake! Just a humungous bowl-full of fog.

After driving nearly halfway around the rim we had to drive down the twisty mountain road to the campground where we were lucky to get one of the last electrical sites. It was hailing on us by then and we were very glad for our little heater. I still thought the lake was just a myth! The next morning broke sunny and a whole lot warmer so we drove back up and spent all day going all the way around the rim road with a few extra side trips. There really was a lake there:


It was formed when 12,000 ft. Mt. Mazama blew up 7,700 years ago with a force many times that of Mt. St. Helens, leaving a crater that eventually filled up with water. It has the most gorgeous colours in every shade of indigo due to its clarity. There’s only one trail down to the water: 1.1 miles of steep zigzag where you can get a boat tour of the lake. We were proud that we did the hike just so we could say we touched the water! I think this much-too-friendly guy was trying to help T take his photos:


Golden-mantled ground squirrels look a lot like big chipmunks and obviously somebody has been feeding this cheeky one against park rules. Crater Lake is something like 6,000 ft. above our usual sea level so we were pretty happy when we finally made the arduous trek back up to the rim:


Amazingly there were an awful lot of folks heading down the trail who looked like it was going to be a difficult hike back for them. They do warn you that you should be reasonably fit but they also have a defibrillator in the storage locker at the bottom! And a washroom as well as an emergency phone. People always think they are in much better shape than they really are. Even we spent a lot of time resting while huffing and puffing before we made it. All hot and sweaty but pretty pleased with ourselves.

There are several underwater volcanic cones in the lake but this one:


Wizard Island is the biggest and unlike the rest, is above the surface. There’s one more island:


called the Phantom Ship that is the remains of an even older volcano than the caldera it’s sitting in. We also took a side trip from the rim road and visited the Pinnacles:


These fantastic rock formations were situated along a deep river canyon and are the remains of fossilised fumaroles, hollow volcanic heat vents, that were uncovered by the scouring action of the river. Really cool-looking, huh?

So after the Grand Crater Lake Tour we left the next morning for another of Oregon’s famous geological features: the Oregon Caves. You hang a left at a little town called Cave Junction and drive a narrow twisty road through the farms and up into the mountains. The little campground we stayed at was empty apart from one more camper who came in after dark. Before then though we drove up the rest of the twisty steep road to the cave entrance. We found a cute little chateau there as well as the welcome centre, all sided in cedar bark. Luckily we were just in time to join the next tour of the caves so we jumped right in. It’s a 90-minute half-mile hike with over 500 stairs inside the marble caves:

 OregonCaves   OregonCaves2

I didn’t get any great photos really so I borrowed these ones from T. I’m really impressed with myself – that’s the second tour we’ve been in (including Lewis & Clark Caverns last year) and I haven’t had even a twinge of my underground-phobia. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s all tamed by tunnels and stairs and there’s a guide who keeps you hopping and entertained. We also saw a cute little cave bat hanging from the ceiling. I love bats. No pics because we didn’t want to disturb it anymore than we already had.

After our adventures in the caves and with a whole new vocabulary (stalactites, stalagmites, columns, flows, curtains and moon milk – oh my!) we had to get over to the coast. However there is no direct route except through the corner of northern California. This took us back to Cave Junction, down through the redwoods, bypassed Crescent City and back up to the Oregon Coast for Day 11.

What we did and where we went from there is unfortunately going to have to wait for the next instalment! This is getting pretty long again. We have our Thanksgiving Dinner tomorrow night at T-Man’s brother’s with a large contingent of family – minus The Ninja who left yesterday for Japan and classes with the ninjutsu masters. More anon.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

My Travelogue, Part One

I promised to tell you of our three weeks’ adventures so while I’m waiting for it to warm up enough to go play in the garden, here ya go.

It feels like a long time ago now when we packed up our little old VW Westphalia and headed south. The border was relatively painless this time, even though they’re still working on the US part of the Pacific (Peace Arch) crossing. We hung a left at Burlington (after stopping for groceries) to head east through the North Cascades. This was the first time we’d been this way though it’s nearly directly south of our familiar Manning Park. The scenery was lovely: deeply forested mountains and sparkling rivers that had been dammed in some places for hydro power which created attractive lakes. There were several national park campgrounds and we stayed at two different ones. This is the view of Diablo Lake from the top of Thunder Knob:


The weather stayed sunny and quite warm, which was a good thing since T-Man had forgotten to pack my warm jacket and extra fleece! I had left them hanging in the closet with the raingear which he delicately extracted without taking the rest of my carefully sorted pile. I was pretty upset because I knew it was going to be cold enough to need something more than the fleece vest I had on. And I hate shopping, particularly since we weren’t going through any larger towns for at least a week. Things worked out ok though because on the third day we stopped in the cute little pioneer-themed town of Winthrop with it’s wooden sidewalks. For a miracle, this shop…

Winthrop store

…had a great selection of good quality sports clothes whereupon I had a wonderful time ignoring the price tags and just trying things on. I ended up with a green hoodie silkscreened with a subtle tree pattern, with lots of useful pockets and a heavy fleecy lining. Attractive and warm! Plus a gray fleecy vest with toggle buttons as a second layer for over top. And lastly, because I had also forgotten my sunhat, I got one of those packable/squishable wide-brimmed hats with a chin strap in brown. Now I was set! Even though it cost poor T nearly $200 for his boo-boo. <snicker!> It was a good thing too because we never did find another shop anywhere with such a perfect selection and I ended up wearing the hoodie at some time nearly every day.

After that we started heading south through Washington with a stop at the tourist town of Leavenworth:


It’s the silliest bit of fake-Bavaria anywhere! Oompa music, gingerbreading, dirndl skirts, lederhosen and all. Even the Safeway sign is in blackletter. You can see why it was full of elderly tourists. We didn’t stay long and opted to buy apples at a fruit stand instead. We passed miles of apple and pear orchards in the area.

Another day later and we were heading through the rolling fields of cows and wind generators and over the Columbia River into Oregon. The central part of this state is famous for grass and there was definitely a lot of haying going on for miles and miles. Past Bend we visited a volcanic red cinder cone, driving around and around the coiled road up to the top:


Here we’re on the trail around the crater looking directly across it at the fire station on the highest spot. Unfortunately we couldn’t climb up in the tower because the warden was working on active fire duty. Looking the other way we could see where the lava flows had spread leaving patches of forest untouched. This was the first of what was going to be the volcanic theme of the middle part of our vacation. We wanted to see the Lava River Cave too but unfortunately highway crews had blocked off the access to it.

So we decided to go off my original itinerary to camp in another part of the same volcanic area: Newberry crater. The caldera holds 2 lakes and a lot of other features such as cones and obsidian flows but most of it is covered in forest so it’s not very visible. The weather had also turned on us but I managed to get a photo of the volcanic cone next to Paulina Lake:


This was taken from our campsite right beside the lake which was really pretty…except for the crappy weather. Just after I got this picture it started to rain and blow gusts of wind. We ended up sitting in the van for a whole day unable to go anywhere without getting soaked. We unfortunately left our awning out which turned out to be a big mistake. In the early morning we were surprised by a truly strong gust of wind that picked up the awning, smacked it up and around and broke and bent all of the aluminum struts. It sounded like an explosion and we both shot up out of bed in a panic! Nothing like trying to assess the damage and take off the awning so it would stop flapping around in the wind and rain and pitch dark. We just dumped it on the ground and went back to bed, pondering what we were going to do with it and how we were going to manage the rest of our trip without it. Not only does it shade the side of the van and occasionally a picnic table if we can get close enough, but it allows us to open the window and the sliding door in the rain without getting the inside wet. It also allows us to take off our wet gear outside and gives us a place to hang things up to dry. It’s a very useful addition to our camping gear and we weren’t even sure if we could manage to get it together enough to bring it with us just in case it could be salvaged.

The next morning it was still raining so in full raingear we hauled the awning over to a picnic table under the pines to assess. We were pretty shocked at how much damage there was just from one blast of wind. It turned out that one piece of broken aluminum had flown over the van and embedded itself deep in the ground between our campsite and the next one, over 5 metres away! Another piece was picked out from between our bikes where we had them on their rack on the back. Luckily the bikes weren’t damaged. But the rain gutters on the van where the awning attaches were bent and scratched quite badly. Every single aluminum strut was wrecked – even T’s umbrella that was hanging underneath was bent. And we still haven’t looked to see if the vinyl was torn. It wasn’t easy but we were able to hammer (using the back of the hatchet) the bent pieces enough to tie the thing back together with rope and screw it back onto the van for the rest of the trip. Now we need to see if “Franken-Awning” can be repaired or if we need to buy a new one. Kind of a holiday expense we hadn’t foreseen. Things could have been worse though. The van’s canvas top or a window could have been pierced. Amazing wind power that was!

We finally got it together and packed up camp. It was still raining and windy but we were determined to go climb up one of the obsidian flows before we left Newberry. It was fascinating:


This photo just shows the edge with more craters behind. Obsidian is black volcanic glass and creates edges sharper than a surgeon’s scalpel. It was very useful to the Native Americans for cutting tools but you have to be very careful hiking up the trail. Dogs are not allowed because it cuts their feet. There’s also chunks of pumice, bubbly stone that floats in water, and ash in this pile of volcanic debris. I don’t know – does this show it any better?


I had to capture the manmade rock pile on the trail. You have to admit there was no lack of raw material for it!

So this is getting pretty long. I’ll carry on with Part Two later. I’ve got lots of work to do today while it’s still nice and sunny outside. Rain is on the way again for the weekend (of course!) and I’m going to play with my Spectrum group tomorrow. I have to bring in my poor cactuses and haul a bunch of finished veggie plants out of the garden so I can plant fall rye in the bare beds. I’ve already picked the last of the tomatoes off the dying vines. There’s a few things left: scarlet runner beans, kale, tah tsai, and some greens. The dye garden probably has some colours left in it too, but that will have to wait until maybe next week. Lots to catch up on! More anon.

Monday, October 04, 2010

The Wanderers Return

Just a quick note to say we’re back, we had a great holiday and I’ll give you a tour of the highlights when I have more time. I was very lazy while we were away and barely booted up my little netbook computer long enough to download my photos. I still haven’t sorted everything out. Well, OK. Maybe not so lazy – we crossed the depth of Washington and Oregon and even a snippet of northern California and back. We also hiked a lot of trails and put over 65 kilometres on the bikes. We experienced every kind of weather though mostly it was fairly nice and relatively warm. The best news is the Itchy-Peelies continued to improve and my hands are just about back to normal. I can make things again! Yippee!

So the grandbeasties are due to come over shortly. Apparently they missed us as much as we missed them. Gotta go.

And yes, Crater Lake is really this blue: