Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Caution: Grandma loose in the woods!

I love taking the grandchildren (ages 7 and older) on backpacking trips every summer. Josh, Sarah, Kat and I managed an overnight backpack trip yesterday and today. We had a wonderful adventure!

Here we are at the trailhead to Ramona Falls (Josh, Kat, Sarah). We arrived at the trailhead about 6:00 pm yesterday.

Because Josh is allergic to mosquito bites, I wanted to take the kids to an area that would be relatively free of mosquitoes, so high-elevation lakes were out of the question. This year Oregon had such a wet spring, that many areas have about twice as many mosquitoes as usual.

Ramona Falls is a lower elevation, and it's mostly running water. We had a few critters nibbling on us, but it wasn't bad at all. AND best of all, it's a gorgeous area to hike.

The kids did great with their packs (Kat, Sarah, Josh). This is Josh's 4th backpack hike with me, and the girls' 2nd outing. (You can click here if you want to see some photos from last summer's hikes.)

Josh is 10; Sarah and Kat are 8.

Too bad...Mark couldn't come with us this time. The kids and I missed him, but I have to confess that it also feels good to know that this is something I can still do on my own when schedule conflicts come up.

I've learned over the years that if we keep the pack weight to 25% or less of the kids' body weight, everyone hikes along pretty well. The kids all carried their own tent (they shared), sleeping bags, sleeping pads, food, and clothes. (Sarah, Josh)

We are far enough north that we have long, late evenings in the summer, but we were still pushing it to get to our campsite before dark (Kat, Josh). There are several established campsites on the way to and at Ramona Falls, but I knew we could camp in a primitive site that would take less time to hike to. Kat was the one who found our site, and it was wonderful! We all want to go back and camp there again.

Kat points out the log we used as a bridge to get to our secret hideaway. She was the one who found the log bridge and the campsite.

We managed to get the tents and sleeping gear set up before dark. Then a cozy campfire was just the thing to help everyone settle for the night. We made some blueberry cheesecake from a dehydrated mix and enjoyed hot cider, then the kids were happy to crawl into their tent for the night. They slept great!

(Even though it was a primitive site, someone else had already made a fire ring there. Otherwise I wouldn't have made a fire in a pristine area.)

The view from my tent this morning. What a beautiful day! We had sunshine the whole time. Our campsite was lovely and secluded, and we felt like we were in the Garden of Eden.

My tent and the kids' tent. Our "kitchen" is off to the right. It was a flat rock that could keep our tiny backpacking stove stable.

Kat and Josh ready for the morning.

We hung our food in a tree the night before, well away from our tents, to avoid conflicts with critters. It was still there this morning!

I enjoyed my morning oatmeal and hot chocolate.

The kids smuggled props in their packs so they could put on a skit for me this morning. (Sarah, Josh, Kat)

The skit involved lots of twirling by Kat.

Kat helped with the chore of pumping water through the filter.

So did Sarah.

Josh tried out the newer, wider log bridge that Kat found this morning. After we cleaned up from breakfast and tidied up our campsite, we headed out on a day hike to the beautiful Ramona Falls.

The kids got a kick out of the bridges along the trail, although they thought they were a little tame compared to the log bridges to our secret campsite. The kids brought walkie talkies from their dad, too. (Kat, Sarah, Josh)

The scenery on the way to Ramona Falls is spectacular. If you live in northwest Oregon and haven't made this hike yet, do put it on your "must do" list. It's a very special, unique place.

Much of the trail parallels a beautiful rushing little stream, filled with little riffles and waterfalls that catch the light.

And everything is lush and green.

Finally, the spectacular Ramona Falls. I could sit and watch this for hours, but we needed to get back to our secret campsite and pack up our gear.

We stopped to play in the creek for just a bit. The kids thought they would be in the water longer, but they changed their minds when they realized it was snow melt! (Sarah, Kat, Josh)

Time to put the tent away (Josh, Kat, Sarah). The kids helped as much as they could, but their hands aren't big enough to really be able to fold up Thermarest pads or stuff sleeping bags into the stuff sacks. So I was the chief Thermarest roller and sleeping bag stuffer. I'll be glad to have Mark along next time!

The kids head out across the log bridge. First Josh...

...then Sarah (she was carrying the tent poles - that's what is sticking up from her pack)...

...followed by Kat, and then me in the rear.

A perfect "bench" for a rest stop. It took us about 2 hours to get back to the car. (Kat, Josh, Sarah)

I love watching the kids hike (Sarah, Josh). It means so much to me to share this activity that I love with the children in my family. Backpacking takes the kids out into places they can't get to in a car, and it teaches them so much about self reliance and cooperating. They learn more about themselves as they are physically challenged, and they get stretched with the problems that invariably come up. These kids felt really good about setting out and creating a campsite out in nature.

Almost back to the car. A beautiful view of Mount Hood as we approach the Sandy River crossing.

Ahhh...time to head home! (Sarah, Kat, Josh, me)

And starting this year, a new tradition! Pedicures for the girls after we get our showers. (Sarah rubbing Maddy's feet - she had to get in on the action; me rubbing Kat's feet.) Later Sarah and Kat got their tonails painted too.

I can't wait for our next outing! The kids were great the whole time. Thanks, Josh, Sarah, and Kat! It won't be too many years before more of the cousins are old enough to join us.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Thesis Update: Week 7

I barely met this week's goal, but I did it. Next week, I'm going to step it up a little!

Week 7 stats:

Number of words this week: about 6,600
Number of pages this week: 20
Number of total pages this summer: 148.5

Goal for the coming week: write another 25 pages. I want to reach 200 pages by August 7.

Goal by Sept 1: 200 pages

51.5 to go! Two more weeks till goal!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Dear Crater apologies...

I know, I know, I've been saying for years that I wasn't interested in visiting Crater Lake.

Too boring, too blue, too pristine with nothing to do but drive around the rim. Y-a-w-n....

Hah! Was I ever wrong! Mark and I stopped and enjoyed this spectacular place last week on our way home from California.

Crater Lake is so much more than just another pretty photo on a calendar! There is lots to see that never shows up on those calendar photos. I would gladly go back for another (longer) visit. Here are some highlights from our time there last Monday evening and Tuesday morning.

Crater Lake at sunset. We arrived about 8:00 Monday evening, and had to hurry to our campsite at nearby Diamond Lake (set up the tent in the dark). But we couldn't resist a quick photo shoot. Turns out that the mosquitoes couldn't resist us! They were horrible, swarming around our face the minute we stepped out of the car. We finally found this picturesque snag at a lookout with a good breeze, so we were (mostly) mosquito free, and managed to snap a few photos.

Wizard Island at sunset.

Sun setting behind the mountains to the west - time to head to our campsite!

Mark pestering the fish on Tuesday morning at Diamond Lake. They weren't biting - they had plenty of healthy mosquitoes to dine on, and didn't need his power bait! Oh well...we packed up the tent and headed back to Crater Lake for a few more adventures.

The lake was absolutely mirror calm, but the mosquitoes were sleeping in, so we enjoyed our Tuesday morning visit much more than the evening before. Everywhere we looked, spectacular geology cried out for our attention. What an amazing place!

Llao Rock rivals Yosemite's Half Dome for a gigantic presence along the lake.

We decided to hike to the top of The Watchman. Can you see the fire tower clear up at the very top? We hiked all the way up there!

Part of the trail crossed snow fields. It felt like we were inside a refrigerator!

 Pity the poor rangers who had to dig out the trail...

But the trail isn't just for the tourists. The tower is an active fire lookout during fire season. 

A long way down to the lake below! What a view!!
(You can barely make out our red Subaru in the parking lot.)

From the top, we could look down on Wizard Island and see the crater at the top of the "wizard's hat."

Back to Rim Village for a few more photos. Ongoing maintenance at the historic lodge - we counted 4 man-lifts with people wielding paintbrushes.

The photos capture the scenery, but not the scale. It was so much bigger and more awe-inspiring than I had imagined. The lake itself is 6 miles across! Everything is dwarfed by the volcano and the lake-filled caldera. 

In addition to the vistas, we were impressed by the silence and calm of the place. Far below us, we could see two or three tour boats out on the lake (sooooo tiny!), but they were so far away that we could barely hear their distant motors. Mostly it was just the sound of the breeze in the trees and a few bird calls. 

After our hike we went to Rim Village to buy a quick lunch, and then head for home. Good bye, Crater Lake! It was good to get acquainted with you. We'll be back!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

How to Celebrate Your 80th Birthday

My mother-in-law, LaVerne, turned 80 this week. We celebrated at a park near her home in Atascadero, California. The weather was hot - over 100 degrees! - but the shady oaks and a gentle breeze made it bearable. Here are a few photos of the fun.

LaVerne with her sons and daughters-in-law
Seated: LaVerne
Standing: Julie, Michel, Greg, Cheryl, Mark, me

Audrey, Angela, and Cheryl helped with decorating the birthday cake 
(the night before).

Audrey was a whiz at making fondant decorations.

Sam was engrossed in a game on his dad's iPhone.

Hillary selected yellow flowers--LaVerne's favorites--for the table decorations.

LaVerne with Hillary. 
LaVerne is wearing the handmade corsage, made by Hillary.

Bar-be-que crew: Michel Haynie, Ken Mallett, Mark Haynie

Aunt Alice with Uncle Greg. She is such a fun person! 
The camera caught her in an unusually reflective moment.

Josh, Hillary, and Ethan. 
It was so fun to see them - we haven't seen Ethan since he was 2 months old!

Audrey had to have some time with Tim's iPhone, too.

What a beautiful park - so typical of central California summers. 
I remember lots of picnics like this when I was a kid.

Cousin Dave Haynie, Tim & Audrey

LaVerne with her neighbor and dear friend, Bill (seated).
Bill's son, daughter-in-law, and grandsons are standing. 

Angela organized a wonderful book from the family for LaVerne.
The book had memories and photos from all of the family members.

LaVerne with some of her good friends.
They get together to play penuchle once a month.

Mark and I had some time to relax once the food was served.

Blowing out the candles! 
No, we didn't put 80 candles on the cake - the first ones would have melted 
by the time we got the last ones lit. 

Back at the house - inside with air conditioning!
Seated: Audrey, LaVerne, Angela with Joey
Behind the couch: Tim with Sam, Hillary, Josh with Ethan