Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Tale of Two Trails

This summer is off to a wonderful start, to my way of thinking.
This week Mark and I went for two hikes!

On Thursday we hiked to Ramona Falls with our friend, Geoff. The weather was a perfect 70ยบ and we had a wonderful time hiking the 7.5 mile loop. You can't go wrong with this classic Oregon hike.

 The boys - crossing the Sandy River
 See what I mean about the perfect weather?

 Iconic, incredible Ramona Falls.
There's no other way to see it except by walking there.

The rhododendrons were in bloom!
Like walking through a pink garden in places.

Then today Mark and I drove to Wahtum Lake and poked around for several hours. We hiked about 4 miles in all, give or take a few bushwhacks along the way.

We'll be coming through here next month on a backpacking trip, and we wanted to have a better idea of some of our trail options. Also, we wanted to confirm the driving directions as we'll be sharing them with other hikers. 

Today's weather was not so auspicious, but we had a wonderful time anyway. Gotta love Oregon's "liquid sunshine"! We both have good rain gear for hiking, which makes all the difference in this kind of weather. If you're dry on the inside, it's easy and fun to be out in the wet. 

 We hiked east around the lake to Chinidere Mountain, then we took the "shortcut" trail back to the lake. Whoo! It was a steep downhill trail. Glad we checked it out on a day hike - we would not want to tackle this trail with loaded backpacks. 

(Special note for our friend, Ken, who loves to hike around mountain lakes. This link describes our hike today, except that we didn't take the trail to the top of Chinidere Mountain...yet... We didn't find this link until after we came home today, when we were glad to find the explanation of the mysterious water pipe we saw on the "shortcut" trail.)

 Delicate fawn lilies in bloom everywhere.
 It was a maze of trails in places - some were not on any of our maps. 
We were glad we went on our exploring hike today. 
 After a few hours, the weather cleared. 
Then back to the parking lot via the "Wahtum Express" trail--250 steps UP!
What an awesome workout. 

I honestly can't say which hike I liked better. It was wonderful to be out in the glorious weather on Thursday. We've had such a cool, rainy spring, that it was such a treat to hike in the sunshine. The Ramona Falls trail always makes me feel like I'm in the Garden of Eden, with its beautiful little stream-lined path, sheer rock walls, and the beautiful falls. Geoff was a great hiking companion, full of energy and funny stories. We couldn't have asked for a better hiking day!

But then today was really fun, too. Spending a day outdoors in the rain would get old if I had to do it day after day, but for just one day, especially inside our dry-and-cozy rain gear, I didn't mind the weather at all. Eventually the clouds lifted and the rain let up. We were the only ones out on the trails, which is always a special experience. We felt adventurous, exploring trails we hadn't hiked before, and finding unexpected trails that weren't on the map. We had a wonderful workout, and it brings me so much joy to spend a day outdoors with my sweetheart.

Oh, I love to be outdoors in the woods! How about you? Do you love to hike, too? Where do you like to go, and what weather do you like to hike in?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Onion Farm

Does everyone else in the world already know this trick?

Katie taught me about this during her visit last week.

After you cut the tops off of green onions, put them in a cup of water on the windowsill. In a few days they will re-grow new tops.

I don't know how many times they will re-grow. (If you do know, please comment!) I used my first crop on our salad this evening. The tops you see here have been growing for about three days. I put fresh water in the cup today.

Nothing fancy...just a neat trick that gives a lovely bit of green and a way to reuse something that would otherwise be thrown away. Makes me smile.

I remember my mother growing avocado seeds on the window sill when I was a kid. I haven't seen that on anyone's windowsill in quite a while. You don't get any avocados--they grow on full-grown trees--but it makes a lovely leafy plant. (According to several websites I read in the last few minutes, it is actually possible to plant the avocado seed and get a tree that will produce fruit.)

What veggies do you grow on your windowsill?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Into the Woods

I've been thinking a lot lately, about taking children into the woods. Hiking, backpacking, adventures away from traffic and cell phones and soccer teams. I truly believe that it can be a transformational experience for kids to get away from their daily lives, so filled with distraction, and just be...quiet...still...

It is a wonderfully healthy thing to use the body to change place. So much of our location change occurs via car, bus, plane. (Even biking is rarer today than it was when I was a kid.) There is something so fundamental about simply walking and walking and walking. It feels good. The muscles strengthen and lengthen, the heart pumps in a stronger way, the brain clears with the steady rhythm of movement.

Here in the Northwest, our hikes are often a riot of green vistas (sometimes wet green vistas!), which are deeply lovely, I think, but desert hikes and chaparral hikes and meadow hikes can be equally transformational and healing.

Carrying everything one needs to be comfortable and well-fed in the woods for a day or more is even more empowering. (This morning a magazine ad for RV-ing caught my eye. The slogan said, "Find your AWAY," via an RV, of course. Sorry, but I'm not buying it. RVs have their purpose and place. It would have been lovely to have been inside one when Mark and I tried tenting in a Nebraska thunderstorm last summer. But that is not "away.") "Away"--at least for me--happens when I walk to places that no car or RV will ever be able to reach and set up my tent and filter my water and cook my food without leaving any traces that I was ever there at all. It is the rustle of a deer munching in a meadow, the chatter of a squirrel scolding me for trying to hang my food bag in his tree, the quiet staccato of rain on the tent while I slip more deeply into sleep in a place darker and quieter than I will ever find here on Laurel Lane.

Hmmm...can you tell how I feel about hiking and backpacking? It is my firmly-held belief that one of the best things we can do for children is to take them out into the woods. That's why I take my grandchildren backpacking the minute they turn seven. And that's why, when I became the Young Women's President at church last winter, I scheduled three day hikes and a 3-night backpacking trip this summer for the girls. When my own girls were teens, the annual backpacking trip for the girls was an expected part of the LDS culture. These outings mattered to my girls--and to me, as their mom--and we scheduled other commitments so they could participate.

However, I am learning that in the twenty years since my own girls went off into the woods with their Young Women leaders, some things have changed.

The first hike, in April, went off without a hitch.

But then in May, only 2 girls signed up and I was buried under schoolwork, so I cancelled the hike the night before. After all, our June hike was scheduled after school was out, and there wouldn't be so many conflicts then. Meanwhile, I was struggling to find the adult leadership required for the backpacking trip I have scheduled in July. I had been asking various outdoorsy-types at church since February, with no luck yet. Thinking about taking the girls into the woods left me feeling deflated and discouraged. Grrrrr...

Fast-forward to two weeks ago, when Brother K stepped up and said he would be glad to accompany us on any day hikes and the backpacking trip. Hooray! Plans could finally move forward.

Then, yesterday, for our June hike, only 1 girl showed up. The others who had been scheduled to go cancelled that morning. Poor little gal, she was excited to go hiking but didn't want to be the only teenager with three adults, and I can't blame her. So we took her home. Lame!

And today, checking in with the senior girls who have been asking me to take them backpacking, it turns out that they probably can't go after all. Their lives are too full of jobs and getting ready to leave for college and family vacations.

I get it. And I honor their need to make their way and accomplish the things that are currently priorities in their lives. I'm not trying to twist any arms.

But I'm sad, so sad, to have to say that it looks like I won't be taking any teenagers into the woods this summer. Because I know from deep down inside me, that the girls who come out of the woods will be different than they were before they went in.

Maybe next year. Maybe.

(Posts about backpacking with the grandchildren are here and here and here.)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Just a little thing, but it's cool

This isn't a big deal, but I think it's cool.

I have a Live Traffic Feed widget on the lower right side of my blog that shows the recent "hits" on my blog - who's checking in, from where, which post they've checked, etc.

I usually forget it's's certainly not something I'm hovering over...but every so often I scroll down to see who the 10 most recent visitors have been.

Most days, the feeds look like this:

But then the other day, I noticed this feed:

What jazzed me wasn't the fact that it's from Argentina. Cool as that is, I actually get hits from all over the world because of my funky little tutorial on making fabric balls.

No, what surprised me was that it's in Spanish! "Bolas de tela" is "fabric balls."
I haven't been to the site, but maybe it translates things into different languages?

This is the only live traffic feed I've noticed in a different language. Like I say, I don't hover over the widget. Not sure if this is an anomaly, or the start of something new and cool. But I like it. Or, as they say in Argentina, ¡lo me gusta!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Monday with Lala

Such a treat to have Katie and Olivia here for a visit this week. Why do all these dear grandchildren have to live so far away?

 Mmmm...fresh strawberries for breakfast!

 Helping in the garden

 A visit to the Oregon City elevator

 Sadly, Munos Bakery--a family tradition--is closed.
We had to resort to a donut from Safeway. 

 Footwear, Lala style

 Bedtime, post bath - see the darling curly hair?
Her mama asked us to keep an eye on Lala while mama took a shower.
We were reliable on the safety factor...not so much on the clean factor...sorry, Mama!

Evening...lovely foxglove in bloom...humming with bumblebees

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Precious Moments

Remember those "Precious Moments" cards and knick knacks from a few years ago?

Sorry, I know they're kind of sappy, but that was the image that came to mind when I reflected on this weekend.
See the resemblance?
Sweet little Anson, our grandbaby #22

We spent a lively weekend with Polly and Eric and their crew. Mark helped them build a few more shelves in their lovely new home. Polly and I unpacked a few more boxes and organized her sewing/craft area. And I didn't get photos of any of it! Silly me. That's what I get for being busy and having so much fun with being helpful.

I did take a few photos of the older sibs, but they didn't turn out very well. So for now, just a couple more photos of Grandpa and Grandma with this darling little boy. Here he's wearing the white outfit he wore for his baby blessing at church today.

And here's another "precious moment" - the three grandmas. This is Liz Carlson, Polly's mother-in-law and Laurie Last, Kendra's mother-in-law. Liz and Laurie have been a part of my life for 10 and 8 years, respectively. Both of them are kind and caring about my family as well as their own!

For an amazing story about Liz Carlson and her newest granddaughter, check out this link.

Laurie Last traveled from out of state to be with us Katie's wedding, and again today to Anson's blessing. She and her family recently moved from California to Washington state, where they are in the same stake as the Carlson in-laws.

It was a delight to spend a day with these dear "sister-grandmas."