Thursday, August 10, 2017

Summertime at Vista House

Oh, it's been hotter than Hades here in Oregon for the last couple of weeks. Officially 106 degrees for a couple of days, the hottest temps in my memory, but I'm pretty sure it was hotter than that in my little corner of our town. The window a/c has been running more than it usually runs in two or three summers, and it has been a little champ in making life bearable.
Now I am thinking back on early summer to when Annie and her kids were staying with us for a few weeks while Edwin was deployed. We love those babes, but having four kids under the age of seven (one of them a toddler who loved to scream) in the house could be nerve-wracking some days. Papa and I decided to escape to Vista House for a weekend and we took Gabe along with us. The lad is surrounded by girls and sometimes a guy just needs a break, ya know? He misses his dad something fierce when he is away, so we thought it would be good for all of us.
Gabe was hilarious as we drove out to Central Oregon. He was rather crowded by some iris bulbs and greenery that we had picked up from a friend on the way out of town, and he was not impressed by the spiders and other critters that started to emerge from the foliage as we traveled on. We stopped at Costco to pick up some yummies and Jeff repacked the car, shaking out the greenery and generally giving Gabe some breathing space. 
Well, I picked up a cooked chicken from Costco, because every trip needs a Costco rotisserie chicken, and Gabe was VERY excited. I love chicken, he reiterated several times. He also talked me into a Cars arty-erasable-felt-pen-thingie book, which I told him he would get bored with but he assured me he would not. Whom do you think was proven to be correct? Oh, and a life jacket for the pool.
So we wended our way along the highway, the car smelling like rotisserie chicken, and Gabe exclaiming frequently, I love chicken! And I love Nana and Papa! And various other things that he loved. That boy loves many things.
We wanted to stop and eat chicken and call it a picnic before the chicken got toxic, so somewhere around Detroit Lake we pulled into a state campground. We thought we might be able to sneak into a quiet spot, devour the chicken, and then sneak out again without having to pay the $5 for parking. We drove around the maze of campsites and couldn't find the promised picnic area, but finally stumbled on a covered barbecue area after we tried to get out of the campground and got lost again. 
Gabe was very hungry and gobbled up a surprising amount of fowl. We ate quickly and disposed of the bones, washed our hands in the conveniently placed water spigot, and made tracks to leave again. 

Jeff was just rearranging the car again... 

WAIT!!!!!!!!! Do you see this? My new car! I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!! After driving my Grandam for almost fourteen years, Jeff declared it was time for something new. I was kind of used to babying it along, but we needed something that would get us out to Central Oregon in the wintertime without having to get snow tyres put on his car every year. We settled on this Subaru Crosstrek and we adore it. If you are thinking about a Subaru, talk to me and I will tell you all of the reasons why I love it so!
Back to regular programming.

...and up drives a park ranger in his little electric cart. 
Um, we got lost officer, and we were just repacking the car and getting ready to find our way out. 
Which was true. Mostly.
We will surely go to hell for our prevarications. 
Just as well the chicken bones were already disposed of.
And the chicken grease washed from our fingers.

He kindly directed us out of the park and on we went.
Detroit Lake was looking more full than we have seen it for years. Sadly, I found out the next day that it was also full of toxic green algae. That can kill you.
I love that lake! pipes up Gabe from the back seat.

We stopped in Sisters and checked out my favourite cotton clothes shop, but nothing caught my eye. Gabe scored a windmill and we got a couple for his sisters. He was happy.

The next day we went down to the pool. Gabe's anticipation was intense, but the reality hit him as soon as he dipped his toes in the water and then he wanted nothing more to do with it. 
Well, Nana wasn't going to stand for that, so I did some stern talking and cajoling and bribing and threatening, and he finally allowed me to hold him close and walk around the shallow end. I sneakily encouraged him to be braver and braver and by the end of the hour he was having a blast, holding onto a borrowed pool noodle and walking along the shallow edge, working his way further and further out into the water as the minutes ticked by. And, of course, he didn't want to leave, but Papa had had enough.

We did puzzles.

Gabe and I went to some garage sales and scored an epic train set for ten dollars. Gabe proved to be an avid shopper and tried to talk me into many things. 

We were back at the Ranch for the week of July 4th. I mosied around the acre taking photos of some of my favourite things. 
I bought a pet carrier for ten dollars at a thrift store in McMinnville and the girls were quite happy to travel in it. Then they used it for a nesting box. One of my best buys ever.

The lavender bush was blooming profusely and every day I picked some stems and put them in the sun on a baking tray. By evening they were fully dry and I've been using the dried flowers in flax pillows.

Dandelions are not quite the same species out here. Somehow, I don't mind them as much.

Every time we go out to the Ranch we plant bulbs and weed and try to tidy things up a bit. I emptied these river rocks out of a vase in the living room and used them to pretty up some garden ornaments. 

We bought this bird house at the farmer's market and it had sparrows nesting in it. They were very perturbed at us for infringing on their privacy.

The yucca plants were pretty until the deer nibbled the blossoms.

We've been painting the gazebo, hoping to extend the life of the wood by a few years. Still not finished.

Jeff dug this flowerbed out a few years ago and we have been gradually filling it with irises and catmint. I think we are at the tipping point where there is more space covered in desirable plants than weeds.

My sister sent me a deer.
She did.
It found its home, gazing at the real thing in the gardens below.

We bought new blinds for the uncovered windows and Jeff installed them with a minimum of fuss and bother. 

This has been the best year for mariposa lilies. We love them and every day we wandered around the acre searching for new blossoms.

It's our little bit of Paradise, albeit a dry and windy one. Come up and see us some time!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Wild turkeys, Red Rocks, and Buffalo Bill in Denver

Continued from this post.

Jeff had a couple of clients in the Denver area, so I went with him. If he had his choice, I would go with him every week. 
It was a big change of temperature from Atlanta to Denver. 
Jeff's first client was in Parker, so we drove south to our hotel. The plan was for me to drive him to the place of business in the morning and then I would be free to explore until it was time to pick him up in the evening and drive up to Evergreen to the next client. So the next morning I threw on some clothes and off we went. The route did not go as expected. We wound up some windy roads into the hills. It was a residential area and we wondered how we were going to find a manufacturing plant up in those hills. This is what we found when we reached the address.
Wild turkeys.
And deer.
And some very nice houses. 

Jeff called the client and apparently she had written her home address on the client form instead of her place of business. So we hot-footed it back to the hotel, I took a quick shower and packed my bag and off we went. To Evergreen. Same address as the second client.
Life seldom goes as expected. 
Jeff had been in the area and done some exploring on previous trips, so he suggested I visit Red Rocks and Buffalo Bill's grave. I decided on Red Rocks first and set off up the freeway. It was only a few minutes' drive and it was easy to tell when I got there. 
Red Rocks. 

I parked in the lot above the amphitheatre. I kept stopping to take selfies in front of the magnificent rocks but nothing did them justice. And then I saw the amphitheatre itself. 

It is a marvel of engineering, set right into the rocks. Concerts have been held at this venue for over 100 years. The amphitheatre was built between 1936 and 1941 using labour and materials provided by the CCC and WPA. So many famous bands and artists have performed here that it boggles my mind: The Beatles, Jethro Tull, Jimi Hendrix, John Denver (of course,) Carole King, The Carpenters, The Grateful Dead, U2, Coldplay, just to name a few. Jeff's favourite concert DVD of Piano Guys takes place at Red Rocks and many other bands have produced concert albums here. 
This photo isn't mine, but it gives you an idea of the majesty of the place.

I think it's kind of amazing that this whole place is open to the public. It is frequently used by people for exercise. The venue seats almost 10,000 people and a flight of 380 stairs on each side of the seating provides a natural site for athletic types to show off their cred. The woman in the blue tank top was squat jumping up the seat levels. Crazy. 

There she goes!

The view from the stage.

Carrying on down the steps and past the stage, you approach the hiking trails, which are 6,280 feet above sea level. 

The Trading Post Trail is only 1.4 miles, so I thought I would give it a go, in spite of the elevation. I surprised myself by thoroughly enjoying the solitary walk. There were a few fellow travelers, but for the most part I was the only human in sight and I was okay with that. It was a gorgeous day, warm and with the occasional cloud flurry, and I walked with my mouth open at the magnificence of the scenery. 

The trail starts to lead back to the beginning. I was a bit hot and thirsty but reluctant to leave.

I went back up to the amphitheatre a slightly different way and was glad that I hadn't seen this before I started my walk or I may never have continued.

This time I walked up this man-made path. 

Up the stairs this time. These are not included in the total of the 380 stairs by the seating.

And there they are.
Up we go!

I was a smidge tired after all of that stair-climbing and rock-clambering, but the day was yet young so I drove to Buffalo Bill's grave on Lookout Mountain. This overlooks the Rocky Mountain foothills and the Western plains, where Bill Cody spent many happy times.

Cody died in Denver in 1917 while visiting his sister. He had told his wife that he wanted to be buried up on Lookout Mountain, so he was buried here June 3rd, 1917. His wife, Louisa, was buried next to him four years later. There is some controversy on the subject, as the good people of Cody, Wyoming also claim that he is buried on Cedar Mountain, just outside his home town. It's an interesting story if you care to follow the link. Their foster son, Johnny Baker, was so worried about the feud between the two towns that he reburied the Codys under a ton of concrete to discourage any possible theft. 

The weather took a turn for the worse by the time I got back to the car so I went back to the hotel until it was time to pick Jeff up again.
That night we drove all the way up to Fort Collins to visit with some dear friends.
The next day I took late checkout and was completely slothful. It snowed overnight so after I checked out I sat in the lobby by the fire until it was time to leave.
I rather enjoyed my little break from the norm.
Now I want to see a concert at Red Rocks Amphitheatre.
Another jaunt for The List.