Insert your own eclipse pun here

Okay, guys, the eclipse was pretty cool.  At totality (we weren’t in the direct path, but we were near enough as to make very little difference), it got a LOT darker and a LOT cooler, and it was SO WEIRD.

John used the binoculars and a cereal box to make a projector, and we watched the moon eat the sun and then vomit it back up, all on cardboard.

The eclipse: a photo essay

Feels like a dream

Let me tell you the story of our hike last Saturday.  “Story”, since it’s not like anything eventful happened.  Mostly I want an excuse to show you pictures.  Oh, that reminds me – I want to preface all these pictures with something.  Every picture and video posted here was taken by me on my phone’s camera.  I have the resolution cranked all the way up, and for the still photos, I have HDR turned on.  I don’t edit my photos, and I don’t use filters.  (This is not a vanity or ego thing – I don’t have the patience or desire to spend that much time on my pictures.)

Anyway, I wanted a hike with waterfalls, but I didn’t want to drive all the way across the state to see the famous ones, like Multnomah Falls (two and a half hours away) or Klamath Falls (three hours away).  Luckily for us, the Mackenzie River has a trail called the Waterfalls Loop Trail, and it starts less than 90 away from us.

We started at the Carmen Reservoir.  The day was perfect.

The river was so clear it looked it looked chlorinated, and the water was so cold that the air on the banks felt like air conditioning.  Everything smelled fresh and clean and clear and that reminds me of something I forgot to mention about our redwoods hike.  That national park smelled SO GOOD.  Margaret, wonder that she is, explained that the park has a lot of bay trees, and surprise surprise, they smell like bay leaves, and it was so freakin’ pleasant (and I am so glad we had Margaret to tell us that because otherwise I would not have been able to explain why it smelled so good).  This forest did not smell like bay leaves, but it smelled like fresh, clean air, and it was so nice.

The path was clear and well-maintained (and by the waterfalls, it had big log railings that reminded John of Busch Gardens in Williamsburg), and the forest was beautiful.

And then we rounded the corner and saw the first of two waterfalls.  (I think it was Koosah Falls.)

It was loud, of course, but I could have watched it for hours.

Speaking of well-maintained trails, I’m always tickled to find stairs in the woods.  These were on the way up the river, past the first waterfall to the second (and the top of the loop).

So then we came to the second waterfall.  Look at all that green!  I can’t get over how nearly neon it was.

Then of course we asked someone to take our picture.  Not great, but whatever.

So we climbed to the top of that waterfall and kept following the trail, but when it was time loop back, we weren’t ready.  There was another path that was supposed to lead to Clear Lake (never heard of it, but it sounded promising), so we figured we’d follow that for a little bit.

It led us here.  We weren’t impressed.

We were going to turn back, but another hiker came by and pointed out that the trail continued on the other side of the road.  That was awfully nice of her because that’s how we found the Lake of Shining Waters Clear Lake.

It had a cool bridge going across the river.

We walked a little and turned around pretty quickly, but when we got back to the bridge, it had been overrun by tweens from sleepaway camp.  There were at least 20 of them, daring each other to jump off the bridge, their camp counselors egging them on.  I got video.

After that, we headed back to the waterfalls loop to go down the other side.  We found where the trolls live.

And then as we got to the top of that upper waterfall, we climbed down from the actual trail to get closer to the water and I found my new favorite spot in the whole world.

That’s where the water plunges down, that horizontal line of frothy water with trees above it (beyond it).  My toes were an inch from the waterline on the bank.

I crouched down under a tree to get the water rushing over rocks inches away.

Shifting my focus upstream, look at how clear it is and then how cold it looks.

And then there was this spot, where I could sit up against a tree with the water rushing by below and the dropoff 30 feet ahead.

We stopped here for a while.

And, well, John was hot, so he tested the temperature.

We did eventually head back down the trail, and we found ALL the rainbows at the first waterfall.

This next picture is why I mentioned all that stuff about not editing and not using filters.  I have done nothing to this picture to make it look like this.

It’s my favorite.  Occasionally I get lucky.  And that day, I was very happy to be on that trail.

Birds and creepy stories did the trick

I was a little blue when I left the house for my run today, but being outside (or running or time or podcasts or ducks) lifted my mood.  My run was chock full of what passes for excitement during the week.  First, I freaked myself out.  I ran on a new part of the path, and just as I entered this very cool tunnel of trees, where it got darker and atmospherically creepy, a character in my podcast started describing the time she saw a little boy at the end of her bed, and you know what?  I’m not going to keep telling that story because I’m in bed now and I’m freaking myself out again.  Trust me – it was scary and I was in a scary part of the trail that I didn’t know existed and now kind of want to avoid.  Except it was cool.

Later, I saw a heron/stork-type bird (skinny legs, long beak) staring intently into the rapids of this little creek.  He looked like he was fishing, like he might dart forward and grab a fish any second, so I stopped to watch.  He gave me a look, went back to staring at the water.  Gave me another look, stared at the water.  After the third look, I left.  I was cramping his style.

On my way home, I saw a family of four feeding dozens of ducks while leaning on the sign that describes the harmful effects of feeding the waterfowl.  The ducks didn’t seem to mind.

That’s it.  That’s my exciting afternoon.  Don’t mock – I felt better.

Crater Lake is SO freakin’ BLUE

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I usually get annoyed when I skip a day on the ol’ blog here, but I can’t be mad about skipping yesterday.  I didn’t plan to skip – I thought I’d be back home in time to get it done – but it was late because we were out having adventures and doing fun things and taking LOTS of pictures.  I can forgive myself for that.

None of the pictures you’re about to see have been edited, mostly because I don’t really know how to do that, and I’m too lazy to bother with it.  The signs all over Crater Lake National Park say that the water is so blue because it’s all rain and snowmelt and because it’s the deepest freshwater lake in the country. It was incredible.  I didn’t want to look away.  Of course, I did look away because who would believe we were there if we didn’t take pictures?  I love being a tourist.

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I can’t help but like this one, even though we could be ANYwhere since you can’t really see the lake.

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It was hard to leave, even after our hike.  Oh yes – we hiked.  In our infinite wisdom, we chose one of the strenuous hikes, meant to take 2-3 hours and gain over 1000 feet in elevation.  In our defense, there were only two hiking trails within walking distance of where we parked, and the other one was easy and seemed to follow the road we’d just driven down.  BOR-ing.

If you squint, you can see the Crater Lake Lodge in the upper center part of this picture, which is where we started.  I think we were about halfway when I took this one.

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The temperature was in the 70s, and we were working hard, so we were plenty warm, but there was SNOW on the ground.  Not everywhere, certainly, but we had to climb through a slippery melting snowbank to get to the top.  That was the scariest part.  Well, coming back down through the snowbank was the scariest part.

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We did reach the top, though.  Here we are on Garfield Peak, 8000 feet above sea level.  I don’t know how many feet we were above lake level.

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And here’s another terrible selfie (it was really bright out, okay?).

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I think I might have to make that one my profile picture for ALL of my accounts.

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John wants to run down this meadow.  I’m willing to bet it’s steeper than it looks.

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I think I took this next one on the way back down.

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Here we are, tired and happy and soon to be very hungry.

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We left about 6pm (we got there around after noon, close to 1, I think), but it’s 2 and a half hours away, so it was nearly 9 before we got back to Cottage Grove, and after 9 before we ate.  Almost midnight when we got home, still had to shower (covered in sweat and sunscreen – totally gross), and we’re only a little bit sore today.  Our gym has a hot tub.  We may be heading there this afternoon.

Our Big Day Out: A Photo Essay

We did make it to the coast, and we did have a wonderfully pleasant day, and with the sun out, temps in the mid-60s felt great.

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We did what usually works out for us: hit the road with a general destination (or at least direction) in mind, and then just see what we see.  You know?  It worked out pretty well.  Our first stop was at the Sea Lion Cave, a place we didn’t know even existed until we noticed it on our handy road atlas.  (Our cell service was pretty much non-existent all day, so we relied on good old-fashioned maps.)

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Apparently, this is where the Stellar sea lions live.  Off to one side was a path to the elevator that takes you down 20 stories to the actual cave (fall and winter home of the sea lions).  Way over in the distance is the Heceta Lighthouse.  We’ll visit that some other trip.

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A similar path in the other direction took us to the lookout where we could see the rocks where about 150 sea lions were sunning or playing in the surf.

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It’s breeding season, and the male sea lions were shouting about it.  Lots of roaring.  They’re a noisy bunch.

We headed further north after that, stopping in Newport for a late lunch and a little browsing.  Newport has a pretty harbor, but it’s a working port and the harborside factories or whatever where they deal with the raw fish and crabs smelled AWFUL.

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Looks nice, smells bad.  But they had a friendly California sea lion willing to pose for his fans.

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After that, we found a mostly empty beach and read for about 3 hours.

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Sunset sent us home.

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Under attack

The universe may have been trying to tell me not to ride my bike today.  Before I left, I had to convince a fairly large spider to get off my front tire.  I convinced it by wheeling my bike around.  The spider wasn’t on the tire anymore, but I don’t know where it went.  I didn’t crush it.

Worse than that, I saw a snake.  It was slithering frantically off the bike path and into the tall grass, and I saw it at the last minute.  I’m pretty sure I didn’t run over its tail, but I did shriek and nearly fall over and crash my bike.  It was a small snake, but it freaked me out.

THEN, last but least scary, a dog charged me, growling and snapping.  It was on a leash, and I was racing by, so I was probably in more danger from the spider that went missing, but still, I flinched.

It’s amazing I didn’t crash my bike today, actually.

Gauntlets have been thrown

I like to be outside.  I like the fresh air, I like the scenery, I love the sky.  I just don’t like it when outside touches me.  Personal space, man.  I need it.  You know I take allergy medicine all year, and it does a pretty good job, but I run into minor problems if my skin touches vegetation.  Not all of it, and not all the time, but enough of it and often enough.  I wear gloves and kneel on a towel when I’m weeding because my skin reacts when grass (cut or not) and weeds touch it.  It goes away quickly, and it’s localized (thank goodness it doesn’t spread), but it happens every time.

So aside from weeding being an annoying chore to begin with, I have that to be careful of.  Bugs are the other part I can’t deal with, as (again) you already know.  The outside of our house here is covered in ants.  So far, we don’t have an ant problem inside, but they’re all over outside, and when I was weeding the other day, they kept getting on me.  It’s not a HUGE deal (I was wearing gloves and long sleeves and they were just ants and not the biting kind (I assume because I didn’t get bitten)), but I came inside to shower and change and I found an ant ON MY HEAD, CRAWLING IN MY HAIR.

THAT IS UNFORGIVABLE AND I MUST NOW DECLARE WAR ON ALL ANTS.

Sorry, ants.  You started it.

Rose garden with actual roses this time

There’s this really nice house I see on my bike ride with a really nice backyard.  The back is all tall wrought-iron fence, and there are rose bushes blooming along the top of the fence every few feet.  Pretty.  The other day I noticed that the yard between the patio and the fence was all dirt, and I briefly wondered what they were going to plant there.  Today as I rode by, I noticed it looked different, but I was a couple minutes past it before I figured out what it was.  (I’m very observant.)  Sod!  They sodded the whole thing.  Maybe it didn’t register because it was still flat?  Very green, very nice.  I might not have noticed at all, or it wouldn’t stuck in my head, except that our yard has fresh sod (fresh from March, I think), and you can still see the edges of each piece.  I wonder how long it takes for it to all mesh together?

Now, have some pretty.

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Rose garden, but without the roses

John and I went for a walk the other day (the one I could barely walk back from), and I took a bunch of pictures of this really nice public rose garden.  Today, though, I’m not showing you any roses.  Sorry.

First this sort of sweet, sort of really strange bench.  Does it want to hug you?  Squeeze the life out of you?  Feel you up inappropriately?  Hard to say.

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Then, this tree.  It’s some sort of cherry tree that was planted in 1847, and now it needs cables to keep it together.  No climbing allowed, sadly.

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It was a really nice morning.

Fluff

Every tree in Eugene drops white fluff.  Every time I go to the park (which is nearly every day), I’m dodging all the white fluff that’s floating through the air.  I don’t want it in my mouth, I don’t want to breathe it in, and I don’t want it in my eyes.  It’s EVERYWHERE.  It’s practically snowing white fluff around here.  Are cottonwoods a thing?  I think they are.  Are they a thing in Oregon?  Do they drop white fluff in the spring?

These are things Ms. Google can answer for me.  Oh, Ms. Google!  Yoohoo!

Hm.  Well, cottonwood trees are a thing, they drop white fluff everywhere, and they have them in Oregon, so I’m willing to go with that.  And it’s pretty…

The dark is rising

My least favorite part about winter is already here: the dark.  The sun is still coming up at a reasonable hour (for now), but it gets dark so early in the evening!  It’s barely 6pm, and I feel like I should be going to bed.  (I am not a night owl.)  I think I need a sun lamp.

Ooh, speaking of the sun (or brightness, at least), I got the picture I was hoping to get.  A few weeks ago, I noticed a view of St. Mary’s I really liked (from the drawbridge over the creek), but all the trees were still so green (I say it like it’s a bad thing – it’s not!  I love it when the trees are all green.).  I thought it might be a nice picture to get once the leaves started to turn.  Then we planned our trip to Oregon, and I was sure I was going to miss it, that by the time we got back, all the leaves would be gone.  Not so!

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Then I took a wider shot – look at that sky!

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I love September and October skies.  (I know it’s November, but November doesn’t have skies like that.  Don’t tell anyone.)

Come on, Oregon, now you’re showing off

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On Wednesday, John and I decided to head to the coast and sight-see (and give Will and Christina a day free of house guests), and I may have fallen into a beautiful scenery hole.  I don’t know if I can get out.  It’s almost overwhelming.  The road we were on to get there took us through the mountains and along a river and then there was a lake (with the trees on the mountain going right down to the edge of the water and the water was like glass and the trees were perfectly reflected) and oh, hey some elk (elks?) and it was SO beautiful.  I didn’t get any pictures of that section because I was driving and there was nowhere to turn off, but then we turned south onto 101 (the Pacific Coast Highway!!) and aimed for Coos Bay.  We went to a state park Brian (who used to live there) recommended and BAM.  There was the Pacific Ocean.  It’s been a long time since we last saw it, but hey!  It’s still there.

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There was a trail along the top of the coastal cliffs – I could have stayed up there all day.

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Thursday morning, Will took us running along a trail that runs next to a lake near his house, and really – how do you expect me to run in a straight line when I’m craning my neck in every direction to look at the lake and the trees and the mountains and oh look! there’s a house nestled in there and wouldn’t it be great to live in that house?

Will has done his job – we’re convinced.

Too quiet

I’m probably going to regret even thinking this, but this week has been quiet at work.  A little too quiet.  Like trouble is brewing somewhere, and it’s going to hit us hard soon.  Now that I’ve thought it, it’s probably going to come true.

That’s both pessimistic (in this particular case) and incredibly arrogant of me to believe that things will happen because I think them into being.  But you know, as far as I can tell, nothing is real if I don’t think of it.  You’re all constructs of my imagination, believed into being to keep me company.  The sandwich I had for lunch today (which was really good, by the way – hummus, cucumbers, artichoke hearts, and roasted red peppers) was imaginary, made for me by imaginary Potbelly employees.  I just had a conversation about my imaginary job with my imaginary coworker in my imaginary office.  Where am I, really?  What am I?  Who am I?

I just watched a YouTube video of a rabbit defending her babies from a very large snake (and winning).  That is not something I would have thought to imagine.  Existential crisis averted!  You may all consider yourselves real.

Sunflower

It sounds a little…hippie? flower child-ish? new age-y? pretentious? something…to compare myself to a sunflower, but I’m going to.  Because I love the sun.  Sunshine.  I don’t worship the sun in the I-must-be-tan-all-the-time way (I am very pale and I have come to (mostly) embrace it), but I like to be in warm sun patches.  Like a dog or a cat.  I follow the sun that way.  Like a sunflower!  Except sunflowers don’t move when the sunny patches move.  They just turn…okay, this is falling apart.  Mostly what I mean is that I’m much happier when the sun is shining.  And much MUCH happier when the sun is shining and it’s at least semi-warm outside.  (THAT’S how cold this winter has been: 54 degrees and super-windy counts as semi-warm.)  I don’t drift into depression in the cold and the dark (SAD is a thing, but I don’t think I have it, at least not in a serious way), but a sunny day can cause a shift in my mood that I didn’t even know it needed.  I’m sure that’s true of most people – I’m not special in any way here.  Who couldn’t love a sunny day?  Besides John.  I mean, he likes sunny days, but he’s the only person I know who prefers clouds and overcast days.  And he REALLY doesn’t like heavy, humid heat.  We could never live in Florida.  (This is not a problem for me – I don’t particularly want to live in Florida, either.  Visiting for a while, though…that’s okay.  Especially if Disney World is involved.  I would like to live in Disney World.  Because I am a pretty pretty princess.)

Hm.  I think I’m going to end all of my blog posts that way.  Anyway, I am sitting on my bed in the apartment, in a patch of sunlight, all windows open (to get rid of the smell of fajitas from last night), and I am very happy.  Also, I am a pretty pretty princess.

It was all action, and really good action at that

Why do some beautiful blossoming trees have to smell so bad?  I mean, I’m sure it has something to do with defending against destructive insects or something (and I could google it find out, sure), but the smell really ruins an otherwise lovely walk around the neighborhood.

John and I saw Captain America: The Winter Soldier Friday night, and IT WAS AWESOME.  I mean, really – it was good.  And if you’re watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, watch this movie before watching the “Turn, Turn, Turn” episode.  That episode will make SO much more sense.  You probably already knew that and have probably already done that, but I figured I’d pass that along.  So we got back from the movies, all excited because it was SO COOL, and sat right down and watched that episode of S.H.I.E.L.D.  Sure, it’s not the greatest TV show, but we can’t get enough of this stuff right now.  Hooray for Captain America!

P.S. I love Bucky.