I believe I have published my opinions on mosquitoes in the past, and since we moved into this house, I am adding poison ivy to my list of Things That Should Be Destroyed And Forever Removed From The Earth. It’s all throughout the wooded areas in our yard, so we can’t let Jack wander out of the grassy parts. And after today, I have to take the trail in Potter Wood off the list, too, at least until he’s old enough to understand and listen. The trail is pretty wide and totally clear, but the sides are lined with lots of plants with SO MUCH poison ivy hidden underneath. John and I took Jack there for a walk this afternoon, to let him run himself tired, and he doesn’t exactly run in a straight line. He also has a tendency to fall down. John and I spent the entire walk in a near-panic, trying to give Jack room to run but still keep him from veering off into the plants on the side. He got annoyed with us after a while (“just let me go where I want”), but I cannot imagine dealing with a toddler with poison ivy.
There is no possible way you will guess what happened to us this evening. It’s so far out of the realm of normal – you just couldn’t guess. So I’ll tell you.
LOTS of bees.
(Everyone is fine.)
Jack and I were in the front yard, near-ish the road, playing before dinner. It was around 4:45 or so. I was herding him in the direction of the back door when I happened to look over at the area in front of our front door. I saw lots of flying bugs. My first thought was that it was a huge cloud of gnats. You know how gnats get. But they looked bigger, and I thought I heard buzzing. In retrospect, I’m surprised the buzzing was as quiet as it was. I snatched Jack up, and we went inside.
Went up the back stairs, paused at the door to John’s office, “something is swarming out front,” heard a “what?”, and headed for the guest room windows. Yeah, guys, it was a swarm of bees. I googled “beekeepers near me” and found the Rhode Island Beekeepers Association. Miracle of miracles: someone answered the phone.
“Um, there are a TON of bees, like, swarming in front of my house. What should we do?”
A calm voice said, “That’s very likely this time of year. Swarming is exactly what they do, and they don’t sting when they’re doing it.” Seriously, that’s the first thing he said. He knows what he’s doing, this guy. “Where are they?”
So I told him they’re on a branch in a tree in our front yard, we discussed how high up it is and if he needs a ladder or could cut down the branch, and then he said, “Text me your address and send me a picture. I’ll be there in half an hour.”
He showed up right on time, Steve the Beekeeper (lawyer by day, beekeeper by free-time). He put one of those hive boxes down the ground, cut the branch out of the tree, and with one firm shake of the branch, knocked all the bees from the branch to the ground, right in front of the box. They wasted no time flooding into it. He came back an hour later to collect it.
I asked him what he was going to do with them, and he said he’s just going to try to keep them alive. ‘Tis the season for hives to split, so we were seeing half of an older hive looking for a new place to live. They would likely have been gone by morning (that tree branch was only a stopover for the night), but if left to their own devices, they probably wouldn’t survive. Bees are apparently bad at surviving (see news about not enough bees in the world).
Want to see what ten thousand bees look like? If you’re looking out our front door, this is the tree directly in front of you. It’s right up against our front-yard neighbor’s garage.
And here’s Steve, holding the branch with the bees still on it.
The whole incident took maybe an hour and a half. What a weird day.
I saw a snake today on the trail during my run. I managed not to freak out (out loud), but I did give it a wide berth as it slithered off into the weeds. It was…little, I guess, but snakes are snakes, and I don’t like them. This is the problem I have with the outdoors. I like being outside right up until I’m reminded of all the things that live outside. Which reminds me: one afternoon a few weeks ago, right after work, I took my book and a bottle of water, and I hiked up to the top of Spencer Butte to read.
I sat there pretty comfortably for nearly two hours, reading my book, ignoring the chatter of the other people on the summit (it was a busy day for hikers), shifting occasionally because sitting on rocks is not that comfortable, and then out of nowhere I heard the a loud buzzing sound. Like, LOTS of buzzing. Like the sound of a beehive buzzing, a sound I’ve only heard in the movies and in cartoons. I glanced to my left and there were a whole bunch of bees flying in a clump, hovering by a rock not one foot away from me. I suppose that’s what swarming looks like. I hope I never know for sure. I got away (duh), and frankly, I’m a little amazed at how quickly and smoothly I moved. I grabbed my stuff and was 20 feet away, looking over my shoulder the whole time. I’m super glad they didn’t chase me because there were no lakes in sight. Seriously, everything I know about swarms of bees comes from cartoons. And My Girl.
Anyway, that was the end of my pleasant afternoon on a mountain top. I hiked back down, and before I got in the car, I checked out the map on the information board. The information board helpfully informed me that the indigenous rattlesnake population was rebounding and they can be found on and under the rocks, so hikers should be careful and definitely not reach under rocks. Also, mountain lions hang out on the butte. Well, hell. I just spent two hours sitting on and among the rocks. It’s amazing I survived the day.
So yeah – outside is pretty and all, but things that want to kill me live out there, and that’s not even counting spiders and UGH mosquitoes, so maybe I should just stay inside.
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.
It was warm enough to run in shorts today, so I took the chance of blinding people as the sun reflected off my whiter-than-white legs. I didn’t have to worry; the sun didn’t stay out for long. There went my opportunity to get some color. And then it started to rain. I passed a woman walking her dog right when it started to rain in earnest. I gave her a “who’da thunk?” shrug as I went by, and she said, “Oh, we knew this was coming.” She’s right. It’s spring in the Pacific Northwest.
“Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!”
Since the band isn’t rehearsing tonight, I’ve decided to skip yoga (which is happening all too often), order Thai food, and hang out with John.
John and I were walking in the park this afternoon, chatting, enjoying ourselves, and then he nudged me hard in the upper arm. I lost my balance and windmilled a bit to keep from landing in the muddy grass, and DUDE. I barely tapped you on the arm. Overreacting much? (or some such) went through my head. I didn’t fall on the grass, I did get my feet under me on the sidewalk, and then John yelled, “No, SNAKE!” You would have been SO impressed by my high-stepping prancing moves. I leaped OVER the teeny tiny TERRIFYING snake that I was thisclose to stepping on and landed on the far side of the path. Then I came back to look. Now maybe it was more scared of me that I was of it, but if it had made any sudden movements I would have been up a tree.
I’d like to show you what it looked like, but I didn’t take a picture of it, and there’s no way in hell I’m googling snakes. I don’t google bugs, either. I don’t need those images in my brain.
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.
I can’t help but like this one, even though we could be ANYwhere since you can’t really see the lake.
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.
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.
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.
And here’s another terrible selfie (it was really bright out, okay?).
I think I might have to make that one my profile picture for ALL of my accounts.
John wants to run down this meadow. I’m willing to bet it’s steeper than it looks.
I think I took this next one on the way back down.
Here we are, tired and happy and soon to be very hungry.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
Looks nice, smells bad. But they had a friendly California sea lion willing to pose for his fans.
After that, we found a mostly empty beach and read for about 3 hours.
Did you know that when you fly through a cloud of gnats at 15 miles per hour, they feel like tiny pebbles hitting your face? Now you do. Good thing my mouth was closed. And I was wearing sunglasses. I always wear sunglasses when I ride my bike, sunny or not, getting dark or not. If I don’t, all that wind rushing into my face makes my contacts get all dry. Plus, bugs. I was riding my bike back from yoga one night several years ago, no sunglasses because it was getting dark, and a bug flew right into my eye. It was gross. And distracting. And gross.
What’s not gross? I just watched a video of a guy proposing to his girlfriend by handing her a puppy with the ring tied to its collar. SO CUTE. The puppy, not so much the proposal. I don’t care about that. Although, ACTUALLY…that’s kind of gross, too. Not gross in the same way as bugs in your eye, but it’s like cheating. “She CAN’T say no to me after I’ve given her the cutest puppy in the world!” Cue evil laugh.
I hope you said yes because you want to marry him and weren’t swayed at all by the cute puppy in your arms, lady in the video I watched with the sound off so I don’t know what really happened!
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.
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?
We went hiking today! Okay, “hiking”. Fine. We went for a walk. We live at the base of Skinner Butte, and there’s a trail that winds around it to get to the top. After more than two weeks of looking at it, we finally climbed it. I think the walk up is prettier than the views from the top. We’re going to have to get out of town to get the truly spectacular views.
Paths. I love my paths.
I was waiting for something to come crawling out of this tree trunk.
Overgrown path…and I have a picture of these GIANT primordial ferns, but I get an error when I try to transfer it to my laptop, so you’ll just have to imagine the giant ferns. I noticed that when we went hiking with Will and Christina last October. The woods looked prehistoric. I expected dinosaurs to come charging through. Not so much THESE woods, but I want to get out of town again soon.
Couple of views from the top, facing south.
I think that peak is Spencer Butte, but what do I know?