Quiet days...

It rained nearly two inches today, and the wind howled through the evergreens. DW cleaned the chimney, and laid a fire for tonight. Matt and family will spend the Halloween weekend with my sister's family, so the house is quiet. I'm still catching up with my blog, and editing photos... almost done. Dinner was cabbage and vegetable soup. And red wine. And chocolate. Murphy jumped up on the bed and spent the night between our pillows, just like James used to do.



A good report card from the eye doctor. An armload of new books from the library. The visiting cat now comes when called, and he's spending time sitting on the windowsill, listening to the birds. The wind is howling, and the evergreens are whipping in the wind... a storm with torrential rainfall is headed our way. DW will clean the chimney this afternoon, so we can have the first fire of the season tonight.

Leaves rich with fall color have been tumbling to the ground all day... winter is coming.



Up early to make a pot of tea, then went downstairs with my book to spend time with Murphy. Once the rest of the house was up and packing and making plans, we took my bright red MX-5 for an emissions test. It doesn't usually get to go out in the rain, but in spite of that, we still managed to make most of the drive with the top down.

Once we were out, we didn't want to go back home. Dave suggested lunch, and we considered The Mint, but decided to take the back roads to Maple Valley, and have a late lunch at Testy Chef instead.

When we got home, the kids were engrossed in a movie. I finished my book, then took my camera out to look for fall foliage. The dark rainy day did wonders for the bright red and gold leaves.

When I was good and chilled, I came in for warm clothes, then curled up with the laptop to search for free typefaces that look like handwriting. I'm looking for something that mimics my own writing, to use for my E|J logo on photos. I haven't found the perfect one yet, but have found a lot of fun typefaces to try out.


Caching Rainier...

A road trip with our Aussie family today, to do some geocaching on the flanks of Mt. Rainier. We started with a barbecue lunch at Mud Mountain Dam, where the kids blew off steam in the playground. We drove up the Mowich Lake road, all the way to the park boundary. This has become one of my favorite views of the mountain. From here it isn't the rounded peak that you see from anywhere around Puget Sound. It's rough and craggy and icy. You can clearly see massive cliffs, and snowfields, and glaciers. It's impressive.

George brought a geocoin all the way from Tasmania, and wanted to drop it in a cache in sight of Mt. Rainier. This one turned out to be perfect.


Foggy mornings...

The fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.
Carl Sandburg

It was one of those fall mornings, when the sun rises unseen, shrouded in thick fog. Beautiful in its own way, mysterious and cool and damp.

I don't know how to photograph fog. It never turns out the way my eyes see it, or the way it looks in the lens. Maybe that's part of the mysterious side of fog, that it keeps its identity hidden from view, and only lives in our memories.


Lions and tigers and bears...

A day at the zoo with family. We all came from different directions; DW and I got there early enough to do a few geocaches.

We were sitting on the concrete ledge outside the Woodland Park entrance when I heard my name. And there were Ella and Vivian, holding hands and jogging down the sidewalk, until they collapsed on the bench beside me. It wasn't hard to get Ella to pose with the chimp sculpture for me.

My favorites today were the giraffes and the bears.

And the blue heron facing off with the penguins for his share of fish.

And this gorgeous red ruffed lemur, from Madagascar.

We took our time exploring, and were the last to leave the park at closing. I love visiting Woodland Park, especially with children.


Filling the feeders

Our nephew and his family are staying with us for a week or so, before they head home to Tasmania. Six-year-old Grace helped me fill the bird feeders this morning, then we watched birds of all kinds converge on the orchard to eat their fill.



I spent the day on the laptop, furiously working to catch up on vacation photos for my blog. My sister let the kids each choose a pumpkin from the garden, and there was talk of carving pumpkins today. But there was far more carrying around of pumpkins than carving.


And autumn moves on...

A lot made me smile this morning:  Waking up in my own bed. Blue jeans and knee socks. A bright fall sunrise. Pulling on a warm sweater for this chilly morning. The heated seat in the Pilot, as I headed out to buy milk for oatmeal. Being home, driving familiar roads and looking for fall changes in the pastures and woods around my little farmhouse.

Last week's windstorm left the porch and patio littered with leaves from the cedar tree, but there's still much more to come down. The smoke tree has turned bright gold, and the garden phlox is still in bloom. The whole garden is messy... looks like fall has finally arrived.



Today, we head for home... really! We retraced our steps to check out the much-anticipated antique shop, but it was closed. I suspect the owner was the man out on the John Deere tractor, sweeping freshly cut hay into rows.

I wrote in  my journal as we drove, wincing a bit with my sliced index finger. I suspect there's still a bit of blackberry thorn deep in the cut. There are lists to make... things to do and look up, books to reserve at the library, photographs to edit. Thinking of all the beautiful places we've seen, and days to write about. And photography skills to work on, like sunsets. How to get more color from the sky, more true-to-life color. And reflections. I hope there are places near home where I can get near the water's edge without wading (or swimming). And I'll look for more vantage points for sunrises and sunsets; ours always seem to be the best during the winter months.

My focus the past month hasn't been on E|J or even reading friends' blogs, so I read some of my favorites as we drove, and thought about changes to make to E|J for 2016. I wonder if I can do a daily post next year?


Depots and sunsets...

Last leg home today. Or it was supposed to be. But on our way east we stumbled across a tautogram trail of geocaches, and since I was working to finish a challenge that required them, once we started finding them, we couldn't stop. We'd been engrossed for a couple of hours (or more) when we found the most amazing-looking antique shop, out in the middle of nowhere. And it was closed. DW suggested we just go back to Long Beach; we were only 30 or so miles away. And check out the antique shop in the morning. So we booked a motel, and a table at our favorite restaurant, and turned back to the beach in time to catch the third sunset in as many days.

The reflection on the wet sand was beautiful.

A black Lab made a beeline for the group of seagulls on the beach, just as I turned my lens toward them. He barked, they scattered. He didn't seem to mind, though. Just ran back to his owner.

The tide was washing up on the beach, changing the pattern in the reflections as the clouds deepened to indigo blue.

In fall and winter, Wednesday at The Depot is burger night. From a slip of paper on each table, you design your own gourmet burger. Beef, buffalo, oyster, or portabello mushroom. Then toppings: choices of several cheeses, and fresh veggies, clam chowder or fries. It's a relaxed, friendly place all the time, but this was even more so. More like a neighborhood hang-out. And the burgers were excellent.

Tomorrow, we'll head home for sure.



Daylight lingered, changing from blue to violet to indigo, punctuated with streaks of pink and rose. As the sky deepened into rust and gold, the sea stacks became silhouettes.

At the beach...

Breakfast in Seaside, then we walked the public path along the dunes.

We ambled down the coast, enjoying the views and looking for antique stores. And ocean views. Just before sundown, Haystack Rock drew us like a magnet, and we found a path that led down to the beach. People and dogs were everywhere, enjoying the last rays of sunlight after a perfectly beautiful day.


Desert to beach...

Working our way home, after breakfast at my favorite place in Bend, McKay Cottage. We arrived before they opened, so were the only ones there for a while. It gave me time to enjoy the beauty of the architecture without distractions. Craftsman style is my favorite. I love the simple, clean lines, the beautiful millwork, and the built-in cabinetry.

On our way to the ocean, we went hiking in search of a very old geocache, in the hills east of Salem, above the Molalla River. And we drove high up in the coast range of Oregon, until we reached the top of Hembre Ridge. There was once a fire lookout there, but all that remains are the foundation piers, and a stone slab where the entrance steps once were. Mac & I posed with the old cache here, placed in November 2000, the first year of geocaching.

I knew we wouldn't make it to Cannon Beach before sundown, so we found beach access just north of Tillamook and sat on the drift logs and watched the sunset. There was a man with his golden retriever walking on the sand, and a man with his dSLR and long lens, waiting like we were. The beach grass made a beautiful frame for the setting sun.

In the near dusk, I didn't see the bug crawling out on the end of a blade of grass, but the camera saw.

We drove the rest of the way to Cannon Beach just at dark, and dropped our bags at the Ebola Creek Inn, and went to find dinner. Bill's Tavern was recommended, and the food and beer were very good... especially after a day of driving.


Golden grass...

The Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway is one of my favorites. The Deschutes River, the lakes, the logging roads that lead to even better scenery. Love it. The dry summer was evident everywhere, but especially in the reservoirs that were pretty devoid of water. But in the absence of water there were acres of golden grass, waving in the breeze, shading from dark to light. Gorgeous.

We turned in at Hosmer Lake for a look at fishing possibilities. The view from the boat launch was so beautiful... Mt. Bachelor reflected in the lake, the blue sky, and the light, oh, the light.

We're coming back next fall to fly fish here, maybe camp in one of the two campgrounds along the lakeshore. And maybe we'll bring our mountain bikes, too. We rode here with friends each fall for a few years, and riding from Mt. Bachelor back to Bend is still one of my favorite rides.


Another day of bugs

Another day of bugs... and caches. And gravel roads. And wild horses, and cows. And spectacular scenery.

We spent the entire day driving north through the Dixie Valley, which runs for about 160 miles sandwiched between ranges of mountains. Interesting things going on there, but it's all government land (we think). All day long, white pickup trucks passed us, idling on the shoulder of the road while one of us fetched a geocache, going both directions. Toward the end of the day, we found a geothermal plant and chatted with one of the white truck drivers, asking him the best route out of the valley. He'd never gone out the north end, so couldn't help. So we did the logical thing: we just followed the trail of geocaches, and they led us down the right dirt road.

There was no private land or ranches until we reached the northern end. There we found irrigated hay fields and range land for cattle. The rest was sagebrush (not my favorite) and dirt and rock. (But I think my sinuses are finally getting acclimated to sage and juniper, after 3 weeks of living in it.)

The valley holds a 620 cache power trail; we did only 150 of them before we had to stop and just drive; even then, we didn't make it to Winnemucca until after dark. We did cache #620, just for fun.

Our day was bookended with a morning sunrise (with a surprise glimpse of snow on mountains), and an evening sunset.


131 miles, then turn right...

Breakfast was at a cute cafe in the old part of Ely this morning. Everywhere we looked, the town was decorated for Halloween.

At the end of this very wide street (why do late 1800s towns have such wide city streets?) is the old train station, now a railroad museum. They have a couple of steam engines for rides through the countryside, but we were too early for that.

The Nevada Northern Railway complex was established in 1905 to provide transportation for the booming copper mining industry in the area, and it's known for being the best-preserved, least alteredand most complete main yard complex remaining from the steam railroad era. Dave talked with one of the staff about their volunteer programs, and is tempted to sign up to become trained to be a railroad engineer.

It was a desolate and gorgeous drive west, over high rocky ridges and down into perfectly flat valleys, surprisingly beautiful. Over and over again, the same landscape features. Such a big place, so many times the GPS navigation told us to drive impossibly long distances before any turns were necessary.

There's very little irrigation here, but the tough yellow native grass is full of nutrients for livestock, and ranchers haul water to big stock tanks for cattle and whatever else needs it. We saw herds of wild horses, and traveled through open range filled with Black Angus cattle.

One of the oldest caches in Nevada is in one of these broad valleys, and also a portion of a long caching power trail called E.T. Before we finished, we'd found 150 of the 2000 caches that make up this trail; we'll come back another time to do the rest. This valley was full of springs. The road in required 4-wheel low to get through the muddy places, and the truck was splashed to the windows. We kept seeing brilliant green places, with standing water and green grass, and no irrigation in sight. The water must have been a welcome sight for the first settlers through here, and for the ranchers who run cattle here.

Tonight we're in the town of Tonopah, the closest place to a long powertrail of geocaches we'll do tomorrow, on our way north to Winnemucca. Fingers are crossed for a paved road this time, and a quick series of caches. I'd love to break my current record of 226 caches in one day.