June 27, 2005

Kuhns Family Camp-Out 2005

I was going to wait until I had some photos of our camping trip before making an entry, but with two requests to know how it went, I will forgo the pictures (but may add some in the future).


This last weekend was the Kuhns family camp-out (Steph's Mom's family) at Fishermen's Bend Recreation Site just west of Mill City, Oregon. Fishermen's Bend is situated along a heavily wooded section of the rugged North Santiam River. We stayed in a "group camp" site complete with a large, open shelter that housed six very nice picnic tables, a wood burning stove, and a buffet counter with electrical outlets. There were two fire rings, a large barbecue pit, fifteen tent sites, several trailer/RV sites, and the nicest shower/restroom facilities I've ever seen at a camp-ground. There was also a playground, sand volleyball courts, a basketball court, a softball diamond, an amphitheater with shows, and numerous hiking and biking trails along the river and through the woods.

The Kuhns camp-out has been an annual occurrence for many years now, but this was the first year that we actually stayed the whole weekend. We would often just show up during the day on Saturday, but never really camped because we lacked the equipment. Well, not anymore!

We had a wonderful weekend. It's amazing how having your own equipment can change your outlook on camping. The tent went up without a hitch and it had plenty of room for the three of us and Sandy (Steph's mom). Sandy had planned on sleeping in a cabin near the group site, but she found it to be a little small for five people, so she tented it. I'm confident that the tent will withstand a little rain, but we were lucky enough to have a completely dry weekend. It wasn't until we were driving home that we encountered rain.

Most of the meals were fend-for-yourself, with one potluck dinner on Saturday night. We had sirloin steaks and baked potatoes on the BBQ Friday night, breakfast tacos (scrambled eggs, refried beans and organic salsa on tortillas) Saturday morning, and I cooked baked beans for the potluck. Sunday's breakfast was the classic camping standby: Krusteaz pancakes and bacon (and a new addition, fresh fruit). We ate very well. Of course every day had to start off with a pot of fresh, French pressed coffee... no way I was going to be drinking the Yuban stuff that everyone else was sippin'.

Saturday morning I awoke bright and early and decided it was the perfect time to get a shower. I had told Steph that real campers don't take showers, but when your internal clock wakes you up at 6:00, what else are you going to do? I brewed my coffee and set out on a walk along one of the river trails. A light mist hovered just above the surface of the fast moving water, lingering there until the sun could make it's way above the evergreen canopy and chase it away. As I stopped along the river to admire God's creation, a little bird in a snag of a tree chirped a melodious "good morning" to me. I continued on, sipping my coffee and surveying the beautiful landscape before heading back to camp to see if anyone else was up.

After breakfast, fifteen of us went on a much expanded hike along the river, with Noah riding on my shoulders for much of it. He did walk on his own long enough to find a perfectly sized walking stick, and to throw a few rocks into the river. As we strolled along the stony banks of the North Santiam, we were greated by many a cheerful kayaker, canoer, and fisherman (well, the fishermen actually ignored us, but I'm sure they were full of cheer).

If a long walk wasn't enough of a workout for a leisurely weekend, some of us decided to play a game of basketball in the midday sun (at least part of the court was shaded). Then after dinner, we all went out to play a little "work-up" softball. By the end of the day my back was killing me, my legs and hips were sore, and my knee ached. But it was more fun than I have had in a long time.

If we ever got tired of physical activity, we could find good conversation around the main fire ring. There was a wide range of personalities and life experiences around that campfire, and it was nice to visit with everyone again. I'm sure my political and social views didn't agree with many of those whom I was conversing with, but it didn't really matter... not this weekend, anyway.

Noah really loved camping. He spent a lot of time digging in the dirt and gravel with his toy tractor and dump truck, he went on bike rides (in his bike trailer) with his mama and cousin Karlee, and he played a little baseball with his papa. He did have a little trouble winding down in the tent at night, so he ended up falling asleep on the big air mattress with me (which was kind of a nice change). I missed out on evening activities because I was doing bedtime, but Steph was on morning duty while I sipped coffee and reconnected with nature, so it was a fair trade.

When it came time to tear down the tent and pack everything away, Noah asked, "Where'd the green tent go?". He was very sad to see it come down... so were we. But, this definitely will not be the last time. I don't know if we will be able to make it out again this year, but we will be back to Fishermen's Bend for next years Kuhns camp-out, that is for sure.

Posted by jethro at 07:47 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 20, 2005

Father's Day Weekend

I had a good, relaxing Father's Day weekend.

Friday afternoon started off with a little shopping (man-style shopping), if you can believe it. We still had a few camping items we needed to purchase, so we headed to a few of the local sports stores. Noah fell asleep on the way up, as he had not taken a nap yet, so I decided to try the GI Joes on McLoughlin first… that wasn't such a good idea. The shelves were rather sparse, and they didn't have any good stuff on sale. Noah woke up because we stopped, and he didn't like sitting in the rush hour traffic as we made our way from McLoughlin down to the Clackamas Promenade. Luckily, I was able to take an old truck driving "smuggler's route" to get around the I-205 parking lot, and we arrived at Gart Sports before the temper of our 2-year-old became fully involved.

Gart Sports is quite large and well stocked, but poorly managed. All of the employees just hang around in the front of the store, BS'ing with each other. I was able to find what I was looking for without their help, but it would have gone quicker if someone was actually manning the camping section. So, the remainder of our garage sale money went towards a 10'x10' canopy, a folding picnic table, and a battery powered lamp. Now we should be stocked up on camping gear for a while…

The next stop was Mervyn's, to find me a pair of cargo pants. Steph had seen them in an add, and thought they would be a good Father's Day gift for me. So, I actually tried on a couple pairs before finding a perfectly sized pair of Levis' cargo pants… and they were on sale, too. I have to admit, they will actually be handy to have when we go camping next weekend.

On the way home, we stopped at Noah's favorite fast food restaurant, Carl's Jr. He likes the "Chicken Stars and French Fries", while Stephanie and I like the not-very-good-for-you Western Bacon Burgers… yummmmmmmm…

Saturday morning I actually got to sleep in until 8:00. I brewed my coffee and sat with Noah and watch cartoons for an hour or so. Then I made my way out to the garage to organize some shelves, dig out and test our camp-stove and our portable grill, and to check out the portable picnic table we had just purchased… I think our new camping gear should all come in very handy.

Once everyone was dressed and ready to venture out, we headed to the local berry stand for a flat of fresh Oregon strawberries… strawberries that are RED all the way through the center like they should be! Once we got home, Steph started in on the most important task, making a Gala Strawberry Pie, while I crushed strawberries and mixed them with pectin and sugar for some freezer jam. Noah and his friend Jake (a 5-year-old neighbor) played with trucks and trains, and munched on fresh berries while we worked. At one point Jake asked what we were making (he is always asking what we're doing) and then declared that he had never had strawberry jam before… what a shame!

I made a pot of baked beans and grilled some kosher hot dogs for dinner, but we weren't able to eat outside because of a rain shower. Things had dried out enough after dinner that we could head outside to play a little baseball with Noey. He uses a big orange plastic bat to try and hit the sponge baseball that we toss to him. He manages to make contact about 25% of the time, but most important, he has fun doing it. At one point he tried on a mitt from Steph's childhood, but he kept wanting to throw the ball with the mitt hand, and usually just ended up tossing the whole thing, mitt and all.

Sunday morning I peeked into Noah's room and was greeted by big blue eyes and a sweet smile. He was playing with "green combine" and "yellow combine" in his bed. I swooped him up and we went out to the kitchen for waffles, Bob the Builder and then Thomas the Tank Engine (our Sunday tradition). I usually make him eat his breakfast before watching these shows, but Steph let him turn on the TV prematurely. So, I ended up sitting on the couch with him and feeding him his waffle. I didn't really mind… it was kind of a nice start to Father's Day.

After church, we had some leftovers followed by strawberry pie… oh was it ever delicious. Noah watched the US Open Golf Championship with me for a while, but then he wanted to go outside and swing his own (plastic) golf clubs. He was so cute out there (and the weather was so nice) that I couldn't resist taking my own pitching wedge and practice ball outside to do some swinging with him. We popped inside periodically to see if Tiger was going to make another comeback… he made a valiant effort, but he couldn't quite catch the eventual winner, Michael Campbell. I have to admit, it was nice to see a relative unknown get the victory.

We headed off for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes game under sunny skies, but came home under thunder and lightning. The game was fun, the Volcanoes won, but Noah is a little young to really enjoy a baseball game. But, we will have to try again… maybe next year though.

The rain was just starting to come down as we left the ballpark, but we had been watching the light show in the distance for some time. I figured it was far enough east to miss our house in Molalla, but on our way home, a warning announcement came over the radio with a forecast of quarter-sized hail and winds up to 70 mph… and it would hit Molalla at around 7:45. Of course by that time the clock read 7:48, so we figured we weren't going to make it home in time to rescue the dogs from all the thunder. We just hoped that they wouldn't freak out and bust through the fence trying to escape the thunder and lightning. As we ascended into the darkening mass, we were greeted by a beautiful array of lightning strikes -- some vertical strikes in the distance, and some spreading out overhead like the Mississippi delta. We could count 6 or 8 seconds between strike and thunder for most of them, but there were a few that were around 2 seconds… and that made for some loud thunder, even in the pickup.

We made it home to find the dogs safe in the back yard, huddling between the shed and the fence… the best spot they could have possibly chosen. We didn't see any signs of hail or wind damage, but it seemed that the strongest part of the storm was to the east of us, towards the hills. The puppies seemed very pleased to be out of the rain and the noise. I sat in the living room and watched the rest of the light show against a strange, orange sky before making my way into the kitchen for another piece of strawberry pie before bed.

It was a good Father's Day weekend…

Posted by jethro at 11:19 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 11, 2005

Community Garage Sale

We just finished the second day of our community garage sale, and we are quite surprised at how well we were able to do without ANY big ticket items - those $1 and $2 really do add up. $40 for some car audio speakers was our biggest one-time sale.

Country music CD's were the big hit (this is Molalla, after-all) -- I even had to go find more seldom-used discs to add to the sale. We actually did okay selling clothes, but it helps when you have decent blue jeans and nice leather jackets. The biggest surprise was an average looking thirty-something woman who bought my Megadeth CD...

Total after day 1: $ 217.50
2-day grand total: $ 414.50

Day 2 felt like we did half the sales of day 1, but it was actually not too far off.

I was most annoyed with the slow-down and scan from your car people. How can you possibly tell what treasures are there to behold if you don't get out of your car? Of course, those people who obliviously trapsed past all the tables to do shopping in our garage were rather annoying, too...

And then there were the middle-aged men who would come up, look at everything we had out on display, and then ask, "Do you have any tools or guns?". Ummm... do you see any tools or guns? Then no, we don't have any for you to buy.

Running the garage sale was really pretty fun... I quite enjoyed getting to see which junk of mine became a treasure for someone else. We may have to make it an annual event.

Posted by jethro at 06:43 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 09, 2005

Message in a Bottle

Today's entry is a sort of a riddle... your job is to guess which two lines of the following song lyrics are the the real inspiration behind today's entry... JD is excluded from guessing on this one...

Message In A Bottle

by The Police

Just a castaway
I am lost at sea oh
Another lonely day
No one here but me oh
More loneliness
Than any man could bear
Rescue me before I
Fall into despair oh

I'll send an SOS to the world
I hope that someone gets my
Message in a bottle

A year has passed
Since I wrote my note
I should have known it
Right from the start
Only hope
Can keep me together
Love can mend your life but
Love can break your heart

I'll send an SOS to the world
I hope that someone gets my
Message in a bottle

Woke up this morning
Can't beleive what I saw
A hundred-million bottles
Washed upon my shore oh
Seems I'm not alone
In being alone
A hundred-million castaways
Looking for a home

I'll send an SOS to the world
I hope that someone gets my
Message in a bottle

Sending out an SOS
Sending out an SOS....

Posted by jethro at 09:54 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

June 08, 2005

Tweety Bird

For the last week and half now, a cute little yellow bird has been hanging out in our Japanese Snow-bell tree. At first it would flutter up to the window and bounce off of it, and then go sit back in the tree. It has recently started grabbing on to the window screen and just hanging out, watching us from the outside.

I have tried to get a close-up of it sitting perched on the screen, but it seems to be camera-shy. Every time I raise the camera up to focus, it instantly flies away. So, the only photos I have are of the bird sitting in in the tree -- but the photos are taken from inside the house, through the kitchen window. I have managed to zoom in and get some respectable pictures, but not as hi-res as I normally like to post.

If anyone out there has any idea what kind of bird this might be, please post it in the comments section...



Posted by jethro at 05:59 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack