in the woodland…
on the prairie…
at the ocean…
in the mountains…
But if today I cannot be those places, I want to be right here…
In response to the Weekly Photo Challenge
Here, in the great Midwest, here in Missouri, winter has not been a spectacular season. It has been, quite often, very cold…but without snow, and I believe that cold without snow is a waste of freezing temperatures. When we have had precipitation, it has been rain. The rain is much welcome, since we have been in drought conditions for some time now…but, snow melts into fresh water! I do not want anyone to believe I enjoy ice on the roads, but in a winter like we have had, a little ice on the bare branches of our trees has been a glittery, welcome sight on two occasions. As you can tell, winter fatigue has set in.
So, I remember the ocean, the Oregon sunshine, the walks on the beach with some of our family, the rocks I explored that I knew nothing about, and best of all…the sea creatures I got to see up close and personal.
I have written a couple posts about our trip to Oregon last summer, but now I want to share my favorite part…our week on the Pacific Ocean in Lincoln City. Each and every morning, we awoke to the foggy layer that covers the ocean at sunrise, and watched it as it lifted and left a crystal day. Each night we went to sleep after watching the sun set off our patio…
Each morning we got up, had breakfast, and went out to explore…up and down the coastline. The waters off the Oregon coast are pretty cold, too cold for most of us to swim in, but that did not mean we did not get wet, we did not tempt the waves, nor that we did not climb back in the car, many times, with really cold toes.
Our first big stop was Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area in Newport. We walked on the rocky beach to peer into the tide pools, and looked across the rocks and into the sky to find other wildlife. The two kids were awestruck…so were the big “kids”.
And the birds…so many on the rocks of Yaquina Head. Many birds come here to nest.
And my personal favorite…the seals…
We also visited the light house at Yaquina Head, a most beautiful backdrop to the tide pools…
and we stopped to take pictures of the scenery on our way.
Another day we traveled to the Neskowin Ghost Forest…also known as the petrified beach. In the winter of 1997-1998, heavy storms uncovered the petrified remains of ancient sitka spruce trees that had been buried for centuries. At one time, possibly as many as 2000 years ago, these trees were part of a forest that was destroyed. Many believe the forest was destroyed by an earthquake or a tsunami. While we will never know for sure what destroyed the forest, what remains is a beautiful, almost haunting area of ocean fog, and over 100 petrified stumps.
There is something mystical and magic about this place…
But I have saved the very best for last. Not far from our beach house was a place, known to locals as the Secret Beach…and several people I spoke with indicated they wanted to keep it that way. We were so happy the owner of our rental house shared its location with us. It was to the Secret Beach that we went to walk, to explore, to hide behind big rocks, to run until we were exhausted, where I went to draw, and to gaze out on the ocean, knowing we could stay only until the tide came rushing back in.
Enter our Secret Beach…
The scenery was incredible, but for me, the ocean life exposed at low tide was the most amazing. It would have been impossible to count the number of sea stars and the number of sea anemones we saw. Here is but a sampling…
And then there was this little guy…
What an extraordinary trip it was to the Pacific Coast of Oregon…and now I am ready for warmer weather, further travels, and new discoveries! I hope you can find a secret beach, a secret forest…a secret and special place to relax too! I just can’t tell you where our secret beach is!
Oregon Style Salmon Cakes
I remember when I was a little girl, and my mom used to make “salmon patties”. The prize for each of us four siblings was finding the little, chewy bones in the salmon. These salmon cakes remind me of those patties mom used to make, but maybe just a little bit better…and I still look for those little bones as a special treat.
This is a delicious way to get dinner on the table in half an hour using a can of salmon.
Our two year old grandson came to visit this Christmas. He was intrigued by our German Christmas Pyramid, and he would ask me to light it several times a day.
One day, just before Christmas, he came to me and said, “Grandma, can we put the fire on the spin thing?” So, how does a Grandma say no to a request like that…not to mention I love taking pictures of all my grandchildren, and here was another perfect chance.
And how sweet is that picture…can you not just see the wonder in his eyes! Well, let me tell you the rest of the story. My camera caught that little boy at just the perfect moment. He was not at all enthralled by the “spin”. Not two seconds later, his real intention was as clear as the fire on the candle wicks…the real purpose was to light the “spin thing” so he could see how long it would take to blow out all those candles, and to display pride in his accomplishment. Unfortunately, my camera did not capture that expression, but it was equally endearing…because he is a lot like his Daddy.
These are the moments I treasure, my most beloved moments, supplied by family.
In response to the Weekly Photo Challenge, Beloved
I love to go out each night and look at the moon. Sometimes I take a photo, sometimes I note its place in the sky, many times I just look and wonder.
On January 31, the sight of the full moon should be something truly spectacular. It is the second full moon of January, called a blue moon. It is also a super moon, the last one we will see in 2018, and we will also see a lunar eclipse as the moon moves across the shadow of the Earth. Now I just have to hope it is a clear night.
As I think about January 31, I think of the many pictures I have taken of the moon, and its many moods…my variations on a theme
In response to the Weekly Photo Challenge, Variations on a Theme
There is a special, still silence that has always warmed my heart, as I have watched my children, one by one, walk out and about in this great big world.
In response to the Weelky Photo Challenge, Silence.
Just before Christmas I was “window” shopping at an antique store in St. Charles, Missouri with my daughter-in-law and my granddaughter.
The moment I saw this weathered old Adirondack chair…well, I had to have it. So much for just looking! My husband just looked at me when we went back to the store to purchase the chair…but he is a saint, he said very little…and took out his checkbook.
No one will ever sit in it, but treasures of the seasons will rest on it all year long. Right now it is sitting on our front porch as light snow gently falls in this mid-January.
When summer comes I will put it out on our patio where it will share the sunshine and moonlight, the rain and the wind, with flowers and summer greens.
I love lichen, and this old chair, sitting out in a field in Tennessee had a perfect surface on which lichen could grow as it lay in the elements for a very long time. The woman who saved it from the fire heap told me that the color of the lichen turns a vibrant, almost luminous, green when it gets wet. I can hardly wait! But for right now, I love how it looks right on my porch, in the snow, sharing space with the greens of winter.
In response to the Weekly Photo Challenge
Here in Missouri, it is cold…it is very cold. It is cold from the Midwest to the East Coast, all the way down to the Southeastern United States. It actually snowed in Florida last week. And as I sit here, awaiting the beginning of the freezing rain that has been forecast for later this morning, I think back to other experiences I have had with ice, some of them not such great memories. But then I remember Bayfield, Wisconsin, and the ice caves of Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.
In February of 2014, we traveled to Minneapolis to be present for the finalizing of our granddaughter’s adoption. What a special moment that was. There are no words that adequately describe how much joy that little girl has brought into our lives.
It was a snowy winter, and as we drove north from our home in Missouri, we never once lost sight of snow along the way.
After spending what is never enough time with our grandchild, we were getting ready to head back south, and home. As we watched the local and national news on our last evening in Minnesota, we saw stories highlighting the ice caves at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in northern Wisconsin, Jim and I glanced at each other, and knew exactly what we needed to do. Our son-in-law looked at us and said, “You are really going up there, aren’t you?” Well, of course we were!
When we arrived in Bayfield, a point from which we might access the national lakeshore and the caves, I felt as if I had walked into a Currier and Ives painting. The scenes of the town and Lake Superior are pictures that will live in my mind forever. Just walking through town would have satisfied me that we were right in traveling north instead of south toward home.
Bayfield is very busy during ice cave season, (especially after being featured on the news), so if you ever decide to visit I would suggest you make better plans than we did. After searching for a room to stay in for some time, we finally found a condominium unit we were able to rent for one night. We made a quick trip to the grocery store, had some dinner, got some sleep, made a quick, but hearty, breakfast and headed out to the caves.
The caves were very busy, and cars were lined up for a very long way…forget anything like a parking lot. State patrolmen directed traffic, helping people find parking places, and we found ourselves parked on the side of a fairly narrow road hoping Jim’s door handle would remain attached to the door while we took our walk on the ice.
We walked about a mile to get to the official entrance to the caves (really happy we had that substantial breakfast) though some natives appeared to know short-cuts through the woods. But no matter the distance, or the cold, it was absolutely worth the time and effort.
I think the best way to describe the nature of an ice cave is to quote the FAQ page on the Apostle Island National Lakeshore website:
There are intricately carved sea caves in cliffs along the Mainland Unit of Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. As ice was forming on Lake Superior, waves splashing against the rock began to freeze on the sandstone cliff. In addition, water seeping between sandstone rock layers froze to form a variety of features similar to limestone caves. There are large icicles and formations hanging off of the cliffs, curtains and columns of ice, and abundant ice crystals.
With that explanation, let me show you some of the magic that is the ice caves…
The Apostle Island ice caves are amazing. If you would like to experience this magical world yourself, you can plan your trip by visiting the Apostle Island National Lakeshore website. I hope you do, I promise you will not regret it…the hardest thing is waiting for the ice to be thick enough for visitors to be allowed into this frozen wonderland.
Wisconsin Cheese and Beer Soup
A quick traditional Wisconsin soup to warm a cold day, or to enjoy while watching a football game.
We like to serve this soup with fresh soft pretzels torn to make croutons, and extra pretzels on the side. Enjoy!
The Columbia River Gorge
While visiting Portland, Oregon this summer with some of our family, we took a day to travel the beautiful Columbia River Highway, the first ever planned scenic highway in America. We made many spur of the moment stops for “Grandma has to take a picture”, before stopping at the our first “planned” photo op at Crown Point and the Vista House. The views here are spectacular, even in the foggy, early morning…
But, to be fair, there were simply no spots along this highway that were not amazing.
The Vista House is probably one the most elaborate rest stops you will ever visit! It is a domed building constructed of gray sandstone with a tile roof, and sits 733 feet above the Columbia River. It was built to honor early pioneers to the area, as well as to serve as a comfort station along the highway, or what old-timers called “the $100,000 outhouse”.
As we continued the drive we arrived at the first of the waterfalls we were to visit on this trip, and waterfalls are one of my favorite things. Our first falls was Latourell Falls. Latourell Falls spills 249 feet off a columnar basalt cliff in a single stream that touches nothing on its way down.
Latourell Falls is beautiful, but for me, hailing from the “cave state” of limestone and sandstone, the basalt columns were simply amazing. I was so impressed, I purchased a book on the geology of the state of Oregon…trust me, no one saw that coming!
Next, we stopped for a hike to Bridal Veil Falls, and it was along this trail that I first realized I was in a rain forest, the American northwest temperate rain forest. Sometimes the head knows things, yet the mind does not comprehend, and realizing where I truly was gave a whole new meaning to my entire trip.
Bridal Veil Falls is 120 feet tall, and cascades over a basalt cliff. The climb to the falls is beautiful, but a little steep.
We also visited Horsetail Falls, cascading 176 ft. over a cliff. It got its name because its shape is so reminiscent of a horse’s tail.
The last falls on our tour was the grandest of them all, Multnomah Falls, the most visited natural recreation spot in the Pacific Northwest. Fed by underground springs from Larch Mountain, Multnomah pours ice cold water over the side of the cliff from 611 feet up. It is truly an amazing sight, and the sound of all that cascading water is equally amazing.
It is so sad to have to mention that, until at least next spring or summer, none of these beautiful falls are open for visiting. A devastating fire, the Eagle Creek Fire, roared through the area, destroying huge areas of the forest. Even now, when the danger of fire is gone, lasting consequences will plague the area for a very long time. Remember those basalt columns that so interested me? Those columns are held together by moss, which serves as a natural glue. The fire burned and destroyed the beautiful mosses we saw everywhere. Without this “glue”, pieces of rock continue to fall, endangering the highway, the buildings, bridges, and also any people who might happen by. I hope nature will heal itself quickly, and we can all return to this most incredible place.
Many of the trees are gone, but I will always remember how huge they were, and I will always cherish the picture of my son and grandson hugging their favorite tree on our hikes up to the falls.
Everyone, especially our two grandchildren, enjoyed Lost Lake Campground, Resort, and Day Use Area beneath Mt. Hood. And people who have cameras should not be allowed to spend too much time there…I must have taken three dozen pictures of the view over the lake, toward Mt. Hood while the rest of the family ate a picnic lunch and played in the lake…thank goodness for digital cameras.
Mt. Hood is spectacular. It has an elevation of 11,250 ft. and is located in the Cascade Range Mountains. It is the tallest point in Oregon. It is also a volcano, having experienced its last eruption in 1907.
While at Lost Lake, we took time to eat, and just play for a time….
What a wonderful place the Columbia River Gorge is. I hope and trust that it will grow back, and that we might all be able to visit and experience its natural beauty once again and for many years to come. It is not only candy for the eyes, it is candy for the soul! I hope you get to visit it someday too!
Pacific Salmon Chowder
For centuries, salmon have fed the peoples that have gathered to live in the Pacific Northwest. This delightful and simple chowder would have been something Native Americans might have made long ago, and it is still absolutely delicious today. When I first came across this recipe, I wondered if it would not be even better if I added some corn, as appears in most chowders. But after doing some research, I discovered that the first people to live along the Columbia River did not participate in the activities associated with farming. These early Native Americans were hunters and gatherers. This chowder is so simple, with so few ingredients, yet it is now one of our favorite go-to meals. It is equally good the next day, maybe even better, as a nourishing lunch. I have adapted this recipe from Spirit of the Harvest: North American Indian Cooking, written by Beverly Cox and Martin Jacobs. It is published by Stewart, Tabori and Chang, New York.
Though I live in the very middle the nation, I absolutely love the sea. And when I visit the sea, as when I visit any place else, I collect things. I collect anything I can get home in the car, or more often nowadays, on a plane, or a train.
As I collect items on the shore and in the sea, I am always drawn to appreciate the power of the sea. I am amazed at how it is able to work on the rock and shells to create, over time, their hard, sharp edges into round, smooth surfaces.
I have found many moon snail shells on the shoreline, and in the sea. They are incredible and intricate. Nature never ceases to make me feel humble…
Sand dollars are special sea creatures everyone loves to find, and finding one still in one piece is very special. Look at the smaller sand dollar…it has been worn down by the movement of the sea, becoming rounded, its imprint much lighter. Notice the small piece of driftwood behind the sand dollars. It, too, has been rounded by the sea…
I have been to the Atlantic coast many times, but this summer we had the opportunity to travel to the Pacific coast of Oregon…and it is amazing. We found many pieces of basalt on the edge of the sea. Many of them had holes bored into them, perfectly round holes. What could have done that, i wondered. Time to do some research. The perfectly bored holes are made by a bivalve mollusc called a piddock or angel wing. We found many basalt stones rounded by the sea with rounded piddock bored burrows.
The sea is beautiful, it has amazing power, and its action on everything around it helps make nature a most exciting and aesthetic place to find oneself!
In response to the Weekly Photo Challenge
Early in the morning, I look out my window as I read while enjoying my first cup of coffee. The glow of the morning sun is a welcome sight, and a look into the possibilities of a new day…
Some mornings bring fog, sometimes dense fog. But at some point that sun rising in the east cuts through, and gives a very special glow to the morning…
As I walk through the woods at a nearby nature trail, the glow of the sun is bright. But as it filters through the treetops, I can almost look right at it..
The glow of the full moon has always thrilled me, but sometimes that glow has to struggle to get through the cloud cover of a stormy night…
And then the next evening, when all the clouds have passed, the not quite full moon shines through with an almost magical glow…
In response to the Weekly Photo Challenge