Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Crashing the Company Picnic

Well not so much crashing, but I did invite myself to this years Hull-Oakes company picnic at Belfoutain Park.
Fittingly, they eat at one of the six massive table tops they cut.

Dawson Station spent most of the summer up in my garage. There is no other group I would rather get it out for. I set it up in my newest hobby, a 1985 Westfalia. The layout, including the overhead lighting, draws only 44 watts. I was going to run it off a converter, but was able to plug in to AC and save my battery.

I got a lot of positive comments and it was kept busy running back and forth. I also got to hear some good stories. Not only were we well fed, but I was given a Hull-Oakes jacket and hat just like all the other employees!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Westy Outing #3

For our third outing, we ventured a bit farther afield, having gained a bit of trust in our steed. After touring the Tillamook Cheese Factory, we set out to explore the northern Oregon Coast.

We had heard it might be possible to camp on the beach at Pacific City. We found a couple of other Westies there, as well as "No Camping" signs.

We decided to play it save and drove north to camp at Cape Lookout State Park. It is a nice camp, very close to the beach. We survived a rainy, windy evening, qualifying us as members of "WetWesties", a group billed as a "Pacific Northwest Camping Society".

We found another cool beach called Terria del Marr. We did get stuck, as reported here, but had a great time anyway.

Only a full-blooded Oregonian could enjoy cold surf like this!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Stuck in a Rut

We had a great outing to the coast last week. One incident deserves a blog post of its own. We got stuck on the beach.
South of Cape Lookout, where we camped, there is a beach called Tierra de Mar. It is one of the few places you can actually drive on an Oregon beach, and we spent several hours there building sand castles and having lunch. When it was time to go, I decided to drive down the beach a bit just to see how far it went. Unfortunately, we hit some soft sand and the van got stuck.
It wasn't the first time my crew has endured a stranding. Nor will it be the last. Here are my pearls of wisdom regarding getting a vehicle stuck and unstuck, which may or may not be applicable to life in general:

  • Keep your momentum up. You are not actually stuck until you stop moving. Once you stop, it is significantly harder to get started again.
  • Don't panic! Once you are stuck, spinning your wheels will only dig you in deeper. Stop and assess the situation.
  • Relax a little. It is not the end of the world. Let some air out of your tires. It will help you gain traction.
  • Accept help. Even if you are not sure you need it. People like to help. You may need it more than you realize.
  • Be prepared. While a lot of people may be willing to help, they might not have the tools to do so. Four-wheel-drives seem to be plentiful. Tow ropes are not. I carry a tow rope.

A couple from Canada in a four-wheel-drive saved the day. Two other groups stopped to help (or watch the spectacle). The girls stayed calm. Another "Daddy Adventure" for the books. It was almost worth it just to get this picture here:

Monday, September 13, 2010

Painting the Hills

I still need to finish blogging our family reunion trip from August! On reaching Oregon once again, instead of following the freeway or taking Highway 20 through west through Burns and Bend like we usually do, we took Highway 26 with the John Day Fossil Beds as a major pit stop for our budding geologist.

The area provides a remarkable visible record of about 40 million years of change and a fossil record of plants and animals never seen first hand by humans.

The National Monument is actually made up of three "units", all within about an hour of each other. Our first stop, and the eastern most unit, was Sheep Rock, where the visitor center is located.  Ann Marie became a Junior Ranger after a bit of homework.

Robin also made friends with a hansom ranger. In addition to being a visitor center, Sheep Rock is also an active paleontological research center, and we were able to watch the live microscopic view on a screen as a scientist worked on extracting a fossil from rock. 

The Painted Hills unit is a bit farther west. There were several easy hikes with breathtaking views of colorful formations. We left the third unit, Clarno, for another day.

Here is a panorama I stitched together from five separate pictures using an open source program called Hugin. The fossil beds were an amazing stop, well worth the time!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Westy Outing #2

Ann Marie and I took the Westfalia back down to Camp Alpine again so I could help with the Blazer Day Camp. It is a bit more spacious with just two of us in it.

We spent Friday night at Alpine, and did water bottle rockets with the scouts on Saturday.

The second night we drove up to Marys Peak. We got to see the shadow of the mountain to the east. I always thought the Indians called it "Mouse Mountain", but apparently that was the mountain men's term for it.  The Kalapuya tribe referred to it as T'cha Teemanwi, pronounced "Cha TEE mahn wee", which means "the place of spirits".

The Indian name is quite similar to "Chintimini", which comes from a story John Horner wrote in 1900 about an indian princess who saved her people. There was a movement in the 1930s to rename Marys Peak Chintimini until it was realized that Horner's story was just that, a story. We were treated to a marvelous sunset with a crescent moon and Jupiter adding to the spirits.

The resident herpetologist captured and brought home three specimens. We picked up some crickets on the way home and will see if we can get them to eat, a prerequisite to keeping them longer.  We got back in time to clean up and go to Trevor's birthday party at Janeil's.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Top of the Google Heap

How do you get to the top of Google search results? Invent a word like "heberness", as in becoming more like Heber Valley Camp.
Small victory, being there is only nine results total. I'll take what I can get. Thanks to Gail for being curious enough to look that up!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Visit to Thompson's Mills

My dad found this "diamond in the rough" tourist spot and took us to visit the other day. Thompson's Mills is an Oregon State Heritage Site run by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. It only opened for tours in 2007 and is located several miles east of Shedd, Oregon.

The mill, originally called Boston Mills, used water from the Calapooia river to grind various grains and later, generate power. The mill, which was built before Oregon was even a state, had territorial water rights, giving them preference over the farmers. At one point, the farmers paid to have the mill electrified and paid the power bill during the summer so they could use the water for irrigation.

There were quite a number of interpretive displays. The girl's favorite was a miniature grinding wheel. It demonstrated the different states the grains go through and what they are used for. They also had a hands-on example of how the grains were moved through the mill via rotary screws, elevator belts, and gravity.

It never occured to me how many different products could come out of a mill like this. It ranged from rabbit pellets to pastry flour. There were recipe cards for each product, and chutes and valves were lined up to deliver the right ingredients to the correct areas.

Like Hull-Oakes Sawmill, various parts of the building were built at various times. In evidence were ax-hewn timber and rough-cut saw mill wood.

Here is a video which give an idea of what it would have been like in the mill while it was operating.

In all, we spent more than two hours there. It was a fascinating look at local history. We had a snack at the country store in Shedd before heading home.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

First Outing in the Westy

We had our first shake down cruise in the Westfalia. The destination of course, was our beloved Camp Alpine. We had to share it with a Ward from Eugene, but stayed in Nauvoo and had that area to ourselves.

It was  beautiful evening with lots of stars. And glowsticks. And smores. With five bodies, it was pretty cozy in the van. I'm sure it is similar to the quarters on the space shuttle, with the exception that they can't open a window for fresh air or step out and stretch their legs. Ann Marie ended up sleeping on a mat on the floor, something she says she doesn't want to do again. Polly reported it was more comfortable than the cabins at Heber Valley.

The pond was drained, and with mom on site, there was no mud bathing or newt roundups. A new sign shows a small step in the relentless march toward "Heberness".

There was still plenty of wildlife to observe and play with. Ann fearlessly captured a small snake. Dad found a few lizard friends who were willing to pose for photos. This one eventually gave Robin a love bite before being returned to the wild.

We explored the Christmas tree farm area with an eye toward camping there in the future. The caretaker reports that they are fully booked for next season and have a waiting list. They are considering "doubling up" and having two girl's camps at once in the future.  A separate "family" camping area like Eldon is proposing would sure come in handy.

Griz, the camp mascot, came by to meet Polly after the other campers left and the caretaker let him loose for us. He seemed happy to see us, but I'm sure he does that for everyone he meets.

Another "having fun is hard work" picture. We drove to Alsea Falls in hopes of finding an open camp site on Labor Day weekend, but without luck. Instead, we continued on to Alsea, bought a half-gallon of hazelnut ice cream, and headed home to sleep in our own beds. A short, but successful cruise.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Family Togetherness on a Large Scale

The last Neil Y. Fugal Family Reunion was held at Heber Valley Camp in Utah. The camp is far larger than our local Camp Alpine, and can house thousands of visitors. Don and Lois are serving their mission there.
Our section had four cabins and two pavilions. Everything looked new, although the camp was built in 2003.

We were greeted and briefed on the rules by a missionary couple.

The food was great as always. Each family was in charge of a portion of a meal and one round of KP duty.

The first evening we had a talent show. A number of the nieces are very musically talented.

There were a number of activities to do. Robin is doing a rope swing, which both Polly and I tried. It was pretty exhilarating. There was also a zip line and confidence course.

Grandpa provided a number of fun crafts.

On the second evening, we had a presentation about mountain men by Jo's father.

We saw a number of deer and moose. The were unafraid of us and drifted through camp a number of time. Luckily we didn't meet any of the resident black bears.

The camp has a large pond, which we were granted exclusive access to for an hour.

Boy, having fun is hard work.