This is a continuation of my previous blog.
I had a major task before the boys showed up: finish the hiking trails that cut back and forth across our five acres of forested property. It seriously resembled work. I ended up using my weed whacker, leaf blower, tree pruning shears, rake and a mattock. For those of you who don’t know what a mattock is, think really heavy hoe combined with a pick. The last time I had used one I was 18, fighting a forest fire in Northern California over terrain that was so steep that I had to hold on to brush with one hand while I chopped a fire trail with the other. Although I didn’t have a fiery inferno rushing down on me for inspiration, the hill I cut a trail across for the boys was equally steep. And, news flash, I am no longer 18. Peggy came out of the house frequently to look down the slope and make sure I was still alive.
Each boy ended up with his own unique trail with a special sign made by Peggy. There were Chris’s Mountain Trail, Ethan’s Hidden Springs Trail, Cody’s Bear Trail (it is the actual trail the bear uses when he comes in to check out our garbage can), and Connor’s Jungle Trail (chopped out through vines and blackberries). The two-year-old Cooper was too young for a trail, so I made him a secluded nook under some tall brush that could also accommodate his brothers and cousins: Cooper’s Hide-a-Way. When we took the boys down to check it out, a momma deer and her two fawns had adopted the hideout and were happily ensconced on the outdoor carpet I had put down.
The boys got a lecture before venturing out on their own. “This is what poison oak looks like. Watch out for rattlesnakes. If you go off the trails, your socks will be filled with burrs and the burrs will get in your underwear.” I added the latter for emphasis. And it is true; somehow doing the laundry automatically transfers burrs to places you definitely don’t want them— believe me. (Of course the boys went off of the trails.) As for rattlesnakes, I had to dispatch one with my mattock next to the water gun filling station at the side of our house the day before the boys showed up. It was a Diamond Back about three-feet long with ten rattles. Normally I would have just shooed it off, but I worried it might come back. “Look, Grandpa, a snake! Can we catch it?” (Our grandson Ethan is an expert at rounding up lizards. Why not snakes?)
There wasn’t a second of down time for the whole three weeks. There were games to play, swimming holes to explore, and must-see places to visit, such as the Railroad Park in Medford. In the middle of all of this, Peggy went paragliding and jumped off of a local mountain to celebrate her 65th birthday. Talk about a role model. Our daughter and son joined her. It was my responsibility to take photographs and survive. Can you imagine how warped the boys would be if I were put in charge of raising them?
Our house was even more crowded than our time. Each room had a designated use. The Library, for example, became Lego Central. Even the outdoor patio and porch were drafted to house carefully gathered sticks and rocks, not to mention water guns. Our bedrooms and bathrooms were crammed with kids, grandkids, clothes, first aid supplies for stubbed toes (they hurt), and all of the other paraphernalia of daily life. Peggy and I retreated to our small RV each night to sleep.
Eventually the last family was packed up and sent on its way. It was time to reclaim our house. While Peggy worked inside, I tackled the outside. Robota, our robot vacuum cleaner, joyfully scooted around on the floor and searched under couches, beds, chairs and tables for lost Legos, absent autos, and misplaced marbles.
Peggy and I had all of 12 days to reestablish our lives before heading off on our next adventures. Peggy went to England for a couple of weeks with her sister, Jane, on a garden tour that included, among other things, Downton Abby (Highclere Castle). She has offered to guest-write a few blogs on her experience and has been wrestling with how to pare down her thousand plus photos. (Welcome to my world, Sweetie.)
I packed up our pickup and drove over to the northern coast of California above San Francisco. It is one of my all-time favorite areas. I had enough adventures to fill a book, or at least several blogs. For example, I was taking photos of an old Nike Missile site by myself when I heard creaking doors and a Nike Missile came out of the ground. It was pointed directly at me. I raised my arms and surrendered.
In Fort Bragg I discovered the very interesting Triangle Tattoo Museum and Parlor. None other than the divine Madame Chinchilla, a 69-year-old tattooed woman who looks like a grandmother, gave me a two-hour personal tour. It was fascinating. Her husband/partner, Mr. G, was busy tattooing his pharmacist. They were discussing side effects. “Are you talking about prescription drugs or tattoos,” I asked. “Both” was their mutual response. I bought a book Chinchilla had written about their best friend, now diseased, a world-renowned sword swallower: Captain Don Leslie.
And, there was more, of course.
- I visited an old Grateful Dead hangout that morphed into a 60’s hippie commune
- Stopped off at the Marconi telegraph site at Point Reyes where Morse code signals are still sent out to the Titanic (no answers yet)
- Took photos of a church that Ansel Adams made famous
- Rubbed shoulders with an Alfred Hitchcock mannequin in the small town of Bodega, which was made famous by the Hitchcock film The Birds
- Wandered among the fascinating houseboats of Sausalito
- Roamed the streets of the quaint seaside town of Mendocino
Returning home, I managed to score a ticket to Burning Man with the help of friends two days before the event was to start. So I made my annual journey out to the remote desert in northern Nevada. This past weekend I attended a conference on writing for change in San Francisco. Today I did an interview for a book about the international effort to get tobacco out of the movies, an effort I helped initiate 20 years ago.
I’ll be blogging about all of these over the next few months. Stay tuned. 🙂
21 thoughts on “Home Invasion Part II— When a Rattlesnake Comes to Visit”
Still enjoying your pictorial blogs, Curt. Keep up the great work!
Thanks Paul. Glad to have you on board. –Curt
Oh what a glorious summer. Peggy and the boys is a classic keeper! Those houseboats are incredible. I need to go see them!
The boys were obviously enthralled, Cindy. As for the houseboats, put it on your bucket list. I must have wandered around for an hour and only saw half of them. Of course I was pretty busy taking photos. It should be a fun blog. –Curt
Welcome back. I love reading about your adventures Curt. 🙂
Thanks so much… kinda like I always enjoy your photographs and short poems! –Curt
There’s just too much to take it all in! I did wonder how Spiderman face paint got mixed in with a Civil War reenactment, but then I wondered about a Civil War reenactment in your part of the country. Were there battles there? Have I missed something? Just think what could have happened if Sherman had gotten confused and headed west!
I heard just a couple of weeks ago about a guy who was pulling down an old deer stand when he disturbed a whole nest of rattlers. They seemed to pour out of the hole where one of the posts had been. They got rid of eighteen, and hoped they had them all!
Was a bit to take in, eh. I just couldn’t stop myself. As for the Civil War, Oregon did send troops off to fight on the Union side.I suspect enactment groups are found just about everywhere in this day. Southern Oregon has its own.
I’ve experienced rattlesnake communes. Had a dog once that thought he would get right in the middle of one and insisted on poking his nose down in the cracks to see what was making all of the noise. I very nervously retrieved him. Luckily he didn’t get bit.
What, you don’t think Spidey was involved in the Civil War? (laughing) –Curt
Such fun to see all our Summer moments! It is one to remember. The boys are already counting the days til we backpack with Grandpa!
Tell the boys that the mountain is waiting. –Curt
Ha! I guess you’ve been kinda busy! Glad to hear you made it to Burning Man.
Me too, Alison. Burning Man, as always, was great— even with the several afternoons we spent hunkered down avoiding dust storms, or at least trying to avoid them. 🙂 –Curt
I had no idea the trains were there in Medford. Have you heard of or been to Train Mountain out by Chiloquin?
Haven’t been there but looked it up. Sounds great. We were really impressed with the Medford train park. In addition to having three trains the kids could ride on they have a very impressive model train display that wound about through various scenes. There was even a Hogwarts Express! –Curt
Welcome back. I’m looking forward to your posts! That sunset photo is stunning. Beautiful!
Thanks Bill. We must have watched that sunset for 30 minutes. It just went on and on. –Curt
Cute picture… They do look enthralled…
What a wonder family gathering. Those grandsons will never, ever, forget that holiday. (In fact they will demand an annual repeat…)
I suspect you are right on the annual repeat, Hilary. In fact I am already hearing rumblings. 🙂 –Curt
Charmed by this post mainly because I can’t believe you hacked up a rattlesnake (I would have been terrified), Peggy can paraglide better than her children, and you have a robot vacuum cleaner that didn’t choke on Legos even if it did have a good chance at doing so. Looking forward to reading more about your adventures, especially Burning Man. You’re my art-in-the-desert connection.
I would have really, really preferred not to kill that rattlesnake. What I should have done is catch it and transport it elsewhere. Peggy came down from the mountain grinning from ear to ear. Robota isn’t particularly bright but she does do a good job of cleaning the rugs. And there will be lots of Burning Man, in between other blogs. –Curt