Big Bucks, a Strange Squirrel, the Fires, and the Oregon Coast… Update

The boys are now hanging out together. A situation that will change as their interest in the girls makes a quantum leap in the next couple of months. This buck’s antlers were still covered in velvet and growing when we left on our road trip in June. Now they are ready to do battle to win true love, or at least a quickie.

Since I am still working on my next post on the 1908 Great Race, I decided to throw in a quick update on life here on Oregon’s Upper Applegate River. First, fall has arrived. Leaves are beginning to turn and the white oaks have produced a bumper acorn crop— a fact that has the deer all but climbing the trees.

The big leaf maple trees growing down in our canyon are adding a splash of yellow.
The plump, white oak acorns here are delicious this year according to squirrels, deer, turkeys, woodpeckers and bears.
The deer start with the acorns that are easy to reach…
And then up they go, standing on their hind legs…
It’s quite a reach.
Meanwhile, the kids have been growing up. The spots are just about gone. This one is all legs.
The birdbath continues to serve as the local watering hole. It’s time to refill!
The bird feeder continues to attack the attention of various and assundry animals. It still hasn’t totally recovered from the time in June when the huge black bear used it for tether ball practice. BTW, we haven’t seen him since our neighbor threw firecrackers at him. He left us some scat, however. BIG scat. But what the heck is this animal? Is that a large mouth?
Turns out it was the hind foot on this fellow!
The forest fires continue to have a major impact on our area. The towns of Phoenix and Talent, which lost approximately 2500 home and businesses, were totally devastated and are still under evacuation orders. While our home was never under a direct threat, the air pollution has been some of the worst in the world. This is what it was like a week ago looking down toward the Applegate River in front of our property, a couple of hundred yards away. Rather than poison our lungs, we decided to escape to Florence on the Oregon coast.
The closer we got, the cleaner the air became. This is the Umqua River. My dad lived near here in the 70s. Rain clouds, not smoke! A welcome sight.
A creek along the way. Driving to and from the coast is almost as good as being there.
Even the elk seemed happy to be breathing clean air. This herd can almost always be found along Highway 38 near Reedsport.
Florence is one of our go-to places on the Oregon Coast. We like to stay at the Siuslaw Marina campground because it is an easy walk into its historic town. It was packed with RVs, a sign of the times. This is at the Marina where the Brandy was selling freshly caught tuna off the boat at $3.00 each. Fog was rolling in.
There are always seals to amuse us. This one was tracking through the water like an arrow shot from a bow. The old pilings from days gone-by add a touch of mystery.
Some of the pilings even came with character. Looks a bit like Wile-e-Coyote.
Possibly a giraffe with a furry tail.
Here the pilings provide foreground for Florence’s iconic bridge.
This one provides a convenient location for a cormorant to dry its wings. A sand dune provides the backdrop. Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area starts just south of Florence.
Florence has a considerable amount of art for a small town. Most of it reflects local sea life, like this octopus…
This great blue heron…
And this seal.
Peggy and I were impressed with the fact that most people, and this pirate, were wearing Covid-19 masks. (iPhone photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
The Marina has an attractive walkway complete with lamps and hanging baskets leading into the town. After five days of breathing clean air, it was time to head home and see what the smoke and fires were doing.
I’m happy to report that the smoke had cleared out. Some. Compare this picture looking down on the cottonwoods growing along the Applegate River to the same photo above.
A final view of our big leaf maples turning a fall-ish color. Looking beyond the maple, you can still see the smoke hanging in our valley. We aren’t out of the woods yet, so to speak.

NEXT POST: We will rejoin the Great Automobile Race of 1908 as it makes its way to San Francisco.

38 thoughts on “Big Bucks, a Strange Squirrel, the Fires, and the Oregon Coast… Update

  1. I am happy to hear that the smoke has cleared out. It cannot be an easy feeling to experience fires so close to home. I have only been to Oregon once, but it has a special place in my heart – so beautiful from the coast to the forests. XOXO

    • Thanks, Stacy. Unfortunately, the fires come with the territory. Especially in this age of global warming. We’ve done what we can to fireproof our property and have packed up our small RV to take off on a moment’s notice if we ever have to.
      Oregon is indeed gorgeous and wither the hassles of living here now. I’d advise visiting in the spring or early summer, however! 🙂 –Curt

      • I visited in spring and it was divine. I know how you feel about evacuation. Hurricanes are our bane here, and we have “hurricane boxes” to pack and go. We do get a couple of days’ warning, but many people don’t heed the orders. Stay safe,my friend, and keep us updated!

      • I have several friends that live along the Gulf Coast, Stacy. So I often hear about the hurricane danger. In some ways, it seems more scary to me than the fires, other than the advanced warning. I remember driving through New Orleans a few weeks after Katrina. Our son Tony flies helicopters out of Clearwater Florida and is often assigned to hurricane duty. So thanks, any you keep safe as well. –Curt

    • Smoke or no smoke, Florence is a welcome get-a-way, Alison. 🙂 The critters are as frisky as ever. In fact Leapus Buckus, the guy I featured on the post, leapt over our numerous barriers into our shrub garden again last night. Peggy caught him happily munching away. –Curt

  2. Although I always enjoy all your pictures, I can swear that young buck has a sneaky grin on his face as you mention a battle for love or a quickie! The piling that looks like a giraffe looks as though someone scared the wits right out of him!
    So glad to see the smoke dissipating from your area. Stay safe!

    • He’s a sneaky one all right, G. That’s Buckus Leapus. Last night he cased our shrub garden again. Peggy and I weren’t worried. We’ve added fences upon fences since he jumped over in early spring. No deer in his right mind would attempt to leap over them. Peggy got up for an after dinner chocolate last night and, you guessed it, there was Leapus Buckus munching away at the shrubs. New barriers have been added and I explained to him that deer season is about to open.
      I like your description of the giraffe!
      It seems heavier today again but not as bad as it was. Peggy and I keep swearing that we will head out every year around August 15 and not return until October 15. 🙂 –Curt

  3. Those acorns some seventy years ago were my entrance to smoking. As a school boy, me and mates hollowed them out, inserted a straw and voila we hade a smoking implement, the pipe.
    I still remember feeling the joy of those first tugs of tobacco which I had pinched from my dad’s pouch.
    Those days smoking was seen as healthy and doctors wearing white gowns were proudly smoking a Camel on advertisements.

    • Tobacco ads featured Ronald Regan dressed up as a doctor smoking, in fact, Gerard. I took up pipe smoking in Africa and believed I was quite sophisticated, even had a collection of pipes. Boy was that addiction hard to break. Clever idea using acorns. 🙂 –Curt

    • I’m already planning the next escape. 🙂 Strong winds are bending the trees outside now. Never good news when it comes to fire. They are supposed to be bringing a touch of rain, however, which is good news. –Curt

  4. Somewhere I saw you mention Florence, and for a brief moment thought you’d escaped to — you know — Florence! Now I know there’s a Florence in Oregon, too. Too bad. Well, at least it’s an attractive and fun place, and got you away from the smoke.We got quite a rain last night — more than a foot in some places, but in a day the system ought to be moving on. I’m looking at a patch of blue sky right now. We’ll see if it holds.

    • God, what wouldn’t we do for a foot of rain right about now! The weather folks are predicting some tomorrow. We’ll see. Meanwhile, the winds that are supposed to be bringing the rain to us are fanning the flames of the Slater fire and may be pushing it in our direction.
      I’m not sure Florence, Italy would let us into the country now, Linda. 🙂 Even if it would, the logistics of getting there now would be something of a nightmare. Much easier to drive 4 hours to Florence, Oregon.
      Good luck in drying out. –Curt

  5. Nice to hear your air has cleared, at least somewhat. The rains, and a light breeze have helped greatly around here. It varies from a bit of smokey haze to clear and downright healthy! Amazing we used to take that for granted.

    • Chuckling in a very small way, Dave. We used to take lots of things for granted. Glad to hear you are experiencing some ‘downright healthy air.’ Breathe deep. The winds are picking up here, which may clean the air a bit, or may inspire the Slater Fire to become bigger and head our way more. –Curt

  6. This varied set of photos took me on a welcome journey in our rather constrained times, Curt, and it must have been a relief to escape the smoke pollution. We experienced the Australian fires last year and going outside was very unpleasant at times.

  7. Hi Curt,
    So glad it seems like the fires have started to clear but hope the smoke is ok. Wow, these are stunning pictures and I love all of your captions!!!! The wild life is always fun to see in someone esle’s yard!!! I had to wrestle the crows and blue jays for our figs and the squirels are always after my garden. Such is life on a few acres.. Thanks for the update!~!! ❤️ Cindy

    • Hi Cindy, Peggy and I have done a fairly good job of animal proofing around here. Knock on wood. But they still break through on occasion. And everyday they walk around our shrub garden with lust in their eyes. 🙂
      The air is much better now. Hopefully we are over the hump as the weather starts to change. Yesterday, I drove through the two Southern Oregon towns so totally devastated by the fires. Heart rending. I’m going to do a post. –Curt

    • Smoke is beige kinder around here now, Sue. It’s cooling down and rain is in the forecast. We’ll see. Fingers crossed. On another note, yesterday I toured the two Southern Oregon towns devastated by the fire. Incredible damage. –Curt

  8. So glad to see that the smoke is clearing a bit, Curt. You and Peggy must be thrilled. Your jaunt to the coast brought back fond memories of living in Newport. Florence was one of our go-to places for a fun weekend. Here’s hoping that the fires begin to abate. ~Terri

    • I’ve been up to Newport several times over the years, Terri. In fact, I have cousins who grew up there. Just like in Florence, I really enjoy the historic part of the city. North or south, the Oregon, Washington, and California coasts are special!
      Smoke is still around here but much less! I drove through Talent and Phoenix yesterday. The destruction caused by the fire is heart breaking, and the willy-nilly way it took out some areas and didn’t touch places right next door, hard to fathom. –Curt

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