The Imagine 17MKE… Our New Tiny Home: Plus Halloween

Our new 2021 Ford 150 and 2022 Grand Design Imagine 17MKE. Are we ready to hit the road, or what! We are camped in Bend, Oregon as I write this blog. We came here to pick up our trailer from Blue Dog RV in Redmond, just north of Bend.

It’s not hard for Peggy and me to imagine a life of wandering. After all, we full-timed it for four years in our two Pleasure Way vans, Xanadu and Quivera. The first time we took a year off from work and travelled in Xanadu. The second time, we celebrated Peggy’s retirement with three years of exploring North America in Quivera. We are veterans of the open road, you might say, with a quarter of million miles crisscrossing the continent behind us.

But wandering with a trailer is a totally different kettle of fish, a virgin experience as our friend Leslie Lake would say. She also likes to note that virgin experiences are few and far between at our age and should be treasured.

I tend to agree but had serious second thoughts when Peggy and I mistakenly turned into a tiny parking lot yesterday and had to turn the trailer around while dodging parked cars. It quickly ramped up from virgin experience to Halloween nightmare. “Turn the other way!” my faithful traveling companion yelled at me from safely outside the truck as I was backing up. “No, the other way!” she yelled. Hmmm. After two or three times of that, pardon my French, I was beginning to wonder how many frigging ways a trailer can turn. And yes, I am well aware that the truck goes one direction and the trailer the other when you are backing up.

Aside from a very steep learning curve, we are really enjoying our new, tiny home and pickup. I decided to share a few photos of the Imagine 17 MKE. We haven’t named her yet, but the truck’s name is Iorik (pronounced Yorik). If you aren’t familiar with Iorik, he was the large, armored polar bear in the book/movie, The Golden Compass.

Murphy bed couch in an Imagine 17MKE.
A Murphy bed was close to a requirement in our new trailer because it frees up valuable living space, which is at a premium in a small trailer. When not down, the bed morphs into a couch, perfect for entertaining guests.
Alaks quilt made by Peggy Mekemson.
We decided to use one of Peggy’s quilts as a backdrop to add color and a personal touch. This is our ‘Alaskan quilt.’
Peggy serves as my model. The kitchen’s counter top is on the right.
African quilt by Peggy Mekemson.
Here is what the Murphy bed looks like when it is down. Here we are using Peggy’s African quilt as a comforter. It’s quite cozy. Note the small reading lights. They work quite well.
Mood lighting over Murphy bed in and Imagine 17MKE trailer.
The bed comes with blue, mood lighting. I don’t expect we will use it much but it is fun. I noticed that Peggy’s brown eyes turn golden under the light! A lioness, perhaps? One can only wonder.
This is our other couch, the one Peggy and I will use most. It is housed in a small slide out that also adds space to the trailer. The middle section can be converted to a side table for snacks. A larger fold up table comes with the 2022 Imagine but will live in our truck unless we are entertaining or working on projects. We are also trying out our various quilts on the couch.
Each unit of the couch can be turned into a recliner that goes all the way back if we want to take a nap. Note the lights on the drink cup. One of them simply lights up the cup holder. The one on the right turns the recliner into a massage chair. The one on the left heats the chair. This definitely isn’t a trailer of yore.
A comfy chair deserves a good book. Baldacci can always be trusted to spin a good tale. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
What I wasn’t expecting in a small trailer was the counter space. A large, stainless steel sink is in the middle. Its cover is made of slotted steel and rolls out, doubling as a dish dryer. Beyond that is our stove and then more counter space. Off to the right is a humongous refrigerator. Solar power runs the refrigerator when we are boon docking. Our TV is above the window.
Our three burner stove. A small oven is under the stove and a microwave above it. Add our Insta-Pot and air fryer and we will be able to cook just about anything on the road.
One of our major concerns in picking out a new trailer was the amount of storage space. Now we are wondering how we are going to fill all of the space we have. (I’m sure we will mange. Grin.) Anyway, I just counted 28 drawers and cabinets. Most are very generous in space. The five you see here are mine. All mine. That’s mine, Peggy. You have your own five.
There is also ample storage in the bathroom, but what really impressed me is that I fit easily into the shower!
Now you’ve seen the inside of our trailer, imagine moving in. Again, think scary Halloween. It’s just like moving into anywhere else when faced with the severe challenge of downsizing. Fortunately our 20 years of traveling in Quivera and Xanadu prepared us for the experience. We simply unpacked Quivera into our truck and then loaded our trailer from that while camped in Bend.
Bend has a lot to offer including great outdoor recreation… and beer. There are several brew pubs but the granddaddy of them all is Deschutes Brewery. Peggy snapped this photo of me at the brewpub celebrating time off from cramming for Trailer/Truck 101. A table of pirates sat next to us, but they had forgotten their parrot…
In the spirit of the season, I decided that this black vulture from the Florida Everglades (photo taken several years ago) would make a good substitute. Happy Halloween!

Our Link to the Stars… Or at Least an Army of Satellites Marching Across the Sky

Our roof now has a new addition, a Starlink satellite.

If you live out in the boondocks, like Peggy and I do, communication can be something of a challenge. Our only solution has been to reach up into the sky and hope that the sky gods are listening. As a result, our house is starting to look like a military installation out in the Nevada desert.

Searching for signals from the heavens. On the far right, a booster to enhance Verizon signals which our son-in-law Clay installed for us. It definitely improved our Verizon service but we still have to depend on a landline for most phone conversations. Next, in order, satellite dishes for our TV, Hughes, and Starlink connections.

This past summer I was becoming increasingly irritated at the service we received from Hughes. Slow to start with, it was getting worse. Several of our neighbors had switched to Viasat and argued it was much better. I did my research and was prepared to make the leap. That’s when Clay suggested that I check out Elon Musk’s Starlink. If it served our area, I might be able to sign up as a Beta tester. It promised internet services at speeds several times faster than either Hughes or Viasat at a similar cost. Plus it included unlimited data. I went online and discovered that our latitude was one of the first to be served. So I signed up, made a deposit, and waited.

A few weeks ago, a large box showed up on our doorstep. Unlike Hughes and Dish, who sent technicians out, I would be on my own with Starlink. I was a wee bit nervous. As you may recall, things mechanical and I don’t get along. It isn’t that I can’t do them. Owning a house in the woods for 11 years has certainly taught me that; its just that I prefer to do other things like writing, photography, cooking, traveling, reading, watching movies, hiking, backpacking, kayaking, pulling star thistle and scrubbing out toilets— you get the picture. People like Clay and my friend Tom, on the other hand, take great joy in fixing things. When Tom comes to visit, he brings a tool box with high hopes of finding something. Clay insists that I have a list for him. Even Peggy gets a gleam in her eyes when she is holding a power tool.

The big box, other boxes from Starlink, and the stand to use for placing my dish on the ground.

Before the box arrived, our first chore was to download an app to our iPhone and wander around the yard with the camera on and the phone pointed toward the sky to find the best, obstruction-free place to set the satellite. Did I mention we live in the boondocks, in a forest, with lots and lots of trees. South was fine. It’s where our other satellite dishes are pointed. The Starlink dish, however, likes north. Heres what our north looks like:

It includes lots of white oaks and very tall Ponderosa pines.

The app was not happy. It kept telling me to move to another location until I ran out of locations. I talked with my friends Bryan, who lives up the hill from where we live, and Jeff, who lives down the hill. Both had received Starlink dishes a couple of weeks before we got ours. Both told me that the app had told them the same thing. They had ended up placing their dishes in the least obstructed locations they could find. I decided to do the same thing:

And I found this. Call it a window of opportunity. A small window. To take advantage, I would have to place our dish up on the roof.

Now—to backtrack a little— I opened the box. The dish came with a stand, a hundred foot long ethernet cable, a modem and a router. It was designed to be placed on the ground. It even came all plugged together, almost idiot proof. All I would need to do was drill a hole in the side of our house, which was scary enough, but was something I could handle, or sic Peggy on.

Did directions ever come more simple? Find your location, set down your stand, pop in the dish, drill the hole in your house, plug the modem and router into your electrical outlet, log in, and woohoo! You have super-fast (for the boondocks) internet.

It was drilling holes in the roof that I found disturbing. They can be injurious to your house. Water can seep through and and do all sorts of nasty damage. Some people might also question the wisdom of a 78 year-old wandering around on a roof. They are probably the same people who questioned my wisdom in celebrating my 75th birthday by backpacking 750 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail, much of it by myself. No, I was not worried about being up on the roof. Try perching on a narrow trail by yourself with a thousand foot drop below you in a strong wind with a forest fire rapidly approaching.

I did what any modern fix-it person does and went looking for YouTube videos. There were plenty, of course. The secret was simply find the roof studs for screwing the mount into and seal the hell out of the holes. Okay, I could handle that. I bought extra outdoor sealant just in case. But I also opted for back up if needed. I called Joel, a roofer and really nice guy who had replaced a skylight for us. He quickly volunteered. He’s also waiting for a Starlink dish. And I checked in with Bryan, our uphill neighbor, who had already installed his Starlink dish on the side of his house and is quite handy. And then I waited again. Starlink had sent us everything we needed for the ground version, but it had another package for roof installation.

It arrived a few days ago and included a roof volcano mount, six large screws and (lo and behold) a tar-based super sticky sealant and directions how to use it. Elon Musk leaves little to chance. Okay, I said to myself— “Self, you can do this.” I gathered all of the tools I would need, loaded them into a garden apron Peggy loaned me, and up I went, like Santa sans reindeer. Peggy held the ladder and did whatever worrying that needed to be done. I am pleased to say that my mounting effort was a success. At least so far. Next, I affixed the cable along our eaves and came to my last scary task, drilling a large hole in the side of our house.

Check out the volcano mount! What fine work. Grin. I’d used a silver spray paint so I would know exactly where to place the large screws. BTW, each end of the cable came with the round thing-a-ma-bob you see here. It’s what required the large hole in our house.
The next major challenge was drilling a hole large enough to accommodate the ethernet cable. Would you trust this man and his big drill? Neither did my wall. I admit, it was a bit too much.

This drill exactly matched the size of the hole I had to create, but my first problem was that I needed to drill smaller holes before the large bit would enter the siding. Whatever. Except the sky was darkening, the wind picking up, and a possible downpour about to erupt. I drilled my smaller holes and quickly realized that my bits weren’t long enough to make it through the wall. Even the big bit. Measurements were called for as to where we would need to drill from the other side. Peggy demanded her turn with the drill and eventually, we had holes on both sides that would accommodate the cord. A wire that I had adapted for the purpose showed our two holes were exactly aligned. Exciting huh? Well, it was for us. Believe me.

Here’s the ironic part. Just as I was finishing up, a Fed-Ex truck drove down our road. It delivered another package from Starlink. It included everything I needed to drill the hole in our wall. At least I was able to use the patches it sent to cover the holes and the silicon sealant.

Star link kit for drilling hole in wall for ethernet cable. Note the extra long bit for reaching all of the way through the outer and inner walls. Number 1 was the bit designed to drill a Starlink size hole. At least I got to use the sealant and the caps.
Here’s a shot of how I often looked when dealing with Hughes. Fortunately, you can’t hear my language. Peggy would agree.
Here’s my standard expression on Starlink. Yes, I have obstructions.My Starlink monitor reported 8 seconds in the last nine hours. There were another 42 seconds of downtime due to other issues. So far, our speeds have normally been 7-10 times as fast as we have on Hughes. There is a reason for the big grin.

This and That… Buck’s Fighting, African Quilt, Gorgeous Bridge, 60th Reunion, Quivera

Black tail bucks check each other out in preparation for mating season. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.
You know it is October when the bucks in our backyard argue over who gets to snuggle up with the does.

This and That is a good title for today’s post. When you have taken a break from blogging, like I have, things accumulate. I thought I would do a little catching up today.

You know it’s October when the local bucks start testing their mettle with each other over who gets to snuggle up with the local does. These two decided to put on a performance in our backyard. They didn’t do any damage to each other, at least when Peggy and I were watching, but it seemed like a great way to poke out an eye. This morning we watched a doe cross our deck followed by three bucks: a spike, a forked horn, and a three pointer. I wondered what the doe was thinking. Was it, “Wow, look at me and all the guys tagging along.” Or was it, “Damn, I wish those idiots would go somewhere else.”  I suspect it was the latter. While mating season is a true passion for the bucks, it’s more like being worn down for the does. At least that’s my assumption after watching them frolic for ten years. Maybe if the bucks had to help take care of the babies…

Bucks in Southern Oregon go at it with their antlers in preparation for mating season. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.
The two bucks went at it with their antlers until the smaller one decided it was a mite too risky.

Several months ago my friend Linda from the blog, Lagniappe, mailed me a fascinating country cloth piece that she had picked up in Liberia, West Africa where we had both lived— me in the mid-60s and Linda in the early 70s. I put it out to admire for a while and then decided it would make a great quilt. Fortunately, Peggy is quite talented when it comes to putting quilts together. The results are quite gorgeous. Many thanks for your generous gift, Linda. And thank you Peggy. It will live on our bed in the trailer.

Using country cloth donated by Linda Leinen, Peggy Mekemson created the African quilt. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.
The African Quilt!
Bed quilt featuring Liberian country cloth. Photo bt Curt Mekemson.
How it will look as a bed quilt.

On our last trip to the Oregon Coast we stayed in a KOA at the base of the Alsea Bridge in the town of Waldport. Peggy and I took a number of photos of the bridge plus we walked across it, admiring the sand at low tide on our journey south and seals on our journey north. I’ve been meaning to do a post on it ever since Peggy and I went kayaking in the area. 

The bridge as seen from below where we were camping near Waldport, Oregon.
Cormorant flies below Alsea Bridge at low tide near Waldport Oregon. Photo by Curt Mekemson.
As Peggy and I walked across the Alsea Bridge going for lunch in Waldport, it was at low tide. The cormorant made a nice contrast to the sand and water.
A seal searches for fish beneath the Alsea Bridge on the Oregon Coast. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.
The tide was coming in when we walked back across the bridge. Several seals were on their own quest for lunch down in the water.

Early in September, Peggy and I went to my 60th High School Reunion in Placerville, Ca. Not surprisingly, there were a lot of old folks there. 

Peggy snapped this picture of the people attending our 60th reunion. I’m standing in the third row with dark glasses on. My friend from the first grade on, Bob Bray, is standing front and center with his wife Linda. Another friend from the first grade, Clifford Drake, is standing just below me to my right.
Here we are in the first grade 72 years ago in 1949. I’m in the middle of the back row with my hands in my pocket. Clifford and Bob are sitting in front of Mrs. Young. Bob is on the right. Clifford on the left.

On Friday, we said a sad goodbye to our small RV, Quivera. We had had numerous adventures in her including making our way across the US several times, going to Alaska twice, and Burning Man at least five times. We retraced my 10,000 mile Bike Trek around North America in her with Peggy driving the whole time so I could take photos and make notes. Last summer, we hightailed it across the nation at the height of the pandemic so Peggy could attend a 70th birthday party organized by our kids on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Three summers ago, Peggy used her as a backup vehicle for me as I did my 750 mile backpack trek down the PCT to celebrate my 75th. Quivera has found a great new home with Terry and her dog Benny in Ashland, Oregon, however. And has many more adventures ahead. As do we. Grin.

Terry and Benny prepared to hit the open road in Quivera.
I’ll close today’s post with this photo of Benny, who had quickly claimed the passenger seat as his own.

Are Your Ducks in a Row? Are You Ready for Prime Time? Or Are You Rudderless?

Are your ducks in a row? Peggy and I just returned from a trip to the small town of Waldport on the Oregon Coast. While there, we kayaked up Beaver Creek in Brian Booth State Park. It’s a beautiful area known for its wildlife. Mainly, we saw lots of ducks. Peggy, who was sitting in the front of our two person kayak, was the prime photographer. She captured these ducks behaving in a fashion that even Miss Manners would approve.
Or maybe an even more important question: Are you ready for prime time? We came on this duck who wasn’t quite sure as she checked out her tail feathers.
She quickly preened (oiled her feathers)as we approached.
And then said, “Okay, I’m beautiful. Take my photo.”
A nearby mallard duck said, “Ha”… (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
“I’m the prettiest duck on the river!” (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
This duck absolutely refused to allow us to take a close up. I understood. Say you were standing in the creek with your head under the water and your butt up in the air. Would you want your photo taken?
Most of the ducks we approached were trying to hide their heads under their wings. We assumed that it had something to do with the state of the world. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
Another example. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
Normally we paddle our 12 foot inflatable Innova kayak with a rudder attached. This time, we were up the creek without a rudder. We were rudderless. While Beaver Creek looks perfectly calm, there was a current accompanied by an occasional gust of wind. Big Green enjoyed the freedom while we paddled like mad to keep her going where we wanted. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
There were those perfect moments, however, where we could simply relax and enjoy the gorgeous scenery, which was in abundance.
Including impressive wood sculptures, such as this. Peggy insisted that we kayak around it.
She thought climbing off the kayak and on to the sculpture would be a great photo op. Something to send the grandkids. Then, she thought better of it. There was a significant chance that she would fall in the water, which I would have considered an amusing photo. Peggy? Not so much.
Peggy, who is quite tactile, decided feeling the wood was enough.
Circling the driftwood provided several different views, including this garden growing on one side.
I decided it would be interesting to depict the driftwood in black and white. It looks a bit ominous.
Not as ominous as this old dead tree hanging out over the water, however. I thought it might reach out and grab us and we wisely gave it a wide berth.
The riparian habitat next to the river made a fun contrast to the the surrounding forest.
Peggy even found some early fall-colored leaves.
As we paddled back toward our starting point, mist from the ocean added a magical element to our journey. Peggy and I will be back.

This is one my occasional blogs I am posting as I have taken a break from blogging over the summer. Next up, I will do a post on the impressive Alsea Bridge across Alsea Bay in Waldport. Let me just say here, Oregon takes its bridges seriously. After that I’ll touch on what Peggy and I have decided over the summer. It will include our being on the road much more exploring North America. Change is in the wind.

Kayaking in Florida One Week and Oregon the Next… A Photo Blog

Two weeks ago we were kayaking through mangroves along the Gulf Coast of Florida. Last week we were kayaking on the edge of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation area next to the Pacific Ocean. Are we jet-setters or what? You are looking at Peggy’s hat in the foreground. Our grandson Cody is next. Our son Tony was leading on a paddle board. We were making our way through a mangrove tunnel.
Peggy’s wearing a cap this time as we make our way through Honeyman Lake near Florence, Oregon last week.
We had traveled to Florida to join a celebration and party for our son Tony who was retiring from his position as a Lieutenant Commander and helicopter pilot with the Coast Guard. Prior to his stint in the Coast Guard, he had been a helicopter pilot in the Marine Corps including three tours to Iraq. He has earned quite a few medals for bravery, being wounded, and saving lives along the way. The lower one is for being one of the best pistol shots in the Coast Guard. He was captain of the pistol team at Annapolis. Peggy was once recognized as being the best pistol shot among teenagers in America. I’ve been known to hit the broadside of a barn.
Tony arranged a kayak trip for visiting family members at Weedon Island Preserve near St. Petersburg.
Like Tony, his wife, Cammie, was operating a paddle board. Their youngest son, Cooper, was hitching a ride.
Here we are entering the mangrove tunnel that the Weedon Island Preserve is noted for. Our paddles proved to be too long, so we took them apart and operated with half a paddle.
Docked at lunch. Tony is tying a rope to the kayaks to make sure they don’t go wandering off.
One of the things I always love about Florida is the bird life. This is an ibis.
Another view. I think he was stalking something.
While mangrove tunnels and birds caught our attention in Florida, water lilies became our focus while kayaking on Honeyman Lake.
White and pink were the colors of the day.
Peggy caught these three pink water lilies in a row…
While two white water lilies lined up for me.
Honeyman Lake is located at the northern end of the Oregon Dunes National Recreational Area.
Another view of the dunes along the lake.
A final view of Honeyman Lake. I took this photo from where we had parked, Quivera, our small RV. We kayaked down to the opposite end of the lake taking a detour into a feeder creek that provided our up-close encounter with water lilies. Fog over the Pacific Ocean can be seen in the distance.

As noted before, I am taking a break from blogging this summer to catch up on other writing chores, but I am also posting an occasional blog when I find subjects I think you might find fun. –Curt

Hail, Hail, the Gangs All Here… Plus More Baby Fawn Photos

I looked out our door and this young fellow was staring through the glass panel at me.

They’re back.

For about three weeks all we saw around here on our property in the Applegate Valley of Southern Oregon were the two does that hang out here and their four fawns. We wondered about the absence of other deer. Maybe the does turn into ‘mama bears’ when their babies are so young and the other does, bucks, and youngsters find it wise to be elsewhere. That all changed this week. Four or five other does and a couple of bucks had come by to drink water and decided to hang around.

The young buck had certainly made himself at home. Our cement pad is relatively cool in the shade plus I had watered it down earlier. With temperatures climbing above 110° F, both wildlife and humans were suffering.
I had noted something strange about the pad earlier in the day. It was covered with new scratch marks, some going fairly deep. I called Peggy out to take a look. Had something big been using our patio to sharpen its claws. That was our first thought. The small buck sleeping there provided the likely answer, however. Deer like to make a bed before lying down. They use their hoofs to scratch out a shallow hole in the ground. Apparently, the young buck, or one of his cohorts had been trying to scratch a more comfortable place to sleep on the cement. Good luck with that…
His larger companion satisfied himself with a long, cool drink out of the birdbath, aka, local spring.
Misty, otherwise known as Top Doe, could have told the buck that the small stones we use in the patio are much easier to rearrange. I’m forever raking the stones out flat it seems. I had just sprayed Misty with cool water and her look seemed to be saying ‘more.’ Note; She still has to regain her girlish figure from having her twins.
Misty gives me her “You wouldn’t happen to have an apple, would you?” look. One of her fawns is in the back
Some of the gang. I took this photo from my writing chair in our library.

But enough on the adults. I know that the real reason you are here is to see the babies. The following photos are of Misty’s kids. Her daughter’s fawns were born a couple of weeks after Misty’s and are still too small to hang out with the adults. We tend to see them later in the evening.

What’s cuter than a fawn using mom as an obstacle course?
Answer: A baby snuggling up to mom. The tangle of legs in the background is pretty amusing as well.
Dinner time! BTW, I don’t know if you have ever watched fawns feed. It’s cute, but hardly gentle. As I noted in my last post, there’s a reason why does encourage their kids to start feeding themselves ASAP!
Like these flowers. Mmmm, mmmm good. Except…
“If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a dozen times, you do not eat fake flowers! They will make you sick. Plus ‘The Peggy’ will be out here and give you a lecture. Believe me, you don’t want a lecture from her.”
“Okay, I’ll just eat these yucky old dry leaves.” Actually, all of the deer chow down on the Madrone leaves. The tree drops its leaves twice a year, including once in the summer. Eating the leaves is thirsty work, however….
“Hey, look at me, I’m tall enough to drink out of the big deer spring!”
“Big deal.”

“I’ve had it with you. I am going to talk to the all-knowing rooster…”
“Whoa, he told me if I walked up on the porch and looked in the window, I could see the Man. You need to get over and see this, Brother.”
“This is scary. I’m going to tip toe…”
“Do I dare look up?”
“OMG!”
“I’m out of here!”

And to finish off today’s post, a few more cute fawn photos…

And finally, Misty’s daughter brings her fawns by our living room window each evening. Eventually, they will grow into their ears.
And that’s it for the fawn photos this season. Maybe…

Other notes: The fox came by recently, trotting across our deck. A pair of California quail have been hanging around. Three days ago we spotted them with their family of tiny babies, maybe an inch tall. Our lavender is in full bloom, attracting hundreds of honey bees and dozens of bumble bees. We had a population explosion of ground squirrels. I’ve caught 86 so far and transported them across the river to Squirrel Village. They can be quite verbal in what they think about the relocation program. I’ve never heard such fowl language. Not even Rooster can match them.

Peggy celebrated her birthday today. Her brother and his wife Frances drop by tomorrow and we are off to Florida on Thursday to join our son, Tony, in celebrating his retirement from serving as a helicopter pilot for the Coast Guard. As you likely know, I am taking a break from regularly posting this summer. –Curt

Oh Deer! There’s a Fawn Sleeping on Our Porch

“Come quickly, Curt,” Peggy had urged, “There’s a fawn sleeping on our porch.” Sure enough, nestled between a chair, our outdoor shoe rack and Peggy’s walking pole was the cute little fellow above. We were inside and took the photo through our glass paneled door.
This photo provides a perspective on where the fawn was located. Sunday evening, Father’s Day, two fawns were sleeping on the porch. It was quite a treat.

It’s that time of the year. Two weeks ago, Peggy and I made a trip to Sacramento to catch up with friends and relatives, some of whom we hadn’t seen for over a year due to Covid. We returned home to find that our two resident does (Misty and her daughter)had both dropped their babies. Two sets of twins were cavorting about our yard and kicking up their heels. It’s an annual event that Peggy and I look forward to eagerly.

Fawns sleeping on our porch was a totally new experience for us, however. Mama deer usually insist that their babies sleep hidden away down in the canyon. The fact that they are camouflaged by their spots and more or less odorless keeps them safe from predators. I think the coolness of the cement and nearby water was more than they could resist on a 100° F day. I am going to water down the area late this afternoon to make it even cooler this evening.

The twins of Misty’s daughter came by Monday afternoon looking for water and a break from the heat under our large Madrone tree next to our porch.
We keep a bird bath filled with water year round for birds, deer, tree squirrels, and other wildlife. It serves as a local watering hole. During our hot, dry summers, we add a five gallon bucket with water. The fawns like the bucket since it is easy for them to reach.
Mmmm, mmmm, good. Nothing like a cool drink on a hot day. Note the water dripping off the fawn’s chin.
Mom, Misty’s daughter, stares in the window at me with a disgusted look because the bird bath is close to empty.
While one fawn was drinking, the other rested in the shade of the Madrone tree.
This is an example of where fawns normally sleep. Note how they blend into the dry grass.
One of them heard me and poked its head up with what seemed like an “Are you looking at me!” challenge.

Naturally, we take lots of photos when the babies are around. Here are a few more.

This is Misty and her twins. She basically hangs out around our property and has been for the ten years we have been living here. Each year she brings her kids by to introduce them.
Both moms showed up with their twins at the same time last week. Here are three of them. They weren’t quite sure what to do with each other.
Like all youngsters, fawns are curious about their surroundings. Mom is insisting that the youngsters begin the process of finding out what tastes good. One hint is what mom’s breath smells like. She encourages them to search for food by limiting their milk supply.
This kid ignored the iris leaves and focused on the grass. If deer liked iris, those leaves would have long since disappeared.
I thought this fawn looked quite elegant.
Here’s a fawn that is pretty much all legs. My short legs are jealous.
Here’s something that the long legs are good for: Scratching an itch.
I’ll conclude today with this series… “Mom says you are going in the wrong direction.”
“Really?”
“She says we have to cross this deck.”
“I don’t think so.” (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
“Follow me.”
“Maybe, but my tail is up for a reason!” (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.) And no, I hadn’t told them that this is the same deck that a cougar came bounding across a few weeks earlier in pursuit of a deer in the middle of the night. Note the ears. Back says I’m concerned. Forward suggests both curiosity and caution.
“Okay, but my tail is still up in the air!” (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
A close up that I took. Both black tail deer (which these are) and white tail deer, raise their tails and run when startled. Tail up means ‘Get the heck out of here!’

I’m out of here, too. Hope you’ve enjoyed the fawns. This is one of the occasional blogs I will be posting this summer during my break.

Who Shot Pavy’s Pig… And— A Summer Break From Blogging

I’ve always been a fan of pigs. Whenever I go to a County or State Fair, I make a beeline for the livestock barns, mainly to see the pigs and the goats. I found this handsome pair hamming it up at a small county fair in Cedarville, California when I was on my way to Burning Man one year. Normally I take photos of their faces and snouts, but I couldn’t resist the kinky little tails.

Like the gunslingers of the Old West, our reputations far exceeded the reality of our actions. Take Tony Pavy’s pig for example. Tony had a large pond with bullfrogs, a hundred or so acres of scrubland, and a wooded hillside that housed a number of gray squirrels. He also had an attitude similar to Jimmy Pagonni’s: Children were not to be heard or seen, especially on his property. As with Pagonni, we didn’t allow Pavy to keep us from our appointed rounds. We would slip in at night to harvest his bullfrogs and during the day to bring down a squirrel. Tony had a very effective way of getting rid of us. In a very loud voice he would yell, “Mama, get my gun!” and we would streak out of there.

A couple of friends and I were hunting for the squirrels on his hillside when the unfortunate incident with the pig took place. But before I tell the story, I need to digress and provide some background information.

Growing up in Diamond in the 50s meant having a gun and shooting things. At least it did if you were a boy. We graduated from BB guns and 22s to deer rifles and shotguns. Obtaining your first rifle was an experience similar in importance to obtaining your driver’s license, except you could get one a lot earlier. Before we were allowed to hunt, however, certain rules were pounded into our heads. We had to take a course sponsored by the National Rifle Association. These were the years when the NRA’s primary concern was about hunting and hunter safety. They also sponsored marksmanship competitions for improving skills. Ten years after I got my license Peggy won the NRA’s National Pistol competition for youth.

I didn’t become one of America’s premier marksmen, but I did learn it is important to know what you were shooting. This might seem obvious, but flatlanders out of Sacramento often had trouble making the distinction between a cow and a deer. Of a much more serious nature, every year or so one would mistake another hunter for a deer. Wear red hats and bright clothes, we were taught. There were other things we weren’t supposed to shoot as well. People’s houses for example. Robins were also high on the list. They ate their weight daily in bugs. It was okay to shoot ‘vermin’ such as ground squirrels, jackrabbits, coyotes and the scrub jays that pecked away at pears. In fact there was a bounty on jays, $.25 per head.

My usual preference was for watching wildlife, not killing it. I made an exception for gray squirrels. The thrill of the hunt combined with my appetite for a delicious squirrel and dumpling stew my mother whipped up overcame any reservations I had. All of which brings me back to the pig.

Gray squirrels have about the same appreciation for being shot that you or I might. To avoid this unhappy circumstance, they take off leaping through the trees. The one we had marked for dinner was jumping from limb to limb in a live oak tree on the hill above Pavy’s with all three of us shooting at it when we heard a bellow from the barnyard.

“Mama, get my gun! They shot my pig! They shot my pig! Hurry, Mama!”

I don’t know how fast Mama moved but we flew. By the time Ernie Carlson, the County Sheriff, caught up with us we were far away from Pavy’s and about as innocent as newborn piglets.

“Excuse me, boys,” the Sheriff remarked when he pulled over in his car and rolled down his window, “I don’t suppose you know anything about Tony Pavy’s pig being shot.”

“No, sir,” we replied respectfully in unison. We had rehearsed.  Besides, we were technically correct. We hadn’t shot Pavy’s pig; we hadn’t even shot the squirrel. It was a ricocheting bullet that did in the pig. 

Ernie looked at us dubiously.

“Pavy described three kids that fit your description,” the Sheriff said as he continued to build pressure, hoping that one of us would break. Boy, had we heard that one before.

“We’ve been out in back of Ot Jones pond,” I argued indignantly. And we had been. So what if we had arrived there out of breath.

“Well, you kids behave yourselves,” the Sheriff said with an ominous I know you’re lying tone. We breathed a joint sigh of relief as he rolled up his window and drove off. Once more we had avoided a fate we probably deserved. I suspect now that Ernie was not one hundred percent dedicated to finding the alleged pig murderers. Tony was not universally loved in the community for several reasons, of which regularly threatening to shoot kids was only one. 

For example, my father did some electrical work for him once for free. As he was leaving, Tony asked, “Would you like one of my geese for dinner?”

“Sure,” Pop had replied, assuming Pavy was offering it as thanks for his four hours of work. 

“Good,” Tony had replied, “that will be five dollars.” Pop was more than a little irritated. He had a hearty laugh years later when I told him about our adventure with the pig. I wisely avoided telling him at the time, however. His perspective on our miscreant behavior softened substantially with distance and age.

Those Lazy Hazy Days of Summer

“Roll out those lazy, hazy days of summer,” Nat King Cole sang in 1963. It was the adult version of what the kids of earlier years uttered when they escaped from school for the summer, “No more pencils, no more books, No more teachers, dirty looks.” Actually I liked school and my teachers, and I loved books, but the appeal of having a whole summer ahead with minimal responsibility and maximum play was close to magical. Since I have been writing about my childhood, it’s hard not to feel a bit nostalgic for those days. As Thomas Wolfe wrote, “You can’t go home again,” however, and he’s right. The idyllic view of our childhood that many of us have doesn’t quite match the reality. It’s human nature to forget the bad and remember the happy, which is a good thing.  

But none of this means that we can’t on occasion escape from whatever keeps our feet tethered to the ground and our nose to the grindstone, allowing ourselves to play more and pursue other things we find of interest. I am something of a master at this, having engineered escapes all of my adult life every few years from three months to three years. These escapes have enabled me the wander through the South Pacific, go on a six-month bicycle trip, take two, three month breaks for backpacking, spend three years wandering North America in a small RV, etc. Fortunately, my good buddy of the last 30 years has been more than willing to join me in these escapes. 

Anyway, it’s time for another 3–4 month break. This one won’t be major. I only plan to cut back on some of my regular activities to free up time for other activities. 

One of these is blogging, which I have now been doing for 11 years. I don’t plan on quitting the blogosphere, only cutting back and writing when I am inspired to do so, like when Big Foot or baby deer show up on our door step, for example. I’ll also be touching base with my blogging friends from time to time over the summer. I should be back to a regular schedule this fall. I realize that it is disconcerting when blogging friends up and disappear, so I wanted to let you know what’s up. Have a great summer, and here’s to being able to travel again. –Curt

Tale of a Trail… Gold Miners, Wild Life, Scenic Asides, and Strange Surveyors

Our property backs up to the Rogue River Siskiyou National Forest which in turn shares a boundary with the Klamath National Forest. Together, they include well over a million acres of wilderness! We love it. As do the deer, bears, cougars, foxes, coyotes, etc. We even had a wolf pass through a couple of years ago. This sign marks the boundary between our property and the National Forest. It also marks the beginning of our trail. Surveyors came through a few months ago to check out the National Forest boundary. They moved signs and marked trees in red paint. Peggy thought that maybe they were having a little too much fun.
I wonder why.

For quite some time, we have been making a detour into the forest as part of our daily mailbox walk. It adds an extra mile to our exercise. Plus it is just plain fun. The problem is that the hike only works for late fall, winter and early spring. Otherwise, we are dealing with poison oak, ticks, and little burrs. No one wants poison oak, the ticks may carry Lyme disease, and the burrs are just plain nasty. We come home with dozens in our socks and they are very difficult to remove. Inevitably we miss a few and they end up in our laundry. For some reason, they are attracted to our underwear, mainly Peggy’s. But you can bet I feel the pain…

This spring, I decided to create a trail through the forest that would allow us year round access. It would be poison oak and burr free. Plus we would be much less likely to get ticks. They tend to hang out in bushes and brush off on innocent animals, people and maybe Big Foot, who, legend has it, likes to hang out in our neck of the woods.

I wouldn’t be starting the trail from scratch. Mainly I would be reclaiming and expanding on old miners’ trails and deer paths. My goal, as always, was to have minimum impact, which was pretty much guaranteed since my tools were a rake, mattock, and lopper. I call the lopper, Cindy. You may need to be of a certain age to get that. I tell Peggy that Cindy and I are going up on the mountain to have a little fun. She doesn’t worry; she just snorts. “Wear your gloves, honey.”

I was worried on my first day of trail making. It was two days after the cougar ran across our deck and the morning after our neighbor Bryan had his scary night-time encounter. There was a significant chance that it was still hanging around where I was working. The deer herd was out and came down to watch me work, however. They high-tail it when they are on the menu. Maybe they figured as long as I was there, the cougar wouldn’t be. I hoped they were right in their assumptions. If not, I would wish them good luck as I did my own high-tailing-it act. (Suggestion: Never take off running when you see a cougar. It confirms you are food and fun to chase. Stand tall, look the cougar in the eye, speak to it firmly, “Bad Kitty,” and slowly back away. I’m serious.)

In addition to being a pleasant stroll through the forest, the trail incorporates a bit of history. Miners came searching for gold during the 1920s and 30s. There are old sites for at least seven cabins, a cave, a wood stove, remnants of an old auto, and test holes that they dug following a quartz vein in hopes of striking it rich. They would dig down, find the quartz, shove a dynamite stick in, blow it up, and then check out the results. The test holes come down off the mountain and run right across our property. It could be we are sitting on a fortune. Ha.

Peggy and I have found seven flat spaces like this that were likely the sites of miners’ cabins. When they left, they must have taken the lumber and tin roof with them. We did find one section of tin roof and lots of old #10 cans.
This cave, dug by the miners is right off the trail.
A look inside the cave. We didn’t find any gold, but there were bats. Peggy and I call it the Bear Cave. It’s partly to entertain our grandkids but once, during the winter, Peggy and I found bear tracks leading toward it through the snow. I wanted to check it out. My buddy, not so much.
This is one of the test holes the miners dug that extend down onto our property. This one was surrounded by pieces of quartz that Peggy harvested for our yard.
This was one of the rocks that Peggy chose. The biggest. I swear it weighed at least 100 pounds. My back survived but my feet hurt the next day from being driven into the ground. I earned extra husband credits but no gold.

Wildlife has adopted the trail for their own use. We’ve found cougar, coyote and fox scat along it as well as deer. And I even found deer sleeping on it. Then there was the young buck who seemed to be having some problem…

I was hiking up the trail when a young buck started behaving strangely in front of me. This isn’t the most graceful pose. I am always amazed at how streamlined, almost fragile the legs look.
Uh-oh. Have you ever had one of those itches that is just impossible to scratch— at least in public?
Whoops.

In addition to miners’ history and wildlife, attractive trees and flowers are found along the trail as it winds its way through the forest.

Low bridge, everybody down! This madrone crosses over our trail, low enough to bump your head on. Especially if you are wearing a hat that blocks its view and are looking down for poison oak to remove.
The culprit that caused me to bump my head: Poison oak. Its three leaf arrangement is the give away.
I rather like the limb, so it will continue to bump the heads of unwary trail users. Hopefully not mine again.
The madrone trees have bloomed along the trail, making them easy to spot in the surrounding forests
The madrones (Arbutus menziesii) are finishing up now, but they were still in full bloom when I took this photo. I might add that they have a sweet, attractive smell that greets us when we step out our door.
The trail wanders under an Oregon big leaf maple.
Among towering pines…
And past numerous white oaks with their wonderful gnarly limbs.
The trail also passes by buck brush, which was blooming this spring and also has a distinctive sweet smell.
I photograph manzanita as much for its dead limbs as I do its live ones. This trunk reminded me of the alligators found along the Gulf Coast!
The flowers start blooming in March. They are rarely in profusion except for shooting stars (Dodecatheon meadia)which are one of the first flowers to bloom. About the time one flower ends its season, another pops up.
Last week, I showed you some of the gorgeous irises that Peggy grows. Wild irises, possibly not so glamorous but still pretty, grow along the trail. This is yellow leaf iris (Iris chrysophylla).
Blue dicks (Dichelostemma capitatum), a lovely flower that had our book club gigging over its name, have come out in the last month.

I thought that the latest addition to our flower family was pretty face Brodiaea, but now I think it may be a rare Triteleia crocea, a closely related species that only grows in our area.

I’ll wrap this blog up today with my favorite flower, Calochortus elegans. Its common name is elegant cat’s ear. If you have ever owned a kitty, I’m sure you can see why.

My blogging friend Crystal Trulove from Conscious Engagement and her buddy Pedro are visiting today and went out for a walk on the trail. Here are photos of them along the trail and in the Bear Cave taken by Peggy. 

MONDAY’S POST: I’ve promised to tell you who shot Pavy’s pig, and I will. But I also want to discuss our summer blogging schedule, which will be slim at best. Peggy and I are taking a break to pursue some other interests. We intend to be back with a regular schedule in the fall. And I will continue to check in on you occasionally over the summer. The friendships we have formed are valuable.

A Cougar, Leapus Buckus, and Lots of Gorgeous Flowers… At Home in Oregon

Leapus Buckus, so named because he jumped over the Maginot Line of our Deer Defense last year, stares up at me in defiance. If I didn’t know better, I would say he is pawing the ground like a bull ready to attack. And check out his antlers! They are in velvet now and growing, but they look like they will be humongous, dwarfing his head.

I awoke with a start as a deer leapt onto the deck next to our bedroom in the middle of the night a few weeks ago. They frequently cross the deck but rarely at night and never at full speed. It got my attention— but nothing like the loud thump that followed. I imagined something big and thought of getting up to look. But it was a moonless, pitch black night. I wouldn’t be able to see anything and the intruders would be long gone anyway, I told myself. I decided to go back to sleep. It wasn’t easy.

Our neighbor Bryan called the next night. “I’m shaking, Curt,” he told me. A hawk had taken out a chicken of his during the day and he had gone out after dark to check on the welfare of the flock. What he found was a pair of eyes staring out at him from one side of a large tree. A long tail stretched out from the other side. It was a cougar. Bryan kept his bright flashlight focused on the cougars eyes and slowly backed away. And then called me.

Suddenly, the loud thump made sense. The cougar had been in hot pursuit of a deer and jumped onto our deck in hot pursuit. Welcome to our neighborhood.

Deer are a common fact of life here. This photo features a pregnant mom and her pregnant ‘teenage’ daughter. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Leapus Buckus wasn’t responsible for both.
It seems that pregnant moms are everywhere. I’ve counted eight. It’s like we are running a maternity ward. This doe has adopted the deck next to Quivera the RV. Another deer is behind her. It isn’t unusual to find four or five deer sleeping around the van.
Given the voracious appetite of deer, drastic steps need to be taken to keep the deer out of our flower, shrub and vegetable gardens. This is our Gabion Cage Maginot Line designed to keep them away from our shrubs. There is a small fence on top of the Gabion cages and an eight foot fence on the sides and back of the garden.
Bird sculptures and lavender serve as part of the defense system. The deer don’t like lavender and the birds plus metallic flowers provide obstacles. They lust after the honeysuckle behind the birds, however, and we found them crawling under the 8-foot side fence a couple of weeks ago. The problem has been corrected. We hope. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
The bird sculptures have become favorite perches for fence lizards, who use them to survey their domain.
We grow other flowers the deer don’t like outside of the protected area, such as this Iris growing in Peggy’s iris garden. I’ve included other iris below this.
We have several types of lavender planted around our house. This one is the first to bloom.
A honey bee stops by to check it out. Soon, there will be hundreds buzzing around.
Poppies are another flower that deer won’t eat. I liked the ladybug here.
Peggy planted poppies the second year we were here. It was the 7th year before they decided to grow. Now they are taking over a hill that was covered in star thistle when we arrived.
This colorful fellow was climbing up the wall of our sunroom right next to the poppies.
The deer like our pioneer rose, which surprises us given its sharp thorns. Peggy lectures them on a regular basis. The Red Buttes are in the background. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
The pioneer rose is an heirloom rose originally brought across the country in wagon trains. It is also known as the Oregon Trail Rose and is found along the Oregon Trail. It’s also found in Texas. Texans are adamant that it is not the “Yellow Rose of Texas” of song fame, and they are right. But I wonder if the “Yellow Rose of Texas” wasn’t named after the yellow rose of Texas? (I expect Linda to comment on this.)
Insects such as this colorful beetle avoid the debate but they love the plant. Hundreds of various insects fly around it feasting— and mating. I kept noticing that when one bug landed, another would land on top of it. They didn’t seem to be fighting.
Just for fun. Peggy and I went out to take photos of the ‘Pink’ moon on April 26th. It wasn’t pink but we did think it was dramatic.
Another photo of the moon.
And in conclusion, Leapus Buckus says, “Y’all come by to see me. Bring apples. Lots of them.” Next Friday I will take you on a hike up the hill in the forest behind our property. I’m eager to show you a trail I just built, wildflowers, an old gold mining operation that extends onto our property, and a deer whose actions are stranger than fiction.

NEXT MONDAY’S POST: It’s back to tales of my early years in Diamond Springs, California and why the town mantra was ‘The Mekemson kids did it.’