When Peggy and I returned from re-tracing my bike route, we were more than happy to hang out at our home in the Applegate Valley of Southern Oregon. The wildlife entertained us and the surrounding country provided scenic views. It wasn’t until fall that we returned to our wandering ways with short trips to the coasts of Northern California and Oregon.
We finished off our year with a trip to Connecticut to visit our son Tony and his family, and North Carolina to visit our daughter Tasha and her family. In between we worked in a trip to Boston. There is a lot of good blog material! Right now I am sitting in Google’s Charlotte, North Carolina office where our son-in-law Clay works. One of my blogs will be on what it means to be a Googler and be Googley. I find the company fascinating!
Peggy and I had a great year wandering and sharing our adventures. I’ve also taken great pleasure in wandering around the world with you on your adventures! I am looking forward to 2017. My New Year’s Day blog will feature my plans for 2017.
Happy New Year!
Curt and Peggy
It’s Earth Day 2015. To celebrate, I am writing this post from a small deck Peggy and I had built on the upper portion of our property. I took the photo of white oaks from where I am sitting.
An Acorn Woodpecker is hammering away at a dead pine. He just stopped to issue a staccato comment on the day, a Woody Woodpecker laugh. I can also hear a Robin’s distinctive chirp— they are migrating through, scratching around for juicy bugs. Flickers and Stellar Jays join the chorus. The jays are discussing the fact I haven’t put out their morning helping of sunflower seeds. They are loud and raucous, hoping I will hear them. How could I not? I was soundly scolded on my walk up here.
As for the Flicker, he has gone to pounding on our roof vents several times a day. Who knows why, but it sounds like a jack hammer. It gets Peggy quite excitable and she charges around whacking our ceiling to scare him away. I’ve checked the roof, so far no damage. I am not so sure about the ceiling.
One very pregnant and obviously uncomfortable Black Tail doe walked by a few minutes ago. She’s restless. I watched her yesterday as she disappeared behind our pump house for a few minutes (it’s cool and shady), came out, munched on some grass, walked to our house, and plopped down against the side. She will be having her fawn soon, probably down in our blackberry filled canyon. We won’t see the baby for a week or two since does carefully hide their babies and insist that they remain hidden for several days.
A cool, fresh breeze is blowing. Puffy clouds float by. The wind is welcome; it’s been hazy for the past few days. The weather people tell us that the haze is caused by smoke blowing in from Siberia. Apparently fires that Siberian farmers were using to clear their fields escaped. Our earth, this seemingly huge planet, is a small place after all. We are all neighbors. If people choose to pollute the air, discharge waste into water, cut down forests, and litter the landscape with the leftovers of modern civilization, it impacts all of us. We all suffer.
But enough doom and gloom—today is a day to celebrate the natural beauty of our earth. Let’s go for a walk. We will start at the Applegate River at the bottom of our property and move up the hill to the National Forest boundary marker. I’ve built signed trails throughout our property and named them after our grandkids (all boys). Ethan’s Hidden Springs Trail and Connor’s Jungle Trail are examples. The first thing the kids do when they arrive is run off to explore their trails. It is Peggy and my hope that we can instill in our grandchildren the same love of the natural world and desire to protect it that we have.
A Note: I wrote this piece and did our walk yesterday so this post could go up today.
I’ve blogged about Bigfoot before. How could I not when the world’s only known Bigfoot trap is four miles from our home on the Applegate River in Southern Oregon?
My wife Peggy and I went out and revisited the trap just before we took off for Nevada three weeks ago. Since we were heading out to explore ghost towns, the Extraterrestrial Highway, Area 51, Death Valley and Las Vegas, I figured that searching for Bigfoot would put us in the right frame of mind.
We added looking for morel mushrooms as part of our Big Foot hike. They reputedly grow in the area. From my experience so far, however, I am beginning to believe they are even more difficult to find than the Big Hairy Guy and UFOs combined. Our carpenter, who was building us a pole barn while we were in Nevada, assured me of the morel’s existence. He had found one so big it was featured in the local newspaper and on Paul Harvey. “Morels yes, Bigfoot no,” he told us.
I am not quite so emphatic about Bigfoot’s existence. Our front window looks out on Bigfoot Country. There have been a number of reported “sightings” over the years. One led to the building of the Bigfoot trap.
It all started when Perry Lovel, a miner living on the Applegate River, discovered 18-inch long human-like tracks in his garden that were six feet apart. His tale captured the imagination of Ron Olsen, a filmmaker from Eugene who headed up an organization known as the North American Wildlife Research Team. Ron decided to catch Bigfoot– allegedly for scientific purposes. I suspect he had other motivation as well. Imagine owning the rights to the movie?
Anyway, Ron and his group built a sturdy 10 by 10 foot box trap located a mile or so above Perry’s garden. A raised, heavy steel gate was added to provide Bigfoot with access to the trap. Meat was then placed inside and connected to a lever that released the gate, which came crashing down with all the subtlety of a guillotine.
Ron then built a ramshackle cabin a couple of hundred yards down the hill and hired a miner to hang out and monitor the trap. He was given a tranquilizer gun and a very large pair of handcuffs. You get the picture. I assume the miner also stocked in a year’s supply of booze. Make that a six-year supply, since that is how long the trap was maintained.
But was the effort successful? In a way, yes. The miner actually captured two grumpy bears who were under the mistaken impression they were getting a free lunch, not realizing there is no such thing. But Bigfoot didn’t take the bait. Here are my thoughts on why.
The only way they might have captured Bigfoot was if he were rolling around on the ground laughing so hard he couldn’t escape. If he exists, this larger than life character is far too intelligent to get caught in anything as obvious as the trap that Ron built. Otherwise there would be much more definitive proof of his existence beyond a few photos of dark blurs disappearing into the woods.
Since I was about to visit Area 51 in Nevada, I had a final whimsical thought: maybe Bigfoot is an alien. That would explain lots of things. (Grin) We didn’t find Bigfoot, and we didn’t find any morel mushrooms, but there were other strange things along the way…
NEXT BLOG: The journey to Nevada begins and we admire the mystical and majestic Mt. Shasta and stop off at beautiful Burney Falls.
I took you along for a walk to my mailbox in the last post. We hiked over Cody’s Bear Trail, went looking for a wayward skunk, and found the deer herd that believes it is the true owner of our property. Maybe it is. We then detoured through the Klamath National Forest, rejoined our neighborhood road and arrived at the mailbox.
Today we are completing the trip. We will walk along the Upper Applegate Road, check out the Applegate River, visit with one tiny and two huge dogs, and finish our hike on Ethan’s Hidden Trail. The total walk to and from the mailbox, with detours, is a mile and a half.
But first I have to report on two new developments. One, I found the skunk. He is a magnificent creature, by far the biggest skunk I have ever seen. I’d gone down after dark to collect our garbage can on the main road. And there he was, waddling. In fact he waddled right into our front road culvert. He is one culvert-loving skunk. I am surprised he fit.
Two, I received an award from the Word Press blog Animal Couriers. I love these people. They transport people’s pets all over Europe but also throughout the world. And they do a lot with rescued animals. They’re good folks. Was the award for my great humanity, good looks, fine intelligence and quick wit? No, sigh. It was for my “off the wall” comments on their blog. So there you have it, in case you haven’t noticed before: I am an off the wall type of guy. I like it.
NEXT BLOG: I will return to our pre-Christmas visit to Puerto Vallarta where Peggy and I will visit the small town of San Sebastian located high in the Sierra Madre Mountains.
It’s a new year– a time for resolutions, a time for planning. Right? I mean, right! My laptop is poised and ready for action. But wait, my mind isn’t here. It’s outside wandering around in the woods with the deer and squirrels and foxes and bears.
Why should this be so tough? I love planning. I’ve been doing it forever. I still have plans I developed in high school bouncing around somewhere. I was doing MBO before Peter Drucker invented it. I have plans on top of plans. If I don’t control me, no one will. Or worse, someone else might.
But today, this third day of 2014, my mind just isn’t into planning. Fortunately, I am even better at rationalizing than I am at planning. One of my resolutions is more exercise. Isn’t it everybody’s? It’s on my list every year, regardless of the results. So I will go exercise. I’ll be resolute instead of wishy-washy. I will walk to our mailbox.
Join me as I take a walk on the wild side.
NEXT BLOG: We walk along the beautiful Applegate River, meet the neighborhood dogs, and follow Ethan’s Hidden Trail as we return to our home from the mailbox walk.
Several years ago Peggy and I were in the middle of a year off when we were treated to most of what America has to offer in fall’s brilliant display of leaves changing color. We began our adventure in late August. Our trip had taken us into Alaska and the weather was changing. The geese were getting restless, preparing for their journey south. We decided to migrate as well. Since our next scheduled stop was in Florida for Thanksgiving, we had three months to wander.
Our route took us down through the Yukon Territory and into British Columbia’s impressive national parks of Jasper and Banff in the northern Rockies. We then made our way east through Alberta and Saskatchewan, dropped down into North Dakota, and then traveled through Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York. We arrived in the New England states of Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine at the height of leaf peeping season. We then journeyed south through the Mid-Atlantic States into the Blue Ridge Mountains. The trees were spectacular the whole way. We were following fall, so to speak.
Our rather mild weather in Southern Oregon doesn’t produce the magnificent colors of New England, but we get a decent showing. I kept promising myself I would get out and take photos but writing and procrastination interfered. When I finally managed to be out and about with my camera, there were more leaves on the ground than in the trees. I was left with the last colors of fall, but they were still impressive.
NEXT BLOG: We will visit one of America’s premier parks (where I happen to be as I type this), Pt. Reyes National Seashore, north of San Francisco, California.
Peggy and I discovered Jacksonville in 2010 when we were doing genealogical research. My great grandparents are buried in the cemetery above the town. In fact, I have ancestors scattered throughout Southern Oregon. We were happily jumping from graveyard to graveyard looking for dead people. It’s like going a treasure hunt.
We were also searching for a place to live after our three years of wandering around North America. Peggy was ready to settle. Our daughter Tasha was lobbying for us to move to Tennessee and live close to her family. But I am a Western-type guy and the Rockies were about as far east as I was willing to travel. I had developed an affinity for New Mexico and both Peggy and I enjoyed the mountainous/less populated areas of Northern California.
We ended up falling in love with Jacksonville and the Siskiyou Mountains, which is why I am sitting here this morning in my home 25 miles outside of Jacksonville looking out at the Red Buttes and listening to the Applegate River while I write this blog.
Jacksonville got its start in the 1850s. Southern Oregon, like Northern California, was part of the great gold rush that sent the 49ers scurrying west to seek their fortunes. Soon the town was booming. With the addition of a railroad, it became the county seat for Jackson County and one of the largest cities in Oregon. Eventually the gold was mined out. When the railroad bypassed the town in 1884, Jacksonville started on a gradual decline.
The good news here is that the historic buildings in town were preserved instead of being torn down in the name of progress. In 1966, the threat of bulldozers turning the town into a freeway encouraged the residents to apply for and become a National Historic District. Today the small community of 3000 has a substantial tourist trade based on its historic ambience. A growing wine industry in the region helps assure its future.
NEXT BLOG: I return to one of my favorite hobbies, exploring the world of Native American rock art found in remote locations throughout the southwestern United States.
I was working on my blog about the Archeological Museum of Naples this morning when I looked up and saw a black tail deer staring in the window. She was about five feet away. I think she wanted to know what I was doing inside on a beautiful spring day.
Fortunately I had my camera next to me so I snapped her picture. Soon after she and two of her companions had bedded down in our back yard and were sniffing the daffodils.
I decided she was right. What was I doing inside on a beautiful spring day? So I shut down my MacBook, grabbed my camera and went for a walk. The Archeological Museum could wait another day. I decided to blog about our home here in Southern Oregon.
We live about 30 miles west of Medford and five miles north of the California border, out in the woods, so to speak. The Red Buttes of the Siskiyou Mountain Range and the beautiful Applegate River are out front. Our property borders on close to a million acres of national forest land and wilderness in back.
Our elevation is 2000 feet, just high enough for three or four snowstorms that always manage to melt off in a day or two. Our five acres are totally wooded and include Ponderosa Pines, White Oaks, Red Cedars, Madrone, and Douglas Fir. A small spring provides water for the wildlife in summer.
Deer, fox, skunks and a multitude of squirrels consider our property home. An occasional bear drops by and my neighbors tell me that a cougar comes down off the mountain on occasion. A couple of months ago a coyote checked us out.
Yesterday we watched a Red Tailed Hawk pick up a small ground squirrel. (Peggy squealed so loud in delight, the hawk dropped the squirrel.) Last fall I watched a Golden Eagle grab a snake in our front yard. A pair of Bald Eagles nest near by and a large Pileated Woodpecker makes the forest ring with his pounding. Numerous species of birds either live here year around or migrate through in the spring and fall.
If I seem to be in love with the area, I am. Peggy and I moved here two years ago after wrapping up a three-year exploration of North America in a 22-foot RV. I don’t think we’ll be moving again. (grin) Here are some more photos taken at various times of the year.
NEXT BLOG: Back to Naples and the Archeological Museum (Unless it is too nice outside.)
Two years ago Peggy and I decided to ‘settle down’ in Southern Oregon after travelling around North America for three years in our small RV. It was a good decision. We ended up purchasing five acres of property. The beautiful Applegate River flows in front of our house. Our back property line is the gateway to over a million acres of National Forest land.
Peggy loves rivers and I love wilderness. It is a perfect match. Every morning we wake up with smiles on our faces.
Deer, bear, squirrels, foxes and numerous species of birds consider our property as part of their territory or at least a convenient stop off place. Last year a bear tipped over our bar-b-que. A couple of weeks ago a skunk let go under our house. This summer Peggy waged an unceasing war against ground squirrels that discovered her garden.
It all comes with country living. Mainly, we are amused by the antics of our furred and feathered friends.
I used a Have-a-Heart trap to catch the ground squirrels and founded a new colony down the road and across the river on BLM land. The little buggers always went for the zucchini bait. I told them Peggy would be much less merciful. She was starting to practice with her pellet pistol.
We have been enjoying a beautiful fall and feel a slight tinge of regret that we are leaving to travel. I suspect the cruise of the Mediterranean with its extensive stop offs will make up for any regrets. Peggy and I do love to wander.
I thought about blogging while in Europe but I want to spend my time exploring.
So I’ve decided to focus my blog, Wandering in Time and Place, on my experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Liberia, West Africa. The stories are already written. Every other day I will post a new one chronologically in chapter format. When I get back in two months, I intend to publish the tales both digitally and in print as a book.
In the stories you will meet Boy the Bad Dog who ends up as guest of honor at a village feast, learn how to wage war against Army Ants, attend the hot machete trial of the Woman Who Wore No Underpants, and discover why the Liberian government felt the second grade reader I wrote was a dangerous revolutionary document. And that’s only the beginning…
I hope you will join me on the adventure.