Friday, June 24, 2016

Hey, I Think I Will Make A Blog Entry

Realizing full well that most, if not all, of our readers have moved on to greener blog pastures, I will post a mega overdue entry anyway.  Our daily, weekly or even monthly activities offer little that would interest many of our friends, family or loyal readers, so I have entered the ultra stealth mode, only to make ourselves visible when there are enough developments to report.

This sunset at our current location in Winchester Bay, Oregon represents one of the notable developments.

One hundred and eighty degrees away from this spectacular scene, a full moonrise was also creating a stunning visual.

The Winchester Bay Marina RV Resort has been a favorite destination of ours for many years now....even before we began full time RV living over ten years ago.  We left Port Orford late last week for a two week "vacation" that includes visits with friends that we met here last year, fresh pies from Kitty's and the Sugar Shack, an afternoon at the annual Reedsport Chainsaw Carving Contest and other local activities and events.  I also brought along my new fat tire bicycle and take daily rides to work off all the pie.  I know, good luck with that!

To get a little "old" news out of the way, Juanita had her last chemotherapy session in early April and was happy with the very positive outcome of 100% remission at this point.  She will need bi-monthly non-chemo maintenance infusions for the next two years and found the first of these treatments completely side effect free. 

 I can't tell you how proud I am of the fortitude that wifey showed during the long six months of treatments.  She kept a positive outlook and big smile on her face despite the endless fatigue and other bothersome side effects.  She's a rock!!

With all of this behind her, Juanita has resumed work on a series of quilts, most of which are still works in progress.  She is looking forward to entering a couple of her quilts in the upcoming show for the 4th of July celebration in Port Orford.

I have continued my routine that I started in October of last year and still do most of the cooking, laundry and shopping.  I really enjoy baking with sourdough and usually make enough to share with friends around the RV park.  Other than that, I keep the cameras in action, both on the ground and in the air with my quadcopter.  Most of my recent aerial work has resulted in still photographs but I have plans for more videos in the near future.

Recent photos:

Cape Blanco State Park in fog

Bandon, Oregon offshore rocks

Port Orford from 400'

Another sunset in Winchester Bay

Offshore rocks south of Gold Beach

Abbey and Luna nose jamming in Port Orford

Garrison Lake in Port Orford

Using my Nikon D-7000, I also made a short video of some spring waterfalls along the Elk River near Port Orford.

After returning to Port Orford later this week, we plan to stay through the summer with a trip to Montana possible before fall sets in.  Since Juanita will have a regular schedule of medical treatments, we will spend another winter in Port Orford with short trips possible when we feel the need.  We don't have any plans to hang up our keys at this point and still have no problems hauling the rolling home here and there on a whim.

Because "grumblings" is part of my blog title, I will leave you with one.  It is a mystery to me how, from over 325 million residents in the US, we could have possibly ended up with two of the most despicable individuals that I could ever imagine as final candidates for President.  Maybe my geezer status is fogging my mind, but I just can't get my head around this.

So much for grumbling...all is well in the Pacific Northwest and I hope to get back to you again soon.  No promises!!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Wow....Ten Whole Years!

Photo by Mike Mills
Ten years!!!!

So, ten years ago we pulled up our roots, retired and began our journey into the great unknown.  Although we had extensively researched the lifestyle before departure, we left without a solid plan beyond traveling to Texas to establish our new home base.

Unlike many others starting out as fulltimers in an RV, we didn't set up specific goals, such as visiting every state (except Hawaii of course), seeing every state capitol, climbing every high spot in each state, visiting all the presidential libraries and so on.  Although these are certainly worthy goals, we tended to be a little less structured and decided to travel wherever the wind blew us...sometimes literally.

I remember more than one occasion we would spend the evening looking at a map of the US and come up with the next days travel direction over dessert.  Other than our  wonderful journey to Alaska in 2008, most of our plans were drawn in pencil and subject to spontaneous changes.

Examples of this are many, but several come to mind.  After meeting a vacationing Wisconsin couple at a camp in Montana and hearing them speak of their favorite pizza parlor in Grand Marias, MN, we adjusted our travel map eastward and paid a visit to Sven & Ole's Pizza located on the western shoreline of Lake Superior.  Of course there was much more to be seen during that journey, but setting up a singular goal opened up a new world to us and we were excited by all of our discoveries.

On a fall day just north of Salt Lake City and while watching a travel program about countrywide festivals, we saw a show about the Emma Crawford coffin races to be held the following weekend in Manitou Springs, CO.  Only 500 miles down the road, that was certainly in our range for a special event.  Again, we saw some beautiful places, found some wonderful new camping locations and got a chance to experience something very different.

When planning our Alaskan journey, I read about the experiences of many RVers that had proceeded us and decided not to take the long alternate route known as the Top Of the World Highway.  I read about the hundreds of miles of dirt/gravel roads, steep grades, narrow passages along cliffs with no guardrails, dust, dirt, mud and miles and miles of nothing but trees and and tundra.

That decision worked out in our favor as it turned out.  While staying at our last Alaskan location in Valdez, I had the opportunity to get the opinion of Alaskan residents, who, without exception, told me not to miss the Top Of the World in the fall when the road is pretty much dry, there is little or no opposing traffic  and the fall colors are exploding from horizon to horizon.  

We changed directions and found what we had been looking for the entire journey...a pristine landscape that took the Alaskan trip to a new level.  And we found the ultimate gold rush town that I envisioned from the writings of Jack London in Dawson City in the Yukon.

Our ten years of travel have taken us to all the western states with the exception of Nebraska.  We have covered most of the midwest but didn't make it east of Indiana or to any of the states in the southeast of the country.  Although we don't have plans at this point to travel to the Atlantic shore, we never say never and might someday put the eastern states on our travel map.

Along the way we have found stunning scenery, had experiences we never imagined and met some of the finest people around.  Many have become lifelong friends who stay in touch and sometimes cross our path.  There is nothing better in life than this.

As for now, our travels have slowed and we spend most of our time parked at one of our favorite places in the country, Port Orford, Oregon.  We still find occasions to travel in the west and hope to do so in the future.  We have no plans at this point to hang up our keys and might very well move on as the spirit moves us and our health allows.

Juanita just returned home after spending four days at a quilters retreat in Gold Beach.  I will let her follow with her experiences and a few photos of the event.  Otherwise, I will return soon with a blog update about the rainy weather and current activities.

See you soon........................................

Hi,  Juanita here. I have 15 photos to post here so I won't get too wordy about it. Suffice it to say I had a blast. All day Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday it was quilting, quilting and more quilting. Tuesday was a class on the technique called Dresden Plate, which consists of a series of wedge shape pieces put together to make circles or fans.  Or, in the case of this class, butterfly wings.

This gal, I think her name is Ruth, completed hers. Some of these ladies are speedy. 

Sheri here (hidden by the quilt) had some quilt squares made up before coming to the Retreat and put this whole quilt together in 2-1/2 days. 

This version is more my speed.

This one is mine. I'm taking it slow, but its going to be really pretty. I only worked on it on Tuesday, because Wednesday, I started a second class.  This one is kind of interesting. Check out this Elephant.

Isn't he adorable? I worked on mine all day Wednesday and most of Thursday and this is how far I got.  This is maybe a little more than half way through the process. 

Here is another one like mine but with very different fabrics.

We also had the option of doing a Giraffe:

Or an Orca Whale:

Or a Hippo:

The following four photos will give you a general idea of what a quilt retreat is like. 


That smiling person there is Chris, a former employee of the quilt store (now happily retired) and a master quilter.  When I need advice on something she is my go to source.

More happy quilters.


This is the balloon gift wall.  When your name gets called up, you pop a balloon which has a number in it, find the gift with that number on it and its yours.
Fun stuff.

One last photo.  My roommate, Janice, put this quilt on her bed.  It is a work-in-progress. It is all hand-pieced, and there are hundreds of individual star pieces in there. It is awesome.  And she has only been working on it for 10 years. 

I will be back next year, assuming we're still in Oregon that is.  We'll see.

Monday, February 29, 2016

A Leap Day Update

Howdy everyone!  Happy Leap Day!!!!

OK, you can call me all sorts of bad names and pledge to never read our blog again.  I know, it has been weeks and weeks since my last entry, and for that I am sorry...sorry...sorry.  Even though we have been  very busy here in Oregon, I have no excuses.  The word "lazy" comes to mind however.

I'll get the Juanita medical report out of the way first.  She has had two more two-day chemotherapy treatments since I last wrote and is doing extremely well.  The last CT scan shows that the treatment has had the expected results and all of her lymph nodes are no longer indicated.

Wifey's side effects have been light to moderate and consist mostly of headaches and manageable fatigue for several days after each treatment.  The  last chemo will be in a couple of weeks and she will then go on a two year program of bi-monthly Rituxan maintenance sessions to extend the remission.  Although Rituxan has been one of the two drugs used during the previous treatments, the chemo drug Treanda will no longer be a part of the program and she should experience minimal side effects, if any.

As many of you have already heard, during the extended medical program, I have taken on many of the usual household tasks normally performed by Juanita.  My "Man Card" flew out the window back in October and I see little indication that I will be able to find or replace it anytime soon.  Wifey has become quite accustomed to me doing all the shopping, the vast majority of the cooking, most of the dog walking and all of the laundry duties.  Oh well.......

Which brings me to another subject.  I actually enjoy doing most of the cooking!  I had always done all the outdoor grilling and smoking but rarely ventured inside to use the cooktop or microwave/convection oven.  Well, that has most definitely changed.

Back in early November I found a wonderful San Francisco sourdough culture and have become a whirling dervish baker ever since.  In addition to fantastic pancakes from the culture, I have baked different types of bread, coffee cakes, gingerbread cake, buttermilk biscuits and muffins.  I buy flour by the truckload these days and often share the resulting baked goods with others in the RV park for fun.  I never saw this coming!!

Nothing beats sourdough pancakes!

Nice loaf!

Looks pretty good I think

Sourdough cranberry/walnut bread

In addition to all of the baking, I purchased a GoSun solar stove for cooking in all of the sunlight that we have along the southern Oregon coast.  Haha!!  Not now we don't!  But, during the rare sunny day this winter, I have been using that bright nearby star to make muffins, a beef stew and kielbasa on a bed of sauerkraut.  I can't wait for the long summer sunlight to do even more.

As noted above, the winter weather here has been mostly overcast and wet...very different from last year's mostly sunny January and February.  After over 33" of rain in December, we had somewhat over 18" in January and another 7" this month.  The wetter months of March and April are on the way.....  Temperatures have been mostly moderate with occasional dips into the upper 30's at night.  We saw a couple of sunny days last week that pushed towards 70 degrees.  Wow!

Juanita has stayed busy at the sewing machine and has a good number of quilts at difference stages of construction.  She will attend a four day long quilter retreat in Gold Beach, Oregon in early March.  While she quilts I keep busy on my many duties and have also been working on producing a series of video slideshows on YouTube that celebrate our upcoming tenth year anniversary of full time RV living.  I have three online now and hope to have more during the next several weeks.

Due to winter weather conditions, ground and aerial photography sessions are rare to nonexistent.  The Nikon, GoPro and DJI Phantom quadcopter are all ready to go when conditions permit.
I have been assigned a few duties around the RV park while the owners are away for several weeks of well earned vacation.  Having been retired for ten years now and not wanting to host or otherwise work, I won't call this a job...just assisting where I can..............
I plan to write another blog entry on March 11 to mark our ten terrific years if RV life.  I hope!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

2015 Recap.....2016 Preview, as far as we can tell

Regardless of the several kinks here and there, I think 2015 will go down in the books as an excellent year.

Our (sometimes) rolling villa spent 9 1/2 months parked in a nice RV space in Port Orford, Oregon with a little moving around in late spring to early summer.  Stopping here and there along the way, we pulled our beast 300 miles north to Long Beach, Washington, returning to Port Orford just in time to do our volunteer time at the Cape Blanco Music Festival during the first week of August.

The highlight...or low point...of that journey was the 4th of July period of total mayhem in Long Beach.  The hot inland weather and fire restrictions put the bulk of Washington resident celebration right outside our RV along 27 miles of ocean beach.  It looked and sounded like war and our two little Beagles were nearly crazed by the constant explosions.

Otherwise we enjoyed all the beach walks, fine coastal restaurants, beautiful views, new friends and a different place for rest and relaxation.  A good number of our past travel buddies showed up for short visits and we met a good number of good people that remain in contact to this day.

While in Long Beach I purchased a new quadcopter to replace the two earlier versions that started me out in the interesting hobby of photographing our world from an aerial view.  Now with 70 flights on the log, I have become very confident of my ability to keep the craft in the air and pointed in the right direction.  I am happy with the better than average on board camera quality and have made some nice still images and videos while flying this wonderful piece of technology and certainly look forward to doing a lot more of the same.

Aerial photo stitched from nine photos taken 398 feet above our rolling home in Port Orford

Our stay in Port Orford has been very comfortable as you can imagine.  We obviously like it here and would be parked in another place otherwise.  Port Orford is a quirky little town with a fairly slow paced lifestyle and residents that don't take any interest in stepping on our toes for any reason.  Politically right of center, but with a small number of self proclaimed progressives, residents here seem to accept opinions other than their own with grace and cordiality....although sometime fairly exuberant in opposition.  We can handle that.

With only a couple of acceptable restaurants and cafes in the area, the place is devoid of any fast food establishment and, what sidewalks there are, roll up by seven in the evening.  There is only one food market with high prices and somewhat limited supplies and a small co-op grocery with the usual organic products and other interesting items.  The single service station in town has all fuel priced at 60 to 70 cents above the cost of fuel just 22 miles up the road in Bandon.  Whatever!!!

Juanita loves the great quilt store in town.  Because of her enjoyment of quilting and my amateur radio hobby, we have made a lot of local friends, who open up other fun possibilities for us.  One of my ham operator friends owns a small fishing boat giving me the opportunity to land some nice trout from nearby lakes and tasty Chinook salmon from the Coquille River located north of Port Orford.  Juanita has joined the quilting club and we both belong to the local amateur radio club.  Although we plan further travels in the future, it looks like we have put down some roots here.  Only time will tell if this becomes permanent.

During the past year my health remained fairly decent, but as noted in several past blog entries, Juanita had a bit of a setback with her ongoing leukemia.  She had an infusion port implanted and began a series of chemotherapy treatments in October and has completed part three of the monthly infusions as of mid December.  Although the chemo side effects have been quite uncomfortable for short periods of time following the treatments, she has handled the process very well and with continued good humor.  I'm not sure I could do the same.

The results of a CT scan scheduled tomorrow will determine the treatment program ahead for the next few months.  Depending on her progress, she could have from one to three more treatments ahead.  Obviously we are hoping for only one and I would be surprised if she has more to get through.  Juanita is otherwise healthy though, and has progressed very well as evidenced by stellar weekly blood tests.  We are confident of a good outcome in 2016.

Our two little Beagle buddies Abbey and Luna continue to be very active hounds and require lots of ground sniffing walks daily.  They are our clowns in fur suits and constantly keep us laughing.

Since my dear wife has had to put up with all the recent medical activity, I have taken on most of the chores that kept her running.  Leaving her mostly with fun stuff, I now do all of the grocery shopping, laundry and most cooking and dish washing.  As a result of this process I have found a new hobby...baking and cooking with sourdough.

I found an excellent and very active sourdough culture from San Francisco that has produced wonderful buttermilk biscuits, pancakes,  streusel coffee cake with dried cranberries, pita bread and gingerbread cake.  During the learning process I have had only two huge fails...not bad for a newbie!

The weather in Port Orford in 2015 was an interesting mix of extremes.  Last winter, spring and summer was warmer and drier than usual but December brought the entire year rainfall up to normal range with over 33 inches of the wet stuff in one month.  The summer months were very windy with very little rainfall.  It looks like we have gone back into a normal cycle of alternate rainy and dry periods, but only time will tell.

As for the upcoming year, 2016 promises to be interesting to say the least.  We are hoping, of course, for an early year end to Juanita's treatments and would like to take a little trip with our fifth wheel trailer home in late spring.  I have considered several travel destinations but think eastern Washington State around the Columbia and Snake rivers is at the top of the list at this point.  We have previously spent very little time in this part of the country.

We plan on spending the summer and fall in Port Orford and might move down to Arizona for the winter.  None of our travels for 2016 are carved in stone, however, and we could end up any place at any time.  A family member will graduate from high school in June, so I imagine that a trip to the SF Bay area of California is in our future for that time.

Juanita has a bunch of quilts under construction to one degree or another and has many more in her head for future efforts.  The last salmon season on the Coquille River was downright crappy and I am hoping for better this coming fall.  Before that time, I will be putting both my ground based and aerial cameras to work and hope to post some interesting photos and videos as a result.  Of course we look forward to visits from many of our good friends that will pass through Oregon during the summer and fall.

We wish all of our family and friends a healthy and happy 2016!!!!!!!!!!!!

Port Orford, Oregon