Reason #4,792 why I love Oregon…

… because you can go to the beach on a busy holiday weekend and still have it all to yourself.  Well, except for the BALD EAGLE you spot, snacking on a seal carcass!

Bald Eagle May 2014

Yes, I know, a bit of an eew factor.

But hey, that’s the kind of thing eagles eat.

This picture doesn’t even BEGIN to do justice to this Marlin Perkins moment (those of you who aren’t baby boomers are probably scratching your heads right now, wondering who the heck I’m talking about — click here for more information if that’s you). It was taken with an iPhone from a fair distance, as we didn’t want to get too much closer and risk disturbing his lunch.

I thought it was a seagull at first. A really big seagull. My husband spotted the white head and said, “No, I think that’s an eagle.” I didn’t believe him, but when the eagle stretched his wings and flapped upwards a bit, revealing those big, powerful, feathered legs, I knew he was right.

The eagle’s mate was there, too, flying around.  Absolutely breathtaking to see the pair of them. How often does THAT happen?

Only in Oregon…

 

Weekend update

I won’t keep you in suspense any longer:  I didn’t win anything Monday night at the Oregon Book Awards.  But a wonderful book DID win — WILDWING by the lovely and talented Emily Whitman.  I highly recommend it!

On to my “fishing” trip.  I spent the weekend with three dear friends in one of the prettiest spots in the world:  Camp Sherman, Oregon.  It’s situated along the banks of the Metolius River in the Deschutes National Forest, a few hours from where I live.

Isn’t it gorgeous?  Here’s that same view taken with Hipstamatic, a cool new app that I’m trying out on my iPhone:

It’s supposed to make photos look kind of vintage, like they were taken in the 1960s with a Polaroid camera.  Awesome, huh?  I’ve decided that my iPhone is going to be my only camera, since it’s so convenient and since I always have it with me, so I’m trying to become an expert.  Not there yet by a long shot, but I’m having fun learning as I go…

One of my girlfriends has a family cabin, and that’s where we stayed.  It’s like something out of a fairy tale.

My favorite feature, apart from the amazing deck out back overlooking the river, is the big stone fireplace.  It’s a real beauty.

It looks even better at night, don’t you think?

We sat in front of it for hours every evening, talking and laughing over endless cups of tea and a ‘smore or two.  There’s nothing like hanging out with friends!  I learned to play a new card game called “Poohead” (hey, I’m not the one who invented it!).  There are no winners, only one loser who’s the poohead until the game is played again.  Guess who earned that title? Yeah, that would be me!

Every morning I got up early to go for a walk.  I love to walk, and I do some of my best “fishing” (for ideas) that way.  I always stopped at the Camp Sherman General Store on the way back.  Stepping inside is like stepping into the past.

It reminds me of every camping trip I ever took when I was growing up.  Inside is an irresistible jumble of souvenirs, T-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, food, camping equipment, fishing rods and doo-dads (the Metolius is legendary for its fly fishing), and would you believe espresso?  (OK, so that didn’t remind me of our Vogel family camping trips, I have to admit–they didn’t even have espresso back then!)  There were even decaf soy lattes, my favorite.  (Mrs. Wong would definitely approve.)  And don’t you love the big carved bear totem guarding the front door?

This part of Oregon is much drier and sunnier than Portland, where I live.  We had a blast soaking up the sun every day on hikes and bike rides.

Two of my friends pretending to be awed by the sight of the sun, which is a real treat for us Portlanders this time of year!

One afternoon we biked to the Head of the Metolius, the place where the river bubbles out of the ground.  Its source is a bit of a mystery–nobody’s ever been able to figure out for sure exactly where it starts.

The Head of the Metolius

See how the water just suddenly appears out of the hillside?  (That’s another Hipstamatic shot, by the way.)  It gushes out at a rate of some 50,000 gallons per minute, and just a few yards downstream it’s already a full-blown river.  The Metolius is one of the largest spring-fed rivers in the United States.  Clear and cold–a steady 48 degrees near the source (brrrrr)–it’s picture perfect. I’m serious!  Check it out:

(That’s another Hipstamatic shot that I tinkered with in Photoshop Express, where I found this fun frame.)  And here’s me, not picture perfect but having a great time anyway.

Another outing over the weekend was to Black Butte Ranch at sunset, where we explored the Big Meadow and made some new friends…

… including a red-wing blackbird, who perched on a fence pole watching us.  I got ridiculously excited when I spotted him (her?).  I grew up in New England, where they’re a dime a dozen, but I haven’t seen many since moving to Portland 20 years ago and they’re one of my favorite birds.

I also got ridiculously excited fiddling with my camera/iPhone. So excited, in fact, that at one point I somehow managed to accidentally take a picture of myself …

What a dork!

The absolute best thing about walking the Big Meadow trail at Black Butte is the panoramic view of some of the Cascade Mountains, including Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Washington, and Three Fingered Jack.  I’ll let the rest of the pictures speak for themselves, but can you see why I love living in this part of the world?  Oregon is breathtakingly beautiful!

 

 

Here comes the sun

Well, OK, not really.  There’s a winter storm watch in effect here in Portland, Oregon, and I’ve just sent my boys to the grocery store (one major benefit of having teenage drivers around) to stock up in case we get iced in.  Last year we were stuck at home for days and days.  They’ve called twice with questions, so it will be interesting to see if what they come home with is even close to what’s on the list.

Back to the sun.  I was in L.A. over Thanksgiving, spending a couple of weeks with tween niece while my sister and her husband were in China fetching home new wee niece (more on that delightful addition to the family in another post).  We went to Disneyland and got sunburned (it was 80 degrees!  in late November!), and we also made a jaunt to Balboa Island, one of my favorite spots in Southern California. 

The transition from the land of perpetual sunshine back to the frigidly cold Northwest hasn’t been easy (I’m having niece withdrawal, for one thing), and on an icy day like today it’s lovely to have a few photographs to remind myself that summer will be coming around again here, too, soon enough…

Welcome to the tiniest ferry in the world

It’s true — just three cars.  See?

The destination is so worth the short ride:

We had burgers at Ruby’s at the end of the pier and watched the surfers.  Then it was time for Balboa’s most famous treat.  Yes, all you Arrested Development fans, you guessed it — frozen bananas on a stick!

This one was taken with my old cell phone’s crummy camera, but I quite like the Holy Grail-like ethereal glow.   It perfectly captures my feeling of reverence toward my new favorite treat.

After frozen bananas, it was time for a ride on the Ferris wheel, which is almost as teeny as the ferry, but still manages to give a good bird’s eye view of the bustling island.

All in all, a most satisfactory day, as you can see from our smiles.

Good neighbors and good eggs

Dahilas 1Seventeen years ago this week we moved from Boston to Portland, Oregon, a place we’d never even visited before.  We’d had it with the East Coast rat race — not to mention a two-hour commute each day — and were ready to light out for the territories.

We’ve never looked back.

We landed in a ’50s ranch tucked away in a quiet little neighborhood ten minutes from downtown.  From my kitchen window I can see my neighbor’s barn and tidy home, part of the original dahlia farm from which our small subdivision was fashioned.  I was reminded of this last night when my husband and I took our dog for a walk.  It was twilight, and suddenly the air was alight with swallows.  We stood and watched them dipping and wheeling in their graceful airborne dance.  Then just as suddenly, they were gone.

Swallows’ Haven Farm is long gone, too, but my neighbor honors its memory by growing dahlias of her own.  Come winter, she’ll dig up the tubers and store them in the original bulb house with its wall lined with wooden drawers, but now, in late summer, her garden is alive with color.  She plants dozens of varieties and produces dazzling bouquets, many of which, like this one on my breakfast table this morning , make it across the back fence to our house.  So do vegetables of all varieties, and now that she’s added her own flock of chickens, so do fresh eggs.  It’s like having our own private farmer’s market. 

Her chickens arrived just as we were saying goodbye to ours (see my related post “End of an era“), so the eggs have been especially welcome.  I bake fresh bread each week for my family, and I give her a loaf in exchange for a dozen.  It’s an arrangement that makes everybody happy. 

But then, who wouldn’t be happy, living next door to such a wonderful neighbor — and such a good egg?

Surfin’ Spy Mice

nenelogoFun!  I just found out that my book Spy Mice: The Black Paw has been nominated for a 2010 Nene Award in Hawaii!  Kids in fourth through sixth grade all over the Aloha State will read the books on the recommended list this coming school year, and then vote on their favorites next spring.

Several friends are on the list, too, which makes me even happier — including fellow Oregonians Rosanne Parry, for her fabulous debut novel Heart of a Shepherd, and Graham Salisbury, for his hilarious Calvin Coconut: Trouble Magnet.  Congratulations, everyone!

It’s reigning Julia

2009_julie_and_julia_001Just in the door from seeing “Julie & Julia” — in a word, divine!  Meryl Streep is amazing; they might as well just hand her the Academy Award right now.  Stanley Tucci more than held his own, and Amy Adams was adorable as always.

The HP (Handsome Prince, my mother’s code name for my husband) took me out for French fries afterwards — Five Guys, of course, he knows me well.  OK, so a patio table on a sidewalk in Beaverton, Oregon isn’t quite the same as a corner booth in a bistro in Paris, France.  We pretended to be Paul and Julia anyway…