Day Tripping

I loaded up my dogs and headed out for Butte Falls yesterday morning because I’d never been there and I’ve been curious for some time.

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Harnish Wayside Park
Eagle Point, Oregon

On the way we stopped at Harnish Wayside Park in Eagle Point . It is a small but sweet park on Butte Creek. All of us but Posy had been there before. (http://www.cityofeaglepoint.org/index.aspx?NID=233)

I made the stop partly because the dogs were hot, and partly because I wanted to figure out how to get to the Butte Creek Mill because they were holding a “Vintage Fair” there. I wasn’t sure what “vintage” meant in this case, but I was curious. (http://buttecreekmill.com/)

I wasn’t finding the Mill’s website helpful so I wandered into the Information Center located at the Wayside. As I was perusing unrelated brochures for potential future day trips the park host spotted Aiko, Doris, and Posy so she came out to schmooze.

As we chatted about this and that she remarked that I should really go to the Mill and check out the Vintage Fair. I responded by noting that I didn’t know how to get to the Mill, but that was exactly what I was looking for.

Turns out the Mill was 5 minutes away, on the same road. We lucked into a shady parking spot. The dogs tanked up on water, and off we went.

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Vintage Fair
Eagle Point, Oregon

In many ways it was the typical, modern street fair with tented vendors selling everything from jewelry to face painting. But many people were walking around in 1800s gowns and cowboy gear. There were old west shooting demonstrations, vintage farm equipment, and even a bona fide wooden store front indian.

It felt hotter than blazes, though I think it was only about 80 degrees. The sweat was dripping off me (you need to know that, right?) While we were standing in a short line to buy water Posy startled a woman by nudging her calf. She tried to do it several more times, but I wouldn’t let her – my best guess  is the woman was wearing tasty smelling sunscreen. I heard the woman murmur something to her friend, and the friend quietly replied, “I don’t like them either.” OOPS!

Other than that Doris, Posy, and Aiko were a hit. I got many compliments about how well behaved they were. And as we passed the various booths several vendors called out to us, “We’re dog friendly”, clearly wanting to connect with my pals.

The dogs even successfully encountered with a pair of Alpacas. Ok, Aiko encountered, Doris and Posy ignored. Yay Doris! (aka ” Talky Tina”).

As we wandered creek-side I stopped to take pictures, and when I glanced up Aiko was sprawled on the ground, almost belly up, sucking up love and rubs from a complete stranger. I told the man not to expect other Shibas to accept that kind of attention because they are often people stand-offish. He grinned and said, “I didn’t even know he was there ’til he nudged me.”

When we were all about completely melted we got back on the road toward Butte Falls.

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Butte Falls, Oregon

That town is tiny. One blinking red light. Two restaurants and a general store. We were through it in a nanosecond, and before I had time to turn back to find the actual falls I saw a sign indicating Willow Lake was 10 miles ahead. So what the heck! We forged onward.

As we proceeded a snow capped mountain popped up in front of us, them disappeared. This happened twice. Though I’d never seen it from this vantage point I recognized it as Mount McLoughlin.

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Mt McLoughlin viewed from Willow Lake

As we entered the Willow Lake recreation area I realized we were going to have stunning views of the mountain across the water.

On the whole Willow lake was a mixed experience. Significant portions of the day use area were taped off with yellow “caution” tape. No idea why, but it made it look sort of trashy. The cabins look sweet though, and the extensive campground area is very nice. I’d like to stay up there sometime.

And I have to say that other than the discordant “caution” tape the day use area was also very sweet. The views of McLoughlin are amazing. It was fun to watch people enjoying the swimming area, and fishing. I even spied some wild irises growing under a tree. Other than the sounds of laughter and the scent of charcoal grilling it was a quiet and individual experience.

When we left the lake we went back to Butte Falls. I made a quick stop at the general store for water. I was very disappointed that they didn’t have any decent sandwiches available (only scary ones, hermetically sealed in plastic packaging), so I settled for a jerky stick to quiet my tummy. And oddly that turned out to be better than any I can find here in Ashland.

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Butte Falls

We proceeded from the store to the falls. I must admit I’d built them up in my mind, but Niagra they ain’t. They are small in stature, but still beautiful. Although a ride over them wouldn’t likely be deadly I bet it would be painful.  The worst part for me was that the vantage point wasn’t great for photos. You can get shots from above, but not below and facing. Oh well.

After the falls, on a whim, we went back into town and took some photos. Though no one said anything it clearly sparked curiosity in the locals. I guess they’re not used to tourists.

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Doris, Posy, and Aiko at Willow Lake

Traveling with Dogs & Cats

I must admit that the primary reason I am not traveling far and wide is my dogs. … Not to mention Moon (aka, Big Mean Kitty).

There are countless places I would like to see that I think they would also enjoy. But traveling with pets is not simple.

The vaccinations alone present a risk. My Doris is the only one for whom this would probably not be a big deal.

Aiko’s allergies make vaccinations a bad thing. Moon (aka, Big Mean Kitty) hasn’t had a shot since he was 5 months old, and he will be 7 years old in June. Posy is 13 and has a heart condition.

I am actively seeking a way for us all to take a few months together exploring someplace outside of US.  Ok, honestly, Posy will very likely have to stay behind. It simply isn’t fair to put her through the physical stress traveling requires. But I am hoping to keep the rest of my fur family together.

I know it won’t be simple or easy. Heck, here in US finding a hotel that will allow three dogs is nearly impossible. And much to my shock, restrictions are even more stringent when it comes to campgrounds.

This aside we cannot have our feet nailed to the ground. There is a world to be explored. There must be a way that allows a grand adventure for all of us.

Cobre

Cobre is one of my closest neighbors. My landlady has four horses, and I live next to the barn.

All of the horses are rescues, and all of them have issues. Last week one of them got the equivalent of a death sentence from the vet. Naturally he has been rallying since then. For now the horse is happy, and clearly not suffering. That means we all get a reprieve. When the next bout of lung issues presents the ultimate outcome will probably be bad. So at this point every day is bonus time.

Cobre is not the one who received the death sentence, but his health review was not at all positive. He has long-term blood sugar issues, and may be headed toward Cushing’s Disease. At this point he has become lazy and fat.  My landlady is trying to exercise him more, but Cobre is not rideable. In his case extra exercise means being compelled to run laps in the arena ring. Running around the pasture simply isn’t enough.

I watched them work out the other night. Cobre was definitely not willing. And my landlady was working her butt off. She is in her 70s. It was impressive to watch.

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Cobre at work

New Neighbors

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The new neighbors were very curious about the camera.

After nearly six weeks of staying in other people’s houses I arrived home on Monday to find I have new neighbors. Lots of them.

After the fiasco with the bulls in 2011 (another story) we had no cattle on the property last year.

This year a different strategy is in play. Instead of hosting multiple bulls we have one bull and about a dozen cows.

The ladies are all curious but rather shy. The bull gave me the hairy eyeball — the warning look. As I am well aware of how easy it would be for him to plow through the barbed-wire fence I did not push my luck.

It was definitely entertaining to see them all line up to look at me and then start jostling for position. They have no decorum at all. They just shove each other around. I guess that’s ok in their society since they also scratch their itches on each other (and the trees, the fence, and anything else they can find).

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Curious girls

These neighbors are only with us for the spring, after which they will return to their owner down the hill. In the meantime they will keep the tall grass mowed down for us.  This is very helpful as cool, rainy nights followed by warm days are causing the wild grasses and weeds to multiply very quickly. The ticks are already abundant, and before long we’ll have to watch our step because the rattlesnakes will be back.

The cattle aren’t my only new neighbors. A sure sign that we are finally done with winter is the return of the Kildeer. I saw a pair of them running in the driveway the day I came home. Then I noticed two of them hanging out between my house and the barn. I thought that was odd because in the 4 years I’ve lived there these little birds have always chosen a more central spot on the property to nest.

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Mama Kildeer sitting on her nest

Day before yesterday I was out back with the dogs when one of the birds darted off down the hillside, and the other ran a few yards the other direction. It hunkered down, fanned it’s tail feathers, and did the butt dance at me while crying “Dee Dee, Dee Dee, Dee…” That’s when I knew for sure that there was a nest nearby.

Kildeer nest in the gravel because it is perfect camouflage for their eggs which are grey with black speckles. But in our world with many vehicles, animals, and equipment it is a bit treacherous. My landlady and I always try to spot them early so we can set up a bit of a barricade to prevent them being squashed. We can’t do anything about natural predators but we can at least keep them safe from our human existence.

I always get a chuckle out of the dance they do to distract intruders from the nest. I realize their goal is to lead us (and any other predators) away from the eggs but I just don’t see fanning the feathers and doing a dance as being a strong defense mechanism.

In a few weeks the babies will arrive and that will provide a whole new level of entertainment because they are born with all their feathers, but don’t fly for several weeks. They will run willy-nilly around the property with their tiny little bodies on very long legs. It is clearly a lot of work for the parents to keep them all in a group. There are usually four babies, and three will stick together while the fourth has to be constantly corralled. It is fascinating to watch the adults work together to keep them all safe. The current nest only has three eggs in it. Maybe that will be a bit easier for Mom and Pop.

The cattle and the Kildeer aren’t the only new neighbors. As I sat on my front stoop Friday evening I noticed a flock of birds gliding and swooping over the pasture. They were so synchronized that on a hunch I stepped into the barn, and sure enough the Swallows have returned. That realization lifted my heart. There are only about 20 of them so far, but if this year is like years past we will have about 200 before the babies start to come.

As much as I want to travel to far away places this week really made me pause and appreciate the beauty of my present location. Being away from home for six weeks didn’t hurt either. It made me look at where I live with new eyes. That is a gift.

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The setting sun from my front porch – April 2013

The Quandary Drama Continues

After four days in our local hospital my friend *Laura was discharged last Tuesday. Big mistake on the part of the hospital.

During the two days she was home my pal became increasingly disoriented again, and was behaving in ways that were very out of character (opened the door to me in t-shirt and panties). But she was argumentative about receiving further medical care, and yet she was caring for her dog in an ordinary way.

After a call to 911 *Laura was returned to the hospital Thursday evening. Fortuitously our local hospital didn’t have a bed for her so she was sent to one of the hospitals at the other end of our valley. The hospitals in Medford are larger and have more resources, and more specialized providers. It is a blessing that she was sent there instead of being kept locally.

While she was in our town hospital last week *Laura had a CT scan on her abdomen because in addition to her disorientation she had developed vomiting and other gastrointestinal issues. They did not find anything significant on the scan, and ultimately sent her home. Part of that is probably on *Laura because she was fighting being there in the first place. But still, they missed something significant.

New scans at the larger (better) hospital revealed that *Laura needs to have her gallbladder removed. She goes into surgery tomorrow.

I am not certain that there is any correlation between her disorientation and her gallbladder issue, but based on what I can find through research it is possible. I thought her brain issues were due to her fall, even though she was her usual self 48 hours later. The haze she has been in since then has been overwhelmingly baffling.

I talked with *Laura on the phone today (her first day out of CCU) because she was clearly worried about her dog, Mikey. She is more lucid than she has been in over 2 weeks. I am hopeful she will be home and bouncing back to her usual self very soon.

In the meantime I do not think she is aware of how many people love her and are pulling for her. She gives of herself, but rarely asks anything from others. I don’t think she knows she has a human safety net, yet she does. It is a beautiful truth to witness.

(*Laura is not her real name)

Quandary update #2

When my friend arrived in the local ER Friday evening the doctors thought she was having a mental breakdown. I and her other friends thought she had a traumatic brain injury, and if it wasn’t that we were sure she was over-medicated. She has many prescriptions for her pain and mobility issues.

Well. Blow me down. There was not a trace of narcotics in her system when she was admitted to the hospital. And now it seems that this entire episode is withdrawal from prescription meds. Go figure. This is not someone who was abusing. This is someone who was taking what was prescribed by her physician for specific physical health problems. Apparently when she fell and blackened her eyes she stopped taking everything all at once without realizing it, and certainly without realizing the consequences. Poor woman thought she was having strokes.

I am grateful that she now appears to be on the mend. Hopefully there will be no obstacles in her path to getting back home to her buddy Mikey.

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Mikey at the dog park — 2012