Saturday, October 31, 2009

Eugene and.....

Earlier this week I made a fast trip to Eugene, primarily for a doctor's appointment, but also to run a few errands, do some shopping I can't do anywhere near Brookings.  I thoroughly enjoyed the trip, as I always enjoy the drive up the coast and this time took a different road home, the Umpqua River  Road, or Highway 38, which runs from just south of Roseburg on I-5 to Reedsport on the coast.  All the reports and photos are on the Southern Oregon Coast blog.

Above is the Amazon Canal in Eugene, with the bike path alongside and some lovely, if fading, fall color.  The ducks were happy this early morning.  How I miss that bike path, which runs from downtown way out to the edge of Eugene, mostly along this canal and then through wetlands.  If I recall correctly, it's about a 16 mile round trip and I rode it as often as I could.  There is, of course, another bike path along both sides of the Willamette River through Eugene, but for the most part I avoided that one if I only had weekends to ride, because it tends to be overcrowded with families and kids and dogs taking up the entire path, leaving little room for bicycles.  I rode that one often, too, but made a point to be out early in the morning, or mid-week, or during colder weather, to avoid the crowds.

Had a wonderful visit with my friend -- a fine dinner at the new location of a Eugene landmark, the Cornucopia.  Hours of time to visit and enjoy.  I arose Wednesday morning feeling very dizzy, a sense that didn't go away completely all day.  Made for a tough doctor's visit, and a tougher drive home. Since it's likely I won't return to Eugene at all (if I decide to move to Georgia) I wanted to really see the areas I drove through, take the opportunity to see new places, so I actually did a good bit of hiking in loose sand once I found my way back to the coast.  I was pooped by the time I got home!  Still am not feeling up to par, but I'm sure that will right itself in time.

Nikon has 'recalled' my camera back to its service department, with a pre-paid UPS label.  The problems with the thing seemed to multiply like rabbits over the last week, particularly on the drive home from Eugene when I was using it a great deal.  So, I expect I am camera-less for another two weeks.  Alas.  I have no major uses for it in mind, yet with my tendency to 'go' at a whim, such a use could arise at any time.  I really want to return to the redwoods before I leave, in case I leave.  I want to go back to the Tall Trees Grove once more.  That's south and east of the redwoods we visited a week or so ago, and only a limited number of cars are allowed into that area per day.  You have to make a reservation, get a gate code number, at various forest service or national park stations on this part of the coast.  I visited twice back in the summer of 1996, and feel the need to go once more.  Hopefully, there will be some nice days to come in the next month or so, as it wouldn't be much fun in the rain and cold.

Our weather is still bouncing around -- today is cool and grey and rainy, yesterday was warm and sunny and clear as can be.  This has been the pattern for a few weeks now, so I expect it's likely to continue.  What will tomorrow bring?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Cedartown Bound?

It's really not such an exciting place, any way you look at it.  Just a little town nestled in the rolling hills of north Georgia. I'm drawn back there for a myriad of reasons, the most tangible of which is this trail.  It is I believe the longest paved trail in the country, at about 100 miles total.  For a cyclist, this is paradise!

This photo takes me back deep into childhood.  When my father returned from the Army after WWII, I remember him working at this railroad station, loading big cotton bales into boxcars.  At least, I think that was his job.  I remember those big bales, at any rate, and seeing him out on the platform doing something.  I was maybe 3 or 4 years old.  Most of the trains that came through town were the big, black coal-fired steam engines, chug-chugging their way, smoke billowing, whistle blowing.  That was big entertainment for us kids back then.  I also rode the train from time to time and in fact remember several trips I took alone when I was 6 or 7, traveling back to Cedartown from Atlanta to visit my grandfather, aunt and cousins.  By then, my dad had been back in the Army for some time and was stationed at Fort McPherson -- I guess loading cotton bales wasn't too exciting.

If you're thinking all this means I'm going back, you would be correct.  At least, that's the current thinking after letting the idea settle and rest and percolate for a week or so.  As I say so often, one never knows what the next few months will bring, but all else being equal, I'll be driving south sometime in February.

Lots to do between now and then -- mostly, trying to earn some $$.  That's not as easy as it sounds, in this town, but I have to believe it's possible and if it's not, then we go with what we've got.

Whatever happens, I surely don't regret this layover in Brookings, costly though it was.  I really needed this time to transition away from all that I love out here.  When I was in San Francisco, I knew I was saying 'goodbye', although I didn't know why.  But I absorbed that fabulous city right back into my body, enough to keep me going without it another 20 or 25 years, surely.  Things happen the way they are meant to happen, I believe, and in the end all will be well.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Brookings Bruin Fest

This has turned out to be a wonderful day. First of all, the weather is sunny, warm, clear and fantastic.  One of my neighbors invited me out to coffee at a favorite place of  hers, atop an art gallery on a deck overlooking the town and ocean. Actually, it's called the Snug and is depicted in the mural above. Lovely.  Then, when I got home my camera was waiting for me!  I have missed it more than I would believe possible.  Naturally, I had to go out and try it, see how it works after being repaired.  Besides, the weather won't last long.

We've had a bear invasion along the main drag of town so I walked the length of town on both sides of Highway 101 and tried to capture them with the camera. They really are lovely.  The one above is titled "Pierre Bear the Arteeste".

This guy is, naturally, the Pear Bear.

This fella is simply entitled "Dinner". 

There were lots more -- and I had a great time walking in the sunshine and checking them all out.  I'm not sure just what it's all about -- all I've learned is that they will be on display until January and that one of them will eventually be auctioned off with the proceeds going to a local food-share program.  Whatever their purpose, they are definitely fun!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Julia's Boeuf

Today, I made Julia Child's Boeuf Bourgignonne.  I am eating it as I write this, actually.  I've had the ingredients since my trip to Eureka to see "Julie & Julia" a couple of months ago -- mostly Eel River Organic Beef, which may be wasted in this recipe.  It's still healthy however -- as healthy as a recipe so loaded with fat could be at any rate.

How it is, you ask?  It's pretty good -- sauce is to die for.  Is it worth 4.5 hours of cooking and cleaning time?  I'm not so sure, but then, I've never been a big beef stew fan.  So now you ask, if I don't like beef stew, why did I cook this?  Reasonable question.  This recipe is featured strongly in the movie and I found myself swept away with the need to try it.  I'm glad I did, but doubt that I'll ever do it again.  Don't get me wrong -- it's really, really good, but also a lot of work.  Bacon to be boiled then sauteed, beef to brown, veggies to brown, and while all that is in the oven, small white onions to peel and boil in beef stock and red wine, a pound of mushrooms to quarter and saute in butter, sauce to boil down to the proper thickness after it comes from the oven,  and potatoes to boil.  Lots and lots of pots and pans to wash -- I even had to mop the floor because all the grease spatter from the browning process made it slippery.  A lot of work!

I can't believe I chose to prepare this while my camera was in the shop -- it really should have been documented -- but by the time I thought of that, it was too late so you will just have to use your imagination.

What I really need is some good french bread to sop up this sauce with!  And now, I am happily filled to the gills, sated and happy.  And there is plenty left for the freezer.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Good Energy on the Beach

The nature gods smiled upon me today and presented me with a river otter.  I'm still trying to get out and enjoy this phenomenal weather while it lasts, without expending too much energy, so I went down to Harris Beach and walked a bit, but mostly sat in the warm sand against one of those big beach rocks, near the surf.  Nobody around -- just me and the gulls and pelicans.

Suddenly I spotted something in the surf not 20 feet away from me -- an otter, swimming in the shallow waves, disappearing when they rolled in, reappearing a bit further down the beach.  Then, he walked out of the water and sat in the sand, sunbathing perhaps.  A wave rolled over him, he rolled with it.  Walked around a bit more then walked up the beach nearer where I sat motionless, mesmerized by this apparition.  He went back into the surf, then emerged again almost in front of me but stayed close to the water's edge, a little further up the beach.  Finally, he headed across the sand inland, stopping often to look for danger this far from the water's safety.  Finally, one last quick scamper took him to the brush and wildness of the hillside. I didn't have my camera, of course, but found this photo on a National Park Service site.  The one I saw had a darker, reddish-brown coat, but it's the same critter. This was a first, for me.

What a treat!  Such a joyful, happy little critter.  A man I met as I was leaving the beach said that otters have a very good energy and a sighting is always a joyful occasion.  I have to agree.  He sure perked me up! I hope all that energy is a good omen, a good luck sign. It was certainly a gift, and I'm grateful.