Friday, May 29, 2009

Coming Home

We left Newport Friday morning, and headed down Hwy 101 South, before cutting inland at Florence. We drove to Yachats (don't you pity new-comers that have to pronounce our place names?) and stopped at this day-use State Park.
There was a pair of seagulls on the rocks above the beach, and I got a picture of the male as well as the two of them. His feathers were the prettiest silver-gray in the sunlight.

The female was roosting, with the male keeping guard. She was much whiter, with almost all white feathers.

There was a good view of the little town from this park, as well as good views up and down the coastline.
We also stopped by this bridge to view the rocks and breaking waves. Now I have to say that bridges have never been something I've especially noticed before. When you are in the car and driving along the road over the bridge you miss the whole view of the span and amazing work that went into it. Every little while there was a bridge and I got to noticing that. There are so many little rivers, and gorges that the highway could not have been completed without many bridges. In the museum we went to in Newport, they had displays of the bridges and info. Before Hwy 101 was completed, visitors to the coast had to travel North and South by coach or wagon, and wait for low tide to get around these obstacles by crossing on the sand. It didn't always work of course. So, that gave me a new appreciation of the bridges, what went into the making of them, and how important these are and how I have been taking them for granted. Sounds all too familiar. It is nice to have time to stop, think and appreciate the little things.

We drove to Roseburg, where we spent the night, then continued home Saturday by way of the Diamond Lake Pass. I wanted to pull off the highway to take a photo of Mt. Thielsen, but this is what the side roads looked like. There was still a lot of snow up there. Our late season snows are still on the Cascade Mountains, and the run-off will be later than usual.

As always, it was good to get home. I was delighted to see that my tulips were at their prime, and I had not missed them.

They made a real show against our back deck, and we enjoyed them for several days. After a week of 80+ degrees, they are gone now, but many other flowers have popped out to enjoy. We are going from winter right into summer it seems, and I'm ready!

The next day we hooked up our travel trailer and pulled it to Mt. Hood. I took this picture of the mountain for my grandson William, who told me that he couldn't remember what our mountains looked like. Yes, there is still a lot of snow up there.

We met our daughter Joy, husband Kirk and daughter Macy at Government Camp on the mountain. We unhooked and they hooked up to borrow our trailer for their annual Memorial Day rafting trip. Macy has learned how to 'smile pretty' for the camera! When we got back from that trip, we were finally home to stay...and came home refreshed and relaxed from a wonderful vacation. A vacation in every sense of the word. Thanks for joining me on our vacation too.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Little Family History Research

Being interested in history, especially family history, our vacation included a little 'sleuthing' time...searching out some graves. Our first cemetery was in the south part of Lincoln City, where the little town of Taft used to be. They had a nice new sign for their Pioneer Cemetery. My great aunt is buried there.
My mother came from a family of 8 children, and when their mother died in 1935 my mother and her sister were both sent to live with Aunts. My Aunt Joyce was sent to their Aunt Mae, who lived in Taft. My mother was sent to live with their Aunt Minnie who lived in Seattle. Aunt Joyce was lucky enough to finish growing up on the Oregon Coast here in Taft, where she graduated from High School. Great Aunt Mae was an early resident of Taft, and it was here she died and was buried.
Her full name was 'Louie Mae Erskine Sawyer' and she lived from 1881-1939. We found her gravestone without too much trouble and then enjoyed the beautiful view of the ocean from the cemetery, which is perched high on a hill.
The second cemetery we set out to find was on our way home. We decided to drive to Roseburg, Oregon to find the burial place of the Insurance Man's great-great-grandfather, Sampson McConnell. Our Grandma Brown, his granddaughter had written down that he was buried next to the old soldiers home in Roseburg. When we got there we found that things had changed in the intervening years. What was once just a single building is now a gigantic National VA Affairs Medical Center, with many beautiful buildings on several acres of grounds. We drove up to the main office just as it was closing, and a lady walking to her car asked if she could help. She knew where the cemetery was, but did not know which would have been the oldest building. Soon another man came along who did know, and we were off on our hunt once again. Not too far away we found what was the 'old soldiers home' from 1895-1930,s. It is not now in the VA Complex, but is used as the Roseburg Performing Arts Center.

All the buildings on the VA grounds were built after the U.S. Government established the Dept. of Veterans Affairs and took over this building. The other buildings were built in the same style of brick with white columns, and it is like a beautiful University Campus. We were glad to find the building and also a little of it's history. Established in 1895 to serve as a home for any Veteran of the United States Military until they died. The cemetery was right next door, and established about the same time.
It is a small military cemetery, but nicely kept up and very pretty with the white headstones and green grass.

I had looked up the cemetery before we left home and had what I thought was the location of Sampson's grave. We counted out the rows and spaces and found his wife, Mary who died in 1915....13 years after her husband. But no Sampson to be found. We walked the cemetery (the Insurance man has done this many times before) but still could not locate the gravestone. A little tired and discouraged, we went back to our motel. It was a modest motel, run by a very nice Polish couple. After hearing what we had been doing, he offered us a computer to search on. I found a listing for Sampson with a different location shown, so back to the cemetery we went about sunset. Sure enough, we had missed the stone. Sampson died in 1902, and was one of the early graves in the cemetery. The headstone was rather difficult to read, at least that's what we told ourselves. We were thrilled to find least his gravestone.
Here is his nice simple white headstone. It reads: "S. McConnel, CO. B, 2nd ORE. M.I." There are no dates, but he lived from April 1829- May of 1902. He was in the Oregon Military, and fought in the Rogue River Indian Wars in a Mounted Calvary division. Most of the men in this cemetery were from the Indian Wars. We thought it unique that his wife Mary Hill McConnell was buried there also, as she was not in the military, and we did not see any other wives.
Sampson was a very interesting man. He crossed the United States when he was about 20 in 1849 by ox and wagon, to become part of the 'California Gold Rush'. After mining a while and doing well he returned to his native Missouri, via the Panama Isthmus to marry Sarah Louisa Neely. After collecting Sarah, and all her large family, as well as some of his own family members they formed a wagon train and again crossed the United States on the Oregon Trail. They took out land claims in western Lane County, but Sampson was no farmer and spent the rest of his life as an adventurer, miner and carpenter. He mined all around the southern part of the state and as I said even fought the Indians. He was married three times, and had a total of 7 children. He was a caring Christian man, and served as an elder/deacon in the Baptist Church of Eugene. He developed diabetes in his older age, and entered the Soldiers home in Roseburg before the end of the century, where he had to have a leg amputated. Dying in 1902, he was buried in this beautiful small cemetery.
Here is the headstone of his third wife Mary. It was an interesting hunt to find them, but very satisfying when all is done and recorded. I am glad that his military service was honored, and am glad to keep that memory alive.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The wonderful Pacific Ocean

It has taken me longer than a week to post the photos of our week-long vacation. Lest you think we were only in shops and gardens, and along the bay front, I am posting a series of ocean pictures that we took as we traveled up and down Highway 101. We are so blessed to have this lovely coastline within driving distance from home.
This is the Yaquina Bay lighthouse and still working with an electric revolving light.
This is a 'blow-hole' created in the rocks. The water comes and goes, and when a large wave hits the hole this is the result. This time of year the waves are smaller, and the spray isn't quite as spectacular. But then you don't get wet from the spray as you take the photo : ) The sky was darker on this day, and the water again reflects the color of the sky. I love that.
This photo of the insurance man is along the wall in Depot Bay. It was such a pretty day and the water reflects the color of the sky and sunshine!
Further down the coast there is a lighthouse and this is the house that was home for the family of the light-keeper. It is up a rather steep hill, so we didn't climb it, but took this photo from the parking lot. I am partial to large white houses, and the red roof adds to the ocean location. Doesn't that look like a fun place to live and grow up?
Along a short pathway from the house, this is the lighthouse. It is on a bluff overlooking the ocean, a perfect least in fair weather. We have visited most of the Lighthouses along our coast, but we have not been up to this one. I am saving it now for taking our grandgirls next time. Kory, did you notice?
This photo is heading south out of Newport, a little south of Waldport. The insurance man explored the beach and rocks. I enjoyed the view of the waves and water.
And finally a photo of one of the many fishing boats traveling and fishing up and down the coast. We enjoyed some salmon while there, but were informed that it was caught in Canada, as there will not be a salmon season this year. I guess we need to give it up for a season so that we can once again enjoy an abundance.
For those of y0u that haven't been to the coast in a while, I hope you enjoyed seeing the lovely water and waves and rocks and you too will be able to enjoy it again soon.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

My New Dutch Oven

This year, for my birthday, Mom bought me a dutch oven. It was actually what I asked for. I've never owned one, but have admired them on the shelf at the store for quite some time. To me, this piece of cooking equipment is really a thing of beauty. It's heavy-duty, cast-iron covered with enamel. It's so sturdy and big enough to cook many one-dish suppers in.
I recently tried out a sauerkraut and sausage supper in it. I'm looking for more ideas of ways to use it. I'd be happy to hear from anyone with an idea for me.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Coastal Spring Flowers

This is a favorite place of ours...a little garden tucked away in the center of what used to be Oceanside, one of five little coastal towns that got merged into one big lump labeled 'Lincoln City'. It is right in the middle of little beach cottages, and is named after the lady that used to live there and tend a big lot of flowers and shrubs. One of the best parts about this garden is that there is no sign on the highway, so most don't know it's there unless you are a local, or stumble upon it as we did one day.
We visited it last week, and it was the absolute best time of year. It was soul-enriching to view these wonderful plants and flowers that our creative God has blessed us with. There are HUGE rhododendrons there...and I say the bigger the better! Many are probably 60-80 year old plants, just like trees. They grow them big on the coast.
There were azaleas by the bunch, and lilacs too. But you are going to enjoy several photos of rhodies because I took lots.

They have gardens and gardens of all kinds and sizes of plants, and I really like the ground covers. There is a lot of shade, and these forget-me-knots like the shade. So very cheery.
See what I mean about reaching to the heavens? These are way over my head. Every year, each season I say this plant or that flower is my favorite...but it always comes back to rhododendrons. They really are my all-time favorite.

These are two of the smaller bloom varieties, and they are so pretty side by side, cheek to jowl.
There is great peace as well as beauty in a garden. My imagination runs riot thinking what Adam and Eve enjoyed. The insurance man was checking out the fragrance, some are delightful.
I love the colors of dark green with rose, pink and white. These are truly the colors of spring. I also love the way the buds are dark pink then lighter as they open and finally almost white fully bloomed. Isn't it amazing?
Up close and personal... the delicate beauty is awe-inspiring.

Finally leaving the rhodies, here is another favorite, shy violets. They hide in the shade, and peep out from under their heart leaves. You really should double-click on this photo to see the violets at their best. The violets are fragile and gone so quickly, but what a wonderful woodland carpet they make.
Even the grass was blooming with flowers. These were so pretty I just had to take their picture too. If you double click here you can see the lavender blush these have. Even the simplest of flowers are works of art.

As we were leaving, I snapped these cheerful yellow blooms surrounding the sign post. This garden is cared for by community volunteers and there is no charge to visit. Can you believe that?? There is still something free in the world, and it's a great blessing. My hat is off to the ladies that tend and love this little garden.
May is rhododendron month in the Willamette Valley as well as on the coast. We saw huge wild rhododendrons up and down the highway along the coast. These are very tall, but always the same variety...same color of pink. They also grow wild up the Mt. Hood highway and bloom in May/June. Oregon in spring is truly a beautiful place, and as Julie says "it makes you glad to be alive!"
The wild rhodies were so pretty mixed in with the native coastal green shrubs. As we drove down through Florence on our way home, we noticed they were having a 'Rhododendron Days' annual celebration that week-end. Now that's my kind of town! Lord, thank you for flowers, trees and shrubs, for blooms, bark and leaves. Thank you for giving us plants that are for nothing more than beauty in our world...because you care about beauty.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Exploring Historic Nye Beach

After 37 years of going to Newport, we finally decided to explore the actual beach at Newport. For some reason we have always gone to the bay front instead. Maybe it's because we both grew up vacationing on different beaches along the coast. So one afternoon we followed a sign that read 'Historic Nye Beach'. We found a delightful little 'village' within the town itself. It has it's own ambiance and character. We got out and explored and came back several times over the next few days. It seems that the bay front was the first place to develop in the late 1800's and then Nye Beach came quickly after. Back then passengers had a long arduous journey to reach the coastline, and were often mired in mud. After arriving, they had to take a ferry across the bay and were then taken by carriage to a hotel on the bay front or Nye Beach. We saw lots of fun photos of ladies in long white dresses and holding parasols on the beach in the sand (and even a few in the water) and men with striped jackets and boater hats. The visitors spent weeks if not the whole summer there, enjoying clam bakes, beach parties, bowling tournaments on the sand, dances on barges in the bay and lots of music. They did not spread out on the beach, so the photos show the Newport beach totally crowded with people and children (most more crowded than anything we see today). This is how Nye Beach looks today. The road at the bottom of the photo is Elizabeth Ave. and it runs parallel to the beach, and there is a small avenue of cute shops and restaurants that slopes down to the beach at the bottom.
This is a photo looking down the avenue from Elizabeth Avenue. The shops and restaurants run for several blocks on both sides of this and along Elizabeth Ave.

This is looking North along the coastline. They have wonderful old lamps and the area is all lit at night.
A pretty flower box outside one of the shops. I just loved the bright johnny-jump-ups.
Next to the flower box was a concrete bench with a purple sign. It's always all about the details!
All the architecture was different on each building and unique. This was a very pretty building that housed the 'Tea Party' shoppe. Always a favorite of mine.

And this is the very cute door that led into the 'Tea Party'. It reminded me of something out of Alice and the Looking Glass.

Here we found a wonderful beach look, with white shingles and blue trim and shutters. We didn't actually eat there but it looked tempting!

Another sign for a cute shop. What creativity!

This is an original old hotel from Nye Beach. It was HUGE, and right on the waterfront. It would be a fun place to stay I'm sure. I think part of it is rented out in apartments.

At the bottom of the small street is a parking lot with access to the beach. Since it is almost at sand level, it was a good spot for me to access the beach without climbing up and down stairs. It is even handicap accessible, but I wondered how a wheelchair would maneuver in the sand?

We traveled south from the parking lot, along several little streets on the beachfront, and found several interesting things. This was an old house, as you can see, 'Historic Minthorn House', built in 1902. The house has been maintained really well, and their sign is lit up at night with the little white lights surrounding it.

It had a lot of wonderful detail, including the grey weathered shingles, white gingerbread, a glassed-in porch and that great Victorian screen door.

Here's how the whole thing looked. I wonder if they are used to crazy tourists taking pictures of their home?

One of the houses had this sign for their street address. God made people so creative!
And last for now...we ran across the Nye Beach Bums. They rent out really tiny 'Seaweed Bungalows' along the beach. Here is one of the bungalows, and you can see the 'Bums' are into collecting in a big way!
Thanks for being armchair vacationers along with me as I share our finds and good times.... and always the beauty around us.