Monday, July 16, 2012

It’s Not Easy Being a Senior Junior Ranger

Interpretive HostsWe’ve been busy here at Humbug Mountain State Park as the kids have arrived for the summer.  Each day from Wednesday through Sunday we cruise the park in our golf cart, announcing the Junior Ranger program for children 6-12  which begins at 10:00.  Crafting the SalamanerWe host a different lesson every day; Marine Mammals, Stream Ecology, Birds of the Park, Animal Tracks & Skins, and the Secret Lives of Salamanders, which features a visit from our park Salamander representative, Samantha.  We start the sessions with enrollment in the program, a safety Catching Creek Critterstip (Watch out for “Sneaker” waves!), then have the lesson, followed by a craft.  We make hummingbird feeders, Harbor Seal Visors, animal track field guides, and beaded Salamanders.  It’s all great fun, and the kids (and parents) really seem to enjoy the program.  Once a child has completed the first New Junior Rangersvisit and activity book tasks, they get to wear the Junior Ranger badge and learn the “secret sign”, a hand signal ONLY to be used between fellow Junior Rangers and park rangers.  The seriousness of the kids when we pin on their badge and show the secret sign is priceless.  It’s great fun!  We’re generally done by noon, although on some days the restocking of craft supplies takes a bit longer, and in addition we conduct a program on Seals and Sea Lions on Friday nights, and help sell firewood for a few hours twice a week.  All in all, it’s been an enjoyable stay here, and a small price to pay for the beautiful site we’ve been given.

Makin' Tracks

Wearing their Salamander Craft
A few days ago while loading up the golf cart with supplies, I heard a group of Steller Jays raising a fuss in the trees.  They were “mobbing” a Barred Owl, which sat mostly oblivious to the racket.  It’s a magnificent raptor, and they put a significant dent in the rodent population, but the Jays didn’t seem to appreciate it’s presence.  The Barred Owl’s feathers provide amazing camouflage – it’s in the middle of the second picture with the Jays to the left. (Click on the picture to enlarge)Barred Owl
Owl with Jays
We’re continually impressed by the beauty of the coast.  Now that we’re in the summer season, we’ve had mostly sunny days, with temperatures in the mid to high 60s – just perfect weather.  On a ride in our golf cart, we came across this vista of the offshore rocks with the marine layer in the distance.  Every once in a while the layer moves ashore, and the temperature drops and the sun disappears.  Fortunately, the mountain seems to keep it away from the park.
Offshore Rocks
All up and down the coast, we’ve seen the marinas and docks used by commercial and sport fisherman, but in Port Orford, there’s no suitable place for a traditional dock, and so the “dolly dock” was constructed.  It seems like a timePort Orford Dolly Dock consuming and labor-intensive task to launch and recover a boat; each boat is on a home-built trailer or dolly, and is wheeled to a point underneath the large cranes which pick it up and lower it into the water.  The time and expense of using this method is reflected in the number of fishing boats – perhaps two dozen at the most.  It’s surprising that there’s that many, since there’s a harbor at Gold Beach 25 miles south.  Perhaps there’s an area of great fishing nearby that makes the dolly dock worthwhile.
We’ve really enjoyed our site here at the park.  The paver-brick patio, trees, and shrubs make it very comfortable for sitting outside, and our hummingbird feeder has been attracting Anna’s and Rufus Hummingbirds.  Rufus on FeederA male Rufus has decided that it’s his personal feeder and guards it jealously, driving off any other hummingbird that tries to use it.  The airshow with the loud humming and chirping is a treat to watch.  This year I bought a propane gas smoker, and the results have been great!  Smoked ChickenI’ve turned out some tasty smoked trout and a few days ago we dined on smoked chicken and Brenda’s baked candied sweet and regular potatoes.  We enjoy dining out here; it’s virtually bug-free until dusk, when a few mosquitoes come out but quickly disappear as it cools. 
There’s so much beauty in the area – check back to see some of the places we’ve visited!

Sunday, July 01, 2012

A Sad Farewell

Ron, Brenda, & Mom2We haven’t posted recently as we’ve been dealing with the death of Brenda’s mom.  Gladys, who would have been 94 years old this November, suffered a stroke and slipped away from us June 14th, but not before her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren had the opportunity to say goodbye.  She grew up in a hardscrabble existence in the coal mining country of Virginia, and although she had a hard life in those early years, her smile could light up the room and she was kind to all those she knew.   These last few years were difficult for her; she wasn’t physically able to do the things that she wanted, but enjoyed her magazines, soap operas, and her favorite Cleveland weatherman, Dick Goddard (who never made a wrong forecast).  She was a part of our lives for so many years…..her passing leaves a gaping hole in our lives.  We will miss her dearly.
Brenda would like to say thanks to some very special people:                        
Sue Winn and her mom, Mrs. Jentner, who realized Brenda needed a day with loving friends and a little fun, and three very special puppy dogs to cuddle.  Thank you Sue for being there and listening when I needed a shoulder. 
Ann Boyce who stayed with me by email every day through tears and messages of love.  Ann recently lost her mom also and grieves right along with me.  She helped me realize it is OK to cry and grieve.  I love you dearly.
Kirk and Sue Burmeister for taking the time to drive from Dayton and meeting me for lunch.
All of our friends and family who sent flowers and made generous donations plus the notes on  My brother Ron, sister Joan, and I really appreciated the show of love.
Somewhere up above there’s a campground cat named Fido who loves a warm lap and a soft voice.  We’d like to think that Fido is curled up in mom’s lap right now, welcoming with a purr her new friend.  Rest in peace, mom.