Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sore Butts & Potty Breaks...

For those who were paying attention, you should know that Princess & I just returned from our road trip/vacation to my parents' place in South Dakota. When we first started planning to go, I was thinking, "Oh, I should have BD's tax refund from back-owed child support; I can use it for our tickets out there!" Not that I can't afford plane tickets, but since he owes a bit more than $8000 in c.s. (alone -- remember the attorney fees owed, as well), that was my first thought.

No surprise, I haven't gotten a dime of child support in months... the last payment was $15 back in early May. But, that's another story. T asked if I wanted to drive with him & his family, since he has an 8-passenger vehicle, and was already going to be in my area (returning w/mom, Princess, & his family from a weekend at the beach). By this point, Ace had decided to stay home (can't take that much time off work if he wants to be paid for the Santamas vaca he'll be taking this year), so that made six of us, plus "stuff".

We headed up & over to SE Washington (where T's crew lives) Sunday night (August 21st), stayed overnight at T's house, then left Monday morning; headed east! My parents' campground (Fort Welikit Family Campground) is in Custer, SD (and currently for sale, if you're interested!), so this drive took two days (with an overnight in Bozeman, MT & a rock through the windshield at some point) since we had T's two small children with us (Bug is potty-taught, but has a tiny bladder!).

Our visit was filled with family (including a cousin I haven't seen in person since I was 5yo!), food, and some tourist-fun (T's girls had a lot of fun at the petting zoo). There were also some great thunder & lightning shows... Of course, I think South Dakota has THE BEST thunderstorms! I got a bit of video (hard to get good pics); hopefully it turned out okay. Saturday, everyone came to the campground for lunch on the barbeque and a couple hours of visiting.

By Monday morning, though, our trip was over... it was time to head back. In Billings, we hit a storm (no broken windshields this time), and finally got to our hotel (in Butte) about 6p; in time for dinner and a little swim before the little ones went to bed. We rolled into T's a little after 6p, helped them unpack, repacked our own things, and played a little cards. I finally got to use my "Easy Sleep" program on my phone; works great... and I needed it!

We were awakened around 6am with T's shower & the automatic garage opener, but went back to sleep until about 8am. After coffee, breakfast, and a bit more visiting with the little ones & D, we were on the road by 10am. When you only make two stops (potty & gas), and eat while driving (sandwiches; quit freaking out), it doesn't take nearly as long to make the trip home; we were in my door at 405p.

Now, it's all about laundry (already on load four) and going through all the photos!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

She Was Calling...

We left Saturday, only an hour after we had originally planned to be gone. We returned late Wednesday night. My wonderful neighbor took care of my house, mail, & cat while we were gone, and our vet's office took care of our dogs (they now have boarding, and it's cheaper than any other place around; plus, they walk & play with them for no extra charge).

Highlights of this trip included: lots of waterfalls/lakes/rivers/reservoirs, hiking, spelunking, rock formations, over 1000 miles, 4X4 required territory, camping, swimming, smores, Klamath drive-through, fishing... and lots of photos. "Head of the River" was the first night, then after a drive through Campbell Lake (desecrated by beetle kill), we decided to head to Lofton Reservior (stayed for two nights), on to the Lava Beds, into Klamath for the last night, then home.

Along the way, we stopped at many little spots along the way (most of this trip took us through some of Ace's old stomping grounds - both as a fire fighter on the Forest Service, and as a kid/teen/college student). There were lookout points on top of buttes, cool rock formations you have to hike to, many waterfalls & creeks (some of which we didn't even know were there except when checking out other things, like a memorial site, until we heard them), miles of caves to explore, a lot of dirt or red cinder roads (most of them Forestry), and (for the most part) very few people.

In Klamath, he was disappointed to find his old house & land (5 acres) had been parcelled out, the current owners of the house had totally let his mom's old garden go to $h*t, and a big chunk of that area was no longer mostly land... there were "housing communities" all over. However, all of his old schools are still standing (& being used). His college campus (OIT) has a couple new buildings, but for the most part, it was the same, too; he was happy about that.

Ace said he felt "pulled". That's the biggest reason we went on this camping/road trip/excursion into the wild. I believe in ghosts (& he just may be coming around to my way of thinking); I also believe that his deceased sister, K, was urging him back "home", I just don't know why... She died when she was 7, of complications from surgery to fix/cure a brain tumor. His living sister, S, had just turned three. Ace was not even a twinkle in his parents' eye (as the saying goes). One of our last stops in Klamath was to visit her grave, and leave flowers in her vase.

Before heading home, though, we had one last big thing to do: Crater Lake. I've lived in Oregon since 1985 (except for a brief stint 1995-1996, when I returned to California), and have never seen it in person. I was not surprised by the beauty of the water, but I was surprised at the snow still on the ground. Granted, we were at 6000'-7000' above sea level on Mount Mazama, but it was 62'-65' (at different points along the route)! It wasn't just little drifts, either; it was full-on piles, up to 14" thick in some spots!

Driving home on the North Umpqua Highway (aka 138), we also saw (and stopped at) some little campgrounds & waterfalls. One we had to hike into, but it was soooo worth it! We also noticed a LOT of tiny, 1-4 site, campgrounds along the Umpqua River; many of which are fishing spots, but two of which are rafting in/out spots. When we returned home, we looked up some info about rafting on the Umpqua... and started thinking about our next family adventures.

Here are some photos (I actually took 272, plus two videos... but narrowed it down to 212 on my computer, and *only* 133 on my FB page):

Salt Creek Falls

Me with my "Camp Mocha" at Head of the River

Sunset at Lofton Reservoir

Stay on the path... spelunking in the Caves

Me & The Princess at Watchmen's Lookout (Crater Lake)

Papa (Ace) with his Munky (Princess) at Whitehorse Falls