Saturday, August 29, 2009
Half my family lives in Oregon, so I go up there every couple years to visit, usually with my sister and my dad and his crew.
This year I was excited to drive up there with Byrd, sightseeing along the way, but at the last minute, the company he works for decided they really needed him to stay and work. So I flew up there without him, and stayed for a week.
I eagerly anticipated that I'd be getting out of the Texas heat and into some pleasant weather. Come to find out, they're having a heat wave up there. Eugene's temperatures weren't much cooler than the 100s in Texas, but here's the big difference: low humidity and a cool breeze. In Texas, we have high humidity and the sort of breeze that hits your face when you open an oven door.
So even though my grandma didn't have air conditioning, it got cool enough at night to leave windows open, and the house retained that coolness throughout the day. That's unheard of where I live, at least in the summer. I even had to fix the settings on Grandma's A/C in her car, because she never used it.
My sis walking Grandma's dog out in the heat...
We spent the first several days at Grandma's house fixing things. My sis and I tackled some of the dirtier work, including cleaning out the garage/shed and recarpeting the vegetable garden.
Now, there are two things in this world that I really feel that I can do without. One is roaches. And the other is spiders. These two things are the only critters that can send me running and screaming like a two-year-old.
And let me tell you, working at my Grandma's house, I have never seen so many spiders in my life. The climate was really favorable for them this year or something.
Here we are gingerly peeling back the old carpet that was acting as a weed barrier in Grandma's garden...
We piled up the old carpet (notice the strawberry plant that had rooted itself to the carpet) and the spiders were even happier to have this fancy new home full of hidey-holes:
Well the last laugh's on you, spiders! (We took the carpet to the dump, spiders and all.)
And here's the garage, partway done. We got everything out of the smack middle, but there will never be enough room for Grandma's car unless she manages to find someone to buy the approx. 300 boxed-up collectible glass whiskey decanters that line the back of her garage (not pictured here).
We found three boxes of old magazines that Grandma said she just hadn't had the time to read. We tore off the address labels and recycled them. The boxes were full of spiders.
Even when I sought some respite from the dirty jobs of cleaning and organizing, there were spiders. I went to pick blueberries and found out the bushes were fave hangouts for spiders.
By the way, if you are ever in Eugene, there's this great little place there called Off the Waffle. EAT A WAFFLE THERE. You will not regret it. We found it purely by chance on our first day in town, and ate those waffles every single day we were in the city. I came back to Texas, bought a waffle maker, and made waffles (liege waffles to be precise) for the first time in my life because of that place. I would tell you how good these waffles are, but if you cannot go to Eugene and eat one, then my description will only make you horribly, possibly incurably, depressed. So I'll just say they were rockin'.
After three days of spiders, screams, and swearing, a group of us went on a little road trip to Crater Lake.
We took the boat tour of the lake. The boat ride around Crater Lake was educational and entertaining, and gave us great closeups of the lake's features.
Wizard Island (large island to one side of the Lake):
My favorite, Phantom Ship (smaller island):
Just a few tips from me if you ever plan to stay at Crater Lake.
One, either bring your own food, or prepare to PAY for your meals. They have a captive audience there, and they know it. No civilization for hours in any direction.
Two, don't do the boat tour if you can't handle a serious climb afterwards. The path down is sandy, slippery, and steep. It doesn't change coming back up, and you've just spent two hours in a boat, likely developing hunger and thirst along the way. For the same reason, do the morning tour rather than the afternoon ones, especially in the late summer--earlier tour means a cooler temperature when you climb back up.
Three, take advantage of the ranger-led seminars that are usually offered in the evening. We went to one I thought would be really boring, but it turned out quite interesting.
Four, if you have any interest in stars--this is the place to look. We were there at the tail end of the annual Perseid meteor shower and got to see some really nice shooting stars (but it gets cold at night!).
The next day we were at the coast, and caught a Mail Boat speed boat ride on the Rogue River. Fun stuff! We got to see bald eagles, otters, turtles, a mink, fish, blue herons, and a lot of campers, fishers, and park rangers--and our fine captain did donuts in the river, which got quite a few people along the edges of the boat wet (if you want to stay dry(er), sit in the middle toward the back).
First otter I've ever seen in the wild:
Possibly the most fun job ever--biologist park ranger? These guys were catching fish to weigh and measure. Suddenly I'm thinking of a career change.
Bald eagle flying off a nest. There's another one roosting in the tree, if you look close.
After all this entertainment, we headed back to Grandma's. No more spiders for me--we headed north to Portland and the airport shortly after. A great trip and a nice break.
Came home to 179 unopened emails.