Tag: October 2014 Family Vacation

part 0: october family vacation
tue 4 nov 2014

Entry #1 on this page (tagged: octfam, )

My Dad, Mom and Brother visited me in October. They arrived on tuesday evening and... hmm. Actually. There needs to be a little bit of back story here!

I live in Eugene Oregon, in a tiny townhouse with my Significant Other and two guinea pigs. My immediate family lives in Colorado. Both my parents have visited in the past, both together and separately, but my brother has never been to Oregon.

I was super nervous about their visit... I've never given our town house a serious, deep clean in the 9 years that we've lived here. And even tho I've been doing cleaning and tidying chores all year through my Space Clearing class, I knew our home would not be perfectly clean by the time they got here.

And then also, I was nervous because I wanted them to stay in our townhouse, rather than in a hotel. And, honestly, the tiny townhouse is sometimes not big enough for just the two of us humans, let alone five humans for six days!

Ha. So anyway, in the weeks and days leading up to the family's visit, little random things were going wrong. Little annoyances, but then something big. Significant Other's van had an accident. SO had minor injuries and his van was totalled. He had two weeks to mend before the visit, but he was still carless.

The night before the visit, we were playing with Lucy and Ethel, the guinea pigs, and giving them treats. And Lucy is squinting her eye, painfully. What the heck, Lucy?! Of course, I couldn't get an appointment right away, I was to drop her off at the vet clinic on wednesday morning, family to arrive tuesday evening.

Fortunately, we didn't have any set-in-stone plans, and it all worked out in the end.

Family arrived tues night, and Significant Other served up a great dinner of homemade Yumm! bowls. (altho my brother didn't like the Yumm! sauce. foo.) We all chatted and laughed, and didn't stay up too late because they were tired of all their traveling.

Wed morning I got up early and loaded Lucy up in the carrier. Dad got up and came with us to the vet to drop her off. Everybody was still in bed when we got back!

In a couple hours, everyone was up and the vet called. Lucy had a scratch on her eye and needed eye drops, three times a day for the next 2 weeks. No big deal, I could pick her up any time.

lucy the guinea pig

Lucy above, Ethel below.

ethel the guinea pig

Day 1, Oct Fam Vacation
fri 7 nov 2014

Entry #2 on this page (tagged: octfam, )

My Dad, Mom and Brother arrived on tuesday night, and as I talked about in Part 0, I had an early morning drop-off at the veterinarian for Lucy the guinea pig.

Everyone was awake, and had coffee and/or breakfast in them by the time the vet called back, so we started planning the rest of the day.

We all drove out to my day job. I was proud and happy to show my family the warehouse I work in and introduce them to the wonderful people I work with.

On the way home, we picked up little Lucy and her eye medicine. After lunch we had an outing to our community garden.

Our community garden plot is such an important part of my life, I was so happy and excited to share it totally with my parents and brother.

Significant Other and I have had our Community Garden Plot since 2009. I pretend to garden there: make plans, plant things, weed stuff, and then harvest and eat zucchinis and cherry tomatoes. But this was the first year that I felt happy and comfortable about the Wild Flowers (aka "weeds") that I didn't kill: the borage had a large section of our plot and the honey bees and a few native bees were happy.

The Community Garden is 1 mile from our home, and I usually walk there on the weekends. About 90% of the photos I use for my postcards are taken on this walk (or at our garden). My photography and my postcards are a huge part of my life, and I wanted to share this with my family!

That wednesday afternoon, we all walked to the garden on the path I always take. I was desperately hoping to see some urban wildlife, or something interesting, so that I could show them how awesome my neighborhood is!

And sure enough! There was a Great Blue Heron waiting for us in the creek next to the path!

I was not so happy with the sprinkle of rain that came down on us. Then again, it's autumn in western Oregon, the rain should be expected!

At the garden, we ate the Sun Gold cherry tomatoes and marveled at their sweetness. I pointed out the zucchini and the butternut squash, the beets and the snow peas and the sweet potatoes that still need to be dug up.

We walked around the community garden and looked at other people's garden plots. Sunflowers and zinnias and black cherry tomatoes and artichokes!

Back at home, we talked and laughed and got out my dominoes for a few games of Mule Train.

great blue heron

Day 2: at the Ocean
tues 11 nov 2014

Entry #3 on this page (tagged: octfam, )

This is the continuing series of my October Family Vacation: my parents and brother, from Colorado, were visiting me in Oregon.

I think this was my favorite day of my family's visit! I live about 60miles/100km from the Pacific Coast, but I never drive out there. It's been several years since I've been to the ocean, so I was looking forward to it!

And we had the most amazing weather! October is supposed to be cool and rainy... but we had a warm sunny day, not even all that windy! It was so lovely!

We went straight west and our first stop was the Sea Lion Caves. Bit of a disappointment... there were no sea lions in the cave. haha, it never occured to me that the sea lions only hang out in the cave seasonally! Oh well.

We drove to the beach just to the north and had a fabulous vegan picnic lunch.

Mom and Brother walking on the beach

The crows and one gull were all interested in the food we brought!

crow and gull at the beach

I rolled up my jeans and tried to wade. But once a wave went over my ankles, the coldness of the ocean made me run away! ha.

(to be continued... I got distracted with some back-end website stuff this evening!)

Day 2 at the Ocean cont
wed 12 nov 2014

Entry #4 on this page (tagged: octfam, )

Next on our drive up the coast was Heceta Head Lighthouse. (pronounced huh-SEE-ta)

Heceta Head Lighthouse

We walked up the trail to the lighthouse and got a tour, going inside the lighthouse, all the way up to the lenses at the top! (Apparently, the stairs on the inside can only take so much weight, so they only let one small group in at a time. And then they rush you out so the next group can come up. ha! )

Heceta light and lenses

Above pic: looking up at the light in the lighthouse, seen through a break in the lenses, which were turning. And the light is obviously on as well... I wonder why they keep it running during the day? Maybe it's too much trouble to turn it on and off all the time.

It was interesting to learn that every lighthouse has a unique pattern of flashes. This timed pattern, along with the colour of the light, makes the lighthouse easily identified by lost ships.

Heceta has one white flash every 10 seconds.

(to be continued again!)

Day 2 at the Ocean cont again
thurs 13 nov 2014

Entry #5 on this page (tagged: octfam, )

We drove a little further north and stopped at Spouting Horn. This is a place on the Oregon coast where the beach is just rocks. There is a little sea cave which has a hole in the ceiling... so when the tide comes in, water explodes up through the hole in a "geyser-like" spray.

I guess the sprays can be so big they hit the highway! But, here's a little puff that I caught (you can see the road isn't exactly close!):

Spouting Horn Oregon

My Brother and Dad watching the waves at Thor's Well.

Thors Well

I had warned my family: Never turn your back on the ocean! A few people die every year, getting swept out with a sneaker wave.

The tide was just coming in as we arrived at the coast. And Bother and Mom were a bit too close and a big wave came in and splashed them! They both kept their footing, but got a little wet.

As they walked back in their soaked clothes, strangers asked, "Did you turn your back on the Ocean?"

Mom answered, "No! We saw the wave coming!"

haha! but seriously... when you see a wave coming, and you know it's big; Make like a Sea Star and lay down on the rocks and grip with everything you've got!

And speaking of Sea Stars... the tide pools here were sadly empty. The Sea Stars have been devastated by a terrible disease. "largest mortality event for marine diseases we've seen", cause: unknown.

I did find one tide pool with a lonely dark red anemone:

tide pool

(on the left side of the pool.) Most puddles had some kind of little shrimp-like creature swimming in it.

No Sea Stars to be seen, tho. Very Sad.

Day 2 at the Ocean, end
fri 14 nov 2014

Entry #6 on this page (tagged: octfam, )

We drove up the coast a little further and stopped at The Devil's Churn. An old sea cave, but the roof caved in, now it's a narrow channel where waves crash in on each other all the way to the end!

The Devils Churn

Photo of the mouth of the Churn, taken from midway down the trail (you can see the lower part of the switch back on the left side of the pic).

We walked from the end of the path, down to the end of the Churn. The Internets say it's about 100feet long, and at the end you can see the ocean is making a new sea cave.

My brother was quite fascinated by the powerful waves.

Brother at the Devils Churn

After we left the Devil's Churn, we drove a little bit further, up to Waldport, and decided to head home. Dad found a tiny, one-lane back-road, which wasn't even on his GPS... a more direct route, but we were only going about 25 mph through all the turns. It only seemed like it took forever!

Back in Eugene, we picked up my partner who had stayed at home for the day, and went out to eat. Cornbread Cafe is 100% vegan and everything on their menu is yummy and wonderful! I only wish we could have eaten more than one meal there!

A fabulous vegan dinner for all was a wonderful way to end a spectacular day!

Day 3: Raptor Center!
mon 17 nov 2014

Entry #7 on this page (tagged: octfam, )

I was really excited about this day! I had been introduced to our local raptor center last year when my day job participated in United Way's Day of Caring. We had decided to volunteer at Cascade Raptor Center, and 11 of us worked there for a couple hours one morning last September.

The raptor center has quite a few permanent residents... birds who have been hurt and have healed, but can't return to the wild because they would not survive. It seemed like the biggest issues were either vision problems, or wing problems where they couldn't fly well enough to hunt or make their migration.

The residents were in big cages outside, and guests can wander through and see everyone, and read their story. It was just amazing to be so close to these very special birds.

When we were there, last year, we had been invited to see the "handler's talk"... One bird comes out and his or her handler talks about raptors and what happens at the center. Unfortunately, no one else was interested, since we were on company time, they wanted to get back to work. humph.

And also unfortunately, the handler's talks only happen at noon during the week. Not on the weekends. So this was a perfect family activity when my parents and brother visited!

We got to meet Taka, a dark morph Swainson's hawk...

Taka, Swainsons hawk at Cascades Raptor Center

(more tomorrow)

Day 3: Taka
tues 18 nov 2014

Entry #8 on this page (tagged: octfam, )

Taka, a Swainson's Hawk, was found by a road in California, but he hadn't been hit by a car... he had been shot. They fixed him up as best they could, but when he was healed he could not return to the wild.

His wing doesn't extend fully, so he would not be able to survive the 3000 mile migration down to Argentina.

Taka not only adapted well to captivity, he also doesn't mind being in front of a crowd. So he helps teach at the raptor center, and sometimes they take him to teach kids about raptors at special events. His handler emphasized how incredible Taka is for being able to do this... there aren't very many wild-born raptors who can!

Taka at Cascades Raptor Center

Taka was found as an adult in 2001, which means he is at least 14 years old and may be quite a bit older since they can't tell how old adults are. The oldest Swainson's Hawk recorded is a 24 year old banded bird in the wild.

Altho Swainson's Hawks are currently a species of "Least Concern", in the past they have been threatened by pesticides. They migrate south in the winter, and in Argentina they are known as Grasshopper Hawks.

When farmers sprayed DDT and monocrotophos, the grasshoppers and the Grasshopper Hawks died in droves. The US and Canada worked with Argentina to prevent these deaths. But DDT and monocrotophos are still being produced and used in many parts of the world. :(

And it's not just bugs and birds who are killed by monocrotophos and pesticides... humans are killed as well.

If you've not read Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, I highly recommend it. It was written in the early 1960's but it is still relevant since DDT is still being used, and hundreds of new pesticides are being developed every year.

Day 3: White-Tailed Kites
wed 19 nov 2014

Entry #9 on this page (tagged: octfam, )

After the handler talk, my Parents, brother, partner and I got to walk through the raptor center.

All of the injured and healing raptors are kept separate and safe. Humans are stressful to wild birds, and injuries don't heal as fast when you're stressed. And, of course, they don't want any recovering birds to become acclimatized to humans, either.

But there are some raptors who have healed, but can't go back to the wild because they would not survive. Either they can't see well enough to hunt, or they can't fly well enough. These guys have a permanent home at the raptor center.

They live in large outdoor cages. It is so interesting to walk around, see these beautiful birds so close, and to read their stories.

We walked to the back part of the center first... and a White-Tailed Kite was out, practicing her flying with her handler.

White-Tailed Kite at Cascades Raptor Center

The handler would stand 10 or 15 feet from the stand, and ask the bird to fly to the stand. As soon as she did, the handler hurried over to give her a treat. Then the handler walked back to the starting point, then asked the bird to fly back to her for another treat.

There are two White-Tailed Kites at the raptor center. Anu and Dakini, I'm not sure who is who, but here is her sister, sitting in their shared cage.

White-Tailed Kite at Cascades Raptor Center

Day 3: Raptors!
thurs 20 nov 2014

Entry #10 on this page (tagged: octfam, )

Here's Darwin, a Pygmy Owl...

Pygmy Owl at Cascade Raptor Center

He had been hit by a car, which broke his arm near the shoulder. The bones healed with imperfect alignment. Darwin can fly, but not well enough to hunt. He's been at the raptor center since Dec 2007.

Here's Nike, his good side...

Gyrfalcon at Cascades Raptor Center

He's a Gyrfalcon with just one eye. A raptor researcher found him in Washington state, with a very infected eye. They had to remove his eye, and he wouldn't be able to hunt well enough with just one eye. He's been at the center since March 2005.

And this is Newton, a Northern Goshawk.

Northern Goshawk at Cascades Raptor Center

Newton came as a baby to help teach people about raptors... he did his first program before he could fly.

It's rare for a wild Northern Goshawk to be at a raptor center... in the wild they stay in the wildernes, far away from people. If a Northern Goshawk does get brought in with an injury, they don't adapt well to captivity or being around humans.

But if they imprint on humans as a baby, as Newton was, they can live in our world without trouble.

Day 3: Great Horned Owl
fri 21 nov 2014

Entry #11 on this page (tagged: octfam, )

When we were exploring the front part of Cascades Raptor Center, we met Lorax, a Great Horned Owl.

Great Horned Owl at Cascades Raptor Center

Lorax has a bum right wing. She had fallen out of her nest as a baby, and broken her poor arm all to pieces. Because of her injuries, there was no hope of returning her to the wild, so they socialized her to human contact. She now helps teach at the raptor center.

She doesn't like being in the cage while it's being cleaned. So someone brings her out, and visitors get to walk by and tell her how beautiful she is!

When we were done at the raptor center we went across the street to one of the trail heads for our Ridgeline Trail.

Ridgeline trail is about 14 miles long, wandering through forests and to the top of our highest peak at the southern edge of the city. Yep, it's all within the city limits!

Ridge Line Trail

I came to western Oregon for the rain and the trees... but the moss and ferns certainly intrigue me as well.


We did a quick 1.5 mile jaunt on a mountain bike trail and a pedestrian only trail. The trails are not well marked. But wandering around in a forest is definitely my family's idea of fun! haha! For Real!

Day 4: McDowell Creek
mon 24 nov 2014

Entry #12 on this page (tagged: octfam, )

This is the fourth day of a family vacation: My Parents and Brother were visiting me in Oregon.

We decided to do some easy hikes and look at waterfalls! McDowell Creek has several waterfalls along a short stretch, and was about 55 miles north. We road tripped up there on a saturday morning.

ferns and moss on a tree trunk

As you can see, it was another beautiful, blue sky day! Entirely unusual for western oregon in autumn... It should have been raining the entire week my family was here. I'm glad we lucked out with our climate change/ global warming.

Then, again... the lack of rain also created a lack of water falling out of the waterfalls! This is Royal Falls:

Royal Falls at McDowell Creek

Pretty wimpy, right? But that's okay. It was a beautiful day, and we are walking out in nature.

We walked down the path a little bit further. We were heading towards a picnic area, shown on the map. We were slightly surprised at the state of the picnic tables when we got there...

picnic tables

haha! Covered in moss and not just damp, soaking wet and slimy!

We ate our picnic lunch straight out of the trunk of the car, instead!

Day 4: McDowell Creek
tue 25 nov 2014

Entry #13 on this page (tagged: octfam, )

After lunch we got back on the trail. We were heading towards Majestic falls, but saw this cute little one on the way:

Little falls, McDowell Creek

Moss, ferns and mushrooms were everywhere.

mushroom on a tree trunk

And then beautiful Majestic Falls, a 39 foot waterfall (almost 12 meters).

Majestic Falls on McDowell Creek

Day 5: Spirit Falls
wed 26 nov 2014

Entry #14 on this page (tagged: octfam, )

On the fifth day of my family vacation, with my Parents and Brother visiting me in Oregon, we decided to do a hike to the south. Another 55mile (88km) road trip, and another stunningly beautiful day...

trail to Spirit Falls on Alex Creek

Down in the valley it was almost 80°, but we were up in the hills... much cooler and more pleasant under the trees and near the water; it was a great day for a walk. And soon the trail brought us down to Spirit Falls:

Spirit Falls

This is a 40 foot waterfall (just over 12 meters), but again, due to the lack of rain, not as spectacular as it could have been. Then again, walking in the sunshine is much nicer than walking in the rain!

For a little bit of perspective, here's my Dad... around 6foot tall, looking up at the 40foot waterfall!

Spirit Falls perspective

Day 5: Moon Falls
fri 28 nov 2014

Entry #15 on this page (tagged: octfam, )

We drove a couple miles to the trail head of the next waterfall. This trail was a bit longer, and mostly followed an old logging road. There were sections where the trees were young and planted in rows (ugh).

I discovered a dragon that the loggers didn't want to deal with...

tree root dragon


The area and trees around the creek are protected from loggers because it's a watershed, and it was a relief to climb down into this undisturbed sanctuary.

And, again, since there had been no rain, the creek was pretty empty... but such a beautiful spot...

Laying Creek below Moon Fall

And the waterfall looked like it would have been amazing... Moon Falls is 125feet/38meters, with many layers for the water to pour off. If only it would rain. This is just the lower part of the falls:

Lower part of Moon Falls

The next waterfall was Pinard Falls, and we got in the car to drive to it's trail head.

Sadly, the loggers were active on the road that lead to Pinard... There were clear cut areas, huge piles of debris covered with plastic tarps, machinery parked at the side of the road, and finally we had to turn around because the road was rutted with huge pot holes and littered with branches.

The loggers had devastated the area and I was disgusted. Yep, this is what we do with our public lands in Oregon. We willingly hand over our beautiful forests to corporations who destroy them and make a tidy profit and then some. oh, and a couple dollars go into our education fund. Despicable.

So, we came home.

Moon Falls

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