Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Fall comes finally

It's finally feeling a bit like fall this week, having cooled down.
The last few weeks have been so hot that the cat couldn't cool off without looking pathetic,

and then we had a night last week with crazy lightning storms.  It was warm enough that we just sat out on the back patio watching the sky flash.  It felt oddly like Phoenix.

The next morning, I went mountain biking up at Russian Ridge; from there I could see the fire that had been started by a lightning strike over by Skeggs, which had been my alternate destination for the morning.  I got to watch the Cal-Fire planes fly back and forth to the fire down the ridge, and was quite glad I hadn't unknowingly headed over there.


We had pie for breakfast this morning.  Or, rather, we had square pi for breakfast this morning.  This came about after a dinner discussion in which Chad tried to give Nim a math problem about areas of telescope lenses when she was tired; the end result was kid repeating "Square Pi" to every question, which then led to me thinking about pie, which then reminded me that the new season apples are starting to come in, which then just necessitated the production of a square apple pie.

Picture not complete, since we devoured part of it before I thought of taking a photo.  Really, it *was* square.  This remainder of the square pi is what we ate this morning.

In case that leaves you wanting, here is the complete and circular pie that was Nim's birthday dessert. Mmmm...lemon meringue.

And speaking of birthday desserts, I'm not sure I ever posted Chad's 50th Birthday Cake of Many Flames.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

I think this plank is done.

Salmon grilled on a cedar plank is yummy.  Being a cheapskate, I use the same plank over and over again.  The current one split in half a while ago with no actual functional problems, but I think after last night it is just completely done...

Plank smoldered during cooking, despite having been pre-soaked

Bottom side of plank after final use

The salmon itself was delicious, given that it was wild-caught Coho with a mustard, bay-caper-infused vinegar, rosemary, honey, and lemon zest marinade.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Many Faces of the Kid

Last, but not least, the many faces of the kid on vacation.  Notice that she is much more smiley overall this year -- maybe just not as hungry as last year...









After the hike

After the hike mentioned previously, we still had the whole day in front of us.  A very very hot day in the desert.  After fortifying ourselves with cold beverages from the camp store, we headed out in the air-conditioned truck for some dirt road exploring the back routes southeast of the park, ostensibly to locate a couple of heads of creeks.  Water in these parts sometimes flows underneath volcanic buttes, leading to odd places where entire rivers come gushing seemingly out of nowhere.  We thought that sounded like a good kind of destination for a warm day.

The heat is not so bad from inside the truck.  Chad found the driving fun, I think.

It certainly was scenic.  This is forest road 1170, after road 2055 appeared not to exist.

We did successfully navigate our way through the maze of dirt roads to the trailhead.

The springs are surprisingly serene and quiet, for all that the flow is something like 50,000 gallons a minute.  Mt. Jefferson is framed nicely in the background.  From this point, the Metolius River flows back to the lake by our campground.

The kiddo is much more awake at noon than at 6am.

Headwaters #1 was nice, but we weren't allowed to stick our feet in (private property), so we had to drive around the maze of forest roads to find the trailhead to another one.  Given my dad's name, the Head of the Jack seemed like a fun destination.

Another nice, but short hike through the trees brought us to the head of Jack Creek,

where we could happily stick our feet into the ice-cold water.   Aaaahhh... 

Post hike, we took advantage of the shady picnic table to have some lunch.  Nim worked on her writing; Chad took a nap to prepare for the drive back along another obscure almost-not-a-road through a part of the Crooked River National Grassland.  (I just looked at the atlas to plot out said dubious route!)

Cove Palisades/ Lake Billy Chinook

You may recall I mentioned Cove Palisades State Park in the post about our campsites.  Besides the 100-degree temperatures, free showers, and miracle ice-cream-containing camp store mentioned earlier, the park is also home to Lake Billy Chinook, an impressive three-armed lake formed by the Deschutes, Metolius, and Crooked Rivers being backed up behind Round Butte Dam.

The campground is on the peninsula between two of the arms, so to get to it, you drive down the basalt cliff, across a bridge, and then partially up the adjacent cliff.  One interesting thing to note is that the gorges through the basalt were not at all obvious until you are right on top of them -- as we drove toward the campground, it seemed like we were just on a plain with nary a lake or river in sight....until we hit the edge.

Incidentally, my mom remembers going here as a kid, back before the dam was in place.  One suspects the old campground she stayed at is probably now under water.

One of the things we wanted to do was hike the Tam-a-lau trail.  This 6-mile trail leaves right from the campground, winds its way 600 feet up the cliff in the first mile, and then loops around on the plateau on top for views of the lake and surrounding volcanoes before going back down to the campground.   Given the heat when we were there, we got an early start.

The teenager was not sure about the wisdom of a 6am start.  I knew it was the right plan -- it was very pleasant out at that hour, and we enjoyed watching the low-angle sunshine spread across the terrain.

We started to get views of the lake as we hiked up.

Once on top, there was a scenic flat loop, with volcanoes to view in seemingly every direction.

I particularly like the contrast between the yellow desert-y landscape and the snow-covered peaks.

There is almost an island at the edge of the peninsula between the Deschutes and Crooked River branches of the lake.  This "island" is closed to public access and has been designated a BLM Research Natural Area -- one of the few undisturbed bits of this particular ecological community.

Big views everywhere.

And very fine outcrops of columnar basalt, all before breakfast!

Monday, August 21, 2017


The eclipse this morning was only partial here (about 75%), but I still enjoyed wandering about the yard looking at results of all of the natural pinholes. I was also happy to be able to locate my useful piece of welders glass for safe viewing of the sun.