Monday, October 20, 2014

My kind of day.....

Back in November of 1978 we were in the middle of our first extended RV road trip when we pulled into an RV park just outside of Coos Bay, OR right on the Pacific Ocean.  It was drizzling and the wind was blowing as we parked in our assigned site.  There was something about that stormy night on the ocean that captured my imagination.  At the time we had only two children, Chris who was 6 years old, and Meredith who was a little over 5 weeks old.  Once the kids were settled down TLE and I took a walk along that storm tossed beach in a slight drizzle......we both loved it!  We still have a piece of driftwood at our 'sticks and bricks' home from that night.  Years later in 2007 we revisited that same RV park, and the magic was still there.....once again it was in November, and once again the weather was the same.

We've had a few stormy days here at Cape Blanco over the past 6 weeks, but there was something about this day that reminded me a little of that November day back in 1978.  As we drove over to the gate at 9:45 our VW was being buffeted about by the blustery winds.  

There was a lot of moisture in the air from the crashing waves down below the bluffs that was pelting the drivers side of the car as we waited for 10 am to arrive so we could open the gate and begin another day as lighthouse hosts at Cape Blanco.

As I climbed those final 11 stairs into the 'lantern room' I could see moisture on the windows, and a quite foreboding sky to the southwest.  Funny, I could have sworn that the weather guessers predicted mostly clear skies this day......I'm glad they were wrong.

We didn't have our first 3 visitors of the day until after 11 am, and I think we finished with a total of a dozen by the time our morning shift ended at 12:30 pm.....all in all a perfect morning.  I spent a lot of time just watching the angry sea pounding the sea stacks, and the wind driven mist from the crashing waves floating up and over the cliffs.

At 12:30 we hopped in the VW and headed in to Langlois to the Langlois Market to feast upon their 'world famous' hot dogs for lunch, and then do some shopping.......yes, I know, you want to know about the hot dogs......yep, they are very, very good......and his little market is a gem!  It is a hangout for the locals who come for the hot dogs, a little shopping, and to share the news of the community.  Of course, this little market also boasts that they have 200 unique craft beers, and they deliver on that score, too.

This being Sunday also meant it was a day for more NFL games.......and I spent the rest of the afternoon after our lunching/shopping excursion watching.....I watched the Kansas City Chiefs win a nail biter over the San Diego Chargers, and Peyton Manning set a new record for career touchdowns by a quarterback when he threw his 509th touchdown in the first half eclipsing Bret Favre's record of 508.....he ended evening with 510 total touchdowns, and the Broncos won over the San Francisco 49ers handily......42-17......however, I get slightly ahead of myself......

After the end of the Chargers/Chiefs game TLE and decided to take a walk on 'south beach', and what a great walk it was......

We walked down the steep paved road to the sand, and then walked north towards the lighthouse........

Chris, Cherie, Paul and Nina have all told us at one time, or another that there is a faint trail back to the top of the bluffs right near the large vertical 'sea stack' took us a little time, but we did find the trail, and worked our way up to to the top....

The walk along the beach was invigorating albeit chilly......we arrived back at the coach just at 5:30, and in time to watch the Bronco/49er game.

Another splendiforous day living on the Oregon coast........thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, October 19, 2014


Picture courtesy Wikimedia Commons

If I had a nickle for every time I have heard those words spoken by those visiting the 'lantern room' here at the Cape Blanco Lighthouse in the last 6 weeks I would be one rich guy!  I was thinking back to the first time I climbed those last 11 steps on the ladder into the 'lantern room' and I'm pretty sure at least one of those exclamatory words, if not all three, escaped my lips when I first laid eyes on that 78 year old 'girl' known formally as the Second Order Fresnel lens.

Picture courtesy Anni Jones Photography

When we first committed to spend two months here as volunteers I wondered if the 'job' would become passe after a few weeks, but quite the opposite has occurred.  With many jobs that is often the case, but after 6 weeks I still look forward to taking my position in the 'lantern room', and hearing those words spoken by new visitors.

Sometimes on clear, sunny days like Saturday when I stand in the 'lantern room' looking out towards Cape Blanco Reef I try to imagine a stormy night when the howling wind drowns out the spoken word, and wind driven rain is lashing the 'lantern room' windows trying to get at the light that warns mariners of impending doom if they dare come too close.  It is hard for me to comprehend spending two nights out of every three on the 'watch level' as James Langlois did for 42 years.....especially those long winter nights in late December when the inky darkness enveloped the Cape for a majority of the 24 hours each day.  I wonder what he did to pass the time.....I wonder if he ever wished he were somewhere else, doing something else.  When you think about it, how many days in your life have you been awake to watch the sun come up in the eastern sky?  These guys spent two thirds of their life for decades waiting for that first glimpse of daylight, wondering if before the sun chased away the dark they would witness a ship flounder on the reef.  I wonder what is was like to spend decades of your life living in a virtual wind tunnel day after day.....where days without wind were the exception.....I wonder......would I have stuck with it for 42 years?

I have this feeling that they enjoyed looking upon the Fresnel lens each evening.....gently and lovingly wiping the soot from her prisms each day so she would be at her best each evening when the dark banished the light from the sky once her light could be focused, and pushed far enough off shore to keep ships passing in the night safe from the hungry clutches of the reef.

There is something about the wind swept terrain, the roaring seas, the rock stacks in the ocean, the ever present wind, the long, large views, the Fresnel lens that lights up for 1.8 seconds at a time, and seemingly disappears for 18.2 seconds minute after minute, hour after hour, day after day.  It captures your imagination, and claims a piece of you forever.  You know you will return again next Fall, because this place is now, and forever, a part of you.

Thank you for stopping by!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Slug like.....

We woke up Friday to wind and rain, and that is pretty much what we got all day.  Fortunately, Friday was not a work day, so we just stayed inside enjoying the weather from the confines of our warm, dry, comfortable Newell.  I don't think I went outside until early evening to get a beer from the Norcold refrigerator in the basement to have with the hard shell tacos TLE so graciously made for me.....what a woman!  

For those who may not know, we have to refrigerators on board the Newell.....a Dometic electric/gas refrigerator/freezer inside, and the 12 volt Norcold basement refrigerator pictured below.  We keep most of our beverages in the Norcold to make more room in the inside Dometic for food.  This arrangement is very helpful in the summer months when it is warmer as we can avoid opening the door of the Dometic absorption refrigerator.  As most of you know, from experience, these absorption refrigerators work great when the outdoor temp is under 90 degrees, and above 40 degrees, and get harder to keep cold when it gets over 90 degrees for several days in succession.  The less we have to open the Dometic up during the day the better.

Norcold basement 'refer'

We both spent the day reading......and speaking of reading, I am thoroughly enjoying the multitudinous westerns written by Elmore Leonard.....thank you to all who recommended his works.  I have been watching the TV serious entitled 'Justified' for a few years now which is about a modern day, mythical U.S. Marshall named Raylan Givens set in the Kentucky hill country.  I didn't realize until this season that 'Justified' was based on a series of books written by Elmore Leonard.  So far I have read a compilation book of a lot of his western short stories, and a couple of his full length books.  The number of his books that have been made into movies is startling, so it is no surprise, I guess, that 'Justified' has been so successful, too.

Exactly two weeks from Saturday we will be rolling our wheels once again as we head to our Amazon job in Nevada.  The last six weeks have flown by with mostly pretty good weather, but the forecast for the next 10 days looks like rain will be visiting us every few days.

We spent the evening watching 'The Amazing Race' and a few recorded 'Frasers' then it was off to bed with smiles on our faces.

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, October 17, 2014

My Cape Blanco......

Sometimes pictures are really worth thousands of words......

A 30 second video of the Fresnel order 2 lens

Okay.....the details of Thursday......we worked the 'top' shift at the lighthouse.......we entertained about 30 visitors in that shift..........we had lunch back at the coach after work.......I doodled around in the trailer for an hour........we read.......I took a nap......I watched TNF (Thursday Night Football)......I watched the Giants win over the Cardinals to make it to the World Series once again......we watched 'Bones'......we went to bed.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

After the rain.....

It rained, and rained, and rained.......and then it rained some more.  There was a little lightning and thunder (a rarity here at Cape Blanco) thrown in for good measure.......yep Wednesday came in like a bear!

Before we went on duty at 12:30 we drove into Port Orford to drop our newly printed tax returns at the local Post Office.  Debbie weighed each envelope carefully, placed the appropriate postage on each, and then we were done.  Then, while we were in town, we decided to have a late breakfast at the Paradise Cafe.  Yelp gives them 4 stars on 20 reviews........we liked it, but I would be closer to 3.5 stars, especially when comparing the food to the Original Breakfast Restaurant we ate at in Albany, OR the day before.  don't misunderstand, the food was good, and I can understand why the 'locals' frequent this place.

Of course, any trip into Port Orford must include a stop at Ray's Food Place to pick up a few items before heading back to the Cape.  We arrived back at the coach by 11:30, and were on our way over to the lighthouse to relieve Paul and Nina by 12:20.

The weather continued to be blustery, but by the time we arrived for duty the clouds had somewhat parted and the sun was out.  The wind was in the mid 20's (mph) with gusts into the mid 30's, so it was fun trying to walk up the hill to the lighthouse whilst being buffeted by the gusts of wind.

There had only been 25 visitors in total when we relieved Paul and Nina, but I don't think all those visitors to the greeting center had actually taken the lighthouse tour, so it looks like the October slowdown is happening.  We had probably another dozen, or more people who took the tour in the three hours we were on duty......I think most of them showed up in the last 30 minutes of our shift.  We locked up the lighthouse for the night around 3:25, and were out at the gate by 3:30 to prevent any further vehicles from entering the property while we awaited the departure of the remaining 5 vehicles.

It looks like the current storm has punched itself out, and we'll have a day of no rain on Thursday, but it will return, according to the weather guessers, on Friday, and then again on Monday, and so forth.

On the sports front the K.C. Royals finished the 4 game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles and are headed to the World Series for the first time since 1985.  The S.F. Giants won game four of their series with the St. Louis Cardinals to take a commanding 3 games to 1 lead in their series.  It's looking more and more like a World Series matching two 'wild card' teams....I wonder if that has ever happened before?

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Home again.....naturally!

I went to bed at 9 pm Monday night, and was wide awake by 6 Tuesday morning....probably even a little before 6. We had about 243 miles to go to the Cape, and our home.  TLE was able to do some shopping after we arrived in Salem Monday afternoon.....Costco was right next door to the La Quinta Inn where we stayed, and a local store that carries a special salad dressing TLE loves was only a few blocks away so she headed out in the car while I turned on MNF, and set my computer up for the night.

Tuesday morning we had plans to meet our good friend Claude at a local breakfast place in Albany, OR.....just 22 miles south of the La Quinta so we left around 8:20, and were at the 'Original Breakfast Restaurant' by 8:45 exchanging hugs with Claude, and then enjoying a great breakfast and conversation.  Yelp gives them 3.5 stars on 83 reviews......we would give them at least 4 stars.  The food was 'home cooked' and fresh.  The restaurant is just off I-5 and it is an 'easy off and on'.

By 9:45 we were back on the road heading south into the coming storm......we hit the rain about 40 miles south of Salem, and had rain pretty much the rest of the way home to Cape Blanco.

Driving along the Umpqua River towards Reedsport

The drive along HWY 38 paralleling the Umpqua River was delightful as the traffic was very light, and we merged on to HWY 101 southbound by Noon.  We filled up in North Bend, OR (on the north side of Coos Bay) for the last time on this trip averaging 30 mpg for the stretch from The Dalles.  We were very pleased with the performance of the Beetle on this 1300 mile round trip drive.....we just per her on cruise control and held on to the steering wheel.

We were home by 1:45........should have been home by 1:20, but southbound traffic was a little slow due to the heavy rainfall.  Fortunately, it stopped raining for about 30 minutes just as we arrived home allowing us to empty the car without getting soaked.  Within minutes after closing the coach door for the final time the sky fell again.

We spent the late afternoon and evening catching up on programs that recorded while we were gone, and were in bed by 11 nice to be back in our own bed after a week!

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

On the road again.......

Today's post will, of necessity, be a little shortened as we will be back on the road in just a few minutes.......we had our 'until next time' hugs with Hilary and Bob a shade past 9 am, and were back in the VW headed west and south for Cape Blanco.  I had filled up the tank two nights before on my way back from dropping my Mother at her apartment, so we did not have to stop again for fuel until The Dalles, OR.  I drove the first 140 miles, and switched with TLE in Kenniwick, WA who drove the last 140+ into The Dalles, then it was my turn to make the final run across I-84 to I-5 and south to Salem, OR.  We took a few minutes in Kennewick to get a cup of coffee at the local Starbucks, and a bagel, then we were back on the road again.

The drive was scenic and uneventful which is all one can really hope for......while TLE was driving I spent time reading the book I mentioned a few days ago.....The Light Between Oceans.  Every time I open that book time just melts seemed like very little time passed, but in actuality over 2 hours flew by as we pulled into the fuel station in The Dalles.  I managed to finish it about 9 pm Monday evening in our hotel room while TLE finished watching a cooking show .  It is the kind of book that makes you think about what you would have done in their place.  There are so many twists and turns along the way to keep you just enough off kilter, and all the time fascinated with what the outcome will be.  I am not a crier by habit, but I double dog dare you to read this book and not be overcome by emotion at its conclusion.  A big 'Thank You!" to my sister Hilary for recommending it.

In just a short while we will pile back into the Bug to cover the last 243 miles to Cape Blanco.....the weather forecast indicates rain the rest of the way, and for the next two days.  Judging by the smell of the morning air I think it has already been raining.....we are on the fourth floor of a hotel here in Salem, so it's a little hard to tell.

Thanks for stopping by!