Animals, Memories, Pets

Memory

I recently put up this memorial plaque for our furry loved ones who have gone ahead of us to the Rainbow Bridge.

Tuffy

Dillon

Jackie in her favorite pumpkin costume.

I also remember the many other beloved cats and dogs we have had the privilege to live with over the years. We love our babies very much.

Adventures, Animals, hiking

Hike — William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge

This will be another long post — there’s just so much to see at the Finley NWR! We were talking about the refuge awhile ago and I suggested we go last Friday. I decided to wear my big backpack with about 20 pounds in it for training purposes. The forecast was mainly for light rain with some wind, so we went prepared for that weather, but as soon as we got onto Highway 34 it started to snow!

On the road to the refuge.

Kangaroo was very nervous about driving in snow since she hadn’t experienced it in her new truck, but she did great. Once we arrived at the refuge office, she had to take a photo of Georgio, her truck, in the snow!

We enjoyed browsing the nature store, until the store volunteer lady came in and told us they weren’t open yet. If you aren’t open, you should lock the door to keep us out, ha! There were oodles of neat things in there!

Finley NWR Nature Store

After we left the store, we headed over across the road to our first trail, the Woodpecker Loop trail. We came in at the back of the trail, you can drive up to the actual trailhead a little ways further on. There were plenty of paper maps and signs available for following the trails.

The Woodpecker Loop trail goes through many different kinds of natural areas, including an oak woodland, oak savanna, seasonal wetland, riparian area, and ash swale.

We think we may have seen one woodpecker in the oak savanna part of the trail. This loop trail had a few nice information signs and cards.

Kangaroo at the seasonal wetland.

We saw no frogs but I guess it isn’t quite time for them yet, I think they’re probably still hibernating or doing what amphibians do in the winter. We will have to come back later in the spring or in summer to see or hear them!

This natural area, the oak savanna, is now scarce. There was a photo on one informational sign that showed the area in the 1930s and in the 2000s, and how much the Douglas Fir trees have taken over. The property where I grew up and where Mom and Dad still live is an oak savanna. Here is a short video of the oak savanna area and the pavilion there, where we try to figure out where we saw the rare flowers last time we visited! (We did figure it out later, I think.) I believe they use the pavilion for educational purposes, but it would be a lovely place to stop and have a picnic lunch. On a clear day there is a very nice view of the mountains in the distance.

Kangaroo and I walk in the oak savanna.

Me with my big backpack.

After the oak savanna you descend into an oak woodland, and then move to the riparian area. The sign for the riparian area said there might be raccoons, but we saw no raccoons.

After the riparian area we came out to the Woodpecker Loop trailhead parking lot. We decided to go to the road and turn left toward the buildings we wanted to visit.

On the way up the road, we visited another oak savanna area. The sign says some of the oaks are over 200 years old, but none of them were as big as the ones at Mom and Dad’s!

This is the John Fiechter house, built in 1855. Iwas the first lumber house built in the area and is the oldest house like this still standing in the area. If you want to read some fascinating history about the Willamette Valley and Benton County, check out the 1985 National Register of Historic Places nomination form for the Fiechter house. Once you scroll through the very extensive description of the house, you get to the neat history part. I love pioneer history, don’t you?

John Fiechter house (1855) and auto garage added in the 1930s.

Here are some interior photos of the house (of course we had to peek in the windows!). All of the rooms we could see had these radiator heaters in them, and the heaters were on. The house does have electricity. The original idea back in 1985 was to use the house as a museum or for educational purposes, but that doesn’t seem to have happened.

Then we moved on to the Cabell Hunting Lodge.

Signs of Spring on the rosebush.

We were disappointed not to be able to hike the Cabell Marsh Trail, but the trail is closed from November 1 through March 31 so nobody will disturb the Canada geese that overwinter there.

Cabell Marsh overlook.

Kangaroo checks out the view.

Since we couldn’t hike the marsh trail, we went up the Cabell Lodge road to this barn…and I asked Kangaroo if she wanted to open the door to see if there were any owls in there… πŸ˜€ But the doors were nailed shut. Rats!

An old barn.

Then we went to the other side of the barn and there was this sign. Oops! Oh well, I guess we didn’t really molest, damage, or steal anything!

We made our way back down the road towards the refuge office and store, and what do you think we saw, in real life? ELK!!

ELK!!

The elk were very far away across a field, but it was so neat to see them! We had never seen elk in real life on a hike, only once on the way to a hike when we were in the car. We walked up the road a little way and there was an actual viewing area with a sign, but by that time the elk had gone into the woods.

We saw some elk footprints — here is a photo of Kangaroo’s foot next to the elk prints.

Once we got back to the refuge office and store, we crossed the road again and instead of taking the Woodpecker Loop, we took the Mill Hill Loop. This sign has a nice map of the area.

The Mill Hill Loop was very muddy from all the recent rain and snow, and we walked slowly to avoid slipping in the mud!

The trail.

There were quite a few of these boardwalks over really wet parts.

Here is a nice pond, but we didn’t see any otters or beavers, more’s the pity!

We went back into the nature store before we left but didn’t make any purchases. I’m surprised I was able to resist all the fun things!

We saw a total of FIVE rainbows this trip!!

Rainbow from the refuge.
Rainbow from the car on our way to Monmouth for lunch.

When we were done with our hike we went to Monmouth as usual and had DQ for lunch. The young man taking our order had a pointy stud in each nostril with a chain across to connect them. I said it looked like it hurt. “Does it hurt?” I asked. He assured me it didn’t. I told him I was glad and went to get my drink.

Just keep walking!

Ninja

1940s, Animals, Do Not Want, History

“Progress”

I’ve lived in our town for 30 years, and for most of those years there was a 10-acre cow pasture with a historic home right in the middle of town. It was a joy to drive past and see the cows every day. A few years ago we went to the estate sale at the big yellow historic home, it was built on the foundation of a log cabin and the home itself looked like it hadn’t been updated since the 1940s. The kitchen cupboards were original, and the wallpaper peeling off the kitchen walls was definitely 1940s vintage! The lady who lived there used to be out tending her flowers when I would drive by, but finally she got too old to live by herself and had to go to a retirement home. The granddaughter told us that in the 1940s the lady and her husband had divorced, and he got the lower 10 acres while she got the upper. The lower 10 acres is a park.

We knew the family would probably sell the property, but I always hoped that the city would buy the property to add to the park down below. I think if the city had been smart they would have anticipated the eventual sale of the property and would have set some money aside, but then I don’t know how city budgets work. Our town has few remaining historic buildings and spaces, so I thought it would be great to keep the space as it was.

The old home was torn down and the cows relocated, and then the property sat empty for a couple of years. This winter they finally started building apartments on the property. Ugh. The last thing this city needs is more apartments, and I doubt they will be “affordable”. While I don’t begrudge the family their inheritance, I wish they could have gotten it another way.

“Progress”. Hmph. πŸ˜’

(They are going to put a cow statue in the roundabout next to the property to commemorate the history of the place. So that will be nice.)

I snapped these photos quickly as I was driving by. It’s a shame to lose all that green space. And the traffic certainly won’t improve!

Animals, Memories, Observations

Happy March!

Rabbit Rabbit!! It’s March!! Can you believe it? Time goes by so quickly these days! It seems like it was just yesterday Kangaroo and I were starting off on the Pacific Crest Trail, and it’s been almost a year. But it also seems like a long time ago. Funny how something can seem so recent but also so long ago, isn’t it? I hope you all have a wonderful month of March!!

Adventures, Animals, Antiquing, hiking

Hike – Miller Woods Conservation Area – Part 2

Here is part 2 of our hike to the Miller Woods Conservation Area near McMinnville, Oregon. Don’t forget to read Part 1 first!

After exploring the pond and field areas, we continued on to the forested areas. The trail was sticky mud in many places and I was glad I had on my waterproof boots!

Kangaroo getting a selfie of us while I get a photo of her, haha!

On the way to see a stream, we found this small plant with a protective fence around it — can you see the plant?

Very spindly shrub.

The plant had this label. Neither of us had heard of a Western Wahoo. Sounds like it should get to be rather a large shrub.

There were these nice benches scattered along the trail, and I thought those people knew how to build a trail right! Oh, how we wished for benches when we were hiking the PCT!

A lovely bench.

We reached this summit…

But this was the view…

In one area some trees had signs. We admitted we would have a difficult time telling the conifers apart without the labels!

Grand Fir

Douglas Fir

Another tree full of nesting boxes

This little guy was on the trail, quite aways up from the stream. We wondered how long it took him to climb all that way, and Kangaroo suggested he might be on a thru-hike πŸ˜ƒ

Newt friend. (Photo by Kangaroo – she always gets the best wildlife photos)

This is actually a data collection site for snow. Considering that we seldom have snow here, I thought it was a strange location for it.

After the hike we planed to go to the little town of Lafayette, a few miles away, and go to the antique mall there. We didn’t find anything at the antique mall we couldn’t live without, but there were some interesting items. One was a giant buffalo head that was positioned next to the entry door (I believe they were asking $2700 for it!). Because of the moisture in the air, the poor buffalo smelled like wet dog, ugh! There was also a wonderful secretary desk with supports that automatically came out when you opened the door of the desk. So neat! I didn’t get photos of either of those, unfortunately!

Before we went in to the antique mall we walked a couple of blocks down to get some lunch. We went into the little “Cafeyette” and noticed a sign that said they were serving soup, but no other signs of food except pastries and coffee. I asked the lady what they had for lunch and she said they had sandwiches, ham and turkey. She suggested that olives on the sandwich would be delicious, so I chose to have everything except onions on my sandwich, and Kangaroo chose everything as well and did add onions. As they were making the sandwiches, the lady asked if we would like jalapenos, but we both declined. I got an Italian soda to drink and Kangaroo got a berry smoothie, and we sat down to wait for our sandwiches.

BIG yummy sandwich

The lady brought our sandwiches, and they were BIG and very yummy! While we were eating we noticed a man come in and look around. He asked us if there was a menu, and I replied, no, but there are sandwiches. He went up and put his order in and left the building, and when he came back he had an armful of yardsticks. I was about to comment on his yardstick haul when he said that he was going to be using them for projects, and that the man he got them from had only wanted 50 cents each for them so he bought them all. I said they were nice yardsticks too, and he asked us if WE wanted yardsticks, and we said sure, we’d love one, and he gave us each one. It’s a very nice, strong yardstick from the Power and Telephone Supply Company.

A very nice yardstick.

On the way home we came through Dayton towards West Salem, and I suggested we take the Wheatland Ferry since it would give us a straight shot home instead of going around through West Salem. The Boy works in the McMinnville area and takes the ferry home to Keizer most days. I hadn’t ridden the Wheatland Ferry since The Boy’s first ferry ride when he was a tiny baby! It was a nice adventure to end our day 😊

On the ferry

Leaving the ferry

We enjoyed our hike and decided that we will go back to visit Miller Woods in the spring sometime when the birds and other critters will be out.

Just keep walking!

~Ninja

Animals, Health, Things I've Learned

Allergy

I went to the pulmonary doctor this week because my primary care doctor is concerned that my asthma isn’t well controlled. She prescribed the Trelegy inhaler, which has another medicine in it compared to my other inhaler. The Trelegy inhaler is just one puff once a day, which is better than the 2 puffs twice a day the other one required.

They asked what respiratory allergies I have, and I’ve always known cat dander is one of them, along with grass, trees, mold, etc. The doctor ordered a blood allergy test and the results are a bit surprising. The normal range for cat dander is <=0.34 kU/L. Guess where my results landed? 19.40. That means I’m a bazillion times over the normal range for allergy to cat dander. Next was birch tree, at 15.00 (normal range <=0.34). Alder tree, grass, and oak tree also play a big part in causing my allergy problems. I grew up in an oak savannah surrounded by fields of grass, and we had 20 cats (outdoor) at one point and I enjoyed spending time with them. I mean, I’ve known I was allergic to cats and grass since I was a little girl (funny nobody ever said anything about the trees) but no wonder I’ve always been a mess of allergies! The asthma came along when I was 7 years old, about a year after we moved out to the country full of all the allergens. When I was young there were no asthma inhalers, and no helpful allergy meds that didn’t cause me to sleep all day. If I had an asthma attack I just had to suffer through it, until I was 11 or 12 years old and they invented albuterol rescue inhalers. Then they invented Seldane allergy pills in the late ’80s or so, and those were awesome. They took it off the market for some reason, which is too bad.

We had an aspen tree out in the front yard here for many years until half of it fell down. It was sort of two trees growing out of the same spot and the other one was leaning toward the neighbor’s, so The Hubs cut it down a couple of years ago. Aspen and birch are in the same family so it’s good that that tree is gone now. We also live in what used to be a walnut orchard with some really big walnut trees, but I am only at 0.10 kU/L (normal range <=0.34) for walnut, thank goodness, and the same for maple tree. Our neighbor has a huge maple tree that is on our side of his yard and it drops pollen like crazy all over our cars during the pollen season.

Other surprises included that I didn’t show as much of an allergy to dust mites as I thought I would, and that most of the mold allergens didn’t show much of a reaction. Whatever A. Alternata mold is showed up the highest at 6.87 kU/L (standard range <=0.34). Our valley is a fairly humid environment so fungi/mold is to be expected, but thankfully God has blessed us with a dry house. I’m concerned there may be mold in my office ceiling because of the roof leak above, but I haven’t seen any mold so far.

I had my tonsils and adenoids out when I was 5 years old because of chronic ear infections. I don’t know if those were caused by allergies or not. I remember being in the hospital eating grape Popsicles, and a lady from church brought me a Fisher Price Little People circus set. They wanted me to let a little girl with a broken arm play with some of the pieces and I remember not wanting to share, ha!

A really annoying thing about having allergies (other than, you know, not being able to breathe and stuff) is that my eyes are constantly itchy so I want to rub them. This causes bags under my eyes. My nose and the face around it is also always itchy. I have in the past gotten hives (urticaria) which caused my lip to swell up in a very strange manner. It happened at work when I was in my early 20s, and I actually walked a mile in the snow to go to the allergy doctor (I walked to work so didn’t have my car with me, and wanted to make sure the doctor saw my swollen lip before it went away). The result of that appointment was that my hives had “no known cause”. Hmph.

So unfortunately my allergies will have to stay around for awhile, specifically the cat dander allergy. Philip isn’t going anywhere that we know of, and we love him so. He is especially a daddy’s boy and would be sad if he had to go to a new home, and I wouldn’t want to put him through that. <Ahchoo! Snif> excuse me — I might just have to find a way to keep him out of our bedroom though. And I should set the Roomba to vacuum more. I do take an allergy pill (Xyzal) and that keeps some of the allergies at bay.

Philip and his Daddy

Also, Happy Groundhog Day! I’m up too early to know if Punxsutawney Phil will see his shadow, but I hope spring is just around the corner!

Punxsutawney Phil – famous rodent meteorologist