Tumble Lake–June 2018

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I, Becky, just returned from an overnight backpacking trip to Tumble Lake, Oregon.  I had not been backpacking for many, many years, and was excited to get a chance to go with the church youth group.  My daughter, Patsy, and niece, Alissa, were going.  It was Patsy’s first backpacking trip, and Alissa’s second.  I really wanted to introduce Patsy to this sport, and am delighted that Alissa liked it well enough to go again after her first trip last summer.

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At our house, we packed, unpacked, repacked, and packed again.  Of course, this picture was not showing the final result–I added a sleeping mat and a tiny tent.  I was very concerned that our packs would not be too heavy, but we would have the supplies we needed. Mine came in around 30 lbs, and Patsy’s was lighter.  Alissa borrowed a small pack from someone, and it was lighter than 30 as well.  She will need a different pack if she continues to go backpacking.  That one had no extra straps on it to tie things onto, and was not adequate for the occasion.

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There were 14 teens and leaders on this trip.  We drove up into the mountains above Detroit Lake, to a trail that started from the side of the road.  The van and car were parked along the side of the road in a wide spot and we all shouldered our packs and were off.  It quickly became apparent that this was a rigorous hike.  In fact, it turned out to much harder for us than the U-Tube video I watched led me to believe. First, you climbed up a steep trail for about 1/4 mile, then took the spur trail to Tumble Lake.  By the time we reached the spur trail, it became apparent that it was much harder than Patsy had anticipated.  She and I let the quick, strong athletic football players go ahead, and we dropped back to come at our own pace.

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We admired the mist over the trees and the wild flowers.  We actually found a place where there was reception and I let her talk to her dad, who was very encouraging to her.  It was very, very steep and we crept our way down into the canyon as slowly as she wanted to creep.  The rest of the group reached the desired campsite and sent one of the men back to make sure we were ok, and to lead us to the camping spot.

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I set up my tiny tent. My niece put up her hammock.  Patsy chose to go into a tent 2 other girls had brought.  Then the kids fished, hiked around the lake, sat by the fire, and swam for the remainder of the day.  We also played charades for hours around the campfire.  The teens were so much fun to be with, and I got to know several I had not really know before.

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Fires were allowed, so the kids roasted marshmallows.

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Alissa swam across the lake and back.

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Patsy and another girl played with salamander for hours.

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There were hundreds.

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There were also hundreds, probably thousands, of little fish jumping in the lake.  The guys who were fishing caught fish, after fish, after fish.  They were small, so they put them all back, except one that was eaten.

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The moon was breathtaking as it rose above the rock formation on the other side of the lake.

The next day, I knew it would take us much longer to hike out than the others, after our experience on Friday, so we started off earlier than the rest.

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We went slowly, and admired the flowers and butterflies.

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It was so steep, but we scrambled up.  We would go a little, then rest, then go some more. There were a couple of times I was scrambling up on my hands and knees–but we made it!

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We had started out early enough that we had about an hour to wait for the others.  We waited at the place where the spur trail joins the main one, and had a snack.  We visited with several hikers who came along, and enjoyed hearing about their plans for the day.  After a while, our group came along, and we hiked the rest of the way out, and came home.  I am so happy we went.  It was hard, but there is a sense of satisfaction that comes with completing something that is hard.  I am hoping my daughter found that sense of satisfaction, but I’m not sure.  If she goes again, she needs better shoes.  We both need to train harder.  A trail that is not rated “difficult” would be a better choice for us.  I had so much fun, and I will definitely go again if I am offered the opportunity.

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Dutch Oven Gluten-Free Chicken Pot Pie Cooked With Coals

 

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We have spent the afternoon testing some recipes in our cast iron Dutch oven.  I wanted to try a chicken pot pie.  I made the base in the house, so I’d be ready to go when Rob got back from his errands.  It could easily be made at a campsite, over the fire or over a camp stove.  You could also make the filling at home, and take it camping with you in your cooler to make dinner more quickly.  It just depends on what you like to do while you are camping.

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I used:  2 carrots, chopped

2 pieces celery, diced

1 onion, chopped

2 cups leftover chicken or turkey, from my freezer.  Otherwise, cook 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon poultry seasoning

1/2 teaspoon pepper

3 cups chicken broth

3 Tablespoons sweet rice flour

Saute the celery, onion and carrots in a little canola oil.  Then add the chicken, salt, pepper and poultry seasoning.  Add 2 cups of the broth.  Reduce heat and simmer until the veggies are tender.  Mix the remaining cup of broth with the sweet rice flour, and slowly add to the mixture, stirring all the time.   Bring back to a boil.   It should thicken up.  At this point, taste it.  If it needs more salt, or spices, add them to taste.  If it has become too thick, add a little more broth, and if it is not thick enough, you can always mix up a little more broth and sweet rice flour and add it in.  This proportion worked for me today.

 

Topping:

I tried the recipe from gluten-free Bisquick.

Mix:  3/4 cup gluten-free Bisquick

1/2 cup milk

1 egg

2 Tablespoons melted butter

1 teaspoon dried parsley (they suggested fresh, but I had dried and it was fine)

Mix the milk and egg.  Mix the Bisquick and parsley.  Put the wet ingredients into the Bisquick and add the egg.  Stir.

Note:  You could use your favorite pot pie filling recipe, or your favorite biscuit recipe and I’m sure it would work fine.  I have to eat gluten-free, but most people don’t, so feel free to modify to suit your tastes.

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Rob put coals down on the cook table and placed the iron pot on top.  We added the pre-made filling, then dropped the topping on it by the spoon-full, and added the lid.

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He put hot coals on top of the lid.  He also added a few unlit ones, and they did begin to burn as some of the other ones got consumed.

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We cooked it for about 30 minutes.  We did open it up and check it a couple of times, which allows heat to escape, so I think it would have taken a little less cooking time if we had left it alone.

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The biscuits browned, and they were cooked perfectly.  They were not like dumplings at all, which is exactly what I was hoping for.  The lighting is causing the filling to look purple, but really, it was fine, and not that color.

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It was a delicious meal for a cold, wintry day.  Rob did enjoy looking at the snowy trees on his errand.  We got a little snow on Sunday, which was the first of the year, but his errands took him up in elevation a little bit, and it was lovely up there.

 

 

 

Feeding Ducks

 

IMG_5759It was a lovely fall day….part of the time.  The rest of the time, it was showering violently. We took our daughter Patsy, and nephew, Jake, out apple picking.  That’s not where we ended up.  The first time we tried to go, the heavens opened up and a torrential rainfall fell on us.  So, we went on an errand instead, and we hoped it would quit.

We had very little time before we had to pick up one of our older daughters, but wanted the kids to have some fun. We stopped at a pond to look at ducks and let Jake run around a bit.

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The kids were joyful to see that some kind soul had put peanuts along the railings and on the ground.  They had the best time cracking them open and throwing them to the ducks.  Last time, we took some old bread, but didn’t have any today, so they were delighted that there was something to feed them.  They decided to leave some for the squirrels and ducks to eat on their own.

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After getting back in the car, we drove back towards home, hoping to pick apples and needing to pick up another daughter.  The closer we got to the apple orchard, the darker the clouds got, and again, the rain came down heavily.  We took the hint, and didn’t go to the apple orchard.   I was so glad the weather had cooperated long enough for the kids to get out for a little while, run around, and enjoy feeding the ducks!  We will have to try apple picking another day.

 

Catching and Canning Crab on the Oregon Coast

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We had extremely good luck catching crabs in Newport, Oregon, when we were there celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary.  Over the weekend, we pulled in over 30 crabs that we could keep, and of course, many more we could not.  It was very fun and rewarding.

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We cooked the crabs, gave away a lot to friends and family, and I cracked out the remainder.

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Then, I canned it in little 1/2 pint jars, as it was more than we could eat.  I wrote about the exact process here.

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We had a wonderful time, and are feeling very blessed by the crab, but even more so by the 35 years to marriage together.

How to Buy an Albacore Tuna From the Docks, What to Do With It, and a Trip to Newport, Oregon.

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On Wednesday, we took our nephew, Jake, and our daughters Lovana, Ja’Ana and Patsy down to Newport, Oregon.

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Rob did some surf fishing for perch, but did not catch any.

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The big girls huddled in blankets because it started out foggy.

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The younger kids dug for hours, tried to dam up the little river, and otherwise enjoyed the beach the way kids should.

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We then visited the Mark Hatfield Marine Science Center.  It was awesome, as usual, and we loved the new exhibits.

After that, we went down to the docks.  We looked for signs advertising tuna.  We found a couple of places that had tuna, one for salmon, black cod, and a couple for crab (Dungeness).   We parked and walked down to one that had tuna.

We asked when the fish was caught, and it was very fresh (caught the day before).  He said it had been cooled very quickly after being caught, which is important.  It was $3.45/lb, and you needed to buy the entire fish.  For an additional $4, he would filet it out.    He was very busy, which was a good sign to us, and the people before us bought over $300 worth of tuna (4 big ones), and around $75 worth of crab (4 medium-sized ones).  We were able to see how nice the fish looked, and get our questions answered by watching.  (The other 2 times we have canned tuna, we had our son-in-law get it for us, and it came frozen)  There were people behind us waiting, but by that time, we knew what we wanted.

We asked for a good sized fish  (1), and he gave us a choice from his huge icy bin of tuna.  Ours was a little over 20 lbs. and he quickly cut it into 4 large pieces with no bones.  He gave me the belly fat, too, as I needed it for the best canned tuna.  He gave Rob the carcass, as Rob wants to do some crabbing soon, and will use it for bait.  We put the fish and carcass into a cooler with ice in it.  If you don’t go prepared, your fish will lose quality quickly, and maybe even rot before you get home.  If you buy it on a whim, you need to plan on purchasing an inexpensive cooler and some ice.  The young man had plastic bags for the fish pieces to ride home in.  We popped them right into the cooler, and then kept the fish well-iced all night as we returned home too late to process it that night.

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There was not much waste at all.  The young man was clearly an expert.  Later, at home, Rob cut it into pieces that would fit into the crab trap bait box and froze it.

The next day, I cut pieces that would fit into my 1/2 pint jars that I keep for this purpose.  They are shaped similar to a tuna can you would buy, but are canning jars.  I added a piece of belly fat to each jar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. I did do a couple of wide-mouthed pints, too. Then, I put lids and rings on, and carried them out to the pressure cooker on our outdoor porch.  I was able to get 3 layers, separated by racks, in my extra-tall cooker.  It’s designed for layering.  I can get 2 layers of pints in, but these jars are so short I can get more in.  I put about 2 quarts of water in the bottom, fastened the lid on, and brought it up to 11 lbs. of pressure.  It had to stay there for 100 minutes.  Yes, an hour and 40 minutes!

At our house, someone always watches the pressure cooker canner, and we both wanted the job.  Rob had been organizing and cleaning in his shop all day and I’d been canning, and we both had been watching Jake–taking turns.  We were tired.  Rob got the job this time, and I did some other things I needed to do.

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After they were finished, we let the canner sit for about an hour to let the pressure completely go down.  They came out beautifully, and all sealed.  What a rewarding process.

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In case you want to do the math, this kind of tuna is not cheaper than the kind from the store.  We got 2 pints and 22–1/2 pints.  So, it’s around $3/jar.  There is more tuna in there than you get from the little cans at the store and the quality is amazing!  It comes out in a large piece/ or pieces– if I filled in cracks on the sides with pieces once I dropped the large piece of loin in the jar, and is full of the Omega Fatty acids that are so desired, since I put that little piece of belly fat in each jar.  There is no comparison to the store-bought tuna at all.

I use this tuna for sandwich filling, patty melts and could make fish cakes if I wanted to.  I mix in my home-make sweet pickles or relish and some mayo and go from there.  That’s our favorite way to eat tuna.  Our oldest daughter got us started doing this a few years ago.  This is the 3rd time we’ve canned our own tuna, and we are very pleased with the results.  The people in front of us were going to freeze it– that’s what they always do.  The lady 2 people behind us only wanted a carcass.  She wanted to make soup and go crabbing.  I believe that young man gave it to her for free.

 

Silver Falls State Park

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This past week, we camped at Silver Falls State Park, near Silverton, Oregon.  It is a very large park, filled with miles and miles of hiking trails.  During the Great Depression, it was used as a site for out-of-work young men to do a huge work project.  So, there are many stone steps, some bridges, a lodge, and more.  Many of the buildings and trail improvements are from that time period and some have been added since.

One of the most interesting trails is the “Trail of 10 Falls.”  We hiked part of that trail one day, and another portion a different day.  A third time, we did another small portion.  We  ended up seeing 9 of the 10 waterfalls.  They were beautiful, as was the surrounding forest.

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On one of the days, my sister, friend and little Danait came up to enjoy the fun for a day.

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There was a nice swimming area we visited after our little hike.

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The second half of the week, Jake joined us.

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He was far more interested in lighting the marshmallows on fire, then waving them around to put out the fire he had created, then he was in eating them.  Fine with me.  It was well worth the dollar to see him having so much fun.  But, any boy who has so much energy should go on a hike, right?  So, Lovana, Patsy and I took him on one.  It was a little longer than I though it was.  After all, Rob dropped us at the lodge and was going to pick us up a the bottom of the trail, skipping much of the trail.  5 miles later……….

 

Everyone was still having fun!  I never would have taken him on such a long hike if I had been thinking clearly.  Lovana ended up carrying him a couple of times, but we all made it. It took us almost 3 hours.  We saw many waterfalls, and handed out Oreo cookies at the top of every big hill, of which there were many.  We ran out of Oreos, but continued on, eating peanuts by the handful.   Jake had a ball whacking the bushes with his stick, throwing rocks into the water, collecting sticks and pine cones, and all those things little boys like to do.  Lovana, Patsy and I loved the hike as well.  There were some places where long flights of stairs had been built from stone, which made the steep parts easier to navigate.  There were charming little bridges here and there, and of course, waterfalls galore.

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The trail even wound around behind a few of the falls.  We had a good time hiking.  That is the main activity at Silver Falls State Park.  Some of the trails were quite easy and short, such as the one to Upper North Falls.  Others were much longer and steeper.  There were several times when the switchbacks were quite strenuous for me, but were definitely manageable.  Lovana, powerhouse that she is, marched right up them, even jogging up the stairs at times.  For our long hike, having Rob drop us at the lodge, and traveling down the canyon was a little easier than doing it the other way around, I think.  There was still quite a bit of climbing, as the trail led down into the canyon, and back out again, and went up hills and down hills several times.  I’m hoping we can go there again. I hadn’t hiked there for many years, and I had good memories of the beauty found in the area.  I was not disappointed!

Ft. Stevens State Park-2017

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Ft. Stevens State Park is up at the tip of Oregon, by the ocean.  We love to camp there because there’s so much to do in the surrounding area.  The park has a lake, Coffinbury Lake, where we like to fish.  Even on a “bad” fishing trip, we usually catch something.   On this trip, we went fishing 3-4 times, and caught a total of 5 trout.

For the first 1/2 of our stay, Rob and I only had 1 child with us, Patsy.  That is such a difference from our “norm” that I did nothing but sleep and fish for the first day!  During the second half of our stay, our nephew, Jake joined us, giving us a little more excitement:)  By then, we were rested up, and enjoyed doing things with both kids.

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Rob helped Jake catch a little bass, but we did not keep it.

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One day, we went crabbing off a bridge in nearby Seaside.  We got 2 keepers!  A kind man who was cleaning his freezer drove by the bridge where we were crabbing and offered us some old clams and some clam guts.  We gratefully accepted and that’s what we got the 2 keepers on.  We pulled up lots of females and too-small crabs on our usual chicken, but there were so many traps in the water that the larger, male crabs must have been in the mood for a change.

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We were disappointed because we were not able to catch razor clams this year.  Last summer, we had so much fun and got a lot.  We brought all of our equipment, but were informed that razor clamming was closed due to some kind of toxicity in the clams.   Sad as we were, we did not want to take any chances eating unsafe clams, so we did not follow any (bad) advice we were given by several older men to “just do it anyway” because they ate them and were still alive.  No thank you.  It may open again in October, we will see.

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Instead, we visited nearby Battery Russell, and the Ft. Stevens military museum and the site where the actual fort had been.  Most of the information dealt with defending the coastline during World War II.  Jake especially loved the guns, tanks and other military items.  It was his first time there.

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We saw deer, squirrels, birds of all sorts, and elk!  Several elk were meandering through the nearby town of Hammond one day while we were driving through.  I’m glad I don’t have to contend with those coming near my garden!!

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Of course, no beach trip is complete without digging in the sand, for the kids, at least!

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We went down by the wreck of the Peter Iredale, which is the carcass of a ship that’s been down on the beach near our campsite for as long as I can remember.

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We went to the mouth of the Columbia River and the kids fed the seagulls the old pancakes that were leftover from breakfast.  We got to see several boats, some of which were going out (maybe fishing) and some coming in (probably bringing in cargo).

We drove over the 4-mile bridge that separates the state of Oregon from the state of Washington.  We always enjoy doing that and the kids love it, too!  Between all of those activities, the kids built Legos, watched movies, and read books.  They listened to stories on c.d. from the library while we drove.

On Friday morning, we packed up early and headed back home.  It was a fun, busy, educational week, packed with lots of outdoor activities.  It was especially satisfying because we had wanted to give Jake experiences he did not usually engage in, and boy, did we succeed.  He wants to go camping some more, and that’s just how we wanted it to turn out!