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!

Outdoor Fun–Week of June 10, 2017

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We’ve spent quite a bit of time observing nature this week.  The older girls I homeschool are in the middle of a project for Biology.  They are observing plants, birds, trees, animals—whatever they can find and making a notebook for their end-of-the year project.

The younger crew found this dead dragonfly on the deck and enjoyed it for quite a while.

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Many birds have been seen.  The crazy woodpecker gave entertainment, along with ducks, geese, blue jays, robins, Rufus-sided Towhees, crows, and many more.

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The flowers are blooming like crazy and the garden is growing like mad!

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It’s a great time to be outdoors!  I go out as often as I can, even if I have to dodge raindrops!  Trust me, there’s plenty to do!!  That weed is purslane, and I continue hoeing it out–the purslane in the picture is gone now, thank goodness–I have been hoeing.  The garden is sure loaded with it.  I no sooner get it out then a new batch comes up.

Detroit Lake State Park-Memorial Day 2017

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We went camping at Detroit Lake for Memorial Day weekend.  We stayed 3 nights, and were blessed with exceptionally nice weather.  It was especially welcome since we have had such a rainy, wet spring.

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The wild rhododendrons were in bloom.

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There were a couple of unusual strains of Scotch Broom–usually it’s just yellow.

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There were many ducks and geese, but not as many as we have seen in years past.

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Even this chipmunk was cooperative when I wanted to take a picture!

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Some geese had babies.

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Patsy and I had a great hike one day, circling the campground.  One side runs along the road, but they’ve done a great job of making you feel like you are more secluded than you are.  The other side runs along the lake, and that is always a treat.  We talked to people who were fishing, and some caught fish, but we did not this time.

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We did enjoy some quiet time next to the lake, though, in the early morning on Saturday.  It’s rare for Rob and I to get any time alone, so that was one of my favorite times of the entire trip.  I also enjoyed time spent with family members who came up to visit us later that morning, and enjoy the lake as well for the day.  Rob cooked chicken over the fire, which is a favorite of everyone.  People pitched in and brought some things, so we sat and happily munched on chips, veggies, and melon.  One evening, we roasted hot dogs and marshmallows over the fire.  On Sunday afternoon, I got a big nap.  All in all, the trip was just what we needed–some time to get away from the hustle and bustle that our life is, and just enjoy some time out in God’s beautiful creation.

 

 

Tulip Fields

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Yesterday, we visited the Wooden Shoe Tulip Fields near Woodburn, Oregon, USA.  The flowers were in full bloom, and the sun came out for just long enough for us to enjoy our outing.

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You can see the mud puddles, but there was a path made of hazelnut shells that we followed to reach the tulips, so even Ja’Ana’s white tennis shoes came out unscathed.  (Of course, when she was a toddler, she could go outside and play in the dirt in a white dress and come back clean–how does she do it???)

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They loved going on a field trip instead of doing book work for part of their homeschool day.  Two cousins, forging memories in a field of flowers.  It doesn’t get much better than that!

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4-H Outdoor Cooking Workshop–Beef Stew in a Dutch Oven

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We were able to teach 2 4-H workshops about outdoor cooking.  It was great!

We got there early to set up and get the fire and coals going.  We chose to use liners for the Dutch Ovens, to help us clean up.  Rob ordered them from Amazon, but feels he could have probably purchased them at some place like Cabelo’s.  We just were not going near any of those kinds of stores.  The event was held 1 hour from our house, and we needed to take every single thing we needed except water.  So, we spent the week making sure we had what we needed, and loaded it up into the van, a little each evening.

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Rob got a good fire going in the portable fire pit and we spent the next 2 hours making sure it did not get too big, or go out.  He also got the charcoal going on his Dutch oven table, in the metal charcoal starters he uses.  We had to be very careful to keep everything contained, and very safe.

The kids came, and the first thing we had them do was listen to Rob tell them how to be safe with fires and how to build them. Then, they rolled 10 cotton balls in 2 spoonfuls of petroleum jelly (squished in a baggie) for fire starters, and we also gave them some fire starters in a box.  They put that all in their big Ziplock, with instructions about fire building and recipes they could try at home.  We figured they could provide their own matches:)

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We had 10 in one session, and 11 in the other.  We gave everyone a job on the stew we were making.  Some browned the meat, someone else opened the can of tomatoes, a couple cut the carrots, and everyone who ran out of jobs peeled potatoes.  I had a simple recipe for them to follow, but we let them put in more potatoes.  For some of them, it was their first time peeling potatoes.  For others, they obviously had had practice before.

1-2 cups beef (either raw and browned, or cooked, leftover)

2 cups beef broth (either homemade, or 1 14-oz can)

2 cups baby carrots

1 onion, chopped

4 potatoes (they used more)

1-14 oz can tomatoes

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon thyme

Brown the meat if it is raw, in a little bit of oil.  Put the ingredients in the pot.  Put coals under the pot and on top of the pot once the lid is put on.  We were not careful to count them.  Cook for about 30-45 minutes, stirring a couple of times.

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It came out great.  I made one batch at home, which we warmed up for class #1 to eat.  Class #1 made the stew again, and it was cooked for class #2 to eat.  Class #2 made a batch and we took it home, uncooked, because by that time, we wanted the coals and fire to die out so we could transport our equipment safely.  While they ate their stew, Rob told them how to properly take care of cast iron properly.

After they enjoyed their stew, we roasted Peeps in honor of Easter, and then moved on to regular marshmallows.  They loved that part, of course!  Rob made sure they knew that the sugar on the Peeps would get super hot, so they needed to be careful to not burn themselves.  They did great.  These were supposed to be 4th-6th graders, but we could tell that a few younger ones had slipped in, so we wanted to be extra careful with them.

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It was an awesome day.  The sun came out, which made it even better, and the kids were receptive, polite, and eager.  Our daughters, Ja’Ana and Patsy helped, as did our niece, Alissa.  Part of the idea was for the older 4H members to help with the younger ones, and that’s what they did. At the end of the day, we felt like the kids had learned something, and had a great time doing it.  We heard many nice compliments, and one little girl said the stew was her favorite, which surprised me!  It was good, I’ll have to admit!

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A Strange Place for a Nest

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Today, when we took our daughter and niece to their Driver’s Ed class, we were amazed to see a mama goose had decided to make a nest right outside the office buildings where the class was held.  Nestled into the dirt of the flowerbed, this goose has decided that she is hidden enough behind the tiny, green bush.

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Daddy goose wandered the parking lot.  He wandered around the Driver’s Ed cars, the downed branches and trees from the recent wind storm, and away from my daughter and nephew, who were trying to get a closer look.  We were a bit early, but soon 20-30 teens arrived and filed past near the nest.  Mama goose put her neck out and looked a bit nervous, but stayed put.

We talked to a man who was waiting for his teen’s class to start, and he said the mama goose had stood up and there were eggs under her.

I can’t wait to see if she’s still there next Sunday afternoon.  Now, that’s determination!  Let’s hope we can show the same tenacity while teaching our daughter to drive:)

Crabbing on a Pole at the Oregon Coast

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Too bad it is a female!  Rob and Patsy spent some time trying to catch both fish and crab off the jetty at Newport, Oregon.  They have tried twice in the past few days, but so far, no keepers.  Here’s hoping……

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Everything that was caught went back into the bay.

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There was lots to look at, though, as there always is at the beach.  We were marveling at the size of the rocks the jetty was built with.  The kids wanted to know where they came from and how in the world anyone moved them here to build the jetty.  We don’t know.  Maybe the mountains.  Maybe a big truck.   All we know is that they are huge!

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The waves were really crashing.  It was beautiful.

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In the midst of it all, the wild strawberries are bravely blooming.

We had fish from the grocery store for dinner last night.  Some fishing and crabbing trips are like that.  We didn’t catch anything edible, but instead, added many more fun memories to those we already made.  This summer is not going to be the same as last year’s “Summer of Adventure,” but I have a feeling that although it’s not summer yet, new adventures are already beginning.