Monday, July 21, 2014

Our First Visitors!

Back in the day when gluten was not an allergy and J and I lived in one place for more than 6 months, we would get tons of visitors wherever we were living. People would plan their vacations around us. From July through August, there were few days we were without visitors.

But now, we live in the middle of nowhere. Flying to us cost as much as flying to Jamaica, London or Alaska.

Even still, we have a few brave souls coming to Eastern Oregon this summer. Our first set came last week. They were some cronies from New Hampshire, part of J's volunteer parks and rec committee when he worked there in 2007-2011.

We showed them around as time allowed. But mostly they soaked up the views here at RR, since we do have one of the most beautiful backyards we've ever had! It was really nice to have familiar faces around. Plus, they are natural volunteers. So they helped us out A LOT! I had the ladies chopping for pizza night and they watered our flowers (a task we all loathe) everyday!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Scenes from our life

I've been taking lots and lots of pictures of our time here, but few are shared. Until now. 

First, I thought I'd share the wild in our life:

We have not seen an alive bear. But, a few weeks ago, a motorcyclist hit a bear 1/4 mile away from us. Fortunately, the motorcyclist walked away without a scratch. The bear didn't fare so well. And now J can add to his resume cleaning up a dead bear. 
Knowing there was bear activity in the area, RR's owners felt better putting out a bear trap. We weren't so keen on that, but thankfully, no other bear showed up.

Instead, this guy showed up … 
That's right, a bobcat right on our property and under our stage. J just about pooped his pants when it walked by him … 

Now onto some more tame sightings. We have some A-MAZING hummingbirds here. I've always wanted to hummingbird feeder and now I know why. I haven't been able to capture the greatest pictures, plus, it just doesn't do it justice without their "chatter" from their flapping wings. 

Speaking of the sounds of birds, we have a few night hawks that come just about at dusk. They make this growling noise as they nose dive into the canyon and for awhile, our chef was convinced it was the bear! No video on that yet …

And now we move onto random pictures …

I am happy to report, I stopped being so OCD with our hand towels. 

Our hammock is a good place to grab 10 minutes of solitude and rest.

My garden hath groweth since I planted in May. 

Sometimes home is where you park it. This is our RV home for the season. Notice our "gear room."

A reminder that we are in the middle of nowhere. 

We hosted successfully hosted our first wedding here at RR Independence Day weekend. 


And since we are on the topic of pictures, anyone on Instagram? I am (patricejustin). Send me your "handle." 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Backpacking Oregon: Eagle Cap Wilderness

I am not going on a blog hiatus. I promise. Between hosting a wedding at RR and major satellite Internet problemas, I am just going with the plain old excuse of being busy. But I'm back with the latest edition of what we've been up to. Get excited now.

Last week (which feels like forever ago), we were able to sneak away from RR for a FULL 24 hours!! So of course we snuck into the woods to breathe in that delicious mountain air and soak up some UV rays.
The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest covers a huge chunk of this corner of the state (2.4 million acres!). Up until now, we've only explored the lesser known trails within the Wallowas. If anyone from the surrounding big cities are going backpacking in the Wallowas, they are flocking to the Eagle Cap Wilderness section (350,000+ acres of the WWNF), and more specifically, the scenic Lakes Basin. The Eagle Cap Wilderness is aptly nicknamed "Little Switzerland" and "The Alps of Oregon," depending on how Google feels.
Now, we have been salivating after the Eagle Caps since the day we arrived. Everyone told us they would be snowed in until late July. But, getting enough time away from RR to hit the Eagle Caps is difficult. So when we saw an open window to squeeze in an overnighter, we immediately decided we needed to use that window to hit the Lakes Basin before the crowds start pouring in.

Our intentions were a 20-mile loop to Mirror Lake. When we hit the 2-mile mark and saw the snow pack, we knew our plans could change.

We trudged, I repeat trudged, through the snow. It was a lot of freakin work. Important point to make: we were following the Lostine River, which with all the snowmelt, is raging. In places, the snow is covering every bit of land. Where is the river?? Oh, just anywhere you might be stepping. Postholing is not my favorite thing to do, especially when there is frigid water to be found underneath. 

As we've learned, plans in the backcountry change as the wind blows. So we made it as far as the snow would let us in the U-shaped glacial valley among the granite peaks and ridges, just shy of 2 miles from Mirror Lake.

We might have been early enough to beat the crowds, but a little too early for the trails to be cleared, the lakes to be unfrozen and the wildflowers to be in bloom. I'm bummed I didn't get to see any of the lakes in the Eagle Caps yet, but it is not like the other views disappointed. We set up camp ensuring a perfect view of the 9,572-foot Eagle Cap summit.

Being an avid backpacker, I feel like there should come a point in my backpacking career where I just shrug off an area with such hype. I get there and think, "eh, overrated." The esteemed Eagle Cap Wilderness was not that area and we can't wait to go back.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Kayaking Oregon: Wallowa Lake

On Monday, we squeezed away from RR for a half day and took out 'yaks out for a spin around Wallowa Lake. It ended up being about 7 miles of paddling in 3 hours or so.

Wallowa Lake is literally where a major road ends. Sitting at just over 4,300 feet, the lake was created by 8-9 glaciers (no longer there) and is damned by high moraines and 9000-foot snow-capped peaks of the Wallowa Mountains.

And actually, last week, we traveled up Wallowa Lake's Tramway to the top of 8,255-ft Mt. Howard, where you get an incredible view of Wallowa Lake. J & I had been wanting to travel up the aerial cable car (steepest tram in North America), but didn't want to pay the $28/person. So when RR's owners asked us to attend a promotional event hosted by the local chamber of commerce, which included the tramway ride up and dinner, we jumped on that opportunity!! DEAL!!!!!!!

We hope to find more time to explore the Wallowas, which are one the seven wonders of Oregon!!