Archives for the month of: October, 2014

Here’s a Halloween treat for you.  I was driving on a rural Oklahoma road today and turned around on a dead end where there were three or four trailers that looked a little shady.  I don’t want to be judgmental here, but they could be people who are just down on their luck, meth dealers, independent souls, or whatever you can imagine.  While turning around, the last trailer had a large dog chained in the yard, jumping towards us, although not barking.  Just watching us.  As we went by the trailer, something caught my eye and I jerked my camera up to catch it, not even knowing if it was real or not.

Here’s what I saw.  DSC_0019I hope you can see the pink bow and the red nail polish on the fanciest living thing in the neighborhood.

Let me know what you think the story is…

Happy Halloween!


Highway 51 between Tulsa and Stillwater was the route I took in college, driving it so many times that I knew the landscape by curve in the very curvy road.  They’ve straightened it out, as it was way too dangerous for a road that was driven by college kids in all states of a hurry.  They’ve added a turnpike which lets you out on the other side of town and is a nice drive, the one that I usually take.  Sometimes, I take the old route, just for the heck of it.

This week, I had seen a bit of an old movie, “The Doolins of Oklahoma,” made in 1949 and starring Randolph Scott as Bill Doolin.  The real Bill Doolin didn’t look like Randolph Scott, being a rough looking little guy.  The only photo I’ve seen of him shows him dead with about twenty gunshots in his chest.  Lovely.  He was also not any kind of a hero, having formed his own gang, The Wild Bunch, the same one of legend status.  And those guys spent a lot of time in Oklahoma, along with the Dalton gang and others.  We were the wild west, after all.

Just outside of Stillwater, right off Highway 51, it turns out that the town of Ingalls was the site of one of a big gunfight, the Battle of Ingalls.  You can look up the details, but it seemed like I needed to see what was there, knowing it wasn’t much.  It was just about 2 minutes off the road, a road I’d driven so many times over the past 50 years.

I turned onto Ingalls Road and headed for the one intersection that is left, passing Dalton Lane, a scattering of houses.  Nothing much to speak of out here.  Ingall was a land rush town, one that never really took off.  At the time of the infamous battle, the population was 150.  All that’s left now are a school, a fire station, a few houses, many with cars in the yard, and a bit of history.

Here’s what’s left of the main drag from the late 1800s.  When you turn the corner, there is a little general store.  IMG_5303

Two dogs ran to greet me from the new house behind and waited to see what I was doing, licking my feet as I snapped pictures.  Surely they’ve seen other visitors, although the residents haven’t done anything to make this into a tourist stop.  Nothing at all.  Beside the drive was the rest of the street, left as it was…the Ingalls Hotel with hitching post out front, livery barn and saloon.  That’s all that’s left.  IMG_5304The hotel is big for this little town.  I guess it was full of desperados, hanging out.  Who else would be coming here?  IMG_5305The livery barn next door has only the front left, but you can see how far back the hotel goes.  Not very plush, even in its heyday, I bet.  IMG_5309IMG_5306Then, there’s the saloon.  You can paint your own images of this place when it was alive.  IMG_5307Not very big.  But then, I’ve seen lots of old saloons and they aren’t anything compared to the Hollywood images we grew up with.  Here’s the guys hanging out at another Ingalls saloon, back in the day.    UnknownOf course a town like this had to have more than one saloon.  It was a pretty day, so I drove past the R & M Saloon, where the road turned to dirt and turned around at the sign that said Private Property, Do Not Enter!  That was tempting.  Going the other way up the street, I spotted what looked like a monument, and drove towards it.  There was a fire station on one side of the street with a sign in front of it and a house on the other corner with a monument.  Otherwise the town had a few houses and trailers scattered.  Here’s the monument.  IMG_5314IMG_5315And the sign that tells the story from the citizens of Ingalls point of view.  IMG_5316I bet the people in Ingalls appreciated gangs.  Nothing else would ever happen there.  Leaving town, I looked back at the hotel, rusting in the sun with the little general store by its side.  IMG_5317Nothing else is likely to ever happen in Ingalls.  Ever.  I drove past Dalton Lane on the way back to Highway 51, then turned and passed Doolin Road on the way out.  They named streets after the outlaws, not the lawmen.  Isn’t that interesting?

I wonder what other bits of history I’m driving by every day.  It’s fun to discover them, more fun than learning the dates back in some dull history classes I sat through.  No wonder I’m all for historic preservation.  We all need to listen to the stories these buildings can leak to our imaginations.  Treasures all around us…if we look.  IMG_5311 - Version 2

My husband was a man, a big kid actually, who loved Halloween and everything about it.  Every fall, we drove out into the country, when it didn’t take so long to find the bare countryside, to look for the perfect pumpkins.  Everybody had to have their own, with his being the biggest one.  This was one of those holidays when I was along for the ride because I wasn’t good at making costumes and he was in charge of the carving and I just made popcorn balls and caramel apples and handed out the treats on the big night while he walked the streets with the kids and other fathers in the neighborhood.

We didn’t take as many photos in those days of film and flashbulbs, but I treasure the ones I have, especially now that my husband and son are both gone.  I’m pretty sure they have pumpkins in heaven however.  No doubt in my mind that they are getting ready for the big night in whatever afterlife they inhabit.  Scan 19Scan 16By the time our grandchildren were born, the pumpkin patch had expanded with animals and rides and photo ops galore.  Taking the grandkids to the patch was a way to keep my own kids’ memories alive and well.  So there are lots of pictures of these kids, now in high school, getting their pumpkins, just as their parents did.   Scan 19 86777-PH-5Oct2001-012 86777-PH-5Oct2001-017 Zac

86777-PH-9Oct2002-002And their parents take pictures that are part of the family tradition, the things that remind us of the best of times and hold us together in all times.   All my grandchildren are in middle school or high school now, except for the youngest, my son’s daughter.  He went to the patch with his nephews and niece when he was in college…Scan 19And took his own daughter for her first visit, his last before he died.  IMG_1476She gets to go back now, following family traditions, making her own.  DSC_0051They say that all we can really give our children are memories, and these are some of the best.  These days I look at my family and go back to look at the years that have done by way too quickly and I’m strengthened by the continuity of the traditions and the love I see in the photos.  The Pumpkin Patch is important in our family, but so are other traditions.  We can all make our own…and should.  IMG_5221

It was hard to leave the central coast of Oregon but time to come back.  I never tire of watching the waves crash around me, so we went up the coast to get back to Portland this time.  One more look at crashing waves, please.DSC_0441 DSC_0418We drove up the coast, leaving Highway 101 to hit the coast drive to Cape Kiwanda…DSC_1330 and Cape Lookout, both with their views and beach warning signs.  Believe me, I wasn’t planning on going off any cliffs.DSC_1337The final Cape was Cape Meares, which was the most delightful of all.   Besides the views…DSC_1344there was the Octopus Tree, a 300 year old Sitka Spruce tree that fits into my memorable trees collection.DSC_1350And the shortest lighthouse, at 38 feet, on the coast.DSC_1363My tour was interesting, giving me insight into the life and work of the lighthouse men of our past.  Not an easy job.  This one had the original glass for the clear sections, beautiful in the sunshine.DSC_1374 DSC_1375We headed back to Highway 101, stopping in Tillamook, where barn quilts decorate buildings all over town.  I wasn’t familiar with this until this summer, so now I’m looking for them when I travel.  Here are a few I saw.DSC_1381 DSC_1382 DSC_1385I can’t go to Oregon without getting Tillamook Ice Cream, the creamiest ever.  Besides they have wonderful flavors like Marionberry Pie and Huckleberry.  Tillamook Cheese is a destination, a farmers’ co-op where you can watch the cheese being made, shop and eat, tasting all the flavors of ice cream, milk and cheese.  I can get the cheese at home, but not the ice cream!  I always have to stop, joining the crowds who share my passion.DSC_1389Our next stop was at one of the amazing beaches in the world, Cannon Beach, home of Haystack Rock.  On this particular day, it was sunny and warm.  People were sunbathing in Oregon in October.  I had to stop at both ends of the beach for the beautiful views of the rock.  Here’s looking from the south to north.  DSC_1390And north to south with the rock shining in the late afternoon sun.  You can’t imagine how big this thing is.  And how big the beach is.  Incredibly beautiful.  And fun.DSC_1399I got a clear shot of Tillamook Lighthouse, perched on its lonely, dangerous rock, from the beach, looking north.DSC_1402Although I could have dawdled all day on the beach, we were trying to reach Astoria by dark, so we headed north.  It was late in the day, but we were able to go to the top of the hill where the Astoria Column, concrete carved with the history of the region, sits.  I was too tired to climb the 168 steps to the top, but the views from below were incredible and the column is an incredible piece of art.DSC_1416Looking towards Astoria, you see the bridge that takes you from Oregon to Washington, and you feel chills thinking of the Lewis & Clark expedition charting these waters.  Looking to the view, where the mighty Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean is breathtaking in its importance.  DSC_1410On the other side of the hill, the Youngs River and the Lewis & Clark River enter Youngs Bay before joining the Columbia.  DSC_1428The charming city of Astoria is the oldest settlement in America west of the Rockies.  I’ll return for more.  I did love the trash cans in Astoria, symbolic of one of the major industries of the area.DSC_1435We headed east to Portland, leaving the coast behind us.  The next day, we went into Portland for the underground tour, which was very little underground, but a lot of colorful history of the wild and wooly days of early Portland.  Very fun.DSC_1440I’ve been to Portland various times in the past five years, enjoying the diversity and casualness of this beautiful city.  We had a wonderful tea and late lunch in one of the few Chinese restaurants left in Chinatown.  DSC_1441DSC_1448I really wanted the Hung Farlow to still be open, but they are saving the sign.  DSC_1443Portland has the signs saying “Keep Portland Weird,” just as Austin has signs that beg us to “Keep Austin Weird.”  I’m thinking “weird” is just a word for being open to everything.  There were more homeless than I remembered from my last visit, but just as many colorful people, trying to be as weird as possible or to fit in however they can.  It’s part of the charm really.   We finished our tour and joined local friends for a fun Thai dinner, watching the sport of Sepak Takraw, a combination of hackey sack and volleyball, on the television.  DSC_1462We’d passed the famous Voodoo doughnut place on our tour, but stopped at the second location on the other side of the river to stock up on the notorious doughnuts.  We HAD to have this Portland experience and included one Voodoo man doughnut in our box for fun.DSC_1458 DSC_1480The next day, our final day in Oregon, we traveled to Timberline Lodge on Mt Hood.  It was a beautiful day, warm even at 6,000 feet, and the views were spectacular.DSC_1485DSC_1492Timberline is an old WPA lodge and everything inside is hand made from local materials, including the furniture, drapes, hand wrought iron, carvings.  The building, used in the opening shots of “The Shining,” is a tribute to the craftsmen and women who worked in the program, not only grateful for jobs during the depression but showing deep pride in their creations.  It was a total delight.  The six-sided fireplace, made of local rocks, runs up through the three stories of the main lobby, with three fireplaces on two levels.DSC_1514I loved the scenes carved in linoleum on the walls of a meeting room.DSC_1504The views of Mt Jefferson and Mt St Helens in the distance were lovely.DSC_1527And the mists over the hills gave us the layers of blue against the clear sky.  DSC_1532The top of Mt Hood was rocky, but they continue to manicure the dusty snow for the skiers we passed coming and going up the mountain.DSC_1519Our Oregon trip ended with meals with friends before we headed back to Oklahoma the next day.  This Okie left with more lovely Oregon memories to fill my senses.  Okie in Oregon.  That’s me.

Traveling coastal Oregon along Highway 101, there are signs that we just don’t see in Oklahoma.  We have tornadoes, earthquakes, and thunderstorms, but we don’t have tsunamis.  Everywhere you go, there are warnings and I find myself trying to figure out how I’m going to get high enough to escape the giant waves.  In Oregon, the forests reach the coast, often on high cliffs.  You’d have to scramble to get up, up, up!

DSC_0471 DSC_1340 DSC_1317 DSC_0942 DSC_0539DSC_0780The “run like hell” sign is a joke, but that’s basically what you do.  Not to be messed with.  But most of the highway is delightful and scenic with beaches and trails around every turn, different each time you visit.

DSC_0461 DSC_1404I love the beauty of Florida beaches with their smooth white sands, unique shells, gorgeous sunsets, and warm sun, but there is a dangerous element with the Oregon beaches that brings ever-changing surprises.  You never know what the beach will hold.  This year, we had the mildest, most perfect weather imaginable with only a few hours of drizzle preceded and followed by warm sun and calm seas.  You still enter every beach by passing by the instructions and warnings for visiting.  DSC_0829 DSC_0384DSC_0940And then, you’re at the ocean on small beaches, long beaches, wide beaches.  Surfers, beachcombers, sunbathers, picnickers, dogs and children.  Perfect beaches.DSC_0908 DSC_1262 DSC_1266 DSC_1286 DSC_0837 DSC_0852 DSC_0483Coming from Oklahoma, I eat all the fresh seafood I can get.  I haven’t had a bad meal on the coast yet.  Here are some of my favorite places that we add to our list every time.  There’s Mo’s with locations up and down the coast, but we like the one at Otter Creek.  Mo’s is famous for their clam chowder, but a friend had a wonderful Oregon shrimp sandwich.DSC_0467Gracie’s Sea Hag in Depoe Bay is right on Highway 101 and our favorite place on a Saturday night, eating in the bar, when there is entertainment, dancing, and bartenders playing tunes on the liquor bottles.  It’s a perfect seaside vibe, right across the street from the sea wall.DSC_0523 DSC_0490We have several favorites in Newport, although I’m sure there are many more.  Lunch at Port Dock One is a must because your dining companions are sea lions, at least in the fall, when the males come up from California and you can be seated right beside them.  They are constantly entertaining, but then I don’t have to listen to them all day.  The food is good, too!IMG_5168DSC_1299I love Gino’s, with the owners from a fishing family.  The popcorn shrimp is delicious and the soups scrumptious.  It’s on the bay front without a water view, but they make up for it with their masses of colorful buoys.  DSC_0815It’s clean, fun, good.  Love Gino’s.DSC_0816 DSC_0824And you HAVE to stop on Highway 101, south of the Newport bridge for crab.  It’s a fish market, restaurant, convenience store combo.  Yum.DSC_1150 IMG_5213 IMG_5212For the nicest dinner possible, go to Depoe Bay and visit Tidal Raves, again on Highway 101.  You must have a reservation as there are few tables, but an outstanding view and incredible food.  I love the Seahawk bread, which could be a meal in itself, and the Rock Fish.  Oh my.   IMG_5210IMG_5188
If it’s raining or you’re just in Lincoln City, sit near the fireplace at Pier 101 for more seafood!  Can you ever get enough when you’re on the coast?  I had the Cedar Plank Salmon, which was crusted with a maple bourbon sauce.  Need I say more?DSC_1329
Enough with the food.  I’m ready to fly back now, although I have to admit that I went for a hamburger as soon as I got home to beef country.  Oregon is known for its greens, forests of pine trees carpeted with masses of ferns and decorated with moss and lichens.  The coast gives you the contrast of the blues of the ocean with the colorful nautical elements.  Besides the buoys, there are the crab  cages stacked by the fishing boats and the containers ready for the ships in port in Newport.DSC_1306
The famous bridges designed by Conde B. McCullough are elegant in their Art Deco beauty.  I discovered the one in Florence on this trip, but they are everywhere in the state, including Newport.  Here’s the one in Florence.DSC_0966
North of Florence is Cape Perpetua with cliffs, forests and extraordinary views.  The park encompasses the mountain and the coast for a sample of the natural wonders of the state.  With the Heceta Head lighthouse at the south endDSC_0990DSC_0996The view from the point is endless, especially from the World War II lookout where you can stare out to the open seas.DSC_1020DSC_1016Back along Highway 101, you can see the raging wonders of The Devil’s Churn, where the waters froth like fresh cream…DSC_1048 DSC_1058…The Spouting Horn spurts up as the waves rush in…DSC_1108…and the pounding waves sink into Thor’s Well in an ever fascinating rush of water.DSC_1128

Our glorious days on the Oregon coast ended with a different sunset every evening…DSC_0532 DSC_1157

…and our final night in Depoe Bay found us watching half a dozen whales spouting and leaping in the orange waves.  The perfect ending to our days on the Oregon coast.

DSC_1323Watch my blog for our final days of this trip.

This Okie girl likes to travel just about anywhere, near or far from home.  On my third fall vacation on the Oregon coast, I found my favorite places, discovered new ones, and brought home all the photos and memories I could jam into 12 days.

My friends and I fly into Portland to spend the night before heading for the coast.  Our traditional beginning is to stop at the fruit and vegetable stand and stock up for the week.  It’s not that we don’t have good fresh items at home, but it’s fun to see the bounty of Oregon.IMG_5741 IMG_5743The fruits and vegetables delight, as do the dahlias.  We see fields of them blooming, ready for picking in September.

DSC_0242 DSC_0238This year, we stopped for some wine tastings along the way.  The vineyards are gorgeous and lush in the Oregon valleys, even with the droughts that have plagued the state.  We visited Raptor Ridge, Adelsheim, and Stoller – all wonderful vintners whom I have worked with in Oklahoma.  It was fun to see their vineyards in person.DSC_0263 DSC_0253 DSC_0257Not only are the vineyards and orchards full of ripe fruits, but the hazelnut harvest is underway in the fall.DSC_0265Our other favorite stop is always Farmer John’s for some strawberry shortcake and more fruits and vegetables in another beautiful Oregon valley.

DSC_0299 DSC_0290 DSC_0300 IMG_5108On the way out, we noticed this reminder of the fires that are always a threat to this beautifully wooded state.DSC_0304Our next stop is the ocean, traveling through valleys that end with the sea, heading south to Depoe Bay, located on the central Oregon coast, our headquarters and home for the next week.  The sun was shining, the air was warm and our view of our little cove on the north end of Depoe Bay’s sea wall was magical.DSC_0488It was a homecoming this time, all of us familiar with the setting.  We spotted whales from our balcony, spouting close by.  That was a first for us, even though this is the whale watching capital of the world.  DSC_0320Our day ended with the sunset seen from the sea wallDSC_0353 before we headed to the comfort of The Spouting Horn, overlooking the world’s smallest harbor, for our first taste of seafood, followed by homemade pie.  I had Marionberry pie because I can’t get that at home.  The lady who makes the pies is in her 80s and I take advantage of her skills at every opportunity.DSC_0340 DSC_0363We ended our first day in front of the fire, enjoying the warmth as the evening cooled.  We were back in Oregon, ready for our next adventures.  I woke early the next morning and went walking along the point, looking back to see the fog come in over Depoe Bay.  DSC_0383This Okie girl feels right at home, even though it couldn’t be further from my beloved Oklahoma.  It has a special place in my heart.

Come back for more Oregon adventures tomorrow.