Monday, June 29, 2015

Easy as falling off a .... Cliff?!

I wrote the article below in June 1979 while working for a weekly newspaper in Rogue River, OR, and was also learning to row whitewater. PK was a kayaker and we were on the front end of decades of river running. Even then, I obviously had all the river-running types correctly pegged. (Read on rafters, drift boaters, and so on.)
I ran across this old clipping recently and marveled at how prophetic! I had no idea that years later our own son would become a chief officer in the international club of crazy kayakers.

The 1979 newspaper piece:
There are five or so classifications of local boaters. 
Drift boaters get up before dawn, love rainy days, eat kipper snacks, and can fish for 48 uninterrupted hours. 
Muscle boaters have oiled bodies with fabulous tans. They wear stretch knit bathing suits Their crafts sparkle with chrome and their 600-HP motors pull water skiers at breakneck speed. They drink beer from cans and always have a barbecue to attend. 
Rafters laugh at the river. They wear pillow-sized life jackets and smile beneath sunburned noses. They like to sit around the campfire at night drinking Jack Daniels and swapping tales about who almost got pitched over the side. 
The orange torpedo captains carry books rating rapids on a scale of one to 20. They wear sneakers full of holes and their legs are tan in front and white in back. They are moderately nuts. 
Kayakers are the real crazies. While other boaters enjoy sitting around a friendly campfire roasting marshmallows, kayakers are at the edge of the circle chewing raw meat or in the woods digging for roots and grubs.  
In the morning while others are snug in warm sleeping bags, kayakers run naked, scaling dangerous cliffs and challenging local wildlife to feats of strength. 
The kayaker in the photos is typical of the breed. He is Rick Schlumpberger of Rogue River Outfitters, plunging off a cliff on the Illinois River in his kayak. Before this unretouched photo was taken, Schlumpberger had eaten a 17-pound raw steelhead and had taken a five-mile upstream swim. MK

If anybody knows Rick S., please pass this along. I think he'd get a kick out of it. Maybe he's still chewing raw meat outside of campfire circles?

Chris, "falling off a cliff" on Toketee Falls on the North Umpqua River
 just a couple hours from home.  2011.

A little family river history

PK built himself a fiberglass kayak in 1977 while I was pregnant with our first child. Quinn. Fiberglass construction and pregnant women do not mix owing to noxious glue fumes, which in this case, slammed through the kitchen window as kayak fabrication was being conducted beneath it.

But fiberglass was the only way to go kayaking in the 70s, which PK was hellbent on doing.

Hmm. Wonder where our son Chris got the kayaking bug?

The important thing was that if I didn't want to stay home while PK was on the river, I needed to row. (I was not tempted to kayak.) When our baby boy, Quinn, was about two I learned to navigate whitewater and thus became captain of what was known as the daycare raft. Chris was born when Quinn was nine, prolonging my daycare raft duties.

No complaints. I loved sharing the outdoors and the river with our boys (and their friends). Both went on innumerable day-trips with PK and me on the Rogue, as well as dozens of  3-day family trips on the Rogue's Wild and Scenic section. Those were some of our best days ever.

They grew to love it, although Quinn took a bit longer and was in his late 20s before he was declared "boatman of the year" when he rowed the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon on a 28-day private trip during which his father rowed, Chris kayaked, and I hiked to  the bottom of the canyon to camp with the group for a couple days.

Chris is a now professional kayaker. As I write this, he's just back from a recent expedition to Papua New Guinea, and he and his father are on a day trip on the home river. Makes me smile.

Passing it on. Quinn  Korbulic giving his son Noah his first rowing lesson on the Rogue.

PK rowing the Salmon River with me in front. He missed that bus-sized hole. 

Chris, then 15, earned the right to row his first rapid, a class 4 on the Snake River, by winning a bet with PK, who's having a white-knuckle ride. The bet: if PK throws a rock into the air, and Chris hits the rock with another before the first rock hits the ground, Chris takes the oars. We wouldn't let Chris kayak this river, which he wanted to do, because he would have been the only one in a kayak. Instead, he took on a big rapid with the raft. 
Kayaker Chris at 15.

In case you're wondering, where are the photos of me rowing? Well, I have a few in printed form but have yet to digitize.  My favorite is of going through Blossom Bar on the Rogue (Class 4) with friend Linda Shonk holding onto Chris, who was then about five or six. One of these days......

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

How'd that work out? Leaving the garden from late May to late June?

Email subscribers - to view this post on the website, where it is more pleasing even despite sad garden photos, click here.

Weeds flourish alongside beets that are protected from birds with wire screen. Damn the birds. Find your own food! (But not our blueberries, please.)
We just got home after a month away. We had a great time traveling to an early-June family reunion in Minnesota, with lots of side trips, then home through Canada's national parks. Fabulous!

However, it wasn't that much fun to see the garden upon our return. If you're used to seeing garden lushness on this blog, you may notice and enjoy the contrast with earlier posts.

We'd planted what we believe to be a modest patch in late April/early May and enlisted a gardener friend to keep it alive in our absence. She stopped by every other day or so whilst juggling her three other jobs and managing a complicated personal life. PK had set up "automatic watering" for much, but not all, of the smallest—but still too ambitious—garden we've had in years.

While we were traipsing about, southern Oregon temps soared into the 90s for days on end. Our automatic watering system turned out to be uneven. Let's just say that we have a lot of work to do!

Is it a good idea to leave your garden as plants are just getting started in late spring and early summer? No. It is not a good idea. It is really stupid. If we want to continue gardening and also traveling, we'll need to figure out a schedule kinder to our garden or just give it up for awhile.

Leeks survived sparse watering, onions did OK, and the rest of the garden limped along in absence of the daily attention required in early season. It will all come around with TLC.
The mostly-perennial bed got adequate water and managed to beat out the weeds. 
Two butternut squash plants will likely fill this space once they get enough water. They're sad now.
Oh the poor basil! These guys should be bush-sized. Tomorrow the plants will be weeded, deeply watered, fertilized and maybe even chanted over. Groooooommmmm. I am craving Caprese salad!
Let's just say this is a super lush patch of pig weed where we'd planted poppies, or so we thought. I'll be yanking those suckers out tomorrow and hunting for something colorful to fill the space.

Our blueberries are in full production and our wonderful garden keeper picked and froze many bags for us. I harvested some tonight for tomorrow's breakfast. Birds ruin about half the crop every year, including this one. We still get a lot of berries. We still like birds.

I can't complain about early summer zucchini, sweet yellow peppers,  a Walla Walla onion, and a few cherry and Early Girl tomatoes, some of which we ate for our welcome-home dinner. I'm sure the garden is glad we're back, but not the deer that had taken up residence under a huge holly bush convenient to our landscaping, which it has apparently been enjoying. Ok, garden, abundant water, fertilizer and TLC coming your way tomorrow!
Posts, so far, about our recent travels.

Cutting back on gardening to travel. Really?

Road tripping in the Four Wheel Camper'

Biking 100 miles in two days makes for a sore rear end.

Yellowstone Park, and getting along on the road.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Changing Times in North Dakota and Theodore Roosevelt National Park

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We have fallen heirs to the most glorious heritage a people ever received, and each one must do his part if we wish to show that the nation is worthy of its good fortune." Theodore Roosevelt
A lone buffalo forages before the snows begin in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, South Unit, October 2008. On our recent visit, the grass was lush and the buffs were shedding their winter coats. Bison herds had been decimated by the time Roosevelt visited the ND Badlands in 1883. After he became President in 1901, Roosevelt used his authority to protect wildlife and public lands by creating the U.S. Forest Service and establishing 51 Federal Bird Reservations, 4 National Game Preserves, 150 National Forests, 5 National Parks, and enabling the1906 American Antiquities Act which he used to proclaim 18 National Monuments. During his presidency,Theodore Roosevelt protected approximately 230,000,000 acres of public land. (National Park Service). 
The first thing PK and I did when entering North Dakota in late May was to stop  at the western-most Visitors' Center on I-94 seeking info about the North Unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. We'd visited the South Unit eight years ago and loved it. Now we wanted to explore the rest of the park.
PK and I were surprised and delighted at TR National Park's rugged beauty in 2008. Ancient wagon tracks tell a story about the past, and we imagined Teddy Roosevelt charging around here on horseback, becoming inspired  to protect public lands and the wild creatures that inhabit them. 
Really? "The young woman at he Visitor's Center said. "I can't recommend it."
Why? we asked, even though we know that the state's extensive oil extraction is heaviest in the state's northwest corner. Surely it wasn't impacting the park?! (Duh.)

She went on to describe how constant oil industry traffic has made the road from I-94 to the North Unit the "deadliest in North Dakota" and how oil operations near the park compromise the wilderness experience for park visitors.

There is concern that drilling could even occur in the park. (5-minute video.)

When I explained that I grew up in North Dakota and was curious about what's happening up there, she said,  "It would just make you sad."

It makes her sad for sure. She spoke about farms being dissected by oil company easements that greatly enrich some, but not all, of the locals; how oil companies, working in sparsely populated areas have hired quickly and carelessly from the "outside", introducing a criminal element into previously "safe" communities. How drugs and prostitution have blighted the area and  how many North Dakotans have been corrupted by the sudden influx of big money, creating distrust and discord in some small traditional farming communities that have suddenly outgrown all their infrastructure, and where some have become millionaires while others can no longer afford rent.

"This isn't who we are," she said, shaking her head.

She, and many others warned us about driving through the northwestern part of the state on our return to Oregon. Heavy truck traffic on two-lane roads and roads in poor condition were often mentioned. We ended up NOT driving through the  heart of oil operations in North Dakota under which the Bakken Formation lies, but skirted it. Wikipedia explains that the formation underlies the Williston Basin and occupies about 200,000 square miles in parts of Montana, North Dakota, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Oil wells and grain storage units exist side by side along I-94
in the southwestern part of North Dakota.

Meanwhile, back at the South Unit, PK and I enjoyed a short
but lovely ride on the park's 36-mile loop drive during which
we saw buffalo herds and wild horses and hardly any people.
The Little Missouri River cuts through the park where Theodore Roosevelt
once roamed. This overview was accessed via a short trail.

Just a mile or so from the park,  I-94 cuts across the state's southern end, carrying loads of tourists going elsewhere. I suggest they stop at Theodore Roosevelt National Park  and see what  first inspired the Conservation President to preserve the public parks and lands we value so much. 

Oil on the move. Everywhere.
We visited Minot, North Dakota, the northern city where I grew up and graduated from high school, during our return to Oregon, a journey we're still on, now in Saskatchewan headed for Canadian national parks. 

More about Minot and North Dakota's true wonders coming soon. 

Earlier posts about this road trip:

Road tripping in the Four Wheel Camper'

Biking 100 miles in two days makes for a sore rear end.

Yellowstone Park, and getting along on the road.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Ok, OK! I Take It Back About the Rolling Stones

Minnesota rock fan, and former high school classmate Skip
Ristvedt, paved the way for PK and me to attend the concert.
I didn't have high expectations for my first Rolling Stones concert Wednesday in Minneapolis. (I know! I swore I wouldn't go in an earlier post, which you can revisit below, if you like.) I had to eat my words, but they didn't taste so bad.

We had cheap (by Stones standards) stadium tickets, $115 each., thanks to my friend, Skip and his friend, Chad.  Rain was predicted, and en route to the concert, the skies delivered a serious deluge. It was pouring sheets. So weather was a factor. But mostly, I have a short list of beloved Stones songs and don't care all that much for the rest, and I'm even kinda sick of the ones I do like, and damn, after all these years of playing the same songs, aren't the Stones getting sick of them, too?

Apparently not. The Stones rocked all those old numbers, absolutely killed it. I loved every minute. And, in an amazing sign of cooperation and beneficence from the weather gods, the rain that had been falling for hours stopped at 8 p.m. when the concert opened with Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, and by 9 p.m. when the Stones surged on stage with their rock n' roll dominance, patches of blue even appeared. Party time!

Jumpin Jack Flash - A video link grabbed from YouTube that gives a good idea of the concert's razzle dazzle and energy level.  I was unable to download my own short video because I forgot my password! Grrrr.

PK and me happy to be at TCF stadium in Minneapolis.

Since the Stones have stuck together and have been playing for 50-some years, and the main guys, including Mick Jagger, are in their sixties and seventies, age always comes up. Aren't these senior citizens in danger of croaking on stage? Don't they already look half dead?

I think the Stones, especially Jagger, make age a non issue. They prove that people in their sixties and seventies can blast away like much younger rockers. They prove to older folks like me, that is people who work at remaining physical and involved in what they love, that life in their seventies, and maybe their eighties, doesn't have to be the downward spiral we know is eventually inevitable. We can still have a great time and do whatever it is that creates joy and vitality. I can't sing or perform, but I can still dance, and dammit, I will until I drop.

Mick Jagger dyes his hair, works with a personal trainer and amps up his training in the months before touring, and whatever he does, works. From my far away stadium seat, the guy looked and moved like he's 20-something. There was no hint of fatigue despite his endless strutting and pouting and whipping his various garments around and changing his shirt multiple times and running up and down his ramp and singing the old songs like it was the first damn time he ever belted them out.

I swear. I never thought I could get caught up in one of the most ancient songs, Can't Get No Satisfaction, but they closed the concert with it and like most of the 50,000 people in the stadium, I was gyrating and contributing to the general roar.

If you've never gone, try to catch a Stones concert. It'll make you feel young again! Just like it does for the Stones.

Here is my earlier post about the money-grubbing Rolling Stones in which I railed against outrageous and fluctuating ticket prices and refused to attend the Minneapolis concert even though I've always wanted to see them and we were going to be in Minneapolis anyway.