Friday, August 7, 2020

It's Beginning to Feel Like Home (Sutherlin, OR)

We are back in Timber Valley Skp (Escapees Co-Op) Park in Sutherlin, OR and I am surprised to admit that it is beginning to feel like home.  We are #14 on the waiting list for a Timber Valley site.  We were #80 in August of last year, so we have moved up faster than planned.  We should have a site by this time next year at the latest, giving us a place to stay - a home base.   We will still travel in the future, but have our own site here as a home base.  After 11 years of wandering around the country, I am looking forward to having a place to call home.   

We have already established our doctors and dentists with annual checkups.  Next, we will get our cats a veterinarian.  They all need a checkup.  Shhh!  Mum's the word!
What did you say?

This comes at a good time. We were starting to notice a couple of years ago that it was getting harder to make reservations for more than two weeks during high-seasons.  Even the military FamCamps stay busy during their high-seasons.  Some are first come first serve while others have a reservation system.  
The first site before owners returned

We have spent some of our time in offseason areas by going south during the summer or to the northwest coast for the winter.  Staying in half-filled to almost empty RV parks was great, but that can get challenging while traveling through bad weather or dealing with heatwaves for long periods of time. 
Deer watching Dan work on our coach

This year, RV sales skyrocketed due to the lockdown.  Families are finding it easier to pack up kids along with pets into their own rigs traveling to their favorite getaway spots.  No hassles with waiting for flights or hotel reservations.  And that's great, but there are so many more RV sales and not enough campgrounds to accommodate the sudden interest in the RV lifestyle.
Our second site with a creek behind us.

At this time, there are very few new campgrounds being built and existing ones are not expanding, causing many to be booked up to a year in advance.  Not to mention that many RV parks are now doing short and long term leases to people that are only present during the weekends - if that - leaving travelers with slim pickings for available sites, especially with our 40ft coach. 

Cats enjoying their outdoor time

Dan spent weeks looking for RV parks with more than a week opening when we started traveling north this year. As soon as the lockdown ended, most opened RV parks were booked solid every weekend or worse for the whole summer with only a few scattered days left for travelers.
Our neighbor's site with Gert the Goat

Definitely great news for RV business profits!  I am hoping this will encourage small business owners to build more campgrounds across the nation.

Street views of the park

Please understand that I'm not complaining.  I'm just explaining why we will not be traveling as much in the future which I'm already starting to miss because there are so many places I would like to see again.
Summertime blooms in the Timber Valley

We do plan to keep traveling, but it will be more structured and planned in advance.  No more spontaneous travel plans of "which way shall we go this week" and "hey! this sounds interesting, let's go this way and stay a week or two".

Love the color and the fence

 So, you are probably wondering why we picked this area for a home base. This part of Oregon is green with lot's of animals wandering around.  Sutherlin is working hard to maintain their small town, and Roseburg is nearby for shopping trips as well.   There are also many Thousand Trails and Oregon state parks to travel to for getaways in Oregon.  This Skp co-op is on I-5 south of Eugene  and just north of Roseburg.

 You probably noticed that our site looks a little bare from the above photos.  Each site comes with full-hook-ups, a shed, and a concrete patio. Park leaseholders manage and run the park, with only a few employees. Leaseholder committees and volunteer groups do much of the maintenance and daily work in the park.

 A bare site will more than likely be our first site.  They tend to be a transit site and are often on the list for travelers to rent for short periods of time since their owners are still on the road or in this case they are still working and have a house.  We can trade to a more developed or better-located site as soon as one becomes available that others do not want.  We will be at the bottom of the trading list that is based on how long the leaseholder has been in this park.    
A family of turkey come for a visit

I'm already scoping out other people's developed sites, taking mental notes of what I like about their landscaping.  
One tired cat
Tired Dusty

The sites on either side of us have gardens and patios.  I really like the site with Gert the Goat.  The owner has kept her area simple and yet cool and inviting with bark instead of rocks, plenty of plants/flowers, and a wood deck.  We know her site is kitty-approved because ours keep going over for visits. 
On The Cutting Board

I'm still focusing on getting my SW quilt done.  No side distractions!  I'm so proud of myself.  Usually, by this time, I have started two new projects.  It is a slow process and of course, my mistakes are slowing me down especially when I discovered one major mistake that included a lot of ripping out seams. 
Wrong order - dark alternate block in the center

In my last post, I showed my first finished row (above).  All blocks quilted with front and back seams sewed together.  I realized my mistake when I started my second row.  I had my alternate blocks in the wrong order!  After separating the blocks, I used our bed to layout the whole quilt in the correct order and number the rows.  This became quite a challenge with cats wanting to help by rearranging my work.
Correct layout - dark alternate first

My next problem was backing.  I had bought this fabric backing for a different quilt top for our bed.  The old quilt top wasn't going to be big enough for the bed in our new coach.  I'm happy to say that I had just enough to cover all the blocks with a 4x18 inch piece left!  Whew!  
Basting Hummingbird block

I decided to sandwich then baste all the blocks and stack them all in the correct order.  Now I have this huge pile of blocks sitting in the living room.  
All blocks sandwiched and basted

It does keep me motivated to get them all quilted! 

I'm quilting each block in the correct order and I plan to wait until the blocks are done before I start sewing them together.
Hand design for center quilting

Most of the quilting is in the ditch.  For non-quilters - I am quilting close to the seams.  I'm keeping the sashing designs simple for fast and easy work.
Second alternate block
Alternate block

I'm feeling better about my work-in-progress!  I'm halfway through the pile.  With any luck and no more major setbacks, I hope to post photos of the blocks sewed least a couple of rows.
Happy Quilting!

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Montana's June Snow (Bend, OR)

The last two days of June will be forever in our hearts. Our first great-grandson - Finley James Howard was born on 29 June 2020. 6.2 lbs 19 1/2 in long. 💓😍
Welcome, little one!
The next day, on 30 June, Dan and I celebrated our 45th anniversary with Thai food and a dessert of gelato ice cream in downtown Bend, OR.  Hard to believe we are great-grandparents to this cutie!
So what have we been doing for the past month?  We spent a month in Deer Lodge, MT.  We were ready to settle for a while after our long days of traveling from Texas.  It was so nice to see so much green and snow-capped mountains!
At the Indian Creek RV park's entrance
We were assigned a site in the far back corner near the highway with a truckstop behind us.  We rarely had neighbors.  Which was fine for us because we had a great view of the mountains and plenty of space for the cats to roam.
We thought it would be noisy being close to two high-trafficked areas, but it wasn't too bad.  The noise seemed muffled from both areas.  Only at night, I would hear a truck's generator running.  It reminded me more of a cat's purr making it easy for me to fall asleep. 
View from our bedroom window of mountain and truck stop to the right.
After our 14-day quarantine ended, we explored the small town by walking from the campground on a scenic nature trail that took us to a pond with a river otter living in the two bushes on the far side.  We tried to sneak up on him a couple of times to get a photo, but he was too fast for us.  It was still exciting to catch a glimpse of his head or a flick of his tail before he disappeared.
The trail also took us past several creeks flowing with crystal clear water...
One of many creeks/streams along the trail
Creek running through the town's residential area
 and past a large property with its own pond and pasture with a donkey, horses, and one heifer.
This became our favorite stop to take in the view and to watch the animals graze.
Hey!  I've seen you before, haven't I?
We talked to the owner one day while he was out feeding the horses a snack and getting one ready for a ride.  The donkey was staying close to his side as he walked around the pasture checking the horses.  The owner mentioned his donkey was getting old, but was friendly and loved hanging out with the horses.  
Have you seen my friend, Shrek?
He also told us that we were welcome to stop by and ride a horse because they needed the exercise.  It has been too long since I have been on a horse and had flashes of disasters that would happen if I was even able to get into a saddle so I just thanked him for the offer.
As we walked along the trail past this one tree, a Northern Flicker kept startling us by suddenly taking off just as we passed the tree.  After a couple of jump-starts to our hearts, we started looking for the bird as we approached the tree but we were having a hard time seeing him before he would fly off.  We thought it was just a favorite eating spot and he was moving around the tree to stay out of our sight before flying away.  Then we found a hole on the opposite side of the tree trunk.  As we got closer to the tree, we would look for the Flicker's head to peek out.  He (or she) must have gotten used to seeing us because he stopped flying away or maybe there were eggs to be protected and did not want to take the chance of leaving them alone.
On 5 June, we woke up to snow.  Big fluffy flakes!  By 10 am we had around 7 inches of snow and no power.  Having a generator really comes in handy at times since the power was out for most of the day.  We were very happy we had no travel plans for that day.  Dusty did not appreciate the snow and sulked most of the day.
Looking outside, it felt like Christmas in a winter wonderland!  We had to go for a walk.  The pond was overflowing and running down the trail.
The Canada Goose family was enjoying the snow day with a swim in the pond with their little ones.
The only thing sad was the damage the snow did to a lot of trees.  It was wet and very heavy causing branches to snap off.   Some of the campers found trees leaning heavily on the roof of their rigs and vehicles due to the limbs being heavy with snow.  One small trailer had almost disappeared under tree branches and snow.  Not quite sure how the owner got out of his door that morning.  The campground crew was quick to remove the damaged limbs and snow before it caused problems for the rigs.  By evening, most of the snow had melted.
Dan discovered these two sleeping together on the bed.  Dusty must have been extra tired to let Max put his leg on top of him.  I don't know what it is with Max and his hind leg lately.  He keeps trying to do that with me.  Nothing like waking up in the night with his leg across my head!  Yea, I don't think so!
Hitch was in a spunky mood during one of their outings.  He was rolling around in the grass while poking Dusty once in a while and making strange sounds.  The grass must have felt extra good after months of dirt and gravel in our previous sites.  I thought it was funny.  Dusty did not.😾
Dusty does have his happy moments and for the most part, is very gentle with the other two.  He loves it when one of us takes him for short walks.  He talks to us the whole time.  Before this photo was taken, he had been rolling around wanting a belly rub until Hitch showed.  Poor Dusty, sometimes I get the feeling he wishes he was an 'only' cat.😼
On The Cutting Board
My brother received his quilt last week.  He is quite happy with the finished quilt.
I decided to do simple machine quilting so I was able to finish the quilt quickly.  The freeform was a little shaky at times, but using the walking foot worked out great on the sashing, borders, and mountains.
I am down to one major project!  I have started my first quilt-as-you-go.  Our queen size Native Flair quilt.  Below is a photo I showed you a few months ago of the layout without the alternate blocks.
For those that are not quilters:  Each block is layered, basted,
and quilted before sewing the blocks together.  Unlike my brother's quilt above where the top is assembled before I layer the top with batting and backing for quilting.  After the block is quilted, I trim the batting so it will lie flat.  Then I sew the top layers together on the machine and use a slip-stitch to secure the two backings together
This is a learning process for me and one mistake I made was quilting too close to the edges.  I should have re-read the instructions before proceeding. I should have left a good 1/2 inch free of quilting stitches along the edges.
Now, I keep my little ruler and marking pen
nearby so I don't quilt too close to the edge.
This caused some major heartburn while making enough space for the machine's foot to sew the top layer together.  It came out a little lumpy and made it hard to keep the line straight.  I finally had to rip some of the quilting stitches out.  I'll have to go back and pin the loose stitches or rip them out and start over after I slip-stitch the backing together.
Here it is!  My first row is done and it is laying flat - thanks to lots of ripping and grumbling chant "I will not quilt past the 1/2 inch mark!😁  Only four more rows to go.  Sorry for the angle of the shot, but it's hard to get a good photo of something this long inside the coach.
Hitch supervised and approved of the first row, so time to start working on the next row.
Happy Quilting!

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Driving to Montana (Deer Lodge, MT)

Before we left Texas in early May, we spent a week in Bridgeport, TX.  Below is a picture of Weatherford's county courthouse.  I never get tired of seeing this building.
We got a nice site, but it was not full hook-ups.  Still, the cats enjoyed their time outdoors and we found the quiet spot away from campers celebrating the lockdown lift.
Our biggest surprise upon arriving was seeing how high the lake was in comparison to our last visits.  The first time we came here, the lake was a good 20 feet below this dock (bottom right).  Now, the dock is five inches below the water level.  Quite a difference!
Our walks around Bay Landing Thousand Trails were quite entertaining.  We saw a family of Canada Geese near the fishing pond along with four ducks that were always together no matter what they were doing.  We saw quite a few snakes swimming around in the pond and after talking to one fisherman and finding out that someone counted 18 of them hiding under a tree, I kept my distance!😬  Between wildlife sightings and flowers blooming, we had some nice walks while we were there.
Finally, we felt it was time to get back on the road and see some new sights.  I know I was ready to see some snow-covered mountains.  Dan was able to get reservations at each stop.  His biggest headache was trying to steer clear of severe thunderstorms moving through the midwest states.  He did an excellent job because we saw very little rain and drove through some windy areas.
Hitch has become quite a lap cat during our travels.  He can spend hours sleeping on us.  I'm not so sure our legs agree with his long-term sleeping arrangements.
After two 8-hour days of driving, we were happy to spend two days relaxing at Terry Bison Ranch.  We were greeted by two sleeping cats inside the ranch's store/office area.  It looks like they had a tough day at the ranch.
This is the first time we have seen the peacocks at the ranch.  They were busy guys making lots of noise with their mating calls.  Have you seen the movie "UP"?  Kevin sounds just like them in high volume! 🤣
The peacocks even showed up one morning in the campground wandering from site to site.  Only one of our cats saw the big birds go by and I swear he was drooling.😺
1. Goats new play area 2. Artwork
3. Llamas 4. Peacocks visiting campers
This white turkey was quite a character.  I was kneeling down to take a photo of the bison artwork when he walked into view, fluffed his feathers, and stood there waiting for me to take his picture.  I took one photo and started walking off only to realize that he was following me around the bison, so I took another photo of his other side.  He seemed satisfied with the attention and finally moved on to another person walking by.
Left profile?  Right profile?
My favorite part was seeing the new colts this year.  Both had some beautiful markings.  I tried to get a better photo of the black one, but he or she wasn't in the mood for putting up with paparazzi that day.
Before we left Wyoming, we restocked our groceries for our 14-day quarantine in Montana.  Back on the road, Hitch once again surprised us by sleeping in-between Dusty and Max.  He is just full of surprises on this trip.
On The Cutting Board
Before we left Bridgeport, TX we drove to Lawton, OK to see our daughter's family and to give the girls a quilt each.  We had exchanged information on what we had been doing lately and to make sure none of us have been infected.😷  Such strange times we are having when we have to be careful just to visit family.  It has been 18 days and all of us are still healthy.

Bry stopped by to receive her son's baby quilt and to visit.  I'm sorry we will not be there when our great-grandson arrives, but we really do not want to be in our coach in Oklahoma's hot July weather not to mention Tornado season!
Our granddaughters seem quite happy with their new quilts.  The two younger ones took their naps with their quilts and claimed they slept better with them.  They are such sweethearts.
One of my brothers asked that if he paid for a quilt would I make him one from the same SW pattern I have been sharing on FB.  I finished the blocks during the lockdown.  Posted this photo of the top's arrangement in a FB group.  One quilter pointed out that the three blocks on top looked alike and I might want to consider switching the top and bottom blocks around.
I'm glad she pointed it out because this arrangement looks a lot better.  I did not want his feet to hang out so I added a little more length by sewing one row of Delectable Mountains to the top.  This came out better than I had imagined on paper!
Now, I need to get fabric for the backing and decide how I am going to quilt this one.  By machine, it will go faster.  By hand, it will be more personable, but slow going.  Well, I have time to think about it since I cannot go shopping until our quarantine ends on June 1 when Montana goes into Phase 2.  I can barely wait to go check out the local quilt shops starting with the one here within walking distance!

In the meantime, I am working on my quilt-as-you-go blocks which has been put aside for too long.  
Happy Quilting!

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