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Shingles

Y’all might want to skip this one. It’s (mostly–I added a story at the end that’s more entertaining) just the gory details of my almost six weeks dealing with shingles. I’m writing it just for myself, really. Though I will say to anyone who reads this far–if you haven’t had shingles and/or the vaccination for it yet, count yourself lucky and go get the vaccination. Unless you never had chickenpox–in that case, you’ll be OK. I’ve kicked myself a lot for not getting it when I could have— I’ve basically lost six weeks of prime time to the damn shingles. And it’s not really over yet.

So–first symptoms on June 2, felt like I’d been stung or bitten by an insect or spider, on my scalp about and inch and a half back of my right ear. Rapidly escalated–miserable night, up and crying with the pain. Like little lightening bolts going off. Toughed it out for two nights, then went to the doctor the next day, mentioned the possibility of shingles, but he decided that wasn’t it because he didn’t see any lesions. I’m STILL not happy about that decision, because lesions don’t always show up, and certainly don’t show up right at the beginning, and he knows that. If he had prescribed me the antiviral that day, it would no doubt have been more effective, because it would have been within the 72 hour time period they tell you to get an antiviral. Turns out that’s because it’s only effective when the virus is replicating. Instead, he prescribed a pain killer and sleep aid, which were mostly useless, plus the pain killer had acetaminophen in it, which makes me nauseous. Spent a really miserable weekend, sleeping very little, up out of bed and wailing when the pain spiked. You can do that when you live alone.

Back to the doctor on Monday, by which time there were plenty of scabbed-over lesions to show him, so he agreed it was shingles, changed the sleep aid and pain killer, and added an anti-viral.

The next weeks were at best not good and at worst miserable. The pain was up and down, sleep aids only sorta worked, opiates made me constipated and I’m still trying to get my gut back on a steady course, did a second round of anti-virals because after the first set of scabs, which covered maybe 40% of my skull by then, fell off some new ones developed so I thought maybe that indicated the virus was still active. The scabs coming off was a miserable couple of days, because they itched, so I had the delightful experience of my scalp simultaneously itching, hurting when touched and sometimes hurting just because, and on parts, being numb to the touch. I was sorta sleeping, using ibuprofen PM or diazepam, ice packs, and still more ibuprofen to get through the nights.

I’m not sure how long it was after the scabs came off, but just when I was starting to be slightly more hopeful that I was on the road to recovery, I had a weird experience. A wave of the most intense pain started on my scalp, and traveled across the whole affected area. It was like having heat lightening on my scalp. It was so intense it put me on the kitchen floor–I had headed to the kitchen to get an ice pack when it started. Probably lasted five-ten minutes, then subsided to normal levels. I was afraid the phenomenon might recur, but so far it hasn’t, to my great relief.

I was tracking my pain and energy level pretty closely–I am a Virgo, after all–and noticed some improvement the first few days of the second round of anti-viral. However, the week after that there was no improvement, and when the anti-viral was finished, the pain seemed to be maybe getting worse. So that Tuesday–last Tuesday as I write this–I went back to the doctor, carrying an ice pack along, which made an impression. He decided I have post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN–you can look it up), which means nerve pain that lingers after an outbreak of a herpes virus, the culprit in chickenpox and shingles. He prescribed gabapentin and, when I asked for them, lidocaine patches for my neck. My shingles were in the facial nerve, and the pain had spread to affect areas of my neck, face, and ear. The neck pain was doing more to keep me awake at night that my scalp pain by that point.

The jury is out (sorta. See story at the end) on whether or not the gabapentin is helping, but the lidocaine patches are an unmitigated success. The doctor mentioned almost in passing that I was probably suffering from quite a sleep deficit, and I think he was more correct than I even realized. I woke up the next day feeling good for the first time in weeks. My brain worked, I had some energy, and I didn’t have to fight pain for the an hour to two hours as I had been doing for the past several weeks. The neck pain overall hasn’t returned to the levels it was at (though there’s a little point on my jaw that is acting up as I write this–makes me wonder if just thinking about it is activating the nerve.)

Some time ago I had bought a number of things that I hoped might soothe the pain when it twinged. Yesterday I noticed that this

Is 4% lidocaine. The patches are 5%. I had been wishing I could apply a patch to my scalp to calm the nerves there, but not quite willing to shave off my hair so 1) the patch would stick, and 2) the lidocaine would make it down to the skin. I decided to glop a whole bunch of the alocane on, and leave it an hour or so–sort of imitating a patch. It definitely soothed the scalp. When bedtime came, I was SO sleepy I didn’t want to shampoo it out, so this is how it was when I woke up this morning.

It really did help. I made it through the night without ice, and my scalp is sore but not getting the sharp pains that it has been. I did shower this morning and shampooed it out, but I’m going to do it again tonight. I keep thinking if I had the skill, I could do a stylish do–the consistency isn’t that different from hair gel.

Better sleep definitely leads to better energy, but after six weeks of mostly languishing in my recliner or on my couch, doing the bare minimum necessary to sustain self and critters, sometimes not even taking Scamp for her walks, my strength and stamina are definitely down and need to be built back up.

One more story. When I woke up Wednesday morning feeling so much better, I wanted to DO THINGS and GO PLACES. Checked the tides, and the tides Thursday and Friday were just right for a morning beach walk, so I decided to go for it on Friday morning–take the van, walk on the beach, have lunch there. Gabapentin makes me feel spacey and woozley, so I was nervous about driving the van for the first time in over a month and driving it so far under the influence, so to speak. Tried doubling up on the gaba Thursday night and skipping the morning pill on Friday, and headed off to the beach feeling pretty good.

It was beautiful.

Grabbed a couple of sticks for Scamp and headed for the water. The idea of two sticks is throw one and when she brings it back, she drops that one so I’ll throw the other one. It sorta works. We set out walking into the wind, towards “the rocks”, as I think of this outcrop.

They didn’t look all that far away, and I was feeling pretty good, and I usually walk much further, so I figured that was a good goal.

However, I had underestimated just how much strength and stamina I’ve lost, and maybe underestimated the distance too. I didn’t quite make it, deciding to go back before I was completely out of gas. When we were nearly back, I saw a couple of guys standing around chatting, as I assumed, and a woman and (I thought) her dog just coming onto the beach. Got a little closer, and realized she was videoing something. Looked more closely, and saw this.

He walked like his feet hurt (though for all I know, that’s just how porcupines walk) and seemed to be rather intent on getting to the water. However, when I called Scamp and knelt down to put her leash on, he turned and headed our way. Scamp of course by then had homed in on him and wanted to go check him out. I had to pull her back quite forcefully at one point.

I’ve encountered porcupines there before, though always in the grass and brush up by the cliffs, never right out on the beach.

I’m calling it “he”, but it could have been a she for all I know. But it reminded me of a slightly scruffy, grumpy old man, so he it is. He gave up on the water and headed back for the cliff. I wrote to a friend that I could practically hear him grumbling “Come down for a nice dip in the ocean, maybe get me a little salt, all these people and dogs standing around staring at me, stupid dog wants to check me out, good thing for her she got stopped, can’t get any peace around here, whole thing’s not worth it, might as well go home”, and she came back with “Now see, you should write a little book called, “The Porcupine Monologues.”” I love the idea of a book–or blog–with that title, but am not sure I’m quite up to it 😄.

I did have lunch there, with this view.

On the drive home, I was feeling the stress of having tried to do just a bit too much, and the scalp and a couple of spots of neck pain were back, but it was so good to get away and do something different it was all worth it. I don’t think I’ll skip the gaba again, though, when I decide on another outing. Maybe it’ll stop making me so spacey? I can always hope. And I’ll make sure I have ibuprofen along with me. The pain only went back in its cave when I had my wine. The wine definitely works on the pain–too bad it has such negative side-effects of its own, or I’d just control the pain by drinking all day.

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Camping during covid

Having done a two-night, local camping trip and experienced what that did for my head and sense of well-being, I set out ten days ago on a longer venture, with my goal being to get out to Hart Mountain, for two reasons. First, the desert (sagebrush desert up here) is at its best in the spring, and second, I had never been there and wanted to scope it out. It ended up being a six-night trip, two nights in each of three excellent spots.

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Brief escape

At the beginning of the lockdown here in Oregon, when I was figuring out my coping strategies, I decided making short trips out and about to our open spaces was an important strategy for maintaining, psychologically. Within a couple of weeks, they closed the state parks and beaches (😢), which was good for us collectively because it stopped people coming in from cities and out of state (mostly) (🙂). This left the coastal mountains as my main area of escape.

I’ve done several day trips, some in the car and some in the van. It feels slightly wicked to use the van for short trips because of the low mileage it gets, but it’s really nice to be able to kick back out of the wind, make lunch, have a cup of tea, and enjoy the scenery while doing so. But I hadn’t done any overnight trips, until this week.

A couple of weeks ago I did a day trip partly with a view towards finding some good boondocking spots, since all the regular CGs are closed. It was good that I did, because it gave me a sense of how many other people are going out there too, and where I’d have the best chance of seeing no one else. Which is always my preference when camping, virus or no virus, unless traveling with friends. Unfortunately, that is also the preference of pretty much everyone else, which can make it tricky for us to all find suitably isolated spots.

But this week, my scouting and the weather all came together to afford me a couple of restorative nights out, one very nice and one nearly perfect. I’m not going to say exactly where, just because the irrational part of my brain doesn’t want other people to think “Oh! That sounds lovely!” and head out there. No one reading this is in a position to do that, and the rational part of my brain realizes that. But still. A harmless win for irrationality.

Anyway. My first spot, in a wide spot up an almost unused old forest service road.

All the critters were happy to be out too, even the cats, who had to contend with Scamp harassing them. Scamp stayed out almost all the time, though I did manage to coax her in for meals and to sleep at night. The cats did a lot of in and out and back in again, thank you, but at least neither on disappeared when I wanted them back in for the night or to leave in the morning.

One of the desiderata for a good camping spot is adequate walks. This was moderately good.

Scamp loves forests, possibly because of the ample supply of sticks. She is becoming more discriminating though, no longer going after small logs.

We explored a ways down the road we camped next to. It is blocked by fallen trees a ways down, which from a walker’s perspective is perfect.

The road started going down a bit too steeply for my taste (if I’m going to do steep, I prefer doing it on the way out), so we didn’t go too far.

I took the bike along for the trip, and got it down the afternoon we arrived with the intention of using it to explore (and give Scamp more of a run) the next morning. Out of an abundance of caution, I locked it to the ladder on the van. I have noticed that I feel less safe in the world these days than usual; I told someone local where I was going and approximately how long I expected to be gone, which normally I never do for an excursion such as this, and locked up the bike knowing it was probably foolish but also knowing the back of my brain would relax a bit more knowing it was secured.

Which turned out to be a mistake. The next morning, when it was getting warm enough to contemplate a ride, I went to get the bike ready–and the key wouldn’t turn to unlock the bike. I think it wasn’t quite inserting all the way, but regardless, it just would not turn. I tried WD-40, and worked at it for 10-15 minutes. By this time, I was getting concerned–I wasn’t going anywhere with the bike attached to the van, and I didn’t have any bolt cutters with me to cut the cable. I got as far as thinking about how far out I’d have to walk to get a signal so I could call for help, and what I’d need to take with me, while continuing to work on getting the bike free.

Cutting a long but boring story short (heh), I ended up using my hatchet

to whack through the housing of the lock mechanism. I’ve carried that hatchet from the beginning, and almost never use it for anything, but it totally earned its keep on this trip.

Here’s the result, after 15-20 minutes of whacking.

The bottom rung of the ladder got slightly banged up, but altogether things worked out ok.

Finished getting the bike set up, persuaded Scamp that running after me was indeed what she wanted to do, and headed down the road a mile or so to another spot that was on my radar from the scouting outing. And found this.

Didn’t take long for me to decide to shift camp to that spot. (Note to certain friends, you know who you are: there’s room for both vans there.) The weather was ideal for a sunny site, and there’s something about being by water. Rode back to the van, and got everything loaded up, including the bike. But not Scamp. She was big time into her “But this is perfect, we should stay here forever” behavior. I had anticipated that, but figured she’d be ok with running after the van–we’d done that a few times already, and she seemed to enjoy it. BUT. Nope. She was having none of it. She seemed prepared to just stay at the old camp no matter what. I went anyway–took off at speed (for that road, that meant somewhere between 25-30 mph), figuring I could go back for her on the bike. Apparently my disappearing down the road had gotten to her, because once I was there, got the bike down and ready, and headed back, she was running toward me only a hundred yards or so from the turnoff.

Camp was set up in time for lunch.

Had my after lunch cup of tea sitting outside–even the bugs were leaving me alone. Must be the season, I’m sure there are both mosquitoes and flies later in the summer.

Scamp was working on trimming that small branch into a stick and trying to tempt me into playing with her with it.

Walking options weren’t as plentiful as at the previous spot, but we made do. The road continues just a bit further, to another spot where people obviously have camped based on the trash they’ve left. There was what looks like an old logging lane going up the hill from there. It’s now covered with manzanita, a few years old. I picked my way up; Scamp scampered. These were taken about halfway up when I stopped to catch my breath, the first looking up, the second back down.

At the top there’s a cleared knob from which you can catch a view from just the right spots. I remain uncertain if those are the Cascades in the far distance or still part of the coastal range.

If you look carefully, you can see just a few touches of snow on the peaks in the bottom picture. The mountains are quite dry for this time of year in this geographic location. I just hope and pray we don’t have a bad fire season on top of everything else that’s going on.

The rest of the day I was mostly lazy; reading, sitting and gazing at the water, napping, taking short saunters with Scamp. Some more pictures:

I got interested in a grove of trees which were my view when lounging on the bed, and decided to pick my way back into the grove, where I took some close-ups. The phone didn’t quite capture the full beauty of the details, but these will give you an idea.

There’s a lot more left up there for me to explore later. As the saying goes, you never step into the same river twice, and the weather will heat up from here, so the perfection of that day is unlikely to be repeated, but it’s good to know the spot is there. And if I get up there to find other people enjoying it, there are others close by I can go to, and entirely unexplored side roads I can check out for more camping spots.

By the next morning, all of us were quite relaxed.

Even Scamp had calmed down, interested but not yipping with excitement or running up with a stick every time I stepped out of the van. I got loaded up in a relaxed time frame, and headed off with Scamp running behind for the first mile or so. She was much more persuadable to follow this time, and when I stopped fairly early, she let me pick her up without too much persuading.

I started off that morning not sure whether to just return home or stay out another night. When I got to the deciding point, I decided to head for a spot I had discovered last spring that had been perfect at the time. However, when I got there I found my memory had enhanced it somewhat, and in any case it felt like a bit of a comedown after the perfection of the day before, so I continued on out to I-5 and back down to home, making a large loop. It’s a pretty drive, so enjoyable.

Altogether, the outing was just what the doctor ordered. Part of the therapeutic effect was that it allowed me to be and feel completely normal for awhile. I did just what I would normally do on such an excursion, and taking such excursions is something I’ve done several times since moving here. The feeling was greatly aided by being offline, also normal for such an outing. How long the effects will last I don’t know, but I do know revisiting it by doing this post has been good, bringing the details back into my mind.

Take care of yourselves and stay safe, everyone.

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Morning walk, 4/5/20

Had sun for the walk this morning, after a couple of rainy days. It does lift my spirits. It brings out the beauty even in our weedy vacant lot. This was right after we got out of the car.

It just kept getting better.

You can see that spring is springing more—the trees are greening up.

Couldn’t decide which one I liked better of those two, so included them both.

These caught my eye. I think I liked them in part because they are growing up through the gravel.

Scamp keeps trying to tempt me down to the river, but it’s still a bit cold and muddy for that. Soon, Scamp, soon.

The air was still, so I got another whiff of the perfume from these trees.

And now we’re home, with rain in the forecast for this afternoon. But the forecast for the rest of the week looks gorgeous. Unfortunately, I won’t be the only one emerging from the house to enjoy the outdoors, so I’m thinking maybe doing some yardwork may be the solution. There’s plenty to do, and once I get myself started I can obsess quite satisfactorily over it. That should see me through several days of “sheltering in place.” Hope you are all safe and well out there.

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There was no escaping the rain this morning, so I decided to head out to Johnson Mill Pond for the walk, thinking it might be an opportunity to have it to myself. They stocked the pond several weeks ago, so there have been people out there fishing the last few times I’ve gone. And sure enough, it worked—nary another person to be seen, though there were tracks that indicated a pickup or two had been there earlier.

Walking in the rain can be quite nice, though—or perhaps because—I do the very non-Oregonian thing of using an umbrella. The subdued beauty of this struck me as soon as I got out of the car.

And this shortly afterwards.

Spring is springing rapidly. It’s only been a couple of days since we were last there, and I don’t remember this stand of flowers being so prolific.

There’s a story about these two.

The domestic goose (the one with his butt in the air in the top photo) has been hanging out at the pond for months now. At first he was with a whole flock of varied domesticated geese, but for some time now—maybe since January—he’s been alone. And lonely, if persistent honking and following us during part of our walk is anything to go by. This morning he and this Canada goose were clearly companions, and there was no honking or paying attention to us (once Scamp had chased them into the water, that is.). Made me happy to see it. For the sake of the domestic guy, I hope the friendship lasts awhile.

Another shot of the pond.

We got a short respite from rain, then it started up vigorously again. You can see it speckling the river.

It’s still raining as I write, so it looks like the afternoon walk may be wet as well. I’ll try the river walk and see if the rain reduces walkers there.

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Morning walk 3/27/20

Just a short post.

The river walk was deserted when I arrived this morning.

I think the latest rain must be coming in on a warm front. The last one definitely brought us colder temperatures, but it felt almost balmy this morning.

About halfway down the path, a lovely, very faint flowery scent stopped me. I sniffed deeply to make sure I wasn’t imagining it and looked around to see where/what it might be coming from. Eventually I tracked it down to a stand of trees next to me. I tried pulling down a branch a foot or two above my head to confirm my hypothesis, and this pulled off.

Sure enough, when I sniffed the catkins (? Unless catkins—thanks for the word, Nina—only droop down and these are called something else), I could just detect the scent. The flowers are tiny, and don’t put out much odor—if conditions hadn’t been just right (zero wind, cool but not cold temperature, a stand of at least half a dozen trees) I probably would not have detected them at all. As it was, it was a gift and a pleasure.

And now I know I’m definitely not experiencing that covid-19 symptom!

I did see one other walker coming down the other side of the loop. He’s a guy we all see often, and discuss as well. He started walking last summer, clearly on some kind of getting-healthy program. He does multiple loops several times/day. At first, he wouldn’t look at anyone or return a greeting, but lately he’s even spoken to us occasionally. This morning, just as I was debating whether or not to step out into the street to keep that six-foot distance between us, he chose to cross to the other side, and gave me a wave when he got there! Definite progress.

May you all stay safe and well.

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Morning walk, 3/16/2020

Scamp’s and my morning walk hasn’t changed much while we here on the coast hunker down hoping the virus will pass us by—but not counting on it. Scamp and I have been doing the river walk by ourselves in the morning for months now. This morning we had some fog to beautify the hills.

I took that picture from about where Scamp is on that pile of rubble.

Sometimes we meet a few people, and sometimes when we do we stop and chat a few moments. From a safe distance. This morning, while I saw a few people in the distance, we had no close encounters.

We did, however, see these two.

They’ve been hanging around down there for a few weeks now. I assume they are a mated pair and may have a nest around somewhere nearby, if it’s not too early for that. Scamp chases them when she sees them—I always want to apologize to them when she does. This morning, however . . .

. . . she had found this, and was intent on chewing and playing with it, so she ran on past the ducks without noticing them.

That’s it. Just a quiet, routine morning walk. I’m grateful to have so much of my normal routine intact. Knowing how many people are having their lives turned upside down, I almost feel guilty about it. But that’s another post for another day. Maybe.

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Social distancing. . .

I am fortunate in many ways. One of them is that the current need for social distancing has not impacted my life all that much—I’m pretty solitary to begin with.

Nonetheless, the knowledge that I can’t travel, must stay home and avoid people, immediately made me want to hit the road. I have womanfully resisted the urge, until today, when I decided a trip to the beach in the van would be ok , since I would still be isolated in my own “home”, and when out, could easily be more than six feet from any other person.

I figured even my favorite walking beach might be unusually crowded, and it was. See all the people?

Look carefully—they’re there. I think I counted ten vehicles in the parking lot, and saw at least seven people on the beach. About what I would expect on a summer weekend.

It was typical spring Oregon beach weather, which means windy. I figure any virus trying to get to me—or anyone else for that matter—didn’t have a chance.

More pictures.

Holed up there out of the wind for a bit. Scamp kept bringing me the remnants of her stick, and I actually managed to get it away from her to throw it a couple of times. It finally got too short for me to risk playing tug any more—she’s not particularly careful about avoiding my fingers, and her jaws are very strong—to her disappointment.

Heading back downwind to the van:

And now I’m here . . .

. . . overlooking my beautiful valley home, creating this post.

Hope this finds you all well, coping, and not overly anxious.

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Bastendorf Beach at low tide

We haven’t had a lot of sun lately, but today was our third sunny day in a row, with rain in the forecast for tomorrow, so I decided to go to the beach. I haven’t been to Bastendorf as much as other beaches in the area for a couple of reasons, so decided to head there. And am glad I did. Started by heading toward the cliffs. (more…)

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Am headed south on I-5 to California for Christmas. One would thing that winter weather when driving in the winter would not come as a surprise, but today . . . did. For one thing, it was weird.

Usually if there is anything to worry about, it’s over Mount Ashland, but that was dry. No, things got intense south of Weed. First rain, then a little snow mixed with the rain, but nothing to worry about. But a few more miles, and it looked like this.

You can’t see it, but more snow than rain was hitting the windshield at that point.

The temperature dropped as we got lower (DROPPED! THAT IS WEIRD!) and the visibility got worse as the precipitation increased. All this exacerbated by traffic–trucks can throw up a LOT of water spray. I didn’t get too worried until there was slush in the traffic lanes, though.

It never go to the point where snow or even slush accumulated where tires go, though, and eventually the snow stopped, though the rain and winds intensified, with visibility dropping further because of fog (low flying clouds). I did slow down for most of this, though probably not below 40 mph. I pulled off at the rest area at Lakehead to gather my wits and breathe a bit.

Had decided to head for a new CG, and Army Corps CG that Allstays claimed is open all year. It’s not. Got here just after three, to closed and locked gates. I should have known better and checked beforehand, because I’ve run into this at other AC CGs. I need to send feedback to Allstays and prompt them to update their info.

Anyway, I was tired, and it gets dark early at this time of year (winter solstice and all), and there is a nice pullout to park in, so . . . here we are. So far, three other vehicles have come out, but turned around and left (it’s a dead end) without saying boo to me, so I think I’m ok for the night. One of those times when it’s particularly nice to be self-contained.

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All three of us–E, J, and me–have memories of being taken to Glacier National Park when we were kids, and it had been on our planned itinerary from the start. We were able to keep it in our revised itinerary, so we headed east on Highway 2 toward Kalispell, where we spent two nights so we could do a day trip in Glacier. The drive over was beautiful, enhanced by seeing blue sky for the first time since Saturday, but I didn’t stop to take pictures.

I stayed in a private CG along the Flathead river that was quite nice. (more…)

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(A friend called the big stick that Scamp tackled back at the Clearwater river “The One That Got Away”.)

This is the best stick that Scamp has found since we got back from Idaho. It was at one of our usual walking places–it wasn’t there when we did this walk yesterday. Part of what made it a good stick for her was its size.

She was delighted, and I was delighted with her delight.. She loves big sticks.

She often carries smaller sticks by one end, letting the other drag along the ground. She tried that with this one, but often found the balance point and carried it that way.

I chose to walk out in the road instead of the path bordering the pond, figuring that would make carrying the stick easier for her. With limited success.

She carried is at least a couple hundred yards before letting it go. And then picked it up again on the way back.

She often shakes her sticks–it’s an instinctual movement for killing prey once it’s caught, an instinct that CJ didn’t have. It’s been bed out of retrievers and setters–that’s one reason I always thought CJ had some setter blood in her. Anyway, Scamp tried from time to time to shake this one, but it was big enough it was more like the stick was shaking her. I tried to capture the effect, but am not sure I was successful.

Eventually she again abandoned it, but it had greatly enhanced our afternoon walk. Maybe it will be there again when we go out.

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Farragut is a large park, much of it an a natural or at least unimproved state. It would bear another visit, but at a carefully chosen date–there is much evidence of heavy use, because of its proximity to Spokane I assume, and as large as it is, I would prefer to be there along with fewer people. There were a couple of disappointments: while there are extensive trails, they are virtually unmarked, and the park doesn’t have a good map of them for visitors; and they don’t allow dogs down by the water. This seems to be an Idaho thing–dogs were not permitted by the water at Ponderosa either. So no swimming after sticks for Scamp there.

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Not exactly a snappy title, and reveals how the trip is fading into the past, but I shall persist because I have discovered I like going back and reading old posts about former trips.

Once descended from Hells Canyon, I set out heading north with only vague plans for the next few days. One of my half-brothers and his wife retired a few years ago and moved to Grangeville. He’s the sibling I know the least, but I’ve always enjoyed visits with them*, and was curious about their new place, so that was my first goal. I was also curious to see Grangeville; I hadn’t been there for decades. Suffice it to say it has changed enough that I didn’t recognize a single thing about it.

I eventually managed to find Mike and Debbie’s place. (more…)

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I’m trying to get my inner brain out of the notion that if blogging doesn’t happen within a day or two of the events to be blogged, it’s not worth doing. So here goes.

When I left, Sept. 2, heat was the biggest barrier to trip enjoyment. Hard to related to today, as I look out at a wet gray day, but there it is. I had spent hours poring over Allstays (the app I rely on for 90%+ of my camping planning) and weather apps, and had a plan for getting across the eastern Oregon desert in relative comfort. Which was semi-successful.

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A-a-and new battery is in

And it was almost as fiddly as anticipated.

First, buy your battery. Normally hardly worth mentioning, but this sucker is HEAVY. Happily, when I got to the Napa store and took it out of the car and set it on the curb, an older gentleman (within a few years of my age, probably) offered to carry it into the store. I took him up on the offer, and it turned out to be a win-win I think–I got the battery inside, and he got to feel good about himself, on two counts–proud of himself for being still able to do it, and good for having done a good deed. When I was thanking him afterwards, I said something like “your good deed for the day”, and he agreed–and thanked me 🙂.

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Ha! Battery is out . . .

And in the car, ready to take down to Napa.

Shows what stubbornness and a bit of cogitation regarding angles and lifting will do.

So the job is 40% done. I don’t know if our local Napa will have the right battery, though I’m hoping, and I honestly expect getting it all back together to be harder than taking it all apart. Though I won’t have to go searching for tools, which will help.

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. . . By an “emergency” van project.

Copied from my FB page:

The battery of my van is dead, so I have been educating myself on what to do. It’s never been replaced, so have decided that the obvious thing to do is buy a new one and replace it (it’s eight years old). Should be a simple, routine operation, right? I’ve done it myself at least once on every other vehicle I’ve owned. But no—it is clearly going to be a major pain in the a$$. Starting with getting the old one out.

First, find your battery. Call me oblivious, but I had literally never noticed that I saw no battery when I opened the hood. Turns out the battery is UNDER THE FLOOR UNDER THE DRIVER’S FEET. Just watched a video of someone removing his battery, and is clearly going to be a challenge. Followed, no doubt, by the challenge of installing the new one.

Stay tuned.

Decided to get started today, even though it’s Sunday and couldn’t get the battery today.

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72 is good

I had the best birthday I’ve had in years this year. It was a peak experience in more than one sense of the term. So I’ll start there.

I knew I’d be on the road for my birthday, which meant spending it alone. Which has happened before and is in general just fine with me, but I did give some thought to making it just a bit special. Didn’t know just where I’d be, and weather and fire changed my vague plans after getting on the road, but it worked out for me to spend two nights in one spot in Hells Canyon, which was one of my goals. Having been born and raised in Idaho and Oregon, I’ve heard/known about Hells Canyon all my life, and my first year of teaching was in a town practically on its border as the crow flies. Nonetheless, I had never been there and knew nothing about its terrain, other than that it’s rugged. So, four days into the rip I headed up (and up and up) to a small campground that turned out to be way nicer than I expected. It got cooler and nicer (and bumpier–about 11 miles of gravel, most of it washboarded) as we climbed. Here are a few pictured from the trip up.

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Scamp swim videos

Scamp is the first dog I’ve owned who is willing to swim.  Indeed, she actually seems to like it. Last August or so, she learned to fetch sticks tossed into the river.  We were aided and abetted by a small group of dogs and their people who go down to the park for the purpose of doing just that. I’ve now collected several videos of Scamp swimming to get sticks, and decided that I’m just going to post them all rather than embed them in the chronological story of my life, such as it is.

Getting video of her getting a stick I’ve tossed into the water is not as easy as it sounds.  I have to remember beforehand that I want some video, so that the phone is out and the camera is on and ready to go.  Then I have to juggle tossing in the stick and remembering to point the camera and start the video recording.  So my first attempts were somewhat lame. (more…)

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