Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Walk through Silverton Oregon

Since the hospital where I am having my gallbladder surgery is located in Silverton, Oregon, I have taken plenty of trips into Silverton this past couple of months,and thought I would share some of the pictures of this very pretty little town.

The first time we ever visited Silverton was quite a few years ago, and we found this little park right in town. This little park has a covered walking bridge that goes over the Silver Creek that runs through Silverton. I love covered bridges, and this is a fun little bridge to walk over. So now, just about every time we drive through Silverton we stop at this park.


The bridge goes over this pretty creek that runs right behind all the businesses right on the main road through town. It is neat to look down the back of all the buildings, many have decks that look out over the water, although they don't look like they are in use any more. The last time we went, the water was sparkling in the sunlight.


There were pink blooms all through the park - the Rhododendrons and Azaleas all looked very pretty, as well as all the other pretty flowers and shrubs.


The buildings all through Silverton are older and have a lot of character, I love just walking through town and driving around and seeing the different building designs.


There are also many different murals painted throughout the town you can take a walking tour of the murals and read information all about the different murals at the Silverton Chamber of Commerce Website. The murals are all interesting and have historical significance, since I enjoy history, things like these murals are really enjoyable to me.

The other thing I enjoy in Silverton are all the fun little shops, I love walking through the different antique shops, there is also an old historic movie theater in town which we once went to with friends of ours to see The Pirates of The Caribbean, the theater only shows one movie at a time, but it has a wonderful old fashioned feel to it, and was a fun place to go to the movies.

There are plenty of different coffee shops and cafes throughout town too, I haven't had the opportunity to visit many of them, but last time we were there we tried out a coffee shop that was housed in an old gas station. It was fun trying out a new coffee place and walking around the downtown area.

 

One of the most interesting murals I saw on this last trip was a long wall painted with a very large mural telling the story of Bobbie the Wonder Dog, who got separated from his family on a road trip to Indiana, and he made his way all the way to Silverton, Oregon back in 1923. He became very famous for his astounding journey of 2,551 miles, even Rin Tin Tin laid a wreath at his grave, Bobbie was laid to rest in Portland in 1927. You can read all about this story at Bobbie The Wonder Dog's Wikipedia page. I thought this was a pretty interesting story, and without the historic mural I would probably have never known about it. I look forward to exploring the rest of the murals this summer.


So that is just a small bit of Silverton. The town is also full of beautiful historic homes, a wonderful farmer's market, pet parades, and other small town festivities. The town is close to the Oregon Gardens so if anyone is headed out in that direction I would highly encourage a stop in Silverton, one of my favorite small towns out in rural Oregon. :)

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Monday, May 25, 2015

A Visit to the Oregon State Capital Park

The last couple of weeks have been very busy as we prepare for the end of the school year, and our youngest son's graduation from high school. My daughter will be graduating with her two year degree this mid June as well. So we have a very busy upcoming couple of weeks.

Last week we attended my son's last choir concert. He performs with the concert choir and Socialaires group which is similar to a Jazz choir. Between my son and daughter this is our 6th performance, and I look forward to the spring concert every year. The music selection is wonderful, both classic music, and fun contemporary music. The choir teacher is a wonderful teacher, who all the kids love and respect. I will definitely miss this event!


We also attended Senior awards night, my son received his academic letters for every term and gold honors cord for graduation. Great job Joe!!


Last Tuesday we hosted the teen girl's bible study, and I thought I would share the dessert I made. We have been so busy the dessert had to be quick and easy, but I still wanted it to be yummy. I had purchased a Brown Sugar Maple Cake Mix and Frosting this past fall that was in my pantry and I thought that would be perfect topped with my brown sugar bacon. The bacon turned out delicious and was great on the cupcakes, I think this bacon would go well with any spice or caramel/brown sugar flavored cake. For my gluten free guest I kept some larger pieces of brown sugar bacon on a separate plate and topped them with a little bit of the Maple frosting which happened to be gluten free. Everyone loved the dessert!


Then Thursday arrived, and it was time for my son to head off to his choir tour to San Francisco.  The train station was about an hour away in Salem, Oregon. This was the first time my son had been on a trip by himself, he was very excited, and I was nervous, but excited for him to be able to go on such a fun trip. The train station was much smaller that I thought it would be, and the building was really beautiful. I thought it was nice that he was departing from Salem rather than the very busy Portland station, it really made it less stressful I believe. We even got to wait for the train to arrive and see him off.


He turned around to get a goodbye picture and one more goodbye for his girlfriend and family. Then his train departed and we waved goodbye. I finally got to talk to him tonight, he had just finished spending the day at Great America and went on every ride and loved it. Tomorrow he will tour San Francisco a bit more, then head home in the evening for a very long train ride back home. I look forward to hearing all about his trip!


Since we were in Salem, after we dropped Joe off at the train, we realized we were right around the corner from the state capital, the rose gardens were beautiful, so we decided to stop and walk around a bit before we headed home.


The Oregon State Capital park is full of beautiful trees, and roses, as well as a really neat looking sculpture, and is surrounded buy beautiful architecture. I hadn't been down to the state capital in years, and had forgotten what everything looked like.


The roses were all in bloom, which was a real treat. Right now Portland is celebrating the Rose Festival and we are usually too busy this time of year to attend, or to get out to the Portland Rose gardens, which I really enjoy but haven't been to in years. So I was glad I got to walk through this rose garden at just the right time. The roses smelled wonderful!


Here is a close up of the Gold Oregon Pioneer which sits on top of the capital building. I think it looks really pretty against the slightly grey clouds with the sun shining on it. I vaguely remember learning about this statue as a grade school student.


The State Library building was right next to the garden, we popped in for a bit but the book room was closed. Very pretty building though.


Throughout the garden are paving stones and stones with the different counties listed, we finally found our county- Clackamas County, and then realized they were laid out in alphabetical order.



I really loved this huge sculpture and how it looked from every angle.


Around the base of the sculpture was a pool of water, definitely a nice park to walk around, lots of beautiful things to see. We had to head home after a bit, but we all agreed it would be fun to come back and explore some more.


One last pretty picture of one of the roses in the garden, I just loved this brilliant bright pink/red color. I'm glad we decided to stop and literally "smell the roses" it is so fun to take little moments like that. :)


I am looking forward to my son returning from his trip and hearing all about his adventures. Next week will be equally busy, between my surgery, my son's last school play, then onto graduation, we will be one busy family!

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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Late May Garden Update

The garden is looking really pretty right now, there are plenty of flowers in bloom, and the birds, along with their babies, have been visiting the feeders all week. Here's what's happening in the garden this late May.

The Bachelor Buttons in the flower  bed are still producing beautiful blooms, the snapdragons have opened up as well, snapdragons are one of my favorite flowers and I have them all through the garden, they often plant themselves and survive the winter, so we have some mature snapdragons from last year as well as some new ones. I also added petunias to the bed to help it fill out a bit.


In addition to adding petunias to the flower bed, I decided to devote a whole barrel to them, I found this pretty little plant trellis, and I just loved the look of it in the planter with bright colored petunias. I usually devote all open planting pots to veggies, but this year I am just in love with flowers, so I decided I would plant more this year. I look forward to watching the petunias fill out and hopefully pour over the sides. I also planted another maidenhair fern in my little shady corner. :)


Some volunteer mystery squash has popped up in the bed where I had squash planted last year. I took out most of them but I may leave one of these just to see what they are. Otherwise in this bed I planted some mini pumpkins in both orange and white. I really wanted to grow a larger pumpkin last year and they just didn't do well, so I thought I would try the tiny pumpkins again. Around the boarder of the bed I planted some Walla Walla Onions just to see if they would grow here, if they do, that would be great, they are a Pacific NW favorite! Most of my peppers are doing great except this twiggy little one which the flock of Starlings got curious about and plucked off all the leaves, they left most of the peppers alone except two, one has come back, but this one isn't doing well. I will probably be replacing it or planting an Anaheim in its place.


The herbs are doing well, the chives, thyme, and sage are all blooming right now which makes the bees very happy. I love the purple sage flowers! I re-potted the chives and gave them a bigger pot so they could spread out more, I also re-potted the parsley and planted some new Italian flat leaf parsley. The crows have been visiting the garden regularly, they don't get into the veggies at all, what they are looking for are crackers that I have been putting out for them. They are very shy, so I can only get pictures of them through a small opening in the curtain. I am hoping the crows will be regular visitors, I have heard stories about crows leaving shiny little gifts, like beads or metal bits they find, in spots where they get fed, I think that would be pretty neat.


Just like the last few years I am planting two varieties of green beans, one green, and one purple variety. They are a summer favorite around our house.


I also planted golden summer squash and zucchini. So now the garden is all planted and ready to tend to this summer.

The starlings have had their babies, and my are they a noisy bunch! They have been going  through one to two suet cakes a day, as well as a feeder and a half worth of seed, and any bread I put out for them. The babies are so cute, they are learning how to feed themselves, but seem to prefer their parents to feed them, and they definitely let them know. All week I have able to watch the baby starlings being fed, they are nearly as big as their parents but a little fluffier and sort of a gray-brown color.


They have been perched in the Weeping Katsura tree for most of the days, as well as hanging out where I put bread down. Although loud, and although they ruined a pepper plant, I really enjoy watching them. This week I got to see them respond to the Kestrel in the area behind our house, which for one afternoon was actively flying over head pursuing the little birds. Just before he would fly over, the starlings would somehow know he was nearby and take off all at once along with the babies. The kestrel in flight is quite a beautiful bird, although I'm sure the Starlings and my other little birds don't think so!


One day last week I was bird watching and all of a sudden in flies about five large birds, the likes of which I had never seen. They looked almost tropical and I quickly grabbed my camera to snap a few pictures. They were as big as the starlings roughly, and very beautifully colored. Sort of an olive green yellow, with black and white, and a bright yellow across a very large light greenish beak. I was so excited to have a new bird in the garden!


Of course with its distinct markings and beak it was very easy to identify after flipping through my bird book, and I found out that they were Evening Grosbeaks. I had heard of this bird, but always thought it was smaller like a finch. They have been back to the bird feeders multiple times this week, and it has been fun watching them. Aren't they beautiful?


It is definitely the year for more birds in or around our yard, we have a Great Blue Heron that flies over head lately as well, I usually see them on the outskirts of town or in the surrounding countryside. But last week we spotted a beautiful huge heron in a little pond that is a couple streets over. Now I see, presumably the same one, flying overhead headed in the direction of the little pond.

So that's whats been happening in our little garden this late May, it has been a beautiful month out in the garden!

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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Our Fun Day at McMenamins UFO Festival

Last weekend my hubby Gary and I had a fun date day. We spent the day at the McMenamins UFO Festival in McMinnville, Oregon. I have heard of the festival for many years, and have always thought it would be a fun event to attend. Since I know that my upcoming surgery will have me cooped up in the house for longer than I would prefer, I thought it would be fun for Gary and I to get out and spend some time together doing something fun.

The UFO Festival takes place in a small Oregon town a little over an hour away from where we live. The festival started as a celebration to remember the famous 1950 UFO sighting and photo by Farmer Trent. Many people will recognize this classic UFO picture that you can see at the above link. :)


Some of the festivities took place at The Hotel Oregon. You can even go up on the roof. We didn't go inside this year, but next year I think it would be fun to go back and stay for a bit longer. I loved the old building though, and the whole town was fun to walk through.

There were plenty of vendor booths set up with fun alien goodies and lots of delicious smelling food. I couldn't resist getting a picture with this giant alien and donning an alien bobble headband.


The main thing I was looking forward to was attending one of the speaker lectures. I watch The History channel for fun all the time, and often enjoy all the UFO specials. Since I was a child, stories about UFOs and Cryptozoology stories like Bigfoot and Loch Ness, have always intrigued me. Stanton Friedman, a nuclear physicist and UFO lecturer is often on the History Channel specials, so I have been seeing him on TV for years. I thought it would be really cool to meet him and hear him lecture in person.


The lecture was really interesting, the slide show he brought had some really cool vintage pictures from the Roswell era. Stanton Friedman stressed the importance of going to the original source whenever researching something, which was a good take away and applies to any type of researching.

Before the lecture started, Gary saw Stanton Friedman walk in before the lecture, and he was greeting a few people. Normally I am on the quieter side and a little hesitant about meeting new people, but Gary encouraged me to introduce myself and get a picture. I'm glad I did, Stanton was very friendly, and it was really nice meeting him. Thanks for encouraging me Gary! :)


One thing that was really interesting for me to learn was that Stanton Friedman was a student at the University of Chicago in 1955 & 1956 and so was Carl Sagan at the same time. When I was in high school I was really interested in astronomy and bought myself a ticket to the Carl Sagan lecture back around 1990. My parents dropped me off downtown and I felt pretty cool being one of the youngest people there, it was mostly college students and adults attending the lecture. Sadly Carl Sagan passed away in 1996, so I'm glad I got to hear him speak. Carl Sagan and Stanton Friedman have differing opinions on the UFO phenomenon so it is neat to have been able to hear both views.


I brought home some fun souvenirs, a copy of the Project Blue Book Report, and one of Friedman's books, which was a signed copy, which I thought was pretty fun.

I also got some fun and silly alien goodies, bendy aliens, a squishy UFO, alien bobble headbands for the kids, and a souvenir cup.


Overall it was a very fun day, I definitely want to go back next year and be there to watch the costume parade, they even have a pet parade where pets get dressed up in alien and UFO themed costumes, I will definitely want to bring the whole family for that!

The drive out was gorgeous. Red clover fields are in bloom everywhere. I had to stop for some pictures along the way. This field was particularly beautiful.



This close up shot is so pretty, I love the dark pink color, it is really amazing to see a whole field of this color!


It was so nice spending the day with Gary, and the long ride gave us time to talk, which is so important for couples to have the time to do. Walking around and exploring McMinnville and the festival was really enjoyable! What a fun date day! :)

Keeping with the UFO theme this week I set out two metal UFO ornaments, that I found while cleaning out a closet, next to my tulips, and it made for a fun display. These particular tulips looked especially pretty when they opened all the way up.


This weekend I plan on catching up on more blogging and hope to have plenty written before my Gallbladder surgery which will be this coming Tuesday. I have a garden update to post as well, as I spent last week very busy in the garden getting all of my veggie garden planted.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Silver Falls Mother's Day Birding and Wildflower Festival

Every Mother's Day I love to choose a fun family outing, most often I choose a pretty park or garden to visit. This year I had a few spots in mind, one of the places on my list was Silver Falls State Park, when I went to the Silver Fall's Park website and saw that they were hosting a Mother's Day Birding and Wildflower Festival, I knew that that would be the perfect choice for my Mother's Day outing. We decided to go on Saturday so we would have plenty of time to enjoy the day. The weather was perfect, sunny but not too hot. The drive out was quite a bit further than I thought, for some reason I had it in my mind that it was only twenty five minutes away, but the trip was closer to forty minutes, which was just fine considering the scenery on the drive is just beautiful.

The event drew many other families celebrating mother's day, some where there to picnic and hike, and others were there for the birding and wildflower festival. Even though there were a lot of people, the park is so big that it didn't at all feel crowded. We arrived at the greeting tent and picked up an activity form with all the different stations to check out, then we got started right away.


The first activity on the agenda was the raptor show, we saw some very beautiful examples of falcons and hawks, including the Kestrel (bottom right), when I heard his call I immediately recognized it as the bird I had seen only two days before right behind my house!


After the bird show was the class I was most looking forward to, a bird sketching class. I have just recently started a nature journal, which I will be sharing about in another post, and I was eager to work on my sketching skills. We all really enjoyed the class, we learned some really great tips and techniques for sketching, and we all loved it. I was really impressed with Gary and the kids' drawing skills, they all did a great job! Later that afternoon, Joe and I popped in to hear the first part of the same teacher's lesson on sketching wildflowers. I had so much fun and think it might be fun to take more art classes at our community college sometime.


After our art class we explored some of the buildings, I was so enamored with my surroundings I forgot to take pictures of the historic buildings, many of which had been built by the CCC during the great depression, the buildings were interesting to explore and the lodge is very pretty inside. Inside the lodge was a native plant display. It was interesting seeing examples of so many different native plants, many of which we all recognized, and some that were new to us which we then happened upon later on in the day when we were exploring the park. Below are the different moss and lichen which I have always been drawn to, we have so many beautiful different types of moss in our forests.


Each and every plant specimen was so interesting to look at, definitely the right time of year for a flower display, so many things are in bloom right now!


All of the colors were so pretty, I have always loved the bright yellow orange California Poppy, it grows everywhere around here, and then there's the Scotch Broom, it is a very pretty bright yellow and covers many of our hills, however I am highly allergic to it. I vividly remember hiking once when I was a teen, I had veered from the path and gotten turned around. When I finally spotted the hiking trail it was unfortunately across from a field of Scotch Broom. Not knowing how else to get back to the trail I decided to go through the scotch broom, and by the time I was through to the other side, I was sneezing repeatedly and my eyes were nearly shut for how itchy and watery they were. I had to sit down for some time and wait for the allergy to pass before I could finish my hike. Since then I have carefully avoided it!


Here are Sarah and Joe checking out all the plants, it was really neat to be able to see the different plant specimens so up close, rather than just in a picture, definitely a fun learning experience. :)


In the lodge was a taxidermy mountain lion. I was glad to be able to show the kids this cougar so up close, they are so huge! The paws are much larger than I had imagined, and you can tell how muscular they are. We have seen them in the zoo before, but of course not so close up, it is hard to get an idea how big something is until you are right next to it. It is a bit unnerving to think that these cats roam around our forests, and have even been spotted in our town, and just outside of town. This is why I like to hike in groups, and even then like to stay aware! I definitely wouldn't want to run into one of these!! That being said, I think they are beautiful and fascinating animals.


When we were done with our classes, and exploring all the native flowers and different activities, it was time to check out the falls. This is South Falls, and you can even take a trail down and walk right behind the falls! I am still on restricted activity due to my pesky gallbladder, but I definitely plan to come back when I am back to healthy and make the hike down, how fun it would be to walk behind the falls, many people were making the hike down, and it looked like fun! I was quite happy however to enjoy the beauty from the top. :)


The creek leading down to the falls was also very pretty, I love the sun filtering through the different green colors of leaves.


The view was just breathtaking!


We walked out on this bridge that looked straight down toward the falls.


We saw wildflowers blooming all around. Including the bright pink flower of the Salmonberry. I love the smell of the woods, especially when there is water nearby, the air is so incredibly fresh, and I think it always has a slightly sweet smell.


We spotted a field where they are trying to restore Common Camas a member of the lily family, the plants bulb was also originally a food staple for native people. The Common Camas is a very pretty blue color, I can imagine how pretty a whole field would be!


After exploring we went to the picnic area and had a little snack, and spent some time in the water. I love playing in water, but this creek had too many sharp rocks, so next time we'll bring water shoes, but it was still fun getting out in the water a bit!


Afterward we drove to a few other viewpoints in the park and explored a bit, the day was so enjoyable.


We explored the multiple varieties of moss on the trees and were definitely able to recognize some of the varieties we had seen earlier, each section of moss covered tree would have multiple different varieties, it was really fascinating.


The day was just wonderful, I was definitely recharged, I am so looking forward to all of our upcoming summer outings!


Sunday morning I had a nice morning as well, the kids surprised me with new gnomes for my garden, and Gary put together my new garden bench, and the house was all tidied up. We enjoyed a morning at church, then we stopped by to visit Gary's parents and deliver Mother's day gifts. That afternoon we all took my Mom out to lunch at Ikea and had fun doing a little shopping, it was a great day. I couldn't have asked for a nicer Mother's Day weekend!

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