January 2022

January was a fun month. We had several adventures, some of which did not go as planned but worked out well anyway.

Tommy Emmanuel. He was a lot more clear in person. This is a still from a video.

Certainly the big event of the month was seeing Tommy Emmanuel at the Alladin theater in Portland a couple weeks ago. Tommy walked onto the stage and, without a word, launched into ‘Lewis and Clark’, probably my all-time favorite piece by him, and one which I’ve been trying to play for, um, gee about two years now. It was spellbinding. Over the next few yours he played so much music I love, ‘Endless Road’, ‘Windy and Warm’, ‘Guitar Boogie’ and, of course, ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’.

For the encore, he and the opener Mike Dawes — also an amazing guitarist — vamped on ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ which was hilarious and wonderful.

The whole evening left me with a warm glow that I still feel now as I write about it.

A week or so later, the weather at the beach was perfect so we headed over the costal range for a visit to Whale Cove and the surrounding area of Depoe Bay. The cove itself does not have whales in it, — it’s too small — but the view out to the ocean often affords views of migrating pods. We hiked through an old grove of evergreens to the cove itself where we spotted seals. I think they were spotted seals, so I COULD say that we spotted spotted seals, but I won’t. The cove has two or three waterfalls spilling into it and was dazzling.

Maya at Newport

We headed down to Newport, a favorite stop for both of us and after watching the sunset from the beach had a leisurely dinner at a local place. We got a traffic alert that our road home was closed due to an accident. We assumed that this would be cleared by the time we were headed home. This is the part that did not go as planned, and I’ll come back to it in a moment.

After dinner, and relying heavily on Google maps, we made our way to Otter Crest, an ocean overlook known for having exceptionally dark skies. Here, I saw the Mily Way for the first time in..ten years? Honestly, probably a lot longer. My last memory of seeing the Milky Way is in Maine in the late eighties.

Nice to know it’s still there. Gives me a sense of place.

Then we saw a long shooting star. We were both surprised since there are no showers going on this month, at least that I know of. We only saw the one.

After all this we headed up to the road through the mountains only to find it still closed. There’s an EV station there, so we topped off our battery and waited, hoping the road would open. As the car charged, I reviewed the suggested detour on Google maps.

For my more urban friends, I should explain that the coastal range is mostly uninhabited state forest and the roads are few. The one we normally take, the one that was closed that night, is about twenty minutes north of our home. The next one southward is about a half hour’s drive south. The next “modern highway” to the north is an hour’s drive and brings you out near Portland.

The detour, however, was about twenty minutes north and was basically a local access road. It follows a river for most of it’s length and has, on Maps, some disturbingly curvy sections. Since it’s mostly for local access, you can safely assume that maintenance has been spotty.

I did not want to drive this road. We considered a hotel, but didn’t want to leave the cats without food overnight. So, around ten PM, we took several deep breaths and headed up to old route 130.

What saved us was that it was so late. This was not a good road, and if I had had pressure from other drivers wanting to go faster than me, I probably would have lost my nerve. But we were the only ones out there so we took the whole thing at twenty-five to thirty miles an hour and it was fine. Yes, there were long drop offs immediately off the road, with no shoulder and no guard rail. Yes there were several one lane bridges that looked like they were built for horses, not cars, and yes at one point the windows fogged up in a matter of seconds and we had to roll down all the windows. But the road was paved, and at twenty-five miles an hour, it’s easy to stop safely if things get out of hand.

About halfway through the drive, out in the pitch darkness of the forest, we can around a bend to see the full moon just above the horizon between two mountain slopes, and as bright orange as a pumpkin. Years from now, that is the one thing I’ll remember from this trip. It was sheer magic.

We got home safe and sound, tired and happy. By comparison to that drive, the roads her win the valley seem like models of safety. They’re not, but hey, it’s all relative.

Most of you are probably aware that Maya had surgery last month and that her recovery is going nicely. She’s had to rest a lot more than she normally does and she fills the time be “chain reading” novels. She likes to read them in one sitting, favors relatively short works, and does not like being interrupted!

She’s getting stronger and more active every day. I could, of course, go into a lot of detail about this but I feel it’s a little out of bounds, as it is so personal.

We’ve started walking every day again and were startled by this sunset a few days ago. All I can say is you never know what you’re missing when you stay indoors all the time.

Sunset over the coastal range.

The peacocks have already started growing their mating feathers so they are looking quite ostentatious lately. I was happy that they returned to the oak tree in our front yard this winter, and have been roosting there every night since sometime around Thanksgiving. I’d missed them over the summer and was happy when they started showing up again. They are not too noisy yet — that comes later — but I was treated to one very sudden honk the other day while I was out raking leaves. We only saw one chick last summer but it seems like there may have been some others we didn’t see, because there are more of them this year than last.

Show off!

Saving the best for last, our daughter is buying her first house. Well, a condo actually, but still; it’s very stressful a dn she’s handling really well. Please send some kind thoughts her way. It’s a big step, but she’s definitely ready. They really do grow up so fast. *Sigh* I am so proud of her.

I guess that’s it for now. I have no idea what next month has in store for us but stop by here in a few weeks to find out.

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Aerial Bear

I am a bear living among humans, and have gotten so good at it that people rarely notice. I am a husband, step-father, author, musician, and much else.