We've gone all legit and whatnot and have moved our blog over to it's own home. Check out the new and improved Casa Caudill.
We've gone all legit and whatnot and have moved our blog over to it's own home. Check out the new and improved Casa Caudill.
No, not Disneyland - Hawaii.
Between all of my stress from work and the hard work we've been doing on the house (not stressful, but physically demanding), I am *so* looking forward to our trip to Oahu for my 30th later this summer. I was a little bummed about our hotel at first (through Hotwire, so we didn't know until after we paid), but it'll be great since we tend to get in the car and drive anyhow.
View from the hotel
Recently a friend of mine came back from Oahu and recommended we take the LOST tour, so I'm definitely looking into that. I think we'll also hit up some of the beaches on the North Shore that we couldn't when we went with Jenny & Sean b/c of the treacherous surf. I also want to go to the waterfall at the Waimea Valley Audubon Center since it sounds like the water is warmer than what we encountered in Maui, and it's much easier to get to as well.
Thanks to the fine folks over at Fixer-Upper: A Victorian House blog, I have spent the last hour or so on HGTV's new Rate My Space. It's exactly what it sounds like - Hot or Not for houses, and yes, it's addicting. During that time I have found what is quite possibly the world's most perfect bathroom. That floor is just exquisite! Alas, it also reminds me just how awful our own bathroom is. So while the time spent on the site was good in that it got my creative juices flowing, it also brought out the green-eyed jealousy monster. That said, I'm off to clean the bathroom and hang our new shower curtain. Maybe that'll make me feel better.
I've been struggling with what to do with our bathroom. The layout is awkward, but we don't have the time, money, or energy to do much beyond basic cosmetic updates right now. It's somewhat dark and just very drab and not at all a place you want to be. I never take a bath in there because ... well, why would I want to spend any more time than I have to? This doesn't have to be the case, I know ... but I just don't know *what* to do with it. Or at least I didn't, until a couple of days ago.
Like so many situations in my life, I blame Martha Stewart; this time around, her "Thinking Pink" cover story. I'm not normally the type of girl who likes pink, flower decor. I never felt the urge to spend thousands of dollars at Shabby Chic (although I did used to live around the corner from one and would stop in when I was feeling frenzied and could really see why people might fawn over that style).
Anyhow, the other day I decided I want to paint our bathroom a very pale shade of pink ... almost white, with just a hint of blush. (I'm reminded of Julia Roberts saying "blush & bashful" at this moment).
But paint alone cannot undo all that befalls our bathroom. No. We'll need a new shower curtain too, and by golly, I found it! What you can't see from this picture is that the shower curtain is almost textured. The giant pink dahlias are ... um ... quilted on. It looks like a gorgeous old quilt that's been handed down through the generations. It's just ... well, so girly. And I love it. Of course, this means Alan is going to hate it, but boo to him. I clean the bathroom, so I figure for all that hard work, I should at least be able to reap some sort of reward.
I also picked up a couple of little glass vases to put up on the top shelf that I can add fresh flowers too. Oh, and I have a couple of distressed white frames I picked up at Pottery Barn back in the day (like when I worked there and with my employee discount they only cost $3.99).
Oooh, this bathroom is going to be just so purty. I doubt we'll paint anytime soon, but I can feel better knowing that paint is coming and it'll be gawjus! And I'm loathe to admit it, but just a bit Shabby Chic.
Because we paid enough over the asking price of our house last summer, Alan sometimes has a bit of buyer's remorse and starts asking himself, "did we get screwed?" I don't think we did, given what else we were seeing at the time in our price range, but I think it's always a good idea to stay on top of the market and understand what the houses in your neighborhood are going for. Today, I found a house that is directly across the street from Children's Hospital whose asking price is over what we paid. A house one block over (which albeit a beautiful brown shingle house) is located right around the corner from a pretty notorious liquor store and selling for $699k. A house 5 blocks away that has had a superficial cosmetic makeover (lots of loud, bright paint to detract from the fact that the home is seriously lacking in character) is new to the market at $719k. This makes me feel better. I was worried when we moved to the 'hood that we had bought the most expensive house in the neighborhood and would spend years trying to build equity. Given the houses that are currently selling all around us, I think we're in a really good spot. Plus, we're constantly making improvements to the house that in the end can only help us, not hurt us. Still ... it does get me to thinking about our curb appeal (or lack thereof).
As I mentioned in a previous post, we haven't been able to do much yard work b/c of the weather. Looking back through old pictures though, it's amazing how far we've come from the ghetto yard days.
If I remember, tonight I'll take pics to prove our progress. We now have grass where the dead, brown weeds used to reside; we have rose bushes that are producing roses, and it generally looks ten times better. Still not finished however ...
I like the look of these frames and think something like this would be good for over my dresser. Maybe I could find large frames with small cut-outs in the matting and I could frame my "vintage" Hawaii postcards?
I saw this welcome mat and thought it was the cutest thing I had seen all morning (it is, afterall, only 7:48 a.m.) and that I must have it. What do you think?
We spent a significant amount of time this weekend updating the bedroom. We started painting on Friday around 6pm and finished around 8pm on Saturday. Obviously, we took some breaks. I was really thankful we had the guest bedroom so sleep in b/c there was no way whatsoever we could have slept in the master overnight. Of course, I hightailed it back to our bed the next morning around 7am b/c the guest bed is a double and Alan is a blanket hog. Not a good night sleep, to say the least.
We still need to add the sconces above the bed and put up some artwork, but we've made a lot of progress.
Alan's painting the bathroom door and will have that hung probably by next weekend so that we can close the door between those two rooms.
I am really pleased with the way it looks. The paint didn't dry perfectly and we could likely use a third coat, but it's good enough, especially since our plaster walls have so many inconsistencies and imperfections. Yeah, let's blame the plaster.
I'm also hoping to get a chandelier for the bedroom. That's pretty far down on the list of "things we need" but we do need to address some of the lighting issues in that room sooner rather than later.
When Alan came home today, we immediately got to work emptying the bedroom and starting on the first coat of paint. The color we chose is called Tropical Skies from Behr. Since Behr sucks, we color matched for Ralph Lauren, which is what we used on the furniture, in the hallway, and in the office.
At 9pm, we finished our first coat. We need one more, at least. Maybe two (although I hope not).
We just had AT&T uverse installed at the house.
Initial impressions are very good thus far:
- The hardware is better (I get a 4 port router and wireless AP in one box, so I can ditch my wireless router).
- The hardware is much smaller (for dvr and remote cable boxes)
- Speeds are good (5.6mb down, tested, and 1mb up, untested)
- DVR has a real interface (from microsoft's old dvr product, whatever it's called)
- DVR has 4 tuners (only one HD currently, but that's a software update for later this year claimed the tech)
- Also later this year any cable box will be able to pull content from the main DVR
- DVR is programmable online
- AT&T is all digital signals (even non-HD) so standard channels are much crisper
At this point if they just continue to deliver what it appears they're delivering I'll be ecstatic.
The weather here is so unpredictable. Sunday and Monday were really warm, with a slight breeze. Today I wore a cute knit dress I bought a couple of weeks ago and it kept flying up. The wind right now is out of control; it's shaking the hideous aluminum windows we have in the office and living room.
We often talk about projects for the house, but for some reason, even though we actively *need* new windows, we never think about how we're going to go about doing it. We seem to be really good about the fairly cheap projects or those that can be done over a long period of time so that they seem less expensive, but the idea of paying so much money for windows makes me cringe.
We've been watching a lot of Curb Appeal on HGTV and lately they've done a couple of bungalows. The most recent one made the house look absolutely gorgeous. Now I want a stained concrete porch with wood railings and a porch swing. Of course, we're talking $$$ and a project that'll never happen, but it's fun to think about what it would look like if it did.
Clearly, I'm a craftsman bungalow kind of gal. Anyone who followed along during our first house search, and then again last year, knows that is the style of house I've been wanting for a long time. I've been looking at the current house listings to get a feel for what people have done with their yards (since that's the bane of our existence now), and I'm noticing that I'm really liking some of the mid-century modern and contemporary houses. Not all of them, mind you, but some of them are really great. I especially love the ones with floor-to-ceiling windows or vaulted, planked ceilings. I really like this house too. The openness of the rooms reminds me a lot of the loft, without the annoying neighbors and Amtrak noise. I keep telling Alan that for our next house we should buy a lot somewhere and put up a Sunset Breeze House.
As much as I love my the new house and the updated kitchen, I really, really, really miss the fridge we had in the loft.
It's funny b/c I spent so much time complaining about that kitchen and looking at this picture, it doesn't look that bad. Maybe absence makes the heart grow fonder?
We're making progress and experiencing setbacks in the backyard.
Today we managed to plant three rosebushes along the side fence (I want like 6 more, but Alan thinks I am insane). In doing so, Alan managed to pull up an old, dead tree stump from who knows when.
As I was on the other side of the yard pulling up crab grass where we want to put the gazebo, I stumbled upon what I thought was a brick. Um, not quite. Turns out there are THREE cinderblocks buried there and one of them has a tree root growing through it! Alan's been digging for awhile and has managed to remove two of them, but the one with the root is quite the challenge.
I think we're going to finish pulling up the crab grass, see what we can do about the last cinder block, and call it a day.
No time for a big, in depth post, because there are a lot of things underway.
I can tell you we've demo'd the concrete in the yard and planted grass, we've picked new colors for the bedroom and dining room and purchased the paint, Alan took down the shower doors in the bathroom, and I've planned another vacation (for my 30th).
I like to look at real estate listings still; not so much searching for a house, but rather, seeing what other people might be doing with theirs to give me ideas. I stumbled across this listing and thought it was both hysterical and very sad at the same time. </a></b></a> jent9202003, unfotunately, knows all too well what it's like dealing with this type of person.
Fixer. This property was all fixed up 2 years ago but the previous owners took with them flooring, door & window trim, cabinets and, yes, the kitchen sink! The plumbing & electical work, however, is intact. Detached garage is now office/studio.
984 Est. Sq. Ft.
Lest you think the ad is exaggerating, check out these pics.
Given all that the house is STILL $465k, just $2k under what we paid for our loft. This is EXACTLY how we ended up in a condo and not a house.
It's about quarter after 9, I'm home, I've eaten dinner, and I've even put away some laundry. What's crazy is that I feel like I have so much time left to me for the night. I can read, watch more tube, finish the laundry...
I can't imagine what it would be like if I had been home at 5 or even 6pm. I would have crazy many hours to fill with, well, something. Admittedly I left late this morning (9:30) so maybe that's why things feel "in order". I recall working at Sun when I'd be at the office 6:30am to 3:30pm. Getting home around 4 didn't make me feel like I had so much time, it just made me feel idle. When I'm active at work, I'm active at home. I still suffer the stress buildup, but I think I like it this way better. I just need to throw in a few more 3 day weekends here and there to catch up.
Anyone who knew me in 1996 knows what a huge Alanis Morrisette fan I used to be. While others mocked "Ironic" I sang it with gusto and pronounced Alanis my hero, with her man-hating and her "eff you, I don't care" attitude. Then she went to India and got all spiritual and it all went downhill. She came back funny in Dogma, but I really remembered how much I liked her with her cameo in De-Lovely (an amazingly beautiful film, by the way). So when I saw this video today, I *had* to watch. "My Humps" is quite possibly one of the worst songs ever recorded and I loathe it with the hatred of 1000 fiery suns. And yet, I love Alanis singing it. If you just ignore the words ...
Do you ever have one of those incidents or happenings in life where all of a sudden it hits you that you're not a kid anymore? For me they are few and far between but when they happen it's like a really fun and welcome dose of reality. I think because Alan and I have been together since I was practically a child (I mean, who can *really* call themselves an adult at 18), there has been a constant in my life from the time when I was still a kid until now. While I wouldn't have it any other way, that has also blurred the lines from when I went from being a kid to being an adult. Sure there are markers along the way, but for some reason, they have been less distinct for me than I think they are supposed to be.
I graduated from college, and that was cool and all, but I was unable to accomplish the "adult" thing by going out and getting a job. Once I did get a job, it was just an extension of my college internship so it involved a lot of the same activities that had marked my pre-graduation life. Then I was unemployed and really, what kind of self-respecting adult sits at home all day watching TLC for 5 hours straight? And then we got married, and yes, that's a very adult thing to do, but I was marrying the same person I'd been with for over 5 years at that point, so it was kind of the logical thing to do. We'd been in love since before I could legally drink champagne, so again ... not really a monumental experience that screamed "you're an adult!" to me. Then we moved to California and while my desires were very much a catalyst for that move, it didn't turn out as I expected straight away. We lived with Alan's parents for three months and let me tell you, there's nothing like living at home with mom and dad to remind you just how immature you are. We finally moved to San Francisco and that was great on so many levels, but we lived in a shoebox of an apartment and I'd seen dorm rooms larger than that. Sure we did "adult" things like take weekend getaways and discover quality wine, but it really wasn't until I landed my job in PR that I started to feel like I was doing what an adult my age should be doing. Of course, I was a couple of years behind the pack so while my colleagues in the same position had just graduated from college and were in the process of bed hopping through the Marina, I was an old married lady who was likely overqualified for my job, but needing to do it nonetheless. I didn't necessarily feel like an adult then, but rather just old and washed up. How sad - washed up before I'd even done anything. When we bought our loft, it was a great step forward and it was awesome being homeowners, but again, I felt like we'd fallen just short of some sort of measure of adulthood that I'd envisioned - we purchased a glorified apartment because we couldn't make it into a house. In some sick and twisted corner of my mind, house = adult.
Shortly after buying the loft, I switched jobs, became a value and an asset to my company ,and started to see myself in a different light. Along the way, I went from being the new person to being an old timer who could guide a new generation. People were coming to me for feedback on ideas versus me asking others for help. I was being consulted and was providing valuable information. And I was making more money than ever before. Of course, I'm a material girl living in a material world, so it's never enough, but at some point, I hit some sort of invisible marker that said, "Now I'm an adult." Maybe it was when I started significantly contributing to our household income, or when because of the advance in my position in the world we were able to finally afford a real, honest-to-goodness house. Maybe it was when I got my first Coach bag. I can't really pinpoint when it was, but it was certainly in the not -oo-distant past.
Every now and then I still forget how far I've (we've) come and that I'm not a struggling 22 year old anymore, but rather, a pretty successful woman on the verge of her 30th birthday. It's strange because when I forget who I am or what I am, it's the smallest things that bring me back to reality. Today it was grocery shopping for dinner at Market Hall in Rockridge. As I traversed the various merchants, filling up my bag with organic green beens, grass fed beef, homemade lavender ice cream, and a highly rated wine from Italy, it really hit me that I am a real live adult woman living the life that I've really always wanted. And you know the saddest, most shallow thing about it all? I can freely admit that one of the things that brought this realization to the forefront of my mind was looking down at the gorgeous leather Coach purse that I was rocking. You know, there's nothing quite like a nice, luxury bag to make you feel like you've arrived and I'm secure enough in myself to admit that things like that are important to me. I think the other thing that really did it for me was walking back to my car and thinking about the remainder of my evening - a nice dinner and good wine with my husband to round out a hard day at the office. It doesn't seem like much, but it's really a lot to be thankful for. Life is good.
Earlier this week we finally got to try a restaurant I'd been eyeing for many months and which has been recommended wholeheartedly by everyone I know who has eaten there - Dona Tomas. It was delicious! I'm used to LA-style Mexican food and this was certainly not that. We had a ceviche to start that was served over homemade tortilla chips, then some sort of ham & queso empanada covered in Adobo sauce, followed up a chicken flauta and cauliflower pudding that was incredibly good. And I had the best darn mojito I've had in ages. It was somewhat expensive - especially for a Tuesday night dinner - but I'm really glad we went because now I understand what all the fuss is about. I definitely want to go back later this summer when we can make use of the outdoor patio in back.
Now we're off to Tuk Tuk Thai in Berkeley. Slightly down on the class scale, but I hear it's pretty decent fast Thai food. I'll let you know.
I wrote this post for my company's blog, but thought that it applied here as well.
The Power of the Internet
March 29, 2007
A ton has been written this week about what happened to Kathy Sierra and the fallout from the actions of her online attackers. Since I do not know Kathy or these other bloggers personally, there’s not a whole lot I can say about their characters or why they did what they did that hasn’t already been covered by folks like Robert Scoble, Doc Searls, Ken Camp, and countless others, including Dan Fost at the San Francisco Chronicle (his article gives a good, neutral overview on what happened).
What I can talk about, however, is the other side of the blogosphere - the one that is often overlooked in the face of controversy and punditry. This post is not meant to minimize Ms. Sierra’s experiences—they are truly appalling and make my skin crawl—but rather to show that the Internet can be a safe haven for people and the blogosphere need not be a place where people are scared to venture.
I’ve been participating in online chat rooms, message boards, and the blogosphere for many years now. In fact, I can remember discovering ICQ (a form of internet chat that I used long before IM) the first day of my freshman year of college. I’ve had countless interactions with perfectly anonymous strangers, all in the hopes of reaching out and connecting with like-minded individuals. And you know what? My life is better for it.
Sure there are scumbags out there looking for someone to prey on … someone they can use intimidation and fear tactics on to reduce to nothing, shatter confidences, and destroy faith in human kind. For some reason, the Internet gives these people a power they could never possess in their everyday lives. The meek become bold, the angry become vocal, and the depraved have an unchecked outlet, all behind an anonymous username that cannot be linked to their real identities. Like others have said though, these people exist everywhere, not just on the Internet. You’ve met them in school, at work, and out in society. The Internet simply makes it easier to find them, and for them to find you.
Lest you think I’m naïve enough to think the Internet is a magical fairy land, I’ve had my own run in with one of these individuals and yes, it does leave you shaken and scared. A couple of years ago, an angry woman from a local message board ridiculed, insulted, and threatened everyone she came across, like her hero Ann Coulter does, and I happened to be on her list. She threatened to show up at my former office, beat me to a bloody pulp, and then go after my friends and family. I was terrified, but I also knew that I couldn’t slink away and hide. Not to be glib, but when you give in, the terrorists win.
While you’ll undoubtedly come across a certain brand of psycho on the Internet, this medium also makes it easier to find - and connect with – wonderful, thoughtful individuals who can become lifelong friends. In fact, I’ve met some of my best friends online (and have yet to meet them in person). We’ve discussed our lives, our loves, our heartbreaks, our triumphs, and everything in between. My husband jokingly refers to these amazing women as my imaginary Internet friends, but he knows and understands how very real their friendships are. When the aforementioned psycho threatened to show up at my office, my Internet friends were the ones who found out her real identity and provided a photo that I could pass along to building security, they’re the ones who tried to turn her attacks onto themselves, and they’re the ones who made me realize that she was just a sad, lonely woman looking to make a name for herself on the Internet. Then, when tragedy struck my family a couple of years ago, it was these same imaginary Internet friends my sister and I turned to for support; they banded together to offer the type of encouragement and friendship that we needed to make it through that difficult time.
For that alone, I cannot think of the Internet, the blogosphere, or message boards as the evil place some would make them out to be. Yes, there are those lurking in the wings, waiting for their opportunity to strike (as they struck Ms. Sierra), but in my mind, they’re not a TRUE representation of the power of online communities.
She drives me batty, but you gotta love something that is this darn cute.
Here at House of Caudill, we often talk about the sorry state our backyard is in, frequently referring to it as Ghetto Yard. This is not an understatement. I challenge you to find any abandoned lot in the ghetto that looks as bad as our backyard. Trust me, it'll be difficult.
The problem is, even though our backyard is in a sorry state, I still want to make use of it. I mean, we bought a house with a yard so that we could do things like sit in the sun, and grill with our friends. Not ones to let a little ghetto get us down, we threw caution to the wind last weekend and threw ourselves a bbq.
The new toy.
And here are our brave friends who we exposed to the elements.
Shortly after this photo was taken, they said they wanted to go inside. They blamed the dropping temps, but I think it's because they were unsure of what lurked in the weeds.
Rather than just piss and moan about how bad it all is, we decided to be brave souls and get out there and clean the place up.
Today we raked up all the left over concrete, placed all the old, dead acacia leaves in a big ole' Hefty bag, and now Alan is attempting to rototill so that we can plant grass. We have progress, folks.
Meet Joe, age 31, looking for a good time. Enjoys rock climbing, soccer, biodegradeable soap, and condiments.
How can you not love that grin?
I started thinking about my birthday weekend the other day and I'm really having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that we have a room booked at the Ahwahnee for nearly $500/night. That's really a rather ridiculous sum. While I'm sure it's lovely and we'd have a fabulous time, I can't help but to think that maybe I should try to find something as equally relaxing for much less and just enjoy the day with my husband and maybe a friend or two. I don't need a whiz bang birthday; rather, I just need a relaxing one. So on that note, I'm investigating other options for a local weekend getaway. If I don't find anything that suits my desires, we'll keep the Yosemite trip on the back burner, but if I do, I might be cancelling our reservation. The cost is just gnawing at me.
As an aside, when I mentioned this to Alan last night, he asked me if I wanted to hike the Rogue River for my birthday (see post below). Um, maybe not this year.
I saw this article in the SF Chron this morning and while I'm currently in no shape to tackle 4 days' worth of 10 mile hikes, it's something to keep on the radar should the timing ever be right (strangely enough, I am capable of walking 10 miles a day in say ... Rome, for example). Although you know ... if a man with a brand new artificial hip can do it, surely I could muster a try. You'd think I'd be in better shape than that.
A walk through the Siskiyous, unencumbered
Inn-to-inn hiking on the Rogue features hot showers, soft beds
By John Flinn, Chronicle Staff Writer
Sunday, March 18, 2007
(03-18) 04:00 PDT Galice, Oregon -- Before you march off into the Siskiyou wilderness on the four-day, 40-mile hike through the forested canyon of the Rogue River, some serious packing is in order. Or, rather, unpacking.
Into the "leave home" pile goes your tent. And your sleeping bag. And your pad. And your stove. And your bottled gas. And your cooking pots. And your bear-proof food canister. And your food, save maybe a Clif Bar or two. What's left will fit, with room to spare, into a light daypack.
You'll amble down the riverside path past waterfalls and nesting bald eagles, and waiting for you at the end of each day will be a hot shower, a soft bed with fresh linen, a country supper of (for example) barbecued salmon and blackberry cobbler, and, if you make the proper arrangements, a cooler of cold beer.
A chain of rustic fishing lodges conveniently spaced a day's walk apart along the Rogue River makes possible a style of hiking that's the norm in much of the rest of the world but inexplicably neglected in this country: lodge-to-lodge walking. Rugged individualists that we are, Americans prefer to stagger through the mountains with half the contents of the REI catalog on our backs. Go figure.
Spilling out of Crater Lake in the Cascade Range of southern Oregon, the Rogue snakes for 250 miles through the Siskiyous, frothing down canyons of evergreens and leafy ferns, to the Pacific Ocean at Lobster Creek, near Gold Beach. Eighty-four miles have been set aside as a federally protected Wild and Scenic River, and the Rogue River Trail traverses almost half this stretch.
The forested mountains hemming in the Rogue are deceptively tricky to navigate, as the snowbound Kim family discovered last winter. Their tragedy played out just a few miles from the lodge where I spent the first night. But on the riverside walking path, it would take a serious and sustained effort to wander off course.
Most of the lodges date back to an era when fly fishing on the Rogue was en vogue among Hollywood stars. On knotty pine walls hang fading photographs of Clark Gable, Ginger Rogers, Gregory Peck and Katharine Hepburn, among others, holding improbably large salmon. More recently, I was told, Martha Stewart dropped by. And the old fishing cabin where author Zane Grey spent his summers during the 1920s and '30s still stands, although in tumbledown condition.
Springtime, when the azaleas are in blossom and the weather is warm but not yet beastly hot, is the time for walking here. Summer belongs to the whitewater rafters, autumn to the anglers.
It might be possible to make all the arrangements yourself, but the logistics were far beyond my abilities. Instead, when I hiked the trail last spring I signed on with a local outfitter (see "If you go"), which booked the lodges for me, drove me to the trailhead and picked me up at the end of the walk, which is a long way from anywhere.
With light packs and a gently downhill trail, this is a walk on the mild side. In my little ad hoc hiking group was a 73-year-old man (probably the fittest of the bunch) and a man in his 50s road-testing his new artificial hip. On the trail we passed a three-generation hiking party ranging from 6 to 79, with a Toto-sized Yorkshire terrier in tow.
Uncertain of his new hip, Ron Clancy paid extra for "raft support," which meant he had a guide -- in this case Brad Niva, the owner of the company -- shadowing us on the river to transport anything Ron didn't want to tote on his back and to offer a ride should it prove necessary (which it didn't). And, not incidentally, the raft carried a large ice chest in which Ron kindly allowed me to slip a few beers of my own. The lodges don't stock alcohol, but you're welcome to bring your own.
At the start of the walk the narrow, steep-sided canyon is shaded by oaks, madrones and laurels, and the sun doesn't penetrate until late morning. The well-graded trail climbs the occasional rocky spur and swings away from the river from time to time to cross side streams, but is never out of earshot of the Rogue. In 40 miles it descends precisely 215 feet.
In early May the canyon was abloom with color, and the botanists in the group pointed out golden irises, fringecups, cat's ears, Western starflowers, red columbines, Indian paintbrushes and lupines. In shady side canyons they identified maidenhead ferns, licorice ferns and rock sword ferns.
French fur-trappers named the river la Rivière aux Coquins, "the river of the rogues," after the local Takelma Indians, who put up a terrible fight when white settlers tried to usurp their land. But the name also turned out to be apt for the cast of oddballs, misfits and sociopaths drawn to this remote canyon.
There was, for example, Dutch Henry, who seems to have killed a suspiciously large number of his fellow miners in "self defense." In one case, in 1881, the victim's severed head was carried into court to see if the hole in it matched Henry's knife. The judge tossed the evidence out of court -- literally -- because it stank, and Henry walked free.
Another rogue, Jimmy Coe, was a convicted murderer who escaped from a Florida prison and hid out in the canyon for 26 years until 1953, peering out at nervous boaters from behind trees and rocks. Then there was Slim Damon, who in the early 1950s managed to shoot himself in his stomach. A doctor rode in 7 miles on a mule to stabilize him, and Damon regained consciousness just long enough to dispute the "outrageous" doctor's bill of $25.
Late in the afternoon a man in a wooden dory ferried us across the river to Black Bar Lodge, the most atmospheric of the three I stayed in. Pitchers of lemonade and iced tea were waiting, and freshly showered hikers were lounging on the grass beneath fragrant wisteria vines.
I was shown to my private cabin, and I stepped out of the hot shower -- heavenly! -- just in time to hear the triangular dinner bell ring. Built in 1934, the main lodge had that smell of mustiness and ancient pine that brought back vivid memories of Sierra fishing cabins from my youth. Next to the big stone hearth was a cabinet full of games -- checkers, cribbage, Yahtzee -- plus an old guitar and a coffee table inlaid with rattlesnake skin. Antlers festooned the walls.
We sat down with another group at a long table, and out from the kitchen came the family-style dinner: big bowls of salad, platters of pot roast, tubs of mashed potatoes, trays of bean-and-rice enchiladas, baskets of freshly baked biscuits and, for desert, a raspberry cheesecake. Pausing between courses, I thought back to all the evenings I've spent on backpacking trips squatting over a sputtering camp stove, waiting for my ramen noodles to cook.
The second day of the Rogue River Trail is the longest -- 15 miles -- and we started early to steal a march on the rising heat. We were still rubbing the sleep out of our eyes when we rounded a corner and nearly walked straight into a black bear. It's hard to say who was the more startled, but the bear took off in full flight before we had a chance to. We were all fully awake after that.
With virtually no weight on our backs, the miles passed quickly. We saw a bald eagle on a craggy branch above the river and several nests of ospreys, but somehow managed to walk right past Zane Grey's cabin without spotting it.
By 6:30 p.m. I was showered and parked in an Adirondack chair on the maple-shaded riverside porch of Marial Lodge, cold beer in hand, savoring the cozy endorphin glow and the aroma of barbecuing salmon. Other hikers arrived as evening shadows crept up the walls of the canyon.
Someone tossed me another beer, and we rehashed the adventures of the day and speculated on those to come the next day, and the day after that. There are certainly more pleasurable ways to spend an evening in the mountains, but at the moment I was having trouble remembering what they were.
When to go:
The hiking season is April through early June. Lodges fill quickly, so book the trip as early as possible.
Trips begin and end in Merlin, OR. Drive north on Interstate 5 to Grants Pass and follow Merlin-Galice Road west for 3 miles. Most people spend the nights before and after the trip in Grants Pass, which has an abundance of inexpensive motels.
What to do:
Rogue River Adventures, (800) 336-1647 or (541) 479-9554, www.wildrogue.com. The four-day lodge trip (without raft support) I did costs $629 plus a 3 percent Bureau of Land Management fee and a $10 U.S. Forest Service fee. This covers three nights in lodges, transportation to the trailhead, pick-up from trail's end and all meals. Minimum group size is four, but if you're fewer the outfitter can often pair you with others. Raft support - recommended for families with small children - costs another $170 per person.
White Water Warehouse, (541) 758-3150 or (800) 214-0579, www.whitewaterwarehouse.com. Another outfitter offering the Rogue trip.
For more information:
Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, (541) 858-2200, www.fs.fed.us/r6/rogue-siskiyou/.
Rogue River Country, (541) 247-6558, www.roguerivertrips.info. Click Oregon Lodges & Resorts for Rogue River Canyon listings.
I had heard Obama was coming to Oakland to speak, but nothing more beyond that. Did any readers of this blog happen to be among the 12,000 who ventured downtown yesterday to hear him?
Who woulda thunk that about 45 minutes of weeding would leave my body sore in places I didn't even realize had been made use of? Sure, I expected my back, hands, and arms to hurt (incidentally, my arms don't), but the back of my thighs? The only thing I can think is that they were flexing when I braced my body to pull out the jurassic sized weeds. Who knew?
It's been quite awhile since I checked my Yahoo email address (for those who keep sending me mail there - I only read it every 3-6 weeks, so you should really change your address book to gmail), so I wasn't all that familiar with what the loft market was doing. Yikes. Seems like prices have really plummeted since we sold. Lofts that would have gone in the mid-$500k range are now hovering in the upper-$400k range. It makes me all the happier that we sold when we sold.
Speaking of the loft, I checked out the old blog and it's only been updated twice in about six months, and one of those times was with a letter from the new board president to the residents to stop complaining about what a bad job the board was doing and instead participate in the process. I tell you, there IS no participating in the process there, which is one of the reasons we decided to move in the first place. Our HOA fees just kept going up and no one could explain why to us, except for the fact that longtime residents - part of the "in crowd" if you will - needed new windows. It was ridiculous. I wouldn't be surprised if the HOA fee for our old unit is hitting $400/month now. It really sounded like they were having a lot of problems, and rightfully so. The place was run shittily.
As Alan mentioned in his post yesterday, we picked up a shiny new bbq last night and have plans tonight to grill some grub. Not sure what yet. I have to make a trip to the store, so we'll see what I fancy. It'd be great to grill up some salmon, but Alan hates salmon. Boo, hiss! Maybe some burgers and sausages instead? Seppo & Ei-Nyung are coming over (and maybe some others?), so at least we'll need a variety. Ooh, I wonder if corn on the cob is available yet?