Weekend Excursions

The sun has come to the Oregon Coast again after abandoning us all week. I swear, since I’ve been here, every weekend has been sunny while the week has been rainy and overcast. Is this some magical characteristic about Oregon? It’s only sunny when you don’t have to work and can take advantage of the sunshine?

Yesterday, Frank Boyden (founded the Sitka Center with his wife Jane) took Carrie, Judy, and I on an outing to Grass Mountain. Grass Mountain is an 80 acre homestead that is just a few minutes drive from Cascade Head. Frank, Jane, and a friend recently bought it and are hoping to preserve it and possibly start a new residency program there. It’s a beautiful place and has some interesting history.

The area was homesteaded in 1905 by a woman named Nettie Long. She was 17 at the time and had come to Oregon with her father. What is amazing about this is that she homesteaded by herself! Her father homesteaded at a different site. After they had gotten settled, they sent word to the family back east (in Ohio or Missouri, Frank wasn’t sure) and they came out west to their new home. Nettie later married a man named Walls. He was killed while working for the merchant marine, and Nettie raised their son Bob. Bob and his wife Arlene were still living on the homestead until exactly a year ago when he died. May 5th, 2011. Frank said that Bob never had a job; he just made a living off the land. He had a mill on the property and would sell lumber from time to time. He just made money any odd way he could and I imagine he and Arlene grew, raised, and foraged much of their food. There is an orchard on the property, there’s the river and ocean nearby for fishing and clamming…It’s a really wonderful place. It will be interesting to watch and see what happens now. I’m glad that it is going to be preserved.

Nettie’s grave, located on the site where her house once stood. “Nettie M. Walls 1888-1965, Homesteaded this site 1905.”     (By the way-Click on photos to see larger images)
Hickory Tree that Nettie planted in front of her house.
Grassy roads cut through the meadows of the property.

Manmade pond on the homestead.
Look closely. Swimming in the pond water is a Rough-skinned Newt. These little guys are really cute, but very poisonous. I was told that you could pick them up, but you have to wash your hands really well afterwards. They have bright orange bellies.
Alder tree that fell into the pond. There was a bad storm this past winter that felled a lot of trees and branches in this area.
Cool reflection on the water.

Judy brought along her sopranino recorder and played Vivaldi for the birds. Frank also wanted to test the acoustics in one particular spot, a possible site for small concerts.

Judy lives in Oakland, CA. She plays all over the world, both solo and with Musica Pacifica, a baroque music ensemble.

View of the house that Bob and Arlene built.

After showing us around Grass Mountain, Frank took us to his mushroom spot. This is the time of year for Oyster Mushrooms. They are delicious, tender, buttery mushrooms. I had some yesterday morning at breakfast: scrambled eggs with oyster mushrooms and scallions. It’s not recommended to eat them raw, as some people have an allergy to raw oyster mushrooms. I sauteed them in butter.

Frank and Judy harvesting mushrooms. They usually grow on dead/dying trees or fallen logs. There is a good patch of them near my house.

The adventures didn’t stop there. We went to the Cascade Head Ranch community potluck for dinner. Tacos, enchiladas, margaritas, and a Cinco de Mayo cake. And also ham, lentils, honey glazed carrots (that I brought, recipe courtesy of the henhouse), and blue cheese chicken. Talking to one of the residents, I learned about the Wylder Webcam. The Wilder’s have a great view of the Three Rocks from their house. They have a webcam that streams video of the ocean to their website all day long. Check it out.

To round out the evening, the three of us hiked up Cascade Head to watch the “Super Moon” rise. We took our headlamps, although we didn’t really need them, because the moon was so bright. I had a moon shadow.

Photos courtesy of Judy’s magical iPhone:

Judy with the moon.
Carrie and I with the moon.

It was really beautiful, and I wish cameras could capture what it looked like. I’m thinking about making monotypes inspired by our excursion, so maybe I can recreate some of the amazing colors and atmosphere we saw.

Time here is winding down. This week I will try to wrap up my “Houses in the Woods” project and other unfinished paintings/drawings for the Resident Show and Tell next Saturday.

Happy sunny Sunday!

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