Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Lavendar Dreams

"I consider the evening twilight on Mt. Shasta
one of the grandest sights I have ever witnessed"
Teddy Roosevelt
Mt. Shasta in the background at the farm
Visiting the Mt. Shasta Lavendar Farms was on my list to do this year. On Saturday, full of energy from kayaking, Rob and I decided to take a trip and make it happen. After calling the farm, I learned that the lavendar was in "splendid bloom" and that they were only open to the public until August 4th so Rob and I headed out.
The Mt. Shasta Lavendar Farm is 72 miles south of Klamath Falls in California. It is not well marked from Hwy 97 (the main highway) and after travelling through lots of sagebrush, juniper, and desert, I began to wonder if the farm even existed.

The farm is a working farm. They had begun harvesting already. It's also a destination with thousands visiting through their season. They grow two types of lavendar - English and French; it's used for decorative, culinary, and aromatherapy purposes.
The lavendar grows well in volcanic soil so Mt. Shasta is perfect. Mt. Shasta is the second highest peak in the Cascades and is part of the Cascade Volcanic Arc. This area is home to the Klamath Tribes who held that Mount Shasta is inhabited by the Spirit of the Above-World, Skell, who descended from heaven to the mountain's summit at the request of a Klamath chief. Skell fought with Spirit of the Below-World, Llao, who resided Mt. Mazama by throwing hot rocks and lava, representing the volcanic eruptions at both mountains. Mt. Mazama is home to Crater Lake National Park.

The first thing I noticed as I pulled up to the farm was the gorgeous blooms.
The purple nestled in this desert, surrounded by some farm land with Mt. Shasta in the background was splendid and amazing.

The second thing I noticed was the beautiful building. When you pull up, you notice a darling little "store" with patio tables and umbrellas. When you walk in, you are greeted with the smell of lavendar and a friendly greeter offering an ice cold glass of lavendar lemonade. The store offers postcards, watercolor paintings, lotions, soaps and more. You can purchase fresh cut lavendar or they provide baskets to cut your own. Taking your glass of lemonade, you can sit out at one of the tables and enjoy the view.
The farm also features a 90' labyrinth that you can walk around. After enjoying the lavendar farms, we decided to call and make reservations at the Hospitality Dinner House in Dorris, California. This little restaurant was on our way home, just 17 miles south of Klamath Falls. The family just joined the Chamber and I was anxious to see what they had to offer.

When I made our reservations, the owner suggested we make time to visit the Living Memorial Sculpture Garden on the way back. Before opening the restaurant, he worked for the Forest Service and helped work with the founders to get this memorial going.

The Why Group
We weren't sure what to expect but we watched for signs to point the direction. Located right on Hwy 97, this memorial also was not too well marked but we found it anyway. This memorial was founded in 1988 by a group of veterans. Marine Corps Veteran and artist Dennis Smith created each larger than life sculpture. The Garden honors honorably dishcarged veterans of all conflicts and peace time. Pulling in, we didn't really "see" anything until we located the markers pointing directions to the sculpture. Following the markers, we came to the most amazing memorial I've ever seen.
The first sculpture is titled The Why Group (at right) and shows one comrade rushing to save another as he falls, at the top a comrade has his arms up to the sky pleading, asking why. These sculptures are huge and moving in a way I've rarely seen.

There are ten or 11 sculptures all together. Below is the Korean War Veterans Monument. A broken sword lies at his feet, his head in his hands.

There was no one else at the memorial. Between the larger than life sculptures, the incredibly emotional artistry, and the desolate location, the place felt sacred somehow. Rob and I spoke in whispers, remaining quiet for a while after we left.

The memorial includes a Wall - called the Hot LZ - and features names that loved ones have asked to be honored. Names from the Korean War, both World Wars, and Vietnam are featured.

There were a few markers on the ground like this one that featured the names Elmer Milton Rue and Michael Raymond Rue. We can only assume this was grandfather and grandson.

I came back and was curious so I googled their names. Search results included an online obituary for Michael Rue with the same dates. It says he graduated high school in Yreka and joined the Marines. He had three daughters and a son. Sadly, Rue passed at age 32 of brain cancer. 

Google searches for Elmer Rue largely came back unsuccessful. I did come across a record indicating he was buried in the Henley Hornbrook Cemetery in Yreka. It said he was a Sgt in the US Army during World War II. He passed just shy of one month after Michael. 

After spending some time reflecting after we left the Memorial, Rob and I discussed how "neglected" the memorial felt. It should be better marked and I think more people should know about it. Here at work, I helped a group of veterans plan a reunion here in September and after sharing this with them on Monday, they've chartered a bus to go see it. 

After all the adventure, it was time for dinner. The Hospitality Dinner House is located in the tiny town of Dorris, California. Dorris is probably not on many people's list of destinations but I can say it is definitely worth the stop to eat here. The restaurant is decorated cute, very Irish. It's run by a family who seem to truly enjoy what they do. We were greeted warmly, seated promptly, and impressed from the moment we walked through the door. 

I ordered the Potato Crusted Salmon and Rob ordered the Prime Rib. We were delighted when our salads came and they had some nice "extras" like artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, and a great mix of greens. The salad was chilled perfectly and the dressings tasted homemade. Our glasses were kept full.
Our entrees were hot and plentiful. Neither of us went hungry (in fact took some home to share with the kids). The salmon was WONDERFUL and the prime rib was the best I've had in at least 15 years. The owner (and chef) walked out to our table to make sure it was to our liking. He was friendly and welcoming.
We left room to share a slice of coconut cream pie that was heavenly. It was a rough ride home with our bellies full, thinking on all the things we'd seen and done in just a few hours. Definitely worth the trip!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Conquering Fear via Kayak

Kayaking had officially become a symbol of my fear and my self-consciousness. It was one of the things I *want* to do but would never do because a) I'm not athletic, b) I'm fat, and c) I might look like a dork.

I've been making my annual bucket list for three years now and there's one item that is on my list every single year - trying kayaking. Truth be told, it ended up on the list by default. The first year, as I tried to come up with 35 things to do - kayaking popped in my brain as the number 35 thing and I never gave it any more thought.  Then last year, I made my list of 36 things and it remained. As last year came to a close, I hadn't even attempted to make it happen. It loomed over the list like a big minus sign.

This year, it became the one item I'd accomplish even if I didn't accomplish any others. Officially, I only had to *try* it. I never said I'd master it. I made a date with my friend Mike to give it a try. Mike is one heck of an outdoorsy guy. He rock climbs. He camps. He backpacks. He fishes. He kayaks, canoes, trail runs, blah blah blah. Guys (and girls) like him are the reason I usually forego these activities. They make it look easy. And they look good doing it.

When I woke up Saturday morning, I had knots in my stomach. I was excited and nervous, a ball of shaky energy threatened to make me "call in sick." Fortunately, my friend Stacy had agreed to meet me and take photos to document my adventure. Subconsciously, I think this was a way for me to not let myself back out.

My adventure started at The Ledge, Mike's store, where we loaded up the kayaks. Mike's store is a wonderful place and includes a gigantic rock climbing gym where my kids love to play.

I arrived at Lake Euwana and the water was like glass. Pelicans, ducks, and all sorts of birds were on the water.

It was a beautiful day and I was fully anticipating I'd be taking a dip in this water (not by choice of course). We unloaded the kayaks and prepared for our adventure.

Pelicans love Klamath Falls. Here one sits on Lake Euwana -
awaiting my kayak adventure.
 Mike started by showing me the "old man way" to get into the canoe. He promised this would be the "least likely" way I'd fall in. I was happy to see that it basically meant I'd sit down and scoot into the kayak. Still nervous, my arms were shaking, my heart was racing but I had brought extra clothes for the swim.

Notice my hands in little fists. I really was about to freak out.

Remarkably, I scooted in like a pro (at least in my mind). At that point I realized that I might tip over. I think my exact thought was "My butt is bigger than this kayak, what the heck was I thinking??"

Then Mike handled me my paddle and hopped in his kayak. He showed me how to paddle and included very helpful instructions for what not to do.
Mike provides a paddling lesson
I pushed away from the dock and was on my way. Slowly and surely, my kayak began to go in the direction I wanted and I had lasted at least five minutes without falling in.

And I'm off!
It only took minutes for me to forget I might fall in. Paddling took some coordination and I had to remember to relax a few times but the scenery was so amazing from out here. We saw wild iris, ferns, ducks, pelicans, and who knows what else. Before long, I was focused on the beauty around me. It was amazing to see Veteran's Memorial Park from this angle.
Look, I'm a pro! ha
I was thankful Scott and Stacy were there to record this but I was sorry I hadn't brought my camera. I was too afraid I'd be swimming!

I was amazed more people weren't out enjoying this lake that is right in the middle of our town. At one point this rower came out to enjoy the lake.
It was amazing to learn some things about our lake. For example, this lake has thousands of board feet of timber submerged. There was a mill here that used to float the logs here. Thousands of those logs are now submerged, waiting for someone to do something. From the lakeside, you could see where they put the logs in:
The tracks where the logs used to be put in the water
In a kayak, you get very close to the wildlife.
I'm not sure who scared who - me or the pelican
Some of the logs have become part of the landscape and now have all sorts of ferns and stuff growing from them.
I discovered bridges I didn't know existed.

It was an amazing experience and I highly recommend it. It was relaxing and exhilerating at the same time. It was beautiful and eye-opening. I got off the water wondering how much a kayak costs and excited to do it again.

And I did all of it without falling in. No swimming on this day!

Friday, July 13, 2012

4th of July Well Done!

I really love my job. Oh sure, it comes with frustrations but I really truly enjoy what I do.

If you ask my friends what I do, they might tell you I hang out on golf courses enjoying the sunshine and an ice cold drink. They might tell you I spend the day in the park listening to live music enjoying the view of the nearby lake. They might tell you I go to the parades and get paid for it.

And that's all true. But as the event planner for golf tournaments, seminars, community celebrations, parades, etc, I can tell you there's a heck of a lot more to it.

Take this year's 4th of July for example. For weeks leading up to the event, I worked 10 hour days mapping out the park, lining up 60 parade entries, and confirming things like the fireworks. I coordinated with the police department, the sheriff's department, the parks department, the street department.....I coordinated volunteers for everything from parking to barricade support to cleanup.

When the 4th finally arrived, I was up at 6 a.m. My committee agreed to flag duty which means at 6:30 a.m. we were tasked with putting over 100 flags down Main Street and in our town's Veteran's Memorial Park. It's not exactly easy but it is rewarding. The flags are posted high. My son (who's pretty tall) had to stand on a ladder in the back of a pick up truck to place them properly. I'm proud of my kids for wanting to help with this part of the event:
Then it was time to mark off the streets, warning folks that parking would not be allowed here during the parade.

After that, we moved into Veteran's Memorial Park. This park is beautifully located in downtown Klamath Falls and has wonderful lakefront views. It's the perfect place for our Jamboree celebrating America the Beautiful.

The event is free to the public and boasts games, activities, food, and live music. It's exciting to watch months of planning come to successful fruition. All of this is accomplished by only 7 people on my committee.  The local news station caught some of the action live on the 6 p.m. news, click here to watch.

The throngs of people start pouring in to the park after the parade at 5:30.
Estimates put attendance between 3 and 4,000 people.

Many businesses provide a free activity for kids.
Here Dollar Dog from Pacific Crest Federal Credit Union does a "ring the duck" contest.

The event is colorful and families really enjoy it.

Local rock band FatSexy played a mix of music. So talented!

Our local semi-pro baseball team, The Klamath Falls Gems, hosted a pie eating contest.
They even convinced my youngest to play along.

The event actually starts with a parade down Main Street.
This was our largest 4th of July parade in 5 years. Nearly 60 floats!

Food vendors (like this hot dog vendor) serve yummy food. Look at the lake in the background!

As event planner, I hardly have time to partake in the festivities. And I'm exhausted at the end. We literally worked from 6:30 a.m. to after midnight, organizing, cleaning, directing, and whatever else needed to happen.

Then the next morning we were up at 7 a.m. to cleanup the park and leave it as we found it. The local news station so very nicely showed up to record our cleanup efforts. If you want to watch the clip, click here.

All in all, I think it was a beautiful 4th of July! If you attended a celebration in your area, I encourage you to call the organizer and tell them thank you for all they do.