Tour de France KAL

After all the fun I had last year, I decided to join this year's Tour de France Knit-Along (Go Team CSC!) and was fortunate to get in before all the spots were taken. I'm competing for the Polka Dot Jersey aka King of the Mountain. The goal is to choose a challenging project to work on during the tour - and that can include challenging yourself to finish an FO or two.

Goal #1 - completing the 'Craving for Cables' sweater, aka Dusty Miller, by the July 18 deadline to enter it in the Fair.
The back and both front panels are done; I just need to crochet the sleeves and put the whole thing together.

Goal #2 - ply the Gotland singles I spun and crochet a shawl. To make it more challenging, I'll probably Navajo ply these. I love the technique but I'm not all that comfortable with it. By the time I'm through plying a pound of Gotland, I'll either be comfortable or suicidal.
Not sure what pattern I'll use for the shawl. The Perfect Spring Shawl would be fast but been there, done that (a bunch of times.) I'd like to find something more challenging, but with the same deadline as the sweater, I may go with fast and pretty rather than challenging and 'not sure how it will look'.

Goal #3 - since the Tour will still be running after the Fair deadline, I'm hoping to make a knit sweater for Matt and Chris's baby girl (current top name choice - Leia Kalisa. Kalisa is a combination of the grandma's names - Kathy and Elisa. I love it.) Baby's not due until August 20, but the shower is July 27 . . . I'm not betting I'll have it finished by then, but hopefully by August.

And before all that, I need to finish the next three squares for the crochet block-a-month class I'm teaching. July is entrelac -
August is a starburst stitch - and September? Probably using math to determine stripes from the class I took at TNNA. I'm mathaphobic, but that was interesting and fun.

The squares will go together in an afghan for Dick.
Maybe a contender for next year's fair??


More Tall Trees

Today was Avenue of the Giants day. The 31-mile drive, which runs parallel to Hwy 101, passes through an ancient redwood forest starting just south of Fortuna. The entrance road gives a hint of what's in store - huge trees towering over and shading the roadway.

We stopped at
Founders Grove, one of the more famous areas, for a short walk. The shady ground around the redwoods is thickly covered in huge ferns; Dick said they reminded him of dinosaur scenes from the Jurassic Park movies. Dick kept trying to figure out how to get some of these burls in the car. The only problem? Most of them were bigger than our car.

We found more hollow trees, many bearing evidence of lightning strikes.
The roots of fallen trees are enormous; you hardly notice Dick in this photo. This giant fell during a storm about 10 years ago. Can you imagine hearing that hit the ground? It must have felt like an earthquake or a train wreck.

And how could we pass up a chance to drive through a redwood tree? This is on privately-owned property, with a $5 entrance fee. Worth every penny to see how much fun Dick had driving through.
Tonight we're in Rohnert Park, just south of Santa Rosa. Tomorrow we'll hit Point Reyes lighthouse and seashore, then cut across to Interstate 5 for the drive home. Another long day, but worth it to see my kids and kitties and sleep in my own bed tomorrow.


Back To California

The landscape in Oregon was fascinating and changed practically by the minute. We'd be driving along the coast, in a forest of pine and redwood trees, and two minutes later we'd be in sandy dunes, with ATV's tearing over the hills. Once we got back to California areas seemed to be more defined, taking longer to transition from beach to forest to desert.

Just south of Crescent City we entered Redwood National Park. Dick noticed a sign for Elk Meadow and, on a whim, turned in. We noticed several cars and people with cameras standing in the road and then we saw this -
the elk herd was literally within touching distance behind the low wood barrier. The adults were keeping a sharp eye on the crazy people but didn't seem too concerned. Whenever the three babies tried to get closer to the road, an adult would nudge them back into the center of the group. One youngster didn't get the message fast enough - just like human kids! - and ended up getting a quick hoof-swat to his rear from mom.

We stopped for a short hike at the
Lady Bird Johnson Grove in Orick, CA. Huge redwoods, azelea trees, ferns - this tree was hollow as far up as Dick could see. How in the world does it remain standing??

Our next-to-last (probably) lighthouse of the trip was in Trinidad. This is a full-scale replica of one that was destroyed in a storm.
We wanted to spend the night in Eureka, so we'd have time to see the town and all the gorgeous Victorian houses, but couldn't find a vacancy anywhere in the area. We ended up driving through the historical downtown area, admiring the beautiful mansions - including this hotel where we wanted to stay - before continuing south into one of the luckiest breaks of the trip. We noticed a sign on the freeway for 'Ferndale - a Victorian Town', took the exit on the spur of the moment, and found this - the Victorian Inn, built in 1880 and luxuriously restored, which just happened to have a vacancy. See the bay window over the front door? That was our room, with king-size bed, a dining alcove in the window bay, antique furniture and a claw-foot bathtub. We felt almost like royalty. What a treat.


Coasting Along

Monday we headed south again, crossing this bridge just south of Yachats. We stopped for the lighthouse at Heceta Bay, walking out onto the beach for a better view. Can you see the lighthouse on the cliff? How about now? According to the guidebook, this is one of the most photographed lighthouses in the world. The setting is beautiful, with this bridge completing the landscape.A couple of miles away, just above Florence OR, is Sea Lion Caves, the largest sea cave in the world. An elevator takes you 220 feet below ground to watch the Stellar sea lions in their natural habitat; another opening in the rock also gives a great view across the water to the Heceta Bay lighthouse. I'd love to show the pictures but apparently I erased them last night instead of transferring them to the computer. Grrrrr. What an idiot. *

We stopped for lunch in Florence, checked out a few artist stores (some great wood turnings and glass work), and were on our way out of town when Dick spotted a Myrtlewood store that sold turning wood in addition to finished pieces. It was like letting a kid loose in a candy factory. An hour or so later, after rearranging the car to get all his 'loot' inside, we continued south.

Once we hit Newport, we noticed these signs cropping up whenever we got to a low area from Oregon down into California.
They seem to take the threat seriously; each hotel had tsunami evacuation plans in their 'welcome' packets and most areas had well marked evacuation centers. Not something you want to think about on vacation, but good info to have in an emergency.

We haven't planned our stops since we left Eugene, trusting that we'll find a hotel when we're ready to stop for the night. That worked well up till tonight. There aren't a lot of hotels in the smaller Oregon coastal towns, and with tourist season in full swing, we had some trouble finding a place to stay. About 9:00 we finally checked into a Best Western in Brookings, about 5 miles north of the California/Oregon border. A bit further than we'd planned on going, but it worked out.

* Looks like I accidentally deleted over 100 photos. I'm so bummed I just want to cry.


Oregon Coast

Sunday we made it to the coast and wonderfully fresh, pollen-free air. First stop was the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport with their cool exhibit on oddities, including one of my favorites, the lion fish. Another oddity was how they designed the exhibits. See the 'grass' in this tank? It's hand-blown glass! Almost everything in the exhibits was hand-made of glass instead of the usual plasticized stuff. Beautiful.

We spent a little time - it was cold, windy and threatening to rain - in historic Newport, a working fish-processing town. Many of the buildings were painted with sea scenes, including this one by the artist Wyland.
Newport also has two lighthouses - Yaquina Head, from which you can see this great bridge - and Yaquina Bay, a short distance up the coast. Since there are no covered bridges along the coast, we're planning to see as many lighthouses as we can find on our way south.

We didn't get very far, distance-wise today. We found a promising hotel in the little town of Yachats (thanks for the tip, Teena!) and pulled in about 5:00. See the last 3 windows on the bottom of the closest building?
That's our room. And this is our view. The ocean is literally just a few steps away. I brought my wheel inside and spun while watching the waves and waiting for the sun to set. Not a bad place to spend the night!


Trip Update

Early Thursday we left Ashland for Klammoth Falls and the one store Dick wanted to visit - a wood store. They had an amazing selection of exotic hardwoods. He bought a custom cut chunk of claro walnut (the owner asked him how much he wanted, grabbed a saw, and hacked it off for him) and ever since, he has been planning in his head the bowl he plans to make. Then it was on to Crater Lake. It is incredibly beautiful; my photos don't even begin to do it justice. Only the south entrance was open due to snow covering most of the rim road; a lot of it will be under snow until the end of July. Thursday night we stayed in Eugene at C'est La Vie, a 'not so Victorian' bed and breakfast about 7 blocks from where Black Sheep Gathering was being held at the fairgrounds. The house, which opened in September 2007 after a from-the-ground-up make-over, is gorgeous and the grounds are even more spectacular, with a waterfall in front and a miniature train running in the back yard. The husband is the gardener and he spent almost every daylight hour lovingly planting and tending the yard. I almost hate to say how wonderful this place is; there are only 4 rooms and if everyone finds out about it, how can we stay there again next year?!?

I spent most of Friday at the wool show, listening as the judge graded the natural colored fleece. I learned a lot (who knew what a 'purled' fleece was or how to prevent a fleece from 'cotting'??)
I did a bit of damage with the vendors too, coming home with some gorgeous yarn. No fleece though - I decided I'd rather have a new lazy-kate, so I'll start looking for that once we're home.

Thunder woke us this morning and the skies have been gray all day; no rain but lots of wind. We spent the morning at a Saturday craft fair in Eugene (the oldest in the country, according to their ads.) (Hey Marie! We got you a present . . .), then headed north. For all of about five miles, before we found an 'antique district' in Coburn (population about 30.) They had some great stores - Dick found several woodworking tools and I got a deviled egg plate and a few glass knick-knacks. At the last shop, the woman noticed by Black Sheep shirt, asked if I was interested in more wool, and then brought out her personal stash of hand-dyed mohair from angora goats she'd raised. Score!

We also took the covered bridge scenic drive through Crawfordsville,
Sweet Home and Santiam before ending up in Corvallis, which may just be my favorite Oregon city. Lots of public art (the ducks on the right spin around in the wind; it's mesmerizing to watch), a waterfront with great restaurants (including Aqua Seafood, where we had an amazing dinner), and another great antique store.

The only problem with central Oregon? The pollen count. Dick is suffering more than me, but we're both having problems with the bloomin' cottonwoods and the grass pollen. Can. Not. Wait. to get to the coast tomorrow where - hopefully - the air will be cleaner and we can finally stop sneezing.