Post the earthquake, Suzanne and I had a lovely little solstice celebration, which included playing a board game, eating tacos for dinner, and then folding origami snakes and cranes to represent the things we were getting rid of (snakes) and wishing for (cranes). We then set our origami on fire to send our wishes out into the universe.
The setting-on-fire part was much easier said than done. Next year, we might have to buy a Duraflame log (or equivalent) ahead of time. Or, if the weather is nicer, actually get wood for the fire pit and build a real fire instead of trying to use the grill. The frustration was part of the fun, though, and our origami did eventually burn quite satisfactorily. May our wishes come true!
We also had a very pleasant Christmas. On Christmas Eve, we went to our neighbor’s Hanukah celebration and ate tamales with a multitude of hot sauces and salsas. (I’m noticing a trend — Mexican food for the holidays. We must be in California, ha.)
On Christmas Day, we exchanged stockings, then took the dogs to the Ma-le’l Dunes, where they could romp to their heart’s content. It was still foggy when we arrived, but the fog started to burn off while we were there and the morning became gloriously beautiful.
In the afternoon, I tried to grill pork chops for our Christmas dinner and discovered that we were out of propane, a problem that we definitely want to solve before our next earthquake. Fortunately, pork chops cook almost as well on the stove, so a little later than planned, we ate sautéed pork chops with a mint-garlic-salt rub, plus actual baked potatoes for our dinner. The baked potatoes were the holiday treat — neither Suzanne nor I could remember the last time we’d had a real oven-baked potato, and they were so good.
Boxing Day was a quiet day: I think it rained, because my step count is low, only 1.4 miles for the day, and I took no pictures. Yep, I’m using my phone’s tools to try to remember what happened on a day that was only a week ago! I believe I did a bunch of organizing and cleaning and laundry, getting ready for our Winter Wonderland Adventure, aka our plan to spend the next five days in Oregon, with one night in Ashland, followed by three nights in Bend, and then one more night on the way home.
And then the trip itself. To summarize: it was fantastic. Truly. Not just good, not even just great, but fantastic.
We left Tuesday morning and headed in the wrong direction: south, to the jetty on the Samoa peninsula. Humboldt was having king tides, which are unusually high tides, and the jetty is one of the best places in the area to appreciate really good waves. It’s also a fun place to let the dogs run around and, as Suzanne puts it, “work out the ya-yas,” which is good to accomplish before a long drive. Tired dogs are much better car companions than bored dogs.
Then we headed to Ashland. The highlight of an already nice day, for me at least, was our dinner at Louie’s. I had the oregonzola burger and fries, which probably does not sound like a highlight to people who can eat normal food whenever they want, but it was gluten-free, and yet tasted like real food. The fries were crispy and hot, delicious with ketchup, and the burger — well, okay, my bun didn’t look as good as Suzanne’s, which was the non-GF version — but still, it felt like a real burger. We didn’t spend much time wandering around Ashland that night but it was fun to be out for the brief time that we were; lots of sparkling holiday lights, lots of people, crisp winter air, and big fires in fire pits.
The next morning, we took the dogs to the dog park — gotta get those ya-yas out! — then tried to find a bakery that I’d read about it, Vida. And my mouth literally just started watering at the memory. Vida is gluten-free, and uses Pão de Queijo, aka Brazilian cheese bread, as the base of its breads. I should possibly be embarrassed by this, but over the course of our WWA (Winter Wonderland Adventure), I tried their cheese bread balls, an onion bagel, a smoked salmon sandwich, a roasted turkey with tomato jam and arugula sandwich, a carrot muffin, a tomato foccacia, and a tuna melt. I know, crazy, right? But we got breakfast there and then bought sandwiches for lunch on our drive to Bend, and then on our way home, we stopped there again, had sandwiches for dinner, and bought treats for our breakfast the next day. And I would happily buy all the things, all over again. On our way home, Suzanne asked me which was the best, and it was an incredibly hard decision, but that tuna melt — cheesy bread with more cheese, warmed up — on a cold day, was just so over-the-top, crazily delicious… I’m not sure I could ever eat it again, because I’m not sure it could live up to the memory. But if that tuna melt had been the only good meal I’d eaten on our WWA, it would still have been a good adventure. And fortunately, it wasn’t!
On our way to Bend, we stopped at a county park a little off the highway. I don’t remember the name, I don’t remember exactly where it was, but the photos I took tell me it was in a place called Chiloquin. Oh, and clicking on the Info bar takes me to a map which tells me it was Petric County Park. Technology is so handy sometimes.
I am pretty sure that the park is really more of an access point for the nearby Agency Lake. It was a bathroom, a parking lot, and a boat ramp. But it was also a completely empty open space with loads of snow on the ground. The dogs loved it.
When the dogs started taking occasional breaks in the romping, we deemed it time to move on and loaded up again for the rest of the drive to Bend. We got to our hotel around 3:30 or so and our room wasn’t quite ready, so we drove down the street — literally, less than a mile — to what truly might be the world’s best dog park. Or not — as I tried to find a link, I discovered that it’s actually considered a trail, not a park, which I assume is because it’s not fenced at all. But according to the internet, the Good Dog Loop is a 3.5 mile trail near the Deschutes River. It connects to other trails — I know I read a sign that said there was a 6 mile trail called the Deschutes River Trail — but dogs are allowed off-leash and there were loads of them taking advantage. It was so much fun to walk with the dogs freely running around, doing their own thing, coming back to check in, then running off again. Over the next couple days, we spent hours — and miles — exploring Good Dog, and it was, for me, definitely the best part of a really good trip.
Dinner that night was take-out, picked up at a drive-through, from a place called Life & Time: Free Range Fast Food. I had the Tex Mex bowl, with brown rice, black beans, corn salsa, cotija cheese, cilantro, chili cream, avocado, onions and scallions. It felt a lot like the kind of meal I usually feed myself, but it was also good to eat some vegetables after my cheese-bread focused breakfast and lunch.