House Sitting and Day Tripping in Oregon

a green meadow with hills behind

Some Lovely Scenery!

for our second installment in Dallas, Oregon. Last year during our time here it was hot, this time from mid-May to the start of August it was quite mild and never even made it to 90 degrees. It even rained several times.

Two of our first little visits in the area were on those sunny, warm days. Our first stop was Basket Slough National Wildlife Refuge. It was very close to the house, and we’d driven by it so many times, we decided to find out what it was like and get a higher vantage point of the local area.

close up of tiny purple wildflowers

We parked the car in the lot, noticing there were many others there as well. It’s always heartening to see people enjoying nature. There are so many other options, but that one is good for body, mind, and soul.

It seemed the only path from the parking lot was straight uphill, so that’s where we went. Along the way, we saw many wildflowers, tons of blackberry plants, and quite a few trees.  looking out over a marsh with areas of tall grass

Where Are the Birds?

We didn’t see that many birds, maybe it was too late or too early. There were some long-legged creatures in the ponds – egrets maybe – going after fish around the banks. We also saw some photographers with those impossibly long lenses, shooting pictures from the road.

Since it is a wildlife refuge, much of the land is protected, and there are only a few trails to follow and none towards the water. If you want to get photos of life around the pond, those lenses have to do the walking to get up close. 

view of a marsh, grass and mountains beyond

Once we reached the top of the hill, we did get a view of the surrounding area from a higher vantage point.

The mountains in the distance are part of the coastal range, running north and south about 10 miles inland from the coast. They form the western edge of the Willamette Valley with the Cascades forming the eastern edge. It is one big valley!

close up of a wild rose

A few wild roses dotted our path. It was a beautiful place even though all you do is go up and then down again. At least we knew what it was like and didn’t have to wonder anymore. 

You know what all those plants in the photo below are, right? Blackberries, by the billions. Nature’s solar collectors as we came to think of them. You can see all the blossoms if you look closely.

grass, trees, and tons of blooming blackberry bushes

What We Didn’t Find – Bugs!

We are always surprised at that because there is so much standing water in the area. “How does that happen?” asked the half of our duo that comes from the Midwest.

“If you spill some ice tea in the Midwest, the mosquitos start breeding, and in ten minutes the new crop of flying buggers are divebombing your neck.”

We never did find the reason but we sure never missed the bugs. The photo below is the trail back from a viewing point. Looks as pleasant as it was.

a green meadow with a hill behind

Back to Our House Sit

Well, what was going on at home while we were away? One very patient pooch was waiting for us to return. Look at that face! It says a lot, right? “How about another walk?”

She often seemed to be counting off the hours ’til dinner time. “Maybe just a little early today, is that too much to ask?” She has mastered the ‘sad face’ don’t you think.

Then again, pick up her leash and put on your shoes for a walk, and she turned into a puppy, spinning three times, always counter clock-wise, ready to go. What a girl!a black Lab waiting for dinner

Something Completely Different

Our afternoon walks went along a path next to a nearby stream: shady and cool. In the morning, we went to the east to see the sunrise and check out the progress on local construction. It’s been a long time since I lived anywhere near a new housing development, AKA farmland turning into a suburban neighborhood.

One block away from our place a whole area was under construction, maybe a square mile or so, three streets worth in the current phase. We loved checking out what happened from day to day and saying hello to the work crews.

a house-building site

Above you can see the land being cleared and leveled: First, large earth movers, then graders, followed by backhoes digging ditches for utilities.

If we got out quite early, we would meet the concrete crews putting in the foundations. Now, those hard-working guys get out early! Plots would go from flat to this inside two days.

a foundation at a house-building site

Next came the sub-floors – those were in place inside one day. The sounds: buzz saws, boards dropping, nail guns – then repeat. All to the soundtrack of some radio station blaring out from a boombox: talk radio, sports shows, classic rock, etc.

a house-building site with wood everywhere

Here Come the Walls!

Next up – carpenters raising the walls, holes for windows and doors. Pop pop pop – the nail guns were going off all day. Within a few days, the ceilings, walls, and roofs were in place, and they started resembling houses. 

a house-building site with the walls partially up

There were all sorts of crews coming around now: electricians, plumbers, flooring and window crews. It’s amazing to me how many different trades it takes to build the houses these days.

No one stayed at any one house for long, a couple of days at the most. Just when you see a familiar face, off, they would go to another plot, sometimes down the block or a few streets over.

a house-building site

Finally, the workers disappeared inside the houses, tending to the thousand things needed to get a home finished. Most of the houses had “SOLD” signs on them by the time they looked like this: lots of demand in the area.

As the summer went on, we even got to say hello to some new neighbors. The moving vans arrived, and the people, along with their belongings, soon disappeared into their new homes.

Strange to think the area went from wheat fields to finished houses inside one season, and a relatively short season at that with rain clipping the edges of each side of summer. 

a house-building site - a finished home

Okay, Back to the Critters

Do you think he is having a good dream? The back patio was a favorite of his. He often slept in the dog’s igloo when it was cold first thing in the morning. When the sun was shining, out he’d come to bask. Even though he was an indoor/outdoor cat, he never left the backyard!

a large Ragdoll cat splayed out in the sun

This guy took life slowly, he never chased birds or even watched them. Once I saw him staring intently at something near his body, when I looked closer, I saw it was an ant.

He lay there watching it walk around him, climb up on his leg and keep going. He didn’t move an inch or try to swipe at it, he only observed.

large Ragdoll cat sitting on a porch swing - he is gorgeous by any measure

These cats were siblings and didn’t get along at all. The little one hated the big guy and with good reason. Being here for so long, we had a chance to see them in action quite a few times.

All of a sudden, I would hear a terrible noise and look out the window. They were growling and swiping at each other. The big guy would do something to her, and she’d start running, and he would chase her all the way out of the yard and up the fence.

Other times he would just walk by, and she would start hissing or move far away from him.

a cat licking and grooming a human hand

What a sweetheart, always licking us after we gave her affection!

While her brother never seemed to hunt, this one did. She would watch birds and do the stealth creeping and chasing that cats are so talented at, but I never saw her catch anything. She sure had the intense interest in the exercise, though.

Unlike her brother who slept mostly on furniture, she slept in the various cat beds around the house. 

cat sleeping in a cat bed

Some Local Flavor

There was a park we’d seen once before while driving around the area: it was west of Dallas, south of the highway to the coast. Since it was named Mill Creek Park, we were fairly confident there would be a creek and brought our canine pal with us for some fun. She did very well in the car, but I’m not convinced she enjoyed it.

wheat field with a mountain behind

You see some real farm flavor here just outside town. Wheat fields – in Oregon! Jim grew up surrounded by fields like this and was surprised to see them here. We kept driving towards the hills and eventually found the park.

a country road

The area was typical of so many parts of Oregon we’ve seen: twenty feet off the road you’re in a dense forest, lots of undergrowth and streams with actual running water! 

man walking a dog along a wooded path

Mill Creek Park

It was a classic summertime setting. Water splashing over and around huge rocks, pools, and rapids in succession. Of course, pools of water mean swimming holes, and we found folks jumping off the rocks landing in the cool stream.  

a mountain stream surrounded by greenery

Such a lovely place to visit and soak up some sun and the great sounds of the stream.

a mountain stream surrounded by greenery

The doggie managed to get herself into the water once which was surprising as she would never even go near the lawn sprinklers at home. True to form, she didn’t seem to like it much and quickly found sunny spot to dry off.

a dog by a mountain stream

We climbed around a bit, joked about swimming (“You first! I’ll follow.”), and sat and watched the water for a while. It’s almost hypnotizing in a good way.

This scene was maybe 15 minutes from our driveway. We tried to imagine how far anything like this was from our old place in Los Angeles. What fun!

a mountain stream surrounded by greenery

Are People in Oregon Friendly?

A young couple had set up all sorts of tasty lunch fixings on a picnic table in the park: burgers on the grill, ice chest full of the good stuff. Jim says “Hello there. When’s lunch ready?” Kiddingly! They asked us three times to join them insisting they had plenty.

Jim stopped and chatted a while, but we begged off their lunch offer. The pooch was only too willing, but we just finished lunch before heading out. These folks were complete strangers: that’s friendly. Maybe it was the dog – she tends to bring out the best in people.

a small tree with thousands of white flowers

I have no idea what sort of tree this is. I saw the flowers and had to snap a photo. That’s kind of how the days go. Ah, summertime! What fun. 

What’s Next – More from Dallas

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    • Cindy Birko on June 21, 2017 at 10:07 am
    • Reply

    Love it! The tree is a dogwood. You probably know that by now.

    We often times visit Baskett Slough to hike and bird watch. It’s nice to get off of the pavement once in a while.

    Still enjoying this through your perspectives. Nice to have you back to blogging.

    1. Thanks so much, Cindy!
      Dogwood- got it.
      We don’t have much cell service – we’re at Glacier National Park

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