Welcome to Our New Home –
At 5,000 feet in the mountains of Southern Oregon. We arrived two days early to our house sit and got to hang out for a couple of days with the owners who were friends from long ago when we all lived in Los Angeles.
Our stay was going to be just shy of six weeks, plenty of time to see everything within 100 miles. We would be caring for one beautiful cat for the first three weeks and then adding the two dogs later for the last two weeks.
This was only the second remote house we’d stayed in during our house sitting career. I don’t think the ‘town’ of Crescent Lake has more than a few hundred inhabitants, though it fills up come summer for fishing and boating in the many lakes nearby. Many houses stand empty until warmer weather comes around. This keeps the area very quiet and still.
Our home was up a hill from the one gas station, two restaurants, and a post office. That meant grocery shopping was quite the ordeal. A minimum of 45 minutes to a grocery store and over an hour to a ‘real’ town of any size. Quite the change from Portland or Sonoma.
As one might imagine, we’ve done a lot of house sits with cats, and quite a few with shy cats. In those cases, it usually takes a few days before they warm up to us, and by then we’re getting ready to leave. Of all the shy (but friendly) cats this little girl gets the prize for taking the longest to warm up to us.
It took her almost two weeks before she was completely comfortable. I mean for things like coming to sit on our lap or to walk up to us for attention and want us to follow her, all those kind of things. She wasn’t afraid when we’d pet her, and though she wanted attention, she still reached an ending point very quickly compared to most of the cats we’ve taken care of and known.
Her favorite time to be out hunting on the hillside was in the evening. The only problem with that is she wanted to stay out past 10 or 11. I could not go to sleep without knowing she was inside, so I got to stay up until she returned. We began keeping her in around 5:00 or 6:00 but, of course, it was still light for hours, so it was a little problem for her and a bit stressful for us. She was a sweetheart, though and incredibly beautiful!
Snow in late April?
Yes, you can say that again. We were surprised at the weather. We thought there would only be some snow, but we were mistaken. There was a lot of it, and it came down every few days. It was exciting but also freezing. We had to stop and remember that this was springtime, at least somewhere it was, just not here yet. Don’t misunderstand – we loved it!
What’s That Smell?
After we’d been at the house a few days, we both smelled gas intermittently in some regions of the house. We investigated a bit but didn’t find anything wrong. Then one day Jim was cooking and noticed the flame on the stove was quite small and wouldn’t get higher – he couldn’t even burn the food like usual – and then the flame went out. Okay, I’ll wash some dishes. Hey, there’s no hot water. What in the world is going on here?
We decided to call a plumber, explained our situation, and set up an appointment. Meanwhile, we called the owners, and they walked us through a few other options. We would just have to wait for the plumber, coming up from another town, on a Saturday afternoon. We’re still not sure why, but we thought to check the propane tank.
It took a while to find the tank and even longer still to dig out the snow. Guess what – no propane. That may have been obvious to others, but we’ve not lived with propane. It could have been days before we figured this out. It was good to know the problem, but that’s only the first half of it.
Would we have days with no hot water or stove? Of course, it was the weekend so no propane trucks til Monday! The owners quickly made arrangements for a propane delivery, even from a thousand miles away. Thank you email, cell phones, and internet! Luckily, we had an electric hot plate, and the owners had a crock pot so at least we could cook. It wasn’t a big deal, but it was a learning experience for us.
There was a casino about an hour south of the house, and we thought we’d spend a bit of time (and money) there celebrating my birthday. Upon arrival, we found an empty parking lot. Well, I guess that means we’ll have the run of the place, not a problem. Now, this casino is not in the most populated area, so we’ve never seen the parking lot full when we’d visited previously or during our many drive pasts. But this did feel odd.
As we approached the front door, it seemed dark inside, but that didn’t strike us too strange as many casinos have double doors and you can’t see inside. When we got to the door, I saw a little piece of paper taped to the door “Sorry, we’re closed.” Okay, anyone who has ever been to a casino knows they never close – ever. We waited a few minutes and chatted with other folks who showed up as well.
Okay, I guess there won’t be a birthday celebration here, and we got back in the car. As we drove through the parking lot, Jim noticed a couple of women who looked like they might work at the casino. Yes, they did. No, the casino wasn’t open. Yes, it had no power. No, they had no idea when it would open. Yes, the electricians were working on the problem. No, they didn’t have all the parts they needed. Yes, those would have to come from a long way away. No, they didn’t have any good suggestions how we could celebrate a birthday. And finally, Yes, they did hope we could figure something out.
Well, that’s what can happen in a small town casino in mountains! Wow.
We’ll just have to head home, sad and dejected. Just then, as we pulled out of the driveway, we both thought the same thing, nodded at each other and decided to try the only other casino in Southern Oregon. My phone said it would take two hours to get there and three hours to back home from there later on. Oh well, what the hell. You guessed it – off we went.
We Found Snow!
The route was lovely, as it crossed through beautiful valleys heading north towards Crater Lake. At one point, we began climbing and found snow. As we continued along, it got deeper and deeper, and we began to wonder if we’d make it to our destination.
All the drivers in the Cascades learn to be grateful for snowplows and their fearless drivers: we sure were.
The snow kept getting thicker and deeper on the road, but we hoped for the best and kept trudging through the snow.
On the other side of all that snow, we drove through more forests and tiny towns, and more mountains. At one point, we had this serene viewpoint and stopped for a few minutes. Finally, we arrived, spent hours messing around. You know how it goes, you stay longer than you planned, it gets later and gets even harder to leave, but finally, you just have to begin the trek home.
Fun Getting Home
Highway 138 was dark, like no lights for miles darkness, only our headlights on the road and no other cars. For quite a while the two-lane road followed along a roaring river and then went up into mountains north of Crater Lake. Of course, we’d never driven on it, had no idea what any of it looked like, and then it began snowing, as in can’t see 25 feet in front of you snowing.
Imagine if you will, it’s late at night and very dark, you’re alone on a small mountain road, there are no street lamps, houses, towns or anything else. You know any little blip in the driving could bring big trouble. You know the road service dispatchers will laugh if you call them this late from so far out of town, and that’s if you have cell service. Ha. Ha. Just then it begins to snow. The snow starts coming down like a blanket, and all you can see is the snow flying towards you in your headlights. You’ve long since lost all traces of the roadway and try your best to stay between the mountain going up on the right and down on the left, way down.
At one point, we hit something (later found a huge dent in our fender). That white-knuckle ride didn’t end until 1:00 am. All this in a Camry without snow tires. But what a wonderful birthday. At least we did something!
Two Local Lakes
Since the house we were staying in was quite close to the actual Crescent Lake, we took a field trip down there one day and found a gorgeous lake surrounded by snow, and partially covered in ice in the freezing temperatures. We walked around a bit and then thought it best to return in the summer when it was warmer!
Odell Lake is about three miles further down the highway from Crescent Lake. Another day, we checked this area out as well. By that time, spring was setting in, and we saw only a few lingering signs of winter. Getting outside was a pleasure now, and we made the most of it.
This is the Salt Creek which drops off in a gorgeous waterfall a hundred feet downstream from here.
This is lake country for sure. You can tell by all the boats riding along behind the trucks and campers.
We have much more to share from our time at this house, see you in the next post! Here’s a sample of the great sunsets we saw from the deck. Every day ended with a show like this. Hey, things could be worse!
What’s Next – an addition to the family!
We'd love you to subscribe!