Saturday, July 18, 2015

Cast Iron Cooking (again), civilization and the Southern Oregon Coast

Hello, everybody! The Fresh Pioneer is back and I have updates to my cast iron cooking post.  Let's just say nobody starved but we sure were glad to get back to civilization. I don't mean the picture below. That's where we live. 
Sort of civilized.
                                          Sort of not when it's 106 and above! (Someone asked me if this was real temp or heat index. I don't know what that means. It's the temperature. I guess in some areas the temperature isn't really the temperature but much hotter? Yuck. I'll stick with our 100-110F in the summer.)
 I love vacations. I really do. I like planning and plotting and packing and getting the kids all prepped with studying the sights we'll see. But then by the time we come home, we all feel like this.
 So, after a good twelve hours (no, it doesn't really take that long but we wandered a bit to get there  and small people have small bladders, so lots of stops) we made it to our first destination, a campground on the coast, way down south, nearly to California. (I love these shoes. My friend sent them to me from Texas because they're teal. ha! My favorite color.)
I already talked about the yurt, so here is our cast iron cooking action. Waffles, a sandwich, a pan heating for hashbrowns, and a hot dog. (Can't remember who was eating a hot dog for breakfast. Probably the picky eater of the bunch.) The kids loved cooking their own food but it did require a lot of supervision. We didn't want anyone branded.
My mom has a home on the coast a few hours from there and she brought us this cast iron oven and these berries from their property. YUMMY. So glad they weren't in Arizona! But like us, with the summer heat you look for cooler climes. (This shot is of blueberries, marionberries, raspberries, strawberries, and a gold raspberry hybrid.)
And that recipe worked! It was absolutely delicious! Berry buckle for the win.
We spent the first week in the camp, on Eel Lake, with the Dunes in the other direction. There's a whole long story about getting lost there at sunset but I won't bore you with that.
( I had my own pictures but... well... that story is coming up)
Let me just say... never separate! Even if a five year old is discovered to be holding only one of his shoes and you let the faster people walk ahead because the five year old holding your hand is slower and it's really lovely with the frogs croaking and the sun setting and the breeze on your sunburn. There's a reason people die in the Sahara and a reason you do not take three hours to stop wandering and start yelling.  Enough said. Moving on!
After that, I told my husband I needed a day to sit on the beach and drink coffee while the kids played in the tide pools. So I did. He, of course, scaled the cliffs and I pretended not to notice (and worry).
Living in the land of tumbleweeds and 100F temps, I forgot how normal it is to see rhododendrons and other water-loving plants just growing naturally. And moss. And ferns. It was a feast for the eyes. Ahhhh.
Our town has a few big trees in the main park. But in the forest they're everywhere. The kids get a kick out of them every time.
Speaking of flora, we had to stop at the Darlingtonia Preserve. (That link is the wiki article. So interesting.) My kids think I'm crazy but I keep insisting these carnivorous cobra lilies are cool. I mean, giant pitcher plants that are only found in a few places in the world? YES, we have to stop and look! Also, they remind me of Little Shop of Horrors, so they make me smile.
We tried to throw in a few kids but they fought back.
So, we finally said good bye to the yurt (some of us were more happy than others) and headed up the coast to Florence. There's a seafood chain there called Mo's.
It's loud, crowded and full of tourists. And we love it.
Remember we'd been living off  s'mores and grilled cheese sandwiches...
Slumgullion was like food from heaven. We were ALL SO HAPPY not to be camping. OK, maybe the little kids would have preferred marshmallows for lunch but the rest of us were thrilled.
There are a lot of commercial fisherman, right alongside some funny people who dock their pirate boats. I've never wanted a pirate ship, but it's apparently a thing. We met the sweetest older couple who sold their home after retirement and... built a pirate ship to sail up and down the coast. Funny!
Once we made it to the beach house, we hit the farmer's markets. Wow, these onions are much bigger than ours. But not as sweet.
I was loving civilization but my hair wasn't loving the humidity. Good thing I brought my hairdressers! They're spendy, but worth it.
We met up with some friends and they took us crabbing. We caught lots of crabs... and none were big enough to keep. Which was probably good since I don't think my kids would have eaten them anyway. but it was super fun and ended with ice cream!
At low tide we walked down and gathered mussels for paella (recipe in the link, it's delicious!) We also found a purple starfish! The last few years there haven't been any starfish because of a virus that swept the coast so we were thrilled to see them on the rocks!
We also steamed at enjoyed them straight, but you can imagine a few of the kids preferred hot dogs. And that was fine as long as I didn't have to build a fire! (Unless it was on the beach. Then I was up for it.)

We also went clamming but I don't have any pictures of that because at this point, I fell into Yaquina Bay. It wasn't too bad. Nice and warm. I decided to go with it and swim toward the bank until I realized MY PHONE was in my pocket. Ah well... Luckily I'd been sending pictures to a private album on facebook so I had a few. 

We thought we might travel up north even farther after the week in the beach house but I was tired. Actually, I wanted to come home after two days. I missed my desk, my coffee just the way I like it, my kitchen. I've become a homebody. Even though the yurt was doable and the beach house (we've been there before) was lovely.... it's just not home. The kids are already planning the next trip (maybe to Lake Louise in Banff National Park in Calgary?) but I'm content in my little town... even if it is 90F at 8AM. 
 Until next time!

My newest release, These Sheltering Walls!

Coming July 30th, Only Through Love!


  1. Wow - I'm surprised to hear how hot it is where you live. I always figured it be a much more mellow temps all year round. I don't do heat well. And up here we get nasty humidity along with it which just zaps you.

    Love all the pictures and your adventurous vacationing spirits...but after reading all that, I feel like crashing on the couch too. LOL Glad you're back in civilization!

    1. I can't remember where you live, Kav, but Washington is the 9th largest state. Oregon is the 11th largest. (We're on the border of the two) We've got four distinctive regions with their own very distinctive weather patterns.
      Some simplify it to "the wet side" and "the dry side" but that's not always completely accurate since I live in the high desert, but in a valley which can actually grow produce.
      A geography major I met at the University of Oregon once told me that Oregon was a mini snapshot of the US. Every extreme the United States has, we have, just tinier. :)

    2. You know, that's such a good point. The west side of Washington gets lots of rain (the Seattle jokes!) but as you move west it diminishes, so I had to be aware of exactly where I was setting my Double S Ranch books to make sure the actual climate (which changes about every ten miles, believe it or not!) matched where and how I set the book. When Dave and I were in Seattle after our gifted cruise, we took that two-hour drive inland and it was so good to actually see the county I picked. I love eye-balling things when I can, except in historicals where I just have way too much fun inventing Ruthy-towns. :)

    3. Yes, and making sure you get the dialect and the mannerisms right. It's odd how many people think we talk like Southerners. Or super country. LOL. We usually sound like the people on the news. Maybe a few fun phrases.
      I sure wish we had regional dishes, dialects, mannerisms, but we don't. Not like Southerners or Texans (giving them their own slot, haha), or North easterners or Californians. We eat everything, say everything, act every which way.
      I also see people assuming Portland/Seattle equate the rest of the state. I've heard us called "liberals", which made me laugh. I have to drive seven hours to find a liberal. We're quite the divided state.

  2. I feel as if I've been on vacation! Thanks for sharing!

    I have to say in that first cooking photo I thought you'd burned some graham crackers on sticks. LOL

    1. Missy, that was about what I felt like I was eating for the week. LOL. I like real food. And I had a dream of cooking real food. That dream didn't happen. I cooked real, burned food.
      I ate a lot of waffles and grilled cheese.

  3. You are a brave and wonderful soul. I have not informed my six children that any mother is up for doing this. Why ruin their childhood memories???


    I expect that traveling with the crew puts you at Ms. Frizzle and the crew as the class on the Magic School Bus, one of my favorite series of books to read to budding scientists.

    I've been compared to The Frizz fairly often, so take it as a compliment! I love going away, but it's oh, so good to get home!


    Why did I have no idea your little section of the country was so hot. I'm wilting, thinking of it. But I'm a heat wimp.

    I am a braveheart during the cold and snow and wind, though, so I'm giving self-awarded points for that!

    Glad you guys had a great adventure!

    1. We love the Frizz!!
      I've learned to endure the heat, and after a while, you don't really notice it as much. You just get used to be miserable and sweaty, hahahahaha.

      I don't enjoy the cold, but I do enjoy watching the kids play in it! We're planning a trip to Banff, Alberta, Canada in the winter. I don't want too much snow. I still want to be able to drive in it.
      And funny, the cabins I've looked at renting for a group our size all have "ski in, ski out" entrances.
      Made me laugh. I'll take the stairs, thanks, but I'm sure the kids will enjoy sledding INTO the house.

    2. P.S. it was 113F the day we left, and 72F when we hit the coast. *sigh of relief*

  4. What a fun time you had. Your photos bring back fun memories of those places as hubby and I have traveled there often. I want to be a kid in your family. smile

    1. Oh, sweet Sandra, that's not what most people say when they see a large family! LOL. Bless you.
      And when we travel, just like in daily life, I try to keep an eye on who's getting all the attention, who's getting their way, who's too quiet, who's getting lost in the shuffle, who really doesn't want to hike the cliffs but gets dragged along, etc.
      Maybe it's the youngest child in me, but I want each of my kids to feel as if they got a voice in the daily activities. Compromised is a part of life, but I don't want them to be miserable. If someone has to endure an afternoon was fishing one day, they chose four hours in a bookstore the next. If someone was bored to death looking for shells, I let them choose the next activity (usually something MUCH more energetic and exciting.)
      So, I hope if you joined the family you'd enjoy your day as queen of the pack! LOL. I have a feeling it might be related to pickle ball...