Life at the Lake

We’re in the middle of a little “staycation” right now and it seemed like the perfect time to post to our pathetically out-of-date blog. As the role of Facebook has expanded in the time since we sold the house and set out on our short-circuited journey, we’ve found even less motivation to post here, but there is a place for communication beyond the sound bite character limits of status updates and comments.

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In less than a month, we’ll be trading in life at our comfortable, incredibly cute, perpetually improving “big house” for the next adventure in our “little house” (the one that has wheels): a couple of weeks of sightseeing as we travel west, then three incredibly full months on the beach, enjoying our role as grandparents and camp hosts, visiting friends and family, and occasionally indulging in burritos carnitas from Taqueria Vallarta. After our time is up at Seacliff, we’re hoping to set out farther north, catching up with Bob and Helen in Cottage Grove, Oregon, stopping for a bit at Flathead Lake, Montana, continuing on to explore a route across the northern tier of states to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for a bit of fall color and to visit family before the weather shifts and drives us south again.

Hi Mom!Being retired and having a house within walking distance to the campground, it might seem a little ridiculous to invest the effort and expense to move the trailer down to the lake shore. It is a change of head space, as well as a different habitat. While we’re in the “big house” life takes on the focus of “normal” life: paying bills, household maintenance and projects, cooking and cleaning (okay, not so much cleaning), counting birds at the feeders, etc, etc, etc. No complaints, just acknowledgment. Visiting the campground for a few days instead of walking through it (as we do most mornings) is about shifting gears. While Laura’s calendar was clear, we hoped to have a chance to come down for three or four nights before the holiday weekend crowds descended. As fate would have it, we happened to be hanging out watching a pair of Cooper’s hawk building a nest when the folks who were in our favorite site packed up and pulled out, so we were able to walk up to the gatehouse and snag it on Monday. Woo Hoo!

Dottie floating on Canyon LakeWe’ve been blessed this week with an opportunity to revisit the Canyon Lake that we fell in love with three years ago. The first time it was late May so we’re about a month earlier this time, but with temperatures reaching into the 90’s each day and water temperatures in the 70’s, and constant winds between 10 and 20 mph, it’s close enough. Perfect for afternoons spent on a floaty thing in the water.

For the first couple of days, the campground seemed pretty empty. Folks here will come in and rent the non-reservation sites as far ahead as they can in order to have them for prime weekends, even though in many cases they don’t use them except for a few days. We paid for two days at first, leaving the option open to extend or bail out, depending on conditions.

We’ve met new friends; Forest and Jan, who know Laura’s dad because he performed their daughter’s wedding in Michigan, Bill and Vickie who live in the U.P. of Michigan (we’re hoping to visit them next fall!), Captain Steveand reconnected with Amy and Richard who we met in the campground last year while we were out walking dogs. They joined us for Thanksgiving dinner and now we’re looking forward to Easter dinner with them. Interestingly, I’ve found that I am more social in campgrounds than I am at home.

The weekend has come, the campground is as full as it gets, and we haven’t found motivation to leave. The first time we were here, we fantasized about having a pontoon boat to get out on the lake. This time, our humble pontoon is moored a few campsites away.

The day we arrived in this spot in 2008, Laura made a proclamation that is as true today as it was then: “I LOVE it here, I feel like I’m on vacation!”

We’ve been found!

robin-smallSteve and I have new friends in Texas but they won’t be “friending” us on Facebook anytime soon. They all sport beaks and feathers … our house has gone to the birds! Last winter, we reported 14 species at our feeders … this year we’re seeing over 20 species every day. This morning started slow and, still, we had 16 species before breakfast. Wahoo… it is busy outside our windows.

A few days ago we were excited to see our first American Robin and we think s/he spread the word because the today’s highlight was a flock of about 140! Twenty or so perched in our trees, eating berries and drinking out of the bird bath. At one point, both Robins and Cedar Waxwings (our other big flock of the week) were drinking together. Dang, even with each of us holding a camera we missed that shot!

At the top of our favorites list is a pair of Golden-Fronted Woodpeckers dubbed “Sadie” and “Mister Mister”. “Missy”, our female Ladderback Woodpecker visits daily.mister-sm Sometimes, her handsome beau is also in attendance though he isn’t very reliable. The Bewick’s and Carolina Wrens, a pair each, are almost always here and, at any given moment, there might be dozens of American Goldfinches with, if we’re lucky, a Lesser Goldfinch or two mixed in. A couple pair of House Finches are usually around, as well as the Pine Siskins who are newcomers this week.

When the ground appears to be moving, look close. Likely it is a flock of chipping sparrows. Zip … what was that? Just one of the Yellow-Rumped Warblers chasing someone off of a suet log. They have staked their claim! The Orange-Crowned Warblers, skittish at first, practically land on Steve when he’s filling feeders and titmousethis afternoon, one looked like it wanted to join us inside. Steve has gotten pretty friendly with the little Ruby Crowned Kinglet too. Scrub Jays and Blue Jays, Cardinals, Titmice, Mourning and White-Winged Doves round out the list of birds at the feeders. Look a little farther out to find the Eastern Phoebe, and a little higher in the sky to catch the vultures, both Turkey and Black, and Red-Tailed Hawks, and you’ll have our list for this week. Now if only our Roadrunner and the Hermit Thrush will show up, our life will be complete. Oh, and the Bald Eagle we saw in November. We want it to come back. And the Crested Cara Cara we saw from the back deck. And … and … and …

With twelve feeders of varying types, as well as the bird bath, it’s hard to know where to look. Or to get anything else done. My neck hurts a bit, but overall, it’s not a bad way to spend a cold and dreary, drizzly winter day. (more photos)