Baby It’s Cold Outside!

Yes indeedy it’s cold. 3/4s of the nation was below freezing for days and days. Maybe weeks. A friend in Vermont was at minus (-) 25 degrees the other day. Their furnace isn’t fully operational and inside it was 55 degrees. At least they aren’t freezing inside—just cold. Northern Ohio was hovering from sub zero to a mere 12 above. And Wyoming was minus (-) 17 a few days ago. A ‘bomb cyclone’ hit the east coast bringing torrents of snow and extreme cold that traveled inland to Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois and Indiana.

While things warmed up for a bit, there is more coming. The East/Midwest is gearing up for yet more cold and snowy winter weather. At 15 degrees (that feels like 10), Thayne, Wyoming is still pretty darn cold. While you probably never heard of Thayne, Wyoming, it is a beautiful place where family lives. Very close to Freedom (see our post from February, 2017: and not far from Jackson, Wyoming where it’s been 17 degrees feeling like 10.

The Wyoming high country winters are among the harshest with extreme cold and tons of snow that the highway workers spend hours plowing, sometimes 24/7, to keep them safe for travelers. But it is some of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful, country you will ever see no matter the season. The Tetons are here, of course, outside of Jackson. But Thayne is located between the Salt River Mountain Range in Wyoming and the Webster Mountain Range in Eastern Idaho (where the Caribou National Forest resides): ) where the mountain scenery is just as spectacular in its own way. 

We have posted photos from this area taken by a family member before but this one kind of says it all to us as to the cold, snow and extreme beauty of the high Rocky Mountain Winter.  Stay warm.  Stay safe!


The Stained Glass Window

At the beginning of the 20th Century, the use of stained glass in windows, from churches to private homes, grew rapidly in popularity. American architects and glass workers traveled to Europe, studied medieval windows and the creations of Rouault, Chagall, Albers and other European painters. Soon, Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Sullivan incorporated stained glass into their new ground-breaking architectural designs. Private glass studios in the United States created lamps, vases and windows for private homes, churches and civic buildings. This practice extended into the Art Deco Era of the 1920s and didn’t recede until the Depression and World War II. Today, we often find old stained glass windows from this period in antique stores and flea markets. Now and then, one may spot a window still in place in a home built during the heyday of U.S. architectural stained glass. Today, contemporary glass workers design and create for private residences, commercial and civic buildings throughout the country.

Somewhat recently a family heirloom popped up on the horizon bringing with it great memories. It is a stained glass window that lived in a family home of 2 generations ago. I remember sitting at the dining room table in this home as the sun shone through the glass causing streaks of color to dance on the white tablecloth much like a spinning prism. It was fascinating. The colors were as warm as the sun unleashing a child’s imagination. Visions of faeres and butterflies floated about in those multi-colored reflections creating an atmosphere of warmth and safety.

The oldest family member of this 3rd generation had different memories:  It was a beautiful window, hand-made and quite old, I think. When the light was just right, it would cast colors on the crystal kept in a glass case in the dining room.

The color reflections were something everyone remembered.

The introductory paragraph to this post was written by a family member who also took this photo. We all have so many memories coming from this one, beautiful heirloom. It is amazing what good, fun memories emerge from one very old thing that was an everyday part of life at the time. It has been lovingly restored to its original detail down to the dark green frame and hangs again in a home that loves it.

I thought you would enjoy seeing this restored beauty that was probably made around 1915. So from our family at to yours, envision the magic of the sun-created colors.

New Year’s Day On The Oregon Coast

Sunset Bay State Park near Charleston, Oregon is a beautiful Oregon Coast setting surrounded by rocky cliffs on two sides, a large beach area in the center and picnic grounds and facilities. Seagulls hang out scavenging lunch leftovers. Seals and Sea Lions occasionally wander in. This is a great place to go tide pooling also, and we have done so discovering Turban Snails, purple Sea Stars, Sea Anemones, Muscle Clams and more. The Bay is a fun place to visit, swim, picnic and hike around.

One outstanding adventure happens in the Bay every January 1, New Year’s Day. That is the Polar Bear Plunge. Enthusiasts flock to the beach in all kinds of garb to take the plunge in celebration of the New Year.

This year will be the 29th Annual Polar Bear Plunge in the Bay starting at precisely 9:00 am on New Year’s Day. The one rule dictates that you must completely immerse yourself. “Spend one to 5 minutes here in the water and you’re sure to start your New Year off right,” the promotional information tells us!

Is it cold? You bet! The average summer temperature of the Pacific Northwest Ocean is 55 degrees. Surfers wear wetsuits to insulate themselves from the cold, summer waters when they are riding the waves here. It has to be pretty darn hot in July for many to venture into these waters to swim.

This event can be a bit crazy, but mostly it’s fun for those who venture out here to dip in the ocean or just to watch. A great way to celebrate the coming New Year! You can watch some of the fun from 2012 in the following video.

We are just about an hour from Sunset Bay so do stop in to see us on your way to the Polar Bear Plunge, or stay with us for a night or two at

Happy New Year From Sunset Bay, Oregon!

Pictures of the Day

We thought you would enjoy some of our favorite photos gathered together here. Some have been posted previously but some haven’t. All were taken by family and friends. Enjoy!

 This is a real Wyoming Winter year in the high country near Jackson. Over a foot of snow and minus 12 degrees when this was taken by a family member.

A warmer day a few years ago in Winchester Bay, Oregon. Sunset in the Bay. Photo credit goes to me.Another Wyoming Winter photo by a family member. The roads are constantly plowed by hard-working staff. They often work 24 hours a day, including Christmas and New Years, to keep the roads in this high mountain country safe and to enable locals (and some crazy tourists) to get around.

You’ve seen this one before. That’s me on the beach at Bandon, Oregon. Taken by a family member who was standing on the Dunes. This was my first ever hike along the Pacific Ocean Shore. It was December.

We love the photos this family member takes and think the Wyoming  Winter ones this year are awesome!

This was taken on Cape Perpetua at the Devil’s Churn on Highway 101 on the Oregon Coast by a young family member. He braved the elements of crashing waves to get this photo. We have posted this one before but it’s definitely worth a repeat!

Here is one more Wyoming Winter high country taken by a family member. I love the lone tree.

This was taken by our friend, Brock Thorne of Vernal, Utah. He hiked to get this one out in the Utah wilderness. Another repost-worthy photo!

This is one of mine taken at Lake Marie up out of Winchester Bay, Oregon near the Umpqua River Lighthouse. If you hold it upside down it looks the same. In fact, I’m not sure if it is upside down here or not.

This is taken (by me) on a farm in East Nebraska one summer morning.  Sunrise Blaze!

Poppies (Mexican poppies) with snow on the Santa Rita Mountains in Southern Arizona.  I won awards with this photo and maybe a couple of bucks!

Dawn on the Huron River in Huron, Ohio. Photo credit is mine. The colors are real!

This photo is very old taken in the late 70s by me. Laramie Peak is the highest Wyoming Peak in the Laramie Range in the northern part of the Medicine Bow National Forest. 10,276 ft high. You can see signs of winter in the small, snowy patches.

Oregon has 50 historic covered bridges which are among the greatest number in any state in the US. This one is particularly picturesque. Photo credit goes to me. I love the holiday wreath and especially the reflection in the water.

I love windmills but particularly the old, wooden ones. They are getting harder and harder to find, but this one is somewhere along the Wyoming high country back roads. It is still a working windmill! Yes, it’s my photo.

One of my favorite places of all time is the Redwood forests on the Northern California Coast. I love to hike among the tall trees where it is ever peaceful and quiet, especially on the high trails. From the ground looking up, the trees are awesome. But hiking near the tops of them is even more awesome. This photo is of a landmark Redwood named simply, Tall Tree. It was measured in 1957 at 359.3 ft high. A redwood tree can grow 3 to 10 feet per year so it could be between 180 ft and 600 ft taller now. This photo is zoomed from the ground looking up.

We hope you have enjoyed our “Pictures of the Day” collection for 2017. If you are visiting the Oregon Coast during this holiday season, do stop in and say hello to us at or even stay a night or two. It’s Whale Watching week right now so bring your binoculars along. See you on the coast!


Whale Watching Week On The Oregon Coast

This is Whale Watching Week on the Oregon Coast. It’s an exciting time for those who live on or near the coast or are just visiting. If you are here, don’t miss this unique opportunity. Below is our post from a year ago with lots of information about Whale Watching and where to go to find the migrating Whales. 

The Oregon Coast is famous for its Grey Whales. When visitors from all over the world are here and learn about the whales, well, everyone wants to see one. There are expeditions you can take to see the whales and Depot Bay is famous for their boats out into the ocean to view the whales that hang not far off shore. But a good, fun time can be had from shore where they have the Whale Watching Spoken Here Programs.

Trained volunteers are posted in various places along the Oregon Coast to help guide visitors in watching the Grey Whale migrations. Right now is prime whale watching season as 20,000 Grey Whales are traveling south to the warmth of the waters at Baja, Mexico. In March they’ll travel back again, but for now our favorite place to watch is on the platform looking out over the dunes at Winchester Bay with the Umpqua River Lighthouse behind us.

View from the platform to the south.


View from the platform to the north


The extremely endangered Grey Whale is a migrating baleen whale. They can be as big a 40 tons and live from 55 to 70 years. The gray patches and white mottling on dark skin give them the name of Gray Whale. These are the whales that migrate from their winter breeding grounds off the coast of Mexico to their summer feeding grounds in Alaska and back again. They have been seen popping up around the globe in small numbers possibly repopulating long lost breeding grounds not used for centuries. Worldwide protection of the species is what is bringing them back. One lady Grey Whale has made a 22,000-kilometer migration across the Pacific Ocean. Scientists believe this demonstrates how endangered species are making major changes in their lifestyles. They are amazing creatures.


This is the live Whale Watching webcam. You can watch the ocean to spot the migrating Grey Whales this week!

Whale Watching at the Umpqua River Lighthouse State Park is just a short 20-minute drive from Umpqua River Haven ( Stop in and say hello on your way or stay with us for a bit while you visit the coast to see the whales! And visit our favorite lighthouse.


Not Everyone Is A Grinch!

Recently, with the assistance of the Goldwater Institute, I blogged about the Grinchy City of Phoenix interfering with the family in Arcadia holding their traditional holiday celebration that draws in people from all over. Lights, moving holiday figures, wonderful window displays, yard sale items and hot cocoa were all objected to by the city due to a few neighborhood complaints (most neighbors don’t object). Because of the problems associated with dealing with the city, the family did not put up any of their display this year. They did spread much of their light displays among many of their neighbors (the non Scroogey ones). (

Switch to Scottsdale, AZ for a complete about face from Grinchy Phoenix. This year’s winner of the annual TV show “Great Light Fights” is Chris Birkett and family of Scottsdale. The Birketts won a whopping $50,000.00 prize for their annual light and walk-through display accompanied by holiday music. Scottsdale, possibly in spite of a very few neighbor’s complaints, doesn’t object.

We visited last night. Cars were parked everywhere on the Birkett’s street and on all the streets around. Masses of people were walking to or from their house or standing in front of it. One side of the street was closed off but you could drive on the other side past the sparkling holiday lights. We opted to drive past due to knowing it would take much time to try and find a parking place (anywhere) and walk in, around through and out again with the crowds. It was cold and we were mostly cruising light displays again.

However, we could still see all the lights as they changed, hear the music and view other lighted displays as we passed by. Here are a few photos we took for you to enjoy. And last year’s video of the Birkett’s holiday light show  at the bottom


‘Tis The Season On The Oregon Coast

It’s time for our annual visit to this wonderful garden on the Oregon Coast. It is a holiday fan’s paradise for lights, native plants, cider, cookies, Christmas music and more. Following is a re-post of our 2015 blog about this magical place.  If you are anywhere near the coast this holiday season, don’t miss this one! 

Shore Acres Botanical Gardens just outside of Charleston, Oregon on the coast is lit up for 30 days over the holidays. Starting at Thanksgiving time, this beautiful coastal place is filled with lights, light displays and decorated Christmas trees. The Friends of Shore Acres do most of the lighting work and man the cottage and grounds during December every year. Various groups such as the local Corvette Club decorate the trees.

We will start at the entrance to the gardens as we are greeted by the lighted tall ship.


 Just past the tall ship we find this display from under the sea.


Moving along the garden lights open up for a full view that is spectacular to take in.


This post is about the lights. Following are some of our favorite light displays.

As you walk in past the Under The Sea display these sea lions are diving into the water and will make a splash of light.


In the opposite direction are 2 whales. One leaps and the other one, a grey whale, spouts.



Continuing around the walk is a somewhat new lighthouse display.


 The plants here are filled with colorful lights creating their own display.


Continuing on you will come to the Puffins.


And next is the pond. I am just giving you an idea of the displays. You really need to visit here during December to take in the full beauty of all the various displays and decorated trees. The frog actually leaps from one side of the pond to the other creating a splash when it enters the water.


As your walk around the pond you will come to the place that makes the ‘Ribbit’ sounds. It’s a bit of a surprise when you hear it!


 The pond supplies endless, lighted views. The cranes and salmon are no exception.


Shore Acres sits up on a cliff above the Pacific Ocean a short distance past Charleston, Oregon. The core of this property originally was the home of pioneer timber baron Louis Simpson who built a large mansion with formal gardens overlooking the ocean. The State of Oregon purchased the property in 1942 and added land as it became available. The gardens were let go until 1970 when they were restored even grander than before with flowers and plants from all over the world. One of our favorite parts of the gardens is hidden a bit. There is an area with rows of all kinds of roses!

The mansion no longer exists but there is an observation area where it once was where you can read all the history. However, the caretaker’s cottage survives and is now the Garden House. It, too, is filled with all things Christmassy and is on the tour.


Inside you can sign the guest book and then head on upstairs to visit the front bedroom, Santa’s bath and the back bedroom. You can sign up for the raffle to spend New Year’s Eve in the front bedroom with catered breakfast.


 There is a Christmas tree in the bedroom also.

And the view out the window is spectacular!


And don’t forget Santa’s bath.


As you pass from the front of the house to the back you are greeted by many volunteers giving out cookies, hot apple cider, punch and coffee which you can enjoy there or take out to the pavilion.


You can sit and sip and enjoy the evening’s entertainment. There are a variety of groups that play/perform/sing on any given night and there’s often a sing-a-long. One year this bell choir performed beautifully.


If you are on the Oregon Coast during the month of December do not miss the opportunity to visit Shore Acres Holiday Light Display! There is a $5.00 charge for parking worth every penny. Don’t forget to visit the gift shop on the way out. Shore Acres State Park, 80939 Cape Arago Highway, Coos Bay, OR.  And stop in to say “hello” to us at on your way to the coast! 


Arizona Picture Of The Day

If you are traveling on Arizona’s I-17 between Phoenix and Flagstaff, you will pass this unique tree. It is growing on the median between the north and south double lanes on I-17. It is up “on top” as you have climbed up out of Phoenix into the Arizona high desert country. Every year, apparently, Santa’s Elves decorate this tree while no one can see as it is unknown who/how it becomes adorned with holiday decorations. Keep watch if you are traveling this route, but, you really can’t miss it!


A Victorian Lighthouse Christmas at Heceta Head.

The Heceta Head Lighthouse Keeper’s House just 11 miles north of Florence on the Oregon Coast is one of the prettiest homes around for any era. It is certainly a cut above what most keeper’s homes were. Every year at this time, a Victorian Christmas Open House is held here.


In mid-December, the doors of the Queen Ann style Lighthouse Keeper’s House are open to the public from 4-7 pm. The house is majestically decorated in Victorian style with fresh garlands, colorful Christmas lights, and festive holiday decor. Each evening local musicians play holiday favorites. More locals provide warm drinks and sweets. Santa Claus will be on hand each evening handing out candy canes.


Restoration of the Heceta Head Lighthouse was recently completed and it is beautiful. For this 22nd Annual Victorian Christmas Open House, the lighthouse tower is also open to visitors. This is one of very few times during the year that the tower is open at night.

As with most historic buildings and grounds, funds are needed to restore and maintain. Admission is free but donations are always welcome. You can enter the holiday raffle to win a free night’s stay at this Bed & Breakfast or one of many great prizes from local artists and businesses. The Lighthouse Gift Shop will be open and full of special lighthouse gifts for Christmas shopping.


There is a fee of $5.00 to park but admission to the Keeper’s House is free. A shuttle runs from the state park below up to the house. You can take the beautiful beach walk up but be sure to have warm rain gear and a flashlight for the hike.

If you are going to be on or near the Oregon Coast during the next couple of weeks, don’t miss this holiday event. The light from the Lighthouse revolving at night is a spectacular sight! Drop in and say “Hi” to us at Pull in for the night or weekend. We are just a short drive from the Lighthouse.


Pearl Harbor

I’ve been to Pearl Harbor. It is one of the quietest experiences you will ever have. Waiting to enter the theater to watch the movie, people visit but not in loud voices or with any laughter. Once seated in front of the large movie screen, no one speaks. If you have never seen this movie or even if you have, it will have a profound effect on you and everyone sitting there. The main film footage was taken December 7, 1941, from the deck of the USS Solace, anchored nearby, by Army Doctor Eric Haakenson. You will see this footage. If you are an American, it will make you cry. It has that effect on everyone. When it is over, you can hear a pin drop and you can hear that pin for the next hour.

Leaving the theater, boarding the transport to the Memorial, that pin is sounding as, still, no one speaks. Climbing onto the Memorial and the entire time you are there, no one speaks. Reading the names of those lost on this ship and knowing she and her crew are resting just below you is an indescribable experience. Awesome, sad, reverent. There really were no words as tears slid down.

And you will know why we stand for the National Anthem and salute our flag and thank our military for being there for us, for protecting and defending our Constitution and Freedoms. Be sure and thank one this holiday season.