Oregon’s forests of mostly Douglas Fir, provide peaceful, soulful hiking experiences. Deep in the forest, on the trails, it is quiet, green and breathtakingly beautiful.

Not everyone is in it for the spiritual experience. Oregon’s forests are famous for their wild mushroom populations. Innumerable varieties of mushrooms grow here in a rainbow of colors. Once I saw a pink one, an orange one, a  red one and even a blue one hiking on the Siltcoos Lake Trail just south of Florence.

There is a mushroom ‘season’ when the fungi are ripe for picking. Mushroom pickers are in it for the income it can provide. You will find pickups parked in various locations in town and out, with signs stating “Mushroom Buyer.” I was hiking the Lake Marie trail one time when suddenly 4 fellas came walking out of the forest, no trail there, right in front of me onto the trail. I was a bit taken aback until I realized they were hunting mushrooms.

In order to hunt profitable mushrooms, one must be educated in all varieties that you can find here. Some are very poisonous and you don’t want to be trying to sell killer mushrooms.

Boletes come in all sorts of different “flavors,” if you will. Some are poisonous, some are edible but taste awful, and some are edible and very tasty. You do have to know your mushrooms.

Morels come in a variety of different kinds, including false morels. They have a nutty flavor and also taste like steak. Mostly they are edible except for the false kind. You just have to know your mushrooms.

Matsutke mushrooms are known for their sweet and spicy scent. They are small, white, round ‘S’hrooms’ that can be difficult to find as they hide in the dirt.

Oregon’s favorite, most prized and most expensive variety of mushroom is the Chanterelle that also grows wild in the forests. Chanterelles are orange, shaped like a trumpet and often have wavy edges. The Jack-O-Lantern mushroom resembles the Chanterelle but is poisonous. Know your mushrooms.

If you are on the Oregon Coast this coming weekend and want to actually pick some S’hrooms, head to Brookings for their Mushroom Identifying Workshop on November 18 and 19. Mycologist Bob Burch will lecture/teach an evening class all about how to ID local wild mushrooms and their main characteristics and locations. Class will be held at the Port Orford City Hall. Burch teaches how to ID edible and non-edible species, how to preserve them and how to prepare them as food. That’s on Nov 18. On Nov 19 there is a field trip so bring a lunch and water for the hike.

This is well worth your participation if you want to pick your own wild mushrooms. And, they are delicious. I’ve been given some and there’s nothing better.

Don’t forget to stop in at Umpqua River Haven on your way and say “Hi” to us. www.umpquahaven.com


It’s a Chanterelle!


Veterans Day is a day of reflection for those that made it back. They reflect on those that had their backs and didn’t make it back. May it be a day of reflection and thanksgiving for the rest of us on those that willingly paid the ultimate price for all of us as well as thanking those that made it back. Never forget: Freedom isn’t free!

Wyoming’s Student Symphony

Wyoming is still a bit about being the ‘Wild West.’ Cowboys ride the open range moving cattle. Branding events occur at least annually on the ranches. Docking sheep is a necessary activity. And those that do all that work occasionally get to town and get drunk and sometimes even ‘shoot ‘em up’ riding horseback through the bar. Yes, you can experience all of these things. But, what do they have to do with Johann Strauss, Aaron Copland, Arturo Marquez and Ludwig van Beethoven?

They do because sometimes even Cowboys go to college and take music classes. If they are good enough, they can play in the University of Wyoming Symphony Orchestra that is comprised of UW music students under the direction of Dr. Michael Griffith.

On Thursday, October 19, 2017, the orchestra presented its first concert of the 2017-2018 season in the Buchanan Center for the Performing Arts on campus. It was an ambitious program that the students were mostly up to. As concert-goers waited for the doors to open, a trio performed preconcert music. Their renditions of a Beethoven trio and a Rachmaninoff trio were excellent.

The opening concert piece was the “Overture from Die Fledermaus” by Johann Strauss, Jr. This is a well-known and very recognizable overture and the orchestra performed this work well. The solo oboe rang out clear and true. The bowing of the double basses can only be described as enthusiastically delightful. The concertmaster was obviously enjoying every minute of what he was doing and had the music mostly memorized. The violins were precise with great intonation. The musicians watched Dr. Griffith closely. The only disappointment was not being able to hear the violas. Their sound was muffled directionally, plus, they were overwhelmed by the rest of the orchestra most of the time. When they could be heard, the sound was lusciously beautiful.

The second work was the “Concerto for Clarinet” by Aaron Copland. It was performed by Dr. Blake McGee, Assistant Professor of Clarinet at UW, and a smaller, student chamber orchestra. Copland was commissioned to write this piece by and for jazz clarinetist Benny Goodman. According to Dr. McGee, who also teaches music history at UW, Goodman told Copland that what he had composed was too difficult and asked him to rewrite some. Copland did and removed parts and simplified parts. That fact is not very noticeable when listening to this piece. It is still a difficult work with elements of jazz written into Copland’s modern classical style.

Dr. McGee played this very complicated work in its entirety with seemingly no effort. The first slow and expressive movement was just that with beautiful, perfect tones in a wide range. Dr. McGee is the epitome of “the music is within” as he sways as he plays. One almost expects to see him break into a graceful dance.

The second movement, the Cadenza, was dazzlingly all over the place and again, played flawlessly. This unaccompanied movement is very jazzy and almost seems improvised as jazz often is.

The third and faster movement starts with the tic toc sounds of a clock. While Dr. McGee is obviously concentrated on his music, he manages to smile at the violins during a brief pause. The music turns even jazzier as the clarinet must play well with others at times and does.

The smaller, student chamber orchestra did well. It is not easy to keep up with someone of Dr. McGee’s caliber but, while at times a bit muddy, the violins did manage to keep up. The cellos stood out nicely. The harp was almost impossible to hear being overwhelmed by the other instruments. But the big conclusion here is Dr. McGee who is literally a whiz on the clarinet. UW is blessed with this very talented musician on staff who is also principal clarinet with the Wyoming Symphony Orchestra in Casper.

Latin rhythms are always popular as many of them are peppy and upbeat. The slower ones are earthy and inspiring. Dr. Griffith’s next selection for this concert lived up to those descriptions. Arturo Marquez’s “Danzon No. 2,” a commissioned work composed in 1994 for the National Autonomous University of Mexico, provided all of the varieties and colors that comprise Latin rhythms. Salsa, tango and more. This work includes passages that are alternately slow, frantic and exciting as Latin rhythms are. The music is obviously fun to play as was expressed on the musician’s faces. The percussion section was very important and often stood out well. Various instruments performed solos here and there very competently. The brass section was also shining ever so brightly. Even Dr. Griffith was more animated, conducting with bigger movements. Well played, this work was joyous to hear and to watch being performed.

Following Intermission, the orchestra took on one of Ludwig van Beethoven’s more familiar works, “Symphony No. 6, Op. 68 Pastorale Symphony,” composed in 1808. Flutes and oboes, French horns and bassoon, along with the percussion all stood out amazingly at times. The violas were again difficult to hear. The violins worked hard at this piece. However, the orchestra as a whole struggled at times. There was an occasional lack of precision and they were not always together. At one point, Dr. Griffith had them tune again which was needed as the intonation was not always good. This was a big undertaking and a good challenge for the musicians. While not a perfect performance, it was still enjoyable. The best part of the enjoyment was watching so many talented young people in this Wyoming college orchestra.

Many years ago Wyoming had a band and a small bit of what was termed modern dance. It has been heartening to watch the music and dance programs at UW over the years grow, expand and become something of substance that the entire state can be proud of. The UW orchestra is fortunate to have someone with Dr. Griffith’s knowledge, skills, experience, talents and musical gifts at the helm.

One last aspect for this orchestra is the community and alumni support they have. The auditorium was filled and patrons filled the printed program also. Bravo to them all!

    John Jenskey

    John Ross Jenskey


In 1706, Spain established a presidio, or military garrison, in the vast New Mexico desert. The presidio was in the newly established town of Alburquerque which was named after the Spanish administrator and viceroy of Mexico, Fernandez de la Cueva, Duque de Alburquerque (1617-1676). The spelling was altered by association with the prominent Portuguese General Alfonso de Albuquerque (1453-1515). Both military men were named after the Spanish town of Alburquerque which is near the Portuguese border. One spelling is from the Portuguese language and one from the Spanish language. It is thought that the name means “white oak” or “cork oak.” The modern-day Alburquerque is still a center of Spain’s cork industry.

There are other folklore stories about the name “Alburquerque.” One is that it is derived from an Arabic word meaning “the father of cork (oak).” Another story has it derived from a Galacian word meaning “apricot.” The Spanish brought apricots to this area as early as 1743.

The present-day location of the presidio is now referred to as “Old Town Albuquerque” or just “Old Town.” Sometimes it is referred to as “La Placita” which means “little plaza” in Spanish.

The Spanish influence here is extensive. There is great beauty in many of the town’s buildings, houses and churches that have retained the flavor of Spanish architecture. There is much to see and do in town but it is the mountains that we are going to visit now. There is a tram that travels up to Sandia Peak from Albuquerque. The tram glides over canyons 6,000 feet deep and more. But, our adventure will involve a leisurely drive up to the peak.

Our adventure starts as we leave Los Lunas to travel through the Isleta Pueblo along the Rio Grand River. The river is lined with trees. Being fall, many of the tree’s leaves have turned color displaying a riot of yellow along the river’s banks.

The Rocky Mountains surround Albuquerque and display beautifully in the distance.

The road passes by many buildings of this busy city along I-25.

We bend around to I-40 that reaches the road that climbs up the mountain. Driving up the winding, twisty and sometimes switch-back mountain road affords close up views of the scenery along the way, including many trees that have turned their colors from green to yellow nestled among the pines. At the lower levels are a few very small towns that cater to the tourists.

Reaching the top of Sandia Peak, we find spectacular views on three sides. Following are some photos we took.

It is always hazy next to the mountains and often over the city due to the constantly blowing sand of the desert. The streaks of white that are visible are not jet streams or clouds. They are much bigger than any jet stream and start out at much higher altitudes than jets travel. They are called “chem trails” and there is much speculation among the people of our entire country where they come from and why. We will let you discover those hypotheses for yourselves.

Another view of the city with more of the surrounding mountains.

This is known as “Metal Mountain” and is located at this lookout point on Sandia Peak. The ‘metal’ provides TV, radio and cell phone services to the city and surrounding areas.

This is our family member who is one of the Pirates for Sea Shepherd (and that’s another story) relaxing at the peak.

This last photo is off in a different direction. The views are expansive all around the three sides.

Albuquerque is famous for the annual balloon festival held here but has so much more to offer. Don’t miss out on the glorious mountains views either by road or by tram if you travel this way!

The Haunted House

What was the scariest house in your neighborhood? One similar to the one from “Psycho?” Maybe the one from “To Kill A Mockingbird.” “The Shining,” “Hocus Pocus,” “Poltergeist,” “Frankenstein,” “Beetlejuice,” “The Nightmare Before Christmas?” There are plenty to chose from.

Ours was one in the neighborhood in the middle of the block. It was a good-sized house, dingy white in color (it needed paint) with an untended yard surrounded by a dirty and in-need-of-repair white picket fence. Yes, someone did live in it. An old guy who occasionally could be seen on the front porch. He was pretty scary to young children.

Every once in awhile kids would dare one kid to go into the yard, up onto the porch and ring the bell and run. Sometimes a kid would take the dare and often as the children were running away, the old guy would open the door, step out onto the porch and yell at them. Most of the time kids would just run past the house as fast as they could due to the rumor that a kid that once lingered outside looking toward the house got pulled inside the house—woosh, just like that. It was our hometown haunted house with ghost stories all its own.

Then there is the Haunted House at the Carnival…….Haunted Houses have always held a fascination for children. Their imagination is fed by spooky-looking places. It holds true for adults, too, though many would never admit it. At this time of year on the Oregon Coast, a true Haunted House happens. From October 20th through October 31st, the Chetco Pelican Players will create their 11th annual Haunted House in an old, abandoned warehouse in Brookings-Harbor. Now known as “Chops Mart,” the Haunted House is located in the Brookings-Harbor Shopping Center at 97900 Shopping Center Ave in Harbor.

The “Hicksville Horror Show” opens on Thursday, October 23 at 7:00 pm. Travel the overgrown trails of the back roads of Hicksville and be ‘entertained to death’ by the frightening creatures you will encounter. Ghouls, Goblins, Ghosts and more reside here and randomly appear before anyone who is brave enough to travel these paths.

Queen Witch Claire Willard reins over the dark, hidden horrors of Hicksville staring a host of beasties, creeps and carnage carnies. The survivors of this demented tour of fright will be rewarded with yummy Trick or Treats and huge helpings of Queen Claire’s wicked “Creepy Crawly Chili,” in her ghoulie backwoods “Beastro.”

There is an entry fee of $10 per victim. This event is NOT recommended for children under the age of 10 – it’s that scary! The “Hicksville Horror Show” is open Thursdays, Oct. 23 and 30 and Sunday, Oct. 26 from 7 to 10 pm; Friday, Oct. 24 and Saturday, Oct 25 and Nov 1 from 7 to 11 pm; and on Halloween, Oct 31 from 7 pm to midnight.

Don’t miss this spooky, fun event on the Oregon Coast. Brookings-Harbor is a very pleasant drive from www.umpquahaven.com. Stay with us and come home to the peace and serenity of our small park!


Oktoberfest In Florence

Saturday, October 14th brings yet another Oktoberfest celebration on the Oregon Coast. This time in Florence.

Held at the Florence Events Center, this harvest festival offers all-day entertainment in the way of Sam’s Polka Gems, Tirolean Dancers, Alpine Echoes Band and more. Don’t miss the Wiener Dog Races. Experience traditional cuisine of German and Bavarian food and desserts. And beir—-lots of beir!

In addition to all this fun, there will be vendor booths, contests and fun activities in a festive, European atmosphere. There is a charge at the door of $8.00 or you can pay $7.00 in advance.

And don’t forget the beir—-lots of beir!

A favorite Oktoberfest dance is the Doudbleska Polka. It is actually a dance from Czechoslovakia but often danced at German Oktoberfest celebrations in the US. There are 2 videos. I couldn’t pass up the first one knowing that the ethnicity of most of the dancers is definitely not German. One of the fun things about International Dance is that everyone can and does do it! The second video is offered to show what a fun social dance this is. Whooping and hollering is the norm and don’t forget your la la las.

And the whoop and holler one:

Polka bands are a specific style of music with a lot of Ump Pa Pa kind of rhythm. This is the music that the dancers follow. Polka band musicians usually dress in traditional German lederhosen and drindls. Most of the music is made with accordions, often accompanied by drums.

Don’t forget that www.umpquahaven.com is just 36 miles from Florence on the coast. An easy and beautiful drive along the Umpqua River and the Coast Road. Bring your RV and stay with us at Umpqua River Haven where you’ll have your own home amid the soothing Oregon Fir trees to come back to after a fun day celebrating Oktoberfest!


Pacific City Octoberfest

The first Oktoberfest occurred in 1810 in celebration of the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen in Bavaria. This celebration was held 5 days after the marriage with a large feast in front of one of the gates into Munich. There were horse races for many years and in 1811 an agricultural fair was added (Farmer’s Market). In 1818 beer pubs were added along with performers.

The festival drew crowds of tourists who learned about Bavaria and its people. By 1887, traditional dress in the way of lederhosen (leather shorts for men) and dirndls (a bit like pinafores for women) became the norm. Traditional dance was done in costume and included Schuhplattler Dance (traditional men’s slap-dancing) and couple polkas.

Today, Oktoberfests are held in September due to the milder weather. In Munich, the fest lasts for 16 days starting on a Saturday in September and ending on the first Sunday in October. Oktoberfest is always great fun and there’s always beer. Lots of beer.

In the US there are many Octoberfest celebrations and the Oregon Coast is no exception. This weekend on Saturday, October 7, is the Pacific City Octoberfest.

From 11 am to 8 pm, the Kiawanda Community Center will host its 2nd annual Oktoberfest. This event is a non-profit fund raiser to benefit 3 worthy community entities. This is the day Pacific City celebrates the community’s Germanic and Swiss heritage and the fall season. Arts and crafts, traditional folk dancing, fine wines, traditional German food and live music and beer—lots of beer—will be some of the activities to partake of. This is a family day and many events are geared toward youth. There will also be adult games with prizes awarded during this fun-filled day.

Dust off your dirndls and lederhosen and join in the fun. There is a cash prize for the best, authentic German costume. And beer—lots of beer!

www.umpquahaven.com is a 135 mile drive up the beautiful Oregon coast from Pacific City. Stop in and visit us on your way or stay with us. Leave Umpqua River Haven about 8 am to head to Pacific City and return before midnight to your own bed in the serene charm of our Oregon forest setting. We might just tag along with you!

Another Exciting Kite Festival

It’s kite flying time again on the Oregon Coast. Saturday, September 30, and Sunday, October 1 from 10 am to 4 pm, a delightful variety of kites will be flying from D-River Wayside State Park in the heart of Lincoln City. Features of the festival will be experts showing off their kite-flying skills, kids free kite making and the running of the bols (see below). You will see the most unique kites ever seen anywhere. Here we are re-posting a previous kite festival blog post about one of Lincoln City’s semi-annual kite festivals. Come see what’s new in kites this fall!


The Oregon Coast is the perfect place to fly your kite. The breezes flow most of the time and the beaches are long and wide. There are kite stores, kite clubs, kite flying lessons and kite festivals. Lincoln City on the north coast holds one indoor kite festival every March. Rockaway Beach has its beach festival in May and Lincoln City just had their summer kite festival on the beach in June. Brookings on the south coast holds one in July. The only places whales can fly!

The kite festival we will visit today is coming to Lincoln City in October, depending on the weather, on the beach in the center of town. Lincoln City has a large, unique public beach right in the middle of town so you don’t have to go far to find this oneOctopussesComingToGetYouAnd, oh, the kites! Big ones, little ones, funny ones, pretty ones, strange ones and very unique ones.


Even monster ones!


And then there is the running of the Bols! Teams of three pull the Bols across the sand racing to be first to the goal line.


The Bols come in a variety of colors and geometric patterns. Music plays and the crowds cheer!


 And the kite flying never stops.


Sometimes multiple kites managed by a lone flyer are in the air.


And unusual patterns take place overhead.


And what about kiteboarding out in the Pacific Ocean??!!!


It’s hard to know what to look at and for first!


 Sometimes a kite is just a kite!


Treat yourself this fall. Come stay with us at Umpqua River Haven (www.umpquahaven.com) and spend a day on the beach in Lincoln City enjoying the kite festival!


Harvest Festival

Fall Harvest Festivals abound all over the country this time of year. However, Oregon is currently doing a happy dance in the rain and ready to really celebrate fall and the harvest season. The fire season has been devastating this year but the recent rains have brought hope. The rains are helping the firefighters to begin to contain the fires. It’s not over yet but some of the burden is lifted with cooler temps and actual rain!

There will be a harvest celebration this weekend, Saturday, September 23, in the Heart of the Myrtlewoods at Myrtle Point, Oregon. The Point celebrates with an old-fashioned Harvest Festival showcasing locally grown produce and food products, arts and crafts and more.

Held on the fourth Saturday of September in downtown Myrtle Point and sponsored by the Myrtle Point Chamber of Commerce, this annual festival brings in thousands of visitors that partake of everything the festival has to offer including all of the above-mentioned and more.

Remember our recent Show & Shine event blog post and the fact that Oregon has a lot of car shows and cruises? Well, this Harvest Festival is no different and sports a Show & Shine event of its own. Amazingly restored classic and older vehicles will cruise the main drags of Myrtle Point at dusk.

Hundreds of classic cars participate each year in the Show & Shine event. There will be plenty of eye-candy to view. Entry fees are $20.00 for the day and there will be awards.

(Mom actually liked her best because she bought her this after the ’57 left the garage! Red interior with a black convertible top! So kewl!)

With 50s and 60s music playing in the background, the cruise event is broadcast live by the local radio station through speakers set up on many of the street corners. Participation is limited to the first 125 entries. From 5 pm to 7 pm is the cruise. Participants must be registered for a $5.00 fee. Vehicles 1997 and older only. Awards will be given for this event also.

Dad let her drive this!

Some of the additional events that will be going are the Library Foundation Book Sale, the Firemen’s Steak Feed, a 50s dress contest, old-time fiddlers, a tractor show, farmer’s market and live music and dancing and more.

Don’t miss this kid-friendly, but very adult, day. Come stay with us at www.umpquahaven.com. We are just a little over an easy hour’s drive from Myrtle Point. Return home to your own bed at our place after a fun-filled, Harvest Festival day!