The Oregon Coast has some fun light events at holiday time. This one was this past weekend. We posted this last year but thought it worth a re-run. The Lighted Boat Parade at Newport, OR.


Newport, Oregon is one of our favorite places to visit and has been blogged about here before. There is much to see and do in Newport, including vast areas of beach to explore. At Christmas time, Newport’s Yaquina Bay becomes a spectacular light display during the first weekend in December. The bay, with the largest fishing fleet on the Oregon Coast, turns into a Holiday light event unlike any other.

Dozens of boats decorated with lights, fireworks, various themes and even live music will travel around the bay between 5:00 pm and 6:30 pm on Saturday, December 3. This remarkable armada will navigate around the bay from the Coast Guard Station to the Embarcadero Resort and back throughout this time frame.

There are several ways to enjoy this fun and beautiful holiday light display. You can watch from a variety of outside piers and places and several restaurants around the bay. You can enter your own decorated boat and float along with the others. Or, you can buy a ticket and ride on one of the decorated boats. Riding includes hot cocoa and cookies. All proceeds are donated to the annual Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital Foundation’s Festival of Trees event.

A variety of boats will be participating in this 23rd Annual Lighted Boat Parade including charter boats, fishing boats, Coast Guard search & rescue vessels, sailboats and sea kayaks. In addition, with their research vessels returning for the winter, the NOAA Pacific Fleet will participate with brilliance!

Unique designs and lighting techniques will contribute to the competition for a variety of prizes donated by the local community neighbors and businesses. The Oregon Coast Bank is providing the grand prize of a hunting rifle.

If you are on or near the Oregon Coast, don’t miss this one-night holiday event. Come visit us at Umpqua River Haven ( and travel the short 60 miles to Newport for this unique and dazzling light display.




Last Christmas Holiday Season, we went cruising around Phoenix, AZ, to bring you samples of all the holiday light displays, big and little. It was fun for us and we hope enjoyment for you to see them. We thought that this year, we would revisit last year’s postings but sometimes in a different way. This first one is titled “Grinch” and we will let The Goldwater Institute give you the low down (and we do mean low) on what’s Grinchy in Phoenix, Arizona for Christmas this year. Last year’s pictures of Sepanek’s light displays follow the Goldwater Institute article (printed here with permission).


How the Bureaucrats Stole Christmas
November 25, 2017 (from the Goldwater Institute, Phoenix, AZ)

Every year, Lee Sepanek’s Christmas display brings joy to Phoenicians, who visit to enjoy the glistening decorations and sip the hot chocolate he serves them.

But not this year. Thanks to Phoenix bureaucrats, Lee has been forced to cancel the show.

The trouble started this summer when the city warned him he was in violation of its Mobile Food Vending Ordinance, even though he isn’t operating any kind of “mobile” facility. He doesn’t even charge for the cocoa — he just asks for donations. But the city says its rules are broad enough to prohibit even giving away cocoa — made from hot water and powdered mix — from your driveway.

Officials told Lee he “would need to find a licensed commissary kitchen as a ‘base’ to store, clean and prep any open food,” and that he would have to get a “special event/seasonal permit,” requiring fees and “inspections onsite.” They also complained that Lee was selling Christmas ornaments, arguing that violates Phoenix’s rules against having a “home occupation.”  (folks:  Think about a children’s lemonade stand on the sidewalk in front of your house and weekend yard sales)

After local news exposed Lee’s story, the city indicated it might budge, but it’s too late. Even if city officials changed their minds, Lee couldn’t get the lights up in time for Christmas. The Goldwater Institute has stepped in to represent Lee and help get his legendary lights turned back on.

We’re also working on an even larger problem. Across Arizona, local governments are trying to shut down home-based businesses, violating private property rights and harming economic opportunity. The Goldwater Institute is joining with the Free Enterprise Club to urge state lawmakers to broaden protections for home-based businesses.

In Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” Ebenezer Scrooge questions the Ghost of Christmas Present about laws that forced Londoners to close their stores on holidays — which, Scrooge says, essentially deprived them of income. Why, Scrooge asks, should the Ghost “cramp these people’s opportunities of innocent enjoyment?”

Shocked, the Ghost says he did no such thing — that was done by people who act “in our name” but who don’t really get the Christmas spirit. It’s sad to think Phoenix officials have a poorer understanding of the holidays than Scrooge.

Below are just a few of the photos we took last year of Sepanek’s vast light displays. There was so much more to see and enjoy. For additional photos, visit last year’s blog post: Lee Sepanek’s Light Display Arcadia, AZ




Thank A Native American!

Thanksgiving is a time to pause and reflect on, well, what we have to be thankful for. I am thankful for family, including my Native American family members, and friends. I am thankful to the readers of this blog site. Your comments are meaningful and helpful and I thank you for being here with us.

I am thankful for this wonderful, funky country we live in. It must be the best country in the world because immigrants can’t get here fast enough. We are privileged to live here and blessed to be.

The beginning of this country belongs to its Native Americans. They were here way before anyone else, of course. But, when the earliest immigrant-settlers arrived, it was the Native Americans who were instrumental in helping them begin to forge the new nation.

The Pilgrims, including some of my family, arrived in 1620 after surviving an arduous 66 days crossing the Atlantic in a leaky wooden boat. That first winter they lived on the Mayflower while building homes and storehouses at Plymouth. Half of the 102 souls that had arrived perished during that first, brutal winter. The remaining ones moved into the village they had built.

It was then, in March of 1621, that an Abenaki Native came into the village surprising everyone by speaking in English. Days later he returned with Squanto, a Pawtuxet Native American. Squanto had been taken years earlier by an English vessel and sold into slavery. He managed to escape to London and find his way home on an exploratory expedition. His English was very good. Seeing how the Pilgrims were suffering from lack of food and illness, Squanto taught them how to plant maze, harvest maple sap and catch fish. They also learned how to identify poisonous plants growing nearby so they wouldn’t accidentally eat them.

Squanto was instrumental in introducing the Pilgrims to the nearby local Natives, the Wampanoag. This friendship endured for over 50 years in peace and harmony. In the fall, when the crops planted by the Pilgrims under Squanto’s expert instruction were successfully harvested, the colony’s Governor, William Bradford, declared a time of feasting and invited their Native American allies. The Wampanoag Chief, Massasoit, was among the invited guests.

It was a 3-day celebration of gratitude by the colony for now having food and good nourishment for the coming winter. There were grateful to their Native neighbors and wished to include them to show their gratitude. They were more than included as the meals were probably prepared with Native spices and cooking methods. While the colonists went “fowling” for meat, the Wampanoag brought 5 deer with them as their contribution. The food was a little different than it is now, but this was the earliest Thanksgiving in our country.

As you eat your turkey and pumpkin’ pie and enjoy the warmth of family and friends, include the Native Americans in your thoughts, prayers, and meditations. They deserve it and right now as they defend everyone’s water, they need your support in whatever way you can give it. We wouldn’t be here without them!



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.


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 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 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!