Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

Travel on a Budget

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

14main
With a little research, you can save money and still have fun

When I was growing up, my family did not have money for expensive vacations. But my parents loved to travel, so when we visited relatives we made the most of it along the way.

During long drives to visit my grandmother, we always stayed at a motor inn that boasted a rarity at the time: a large indoor pool.

After throwing our luggage in our room, we three kids tore across the lobby to the gleaming blue waters. We happily splashed about, feeling like the Rockefellers, while my parents perused their map for attractions ahead.

The motel was a splurge, so the next morning we ate oranges and mini travel cereals we brought from home. No bowl was needed. Cut away the perforated top of the little rectangular cereal box and pour in the milk, kept cold in the motel’s ice bucket.

For lunch, we would eat homemade turkey and butter sandwiches at a roadside picnic table and draw lemonade from a green cooler.

Once, on an all-night drive, my parents woke us from a sound sleep because the fog circling the mountains was so eerily beautiful. As we tumbled sleepily out of the car, our jaws dropped as we drank in the sight.

On these trips, I did not feel like we were sacrificing by not dining at restaurants, and I was glad my parents woke me up to see magic.

Most of all, I remember how relaxed my parents were on our affordable adventures. They did not stress about overspending because my parents stayed within their budget.

Their simple approach helped us all savor special moments.

Today, you have many more choices. Indoor pools are not uncommon, and many motels offer complimentary breakfast buffets. But people still have to watch travel costs, and still want to have fun.

Love it or not, the Internet is the best way to find and compare a broad range of travel deals.

Airline fares, lodging and package deals can cost less if you book them online. Many travel websites and service providers also offer a weekly email that caters to your specified interests and destinations.

Here are some tips on how to get the best deals.

Lodging
With a database of more than 135,000 hotels in more than 60 countries, www.hotels.com offers discounts and convenience in searching for a room and rate.

If you are willing to be flexible, you can get deep hotel discounts on www.priceline.com and www.hotwire.com by agreeing to buy a room before you are told the hotel name. You can designate a hotel’s star ratings, neighborhood and some amenities before buying.

If you have a large family, sometimes it is cheaper to book a suite instead of two standard hotel rooms. Suite-hotel chains with kitchens offer deals on weekends when business travelers are scarce.

Consider renting a furnished condo or house at your destination through websites such as www.homeaway.com and www.vrbo.com. You not only save on meals, but rates often compare favorably to motels and hotels. Quiz the owner beforehand, ask for pictures and check references.

Food
Dining out three times a day can get expensive. Rely on portable breakfasts such as bagels, apples and baked goods. Consider packing lunch or buying sandwich fixings when you reach your destination. Keep the kids (and yourself) from getting grumpy by toting lightweight snacks such as nuts, cereal bars, apples and grapes.

This can save a fortune and make dinners out special.

Speaking of dinners, buy deeply discounted gift certificates at www.restaurant.com or order by phone at (888) 745-6991. The website lets you enter a ZIP code or town and state, then offers a list of restaurants with descriptions and menus. Routine deals are to pay $5 for a $10 gift certificate or $10 for a $25 certificate. But the site offers even bigger discounts with $2 and $3 specials. You pay online and print a copy of the certificate.

For restaurant reviews, try www.yelp.com and www.chowhound.com.

Another way to save is to eat your main meal out at lunch time, when prices are lower. This not only is healthier, but allows your family to eat at more expensive restaurants.

Remember to look for kids-eat-free promotions. Check out www.mykidseatfree.com and www.kidseat4free.com, or Google “kids eat free” and a city’s name.

Airfare
To find the widest variety of deals, use a search engine such as www.kayak.com or travel agency sites such as www.travelocity.com and www.orbitz.com for special deals brokered with travel providers due to high volume.

Before you book, check an airline’s own site for fares. You may get a lower rate, especially in the case of low-fare operators.

Most airlines charge for checked baggage, and extra fees apply if you exceed weight limits, so travel lightly. Remember, you pay fees each way. Nest bags. For example, women can stow a purse inside a carry-on backpack as long as the backpack meets carry-on requirements.

If you need to take lots of items, compare the airline’s fees with the cost to mail them to your destination. Visit www.airfarewatchdog.com to compare airline baggage rates.

Car Rentals
Try a number of time combinations for your vacation stay. Sometimes reserving a car for a week—even if it sits some days—is cheaper than a daily rate for a shorter rental.

It also pays to keep looking. Most companies do not require a deposit for reservations, so if you find a better rate you can cancel the first without penalty.

Different companies are good for different situations. Enterprise and Hertz cater to business travelers and discount weekend rates.
Consider joining a rental car loyalty program, which offers members discounts.

Package Deals
Consider combining airfare, hotel and rental car costs in one deal. It may be cheaper than booking each element separately.

Check www.vacationoutlet.com, www.applevacations.com, www.funjet.com, www.faredeals.com (800-347-7006) or www.affordabletours.com (800-935-2620).

Don’t Forsake Tried-and-True Favorites

Thursday, April 30th, 2015
Get the recognition you deserve. Participate in the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s catch-and-release program called TrophyCatch. Get your picture on the website and have a chance to win prizes, including lures, rods and reels, gift cards and up to $10,000 cash. Go to www.myfwc.com/ fishing/freshwater/fishing-tips/anglerrecognition for more information about this and other FWC recognition programs. Photo by Andy Bowlin

Get the recognition you deserve. Participate in the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s catch-and-release program called TrophyCatch. Get your picture on the website and have a chance to win prizes, including lures, rods and reels, gift cards and up to $10,000 cash. Go to www.myfwc.com/ fishing/freshwater/fishing-tips/anglerrecognition for more information about this and other FWC recognition programs. Photo by Andy Bowlin

 

Fishing catalogs feature hundreds of dazzling new lures each year. Who hasn’t been tempted to try a new doodad or two? Just make sure to leave room in your tackle box for these three types of tried-and-true bass busters.

• Plastic worms and fluke baits. Gummy bait has been around since the dawn of modern fishing. It mimics natural bait, such as earthworms, minnows and other baitfish. It is simple, realistic, cheap and—most important of all—effective.

A favorite use is the wacky rig, which works best for plastic worms. Hook the worm in its midsection, leaving equal amounts of the worm to dangle at both ends. The secret of this rig is the fluttering motion of the loose ends as the bait sinks. Bass can’t resist striking it.

• Spinner baits. They are known by many names, and come in various colors and sizes. What all spinner baits have in common are a skirted hook to avoid snags and the spinning blades. Those characteristics make them quite versatile, allowing the bait to dive, maneuver or skim the surface as needed.

Spinner baits are effective because bass can actually hear, feel and see the lure as its blades spin and flash. The effect works well whether using a slow retrieve or a fast one.

• Buzz baits. These lures are similar to spinner baits in that they have blades that spin as the lures move through the water. However, that is where the similarities end.

Buzz baits come in many weights, shapes and sizes, some sporting as many as four blades. They get their name from the distinctive sound they make in the water. Rather than blades that flash, these blades churn the water to produce a throaty buzz.

They are popular because they resist snags, and the blades can be bent to adjust the action of the lures. It also doesn’t hurt that they are extremely effective for catching bass.

Free Fly-Fishing Clinics
Fishing retailer Orvis sponsors free Fly-Fishing 101 clinics six weekends in May and June. Participating stores and outfitters are in Sandestin, Winter Haven, Ocala and other cities across the state. To see if there is one near you, visit www.orvis.com/flyfishing101. Space is limited.

Outdoors 101: Estimating Remaining Daylight
A good skill to know is how to estimate how much daylight you have left when out fishing, hiking or boating. One way to do that is to measure time with your fingers.

Generally, each finger equals 15 minutes. One hand equals an hour. Stack one hand on top of the other to estimate two hours.
Start by holding your hand horizontally, just above the horizon. Count the number of fingers or hands from the horizon to the bottom of the sun. That will give you a rough estimate of how much time you have until the sun sets.

Estimates will vary, depending on latitude, time of year and the size of your hand. Practicing this technique will give you a more accurate estimate for each finger or hand.

What Day is It?
May 4, Bird Day
May 5, Oyster Day
May 15, National Bike to Work Day
May 16, Love a Tree Day
May 27, Sunscreen Day

Show-and-Tell Time
Send us your favorite outdoor photo, tip or story. If selected for publication in Florida Currents magazine, we will send you $25 for one-time use. Email your submission to moc.stnerrucadirolfnull@ofni.

 

24authMany of Curtis Condon’s fondest memories involve outdoor adventures with friends and family, whether  shing with old school buddies, backpacking in the mountains of the Northwest with his sons or bird watching along the Gulf Coast with his wife. He feels fortunate to have had the opportunity to write about the outdoors and other subjects for more than 30 years.

The Top-10 Reasons I Photograph

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

22main

Borrowing from CBS late-night host David Letterman’s “Top-10” approach, I have assembled my top-10 reasons for photographing.

How many of these would you list as motives for your photography?

No. 10—I’m terrible at living or participating in my own life. Often, it’s easier to live vicariously through the lives of others. A camera allows me to do this. It’s less messy and painful, and it requires less introspective work on my part.

No. 9—Photography challenges me to master something that is seldom mastered. I am forever the hungry student, always learning, always trying to organize the world and capture elusive emotions.

No. 8—Photography gives me an excuse to probe, to explore, to be curious and ask questions others ache to ask, but cannot.

No. 7—The camera slows me down and creates a greater heart of gratitude within me. Looking through a lens, I examine life more closely. I see and study relationships and stories I might have passed by without a camera.

No. 6—Photography is my excited tour guide, always eager for a new adventure. It leads me to places and cultures I would never go without it.

No. 5—The camera is my Superman’s cape. By nature I am cowardly, but armed with a camera and a mission, I am filled with a courage that washes away my fear. My camera boldly pushes me to talk to anyone from Hollywood celebrities and homeless wanderers and make pictures in intimidating, sometimes dangerous environments.

No. 4—I am a hopeless romantic. Photography gives me a way to write love letters to humanity and to my God; a voice to say things I’m unable to say with words.

No. 3—Photography preserves the past and aids my memory. A photograph—black and white or color, print or digital—has the power to trigger emotions in a way that other mediums cannot. And it does so with lightning speed. Photographs cheat time; they stop it and freeze it. They allow my parents, my children, and my loved ones to be forever young.

No. 2—The camera is a dear friend that does not judge or criticize, but encourages introspection. Often, it will ask me to examine my motives by looking inward while seeing outwardly.

No. 1—But of all the wonderful gifts the camera has given me through five decades, the greatest blessing has been a powerful voice to speak for others who do not have a voice. It is one of the great connectors. Nothing equals the euphoric sense of purpose I feel when photographs I have made somehow help others. When people feel represented, understood; when the photographic image shines light in dark places and cleanses or helps heal, I feel a heightened sense of life purpose as a bridge and connector.

 

daveDavid LaBelle is an internationally known photographer, teacher, author and lecturer. He has worked for newspapers and magazines across the United States and taught at three universities. He grew up on a frog farm in rural California, roaming the creeks and hills with his coon dogs. Many of the lessons he learned during those magical boyhood years have been applied to photography and teaching the essence of this art form. For more information, visit www.greatpicturehunt.com.

Sweet Spots

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

Readers share some of their favorite golf holes

Worm hole. Judy and Norm Eri pose with their favorite golf spot behind them, the apple-shaped 17th hole at Apple Tree Golf Course in Yakima, Washington. Photo submitted by Judy Eri of La Pine, Oregon.

Worm hole. Judy and Norm Eri pose with their favorite golf spot behind them, the apple-shaped 17th hole at Apple Tree Golf Course in Yakima, Washington. Photo submitted by Judy Eri of La Pine, Oregon.

Oceanfront green. Todd Garrett says the 10th hole at Pacific Dunes golf course in Bandon, Oregon, is his favorite. “After winding inland through earlier holes, 10 returns you to the coastline in spectacular style,” he says. It is followed by a series of holes with similar views. Photo submitted by Todd Garrett of Salem, Oregon.

Oceanfront green. Todd Garrett says the 10th hole at Pacific Dunes golf course in Bandon, Oregon, is his favorite. “After winding inland through earlier holes, 10 returns you to the coastline in spectacular style,” he says. It is followed by a series of holes with similar views.
Photo submitted by Todd Garrett of Salem, Oregon.

Stroke of beauty. Mike Martin tees off at the 145-yard, par-3 sixth hole at Coeur d’ Alene Resort in Idaho. He says it’s his favorite because of the view and because it follows another par-3. Photo submitted by Mike Martin of Sandpoint, Idaho.

Stroke of beauty. Mike Martin tees off at the 145-yard, par-3 sixth hole at Coeur d’ Alene Resort in Idaho. He says it’s his favorite because of the view and because it follows another par-3. Photo submitted by Mike Martin of Sandpoint, Idaho.

Moose hazard. A moose nonchalantly walks in front of golfers preparing to tee off at the ninth hole at North Star Golf Club in Fairbanks, Alaska. It is the northernmost USGA golf course in the country. Photo submitted by Melinda Evans of Fairbanks, Alaska.

Moose hazard. A moose nonchalantly walks in front of golfers preparing to tee off at the ninth hole at North Star Golf Club in Fairbanks, Alaska. It is the northernmost USGA golf course in the country. Photo submitted by Melinda Evans of Fairbanks, Alaska.

Craters of the Palouse. The 307-yard, par-4 15th hole at Palouse Ridge Golf Course in Pullman, Washington, provides an opportunity to score a rare albatross, or crash and burn trying. “This hole is all about golfing zen,” says Randy Hayes. Photo submitted by Randy Hayes of Moscow, Idaho.

Craters of the Palouse. The 307-yard, par-4 15th hole at Palouse Ridge Golf Course in Pullman, Washington, provides an opportunity to score a rare albatross, or crash and burn trying. “This hole is all about golfing zen,” says Randy Hayes. Photo submitted by Randy Hayes of Moscow, Idaho.

Quality time. Mark Giustina and his son, CJ, cross a bridge near the 11th hole at Tokatee Golf Club in Blue River, Oregon. It is Mark’s favorite because it is where his son started to enjoy the game of golf. It also has an incredible view of the Three Sisters mountains. Photo submitted by Mark Giustina of Eugene, Oregon.

Quality time. Mark Giustina and his son, CJ, cross a bridge near the 11th hole at Tokatee Golf Club in Blue River, Oregon. It is Mark’s favorite because it is where his son started to enjoy the game of golf. It also has an incredible view of the Three Sisters mountains. Photo submitted by Mark Giustina of Eugene, Oregon.

Couple Call Dome Home

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015
Theresa and Richard Wisner built this monolithic dome house in the foothills of the Coast Range, and describe it as homey and comfortable.

Theresa and Richard Wisner built this monolithic dome house in the foothills of the Coast Range, and describe it as homey and comfortable.

About one mile into the last stretch of road leading to the Wisner place, the pavement gives way to gravel and a sign announces “narrow winding road.” There’s not another soul in sight and not much to suggest that there might be. Only the mile post tucked by an obscure driveway signals there might be a home somewhere here.
Down the shadowy drive and around a bend, the scene opens to a patch of green bathed in sunshine, complete with two curious goats and the monolithic dome Theresa and Richard Wisner call home. The color of earth, its shape echoing the rolling landscape, the dome might well have sprouted whole from the earth on which it sits.

“It evokes a feeling of belonging,” says Theresa. “There’s a feeling that this place has always been here and always will be, and that I am home in the deepest sense of the word.”

There was a time when 8 acres of forested hillside 20 minutes from the nearest town was the last place you would expect to find Theresa. She was, in fact, something of a city girl, having spent most of her childhood on Long Island. But her parents’ families had a long history with Oregon, and when Theresa was 17 the family moved to Waldport.

“I was completely mortified that we would move to such a wilderness,” Theresa says. “I was a senior in high school. They were still wearing bell bottoms here, which was of great concern to me. I had a difficult adjustment.”

Theresa stands against a backdrop of family pictures, keepsakes and rich woodwork milled from trees that once stood on the property.

Theresa stands against a backdrop of family pictures, keepsakes and rich woodwork milled from trees that once stood on the property.

She also had a bad case of wanderlust and when the opportunity arose to see something of the world, she took it.

Before long, her travels led her to the sea, where she cooked for the crews in postings including the Aleutian Chain and the Pribilof Islands, Antarctica, and to assist in the cleanup of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska. It was there she met Richard, who she married eight years later.

“I hate going to sea, but I love being there,” says Theresa, who writes a blog about her sea journeys at www.daughter ofneptune.com. “I would get very seasick. It would take me about a week to get over seasickness. Then I’d get over it and I wouldn’t get seasick for anything. By the time I was done with the trip I’d forgotten about the seasickness.”

She eventually gave up the sea galley in favor of life on solid ground in Toledo. But while the town seven miles inland from the Oregon Coast is small and generally quiet, the couple found themselves longing for something even quieter.

About 12 years ago, they began traveling the backroads in the Coast Range in search of the perfect piece of property. Despite a year of looking, they found nothing.

“Then our realtor gave me the address for this piece of land,” Theresa says. “Rich was at work, but I came out with my mom to see it. Someone had taken the sign down, so I used the mileage/address trick to find it. Rich got home. He fell in love, too.”

No matter that no one could tell them in what town they were.

“It wasn’t really an address,” Theresa says. “It was just Lincoln City. No one could say if we were in Logsden or Siletz, so we chose Logsden, and nobody said a word. But the phone companies actually had a fight over who was not going to serve us because we were last on the line.”

Next came the question of what to build. The Wisners lived on the land in a fifth-wheel for a year while they considered the energy-efficient options, but nothing seemed quite so right as a monolithic dome—different from a geodesic dome in that the former is one piece while the latter is a series of panels.

Contractors constructed the dome and did the exterior work. The Wisners finished the interior, including using 8,000 board feet of wood from trees on their property for the walls.

“The feeling of coming into one is very homey, very comforting and safe feeling,” Theresa says of their home. “I think it’s the round, the overall shape of it that does that.”

And just outside the front door, a temperate rainforest awaits.

“I love walking a hundred feet from the house and seeing trillium and fawn lilies in the spring,” she says “I love the earthy smell of the mud in the spring when things are starting to dry out. I love sleeping outside in the summer and hearing the deer nibble on dandelion heads.”

Catching Zzzzs with the wildlife aside, life in the country is really not so different than life in town, Theresa insists. Except, perhaps, in one way.

“It is just slower,” she says. “Things don’t take on the urgency that they do in town. When we have a power outage, we’re the last on the line, so there is no one else to say power outage. I love a full day without power. It slows you down even more.”

Fishing With a Purpose

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015
Rubin proudly displays his catch. It is the smallest fish caught during a family outing at Mossyrock, Washington. Anybody can catch big fish. It takes a special talent to reel in one this small, especially when the bait is almost bigger than the fish. Photo by Tillie Vuksich of Eatonville, Washington

Rubin proudly displays his catch. It is the smallest fish caught during a family outing at Mossyrock, Washington. Anybody can catch big fish. It takes a special talent to reel in one this small, especially when the bait is almost bigger than the fish.
Photo by Tillie Vuksich of Eatonville, Washington

Let’s face it, most of us will never catch a record-breaking fish. We have a better chance of winning the lottery.
Not to worry. There are other ways to demonstrate fishing prowess and create fodder for storytelling sessions back at the local café.

For example, why not set a goal to catch one of everything? It’s what you might call an angler’s bucket list.

As far as what “everything” includes, it’s up to each angler to decide. It could be the biggest or smallest species, the best fighters, all of the species found within a 100-mile radius of home, or every species of freshwater or saltwater fish in the state.

Compiling a fishing bucket list is similar to setting goals for other areas of your life: Have a big-picture view of what you want to achieve. Break it down into smaller, manageable pieces, and figure out how best to go about achieving them—in this case, how you will go about hooking each fish on your list.

Dare to dream big, but keep your list achievable to avoid disappointment. Set priorities and focus your efforts on landing the most important catches on your list first.

Commit your list to paper. How extensive it is should be based on available resources, such as how much time you have, the gear you own or your proximity to prime fishing areas.

Keep track of your catches. Jot down details and special moments. It is easy to forget things, especially when working on a long list that may take years—or even decades—to complete. And don’t forget to include photos.

One final word of advice: Consider using a guide when fishing in unfamiliar territory, or when equipment requirements exceed the tackle and gear you own.

Outdoors 101: Finger Meets Fish Hook

What angler hasn’t stuck a finger with a fish hook? Deep hooks should be treated by a medical professional, while superficial cases can be self-treated with the jerk-string method of removal.

Tie or loop a string or length of fishing line around the bend of the hook.

Gently press down on the eyelet end of the hook to disengage the barb. While continuing to press down, give a quick jerk on the string. The hook should pop out without much pain or difficulty.

Be sure to wash, disinfect and cover the wound. Monitor it for signs of infection.

As they say, pictures are worth a thousand words. Here is a link to an illustrated guide to removing a fish hook on The Art of Manliness website: www.tinyurl.com/pz94smc.

 

What Day is It?

  • April 3, National Walk to Work Day.
  • April 14, Look Up at the Sky Day.
  • April 17, Bat Apprecia-tion Day.
  • April 22, Girl Scout Leader Day.

Got a Tip or a Whopper?
Send us your favorite outdoor tip, photo or story. If selected, we will send you $25 for one-time use of the item. When sending a photo, identify people and pets, and tell us the story behind the photo. Email your submission to moc.etilarurnull@ofni.

 

24authMany of Curtis Condon’s fondest memories involve outdoor adventures with friends and family, whether fishing with old school buddies, backpacking in the mountains of the Northwest with his sons or bird watching along the Coast with his wife. He feels fortunate to have had the opportunity to write about the outdoors and other subjects for more than 30 years.

The Bobby Doerr Story

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015
    Photo courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection

Photo courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection

Bobby Doerr has embraced five great loves in his life: family, faith, friends, fishing and baseball.

He graduated from Freemont High School in Los Angeles in 1936. A year later, he began his major league baseball career with the Boston Red Sox, getting three hits in five at-bats in his first game.

Bobby moved to Oregon in the 1930s, where he met and married a teacher named Monica Terpin in 1938. They had a son, Don, in 1942, and the family lived in tiny Illahe, Oregon.

Though he loved the West Coast, his Oregon home and fishing, he played all of his 14 major league seasons on the East Coast with the Red Sox.

One of the most productive second basemen of all time, Bobby had 12 consecutive seasons with 10 or more home runs and 73 or more runs batted in.

“The silent captain of the Red Sox,” as Ted Williams called his close friend, Bobby, batted over .300 three times, hit more than 20 home runs three times and knocked in more than 100 runs six times.

Doerr served in the Army during World War II and missed the 1945 baseball season. He returned the next season, helping the Red Sox win the pennant. During the World Series against the Cardinals, Doerr batted .406 with one home run and three RBIs.

Adding to his offensive proficiency, the soft-handed Doerr was one of the best fielding second basemen of all time, ending his 14-year career with an incredible .980 fielding percentage.

 

By the Numbers

  • 2,024 career hits
  • 1,247 runs batted in
  • 1,094 runs scored
  • 693 extra-base hits
  • 223 home runs
  • 89 triples
  • .461 slugging percentage
  • .362 on-base percentage
  • .288 career batting average
  • Nine-time All Star
  • Bobby averaged 177 hits, 108 RBIs and 95 runs scored per season
  • Second base was the only position he ever played
  • Played for only one team: the Boston Red Sox
  • Oldest living member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame
  • Last man alive to play major league baseball in the 1930s
  • Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1986
  • His jersey No. 1 was retired by the Red Sox in 1988

A Cycling Haven in the Hills

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015
10main

The entrance to the Coastal Mountain Sport Haus reflects the essence of the experience awaiting visitors.

Coastal Mountain Sport Haus inspired by trip to Northern Italy

By Victoria Hampton

Bassano Del Grappa in Northern Italy isknown for its bounty of white asparagus, hospitality and scenic cycling routes at the foothills of the Venetian Prealps.

Having cycled in this picturesque area in 2002 and 2004, Sandy and Glen Crinklaw wanted to recreate their experience for guests at the Coastal Mountain Sport Haus in Vernonia, Oregon.

“It is a significant part of the population’s lifestyle in that region,” Glen says of cycling. “That’s what people do. We decided to take that experience and merge it with country living.”

The Coastal Mountain Sport Haus opened for business in 2009 and began catering to cyclists looking for a taste of Italy in rural America. Guests enjoy a retreat-like setting to bike rural roads, participate in a yoga session instructed by Sandy or simply relax.

The journey to creating this retreat wasn’t a ride in the park.

Sandy and Glen lived in Hillsboro, Oregon, prior to building the sport haus. Glen worked for the city parks department and Sandy worked as a development director at the Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve.

As Hillsboro grew, the Crinklaws decided life in the country was more appealing than the suburbs.

“We reached the opportunity to swap our urban lifestyle for a rural lifestyle,” says Glen.

The 100-acre farm in Vernonia had been owned by Sandy’s family since 1938 and was a great location for a rural homestead. The Crinklaws soon discovered zoning laws restricted them to 32 conditional uses of their property. None included a private home.

“I grew up here,” says Sandy, who had fond memories of the property from her childhood. “It didn’t feel right to walk away from the property.”

A hunting and fishing lodge was included in the list of uses. With a small change in wording, the Crinklaws were allowed to build a recreational house.

“It made us rethink how to live on the property,” says Glen.

In 2007, Glen and Sandy quit their jobs to start planning their sport haus.

“It was like stepping off the edge of a cliff,” says Glen. “We had a limited budget, but we stuck to ours pretty good.”

The sport haus took a year to build. Glen had experience building houses with his dad, which allowed the Crinklaws to do most of the construction.

“Luckily, we were the general contractors,” says Sandy. “We were also able to find the right contractors who shared our vision of what we wanted to do.”

Because of their memorable cycling experience abroad, they decided to bring an Italian twist to their retreat home. The sport haus features meals crafted for a high-protein, carbohydrate-rich cycling diet; simplistic, cozy rooms; a yoga studio; warm colors; local wood accents; an espresso bar; access to hiking and biking trails; and scenic views of an open meadow home to the Crinklaws’ Piedmontese cattle, native to Northern Italy.

Although the exterior of the house does not reflect the classic Palladian architecture found in Europe, the hospitality of their sport haus truly speaks to “what avid cyclists enjoy while on vacation,” says Glen.

“Cycling activity is paramount, and everything reflects that,” Glen says. “Rooms are simple and clean. Meals are over the top quality and quantity.”

The meals feature many local ingredients from farmers’ markets and the Portland area.

The Crinklaws incorporate yoga into their activities because of the nature of cyclists.

“Yoga adds an appreciation of place, serenity, mostly the experience of being in the country,” says Sandy.

Sandy instructs classes for guests who request them. They also facilitate yoga retreats where an outside instructor hosts a retreat for yoga enthusiasts.

The sport haus can accommodate nine people comfortably. The most the Crinklaws have had staying at one time was 16. The past five years, guests have come from Alaska to New York.

Business grows with each season, from mid-March to mid-November.

Many cyclists ride from Portland to the Coastal Mountain Sport Haus, which is about a two-hour ride.

Once guests arrive, Sandy and Glen cater to their every need.

The Crinklaws say this is a great place for people to come to relax and unplug from the fast pace of an urban lifestyle.

They tell guests to “just get themselves here and everything (will be) taken care of for them,” says Sandy.

Glen says the goal of the sport haus is like most businesses: satisfied customers.

“When the guests leave, they have smiles on their faces,” says Glen.

For more information about the Coastal Mountain Sport Haus, visit www.coastalmountainsporthaus.com.

An Uncommon Bond

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015
Longtime friends Shuree Sleeper and baseball Hall of Famer Bobby Doerr chat and hold hands as he prepares to autograph baseball cards and pictures for his fans.

Longtime friends Shuree Sleeper and baseball Hall of Famer Bobby Doerr chat and hold hands as he prepares to autograph baseball cards and pictures for his fans.

Caregiver Shuree Sleeper has been a bright spot in the life of 96-year-old baseball Hall of Famer Robert “Bobby” Doerr for nearly a half century

Story and photos by David LaBelle

“Good morning, Bob,” Shuree Sleeper shouts, greeting the oldest living member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

“Oh, hi honey,” responds 96-year-old Robert “Bobby” Doerr, running a hand over his scalp. “How’s my hair?”

“You look good!” Shuree shouts again.

“Well, OK,” he says, fixing his aqua blue eyes on the rust-haired woman he has known for nearly a half century.

Shuree is a private caregiver to the last living man to play major league baseball in the 1930s. Though his hearing has faded, his wit and recall seem unimpaired. He is thoughtful and speaks deliberately, careful to say only what he means.

“I heard you took a trip to the hospital last night,” Shuree says, leaning over her boss and lifelong friend.

She doesn’t baby talk the aging celebrity, like some well-intentioned caregivers.

“Yeah,” Bobby says matter-of-factly. “I had a little trouble.”
Shuree spots the IV stint still in his arm, and a fire grows in her hazel eyes. As protective as a mother cat, she growls, “They didn’t remove the stint.”

She wants to know why.

 

A Life-Changing Opportunity

The two first met when Shuree, 50, was just a little girl and attended the same church in Junction City, Oregon. But the bond was forged when the then 23-year-old unwed mother began cleaning the house of Bobby and Monica Doerr.

“I was dead broke, had a 2½-month-old baby, all of that, and it was just rough,” remembers Shuree. “They had no questions, no this, no that, and it was just well, OK. They took me as I am and we just got on so well.

“They were so funny, you almost had to make them let you do stuff for them. It took me, I don’t know how long, to dust the whole house and the den. Monie would go, ‘Oh, just vacuum over there. That is enough for today.’ They were always concerned they were going to wear me out. It cracked me up.”

Thankful for the work, but still insecure about her job future with the Doerrs, Shuree fondly remembers one reassuring day.
“I was inside cleaning, and Bob and Monie were working outdoors when the phone rang,” Shuree says. “I answered. Turns out it was Ted Williams.”

Dubbed the greatest hitter who ever lived, Ted was a former teammate of Bobby’s from the Boston Red Sox.

“He didn’t say who he was,” Shuree says. “Bob gets quite a few people who call him. No biggie.”

“Well, do you think you can find him for me?” the caller asked. “This is Ted.”

“I went Ted? Uh? Then I heard him laugh in the background.”

“You just tell him that Ted’s on the phone, and he’ll know who I am.”

“I put down the phone and went running outside to find Bob, who was hoeing weeds and talking with Monie. I told him there is a Ted on the phone.”

“He said, ‘Ted?’ Then Monie looked at him. ‘Ted Willams.’

“’Ted!’ he cries, as he drops the shovel and goes chugging into the house. ‘Ted! Hey, how are you? You didn’t yell at her too hard, did you? We’d kinda like to keep her around.’

“He told Ted Williams he would kinda like to keep me,” Shuree recalls, her voice cracking.

Bobby holds a Merchant Marine flag aloft as Shuree pushes him during a local Fourth of July celebration.

Bobby holds a Merchant Marine flag aloft as Shuree pushes him during a local Fourth of July celebration.


Not Just a Job

A job cleaning for the Doerrs that began 27 years ago has grown into an enduring friendship.

“They are like family,” says Shuree.

The later years she was a personal caregiver for Monica, who battled multiple sclerosis since her late 30s and died in December 2003. Shuree then cared for Bobby and his sister, Dorothy. The pair lived together for about a year until Dorothy’s passing at 91, three years ago.

“I can’t imagine how different my life would have been without Bob and Monica,” Shuree says. “She was so sweet, so kind. They were so much alike, like two peas in a pod.”

Shuree describes herself as a Type A personality: hyperactive, often anxious and admittedly insecure. In contrast, Bobby is calm, confident and steadfast.

Through the years, her relationship with the wise and gentle celebrity has become more like that of a father and daughter than a client and caregiver.

Although the Doerrs had a son, Don, they never had a daughter.

Shuree says Bobby has always “kinda settled” her, and through tough times would calmly encourage her.

One thing they share is a youthful appearance. Both look and act much younger than their years.

Approaching the century mark, Bobby is as handsome late in life as he was as a young man. He has his own teeth, a healthy head of white groomed hair and striking blue eyes.

Trim, with a little girl’s face, Shuree, 50, has the look of a woman years younger.

 

Not Her Intended Career Plan

Shuree cleaned houses while in high school and volunteered at a nursing home.

“I just got on with the people,” she remembers. “I would hold their hands, talk to them and listen to their stories.”

She continued to clean houses after graduation, always determined to get a college degree “to prepare for a better life.”

She did not intend to make a career of caregiving, nor did she plan to continue cleaning houses. But 30 years later, she still is doing both.

In her early 30s, Shuree enrolled in community college and began pursuing a bookkeeping degree, which she says was no small feat.

“I was having a hard time for a long time because I struggled in school,” she says. “I had to get A’s, and I about made myself a nervous wreck.”

It was during this difficult time her clients, including Bobby, gave her the greatest support.

“I have never been a confident person, and these people have been a balm to my ego and my soul,” she says. “They’re just wonderful to be around. They are like, ‘Honey, you are just so wonderful. We just love you. Please don’t ever leave me.’ They get tears in their eyes if they think I am not going to be there any more.”

Shuree fights her own tears remembering some of the people she has cared for.

“I just love these people,” she says. “I love ’em to death. I connect to them. I don’t see them like a lot of people do. I find them fascinating, vibrant, loving. They are the most appreciative persons.”

After earning her associate degree, Shuree felt relieved and “a sense of accomplishment” and found work as a bookkeeper.

“When I graduated from college, I said, ‘I’m not going to be doing that anymore,’” she remembers, laughing. “I said I have been housecleaning for a long time. It is hard, hard work. I can’t do this forever.”

But after three or four years, she realized bookkeeping was not where her heart was. She missed the human interaction.

“I will just sit in an office and do bookwork?” she asks rhetorically. “No! I don’t know. I just gravitated right back to it.

“I keep thinking, ‘Shuree, you’re just cleaning stuff again. What were you thinking? All that money and all that effort and nearly a nervous breakdown getting though school, and you are back at it?’”

She rolls her eyes.

 

A Balancing Act

With at least eight clients to care for and houses to clean, in addition to being a wife and mother, her life now is a complicated balancing act.

Shuree and her husband, Scott, recently celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary, and have two sons together: Morgan, 27, and Alex, 18.

She said she has “tried and tried” to find part-time work that allows her to work around when Bobby needs her, but that it is not easy to find.

“There is no way on earth I would leave Mr. Doerr,” she says adamantly.

She refers to him as Mr. Doerr, but calls him Bob to his face.

She laughs, thinking how difficult it was to learn to call her boss by his first name.

“It was hard for me because I didn’t call Mr. Doerr anything but Mr. Doerr until after Monica died,” she says. “He is sitting there at breakfast one day and says, ‘Shuree, do you think we’ve known each other long enough now that you could call me Bob?’”

Shuree works for Bobby three days a week now, but usually stops by daily to check on her friend.

As difficult as her life is now—juggling caregiving, housecleaning, marriage and motherhood—she assures she “wouldn’t trade it for money.”

“I have been so lucky,” she says. “It’s been wonderful, a wonderful time.”

Bobby’s son, Don, 71, is naturally protective of his aging father.

“I trust her totally,” he says of Shuree. “She has been a faithful caregiver, always going out of her way to help and protect Dad with his correspondence, medical deliveries and other issues. Frankly, without her assistance, I don’t think he’d be able to function as well as he does, even with the staff support at the retirement center.”

 

A Two-Way Fan Club

Bobby and Shuree have mutual admiration for each other.

“Anybody who is around you is a better person,” Shuree says, raising her voice loud enough so Bobby will be sure to hear her.

Bobby hears and modestly deflects the praise.

“She does everything for me,” he says. “I’ve known her for years, and she’s right there all the time. She’s a good one.”

Shuree credits Bob and Monica.

“They make you a better person,” she says. “People who have been around them have been better people. He has really touched and moved people, and they even made changes in their own lives. It’s just remarkable. To this day, they still write him and thank him.”

Shuree turns and shouts, “I love you to bits, honey, you know that. You’ve been awfully good to me.”

Bobby dodges the praise.

“Well, you are easy to be good to,” he says.

Asked if Shuree has been like a daughter to him, Bobby’s blue eyes open wide and twinkle. He smiles unabashed and pats her on the knee.

“Oh, yeah, she was my daughter alright, whether or not I had her,” he says. “She’s my girl, from that high.”

He extends his right hand from the lap of his wheelchair and measures about two feet from the floor.

“You and Monie always said you’d adopt me,” Shuree shouts. “I was awful grateful for that. But my dad decided he’d hang onto me anyway.”

He pats her folded hands and adoringly repeats, “Whether or not I had her, she’s my daughter.”

Shuree gets quietly emotional thinking about the inevitable day when she no longer will be able to say good morning or watch “Wheel of Fortune” or a baseball game with the man she adores.

Her eyes begin to fill with tears.

“I don’t know,” Shuree says. “He’s so grounded and so assured in his faith that I keep remembering, it’s not like I’m not ever going to see him again.”

There is a long silence and then the nursing home intercom squawks with the day’s announcements.

“I wish we had an off switch for that thing—it drives me nuts!” barks Shuree, seizing the opportunity to escape her melancholy and recapture her feisty spirit.

“What time does Boston play?” Bobby asks.

Beekeeping: How Sweet It Is

Friday, February 27th, 2015

 

12main

Bees work on a honeycomb. Beekeeping dates to 6,000 B.C., based on a rock painting found in Spain. There are an estimated 115,000 to 125,000 beekeepers in the United States. Those with five or more colonies produced 149 million pounds of honey in 2013. iStock/Grafissimo

Threatened honeybees important to economy, agriculture

By Victoria Hampton

Small clouds of smoke fill the air as Clint Carl uses a smoker to calm a box of bees before his inspection. Once the buzzing of the disturbed bees becomes a relaxed hum, he lifts up the lid, exposing a world 50,000 bees strong.

Honeybees land on Clint’s exposed shoulders and hands. His fingers gently lift one frame after another, searching for the bee responsible for this catacombed colony.

“There she is,” Clint says as he spots the queen at the bottom of a frame, nestled in a bed of bee larvae.

Clint is just one player in an industry vital to crop production and, by extension, the nation’s economy. However, the future is uncertain because of challenges such as mysterious bee die-offs that have researchers and beekeepers searching for answers.

Clint says the best part of his job as a beekeeper for his family’s business, Mt. Adams Honey in Zillah, Washington, is caring for the hives.

“I like to get inside the hives and manipulate their world to make it better,” he says.

His family has been in the business of beekeeping for more than 40 years. Clint picked up the trade from his grandfather and mother.

As he became invested in beekeeping, he traveled to California to learn how to breed queen bees.

“I learned a lot of new practices while there that I use with our bee business,” says Clint.

Mt. Adams Honey is a migratory bee company, which means it moves its bees to pollinate crops on the West Coast year-round. From November to March, Clint’s bees are stationed in California. They then are moved back to areas in Washington, such as the base of Mount Adams and Spokane.

Among the crops Clint’s bees help pollinate are almonds, vegetables, snowberries and apricots.

Mt. Adams Honey harvests the bees’ honey in August. It is processed for two months and bottled. It is sold at several fruit stands, and the company has its own website and eBay sales.

“Beekeeping is a huge world,” says Clint. “There’s a lot to it. It’s hard to put it all into a nutshell.”

Modern-day beekeeping businesses are products of the honeybee’s propagation in the United States.

“Humans have kept bees for thousands of years for honey,” says assistant horticulture professor Ramesh Sagili. “Honeybees were introduced by the Europeans in the 1600s. They knew how to keep bees, and that is how bees were populated here.”

Today, honeybees are responsible for $20 million worth of pollination a year, says Ramesh, who researches honeybees at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon.

“They pollinate 90 different crops,” Ramesh says. “In California, they pollinate 900,000 acres of almonds. Blueberries and pears in Oregon wouldn’t be possible without bees. Our nutrition would be greatly affected without (them).”

 

 

12sec

Ramesh Sagili, assistant horticulture professor at Oregon State University, checks the bee frame, above, and measures the sugar content of the nectar stored in a honeybee’s crop, top, as part of his research into the health of honeybees. Photos by Carolyn Breece

In turn, honeybees create a variety of honey that takes on different colors and flavors depending on the types of crops or plants they pollinate.

Thistle honey is a rich molasses color that beekeeper Jim Buxton harvests in Vernonia, Oregon.

Since 1973, Jim has kept bees as a hobby, selling small amounts of honey.

“I was interested in agriculture and wondered what I could do here to be self-sufficient,” says Jim.

Through the years, Jim has kept as many as 22 hives. Right now he has just one on his property.

The bees he keeps feed off fireweed and thistle from a clearcut behind his home.
“This last year I had a weak colony,” Jim says.

Rather than harvest the small amount of honey the bees produced, “I let them keep it,” Jim says.

As a hobbyist, Jim says he has no problem leaving the honey if a hive is not thriving. But a low population and accumulation of honey can be detrimental to farmers who depend on bees for pollination and companies that depend on sales of honey, he notes.

During 2006-2007, beekeepers nationwide reported 50 to 80 percent colonization loss, which represents the total number of bees.

“There are a lot of stress factors on bees, such as malnutrition, migration, pesticides and not having a diversified diet,” says Ramesh.

Add a weakened immune system and the problems are compounded, he says.

Among the biggest threat to honeybees are mites. Varroa mites were introduced to the United States in 1987. The mites suck the blood of bees, transmitting seven different viruses that then kill the bee. Another mite that affects bees is the tracheal mite. It attaches itself to the bee’s airway, deteriorating the bee’s lungs so it cannot fly.

“Our bees don’t have a resistance against them,” says Ramesh.

Some companies and beekeepers treat their bees for mites with store-bought chemicals or natural remedies.

“When you don’t treat the bees, they generally die,” says Clint. “We’ve went through different all-natural treatments to keep them alive.”

He uses menthol, thyme oil and hops.

Bees also are susceptible to parasites and fungi.

The extent of the problem has changed in the 17 years Barbara Stockwell has managed her family-owned Stockwell Honey Co. in Arivaca, Arizona.

In the early years, she says, the only diseases she had to worry about were different types of fungal diseases. That changed when her company started transporting bees to California for the almond harvest.

“People bring in bees from all over the country to California, and now you catch everything,” says Barbara.

Since 2006, Ramesh says, beekeepers have reported average annual losses of 30 percent.

“The reason for decline is a multifactorial, complex problem,” he says.
Colony collapse disorder is a blanket term coined in 2006 to help explain what was happening to the honeybees. Ramesh says it is not one disorder, but a combination of factors that causes bees to abandon hives or results in the death of the entire colony.

“These are a mix of all different stressors that compromise bee immune systems,” he explains.

While researchers have an idea of the statistical honeybee decline, they do not know the effect on native bees.

“Native bees that are in the wild—no one has done studies on those populations,” says Ramesh. “Some bumblebee species have completely disappeared on the West Coast.”

Other concerns Ramesh has for the future of honey and native bees center on climate change.

“We have seen some plants blooming earlier than they did 10 or 15 years ago,” he says. “Plants blooming early or late could pose a problem because bees won’t have access to the flowers they are used to.”

Ramesh also is concerned the beekeeper population is growing older, with younger people uninterested in the trade.

He recognizes beekeeping is not a very profitable enterprise, and that it is an intense, specialized trade. But he stresses that pollination is essential to the prosperity of crop and plant growth.

Beekeeping associations are trying to inspire the next generation.

The Southcentral Alaska Beekeepers Association in Anchorage, Alaska, has monthly meetings, inviting members to share discoveries in their beekeeping regimen and offering help to those new to the trade.

“It’s quite a vibrant club,” says president Steve Victors. “We have about 150 members. It’s good for beginning beekeepers to talk to more experienced beekeepers about complications with hives and general questions.”

During each monthly meeting, the club discusses beekeeping strategies, and plans educational activities for the state fair and beekeeping classes.

Steve started beekeeping in 1996 after a large wildfire burned a portion of his property. His family bought 10,000 trees to replant the area and got bees to help pollinate to re-establish the undergrowth.

“Our honey started out with a large fireweed component,” says Steve. “As the understory came back it added a wild flower component.”

A large percentage of fireweed honey is a combination of wild raspberries, wild roses and other lowland flowers, Steve says.

In time, Steve went from two hives to 120. In recent years, he has scaled back to 15.

Steve learned the trade from attending a beginner course in beekeeping and from talking with other local beekeepers.

As president of the Southcentral Alaska Beekeepers Association, Steve orders large shipments of bees for beekeepers throughout the area.

“We bring in about 1,500 packages per year distributed from Fairbanks to Homer,” says Steve.

The bees are shipped to Alaska in mid-April from Sacramento, California. The bees come in 4-pound packages. One package satisfies one hive.

Jim Buxton also buys his bees every year—although one season he harvested his own hive from the wild.

In the woods of Vernonia, Jim strung a pulley system from a bee box to the branch of a tree where a large hive was built. He scaled the tree, cut the limb and, sure enough, the hive landed right on the box.

However, during the limb sawing, a few bees dropped onto Jim and crawled under his pant legs, resulting in a series of stings.

Jim says he has never climbed down from 20 feet up a pine tree so fast in his life.
No matter the methods or struggles behind beekeeping, the nature of the trade keeps people harvesting hives year after year.

“It’s a great thing to do,” says Jim. “It is just the science of it. It’s like the hive is an organism that consists of all of these single individuals. There isn’t any one thing as fascinating.”

As the sun sets over the roaming hills of central Washington, Clint closes the lid on the bee box and leaves the bees to what they do best.

For today, this colony is secure and healthy. From sunrise to sunset, each hive will multiply, pollinate and produce.

Although the future of honeybees is uncertain, the people behind the beekeeping trade keep these vital creatures alive for the benefit of crop producers and consumers alike.