Highway 30 closed

Today, Aura is headed to the Portland airport to pick up Paris, who will be home for 3 weeks of Christmas break. She is going around to Highway 26 due to the mudslide and closure on the road we normally take. The road had finally opened after the storm, only to have disaster strike again.

The airport holds bad memories for Aura, since just 2 weeks ago, when leaving long term parking after her trip from Thanksgiving in California, a guy T-boned her precious first automobile. She was unhurt, just bruised emotional and shook up. The car is totaled.

Looking at these photos, we are thankful that we didn't lose our home to a sea of mud and trees. Counting our blessings.
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Dan the Oysterman's Survival Saga

Note- during the storm, word spread from ham radio and quickly thru the Peninsula that our beloved oysterman and resident musician, 'Danny' (as my father calls him) Discroll met with trouble while tending his oyster beds. We were relieved to find out he was safe. His story is here.
reprinted from The Chinook Observer, photo of skiff by George Hill

Oysterman's survival saga leads to discovery of skull
Observer Staff Writer

Dan Driscoll’s Willapa Bay oyster skiff was washed so far west by storm-strengthened waves and currents that it was easier to recover it by towing it over the primary dune on to the ocean beach.

OYSTERVILLE - One local man is lucky to be safe and sound this week after getting caught up in last week's dangerous storm while on Willapa Bay in his small open boat. For a time, his family and friends feared that he had perished. Here is the story of his adventure.

Shortly before daylight Sunday, Oysterville Sea Farm Owner Dan Driscoll awoke in preparation for a brief outing on Willapa Bay before the arrival of last week's 48-hour storm.
Headed to an oyster bed east of Leadbetter Point State Park, Driscoll estimated that the storm would arrive later in the day, giving him just enough time to get in one last run in his father, Les Driscoll's skiff. He had some difficulties pulling up the anchors on his scow and open skiff, but eventually got underway. But halfway to the beds, the winds began to pick up and water became more threatening.

"I wasn't worried," he explains. "That's why I prefer skiffs and boats like them, because you're fully aware of what the weather is doing. ... I knew the wind direction and I knew that I would be blown to shore if anything happened."

Upon reaching one of the oyster beds, Driscoll anchored the scow once the winds allowed him to do so. As he attempted to turn the boat around, the oysterman turned around to only be met by a white wall of wind, water and foam. In his attempt to maneuver the skiff, he wound up turning into the wind, which broke the steering, leaving Driscoll to float wherever the waves pushed him.

Managing to stay upright, Driscoll's boat drifted north and eventually landed on the west edge of Grassy Island on the northeast point of the Peninsula. In the midst of the wind and rain, he threw out the anchor but quickly realized that he was too far off shore to wade to shore. He then hunkered down and waited for the tide to go back out, where he was able to reach the shore - but his adventure wasn't over yet - a slough created an unexpected detour nearly as far west as the ocean beach.

Finally leaving the skiff on the shore, he trudged north through the brush, then rounded the tip of the Peninsula and continued south into the gusts through Leadbetter Point State Park. Though the winds were cold and strong, Driscoll notes that he was in good company, spotting eagles, elk, ducks and pelicans along his five-mile hike.

"Let's just say it was bad for my posture," laughs Driscoll. "I was really bent forward trying to get through that wind."

Once he reached the park's parking lot, he was rescued by Sheriff's Deputy Ron Clark, who drove him back to Oysterville. Sopping wet by then, Driscoll rode in the backseat. Upon arriving in Oysterville, he was greeted with tearful hugs, as he had told several people about his plans to hit the water that day. To Driscoll's relief, his parents, Les and Ann, were on vacation in Texas at the time and his 8-year-old daughter was unaware of his circumstances.

"But then they got mad at me and started second guessing what I had done," Driscoll admits.

Happy to be safe and sound, he waited out the storm back on land. In the meantime, friend John Heckes checked on the anchored scow and brought back good reports to Driscoll - it had survived the remaining days of the storm just fine.

"I asked him, 'Well what about my skiff?' He said, 'What skiff?'" Driscoll explains with a laugh. Initially, the skiff was nowhere to be found.
Tuesday night, he and Tim Braxton successfully returned to the scow Driscoll anchored Sunday morning. The pair searched for the skiff but only found the anchor, buried 18 inches under the sand, in its place. It was nearly a dark sky when something in the trees caught the corner of Driscoll's eye - something that was worthy of considering further inspection.

"I told Tim, 'I don't think that's the skiff, but it's close enough to check it out.'"

About one mile into the woods at the tip of the Peninsula sat the oysterman's skiff.

"It was bizarre, like something you'd see in a picture," he describes. "It's treacherous up there, there isn't much human contact there. There are areas with a quicksand effect and the water is shallow, the current is always changing. But for some reason, a herd of 20 to 25 elk was very interested in my boat!"

Later, Driscoll was able to anchor the boat down during a 15-minute window in the tide with the help of Dave Pickering.

Looking back at his adventure, he says, "I think my trip would've went fine, it would've been slow and unpleasant, but it would have been fine if the steering would've held."

Over the weekend, Driscoll and some friends checked on the boat only for Carson Kemmer to stumble across a human skull merely 20 feet west of the skiff. The discovery was reported to Pacific County Sheriff's Deputies Goodwin and Biggs. While more will be reported on this bizarre story at another time, Driscoll can't help but wonder if his boat was pushed in that direction for a reason. With the boat landing in such a remote location, the skull may never had been found otherwise.

On Monday afternoon Driscoll was able to recover his land-locked skiff with the help of Braxton, Dick Sheldon and George Hill. Sheldon towed the boat from the point back to Oysterville Sea Farms. Driscoll also expressed thanks to Ernie and Kevin Soule, Jim Taylor, Warren Cowell, Todd Brownlee and Kathy Strickland for their help and concern.

As for the boat, it is in great condition and will be put back into commission as soon as possible. After all, Les Driscoll always says, "This boat is just like the Titanic - it's unsinkable!"

As for Dan, he simply says, "All's well that ends well."

9/11 Oyster Santas from South Carolina

I found these oysters on Ebay years ago. The story is that a woman... depressed after 9/11 went for a walk on the beach at Youngs Island. She gathered up oyster shells and took them home. She painted Santa's. Each one is unique, with great detail, hand signed with a glued cord for hanging. 100 of them. The colors are red, white and blue.

They ended up here- across the country at another home of OYSTERS.

I am not sure why she sold her masterpieces... and for less than the cost of shipping them. I felt so badly that I sent her another check. Later, I was contacted by someone writing a book about unique Ebay transactions. That would be 100 Patriotic Santas from South Carolina Low Country Oyster Shells.

The clock, Nutcrackers and plant stand on the right were hand made from exotic wood by my Father. I will highlight those with a special photo in a few days.

Holiday Home Tour is on!

We are preparing for the Holiday Home Tour benefiting the Long Beach Boys & Girls Club. The tour is a go... so lots of work to be done. We don't let a Typhoon slow us down!
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Appropriate "dictionary.com word of the day" arrived in my inbox this morning.

More Typhoon info

I have a few minutes to sit and read the news... and catch up on the internet. I can't believe this is Wednesday... where did the days go? Mistakenly, I sent out an email saying it was only 2 days without any communication... in fact, it was 3. Here are some facts.

Days without electricity: 2 full days (some locals still without power)
Days without long distance, cell or internet: almost 3
Roads out of here: ALL of them were closed. Hwy 30, Hwy 26 in Oregon. Hwy 6, Hwy 101 in Washington. You couldn't drive to Portland, Seattle- or even Astoria....and come to think of it- trees were down all over so you couldn't even drive north or south locally.
Trees down: too many to count
Fences down: same
Roof: so glad we got our new one!
Gasoline: none (no electricity to pump until the electric guys fixed up a generator and then the locals lined up for hours- including me)
Generators: no we don't have one...and if we did, we would have to remember to buy gas!
FISH: lots of it!!!! Everyone giving it away- eat all you want, but eat it now!
Elk meat: how come I didn't get offers of Elk meat? Those guys must be the ones with the generators.
Candles: yes we have them and we all had a lesson in candle fire safety... so sad.
Radio: KAST in Astoria was the emergency broadcast. We grew weary of the station owner learning the craft while broadcasting. But kudos to Astoria sheriff for filling the station generator with gas to keep us all informed.
Firemen: our community is well served with brave men and women in volunteer and paid service. A crew of new cadets fought last nights fire and we watched in awe as the local auto mechanic kept his charges safe while teaching and keeping the fire from spreading. Awesome job!
Internet: kind of hard to own a business that depends on internet
Kind of hard to operate on computers when you have no electricity!
Board games: activity of choice among families
Visiting your neighbors: priceless.

Final note. The nature of our business and life depends on communication through the internet and cell phones. It also make it possible for us to live here remotely. It is also the hard part of living here when disaster strikes. We lost power more often in Seattle, but had options to work around. Whereas, here at the beach we are isolated and when the roads close, not able to seek shelter with the luxury of wifi. Overall, along with the community, we are learning lessons about preparedness for disaster. Brett and I will be deprogramming and figuring out what we need for the next time. The first item is to take care of these trees!


A quick update to my blog friends.
We are recovering from 120 mph winds - a storm that lasted 2 days! power restoration and communications longer.
No electricity, no long distance (only very local exchange), no cell, no internet, no 911 service, nothing.
Many trees down- including a few very dangerous still upright, but needing professional tree removal in our driveway. We lost 2 large trees, and tops from another 6 more- which make their removal necessary. What a mess! Remember Brett's fence work? It starts all over, plus more!

Other people lost roofs, sides of mobile homes, entire rooms of homes, cars and many fences.
Late last night, as we snuggled in bed exclaiming how fortunate we all were and looking forward to the possibility of 'electricity and communication' in the next 24-48 hrs... we jumped out of bed and out of the house because- a home a few doors away burnt to the ground and sadly claimed a life.
Astoria is still without power, parts of the peninsula are still without power or phone lines.
We are 'energized' as they say in the power company speak... and so madly catching up on work, cleaning and preparations for the Home Tour this weekend.
We are all safe and sound... and happy to have such wonderful neighbors, friends and each other. Will post photos soon.

Something in the air.... practice safe Holiday decorating.

Last Sunday, I dashed to Dixie Mountain to cut down our Christmas Trees- before my busy week and upcoming rain/wind storms arrive. My brother, Doug, greeted me while he was flat on his back. A few days before.... he had fallen off this ladder while putting up those cool new led icicle lights. He landed on that gravel pile and broke a few vertebrae. Ouch! He had a ride on a board in the ambulance to the emergency room.

Doug, Gail and Saren insisted I play a few Christmas Carols. I was surprised I could even read music- let alone play and sing along. Then the female red heads marched out to the forest and cut down my 4 trees. Lydia, Gail's niece- joined us- she is in 10th grade and a red head! The 4 females with red hair went on my tree mission while Doug (also a red head, stayed home)... Gail handles her chain saw with ease... I loaded them up and arrived back at the beach as the sun set.
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Ocean Beach Hospital

Yesterday, I had a first hand look at the nice emergency room in Ilwaco- just 2 miles away. I fell from a chair (don't ask) and required a few sutures on my head wound. Falling onto the metal baseboard heater, a gash tore open my scalp. I wanted to post the blood and wound photos- but some people wouldn't like that. The emergency room is fully equipped and I had no wait.... of course, the blood dripping down from my head and towel probably had something to do with triage moving rather quickly. How embarrassing! Now I have staples on my scalp and a headache.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

We are madly unpacking Holiday decorations and preparing for a photo shoot- which is now going to be on Monday. Brett wants to light the driveway for the Home Tour on Dec. 9- I saw this photo and suggested he do some shooting stars. We can weld up some stars and trail the tail down the lane.

I will be updating the blog with random shots as I move from room to room.
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The Depot is still our favorite

When the summer tourists leave, you can spontaneously get a table at one of the awesome restaurants in the area. It is true that we are partial to The Depot.... for Chef Michael's menu and the close proximity to our place. The relaxed and community town hall type Burger Night on Wednesdays is a huge favorite. Create your own burger- I usually have a Portabello Mushroom. The Depot is now open 7 evenings a week, and Michael's fabulous menu includes some rather yummy desserts.

But dont think that The Depot is all about burgers (but they are the BEST).... the gourmet menu is quite upscale. They change it with the seasons. When we go out- we compare everything to The Depot- and are happy to have such a great restaurant a few steps away.

Highway 101/103 Beautification Project

At the Destination Pacific National Historic Workshop that I attended- (see March 2007 blog), Team Long Beach/Seaview worked on a plan to beautify the 'Gateway' to our communities. Months of planning, meeting, approval from WSDOT, designing, organizing and securing plants culminated with building a planting bed and planting along Highway 101. We worked over a number of weekends to finish the bulk of the heavy labor.

Brett and Aura pitched in with some really heavy labor. We had small tractors and volunteers from the community help out in rain and shine.

We had to cancel a few times due to weather and the Highway contractor being delayed with their installation of a new traffic signal. I still have a few plants to install- but with Brett and Aura's help- that will finish up soon.

Here are some photos of the process. I can't wait until next summer to show how the plantings are beginning to look.

Wild Mushroom Festival

In Seaview, we have a few necessary skills to be a true local. These skills center around oysters, razor clams, salmon, crab, cranberries and mushrooms. (Note, I think chainsaws and tide tables are also on that list.) (I can add more- elk meat, steelhead, sturgeon, tuna....) This year I decided to correct my lack of mushroom knowledge.

We have the perfect environment for mushrooms. Lots of moisture.

Once I let one or two people know that I wanted to learn more- lock the doors! News travels fast! In some communities, zucchini will be found in unlocked cars- gifts from your neighbor. Here on the Long Beach Peninsula- we have mushrooms, smoked salmon, crab and cranberry gifts in the fall. We had mysterious fungi appearing at our doorstep, phone calls with offers of mushroom foraging walks, still more offers of mushrooms. But they will never tell you where to find them- as they like to say around here.... "if I told you, I would have to kill you." Mushrooms are serious stuff.

I am fortunate to have mushroom experts within a block or 2. I am able to pick up some tasty fungi while on a walk and stop by to get an expert opinion about the identification, consumption and favorite recipes.

This past month we have been blessed with many mushrooms. Gifts and those grown in the immediate area. I confess I get nervous about my identification abilities- so always get verification.

Many of the restaurants have mushroom dinners, guest speakers and events during the Wild Mushroom Festival. I attended a cooking class by Cynthia Nims at The Shelburne Inn. Cynthia prepared about 8 dishes, complimented with David Campiche's narrative about mushrooms.