Silver Falls State Park

Kris, myself and Bryan and Michelle Decker went to Silver Falls State Park on Sunday.  The Deckers came out to Oregon to support Kris during his grand opening on Saturday at Blue Element Scuba and Adventure Center.

Kris was given Sunday off to “soak up as much Decker as he could”.  Michelle and I had decided some falls were in order for the weekend so we headed to Silver Falls for the day and Bryan and Kris came along.  It was a partly sunny, partly cloudy day and we all had a great time.  The falls were beautiful and this park boasts over 10 different falls, we saw 4 of them.  You can see all of the pictures worth posting below.

Silver Falls State Park

I have promised photos of our RV park and the surrounding settings, so here they are.

This is the “field” that at the time was mostly flooded. See that water to the right? That’s the “field”.

Here is the gist of what the RV park looks like.

Here’s our “home”.

Dandelions signify spring to Michelle. To me they signify time to spray!!!

This is a tree along the Rickreall Creek which is what was flooding.

Life in Oregon

Thought I’d post a little note about how things are going since we got here.

We have the RV set up at the RV resort (Premier RV Resort, Salem, OR if you want to Google map it) in spot 156. However, yesterday because of all the rain over the weekend up in the mountains and the valley, we had to move the RV to spot 116 because they were expecting the lower portion of the park to flood or at least take on water. We got it moved and I don’t think we’re planning to move back to the old spot at this time. We are only one “street” over from where we were and we have a brick pad under our picnic table which allows us to step out of the RV onto concrete instead of grass, which means less mud and grass in the RV. So we’ll probably stay put for a while. Right behind our RV is the horseshoe toss area so the dogs can still potty within a short distance of the RV and we’re just a few spots down from the small off-leash pen. There is a larger off-leash pen over the berm down the street from our spot, but it’s currently under about 6 feet of water.
I had noticed on Sun that the river had risen and flooded the walking path behind our RV, which was over the berm and down about 6 feet or so. On Monday morning, it was a tad bit higher and there was no ground between the path and the river anymore. By Mon night the water was only about 4 feet from the top of the berm, which was right behind where our RV was. Most of the rain came from the mountains and the coast since our little creek feeds from there into the Willamette River. In the 7 years that the park has been there, it’s taken on water twice. And it’s not that the water overflows the berm, it’s that it comes up through the drainage grates that feed into the creek.

We are having a moisture problem in the RV. So much so that the walls “rain” most of the time. Condensation is a big problem and we have mold growing on every window sill inside the RV. We got some damp rid type of stuff on Mon to try to alleviate the problem so hopefully those things work well. I opened the windows today when I left in hopes that allowing warmer air to the glass will help but we’ll see. I need to clean the sills off tonight and mop up some of the water. Even tissues feel moist and our towels don’t dry. Kris wonders if a ceramic heater or radiant heater would help dry out the air instead of using the propane only. I will turn the ceramic heater on tonight and see what that can do.

We are still battling Kota’s hind quarter issues. Last week he had a myelogram xray done where they put him under and then use a dye injected into his spinal column to take xrays. Those showed nothing but a partial disk rupture in his thoracic vertebrae that the vet doesn’t think is the problem. Yesterday Kris had the day off and so did I, and Kota went back for an EMG. The EMG is where they measure the electrical impulses going down the leg to determine if there is an impediment somewhere. Normal ratings are in the 60 range and Kota’s were in the 35 range, so nerve impulses are not traveling down the leg like they should. He has a hard time getting up from laying down and sometimes misses when he jumps onto things like the bed or up and down stairs. He falls a lot more often on the hard wood floors at Scot and Amy’s too. The vet also did another CT scan of his pelvis because he felt that something is not right and really wanted a better picture. Now, he did not call us about that first, which kinda made me mad, but I figured he had a good reason. And hey, since he knew he wasn’t able to call us, he gave us a hefty discount. Still expensive but not as much as his first one last summer.

We were supposed to meet with the doc when we picked him up but the doc had an emergency surgery and we had an emergency flooding back home to get too, so we picked him up and the doc called us later. During the call he hadn’t looked at the CT scan yet but told us about the EMG ratings and that he’s looking for something high up on the nerves going into the legs, somewhere around the sciatic nerve and/or pelvis, etc. So frustrating to be chasing this “demon” around trying to find out what is going on.

Shadow is moving slower and slower these days. Her eyesight is getting worse and it’s noticeable when she jumps into the van. She makes huge leaps well beyond what she needs, or she climbs slowly in. Otherwise she’s doing ok, has a little limp after exercise but at least she’s not showing any muscle atrophy like Kota is.

Tasha is doing well but doesn’t like getting in the car anymore. I think she hates coming to Scot and Amy’s where I am working during the day because Marissa picks on her. I’ve considered leaving her at home but I currently go to the shop after work to have microwave dinners with Kris. We have dinner, I help with shop stuff if needed and then head home to feed the dogs. He stays until closing and then comes home about 8pm. If I didn’t take her with me, she’d have to hold it from 7:30am until almost 7pm. Way too long, so she has to come with. I manage the Marissa and Tasha interactions and shoo Marissa out of the room if she begins to be a brat. She’s already made Tasha bleed twice, once on each ear. They are pretty good with just me in the house, but if others are around or managing them, it gets heated quickly. Winston, their other dog, just lays in the living room all day and barely moves.

I’ve been working at Scot and Amy’s in their spare bedroom during the days. I have a little heater in here so I start at 60 degrees and by the time I leave it’s at 75 or so. 🙂 Shadow and Tasha spend most of the day in here and Marissa and Kota come in and out. Right now all 4 are in here. 🙂 It’s working out pretty well so far. I definitely don’t have room in the RV for my computer and filing cabinet. As it is our laundry baskets are up in the front of the RV in the driver seats. lol… Living in the RV isn’t too bad. I miss constant water during a shower and being able to have my feet on the floor when I pee. lol… oh and room in the fridge for stuff. 😉

We did spend all of last Sat at Whalen Island State Park to help with a rescue diver class for Blue Element. Kris was a diver in need of saving and I was shore support. It started out with a light drizzle which was no big deal but quickly escalated by afternoon to blowing gusts and sideways rain. After getting thoroughly soaked at lunch, I retreated into the van with AC and heat running to dry out while they finished up. They lost two pieces of gear which slowed things down in the afternoon. The second one was BC, tank and regulator. That’s over $1000 in equipment, so they spent considerable time finding it. By then the water had waves, the tide had gone out some and the rain was going sideways, so visibility was about 4 inches. I was sitting in the van, parked perpendicular to the wind to create a break for the divers who were out in the weather. I could feel the van being buffeted by the wind. I was glad that Blue Element didn’t have a dry suit that fit me. 🙂 I got to be dry a lot sooner than those guys did!

So that’s my life in a nutshell these days.

Not quite a Griffy replacement…

but we had a great time anyway. And I really like this park.  I’ve been twice since I arrived.  🙂

And I took lots of pictures!

Lots of wide open space at this park.  3 loops of trail to walk on and it’s flat, so easy on the older dogs and older folks.



Look closely at her face…..


This is the view I had of Tasha and Shadow most of the time.


with Kota bringing up the rear.


He has a cute, fluffy rear. 🙂

We stopped and talked with Scupper and Somar’s owners. Somar is a 10 month old GSD and Scupper is a 5 year old long haired Tasha. 🙂


The two of them would wrestle and snarl and play bite at each other. I’m pretty sure that with two of mine joining in, we were the noisiest corner of the park.






Big dog, 10 months, little dog, 12 years.




Then we continued our walk and I got a little artistic.




These are the rain clouds that were moving in to ruin our otherwise beautiful weather. And because of Kota, I got pretty soaked, that’s to come.

Then back to zooming through the weeds.



This was a nice shot of Shadow, marred only by the stray grass.

They started wondering off in the wrong direction, so I called them back and here they come!


Then we entered this very cool path with these crazy lichen covered trees. Almost all trees in Oregon have lichen of some kind on them.


Getting artistic again.


This path was really nice and quiet actually. I enjoyed it immensely, despite the mud. 🙂

Then we exited for one last loop through the main park.


Did you notice who was missing? Yup, Kota.

Oh there he is. He was on the other side of that group of people, looking back towards the parking lot. I had to actually walk back and then call him. I think his hearing and eyesight is going a bit.


This guy had a whistle that he was apparently trying to train this young lab to as a recall. I heard him while we were still in the woods. At first the dog was off-leash but he soon put him on leash. Guess what he did when the dog didn’t obey the *whistle* *whistle* COME cue? Yup, yanked on the leash… sigh.

Then there were these adorable little guys. Soooo cute!! but totally not dachsund pups. Perhaps mixes, but definitely not pure based on the mom.


The mother of the pups.

By this time, rain was beginning to come down so we headed off across the park back to the cars. Now first, I realize now that *not* putting them on leash as we reached the lot was a mistake, but in my defense, my car was right up against the park. It was literally on the other side of a boulder from us. I will not make that same mistake again however.

So I had all 3 dogs with me as we reached the parking lot but when I turned around to load the dogs into the car, I had one, Shadow. Tasha was on the other side of the car next to me but Kota was no where to be found. I put the other two in the car and then started calling for him.

And calling for him.

And calling for him.

Getting louder.

Beginning to wander all over the lot calling his name loudly.

I now have another person helping me look for him because the panic is starting to show in my voice.

I walk all up and down the lot. I examine every dog I can see. I even look twice at a couple mini Aussies.

People are now asking about any smallish, brown dog with tails. I am still calling, loudly. I am about to start crying thinking someone may have taken him, either purposefully or accidentally. Oh and it’s pouring down rain!

Someone shows up at the park with two smallish, short haired dogs that look very much like Kota and I almost thought one of them was him, but then realize, no, not enough fur.

I now have about 3 or 4 people walking around in the pouring rain, looking between cars, under cars, calling for my dog.

And then he walks around from behind a boulder in front of my car.

I have no idea where he was. I swear I walked all around my car, all around cars next to me, ALL OVER THE PLACE!!!

I was so relieved I almost forgot to thank my helpers! I got him loaded into the car (he was of course soaking wet!) and then I sat in the driver seat for a minute and let the panic ebb away from my soul.

I love all my dogs so much!!!

and if you made it this far, thanks for reading!!

Pepper – 2003 to 12/31/2010

Pepper was added to our family in 2003.  It was summer time and the Morgan County Humane Society was having space and money issues because they were overflowing with cats and dogs.

Kris and I drove up with some food to donate and with the idea of being foster parents. I remember walking into the dog area to lookpepper004-lg at the dogs and we passed the first row of inside kennels. Most dogs ran to the front and barked or whined or somehow were eager for attention.  Except one. This dog was curled up in the back of her kennel, which was probably only 4 feet by 4 feet, on a wood palet for a bed.  That dog looked up as we passed but remained curled in a ball.  We passed lots of dogs, some in kennels piled on top of other kennels. Some puppies, some adults and some tied up to dog houses out back. The shelter was quite full.  Kris felt that if we took a puppy home to foster, we’d never find it a home. I suggested  we take the dog that was curled up in the kennel.

We took her out to meet her and she had a lively personality. Her leash manners were abysmal but she was eager to have attention once out of her kennel. Her fur was sparse and coarse and she was a little overweight but otherwise she seemed like a great dog.  We filled out the paperwork and took her home to meet our 3 dogs.

We lived on Cobblestone Ct then.  A smallish house with a small backyard. We gave her a bath and then planned her trip back to the shelter for her spay.

When we took her back for her spay, they found that she’d already had that surgery.  So she just suffered some anesthesia but that was it. We picked her back up and set up flyers, etc for her.

She had this habit of pulling on the leash, but it was always straight out to the side. Not in front but straight to the side. An aggravating issue but her most annoying one. She barely barked and it was several months before we actually heard her bark. We did however discover that she loved to tug. She would growl and bark with the toy in her mouth and play keep away for a bit, before she’d let you grab it and play tug with her. She loved her tug toys.


After a couple years, our dogs taught her how to bark at people at the door or leaves blowing across the yard or even just the wind. It was funny to us and amusing that our dogs had taught her to bark at stuff.

Another bad habit of hers was her begging at the table. It wasn’t bad but she would sit beside the table and stare at us. First one, then another of us and drool.  Oh goodness the drool. At her dinner time, she would sit in her spot and dance her feet and drool. Then she would shake her head and send the drool flying.  It was quite gross but funny too.  She would snatch food out of your hand really quickly and sometimes get your fingers. We had to teach her to take food gently and she got really good at that.  It took her until about 2009 before she quit staring at us at our dinner time.  🙂  We never encouraged the begging and certainly never rewarded it, but she was our constant dinner companion for many years.

It turned out that Tasha did not like Pepper. There was not all out aggression but Tasha did attack Pepper one winter while we were out playing in the snow. All of a sudden, Tasha grabbed her by the shoulders and shook her.  Tasha put two punctures in her shoulders which healed fine. After that we took great pains to make sure that Tasha learned to leave Pepper alone. Whenever Kris would play with Pepper, I would call Tasha to me.  Tasha wanted order and Pepper’s manner of playing with barks and growls was too much for her.  Tasha would run over to her and snarl but basically put all stop to play for Pepper. So we would alternately call Tasha over when Pepper wanted to play. In this manner we managed things and all the dogs lived in modest peace.

It also turns out that Pepper was allergic to everything. And I mean everything! Grass, cats, dust, grain, everything. Or at least according to her allergy blood test.  We spent a fair bit of money trying to get her coat better, get her to quit licking her paws till there was no fur left. To quit licking her butt as well.  We tried allergy pills and steroids as well as trying allergy shots. We finally got her on Atopica which did the most for her itching. She regrew her fur on her feet and around her butt. Her fur came in thick and long and kinda curly too. It was great to see her doing so well.

It was at that time that Kris and I were trying to downsize our lives because I hated my job, which was an hour away.  We had not planned to keep Pepper but had always felt no one would want her because the Atopica was very expensive.  But we tried again. We put an ad in the paper and it was actually answered.  We met the woman and her daughter at our house and then we dropped Pepper off for a week trial. They loved her and we thought she was good in her new home.

About a month later a friend asked us the woman’s name that adopted her.  We did a search on her name based on his prompting and found articles on her in the newspaper. Turns out she had charges pending for child abuse.  This was a Friday.  That evening we tried calling her. The number had been disconnected. So we went over to her house and told her that the Morgan County Humane Society was mad at us for not following protocol. We got Pepper back and with the help of the Morgan County shelter, we officially adopted her.

It took her a couple years before she would solicit pets from us. For a long time she would find a comfy spot off on her own in the house and nap. It was only when we were eating that she would come around.  The first few times she solicited us for pets, we were ecstatic!  We felt that she finally accepted us but it was definitely on her terms.

She was not big on walks or hikes.  Even off-leash.  This one time at Griffy, I took the 4 dogs for a hike and I “lost” Pepper on the first part of the trail. It turns out that she just went back to the gate area while I continued on with the other 3.  I knew she would wait by the gate, because she knew that’s where the car was.  Her collar had her name and my cell on it.  When I returned to the gate with the other 3, she was there waiting like I knew she would.  Once we returned home, my cell phone had a message from some concerned folks that they had “found” my dog.  I guess that is why there was a couple hovering around Pepper at the park when I returned.

We did downsize our house in 2006 and then in 2010, Kris and I got married in March.  In May, he moved to Oregon to start a business.  In June we drove the RV with Shadow and Pepper to Oregon. I stayed in Indiana until December with Kota and Tasha.

Two weeks after Thanksgiving 2010, Pepper was diagnosed with lung cancer.  She had been losing her appetite and losing weight. She also had this unproductive cough which was becoming more common.  Chest x-rays showed tumors in both lungs.  Nothing would cure the cancer for her, the best we could do was to make her comfortable.  She was on prednisone and herbs as well as antibiotics and her other supplements.

Kris flew to IN on the 22nd to help me drive out over Christmas break and our friends back in Oregon were taking her to the vets for her weekly blood tests.  On the 24th of December we got news from the vet that her platelets were at 38,000. Normal is 150,000 and risk of bleed out is in the high 20,000’s.  We cut the prednisone and did another blood test on the 26th which showed her platelets going back up.  Kris and I took off driving for Oregon the 27th.  It took us 4 days to drive the van with Kota and Tasha out.  We arrived on the 30th.

When we arrived, Shadow greeted us at the door, but Pepper was in the bedroom on the bed. When I walked in there and looked at her, I knew her days were numbered. She was breathing heavy and was so skinny.  So very skinny.  Her ribcage stuck out, her spine was easily visible and her hips could be easily felt.  Her breath was also raspy, which Kris said was a new symptom.

We went to bed that night with her between us on the bed and for over an hour, she lay panting between us, her breath heavy and raspy. We put her on the floor where it was a little cooler and she seemed to breath better.  Kris called the e-vet and there was nothing they could do.  She hadn’t eaten the dinner that our friends had fixed for her.

The next morning, Kris and I talked about our options.  We both felt that, even though it was a hard decision, it was time to let her go.  Her breathing was labored and she was quite weak. She could walk on her own, but was unstable.  She was only interested in the most appetizing foods, like my eggs for example.  Eating, drinking and walking around resulted in heavy panting.  Each breath was shallow and hard on her.

Kris made the appointment and we spent most of the day with her. Petting her, feeding her foods that she loved but would have never had otherwise.  When it was time, Kris carried her to the car and put her in my lap. From there we went to McDonald’s and got her a cheeseburger. She liked all but the ketchup and pickles.  🙂

She got to lay on an air bed at the vets while she went to sleep.  Kris and I on either side of her.  Her breathing got so much better and I knew we were doing the right thing, but oh it was so hard.  So very hard.  I hugged her tight afterwards because I was afraid of making her breathing worse had I done it before.  Leaving her there was the hardest part of all for me.

Pepper was a great dog.  She was friendly to everyone and every dog she met.  She was more interested in laying on couches and eating food, then in being petted or going for hikes.

I like to think that she is at the Rainbow Bridge with Niko and Maggie and that as Kris said, there are no slick floors.  No toenail cutting and no walks or hikes. Just comfy couches and plenty of food with the occasional tug game.  And if she so desires, some agility.

Run free and breath easy girl. You will be greatly missed.