Tag Archives: Woodland

Woodlanders among 430 riding to cure MS

by Pat Nelson

Reprinted with permission, The Daily News, Longview, WA August 1, 2008

Photo courtesy of Bill Dunlap
Pictured, left to right: Bill Dunlap, Bob Nelson, Claudia Yoder, Jeremy Wenzel, Scott Price, and Kristy Fitzjarrald-Deuchars

 

Woodlanders Bill and Barbara Dunlap and my husband Bob Nelson, along with Vancouver resident Claudia Yoder, manager of Big Deals in Woodland, were among 430 bike riders raising funds to fight multiple sclerosis July 19 and 20 in Sweet Home, Oregon.

Epic Imaging, the largest outpatient imaging facility in the Portland metro area, was lead sponsor for Bike MS 2008: Covering Bridges. Rides included a 10-mile family ride, or choices of 59, 76- or 100-mile rides on Saturday and 55 or 19 miles on Sunday.

Last February, when the days were dreary and Bob’s exercise had dwindled to changing the channel on the TV, Bill Dunlap called and asked if he would like to be a member of Epic’s team in a bike ride to be held in July. The idea of some fresh air and exercise sounded good to Bob, who had participated in a Livestrong ride in 2007. He recruited Yoder, who had previously participated in a Livestrong ride and Cycle Oregon.

The three started training in Woodland, and occasionally in Vancouver, while their other teammates trained in Oregon. Throughout his training, Bob kept changing bike seats, hoping to find one that felt as good as the couch he had left. In the end none could provide that same comfort, and he went back to the one he started with.

Early in their training, the Dunlaps reserved some of the few available motel rooms for the team. There was also camping at the high school, with showers and rest rooms available for use. Event wristbands got riders in to breakfast on Saturday and Sunday, dinner on Saturday, and a barbecue on Sunday.

The four team members arrived at Sweet Home on Friday, July 18, and met up with the rest of their teammates.  Bill had decided to ride 76 miles. My husband and Claudia Yoder chose the 59-mile ride. For Bob, that was about fifteen miles more than his longest ride in training. Barbara Dunlap chose the 10-mile family ride, but exceeded her own expectations and rode 20 miles.

Bob had worried about the weather, hoping the day wouldn’t be too hot. He was happy to start the ride on a comfortable, overcast morning. The ride started at Sankey Park near the historic Weddle Covered Bridge, and other covered bridges along the route provided pleasant scenery and relaxing rest stops. He was surprised by Sweet Home’s rolling, and sometimes steep, hills, which started appearing early in the ride.

Six and a half hours and one flat tire later, his legs spent but his spirits soaring, Bob completed the ride and gathered with his teammates. The original bike seat must have been a good choice, because he said his bottom didn’t feel too bad after riding sixty miles. Some of his teammates couldn’t say the same. I convinced him that he should take precautionary measures so that he could sit on the bike seat again the next day, so he treated each of his teammates to a bag of frozen peas to sit on to ease the pain.

The next morning, he chose the 19-mile ride, and ended the weekend proud to have been part of Epic Imaging’s journey to help defeat MS.

 

Visit Pat Nelson’s website at http://www.storystorm.wordpress.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Bike MS 2008:Covering Bridges, bike ride, Cycle Oregon, Epic Imaging, Livestrong, MS, multiple sclerosis, Sweet Home OR, The Daily News, Woodland

Skate park goes green

by Pat Nelson
Reprinted with permission, The Daily News, Longview, WA 5/23/2008

  A sign stating “Tree City USA” now sits near three newly planted flowering trees at the edge of the lawn stretching gently downhill from Woodland’s skateboard park. In late April, City of Woodland employees and volunteers laid sod to convert the area surrounding the skate park from a muddy mess into a lush lawn.

I’m not a stranger to laying sod, so I was curious when I saw the pallets of healthy grass being delivered to Horseshoe Lake Park. My husband and I installed sod in our front yard in 2005 because of its ease of installation and immediate results. We also liked the idea that it would be less susceptible to weed invasion than a seeded lawn. Those were all good, logical reasons, but the main reason I wanted to lay sod was that I had done it once before, and it was fun.

My first sod-laying experience was 15 years ago when my son, Steve, bought a home. It was a hot day, and I remember being busy with the hose, watering the pallets of sod so they wouldn’t dry out and keeping the already-laid sod and the bare soil moist. Looking at Steve’s brown yard, and then at the pallets of sod, I couldn’t have predicted the rewarding transformation that took place that day, into a dense, green, healthy lawn. As Steve and I carried the sections of turf and placed one tightly against another, a beautiful lawn quickly formed. We were filled with a sense of accomplishment and pride.

Don Schmitt, owner of Far West Turf Farm and Circle S Landscape Supplies, LTD., made the grassy slopes surrounding the skateboard park possible by donating 16,000 square feet of sod. Schmitt’s turf farm and nursery, formerly located on Old Lewis River Road, moved to its present location at 35306 NW Toenjer Rd. a little more than a year ago. The Circle S nursery also has a location in Fairview, OR. Schmitt’s grass is grown from perennial rye grass seed produced in the Willamette Valley. The Port of Woodland donated soil to prepare the area for landscaping. Before laying the sod, City of Woodland employees graded the area and then applied fertilizer and lime on top of the finished grade.

At the skateboard park this April, frequent spring showers took care of keeping the sod cool and damp during installation, and sprinklers have been keeping it moist since then. City employees and volunteers quickly learned that when laying sod, it helps to be able to touch your toes; the task requires repeated bending in order to place the five-square-foot sections of lawn on the soil. The sod is grown in meshed net for support and to aid in installation, and it is cut into sections before delivery. Installers start with the longest straight edge, and work towards irregular boundaries. They fit the pieces close together, without overlapping, staggering the sections like bricks.

One thing I like about working with sod is that it is forgiving. If you need to move a section, you simply pick it up and move it. If you need to create a better fit or round a corner, you cut it with a sharp knife, a garden spade, or shears. Rather than disposing of the scraps, you can keep them damp for possible use later in the installation. These scraps can mean the difference between finishing the project or ordering more sod.

Once sod is in place, it is usually rolled with a half-full water-weighted roller to provide good contact between the roots and the soil, and to eliminate air pockets. Conditions were too wet for using the roller, so workers placed plywood on the grass to keep the soil from being disturbed when walked on and to help the grass roots bond. Large boulders from Kalama were placed around the grassy area, separating it from the parking lot where fishermen gather at the northeast side of Horseshoe Lake.

City employees Scott Summers, Paul Trice, Mark Sarvela, Brent Shelton, Jason Sloan, and Mark Cook, along with volunteers Ken Huston and Blayden Wall, worked on the project. The sod is in place, but that doesn’t mean the job is over for city employees. In a few days, the lawn will be ready for mowing.

The new sod completely transformed the landscape around the skateboard park. Brown soil almost instantly became a lush green carpet of grass, As it turned out, this carpet was rolled out just in time as Woodlanders gathered next to the new lawn to celebrate receiving, for the very fist time, the title “Tree City USA” from the National Arbor Day Foundation.

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Filed under Horseshoe Lake, Kalama, National Arbor Day Foundation, sod, The Daily News, Tree City USA, turf farm, WA, Woodland

Save gas…find fun close to home

by Pat Nelson

Reprinted with permission, The Daily News, Longview, WA June 6, 2008

If you’re worried about this summer’s high gas prices putting the brakes on your vacation plans, try thinking closer to home.

We’re fortunate to live close to mountains, forests, lakes and beaches, as well as places to go birding or to explore caves.  A couple years ago, before we were facing gas prices in excess of $4 per gallon, I took my two grandchildren, Max and Chelsea, on a camping trip…only ten minutes from home. We packed up toys, sleeping bags, swimsuits and food and headed for the Echo Park campground, only a few minutes east of I-5 at Woodland, on Lewis River Road.  The trip was so short that the kids didn’t even have time to sing our favorite travel song, which goes like this: “I’m hungry, I’m thirsty, I have to go to the bathroom.”

The adventure started as soon as we registered at the camp store. The kids had fun choosing our campsite. After driving through the small, privately-owned campground a couple times, they agreed upon a spot away from the road, but not far from the restrooms and the heated swimming pool. As long as our vehicle was level, I didn’t care which site they chose. At the campsite, tall trees stood over us, and the aroma of the forest told us we were on vacation. The Lewis River flowed peacefully nearby. The site had water, electricity, and a picnic table, and the three of us agreed that it was perfect.

It was a hot day, and it didn’t take long for us to change into swimsuits and get into the refreshing swimming pool.  Max jumped in, over and over, and then dove for colored rings with some newfound friends. I heard myself saying, “No running,” “feet first,” and “be careful,” all the warnings a good grandma gives her grandchildren when they’re swimming.

At that time, Chelsea was just learning to swim, and as I gave her a push through the water towards the side of the pool and let her go, she paddled fiercely to the edge, emerging wide-eyed with wet hair slicked back against her head, droplets of water clinging to her long lashes, and a wide smile. The same scene was repeated over and over, until , hours later, the kids finally admitted to being tired and decided to play at the campsite.

Max is a picky eater, so my biggest concern about camping was feeding him. With a burn ban in effect, we couldn’t build a campfire to cook his favorite food, hot dogs. We were about to make sandwiches for dinner when my husband called from Woodland to say he was on his way with dinner from Burgerville…including Max’s other favorite food, chicken strips .

At night, we snuggled into our sleeping bags and told stories in the dark. The night was quiet, and we soon fell asleep in a forest that seemed like it was far, far from home.

Later that summer, we visited the park again, but just for the day. The campground allows visitors to pay a fee to swim when pool capacity allows, so Max and Chelsea invited friends to join us for swimming and picnicking.

We’re looking forward to camping there again this summer, so I stopped by recently and talked with Assistant Manager Diane Cretsinger, who told me, “The park has new owners. Now it’s the Lewis River Country Store and R. V. Park.” Diane proudly listed the features of the park: hot food available in the store, firewood for sale, heated swimming pool, fishing hole, bath house, dump station, and gas pumps.

If you want to save gas this year, try a vacation close to home. One more advantage is that when the trip is over, you won’t be faced with a long, tiring drive home.

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Filed under camping, fishing, grandchildren, The Daily News, travel, WA, Woodland

Anticipation building for Planters’ Days

by Pat Nelson

Reprinted with permission,”
The Daily News, Longview, WA June 20, 2008

To me, this photo of the partially-assembled carnival at Woodland’s Horseshoe Lake represents the word “anticipation.”

 Carnival workers anticipate a busy festival, smiling faces and lots of ticket sales this weekend during the Planters’ Days festival.

Many kids anticipate receiving a few extra bucks from their parents for ride tickets. Teens anticipate seeing their friends. The Planters’ Days Committee anticipates a great turnout for its annual celebration.

I anticipate the smiling faces of my grandchildren and friends who will be enjoying Planters’ Days 2008 with my husband and me. We’ll all be anticipating sunshine for the weekend’s events.

Like a little kid, I look forward to the arrival of the carnival each June. My heart was beating a little faster Monday morning when the first carnival trucks started pulling into Horseshoe Lake Park.

 On Monday, huge strawberries, part of a ride, sat on their trailer, but by Tuesday they had been assembled. By Thursday, after all of the rides had been inspected for safety, they twirled ‘round and ‘round, full of squealing children. On their trailer, they looked like a giant version of the crates of Woodland’s sweet local berries sold at roadside stands.

Carnival employees and managers parked their campers and fifth wheels close to Horseshoe Lake this year, where they could enjoy its beauty. A few swam, not deterred by a strong breeze and cloudy skies. By Wednesday afternoon, many rides had been partially assembled. The Super Loops ride, not yet connected at the top in the picture above, requires that an employee climb to the top to complete its assembly. Perhaps that duty is even more thrilling than the ride itself. I held my breath as I watched a worker descend from the top of the loop to the ground, using the loop as a ladder. It was probably more frightening to me than it was to him.

The Planters’ Days festivities began Thursday as kids paraded down Davidson Street in wagons, on bikes, and in costumes for the annual Kids’ Day Parade. The parade terminated at the carnival site. Opening-day excitement continued with the queen’s coronation. Then, at 10:00 p.m., people lined the banks of the lake and some watched from boats, as fireworks shot into the air, thundered and popped, and reflected off the lake in long, squiggly ribbons of color. For my family, the fireworks show was especially exciting because our granddaughters from Arizona, Lauren, 4, and Brooke, 9 months, had just arrived for a visit a few hours earlier.

Most people who attend the four-day event couldn’t  tell you why the community celebrates Planters’ Days. The celebration dates back to June 30, 1922, when local farmers celebrated the fact that the dike protecting their farmlands from flooding had held for a whole year.  Annual celebrations continued until 1943, when the celebration was discontinued until the end of World War II.  There have been more floods since that first celebration, but most years, the dikes keep the farmlands from flooding, and the celebration goes on.

Saturday, our Kelso grandchildren, Max and Chelsea, will be showing their Arizona cousin, Lauren, some of their favorite Planters’ Days activities: the frog jump, the penny scramble, the bed races, and the firemen’s muster. If the kids aren’t too tired, we’ll take in the Colgate Country Showdown, the Rose City Classics Cruise-In, and the street dance in the evening.

I always look forward to the car show on the Sunday of Planters’ Days weekend when as many as 400 classic cars line Davidson, Goerig, and Park Streets.  Many look like the same cars that cruised in front of my high school every day after school in the1960’s. When I look at those cars, I find myself saying, “I remember when….”

I’ll be watching a new event on  Sunday when the West Coast Outboard Racing Club holds its “Race Against Drugs” on Horseshoe Lake.  We’ll be watching these boats from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. as they race around the northern half the lake at speeds of 45 to 100 mph.

Anticipation. It’s half the fun. The other half is attending Woodland’s 2008 Planters’ Days celebration.

 

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Filed under carnival, celebrations, grandchildren, Horseshoe Lake, Planters' Days, Race Against Drugs, The Daily News, West Coast Outboard Racing Club, Woodland

Kids, birds will compete for Horseshoe Lake fish

Cormorants fish at Horseshoe Lake 

 

April 18, 2008

 

 

By Pat Nelson
For The Daily News, Longview, WA
Copyright
Reprinted with permission

In preparation for spring fishing at Woodland’s Horseshoe Lake, the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife planted more than 8800 rainbow trout and more than 6510 brown trout during the first eight days of April. Another 2,500-3,500 rainbows will be trucked to Horseshoe Lake for the fifth annual Moose Lodge kids’ fishing derby, to be held 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. The derby is for children ages 5 to 14.

Moose Lodge volunteers will place a large net in the lake to hold the fish that the hatchery delivers for the derby. Then, they will stand guard through the night to make sure no fish-loving banditos catch the trout before the kids have had their fun.

The cormorants flew in this month just after the first fish were planted. They must have followed the truck from the hatchery.  They eat their share of the newly-planted fish, but according to fishing derby chairman Fred Rotinski, they don’t seem to bother the fish that are in the net. The ospreys, on the other hand, see the fish in the net and dive right in.

Cormorants work together when they fish. Last Friday at dawn, I watched several of the black, web-footed birds pick off some tasty treats with their hooked beaks. First, they flew in low and then settled on the water. They seemed to be just floating along leisurely, with their bodies under water and their long, straight necks sticking straight up like periscopes. Suddenly they started diving. I looked out at a group of cormorants in front of me, only to blink my eyes and then to see no birds at all; they had disappeared under water. I continued to watch the spot where I had last seen them, but after about 30 seconds, they popped up in another spot, and then dove again.

Cormorants can dive from 8 to 20 feet, sometimes even more. Here, though, they don’t have to work that hard because the newly-planted fish swim close to the surface.

The cormorants weren’t the only fishermen out in the early morning. A heron swooped low on the lake, just above the cormorants, surveying the seafood buffet, and three ospreys flew high in the air, often flapping their wings quickly to stay in place, like a helicopoter in a holding pattern, before diving for fish..

Competing with the birds doesn’t deter Moose Lodge volunteers, who have held eight or nine planning meetings to get ready for the derby. They will arrive at the park Saturday morning with 50 rods and reels for the youngsters to use. The kids only have to bring the $2 entry fee.

Volunteers in aprons will have their pockets loaded with hooks and bait. Kids can have their picture taken with their catch, and can even have their fish cleaned. Thanks to donations from local citizens and merchants, bikes, fishing rods, and other prizes will be awarded.

The birds are doing their best to make a dent in the more than 18,000 fish planted in Horseshoe Lake  this month, but there should be plenty of fish left for the five hundred kids expected at the derby. Moose Lodge volunteers are excited about the event. “If you see some little kid catch his first fish, you’ll understand why we do this,” chairman Rotinski said.

Sidebar:

What: 5th annual Moose Lodge Kids’ Fishing Derby

When: Saturday April 19, 8 AM-2 PM

Where: Horseshoe Lake Park, just  west of the skateboard park

FOR: AGES 5-14

Cost: $2

DETAILS: Poles and bait provided; Food, fun, and prizes.

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Filed under birding, fishing, fishing derby, hatchery trout, heron, Horseshoe Lake, Moose Lodge, The Daily News, Uncategorized, WA, Woodland

Natasha the blue heron has the ultimate license to fish

Natashe the heron By Pat Nelson
For “The Daily News,” Longview, WA
Reprinted with permission

Wednesday morning, I looked out at Woodland’s Horseshoe Lake and realized that spring is almost here. There was Natasha, back from her winter’s journey south. She sat motionless on a metal railing, her yellow eyes scanning the chilly water for breakfast.

Natasha has always behaved differently from the other blue herons I’ve watched at Horseshoe Lake. She spends a lot of time around people, more out of laziness than love, I think… or maybe she’s just plain smart. She’s likely to claim a spot for herself right next to a fisherman’s chair over on the beach near the skate park, hoping for a handout. She was given her name by a Horseshoe Lake fisherman.

In past years, she tried to make a neighbor’s pond her fish market. The neighbor tried adding a gazing ball to the pond so that Natasha would be frightened by her reflection, but that didn’t stop the bird from having her pick of the pond. Next, the neighbor added a sprinkler system on a motion detector to scare Natasha away, but she soon learned that it took a minute or two for the sprinklers to reset, giving her time to fish.

After that, stronger measures were required. My friend spread a net over the entire pond. If you try this, keep the net a couple inches off  the water so that the hungry blue heron does not use it to stand on while poking its beak through the net to nab a fish.

As I watched Natasha Wednesday morning, something must have frightened her because she flew away with a low-pitched squawk, her head folded back onto her shoulders, with her long legs out behind her body. Her broad gray wings resembled leather stretched over a frame, flapping slowly and with great strength. Her 6’ wingspan was impressive. 

Herons use their sharp bills to grasp or spear their prey. With toes designed to navigate muddy lake bottoms, they wade as deep as two feet, moving slowly while watching for their next meal. They don’t land on the water, but rather stand and wait motionless, often at the edge of a pond or lake, not just watching for fish to swim by, but also looking for insects, rodents, frogs, and small birds.

Wednesday was a sunny day, and I decided that I, too, would stand on the dock and look at the lake. There, where Natasha had been earlier, I watched a two-foot steelhead lazily swim by, and then an even larger one. Both were covered with ugly white patches, but I don’t think such cosmetic flaws deter herons. Earlier in the day, Natasha had probably been watching those big fish, wondering if she dared eat one. Even though herons can swallow fish many times wider than their narrow necks, Natasha must have decided her eyes were bigger than her stomach.

She’s probably looking forward to April, when tasty fish pour out of a truck into the lake for the Moose Lodge fishing derby, fish just the right size to slide easily down her long throat.

When Natasha isn’t fishing, she’s protecting her territory. One day, I watched her as she stood on a small boat with a cabin, peering with her beady eyes into a Plexiglas window. Seeing another bird on the other side of the glass and wanting to protect her space, she began pecking at the glass, but every time she did, the other bird jutted its beak towards her. Whatever Natasha did, her reflection mirrored her actions, and she finally gave up and flew away. She’s pretty smart about fishing, but when it comes to defending herself against her own reflection, I think she’s just a bird brain.

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Filed under birding, blue heron, fishing, heron, Horseshoe Lake, The Daily News, WA, Woodland

Mother Nature gets a helping hand

Holland America Bulb FarmBy Pat Nelson
January 16, 2008
Reprinted with permission, South County News/The Daily News, Longview, WA

Rain-soaked rows stretch across the 125 acres of fertile farmland at the Holland America Bulb Farm at 1066 South Pekin Rd. in Woodland. It’s hard to image now, looking at the brown rows glistening in the sunlight after a morning shower, that in just 2 ½ months a wide rainbow of vibrant tulips will stand proudly above the soil, impressing thousands of visitors at the annual tulip festival.  

The town of Woodland will be decked out too, because the farm donates around 700 pots of stunning spring flowers to decorate the city. Four hundred of those will be the Woodland tulip, the hybridized variety that, thanks to the efforts of Holland America owner Benno Dobbe, was named for the town in 2005. The Woodland tulip is a cross between the deep pink Don Quichotte tulip and Prominence, a red variety.

To guarantee tulips for the festival, the Dobbes give mother nature a hand. According to warehouse manager Ernst Terhorst, bulbs are planted November through January and then are forced so that they will bloom at the desired time. “We create the climate to fool the bulb,” he said. “We put the bulbs in a cooling unit because they need winter. Depending on the type of bulb, they cool for four to eight weeks.”

Refrigerating bulbs persuades the tulips to flower earlier. “We adjust the temperature of the cooling rooms as needed,” said Terhorst. “With flowers, you can’t read out of a book. You have to have it in your fingers…you have to communicate with them.”

Terhorst, along with the Dobbe’s daughter Nicolette Wakefield, who operates the facility’s Royal Dutch Flower Gardens Gift Shop, took me on a tour of the operation. In one of many large coolers, I saw tall stacks of plastic bins filled with already-potted spring bulbs including tulips, daffodils, hyacinth, iris, and others. Some had sprouted, and I could see the tiny hair-like roots poking out the bottoms of pots.

According to Wakefield, “besides the bulbs grown to decorate the downtown, 5000 bulbs are being planted in pots for the Tulip Festival. Some will decorate the display garden and the rest are being grown to sell at the festival.”

Terhorst and Wakefield next showed me the potting area, where three employees pot the bulbs. One places peat moss in the bottom of the pot. The next plants the bulbs. A third adds sand, which is heavy and holds the bulbs in place, while providing good drainage.

The Holland America Bulb Farm sells cut flower from September through Mother’s Day. Both bulbs and cut flowers are sold nationwide.

The cut flower operation involves an assembly line to de-bulb and package the flowers. First, a machine cuts a small portion off the bottom of the bulb. That allows it to be crushed, releasing the portion of the stem that was inside the bulb, and leaving a longer flower stem. Ten stems are packaged in a bunch; then they are banded, sleeved in plastic, and placed in water before being boxed and shipped. The bulbs that are cut away are composted. According to Nicolette Wakefield, “Nothing is wasted.”

The farm employs thirty now, and will employ 150 in the spring.

I was shown a cooler where lily bulbs are frozen and stored for up to a year at a precise temperature. “The temperature can’t be off even a couple tenths of a degree,” said Terhorst. “The bulbs contain their own type of antifreeze to keep them from being damaged by freezing.”

During the April festival, Holland America owners Benno and Klazina Dobbe turn their front yard into a display garden, where visitors can stroll along the paths, admire the tulips, and mark their favorite varieties on an order form for October pick-up.

Today, it might look like nothing’s going on in the 125 acres of fields, but don’t be fooled. Beneath that rich soil, bulbs are getting ready to put on a spectacular April show.

  

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Filed under flower bulbs, gardening, plants, South County News, Woodland