Oma Sue's Blog
Hi – I’m Sue Reyzlik. I recently realized my life-long dream of building a writing hut in the backyard. The writing hut serves as a creative space and home office for Oma Publishing. This blog will be intermingled with family history, varied experiences and insights on being a Grandma (Oma), creating my special backyard space, as well as, my “retirement” career as a self-publisher of children’s stories. And perhaps a little bit on the 32 years I served as Executive Director for Keep Fremont Beautiful and the wonderful people who are sharing this adventure.
This past week, Rai and I joined Sara and her family for a couple days at Mahoney State Park near Ashland. That was a nice little break from normal… Normal this past year has been staying home and not doing anything.
The pandemic curtailed our plans of a family vacation to Disneyland, in the Fall of 2020. That made us all sad because we had never planned anything so ambitious as a group! That trip was going to be monumental – it was going to be something the grandkids would remember all their lives. I was looking forward to the adventure and was extremely disappointed when COVID stomped on our tails.
But now slowly, we are emerging from our housebound state. Rai and I have visited Sara and Colby at their campsites in Fremont and other nearby locations but this was a first! An actual stay at a hotel for Rai and I… a chance to really join in the fun activities offered at this wonderful park… a mini, tiny, little staycation within an hour of home.
Sara and her family stayed in the camper. The boys went fishing and even took Rai along to hone her skills – she caught a couple of somethings… she wasn’t sure what they were. Sara, Gracyn, Rai and I went to the Observation Tower and climbed to the top. Poor Sara had to carry Gracyn – it’s always good to get those extra steps on your fitbit but those were some pretty hard steps for Sara carrying the equivalent of a few extra bags of sugar, flour, potatoes and kitty litter.
It was nice to take a rest at the top and look at the view. I got some good pictures while we caught our breath at the top… The sun setting made an interesting background for the photos - it was weird… I think the fires out west clouded the atmosphere – blocking out the sun.
As I stood looking down at the tree line, I saw a large bird walking ever so slowly toward the trees… followed by a smaller but carbon copy of the first bird – a baby whatever they were. Maybe a turkey – but the neck was so long – the adult looked way to large to be a turkey – but what do I know. I saw a big bird and a smaller bird walking into the forest… cool.
The good news – Gracyn was able to walk down the steps which made it an easier descent for her mom. We all enjoyed the view as we made our way down the observation tower steps. As we drove back to the campsite Sara commented that she should have made a Scavenger Hunt list. I told her that was OK – we could just write down all the interesting things we saw – Rai called it a “Hunt Scavenger List” – we would do it backwards. Just then Sara screamed… look there - a deer and babies. She slowed the car so we all could get a view.
A Mama Deer and two babies raised their heads and looked at us from across the grassy meadow… as if to ask – “what?” (I know, I need to work on what their response may have been) The three deer remained still for a moment and I attempted to get a picture for our Hunt Scavenger List… it was blurry at best and the Mama Deer was getting concerned at our lingering presence. She must have said something to the fawns (again - not sure what) and they hightailed it to the fence line. She waited to make sure no one was following and then joined them further up the hill.
Sara was delighted to spot the deer and more delighted to see the trio hoppity hop off into the distance… She sang something like “and there they go – bouncey bounce bounce, bouncey bounce bounce, bouncing away…” we all laughed and began mocking and repeating her goofy little song – it’s funny how some random saying will tickle all our hearts.
So, for the next couple of days, we kept an eye out for anything we thought warranted a place on the list. We saw lots of Bumblebees and wasps. The mama deer and two babies were a biggie! As was the rollie pollie skunk that scampered across the road on our return to the lodge for the night.
Mac was being a bit sarcastic as he swatted at yet another fly – he added “fly” to the list. Sam, Mac and Rai added a muskrat, a bluegill and two turtles to the list which they spied while on their fishing expedition. I wasn’t sure what that bird was that I saw entering the forest but for the sake of the “list” we called it a mama turkey and baby turkey!
Sara was the first to shout out “A gaggle of geese”. Which sort of frightened all of us in the car. Rai asked “where”. Sara responded “There – right there”… and there they were just bippity bopping along the side of the road…
Gracyn saw lots of Daddy Long Legs – those spiders, in her estimation, are disgusting. We all pretty much agreed. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a disgusting category on the Hunt Scavenger List. Maybe next time.
We did see a waterfall – although it was manmade and located in the conservatory… we counted it anyway. And there were beautiful big blue fish swimming around the also manmade pond.
Flags were present in all their glory – waving at various locations within the park and throughout the country side! Mac acted like it was a big deal to note that he saw a pine tree – we humored him and added it to the list. At lunch in the lodge, he also noted that he saw a bird feeder… OK – fine – we put that on the list too.
Footprints. We found some footprints. Humans, raccoons, deer and perhaps that mystery big bird… could it be that mama turkey and baby? We added those to the list.
Not a lot of big butterflies but some small ones were spotted and quite a few different types of dragon flies were noted as we were playing putt putt golf. I’m pretty sure I saw a bald eagle when I was sitting on the little balcony off our room. I could see the eagle gently gliding along the tree tops off into the distance. As the bird drifted closer, I saw that the wingspan was large and growing larger as he flew directly overhead… that had to be a bald eagle… bald eagle is going on the list.
Still sitting on the balcony, a quick movement on the ground caught my attention. It was a rabbit. The first rabbit I had seen in two days. It was a large rabbit – a survivor who only ventured out from cover after the danger from the eagle-eyed hunter had passed.
And finally, the last interesting “thing” to make the list happened when Sara and Gracyn were returning to the camper after having taken showers at the camp facilities. They were using Sara’s phone flashlight to guide the way and happened to catch sight of “Ricki Raccoon” as he was going through the garbage for a late-night snack. It wasn’t a long encounter. Ricki exited the garbage can almost immediately – bippity bop, and ran off into the trees – what a wonderful and yet oh so brief moment. Ricki was the last entry on our list. No frogs... not sure what happened to the frogs but no one reported seeing any frogs...
There is so much to see and do at Mahoney State Park – Rai and I both decided that we need more time at the park to do all the things we want to do. Rai still wants to zip line and ride a horse. I think that would be great – especially if I didn’t have to do it! If Sam and Mac could go with her – then that would be wonderful.
We did make it to the waterpark for one afternoon. Sara is a big kid at heart… she went down the slides and enjoyed the waves with Gracyn. I stood for a time in the waves and parked my butt at the zero-depth entry and enjoyed people watching until the boys returned and helped me up. Each taking an Oma hand and pulling me easily up to my feet – those strong guys are nice to have around.
Rai accidentally found an abandoned tube and convinced Sam to take her out into the waves. When I questioned her about the tube… she said she found it. I firmly told her not to take a tube – someone had rented the tube and she was stealing it. She was offended and held a grudge for a long time… then some people sitting right in front of us left for the day and thus abandoned several tubes – now it was OK to use one… she didn’t quite understand the logic. Next time we will rent our own tube!
After swimming, we were able to fit in a quick game of putt putt. The boys felt like we were taking too long so they played ahead. To be fair… we did take a while with each hole but it was fun to watch Missy G coax her pink golf ball along the course… counting became a thing of the past after the first hole… no one wants to keep count! Except when you almost make a hole in one… which Rai did. It was amazing… her purple golf ball sitting right on the rim of the hole… just that close. A little tap and she had that one done in two… that is an easy one to count and an easy one to remember.
Sara planned on fixing supper for us at the camper each night. The first night was bacon wrapped chicken and the second night was barbequed ribs. Eating with Chef Sara and head grill cook Colby was a delight… and smores around the campfire is always a big hit! We enjoyed playing UNO both nights after supper – at least most of us enjoyed playing UNO. Gracyn had a meltdown or ten and claimed we were being mean to her – following the rules can be hard!
Overall, it was a short but totally sweet little staycation – convenient and close to home – I would recommend the Mahoney State Park to anyone wanting an easy get away! Next time we have to visit the SAC museum and of course the Wildlife Safari… we have to make a list and I have to see a frog!