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Updated 12:17pm - Sep 29, 2014

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From the publishers desk: And the winner was...

Michele Thomas

Last Saturday I invited you to come out to a fundraiser and bid on having dinner at my house. Thanks to the hundreds of people who came to the Smith River Community Hall to honor Jessy Nail and her family. Kimberly Floyd and her team did an incredible job of organizing a moving and successful event. I got goose bumps as we drove into downtown Smith River and saw all the cars and all the people. The hall was so full of spaghetti eaters that I could barely squeeze through to see all the auction items.

Apparently dinner at my house is worth a hundred bucks. I think that's just great. I am looking forward to having the winner over for dinner soon. Thank you, Jim, for your generous bid. I promise dinner will be worth it.

Soon after the fundraiser, Rick and I packed up the dogs and our bags and drove to Bend, Ore., for my company's annual publishers' meeting. We decided to take a scenic route. We went north to Bandon, Ore., then east on Hwy. 42 to Hwy. 138 in Roseburg, Ore. We followed the north bank of the Umpqua River all the way up to Hwy. 97. From there we headed up to Bend. The sky was blue and the sun was out. The leaves on the deciduous trees were gold and orange, and the evergreens were particularly bright after the rain from the weekend before. The Umpqua was bulging with white water. Anglers were perched all along the route and a few deer hunters were emerging from the forest. Near Diamond Lake, snow was clinging to the north side of the road.

We averaged more than 52 mpg in the Prius. I have no intention of using this column to endorse products, but I have to admit we do feel pretty smug about our recent purchase. With more than enough power to climb mountains and the smooth way the car handles curves, our cute red car with room for two dogs and our luggage convinced us we made a wise buying decision.

As we crossed over from the west side of Oregon to the center of the state, we pulled over to gaze at scenic vistas and admire fall colors while the news of the devastating fires in southern California inundated the air waves.

In Bend it was clear and sunny. The air was crisp and fresh. My meetings were interesting and the food was fabulous. One morning I sat in the hotel lobby drinking a cup of coffee and watched southern California burn. I felt helpless. I thought about last weekend's fundraiser in Smith River and how the residents of Del Norte County came together and rallied to support their own. I wonder if that same spirit of community will bring comfort to our homeless neighbors to the south.

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