Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Down the Oregon Coast

We took our time driving down the Oregon Coast.  The first three days gray matter enveloped us with mystery and melancholy.   Even so, we walked the naked beaches, climbed the icy rocks and explored this magical part of the country with no set itinerary to follow.

As we neared the California border, the clouds parted to reveal a glorious blue sky.  As the sun shone brighter and brighter,  so, too, did our obligations and responsibilities.  They had been hidden behind a wall of blessed rain.

  Given the chance, I would have turned back and re-entered the fog.

Friday, March 11, 2016

An Icy Trail to Tamanawas Falls

A fond farewell to Winter

As I trudged through the muddy icy trail to Tamanawas Falls this week, I realized that I had fallen head over heels in love with Oregon.  But I must qualify this:  Oregon in the Winter.  Perhaps it is the novelty of cold temps and snow.  Perhaps it is the strange and beautiful environment.   So different from Southern California.  All winter I have felt I was in some foreign exotic country.  And then it hit me.  Oregon is satisfying my wanderlust.
This beautiful trail is on the eastern slope of Mt. Hood.  Last summer we attempted it, but gave up.  There were way too many people!  Not this week.  We saw only six other hikers and a big furry dog during our four-mile trek.  And that is another reason I must qualify my affirmation.  Oregon is well-loved.  Especially in the summer.  But it's a whole different world in the summer.  A Grand Central Station of Nature Seekers.  Only Nature gets lost in the shuffle.

Wilderness needs to be observed in silence and isolation.  Otherwise, it's no longer wilderness.  It's a park.  Or a zoo.  This is the epiphany I had while walking across the wooden bridges over Cold Spring Creek.  Slipping and sliding up the canyon and through the snowy boulder field to the falls.  And loving every minute of it.

But to get that "high" I need to hit the trails in the winter.

And so I bid the wilderness of Oregon a fond farewell as I head back to California for awhile.  We have decided to move up here permanently so we need to tie up some loose ends.  We had to live through a winter first.  See if we could tolerate it.

Evidently, we did!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Romantic Timberline Lodge

It's no wonder this old lodge on the south slope of Mt. Hood in Oregon is a popular venue for weddings.  It must be one of the most romantic hotels on earth. Last Sunday as I bundled up in my ski parka and boots, I watched several young women in strapless gowns dashing through the snow.  If ever my travel buddy and I renew our vows, it's going to be here.
It's nice to know that after 38 years of marriage, we can still find romance in our lives.  But then again, how can you not with a winter wonderland outside and a roaring fire blazing within?  A gourmet dinner in the Cascade Dining Room.  Cognac in the Blue Ox Bar.  A soft bed with a fluffy duvet and a colorful Pendleton blanket.

Oh, yes.  

I love this old hotel.  I love the gremlins in the pipes.  I love the ghosts that walk the dark, narrow hallways.  I love the St. Bernard puppy, the wooden stairs, the artwork, the massive fireplace and cupboards filled with old books.

Timberline was built in 1937 and is now a National Historic Landmark.  Of course, its 6,000 ft. location with the soaring peak of Mt. Hood behind it, makes it breathtakingly beautiful, as well.

The next morning after a big buffet breakfast, my husband went skiing in the blizzard.  I stayed by the fire with a good book.

  And we both couldn't have had a more glorious day.

Although with white-out conditions at the lodge, we never really saw the mountain in its entirety until our drive home.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Roundabout Art

Art in Public Places

I applaud those planners and engineers and art council members who sit behind desks in those nether regions of city hall and try to come up with both an aesthetic and practical solution to runaway traffic.  In Bend, Oregon, they did just that and came up with Roundabouts.  Roundabouts with art.  That should slow people down.  Or at least ease the flow of traffic, right?


But I give them an A+ for trying.  They even came up with a clever public relations campaign, printing up a map of all 21 roundabouts to get people to "take a spin".  I picked up a Quiz, intending to answer all the questions and claim my prize at the Visit Bend Center.  I gave up after the ninth or tenth go around . .. and around . . .and around.  I got too dizzy.

Frankly, I should get a reward for finding a parking space for the first three and standing there patiently for traffic to clear.  That I took pictures of the art without cars is a feat of  dare devilry and determination.  For the rest of them, I stayed in the car while my travel buddy "spun" around and I snapped away.  Got his magnificent profile in the process.

Still . . .I can't help but wonder:  What was the prize?

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Shopping on Wall Street

in Bend, Oregon, that is 

My travel buddy is officially worried.  He had hoped Bend, Oregon, would be a place where he could drop me off for the day while skiing Mt. Bachelor.  After all, there are lots of boutiques, wine tasting rooms, restaurants and breweries in downtown Bend.  I'd be happy; he'd be happy.


It's not that I didn't enjoy the window shopping or the beer tasting at Deschutes Brewery; I did.  It's just that Bend itself gave me the creeps.  I had one too many Porsches and BMW's honk at me as I tootled along in my dusty old van.  I felt like I was back in Santa Barbara with all those yuppified millionaires.  But when I drove by a sparkling new gated community with ginormous houses, the creeps turned into bona fide disgust.  This was the middle of Oregon, for god's sake.  What was going on?
"It's the internet.  Everyone is setting up business in their homes," one shopkeeper said when I complained about the traffic and lack of parking.  "And they're moving up here from California.  Bringing their big cars and big egos with them."

I suddenly got quiet.

It was conspicuous consumption that drove us out of Santa Barbara in the first place.  We chose, however, a remote area of Oregon, not a city or a mid-sized town to put down new roots.  But even so, I felt guilty being part of this influx of undesirables.
When I met up with my travel buddy later in the day without one single shopping bag on my arm, he knew his plan had backfired.  "You know, it's okay to spend a little money.  You don't have to go cold turkey.  I know how much you love clothes."  The poor guy looked really worried.

I admit I looked longingly at Mimi's friends, but I didn't need anything new.  I have plenty of clothes.  What I need now is solitude--time to simply enjoy the things I have, time to read and write, time to reflect on where I've been and where I'm going.  Back in Santa Barbara there were days when I was so busy, I felt I couldn't breathe.

"And it's okay if you go on these ski trips without me," I assured him.  "Seriously, I don't mind being alone."

I'm so done with Wall Street.