Saturday, July 22, 2017

Crater Lake Blues

Crater Lake is all about the blues, baby.  No matter what viewpoint you stop at as you drive around the rim road, the color blue is this national park's best feature.  A deep royal blue that is so rich it seems you are looking down on a vast bucket of paint.

We began our tour with a film at the park's visitor center which recounted the blast 7,000 years ago that collapsed an entire mountain, leaving a gaping caldera.  This volcanic crater over the millenniums filled with rainwater and melting snow, eventually becoming the deepest, purest lake in the United States.  A ranger tried to explain the reason for the deep blue color, but it was (I admit) a little over my head--something about absorbing the color spectrum and creating blue wavelengths.

The science is fascinating as always, but it is that blue, blue color that kept us in awe.  We ended up driving only half way around because the east road is still closed due to snow.  With average snowfall reaching 43 feet (!), this place is a winter wonderland.  We vowed to return in January with our snowshoes.

The harsh rugged landscape contrasts with the serenity of the blue water--evidence of the blast that occurred thousands of years ago.  What's left of Mount Mazama are jagged pinnacles and sloping cliffs.  That a cone-shaped mountain used to rise 12,000 feet into the air is another chill-inducing fact.

Crater Lake National Park is located in the south central part of Oregon and is a true gem in our National Park system.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Cherry Season

Heavy with cherries
Limbs droop to release their burden
Into my open palms

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Ashland 97520

Home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival

And more . . . .

Ashland Springs Hotel

Ashland, Oregon, is a great little town to explore.  Not only is it home to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival but filled with fun shops, art galleries, good restaurants and a beautiful botanical park.

We booked our tickets for Julius Caesar online.  There were so many plays to choose from, it was hard to pick one.  But we were not disappointed.  It was amazing!  The minimalism of the props, the modern day costumes and the choreographed battle scenes were tight, focused and so intense that we were literally shaking by the time the play was over.  Despite the bloody drama and heart wrenching death scenes, it made us fall in love with Shakespeare all over again.  We are determined to make this an annual outing.

After the play we had drinks at the lovely Martino's and then dinner at Thai Pepper.  The night before, we had a delicious salmon dinner at Harvey's.  I can recommend all these places.  And be sure to take a stroll through Lithia Park before or after a performance.  There were some exceptionally beautiful trees like the Japanese Maple and an inviting pond that held us captive for nearly an hour.

Ah . . . and the shopping.  It continues to be a Catch-22 for me.  I saw so many beautiful clothes and crazy art pieces I wanted to buy, but I can no longer do so.  Does this mean I should stay out of the stores?  Heck no.  I'm learning that window shopping can be just as enjoyable; that window shopping is part of the travel experience.  And if I see something I can't live without?  Snap a photo.

My travel buddy chides me that I never want to go back to the same place twice.  Well, not this time.  I intend to return to Ashland and the Shakespeare Festival every summer for the rest of my life.

See you next year!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Dorena Lake Covered Bridge Tour

I tell you, the road around Dorena Lake near Cottage Grove, Oregon, is straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting.  Lately, I've been in need of a good old-fashioned slice of apple pie and I found it here. For one glorious hour, I left 2017 behind.  I entered a bucolic world where kids still spend their summer days in swimming holes, where teenagers experience the rapture of furtive kisses under a covered bridge and where old men fish by the river's edge, not caring one iota whether something bites or not.

Currin Bridge

My tour began with this bridge on the north shore of the lake.  It was built in 1925 and has white portals and barn-red sides.  It spans the Row River.

Dorena Bridge

This beautiful bridge on the far end of Dorena Lake was my favorite.  I loved the louvered windows and the kids swimming beneath it.  I wanted to jump in myself.

Stewart Bridge

On the south shore of the lake sits Stewart Bridge which is only 60 feet long and spans the Mosby Creek.  It was built in 1930 and beginning to show some wear and tear.  Even so . . .it is so pretty and quaint that it made me wonder if I had stumbled across a movie set.

 Mosby Creek Bridge
This bridge is the oldest.  Built in 1920 and 90 feet long, you can still drive through it and that's exactly what we did.  Six times!


Besides the covered bridges, Dorena Lake is surrounded by wildflowers.  I tried hard to stretch my hour into two, but my travel buddy was getting impatient.  We had people to see and places to go.  So back on busy Interstate 5 we went.  Back into 2017 where time does not stand still but whizzes by with the ferocity of a tempest.

But you know what?  That night at a restaurant in Ashland,  I had my slice of apple pie.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Horsethief Lake Petroglyphs

I'm not sure which I liked better--the petroglyphs themselves or the rescue story behind them.

Seeing the artistic work of our ancient ancestors always gives me that warm and fuzzy feeling.  It sounds corny, I know, but it makes me proud to be a part of the human race.  We humans create.  That's what we do.  It's part of our DNA from earliest man to modern man.  Whether it's carving animals into stone or composing pictures for a blog, that urge to create is so strong that it shapes our psyche.
 But wait . . .  there's more.  A second layer of warm and fuzzy here.  When the Dalles Dam was constructed back in the 1950's across the Columbia River, it formed a reservoir with rising water. Much of the rocky shoreline, including a narrow canyon filled with thousands of these rock drawings, was submerged.  The construction workers rescued many of the petroglyphs (but not all of them) and stored them at the dam site.  The local tribes were thankful for this, but also upset.  That such sacred stones were lying helter-skelter around an ugly construction site seemed inappropriate and disrespectful.

In 2004 they were moved to Columbia Hills Historical State Park and set in a natural setting, close to their original home.  This outside art gallery can be found on the shores of Horsethief Lake in Washington.  There is a paved, wheelchair-accessible trail that allows easy viewing of these incredible stones.  The pictures depict many animals such as deer and owls and the men who hunted them.  There are more sacred stones beyond the closed gate that can only be seen on a ranger-led reserved tour. (Note to self:  Sign up for one!)

But the ones I saw were pretty darn incredible.  So thankful they were rescued.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Monumental Horsethief Butte

This basalt rock formation can be found on the Washington side of the Columbia River, opposite The Dalles and a little east, on Highway 14.  Although it is a popular spot for rock climbers to hone their skills, for us non-climbers, there is a 2 mile loop that takes you around and through the rocks.  I beat the heat this past week and drove over there for an early morning hike.
 Seeing snow-capped Mt. Hood in the distance seemed surreal when the temperature was already nearing 80.   Even so, the breezes that are carried down the Gorge, kept me cool as I walked around this amazing structure.  I say "structure" because Horsethief Butte was created 15,000 years ago by a catastrophic Ice Age Flood.  A 1,000 foot wall of water and ice came roaring down from Canada, scraping, splitting and carving the basalt landscape into the cliffs, canyons and pinnacles that make up the Columbia River Gorge today.

There were warning signs for rattlesnakes, but I didn't see a single one.  I did see rock climbers, though.  This youngster was rappelling down an inside wall with ease and perfect form.

I, for one, was more interested in the lines and shapes and mosaic colors of the rocks.  Art created by Mother Nature just can't be improved upon no matter how hard we try.

The trail around the back of the formation is relatively easy, but if you want to go inside, you must climb up a steep talus and scree trail.  
So worth it!

At the trailhead, a sign proclaims Horsethief Butte to be "A living Monument of the Past, Present and Future."  It goes on to honor the countless generations of fishermen and traders who made the Columbia River their home.  But there is one fact and one fact alone that should give Horsethief Butte monumental status:  That this basalt rock, formed over a million years ago, miraculously survived the devastating Ice Age Floods and continues to provide recreation, awe and beauty to those of us living today.

  Now that's a Trail of Wonder.