Monday May 25: We are up early to finish packing, as today we are leaving the Pit River Campground in northeastern California on our journey back to Idaho. We have a quick breakfast of yogurt topped with applesauce, and as we are getting ready to go, we hear the couple, who came in late yesterday, shouting at each other and babies crying. Someone calls the sheriff. How sad that people live in such unhappiness; it is very unsettling to me. Not a good way to end such a lovely peaceful stay as we have had here.
We are soon on our way, heading north on highway 299, with beautiful cumulus clouds billowing above us. Past Fall River Mills the valley opens up; lots of ponderosa and some ranch land, then back into sage brush land.
When we arrive at Goose Lake, which straddles the California-Oregon border and appears on the map to be a body of water stretching for 20 miles, there is virtually no lake left. The drought has made it impossible for this lake to be replenished. Dry steep barren hills and sagebrush dominate the landscape along with the mud flat that was once a lake bottom.
We had planned to spend the night at Goose Lake State Park, but it is still early afternoon and seeing the condition of the area, we decide to push on. It is a bit of a long haul to our next destination, but Clifford is up for it. The road, although narrow, is straight and flat with not much traffic, so we make good time. Leaving Lakeview, the town north of Goose Lake where we stop for gas, the landscape reminds me of the country south of Lamy, New Mexico, where we used to live: rugged with sage, juniper, and small pines.
Arthur Lake, which on the map is much smaller than Goose Lake, is a sizable body of water set in a most barren landscape of flat land to the west and rock-strewn mesas along the highway to the east of us.
Once past Arthur Lake, the mesas open up to miles and miles of sagebrush, nothing but sagebrush.
We are happy to finally arrive at the town of Riley, where we turn at the junction toward the BLM Chickahominy Campground just a few miles to the west.
We drive through the campground, grateful to be here, looking for a site out the wind. We end up picking a site, designated by nothing more than a rugged plank picnic table, alongside the reservoir. It is windy everywhere, so we might as well go for pretty. The landscape here has its own unique beauty with a mix of black lava rock, obsidian, and sagebrush. The reservoir is lower than normal, but it still has water and here we have the best views. Later the wind dies down and it is quite pleasant. Even though we are doing a modified set-up, the tub of pots and pans is accessible and I cook a real meal to nourish our weary bodies.
Before heading to bed, I take photos of the lovely sunset colors reflecting off the water and write in my journal. Clifford, worn out from the day’s driving, is in bed before I am, which doesn’t happen very often. Looking out at the reflections on the water, I am glad for the stillness at the close of this day.
Thursday April 23: We have breakfast with Lori on this overcast morning before we pack the Blazer. Although stuff is still not organized, it is packed neatly and fits just fine. We say our good-byes and then head west and south to Ashland where Clifford will be giving another talk tomorrow night.
It is raining as we drive west on the north side of Crater Lake National Park. The trees on either side of the highway stand tall and straight, obscuring the view to the sides,
We consider driving up to Crater Lake since we are so close, but the gate to the park is closed and we can see snow on the road that would be taken. Well, maybe on the trip home…..
After turning south along the west side of the park, we stop at Union Creek, a small village with a history and a cafe that is recommended. Indeed, they serve a good lunch here.In the continuing rain, I take photos of the creek that passes under the highway near the cafe.
The landscape changes as we drive; we are seeing more oaks, but the forests are still so dense that one cannot see what lies beyond. Drawing closer to Ashland, oaks predominate the landscape as open rolling hillsides come into view.
The group that is sponsoring Clifford’s talk has reserved a room for us at Lithia Springs, a resort on the edge of town. The grounds are lovely: lawns, a great variety of trees, many in bloom, and flowers all all sorts add grace to the well-kept buildings.
The room is designed for folks who are going to lounge around the pool and hang out in the spa, not for us with our laptops, books, and journals. The white rugs and coverlets make me nervous, but we adjust things a bit and soon we are set up to study, write, and use the internet for our projects. Dinner is whatever we can scrounge out of the cooler, as we don’t feel like going out to eat and there is no pizza delivery that we can find in Ashland.
Friday April 24: Something I’ve learned about staying in a resort is that the beds are really really comfortable. I’ve never slept in such a comfortable bed in my life. We partake of an excellent buffet breakfast that comes with the room and then I wander around a bit taking photos of the flowers.
Back in the room, Clifford studies and I work on a blog and edit photos until our ride, Laura, comes to take us to lunch. Several members of the activist group have gathered for lunch so they can meet Clifford ahead of time. We have a most delicious mushroom/avocado soup as we talk about the environmental concerns that we all share. We will see these people later this evening, but it is nice to have a chance to meet them on a more informal basis.
We only have a couple of hours before it is time for us to walk down the road to the meeting place at nearby Jackson Wellsprings. We walk to the community center and the chairs continue to fill as computer and recording equipment are set up for the talk. The talk is well-received, except by a couple of people who want all the answers now, having no idea it has taken 17 years of study and research to get to arrive at the present moment. The answer is not at a click of a button and in the swallowing of a pill. Clifford’s talk is an account of what he has been able to do on his own to this point, with an appeal for others to become involved, either with their skills or their pocketbooks.
After the presentation many people stay to talk to Clifford until the few remaining offer to take us out to a very late dinner at a sushi place. Sharing of information and ideas continues until quite late.
Saturday April 25: We sleep in a bit and then head down to another delicious buffet breakfast before we begin packing. Although we had intended to head to our next campground today, Clifford has decided to stay another day in Ashland for further discussion with a man who has shown a particular interest in the work. As we cannot stay at the resort, we move next door to Jackson Wellsprings, as supposedly there is a camping area there. We do a modified set up in the parking lot, as they do not even have a space for the Pony.
We will not be using any of their spa facilities as we merely need a place to sleep, but we have to pay an exorbitant fee to camp here. The bathrooms are so musty smelling that I hold my breath when I go in and will not even take a shower there. We went from posh to rundown hippie-ville in less than a quarter of a mile. Such is life.
We spend the day with Rob, moving from one venue to another, sometimes running into other members of the activist group that we met yesterday. Sometimes I participate in the conversation, but for the most part, I write blogs and edit photos. Hopefully something helpful will come of the time spent with this interesting man. It is quite late by time we get back to Jackson Wellsprings. I am looking forward to heading back to the forests tomorrow.
Packing takes a good three hours since we have become so settled in after being here for two weeks. Odds and ends of loose stuff go in bags; everything is packed neatly so it will all fit, but things are becoming harder to find. The next time we set up, a complete reorganization will be necessary.
Once we are finally packed, we head to the little town of Sunriver, a few miles down the highway. After a tasty lunch at the Village Bar and Grill, we find out way to Lori’s place, a sanctuary overlooking the Deschutes River.
Lori is an artist and her paintings and sculptures grace every room of her home. Some of her work reminds me of Leaning Tree cards, and indeed, as we later learn, she is one of the Leaning Tree artists.
We warm ourselves at her wood stove and then sit in the sunshine on the deck overlooking the river as we chat about the environmental issues that affect all of us; Lori speaks from the perspective of an activist and Clifford from the perspective of a researcher. It is as though we are all words on the same page, each of us contributing to the story being told – hopefully the story of a return to wholeness for the planet and all life on it.
Later, after dinner and more sharing, we listen to the frogs (or toads) as they “rivet rivet rivet” through the night.
Wednesday April 22: In the morning I admire the lovely light that warms the trees and the meadows along the river bank, but taking photos through the screen does not work, so this picture is only in my mind. I accompany Lori down to the bank where she feeds the ducks, some domestic and a pair of mallards.
After breakfast, Clifford has a radio interview with a local station and then we take some time to catch up with email before heading out for the afternoon. Lori is taking us sight-seeing on our way to the place where Clifford will be giving a talk this evening. We go to the headwaters of Fall River, a place where a spring is the birthplace of a creek that soon becomes a river that flows into the Deschutes.
Friends of Lori’s are hosting Clifford’s talk in their lovely home, also along the Deschutes River. From their back yard I am delighted to find a view of Mount Bachelor, which has been elusive. I have had only the briefest glimpses of it, even though it is one of the most outstanding peaks in the area, the view always being blocked by trees or the contours of the land.
It is late by time we return to Lori’s place and we soon retire to our rooms. Tomorrow we will head to Ashland for the next talk, but tonight the “rivet rivet rivet” of the frogs keeps us company, reminding us in their own way of the importance of restoring a healthy environment to the planet.
Friday April 17: Even though it will be sunny soon, I decide to have a campfire this morning. Once the organic French press coffee is ready, I sit by the fire to write in my journal. Journal writing is very interrupted most days: tending fire, moving from smoke to non-smoke (breezes are variable here), shade to sun, Clifford coming out to tell me something, taking photos, using the restroom, and so on. But finally I am caught up.
I sit enjoying the peacefulness of the moment – a raven (or maybe it’s a crow) flies by and I can hear a robin chirping his morning song. Life is good.
Today we drive up the road to the Newberry Monument. We know the gate to the caldera is closed, but we plan to hike the rim trail to a falls that I can see on the map. However, once we get to the parking lot, we see a sign indicating that we need a permit to park there. So, on back down the road we go, back to camp. Hiking to Paulina Falls will have to happen some other day.
In the late afternoon we move our chairs right next to the creek bank so as to enjoy both the creek and the last rays of sunlight.
Clifford continues to study and I read more of the 1983-1984 journal. We sip our hot tea as we squeeze the most delight out of the day that we possibly can.
Saturday April 18: It is very hazy this morning and I wonder if it is from forest fires since it is dryer and warmer here than normal. We later hear that the haze is from fires in Siberia. SIBERIA! At the nearby RV place which sports a little cafe, we have breakfast with Lori, the woman who has organized Clifford’s talk in Bend. Since she has grandkids, she is not as young as her voice and her looks would indicate. We will be staying at her place along the Deschutes River for a couple of days once we leave our campground. Lori is a soft-spoken activist on behalf of the natural world. We look forward to getting to know her better. We make a trip to Bend for errands and groceries, so no photos today.
Sunday April 19: Still hazy this morning and cool enough that a campfire feels good. I take photos with the cell phone so I can send photos and brief messages to family and friends. After breakfast, I reorganize the kitchen/storage area using the new stackable drawers that we bought yesterday. They are light-weight and will make better use of our vertical space when we are camped.
Monday April 20: Today, after a trip to La Pine for mail (which has not yet arrived) and the laundromat, we again drive to the parking lot at the gate to the Newberry Monument, having been told that as of the 15th of April we don’t need the permit to park there. We find a trail called the Rim Trail and it shows the mileage to the falls to be further than anticipated based on the road map that I’m looking at. However, we decide to give it a try and head on up the trail into a forest of ponderosa pine, spruce, and oak trees.
The Rim Trail where we are hiking is the trail to the actual rim where one can look down at the lakes within the caldera. We admire the trees as we hike, stepping over downfall that has not been cleared off the trail. Here and there we cross small patches of snow, a reminder of the winter that almost happened in central Oregon. Oregon has also been suffering from the west coast drought, even though it hasn’t made as much headline news as the drought in California. Although we have heard the sounds of a lively cascading stream coming from the ravine a ways off the trail, we have not seen the falls that prompted the hike. Given the time of day, we can only hike 20 more minutes before turning around. Just as we are about to head back, we see what looks like a sign ahead of us. We decide to go on that much further and to our delight, the sign points to Paulina Falls, a magnificent double waterfall, with possibly a 100-foot drop, before the creek races and tumbles on down the deep gorge.
We take numerous photos, even though the sunlight is too bright, and relax a few minutes before hiking back down to the parking lot and driving the winding road back to camp. What a great outing to end our stay at Paulina Creek, as we will be leaving tomorrow. I have loved being here and am sad to leave this spot, but I know we have good views to look forward to.
Wednesday April 15: It is a chilly 18 degrees this morning, but by time I get up, it is already sunny in camp so I don’t bother with a campfire. I was going to sit in the sun and write in my journal, but instead I walk along the creek bank taking photos of ice-coated blades of grass. It is really a delight to walk about, warmed by the sun with the blue sky overhead.
Today I start reading the journal started in 1983. Part of this journal, beginning in 1984, I had written out and emailed to Dan in 2008 to give him a sense of the family that he was going to be born into in the fall of 1984. Unfortunately, he became angry with what he saw as my selfishness when I mentioned being depressed, overwhelmed with raising a family and taking care of a farm with little support. It is too bad that the connection I was hoping to establish with him didn’t happen, but at least this journal is not as pathetic as the 1979 journal that I read last fall. In spite of difficulties, I continued to be involved with music and other creative activities as well as spending time with friends. What is missing is more of the good and fun stuff that my kids were doing; luckily photos from that time period are reminders of that side of my stressed-out life. And I don’t often mention being happy, which is a sad commentary on my life back then.
In the evening I write a blog about our stay in Deschutes Oregon State Park and get the text uploaded to WordPress, but the internet connection is not strong enough to allow photos to be uploaded – so I will leave it for another day.
Thursday April 16: Even though the morning starts out chilly, it gets up to 63 degrees under a beautiful blue sky. Good morning for a shower, which means heating a pan of water and then finding a private spot in the forest to dump some of the hot water over one’s body, suds up, and then rinse off. It works fine as long as it is warm enough outside and private enough. Still a little brisk when we do showers this morning, but sure feels good.
Our hot spots are flukey today. Mine doesn’t work well even though Clifford has called the company to reset it; his goes dead but won’t charge with USB, which is what we have using the solar panels. “Go with the Flow” is important to keep in mind; so what if I can’t get on WordPress, so what if I can’t do the CI email…..
We decide to go for a drive back to McGregor Viewpoint so I can take photos on this blue-sky day. I’m concerned that in the previous photos the snow on the caldera will not distinct enough due to the clouds that afternoon.
Becka calls while we are there and I tell her about the old journal written when she was one to two years old. Interesting to hear her recount some good memories of her childhood.
In the evening I download the photos taken over the last several days and look at them while we have our CI staff call. Then I do a little more editing, but the internet is still too intermittent to upload any photos, so once again I’ll “go with the flow” and leave it for another day, being grateful for having another view of the Newberry Caldera on this beautiful blue-sky day.
Thursday April 9: The air is crisp and the sky is a beautiful blue at McKay Crossing in central Oregon. I take photos of the morning sunlight on the trees tops overhead with the blue sky as their backdrop.
It would be nice to stay here all day, but today is a town day as Clifford has an important phone call to make in connection with Carnicom Institute. We head to Bend as soon as we can and after the phone call, we run our errands, including going to the RV place to see if we can get the stove repaired (we decide to replace it), Harbor Freight to get another solar panel which will make life on the road easier, and a few groceries. As we make our rounds, now and then I catch a glimpse of the peaks of the Cascade Range to the west. There are some beautiful mountains just waiting to have their photos taken, but it is hard to get a clear shot of them.
Back at camp we make an easy dinner of soup, cheese and crackers before heading to bed early.
Friday April 10: The crisp cool morning air smells great. I head downstream to take photos of the falls and the rapids before the sun hits the water, making it too contrasty for a good photo. I get as close to the edge as I safely can to take the photos. Although the falls are exciting and beautiful, I can’t help but think of the young man whose life ended here.
Much of the day my day centers around the cooking, cleaning, and organizing stuff to keep our tiny home from getting too cluttered. In the afternoon Clifford gathers wood for a late afternoon campfire; there is plenty of wood up on the hillside above our campsite. I love the solitude here, the campfire, the sounds of the creek flowing by our camp, stars at night and the warmth of the sun in the cool mornings. How different the world would be if everyone had the opportunity to experience this peacefulness in their lives.
Later I do some photo editing and cook chicken for dinner.
Saturday April 11: Another town day, as we are going in to pick up our new stove for the Pony, but there other errands (already) and the laundromat. Clifford bought me a hotspot so that I can check email for the institute when we are traveling, at least when I have a good cell phone connection. He talks to the woman on the other side of the world to get it working while I tend to the laundry. Back at camp I try the new hotspot, but I am not convinced that it is working. Even though we really like this place where we are camping, there are some disadvantages to being out in a forest miles from town when it comes to electronic communication, which we almost take for granted these days. However, as the sun gets low in the western sky and lights up the red-barked shrubs along the banks of Paulina Creek, all I can think of is how happy I am to be here.
Sunday April 12: It is a chilly 25 degrees when I get up this morning, but sunny, so it feels good to be out. I think about having a campfire, but the sunlight is warm and rather than tending a fire, I just walk about admiring the tall ponderosa trees that surround us. A trail behind the campsite heads up the hillside to a gently sloping forest where there is an abundance of downfall where I gather wood for an evening campfire.
Clifford gets the new stove put together and installed. It is so great to have two burners once again. It will certainly make cooking easier. I am able to get a couple of messages sent with my phone, but the hotspot and tablet are not allowing me to take care of the institute mail. This morning I drew new Sacred Geometry cards: one was Balance and another was Contact, which has something to do with “going with the flow.” The name of the card doesn’t make sense to me, but the advice does, so I don’t get too upset about the fact that I can’t access and take care of the email. It is what it is and I can’t change it at the moment.
In the evening we have another warm campfire to extend our outdoor time.
Today is Fin’s birthday. I send him a message; I hope he is happy and well. I so seldom hear from him; China seems very far away. I hope he also has the opportunity to be outdoors, to gaze up at tall trees, and warm himself by a campfire in the cool of the evening.
Tuesday April 7: Today we leave our civilized campground at the mouth of the Deschutes and head south toward its headwaters south of Bend, Oregon. Thanks to my research and phone calls ahead, I know of one campground that will be open this time of the year, McKay Crossing. Many roads and most campgrounds are still closed because normally at this time of year there would still be 2 to 3 feet of snow on the ground. Oregon has had an exceptionally mild and dry winter, not so good for the summer ahead, but the road to McKay Crossing is open and the campground is not gated.
South of Bend, we run into a snow flurry – hmmm. I am wondering how the road to the campground is going to be, since it is uphill. There is snow on the ground, and as the road climbs, we begin to consider where we might pull off to spend the night. Just then we spot a sign ahead and we are at the McKay Crossing. Clifford parks and we walk through the campground, which is spread out on both sides of Paulina Creek, and pick the campsite that we like the best, as no one else is crazy enough to be out in a snow flurry looking for a place to camp. The site we pick is spacious, overlooks the creek, and is away from other campsites.
It is already late afternoon, so we get the Pony (our pop-up) set up as quickly as possible and soon we have heat and hot water on for tea. I am excited that we have some snow – not enough to prevent us from being here, but enough for snowy photos of the creek and the trees. The Pony floor is still damp from yesterday’s tank overfill, but other than that LIFE IS GOOD!
We walk to the waterfall that is just a ways downstream from the camp. It is small compared to Palouse Falls, but quite impressive in its own way. A plaque on a tree commemorates the life of a young man who died here less than two years ago. We guess that he must have tried to jump into the pool at the base of the falls, a foolhardy action at best, and we are especially careful as we inch close enough to the chasm to take photos.
Our solar panel is set up even though today is not the best day to gather energy from the sun. I do a little Carnicom Institute email on Clifford’s tablet (which takes less power than my laptop), but the internet connection is iffy, so I only take care of the most pressing emails. Considering we are in a ponderosa forest miles from town, we consider ourselves fortunate to have any cell service or internet. Solar power is limited today, also, but we are lucky to have whatever is available. I write a blog about our stay at Palouse Falls and edit photos until the battery on my laptop goes dead. I feel a little frustrated about the limitations, but there are many other things to do that don’t involved cell phones or computers.
It is time for me to start switching gears – walkabouts taking photo and reading old journals are at the top of my list.
Learning to walk at a slower pace, to chew food slowly, to take one’s time at even the most mundane activities are of value in being present to one’s state of well-being. I am used to rushing through one activity so I can get on to the next, but here there is no need to rush to go anywhere or do anything other than what I am doing at the moment. It is okay to slow down; it is better than okay – it is right and good to slow down, to slow down and enjoy life.