Road Trip – One Night Stands-Part 2– May 2015

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Pony in modified set-up at Chickahominy Reservoir

Tuesday May 26: It is 43 degrees this morning, brisk, but comfortable as I walk about the Chickahominy BLM Campground in southeastern Oregon, taking photos before we pack up.

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Morning at Chickahominy Reservoir

I make tea for the road, along with hard-boiled eggs, cheese, crackers, and apples to eat as we go – a  traveling picnic. On the way out, I stop to chat with the camp host for a moment and to admire the rock collection at the host site. She points out a particularly rich vein of obsidian, like a sparking river running across the ground, and she encourages me help myself to some obsidian. I feel like a kid in a candy-store as I walk along the vein picking out just the right pieces to carry home.

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Buttes and mesas…

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More buttes and mesas

We backtrack a few miles to Riley and continue eastward on state highway 20, traveling through more sagebrush. The landscape changes near Burns with a broad valley and farmland being in contrast to most of what we have seen in this part of the country.This is followed by more rugged mesas and buttes, and farmland again as we near Payette, Idaho.

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Followed by farmland

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After Payette, heading north on state highway 95, the landscape features large treeless hills. We have a lively discussion about whether these are mountains or not. I say no: they are hills, mesas, or buttes – but they are not mountains in my book. Clifford disagrees, but maybe just to be poking fun at me.

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Surrounded by trees and shrubs

At Midvale, about 30 miles further north, snow- peaked mountains come into view with treeless hills in the foreground, reminding me of southeastern Montana. Another 50 miles or so brings us to our next campground, Evergreen. What a different landscape than yesterday’s home-for-the-night. Now we are surrounded by trees and shrubs of all sorts, with a lively creek flowing alongside the campground. We are the only people here, so have our pick of the sites. We decide on a pretty spot furthest from the highway and do a modified Pony (our pop-up tent trailer) set-up. I look around and find enough firewood to make a delightful campfire to go with our dinner: home-made soup for me, beans and hotdogs for Clifford. It is great to have some daylight left to relax before we go to bed.

Wednesday May 27: I didn’t sleep well and wake up with my head screaming, possibly from propane leaking as the bottles were changed on the lantern last night. Ugh. I make mint tea from sprigs of mint I keep in a vase of water and as I move about packing up, I begin to feel better. We take our time getting packed this morning, preparing tea and another traveling picnic to eat as we drive.

Our next destination is Lee Creek along highway 12, but I don’t know if it is in Montana or Idaho. We stop at the ranger station in New Meadows, a thriving small town just north of Evergreen Campground, and learn that Lee Creek Campground is on the Montana side of Lolo Pass.

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Salmon River near Riggens, Idaho

As we travel north, the valley narrows and rugged barren mountains dominate the landscape. We see a great number of vehicles parked by the highway as we approach Riggens, where the Little Salmon and the Big Salmon Rivers join forces to become the powerful Salmon River. Stopping for gas, we find out that hundreds of fishermen are here for the salmon run. Vehicles line the sides of the road and RV’s fill every pull-out for miles past the little town.

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Looking ahead – a long steady climb

Beyond Riggens, before Grangeville where we will head east to Montana, is a long long long climb – part of the Hells Canyon Recreation Area. Go Chevy Blazer Go!!!

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Quite the view

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Looking back to where we were – we’ve come a long way.

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Whew – we made it. On the very left is the traffic sign that shows we are now going to head downhill.

At Grangeville – whew, we made it! – we buy gas, groceries, and ice since there will not be towns of any size along highway 12. We leave Grangeville on highway 13, a narrow winding mountain road with no shoulders, driving in the rain.

Dup New Home G1x 991The very lovely Clearwater River comes into view and we are pleased to see that its banks are full.

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The Clearwater River

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The highway is narrow and winding

At Kooskia, we take the junction onto highway 12, which isn’t a whole lot better. The mountainous drive is lovely with the Lochsa River tumbling alongside, but the road is winding and narrow. We check out several campgrounds on the Idaho side of the pass, as we are weary of traveling, but do not find any that really seem right to us.

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Lee Creek

Finally we cross Lolo Pass and, entering Montana, we leave the Lochsa River behind and soon arrive at the Lee Creek Campground. A wonderful spot right alongside the creek, with lots of trees and shrubs for shade and privacy, is available. When I say “hello” to the creek, I am almost ready to cry with relief that we do not have to go anywhere for at least a week. We’ve seen some interesting country and had good places to camp, but too many miles in the last three days for me. We get the Pony set-up, full mode this time, and have nachos for dinner because it is a tasty and easy dinner. I am so glad to be here!

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Ready for a rest

Road Trip – One Night Stands-Part 1– May 2015

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.

Dup New Home G1x 865We 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.


Dup New Home G1x 871When 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.





Dup New Home G1x 874We 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.


Dup New Home G1x 881Arthur 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.


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Dup New Home G1x 892Once past Arthur Lake, the mesas open up to miles and miles of sagebrush, nothing but sagebrush.









Dup New Home G1x 908We 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.


Dup New Home G1x 911We 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.


Dup New Home G1x 912Before 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.

Road Trip – Ashland, Oregon – April 2015

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Mount Bachelor

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,

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Driving in the rain, the trees standing straight and tall.

but straight ahead are rain-shrouded mountains.

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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.

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Union Creek

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.

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Lovely grounds at Lithia Springs

We walk beneath a wisteria arbor to a our room behind a bright yellow door.

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The yellow door

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.

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Breakfast at Lithia Springs

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Pansies at Lithia Springs

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.

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Clifford’s presentation in Ashland

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.

Panther Flat 1 - G1x 091We 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.

Road Trip – Fall River, Oregon – April 2015

Tuesday April 21:  Today I have my last campfire here at McKay Crossing along Paulina Creek west of the Newberry National Monument in central Oregon.

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Last campfire at McKay

I take photos as I say good-bye before we have breakfast and begin the packing routine.

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Saying good-by to the tall ponderosa trees

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and to Paulina Creek

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Time to leave our McKay home

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.

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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.

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Lori feeding the ducks

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.

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Birthplace of Fall River

It is amazing that so much water can come forth with so little fanfare.   The crystal-clear water is surrounded by mossy rocks and logs, creating a fairyland habitat.

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Moss and green grass

There is an old ranger station here, no longer in use but still maintained, which is perhaps the one where Clifford spent time with friends over 40 years ago.  Inside and out, it looks familiar to him.

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The old ranger station

Further down the road, we walk along the Fall River, admiring its lovely clarity and the reflections on its surface as it flows gently toward the Deschutes.

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Fall River

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Reflections on the crystal-clear water of Fall River

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.

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Mount Bachelor

There is a good turn-out for Clifford’s presentation, which is received with renewed enthusiasm and appreciation for the work that he is doing.

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Cllifford’s talk in Sunriver, near Bend, Oregon

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.

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Carol and Clifford in central Oregon

Road Trip – Paulina Creek 5 – April 2015

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.

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Morning campfire

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.

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Sitting by Paulina Creek

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.

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Remodeling Pony storage/work area

The area will stay more tidy and packing up will be easier. We are pleased with our “remodeling.”

Lovely light in the late afternoon prompts more photo-taking, especially the creek and the dogwood shrubs along its banks.

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Lovely late afternoon light

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.

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Hiking the Rim Trail to Paulina Falls

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.

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Paulina Falls, the close-up version

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The gorge near the Newberry Caldera rim

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.

Road Trip – Paulina Creek 4 – April 2015

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Double selfie at McGregor Viewpoint

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.

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Icicle grass

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.

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Newberry Caldera, Little Deschutes River, beautiful blue sky

While I take more photos, Clifford continues his research at a nearby picnic table and then we take a double selfie – thanks to the timer on the camera.

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Clifford continues to study while I take photos

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.

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Newberry Caldera on a beautiful blue-sky day

Road Trip – Paulina Creek 3 – April 2015

Falls at Mckay Crossing

Monday April 13: Chilly wind this morning, but I take time to rearrange the rocks in the fire ring before I build a campfire. The new arrangement is to be both more functional and more attractive – a creative statement to begin the day. I make my cup of morning coffee and sit in the sunshine at the picnic table to write in my journal.

After breakfast, while Clifford is on the phone with a computer client/friend, I walk up the road on the other side of the creek. It is steep and I’ve seen several vehicles rev their engines and spin their tires getting up the incline. On the map it looks like it goes to a butte, maybe a mile away. I am fine with walking the road admiring the tall pondersa pines and the manzanita bushes in bloom until it begins to descend into a ravine. No butte in sight, so I head back to camp.

Manzanita shrubs in bloom


In the afternoon Clifford and I walk around the campground and along the trail downstream where we get a better view of the waterfall. It is really quite impressive.

Walking with Clifford to McKay Crossing falls

Back at camp, we make hot tea and sit the picnic table for a bit, but it is soon too chilly and way too windy for a fire. After dinner I download and edit some photos while Clifford continues his study of spectrographs. As we get ready to head to bed, I notice that it is snowy lightly. Hmmmm…… maybe more snow photos tomorrow!

Tuesday April 14: It is 25 degrees this morning with a skiff of snow. Heat water for my French press, build a great campfire, take photos – it is so delightful!

Campfire on a snowy morning


Morning photos of Paulina Creek at McKay Crossing

The sun peeks through the overcast now and then, taking turns with snow flurries that come and go.

Sunlight comes and goes

After breakfast I work on the email for the Carnicom Institute and text a Happy Birthday message to my daughter, Merri. She would sure love all these trees that I am seeing.

Later Clifford and I go for a drive to buy propane and to explore the closest town, La Pine, and from there we go to the La Pine State Park. At the McGregor Viewpoint, we see an extraordinary view of the Newberry Caldera with a bend of the Little Deschutes River in the foreground.

Newberry Caldera with the Little Deschutes River in the foreground

This is a scene that should be on a postcard, but I have yet to find a postcard with any photo of the Newberry Caldera. Hmmm…. Also at the La Pine State Park is Big Tree: the largest Ponderosa pine on record, over 8 feet in diameter and over 500 years old.

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Big Tree Ponderosa – 500-year-old Oregon giant (notice Clifford on the far side)

In the evening Clifford figures out how to get my hotspot to work so I am able to get on WordPress to upload my Palouse Falls blog and photos. Hooray! It is amazing to be in a Ponderosa forest so far from the nearest town and still be able to get on the internet. Not sure we’ll always be so lucky, but it is great for the moment.

Even though I don’t want to go to bed because I’m enjoying myself so much, by 11:00 p.m. I can’t stop yawning, so off to bed we go.

Road Trip – Paulina Creek 2 – April 2015 –

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Paulina Creek

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.

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Morning sun on Ponderosa and really blue sky

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.

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Peaks in the Cascade Range to the west

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.

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Waterfall at McKay Crossing

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.

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Campfire in the afternoon

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.

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Late afternoon light on shrubs

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.

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Evening extended

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.

Road Trip – Paulina Creek 1 – April 2015

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Going to McKay Crossing

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.

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Snowy Paulina Creek from our campsite

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!

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Pony set-up in the snow

Wednesday April 8: It is 31 degrees this morning, so the snow lingers, and only 44 degrees for a high with sleet/snow coming and going all day with little stretches of sunshine in between.

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Cool morning – the snow lingers

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Clifford greets the morning

Although I can’t get set up for long periods of time in the sunshine, I enjoy being outside most of the day.

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Snow lingers on pine branches

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Snow on Manzanita

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.

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Paulina Creek falls at McKay Crossings

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.

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Sun and clouds and snow

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.

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Enjoying the moment

Road Trip – Deschutes 2 – April 2015

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The Deschutes River in the early morning

Sunday April 5, 2015: I am up before Clifford, make myself a cup of organic French press coffee, and then sit in the sunshine on the bench by the river. Today is Easter and I take these few quiet moments to contemplate who or what Jesus was or is. Somewhere amidst the baffling contradictions, there is a truth that is significant.

It is chilly out, so I decide to build a little campfire. I didn’t bring much wood and there certainly isn’t anything to scavenge here, so it is more of a token effort.

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A token campfire in the morning

When Clifford gets up, we have breakfast and then walk up to the history kiosk at the edge of the campground. Several plaques with sketches and journal entries from Oregon Trail emigrants paint a picture of the hardships they had to endure. There is an old once-covered wagon, the ribbing now bare like the skeleton of a long-dead creature.

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The overland vehicle of the 1850’s

On the hillside above the campground, the remains of the old trail can still be seen and from the sketches we try to see where the trail on the opposite side of the river would have gone as the horses and wagons made their laborious way back up to the top of the bluff where the traveling would be somewhat easier.

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Remains of the trail above the campground

Because of the difficulty of crossing the Deschutes River, many goods and supplies for building new homes had to be left behind at this point, causing further hardship to the Oregon Trail families as they continued the journey westward.

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The rugged Oregon landscape along the Columbia River

The peacefulness of the day comes to an end when Clifford starts his projects: seeing if we can get water in and out of the Pony water tank requiring opening up the bench under which it resides and feeding a tube into the tank; the water tank overfills, leaking water into the carpeting on the Pony floor; the table holding the 7 gallon water jug collapses, damaging the jug; Clifford decides to spray bleach on the Pony walls to get rid of the mildew spots and gets bleach on some of my clothes. I was less than happy about that, both from the fact that some of my clothes were damaged and that bleach is toxic to breathe so I can’t go inside for several hours. I am not a happy camper at this point, but realistically, I know things could be worse, so I try not to be a total grump about the whole business – after all, it is Easter and I am not an emigrant on the Oregon Trail. However, looking at the Pony and the lack of conventional modern conveniences, I can imagine being an emigrant. I do empathize with them, especially the women.

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Beauty in the barrenness

Monday April 6, 2015: We go to The Dalles for breakfast and then on out to the Discovery Center. This is a well- designed center that covers the geology of the areas as well as the history, including the Lewis & Clark Expedition and the Oregon Trail. It was very interesting and informative, and we both felt it was well worth the time spent there.

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What remains from early settlers

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Could he be an early settler looking at his wagon?

In the evening I begin editing photos of our time here at Deschutes Oregon State Park. It has been a pleasant place to stay, but I am eager to move on to more remote camping in the forest around Bend, Oregon, our destination for tomorrow.

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A pleasant place to stay