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.
I take photos as I say good-bye before we have breakfast and begin the packing routine.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
The sun peeks through the overcast now and then, taking turns with snow flurries that come and go.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Although I can’t get set up for long periods of time in the sunshine, I enjoy being outside most of the day.
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.