Saturday May 2:This morning, after my campfire, coffee, and journal, Jeff, our camp host extraordinaire, comes by to show us the secret path to the local Darlingtonias. Jeff is a natural when it comes to being a tour guide and he makes this outing into an adventure. Clifford, Nigel, and I follow him through the woods to find the community of California Pitcher Plants. He even points out angles where we can take the best photos to include ferns for a more dramatic setting.
As I take photos of the irresistible wild iris on the way back to the campground, we learn more from Jeff, who has a wealth of knowledge of the history and geography of this area.
Clifford and I are going to the Battery Point Lighthouse today, so we head to Crescent City after our woods adventure. This lighthouse, built in 1856, served an invaluable purpose for over a hundred years, alerting ships to the rocky coast until it was decommissioned in 1965.
Nowadays digital instruments have taken over the job of most lighthouses, which are now closed down, but Battery Point was reactivated in 1982 as a private aid to navigation and has been converted into a museum. The tour is very interesting as we learn of the early lighthouse keepers and see some of the original furnishings of this building, which was also home to the lighthouse keepers and their families.
Our tour takes us all the way to the top, where we go carefully up a narrow winding staircase to the lighthouse tower with a 360 degree view of the surroundings.
To the east is the town of Crescent City; looking out another direction we can see the harbor where ships can safely come into port, and along the coast the other direction and toward the ocean, we see the great rocks that were (and are) such a danger to ships.
On the drive home we take Howland Hill Road recommended by Jeff, since this dirt/gravel road traverses the jointly shared Redwood National Park and the Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park. The redwood trees are totally awesome, but it is too late in the day to stop for many photos.
We will be seeing other redwoods before the journey’s end, so I enjoy the drive, window down, exclaiming over the size of these giants as we drive through the forest.
Sunday May 3: Today is a stay-at-camp day. I go for a walk in the woods to take more photos of the Darlingtonias and, of course, the lovely wild iris and the rhododendron (or is it azalea?) before making a campfire and a French press.
Nigel, the young man on his spring break from college, comes by and we chat for a bit. After breakfast, while wood-gleaning I stop at the host site to say “hi” to Jeff and his wife, JoAn. Since we have power (sun on the solar panels) today, I am able to download and look at the photos I have taken over the last several days. And since my cell phone works here at Panther Flat, I call my daughter, Becka, who is moving to Georgia, and check email on the phone. We take showers and are feeling quite spiffy and civilized.
A hike down to visit the river rounds out the day for us.
Monday May 4:It is cloudy this morning, so we sleep in a bit. I skip my flower-photo walkabout and make a campfire right away so as to have some quiet time before starting breakfast.
Today is another stay-at-camp day, which is fine with me, as it gives the vata nature a chance to settle before we start on the next long leg of our journey.
I have been collecting postcards as we travel, so have a stack to write and send to family and friends.
While I write, Clifford continues his research. How many people go camping with three tubs of technical books such microbiology and spectroscopy? Well, Clifford does and as he studies he takes notes, filling several spiral notebooks. This is all in connection to the Carnicom Institute, his health and environmental research non-profit organization.
In the afternoon, as the skies clear, I walk down to the river. It is now too sunny for much photo-taking, but I take time to sit on a boulder by the river, glad to be alive, glad to be here.
Tuesday May 5: It is 40 degrees and clear this morning, a bit chilly, but so lovely. I love being here and am a bit sad that today is our last day camped here at Panther Flat. I make a campfire, enjoy my coffee, take a few photos with the cell phone to share this place with others, and admire the trees. At the Rocky Mountain Summer Intensive Photography School that I attended in 1995, one of the suggestions was to take a photo of what makes you happy: that day I photographed the silhouette of tree branches against a beautiful blue sky, and I do so again today.
We are going to Crescent City today in preparation for leaving tomorrow. It is better to take care of errands today and focus on the traveling tomorrow. After getting propane, gas, groceries, and sundries, we drive out to Pebble Beach on the outskirts of town. Pebble beach is not exactly pebbles and is so windy I can’t stand still enough to take photos except by shooting through the open window of the Blazer. However, it is still mesmerizing – the waves coming in and smashing themselves against the jagged rocks, over and over and over. It seems as though they delight in their powerful playfulness.
Back at camp, even though it is getting kind of late, I call my mom. Today would have been my parents’ 70th anniversary, although my dad has been gone for nearly twenty years. I am so grateful that my mom is still here and part of the lives of her children, grand and great-grandchildren. What a blessing she is to all of us. May I be such a blessing to all those who know me and those who come after me.
Friday May 1: I begin the day with a campfire, a cup of coffee, and journal writing.This is my precious QT – quiet time – a time before talking begins, a time of being before doing takes over for the day.
It is windy this morning and as I sit by the fire (well-contained in deep metal firepits), I gaze up at the tall Douglas fir and youngish redwoods as they do their slow graceful dance to the wind-music. As I walk about the camp, the iris are are also doing their little dances, which makes it challenging to take their portraits.
After breakfast, we drive up the highway to the Darlingtonia Interpretive Trail which we know about from Jeff, the camp host, who gave us the flyer as well as the insider information that these rare plants can also be found not far from the campground. Maybe I will be able to find the local ones, but in the meantime, the botanical area will be a good outing for us. Jeff shows me an unusual plant right at their site. Perhaps related to a mushroom, this plant was about six to seven inches tall and not like anything I’ve ever seen before.
We park at the trail head and walk a short ways to a swampy area where hundreds of these ancient-looking plants, also known as California Pitcher Plants, grow en masse. They remind me of giant Venus fly-traps – the neat little plants that I would buy as a kid, even though they never seemed to catch a fly and didn’t survive for long. The head of a Darlingtonia is designed to trap insects; decayed remains of the insect provides nourishment to the plant.
It is easy to imagine a swamp dinosaur browsing here. The Darlingtonias are not at the height of their blossom period, but we do see a few blossoms here and there.
We continue the walk learning of other flowers and trees in this area, including Port Oxford Cedar, Jeffrey Pine, orchids, azaleas, and several other flowers and shrubs. The Darlingtonians are thriving here, but are quite rare. I have to wonder how long these swamp-loving plants will survive the California drought.
When we get back to the campground, I go off to gather twigs for tomorrow’s fire and when I get back to our campsite, Nigel, the young man who is camped down a couple spots from us, is talking with Cllifford. He is an interesting fellow, having some of the same interests as we do, such as camping and photography, and going to school not far from where one of Clifford’s brothers live. We chat for a bit before Clifford and I head down to the river.
Today we are going swimming at the beach that we found the first day. What this means is that Clifford is going swimming while I take photos and wade in the shallow water at the river’s bank.
Although I find the water too cold to be comfortable, Clifford cajoles me into getting in deeper. It is a a refreshing but short-lived moment. This afternoon the river seems especially rich in color, that delicious shade of aqua, and crystal clear as always.
As we look at the map and review our travel schedule, we decide to not go to Yosemite as planned, but instead go east and north from Sebastopol. The timing as well as the expense of traveling are the deciding factors. We will be staying with friends in Sebastopol in connection with the Institute, so that is an important portion of the journey, but also a good turning point. I am disappointed that we won’t see Yosemite on this journey, but understand the need to make this change in plans. I am still looking forward to the giant redwoods and seeing the ocean, however.
We finish our day with nachos and more crossword puzzles. One of these days I am going to switch to photo editing during dinner instead of the puzzles, but not today.
Thursday April 30: We are up before 8:00 this morning. The odd thing is that I seldom know what time it is, what time we get up, what time we eat, or what time we go to bed. This morning, after a short walkabout to visit flower-friends, I make a campfire, not really because it is cold enough to need it, but because I enjoy it.
My friends Ken and Shelley Anne who have been so supportive over the preceding challenging months are on my mind. I give them a call, thinking I will get voice mail and am pleased to talk to Shelley Anne in person for a few minutes.
Once the coastal redwoods covered 2 million acres of land, mostly in California, but due to logging in the late 1800’s to the 1920’s, only about 100,000 acres of ancient redwood forests remain. Today we drive to Stouts Grove near the beginning of Howland Hill Road (or end, depending on which way one is traveling). This is an old-growth grove in what is now Redwood National Park and Jedediah Smith State Park, a co-operative effort on the part of national and state agencies to preserve what remains of the old-growth forests. What a loss it would be to both the natural world and the civilizations of the world to not have the redwoods. These ancient giants deserve our very best efforts to preserve them for their invaluable role in the ecology of the planet, as well as to inspire all those who gaze upward toward their lofty heights. We today are most fortunate that efforts have been made to preserve these remaining great trees.
Redwoods may reach a height of 370 feet tall and may be as much as 20 feet in diameter. They can live to be 2,000 years old, although many are merely 500 to 700 years old. I am in awe of them as I walk the trail. The tops cannot be seen by looking up; it is like trying to look at a mountain peak when standing at the base of the mountain where one can see only the foothills. Photos do not do justice to their majestic size unless a tiny human is included in the photo.
We have learned something of their growth patterns that allows these great trees to survive. Bulbous outgrowths hold the potential to grow new trees out of the old – like a fetus waiting to grow and be born as a baby. Some redwoods grow in a tight cluster from one root system, their strength supporting each other. Thick bark protects them from insect injury and even damage from fire. Many of these old trees, still living, bear the scars of severe forest fires.
Not only are the trees wonderful, but the ferns and shamrocks are lush, adding color and texture to the scene.
Back at the campground, I take the trail down to the Smith River and find a place where I can take photos of some of the rapids along this stretch. I am drawn to the beautiful clear aqua water of this lively river.
We have nachos for dinner and do crossword puzzles, which are both addictive and annoying. One of these days I am going to not do the crosswords with dinner. But tonight I do crosswords until I can’t stand doing another one. I go to bed thinking not of crosswords, however, but of great tall wonderful trees.
Tuesday April 28: When I step out the door I am struck by the smell of fresh clean air. I take the G12 (Canon point & shoot), since it takes good macro shots and head out to take photos of flowers around the campground. There are a variety of flowering shrubs and several flowers; most notable are the rhododendron or azelea and wild iris in shades of lavender to white. I take lots and lots of photos because I can’t resist these delicate little beauties.
Back at camp I make a campfire, the morning cup of coffee (organic, with organic honey and organic coconut milk), write in my journal, look at our map of California, and read through the material with area information that will be of interest to us. Jeff, our host extraordinaire, gave us the handouts as well as pointing out a route, the Howland Hill Road, we might want to take back from Crescent City through the redwood forest of the Jedediah Smith State Park and the Stout grove. This is a road we will not want to miss, he tells us.
Much of my day, most days, is spent with cooking, eating, and cleaning up, in addition to wood-gathering and fire-tending. As I’m gleaning wood from the forest, which is allowed here, I visit Jeff and his quiet wife, JoAn. Jeff is bursting with a wealth of experience and information, shared always with his quirky sense of humor. JoAn is his opposite, so quiet that I am honored that she and I have a conversation.
As I walk through the forest, I find the very tall madrone trees with their sensuously smooth and curvy branches to be quite interesting. The outer bark peels off to reveal an inner skin, smooth and firm like the taut thigh of a dancer in yummy shades of golden to reddish-orange color.
We are fortunate that my cell phone has service here so I can check email briefly and Clifford can make business calls from the campground. One important call involves the Carnicom Institute: the IRB for the Morgellon’s Research Project is nearly in place.
Later we go down to the river for another walk-about. We have learned that this is the only river in California in its natural state, i.e. no dams or diversions. Perhaps this accounts for its incredible clarity while the aqua color comes from the mineral serpentine in the rock cliffs that rise up from the river bed.
After dinner I put Velcro on the sheets and sleeping bag – my attempt to keep our sheet liner in place, while Clifford falls asleep sitting up. Once the Velcro and the sheets are in place, we head to bed.
Wednesday April 29:I make a campfire when I get up. I love being outside and it is a bit too chilly to just sit without the fire. As usual, coffee and journal completes the picture for me.
Today we go to Crescent City for errands: laundromat, groceries, information at the Forest Service office, and sundries. While we are at the laundromat, Clifford makes another business call and I walk to a nearby natural food store. It is small and pricey, but I am happy to get a few organic veges into the diet.
After the errands, we go for a drive along the ocean on the outskirts of Crescent City, stopping at a vantage point for photos. I am quite enthralled with the waves that come crashing against the rugged rocks of the coast here. It is so windy, however, that I have to sit in the car and shoot through the window.
Noticing a lighthouse, we check it out. It is not open right now, but we will be able to visit it another day, since it is now a museum.
We go to Denny’s for lunch before heading back to camp, stopping a couple of times to take photos of the lively Smith River in the gorge below the highway.
It is too late to take the Howland Hill Road through the redwoods back to camp, so that is something to look forward to for another day.
Sunday April 26: Some of our homes on the road have been hard to leave, but we are eager to say good-bye to civilization, even with its conveniences, and get back to our journey. The brief stays in Sunriver and Ashland were important layovers, both in terms of the connections that were made as well as the increased awareness of environmental issues for those who come to hear Clifford speak. We are grateful for the individuals and groups who invited us to be with them on our route through Oregon. But the trees and the rivers and the oceans beckon us and onward we go.
I make tea for the to-go cups and take cheese, crackers, and apples out of the cooler for us to eat as we travel rather than taking time for breakfast this morning. Doesn’t take us long to get the Pony (our pop-up tent trailer) ready for the road since we had just done a modified setup yesterday and we are soon on the road. We head to Grants Pass, taking the slower scenic highway along the Rogue River. It is a lovely drive, lots of trees of all sorts, many of them in bloom.
After we reach Grants Pass, we head southwest on highway 99 toward Crescent City, California. I think about my friend, Cyril, who lives in Grants Pass, but since we didn’t know when we would get here, I didn’t try to make connections. I hope he is well and happy.
We catch glimpses of the Smith River in the ravine below as the road becomes more narrow and winding. Lush vegetation carpets the slopes of the hillsides around us.
We arrive at our forest service campground, Panther Flat, mid-afternoon and pick a site on the side of the loop nearest the river below and furthest from the highway. The sites here are well-spaced and there is an abundance of shrubs and small trees amidst the towering Douglas fir, tall straight not-giant redwoods – a mere 100 feet tall, and sensuous madrone trees.
Once we are set up, I explore a trail from our campsite, making my way to the river below and after awhile Clifford joins me. We find a charming gravel beach right on the river’s edge. I am amazed at how crystal-clear the beautiful aqua-hued water is.
From this little gravel beach I can see cascades both up and downstream as this lively river cuts its way through rock walls, creating the gorge where we now stand.
We are told by our camp host extraordinaire, Jeff, that it is the only river in California that has not been dammed or diverted. He points out a much better trail leading from the end of the loop not far from our site down to the river. This is a trail I will traverse many times over the next several days as I come down from the campsite to visit Mr. Smith.
Back at camp, we are happy to discover that our cell phones work here; I call Mom to let her know where we are. Clifford sprays more bleach to get rid of mildew spots; I should have stayed outside to let it air out much longer than I did, as I end up feeling quite ill from breathing the residue of the bleach as I set up the inside. When I go to bed, I open the zipper to the window next to my head and breathe in fresh air with the hopes that I will feel better in the morning.
Monday April 27:My head is still buzzy this morning, but a whole lot better than last night. After an exploratory walk about camp, enjoying the light filtering through the trees and photographing the wild flowers – wild iris and others that I don’t recognize, I make campfire and a French press coffee.
Sitting at the campfire, I plan to write in my journal, but instead I spend this quiet time looking up at the wonderful tall trees that surround us.
I feel blessed by the trees as I gaze up at them. Reminds me of what a wise woman recently said to me: it is often when we are down – through illness or other hardship – that we look up to God or Presence or whatever one wants to call that deeper sense of the Life Force, but I realize as I gaze upward that such awareness does not have to come through illness or hardship, but through being in awe of nature or beauty or whatever will bring us to that deeper appreciation of life.
After breakfast, I begin reorganizing everything in the Pony and the Blazer: clothing, food, dishes, and so on, incorporating another set of light-weight stackable drawers. What a difference this makes. I know where everything is once again.
While I do my domestic nesting activity, Clifford continues his research and study.
It gets quite warm this afternoon – near 80 degrees – which is quite a change from the cool weather we’ve had for the most part up to this point. We go to the nearby small village of Gasquet to get ice, as we are going to need it. After we return to the camp, we take the trail to the river and explore up and down its banks. Sitting on a boulder by the bank, I watch the slow graceful dance of the trees as they sway in the wind.
What a delightful place we have found. I am so grateful to be here, grateful for the trees, the river, the pleasant weather, the pleasing campground, the comfortable bed. Tonight I sleep well.
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,
but straight ahead are rain-shrouded mountains.
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.
We walk beneath a wisteria arbor to a our room behind a bright 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.