Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Road Trip - Oregon

The ocean was the goal.  But there was still the beautiful state of Oregon to traverse.  Few think of Oregon as desert, But from the Idaho border, traveling west across Oregon to the high desert town of Bend, the landscape is a vast, open, sagebrush-covered, wind-swept land, punctuated by fascinating geologic formations and lava fields.  From Bend, the land rises into the Cascade Range and the lovely little town of Sisters, named for the peaks that stand guard over it.  It was there that we spent the night, with llamas grazing just outside our room.  We searched out an interesting restaurant, The Open Door, and spent a pleasant evening dining in the garden on fresh beet salad and flatbread pizza.

Up and over the winding McKenzie Pass we went rising 2000' through Ponderosa pine forests before opening up to an amazing lava field dating back over 2000 years.

The jagged peaks of the Sisters, Mt. Washington and Mt. Jefferson rise abruptly out of the rocky chaos.  At the summit sits The Dee Wright Observatory, built entirely out of volcanic rock by the CCC in the 1930's.  Small observation openings, lava tubes, reveal the surrounding geologic features.

Mt. Jefferson through the lava tube, Oregon's second highest peak.
Bronze Peak Finder at Dee Wright Observatory
A flock of red crossbills entertained me on my climb to the observatory.  Most flew away at my approach, but one little guy was quite unafraid and posed patiently.

From the summit we descend into the lush greenness for which Oregon is so famous, winding along the beautiful McKenzie River, emerging into the bustle of Eugene.  We pushed on to the coast, my ocean fix long overdue.  Driving down Highway 101 brought back good memories of many trips past.  The Oregon Dunes, seafood in Florence, incredible state beaches.  In Bandon, we settled for a few days in a funky little guest house with a great view of the harbor, and walking distance to all of the town.

 Lazy days were spent exploring the beaches, the wildlife refuges, the lighthouse, the village and the harbor and the seafood restaurants.

Right behind our inn was a most amazing museum filled with 'artwork' created from the trash washed up on the beaches.  The Washed Ashore Project aims to educate and create awareness about marine debris and plastic pollution through art.

American oystercatchers poked through the rocky buffet just out of easy camera range, but I succeeded in capturing this one.

Fog settles in along the coast, creating surreal and ethereal scenes.

Next Up, continuing down the coast of California. Perhaps I can finish documenting this trip before the next one begins.  Well, perhaps not.

Meanwhile, Happy Winter Solstice!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Catching Up

Yes, I have been neglecting this poor blog.  So, here in a couple of blog nutshells are the last four months!

Road Trip!  I love tripping around the country by car, stopping wherever feels good, revisiting favorite places and discovering new ones, taking in the sights, sounds, people, and wonderful food.  Generally, we take our travel trailer on the road, but this time we opted for the car as we wanted to cover a lot of ground in a relatively short time.  

First stop - the Grand Canyon.

It was lovely to stay at the Maswik Lodge on the South Rim in September.  The crowds have thinned somewhat, and the lodge is just a short walk to the rim.  Though the lodge is like a Motel 6 at Ritz prices, there's no denying that the LOCATION is what matters.  I got great views of the California Condors along the Rim Trail toward Yavapai Point.  We took the shuttle out to Hermit's Rest at the west end of the Park, and walked the Rim Trail back to the Village.  Unfortunately a lightning storm moved in and cut the hike short at Maricopa Point when the rangers closed the trail.  At the Bright Angel trailhead, I was impressed to see the recent renovation project by the Grand Canyon Association.  I'm happy to belong to this organization.

Any stay at the Canyon is always too short, but it was time to move on.  After a leisurely drive along the East Rim, stopping to enjoy the sun rising on the Canyon with our coffee, we drove north to the Highway 89A cutoff, the Navajo Bridge across the Colorado River, the magnificent Vermilion Cliffs and then lunch in the campground at Jacob's Lake.

The next day we pushed on to Boise, Idaho, where we spent a relaxing and enjoyable 3 days with Jay's brother and his family, eating fresh vegetables and fruit from their amazing garden, and cheering on the Boise State Broncos at a football game.

I'll post this half of the trip now, so it doesn't get unbearably long, and so I don't keep putting it off!  Thanks to my friends and followers for hanging with me!  Next, it's off to the coast.