Thursday, July 10, 2008

Just 10 Highlights of our Recent Trip...

"Let me show you my postcards; indeed no, it is no trouble at all..."
~Rose Macaulay in Personal Pleasures

I could have easily made this list twice as long as it is! These are just some of the places we went and things we did. We hiked and ate good food and did plenty of sightseeing, but there were also times when we relaxed and talked and had a good time hanging around visiting. Laura's family is just plain fun to be around.

I struggled to find good photos to post because, in order to respect the privacy of those who don't want photos of them put online, I had to leave out many of the best pictures of the trip. In some cases, I didn't have any images to post at all, so I went to Wikimedia Commons to use what I could find there.

Anyway, here's the brief story of part of the trip our family took with Laura A's family:

Oregon Coast

We were only on the Oregon coast for a short time, and although it was mostly shrouded in fog, there was a nice little break of clearing in the morning. I always love the picturesque drive along the rocky cliffs beside the Pacific Ocean. We stopped for a short time at a little cove to wade in the water, skip rocks, and enjoy a look at the beautiful Heceta Head Lighthouse.

This is the Heceta Head Lighthouse, north of Florence, Oregon. The little
cove where we waded was just down and to the left.

2. Hood River, OR in the Columbia River Gorge

Our bedroom in the bed and breakfast in Hood River had a stunning view out the window, down the hill toward the Gorge, across the Columbia River to where the Salmon River enters the Columbia, and to the 12,000+ foot Mount Adams looming straight behind that. We walked around the charming and picturesque town of Hood River in the evenings after hiking. We ate some good food (including the salmon meal we made for ourselves one night in our ill-equipped B&B kitchenettes), and stopped in at "Mike's" ice cream shop-- a very popular, busy, evening destination. Good coffee at a shop before leaving town.

Mike's was a busy, busy place at night. We sat outside in brightly colored
chairs, eating ice cream and telling stories.

3. The Eagle Creek hiking trail in the Gorge

A 13 mile waterfall hike in the Gorge (if you include the distance from parking lot to trail head). It was a hot day, but the trail was mostly shaded by the forest canopy. There were numerous beautiful waterfalls, wildflowers and other plant life, and interesting rock formations all along the trail. The entire hike was lovely, but the biggest reward was the 100 foot Tunnel Falls waterfall at the end of the hike (you could walk behind it). The trail just past the tunnel on the other side of the falls was quite narrow, actually chiseled by hand into the rock wall. There was a handrail attached to the wall to keep one from plunging off the rock.

This is Tunnel Falls. Through that apparently dark and cavernous
opening is actually a short tunnel behind the falls to the other side.

4. An amazing view of the Mount St. Helens blast zone from Johnston Ridge Observatory

I lived near Portland when the mountain erupted in May 1980. We sat with friends on a hilltop that day watching the ash blow tens of thousands of feet into the air. I'd never been to the north side of the mountain or seen the blast zone before except for in the ubiquitous news reports and pictures of the mountain during and after the blast. Photos, though, don't come close to giving the whole picture of what it's like to see Mount St. Helens. Being there is humbling and a bit awe-inspiring.

5. Hiking the Boundary Trail from the Johnston Ridge Observatory to the Hummocks area, 2,000 feet down the mountain

What a lovely, lovely hike on a sometimes narrow, narrow trail that occasionally seemed to be barely chipped into the mountainside. It was awesome to see the destructive power of the blast and the beauty that is returning to the ashes-- flowers, trees, birds, wildlife. This is one of my all-time favorite hikes.

Once completely desolate for miles, new life is springing up
in the area all around Mount St. Helens. (Early on the Boundary Trail.)

Early on the trail, grasses are growing and wildflowers are beginning
to bloom everywhere in the ash.

More wildflowers, and green is beginning to grow on the hummocks below.

Toward the end of the Boundary Trail, life has returned to the St. Helens area,
with running water, trees, birds and all kinds of animal life, flowers, and more.
Laura and I picked out a lovely homesite somewhere in the middle of this! :-)

6. Eugene, OR-- hanging out with my wonderful family and good friends; the 10K Butte to Butte run and 4.5 mile walk; the exciting US Track and Field Olympic Trials

My parents, my sisters, my brother-in-law, my nieces and nephews, my kids, Laura's family; all staying in one house-- busy, crowded, and fun! Some of us ran the Butte to Butte 10K race on the morning of the 4th of July, and the rest of us (including me) did the walk. That afternoon we had a barbecue at my sister's house-- Blueberry Bison Burgers! And that evening, we had an exciting time at the US Track and Field Olympic Trials, where we watched a crowd-favorite, young, local long distance runner place second in the 10,000 meters, earning a spot on the US Olympic team. More than 20,000 fans
screamed and clapped for him and for everyone else-- Eugene, OR isn't called Track Town USA for nothing!

7. Coffee and pastries at
Pearl Bakery (best cappucino of the trip, not to mention fantastic breads and pastries)

Some of the world class breads sold at Pearl Bakery in Portland.

Aimee, Josiah, Aaron, Melissa, and I met Laura A's family here on Sunday morning. We sat together, visiting and semi-planning the day. This is where I had the best cappucino of the entire trip. Bread and coffee are done right in this bakery. We ate various pastries (a delicious berry Danish for me and a chocolate panini to go). We stop here every time we're in Portland.

Outside the bakery was a little toy pony chained to the sidewalk. Not particularly surprising or odd for Oregon, but amusing nonetheless! I looked into this on the internet, and
here's what I found...

And right up the street from the bakery is...

Powell's book store

Really, what could top a fantastic multi-level book store that covers an entire city block? In an heroic show of self-control, I left Powell's with only one book!

9. Portland Japanese Gardens

I love this place. Every time I come here, I find myself relaxing as I walk through the beautifully and carefully manicured gardens. Every single thing in the gardens has meaning and significance, and there is great care taken in the smallest details. When I visit this place, I'm always inspired to take more care in the things I do. Maybe to do fewer things and to do them with excellence. I enjoyed sitting for a long time with Laura in the "
natural garden," my favorite part of the Japanese gardens. I think I could stay in this place all day.

In the natural garden of the Portland Japanese Gardens.

10. Paley's Place

Named best restaurant in Portland last year or the year before.The focus here is on local, seasonal, sustainable, delicious food. The chef has won a coveted "Best Chef Pacific Northwest" James Beard award. Great food. Nice company.

And afterward we all said goodbye, with Laura's family heading back to NY the next morning, and the rest of us returning to our respective homes in Oregon, both near and far away.