Yaquina Head Light

Yaquina Head Light

Yaquina Head Light

Pretty little Yaquina Head lighthouse at the mouth of the Yaquina River in Newport. Not to be confused with Yaquina Bay Light on the other side of Yaquina Bay. Lots of lights in this neck of the woods. Lots of rocks.

perspective

perspective

 

Newport across the bay

Newport across the bay

 

bird haven

bird haven

 

Fred and Fred

Fred and Fred

 

Cape Blanco

view south from Cape Blanco

view south from Cape Blanco

Is it possible to grow tired of these coastal views? I don’t think so. Next stop on our itinerary: Cape Blanco, the westernmost point on the Oregon coast. (You know I have to chase down those superlatives!)

Cape Blanco lighthouse

Cape Blanco lighthouse

According to Fodor’s, this lighthouse sits 245 feet above the ocean and is the longest continuously operating lighthouse in Oregon (another superlative!). Its beacon has been guiding ships since 1870.

Ashland

I had to visit Ashland, not only because it is an adorable little town smack-dab in the middle of nowhere, but also because my sister went to college here 50 years ago. I remember going to Ashland with my parents to drop her off. We were about to move to Bangkok, and it was sad to leave her behind. How hard that must have been for her to leave home for the first time with her family so far away. At least she had friends from high school with her in this beautiful town.

Table Rock

We hiked Lower Table Rock today. Lower Table Rock and Upper Table Rock, across the valley, used to be one mesa, but over the millennia, wind and water have eroded the softer basalt between what is now the two mesas. They appear to be the same elevation to me, so I’m not really sure why one is Lower and the other Upper. Could be because of their orientation on the map. All I know is Lower Table Rock is VERY high, by my hiking standards, and considered a more challenging hike than Upper Table Rock. I was beginning to think we’d never reach the top, especially after the steep switchbacks toward the end of the climb. And then, once we reached the mesa top, we had another mile to go to the far side to get views of the Rogue River and Medford down below. Good hike!

The challenge--Lower Table Rock

The challenge–Lower Table Rock

 

into the brush

into the brush

 

Yikes!

Yikes!

 

curly-boughed oaks

curly-boughed oaks

 

peeling madrona trees

peeling madrona trees

 

What kind of tree is this? Anyone?

What kind of tree is this? Love the red bark, but it doesn’t seem to be peeling like the madronas.

 

We made it to the top! Now just another mile to go....

We made it to the top! Now just another mile to go….

 

The reward--views of the Rogue River.

The reward–views of the Rogue River.

Crater Lake

We had a stunningly gorgeous day to explore Crater Lake National Park. Crater Lake is in the caldera of a volcano, Mount Mazama, that erupted 7700 years ago. Once the magma chamber inside the volcano was empty, the mountain top collapsed into the chamber creating the caldera. Rain and snow filled the caldera over the centuries to form the lake; there are no rivers, streams, or springs that flow into it. At 1943 feet deep, it is the deepest lake in the United States and the ninth deepest in the world. The extreme depth accounts for the sapphire-blue water.

Here’s a tip: When you enter the park, whether it’s from the north or southwest entrance, drive along the East Rim Drive first. For some reason, everyone wants to see West Rim Drive first, despite heavy traffic backups. We had the East Rim almost to ourselves.

Here’s a sampling of what we saw.

High Desert Museum

We hesitated to spend the $15 per person admission price for this museum just south of Bend. $15 is not much for a quality museum, but you never know how good a local museum is going in. (I’ve long ago given up trusting online ratings.) But there was this ominous note on my typed travel itinerary: “Do it!” In red font. With the exclamation point. Can’t remember what motivated me to add that, but you can’t argue with that kind of message, so we went. And it was worth every penny.

Here’s what we liked.

Outstanding exhibit on the history of Oregon’s High Desert, including the portion of the Oregon Trail that ran through it. This is where the oxen and mules started to die from exhaustion and lack of food and water. Families who brought more than one wagon had to consolidate their belongings into one. Out went the cast iron stoves, furniture that had been in the family for generations, and other large items they had hauled for thousands of miles. Some families had to dispense with even functional, daily items like pots and pans and clothing. The High Desert was where the Oregon Dream began to fall apart for many.

abandoned dreams

abandoned dreams

Rescued animal presentations. Tumbleweed, the porcupine, was happy to share his lunch hour with us, eschewing the non-seasonal apple to chew on the more autumnal choices of pumpkin and parsnip. Does he know something we don’t know?

Tumbleweed

Tumbleweed

The river otters were absolutely delightful! They began a dizzying game of Follow-the-Leader throughout their newly constructed habitat—under the water, into their den, out the back exit to their island, back into the water, rolling onto their backs, diving underwater, then heads back up to see if the wildlife presenter was ready to dispense with some of the smelt treats she had for them.

Is it time for lunch yet?

Is it time for lunch?

Roaming through the 135-acre property, we came across several High Desert habitats: desert (of course), cultivated farm, stream, pond, forest—each habitat diverse and beautiful in its own way.

pond habitat

pond habitat

Also loved the exhibit on prehistoric buzzsaw sharks (What???) Never heard of these guys before. Artistic renderings of these ancient fish, based on fossils of their buzzsaw-shaped jaws found in Idaho, Australia, and China, are incredible. The exhibit on the WPA art projects—architecture, paintings, sculpture, literature, and theater—was fascinating as well, especially to consider how deeply the people of Oregon were affected not only by the training and employment of artisans during the Depression, but also by the enjoyment derived from their works.

Dual sculptures, Blanket Stories, by artist Marie Watt emphasizes the importance of storytelling in past and current American cultures. First she stacked blankets donated by Oregon residents in a column almost reaching the ceiling, each with its own story written on a tag attached to the blanket. Fascinating to read about the people who created them or the mysterious circumstances by which they came to be in the possession of the donors. Then she carved a rendering of her blanket column in pine, reminiscent of a Native American talking stick used in council meetings.

Overall, a very rewarding experience. Do it!

Blanket Stories

Blanket Stories

 

a blanket story

a blanket story

Newberry National Volcanic Monument

You can’t visit the Cascade Mountains without paying homage to the volcanoes, active and inactive, that make up the mountain chain from British Columbia south to northern California. Newberry Volcano is only one of many, but the national park is so well done that it’s worth your while to stop in here to learn a bit about the entire mountain range. Not only does the Lava Lands Visitor Center have an incredible display describing the Cascadia Subduction Zone that causes all this volcanic activity, but the grounds, which cover 50,000 acres, encompass the volcano, two volcanic alpine lakes, cinder cones, both obsidian and basaltic lava flows, and the longest lava tube (one mile) in Oregon, and miles of hiking trails to explore. Love this park! Just wish we hadn’t arrived so late in the day. It’s worth a full day of hiking and exploration.

Lava Butte cinder cone in the distance

Lava Butte cinder cone in the distance

 

basaltic lava flow with the Three Sisters mountains on the horizon

basaltic lava flow with the Three Sisters mountains on the horizon

 

Love the sagebrush mixed in with the lava!

Love the sagebrush mixed in with the lava!

 

lava cairns

lava cairns

 

ground squirrels have a field day in the lava flows - lots of nooks and crannies to hide in

ground squirrels have a field day in the lava flows – lots of nooks and crannies to hide in

 

Hike

For our first hike this trip, we climbed up to Tom McCall Point in Mayer State Park. (Tom McCall, governor of Oregon from 1967 to 1975, was a champion of Oregon’s environment.) Mayer State Park is located on the river midway between Hood River and The Dalles and allows for fabulous views of the gorge and Mts. Hood (in Oregon) and Adams (in Washington) from the upper elevations. We hiked up to the Point from Rowena Crest, on the Historic Columbia River Highway, gaining almost 1000 feet in altitude. Great exercise. Great views. Perfect weather.

Hood River

Much more interesting than The Dalles is Hood River, a town 22 miles west and also on the Columbia River at the mouth of the Hood River–surprise, surprise! Among its claims to fame are the invention of wind surfing (it gets quite breezy here on the Columbia) and several very noteworthy craft breweries. It’s also a cute town to walk around. Great coffee shops, independent boutiques, and restaurants.

Downtown Hood River

Downtown Hood River

 

 

Riverfront Park

Riverfront Park

 

07-buttercups

 

pFriem Family Brewing

pFriem Family Brewing

 

Full Sail Brewing

Full Sail Brewing

 

Double Mountain Brewing

Double Mountain Brewing

 

Big Horse Brewing

Big Horse Brewing

The Dalles

Here we are in The Dalles (rhymes with “gals”), which is French for “flagstones,” also used as a term for waterfalls or rapids by the French-Canadian fur trappers who traveled the area in the 19th century. In 1957, a dam submerged the local Celilo Falls, a source of Native American commerce for 10,000 years.

The bridge crossing the Columbia here looks like it’s made of matchsticks!

The Dalles Dam

The Dalles Dam. That’s the barren Washington side behind the dam.

 

The Dalles Bridge

The Dalles Bridge

 

Surprise! Look who we found peeking over the horizon southwest of The Dalles--it's Mt. Hood.

Surprise! Look who we found peeking over the horizon southwest of The Dalles–it’s Mt. Hood!