Sunday, June 24, 2012

Newberry National Volcanic Monument

Summer snow and sleet greeted me at Newberry National Volcanic Monument.  Perhaps the weather kept some people away, giving me a private look at Paulina Falls and the Big Obsidian Flow. 

Fishermen and women were not deterred from launching their boats on the two lakes.  Although, when I went to the dock for a photo of the shore, one woman answered, “The weather was miserable” to my question about how things went this morning.
Paulina Falls are a spectacular pair of twins. A short paved path gets visitors (singular, today) to the top with a view upstream (top photo).  A path leads one down below for a middle and bottom views.

I enjoyed the interpretive trail up the Big Obsidian Flow.  The signs point out the significance of the natural black glass throughout the centuries.  The barren nature of the rock with a few Bonsai trees contrasts dramatically with the forested hills round the lake and along the river to the falls.

On my way back to the parking lot, I spotted deer, which slowed me down.  Then, I noticed something else as I looked down the steep slope to the pond. Some critter or critters was /were making waves.  Was it a beaver?  I tried to get closer without scaring them away.  No, with those tails, it must be otter, I thought.  Sure enough, my last photo on flicker captures their two heads looking back at me.  Although, with the quality of the photo, I might as well call it the Loch Ness monster. 

We finished up Allyson’s legal conference with food, beverage, disco and Karaoke.  We did a little dancing, during which I kinda felt like this was the special Olympics version of a bar scene.  Was there a defibrillator nearby?  

Friday, June 22, 2012

Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway

The Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway provides a great driving loop out of Sunriver, through lakes, rivers and forests, up to and around Mt. Bachelor, then to Bend or back south to Sunriver.  Even on an overcast day, with Mt. Bachelor invisible, it was well worth the trip.  (Click on photos to enlarge.)

Highlights included spotting a flock of white pelicans, the otherworldly green of Devil’s lake, and the serene beauty of the area. 

I happened upon Les Joslin, the retired forester responsible for the restoration of the historic Forest Service Guard Station at Elk Lake.  He was painting the sign pole, getting the place ready for the summer season.  Now, volunteer docents stay there for two-week stints to share the history of the place with those of us who travel the highway and stop in.  Les said he restored a few other stations around the West.  He provides an excellent example of someone who loves something so much that he’s able to inspire others to help him protect and preserve it.   This little piece of history is his legacy to all of us.

I posted a few other photos on flickr.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Starting Summer in the West.

The fragrance – pine, sage & juniper – signals that we left the Willamette Valley in the Pacific Northwest to the High Dessert of the West.  The scenic byway through the Santiam Pass is among my favorite drives, with the rushing river, wooded hills, and jagged peaks here and there.  Below is somewhat of a ghost forest, where fire turned the trees black first, but many have bleached out, since. 

On the first morning of summer at Sunriver, I spotted three coyotes, dozens of ground squirrels and dozens of horses being driven by a cowboy.  Then, human beings awakened and got moving, and we saw hundreds of children and adults at the new swim and recreation center, with pools indoors and outdoors, water slides, the and even a tubing hill, where plastic replaces show for the ride down hill. 

The reason for our trip out here is Allyson's lawyer convention.  We saw old and current friends and colleagues during dinner at the old great hall, which was built in the 1940s with old-growth trees.  

I've enjoyed the trip along the Santiam River to Bend and Sunriver since the 1980s.   Lots of memories and still a pleasure.  

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Preamble to Summer

Mountain Goats on Sleeping Beauty
Finally, summer begins at 4:09 p.m. tomorrow, at least for two days, before more rain on the weekend.  Nevertheless, I’m doing a pretty good job of enjoying what I can when I can, despite a fairly heavy workload.  The picture on top was from Saturday’s hike with Dale.   Four mountain goats we saw up there.  More pictures here.

Friday, I had the Buck Creek trail entirely to myself.  The variety of conifers is pretty remarkable.  Western Red Cedar with Ponderosa Pines plus a variety of firs.  The trail, like most of the area, seems to be on the knife-edge of the wet and dry climate. More photos here. 

Friday morning, I had my coffee on the “lake” in Trout Lake.  Once again, I had the space all to myself: smooth water that reflected the snow-capped mountain, the sounds of birds, and the feel of warm sun, even at 7:00 am. 

In all three of the above spots and times, it was a pleasure to just sit and let nature come to me.  On the lake, one snipe, then another, flew past.  On the Buck Creek hike, I paused for a while, and a small Rufous Hummingbird directed my attention to a single flower on a bunch of Indian Paintbrush.  It looked like a weed whacker had ripped off the other flowers - probably bitten off by deer.  And, of course, it was wonderful to view and ponder the presence of the mountain goats.  This must be the place to have their kids: very defensible from any predators because of the sheer cliffs and multiple crevices to hide behind.  I suppose they stand on top to watch out.  After awhile, they got uncomfortable with the stare down between them and us.  Mama and baby scampered down as the biggest one watched us.  After awhile, he worked his way down, too.  When other people arrived, we scampered down, too.  

Speaking of deer, a couple of them decided to eat at the bird feeder Saturday morning.