We Stopped . . .

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Hot. In the 90’s. After a morning of getting things done in our little acre of heaven, Bill and I decided to head out for a bite to eat and a few beers at Pat’s Corner at The Grand Lodge in Forest Grove, Oregon. For those of you who don’t know, The Grand Lodge is a Masonic lodge that’s been converted–thanks to the McMenamins–into a hotel, restaurant, and pub, all with sprawling grounds and typical McMenamin’s hippie-style artwork.

After a nice quiet lunch and an IPA or two, we headed out, taking the long way home. It’s only a few miles from The Grand Lodge to our house, but there are lots of side roads going past farms and homesteads that we love to explore. Especially on a hot sunny afternoon, like today.

Driving along stubble fields and acres of blueberries, we had to stop at this ancient farmstead on NW Leisy Road. It’s covered with graffiti, so it’s pretty clear this is a local hangout. But somehow the juxtaposition of the house, which was probably a family’s homestead not too long ago, with the collapsed storage shed in the foreground and the pump house off to the side, got our attention. We had to stop.

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So beautiful. And reminiscent of times not so long ago. I wonder who lived here, and what their family was like. And I wonder who hangs out here now . . .  spray painting on the exterior–and probably the interior too. It’s so amazing to me that this old place is so close to our suburban piece of heaven, and yet it’s so far away in time.

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And for what it’s worth, back at our piece of heaven, this is what it’s like to write a blog post on a hot summer day. Dogs rule.

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Deschutes River Trail

While Sunriver is the perfect place for casual, relaxing bike rides, there are other more challenging options. In the past, Bill and I tackled the Deschutes River Trail and enjoyed it immensely. We decided to give it another go in our recent trip to Sunriver. We started at the Benham Falls trailhead in north Sunriver and rode over a few miles of single-track trail littered with random collections of large, sharp rocks. This was sometimes difficult to ride through, and I ended up pushing my bike on a few occasions to keep from scraping my legs on the rocks or nearby trees. It’s a mixture of up- and downhill, so the ride had lots of easy parts too. The views of the Deschutes river are beautiful.

After a few miles, the trail arrives at Benham Falls park in Lava Lands (which is where Lava Butte makes its home), where the rest of the public can drive and walk a mile to view the falls. The first part of the walk is a quaint wooden bridge. Although you can’t quite see me, I’m at the end of the bridge in the picture.

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As you approach the falls, the Deschutes leaves the calm waters behind and picks up its fury.

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The falls are steeper and more intense than they look in this picture.

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After the falls, the water begins to smooth out again.

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Bill enjoying a break at the top of the falls.

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After we saw the falls, we rode another few miles along the river, sometimes along the edge of a ravine directly above the river. What stunning views we saw! We turned around at around seven miles and headed back to Sunriver.

On our way back, we were quite surprised to see my parents walking down the trail. They’d already viewed the falls and were starting to think about lunch. So we agreed to rendezvous at one of favorite watering holes, Sunriver Brewing Company in the Sunriver Village. We enjoyed a few pints and a delicious lunch. I fell in love with their Vicious Mosquito IPA!  If you pay them a visit, I highly recommend it. After filling our bellies, we headed back to our vacation home for a well-deserved rest in the sun on the back patio.


Biking in Sunriver

My favorite thing to enjoy at Sunriver is a loooong bike ride on their miles and miles of paved trails. The trails meander through the resort, often along the Deschutes River. We enjoyed several of these relaxing bike rides.

There is a footbridge you can ride across the Deschutes. The best part about that is the views of the river, which is very calm in this area. Here’s looking north from atop the footbridge . . .

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And here’s looking south . . .

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Bill’s taking in the scenery from the footbridge.

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On our way back, we passed by this deer. She wasn’t at all concerned about being so close to humans, and just kept munching away while I snapped photos just a few feet away from her.

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Nature’s beauty at its best.


High Desert Oregon– Perfect Place to Unwind


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Sometimes life comes at you hard, and you have to not just survive, but grow and thrive. Like this scrub tree at the top of Lava Butte., south of Bend, Oregon. This tree, which is only about 18 inches tall, would probably normally be several feet tall. But the winds, snow, rains, and incessant summer sun keep it in check. It’s beautiful nonetheless, don’t you think?

It pretty much conveys how I feel these days. Challenged by life, but still working hard to make the best of things and rise above the difficulties that have been thrown my way.

With that in mind, I was anxious to join my parents for a week of fun, sun, relaxation, and good times in Sunriver, Oregon.

I started the trip with a solo drive from our home in Hillsboro east and south to Sunriver.  There’s nothing quite as soul cleansing as singing at the top of your lungs because no one is with you.  I covered it all–the Eagles, Steely Dan, Death Cab for Cutie, Madonna, and lots of others, and ended the set perfectly with Fleetwood Mac’s Thrown Down as I pulled into the driveway of the home my dad has for the week. Bill drove over earlier in the day because he can’t stay as long as me, and thankfully, he didn’t need to listen to me sing.

That was yesterday. Today I started the day with a run on the paved trails in Sunriver, with my mom and Bill keeping company. I ran and they walked; I doubled back every run phase to connect with them. So fun! And what a great way to at start the day.

By mid-morning we were all ready for adventure so me, Bill, Mom, and Dad headed to Lava Buttte, which is a few miles north of our temporary home in Sunriver.

We drove up the spiral to top of the butte. After parking, Mom and I hiked up to the fire tower while Bill and Dad  spent time on their short wave radios. Here’s Mom and I at the top of Lava Butte.

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What a view from up there! We enjoyed beautiful views 360 views of Oregon.

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We hiked around the crater. At the halfway point we stopped to enjoy the view.

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Lots of easy–but beautiful–hiking. Soon it was lunchtime. So off we headed to 10 Barrel, our favorite Bend respite. So here we are, with Mom and Dad enjoying a much deserved refreshment.

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Now back to Sunriver for more adventures.

 

 


Moab Day 2–Island in the Sky at Canyonlands National Park

September 19 . . . our 30th anniversary! And how wonderful to celebrate it exploring the stunning scenery around Moab. Our destination for the day was the Island in the Sky area of Canyonlands National Park. Canyonlands is quite large, and actually has three separate regions. Island in the Sky in the north, Needles to the south, and the Maze to the west. Each has its own distinct personality and types of land formations. You could spend an entire vacation just exploring Canyonlands and not make a dent in it.

Over coffee and another wonderful breakfast at our new favorite, Jailhouse Cafe, we planned our day trip to Canyonlads. It’s a short 32 miles from Moab to Island in the sky. Arches is only eight miles away, and it’s amazing to me that there are so many completely different geographic areas so close to Moab.

Shafer Canyon Overlook

Our first stop in Canylands was Shafer Canyon Overlook. Just a few miles past the park entrance, it provides stunning views. In the picture, the overlook is in the very center of the picture. We hiked the short distance out there. It’s unbelievable to me that there aren’t any railings along the edge of the overlook because it’s hundreds of feet down in some places, and you can walk right up to the edge of the drop-off. This was the one of many challenges to my acrophobia during the week.

Looking from the outlook, you could see a road that criss-crosses across the steep cliff. I couldn’t imagine being crazy enough to drive on that road with its sheer drop-offs. Bill, on the other hand, was determined to figure out a way to do it. And later in the week, we actually did. More about that in another posting.

Next stop was Mesa Arch. People climb up on top of this arch. From this view, it’s only about 25 feet above the ground. But on the other side, it drops down hundreds of feet.

Mesa Arch

Incredible views through Mesa Arch

View from the top and side of Mesa Arch

Upheaval Dome

We got back in our pick-up, and drove about 20 more miles to Upheaval Dome. This is a collapsed cinder cone, with a new greenish lava dome in the middle. It was a quite short, somewhat steep hike up to this view. The air was starting to get a little warm, so hiking uphill was not so enjoyable.

View from Green River Overlook

Driving back to the main road, we stopped at Green River Overlook. From here, you can look down into the plateaus above the Green River, which eventually flows into Grand Canyon. It’s hard to describe the other-worldliness of being up high on a plateau or mesa, looking down hundreds of feet at another layer of plateaus that are hundreds of feet above the Green River. It’s a little mind boggling, but gorgeous. We experienced this phenomenon throughout the day, and it’s really something I couldn’t get enough of.

Next, off the the grand finale of the park: Grand View Point Overlook. This area has stunning views that can be seen a short distance from the parking area. But you can also hike out along the edge of the cliff for a few miles, all the while looking hundreds of feet down to plateaus with their own unbelievable formations of needles and other rock structures.

View from Grand View Point Overlook

In the picture at right, just beyond the edge of the rocks in the foreground is a drop off of a few hundred feet. Then the plateaus below feature their own drops into deep canyons. These canyons have needles, fins, and other steep protrusions that are all a few hundred feet tall. It’s all unbelievably majestic.

You're really, seriously walking out there?

We hiked along the edge of the cliff for a few miles, and then back again. It was getting quite warm, so we took our time and enjoyed the scenery.  Bill had no qualms about getting right up to the edge to enjoy the spectacular views, scaring the crap out of me on numerous occasions.

Please . . . can't you step away from the edge?

After a day of hiking in the heat, we were pretty tired. We headed back to Moab and spent a few hours exploring the shops, restaurants, and brew pubs.

An adrenaline rush (for both of us)

For our anniversary dinner we went back to Jeffrey’s Steakhouse and Ghost Bar. We enjoyed our dessert there so much the night before that we wanted to try a full meal there. We weren’t disappointed. I had a filet mignon that just about melted in my mouth. What a perfect way to end our anniversary day. And we have plenty to look forward to in the days to come . . . quadding north of Moab, hiking in Devil’s Garden in Arches, a desert sunset ride in a Razr in the Hell’s Revenge area of Sand Flats recreation area (the 4-wheel drive headquarters of the world), the Needles region of Canyonlands, and a sunrise hike to the picturesque Delicate Arch in in Arches.


Are You Andrew’s Grandma Too?

I became a mother at a fairly young age. One of the unexpected benefits of this is that I also became a grandma at a relatively young age. My first grandson, Andrew, was born when I was 42. My first granddaughter, Hailey, was born seven years later. Before I was 50, I had two grandkids.

I am so fortunate to be able to experience time with them while I am still young. And yes, even though I’m in my 50’s, I consider myself young. I don’t know if that’s because I feel young, or perhaps it’s because I haven’t really grown up yet. Either way, I’m happy I can keep up with Andrew and Hailey and enjoy some of the same things they enjoy.

This past weekend, we were able to spend time together. Bill and I picked up Andrew after church, and then met Hailey and her mom, Erin, and Erin’s bff Josh at Red Robin. We enjoyed lunch, and then headed to see the movie “We Bought a Zoo.”

Hailey was seated in between Andrew and me in the theater. She’s a fairly petite 4-year old, and every time she moved her movie-theater seat threatened to fold her up inside it. This made it a little hard for her to get comfortable. About 30 minutes into the movie, she ended up in my lap.

After sitting with me for a while, she glanced over at her cousin Andrew, and then up at me. She whispered quietly to me, “Are you Andrew’s grandma too?” I quickly whispered back that I was.

Without missing a beat, Hailey looked directly into my eyes and then gave me a big kiss on the lips and snuggled right into my shoulder. I don’t know what moved her so much about that, but it just about melted me. Maybe it’s because she realized how that connects her with Andrew. Or maybe it’s because she realized how lucky I am.


Moab Day 1–Arches National Park

We started the day in Moab with a delicious breakfast at the Jailhouse Cafe. This quickly became a favorite place, and we ended up coming here a couple of times throughout the week. Built in 1855, the building was a private residence and county courthouse.

One of the rooms has foot-thick adobe walls and was used as a jailhouse  in the early days.

We were able to eat outside on the patio.

After breakfast, we immediately drove the three or so miles from Moab to Arches National Park. Ever since reading Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey in the mid-1990’s, I’d wanted to visit this area. His vivid description of the park and its beauty and its ecosystem intrigued me. The park didn’t disappoint–it was all I’d hoped for and much more. Much, much more.

As you drive up the hill into the park, red sandstone cliffs flank one side of the road. A steep drop-off flanks the other side. Once you round the first corner, you are presented with an unending playground of red rock formations of all shapes and sizes. There are many, many places to pull over to take pictures and take short or long hikes. This place really caters to all comers, regardless of your fitness level or the level of adventure you’re looking for.

Balanced Rock is one of the more famous formations in the park. It is here that Edward Abbey lived in his trailer as he stewarded the park for a few years in the mid-1950’s. There is no sign of the trailer now, but you can envision what it must have been like to live here, in solitude much of the time.

Driving the 18-mile road to the end of the park, you can see rock formations of all types. These are many of the spires (or needles, as they’re sometimes called) that we saw.

Just a mile or so past Balanced Rock is an area called The Windows Section. It has several arches. You can see them from the parking lot, but it’s fun to hike up to them. It’s a short quarter-mile hike to Double Arch in The Windows Section. The only problem is it’s all up hill, and it was just starting to get hot by the time we did this hike. Notice the people at the bottom of the picture to get an idea of the size of this set of arches.

On the other side of the parking lot and up another (hot) hill there are three other arches. One of them, Turet Arch, is actually a formation with several interesting aspects.

We drove further down the road through the park, in continual awe. We started to realize we couldn’t stop and hike at each sight. Sigh. Too much beauty for one day! We took the turn off for Wolfe Ranch because this is where you find Delicate Arch, which is the arch that graces Utah’s license plate. By this time it was very hot, and someone we chatted with in the parking lot told us it was a steep uphill hike to get to the arch. But there are viewpoints from near the parking lot. We decided to take a short quarter-mile hike to one of the viewpoints today, and come back to hike directly to the arch early on another day when it was still relatively cool. we were able to zoom in and get a fairly decent picture. Again, notice the (small) people to get an idea of the size of the arch.

Next we stopped at Sand Dune Arch. To get to this arch, you hike between “fins,” which are tall, narrow, well . . . fins. It was shady and cool in between them. Ahhhh . . . relief from the heat for a moment.

Here’s another view of the fins near Sand Dune Arch. Later in the week, I found myself hiking on top (yikes!) of fins similar to these in an attempt to get to some arches we hadn’t seen. I don’t handle heights well, and was scared beyond belief. More about that frightening, unexpected experience in another post.

By the end of the day, we were hot, tired, and ready for refreshments. We headed back into Moab and spent the evening visiting several shops, and had drinks and snacks at various watering holes and restaurants.

We ended up having a delicious dessert at Jeffrey’s Steak House and Ghost Bar. Probably the nicest restaurant in Moab, Jeffrey’s features fine cuisine, including Wagyu beef. We headed upstairs to the Ghost Bar, where we had a nice visit with the owner and heard stories about how the Ghost Bar got its name. We enjoyed a wonderful dessert. Homemade lemon ice cream on a homemade crunchy, chewy, carmelized lemon  crust. Light and refreshing, a perfect ending to the day.


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