Saturday, March 31, 2007

Going Home, the Black and White Version

Castle Crags, to the west of I-5. Aren't they gorgeous? Castle Crags State Park is nearby, I hope we can camp there some day!! I was so happy to be there at the right time for the shadows!!!
Mt Shasta veiled by clouds. Fresh snow near Mt Ashland.

Oak trees made sacred by their globes of mistletoe(by ancient Celtic legend). North of Medford.

And that's the end of it!

Going Home, Back through Jefferson, I-5 North

Homeward bound, through the Siskiyous. More pix shot at 65 mph.

This beautiful thistle-pink shrub was in bloom everywhere, especially in the late morning light (I'd love to know what it is?) Every pine needle shone in the sunlight.

Here is a cinder cone of Mount Shasta right next to I-5. It's so pretty with a fresh dusting of snow. I also thought it was kooky how the pavement patch below it mirrors the shape of the cone.
Mount Shasta, with fresh snow. And I caught an I-5 sign(inadvertantly!)
My favorite shot of Mount Shasta...there were some low clouds that ruffled around the base. I enjoyed watching the mountain and clouds change in their balance of light and shadows as my perspective traveled north.
Roadside metal art, a bull--oops it has an udder, so I mean a cow, and a dragon. In my hometown(McMinnville) we have an artist that makes enormous sculptures just like this, amazing horses in all poses, cowboys on horses, mammoths, giant roosters...

Welcome home!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Escape From LA

North through the Grapevine(I-5). Relief. Fresh air. No palm trees. No movies stars. No gummy sidewalks. No landscaping. No In-n-Out.A faint tint of Spring. Cattle on a 1000 hills. Dry thirsty land, just the way it was made.
The mystery of dry land shaped by water. Distant small wildflowers seen because they are legion. The delicious specter of the earth ready to rip apart underfoot.

Wyldthang's LALA Experience

Spring break road trip to LA to treat teenage sons to Paintball Nationals and Magic Mountain.
Silly Oregonians, thinking it would be smooth sailing on the 405 on a Saturday afternoon!
I knew they did oil in LA, but it was still weird to see the workings next to tourist traps and upscale whatever. I liked how the "pristine" beach boardwalk opposite the oil refinery showed up in the window reflection. Kinda creepy.

I found some chainsaw art! Wished I could have taken them all home to stash in my woods.

Here's what a 60$ tent site looks like in Huntington Beach. Notice we are the only ones in a tent site, with an actual 30$ walmart tent. Notice our van is the oldest vehicle in the park, by at least 10 years. At least there wasn't any gum on the ground. And no bedbugs.

Sunset on the pier at Huntington Beach. Wild fractious paintball going on to the left.

Hubby's destination of choice, Guitar Center in Hollywood(with a huge vintage guitar den). The entrance has all these handprints of famous rock n' roll types. Hubby got to play a 1961 Stratocaster, just like the one he lost when a friend "borrowed" it in college. All the 1961's were 30,000$. Hubby occasionally sits in the corner and rocks back n' forth.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Spring Break, Jefferson State, I-5 south

See, it really is a state, it's the one between Oregon and Sacramento.

Had fun testing the camera(NikonD40) at 65(well sometimes 75)mph. I used the "little running man" setting. Found I had to roll down the window--the camera sometimes had trouble focusing between the distant landscape and the smudged or glare-y windows. These three shots are of the west side of I-5. Cattle country, No-Man's Land. Just the way I like it. The Pacific Crest Trail passes through those hills. Someday...someday...
More later!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Gone for Spring Break

Back the end o' March(I can't wait to get back, there's NO PLACE LIKE HOME!!)

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Green and White for St Patrick

More Indian Plum...
Iris blades in the sunlight...
This little patch of snowdrops is a mystery. It survived logging, and originally was in the middle of deep, deep woods. Snowdrops are not native, and I know there is not another patch for quite a long ways around. A bird must have carried the seed.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Indian Plum

The Indian Plum has sent out its leaves and let loose its white blossom chains. Oemleria(named for August Oemler)cerasiformis(cherry shaped) is a common shrub in the Pacific Northwest, the first leafer of Spring. (I googled August Oemler and all I can find(at least going three pages deep), is an astronomer who likes Bootes--an interesting mystery to solve someday.) It grows to about 15', and has separate male and female trees.

The blossoms of Indian Plum, according to the field guide, smell like "a cross between watermelon rind and cat pee"; mine smell like grass--that a cat indeed did pee on. The "plums" are miniature, about 1cm. Supposedly they are sweet when ripe, but the birds love them too, so good luck finding a ripe one. An older name is Osoberry. The native americans ate them raw and cooked, and made a dish for feasts mixing the plums with oolichan(a small fish)grease.

Every year I watch for the Indian Plum. Its new leaves sit upright and are shaped like candle flames, and do indeed glow in the bright sun that comes through the leafless trees. The blossoms are a happy beginning to the long line of wildflowers soon to come. The Indian Plum does seem to transplant well, and grow tall pretty fast if they're in the right spot.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Stump Homes

Cleaning off my desk the other day(which just resulted in re-organized piles), I found this picture my dad sent me. In the 30's and 40's the Big Tree Inn was a few blocks from where I grew up near Des Moines, WA. DesMoines was originally a log town, with mills and docks for loading logs on ships, and now it is a nice little bedroom community of Seattle with a cool marina and a handful of beach parks. The "Big Tree Inn in the Charmed Land"was built from a 2000 year old redwood tree. The original living tree was 300 feet tall, the dbh was 20'. The butt end, shown below on its side, was sawn in half before being loaded onto a rail car, then hollowed out and reassembled into this tiny restaurant for the hungry traveler. A chicken dinner with all the trimmings could be had for $1.50. Sadly it burned before I was around to see it.
Oddly, it bears not a small resemblance to The Stump House in Eureka, CA. This place too met its demise by fire in the 90's.

The following two pictures of stump houses are by Darius Kinsey, the "Ansel Adams" of the pioneer days of the Pacific Northwest. Lots of folks lived in stump houses...a good use for the enormous stumps left behind.

"A fiddle, a bicycle and thee..." how much fits in a stump house? The small print says this house was 8x10 inside.

You can see the springboard notches on the side of the stump. The caption says the window was the most expensive item in the house. You can see a real stump house at the Tillamook Pioneer Museum in Tillamook, OR that an old skanky trapper guy lived in. I think it makes a wonderful house. On the other hand I'd rather leave the tree on top, too.
Of the few period articles I've found about stump houses, it seems the locals viewed stump squatters as eccentric...of course people who lived in stumps had no other option. You can read about one resident here . Most of them spoke of their stumps with affection.
What would it be like to live in a stump? Sam lived in one in my favorite childhood book, My Side Of the Mountain(by Jean Craighead George) . I imagine a stump would be just enough, and nothing more. One could learn many things from "just enough".

Thursday, March 8, 2007


The theme for Good Planets is "Home". Here's a few pix of my nest, nestled in the trees. Growing up my sister and I were always making lean-tos, little houses under a cozy spot in the trees. My childhood home had second-growth woods along the back where we and the neighborhood kids played. Of course those woods are houses now(they sit on top of springs and are constantly having water problems-haha).
My home is an a-frame, unobtrusive, just big enough for my family, with all outdoors around us to live in. I have learned a lot about myself living here, who I really am, what makes me tick. I am really myself here, and I'm thankful for that gift, something I'll carry no matter where I may have to live in the future. It seems the big picture of all life comes into its proper perspective here. I can hear myself think(or not think, just be...).
So this picture kind of sums up what I feel about "home". The top of my house peeping out from the surrounding woods--a small, simple place, full of loving family, deep within natural nature, "far from the madding crowd".

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Two Moons

Between Two Moons

As the Budding Moon flies
through a cold starfull sky
newts slumber beneath moss
blankets, dreaming
of Spring.

Oaks tower, quiver
in the waning persistance
of the north wind, the earth
swells and heaves, rolls
over restless, waiting
for the Leafing Moon.

Soon. Spring
waits to exhale.

(top photo, noonday moonrise; bottom photo, early morning moonset)

Friday, March 2, 2007

Colors of the Ohanapecosh River Water

Here are some more pix of the Ohanapecosh River in Mount Rainier National Park(see previous post for trail journal). I've never seen a river with so many colors in the water. Even the rocks in the gravel bars are a rainbow of greens, reds, yellows, pale blue and greys(I do admit I took a few home).

Every morning my sister and I would get up about 6am and walk around all the campground loops, savoring the quiet new morning. One morning the water was this beautiful turquoise blue. I wish I knew what caused it. Something happened upstream, or upglacier maybe? (Growing up I remember a similar paler blue in the rivers after a heavy snowmelt). A few hours later the water was back to its more transparent teal color. Of course it was utterly beautiful in real life!
This is a pool we found by taking a deer trail off the main trail. The water was a very intense emerald green(this photo was scanned and didn't translate well). Out of the many pools we saw, only this one had this green. I wish I knew what combination of light and reflection makes this green!
This photo shows how crystal clear the water is, in reality! You can also see the rainbow colors of the rocks, and the pretty ribbons of sunlight and shadow dancing across them.

And here is the deep turquoise/teal blue around the granite boulders.

Again, I'd love to know what combination of things and atmosphere produce these colors. Same water, different light coming through the trees, different light bouncing off different rocks, different depths, different speeds of flow.

Mount Rainier Journal: Hike on Chinook Creek/Ohanapecosh River, August 2005

Here at home, snow, rain, snow, rain, rain, rain. As the plants begin to sprout I start thinking about summer vacation and new or old places to explore. My family has visited and camped at Mt Rainier National Park since before my folks were married. When we woke up in the morning at home near Seattle, we'd look out the window to see if "the Mountain" was out--whether or not you could see it was all you needed for a weather forecast. A few years ago my sis and I and our families went to camp at Ohanapecosh, on the south side of Mt Rainier. One day we asked the ranger to show us a trail no one used, that would end up back at camp. He showed us this trail, that starts at a pullout along highway 123, and follows water back to camp. He was right, we saw no one, not even footprints, until the Grove of the Patriarchs. So here we go...

(Hike, Deer Creek to Ohanapecosh River/CG--about 6 miles to the Grove of the Patriarchs, then 2 miles to Ohanapecosh Campground, gradual downhill, mileage is a guesstimate. )

Right from the roadside trailhead, I am swallowed up by the forest as I make a steep descent into the canyon to the confluence of Deer Creek, Needle Creek and Chinook Creek, and continuing along Cedar Creek. Falling water chases itself down canyon around and over and through a gully of tumbled granite boulders. The water is so clear I can see the fish, the fish see me and flick away. The air above is thick with the green of hemlock, cedar and fir. Rattlesnake plantain is blooming, its tiny pale ½” blooms perfect miniatures of tropical orchids. The trail through the forest is softened by the duff of fallen needles and squirrel middens of dissected fir cones are left in the trail undisturbed--not many feet pass here. Large granite boulders lie submerged in the hillside. Red and blue huckleberries are everywhere, perfectly ripe.

If I pay attention well enough, I can find small side paths or deer trails that lead to pools or waterfalls that I would never see or know were there if I kept to the main trail. I could spend all day following this river with my camera. One path leads to a clear deep pool under a waterfall, with pebble shallows as the river flows on. I wish I could swim like a fish, circling the pool, breathing that beautiful water. Looking up from the pool I can see what lies beneath the forest floor in the cliff wall around me, cedar trees wrap their roots round cracking granite, forcing the fingers into the rock, prying it apart.

The trail crosses many tributary creeks, each one unique in its beauty, speed and music. I come to the confluence of the Ohanapecosh River and Cedar Creek, a loud crash of water shooting over big boulders. The bridge is just scary enough over the river--one handrail is missing, with a 30 foot drop to the river below. It’s a great spot for lunch, dangling the feet over the wild torrent that thunders by at tons per second in an extravagance of clear water.

As I keep on, the trees are getting taller, wider. I’m getting thirstier and the huckleberries are just right, popping with a rush to match the river. The trees are now giants. Their wide trunks bend and reflect sound, concealing and revealing the roar and rumble of the river. The trees are so big and old and full of experience they somehow express a being-ness, an individual life lived in this forest left alone in peace.

The trail angles up the hillside away from the river. Water sounds fade away as the river flattens out and slows in the widening valley floor. I hear more birds, sparrow calls, an unfamiliar song. I hear my own footsteps, my heart beat. Wood sorrel, vanilla leaf, pipsissewa, wintermint, coltsfoot, devil’s club, Oregon grape, salal--all old friends. I run my fingers through the licorice-stalked deer ferns. Bunchberries glow with their late summer crown of six neon orange berries. The afternoon wind stirs in the treetops, high and fine through the billions of needles on the huge firs and feathery cedars.

The river sounds return as I round an outcrop of granite with a surprise of a long vista to the far hills. The trail drops down through a tangle of vine maples and alders and the smells of wet and decay and nettles. I’m back on the river flowing wide and slow over a cobbled beach. A suspension bridge sways overhead. The Grove of the Patriarchs waits on the other side, and I'm back in the tourist realm.

(I have more river pix to post tomorrow--Good Night!)