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South: St. Helens, Timberline, and Bend

Sept 20-28, 2015
Written September 21+
Dear Diary, Friends, and Families,

On Sunday (September 20), one month after we left home, we turned South for our return.  To make sure we get back our deposit, we thoroughly cleaned up our little Ballard apartment.  (I would like to rent to people like us!)  Then, we drove across sleepy and gray Seattle, with good memories, but ready to be homeward-bound.
d150920_01_course.jpgWe had two stops planned:  Mount St. Helens and Timberline Lodge, where we would hang around for four or five days.  Even on Sunday morning, Interstate 5 was busy.  The prosperity of the Northwest is reflected in the traffic, both in the cities and on the freeways.  It's not quite Los Angeles, but on its way!

d150920_14_movie.jpgBack in the 70s, I had a job where I lived in Portland and commuted north, almost an hour, with Mount St. Helen as a beautiful anchor on the Eastern horizon.  I never tired of the scene. It was as beautiful a peak as anyone could hope for.  On May 18, 1980, long after I'd left the area, that vision changed as the peak disappeared in a violent eruption.  Since then, I'd always wanted to go back and now we had the time.

It is about an hour drive from Interstate 5 to the closest viewing area, a place called Johnson Ridge.  Along the way are a series of viewpoints and tourist stops, and we stopped at many.  Here's what we saw.
The clouds hid the mountain, but the Toutle valley was had a scrubbed floor, surrounded by reforested hills.
All along, we kept looking for a mountain, but saw only clouds.  However, at one of the last viewpoints, there was a brief clearing.  I took far too many pictures and yet they did not really capture the mystery of the place.
At Johnson Ridge, we could see the lake that is forming in the valley created by the blast.  The theater in the visitor's center showed interesting videos about both the eruption and the current restoration efforts. 

The best part of the show came at the end, when the screen was raised, the curtain pulled, and Mount St. Helens loomed above us.

A few wildflowers served as a reminder that even in the rocky gravel, nature fights to make her mark.

d150920_50_timbplaque.jpgHaving spent as much time as we could afford looking at clouds and hills, we headed south to Oregon and Mount Hood.  The day remained cloudy and we could not see much of Mount Hood before we were high on the mountain's side, pulling up to Timberline Lodge.  We will stay here for several days, mostly because we can.  I suppose we will try some hikes, but maybe we will be able to just relax, draw (Marianne), and work on pictures (me).

From what I have seen so far, I will need to wander around the lodge taking lots of pictures.  I just love the 1930's Depression art and architecture. I promise, I won't show TOO many.

Arrival, our room, and our first dinner (expensive, but very good)

Art and architecture is everywhere.  We re staying in a museum.

I even have a desk for working on diaries and pictures.

On Monday morning I started the day 6am early, reviewing yesterday's pictures and writing the diary entry shown just above.  My Timberline diary-writing spot may be my favorite for the whole trip.  When I first sit down, the lobby is dim, empty, and quiet.  It's like an early-morning personal living room.  Good coffee is set out, facing a dark window. As the sky lightens, Mount Hood comes into view.  I could stay here.
A generous breakfast buffet made us search out the hotel exercise room, where we spent an hour or so convincing ourselves that a few minutes on an exercise bike made up for the sweet parts of our earlier meal.  Maybe, maybe not.

From there, we cleaned up and started a small hike, really small.  There are miles and miles of trails, but distance isn't really our thing.  We strolled and chatted with other hikers, a few no more serious than we, but most a bit more ambitious.  The ambition prize went to three backpack-laden guys who asked us to take their picture, documenting their 40-mile, three-day, hike encircling Mt. Hood.  We did not follow their example.

Our part of the Pacific Crest Trail had trees of different types.

Google showed us just how humble our walk was.

After lunch, we moved on to exercise of a different sort: Ping-pong and shuffleboard.  The lodge has a vintage ping-pong table that causes my balls to bounce out and Marianne's to bounce in.  The same thing happened when we tried our hands at shuffleboard.

Our late afternoon and early evening was spent watching sunset take over the Cascade Mountains.  We stationed ourselves just above the lodge and watched Mount Jefferson in the distance and the Three Sisters even farther.  Up close, Mt. Hood's peak changed shadows and colors.  I took far too many pictures, and I am including more than needed, but maybe you can get a feel of our mountain watching.

Evening Panorama from behind the Lodge.

Lodge, Valley, Three Sisters

Mount Jefferson (Three Sisters behind)

Mount Hood  -- Rocky fields where there normally is skiing, even in summer.  This has been a very dry year.

A great vacation day, even by retirement standards.

Tuesday.  We successfully completed our simple plan: Meals; Ranger Tour; Explore Government Camp;  Goof off.

Breakfast was by the fireplace, looking out to Mount Jefferson and the Three Sisters.  It took us hours to move.
We had to move only because we wanted to go on the Forest Service tour of the Lodge at 11:00.  Ranger Nathan gave a broad explanation of the history of the building and of the general ecology of the area.  I hope to do a whole "sub-diary" of Lodge art and architecture, so that picture show will have to wait. The ranger tour did point out that Timberline, and the lands of Mount Hood, are designated for public use.  They are not museums or wilderness areas.  Over the years, Timberline Lodge has been worn out, abandoned (1955), restored, updated (practical hand rails on stairs, for example), and now sees a million visitors a year.  Mount Hood itself is the second-most climbed mountain in the world, following only Japan's Mt. Fuji.
Ranger Nathan and a pair of old pictures showing the lodge life of the 1950s.
d150922_22_gcampsign.jpgFor excitement, and for a change of meals, we went down the mountain to the village of Government Camp.  The village had been the base camp for construction of the Lodge and for local skiing generally.  On our visit, the place was almost abandoned, with only one restaurant, a grocery store, a bar or two, and a small museum open for visitors.  Nonetheless, the sandwiches at the Huckleberry Inn were tasty and the museum was locally insightful.  Most of the displays were built around donations from locals and primarily dealt with the ski industry over the years.  Everyone we talked with mentioned how dry and unusual this year has been and the resorts around Government Camp had suffered a season of just a few weeks, if they opened at all.  Pray for snow!
At one point, an aerial bus journey was offered from Government Camp up to Timberline
This old work bench could tell stories, I'm sure.
With all that excitement behind us, we settled back in the Lodge to read and relax.  We are staying here for five days, probably more time than "necessary", but it is enough that we are slowing down.  The lobby is becoming our living room, quiet mornings and evenings, but hectic during the daytime visiting hours. We dine leisurely.  We have our choice of outdoor or indoor exercise, maybe even a swim in the heated pool today.  We can nap.  Is there anything else?

d150923_04_read.jpgWednesday.  Our quietest day yet.  Two meals and a snack.  A small walk, not even enough to consider a hike.  Some time in the exercise room.  Reading.  Lodge pictures for the planned lodge-index.*  Nap.  Two diary updates. Evening by the fire.

Mount Jefferson and Mount Hood as beautiful as ever.

The way up the "Miracle Mile" chair lift.  From below, it looks like a toy, but zooming in reveals the size of the top facility.

Three pictures of the clouds around the top of Mount Hood, taken moments apart.

Thursday.  This is our fourth day at Timberline Lodge.  We have not noticed anyone else staying more than one or two days, but I think that's their loss.  We enjoy the slow pace, from breakfast, through trips to the tiny gym here, and out for small walks on the mountain.   A little reading.  Pictures and diaries for me and sketching for Marianne.

d150924_02_friends.jpgAnd talking with strangers.  In the lodge lobby or out on the trails, people just stop and chat.  "Where are you from?"  "Are you hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT)?"  "No snow this year."  Some chats are more interesting than others.  Yesterday evening we talked with two ladies who were sewing pillows for the lobby couches.  They are members of Friends of Timberline, a non-profit that helps promote the authentic Timberline experience.  In this case, the pillows were being made from old Pendleton blankets, recycled from the hotel itself.  Both the blankets and the practice of recycle are very emblematic of Timberline Lodge.

Walking up the stairs, we passed a young man who was coming down very slowly. Something about his struggle made us ask if he had been on the PCT and he introduced himself as Sam, cheerfully responding: "Yes, for four months and 2,000 miles."  There in the stairwell, and the next morning over breakfast coffee, he told us his story. 

His name is Sam Lillie (trail name "Minute Man") and two days after graduation from San Jose State, he started at the Mexican border and headed north.  His walk is part of an American Heart Association fund raiser, but mostly it is a test of his personal resolve.  His enthusiasm for his chosen task was infectious.  Check out his website for the whole story.

Sam with Marianne and with his mom, here on a resupply mission.

The rest of our day was as quiet as other Timberline days have been. We went out for a "hike", just because not doing so seems so lazy. (Nothing wrong with lazy in my book, but ...)  Bare Mount Hood was as impressive as ever.  We helped people take pictures by the Pacific Crest Trail sign.  We looked at the stunted above-timberline trees.  We took yet another picture of the Lodge and the hills in the southern horizon.
 Good day.  Again.  Our last Timberline day.

d150925_02_jeff.jpgFriday, goodbye to Timberline and on to Bend.  After one more slow breakfast, we wished Sam, "Minute Man", a good walk (600 miles to go), packed our things, and headed south.  The drive down from Mount Hood was gorgeous, as the forests first got thicker at lower elevations and then more sparse again, as we reached the inland plains of this part of Oregon.  All along the way, Mount Jefferson kept us company out the right-hand windows..

We only had about a two-and-a-half hour drive, so we were driving slowly and enjoying the new scenery, mostly the rolling hills of the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, with mountains off to the West.  About an hour into our trip, the flat plains broke abruptly as we descended down into a canyon and the village of Warm Springs. 

Since we had a bit of time, we stopped at The Museum at Warm Springs.  Several very modern and well done  displays presented the story of the three local tribes; Warm Springs, Wasco, and Northern Paiute.  All museums telling the story of American Indian peoples have a sadness connected with the displacement of their people and culture by the Euro-Americans.  That was true of The Museum at Warm Springs, but it was balanced by an optimistic explanation of current efforts to improve popular prosperity and cultural understanding.  Unlike the story given by the Plains Indians Museum we had seen in Rawlings Montana two weeks earlier, we left with some optimism that local culture would make it intact to later generations.

A thoroughly modern building and set of informative visual displays - and at least an hour's worth of videos.

The display of bead work was impressive and, at Warm Springs, photos were allowed.

d150925_30_valley.jpgThe drive continued south out of Warm Springs, first climbing back up to the high plains.  (Picture right.) Within an hour, we were going though the urban sprawl of Bend, a booming city of about 90,000 people.  The story is that Californians have discovered that the place offers retirement conditions with lower costs than in the Los Angeles Basin or San Francisco Bay. I don't think we are tempted, but who knows?

d150925_32_newhome.jpgOur goal was a stay at Connie's, one of Marianne's school friend whom we had seen in Portland, just three weeks ago.  This is her vacation home, although now that she is retired, I suppose "vacation" isn't the right word.  How about just "The Bend House".  We have been here less than 24 hours and I have to say we agree with her assessment that the dark blue skies and bright white puffs of clouds make Bend a charming break from Portland.

Saturday.  A quiet day in Bend.  Early morning at Starbucks, a regularity in this transient travel.  Have the car washed for the first time in six weeks.  It runs better.  I sat and read at home in the great room of Connie's Lodge.  Tranquil.  Marianne and Connie were out shopping, window mostly, in Bend's Old Mill area.  When it was all over, they returned and  combined on a dinner.
Pictures from a quiet day. View out back.  Clean car.  "Lodge"

Girls cooking and mugging.  Cute.

d150927_02_breakfast.jpgSunday.  We have settled into the Bend Lodge, thanks to Connie's hospitality.  Breakfast, like most meals, was a slow process, surrounded by conversation.  Marianne made the huckleberry scones from the mix we bought at Glacier National Park and we added the jam from there too.  (We have since noticed that the same kit is available here in Bend, but "imported" tastes better.)

We did have a tourism goal for the day: The High Desert Museum.  The museum offers a wide range of displays, from local flora and fauna, to history lessons concerning native and settler populations.  I suppose we saw less than half of what was available, but we have about a two-hour limit on museums, no matter how good.

Here's some of what we did see.

We learned more about a porcupine named Tumbleweed than we may ever need.

And we saw more desert crawly things than I KNOW we needed.

The Native American display showed the story we have seen before: discouraging interaction with Euro-American invaders, but some amount of hope for current and future generations.  (The house was a replicate of a 1950s reservation home.  It was still a tough life.)


In the afternoon, the girls explored more Bend galleries and shops, while I tried some photos of the Deschutes River.  I hope they had better luck shopping than I had with the photography.

In the evening, we caught part of the moon eclipse, but most of the time was devoted to chatting.  That has probably been the best part of the visit to our "Bend Lodge".  Thanks, Connie!

On Monday, we have a long drive down to Lassen Volcanic National Park. 

The next story.

John and Marianne

Timberline Lodge Details.
In our five-day stay, we kept seeing more and more details from the eighty-year-old lodge.  I wanted a record of what we saw and, as usual, our record turned out to be photographic.  The side-effect of this process is that I see even more as I point the cameras here and there.  Below are over 100 pictures of the rooms and details of Timberline Lodge.
- Outside
- Inside Areas
- Wood
- Furniture
- Ironwork
- Lighting
- Artwork

Outside - The building matches the battleship-gray of the locally-quarried rocks.  Snow can pile up above the first floor, or even higher, although skiing on the roof is no longer allowed.

The views may be the best "outside" features, from the heated swimming pool, to Mt. Jefferson out front and  the top of Mt. Hood looming over the back.

Inside Areas - The Main entrance leads to a lower lobby, complete with three fireplaces, a small museum, the Barlow Room (meeting and game room), and hotel offices and shops.

Upstairs, the main lobby and dining room.  Above that, the Rams Head Bar.

Our room and our neighbors.  There are fancier ones too, but I couldn't catch one open - and clean!

Wood - From the massive wood posts and beams to the abundance of carved wood decorations, Timberline's style is defined by wood.  These six main Douglas Fir posts were sized and faced by Harry Steiner and his son with ax and adz -- in less than two weeks.  Their labor charge was $25.00 per post.

Stairway posts were carved from recycled cedar telephone poles.

These carvings around the lower lobby were Indian motifs, taken from a 1932 Girl Scout's handbook.  Authentic?  Maybe.

Even the newest additions to the facility continue the carving tradition.
Furniture - Despite eighty years of heavy use, the furniture remains pretty much the same - hand-made and rugged, built for use.  To keep styles original, broken pieces are repaired as closely as possible to the original.  All the fabrics and curtains are hand-woven, matching the original in style and color.

My diary "office", Marianne's ping-pong victory table, our nightstand, a heavy chair, corner set.

A few samples of the original "all-weather" chairs remain, complete with rawhide seats, designed for use by woolen-clad skiers,soaked from a day in the wet snow.

Ironwork - Original 1930s ironwork was both functional and creative.  Reportedly, everything was made from scrap iron, wrought by hand by skilled and novice blacksmiths. The andirons were re-cycled railroad tracks and the screen was made of old tuck snow chains.  No power tools, just strong arms and hands.

The handrails are "modern", required by current safety standards, but crafted in the old manner, by later generations of the original blacksmiths.

The 1600-pound door out to the "Roosevelt Balcony", where the president dedicated Timberline in 1938, sported perhaps the best ironwork.

Lighting - Chandeliers were made locally, by blacksmiths, carpenters, and tanners. Today, the curator still replaces cracked goat-hide shades with as close to the same material and workmanship as she can find.

Original lamps are found everywhere!

Artwork - The Rams Head Bar was decorated with a wonderful collection of Depression-Era paintings, the style we recognized as "Soviet Realism" in our days in Kiev.

Mountains were and obvious theme, out side and on the walls.  The stylized lodge on the right was one of Marianne's favorites.

And, of course, animals - painted, in tile, and as woodcuts.

Barlow Room, formerly the Grille Room.  Linoleum reliefs by Douglas Lynch.  Classics.


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