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South: St. Helens, Timberline, and Bend
Sept 20-28, 2015Dear Diary, Friends, and Families,
Written September 21+
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.
Back 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.
Having 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Wednesday. 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.
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.
And 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.
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.
Friday, 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.
Our 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.
Sunday. 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.
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
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