Sisters Road Trip

No itinerary, no destination, no supplies made for a hysterical road trip. That combined with our sense of humor got others involved. Nothing was off limits or impossible. I borrowed from her and we borrowed from Mother Nature.

Nature IS Art

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by nmagann on June 14, 2012

So often we focus on land and seascapes or particular flora or fauna. Case in point, do you not turn your head toward the direction of sound? Do you not look at tree from where an acorn has dropped or bird has chirpped? Of course, the waves breaking along the beach and the crest of a mountain can't be ignored either.

Traveling along the Ring of Fire was no exception. However, we began noticing the creations of nature as art. Photos zoomed in on a areas of nature itself with no distractions, nothing to stand out and draw your attention to a mere fragment of the picture. A lake was filled with boiling mud spouting up all over with sounds that plopped, spurted, beeped and groaned. One lone eruption looked like a miniature volcano spewing a silky gray material with streaks of black.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, a swirled section of untouched snow appear to be the lightest whipped cream in all the land. So light in some ways it seemed like it was made of cotton, or perhaps I should say cotton candy. I felt the need for fingers to caress the pattern the snow carved, to feel the smoothness.

Even the gentle ripples the wind created enhanced the flawlessly pebbled bottom of stream we hiked. One particular section was strewn with the same color, size and shaped pebbles. The color pattern was consistent with no shading to mar the area. No singular stone diverted attention from the creek floor as a whole. There was just the wavelets tracing watery diamond shapes across the top of the stream bed.

Similarly a section reminiscent of Zion, looked as if they had chiseled horizontal waves carved into them. Yet pastel shades of red, orange black and beige replaced the blue and green hues of water. Something as hard as rock could be designed so strikingly as to mimic the horizon during a spectacular sunset is amazing.

But another type of rock, the red sandstone for which Sedona is famous, has finger size holes everywhere. These air pockets are typically found in volcanic rock. The sandy feel of this rock begs for me to try out the finger size holes as if I were looking for the perfect bowling ball. I contemplated the idea that some tiny creature could use these for home rather like the hermit crab that moves from one discarded shell to another as he grows.

The realization that it is neither the speed at which you travel, covering more ground, nor the places you go, the more exotic the better, but rather the how much you really look that enhances the journey and makes worthwhile memories.

Paulina Lake Endures

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by nmagann on June 26, 2012

Newberry National Volcanic Monument in Deschutes National Forest was just one of the spectacular walks we went on while camping for a night at Paulina Lake. Following the Obsidian Trail was a unique experience for many other travelers I later discovered.

As usual, we managed to find a place to spend the night not too long before nightfall. We pitched the tent and walked over to the edge of the lake. Here we caught a glimpse of what dusk would soon be hiding from us. Before hitting the sack, we both decided a cup of hot chocolate would be nice. We did have a couple of Styrofoam cups and packets of hot chocolate, but were lacking hot water. We had nothing to start a fire, all the surrounding twigs were much too damp but more importantly we didn't have anything in which to heat the water.

Upon arrive we met John, the campground host who had steered us toward a nice spot near the edge of the water. It was also conveniently located across from his trailer. Naturally, we decided to knock on his toward and ask to borrow a cup of hot water. He invited us in while the water was heating. He even offered us something to eat determining we must really be unprepared. He gave us some tips on what to see around the area.

One of the first places we went to was the obsidian trail. As far as the eye could see, there was obsidian. Higher up the snow was melting revealing more, black surface. Small crystal clear lakes dotted the area with steams gently wafting up as the suns raying began heating the water.

Next, we discovered nearby lake where a small parking lot with perhaps one or two other vehicles stood. One apparently hauled the kayak we saw on the lake. The snow rising up as a backdrop with a chuck of snow about to be a floating berg made for a picturesque scene. From where we were standing, after having plotted a path around the mud and deep snow, we were standing in the midst of pitcher plants. These rare plants that I have never seen in the wild are capable of trapping insects with intoxicating nectar only to feed on them.

The rare beauty and sites we discovered will forever bring us back to Paulina Lake.
Deschutes National Forest
1001 SW Emkay Dr
Bend, Oregon, 97702
541 383 5300

Winning Combinations

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by nmagann on June 27, 2012

Big Horse Brew Pub is an exceptional restaurant whose name my imply that is more of beer hall. Following the road no more three blocks from the rivers edge, it abruptly stops at the side of a hill. This three-story restaurant is available to provide magnificent views regardless of level. To one side of the restaurant an outdoor set of stairs lead beyond the restaurant to the street level above. You can enter the third level where inside and outside dining is available from either within the restaurant or these outdoor stairs.

Naturally we opted to sit outside on the wooden deck looking out over the kite boarders in the river. The temperature was optimal, although I notice they had heaters that perhaps they use when it is a cooler season or later in the evening.

We order a glass of wine and appetizer that could have easily sufficed as the entire meal for both of us. We started of with the Hoisin Tofu with Sweet Chili Sauce. As a side note I didn’t and still don’t know what hoisin is and I do not choose to eat anything with chili or peppers or anything else I perceive to be hot. Imagine my surprise to find out delicious it was. The tofu was lightly coated with sesame seeds and crushed peanuts and barely fried. The incredible crunchiness belied the fact that it was tofu. The reddish dipping sauce was delicately flavored with no hint of heat or overly spicy.

The food is fresh organic and of better quality which is evident in every morsel. The Portobello burger was cooked just right and was one large mushroom covered with melted gorgonzola and fontina cheese. A large slice of beefsteak tomato and dollop of avocado topped it off. Once again, the sauce or actually balsamic coating that tantalized the taste buds. It came complete with salad made from a variety of spring mix and not just plain lettuce.

My sister seemed more than satisfied with her quesadilla. The combination of black beans and corn looked quite appetizing. Much to my surprise, I had to perform a taste test to make sure her food was safe, the combination of poblano and red peppers along with pepper jack cheese was not spicy hot. Perhaps is was the green onion mango mix or avocado chipotle cream that soothed my taste buds.

I think next time I’ll try the Mint Pesto. Sounds like a winning combination.
Big Horse Brew Pub
115 West State Street
Hood River, Oregon, 97031-2315
(541) 386-4411

Birding and More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by nmagann on June 26, 2012

Hagelstein County Park in Oregon is directly across from Upper Klamath Lake off the 97 highway. We stumbled upon this gem partly because we needed a rest stop. Much later, I discovered it was one of the stops on the extensive Klamath Basin Birding Trail. This trail consists of more than 40 places that extend from the Klamath area in Oregon into California. Check out the website for a road map of the birding areas along with the types of birds you'll encounter. Keep in mind there is far more than birds at these places.

We had no more than gotten out of the car when in my peripheral vision I saw something swim in the pond. After walking around the water’s edge, the idea that it had been a beaver was eliminated. The tail was too wide to be a muskrat, I thought. Ultimately, I determined that it must have been a river otter, although I have no conclusive evidence. Not that there is an inquisition in progress.

This sighting, in turn, caused us to walk around both of the connected lakes to view the wildlife. We found a couple of very playful marmots that ran across the grass just under some vines. Here, they peered out at us while continuing to play with each and preen each other's coat.

A green heron stood on a rock near the shore patiently waiting for a meal to swim close enough. At the same time, the longer and lither blue heron kept watch on the water from the other side of the pond. We had apparently stopped by at dinnertime for everyone.

We hopped in the car and parked on the other side of the lake for one last look before moving on. My sister opened her door only to be looking straight down at a small snake. It couldn't have been more than several inches away from the door. It seemed to stand or sit or whatever it does, still, while she took pictures from all angels. One last parting shot and it cocked its head sideways and looked directly up to her as if to inquire if she was finished. Had she known what kind it was, no doubt, she would have picked up the little creature.
Hagelstein County Park
17301 Highway 97 North
Klamath Falls, Oregon

Our Crater Lake

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by nmagann on June 27, 2012

Our trek to Crater Lake proved to a multifaceted experience. As young children, our family had visited there and my recollection was quite poor. However, my sister with steel-trap memory recalled much of the area right down to the name of Wizard Island, which we were just days short of visiting as the ferry to the island didn't begin operation until the 4th of July.

We started at the highest point where a large parking lot offered a panoramic view of Crater Lake. What came as a positively incredible shock to me was the clarity of the water as well as the peaks far off in the distance. I have come to view photos in magazines from professionals as beautiful but not realistic. What are my chances of seeing the Taj Mahal without tourists around and white as snow? Aren’t models body sometimes airbrushed and scenery photo shopped? Crater Lake is simply impossible to see or photograph without looking positively pristine with vivid colors and sharp lines. It is truly breathtaking and definitely called for more exploration on side roads.

The road curved around one such area that we pulled over to have a better look. At first it seemed as if there was no vegetation and the snow was completely level. A little closer we saw a beautiful turquoise ring encircling most of the area. Perhaps it is a marsh of some sort. Wearing only sneakers, we walked further out to take photos from where we saw no other footprints. What could possibly produce such incredible color? The sky was very dark blue, a completely different color but still gorgeous. As I straddle the crevice to take a photo, my sister realized we were standing on lake that was in process of thawing. Thoughts of hypothermia made me shudder and I quickly stepped back.

Back on solid ground where the snow was receding plants began to emerge. The colors seemed so vibrant here where the air was clear. Trickles of water from the snow melt caress the shoulders of the asphalt while seasonal streams rushed over rocks to merge with it. All of the water bringing new life will eventually reach the bottom of the mountain and breathe new life into dry fields while the sun warms the ground. The cycle of seedlings, seed pods, and bulbs made the air fresher and I breathed in deeply.

We eventually made our way down to the dock where the ferry seasonally departs for Wizard Island. Along with many others, we finished off the trek with a cool, very cool dip into Crater Lake.
Crater Lake
OR 62 & 138
Crater Lake National Park, Oregon, 97604
(541) 594-3000

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