Friday, October 14, 2016

Ancient Spirits - Crater Lake!

Stories from the Klamath Indian tradition tell of the many battles here between Spirit chiefs Llao (of the below-world) and Skell (of the above-world):

 In one visit to the above-world, Llao fell in love with the chief's daughter.  He promised her eternal life if she would live with him below the mountain.  She refused, and in anger Llao threatened to destroy her people, rushing up through the opening of his mountain and hurling fire down upon them.  Skell took pity on the people and stood on Mount Shasta to defend them.  They waged battle, hurling red hot rocks as large as hills, making the earth tremble, causing fiery landslides.  The people fled to the waters of Klamath Lake.  Two holy men offered to sacrifice themselves by jumping into the pit of fire on top of Llao's mountain.  Moved by their bravery, Skell drove Llao back underground.  When the sun rose, the mountain was gone.  It had fallen in on Llao, leaving a large hole.  Rains came, filling it with water.  The lake became known as Giiwaas (a most sacred place). 

Crater Lake is a sacred place, not only for young men (still) seeking spiritual guidance for their future, but for many of us as we visit this beautiful, serene place. 

Jack and I had a rare opportunity to be in this part of Oregon on a wonderful clear, sunny October day so that we could spend the time to visit this absolutely gorgeous national park.  They were repaving part of the west rim, so we couldn't make the full circle, but we didn't miss much because of it.  Being in early October, the crowds were minimal, which made it extra nice as well. 

With the sun out, I was really caught off guard when we first came across the snow covered hills.  It just hadn't occurred to me that even though we were over 5,000' high, we would encounter snow so early in the year.  We soon found out (from the ranger) that they actually have snow in certain areas there year around! 

That was only the first of several surprises...;-)   It truly is as blue and as deep (1943') and as beautiful as the pictures and postcards show that it is...  It's not as "touristy" as I expected it to be.  I thought it would be more like Tahoe, with lots of restaurants and shops, etc. all along the route...not here.  Only one, at the lodge, and quite nice too (and not over-priced, I thought). 

It had some fun, unusual "highlights" to discover along the drive as well.  Obviously there were special areas to enjoy seeing various views of the "main island" which is called Wizard Island.  During the summer you can take a boat to it, but there's really nothing much on it.  But there is another smaller island, that doesn't get much recognition, that is pretty cool, called Phantom Ship (because it kind of looks like one).  It's tucked into a small area along the east rim. 

Wizard Island, from Mirriam Point along Crater Lake

Phantom Ship, from Danger Bay along Crater Lake

Another really cool site is the Pumice Castle.  It's actually a layer of orange pumice rock that has been eroded into the shape of a medieval castle. 

Then, further along the rim are the Pinnacles...It's a 6-mile detour from the Rim Drive, but really something to see.  It was these weird, colorful spires, 100' tall, being eroded from the canyon wall.  The Pinnacles are fossil fumaroles where volcanic gases once rose up through a layer of volcanic ash, cementing the ash into solid rock.  Another reminder of what took place here...

Vidae Falls was a small waterfall that comes from a spring-fed creek, tumbling over a glacier-carved cliff and drops 100' over a series of ledges.  At this time of the year, it wasn't a "gusher", but at least it did have some water (more than Yosemite). 

A lovely day, a wonderful lunch and many photos and smiles later, our day was done.  I dare say, the spirit of this lake will stay with me a long, long time...

...on the road in Oregon,   Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Oh Those Magnificent Redwoods!

We've been enjoying the mighty redwoods for several days train, car and walking through them...we just can't seem to get enough of them!  I've taken more than a hundred pictures and keep seeing "another shot" (even though I tell myself "that's enough Marie").  I just wish there was away to capture the keep some for myself and to share it with everyone else, it's so incredible!  The Sequoia trees have that smooth beauty, but the Coastal Redwoods have such a deep rich smell...

We started our adventure by taking a train, how cool is that?  If you have been following me, you already know that we love trains...all kinds of trains, so put that together with seeing these magnificent trees and what better combination can you have for the day?

The Skunk Train was like no other train we have ever taken before.  First off, the one we were on was almost more like a bus with train wheels (and noises) than any train we've been on. It was built in 1925 and was their Motorcar M100 (the only one of its kind still working). 

The nickname “Skunk” originated in 1925, when motorcars were introduced (today sometimes referred to as railbuses or railcruisers). These single unit, self-propelled motorcars had gasoline-powered engines for power and pot-bellied stoves burning crude oil to keep the passengers warm. The combination of the fumes created a very pungent odor, and the old timers living along the line said these motorcars were like skunks, “You could smell them before you could see them.”

The trip was a 4-hour journey from Willits CA to Northspur CA and back again.  It took us forty miles of railroad running through majestic redwood forests, scenic mountain meadows, and over 30 trestles and through one tunnel.  It even included a delightful minstrel who sang and played "railroad songs" along the way!  It was a fun way to jump start our trip through these beautiful woods!

From here we went to the coast and settled into Eureka for a couple of days.  We took the toad and then ventured into the Avenue of the Giants!  Holy cow!  Now we were really getting up close and personal.  Jack pulled over at every little pull-out so that I could jump out and "venture in" to shoot, oh & ah and smell, smell, smell!  It was heaven!  The weather was cool, but clear and beautiful.  Hardly anyone around, it was like we had the place to ourselves.  Each grove was just a little different from the last.  One with ferns, one with clover, one with lots of fallen trees, etc.  Pure magic.  

We stopped at the Visitor Center, where they had some wonderful displays, and one gave us quite a was of an RV made from one very large redwood log!  The Nash Quad Travel Log (c1917).  It had a truck body, but the rest was made from the redwood log!  What a hoot!  Mr. Kellogg lived and traveled in that RV for years too!  Good for him!  

Our love of the redwoods wasn't quite quenched, so we ventured further north and headed to Crescent City for a couple more days.  We then drove through the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.  Amazing how each area can be so different from the other.  While here we got out and took a small hike into the the Stout Grove and wandered around and around these beautiful trees.  Their size, their strength, their various shapes and colors, their smell, knowing their age...all of it is amazing and mesmerizing.  

We will be leaving them tomorrow, heading northeast a bit, but their grandeur will stay with us forever. There was a quote posted at one of the parks by John Steinbeck that I thought summed it up beautifully "The redwoods, once seen, create a vision that stays with you always...they are not like any other trees we know, they are ambassadors of another time."   I'm so glad we took this time to spend with them...

...on the road,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at: