Sunday, April 28, 2013

Where There Are Waterfalls, So We Shall Be

I've always been in awe of water. It has such immense power, such a mighty presence, combined with a sense of beauty and peace. I'm sure I've written in the past about how much water reminds me of God. I come to it with a mix of awe, fear, love, respect, and wonder, much as I come to Him.

So it is no surprise that our journeys into nature often lead us to magnificent water sources. We first ventured out to Silver Falls back in the fall, and were thoroughly doused by both the falls and the rain. Even as we soaked in the impressive grandeur of the area, we were so cold and wet by the end that it was hard to really enjoy it all. Therefore, early in April we went back for another round. There was no sign of rain in the sky this time around, so we were able to make the most of our hike as we took in the sights.

While there is a five dollar parking fee at Silver Falls, I would highly recommend this hike to anyone. There are few places in the world where you can see so many spectacular waterfalls in one hike. There are at least ten falls on the hike, and each one of them is unique and amazing. While the trail can occasionally be treacherous, they are well cared for, and offer the opportunity to walk behind these mighty walls of water.

Unlike the popular and easy to get to Silver Falls, Oregon's Niagara Falls are well off the beaten path. I'd found information about them online months ago, but the first time we tried to find them we ended up driving in frustrated circles, which ultimately led us to discover an ATV road up in the mountains. We enjoyed our first drive on this random and isolated road so much, that a couple weekends ago we decided to drive up there again. This time, much to our surprise, we actually found signs for Niagara Falls, so we decided to try again.

I've spent a lot of time living in the country, and I've driven on more than my fair share of junky dirt roads, but the one leading to these falls takes the cake. We're talking pot holes bigger than our car. The first holes were so large and full of water I was pretty much certain we were going to get stuck. Fortunately, we pulled through, and continued for five miles over chunky rocks I kept praying would not pop our tires, and around countless massive car hungry pot holes. Mark was certain I had completely lost my mind and my way, but thankfully a Forest Service sign suddenly loomed before us stating that we had arrived at the parking lot, which basically means a muddy flat area next to the road.

It was already about 6:30 when we came to a stop, but we knew we weren't likely to ever brave that hideous road again, so we jumped out and headed down the dark and heavily forested path.

It was eerily silent as we made our way along the twisted trail. I heard a fly or two, but there oddly weren't even any birds around. I should mention that before we arrived we drove through a patch of snow at the top of the mountain, so maybe the birds were just too cold to sing up there. We also met a herd of Elk and a family of deer on the road. That doesn't happen often with the city driving we do every day, so it made the afternoon just that much more special.

Anyhow, we hurried down the trail for about ten or fifteen minutes and then the sound of water began to filter through the trees. The falls we came across were nice, but not very spectacular, and Mark wasn't sure all the trouble was going to be worth it. I just kept walking, and the booming began to grow louder until, at last, we glimpsed the real Oregon Niagara Falls in the distance.

We kept walking, and there were actually two falls down at the bottom of the trail.

In the end, he agreed that it was worth it after all. Obviously, we had to the place to ourselves, which made the finding even more special. There were tracks showing that someone had been there earlier in the day, but it's not a place most would venture for an evening hike :) We hurried back up the trail, and made it back to the car before it was too dark. I definitely was not looking forward to wending my way back through the pothole nightmare, but we made it to the main road before we were totally out of light, so that was a relief.

Just further proof that you never know what you'll end up finding when you wander around this big crazy world of ours. It's not quite as wild as finding a castle in the woods, like you can discover over in Europe, but still pretty cool.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Floral Scented Breezes

It wasn't exactly hot today, but there was no doubt that winter has passed. Even at eight in the evening, the smell of flowers was heavy in the air, and there was enough warmth and light to finish up some yard work. Maybe one of these days I'll share about my attempt to mow the lawn with the ancient push mower...I call it an attempt, because eventually the neighbors decided I wasn't just celebrating Earth Day, and offered the use of their motorized mower...Anyhow, I'm more interested in sharing our little beach venture today.

In case I haven't pointed it out before, we like going to the beach. Today, we took advantage of the lovely weather, and set out in search of a beach free from people. Shockingly, we actually found one. Moolack Beach was just the place. Thanks to a horrendously steep and treacherous approach, as well as a wild wind that did its best to make sure my eyes were being attacked by my own hair or sand, no one else really wanted to hang out on this pristine strip of sand.

It is amazing the bits of wonder there are to discover around the beach. I love having a chance to focus on the details.

If I ever visited this beach before, I missed out on the most fascinating part. There is an entire foreign landscape, made up of hairy rock formations surrounded by tide pools. These weren't the type of pools where you find animal life, but we could definitely imagine some tiny community living in this other worldly place.

Well, it's getting late, and my brain is shutting down, so I'll end before I really start to ramble. Just wanted to share some of these photos while they're still ultra fresh. I have some other beach photos form earlier in the month that I'll have to post before long as well, but for now, I'm off.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

And Then There's Gatsby

There are days when college seems absolutely ages ago. I'm not going to go into any specifics, but a decade does come into play if I'm going to be honest. And in the time that has transpired, I have moved around a lot. It's not just about changes in place, but changes in focus and life and oh so many other bits and pieces of transformation. At the same time, when I think of the me I was then, I still feel like I know her, like we're connected intimately on so many levels. She's still a person I would want to take the time to consider a friend.

I can't deny that I allowed a bit of snobbery to affect my school persona. I was one of those student types, and I took it on completely, sometimes to the detriment of kindness when I felt the ideas of others were subpar. But time has passed, and while I've had the chance to proof read a couple university thesis papers for former students over the last two years, it's been a long time since I've had to do any sort of elevated writing. I'm sure that if I pulled out my college essays I would be tragically amazed by what I knew that has now just floated away into the dimmest reaches of my mind. Not that I've fully sunk to idiocy, but the days when I basked in the glow of the Intelligentsia...

A few weeks ago, I saw a preview for "The Great Gatsby." It was a purely magical display of color and light, typical of the Baz Luhrman theatrical style, and I was instantly caught up in the desire to refresh my memory regarding this glorious achievement in American Literature. I picked up the copy I read back in my Simpson days, and found myself instantly immersed in memory. My wiggly underlining and scribbled side notes recalled the era so clearly. Though my actual recollections of the story are hazy, just reading the opening lines drew me back into the me I once was. Of course, as I read it now there are different lines that pique my interest, new themes that draw my attention in, life experiences that color the way I view the characters and they way they interplay with one another, but the beauty of the language, and the clarity of thought with which F. Scott Fitzgerald weaves his story still captivate me utterly.

It is so easy to get so caught up in the daily routines of life that the freshness of each new day becomes dull. Life becomes little more than the passage of days scratched in the walls of a prison cell. The hopes of the future are dim wishes, clouded by the struggles of keeping a business running. I find myself removed so far from the me I thought I was that I scarcely know who I am any more. But reading this book brings the past back poignantly, even though it is impossible to repeat it. Reopening the door, taking a walk, seeing things anew in varying shades of light.

I suddenly realized not all the pictures I wanted ended up here. Hmm...Let's see if I can find the rest of my self promoting poser shots...

Okay, that's better. I have now successfully demonstrated that the girl with the spiky blue hair that I knew to be me my senior year of college is more a figment of my imagination at this stage than any sort of reality...

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Flower Obsession is Back!

Spring. It's a tough season to miss. Despite gray skies and cool temperatures, it comes in with a flash of color that dares the world to pay attention. We've actually been pretty lucky over in this little corner of Oregon this spring. Gorgeous sunny days have snuck their way in, giving the opportunity to really enjoy these bits of joy that defy the cold embrace of winter.
One of the many benefits of living in my grandparents old home, is being able to enjoy Grandma's beautiful flowers. While the yard may not be quite as immaculate as when she was around to take care of it, memories of her are clearly in bloom.

I've been enjoying my new iPhone, which is much easier to hook up and download pictures from than my old phone was. This means being able to share some of my Instagram entertainment as well. All that last set of photos were of the camellia bush at the side of our house. It has been absolutely fabulous this spring.

The neighborhood has a nice variety of other flowers around, so here are a few other offerings from around the block.

In the few free minutes we have free from the store, we have driven around to enjoy the beautiful nature that Oregon has to offer. My next post will cover some of the more dramatic views that we've partaken of, but for now, we'll stick with the flowers :)

Yes, Spring is definitely in the air around these parts.