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Vistior’s Center at the Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge near Newport, Rhode Island.

For my birthday this year (January 9), I took a cold & windy walk along the Atlantic seashore at Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge. The visitor’s center was closed because the government is shut down. No comment.

My five days in Rhode Island were to see my friend Will, who was my guide and chauffeur. Will and I picked a path and started, since one doesn’t need a visitor’s center to go for a walk. As soon as we struck the trail, we met a woman leaving who was excited to have spotted some wildlife. She told us we would not see the Snowy Owl, as though she suspected that was our specific goal.

Our goal was simpler: just to be outside and look at the landscape. For my birthday I asked Will for two of my favourite things: a walk in nature and seafood.

The Ocean Trail wraps around the peninsula and has stunning sea views at all times.

Looking back the way we had come, along a tidal strait called Sakonnet River.

We drove south from Providence to a large island in Narragansett Bay, that is officially named Rhode Island (also called Aquidneck Island), from which I must assume the state takes its name, since this is the location of the earliest settlements here. Sachuest Point NWR is “242 acres that provide an important stopover and watering area for migratory birds,” as it says on their trail map. I liked this place from among other trails in RI because it is surrounded by the sea. If I was traveling from one ocean to another, I  would spend at least one day at the Atlantic, to truly make the trip coast-to-coast.

More than 200 species of birds visit this refuge, and we quickly spotted ducks that were too far away for a photo with the lens I brought. They might have been part of the largest winter population of Harlequin Ducks on the East Coast, but we didn’t identify them for sure due to distance and the raging wind making me reluctant to hold binoculars to my face for very long. Harlequin Ducks are wonderful to see. Here’s a photo I took of Harlequin Ducks near the end of a different post from 2016. Sachuest Point hosts a bunch of different kinds of raptors (hunting birds – I love them!), but I didn’t spot any. Much of the time I had my head bent into the wind, with a foot behind me bracing myself so the wind didn’t blow me over! It was hard to spot birds under these circumstances.

Will spotted a dark animal in the underbrush that we couldn’t identify until another one ran across the trail in front of us later on. It was a mink! I have never seen one in the wild. It was black, and fat, and just exactly as I imagined them. We also spotted a small group of white-tailed deer. The deer were like my “pet” deer at home, in that they let us get very close to them and were unconcerned. They were unlike my deer in that they are a lighter, golden colour, and are bigger and fatter.

A view from Prince’s Neck Overlook. See the two people in the lower left?

Will spotted deer! I was too short to see them until I stood up on my tiptoes.

…but then we rounded a bend and came upon these two beauties.

It was early afternoon, and since it’s winter, that means the sun was setting. Not really, but the sun was low on the horizon for a long time, making it seem like we were experiencing a three-hour sunset. Despite the frigid biting wind coming at us from the sea, we gazed out over the water much of the time. We noticed massive swells rolling in and then crashing as waves once they got closer to shore. I made a comment about how exciting those swells would be if I was still surfing, and Will said there were probably surfers out today. I thought he was joking around with me, but when we left the point that day and passed a different beach (sans all the huge and deadly rocks), sure enough, the water was filled with surfers!

Sun is low over Narragansett Bay

Swells roll into Narragansett Bay

Look at that smile! What cold wind?!

It had been at least an hour out there in the ridiculous freezing wind, and I could no longer feel my ears. I took off my scarf and wrapped it around my head because I had neglected to bring a hat. That helped immensely. I was still very very cold and unable to enjoy the sights much anymore, so we stopped most of our lollygagging and trucked on down the trail back to the visitor’s center. The sunset just got prettier, and I stopped for a few more photos because I’m incorrigible. I did force Will to endure some extending whining about how cold I was. I have lived in places of deep winter and below freezing temperatures most of my life, but more than a decade of living near Portland, Oregon has wiped out all my tolerance for other peoples’ winters.

Light on the water was so beautiful I stopped for more photos, despite wind chill in the single digits.

On the last stretch of the trail I spotted a beautiful church in the distance. When we got back into the car, I asked Will to take me there so we could explore up close.

What I had spotted was St. George’s School, an exclusive, prestigious boarding school. Still in the remaining light of our long sunset, the buildings at the school were illuminated and needed to be photographed.

From the grounds of St. George’s School, looking back toward where we had just come from.

Photo taken by Will, looking down the hill to Sachuest Point where we had walked.

A building at St. George’s School.

The front of the school

And of course the classic gothic chapel, the tallest structure around, on top of the hill, and drawing me here.

Dragons!!!

Irish pub?

Our raw bar selection

It was time for my next request: Seafood! We drove into the town of Newport and had the place mostly to ourselves because of the season. I could easily see this is a tourist town, and must be packed with humanity on warm days. We made our way to the docks and saw that my birthday sunset just kept going on and on, and made a few more stunning scenes. We wandered for a little while around the characteristic old sea town, but could no longer resist the pull of a good meal, not to mention heated indoor seating. We walked into The Mooring, and were told that Wednesdays are half price on the raw bar. We couldn’t resist that, and chose a selection of raw oysters, clams, shrimp, and lobster claws. Will isn’t an oyster lover, so I greedily ate them myself, liking the Rocky Rhodes the best. This fresh food only wheted our appetites and then we ordered full meals. I finally got warm. We had a window seat and watched the sun finally set for real.

Streets of Newport are clear in January.

Black Pearl and Cook House, two seafood restaurants that called to us.

A view from the docks.

The longest birthday sunset I can remember, lingers over Bannister’s Wharf.

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My snowy home on a hill.

I keep leaning toward complaints, but then I simply can’t follow through: this snow is spectacular.

I live in the Columbia River Valley, just 45 miles from the Pacific Ocean. This tends to keep my little piece of Paradise green, even in the depths of winter. But Mother Nature has been on a cold bent lately. Well, heck, I can’t even say “lately,” because it’s been cold and snowy for a couple months now. I’ve lived in very snowy places most of my life, and so this doesn’t compare, but I am still enjoying it.

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Jamie and Phil after the big snow, when they were still interested in it.

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The ladies have had enough snow and are running for shelter.

My chickens seem to be fine with it, but they do not like being cold. They hide in their little home most of the day rather than walk around in bare feet in the snow. They don’t eat much, leaving the chicken feed to the chipmunks. I expect to see some pretty fat chipmunks in the Spring. I need to go out each day, dump out a chunk of ice from their bowl, and refill it with water. They have also figured out that they can eat the snow.

They also aren’t laying, and I do not blame them one bit! Who would want to produce a massive egg once a day in the freezing cold? Not me.

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Looking past the apple tree into the neighbor’s yard.

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Beaver Creek burbles along gaily with no interruption.

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The sun came out for a few days, brilliantly lighting it all up. Those are my tracks in the foreground. I just can’t stay indoors when it’s this pretty out.

My photos aren’t as good as I would like. My camera is still fried from my trip to Chile. I haven’t made it to a camera doctor yet. The weather has been so rotten that roads are sketchy, and it hasn’t been worth an hour+ drive into town. Also, I’ve been sick, sick, sick. Feeling much better now, but annoyed by this lingering cough to clear out my lungs. Sounds like I have COPD.

Anyway, my iPhone camera is picking up the slack. I hope you enjoy the photos. It’s been pure winter deliciousness here.

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Our gorgeous Christmas tree!

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Tara balancing new sketchbooks.

 

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Evening sun making the treetops glow.

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I rarely need to, so I do not own a decent shovel.

I found out that a blogger friend of mine was  shorthanded on, as she put it, “young energetic people,” and I answered the call. Luckily it was pre-major snowstorm, and though cold, we did our work on a beautifully sunny day. The van was parked at the storage unit and we spent the whole day emptying the storage unit and filling the truck. It was windy, and when the sun dropped we nearly froze our patooties off, but we got the job done and went home elated and satisfied. It was discovered the next day that the truck had been loaded beyond legal weight and it had to be dismantled. That day I had to work and couldn’t help.

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TS inside the moving van.

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These tracks just melted my heart.

I’ve got a little good news that’s probably exciting only to me, but I’ll share it anyway. I mentioned in November that I have posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from military trauma. I’ll explain more about making disability claims with VA (The US Department of Veterans Affairs) later, but for now I’ll just say that I made a claim in 2008. The claim was denied in 2008 and again in 2009, so I appealed it in 2010. My appealed claim has languished for some reason. It’s still pending. I finally lost my patience and contacted my Congresswoman to stir things up a little, and it worked! Next week I will attend examinations in support of my claim. These consist of super-quick health evaluations not designed for treatment, but to assess the problem, then make an educated medical opinion on whether that problem could be related to military service. Then I wait around for someone to make a final legal decision. I’ll give it another year and then contact my Congresswoman again if necessary. Honestly, I think it has been long enough and my impatience is not out of line. If my claim is granted, any medical condition found by VA to be related to military service is then covered by VA for free. All doctor visits, medications, procedures. There is also a monthly stipend based on any loss of function determined to impact my employability. It would be a help.

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World made black and white.

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Playing with the sepia feature.

 

Thumbnail moon through birch seed pods.

Thumbnail moon through birch seed pods.

Out in my yard one evening, I looked up and spotted the moon through the branches of the weeping birch tree in my back yard. There is something very appealing and artistic about the shape of those seed pods, dripping down from the branches. I have noticed my birch tree several times during the last few days, and I am loving the changing views with the changing light.

Morning light makes dark shadows

Morning light makes dark shadows

Afternoon sun bursting between clouds lights up the pods to their yellowy fullness.

Afternoon sun bursting between clouds lights up the pods to their yellowy fullness.

The old brown pods are gone, and the new golden pods are packed with life potential.

The old brown pods are gone, and the new golden pods are packed with life potential.

Do you see what I mean about their shape? The field of vertical rods contrasts the branches of the cherry tree behind them.

Cherry blossoms

Cherry blossoms

Blossoms exploding in the sunshine like popcorn

Blossoms exploding in the sunshine like popcorn

{Oh, how clever this is! Click for what one crafter has done with birch seed pods.}

It’s the season for blossoms!

There is no better pink in the world than the pink of blossoms.

There is no better pink in the world than the pink of blossoms.

Flowers, sunshine, blue sky - if I'm not mistaken, it's Springtime!

Flowers, sunshine, blue sky – if I’m not mistaken, it’s Springtime!

Fingers of ice fan out

Fingers of ice fan out

As you may have heard on the news, Portland had a wintry weekend. We had 5-8 inches of snow in my part of town, followed by a half-inch of freezing rain. Then everything froze and stayed that way. It’s remarkable since we aren’t used to winter weather. But so many communities have had unusual winter weather this year.

In between freezing rain storms, the sun came out briefly. I went outside to photograph the ice.

frozen and sparkling

frozen and sparkling

The trees in the front yard, weighed down with ice. You can see many broken branches on top of the snow.

The trees in the front yard, weighed down with ice. You can see many broken branches on top of the snow.

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Our famous Multnomah Falls, as I've never seen it before

Our famous Multnomah Falls, as I’ve never seen it before

I get to rave about one of my favourite places for scenery in the country: The Columbia River Gorge. I keep finding new reasons to talk about this place because it’s JUST SO AMAZING.

We’ve had a cold snap like everybody else. It makes ice like everywhere else. In the land of waterfalls, it makes our own backyard look like a foreign land.

Portland Public Schools kept schools closed Wednesday.  It’s typically the day I work overtime, but I was scheduled to work only 4 hours of OT, so I had lots of hours to play first. The morning was warming up and a toasty 29 degrees by the time I checked, with a forecast high above freezing, so I knew that if I was going to see the waterfalls with ice, it was now or never.

Sadly, I was too late to find the winter wonderland at its peak. Much of the ice was melting and breaking away already. It was worth it anyhow. The ice was still remarkable and the day was beautifully sunny, though our canyon is steep and forested, and no sunbeam ever reaches the falls in the wintertime.

The picturesque bridge is always a place to experience the roar and spray from the water. This time: icy spray.

The picturesque bridge is always a place to experience the roar and spray from the water. This time: icy spray.

Multnomah Falls Lodge

Multnomah Falls Lodge

Walking up to the lodge

Walking up to the lodge, we could see the top of Multnomah Falls behind it

The Columbia River Gorge

Hard for any Gorge view to compete with this one of the Vista House.

A closer view of the Vista House

A closer view of the Vista House

Miss Tara walking ahead of me on a trail

Miss Tara walking ahead of me under a rocky overhang

Once a weeping cliff; now still

Once a weeping cliff; now still

There is a falls here, but so much water spills that the entire hillside has frozen

There is a falls here, but so much water spills that the entire hillside has frozen

I hiked up to the waterfall in the photo above, and found an ice cave behind it!

I hiked up to the waterfall in the photo above, and found an ice cave behind it!

That's me doing my best to find a good shot

That’s me doing my best to find a good shot

portrait by Miss T

portrait by Miss T

My T jumps into the Sandy River

My T jumps into the Sandy River

Wednesday it reached 96 degrees. Bluh.

It was my day off from work. I was updating my financial spreadsheets on the laptop in the shade of the back yard and Tara popped her head out at me earlier than I expected. Wednesday is also early release day at the high school.

“It’s soooo hoooooottt….” she moaned, by way of hello. She had just walked home through the hot sun from the bus stop.

“Wanna skip ballet and go to the river?”

I didn’t have to ask twice.

Looking upstream

Looking upstream

Can you see the little fry in the water? Look for the shadow.

Can you see the little fry in the water? Look for the shadow.

My pretty girl in the bushes, seeking out shade to do her homework in between splashes.

My pretty girl in the bushes, seeking out shade to do her homework in between splashes.

A floating couch! There are three people on this floating contraption.

A floating couch! There are three people on this floating contraption.

A paddle boarder calmly sails through our midst.

A paddle boarder calmly sails through our midst.

Sparkles

Sparkles

These ladies carried their chairs down from the highway, walked directly into the river, sat down and began gossiping. "...and I was like, 'you can't expect me to forgive you after what you did.' And he said..." They were wonderful.

These ladies carried their chairs down from the highway, walked directly into the river, sat down and began gossiping. “…and I was like, ‘you can’t expect me to forgive you after what you did.’ And he was all…”

Finally the sun sank so low I couldn't avoid the fact that we had to get home and get some sleep for another full day.

Finally the sun sank so low I couldn’t avoid the fact that we had to get home and get some sleep for another full day.

The people at the river felt so real, so local. What a different group than I usually find myself amongst, when in Portland. No tourists here. No hipsters. No elitism.

Instead, there were families. Old guys with cigars, babies, dogs, giggling girls, young mothers, and beer guzzling young men. There were bad tan lines, sagging skin, sun browned limbs, old clothes, plastic sunglasses and flip flops. Yes, it felt pretty darn redneck, and happy, and simple.

It was a perfect place to be. 🙂

Arno at the peak of Camelback Mountain

Friday afternoon, Arno flew to Phoenix to visit me. He had been in Maryland for work, and the return flight required a plane change in Phoenix. He extended his layover by two days, and spent the weekend. {…he’s the Internet guy I mentioned last month. Just roll with it, ok.}

Class ended early Friday, and after we wrapped up tasks and had our instructor powwow and settled business for the weekend, I went back to the hotel, eager with anticipation to see my man. I arrived shortly before he did, and in no time we wound down from our day and went out to do a little exploring.

Our students (who are all local) had suggested a dinner with a view at Rustler’s Rooste, near South Mountain. We found the place, and I was delighted to find that it not only had a view but a carefully cultivated character. Entering the place was like entering a mine shaft, past walls of rock and beneath heavy timbers seeming to hold up an equally massive roof. We walked on worn wood and sawdust up a ramp, till we got inside the huge place and found waiters and waitresses in cowboy boots and hats. Arno and I stuffed ourselves on appetizers, and barely had room for the steak when it came. We drank beer from mason jars and listened to live country music.

Steepest part of the Camelback trail. It's easier to gather the height and distance if you can spot the woman at the bottom.

Terry (co-instructor) had said that on South Mountain there is a place to park and watch the sunset. Students concurred. So after dinner, bellies bursting, we drove the short distance into Phoenix’s South Mountain Park and Preserve. It is a lovely winding drive through a piece of desert that is convincingly removed from the city. We followed the road to the top, and found a small parking area and people all around. Evening light was fading, so we parked and followed the others, who sat on benches and rocks, and in a covered stone gazebo, and spilled over the sides of the mountain peak. The atmosphere was magical. It truly gave me a new reason to love humanity. Quiet voices murmured and laughed, children ran in circles, lovers stood with arms around each other. As it grew darker, the people grew quieter, and yes, everyone was there to watch the sun go down. Arno and I found a rock to sit on, overlooking the lights of Phoenix and the setting sun in the distance. We breathed the warm air, listened to the quiet laughter, watched the children. And then, the sun grew huge, and glowed in molten fire, and flattened behind a strip of cloud, then fell behind the mountains in the West.

View of Phoenix from the trail on the way up.

We got up early Saturday morning and left for Camelback Mountain, the peak I can view from my hotel room. We had hoped to get an early start, but had lounged a bit too long. There were no available parking spaces, but we eventually found a place to park in a nearby neighborhood, and made the walk with many other would be hikers to the trailhead. I hadn’t realized what I was getting into. Camelback trail is a serious climb! 1200 feet in 1.3 miles. What the trail lacks in distance, it makes up for in steep uphill stretches. At one point we could scramble up sheer rock face: straight up! There was a steel railing placed to assist, and I admit I used it. Arno, of course, trusted his feet and went directly up the slick rock.

Roadrunner on the trail

Up, up, up. We began at 7:30 am, but the heat of the day was full on us by the difficult stretches at around 9 am. I brought my Red Sox cap, but the rest of me got plenty of sun and a little burn by the time we hit the peak. There were spectacular views of Phoenix. I tried to pick out where my hotel might be. We took a few photos, enjoyed sharing the summit with the others who had made it up, then made our way back down and got to the car while it was still morning. We were passed by multiple people who had decided to RUN the trail. I wonder how many broken ankles happen in this park?

Others enjoy the summit, catching our breath, preparing for the steep trek down

We made our way next to Scottsdale. Apparently, when you are in Phoenix, the places to go have fun are not in Phoenix. “Go to Scottsdale,” they tell me. “Go to Tempe.” So off we went. It was a blazing hot afternoon and nearly as empty in Scottsdale as it is in Phoenix, but this time, I’m pretty sure it was strictly due to the heat. Unlike downtown Phoenix, we found many little shops, and actually browsed them (more to cool off than to shop). I did find some gifts to bring back home. We found a place that makes homemade sodas and ordered root beer and orange floats and carried them to a park with a man-made creek and shade. I splashed in the creek and we sat in the shade and talked till our floats were gone. Back at the hotel, we deposited all our stuff, then walked across the street to Fez for dinner. I admit I am growing weary of restaurant food! Doesn’t it get tedious? Oh, for my very own kitchen again.

We made plans for Sunday on the trails in Sedona.

Fragrant wisteria

I scooped up my girl and her cousin today and we went off to explore the Japanese garden in Portland’s west hills. I have been intending to go there for a couple of years. Then I purchased a Living Social coupon (do you LOVE those deals, or what?) to motivate myself.

Oh of course I forgot my camera, for gosh sakes. So I took the photos with my phone.

How lucky we were to happen upon a two-day bonsai exhibition from the Bonsai Society of Portland. The exhibition really is a sight to see and unlike others I’ve seen. It is springtime and the trees are in blossom! Far from traditional trained trees, this exhibit has wisteria, apple, lilac, and others in full blossom right now. The pavilion was filled with the heady fragrance of all the bonsai mixed together. Certainly there were the ever-beautiful juniper and maple and larch, as well.

173-year-old bonsai

Portland weather has finally turned warmer, so I knew the outing would be pleasant despite the deep grey skies. We did get rained on a couple of times, but it was a light rain and it suited the environment. Besides, we are all Portland girls so rain is not really much of an issue.

stone lantern

What a lovely garden. I will certainly go back because it is worth full admission price. There are two large white sand gardens, and many water features in the 5 1/2 acre haven of peace. Surrounded by towering Douglas Firs and other native trees, we often felt isolated from the city until we would come upon an overlook with a view down onto the skyscrapers below us. The day was not clear enough to see Mt. Hood, but I overheard a tour guide say that Mt. Hood was like a Mt. Fuji to Portlanders. It’s easy to see the similarity: both are sharp volcanic peaks that hold their snow when the rest of the land turns green.

hira niwa sand garden

The girls took off on their own and had scoped out the whole place by the time I was almost halfway through the bonsai exhibit. I let them hurry me through after that because the day was becoming a little chilly. In their eagerness, they missed the whole creeks-and-bridges section, and the second sand garden…so we went back to it. We found huge koi in one of the ponds, and many little stone lanterns that look like spirit houses and made me think of one of our favourite movies: Spirited Away. I will return later in the season with my camera, and alone, so that if it takes me 4 hours to get through the garden, no one will get impatient. 🙂

magical light

Strolling Pond Garden with waterfall and koi (can you see them?). This scene is surreal, as though we were in a terrarium.

The aptly named Vista House, overlooking the Columbia River Gorge, with snowy peaks of southern Washington in the distance

Locally, we have been breaking the kinds of records that are no fun to break. Climatology has been kept at the Portland airport since 1940 and the Spring of 2011 is trying to be the coolest spring since records have been kept. It was the 5th coolest April, with an average temp of 47.9 degrees. The March/April rainfall total is 11.47 inches (normal 6.35), making it the wettest spring on record (and wettest April on record). I got all this handy info from the National Weather Service’s latest Record Report, dated May 1, 2011.

The gorgeous gorge, and the Vista House on a cliff

Inside the lovingly restored Vista House with stained glass windows

When the seasonal affective disorder symptoms were about to make us want to gouge out our eyes with forks, Mother Nature blessed us with ONE gorgeous day before the rain and cool temps rolled back in. On the phone that morning, my mom told me to forget the laundry, let the shower remain unscrubbed, and go outside, I realized she was probably right. I gathered my kid and we hit the Gorge.

The last time we were at the Vista House, the winds were fierce and frightening. I know you won’t believe me, so I’ll just say this for my own entertainment: as we watched, a man took hold of the railing at the steps with both hands. He carefully lifted his legs out behind him, one at a time, and the wind HELD him in the air! Tara and I climbed out of the car, and crawled along the pavement, but were too chicken to cross, unprotected, the two lanes of the road to reach the other side where there was another short wall to hide behind. So we crawled back to the car and inched down the cliff again.

Miss Tara on the balcony

So Vista House was our destination on May Day. The winds were practically gentle, compared to the last visit!

We went to Shepperds Dell Falls, a falls we had not seen yet. There are so many along the Historic Columbia River Highway that parallels Interstate 84 that we usually only stop at two or three each time. This means that there are still falls we have not seen. We will undertake a couple of longer hikes this year, so that we can get to more of the falls off the highway. Each one is a worthy destination on its own, so we are sure to never be disappointed in the trail we choose.

The wide Columbia River and the southern Washington border

stone wall beside trail to Shepperds Dell Falls

Despite the record-breaking slow start to spring, Persephone has still returned to us. The Gorge was filled with pale green and splashes of white and pink blossoms in the trees. Rivers are running high, making the falls crash dramatically for our entertainment. Shepperds Dell Falls is at the end of a short paved path, bound by the inevitable moss-covered stone wall. These stone walls are everywhere along the Old Highway, adding an unmistakable Oregonian charm to every yard of highway and park in these parts.

bridge over Shepperds Dell

typical gorge bridge

Then it was time for lunch, and we found a lovely (only slightly damp) meadow to spread out our picnic. We lounged in the beating sunshine in lush grass amidst zillions of dandelions and tiny daisies, which looked perfectly landscaped here, though in my back yard they would be a catastrophe of weeds. Tummies full, it was time to walk to Bridal Veil Falls.

The trail is in excellent shape for this time of year, when often small landslides can make the path treacherous before Park employees come and sweep up and rebuild retaining walls. I wandered well off the path, snapping close-ups of flowers. That was self-indulgence, and mainly because my camera is still new and it’s a thrill to be able to photograph close-ups in focus! Notices warn to STAY on the trail because of poison ivy, but I’m a plant girl and I could easily identify them. I did not see any poison ivy. I did see plenty of nettles, however. I hopped deftly about but still managed to catch a leaf across my knee on my way back to the trail. (The burning went away by evening…)

the creek below Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls met and exceeded expectations. The only down-side being that the lovely warm dry day had brought many of us out to the trails. This popular falls was packed with people. I play games with the camera to see how cleverly I can crop the image to make it look like no one is there, but I can’t always keep the brightly coloured tourists out of the shots.

In true Crystal form, I moseyed and dawdled and all those other lovely means of travel on a sunny day in the forest. Finally we climbed back into the Dragon-Wagon and moved on once more.

We had originally intended to stop at Multnomah Falls – easily among the most tourist-mobbed stops in all of Oregon. But the masses of parked cars along the sides of the road – miles before we got to the parking lot – were too much. We live here; we can go another day. Instead we made our way back home. My girl ran off to play frisbee with the neighbor kids, and I had time for a couple of loads of laundry.

Bridal Veil Falls

Shepperds Dell Falls

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