Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Back from Oregon!

What a trip! I caught up with my Aunt and Uncle, along with my cousin, who also lives in the same area. My kids got to play with the three German Short Hair dogs that are owned by my aforementioned relatives; they ran around the sod/seed farm my aunt and uncle own; they rode on a tractor and a riding lawn mower with my uncle; and they saw numerous examples of the beauty that Oregon and northern California have to offer. Here is just a smattering of what we saw and did during my absence:

The fun begins when you get about an hour north of Sacramento on I-5. As you drive up the Central Valley, you begin to see this little white triangle dead ahead in the distance. It gets bigger...

and bigger...

and bigger...

Until finally, you can see Mount Shasta up close in all her majestic glory. Usually, our trips end at this location, but this time, we continued north where we spent the night in the charming little town of Ashland, Oregon. Ashland is only a few miles above the California border. It is the home of Southern Oregon University, and even more famously, the Oregon Shakespearean Festival. I have attended several plays there over the years, and even though Ashland's mini-Berkeley feel can grate on me (it is a university town, after all), the beauty of the town itself and its location more than make up for its leftist pretentions. If you ever get a chance to see a Shakespeare play in Ashland, I highly suggest you take advantage. The plays take place on an outdoor stage that was built for the occasion:

On a June night, fourteen years ago, I watched Romeo and Juliet in this theater. The night was warm, with no wind. With those conditions, I felt like I was indoors, but the birds chirping in the distance reminded me that I was not. It was lovely.

The next morning, it was off to Salem, which was about another five hours to the north (Oregon is deceptively huge!). After a brief sojourn for lunch in Eugene, which is home to the University of Oregon, we arrived in Salem in the mid-afternoon. My aunt and uncle actually live about 10 minutes east of Salem in the foothills of the Cascades. Here is just the part of their property that includes their house:

Adjacent to this are fields of flowers and Christmas trees. Northwestern Oregon is one of the, if not the biggest suppliers of Christmas trees in the country. I paid more attention to the flowers:

Our first full day there, we went to a children's museum in downtown Salem for the kiddos. I won't bore you with all the adorable shots of them having fun. Let's move on to the activity we did the next day, and that would be a trip to what I think is one of the most beautiful locations on earth, and that would be Silver Falls State Park, which is located about 20 miles east-southeast of Salem, even further toward the Cascade range. This is one of those locations where photographers can't miss. You don't have to do anything special to make your photos look good; all you have to do is point and shoot. Here are some examples:

There are several falls in this park where you can actually walk behind them. The falls have eroded the rock face in such a way that a kind of recessed cave has formed behind them, making it very easy to go behind the falls for a reverse view, like this:

There are also smaller falls that are just as beautiful as the taller ones. Heh... "smaller." This one is over 60 feet.

My son is high-tailing it back toward the parking lot. He knows there is one more thing I want to shoot before we go back to the car:

Whenever I see a footbridge, I gotta switch to the ol' black and white.

We left Salem on June 17th - my birthday. I figured what better way to celebrate it than to make a stop in the area in which I grew up. That would be the Klamath and Siskiyou Mountains of northern California, just over the border from Oregon. We traveled south along I5 until we got to Grants Pass, Oregon. From there, we made a 20 minute hop along Highway 199 to Cave Junction, Oregon. From Cave Junction, you can take a 30 mile journey along a curvy mountain road with 13% grades through the Siskiyou Mountains that will take you into the northern California town of Happy Camp. The locals on both sides of the border refer to the trip on this road as "going over Greyback." Near the 4,000+ foot summit of Greyback, we made a quick stop for this panoramic view:

Directly below me is the Indian Creek watershed that leads towards Happy Camp. On the horizon, you can see the snowcapped peaks of the Marble Mountains.

Once we reached Happy Camp, we went ahead and let the kids get out of the car and cavort where Indian Creek empties into the Klamath River.

When I was a kid, I would celebrate the end of every school year by walking or, later, driving over that bridge and throwing a pencil into the river. The little rituals that defined me...

After finishing with Indian Creek, we drove two more hours back to Mount Shasta City, where we spent the night. The next morning, we went somewhere that my wife has been dying to go for the last few years, and that is a lavender farm off of Highway 97, just a few miles northwest of the mountain. Due to the unseasonably cold spring and summer we have been having, the lavender hadn't fully bloomed yet, but the views from this farm were unmatched:

The snowcapped mountains on the right are the Eddy Mountains, which are part of the Klamath Mountain range. To the left is Black Butte, a 6,000+ foot cinder cone that was formed by an eruption of Mount Shasta about 10,000 years ago. Ten years ago, my mother and I hiked to the top of Black Butte. You want to talk about amazing scenery! The problem is that I didn't have a digital camera at the time. Guess I'll have to make the hike again someday and take some more modern photos.

There's nothing like a little journey to God's Country to clear the head. Once the journey is over, I already begin looking forward to the next one.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be." -Thomas Jefferson


oregon cabin rental said...

It's a amazing place and It seems that you and kids had great fun over there. I know how it would feel when you just come back after visiting such a beautiful place.

darshanemallindias said...

it is a wonderful place.it seems that you and your family had great fun there..it looks beautiful place..

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