Laughlin Sunday, Jun 29 2008 

Mojave Desert

Mojave Desert

After staying at Oxford Suites (highly recommended for excellent accommodations, free evening appetizers and drinks, and full breakfast) in Redding, California, the drive to Laughlin, Nevada was only indirectly affected by the fires scattered throughout northern California. Smoke was prevalent throughout the day, but the main roads were open. The Mojave Desert is desolate but took on interesting colors and silhouettes as the sun set. We arrived in Laughlin in the glow of neon lights. This gambling mecca in the middle of the desert is located near the California border and across the Colorado River from Arizona. Too bad the room on the fourteenth floor of the River Palms with a river view had such dirty windows. A late evening river walk was beautiful but hot. When returning to Prescott, a wrong turn provided the unexpected opportunity to tour Bullhead City, one of Arizona’s “hot spots.”

Crater Lake Sunday, Jun 29 2008 

Crater Lake

The north entrance to Crater Lake National Park opened only a few days before we drove the scenic highway from Roseburg, Oregon. At higher elevations there was plenty of snow on both sides of the road and the eastern portion of the rim drive was not yet open. We were fortunate to experience the brilliant blue water of this lake on a blue sky day. The water is so pure and so clear it absorbs every ray of the sun, reflecting only the deepest blue hues of the spectrum back to the surface. The lake is six miles long and 4.5 miles wide and 1,943 feet deep which makes it the deepest fresh water lake in the United States and the seventh deepest lake in the world. Interestingly, no streams enter or leave this lake which is replenished with rain water which maintains a fairly constant water level. The Sinnott Memorial Overlook below the Rim Village Visitor Center was not yet open. Children were more engaged in throwing snowballs than looking at the sights. Wizard Island, a cinder cone rising 760 feet above the lake’s surface, looked great with remnants of snow. Although we arrived around noon, the lake was still calm enough for reflections. We enjoyed a late lunch at the historic Crater Lake Lodge which first opened in 1915. Marshall, my Forest Service supervisor during the summer of 1970 who had just graduated from high school, stated, “If you’ve seen one lake, you’ve seen them all,” which is simply not true. Truly, this is a special lake.

North Oregon Coast to Florence Sunday, Jun 29 2008 

A self-guiding tour at Tillamook Cheese taught us a lot about the work of the 198 dairy farms that are members of the Tillamook County Creamery Association. The average size of these farms is 82 acres with a total of 41,600 dairy cows and an average yearly gross income of only $2,100 per cow. We sampled five cheeses but it was too early in the day for us to enjoy ice cream.

We spotted whales north of Brays Point, a scenic viewpoint along highway 101.

Heceta Head Lighthouse

Heceta Head Lighthouse

The picturesque Heceta Head Lighthouse is perched 205 feet above the Pacific Ocean about 13 miles north of Florence. Construction of this 56-foot-high tower was completed in 1893. It originally could be seen 21 miles from shore. It now uses a 1,000-watt bulb that produces 2.5 million candle power to emit one flash every ten seconds. It was recognized with a listing in the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

A short stop at the Darlingtonia Botanical Wayside introduced us to the abundant cobra lilies in this bog area. The hanging yellow and red blooms were near the end of their flowering time. Insects are lured into the leaf opening under the hood. Once inside they become confused by the many transparent areas in the upper parts of the leaves which appear as exits. When they tire and fall to the bottom, they become food for this unusual plant.

Oregon Dunes National Recreational Area

Oregon Dunes

Just 50 years ago, the South Jetty area just south of Florence was bare, open sand. As a result of the introduction of European beachgrass planted in the early 1900s to stabilize blowing sands, a deflation plain has created a unique wetland habitat in what is now the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. There are still tall sand dunes to satisfy ATV and Jeep aficionados.

Our stay at the Best Western Pier Point Inn rewarded us with views of the Siuslaw River and bridge. Dinner in Old Town at the Waterfront Depot was outstanding! The signage and entrance are unimposing but the food and prices are great. The menu is written out on several large blackboards on one wall. The Caesar salad and crab encrusted halibut with a chili cream sauce was fantastic. Try to save room for one of their deserts.

East of Florence, the Sweet Creek Trail is located eleven miles outside Mapleton in the Siuslaw National Forest. This wonderful trail rewards the hiker with great views and sounds of multiple small waterfalls along Sweet Creek.

Ecola State Park & Cannon Beach Thursday, Jun 26 2008 

Haystack Rock

Haystack Rock

Ecola State Park has an interesting history and spectacular views of the Oregon coast. On January 6, 1806 Captain WIlliam Clark and a dozen of his explorers left Fort Clapsop in search of a whale beached at present day Cannon Beach. “Ekkoli” is the Chinook word for whale. He bartered with the local villagers for 300 pounds of blubber and a few gallons of oil. We took the customary snapshot from Chapman Point and walked Indian Beach. On our drive to the park we spotted two elk on a hillside adjacent to the road. The distinctive Haystack Rock makes Cannon Beach particularly photogenic. A nostalgic look at the three beach houses my parents/mother built in Tolovana Park was capped by a stay at the Tolovana Inn with a magnificent ocean view and dinner at Mo’s.

Multnomah Falls Thursday, Jun 26 2008 

Multnomah Falls

Lower Multnomah Falls

About thirty miles east of Portland is the second highest year-round waterfall in the United States. Multnomah Falls is one of some 77 waterfalls on the Oregon side of the Columbia Gorge. Flowing from underground springs from Larch Mountain, the upper plunge pool is 543 feet and the lower is 69 feet. An awesome sight and sound but difficult to photograph because of its size and lighting conditions.

Lake Tahoe Thursday, Jun 19 2008 

Lake Tahoe Lighthouse

Rubicon Point's Lighthouse

From 1852-1945 what we now know as Lake Tahoe was called Lake Bigler after California Governor John Bigler. The hike on the Lighthouse Trail in the D. L. Bliss State Park was two miles. But rather than an easy stroll along the lake, it was an up and down trek. The lighthouse was also a surprise with the look of an outhouse. Known as Rubicon Point’s Lighthouse, it flashed 70 candle lights that were visible for seven miles. We also walked several miles (flat) along the Truckee River from our base in Tahoe City. The Pepper Tree Inn provided us with a panoramic view of the lake from the sixth floor during the day and the full moon and its reflection off the lake at night. The restaurants we tried also offered views of the lake. Jason’s in Kings Beach, Jake’s on the Lake and the Blue Agave both in Tahoe City. Lake Tahoe is 22 miles long and 12 miles wide. Its deepest point is 1,645 feet, making it the third deepest lake in North America. It lies in the Sierra Nevadas at an elevation of 6,229 feet. It is a deep blue gem.

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