Sequoia National Park Friday, Jun 26 2015 

General Sherman Sequoia

General Sherman Sequoia

We spent a day in the Sequoia National Park only scratching the surface of its awe inspiring wonders. From Three Rivers we entered the Ash Mountain entrance and stopped at the Foothills Visitor Center. After taking a picture of Tunnel Rock we slowly climbed from about 1,700 feet to an elevation of almost 7,000 feet on the steep, narrow, and winding Generals Highway. Vehicles longer than 22 feet are not recommended on this stretch of road with 10 mph hairpin curves. We descended 212 feet in a half mile on the Sherman Tree Trail. The General Sherman tree claims to be the largest tree on earth. Sequoias are the world’s largest trees due to the volume of their trunks. Other trees are taller or have greater width, but none has greater volume. The top of the General Sherman sequoia is dead, but the trunk continues to grow. This 2,200 year old sequoia is 275 feet high with a girth of 109 feet. Its volume is 52,500 cubic feet and weighs 1,385 tons. From this landmark tree we hiked the 2 mile Congress Trail loop where we saw many incredibly large trees such as The President, the 4th largest tree, Chief Sequoyah, and the groves named The Senate, The House. We walked through a tunnel carved from a downed tree. An informational sign in front of the cross section of a sequoia told us that this 2,210 year old tree survived some 80 different fires that left a scar. We learned that the thick, fibrous bark insulates the sequoia from fire. In fact, these trees often experience a growth spurt after a fire has decreased competition for nutrients and water. The famous naturalist John Muir visited this area in the 1870s and named it “The Giant Forest.” We enjoyed a picnic lunch in the Pinewood picnic area where we observed fire personnel returning from a prescribed burn. Our first afternoon hike climbed 300 feet of staircases in a quarter mile on the Moro Rock Trail. The top of this granite dome is 6,725 feet above sea level and offerrs spectacular mountain views of the central valley and the Sierra Nevada. Some of the mountains include Mt. Stewart (12,205 feet), Lawson Peak (13,140 feet), Kaweah Queen (13,382 feet), Black Kaweah (13, 765 feet), and Lippincott Mountain (12,260 feet). Several ecological zones are present in the park: the foothill zone (1,000-5,000 feet) has oaks and shrubby chaparral, the montane zone (5,000-9,000 feet) has conifer forests, the subalpine and alpine (above 9,000 feet) has small, cold-tolerant plants.

Black Bear

Black Bear

Our final hike for the day was on the paved Tharps Log Trail. On our way we watched a black bear use its claws to find insects in the bark of a downed tree not far from Log Meadows. Tharp’s log cabin is in a fallen sequoia. We returned on a dirt trail where we observed two deer feeding in the woods. We saw another black bear feeding in Crescent Meadows, the gem of the Sierras. Back on the road we stopped at Tunnel Log where we learned that young men in the Civilian Conservation Corps carved on 8 foot hole in a sequoia that fell on December 4, 1937. This tree was 275 feet long with a base of 21 feet. Our final stop was at the Giant Forest Museum where we learned more about lightning fires that occur every 3 to 9 years in the area. The heat opens cones on sequoias and seeds rain down. The heat kills insects and fungus and offer possibilities for new growth. The Sentinel Tree, considered an average sequoia, stands near the museum. It has a base of 28 feet, a height of 257 feet, and volume of 27,900 cubic feet. Sequoia National Park is awesome! As John Muir has said, “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”

Crater Lake National Park Wednesday, Jun 24 2015 

We chose a different route to Crater Lake than we did a few years ago. This time we passed Odell Lake, where I worked during my first summer with the U. S. Forest Service. Snow covered Diamond Peak sat peacefully behind the calm waters of the lake. An informational sign informed us that the lake was named on July 27, 1865 for William H. Odell who was surveying routes for the Oregon Central Military Road. Because of the Civil War, the road was financed by private industry in exchange for land. We also stopped at Crescent Lake where I lived that first summer. The marina is still there, but a new campground, cabins, and dam give it a completely different look.

Phantom Ship

Phantom Ship

The last time we visited Crater Lake the north entrance had opened but only the road to the lodge was open. This time we stopped for pictures of Wizard Island and then drove east. We learned that the Klamath believed Llao was the spirit chief for the below world and that Skell was the spirit chief for the above world. We stopped for lunch in the Whitebark picnic area. A group of Buddhists from Thailand were also there. One of them gifted us with an apple. Back on the road, we made separate stops to admire the Pumice Castle and the Phantom Ship. We took a small detour in order to hike through old growth fir and hemlock to see Plaikni Falls. “Plaikni” is a Klamath word meaning “from the high country.” It is hard to believe that this area receives 44 feet of snow each year. Back on the road, Vidae Falls was cascading down a hillside near the road. If anyone tells you, “If you’ve seen one lake, you’ve seen them all,” don’t believe them. Crater Lake has a deep blue color that is most distinctive.

After leaving Crater Lake, we traveled south around Klamath Falls. As I reminisced about Drake Peak, my wife discovered that while it is no longer a lookout, it can be rented for $40 a night. Bring your own firewood, bedding, and water! Later, we learned that Aspen Cabin is also available to rent at $40 per night. Hope the caulking has been replaced. Along the way to Redding, we enjoyed dramatic views of Mount Shasta. This second highest Cascade peak reaches 14,162 feet to the sky. We learned that its last eruption was in 1786. When will it erupt again?

Eugene, Oregon Wednesday, Jun 24 2015 

Magic Mama Music

Magic Mama Music

Eugene’s Saturday Market, held from April through mid-November, helps this visitor define the character of the city. Fresh vegetables and fruits are to be expected as is the food court, but the 200 local artisans are displaying their own handcrafted wares and the music, if Magic Mama Music’s performance is typical, is representative of a vibrant community. My younger brother met his wife while they were students at the University of Oregon. They have raised their sons in this city that has the Willamette River running through it. We were taken to Skinner Butte where we had panoramic views of the city. The terrace area is dedicated to Eugene’s first pioneer family, Eugene and Mary Skinner.

Love and Peace Rose

Love and Peace Rose

We visited the 8.5 acre Owen Rose Garden where the following roses posed: Nicole, Rainbow Sorbet, Love and Peace, and Sheila’s Perfume. We were impressed with the giant Oregon Heritage Cherry Tree. A dragonfly settled in on a flower in the delightful garden area. We then walked the Willamette River path system that allowed us to cross the river and return via the opposite bank. Another walk, near my brother’s home, took us along a filbert (also known as hazelnut) orchard. Another walk took us to Delta Ponds. In this 150 acre wetland area, established in 1979, we saw a western pond turtle basking on a rock, an egret, heron, ducks, and geese. An informational sign presented the Willamette River Channel Changes from 1850 to 1995. You don’t need a ticket to an Oregon Ducks game to have a reason to visit Eugene.

Portland to Eugene Tuesday, Jun 23 2015 

Our drive from Portland to Eugene brought back memories of times past. We exited Interstate 5 at Woodburn to see the agriculture products in this part of the Willamette Valley, ranging from Marion berries to poppies.Growing Christmas trees is now a popular crop. A side trip to Mount Angel Abbey found us arriving as the ordination service for Brother John Paul Le finished. Most of the women visitors were attired in colorful Chinese fabrics. This Benedictine Abbey was founded by monks from Switzerland in 1882. After a major fire in 1926, the current monastery, the third, was opened in 1928. We visited the eclectic, eccentric museum which has the expected liturgical vestments but also has an impressive North American mammal collection donated by Larry Epping.

South Falls

South Falls

We continued on to Silver Falls State Park for lunch followed by a hike to and behind South Falls. This park is the result of work from 1935-1942 by the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Works Project Administration. “Conservation of our natural resources and conservation of our human resources,” President Roosevelt said, “both are sound investments for the future.” Indeed they are!

We visited several of my old haunts in Salem. We tried to visit the Oregon State School for the Blind where I worked as a college student. The school closed in 2009, the grounds were purchased by Salem Hospital, a blue fence keeps visitors away from the demolished remains. In contrast, my alma mater, Willamette University, has never looked better. Both Waller Hall and Eaton Hall appear well maintained. The Mark Hatfield Library looks stately with the Mill Stream winding in front of it.

Gold Man

Gold Man

The Oregon State Capitol continues to be an impressive presence immediately across the street from Willamette University. The Gold Man that sits atop the Capitol was shining in the sun. Also known as the Oregon Pioneer, this 8.5 ton, 22 foot hollow bronzed gold leaf statue designed by Ulric Ellerman sits 140 feet above the ground. Outside the Capitol a new to me circle with each of the U. S. state’s flag is supplemented with an adjacent posting of the flags from the nine federally recognized tribal groups. Inside the Capitol can be found this quotation from Proverbs 14:34: “In the souls of its citizens will be found the likeness of the state which if they be unjust and tyrannical then will it reflect their vices but if they be lovers of righteousness confident in their liberties so will it be clean in justice bold in freedom.” Words to govern by.

Portland, Oregon Friday, Jun 19 2015 

Portland, Oregon has expanded its quirkiness in the forty-six years since I left. Back in my day there was one brewery and we bought wine from France or Italy because California wines were poor imitators. The Willamette River is no longer limited to industry, the southeast section of the city is a hip place to live, the light rail system is a model for other urban cities, and the carpet at the airport is a collectible item. But some of the area’s attractions continue to merit a visit.

Summer Sunshine

Summer Sunshine

The Portland Rose Garden, established in 1917, displays 10,000 roses representing 600 varieties on its 4.5 acres with views of Mt. Hood. One of the roses that caught my eye, “Monkey Business,” won a 2014 Gold Medal Award. Other roses that posed for a picture included “Peace,” “Centennial,” “Summer Sunshine,” “Strike It Rich,” “Princess Anne,” and “New Zealand.” Passing through the Shakespeare Garden brought back memories of the wedding of a nephew.

The home where I grew up in West Linn doesn’t look so good these days. We stopped for a walk through the Mary S. Young State Park that was developed in the early 1970s after I had left Oregon. In nearby Lake Oswego, the George Rogers Park located where Oswego Creek flows into the Willamette, looks better than ever. In addition, informational signs explain the remains of the first iron furnace on the West Coast. There were iron deposits nearby, the forests provided charcoal fuel, and there was abundant water power. Limestone was imported from the San Juan Islands in British Columbia. I also learned that the Clackamas branch of Chinookan people fished on the Willamette in this area and that they were great traders.

Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls

The Columbia River Gorge is a great place to visit. Early settlers visited by steamship and railroad before the first paved road was constructed between 1913-1922. We traveled on part of this Columbia River Highway which originally was 73.8 miles between Portland and The Dalles. The theme “Get Oregon Out of the Mud” developed Highway 30 for motorized views of the Columbia River and access to its concentration of “hanging waterfalls.” We stopped at Chanticleer Point and then visited Vista House, built in 1916, at Crown Point State Park for panoramic views of the Columbia River Gorge. Everything looked better after we discovered that we were wearing the others glasses. At our first waterfall, Latourell Falls, we viewed it from different perspectives and hiked a loop through the woods. Bridal Veil Falls offered three spectacular vistas at the edge of sheer cliffs as well as a descending trail for views of this waterfall from a well positioned viewing stand. The remains of an old mill pond and log flume are nearby. Multnomah Falls is the central waterfall of some 77 waterfalls found on the Oregon side of the Columbia. It is considered the second highest year-round waterfall in the lower United States. The Upper Falls cascades 543 feet and the Lower Falls is 69 feet. The water comes from underground springs on Larch Mountain. The area also receives 75 inches of rain per year. We learned that a wedding party was drenched on September 4, 1995 when a 400-ton rock that slid from the face of the Upper Falls and created a 70 foot splash.

Mt. Hood

Mt. Hood

Mt. Hood, 11,249 feet high, was our final destination. We drove a scenic road from Hood River to Timberline Lodge which is 6,000 feet above sea level. The Lodge, constructed by the Works Progress Administration in 1937, is 55,000 square feet. It appears to be an interesting place to spend the night. The numerous ski lifts and runs are undoubtedly well used in the winter. A surprise was the great view of Mt. Jefferson south of Mt. Hood. This second highest peak in Oregon has an elevation of 10,497 feet. While on Mt. Hood we hiked a fragment of the Pacific Crest Trail admiring the wildflowers and walking through a patch of snow.

Our Portland visit allowed me to visit with a college friend in his home city of St. Helens. At a park near the city marina was a statue of “Seaman,” the Newfoundland dog that traveled with the Lewis and Clark expedition. In Milwaukee, we visited the retired minister and his wife who taught my Sunday School class. In Tigard, we stayed with my nephew’s mother-in-law. We were blessed with good weather, good friends, and interesting sites which make for fond memories.

Astoria, Oregon Tuesday, Jun 16 2015 

Astoria Megler Bridge

Astoria Megler Bridge

The 4.1 mile long steel cantilever Astoria Megler Bridge, the longest continuous truss bridge in North America, dominates the view from the large picture windows in my brother’s living room. During our stay we drove across it and completed a loop to Cape Disappointment, near where the Lewis and Clark expedition made their historic vote about where to spend the winter. All of the expedition participants, including Clark’s slave and Sacagawea, decided whether to stay on the north side of the Columbia, to head back upriver, or to cross to the south side of the mighty river. They decided to cross the river and build Fort Clatsop where they endured cold, rainy conditions from December 8, 1805 until March 23, 1806. We visited the 2005 reconstruction based on William Clark’s journal that is more rustic and rough hewn than the 1955 reconstruction that I had previously seen. We watched two video presentations, one outlining the Corps of Discovery trip from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean, the other telling the story about these travelers from the Native American perspective. Our walk on the grounds included sighting Saddle Mountain. We drove the labyrinth of Astoria roads atop Coxcomb Hill where the 125-foot Astoria Column was covered for restoration work. I was able to photograph Chinook Chief Comcomly’s burial canoe replica overlooking Youngs Bay.

Fort Stevens

Fort Stevens

We visited Fort Stevens, named for Isaac Ingallis Stevens, the first governor of the Washington Territory. Born in 1818, Stevens served in the military from 1839-1853 before being appointed governor in 1853. With the start of the Civil War, he reenlisted as a colonel in 1861, was quickly promoted to Brigade Commander under General Thomas W. Sherman, and posthumously promoted to Major General after his death in 1862. Fort Stevens was built in 1864 and not decommissioned until 1947. I found its World War II history most interesting. I learned that the Japanese submarine I-25 fired a 5.5 inch deck gun and a 25 mm machine gun toward the fort on June 21, 1942. Earlier, on December 16, 1941, a planned attack on the Cape Disappointment lighthouse was cancelled at the last moment. Later in the war, this Japanese submarine attempted to torpedo tankers and also made incendiary bomb attempts. Another informational display outlined Japan’s FUGO program of bomb carrying balloons that included an explosion on May 5, 1945 that killed six people on a Sunday School outing, the only known deaths attributed to a Japanese attack on the U. S. mainland. Don’t miss the miniature railroad reconstruction to gain an overview of the fort complex. The garden behind the Military Museum had several beautiful roses. Our visit included a stop at the remains from the October 25, 1906 wreck of the Peter Iredale and views of the South Jetty.

Columbia Lighthouse

Columbia Lighthouse

The Columbia River Maritime Museum explains why the mouth of the Columbia is considered the “Graveyard of the Pacific.” Since Robert Gray’s 1792 exploration of the Columbia River, approximately 2,000 vessels have sunk at the Columbia River bar. The high seas, the mighty river, and the shallow, shifting sand bar make the Columbia River bar one of the most dangerous bar crossings in the world. The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers annually removes enough sand to fill 500,000 dump trucks or 5 to 6 million cubic yards of sand. Our ticket to the museum allowed us to visit the Lightship Columbia. Ship No. 604 was stationed 6 miles off the entrance of the Columbia River from 1951 until November 2, 1979. The crew of 17 worked 2 weeks on and one week off with 10 men on duty at all times. Winds of 60 knots and waves 30 feet high were common. The first lightship on the Pacific Coast, No. 50, was assigned in 1892. No. 604 was the last active lightship on the West Coast. It had bright beacon lights atop its mast that were visible at night, a powerful foghorn, and transmitted a radio beam signal. It stored 12 tons of food, 13,000 gallons of fresh water, and 47,000 gallons of fuel. Those who worked on such a ship were heroes. A couple of other interesting factoids gleaned from the museum. A typical steamboat would burn 3 cords of wood an hour or 40 cords of wood a day. Remember a cord is 4x4x8 feet. That’s a lot of wood for each steamboat plying the waters of the Columbia River when it was the main method of transportation. During World War II, shark fishing was a source of vitamin A used to improve the night vision of pilots. The only part of the shark that was used for this purpose was the liver. In 1943, 270,000 pounds of liver were collected. Although not directly related to the Columbia River, we also viewed the 3D film “Nature’s Wonderland and Galapagos.” The photography was exceptional and it was great to be reminded of our own special time in the Galapagos. We learned about a new species of iguana only recently discovered, but there are many more facets of Galapagos not covered in a 22-minute presentation.

A final note about Astoria’s interesting history concerns the Ghadar Party, an international anti-colonial resistance movement. The beginning of the twentieth century Indian (as in India) independence movement can be traced to a gathering in Astoria’s Finnish Socialist Hall In May 1913. Our visit to Astoria allowed me to reconnect with my brother and to learn about his newly adopted city.

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