Bruce Campbell’s Boeing 727 200 Olympic Air jetliner house in the Oregon woods

So, the other day, while I was toolin’ around Portland, I looked at my trusty dusty app – and what should I see, but an entry titled “Jetliner Home in the Woods”. I decided to contact Bruce to see if he’d mind my dropping by to check his digs out, and he very gracefully responded, happy to oblige.

Bruce Campbell is a wonderfully gregarious and joyful 62 year old Electrical Engineer (BSEE) who is currently continuing work on his dream house – an old Boeing 727 200 Olympic Air jetliner that’s been parked in a forest in Oregon for over ten years. His website is http:// – and he answers almost all the questions that I could ever want to ask about him with a very elaborate, detailed FAQ.

Interesting fact – apparently this is the jet that carried JFK’s coffin on its home flight. There is also currently an active honeybee hive in one of the nacelles, which I thought was just beyond cool. The airplane itself is in a small field with pine and walnut trees at the edges. He has this fantastic idea of retasking old airplanes and outfitting them as viable mobile homes, which is delightful. The wings function as a deck to enjoy the outside surroundings.

Towards the end of the visit, three deer (two bucks and what appeared to be their mother) ventured into the field and started to eat the grass. I watched them from the windows of the airplane as they grazed; grinning and taking pictures. As we entered the plane a squirrel was running around on the left engine. Very surreal and cool.

I was lucky to be able to catch him visiting with a neighbor, another engineer – and listen to them talk shop about the project, which was really fascinating. He’s a very gentle, kind man, and cares very much for the environment and the world that he will leave behind someday. He has a great spirit, and a wonderful sense of adventure and connectedness with everything around him. I’m really happy that I had the chance to meet him.


Meditative scenes from Portland, OR

Over the weekend, I decided to venture into Portland. I’d looked online for places to see around the city and the ones that most piqued my interest were the Lan Su Chinese Garden, The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, The Grotto and the Japanese Garden.

Painted Boat in Misty Rain – Lan Su Chinese Gardens

First on the list was Lan Su. One first encounters the enormous Fu temple dogs before walking through a marble courtyard to a small shop where you purchase tickets to actually enter the Garden. It’s $9.50 to get in. I purchased a ticket then walked over to the main entrance, encountering a woman that was very effusive about my newly dyed rainbow dreadlocks. I have to say that I’m always happy to receive compliments about my hair. It’s a fair chore to keep up with, but well worth it. I talked with her a little bit and found out that she was a fairly recent transplant to Oregon, and she stated that the main impetus to move here were the gardens themselves. She’d fallen in love with them.

Rock Mountain and Water fall – Lan Su Chinese Gardens

40,000 square feet of beautifully appointed and maintained gardens exist within the borders of the tall walls, within the Old Town Chinatown neighborhood of downtown Portland. It’s a place of serenity that’s only mildly jarring when you look up to see the enormous glass buildings just outside the walls. Previously called the Portland Classical Chinese Garden and the Garden of Awakening Orchids, Kuang Zhen Yan’s design features a large lake, Lake Zither, at the center of it, as well as a tea house across the way as you first walk to the edge of the lake. Wonderfully tranquil, the garden provides a wide variety of plants, flowers and enormous rocks imported from China.

Scholar’s Study – Lan Su Chinese Gardens

There are several buildings throughout that exhibit silk embroidery, calligraphy and other artistic pieces. The tea house has both an upper and lower level, and other than a child that didn’t really have an ‘inside voice’ who kept yelling for his family, the entire place was very mellow and relaxing. I sat for a while, looking out one of the upper windows while sipping on some

Tower of Cosmic Reflections (teahouse) – Lan Su Chinese Gardens

White Earl Grey tea, when an older lady came over to me with a huge smile and told me that, between my tattoos and hair, I was a work of art. We spoke a little about the nature of enlightenment and I told her about the trip I was on, and she and her companion wished me well on my journey. After that my dumplings arrived and I took care to enjoy them for a while before heading out for my next destination.

The Grotto

Simply known as The Grotto to some, or as The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, this Catholic Shrine is cared for and administered by the Order of Friars Servants of Mary, USA Province. A vision of spiritual inspiriation and meditative space, it’s 62 acres of botanical gardens with various interpretive scenes from the bible surrounded by rock and ferns, as well as shrines to some of the more popular saints. The most magnificent part of this place is Our Lady’s Grotto, located on the lower level; an enormous rock cave inset into a 110 foot cliff. The scene is breathtaking.

Our Lady’s Grotto

You have to purchase a $4 token to take the elevator up to the upper level, but it’s WELL worth it. Here you’ll come across various shrines to saints, interpretive images of Jesus’ life either carved in wood or marble as well as a small red church that looks like it’s been taken right out of a Grimms’ Fairytale book when seen through the enormous trees to the side of it. The church has visions of Mary from many faiths along the walls. The Meditation Chapel, your first left as you step off the elevator, provides a spectacular panoramic view of Mount Saint Helens, the Cascade mountain range and the Columbia River Valley.

The Labyrinth

There’s also a labyrinth on the grounds of the upper level as well. It’s apparently a replica of the medieval labyrinth in Chartres Cathedral in France. I did a meditative walk around it, pondering a personal spiritual issue that I’ve been working on for some time, and received an answer that was most beneficial as I reached the center. I do so love labyrinths.

The Little Red Church

At some point along my walk through the grounds, I heard an eagle crying out. It circled a few times, then headed off into the distance with its partner. I’d like to think that was a positive sign. The entire experience of this place was fantastic, and a great addition to the Lan Su visit.

St. Peregrine shrine at the Grotto

I then made the mistake of venturing back into the heart of the city to eat. I’d really been wanting Shawarma lately, and my Google Maps app found one – one that conveniently disappeared from the map once I arrived at my destination and tried to find walking directions. I couldn’t get it to come back up either. This after a city curb literally tried to eat my tire. I think I’m going to have to replace it soon. :/ Did I mention how much I dislike the city at this point? There’s WAY too much activity going on to try to keep track of it after I’ve been in so many rural places. It’s VERY disorienting.

Our Lady of Czechostowa shrine

Anyway, I go over to Habibi, this Lebanese restaurant across the street. I’d had Lebanese before with my good friend Samir back in Washington DC, and was hoping that this place was fairly decent. The salad was fantastic, but the shawarma was VERY disappointing. Full of gristle and not really flavorful at all. Beige food, actually. The hummus didn’t really have much of a taste either. Garlic anybody? It surely wasn’t in ANY of the meal. The service wasn’t really that good either. Thus thwarted in my search for shawarma as good as I’d encountered back in Denver (Man, I miss the Jerusalem restaurant), I decided to head out for what would be my last destination in Portland of the evening – the Japanese Garden.

Portland Japanese Garden

First off, I should begin by saying that one of my favorite games of all time is Fatal Frame. It’s a brilliant series of games where you end up wandering through abandoned, and haunted, Japanese houses and temples. Ghosts attack you, and your only weapon against the supernatural assaults is a device called the Camera Obscura. You have to take pictures of the ghosts to exorcise/kill them. HUGELY creepy and heart poundy. It doesn’t help [or DOES, as the case may be], that the controller vibrates in your hand and the sound of a heartbeat increases whenever a ghost comes near.

Portland Japanese Garden

As I walked around within the gardens snapping pictures of everything, images of the haunted village from Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly, kept cycling through my head and the creepy little bell jingling that always accompanied the games kept ringing out. It was fantastic. Mom would have loved it. (vid of Fatal Frame II gameplay for reference)

Portland Japanese Garden

Entrance to the gardens themselves is $9.50, and although the Chinese gardens seemed to be overflowing with plants that almost reached out to touch you; almost like a jungle of sorts at times, the Japanese garden was meticulously manicured with large, lush patches of moss growing beneath wide, thick Japanese maples and bonsai pines.

Portland Japanese Garden

The first building inside is a large pavilion that houses the current exhibit, the Behind the Shoji art and craft show. The building sits at the edge of a large Zen garden that looks almost like a lake, with moss for shoreline. There’s a wonderfully creepy, and beautiful, old well next to what looks like the recreation of a small Japanese homestead. To the left of that, there’s a walkway that takes you out to a bridge of sorts, less than a foot above a pond with a waterfall flowing into it. The boards run along at 90 degree angles over the water, providing good vantage points for both places to meditate, as well as good photo shots.

Portland Japanese Garden

The lake to the right of the building has an arc bridge over the section that turns into a flowing stream, and there are multiple stone lanterns throughout the area. I kept finding myself wondering what this place would look like at night, lit only by candlelight in various places. It must be amazing.

After the long hike through Silver Falls friday night, my legs were finally done with walking and it was time to head home. –  this is sorta the route I’ve taken through the country so far. I’ve missed a few stops, but you get the general idea. This is as many links as Google Maps would let me add. I need to figure out a better way to track this trip with an online map.

Seals, Sea Lions and Anemones!

Friday afternoon, I got on the road heading out to the Oregon Coast. Having grown up on the southeast coast, I’m used to long stretches of flat sand with no other defining features than a great many people in bikinis gathered beneath the hateful orb of the sun for the sole purpose of getting skin cancer. I knew that the northwestern coast would be substantially colder, and that the view would therefore be different, but I wasn’t prepared for the enormous disparity between the two. The Oregonians that I’ve spoken to about the coasts have said that, if anything, their coastline resembles Maine more than anything else. And yeah, Maine is on the list. 🙂

Sea Lion Caves – Florence, OR

I arrived at the Sea Lion Caves in Lane County, Oregon at a little after 6pm. The ‘tour’ is $12, and it’s all very tourist trappy. Sure, the cave itself is pretty cool, but there really isn’t much to it. I don’t know what I was expecting, but this wasn’t really it. This being said, the sea lions made FANTASTICALLY eerie sounds that echoed throughout the sea cave chamber, and I got some decent footage of it, which made me happy.

The Cave

Up at the viewpoint upstairs, you can see the large colony of Sea Lions below, rolling around on top of each other and dipping into and jumping out of the water to sun themselves. They were all very cute – OVER THERE. I’m certain that if I directly encountered one in the wild, the cuteness factor would drop to zero rather quickly. They do, after all, have very large, sharp teeth and are really strong from all the exercise they get chasing down their dinner in the waves and currents along the coastline. Getting killed and eaten by a Sea Lion isn’t really a way in which I’d choose to expire.

Sea Lions of Lane County, OR

With cries that sounded like a chorus of very satiated and lengthy after-dinner burps, they talked to/argued with and nudged each other. Nature is awesome like that. I didn’t spend too much time at the Sea Lion caves, but am still glad I went. (pix from Sea Lion Caves)

Thor’s Well at low tide (Cape Perpetua)

The next stop on the trip was a rock formation on Cape Perpetua called Thor’s Well. I’d seen glorious videos and pictures of it online, and had been wanting to go check it out during my trip around Oregon. Again, I wasn’t prepared for how overwhelming and gorgeous Cape Perpetua itself is, even at low tide. Uncountable numbers of mussels, barnacles and patches of tide pools with bright green sea anemones cover portions of the rock.

Thor’s Well with the tide coming in

The cape is apparently named for the date on which it was sighted by Captain James Cook on March 7, 1778. Spruce, Douglas-fir and western hemlock cover the surrounding hills, along with what looked like loganberries, morning glory flowers and a bevy of other brightly colored flora. A popular place for migrating gray whales, one can usually view the whales from up at the Visitor’s Center. Sadly, I did not see any whales during my visit. At some point before the light went completely out friday night, I wandered all the way down to Thor’s Well, getting fairly close to it. It was pretty dry, since the ocean was at low tide, and I was very eager to see the resulting surf pounding through it at high tide.

Thor’s Well

Shortly after arriving, I walked out to the viewpoint up on the parking deck and ran into the most fascinating guy – Mick, who was just hanging out, taking in the scenery. An older British ex-pat dude of over thirty years, this guy had recently purchased a mobile home and was kinda taking the same trip I was around the country, trying to remind himself – amid the political poison that’s currently infesting the airwaves, what he loved about America. We both agreed that nowhere else in the world can you just pack everything up and drive thousands of miles from coast to coast, encountering WILDLY different types of natural environments, without having to provide a passport. Or without it being a rather enormous and eternal pain in the ass.

Spouting Horn at Cape Perpetua

He was a fascinating guy, and a splendid conversational companion throughout the night as we hung out in his RV at the Cape Perpetua pulloff parking lot, drinking tea and rum and talking politics, social edification issues and generally shooting the shit until 6am the next morning. He kinda reminded me of Ian McShane – very gregarious, mischievous smile. All ’round cool effin’ guy.

Dramatic ocean spray at Cape Perpetua

Throughout the night, we kept popping out of his RV to listen to the sounds of the surf pounding into the rocks far below, then gazing up at the stars through the holes that would appear in the surrounding clouds and mist. Large patches of what looked like somewhat phosphorescent sea schmutz bobbed in the surf, being pushed rather dramatically around by the tide. There was so much mist that when cars would come ’round the corners, their headlights would throw off the most amazing light show.

tide pool at Cape Perpetua

It was one of those brilliant nights where you run into a like minded, utterly engaging person and you don’t want it to end because you’re completely enjoying the conversation and the general event so much. The only downside is that by 6am I was so tired that I’d forgotten to exchange contact information with him, and haven’t seen him again since friday. I do hope his journey’s going well, and that I’ll end up running into him again at some point on the road. Splendid tea that man made. 🙂

Strawberry Hill Wayside – Florence, OR

After I bade Mick farewell, I wandered off to another state park and pulled in to get some rest, but was only able to get about two hours of sleep before it became too hot in the van to continue sleeping. I then got out and wandered around Strawberry Hill, a place Mick had recommended the night before – saying that there were tons of starfish, purple sea urchins and the like to check out around there. I was blown away by how clear the water along the coast is, and how gorgeous the colors in the various tide pools are.

clusters of mussels and starfish at Strawberry Hill Wayside

Brightly colored starfish and sea anemones were everywhere, but there was nary an urchin to be seen 😦 There were, however HARP SEALS! They lay on a section of rocks, lounging and taking in the sun. I watched them for a little bit, then continued my long hike all over the rocks at Strawberry Hill, before going back to Cape Perpetua as the tide was beginning to roll in. Thor’s Well was quite a different sight this time. The ocean did not disappoint as large waves crashed into the rocks, forcing spectacular sprays of water up and out of the well itself. Water would surge in and out at times, almost looking like an aquatic gate to the underworld. It was fantastic! (full run of pix from Cape Perpetua)

tide pool at Strawberry Hill Wayside

I stood damn near the edge of Thor’s Well for about a half an hour, laughing with joy every time I got sprayed with ocean water. Several of the people I spoke with after said that they were worried that the ocean itself would rise up and crash around me, pulling me in – but I just enjoyed the show. Ah, the might of the ocean. Maferefun y Modupue Yemaya! Kindiambo y Nsala Malecun Kalunga! Water always wins.

There’s a section of the rock over by the Spouting Horn where the water makes a low bass THUMPing noise, reverberating along the coast as it the surf rocks along, then slams into into the long curve in the stone. I could feel it shake in my chest cavity every time it happened. At times, it would get loud enough to hear it through the walls of a vehicle.

tiny crab at Strawberry Hill Wayside

Along the rest of the coastline around me, the ruckus continued, sending tall sprays of waves up and over the rocks to splash down refilling the tide pools and softening the sand in between craggy rock surfaces. Just as high tide started to hit its peak, I started shutting down due to lack of sleep. Only two hours really isn’t enough to function, unless you’re under 20. I stopped at the Visitor’s Center and crashed out for about three hours, then drove over to Devil’s Churn – a narrow inlet that ocean water rushes into, crashing up against the sides and the end of the inlet itself. Apparently, during high tide, spray can sometimes reach several hundred feet when reaching the end. Many signs around the Churn warn of the dangers of the area at any time. (pix of Devil’s Churn)

Devil’s Churn

I stayed there for a few minutes, then realized that I was fairly hungry, so I ended up heading north to find a place to eat. Along the way to Newport, I kept stopping at State Parks and RV Parks, but everybody was full up. Unsurprising, really. After all, it was the weekend. Most of the remainder of the day was spent hitting several other parks, which were pretty, but I think I’d used up all of my childlike wonder for the day. Exhausted, I finally found a cheapass motel in Newport and crashed for the night.

Seal Rocks State Park

The next morning, I headed back south to visit Seal Rocks State Park. The coastline in this park is peppered with large, off-shore rock formations that is a habitat for seals, sea lions, a plethora of sea birds and other marine life. As well as a long strip of sandy beach, there are large, low rocks that seem almost to creep up out of the sand. (full run of pix from Seal Rocks State Park)

Seal Rocks State Park

These are covered with seaweed and contain multitudes of tide pools with various kinds of marine plant life. While I saw no seals or sea lions on my walk around Seal Rocks, the place is lousy with seagulls that fly down to bathe, preen and snatch dinner up from the tidal pools. Elephant rock is a protected bird habitat, so they all perch there screeching and darting from place to place. It’s all very lively and beautiful.

Devil’s Punch Bowl

Further north, I discovered a place called Devil’s Punch Bowl. Just spotted the sign along the side of the road as I was moving along, and said to myself, “Self? How can you NOT visit a place with that name?” Unable to argue with this logic, I followed the signs and pulled into Devils Punch Bowl State Natural Area. (pix from Devil’s Punch Bowl State Natural Area)

Devil’s Punchbowl Natural Area

It’s a day use park in Lincoln County, Oregon, and features spectacular coastlines along the right side of the walk up to the punchbowl itself. Surfers bobbed out in the surf, sometimes catching waves successfully, but mostly being dumped into the waves. The Punch Bowl itself is a large, naturally formed bowl through which one can look down into and see clear water swirling around the large stones that perhaps formed the top of a cave that collapsed a long time ago.

Devil’s Punchbowl Natural Area

Again, completely startled by how clear and clean the water along the coastline is up here. It’s completely wonderful. After walking around for about fourty five minutes, I then headed inland to McMinnville, where I’m currently staying now with a friend of a friend who has been lovely enough to provide me with a place to stay for the next two weeks. Yay, meeting new people, and yay, having a place to stay! Awesome trip continues to be awesome.

I’ll be heading out with them to Devil’s Punch Bowl around midnight sometime this week at low tide. Apparently, at low tide you can walk INTO the Punch Bowl and there are irridescent if not phosphorescent fish and plants throughout the area. VERY exciting!

Magical mountains, a Lake in a Crater and Cascading Waters

My first destination on this particular run was to be Lassen Volcanic National Park, but shortly after I arrived in Red Bluff and got out of the car to look around, it felt like an oven. I think it’s actually the hottest weather I’ve ever stepped out in – which really isn’t saying that much when most of the country has been experiencing heat in the 100’s this summer. Still, it’s the kind of heat that would put me in the hospital in short order if I stayed out in it longer than five to ten minutes.

When I got back in the van and checked the temperature, it was 106 degrees Fahrenheit. Matilda was overheating – and even pulling over to let her cool down wasn’t helping because the sun was so hateful. I started getting nervous about actually being able to reach my intended destination, much less actually get out and walk around once I made there. Instead, I chose to turn around and head back to the main highway and just bang on for Mount Shasta.

I will say, after stopping at a gas station to restock on water, I had what was easily the best pork taco I’d ever had. I love it when life happens like that. I wish I’d taken an extra one for the road.

Mount Shasta

The town of Mount Shasta has a very mellow, laid back and spiritual feel to it. Lots of people with brightly colored clothing that have an easy manner about them. Shortly after arriving, I tucked in for dinner at The Goat Tavern, and ended up chatting with a wonderful couple from Biloxi, Mississippi. I talked with them briefly about my trip, had a nice conversation with them about their own travels, and then was off to find a place to camp near Mount Shasta. (here’s the full run of Mt. Shasta pix)

the spring at McBride Springs Campground

Settled on a place called McBride Springs, and was welcomed by the Camp Host, a really friendly guy that gave me the rundown on how state campgrounds ran. I went ahead and picked a spot right near a small mountain stream, then signed in for the night. The campsite itself was small, but perfect. When I opened the van windows, I could easily hear the little stream burbling happily beside me while I slept. The Camp Host had suggested that I drink straight from the stream itself, so I did. I’d never had fresh water from a mountain stream before, and was delighted at how delicious the water was! Ice cold and straight from the natural source. Awesome stuff.

a constructed fae circle at McBride Springs Campground

I spent a lot of the night hours just walking around, either dancing in the darkness (and getting out of breath quickly, because I wasn’t used to being at 5000ft after being in Napa for a few weeks) or gazing up at the stars and getting lost in them. The moon was just a sliver that night, so I could clearly see the Milky Way as it wound it’s way across the sky. Brilliance supreme. It seemed the stars themselves spoke that night, and many interesting conversations were had. The night was cool, breezy and there was enough ambient starlight for me to easily find my way in the dark from the van to the bathrooms a short walk down the road. I didn’t understand why so many people had to use flashlights. Maybe all those carrots I’m eating are improving my night vision.

I slept in a little the next morning, then packed up and headed up the mountain, finally pulling into the parking lot near the summit of Mount Shasta. Volcanic ash and rocks dominated the landscape, surrounded by a skirt of the surrounding forests surrounding the mountain below. In several flat patches, people had constructed spirals, peace signs and other geometric shapes with volcanic rocks.

I started heading out towards the waterfall, spotting small stacks of single rocks in various places. The waterfall itself was a small trickle of runoff from the glaciers at the summit. I’d been told that this area was a spiritual Vortex, and I must say – since I first laid eyes on Mount Shasta as I was coming up Route 5 (I literally gasped and had to pull over when I saw it) I felt as if I was being pulled towards the mountain itself.

Once I’d explored as much of the area as my legs would let me, I got back in the van and headed back into town to get some food before starting off to cross the Oregon border.

Priscilla – the large metal dragon along route 5 out in Yreka, CA

I had always been fascinated by the idea of the Pacific Northwest. Trees and mountains are a BIG happy thing for me, so I guess it should naturally follow that this would be my fascination. I was in no way prepared for how overwhelming the experience of visiting Oregon would be. My first stop inside Oregon was Ashton, a lovely little city just across the border from California. My father had wanted me to meet one of his friends up there, so I contacted his friend to let him know I was in town, then spent the afternoon wandering around Lithia Park downtown. (Full run of pix of Ashton)

the duck pond at Lithia Park in Ashton, OR

It’s a wonderfully gorgeous and serene place with a duck pond, several large patches of very green grass that one can lounge around in, reading books. Connected to the edge of it is a modern day reconstruction of Shakespeare’s Globe Theater in London. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival takes place for a rather large chunk of the year, and many different professional actors perform both Shakespearean as well as modern day plays.

inside the walls of the Shakespearean theater in Ashton, OR

My nephew Alex would have been very cross if I didn’t explore, get pictures and report back. He’s quiet a fan of The Bard, as am I, so I wandered around, grinning and snapping pictures. The theater and surrounding area is very well kept, and the city itself has a really good feel to it. The people are very friendly, and there’s just a good vibe in general. I’m going to try to check out one of the plays when I head back through Ashton on my way south for the winter.

Crater Lake – Klamath, Oregon

I ended up spending the night a fair bit up the road at the Valley of the Rogue State Park. There were no actual campsites to stay at, so I parked in the rest area and slept as much as I could before getting back on the road and heading towards Crater Lake. The first thing that struck me was how completely blue the water in the lake itself is. Like, toilet bowl cleaner blue. It’s stunning.

another view of Crater Lake

I hadn’t seen shades this brilliant since the trip to the Florida Keys earlier this year. An enormous indigo colored caldera lake that is 2,148 feet deep at its lowest point, Crater Lake was formed almost 8,000 years ago when Mount Mazama collapsed. The lake is 5 by 6 miles across and is the ninth deepest lake in the world (the deepest being Lake Baikal in Siberia, which I would DEARLY love to visit someday).

the Phantom Ship in Crater Lake

Depending on what time of year it is, and if there have been any rockslides recently, there is a winding road that takes you around the crater so that you can view it from almost any vantage point. There are also boat tours offered that go out on the lake itself, and I believe that you can also charter a plane to check the scenery out from the air as well. On my way to the ‘Phantom Ship’ in the lake – a Jagged section of rocks that juts out of the water, looking rather strongly like an old clipper ship, I found the road blocked due to a rockslide. Luckily, there was a parking area with a trail that lead up to a direct viewpoint for it that’s just spectacular. Apparently in certain types of light, the rock formation almost seems to disappear.

Wizard Island in Crater Lake

Wizard Island is the most prominent feature within the lake itself. A teal and indigo shoreline wraps around a base of volcanic rock and ash with trees peppering its surface. Had I sufficient time or funds, I would’ve taken a boat ride on the lake itself. At some point, I’m gonna make that happen. I’d love to see Wizard Island a little closer than the rim of the crater. As I drove around the rim, I noticed lots of patches of ice that seemed to be rimed with pinkish red waves. Stunning, almost surreal scenery, all round. Many totemic trees, bare of both bark and leaves, stand tall along the rim, looking like natural connective totems to something. There’s definitely a spiritual draw to the area as well, but it wasn’t as strong for me as the presence at Mount Shasta.

There was this fantastic, gnarled tree at the main viewpoint for Wizard Island, just across the road. To me, it looks very strongly of a harpy, twisted in anguish. I therefore named it the Harpy Tree.

the Harpy Tree at Crater Lake

Because I’d been getting such crappy service from AT&T throughout the trip, and I kept losing GPS information, I decided to pick up an actual paper map book at the Gift Shop on the Rim. Natural Geographic Road Atlas ADVENTURE EDITION. I have yet to regret this purchase. Yay, lo-tech! It has somewhat comprehensive maps of each state, and will keep me from having a panic attack the next time I think I’m lost. (full run of Crater Lake pix)

Paulina Falls

Next point on the map was Paulina Falls in the Paulina mountain range. Being that I’m from the Northern Virginia area, and am used to Great Falls, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Paulina Falls is a very nice set of falls indeed. I dipped my feet in and sang to Oshun, giving thanks for the natural beauty around me as I sat on the edge of the bank, just relaxing and enjoying the ice cold water on my tired feet. I’d already done a fair amount of hiking, and was still only halfway through the day’s adventures. It’s a short walk to the overlook, which I didn’t have any issue getting to, but I wasn’t up for trying to make my way down to the bottom. I didn’t think I’d be able to make it back up the steep switchbacks. I still had other places to walk through and wanted to conserve energy. (more Paulina Falls pix)

the Deschutes River at Benham Falls

Next up was Benham Falls, near Bend. I could’ve done without the 7 miles of very bumpy dirt/gravel road, but the trip was well worth it. It had started to rain a little, so the surrounding earth was nice and dark – the greenery standing starkly out against it. The falls were ok, but the surrounding park is where the real beauty can be found. It’s a short-ish path down to the river itself, and it’s a delight to watch it roar along, skirting the islands in the middle of the flow. Very lush, verdant flora abounds, giving everything a somewhat storybook feel. (more Benham Falls pix)

the Lava Sea

After a short stop in Bend for dinner, I then headed out in the direction of Proxy Falls, taking the route through McKenzie Pass. The route is fairly hairy seeming, as I took sharp turns through tall sections of volcanic rock that looked about ten to twelve feet high in some places. The Lava Ocean, they call it. The black, sharp volcanic rocks dominate the landscape, looking almost like the world’s largest asphalt truck has overturned and spilled its cargo all over the landscape on a really cold day.

the Dee Wright Observatory

The Dee Wright Observatory can be found at the summit – the entirety of the structure, and the stairs up to it, is constructed out of the surrounding volcanic rock. Inside this round structure, you can peer out constructed lava tubes to see the surrounding mountains – each of them with their own small viewing window and sign carved into the rock. It’s a spectacular sight. Large windows also afford a larger view of the surrounding landscape.

On a lava rock pedestal on the roof sits a 36 inch diameter azimuth-like bronze plate that points out the direction, and distance to each peak. This view offers a panoramic view of the surrounding Cascades. The North Sister, “Faith”, is the most striking of the sights from the Observatory itself, although clouds LOVE it and tend to want to obscure it. (more pix of the Observatory)

There’s apparently a half mile long interpretive trail that winds through the lava beds, but the sun was setting, and I really wanted to get to Proxy Falls while there was still light enough to enjoy the sight. Sadly, I didn’t have time to take the trail.

my first view of Proxy Falls

By the time I arrived at the trailhead for Proxy Falls, light was quickly fading. I ran along part of the trail and was able to see some of the falls from the bottom, but couldn’t make it out in its entirety. I hoped I’d be able to find somewhere close to stay for the night so that I could go back in the morning and check it out in better lighting.

the glory that is Proxy Falls

Something about this place had a STRONG draw for me, which I didn’t entirely understand until I was able to get back to it. The switchbacks down the mountain became thicker and took on a fairytale quality for me as I got back in the car and started the search for a place to bed down for the night. I kept expecting the Big Bad Wolf to pop out of the forest and proposition me – a la Into The Woods. (full run of pix for Proxy Falls)

“There’s no possible way
To describe what you feel
When you’re talking to your meal…”

Proxy Falls

The feeling of comfort and familiarity was fantastic as I headed down the road, finally finding what ended up being the PERFECT RV camping spot in the woods. In a county called RAINBOW, no less! 🙂 Tall trees surround each site, offering wonderous shade and a sense of privacy that I hadn’t yet experienced in an RV park. (day two staying here, and I’m still loving it!)

Proxy Falls

Although I could only make out the outline of trees against the night sky, the place felt just right. The guy at the desk let me have a space for $20 for the night, since I only needed to pull in and sleep with no electrical hook up. The park is very well appointed and everybody is remarkably friendly. It’s very quiet at night, and the sounds of the forest put me right to sleep. I feel absolutely no sense of discomfort when walking around the park alone at night, either. The next morning, I decided that I’d go ahead and stay here instead of heading into Eugene, which was the initial plan. This place is only twenty minutes from Proxy Falls, so it was easy to get back there in the afternoon, after having a lovely breakfast down the road. (Pix of the RV park)

Proxy Falls

Proxy falls. I almost don’t have words for how strongly the experience of the walk to the falls, and subsequent walk up along the falls had on me. I’d never seen something so beautiful and spellbinding in my life. I felt positive at times that I was walking along some of the same magical paths that storybook characters had traveled. I marveled at the long, thick tracts of bright green moss that covered lava rock and trees. Everything about this place just makes my soul smile.

Proxy Falls

When I caught full sight of the falls themselves, I was completely blown away. The water rushes over the top, cascading down in multiple skirting flows around slick, green, moss covered rocks, looking almost like nature’s finest fluid wedding dress. I quickly scrambled down from the viewpoint to the bottom of the falls, then made my way up to the highest point to the left of the falls that I could, snapping as many pictures as I could get. The spray from the falls was like a baptism of the highest order, bringing a smile to my face that still lights up when I think about the experience.

the surrounding forest around Proxy Falls

The draw to Proxy Falls was as strong as the one to Mount Shasta, and I find myself wondering if it’s another vortex. Several times I would stumble along the path, and my knees would twinge, but the pain would go away quickly as I felt myself pulled closer to the cascading flow of water. I stayed there for several hours, just wondering at the majesty of the entire thing as well as talking to people that were visiting from other parts of the country.

the forest around Proxy Falls

Today, I’m full of aches after hiking most of the weekend, but none of it is bad, injury pain, and each one of the aches makes me smile as I remember all the wonders I’ve experienced over the last few days.

I’m in Rainbow for the week, and then it’s on to the coast! I’ll be hitting Thor’s well, the Sea Lion caves up in Florence, then running up the rest of the coast before cutting over to McMinnville.