Oregon

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Baker City:

What a gem of a town, with an abundance of fine architecture under baby blue skies. We breakfasted at the Lone Pine. It felt like it was plucked out of Portland, with finely executed, yet simple fare, and impeccable service with a dazzling smile. A hush of Stevie Wonder singing on the hi-fi and lights dimmed to ward off the impending heat made for perfection.

The Strawberry Mountain Range and the hubster yukking it up for my amusement. I could not ask for a finer companion! Which reminds me, TODAY is his birthday. Send him happy thoughts, won’t ya?

Pelican and White Faced Ibis at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. So VERY many birds! I’ll update this later with all that we saw. Updated!

American Coot . American White Pelican . Barn Swallow . Black-Billed Magpie . Bullock’s Oriole . California Quail . Cormorant . Dusky Flycatcher . Eastern Kingbird . Golden Eagle . Great Blue Heron . Great Egret (or maybe Snowy) . Killdeer . Mallard . Mourning Dove . Northern Harrier . Red-Winged Blackbird . Sandhill Crane . Turkey Vulture . Western Grebe . Wilson’s Phalarope . Yellow-Headed Blackbird

Diamond, Oregon, population five. What a truly special place. A friend waxed poetic about the Hotel Diamond probably thirteen years ago, beautiful and remote, with one of the best meals of his life. We did not forget. Run by a father and daughter, with a mere nine rooms, it is quaint and comfortable with beautiful paintings and historical photographs lining the walls, an old timey screen porch to stave off hungry flies and wicked mosquitoes, and fine and hearty fare (this is ranch country, after all), served family style, every evening at 6:30. Book early and come hungry! And forget about television, phone, and internet, this is truly the back of beyond. A good book, the company of a dear friend (or new ones – Hello Diane, Manfred, and Paulina!), and the sublime scenery will be enough and more.

lupine

Our picnic in a grove of aspen trees at Lily Lake. There is something magical about being alone among wildlife. Everything humming and acutely alive, the pulse of the earth seen and felt and heard, I feel how small I am, how fleeting this moment, this breath, this life IS, and inhale ever more deeply to take it all in.

yellow indian paintbrush

desert buckwheat

 a tiny alpine penstemon, I think

indian paintbrush

desert buckwheat

wild onion

Steens Mountain and the Alvord Desert down and beyond. It’s a study in contrasts, with lush green, cool, crisp air, and a myriad of wildflowers flanking a desert that receives a scant six inches of moisture a year.  The wildflowers were magical, and I was positively giddy at the abundance and variety. Heavenly! If you know them, please help me identify what I do not know and correct me where I am wrong. I’d be most grateful!

We took the Steens Mountain loop road, the highest in the state of Oregon, which is 66 miles of, at the moment, very nicely graded gravel. We heard horrible tales of it in previous incarnations and were most grateful that it was Mini Cooper navigable, though the desert side is N O T for the faint of heart. A single narrow lane, with nary a guard rail and hundred-plus foot drop offs, the hubster and I white-knuckled it much of the way.

I don’t believe there could have been a finer end to the day and this leg of our journey.

Stay tuned for Summer Lake!

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And so it begins…

Breakfast in Pendleton:

Home of the Round-Up

Cabbage Hill View Point

Wallowa

Kombucha break in Lostine

Gazing upon the Wallowas

Toward Hell’s Canyon

Zumwalt Prairie:

Some fourteen miles of winding gravel wound us in and around one of the largest intact bunch grass prairies in the world. Vast, my friends, with us and the animals the only life for miles upon miles. I watched the hawk, a red-tail, I think, swoop down to seize it’s prey and carry it to the utility pole, the snake writhing and coiling some thirty feet from the ground. My heart quickened at the wonder and privilege of it all.

Filthy prairie feet

Wallowa Lake:

Our wee cabin was called the Fawn, and we loved it!

The baby robin was terribly sweet and let us get quite close before her unsteady wings carried her off.

I bought two books and some deliciously scented soaps at this gem of a shop!

Enterprise:

A sweet town full of kindly and hospitable strangers.

Arrowhead Chocolates

They gave us spoons dipped in chocolate while we waited for our treats. The hubster was in heaven!

Joseph:

Named for Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce (that last sculpture is his likeness), Joseph is a prince of a town. With a world famous foundry, beautiful landscape, friendly people, and Stein’s top notch distillery, it’s easy to find a reason to stay.

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Picnic

Howdy from a spectacular vacation picnic! The hubster and I took a most fabulous and restorative road trip around Oregon, twelve days and thousands of miles to nearly every place we’ve had an itch to visit these past sixteen years.

Oregon is home. The word resonates even more now.

I’m currently sorting through photos and recovering from a silly injury that, were it filmed by some bystander, would surely win a prize or go viral. Two minutes (I kid you not!) after starting to play tennis this morning my feet tangled, the racket flew, and I crashed. My palms, knee, and shoulder made swift and grievous contact with the court, while the hubster looked on in wide-eyed disbelief. It hurt like the dickens, and we got a marvelous laugh, but the marks it left are ugly!

A reminder to…? Laugh, surely. Be careful. Dust yourself off and begin again.

See you soon!

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This scene, Oak Island on Sauvie Island and not an island at all, just the grandest stand of ancient oaks surrounded by a waist high carpet of green, sent my heart agallop. This neck of the woods always borders on the sublime, immense and filled with every possible wonder. A leafy raw azure, the rustle of brush, and my hand skimming the grass.

Out with my friend Laura and her dog Chipper. No pet of my acquaintance more thoroughly lives up to his name. Smiling, leaping, bounding, tongue lolling, and tail wagging, I felt constantly buoyed by his lively presence. Not that I needed it! At every turn, I filled with such delight at my place on this patch of damp earth. Bird song and Laura who knew every single call! Oriole! Spotted Towhee! Savannah Sparrow! Bewick’s Wren! Black Headed Grosbeak!

All was lovely, bright and happy as new pennies and this fairy house. Momentarily empty, her occupants surely observing us from the brush.

One stupendous view after another, Sturgeon Lake and Mount Saint Helens.

And this pastoral scene, repeated again and again, a myriad of cows moseying and baying and regarding us with equal curiosity. A fine morning it was. Thank you Laura and Chipper for inviting me along!

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Good Friday afternoon to you, dear reader! How are you? I’ve got a belly full of dried cherries and am thusly content. Have I ever told you that cherries are my favorite fruit? Well, here we are again if I have. Yup,yup.

This was yesterday, happily eating a late lunch at The Sudra, just me and the kind and lovely-eyed guy behind the counter, which is how I like it. The sun was bright, the music was right, and the food topped it all (the small Chickpea Cutlet plate, vegan AND delicious). I could have stayed all afternoon, but I had things to do, itches to scratch.

First of which was calling my dad to wish him happy birthday! We rambled and ambled over a myriad of topics (books. history. movies. space travel), and oddly enough, spoke 1:16! On 1.16! Insert weeeird sound effect here.

I then grabbed my latest book, Philip K. Dick’s collected stories, The King of the Elves, intending to spend time before I picked the hubster up for date night. I parked and locked the car, but only made it ten feet before a little voice said, “Take pictures instead.” So I started for the West Hills to chase the light. I made it twenty blocks and was enveloped by a swift moving fog. There went that idea!

And then, I thought, the Pittock Mansion!

I arrived in time for sunset and a cinematic sweeping of fog.

The city below

utterly

and completely

shrouded!

Magic!

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