Traveling

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Have you ever seen the movie, Throw Momma From the Train? Well, if you haven’t, add it to the queue, and pronto! It’s a gem of an 80s fil-um. Anyhow, there’s this scene where Billy Crystal is working on a line from a novel he’s writing. “The night was…moist? wet? humid?” He cannot find the right word. Then, curmudgeonly Momma (spectacularly played by Anne Ramsey), says, “The night was sultry.” BOOM! There’s no beating that.

In similar fashion, I was struggling with the title to this post. It’s kind of a hodge podge, four towns plus two mountains. Do I name the towns, skip the mountains? Do I redundantly say Southern Oregon? Call it Part IV? Welcome to the slightly nutty brain of a writer. Then the hubster, a la Anne Ramsey, says, “Southern Locales.” BOOM! There’s no beating that, either.

And here we are, southern locales, the first of which is Mount Thielsen, followed by what I originally thought was Mount McLoughlin but now wonder if it is Mount Bailey. Good grief! I do know that the photos were taken in the Klamath Marsh National Wildlife Refuge, and I find them quite beautiful. Give me a shout if you know what is what.

Lunch break in Klamath Falls:

Another sweet town filled with friendly people and terrific architecture.

For me, Woolworth’s will always be my Grandma Frances. She absolutely loved them, and positively rued the day they disappeared, though she always called them the “Five and Ten,” which, as an often very literal child, made no sense. They were called Woolworth’s and had nothing available at those prices! If ever I was with her and needed something, her go to answer was, “They’ll have it at the Five and Ten.” In addition, and what is also solidly my grandmother, was the case of roasted nuts, or that contraption that spun around under hot lights. We always bought a small bag, usually cashews for me and the red pistachios for her, a near perfect match of her lipstick.

Medford:

The hubster chillaxin’ (Oh yes I did!) at our very nice Southern Locale home base. Funny what makes a person choose a place to stay. I’d always wanted to sit in Corbusier style furniture. So there you go, and it was actually quite comfortable.

Ashland:

It had been fourteen years since we last visited Ashland, which seems crazy, really. It was as lovely as ever, though super hot (107 degrees, ugh) and the Shakespeare did not disappoint. We saw Richard III, which was splendid and marvelously acted. Dan Donohue was pitch perfect as Richard; clever and wickedly funny, had we been wearing socks, he would have knocked them clean off.

And all of that cardboard, etc? That is an assemblage by Dale Muir, on display at the super cool Ashland Art Center. We had a great time wandering around, watching artists hard at work, painting, sculpting, drawing, throwing pots. Pretty neat!

And to Jasksonville, quite possibly one of the sweetest small towns ever!

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Gray’s Butte

Posted at a rest stop on Highway 395, pretty fabulous!

The tiny specks are birds!

Lake Abert

This awesome side car was made by its owner. How cool is that?! He and his wife were traveling with another couple from Iowa for eighteen days around the West and seemed to be having the time of their lives. Isn’t it marvelous to have friends!

The kindly side car passenger took our picture. Thanks!

Our home away from home at Summer Lake Hot Springs, the Paisley. The building is new construction and eco-friendly, with a lot of old and found pieces, very cozy and fine.

The Barn…

…and the pool it houses. Rustic, but much sturdier than it looks. The pool is 104 degrees of heaven, a slippery silica and sulfur-rich water that had us glowing, body and soul.

The barn glowing of its own accord at sunset. Your eyes have not gone googly, either, my tripod must have moved a smidge. I couldn’t bear not to share it.

We stayed two nights, and each morning, I got up before sunrise to watch this bit of magic on the front porch. It was well worth being hassled by insidious deer flies!

Summer Lake Hot Springs, back when I first heard about it, was camp sites and a collection of Airstream trailers. They still have them for rent, if that’s your pleasure.

Like Diamond and the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, there are a lot of birds to be found, and we spent much of our time gazing and listening. I’m pretty sure that’s a Says Phoebe. The egg is from a Barn Swallow. The hubster found it floating in the pool, rejected by its parents after the other babies fledged, ostensibly. Amazing how tiny nascent life can be.

The hubster, reading.

Soak. Eat. Sleep. Read. Repeat.

Do it and be glad!

Ross’s Geese, maybe, happily enjoying the pond. Until…

a mean old Coot (literally!) went Jaws on them. Not cool!

Nighthawk

I don’t know that I have ever been so enchanted by the sky. It dazzled at every hour: sun, whispers of clouds, thunderheads, orange, yellow, red, pink, indigo, full moon, and stars!

Late, for a very important date!

Saving the best for last:

Bald Eagle with prey

Great Horned Owl

Oh, Creation, you astound me at every turn!

 

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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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Southbound on Highway 97

Yakima Canyon Bridge

Dinner in Yakima, we didn’t try the bacon special.

Our Tieton (Tie-eh-ton) home, El Nido Cabin no. 6, lovely and comfortable, with everything it’s right place, to quote a favorite song. Tieton lies fifteen winding miles from Yakima, and worlds away, really. On the surface, it is agricultural, surrounded by miles of orchards, a smattering of vineyards, and idyllic rolling hills, baked and golden by summer heat.

What you might not know is that the town is also an incubator for small, artisan businesses, an enterprise called Mighty Tieton. There are artists, book binders, printers, and cheesemakers, to name a few, all working to infuse new life into this tiny town. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that I discovered their endeavors and planned our journey after enjoying a bottle Tieton Cider Works hard cider, either, some of the best I’ve ever tasted.

The cabins are situated on seven acres of land, beautiful in its near wildness. Birds and other creatures chirp and rustle, while underfoot, the ground crunches with twigs, dead grass and eager Russian thistles. Here is a patch of choke cherries, long chains of dangling jewel fruit; there, a hedgerow of wild roses, electric colored hips glowing in soft afternoon light. And farm equipment, ancient and battered, but looking as if their caretaker has just stepped into the shade for a spell and will return any moment.

Making friends

We love this cider!

Picture takers at The Tasting Room, Wilridge Winery. It’s biodynamic and delicious!

A horse named Nell

Pears

For my nephew

Towering fruit crates

Ed Marquand, a kindly fellow with fabulous spectacles, is responsible for getting Mighty Tieton started, after getting two flat tires on a bike ride through the town. He runs Paper Hammer Studios and gave us a tour of their operations. With one fancy printer and an old-timey book binding machine alongside a hundred year old paper cutter nearly as large as my bathroom, it is a small operation. Fine books are made by hand and cheeky prints, too. We came home with a few treasures.

On the home stretch, with Mount Rainier from the east.

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Soda Lake

Alkali Lake

We’re our way to the Methow (Met-how) Valley now, cruising along near-deserted highway no. 17, with scores of miles between automobile sightings. It was that dreamy hour, early in the day, the heat not yet ripened, the wind scarcely a breath upon us.

Wheat and sagebrush under high clouds and faded blue sky:

East, West, North, and South.

Alone, but not lonely.

Full of love and awe.

The Rolling Huts, our modern home in the Methow, though I think they might need a bit of coaxing to actually roll. Perfectly situated for star gazing, and fortuitous timing for the beginning of the Perseid Meteor Shower, we laid in quiet witness of countless shooting stars, the slow descent of giant fire balls, zooming bright satellites, and our thick with dreamy stars Milky Way.

The wesola polana (happy meadow) and a couple of her visitors.

The Methow River and my favorite rock skipper.

More love.

Liberty Bell Mountain

Silver Star Mountain

The old-timey town of Winthrop. We saw no gun slingers or rabble-rousers, only like-minded tourists wilting in August heat.

A fellow looking much like a prospector made certain we did not miss this bridge and accompanying riparian entertainments (said with a hearty laugh and nod to Keeping Up Appearances). We were mighty grateful.

Deer Ears

Choke Cherry

A River Runs through it.

That smile!

Just down the road in Twisp, I met Jillian of The Noisy Plume! We had a tasty breakfast at the Glover Street Market (stop in for a smoothie or breakfast sandwich or waffle, then grab a bar or two of Molly’s Soap – you won’t regret it). As for the meeting, after the twitchy nervous-making beginning was melted and spent, there was much laughter and discovery and the baring of sweet souls. Happiness!

 Up Next – Tieton!

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