Wow – it sure does fly especially with work, family, friends… While I have been out adventuring, I have yet to share the photos here. Life happened and time got away. Now I’m sick at home, taking a sick day from work and catching up with blogging – reading others’ blog posts and actually posting one on mine. I’ve missed sharing adventures here. If I wasn’t coughing and feeling miserable – I’d go someplace. Looking back over these photos has helped me feel somewhat better though. Along with being sick, I have a bit of the winter blues as well, so I have decided to share a few photos from summer adventures.
At one point way back last summer, I made it to Ivar’s in Seattle for lunch and highly recommend it. While the fresh fish is always tasty, eating it outside with the seagulls makes the experience fun. The signs make me laugh. Whether or not you enjoy sharing your food with the birds, it is entertaining to watch others do so, especially when a by flying seagulls snatch high held French fries.
Traveling further north to see family, I spent a few days in Bellingham, Washington that same trip. Bellingham is a beautiful little city just south of the Canadian border on the Puget Sound. Sadly, the summer haze reminded everyone that forest fires were blazing not too far away in both US and Canadian forests. While there I went on “normal life adventures”, like going to the Whatcome county dump and eating raspberry vanilla swirl ice cream at the local Edaleen Dairy.
Later in the summer, before the warm weather disappeared, I attended the annual Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival in Canby, Oregon. For the third year straight, I have entered and won their amateur photo contest. In 2017 I was the only one to enter (my family joked that I was the “featured photographer”), but this year I had some competition, including my work manager and her daughter! I still won a couple entries despite the increase of competitors.
Even though the coast is beautiful any time of the year, it is a quintessential destination in the summer, and I was able to check that destination off my summer list. Canon Beach, Oregon is simply one of my favorite spots along the northern Oregon coast.
By stopping and perusing my old photos, I realized I had forgotten about my afternoon in Rainier, Oregon, “The Spirited City on the Mighty Columbia.” I had driven up there to attend church with friends one Sunday morning, but due to a misunderstanding, we missed each other. They went out of town that Sunday. So there I was about an hour away from home and figured I would just explore the little town. I found myself taking a Sunday stroll through Riverside Park and learning about the Coho salmon that travel up and down Fox Creek to the Columbia River. I had expected to enjoy a lively afternoon with friends, perhaps eating out, talking and laughing, but enjoyed a more calm and quiet afternoon instead. It wasn’t the adventure I set out for, but it turned out great!
Sunday was a beautiful warm and sunny summer day. I believe it reached 98 degrees Fahrenheit / 36.6 Celsius. Earlier this month my friend Anna, a dedicated photographer, and I had made plans to go explore the Laurel farmlands and the Bald Peak area. By the time we arrived, our enthusiasm for being outside had waned. After taking a few photos and walking a short way along dusty paths, we were contemplating our other options. Despite being warm and bright, it was quite hazy in the distance over the Chehalem Valley, but even so, we spotted water out in the valley west of Bald Peak. That lake made us think of Henry Hagg Lake, which is one of the seemingly few outdoor swimming holes in Washington County. The lake is just 25 miles southwest of Portland, at the base of Oregon’s coastal range, and is filled in part by Scoggins Creek, which flows from these mountains. Just thinking about the cool water, combined with the sweat trickling down our temples, prompted us to change plans and head out to Hagg Lake.
What a terrific idea it turned out to be! By time we reached the park it was just after 6 p.m., and the crowds were leaving! Park closing is at sunset (8:41 p.m.), so we had a little more than two hours to swim. This was the first time for both of us to swim at Hagg Lake. While I was surprised at how rocky the lake edge was even at C-Ramp Recreation Area where they have a “sand beach”, it didn’t take long to get beyond the rocks to deep water though. As the lake is a multi-use lake, speedboats cruised further out on the lake, and occasionally slowly cruised through the swimming area. And the water was warm! As the sun lowered, the water temperature cooled down, but it felt so good! Floating on the lake was the perfect way to cool down. As the sun sank behind the coniferous trees, the sky in the south became a gorgeous purple, pink and peachy light orange, while the water took on deep violet and indigo shades. By the time we left, the evening had cooled to a pleasant warmth, and home we drove, relaxed.
To know when you go:
Henry Hagg Lake: 50250 SW Scoggins Valley Road, Gaston, OR 97119
Open dawn to dusk
Parking fee of $7 can be bought at the main gate.
A map of the park can be picked up at the gate as well.
Personal flotation device loaner stations are scattered along the west side of the park for people to borrow life vests.
That’s what it has been here in this part of Oregon lately.
Last week we saw temperatures of over 105 degrees Fahrenheit here in Washington County. On top of that we were seeing our air pollution levels rise from smoke coming down from the wild fires 350+ miles north in British Columbia. It made for a hot, muggy, hazy and rather bleak couple of days. While the heat wave and the hazy air are still here, it has cooled and cleared considerably.
Because this part of Oregon does not usually see such temperatures, many homes do not have air conditioning nor are people ready or accustomed to such elements. I have a friend who moved here from Texas a few years ago who was shocked to discover that many cars do not have air conditioning here in Oregon!
A small rustic campground about 15 miles from Banks and Highway 26, it is a no reservation and low amenity (it has trash pick up and out-houses, but no showers) campground. It is first come, first served, and once the 23 campsites are filled, they are filled. Our friends got lucky and got a site right on Gale’s Creek.
The creek isn’t very large, but in places people have dug out rocks and have hand built rock and log dams to make for small, but deeper “swimming” holes. My young friends (ages 6 & 7 ½) think they are the best!
As we sat on boulders in the creek, the younger kids swimming while the older kids threw rocks and Frisbees, we could see the haze above the cedars and pines. Thankfully the air in the forest, especially by the water, was cool and clear.
At the end of last month, the end of May, I spent a Sunday out at Henry Hagg Lake with a friend. With all the early warm weather we had here in Oregon, the park was busy with boaters, fishers, swimmers, hikers, dog walkers and those generally looking to enjoy the outdoors. It was such a nice warm day, with blue sky and everything.
Partly because I didn’t take many photos or explore the park much, I realized I failed to post and share the location. Instead of using my camera, I read a book, ate food and dozed in comfy camp chair, all while in the warm shade of an old large tree, within earshot of Scoggins Creek and the shrieks and laughter of the children playing in it.
The 1,113 acre man-made lake is part of the Washington County Parks system. Being out in the county, just outside of the towns of Forest Grove and Gaston, there is only one road in to the park, Highway 47. The day access cost is $6, which can be paid for at the Ranger’s station and self-serve kiosks as you enter the park. From there the road loops around the lake, with side roads taking you to various recreation spots and lake access points.
With the northern half of the lake designated a “No Wake Zone”, along with motorboats, many kayaks, canoes and SUPs share the lake. At the Sain Creek Recreation Area there is even a nice open beach area for swimming, which on that particular Sunday was a little on the crowded side. It was along the northern shore of the lake, at the Scoggins Creek Recreations Area, that my friend and I found our “chill” spot – right beneath the sprawling limbs of an old coniferous tree, by a sturdy all-season picnic table and benches. Despite the park being quite popular and well visited, I appreciated the layout of the recreation areas. They made it easy for a large number of people to be there and be able to enjoy their own space.
On the way home, we drove through Aloha, and that is where I got this shot
of Mount Hood. Looking at the photos later, I realized I really should have asked my friend to pull over so I could take a better shot and should not have taken it through the glass. (*sigh* Live and learn…) Nevertheless, Mount Hood was out and certainly breath-taking.
Day-in, day-out, I travel the same dustless hard gray asphalt roads and frequent the same places in the same silver gray Chevy. The same old job with its route rhythms, the same chain grocery stores with such minor discrepancies in prices it’s hardly worth changing them up and the same town with only so many variations for my commute to work, all tempt me to simply shift to cruise control.
Living in the same house with its set layout, with senior cats who demand the same food, water and turn out daily, along with the same food and water needs of my own, not to mention the laundry, the plants, the bills and the family with needs of their own, creates humdrum. Monotony. I mean, the same white ceiling stares down as I drift to sleep and continues staring as I roust from slumber, day after day. Night. After. Night.
The vistas, textures, odors, flavors and noises absorb not into my senses, but rather fade in the background of life. Each morning brings a new day, but dang, with routine and to-do-lists its newness sure evades notice.
Traveling refreshes senses and an awareness of the world around. As cliche as it is to even say, my childhood gave me a slower pace and more vivid life experience. I see this perception change as due to how present I was then verses how present I am now. As a kid, I was very present and my thoughts of the future formed differently*. So many things were new, and I zoned in intensely. I took them not for granted. Traveling in new environments offers the opportunity to practice being present and more aware.
During my mini-vacation to Horsethief Lake, I had no pressures of going to work that day and put it out of mind. Though unable to just stare out the window with unhurried thoughts as I did when a kid, with the car in cruise control, my thoughts relaxed. I consciously noticed the changing landscape and weather the further east we drove. We left the tall green leafy trees and overcast sky of home as we entered the winding gorge with denser green leafy and tall evergreen trees, but still cloudy sky, and by the time we reached the State Park, a few wispy trees and shrubs sprinkled the landscape and the sky sparkled clear, bright blue and sunny. The air smelled differently too –more like dry baked forage than the earthy fresh mown smell of damp green grass.
Traveling simply takes me to new places and helps me stay present, reminding me that I can still discover flavors, feels, scenes, sounds and scents.
*There is a legit reason for this – it has to do with the frontal lobe. That is the section of the brain that finishes developing last, in a person’s 20’s. It is the part of the brain that thinks abstractly about the future, gauging and weighing out possible outcomes, along with tempering impulse behaviors.
Bright and early the Saturday after the 4th of July, my sister and our two good friends left on a Columbia River Gorge adventure. Despite the other three being good and abstaining from sweets and caffeine, this driver decided that she needed her Dutch Bros hot cocoa. (*To set the record straight, I was reminded that my passengers succumbed to my bad influence and shared a hot cocoa…) With hot cocoa in the driver’s hand, we drove out I-84E to Hood River, Oregon where we crossed over the Hood River Bridge. Following WA-14E we buzzed along east for about 18 miles.
Ranger Warner, who confirmed our art walk reservations, didn’t tell me that there are a number of areas (…like 3) encompassed by the Columbia Hills Historical State Park, nor did he tell me where to meet the tour. Unfortunately I didn’t think to ask. We took the first exit north off WA-14E that said something about the State Park – I think it said to “Columbia Hills State Park – something ranch.” That was not the right road. The gravel to the Dalles Mountain Ranch made for rough riding. After about 5 or so minutes of rattling and shaking, while crawling along at less than 10mph, we decided to turn around and see if there was another entrance to the Park. Clattering and rumbling back we made our way in low gear to WA-14. My poor little Malibu was bing-binging and flashing “Power Steering” by the time we reached level ground. Well, our hunch was right; there was another entrance. This time off to the south toward the Columbia River a large grand sign welcomed us to “Columbia Hills State Park and Horsethief Lake.” The asphalt road led us smoothly to a gravel parking lot a stone’s throw from the train tracks and the river. It was there that we paid our ten bucks for an Adventure Pass (a day parking pass) and met up with the tour group.
We lucked out. The free tours are lead Fridays and Saturdays at 10 a.m. by volunteer guides. This morning three guides showed up. The art walk is about mile and takes a little over an hour. Due to vandalism the art walk is closed except for these April through October State Park sponsored pictograph and petroglyph tours. They suggest reserving your spot two to three weeks out, but lucky me got four spots just four days out. The number given to reserve your spot is: 509-439-9032. When Ranger Warner called confirming our art walk reservation he left this number: 360-773-7712.
According to our guides, the area now known as the Columbia River Gorge has been the most continuously inhabited location in North America. Some of those inhabitants included the Chinook, a loose conglomeration of tribes that extended from the Pacific Ocean east through the Gorge and the surrounding areas. Much trading and traffic of different Indian peoples has happened here. These Indians are the ones who left their marks on the land and rocks. The artwork, both pictographs (rock paintings) and petroglyphs (carved rock art), are evidence of these peoples. Though thought to be very religious (from other evidence and tradition), our guides admitted that we don’t know for sure what the artwork represents. The various diseases and hardships that overcame many of those people in the last two hundred years means there is no definitive voice interpreting the remains today.
The Indians consider this area a sacred place and even today bring offerings of worship here. Walking along this art trail was like visiting the remnants of an old Catholic cathedral or Buddhist monastery. We were seeing Native American artwork that could be likened to stained glass windows or chubby little Budas. The trail had about five stops where the guides pointed out artwork and talked about what were seeing. With the smells of wild berry bushes, grasses and dust in the dry heat air, we took in the artwork. I was glad the guides had leaflets showing exactly what we were looking for in the rocks. Some of the work was difficult to see, and the guides said this was because the sun was so bright. Apparently if there had been a bit of cloud cover or been overcast, the artwork would have been seen better.
While guide “J” kept his interpretations palatable, our two other guides affirmed the sacredness of the area every chance they got. I appreciated J’s constant reminder that we really don’t know what these works of art represent or for what purpose they served; every member of the tour’s guess was just as valid as any of the opinions of the guides’. Personally I think at least some of the artwork was made simply for art’s sake and some of the specimens were practice sketches. I doubt it is all sacred.
“White. White paint represented death, didn’t it?” The older blonde lady-guide piped up.*
“Um. I’ve never heard that before,” said J hesitantly.
“I thought I read that somewhere – that artwork in different colors had different meanings,” she persisted.
“Maybe. I think they just used what they had,” said J.
A few minutes later, as we preceded single-file down the sun baked and sneaker trodden path, the guides are talking among themselves again.
“I think I read that colors signify different meanings,” repeated Blondie, this time to guide “K”.
“Yeah – you could be right,” he says.
“I think white represents death,” she says again.
“Really? That’s new to me, but it could be. Their artwork was full of significance that we don’t even understand,” he affirms her with genuine interest in his voice.
When at the beginning of the tour our three volunteer guides discovered that they had unexpected co-guides, I didn’t expect their consensus that they’d learn from one another to amount to much. Nevertheless, they kept talking among themselves and comparing notes. They all had their own angle. Blondie was definitely death focused. K was especially attuned to the spirit side of things, with a touchy-feely edge. J was a textbook guide; he had a script and followed it.
The art walk is a destination walk with “She Who Watches” being the final viewed specimen. The piece was created using both paint and rock carving. A large piece, it looked to me like a bear with very Native American features. There are various traditional tales associated with this artwork. All of them include a woman chief, the wolf and a being put in stone to watch over the chief’s people. Some of the traditions say that the wolf promised her he would watch over them, and he put himself in the stone, while others say he put her in stone, so she could always watch over her people. Anyway, it was a neat piece to see. I was impressed at the symmetry of the eyes and ears.
One thing that was not made very clear on the art walk was how many, or which of the specimens exactly, were rescued and strategically placed. Apparently at least some of them were salvaged before the dam was put in about a mile up river and the area flooded.
Even at the end of the art trail our guides were still talking among themselves and comparing notes.
“Didn’t owls signify death in Indian depictions?” Again the topic of death, and again, brought up by Blondie.
“Yeah – sometimes animals did depict life events and situations,” affirmed K.
“I know I was just reading about how owls signify death. And my spirit animal is an owl,” she relates to him.
Uhhh… and you’re broadcasting this why? I thought to myself as I moved on, looking for my sister, relieved that that part of the art walk was over.
After the tour we ate our picnic lunch in the day area by the lake. With many picnic tables in the shady grassy area, we had no problem finding a nice spot by the water’s edge. The following swim in Horsethief Lake, with rocky Horsethief Butte looming above and the sun shinning down, refreshed our sun-chapped skin. Yes, blue sky, sparkling warm water and good friends – what a lovely day.
On the drive home, we veered off a little so to take in the Historic Columbia River Highway, which turns 100 years old this year. Stopping at Crown Point and the Vista House, we took in the view.
*Quotes and dialogue – not precisely accurate as I am quoting them as I thought back to what they said.
What better way to celebrate our nation’s birthday than a few miles from where Oregon was voted into America? As I shared in my last post, it was at a spot right in Champoeg Park in 1843 that settlers voted 52 -50 to come under the provisional government of the United States. Just a few miles down the road from that historic spot you’ll find the little western town of St. Paul, Oregon.
For the last 81 years St. Paul has turned out a family friendly PBR and PRCA rodeo over the 4th of July weekend. For many this is an annual tradition. For me, it had been about 15 years since I’d last attended. A number of the people I went with this year on July 2nd had never been to a rodeo, so to see it with someone seeing rodeo for the first time was an experience. I think they enjoyed themselves…at this thing they call rodeo.
Afterwards the group was comparing their favorite parts of the rodeo. Despite thinking long and hard, I am not sure which part of rodeo is my favorite.
I really enjoy watching team roping. While one rider ropes the head, the other ropes the heels of the steer – that takes skill and teamwork.
Then again, I really enjoy barrel racing. It takes guts to ride your horse at top speed and whip around those barrels. Ride, ride, ride!
The clown hits my list though too. He’s got to provide entertainment for the crowds, while also providing some distractive presence between the cowboys and the animals.
The DJ impressed me at this rodeo. My friend Anna and I agreed it would be fun to job-shadow a rodeo DJ. Though having a play-list and knowing generally what to play when, with the clown, the announcer, the mood of the crowds…etc. he could be called to play just about anything and the music needs to fit the moment.
The often forgotten and unnoticed pick-up men in blue hit my list as well. Man, when they do their job right, it is impressive to watch. When they do it well, you hardly notice unless you’re paying attention. They come alongside the bucking animals, pull the bucking strap off and rescue the rider. They’re the ones that actually put roping skills to work at a rodeo. Sure, there are the roping competitions, but those pick-up men better have some mad roping skills to catch stray animals. In a funny sort of way, they exemplify the cowboy at the rodeo more so than the competitors, who might not even be real working cowboys. They’re doing the actual job and not just competing.
It’s boots and chaps
It’s cowboy hats
It’s spurs and latigo
It’s the ropes and the reins
And the joy and the pain
And they call the thing rodeo
When you and your sister both have an early summer Monday off, you have to go do something. But what? It was a weekday and a workday, notorious for being a day popular attractions are minimally populated. Opportunities abounded. We thought about going to Horsethief Lake in Washington, but decided that it was too far away for the day’s adventure. We considered going shopping at Washington Square mall, but I didn’t have anything I needed to buy. We contemplated the beach, but decided instead to go hiking around Champoeg State Park, just outside of St. Paul, OR.
The area now known as Champoeg (pronounced: sham-poo-ee) Park was once known as tchnampuick and inhabited by the Tualatin Kalapuya tribe until the early 1800s when French-Canadians from the Hudson’s Bay Company retired here.
After stopping in at the Visitor’s Center, buying the $5 parking pass, looking around at the free exhibits and meandering through the 1860’s-style kitchen garden, we drove to the east side of the Park. There we wandered around the Riverside day use area and along the easy Pavilion Trail.
Champoeg Park Pavilion and Monument Plaza is where farmers and trappers voted for a Provisional Government in Oregon on May 2, 1843 at a “meeting of the ‘inhabitants of the Willamette settlements’.” This vote formed “the first American government on the Pacific coast.” Later, in 1900 the land was purchased by the State for a public park, and to commemorate the vote the State erected a monument here.
With the breezes through the evergreens, sunlight penetrating the clearing like a monument spotlight and happy boater laugher floating off the river, just sitting on benches made for a relaxing summer afternoon. The back history told me I was not alone in enjoying this spot. This location has hosted many happy moments. Back in the day, Champoeg was called the “Plymouth Rock of the Pacific Coast,” and every May 2nd citizens would gather to celebrate. The Pioneer Memorial Building was built in 1918 and the attached covered area was added in 1920, providing a place for these annual celebration gatherings.
With the park open year round this is a great place to come and enjoy!