Saturday, June 23, 2007

Visit from Ma Dukes

Ok, this may be a long entry...
This week my mom came to visit me.  It was her first time visiting the Pacific Northwest so I thought I would give her the grand tour of what I've experienced so far but jammed into a pretty exhaustive but amazing week.  On Thursday at school I printed up all of the Oregon Scenic Byway maps and linked together several cool trips  for her stay here.  I'll try to split this into sections...
    On Friday I picked her up at the airport after doing some hiking in the Columbia Gorge (see previous post).  Her plane came in at around 3pm so that gave us time to head towards Cape Meares and Cape Lookout from Portland so she could see some rocky northern Oregon Coast.  She was amazed when she saw the huge Octopus tree as well as the giant spruce in the park and she also enjoyed all the salmon berries that we came across on the trail, but not so much the huge banana slug I showed her!  It was a beautiful day and I think she was really amazed by the views.  We saw a bunch of cormorants on the rocks as usual and we even stopped for dinner at a wonderful restaurant in the town of Oceanside.  We also picked up 3 dozen oysters from my favorite skeevy RV park Oyster dealer on the way home.  It was getting late and I could see she was exhausted from the flight and time change so we booked-it through Salem to Corvallis instead of going through Lincoln City to get back to town quicker.  After meeting Kenzie and seeing the house a bit I gave up my room for her and hit the couch around 10pm for bed.

    On Saturday we took the rental car I still had from Enterprise for a 3 day trip down the Coast and through the Cascades.  First we drove to the coast after getting breakfast downtown at the Broken Yolk and walking the Saturday Farmers Market, which amazed my mother.  We stopped at all the great places I had been to throughout my first year here.  We drove to the top of Cape Perpetua, checked out 620746018_fdc9c7a185_b
the lighthouse at Haceta and saw seals and sea lions at Cape Arago.  We even went for a short hike at the Oregon Dunes State Park near Umpqua where I coaxed her up one of the biggest sand dunes in the state.  It was a beautiful day and I could tell she really enjoyed seeing the various coastal environments from rainforests to desert dunes.  We made it all the way to Brookings where we used my GPS to find a seafood restaurant for dinner before crashing at a local motel there.

    On Sunday morning we woke up early and hit the road for the Redwoods at Crescent City which was only an hour away.  When we got to the town my mom wanted to get some water for the trip so we drove downtown to a grocery outlet and got some while also stopping at the cities information building.  A nice kid there told us to take a backroad through the forest instead of the main highway so we took his suggestion which turned out to be an amazing ~15 mile drive on a one way dirt road through some of the grandest trees I have ever seen!  My mom and I had both seen 620621688_a4904627c2_b
the trees before on our 1989 trip through Northern California but they seemed equally amazing this time around as well.  I even got620607434_0b25c98a3b_b
my mom to crawl into one.  There was a downed one across the road which had been cut to allow cars through.. check the picture of me on it for a size reference...  After we made it through the forest road, almost running into a mule deer, we jumped on to route 199 (the same one with the landslide that forced Emily and I to turn around 2 months ago) and drove to Grants Pass where I we stopped for some food at a DQ so I could call my dad on 620636326_3d614fc9ea_b
Fathers Day.  We then drove to Crater Lake for the afternoon and words can't possibly describe how beautiful it is there.  The rim road had just opened two weeks ago and there was still plenty of snow around.  We drove around the rim taking pictures at various road-side turn outs and then stopped in the gift shop briefly before heading down towards Bend and the high desert of Eastern Oregon.  There wasn't620643060_a062c1a870_b
very many places to eat but we luckily found a really cool restaurant in 619945585_fff2264809_bCrescent, OR.  The place must have had 400 stuffed animals in it and was known world wide (except to us...).  We stayed at a motel next door to it that had just been renovated and was adorned with
a new western motif of antlers, landscape paintings etc.  In a part of Oregon with very little population and places to eat or stay we definitely lucked out for the night.

    On Monday we woke up and drove through the Cascade Lakes around Mt. Bachelor with amazing views of the Sisters wilderness.  We went for a short hike to a place619752581_d6578c06c4_b called Osprey Pt. in hopes of seeing some ospreys but there were none.  The drive
was pretty desolate and we only passed about 4 cars despite the fact that the route was an Oregon Scenic Byway.  After driving around the lakes we went to downtown Bend to browse the shops, walk around a park and get some lunch.  It was the first time I had really walked around downtown Bend and it reminded me a lot of ritzy 619766661_fa40e84691_b
locations in Boston and Greenwich, CT.  Everything is overpriced and only the rich celebrities on vacation in the hills can afford to shop there... But we did make it to REI for an hour or so, allowing620470100_6f1325d7dd_b
me to check out equipment that I hope to buy soon for CMRU and my Continental Divide backpacking trip.  We left Bend and tried to drive over McKenzie pass to head back to Corvallis.  We stopped for ice cream in the town of Sisters and made it all the way to Windy Pt. on the pass before coming to a barracaded road preventing us to go further.  The top of the pass was essentially a giant field of lava with amazing views of Washington to the North 619793385_34b315b262_b
and the Sisters to the south.  We could even see as far north as Hood and as far south as Crater lake.  There was a very cool stone sheter made out of the lava rock that you could climb up to for fantastic views.  Inside the shelter were windows cut out pointing towards teh various cascade volcanoes.  When we got to the619795265_9fceea0347_b
barracade we saw a large black bear run across the road ahead.  We turned around and headed back down towards the Sisters to take Santiam Pass over the Cascades619803911_4df603afb8_b
instead and on the way down the mountain I had to swerve to avoid a mother skunk and it's baby crossing the road.  When we got down from the pass we ate dinner at a wonderful restaurant across from Foster Lake near Sweat Home before heading back to Corvallis.  When we got back I found out that someone had stolen my oysters!!!!  Arrgghhh... if it was a homeless person I don't feel to upset about it but if I ever found out it was some frat punk I'd be pissed as hell.  It was a great trip and I saved a lot of money with the rental car on the 950 mile trek. 

On Tuesday I decided to take my mom for a short hike up to the summit of Mary's Peak where we were rewarded with the most beautiful views I've ever seen of the 620525376_a4d60f3c0a_b
Cascade range from California all the way up to Mt. Ranier in Washington!  The flowers were out in full bloom and we could even see the ocean clearly to the west.  I wish I had more room for photos to post all that we could see from the summit that day!  I then took her for a brief tour of campus, introducing her to Anne and Bob Lillie and also stopping at the Bookstore to pick up some maps for our next adventures. We ended the day by taking Jason out to dinner at McGrath's Fish House which was fantastic (except for the weird "bite-size" oysters in the shooters I ordered). 

    We took Wednesday to relax a bit.  We walked around town, bought meat at Emmon's meat market on Rte. 34 and stopped at a fresh vegetable stand for some fresh fruit.  At 5pm I was sworn in by Diana Simpson, our county Sheriff, for CMRU with my mom watching and from 7-10pm my mom was my guest to one our CMRU training meetings where we went into the truck bay and learned how to rig up our rescue system.  I think she was really impressed at the knowledge that we need to have to properly conduct a rescue mission.  Jason missed the meeting because he and a few others were on a classified search elsewhere that he couldn't even tell me about. 

Thursday I again rented a car (this time a really great Nissan Altima instead of the Chevy Aveo shitty car we had before).  We drove to Silver Falls, stopping at a pancake house in Portland on the way for Breakfast, to hike the 10 falls trail.  My mom had been nervous all week about the hike but I kept assuring her it was a piece619977905_c0a1da0a82_b
of cake and as it turned out she did just fine on the 4 mile walk.  We walked past a total of 15 waterfalls in about 3 hours through a temperate rain forest that simply blew my mom's mind.  She was amazed at the beauty of all of it.  I ended up running the 3 miles back on the rim trail of the canyon to the car to go pick her up at the North end of the waterfall trail.  We then drove another scenic byway past620026911_d3019e670d_b Brietenbush Hot Springs towards Mt. Hood.  On the way we passed by Detroit damn and got out to take some pictures and look around and the massive damn.  The Hot
Springs had some healing weekend going on so we weren't able to actually see the springs.  It was a long drive through the woods to get to Rte. 26 and Mt. Hood but I thought 619953629_a2918e71f2_bit was definitely more scenic than taking the highway.  I took my mom to Government Camp, SkiBowl and to Timberline to show her where I climbed to the summit of Hood a month ago.  We then drove down to Hood River past all the
scoured rivers from the excessive rains of last fall.  We ate a quick dinner at Shari's (yuck) and made it to Multnomah Falls just as the sun was setting for some beautiful pictures of the falls I had stood atop of just a week before.  We ended up getting a hotel room at a Portland Quality Inn for the night.

On Friday we slept in for a bit then drove the 2 hours up to Mt. St. Helens to check out the Johnston Ridge Observatory.  At the first visitor center of the park I got some great pictures of a couple Osprey nesting in a tree high above the visitor center building.  Driving the road through the 1980 blast zone was absolutely amazing.  You620564540_a350afdd0f_b
could see the devastation everywhere but at the same time the forest was returning and life was everywhere.  About halfway to the observatory we almost ran into 3 huge female elk crossing the road ahead of us.  At the Johnston Ridge Observatory we watched a619882323_7ab5d223ed_b movie on the eruption which then opened up to a view out a large window of the volcano as it is today.  I had not been there yet and I found everything
to be absolutely amazing.  It was pretty cloudy but I was able to get some cool pictures of the mountain and the new lava dome growing it side of it.  There were also a pack of 5 bull elk in the valley below that we could see.  We walked along a self-guided walkway for a bit until my mom began to freeze up in the cold and wind so we returned to the car to head back to Portland.  After stopping at REI in portland to browse a bit and then at a great Prime Rib Restaurant near the airport I dropped my mom off for her 11pm flight back home.  I really do think she had a great trip and I wouldn't be suprised at all if she decided to move out here in a few years.  At least now she has a better understanding of how wonderful this state is. 


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