A-Wandering Up The California Coast

I just got back from a road trip to San Francisco to attend a friend’s wedding, and I wanted to share some of the shots I got on the drive home. I just didn’t have the time to stop at every wonderful place I saw along the way, and oh there were SO many, but I managed to squeeze in a few choice stops. I’m not totally happy with the editing on some of these, but I’m nursing an old back injury that has been aggravated by three nights on lousy hotel mattresses, so it’ll just have to do. Enjoy! 🙂

My friend’s wedding was held at a palatial villa on a forested hilltop, and it was just stunning. I haven’t had a chance to ask him if he’d be alright with sharing pictures from the wedding, so I will leave those out. I can, however, share a photo of this awesome birdhouse city that was in a tree on the front lawn the villa. I need one of these in my yard!!

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Once I got out of San Francisco I headed for the coast and highway 101. I haven’t driven the coast in a few years, so I was eager to see what I found. One of the places I stopped briefly (in part because I desperately needed a bathroom) was Fort Ross. There’s a reconstructed Russian fort and some lovely trails to walk. Here’s some info about the fort if you have an urge to visit some day.

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I walked around the trails near the fort for a little ways and got a few nice shots. Oh I love the California coast 🙂

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I have no idea what kind of flowers these are, but they’re gorgeous and I love them!

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Back on the highway, heading north. I can’t remember where I was, but somewhere along the way I saw this gorgeous little shed being devoured by nasturtiums, just sitting there and glowing in the afternoon sun.

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I ended up spending the night in Fort Bragg. The town itself isn’t overly exciting, but the views around there are beautiful.

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As I was driving along north of Fort Bragg I saw a vulture perched on a fence by the road. I’ve never been able to get close enough to a vulture to get a shot, they’re usually very shy, but this one didn’t seem to be going anywhere. Just as I raised my camera two more burst out of the grass. Darnit, if only I’d been pointing my camera a little more to the right! They were gone before I managed to take another shot, but I’m just happy I got what I did 🙂

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Farther north and into redwood country. I wandered along the Avenue of the Giants for a little ways, but I was so tight on time that I had to get back on the highway. Before I did, though, I enjoyed some lovely woods and stopped by the famous Drive-Thru Tree.

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After I left the Drive-Thru tree, I was driving up a large gorge and happened to see a little chunk of abandoned highway clinging to the side of the cliff. Since I absolutely LOVE old abandoned things, I couldn’t resist hopping the fence and exploring a little ways. I didn’t get very far, it was just too hot and I was running on only 3 hous of sleep (curse you, crappy hotel mattress!), but one of these days I’m going to go back and see how far that old highway goes.

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I happened to find a little lizard hiding on the cement railing along the old highway. He kept doing pushups at me. I think that’s lizard-speak for “Come at me, bro!!”. I reassured him that I was not interested in taking over his territory and went on my way.

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Heading north again I finally got back to Oregon, near Klamath, where you can stop and enjoy the gigantic and amusing statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Big Blue Ox. My friend Artie Groovebot wanted his picture taken. He’s such a tourist…

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So that was my trip. These photos represent only a tiny fraction of the wonderful things I saw along the way, but someday maybe I’ll get to go back and take my time exploring.

The Church, the Museum, and the Mammoth

I decided to thumb my nose at the lousy weather today and go exploring with my friend Jen. She told me about an old church and graveyard in Dayton, OR, so away we went. It was really lovely, just nestled in the woods by a lonely farm road. There were pin flags marking the gravestones, and flags in unmarked spots, so I assume someone is surveying the graveyard to figure out who all may be there. We stopped at the Evergreen Aviation Museum on the way home (I’ve taken tons of pictures of the planes before, but this was my first shot at the tanks), and HAD to stop when we spotted a random mammoth sculpture in someone’s field. It was an afternoon well spent.

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Satsop

Yesterday I went a-wandering up north a ways and found myself at Satsop Development Park. It’s a strange and wonderful little place, worth checking out if you’re ever in the area. Apparently you can sometimes go through the gate and under the cooling towers, but the gates were all closed, so I may go back one of these days and see if I can explore further. I’m not really happy with the editing on these photos, but it was the best I could do with a migraine. Here’s a little background on the place.

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Buffalo Eddy

I just got back from a trip to Idaho to help with an archaeological restoration project. It was a wonderful adventure, and one of the places I got to visit was Buffalo Eddy, a basalt outcropping along the Snake River that bears beautiful petroglyphs. The exact age is uncertain, but some estimate they may be 4,500 years old, possible older. It was a real gift to see such ancient images.

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The Painted Hills

Yesterday I was feeling antsy so I decided to drive to the Painted Hills, a small park in the deserts of central Oregon that features some beautiful geology. It’s about a 4-5 hour drive from Portland, depending on traffic, but well worth the trip, especially if you’re a fan of deserts and history. My GPS showed me two routes: the main route down 26, and the back way up the Gorge and down through the desert.

I, of course, took the back way. I’ve never been one to do things the easy way, and when you stick to the road more traveled you miss all manner of wonders and adventures. Admittedly, during the last half of the journey I was beginning to wonder if my GPS had finally had enough and decided to just do away with me, send me plummeting down some mountain in a whirling ball of fire and ennui, never to be seen again, slowly mummifying in the middle of sun-baked nowhere. In other words, there’s a good couple of miles of very windy, very narrow gravel roads that can make one wonder if you’ll ever see home again. I made it, though, and it was definitely worth it.

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On the way through the desert I found a small local cemetery dating back to the early 1800’s. I’d love to know the story behind this man’s gravestone. It appears that he was not a local favorite.

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Just a local ranch. I couldn’t resist 🙂

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I been past this house on several road trips and every time I have to stop and take more pictures. There’s something about it that captivates. I’d love to know who used to live here.

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Ooooooh how I love rusty old trucks!!!

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After hours of driving, at last I reach the Painted Hills.

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The view from the Overlook is stunning, but stay on the trail. Once you walk across those hills the marks stay for years.

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Drive a little ways past the main parking lot and you reach Painted Cove, where you can explore a short walkway and get a close look at the sediments that make up the hills.

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And across from Painted Cove is another little trail where you can get a good look at this lovely glowing-rusty hill.

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If you have the time I definitely recommend making the trip. Be prepared for heat, however. It was around 97 when I was there, and it will only get hotter as we move into August.

Summer Lake

Considering that I’m a girl born and raised in Alaska, it seems a bit strange that I’d feel happiest, often as not, in the desert. Maybe it’s the quality of the light, or the dry heat. Maybe it’s the way the rocks glow and crumble, maybe it’s the animals and insects that live in places things shouldn’t be able to live. Whatever it is, I’m in love with deserts. I recently took a road trip with a friend of mine to Summer Lake in south central Oregon. There’s a hot springs there, you can rent a cabin or just pitch a tent, soak in the pools, wander off on the playa, lay out at night and stare at the amazing stars blazing down at you. It’s worth the trip, assuming you like deserts, hot springs, and miles of empty highways….Image

Did I mention empty highways?

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Antelope!! 😀

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These were possibly the most curious cows I have ever encountered. They could not keep away from us. They’d creep up to the fence, we’d get too close and they’d run away. Then they’d creep back to the fence, then run away. Rinse, repeat. About a full hour of fun doing that. Seriously, you get your kicks where you can in rural Oregon.

Run away!!!

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The three outdoor pools, and inside the barn is the large pool. Heaven, I tell you. I would have taken a shot of the indoor pool, but it’s clothing-optional in the evening and I didn’t think the other guests would feel too comfortable with some weirdo taking nudie pics of them.

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Some adorable horses who were clearly in desperate need of petting. I know the feeling, man.

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The view from the back porch of our cabin. We got the oldest structure on the property, about 100 years old. Little kitchens, little bathrooms, all creaky at night when the wind blows, the cabins are great.

If you go south a ways you’ll come to the town of Lakeview. It has a rather nice Safeway and a selection of restaurants for those who are unsatisfied with the offerings in Paisley, the little town nearest to Summer Lake.

On the drive home we stopped off at Lava Lands State Park. The lava itself wasn’t horribly exciting, though there is definitely a respectable amount of it. No, the best part was the unbearably adorable squirrels (chipmunks? What are these things?) that live there and which have clearly learned that people=snacks.