Friday, September 25, 2009

Surprise Surprise!!!

Wowsers this week has been a busy one! Had my trip to central Oregon, worked and then drove to Seattle midweek for about 32 hours to surprise my brother Dave by taking him to a Pearl Jam concert!

It was also Will's birthday and I was able to hand deliver him an ATV driving SpiderMan, although I have to report that surprising my brother was really the main event! 
He was completely shocked when he opened his present! I think I actually live for surprising people! My last big surprise was for my friend Jess in New Jersey.
Dave's world is really crazy now, and the timing of this concert could have been better. But my Brother does not miss the opportunity to have fun and take advantage of good situations and made the best of our evening. We had the greatest time! I love my Brother!

La Pine!

A couple of weekends ago I was lucky enough to finally see more of Central Oregon, more specifically La Pine, Oregon. This little town is south of Bend, Oregon about 30 minutes. It is an outdoor wonderland, and in the winter it's close proximity to Mt. Bachelor makes it even more appealing to me!

Dave and I headed East on Friday evening, taking the time to stop at his friends winery. I had had Duck Pond Wine before and like it, so I was excited to see the property. 
And it was beautiful....
The grapes are just about ready for harvest, so we snacked a bit...
Baby explored and marked this pricey territory.

I had never been to La Pine before and was excited to see this area. The purpose of the trip was actually to take care of some housekeeping stuff with Dave's property there, but we did get away to the Paulina Peak area, which completely surprised me with it's beauty. This area is actually National Forest Land and we were able to access the peak by driving to the 8000' summit. The views were breath-taking!

I love this pic because it shows the lava flow in the background. Such a cool geographic area!
More of the lava flow.
a little bit of sillyness...

This is a view of the peak from the lake. From this view, Dave pointed out the chutes on Paulina Peak that are ideal for snowboarding. I guess they snowmobile all around this area, including up the side of mountains for fresh powder.  I hope hope I get a chance to hit those chutes! I can not wait for the snowy season to arrive! So long summer!
This is Baby's new friend, Moosedog. I was proud of Baby on this trip. She rode from Portland to La Pine and back to Portland in the back of the truck. Her princess qualities have always kept her from enduring the wind. I think snuggling with Moosedog helped a little bit. 

Great trip!

Imnaha and Hells Canyon

The last destination on my trip was Hell's Canyon. It is safe to say that this leg of the trip meant the most to me for many reasons. I had heard amazing things about Hell's Canyon and I couldn't wait to see what all the fuss was about. There were several lookouts to choose from, but after speaking with a guy at the local watering hole in Joseph, I decided the closest lookout was the best choice. The only concern would be the narrow, 26 mile, one lane, gravel road up to the top. It was literally like driving along a cliff and I could see why some people felt weary about the long trip. luckily I felt fine, I think in part because of my many trips to the Mountains. 

The nice man in Joseph who recommended this destination said I absolutely had to stop in the small town of Imnaha at the local grocery store/tavern. It had so much character! I stopped for an ice cream and made my way up the hill. 

There was livestock on the road. This wasn't the first time I had encountered a cow in the middle of the road on this trip. Luckily, I was only going 25 miles an hour, so no one was in danger!
As I climbed, the views became better and better!

I finally reached the end of the road and was excited to climb to the top of the lookout tower. 
This was the view from the top. Supposedly, this part of the canyon is deeper than any part of the Grand Canyon. I had been to the Grand Canyon and I think the margin is very small between the two, but it was definitely BIG!
I had to bother the fire lookout guy. He wasn't the most social character. His personality was similar to Tim the Tool Man Taylor's best friend on Home Improvement. What was his name??? Oh yeah, AL!  He was just like Al minus the sense of humor. It was only a little awkward, but heck, I drove a long way to get to that lookout, so I had no problem bugging him. 
It took guts to take this picture of the Al look-a-like fire lookout guy. Turns out being nice is helpful in relieving awkwardness. I think after 5 minutes he began to enjoy the company.
I was faced with a tough decision once I climbed down the tower. In my E. Oregon book it said there was a campground up top, just North of the lookout tower. I soon learned that this campground was pretty abandoned and on my drive up it was apparent that no other people were camping up top. I didn't feel like camping by myself again and I really didn't want to sleep in my car again, so I made the executive decision to drive back to the city where I could get a hotel room and a shower. I was STINKY!!!
Just after I took this picture, I had the highlight of my trip. I was driving around a sharp corner and saw a real wild COUGAR!!!! It was running from the road down the hill along a fence. I was speechless and all I could think to do was speed up so I could get a closer look. I was probably about 150 yards from it before it ran down the canyon into the woods. It was just about the best high I have ever felt! It was all I could do not to call everyone to tell them how lucky I was!!!  

Go Cougs!!

The drive down was amazing!
I also saw a pack of wild turkeys. There were about 15 of them, but I could only snap a shot of 3 of them. 
I had to stop at the tiny Imnaha Grocery/Tavern to tell someone what I had just seen. To my surprise, they were actually really happy for me and stated that so many people go there entire lives without seeing a cougar in the wild. I was riding cloud 9.

My visit to Hell's Canyon kept getting better and better. I was inquiring about hotels in the tiny town of Imnaha and had decided with the help of a local lady that I would just drive the 30 miles back to Joseph. Her name was Mellika. She was originally from Maine and came to Oregon to work as a repelling firefighter for forest service. Repelling from Helicopters that is. She was hardcore. She and I are the same age and she had just had a beautiful baby girl. She moved to Imnaha to be with her boyfriend Dave. They were such a warm and compassionate couple. 
While we were talking in the Tavern, I noticed her talking to Dave across the room. She was checking with him before offering me a room she had in a roadhouse/hostel they were fixing up. The room was clean and ready for a guest and after offering money, they insisted I stay there for free. How nice was that? The room was so cozy and after not sleeping in bed for about 8 days, I was so happy to take them up on their offer!
The room was in a roadhouse across the street that they were renovating to be a home style hostel for travelers on their way to Hell's Canyon. I was their first guest. After showing me around, we went back to the tavern, where we proceeded to drink and eat a lot! The store owners were so nice and shared their local delicacy with me. I actually tried Elk Heart! It wasn't bad either!
After a great night of eating, drinking and visiting, I slept hard. I was so happy about how the folks from Imnaha were so welcoming and I even thought briefly about what it would be to live in such a small, inviting place???
This was the country style restaurant in their hostel. 
A picture of the post office from my room. Cute huh?
This is a picture of the hostel from across the street. It is a work in progress.
The grocery store/tavern.
The next day, Mellika invited me to her home for a visit. It is estimated that this house was built right at the turn of the 19th century. Dave had taken it apart and moved it from a far away town to this lot.
This was a pup that they rescued. The local cowboys had used this border collie for herding for several years and she was tired and not helpful anymore. They were going to shoot her and Mellika said she would take care of her for the rest of her days. I knew I liked this girl the minute we started talking.
The outhouse.... They have plumbing, but added this to the property for it's character.
The rustic interior of the home.
Mellika and her beautiful 3 month old baby girl. 

I spent 5 hours talking/bonding with my new friend. It was tough to leave, but I finally started my 6 hour drive back to Portland. I can't really explain how therapeutic this trip was. I had great adventures and met such wonderful people. Can't wait to do it again! 

Thanks Eastern Oregon!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Aneroid Lake

Yikes Stripes!!! I apologize for being such a lazy blogger.....

Finally-- Aneroid Lake. I was compelled to backpack to this spot after spending an incredibly noisy and crowded night at the large, expensive Wallowa Lake campground. This was officially my first time backpacking overnight by myself and I was really excited to find some peace and quiet.

The hike itself was no picnic. It was a 6 mile hike up 3000'. It was a workout. 
This is a picture of the trail into the Eagle Cap Wilderness. It was so beautiful.

It is difficult to explain in words how beautiful this lake was. After walking in, I was speechless (not that there was anyone to talk to), but I pretty much stared with my mouth open the entire time.
This was my campsite. Nuts huh?
Once we got settled in, Baby and I did some exploring around the lake.  
There were a few cabins on the north end of the lake that appeared to have a few people staying in them. This brought me some comfort since there were no other campers there. Luckily they were pretty far away, so it still felt like I had the lake to myself. 

The lake was also full of fish. I cast my lure into the lake a few times before catching a beautiful fish. The fish were literally jumping out of the lake.

The water was crystal clear, making it very easy to see the prominent rock plateaus just beneath the surface.
I read my book for a few hours from this spot. Baby was my reading partner.
Happy girls! (okay- Baby didn't look happy in this pic, but that is because I make her pose for pics about 137 times each time we take a trip. She is a good sport.)
It definitely felt like I was at 7500' when I woke up the next morning. My thermometer said it was about 39 degrees. C-H-I-L-L-Y!!!
The morning sun.

There was a small lake next to Aneroid Lake called, "Roger Lake". I had to take a picture for my Dad since his name is ROGER!
The hike out of the Eagle Cap Wilderness was much easier than the climb up. Baby was a chipmunk chasing fool and I think she actually felt like a hunter. She could more appropriately be classified as a chaser since she has never caught anything, except maybe a fly. Gotta love her!

We were back at the trailhead by noon. I was overheating from the hike and headed promptly to get a cold beer, followed by a day floating on Wallowa lake. Joseph treated me well!