June 9 - Saturday
Easy drive today from Sutherlin up to Silver Falls State Park, a distance of about 140 miles, which meant the day didn't start at the crack of dawn, at least for Linda. While I was up early, it was a time of doing things, yet accomplishing nothing, though it actually mattered very little since we weren't planning on leaving until between 10 and 10:30. Why would we want to fight the morning rush hour traffic in Sutherlin any way?
What in the world is that flake talking about you say, Sutherlin doesn't have a rush hour, being way out in the boonies with a population of only 7,000 souls, and besides this is Saturday morning to boot. Oh you of little knowledge, occasionally things happen in this town that tangle traffic and increase congestion. And today is one of those days, seeing as how one of the big annual yard sales is being held today. The time is from 7 AM to 12 noon and the location is the Timber Valley SKP Park. We figure that 10:30 to 11 will be a good time for us to pull out, the early birds will all gone, and the super deal, closing time bargainers not yet on the scene.
All of this was nice, to have the day planned that is, but before you can carry out those plans you have to have the energy to both, get you started and sustain you. That is where breakfast came into play and it was what we had been having the past several mornings, an asparagus omelet, thanks to the $1.99 a pound asparagus we had bought at the Grocery Outlet. Of course mine was definitely better than Linda's, thanks to the habanero sauce I splashed on the top, though she would certainly beg to differ with me.
One bad thing was the weather report and I guess you could throw in the the current weather itself, to make it several bad things, rather than just one bad thing. The weather report called for an 80% chance of rain today, and while it wasn't raining, the sky was heavily larded with ominous gray clouds. We didn't have much cleaning up and putting away to do prior to leaving, so we both spent some time on our computers, then decided to take a walk down to the large grassy area across from the park office where the yard sale was being held. It quickly became apparent that most of the sellers were from the RV park, due to both the nature of the items and there size. Oh, there were a few larger items, a fishing boat and trailer, several large propane tanks and living room sized paintings, but most of the "stuff" for sale were small items, and also old, very old. Like they had far exceeded its life expectancy several decades ago. One of the first tables we came to was the Jack and Jill table, the organization to which Linda had donated a few of our things. She was excited to see that everything but one item had been sold. Of course the fact they had not been junk probably also helped. We were about half way around when a light mist began falling, which by the time we were getting towards the end of the selling area, had escalated into a light rain.
As we were looking at the last table, the one way off at the end of the line, which by the way had some of the best items for sale, we overheard someone quip, that people shouldn't to worry about the rainy weather, after all this was Oregon so just wait a few minutes and it would change, though I think they may have stolen that from a few other states we have been in during our adventure. Lest you think we were simply walking around window shopping, you don't understand Linda. This woman never shops, she buys, and today was no different. (Any shopping that is ever done is at my insistence.) We ended up being big spenders, leaving a grand total of $.75 in the hands of those Oregonians. This was based on our $.25 purchase of a rubber stamp, unused with an original price of $6.95 and a paperback book, Double Whammy, by Carl Hiaasen for $.50. Our all time favorite audio book is Sick Puppy, also by Hiaasen, so Linda felt like she had made out pretty good. The fact we got out of there for under a dollar had me agreeing.
The thing about living in a home the size of ours is that there is such a limited amount of space that each non consumable purchase must be considered in light of where is it going to go. The stamp is going to be a gift and the book is going to sit on the night stand, where it's going to get read, first by me, then by Linda. Just before leaving the yard sale, the young model I use for my photographs struck a pose, so here is the obligatory photo of the sales area, which as you can see, was spread over a large open field.
We walked back to the coach, wondering how our daughter and her family were doing over on the coast, then began our last minute preparations prior to leaving. While the family sanitary engineer donned her rain coat and headed out in the rain to dump the tanks, I put away all the computer stuff that was inside, stowed the MotoSat, then joined Linda, putting away the TV cable, the fresh water hose and the electric hookup. We both finished at the same time, which was a good thing, since something was telling me Linda was not the happiest person in the Park. Maybe I should have volunteered to empty the tanks, actually I should have remembered to to dump the tanks, but what was past was past. I figure I will suffer for that little transgression at some opportune time in the future. We pulled out a little later than we had originally planned, but since we weren't in any hurry, it didn't matter. We hooked up the explorer along the edge of the field where the sale had been and our timing proved to be perfect, what with all the vendors having packed up and headed home due to the rain.
Normally we wouldn't drive in the rain, but today was an exception since we had done something we rarely do, made reservations at tonights campground. That was because we were going to be at the same park as our daughter and her family, they in a cabin and we in a nearby site. Since it was an Oregon State Park and this was summer, a reservation had been a must, at least to get what we wanted. The drive would take us North on I-5, past Eugene, to just South of Salem, where we would head East, finally arriving at Silver Falls State Park. Other than the the occasional construction zone, particularly through Eugene, it wasn't a bad drive. Plus, with all the rain, traffic was moving at a slower than normal speed, which also made for a less stressful trip. Normally we wouldn't drive in the rain, yeah we're real wusses I know, but when you don't have to, why do it, but with the reservations, we braved the elements.
Somewhere along the way I'd have thought Linda would have taken a picture of the rainy weather, but she was in her own zone, which I just hope wasn't plotting revenge for having ended up dumping the tanks in the rain this morning. Eventually we did arrive at the Park, and as she was taking care of registration matters I took a less than scintillating photo of the situation. You will notice, as I later did, I missed including Linda in the picture, which in a way was a harbinger of what was to come.
Having some previous knowledge of Oregon State Park Campgrounds and the difficulties we have had finding a suitable spot when we could drive around looking for one, it wasn't with the best frame of mind that I drove away from the booth. One thing I did want to do was to unhook the coach, then drive the Explorer to the site to see what we had. Luckily there was a large parking area just before the campground loop where we could unhitch and leave the coach. There were two loops to the campground, and it was immediately apparent that one was principally where the tenters were and the other where the RVs were. Meaning one was newer, the sites widely spaced, with lots of open sky for satellite reception, while the other was old, narrower, twisty and buried deep in the trees, with just a slight glimmer of sky showing, meaning no hope of ever connecting to a satellite. Two guesses and the first one doesn't count as far as in which loop Linda had reserved our site.
That lead to driving around the other loop, finding several vacant sites which looked promising, followed by a fruitless trip back to to the registration booth, but after a few less than pleasant moments, ended happily with us parked in the original spot Linda had reserved. I'll just leave it with the statement that there were only a minimum of difficulties encountered while parking. Had it not been a rainy day and hence the spot opposite us had already been vacated, it would have been nearly impossible to have gotten into the site. We'd have done it, but family relations wouldn't have been the same for quite some time. Fortunately none of that came to pass, so all was well. The really neat thing is that it will be less than a 30 second walk over to where the grandkids are going to be, so it doesn't get much better than this.
June 10 - Sunday
Waking to the sound of rain on the roof of the coach, I spent some time reading while Linda got caught up on her sleep deficit. At least that was how she put it. In my mind she was banking a few extra hours of sleep just in case she needed some to make up for any sleep deficit that may happen. Of course sleep deficit is something which will never occur if she has her way. The other side of the coin was the fact I was reading rather than playing on the computer. There is going to be a few days here were there are no posts, even though they will be written. Seems that when you camp in the tall trees of Oregon you have to give something up, that something being your satellite connection. It isn't exactly going to kill us not to be online for the next week, but it is going to change our style a little.
When Linda finally emerged from the back of the coach, it was with a purpose in mind, that purpose being food. Not our food however, rather it was bird food. She was really feeling deprived in this area, having forgone this little pleasure for many months. We finally determined it had been when we were at Tombstone Territories RV Park back in February, that she had last watched birds feeding outside the coach. This being her first opportunity in months, she wasn't going to miss it, so in short order the flock was being fed.
It sure didn't take long for some feathered friends to show up, even if it was a flock of raucous, fighting Jays. Linda had placed the food in multiple piles, but those Jays all had the same idea, or so it seemed, which was to eat at the same spot. This resulted in much squawking, fighting, and chasing, but after a while they settled down, each finding a spot where they could enjoy a decent meal.
If she could feed the birds, she could feed her husband, so as soon as she came back inside, I asked her what was for breakfast, which wasn't what she was in the mood to hear at the moment. I was informed that the birds couldn't get the seed out of the Explorer by themselves, and since I hadn't bothered to to do it, she had to do. I was however, completely capable of fixing breakfast, so if I was that hungry I would just have to do it myself. Thinking this over, I decided that once she had watched the birds eat for a while, she might be ready to fix something. Hence I once again buried my head and began busily pecking away at the keyboard. Later, when she got around to fixing breakfast, it was pretty good, even if it was another asparagus omelet. Besides, since I didn't have to fix it, who's complaining.
We had a pretty full day planned, with the main objective being scouting out the trails to the waterfalls in order to make sure our grandson would be able to negotiate all the trails. He can get around pretty good, but he does have his limits, in which case he can ride in his stroller. Linda's goal was find out which trails, or portions of the the trail would be easy and which would be hard. She had been studying the maps, seemingly since yesterday afternoon, and had decided to break the task down into two days, hiking what could be referred to as the south loop today, and the north loop tomorrow.
Outfitted in her hiking boots and having strapped the fanny pack on, she looked like someone who did these things on a routine basis. The change in her attitude over the past months regarding hiking has been almost unbelievable to me. From someone who didn't get any enjoyment at all out of hiking, she has evolved into someone who looks forward to it. Lose some serious weight, get into shape and find the the right pair of boots, what a difference it can make. It wasn't long after we had departed the campground that we discovered something that would serve to interrupt our hike during the course of the day, Salmonberries.
As we walked from the campground over towards the day use area, where the trail to the South Falls begins, the trail was lined with bushes which were festooned with those colorful berries. Walking along, admiring the scenery, we began to pick up the sound of the falls. At first a rustling that slowly increased until it became more of a roar. All this took place long before we could actually see falls, but the trail eventually began to slope downward and we caught our first sight of the reason why we had come to Silver Falls State Park.
As you can tell, Linda knew exactly where to stand when I took the picture of the falls, the only problem is that it gives no indication of the actual size of the falls. While I stayed in the same spot she walked over to the falls, to give some idea of the size of the cascading ribbon of water.
The tiny little speck of red to the left of the falling water is Linda standing behind the falls. This is one of the really neat things about several of the falls in the park, where the trail takes you back behind the falls before heading off to the next one. Another thing which we noticed was that even with all the rain, the water was still running clear. Maybe there is something to the premise that nature left to her own devices desires a pristine environment, it is all those human beings who dirty things up. As we left the falls and walked along the banks of Silver Creek, there was beauty to be seen everywhere. Take for example how the moss encircles not only the trunk, but also the branches of some of the trees.
I think the one thing we couldn't get over was the difference between what we had seen this spring while at Petrified Forest National Park, and what we were seeing at Silver Falls. At every bend of Silver Creek a tranquil vista of water, trees and sky appeared, one where lush vegetation was the order of the day. Green was the predominate color and the air was alive carrying the sounds of the water below and birds above.
Contrast that with northeastern Arizona, a land of very limited water, an occasional tree, and a huge expanse of bright blue sky, a place were a lack of vegetation was the order of the day. Shades of brown were the predominate color and the air itself was in constant motion, seeming alive with the rushing sound of the ever present wind.
Our hike today would take us by seven of the ten falls in the park, which was six more falls than we usually saw whenever we visited waterfalls. You have to wonder whether this is much ado about nothing, or are they really worth seeing. The second falls we came to answered the question.
If they were all like the first two, this was even a more spectacular a place than everyone said it was. This falls is called Lower South Falls and though it is not a s high as South Falls, maybe the word 'lower' has a double meaning, you can also walk behind it. It is almost impossible to tell, but behind that curtain of water, Linda's red sweatshirt came be seen. Zooming in on the speck reveals the maid of the mist.
Because of the type of rock behind the falls is different from the rock above the falls, it has been eroded leaving a significant cavern behind the falls. We have visited falls in the past, but not ones were you could so easily walk behind them. The more we explored, the more apparent the reasons for this being such a popular park became evident. We found it almost mesmerizing standing behind that ever moving curtain of water and was yet another neat experience that makes up the great and grand adventure we are living.
All this sightseeing was making us hungry and not being ones to pass by the food which was all around us, we were soon grazing on Salmonberries. This was something new to us and it took a few berries to discover which were the ripest. Once we learned it was necessarily the size of the berry, but rather color, texture and ease of picking that were the best indications of just how ripe they were, we walked, picked and enjoyed, which slowed our progress down but certainly increased the overall experience.
As our eye for berries improved, we started seeing things we hadn't noticed earlier. Take this berry for example, which is about twice the size of the ones we had been picking.
A few strides later we hit the mother lode. That is as big as it gets, at least in this patch. The great thing is that not only were they huge in size, they were also huge in taste. Now if the Blackberries and Huckleberries are as good, later in the summer, it will exceed our fondest dreams. Of course traps full of crab this fall would only be icing on the cake. What's not to love about this life.
That this is a special place goes without saying. It had even been proposed as a National Park at one time, the fact that all the old growth trees had been cut, leaving only second growth, being the reason it was not designated a National Park. Everywhere we walked the beauty was apparent, whether it was the falls or the vegetation. Maybe it was merely the time of the year, or the simply the nature of the area, but whatever it was, the open area around the sides paths were usually sprinkled with wildflowers of varying colors and types, something we found ourselves constantly stopping to admire.
Looking at the park, we had to wonder at the people who came charging down the trail, seemingly in a hurry to get somewhere. Did they spend hours hours at each waterfall and saw the trail as only a method of getting from one to the next? Or had they just stopped because they were in the area?Whatever their reasons, we could see that they were missing so much, but then how much do Linda and I miss? The saying, "You don't know what you are missing'" was never so apparent, but rather than wonder what it is that we missed, we were excited about what we had seen. Then again maybe those hurrying along the path felt the same way we did. Is life something to be hurried through or is it something to be savored. Is it a dress rehearsal, or is it the real thing? Whatever it is, it is meant to be lived and that is what we did today.