Saturday, January 31, 2015

Daily View: The Oregon Trail

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Early morning fog along the Columbia River Gorge.
I am not a morning person, not by a long shot.  But on this particular morning the view outside our truck windows was well worth the waking up for.  Coffee in hand I climbed into the front seat early (for me) as we started our trek across Oregon.  We were on I-84 across the top of Oregon which follows the Colombia River and Gorge area – The Oregon Trail.

To the left of us was thousands of acres of mountains and evergreen trees rising high into the sky.  To the right was the Columbia river in all its glory.  There were rock cliffs, deep water, white water rapids, and old trails.  The far side of the river was the state of Washington, mountains and hills rising and falling to meet the water.  Some peaks snow-capped, others rocky, and still others covered in thick evergreen forests.

Washington State side of the Columbia River.
Around each bend there was another view that made me gasp in wonder and point, “See that baby!?”  Unbelievably lush green and thriving vegetation, especially for this time of the year.  Ancient railroad tracks still in use.  Rocky gorges and waterfalls.  And OH the waterfalls!  Pure and clean mountain water escaping from the mountain tops, some in little trickles, a few in massive gushing cascades.

Then, rounding a bend, right there in a tree on the side of the road sat the most majestic creature alive, the Bald Eagle.  It was so close I could almost reach out and touch it!  I nearly came out of my seat in excitement.  I've seen a few of these beautiful birds from a distance as they were flying high in search of prey, but never one so close and sitting still.  When I say these birds are beyond description, I mean it.  No words or pictures can do them justice.  They are huge, powerful, regal, and just.... wow!  But my excitement didn't end there, a few miles up, on the same side of the road, my side, the passenger side, was yet ANOTHER Bald Eagle perched on a tree branch, not even 20 yards from my window.  If I never see another one of these birds again in my lifetime, I will never forget their strength and beauty, those eyes ever watchful as they sit above the world keeping eye on all that is below.  I finally understand why this bird represents our nation.

Grassy cliff along the Columbia River
where we went "hiking".
Finding a rest area along the river, he stopped so we could stretch our legs.  And stretch them we did!  A  trail near the back led to some rocky cliffs, then down to the river.  What morning isn't complete without a little trail hiking and mountain climbing?  The cool crisp air filled our lungs and the landscape dazzled our eyes.  We spent about an hour hiking, not long, but long enough to get a little exercise and fresh air.  And definitely long enough to create a morning to remember for a lifetime in my mind.

There were many of these little island
in the river. The native indians used
them as burial grounds and were
called "memaloose", literally
'Island of the Dead'.


Friday, January 23, 2015

Majestic Flagstaff

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When I was in the 5th grade my parents and I went on a two-week trip from Florida to Albuquerque, NM, with a short trip over to Flagstaff, Arizona.  I don't remember much from that entire trip except the backseat of the Oldsmobile car my parents had at the time.  You see, the morning we left they woke me up to leave, I took two steps into the garage to get in the car and threw up.  And that was pretty much my entire trip.  I spent it sick in the backseat.

I vaguely remember stops in Texas, in New Mexico at the Carlsbad Caverns, the Grand Canyon, and even one day when my dad tried to take me snow skiing at Flagstaff, the mountain for which the city is named.  The only thing I remember about that morning is vomiting copious amounts of orange juice.  It seemed more than any 9 year old little girl's body could ever possibly hold.  My dad turned around and took me back to the hotel to stay with my mother.  I don't even remember seeing the mountain, or snow, or anything.

The other morning Allen woke me up with hot coffee and kisses.  “Baby time to get up, we're near Flagstaff and I want you to see everything.”  There at the truck stop I could see the mountain rising out of the flatland, sitting there like a snow-capped crown on a pillow of brown and green velvet.  I took some pictures but it was still so far away.

 As we drove, I kept taking pictures.  And driving and taking pictures.

And more driving and taking more pictures.  Distance is deceiving when you're out in the middle of desert land.  We drove for 80 miles with the mountain ever creeping closer yet still out of reach.

When we finally got to the base of Flagstaff it was more breathtaking than I could have imagined.

I tried to remember anything from my childhood, but sadly no images could be recalled.  I tried to imagine my dad skiing down the snow covered lanes towering so high above me.  I remember dad telling me his ski instructor looked just like John Denver.  As we drove around the mountain all I could do was smile and watch in wonder, my heart swelling with love for this man I share my life with.  One amazing experience after another, day by day, mile by mile, he is showing me the world.  I may not have many childhood memories but I am making uncountable new ones with him.  And that is what love, life, and happiness is all about.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Cloud Making Machine

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Have you ever seen a cloud making machine?  I bet you have and you just didn't realize it.  The magic is hidden from the more jaded mind of most adults.  Cloaked in innocence, only the innocent mind can see the beauty beneath the grime of the real world.  In a magical place not to far away the world around us is buzzing with all sorts of magic.  It's a place where children can grow up to teach the cows how to moo.  It's a world where shoes grow on trees.  It's a life filled with silver linings and pots of gold.  It's a world where underneath the ugly is unimaginable beauty.  And it all flourishes within the mind of a child and their unrestrained and untainted imagination.

Drive down any road around any city.  Look through the haze and smog and try to see it through the eyes of a child.  There in the middle of all the metal and dirt stands a majestic cloud making machine pumping out clouds of every size, sort, and color.  From white fluffy sunshine clouds to dark and ominous black storm clouds.  They form as thins wisps dancing on a blue stage, or bellow into the sky with a vengeance.  To you and me they are power plants, steel plants, paper mills, and other such mundane factory work places.  Oh but to the child they are where the clouds are made.  They are beautiful and special.  I mean, really, it isn't every day you get to see the wonders of a cloud making machine in full cloud mode now is it?

So the next time you see a sky covered in smog and smoke from the necessary but odiferous factories that populate our world providing jobs, materials, foods, and fuels, stop for a moment to look through the eyes of a child and smile.  In our grown up world smog and pollution are horrible things ruining the natural clean air and resources of our planet.  But in the world of a child they are the magical formations of clouds and all the magical cloud creatures they find in the sky.  Seeing it as a child doesn't change the facts of reality, but maybe for a moment it will bring a smile to you day.

And that my friends, that smile, is the magic peeking through.


A cloud making machine for Eric.
*Inspired by our neighbor's little boy and his statement that it was a special day because he got to see a cloud making machine.  Out of the mouth of babes the world is a much simpler place.  Thank you Eric for the smile and the reminder that magic does still exist.