Why Not Run Away to Mary’s Peak?

DSCN4147After listening all day Thursday to the Senate Judiciary Committee testimony about sexual abuse, I needed a getaway day. So on Friday I ran away to Mary’s Peak.

It was so foggy on the coast I wondered if this would be another opportunity to drive for two hours to see nothing, but by the time I stopped in Alsea, population 164, about 30 miles up narrow, winding Highway 34, it was clear and hot. Since I hadn’t planned ahead, I was worried about running out of gas. How far was this dang mountain? When I saw the big GAS sign at a no-name station with one line of pumps, I pulled in. Honk or walk across to John Boy’s Mercantile to fetch the attendant, said a sign. I honked. Two people resting on a bench out front of the store looked up, and I suppose they alerted the lanky white-haired man who ambled across to fill my tank. We chatted about the weather—yep, warm here–and the need for a runaway day. He agreed it was a good idea. He reminded me of the handsome actor Sam Elliott. I wondered whether he was John Boy and whether he was single. Probably not.

DSCN4141$3.60 a gallon? Whatever. I was off on my adventure. Just before Milepost 48, I turned left at the Mary’s Peak sign and drove an even narrower, windier road for about nine miles. At the top, just past a campground, I turned into the parking lot, my jaw dropping in amazement. No, not at the view, at the cars. The parking lot was full, including two busloads of kids. So much for sitting quietly staring into the distance.

At 4,097 feet, Mary’s Peak is the highest point in Oregon’s Coast Range and the most prominent peak to the west of Corvallis. On a clear day, you can see both the Pacific Ocean to the west and many of the Cascade peaks to the east across the Willamette Valley. Unfortunately, on Friday, the view to the west was all foggy goo, and the rest was a bit hazy, but it was much better than the one time I came up with Fred and couldn’t see anything.

DSCN4132There’s not much up there at the top. No real shelter from heat or rain, no food or water, a couple picnic tables, a self-pay fee station ($5), pit toilets, and several trails.

I picked one of the shorter, shadier trails clinging to the steep mountainside. Man, it was a long way down from there. The trail went up and up, merging with a switchback trail that emerged into dry grass and looped back to the parking lot. My legs got a workout after two months of slow easy walks with Annie, who is still recovering from knee surgery. I saw crickets and yellow jackets, dusty little birds, deciduous trees coming into full fall color, and hikers in couples, groups, and packs. Many sported fancy walking poles, which might have been helpful. A hat would have been good, too. By the time I saw the yellow buses in the distance, I was hot, and my own gimpy knee ordered me to sit down. So I did.

DSCN4146I considered eating the healthy snacks I had brought, then decided I would rather sit in an air-conditioned restaurant sipping iced tea, eating French fries, and reading my library book. So I did. Taphouse, Philomath, good grub. Close to Highway 20, which offered a much easier ride home into the cool fog and a suspicious dog who sniffed me all over, wondering where I went without her.

The upper road to Mary’s Peak is closed during the winter, although the park is still open to cross country skiing and other non-motorized sports. For more information about trails, camping, etc., visit the website.

 

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Dear Hitchhikers, I am Not Heartless

I-5 112116CToday I am sharing with you a poem I wrote on my recent trip to California. I see hitchhikers often. I never pick them up, but I wish they could hear what I’m saying and thinking as I whiz by. Do you stop for hitchhikers? Why or why not? Please share in the comments.

DEAR HITCHHIKER

Sitting, standing, squatting
with your backpack, guitar, dog,
I see you. I want to stop.
I’m not a heartless woman.
You can’t hear what I say
as you breathe in my exhaust:

I’m on the freeway, fool,
going 70 miles per hour!
Are you nuts? I can’t stop here
with cars on every side. I’m just
trying to stay alive.
Go stand somewhere else.

Are you too lazy to stand up?
Or too worn out to even try?
I’m only going down the road.
That’s not much help to you.
Besides, my car is full of stuff,
Groceries and clothes and such.

Oh gosh, you look so tired.
And what a darling dog.
You might be fine, you play guitar.
But what if you have a knife?
Or a gun? Or drugs?
I don’t want to die today.

I know you see my big old car,
and then you see old gray-haired me.
You look on down the road.
Old ladies never stop, and yet
you’re someone’s little boy.
Perhaps someday I will.

Copyright Sue Fagalde Lick 2017

Lava Beds: Rocks, Rocks, and More Rocks

img_20160908_120106597_hdrOnce upon a time in another life, I married a geologist. On our honeymoon, we traveled north from San Jose, California to Calgary, Alberta in a white VW bus, camping and exploring along the way. Being a geologist, my first husband liked rocks. I like rocks, too, but not to the point of obsession. Somewhere near the California-Oregon border, I proclaimed that I did not want to hear another word about one more damned rock. I think it may have have happened at the Lava Beds National Monument, my last stop on my vacation last month. I know there was a cave; it was cold inside. I know there was black lava rock. I know we probably didn’t have a flashlight. But that was another life. Husband number two preferred to tour wineries.

img_20160908_130459223If I had had any idea how long it would take to get from Klamath Falls to the Lava Beds National Monument, perhaps I would have skipped this stop, but once I had made the turn off I-97 onto Route 161, immediately south of the Oregon-California border, I was sure I’d be seeing lava any minute. The road ran along the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge. Miles and miles of open grassland gave way to more miles of farmland and Tule Lake. Lovely, but I was starting to get hungry. No worries. I’d take care of that when I got to the Lava Beds visitor center any minute. Maybe a hot dog and onion rings, something totally off the diet . . . A beer maybe?

Two hours later, I found the park and the lava. I paid my admission fee to a ranger in a booth. She handed me a map and told me the visitor’s center was quite a few miles up the road. Seriously?

The road curved upward. Every half mile or so, parking areas and paths led to trails through the lava, up mounds of the black stuff and down into caves. I parked, I hiked, I climbed, I took pictures, I sweat. It was cooler in the caves, but my flashlight fizzled out.

For the most part, I was alone. Tourist season past, I ran into one young Asian woman also traveling by herself and an older couple from California, who took turns on the trails while one of them stayed in the car with their dog. I could imagine this place crawling with kids in the summer.

Starving, I ate my last apimg_20160908_115633988ple from home and my last granola bar, washing them down with water. Where the heck was the visitor’s center? Finally, finally, I came to it. No restaurant, no snack bar, just bags of trail mix in the gift shop area, where you could rent or buy flashlights and helmets for the caves, along with books, hats and T-shirts. Another room offered a video telling the story of the caves. I collapsed on the couch there to watch stories of flowing lava, the Modoc Indian war, and the adventures to be had in the park.

As soon as I could pick myself up again, I asked the ranger at the desk if there was a quicker way to get back on the road to I-5 south. “What kind of car do you have?” she asked. She explained that part of the alternate route is not paved and gets pretty gnarly. It would take two hours either way. Sigh. I took the road more traveled.

One of the main attractions of the Lava Beds National Monument is the caves that lie along a loop road beyond the visitors’ center. Hard hats, flashlights and jackets are recommended. I would add that good knees are a plus. Also a love of small dark places, which I lack. I skipped most of the caves, needing to move on. But one could spend several days there, hiking and spelunking in this fascinating area. The trails and steps down into the caves are well-signed and well-maintained. Bring food, and expect to spend all day. It’s not a quick jaunt off the freeway.

img_20160908_135305247There’s a great deal of human and geological history here. Indians hid in these caves during their battles with the settlers who insisted on taking their land. Not too far away, 18,000 Japanese Americans were housed at the Tule Lake Internment Camp during World War II. Some of the buildings are still there. What a stark, remote place it is. How horrible to take people’s lives away like that. I said a prayer that we Americans never be that stupid again.

Hours later, I took I-97 into Weed, looking forward to food and relaxation and ran right into cars stopped for miles due to road work. Welcome to civilization. Following orange detour signs, I wound up on I-5 going the wrong way. No sense of direction. Eventually, I took a room at the spendy Best Western Plus Treehouse Motel in Mt. Shasta and treated myself to dinner at the Black Bear Diner next door. From here it was a straight shot to Dad’s house.

To my ex, were he ever to read this, I’d say: I’m sorry. Rocks are pretty fun. But it was our honeymoon!

Story and photos copyright 2016 Sue Fagalde Lick

 

 

Klamath Falls not like Dad remembers it

dscn4052Many years ago, my parents visited Klamath Falls, Oregon. Dad wanted to check out the place where his mother, Clara, started her teaching career around 1912. He had heard stories of the one-room schoolhouse, of Native Americans coming to the door, of the farm family she lived with, of students who were bigger than she was and nearly as old. My father asked around and was given directions to the school. He and Mom visited the vacant schoolhouse and talked to a neighbor who shared lots of information about it. Dad tells this like it was last week, but it may have been 50 years ago. Klamath Falls has changed a bit.

I rolled into Klamath Falls around 2 p.m. after my explorations along Highway 58, detailed in Monday’s post. The rain had stopped, and the sun was out. I had traveled the last few miles along Upper Klamath Lake and looked forward to communing with nature in a smallish town. Uh, no. With more than 20,000 residents, it’s plenty big. Taking the downtown exit, I found myself in the midst of brick buildings, traffic and one-way streets. The 12-block Main Street gave way to newer buildings and an area that looked just like every other strip-mall-laden city of any size in the west. McDonald’s? Check. Dollar Tree? Check. Staples? Yep. Bi-Mart, Sizzler, Elmer’s, Dairy Queen? All there. Thick traffic with cars turning and darting in front of each other? Check. Holiday Inn Express up ahead. I checked in.

dscn4061On my two days in Klamath Falls, originally named Linkville when it was founded in 1867, I felt a duty to report to my dad what I saw. I toured the old downtown on foot, taking pictures. Except for the modern courthouse and city hall, most of the buildings were old, dates from the late 1800s and early 1900s etched in the brick and stucco above establishments that now housed thrift shops, lawyer’s offices, art galleries, etc. Quite a few buildings were vacant. The shops were trendy, but I saw plenty of pickups and local men in cowboy hats. Or, as the booklet from the visitor and convention bureau put it: “While there’s a flair for the Western in Klamath Falls, a whole new urban vibe is visibly underfoot.”

I guess I’m an urban vibe-er because one of my favorite stops was the coffee shop, A Leap of Taste, where I stopped to listen to music by a band of three guys and a woman about my age playing folk music. I drank designer tea and ate the best gluten-free oatmeal-raspberry pastry I ever tasted.  Around me, tattooed teens stared at their tablets and laptops, ignoring the musicians, and a young couple on the sofa bounced their baby to the beat.

img_20160907_161757732_hdrOther highlights: the Klamath County Museum—not your mother’s boring lineup of black and white photos but a fascinating collection of old appliances, cars, gas pumps, clothing, dioramas depicting the Indian wars and the Japanese internment at nearby Tulelake, and more, more, more. One wall showed pictures of the area’s old schools, including the one where Grandma Clara taught.

Down the road, I also stopped at the Favel Museum of Western Art and Native American Artifacts. Also wonderful. One of the featured artists, Michael Gibbons, is a friend who goes to my church. Small world.

Beyond that, I discovered Lake Ewauna and a bird sanctuary with herons, egrets, gulls and pelicans. Ah, nature. A large park there provides places to sit, sprawl, and relax. Just watch for the bird doody.

img_20160907_160903749_hdrI toured the Linkville Pioneer Cemetery. I love walking among old graves, imagining the lives of the people buried there. This cemetery is the resting place for lots of soldiers who fought in past wars. I had a heck of time finding the cemetery. I did the downtown loop five times, constantly fighting one-way streets that went the wrong way, before I rechecked the map and learned I was going the wrong way. I swear if I were Lewis and Clark, I would have ended up in Portugal.

In the new section of town, I skipped the chain stores and visited Basin Book Trader, a massive collection of used books for which locals trade their own used books. I scored three titles I would never have been able to afford or probably even find anywhere else.

Another delightful find: Nibbley’s Café. Bright and sunny, waitresses friendly, food delicious and served in huge portions. Many of the diners were seriously overweight. No wonder. Good thing I only had time to eat there once.

I don’t do the stuff the tourist guides boast about. I didn’t need to visit the Kla-Mo-Ya casino or one of the four golf courses in the area. I had already been to Crater Lake. I was definitely not zip-lining. But it’s all there for folks who like it. Drinking tea and listening to music is more my speed. But hey, in October, they have the Klamath Basin Potato Festival. I might be interested in that.

Soon my two days were up, and it was time to think seriously about heading south toward San Jose. Highway 58 turns into I-97 at Klamath Falls. Driving south, that would take me to Weed, California, where I could jump onto I-5 and take my usual route to Dad’s house, where I would tell him what I had seen in Klamath Falls. He would continue to see it the way he remembers it from many years ago.

Before San Jose, I had one more stop: Lava Beds National Monument, which I’ll talk about next time.

Ever been to Klamath Falls? Tell us about it.

 

Highway 58 detour worth every mile

img_20160906_101219591For 20 years, I’ve been driving back and forth from my home on the Oregon coast to San Jose, California, where my family lives. I usually take I-5, a straight shot inland, or, if there’s snow in the mountains, I take Highway 101 along the coast. See the same things, stop at the same places, no time for side trips, tempting as they are. It takes me about 13 hours.

This time was different. I scheduled in extra time for a vacation. Just outside Eugene, I left I-5 and headed southeast on Oregon Highway 58. I wanted to see some of the sights I’d seen in the winter on the train and take a little time for myself.  I wanted to see waterfalls and lakes. I wanted to hike in the high country. I wanted to sit by a river and write poetry. I wanted to see the tiny towns along the way and end up in Klamath Falls where my grandmother started her teaching career a little over a hundred years ago. So I did.

Everything published about Highway 58 emphasizes that it leads to Crater Lake, and yes, you can get there that way, but I had already seen Crater Lake several times. I was seeking new territory. Over the next few posts, I plan to share some of that country with you. Did it bother me to be a woman traveling alone? Maybe it should have, but no. I enjoyed my freedom.

Things didn’t start off great as I left home on Labor Day. It killed me to leave Annie, who is not a good traveler. Assuring her she’d have a great time with her dog sitter, “Auntie Jo,” did not keep her from following me around with her tail hanging low. Then I discovered the restaurant where I had my heart set on eating lunch–Eats & Treats in Philomath, so good–is not open on Mondays. So I forged on, taking a different route to Eugene, only to get miserably lost. Thank God for GPS. I ended up eating lunch at the kind of diner where they vacuum around your feet while the waitress hollers, “Whatcha gonna have?” The chicken tortilla soup with two chunks of chicken and four tortilla squares floating on top set my stomach on fire.

dscn4040But then I got out of the city and encountered the first of two covered bridges on this route. The Lowell Covered Bridge is located at the Dexter Reservoir. Ah! Water, trees, blue sky. Also a restroom. I took pictures of the bridge and sank onto a bench to stare at the lake. Now we were on vacation.

Down the road, I came to the Office Bridge. It has openings for both cars and pedestrians. Walk or drive through into a big park with covered picnic areas and hiking trails. I could have sat there and stared at the Willamette River flowing below forever. Note that the directions I got online were wrong. I kept looking for West Road. I think it was a typo. Simply take the Westfir exit off 58 and follow the signs for three miles. There’s a store and a resort there for those who want to stay a while.

img_20160905_154516584Having gotten a late start and gotten lost a couple times, I hadn’t really gotten far from Eugene, but that wasn’t the point. I spent the night in Oakridge, population 3,200. I toured the “downtown business district.” It was pretty quiet on the holiday. Everything was coated in dust from months of no rain. Relaxing at the Best Western (yes, they have one), I noticed the phone book: six yellow pages for business, 32 pages total. The phone book is published by the local newspaper, the Dead Mountain Echo, not a bad local weekly. Why would anybody stay here, I thought. But I learned it’s a hub for mountain bikers, of which there were plenty, and folks also make beer there. They even have a Keg and Cask festival in August. Being only two hours from Eugene if you don’t mess around, Oakridge has a small-town feel with access to big-city amenities.

At dinnertime, I was surprised to find a Mazatlan Mexican restaurant in town and even more surprised that the food was fabulous. Shame on me for stereotyping small towns.

In the morning, surprise! It was raining. What? I had all these hiking plans and this list of stops: hot spring, waterfalls, trails, lakes. Rain? The guy at the gas station was deliriously happy to see water coming out of the sky and hoped for lots more. Sure, but today? I get plenty of rain at home. Never mind, we Oregonians carry on.

Somehow I missed the McCreadie Hot Springs–darned online directions again–but I found the biggest waterfall. Cascading 286 feet, Salt Creek Falls is the second highest waterfall in Oregon, Multnomah being the highest. It was worth the wet walk. Oh my gosh. The trail took me along the creek until it suddenly fell off a ledge and there were the falls, so big, so white, falling deep into a canyon below. My camera can’t portray the way it made me feel. Deep breath.

From the waterfall, I started off on one of the many trails, but it was just too wet, and I feared I would slip and fall into the creek. Nobody knew where I was. Bad idea. Back on the road. Waldo Lake, Diamond Peak, the Willamette Pass Ski Resort, Crescent Lake, Odell Lake, the turnoff to Crater Lake, and finally Klamath Falls, where I pigged out on a Reuben sandwich at Elmer’s and checked into the Holiday Inn Express. Back in civilization again. But that’s another story. If you’re in the mood to wander, check out Highway 58. There are lots of trains, more waterfalls to see, campgrounds and picnic areas, and places to ski. (Bring chains in the winter.The Willamette Pass is over 5,000 feet.)

BTW, I hear truckers take it south to California because it’s faster than I-5. Not the way I did it.