Paris and Beyond

Our Personal Tour de France & Other Exciting Adventures!

Archive for the month “October, 2018”

Waterfall Wonderland

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South Falls

There’s no denying that the west coast is replete with natural beauty. We can verify that. Early in our adult lives, we unknowingly spent several years on opposite sides of Washington state enjoying the magnificent surrounds of Seattle and Pullman respectively. Both native Californians, we lived many years throughout the Golden State. During the 24 years we have been together, some of our most memorable experiences were photographing Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, Joshua Tree, Death Valley, the Coachella Valley, and the Monterey Peninsula resulting in some amazing images that hang on our walls.

Our new home state of Oregon possesses its own unique natural beauty with abundant scenic landmarks and breathtaking landscapes all within easy reach. In fact, it was on our 2001 six-week, six thousand mile western driving tour that we explored the full length of the Oregon coast and also discovered Eugene. Though our stay here was very brief, it left a lasting impression on us and now that we have lived here for awhile, we know why.

Rugged ocean shores, meandering rivers, and gleaming lakes abound surrounded by snow-capped mountains creating… my favorite — waterfalls galore. They are everywhere! And they are spectacular!! Last spring, we ventured out to Silver Falls State Park which is considered the “crown jewel” of Oregon State Parks. It certainly lives up to its reputation. Encompassing 9,200 acres, it is effectively the largest park in the state. The popular Trail of Ten Falls is a 7.2 mile loop with an elevation change of 800 feet. While this is very doable in one fell swoop for the average hiker, we’re not your “average hiker” anymore. So we broke it up into three smaller loops in order to take in all ten falls with plenty of time for photography along the way as well as simply soaking up the experience. This plan was made possible by reserving a three-night stay in the Calypso Cottage at Silver Falls Lodge located nearby. The cottage was built in 1945 and was originally used as a staff residence. Recently, it received an upscale renovation and is now open to the public — quite nice if you like to camp the way I do.

The park is located in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. Hikers are surrounded by a dense forest of both deciduous and evergreen trees. Descending to the bottom of the canyon, waterfalls seem to appear around every bend flowing over the rocky canyon walls.

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Along the Trail

At 177 feet, South Falls is the tallest and affords the opportunity to walk behind it. Fortunately, it happens to be the easiest hike so everyone can enjoy it.

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Behind South Falls

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Lower South Falls

 

Upper North Falls was our favorite. It’s only 65 feet tall but pours into a large pool one can imagine would be so inviting for a dip during the warmer months.

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Upper North Falls

Silver Falls is calling us back for a few days at the end of this month. We’re hoping to catch some shades of autumn along with a different seasonal perspective on those spectacular waterfalls. Stay tuned!

Back in the Saddle Again, Again!*

It has been two years since our dreams of retiring and moving to France were dashed. So much has transpired in this time. When I left off here with my last post, we had explored Eugene, Oregon and found it to be a very acceptable substitute for our French country life plan. Then we made the big move. We were on the cusp of moving into our new home. That was a very exciting adventure, but, as anyone who has ever moved knows, it’s quite a task. While our new home was pretty much turnkey, there were many aspects on which we wanted to put our own stamp. Getting unpacked, organizing our belongings (and sorting them yet again), painting some rooms, decorating and furnishing, and taking charge of the yard and garden occupied all of our time the first several months. The summer and fall of 2017 are pretty much a blur but with very positive results. It’s just how we work together. We go at everything full speed though we seem to expend a lot more energy doing that these days. 

At the same time, we were also busy establishing ourselves with new doctors and getting various health issues addressed. I was fortunate to find a remarkable new rheumatologist who understood my disease well and recommended treatment I would not have received through my insurance plan in California. Norman, who has been battling scoliosis for quite some time, had a laminotomy to relieve the pressure on his spine and ultimately alleviate some of his back pain… a procedure his California doctor said couldn’t be done. We also got back to working out at the gym — not my favorite activity but a necessary one made a little more pleasant by the fact that I don’t have to do it after a long day at work anymore. I can’t help but think that we are both much better off having moved here for so many reasons — lifestyle, cost of living, and health — in ways we didn’t expect. 

Now and then we have had time to begin exploring this beautiful state. Eugene lies at the southern tip of the Willamette Valley which stretches north to Portland about two hours away. The valley contains the majority of Oregon’s largest cities and 70% of the state’s population — a mere four million people in total. Meandering lazily through the valley is the Willamette River. As we live right on the edge of the city surrounded by farmland, we have access to a tiny slice of the river via a small park located within easy walking/biking distance from our house. It’s perfect! Like living in the country without the mess… equivalent to camping at the Marriott. Yes, I am spoiled. 

Our Slice of the Willamette

Much like our beloved Dordogne Valley in southwestern France, Eugene is classified as having an oceanic climate. In fact, the coast is just 60 miles away. This past year, we have enjoyed several short trips to Florence, Yachats, Cape Perpetua, and Depoe Bay. While these areas possess nothing like the warm, calm California beaches to which we are accustomed, the rugged grandeur of the Oregon coastline is a sight to behold. It’s a photographer’s delight.

Sweet Creek Falls

Cape Perpetua

Heceta Head

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Depoe Bay

Now that we are fairly settled and my health seems to have stabilized (the doctor says we are keeping the bad stuff quiet)… in the immortal words of Gene Autry, I’m ready to get “Back in the Saddle Again”. Assuming my health continues to cooperate, next June we will be off for one more European tour through Spain and France. I hope many of you will come along on this adventure. Meanwhile, there will be plenty of new experiences to report on here at home.

*I realized that I had already posted a blog with this title. It seems I keep falling off of the horse and having to get back on. At least I never give up.

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