Paris and Beyond

Our Personal Tour de France & Other Exciting Adventures!

Archive for the month “October, 2021”

In Pursuit of Color

If you have been following our blog, you will quickly figure out that we have a favorite leaf peeping spot in Oregon — Silver Falls State Park. You can read all about it in previous posts — Waterfall Wonderland and Fall at the Falls. On our way south from the Columbia Gorge, we had to make Silver Falls our next stop. This time we stayed in the quaint little town of Silverton about 25 minutes from the falls. On our first day out, we were rewarded with a cool, cloudy, but mostly dry day to explore the myriad of photographic possibilities. Fortunately, upon arriving at the falls, we were greeted with plenty of fall color and lots of options.

There are 10 falls along a 7-mile loop in this area most of which can only be seen by hiking the aptly-named Trail of Ten Falls. However, South Falls is just a short walk from the parking area. It is the tallest of all the falls at 177 feet. While certainly beautiful in this fall setting, you can see there’s not a lot of water flowing this time of year. So, for the purposes of photography, our best bet was to enjoy the immediate area rather than attempting the hike this time around. The opportunities had to be more compelling to attempt negotiating this rather steep, wet terrain with all our equipment in tow.

Once we finished shooting, it was time to warm up in the South Falls Lodge. The lodge was built in 1940 using local raw materials of hand cut-stone, cedar and peeled fir logs. All of the furniture inside the lodge — originally 25 tables, 82 chairs, 11 benches, and a dining room hutch — was constructed out of two huge myrtlewood logs 40 feet long and 5 feet in diameter. These logs had to be dried and cured before use to prevent warping. Oregon State University constructed an experimental kiln to do the job. The logs weighed 18,000 pounds going in and 10,000 pounds coming out. Obviously, it worked as none of the furniture has ever warped. Here’s the lodge surrounded by fall color…

Norman ordered two of the most delicious hot chocolates we’ve ever had and we settled down in front of the huge stone fireplace. It was so cozy and relaxing that I just wanted to stay there all day.

There are a variety of informative displays in the lodge and several volunteers who hail from all parts of the country to answer all your questions. Matt, a young, very creative and enthusiastic park ranger took the initiative to create this display of fall leaves he had collected from trees in the park. Of course, I was immediately attracted to it and thrilled to get the opportunity to discuss it with him. He was more than happy to share and kind enough to print out a photo for me.

This canyon surrounds Silver Creek as it heads out from South Falls and winds through the hills. We certainly found some fall color in this gorgeous place, but we will continue looking for more.

While these photos may satisfy the eye to a certain degree, they really don’t begin to do justice to the reality of the experience. As we drove the winding roads through central Oregon, we were continually awestruck by autumn’s natural and ever-changing beauty which is quite difficult to actually capture through the lens. But we’ll keep trying. Meanwhile, we have some great memories.

It’s Fall Adventure Week!

Fall in all its splendor is absolutely one of my favorite things which is why we chose to get married during this season 24 years ago. Ironically, our wedding took place in Palm Springs, California where there’s virtually never any sign of fall. However, with a few choice decorations, we made it happen anyway. Now that we have retired to the Pacific Northwest, we have no trouble experiencing the “real deal” when we celebrate our anniversary. Beginning in October, there are options galore. I always get excited with the anticipation of the season long before it arrives. So, last spring I planned a Fall Adventure Week that would take us to all our favorite places in Oregon. First on the list was the Columbia River Gorge.

We started off by returning to our favorite cabin in the woods which is actually on the north side of the river in Stevenson, Washington. Each morning we woke up to this view of the river just beyond, fixed breakfast, and set out to enjoy the best sights along the Historic Columbia River Highway which was completely open for the first time since we moved here. This area suffered the ravages of the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire that burned 50,000 acres and multiple landslides last winter forcing the closure of many trails and roads. It is still a long way from recovering but was finally quite accessible. This afforded us the opportunity to check out even more waterfalls than before. The vertical basalt walls along the Columbia River Gorge are graced with the greatest concentration of waterfalls in North America, particularly on the Oregon side.

Of course, we began with the iconic Multnomah Falls. Fortunately, we had visited during a quiet period in the spring when we captured this photo of this single drop “plunge” waterfall rising 620 feet. Since it is the most popular, most publicized, and so easily accessible, it draws an overwhelming number of tourists making it virtually impossible to enjoy most of the time. It was pretty busy during our visit. We had taken many great photos of the falls on our previous trip, so we decided to ignore the crazy crowds and focus our photography on the small things that are often missed or ignored. I think we were pretty successful.

Horsetail Falls is also a single drop waterfall 176 feet high. Like many falls along this highway, you can drive right up to it. It plunges over the cliffs with impressive force — a beautiful sight set amongst the emerging colors of fall.

A pleasant stop between falls is Oneonta Gorge with its namesake creek meandering between the massive moss and lichen-covered basalt walls that form a slot canyon. There are actually four major waterfalls along the creek, but they are quite inaccessible except for one hike extending from another upper level trail. The stone railing and stairs from the roadside down to the creek have been blocked off with a very ugly black chainlink fence due to the fact that the area is extremely slippery, unstable, and downright dangerous. However, with a very tall tripod and some ingenuity, you can still capture some of its beauty.

Wahkeena Falls was a new and surprising experience for us. Reputedly, its name is a transliteration of a Native American phrase meaning “most beautiful”. Regardless of how accurate this information is, we couldn’t agree more with this description as we quickly discovered that it was really our favorite above all others — even the mighty Multnomah. Wahkeena is a 242-foot “tier” waterfall with, as you might surmise, separate falls that cascade down the face of the cliff one after the other but can be viewed all at once. It is also located right off the highway with a variety of attractive views.

For added adventure, we made the short hike to a bridge with a viewpoint between the tiers of the falls.

And, once again we kept an eye out for the little things.

Then there was this guy. Hope he made it across the trail. Lots of his cousins did not. 😦

This (not really a) path was a lot steeper than it looks and it led nowhere except the abyss. :-0

Nevertheless, Norman decided to make the precarious descent for just one more shot over the edge!

Culminating our exploration was a brief stop at Vista House which sits atop Crown Point 733 feet above the Columbia River. This eye-catching Art Nouveau building houses a small museum with a very interesting collection of comparative photographs and other artifacts and serves as a memorial to Oregon pioneers. It has also been derisively referred to as a rather expensive “comfort station” for travelers on the Columbia River Highway.

From here you get a spectacular view of the Gorge.

And, if you’re lucky, you get your handsome husband to pose for you in front of its gorgeous fall backdrop reminding you of all the many reasons you married him 24 years ago.

Happy Anniversary!

Olympic ~ Ruby Beach & Beyond

It was finally time to complete our journey through Olympic National Park and head home. We set our sights on Ruby Beach situated along the park’s 73 miles of rugged coastline. Like most of our Oregon beaches, it is replete with rocky shores, tide pools, driftwood, and those ever-present sea stacks but no less photogenic. This is the view from the parking lot with easy access to the beach below.

A short hike down to the beach at low tide allows you to get up close and personal with these sometimes eerie-looking sea stacks.

Waiting for the tide to rise again, these mussels cling tenaciously to the back side of the stacks.

It was a gorgeous morning for an exploratory walk on the beach. There were certainly plenty of rocks here and I couldn’t resist collecting a few small ones that caught my eye.

Eventually, it was time to bid farewell to the coast.

We had one last stop to make before leaving the park where I encountered Sasquatch (aka Big Foot) yet again. He certainly gets around the Pacific Northwest. This guy was considerably more friendly than the last one I met.

This is the beautiful Lake Quinault with another historic lodge similar to the one at Lake Crescent but slightly more regal and sophisticated.

In the fall of 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited Lake Quinault Lodge during a fact-finding trip and enjoyed lunch in the later-named Roosevelt Dining Room. Nine months later, Roosevelt signed a bill creating Olympic National Park. We had our own lunch here 84 years later taking in what was likely a very similar panoramic view. So thankful FDR made that decision!

When you have traveled for even just a few days throughout Olympic National Park, the inspiration for its creation is obvious. We are fortunate it has been preserved giving everyone the opportunity to step back in time and appreciate the peace and tranquility of nature which is more powerful and lasting than anything else. Our experience gave us just a small taste. We will definitely be back for more!

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