Smith Rock State Park: The Hike

Smith Rock State Park is located in the small community of Terrebonne, in Oregon’s high desert. When you’re heading north on highway 97 from Bend, you can see the large, color washed crags to the east, jutting out of the rather bare landscape. Smith is a sport climbers mecca. With over 1,500 set routes, climbers cam spends hours, days, months, and years trying out new walls and routes along the rugged walls and crags. We had two days to explore, so we started out early for a full day of adventure.

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What is so cool about Smith is that every side is completely different. The rock formations change, the rock itself changes, and the landscape goes from pine to sagebrush to rock and sand. There are variety of plants growing throughout, even in the driest and highest of elevations.  It is neat to see the diverse ecological environments all within the massive space of the 641-acre park. pano_smithrocksmithpart2-lo-52 smithpart2-lo-45smithpart2-lo-55smithpart2-lo-56smithpart2-lo-57smithpart2-lo-58smithpart2-lo-62smithpart2-lo-69

I had no idea how much agriculture and farmland surrounded the park. One doesn’t normally think of green grass and farm crops when their driving through desert sagebrush and ponderosa pine. But I guess if there’s a will there’s a way (as long as you have the money, that is.)

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Monkey Face, the star child of Smith, is a well known climbing spot for some of the most difficult routes available to climbers. At 350 feet high, this formation is accessible on all sides. At the angle I got, the face looks more like a curious child turning to face you. From the other angle, it looks like this.

You might not be able to see it in my picture, but there are climbers hanging out in the “mouth” of the rock, on the left side of the formation. My knees were shaking just from looking at their blasé attitude on the massive rock. I stood still for a short while before turning to move and then it happened — I was unable to take even one step. People started walking past me down the trail, and while I watched them hike down at a nice pace, I realized that my brain had a fight or flight moment and turned my body off. It wouldn’t budge and my whole back was stiff. I was literally frozen to the earth. It was the strangest feeling, and something I don’t really want to experience again.

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After a minute or so, I nudged my foot a little bit. It was really hard to do. I slowly shuffled my way down the switch back to the next level spot where a couple stood watching me. I told them that I was glad I could provide a few minutes of entertainment for them, and they just chuckled. I was so nervous. It took me quite some time to build up the determination to go further but it came slowly and I knew I needed to catch up to the guys. While slowly shuffling down my next descent I began wondering how far they had gone. My eyes stayed tied to the ground until I reached the next level spot, which was only fifteen or twenty feet ahead. When I finally looked up, the boys were standing there, waiting for me. They had been waiting the whole time. I don’t know if three minutes had gone by or if fifteen minutes had passed, but I was thankful to see them. As soon as I reached them at level ground I felt my legs relaxing a bit and I began to loosen up. Whew!

smithpart2-lo-64smithpart2-lo-63smithpart2-lo-61smithpart2-lo-31 After a full day of climbing, we headed down the dusty rock to the main, very walkable, tourist path. My entire body relaxed once we reached the base. Maybe it was the green grass, maybe it was the sound of the Crooked river and it rushed alongside me, or maybe it was the fact that I could see steady ground as I looked all around my person. I was instantly happy and relaxed. smithpart2-lo-73smithpart2-lo-72smithpart2-lo-71 My second set of photos will be full of climbing pictures. For those who get weak at the knees as I did atop the crag, I’m warning you now. :)

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Waldo Lake in July

Before I go into describing how beautiful Waldo Lake actually is, I want to first say: NEVER GO TO WALDO LAKE IN JULY. Unless you love mosquitoes. LOTS AND LOTS of mosquitoes. Hot and humid summers in Missouri don’t even compare to the summer mosquito haven that is Waldo Lake in July. They swarmed our car, they feasted on our ankles and ears and everything in between. We thought burning flames and smoke would keep them at bay — instead, I think our fire just signaled them to tell their friends and family that it was feasting time.

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We arrived in tank tops and shorts to complement the nice weather.  Luckily, just before leaving Corvallis, Sylvan suggested we bring warm clothes just in case the weather changed. Within minutes of arriving in “Mosquito park”, we were both dressed as if a cold front had blown in. We covered as much skin as we could possibly stand to in the summer heat.

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And they loved the taste of our Burt’s Bee’s insect repellent. I think it actually was an attraction for them. A neighboring camp had a can of commercial heavy duty tick and mosquito spray that they hesitantly (maybe because we ran over to their camp like a couple of loons) offered to share with us. I closed my eyes when I grabbed the can just to avoid making eye contact with the ingredient list. I know if I would have seen what was in there, I would have put the can down and left, uncoated and vulnerable. Or maybe not. They were that bad.

So mosquitoes aside, I will describe the rest of our trip as if it were a leisurely weekend adventure in mid-September — because outside of mosquito land, it was paradise.

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The sky was bright blue and reflected down on the clear blue water. There were only a handful of campers and boaters out, maybe a dozen total around the entire lake — which makes sense now knowing what Waldo in July feels like. But is was still nice to have the clear lake virtually to ourselves. The only movement in the water came from the light breeze, otherwise it was still and clear. We could see straight to the bottom of the beautiful sand- and rock-covered lake.

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Waldo Lake is Oregon’s second largest natural body of water, with Crater Lake being the first. Classified as an  ultraoligotrophic high-mountain lake due to it’s clarity and elevation, it is one of the clearest lakes in the world. On a bright day one can see over 100 feet in depth. Since I cannot locate a depth chart of the lake, I am not sure how far down exactly we could see. However, while crossing the lake from one side to the other, we could see the white sand and glistening rocks sitting so still on the lake floor for quite some time.

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Sylvan brought along his folding kayak. I had no idea he was going to bring it, so it came as a surprise when I saw it in our trunk as I was packing the car.  Up until this point, I just heard stories about this kayak. They were mainly from his family, usually asking about it and whether we have used it. Sylvan made it sound like it was broken or didn’t work very well.

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Well, come to find out, he just had really high standards for this kayak. The way it was fashioned doesn’t quite live up to his foldable kayak standards.  The kayak worked just fine. It was fun to put together, like a big jigsaw puzzle. His engineering brain lights up for things like this though and he comes up with ideas on how it can be built better. I realize now what he means when he previously talked about it being “eh.”  It was super heavy and there were way too many pieces to keep track of. This particular kayak was actually made in 1988, so the frame design has since dropped about 30 lbs in weight and the newer models are easier to assemble.

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I think once it was all put together, he gained a new appreciation for it. After years of it being stored away in bags, he was excited to have it together again and was even more excited to get out on the water.

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Plus, it was truly romantic, and he sure knows how to romance. :)

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It is a tandem kayak, which can be a challenge for two people who both like to guide. I think it was the best paddling work we’ve had to date! Ten points to teamwork!

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There was an island across the lake from where we camped. It didn’t show up on the map, or at least we couldn’t identify it on the map… We docked and enjoyed the view while the sun continued its journey west.

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The island was a little gem of a place with a lookout bench and picnic table or two. What looks like me enticing Sylvan with a little bit of leg in the photo below was actually him calling out to me to show off my newly acquired ‘squito art. The little island seemed free of mosquitoes (or just not enough to notice..) so we explored the island and enjoyed the view for as long as the sun allowed.

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There was a forest fire in 1996 that left the northwest corner of the island bare of needles and branches. It is a sight to see. Forest fires are always a site of reflection, appreciation, and overall awareness of our relationship with the land. What’s left on that side of the lake is a large chunk of charred white trunks and black snags interlaced with fresh green brush. 

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I would most definitely recommend a fall trip to Waldo Lake. It is easy to access and the scenic drive makes it all the better, with multiple State Parks along the way.

From Corvalls, you just head south on 5 to Eugene, in which you will then head east on OR-58 towards Oak Ridge (exit 188 Oakridge/Klamath Falls). Drive 60 miles east and you will turn left onto NF-5897, which is clearly marked as Waldo Lake Wilderness. Enjoy!

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Evening Garden Visit

A few weeks ago, I was offered the opportunity to tour a friends’ beautiful garden in full summer swing. She is an active herbalist, so not only was her garden teaming with beauty — every nook inside her home was beaming. Flowers were drying on the counter top, her pantry was full of last years canning crop, floral tinctures and infused oils lined the shelves. Everything had a place and a purpose. It was beautiful herbal brightness.

We spent the evening walking around her garden space, talking about the plants and their purposes, and sipping on deliciously smooth white wine. The bounty was amazing and her dedication, hard work, and knowledge shined through every seed, flower, and root.

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Her and her partner recently added a beautiful koi pond to a small area that was left as pasture. It was wonderful to learn and see how lily pads and their aquatic ecosystem work together. :D

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A Walk to the Willamette

Living a stone’s throw from the river is pretty amazing in the summertime. The water lowers and the rocky beaches become more accessible. We thoroughly enjoy evening walks to the Willamette, and on some occasions (okay, almost all occasions), Sylvan will bring his fly pole to practice his cast. While he meditates on his form and drifts into inner thought, I get to spend some time amongst the grey, sun baked stones pondering, writing, and reflecting on the day, now almost past. It’s a win/win for everyone. <3

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David and Kate!

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These two Kansas natives are some of the most beautiful people I have ever met. And they were married on May 24 2014. It was a beautiful day, a wonderful wedding, and a lovely bunch of friends and family!

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I had to include some shots of my super cute niece, Ruby, and again with her new baby brother (and my big sister+brother-in-law!) below!

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and a shot of Andrew and Liz, ’cause they’re so cute.

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Every single shot makes me smile so big. I am so happy and honored that I was able to take part in Dave and Kate’s beautiful wedding day!

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Suzanne and Ryan // Month 8 *sneak peek*

Suzanne and Ryan are having a baby! We spent a bit of time walking around Oregon State campus, soaking up the beautiful scenery, and capturing the memories of their pregnancy just a few weeks before Suzanne’s due date. She was glowing and looked amazing! I am so excited for them! They also brought their sweet pup, Jake, along to join in the fun!

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so many strawberries!

Our friends over at Fairfield Farm are swimming in strawberries right now! There is a chance for rain this weekend, which means their ripe berries need to be picked now or else they may split and crack from the rain. So, with hopes to get a few pounds for eating fresh and freezing the rest, we spent an hour or so picking away at sunset last evening. It was lovely.

…Unbeknownst to us, we ended up picking TWENTY POUNDS of fresh strawberries! Berries for breakfast, lunch, and dinner it is!

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Ana Lu & Carlos // 4 years

To celebrate their four year anniversary, Ana and Carlos wanted to record their early years together, so in 40 years they can look back and smile. Here is a peek of our morning spent biking around and hiking up bald hill to take in clear views of the west. :)

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Shotpouch Creek Cabin // Trillium Project Retreat

We were given the amazing opportunity to spend a weekend out at Shotpouch Cabin through the OSU Spring Creek Project and their Trillium Project. As their Trillium mission states:

The Trillium Project is a residency program that focuses on the Cabin and the Shotpouch land. The Cabin is a lovely cedar and glass retreat on 45 acres of forest and meadows in the Coast Range near Burnt Woods, and it is the location for many Spring Creek events and writers-in-residency programs. The Cabin is also an idea, a set of values, a nature reserve, and a work in progress. We are inviting proposals from people with a variety of backgrounds and interests—artists, botanists, biologists, writers, musicians, philosophers, etc.—to study and write about the Shotpouch place itself, its history or philosophy or bird species or wildflowers or mosses or limnology or trout or soundscape.

Our vision for the Project is that people will come and go from the Cabin, exploring the creek, meadows, and upland forests, encountering new people and new ideas as they go about their explorations. Our hope is that as people find inspiration and information in this special place, they will also find interest in their encounters with others who are equally involved with the land. And so people will create passing collaborations, share their perspectives and expertise, and learn to see the land through a variety of eyes.

And it was just that — a place for us to retreat, find inspiration through nature, collect our creative thoughts, and let the music flow.

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I worked on recording the wildflowers currently in bloom, both through my photography and in writing. I also did some pressings to complement the work. It was a great way to learn new species and work on my id’ing skills by comparing the flowers or plants to the families I am familiar with. It was amazing to see the abundance of fern and I enjoyed exploring the area for all the different varieties. I just planted quite a few fern in our shaded garden and am looking forward to having a friendly fern feature!

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Bleeding heart (Dicentra formosa) covered the forest floor. It was everywhere and so delicately beautiful, yet so strong and hardy!

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I took some samples of either Lady fern or Wood fern although I can’t quite remember which at the moment. They are similar and both so gorgeous. I think one of the reasons I think they are so pretty is that they don’t have last years fronds remaining on the plant, like the sword fern. So they are green green green and beautiful! I ended up presses a few of the fronds, along with some Maidenhair.

Northern Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pedatum) was probably my favorite fern of the bunch. I think maybe because its delicate midnight-colored stalk and the unique, fan-like fronds.

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Sylvan found his creative outlet in the workshop. He collected fell wood and used our wood carving tools to creative some beautiful sculptures and some small keepers of the forest that he placed along the path. They were quite amazing and hopefully they will be enjoyed by those who cross their path. His handiwork  just comes so naturally. I am ever amazed by his skills and talents of building and working with his hands. It reminds me of Michelangelo’s inspirational words as a sculptor:

I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.

I am guessing that is exactly what Sylvan sees and does.

Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/michelange386296.html#Ta3GiEs8KbI0d6XV.99

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There was so much moss and lichen that I quickly became interested in trying to id all of the different varieties! It is amazing how many species can be in one small section of space. And lucky for me, the cabin was stocked with identification books of almost anything you wanted to identify in the area.

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We collected a bounty of stinging nettle for our evening dinners. It ran rampant across the front field which, I guess with all of the nettle, it was no longer open… We were only able to find one glove, so Sylvan took on the task of collecting while I held the bag (for part of the time..until I got carried away with photo taking…)

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I fell in love with the Western Meadow-rue (Thalictrum occidentale) and its tiny dangles of purple stigmas. When a light wind would come through, blowing at the tendrils, the stigmas reminded me of jelly fish tentacles dancing through the water.

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The Red elderberry, Sambucus racemosa was loaded with white flower clusters.

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Smith’s fairybell, Disporum smithii — I only saw these once or twice, so we shared some special moments. :)

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We had an amazing three days at Shotpouch and I would recommend to those interested in a creative retreat, this is an amazing opportunity. Read more about it on Oregon State’s Spring Creek Project webpage.

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Cheers!

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Everything Beckons To Us

By Rainer Maria Rilke

Everything beckons to us to perceive it,
murmurs at every turn, “Remember me!”
A day we passed, too busy to receive it,
will yet unlock us all its treasury.

Who shall compute our harvest? Who shall bar
us from the former years, the long-departed?
What have we learnt from living since we started,
except to find in others what we are?

Except to re-enkindle commonplace?
O house, O sloping field, O setting sun!
Your features form into a face, you run,
you cling to us, returning our embrace!

One space spreads through all creatures equally
-inner-world-space. Birds quietly flying go
flying through us. O, I that want to grow!
the tree I look outside at’s growing in me!

It stands in me, that house I look for still,
In me that shelter I have not possessed.
I, the now beloved: on my breast
This fair world’s image weeps and clings her fill.

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Happy Earth Day! And our new garden pad!

Happy Earth Day! We have been spending a lot of time in the yard and garden with all this sunshine we’ve been getting as of late. Sylvan spent a big chunk of his free time setting up a little hoop house for our new garden. The plan stayed in his head, with a few scratch drawings here and there. It was really neat to watch it bloom into shape and come together so nicely! Here are a few of the documented progress photos. I had more but I can’t seem to find them at this time. That is the problem with using multiple cameras…

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The local hardware store lent us a few tools we didn’t have on hand, like a pipe bender — which was a really neat tool! Sylvan thoroughly enjoyed using it’s simple power. :)  This is where I am missing a few of the in-between shots, so now for a big jump in progress.

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And the Polyethylene plastic that he used for the walls was from a fallen greenhouse from the winter storm. The snow took down more than enough local greenhouses, which was a really sad way to start off the farming season. Luckily, the farm he recovered the large sheet from was in the process of putting up a new hoop house anyways, so they didn’t lose much crop, and it was nice of them to pass on their no longer needed material. Always remember “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure!”

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And the few trays of seeds we have started! Collards, beets, tomatoes, herbs, flowers, salad greens….and many many more that I can’t conjure right now!

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April Woods: Morning
by Wendell Berry

Birth of color
out of night and the ground.

Luminous the gatherings
of bloodroot

newly risen, green leaf
white flower

in the sun, the dark
grown absent.

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And after a week, we have sprouts! Please pay no attention to the NUMBER of sprouts…I went against Sylvan’s instruction of two seeds per shell and put in an extra few sprinkles just in case, as some of the seeds were quite old…He wasn’t too happy with my extra deed and now I have been picking them out with tweezers. It is a good lesson in listening, as well as selecting the best ones fit for survival! :D

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I am not sure if I can remember everything we planted, but Sylvan focused a lot on vegetables and greens while I put in some quality planting time with flower and herb seeds. I planted a whole tray of nasturtiums and a whole tray of parsley, among other beautiful things, so I am excited to get them into the ground soon for full-on grow time!

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And we have strawberries! I am so excited about strawberries. Out of the handful of varieties available at the nursery, Sylvan chose *only the best* strawberry starts to bring home. Smart man.

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And that is the start of the season for us! We are currently planning out a chicken coop with our chicks set to arrive at the end of April. Sylvan has a cold frame built and ready to be put to use. We have peas and beans in the ground that have sprouted with might! The slugs have discovered them, but I am hoping with the recent rain, that the will grow big and tall and out pass the slug’s reach. We also have a friendly garter snake that is keeping tabs on the slug population and helping keep the cycle in check. :)

Shine bright and Happy Earth day to you!

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The Peace of Wild Things

by Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Source: Collected Poems 1957-1982

Wendell Berry was born August 5, 1934. He is an American novelist, poet, environmental activist, cultural critic, and farmer.

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The Peace of Wild Things

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Textures // Mt Hood Wilderness

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Weekend at Mt Hood

We spent a nice, long weekend in the Mt. Hood wilderness along the Sandy River (Thanks to Leila’s awesome planning and organizing skills) to celebrate Wes’ birthday, another year spinning round and round on this awesome earth! In the week leading up to our getaway, I was pretty stressed out. Maybe it was work, maybe it was stress remnants from moving, maybe (most definitely) it had something to do with PMS, but whatever it was, I was a stressed out lady. Luckily, we were able to have a nice, meandering drive up to Rhododendron, Oregon. We took our time on the road, enjoyed the scenery, and we were the first to show up at the house we would call home for the weekend. It was a great way to spend a Saturday, especially a Saturday I foresaw as being, well, stressful.

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Leila and Wes arrived with River soon after, giving us some time to settle in and catch up. Before long, Jason, Erin, and Derek pulled up, with Margot the dog in tow, ready for some romping and running around! We were in ear shot of the river, which enticed us all weekend long. There was a nice path through the neighborhood that lead us straight to the rocky shore so we all put on our walking shoes and set out for a sunset stroll. It was amazing how many trillium patches there were! For being such a populated area (vacation houses galore) it was quite amazing to see so many in bloom and still in the ground.

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I’m so glad Erin gathered us together for a group shot. It would have been sad to leave the weekend without a token of remembrance (oh, the irony of photos and recalling times past…). Slumber party weekends are always the best weekends and these photos will remind me of so many different stories and events from the three day birthday extravaganza. Even though we only snapped one group shot, it will always remind me playing hilariously funny board games, hot tubbin’ in 104 degree water (yes, there was a hot tub and yes I think it may have been too hot.), sharing high school stories, walking to the river, gathering around a big wooden table for delicious group dinners and bountiful breakfasts, and having awesome conversations with one or two people at a time.

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Sunday was spent hiking around the Zigzag area. We were set on going to Ramona Falls, but by the time we actually started our official hike in, we weren’t left with enough daylight hours to finish the seven mile loop. We decided to go halfway in, take a leisurely lunch break, and return back to the trailhead. It was long enough to leave us tired and content.

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Sylvan brought along his Canon SLR film camera, which I most thoroughly enjoyed. He was having a hay day setting up macro shots and composition. We have yet to develop the roll, as I want to make sure it goes to a decent developer (which Corvallis currently lacks.) I am excited beyond words to see his photo work though!

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And Mt. Hood in all her snowy majesty! We had some beautiful views of the rugged detail and snowy shadows. It was so neat to see the mountain RIGHT THERE.

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And the final round of our trip was spent along the Sandy River in Estacada. Sylvan gave Wes a fly fishing pole for his birthday, so they spent the better half of the afternoon working on their casts while Leila and I enjoyed riverside time and some poetry. The photos below are actually of Estacada Reservoir, which wasn’t really fishable, but it was nice and was just a hop and a skip from the river. The Sandy though is beautiful — bright in color and colder than cold! It was a nice relaxing way to finishes off our weekend getaway in the Mt. Hood Wilderness.

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You are the Future

by Rainer Maria Rilke

Translated by Robert Bly

You are the future, the immense morning sky
turning red over the prairies of eternity.
You are the rooster-crow after the night of time,
the dew, the early devotions, and the Daughter,
the Guest, the Ancient Mother, and Death.

You are the shape that changes its own shape,
that climbs out of fate, towering,
that which is never shouted for, and never mourned for,
and no more explored than a savage wood.

You are the meaning deepest inside things,
that never reveals the secret of its owner.
And how you look depends on where we are:
from a boat you are shore, from the shore a boat.

In celebration of Poetry Month, I thought it would be nice to share some wise words from a few of my favorite poets (and this Rilke poem in particular includes my favorite translator!) These poems stir emotion, move me, stay with me, haunt me, make me smile, and all together reach into my soul. Enjoy!

You are the Future

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