Thursday, October 12, 2017

home fires

I anticipate fire. I live on the edge of the canyon, in a high fire zone, and am fairly prepared. I've got extra fire insurance, a fire safe, important documents ready to go, large water containers and a fully gassed truck. I evacuated before. I anticipate fire. 

But my family does not. They live in a city: Santa Rosa. And Sonoma. Immediate and extended family, everywhere in the region. And many are evacuated, just awaiting news. Physically safe for now. 

I read the tweets, check Facebook, watch the news, listen to the radio. All the places I've known and loved, where I grew up swimming, going to school, hanging out with friends, visiting the store, hiking, all burned, gone. 

The fire crews are doing their utmost best, but it's a firestorm, uncontrolled, just waiting mother nature to them a hand in stopping it. But the winds pick back up, from yet another direction, and push flames into neighborhoods, embers into trees. I get the evacuation orders for cities and places my family and I have known, lived in, loved: Santa Rosa, Sonoma, Boyes Hot Springs, Bennett Valley, Calistoga. And see the fire maps glowing red for Fountaingrove Parkway, north Santa Rosa, Kenwood, Glen Ellen, Shiloh and Annadel parks, the list just keeps growing. 

It's just too much. And a feeling of helplessness. You just want it to stop, but it doesn't go away. More news reports, and the sun rises on new destruction. 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

retreat: summer 17

Summer is already in full retreat, slipping beneath the horizon. Now it is just a slow slide into darkness and winter. Can you tell I hate this time of year? Sure it's cooler, and the fall leaves are pretty, but it just reminds me of all those dark days to come.

But in the comics (never in school, I never did this in real life,) you write "what I did on my summer vacation." It's way more fun to look back on my adventures then to contemplate shorter, darker, wetter, colder days ahead with less opportunities to ride.

So, "What I Did on my Summer Vacation": My 1700 mile road trip (and only 2 states!). And I'm such a bad student this year, I'm doing most of it in pictures! 

start the trip skipping across bridges

Still in California, we hit the road early. But might as well stop along the way, as it's not the destination, it's the journey. And to journey across the river you use a very cool bridge, with a horticulture garden on the other side (the bridge was full of tourists, the garden was empty.) (This whole trip proved the point that if you just take a few steps beyond the crowds, you can find something special.)
Sundial bridge

froggy friend

We found an amazing columnar basalt waterfall just steps off the highway, where you could walk behind and peer through the mist. This trip sure had a lot of water, and our next stop was as crystal blue as you could get: Crater Lake. It was as blue as I could imagine, and we walked away from the overlooks to small trails with better views and the serene lake spread before us. 

columnar basalt waterfall

behind the waterfall!

Crater Lake pano

a Crater lake little friend

a side trail, a different view

I met up with my family for our next adventure: watching the eclipse. We didn't have to deal with all the expected crowds, and the whole family watched from the backyard of our rented house. The skies slowly darkened, the birds came back to trees to roost and it got much colder. It was awesome. We are already planning our trip for 2024!
sunset on the Deschutes

solar eclipse  party!

postcard waterfall, a great family hike

There was rafting on the Deschutes river, breweries, and a family hike to another awesome waterfall. The whole family didn't want to explore a mile-long lava tube, but I did! So I dragged my Dad and SO through the darkness. We walked through a mile long lava tube in the complete darkness, shining our flashlights at interesting features, (and making scary faces and noises to of course). Turning off the flashlights and standing in the darkness was my favorite part. And then into the light, to explore the area around the lava tube: all this lava is still sharp and pokey, and 8000 years old. Not much erosion in that time!
looking back at the last light (the tube was impossibly dark for photos!)

mountains of lava and cinder

a lone tree among the volcanic rubble

Then onto a much larger volcano: Mount Hood. Trails, wildflowers and green, oh my! Hiking to waterfalls was an easy task as they were everywhere, and most trails we had completely to ourselves.

Mount Hood, mid summer

Big rocks and small, hidden treasures

the road less traveled still has some bridges
flowers, snow-capped volcanos, epic views

waterfall 4, or 5? (I've lost track at this point!)

sunset Mount Hood

We managed to drive through and explore the Columbia River Gorge before the devastating fires. Everywhere was busy there, trails and rest stops. I prefer to travel in Fall, and this would be a destination for sure. I feel lucky to of seen such a lovely region, and I know the forest will recover, but I'm sad for such devastation.
gratuitous photo of Multnomah Falls, the smoke was getting pretty bad

the rest of Oregon is a smoky blur

Coming home I was looking forward to some more views, but everything in Oregon was blanketed in smoke. Entering California, there was no view of the looming Mount Shasta.

Luckily, here in the Sierras, it was still clear, and I explored some parts of the Pacific crest Trail. I hope to go riding here, tough and technical, it'll be on my schedule for next year.

epic rocks and clouds, I did miss these mountains

ominous sign: first rain

On the way home we got a taste of what's to come. The rain smelled lovely and fresh, but now we've even gotten our first snow. What I did on my summer vacation seems like a long time ago already.