Learn Something New Every Day!

“I usually find myself hiking in a place that not a lot of people go hiking, just trying to find some solitude. I like being out in the middle of nowhere. Not always, but it’s a good place to go to just reflect and think, and it’s something I really enjoy.”  Rami Malek

The Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest is a glorious spot: rugged, isolated, pristine. 

The drive up into the White Mountains rises to almost 11,000 feet, following many twists and turns.  With each mile, a bit more of my cares and worries always slip away. The stark beauty makes it seem as if I am nearing the top of the world, especially since the vistas let me see for miles.

There are other visitors to this impressive locale—even rangers and a visitor center—but also beautiful natural details.   But I rarely see anyone, and—if I do—it is easy to get away from them to be alone.  That solitude is welcoming, enticing. It is the solitude coupled with the harsh beauty and the strength of the trees that make the forest a place to think, dream, reflect.  It is impossible not to notice the miracles of nature all around and to not recognize how puny and insignificant any personal problems and worries really are.

It is the wondrous trees themselves, however, that offer a great lesson on life.  They are some of the oldest living things on the planet, most at least 3,000 years old.  Some are more than 4,000 years old and others even more than 5,000 years.  Each tree survives in these harsh conditions. They stand twisted and gnarled, but also strong, persistent, steadfast, tenacious, determined.  Such marvelous traits would help us all stay sound and grounded in our crazy modern world.

We can learn a lot from the ancient bristlecone pine.

“Tenacity is essential for accomplishment in anything you do.  Without drive, determination and a strong-willed attitude, one’s level of success at many endeavors will be limited in scope.”  Gabriella Marigold Lindsay

“Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.”  Napoleon Hill


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”  Desmond Tutu

“Loneliness expresses the pain of being alone and solitude expresses the glory of being alone.”  Paul Tillich

“Identify the barriers in your life, and develop discipline, courage and strength to permanently move beyond them, and keep moving forward.”  Germany Kent

“Solitude is creativity’s best friend, and solitude is refreshment for our souls.”  Naomi Judd

“It is not the opposition a man faces that determines his rise or fall in life but his tenacity to dare to soar and to pursue to higher heights.”  Ernest Agyemang Yeboah

“In solitude the mind gains strength and learns to lean upon itself.”  Laurence Sterne

“I don’t necessarily sit around inviting life to knock me down, but when it does I don’t wait around for an invitation to stand back up either.”  Craig D. Lounsbrough

“Solitude is independence.”  Hermann Hesse

“You need to believe in yourself and what you do.  Be tenacious and genuine.”  Christian Louboutin

“The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.”  Albert Einstein

“When faced with a challenge, your size is not as important as having a strong and tenacious spirit.”  Melchor Lim

“Solitude has its own very strange beauty to it.”  Liv Tyler

“Tenacious people don’t rely on luck, fate, or destiny for their success.  And when conditions become difficult, they keep working.”  John C. Maxwell

“I had three chairs in my house; one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society.”  Henry David Thoreau

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.”  Calvin Coolidge

“We need society, and we need solitude also, as we need summer and winter, day and night, exercise and rest.”  Philip Gilbert Hamerton

“Strength does not come from winning.  Your struggles develop your strengths.  When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”  Arnold Schwarzenegger

“It is only in solitude that I ever find my own core.”  Anne Morrow Lindbergh

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are stronger at the broken places.”  Ernest Hemingway

 “All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me. . . . You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”  Walt Disney

“Highest of heights, I climb this mountain and feel one with the rock and grit and solitude echoing back at me.”  Bradley Chicho

“Difficulties are meant to rouse, not discourage.  The human spirit is to grow strong by conflict.”  William Ellery Channing

“Solitude sharpens awareness of small pleasures otherwise lost.”  Kevin Patterson

 “What a lovely surprise to finally discover how unlonely being alone can be.”  Ellen Burstyn

“I love people. I love my family, my children. . . but inside myself is a place where I live all alone and that’s where you renew your springs that never dry up.”  Pearl S. Buck


Lassen Volcanic National Park started as two separate national monuments in 1907: Cinder Cone National Monument and Lassen Peak National Monument.  The areas were merged into the Lassen Volcanic National Park in August 1916.  This shift in designation occurred after a major volcanic eruption occurred in 1915 with other minor and major eruptions continuing through 1921. The park can be reached via Highways 89 and 36.

Mt. Lassen (10,457 feet) is the largest plug dome volcano in the world and the southern most volcano in the Cascade Range. The park is one of the few areas in the world where all four types of volcanoes can be found (plug dome, shield, cinder cone, and strato). The first time I visited Lassen Volcanic National Park was in October 2016.  I figured it was early enough in the season that the road through the park would still be open.  I was wrong.  I entered through the north entrance, but I was stopped after going only a few miles.  I did see a view of Mt. Lassen as well as Lake Manzanita.

I returned to Lassen Volcanic National Park in August 2017.  On that trip, I entered through the south entrance and took the 29-mile scenic road through the park, ending at Lake Manzanita. Construction on the road was completed in 1931. Near Mt. Lassen, the road reaches 8,512 feet, making it the highest road in the Cascade Mountains.  It is not unusual for 40 feet of snow to accumulate along the road, especially near Lake Helen. Patches of snow often remain until July and August.

Lassen Peak

It was a beautiful day, and the drive offered impressive vistas, incredible roadside details, and beautiful wildflowers.

Along Highway 36 heading toward Lassen Volcanic National Park

Near the South Entrance

Lassen Peak

Emerald Lake

Lake Helen

Meadows & King Creek

Summit Lake

Chaos Crags is the youngest group of lava domes in the park.  The six dacite domes were created roughly 1,000 years ago.

Chaos Jumbles are the remnants of a rock avalanche from about 300 years ago. The rocks traveled up to 100 miles per hour, settled near the base of Chaos Crags, and eventually dammed Manzanota Creek, forming Manzanita Lake.


Hot Rocks: On May 19/20, 1915, Mt. Lassen erupted, shooting out hot boulders that started an avalanche of rocks and snow. The eruption devastated the area, depositing large, hot boulders across the landscape.  One boulder is marked in the park as Hot Rock.  It is a 300-ton rock that traveled five miles.  It is a good example of dacite lava. Big boulders are common across the park’s landscape.

Manzanita Lake

Roadside Treasures

In June, a friend and I drove from Bakersfield, California to Portland, Oregon.  We had a great time and saw some beautiful scenery.  Even when we were not visiting somewhere specific such as Crater Lake or the Mt. Hood Scenic Byway, natural beauty was all around.  That’s one of the main reasons I love to drive when on vacation—there is always something wonderful to see along side the road or at various hotels and shopping centers.

You just need to keep your eyes open for nature’s treasures.


Clouds are always wondrous!

Of course, not all that we saw was captured on film.  Along the road, we saw egrets, red-winged blackbirds and several hawks.  Flowers danced along the major highways, even when we could not easily stop to take a photo.  There were even some sunflower fields and the beginnings of rice fields along the way.  Of course, there were also treasures we knew where there but were hidden by clouds.  Mt Hood in Oregon eluded our cameras as did Mt. Shasta in California.  This photo of Mt. Shasta is from years ago, but it emphasizes what a wondrous, substantial peak can be easily hidden by clouds.

The best unexpected treasure on this trip was Priscilla, the Dragon Queen of the Sierras.  I’ve written in more detail about Ralph Starritt, the incredible artist who created the life-size dragon.

Crater Lake 2018

Crater Lake National Park was created in 1902 by President Theodore Roosevelt.  It is the fifth oldest park on the country and the only one in Oregon.  The lake itself, deepest in the United States and ninth deepest in the world, is the center piece of this 183,224 acre park. The lake’s depth was first recorded in 1886 as being 1,996 feet deep.  The reading was taken through use of a simple wooden sounding device that lowered a section of pipe attached to a piano wire.  More recently—with fancy scientific equipment—the depth was recorded as 1,943 feet.

Crater Lake is an incredible geological feature.  Its creation about 7,700 years ago was witnessed by the tribes that lived in the area.  When Mt. Mazama erupted back then, the peak collapsed on itself and left the caldera that eventually became Crater Laker. There are no rivers or streams or even underground springs that feed the caldera.  Instead, it took centuries for the lake to fill with snow and rain—and it has stayed filled with nearly pure water ever since.  Today, it contains 4.6 trillion gallons.

The water’s purity is what gives Crater Lake its incredible blue color.  The water is so pure that when the sunlight hits it, all colors of the spectrum are absorbed except blue which bounces back to the observer.  On cloudy days, especially when smoke and haze clutter up the air, the color is less than spectacular, as I saw when I visited last year.

My trip this year was spectacular.  A friend and I drove the 33-mile Rim Drive, stopping to enjoy the views at various look-outs both to the lake and away from it.  Medford, where we started that morning, was predicted to be sunny and in the 70s.  Throughout the day, the skies grew a bit cloudy and the weather turned a bit gray and cold.  For a short time, there was even some hail and snow!  The wildflowers were incredible, especially since one of the rangers explained that the blooms rarely lasted more than a week.

Views along the Road


Looking away from the Lake

Views of the Lake

Some Trees & A Bit of Snow


At one point, a bit of a drizzle turned into some hail!

A little later, some snow flurries erupted as well, for just a few minutes.


The Lovely Wildflowers

It was a beautiful day!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

In 1903, Joaquin Miller (1837-1913) was a part of the Steele Excursion that was exploring the new national park. Although more popular in England, he wrote enough about the area to be called “Poet of the Sierras.”  Sunset magazine commissioned him to write about his observations and experiences at Crater Lake.  In an article titled “Sea of Silence,” Miller offered this description:

“The lake? The Sea of Silence? . . . fancy a sea of sapphire set around by a compact circle of the great grizzly rock of Yosemite. . . , It lies two thousand feet under your feet, and as it reflects its walls so perfectly that you cannot tell the wall from the reflection of the intensely blue water, you have a continuous and unbroken circular wall of twenty-four miles to contemplate at a glance, all of which lies two thousand feet, and seems to lie four thousand feet, below! Yet so bright, yet so intensely blue is the lake that it seems at times, from some points of view, to lift right in your face.” 


Dorena Bridge, Oregon

It was a pretty day when a friend and I started our trek home.  The first leg of the trip was simply driving from Portland to Medford.  Since that drive would be at most five hours, there was more than enough time to take a detour to find some nature—and some covered bridges near Cottage Grove.  We took the exit that promised a drive around Dorena Lake and five covered bridges.


Our first stop was Dorena Bridge. Built in 1949 for under $17,000, this 105-foot bridge initially connected Government Rd. with Row River Rd.  The bridge is no longer in operation, but sits just off the road, near the river, allowing a bit of exploration.


We continued our drive, seeing lots of green and some pretty wildflowers.  Unfortunately, we did not find the other bridges.  It was not until we were heading to the hotel for the night that we saw the turn we probably should have taken earlier in the day.  Of course, if we had taken that turn, we may have never stumbled onto Wildwood Falls.

WILDWOOD FALLS: This somewhat hidden water spot must be enticing, but deceptively dangerous as well. There is a sign there, commemorating those who have lost their lives here.  It shares a quote from Helen Keller: “So long as the memory of certain beloved friends lives in my heart, I shall say life is good.”

It was a good day.  We will just have to go back sometime—with better directions—to find the other bridges.

Mt. Hood Scenic Byway

When my friend and I were driving into Portland, we saw views of Mt. Hood off in the distance.  Knowing we were going to explore the Mt. Hood Scenic Byway sometime in the next few days, we did not stop to get photographs.  Bad call.  Clouds and haze settled in for several days, so seeing Mt. Hood again did not happen.

Google Image

Mt. Hood, however, is an impressive peak, even if not visible.  The Multnomah Tribe named this volcano Wy’east. But in 1792, the peak was labeled Mt. Hood by a member of an expedition exploring the Columbia River. In notes, the peak was described as “A very high snowy mountain. . . rising beautifully conspicuous in the midst of an extensive tract of a low or moderately elevated land.”  “Very high” is a good description since Mt. Hood is a bit over 11,200 feet high. It is the highest point in Oregon and the fourth highest point in the Cascade Range. Although officially considered a “potentially active volcano,” it is typically considered dormant.

The Mt. Hood Scenic Byway was a beautiful drive, even though I did not see Mt. Hood all day.  The drive is a rough circle, taking Highway 26 southeast out of Portland, then picking up Highway 35 north, and eventually taking Interstate 84 west back to Portland. The clouds were consistent throughout most of the day, and there was even a little rain.

Along the Columbia River on I-84

The route drove through the small town Rhododendron, Oregon, and found some namesake flowers, even though it seemed the end of the season.

The roadsides wove through some little canyons bordered by trees and impressive cliffs.


The wildflowers were gorgeous! I especially enjoyed the Lupine, Indian Paint Brush, and Dogwood.

(Does anyone know what this flower is?)

There was a little campground with some pretty fields and Dogwood trees.

Late in the afternoon, I took a side road, following a sign for Lavender Valley. It was not as big an area as I had hoped, but it was rather picturesque.

It was a good afternoon.

Blue Lake Regional Park

I was visiting the Portland, Oregon, area and had a free afternoon.  But it was a dismal, cloudy day and the area mountains were not in view.  Those weather conditions eliminated some longer trips I had in mind.  Instead, I took a drive to Blue Lake Regional Park in Fairview, about 20 minutes from Portland.

Blue Lake Regional Park is 101-acre park, home to a natural lake fed mainly by an underground spring.  There are areas for sports, recreation and family outings as well as hiking and water activities on the lake.  I stayed to the general roads around the parking areas—and saw some pretty flowers.

It was a good afternoon.

Tag Cloud