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Memories of Summer: Lassen Volcanic National Park (2017)

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

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.

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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.

Priscilla: Dragon Queen

Isn’t she great?  Her full name is Priscilla, Dragon Queen of the Sierras.

A friend and I spotted her as she prowled the pastures on the east side of I-5, just a bit north of Yreka, California.  If the day had not been so hazy, Mt. Shasta would have been visible in the background.  Our best guess is that she is a cousin to Elliott, Pete’s Dragon.  She is a wonder!

Photo by Linda Richter

Ralph Starritt is the Yreka Metal Sculptor who created her—as well as some other life-size creations. Just south of Yreka is Moo Donna, a life-size cow and her calf.  He has also created a life-size Bigfoot, placed on Highway 96 near Happy Camp, California.  This photo of Bigfoot was taken by Linda Richter; she posted it to the Siskiyou Shutterbugs Facebook page.  I know I plan to visit this guy when I am next in that area.

The following video gives you an introduction to the remarkable artist Ralph Starritt.  It highlights his training and work, showing some of his “smaller” works of nature’s creatures, including people and wolves and eagles and fish.  They are incredible.  The Starritt Studio is in Yreka, California.  This place has been added to my to-do list as well.

I love art and surprises and nature. I just love Priscilla!  Don’t you?  

This post is my contribution to Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge.

Memories of Summer: Crater Lake (2017)

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I visited Crater Lake National Park in Oregon several times, years and years ago.  So I know how gorgeous that lake can be: very, very blue. Especially on a nice sunny day.

Google Image

In August 2017, I decided I would visit the national park again.  I did not really pay attention to the news that was saying that one of the many wildfires burning that summer had actually come close to the national park. My trip was set, and I kept to my travel plans, even though there were fires burning in the general area.

Overall, I have to say that it was a good trip.  I did not see any fire, and the smoke from the fires was not overwhelming.  The smoke’s haze was pervasive enough, however, that I did not really see the lake on my visit. Oh, the lake was there, but it was so cloaked in smoke that it was hard to distinguish from its banks.  And it was definitely not blue.  Also, the Rim Drive was not fully open, so I only made it partially around the lake.

Smokey Views of the Lake and Other Vistas along the Rim View Drive


I cannot say that I was not disappointed about what I did not see on this trip.   But it was rather special. How often will climate conditions be such that you cannot really even see the lake when standing on its rim?  Rather like the time I was visiting the Grand Canyon and could not see it—down or across—because it was filled with fog.  Rather cool when you get over the initial disappointment.  Besides, on this trip, the wildflowers were plentiful.

Gorgeous Wildflowers along the Road





My hope is to visit Crater Lake again soon so I can really see the lake!


Sugarloaf Ridge State Park is part of the California State Park System.  Well, it was.  Several years ago, in a cost saving move, several parks were dropped from funding.  The park is now run by Team Sugarloaf, a group of five non-profit organizations. There is a nominal day-use fee.

The park is under 10 miles from Santa Rosa is about an hour from San Francisco. Nestled in the Mayacamas Mountains where Napa and Sonoma Counties merge, Sugarloaf Ridge State Park contains the headwaters of Sonoma Creek.  The creek runs through the park’s gorge and canyon, through a meadow and beneath scenic rock outcroppings.  There are 25 miles of hiking trails as well as some camping spots.  It is a great little hidden treasure!

I first visited Sugarloaf Ridge State Park in late April, hunting wildflowers.  An article had noted that the wildflowers were impressive this spring, somehow in response to the wildfires that permeated the area in late 2017.  The article was right.  In fact, the area leading to the park was pretty as well, passing through some vineyards, open fields and even neighborhoods where flowers were also in bloom.  I also stopped at Trione-Annadel State Park, a few miles further down the road.

The drive to the park offered some pretty views and flowers.

Inside Sugarloaf Ridge State Park:

Inside Trione-Annadel State Park, there were no wildflowers along the road, but the greens were delightful, peaceful, cool.

If you have not yet visited these wonderful state parks, add them to your To-Do List.  Next spring would be a good time for a visit.

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