Sunday, September 6, 2009

an unexpected ending...

An interesting discovery made while my mom was here was a wildlife refuge located just South of Corvallis. The drive here was beautiful--big skies, yellow fields, and tall trees with distant majestic mountains in the background. There was hardly anyone in the Refuge and there was a variety of places to hike around and take pictures. Unfortunately, we didn't see much wildlife besides some storks (which I've never actually seen in person), red-tailed hawks, and a plethora of dragonflies. We were hoping to get some shots of birds that aren't found in Ohio, but it must have just not been the right season...

One thing that was in season was the blackberries!!! They were absolutely everywhere! There were so many blackberries that we were actually able to be selective in our choice of those we picked! We ended up picking an impressive 22+ cups of berries, which we froze for later use. I felt like I was foraging for the winter while we were piling the berries in the bucket and hauling them home! haha!

The longest trip we made while Mom was in town was to Mt. St. Helens in the Cascade Range. We had been checking the weather all week hoping for a break in the clouds to make it up there, but the webcam seemed to always show pretty poor conditions. Toward the end of the week we finally decided (against our better judgment) that it would probably clear up as the day went on. Once we turned off of the uneventful Interstate-5 the view was very nice! The roads appeared to be closed in by millions of dense trees that played tricks on our eyes with their uniform patterns.

We began to see the effects of the blast zone a far distance from the park. There were trees that appeared very young and lots of signs along the road that informed the passer-bys when they were planted.

After driving for ~4 hours we finally arrived at the mountain that had violently erupted only 29 years earlier. To our dismay...we couldn't even figure out which one of the peaks was the eruption site! The clouds were too thick and too low for us to see the crater! Eventually, we did pinpoint the correct mountain, but we were pretty disappointed as the weather conditions became progressively worse with time. Originally we had planned to camp nearby, but it started to rain so we decided to just make a long day trip out of it and head back to Corvallis that night.
Damage caused by the massive flooding following the eruption of 1980Mt St Helens hiding behind a cloak of clouds

The next night we tried our luck with a different mountain in the Coastal Range...Mary's Peak. This is the largest mountain in the Oregon Coastal Range and it just so happens to be very close to Corvallis. We headed up to the peak around dusk to catch the sunset, but as luck would have it, the clouds started rolling in towards the summit. I was worried that my mom wasn't going to get to experience the beauty of a Mary's Peak sunset, especially when I saw the view (or lack thereof) when we reached the top (see below).
Amazingly, after only being there for a few minutes the view began to transform from a cloudy, gray sky with limited visibility to a vibrant sky silhouetted by evergreens! While it never entirely cleared to its full potential, it was a fantastic scene and just watching the dynamical behavior of the atmosphere was worth it!

For the last day of the trip, we decided to end it at (in my opinion) one of the most beautiful places in Oregon--Cape Kiwanda. This was a particularly crowded afternoon, which was probably due to the PERFECT weather on the coast. We climbed over the huge sand dune at the beach and were finally able to avoid the majority of the crowds. As usual, the views at Cape Kiwanda were breathtaking! The waves were pretty small, but they were still big enough to occasionally wash over many of the dramatic rocks creating the illusion of a waterfall cascading into the ocean.
We had so much fun hanging out, taking silly pictures, and watching the waves that afternoon. It's amazing how you can explore such a small area of land for hours and hours and never get tired of it...this is why I love Cape Kiwanda. It's a totally different experience/view every time I make the trip up there.
Me checking out Dave's cameraDave pretending to jump in so I could save himWhen the sun began to slip away, we headed back down off the sand coated bluff and went down to the beach to get some photos of the sun setting behind the offshore sea stack I like to call 'Chief Kiwanda'. Again, as usual, the view was spectacular--he never fails to impress his visitors. As we were about to head back to Corvallis to embark on some food and wine before seeing Mom off the next afternoon, she realized that her flight was actually for 12am that night...not the next day! With this unexpected turn of events, we decided that we would head straight to Portland and she would fly out with what belongings she had and I would later ship the rest! It was a little hectic and caught me off guard because I wasn't yet ready to say good-bye. While her trip was quick and ended abruptly, it was (not surprisingly) an outstanding time and I thank my lucky stars that I have such a close relationship with my mom that despite the distance, it feels like she's always here with me! between a rock and a hot place