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July 2015 — Touring Around Oregon
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Silver Falls State Park

Silver Falls State Park — Photo Gallery

We got a phone call in April from my brother, Howard, and his wife Mary Jo. They had been planning on taking a European tour but unfortunately it got canceled. This freed up two weeks of their summer and they asked if they could come out for a visit. We said sure and the dates were set for the first two weeks in July. In the past when they came for a visit we spent most of the time at Rockaway Beach. This time we decided to show them parts central Oregon and more of the coast. They came in a few days before the Fourth of July and because we wanted to be home for the neighborhood 4th of July celebration so we decided to do the trip in two.

I had committed to be at Oregon Raceway Park to photograph the electrical vehicle day on July 2nd so we went up a day early. Instead of taking Interstate 84 to the track we took Historic Highway 30 along the Columbia River Gorge so that they could see the many waterfalls along the route. The first stop along the highway was Crown Point and a tour of Vista House.

After Vista House we stopped at several of the waterfalls along the highway to photograph them and see the sites. Lunch was at Multnomah Falls Lodge where we had a good view of the falls from our table. Continuing on we rejoined I84 near Ainsworth State Park and followed the Columbia River to Biggs Junction where we turned south.

We spent the night at the Tall Winds Motel in Moro which is about 15 minutes north of the track. The morning dawned sunny, clear and hot. After a lite breakfast we headed to Grass Valley. The racetrack is located about two miles east of town. The plan was for Ann and Mary Jo to drop Howard and myself at the track and then head north and across the Columbia River to visit the Mary Hill Museum.

While they were enjoying the air conditioning in the museum we were at the track photographing the electric vehicles. Many of the vehicles at the track race in the Electrathon racing series while other were electrified street cars, like the Datsun 1200 White Zombie, as well as production street vehicles like the Leaf. By the time our wives returned we were both worn out from the heat and ready for lunch. After eating in Wasco we headed home.

The neighbors across the street from us always have a 4th of July party for friends and family. This celebration has been going on through three generations of the family. Currently the granddaughter of the original home owners continues the tradition. Friends and family from up and down the street join together to sing the patriotic songs, tell stories and watch the cannon being fired. The cannon has a four inch barrel and makes a great sounding boom. After the ceremony everyone heads into the back yard for a potluck and fellowship. This was the first time that my brother and his wife joined us for the celebration and they enjoyed it very much.

On the 5th we made a day trip to Silver Falls State Park. The park is nestled into an 9,200 acre forest and offers hiking, camping and event space. The highlight of the park is the Canyon Trail and Rim Trails that forms a 7 mile loop. The trail takes you past and behind all ten of the waterfalls in the park.

Clear Lake

Clear Lake — Photo Gallery

The next day we headed east again on our way to central Oregon. Our first stop was at Clear Lake Resort in the Mt. Hood National Forest. The alpine lake is at 3,100 feet and as the name implies the lake is incredibly clear. You can see petrified trees at the bottom of its 200 foot depth. The resort is operated by Linn County Parks and is open all year round. It offers rustic cabin rentals and rowboat rentals as well as fishing, hiking, diving and scenic views.

After picnicking by the lake we headed a few miles south of Clear Lake on Oregon 126 to Sahale and Koosah Falls. Both falls are on the McKenzie River and are only about one quarter mile apart. Sahale drops 73 feet and at times of high water during the spring snow melt it divides into two separate falls, 73 and 78 feet, as it flows over the edge of the precipice. Koosah Falls at 64 feet is just downstream of Sahale. There is a hiking trail between the two falls. On the other side of the river The McKenzie River Trail links three sites as well as others. After taking photos at both falls we headed east on Oregon 242, the Old Mackenzie River Highway, on our way to Upper Proxy Falls and Dee Wright Observatory.

Upper Proxy Falls, is not a great falls to look or photograph because of the undergrowth that surrounds it. What makes it unique is that the water pours out of a spring in the hillside and drops 128 feet into a 30 foot diameter pool that is like a bathtub. There is no stream or river flowing out of the pool. The water drains out of the pools bottom outlet at the same rate as it flows in. Every time I see this falls I imagine there is a giant recirculating pump hidden back in the forest that keeps the water circulating. It is a very strange sight to see.

Dee Wright Observatory

Dee Wright Observatory — Photo Gallery

We continued on Oregon 242 winding our way through the forest and lava fields to Dee Wright Observatory Dee Wright Observatory. The observatory was completed in 1935, by the Civilian Conversation Corps, and is constructed entirely out of the local basalt lava that surrounds it. It is located at the summit of the highway, 5,325 feet. From the observation deck on the top level there is a 360 degree panoramic view of the Cascade Mountains and the surrounding area. There is a 36-inch diameter "mountain finding dial" in the center of the deck that shows the direction to look to see each of the 19 mountains that can be seen from the observatory. One level down is an observation room that has one door and small view ports in the wall. The darkness of the room and view ports allow you to view each of the mountains individually without the distraction of the surroundings.

Our next stop was in Sisters for dinner, shopping and ice cream. It turned out that we were there the beginning of "quilt week" which culminates the second Saturday in July with the annual Sisters Quilt Show. Quilters from all over the world come to the open air show. From Sisters we headed to Bend and a good nights sleep.

The next morning after a breakfast overlooking the Dechutes River we headed south towards Crescent following U.S. 97. From there we turned west on Oregon 58 and our goal of cooler temperatures on the coast. We stopped at Odell Lake to admire the view. While there we met a woman from California who was riding her motorcycle around the Northwest. She was enjoying the scenery and the sites. We made a quick stop in Oakridge for lunch before heading to Florence on Oregon 126.

Heceta Lighthouse

Heceta Lighthouse — Photo Gallery

At Florence we turned north and stopped to admire the view of Heceta Lighthouse. The roadside viewpoint offers great views of the lighthouse and for watching the sea lions playing in the surf below. The 70 degrees at the coast was a welcome relief after the 100 degree heat of central Oregon. After photographing the lighthouse and sea lions then headed north to Yahats for the night.

We continued our northward journey after a filling breakfast at the Drift Inn. The inn has an interesting history and stories abound about the original owner, Lester, and the wild and crazy things that happened in the bar in its early days. You can read some of it at the Drift Inn website. Now days it has a welcoming atmosphere and great food.

Our last stop was the Tillamook Cheese Factory for some ice cream and cheese. The place was not as crowded as usual, which was nice. As usual the food was good and the ice cream great. From there it was back to Oregon City so that Howard and Mary Jo could rest up before their flight home.

Till next time.


Past Travels
Singing Canyon

Burr Trail

Beach at Conception Bay

Baja California Mexico



282 feet below sea level

Barrancas del Cobre

282 feet below sea level

282 feet below sea level

Summer Lake Hot Springs

Summer Lake Hot Springs

Twin Rocks

Twin Rocks