In the last few months our lives, and our recreation, have taken a bit of a turn. Once dog show enthusiasts (me, never Cliff) and fledgling breeders, we spent our free time at dog shows, or preparing to attend them. We have made some changes that, for us, are more fulfilling, and far more enjoyable. Not just enjoyable for us, but for our dogs, too. Instead of spending their weekends in crates, inside dog show buildings, our dogs are exploring the world with us, taking in the sights with their eyes, *and* their noses. They seem to really love it!
A couple years ago I discovered photography, and with that discovery, an enjoyment in life I had not previously known. Photography gets me out into nature, taking in sights I'd only thought about, but never experienced first hand. Life all of a sudden seems deeper, and more meaningful.
It was just a few weeks ago we made a drive to Johnston Ridge, which overlooks the Mt. St. Helens' debris field. It's where geologist David Johnston was perched when Mt. St. Helens erupted. His last message over the two way radio, as the mountain began to erupt, was "Vancouver, this is it! This is it!" He lost his life that day.
Traveling to Johnston Ridge was something we had always wanted to do, but never made the time for. For once, we made the time, and it was truly a magnificent experience.
In these travels, I find myself almost fearful of the grand scale of nature's power. I was never part of an outdoorsy family, and I never really spent a lot of time pursuing outdoor adventures as I grew into adulthood. As such, I would say I'm not entirely comfortable with my relative size in the grander scheme of our world, and all it encompasses. That just sounds so weird, even to my own ears, but it's true. Our trip to the Mt. St. Helens' debris field really brought that home.
This past weekend we traveled through the Ochoco National Forest, climbing over 4900' at pass level, down into the fossil beds area, through the Sheep Rock Unit, and Picture Gorge, into Dayville. On our way, we spied an old barn off the highway.
Old barns always start me wondering about times gone by - the people who built them, and when they were built. This one was no different. I often wish old buildings could talk. Imagine the stories they could tell.
We spent the night at a very small campground in Dayville, run by an inebriated but jolly proprietor. The grounds were beautiful, even if the overall experience was a little different. It was safe and quiet...that's all we were really looking for - mission accomplished. A good night's sleep was had by all, especially Jet, who didn't move from his spot on the bed, all night long.
The next morning we made our way to the Painted Hills Unit. So beautiful, so quiet, so peaceful. We only saw a few people as we made our way around the hills. A truly magical place.
The hills rise from the landscape like the land time forgot. I was so captivated. It was so special, so mystical in many ways. I often look at the results of nature's paint brush and think to myself, "there is no greater artist." Truly magnificent.