An Alpine Jewel/Over and Out

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All photographs copyright Cynthia Guenther Richardson 2018

My oft-stated “reluctance to travel” stance (due to a flying aversion, partly) is beginning to seem at least a white lie since I’ve been elsewhere much of the last few months. And soon I am off to the “Rocky Mountain High” of Colorado to visit more family. This, despite my concern about the major altitude in general and its impact on coronary artery disease. But, no way out–the cardio nurse said there is no reason to not go for it (“yes, you’ll feel the altitude but just slow down and rest”), so go I will.

Before I fly into the great wild blue (or is it wide blue…), I wanted to share a more local fun adventure. Marc and I hit the road yesterday to see Trillium Lake by our own mountain– Mt. Hood, of the Cascades. I have been on the mountain, as we say, many times (another post was written about Mirror Lake, near Trillium Lake) but had never had the pleasure of experiencing our mountain lake from early afternoon til evening. I’m grateful we went. But next time I want on a kayak, paddle board or just a big donut “floatie.” We also did enjoy an easy 2 mile hike at 3700 feet.

I could elaborate at length about the grandeur of alpine forests and the towering majesty of Mt. Hood; undulating, gentle water; languid campers and picnickers and floaters (no motorboats allowed); and the drenched, ebullient dogs romping among freedom-crazed kids. It was all beautiful to witness. And oh the deeply quiet, redolent trails through forest and marsh circling the lake–perfect.

But it is best to just show you. There were so many great vistas and people to observe and record that it was hard to pick these few shots. Please enjoy Oregon’s Trillium Lake–named for my favorite wildflower–and ruggedly attractive Mt. Hood (which draws skiers from all over each winter).

The first look after we parked and paid our $5 fee:

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And that nature-infused happiness billowed–even as I noted more and more people around the curving edges of the lake (that crowded parking situation highlighted that immediately). No matter; it’s just awesome.

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Then a relaxing hike around the perimeter of the lake. There was much more forest we hiked but it is hard (for me) to get great interior forest pictures. That boardwalk through the marsh was caving in at spots and had been, we think, closed off. But someone had tossed the warning sign aside and we decided to proceed and safely managed it. The varieties of bird song was worth it as well as the views.

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Back at lakeside we decided to really relax, cool our dusty, dirty, black fly-nibbled, sweaty bodies and drink lots more water plus eat a snack. We settled into camp chairs in the piney shade. It was still in the mid-80s (F)–in Portland it was close to 100 degrees Sunday, hence this trip higher up–but we were blessed with swift breezes. Wonderful to sit among such trees and close to tranquil water. This is actually Marc smiling–a too-rare thing these days with his endless long work hours. From our perches we watched countless families, couples and friends play–and what a good time they all had.

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The light began to throw off its brilliant gold, sank behind the treeline bit by bit, and prepared to put on its magic silver character. I was mesmerized. (Please click on the smaller squares for better viewing.)

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The long drive back home past forests and moss-encrusted cabins and fine ski lodges was quiet. We were satiated, tired out in the way that is a deep comfort. Surely you, too, can find your own diversity of delights the coming week. Look about; it may not be Mt. Hood and Trillium Lake (plan to visit) but I guarantee that life-enhancing moments hide in plain sight.

Well, this is “over and out.” Be well, be kind. Catch you in a week or so (that is, before or after our annual summertime Oregon coast trip)!

Friday’s Quick Pick/Poem: A Forgotten Bird Bath

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Year after year I’ve walked by though failed
to find this hidden place in bushes gathered near
thatched grasses, my eye turned elsewhere,
away from this apparent desiccated stone.
As I draw close, body and mind pause– as
from spongy dirt springs mossy life, tiny blossoms,
chosen rocks settled in the bowl of an old bird bath.
It served its time or did not fulfill its duty, thus
given another chance so prevailed as another thing:
a place for anything to appear, even take hold.

The four rocks I think were picked and placed–
happy child’s play– or they were underfoot
of one who seeded the curbside garden–
but they appear to me as elegant and smoothly dense,
pleasing eggs offered by earth to rest in sun and shadow.
I imagine all were given important names:
Mina, Elwyn, Duke and Chloe–old friends now.
Or each was meant to hold a wish:
inclusion, healing; clear skies, butterscotch cake.
It all may have meant far less, but randomness
creates its own value and has its place.

I step back to see again. There comes revealing light;
soul and senses fill up with pleasure, peace.
For I have seen opulence that could not rival these:
plain offerings given over to dominion of elements,
sparking renewed gratitude in this passerby, and
a certainty of good secrets, treasures to be found
and lessons of usefulness as I continue on.

Friday’s Quick Pick: A Lark in the Park

 

And so after losses we yet manage–or eventually will–to get up, engage in routines and attend to obligations. And search for glimmers of valuable experience to be absorbed and offered to others. They are everywhere for me; I cannot get enough of life despite its rawness and edges and sudden dismay. Can you, even when your sleep is restless or your head feels crammed with trials? Our bodies, minds and the breadth and depth of our spirits seek more chances to be delighted, moved, changed. And we can do that in healthy and easy ways. A comfortable meander can engage the brain in greater well being; why do we ever want to avoid that? A heart pumping power walk can really stir things up.

Why not go to a park this week-end and remember simpler things? Sit and watch all the humans who persist in enabling peace and fun and respect and care, one to another. It always makes a difference. Here are a few fleeting moments that recently spoke to me. Invite your moments  to shimmer more, too. Laugh at the foolishness and yourself. Bring to the fore the pristine clarity of wonder. Breathe intentionally. Let a tiny happiness bloom into something bigger and share it–then take it home with you.

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Wednesday’s Words: San Diego’s Delight/Balboa Park

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Day five of our April trip to San Diego was defined by our visit to the enchanting Balboa Park. From the moment we entered, I felt almost as if in a dream, so lushly interesting was the landscape and so exotic much of the architecture. It was the Spanish influence that impacted me, a culture that draws me via literature, art, music and dance, design and architecture. This excellent park is named after explorer Vasco Nunez de Balboa in 1915. It was the site of the Panama-California Exposition and is now a National Historic Landmark. The park is 12 acres in which you can visit 16 museums, many performance venues, numerous gardens (19)and walkways–as well as the acclaimed San Diego Zoo.

Even after spending most of the day, we saw only a fraction of that. It is very hard to limit photographs and experiences–but here is a small offering of our experiences. Just follow along with the older gal in an apple green shirt–your guide, me, trying to look so cool and collected as I sweat like mad in the dry Mediterranean heat of day. Thank goodness for a swift breeze, at times. (Hottest day of our visit…)

We first checked out the House of Pacific Relations’ International Cottages built in 1935 to promote good will while sharing cultural exhibits. We discovered the open house tours occur only on week-ends. It was charming nonetheless. I paused at the doors of Germany and Ireland, parts of my heritage. (Marc is checking out a lovely trumpet-shaped flower.) I imagined any stucco cottage would be delightful to move into, at least for a few days, where I’d hunker down in shadow-drifts and write away, an iced tea at hand…

(For the sake of economy of space, I have tended to post smaller pictures. You know, of course,  to click on each you may want to view both complete and larger. Thanks!)

Next we wandered about, gawking at ornate buildings and passageways.  I felt whisked away to a different culture and time. As the heat ramped up, sweet coolness of shady spots was enjoyed more than once.

I always try to visit gardens when we travel. One I sought out was the Alcazar Garden, designed to mimic the Alcazar Castle gardens in Seville, Spain.

The Botanical Building and Lily Pond was a favorite stop. Built for the 1915-1916 Exposition, it is one of the world’s largest lath structures. It houses more than 2000  plants. The orchids were exquisite.

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We left the interior to admire the captivating surroundings of Lily Pond with Mama Duck and ducklings, turtles, and namesake lilies.

And this gentleman who played Latin music with feeling and a timeless if worn elan. I felt for him, sitting there in the simmering heat of day as passersby strolled to and fro, so we stood and listened awhile.

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We checked out the Museum of Photographic Arts which showcases solo artists. There was a wonderful exhibit of insect photos –beetles! which I love–among others. And we had a fun experience of standing before a work made of innumerable pictures of individuals, presumably reflective as suddenly the viewer–in this case, yours truly–becomes part of the art. It demonstrated how we are a part of each other: we are all 99.9 percent the same, according to scientific discoveries. Something to ponder as we live, learn and share with other humans in this madcap world. (I regret I can’t find the name of the artist.)

We walked through the prickly and peculiar Cactus garden, established 1935,

and as the afternoon waned, visited the Spanish Village Art Center. Created in 1935, the buildings were taken over by the US Army during WWII and used as barracks–but was reclaimed by artists in 1947. There are demonstrations  of craft and may art works to peruse but most shops were closing by the time we arrived. I managed to sneak in one and purchased one sea-blue mug as a keepsake of the visit. Note I am sitting, waiting for a freezing cold drink, which I did not get….

Hunger was driving us to the end of explorations for the day. As we headed for the car, we passed an attractive restaurant called El Prado (we tried to get in but no luck!), where people attired in fancy reds and blacks lined up for a fine dinner, some special event. We moved on with regret. There was so much more to view and wonder over! We resolved to return to Balboa Park and avail ourselves of the charms of 15 other gardens, the acclaimed San Diego Zoo and so much more.

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Farewell, you fun, beautiful place– for now!

Friday’s Quick Pick: San Diego’s Old Town (on My Possibly Jinxed Birthday)

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Way back on May 2nd when I started posting about a recent trip to San Diego (the 1st of three trip posts is here: Wednesday’s Word: An Odd and Beautiful Holiday Begins; the 2nd, here: Friday’s Quick Pick: Boat Cruise on San Diego’s Bay ; and the 3rd and most recent is here: Wednesday’s Words: Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala ) I noted that there were three unexpected occurrences that made the trip a bit odd. The first one was a happy surprise–a last minute upgrade (to put it mildly) of hotel rooms that made a great difference for Marc and me in comfort, view and mood.

A second unplanned but unappealing experience happened the night before my birthday. We’d had a pleasurable day at Balboa Park (those photos/narrative not yet posted) and returned to Liberty Market for a quick meal. The other meals had been excellent (Argentinian empanadas and a fresh pasta dish) but this time I chose just a simple deli turkey sandwich. I was unimpressed, even mildly unsure about it but was so hungry I ate most of it. The result, a few hours later: I got sick  and slept little that night. I groaned as brightness of dawn seeped into the room, thinking: What a way to spend another birthday. I have not had good fortune on birthdays a few years– my oldest sister’s funeral was even on one of them. Like a jinx, my own birthday, I thought in a daze.

But at 10 am after a little sleep I felt better and got ready for the day. I was not going to do nothing on my 68th. (As many who have read this blog, I was diagnosed with heart disease at 51 and have lived past the projected expiry date so I count every day–and year–as a gift.) Off we went to visit Old Town as we’d planned. I figured if I ate little to none, drank a lot of water and hoped for the best, it’d be a decent day–despite having to cancel our celebratory dinner plans (at a much finer restaurant).

I’m glad I charged ahead. This touristy but interesting settlement reflects the period of early to mid-1800s, both Mexican and early American. Historic buildings as well as a few replicas line narrow , pedestrian-only streets. Colorful items overflow booths and shops. There is a stable and a fine old hotel as well as other peeks into the past. It was good to think on it all, how it must have been to live those days.

I was satisfied by our visit. Although my appetite was still minimal, my mood became lighter  and it felt like another good day to be alive and (more or less) kicking. Enjoy the meander with me!

 

The attractive, simple house of the Estudillo family was fascinating with its preserved or restored rooms and central courtyard. Four generations lived and gradually thrived there from 1827-1887. I felt the imprints and ghosts of hard work, their unfolding dreams, the family engaged in everyday life as if it all lingered on.

We paused at a mineral and gem shop and then a stables.

The refurbished Cosmopolitan Hotel was rustic yet elegant.

We wandered another hour as that California sun beat down; we both got a bit pinker and tanner. I consumed a great deal of water and rested in the shade some so I wouldn’t keel over…and bought just one item at the market, a small slim, teal-colored leather purse. Marc bought me heavenly eucalyptus hand cream and soap–I recommend it, Eucalyptus by Thymes. I’ve used it almost daily as the scent evokes these good memories despite rougher beginnings on my San Diego birthday.

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All in all, a good time was had. I absorbed the city view from our comfortable balcony; distant, sweet-salty ocean bay breezes wafted up to us as daylight began to gently fade.

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