With full cars and near manic anticipation, Laura, Beth, Susan and I took off south on I-5 to Roseburg and then east to Whistler's Bend Park. The weather was perfect with sunshine and crystal blue skies, making our adventure all the more magical.
I couldn't help think about my grandparents and my dad and how much they loved this area. The roads, the river, the trees, they loved nature and instilled this same love in my sister and me. And we've passed it on to the next generation. I was trying to see everything through their eyes. It tugged at at my heart anew realizing that these special people are no longer here to offer their perspective and all I have are fading memories. Life is so fleeting.
|Highway 99, with North Bank Road on the left.|
|North Bank Road, over the train tracks and out into the signature rolling hills of southern Oregon|
|Our route home, so many years ago. Not a lot has changed and I'm grateful for that.|
|This is the end of Echo Drive. Laura is looking for the advertised B&B for her next trip.|
|Meanwhile, this bluejay demanded to be on the Internet.|
|Farther east on North Bank Road, we decided to take a peak here.|
|I thought it was just a quick drive to the parking lot.|
|But it was about half a mile.|
|Miles and miles of trails on rolling hills. Unfortunately it was too hot to explore on this day.|
|Just off the trailhead|
|Laura and I hiked a few yards up the trailhead before heading back.|
|The road back to the highway|
|Before heading to Whistler's Bend, we'd take this short (barely visible) trail down to the river.|
|There it is! The beautiful, irresistible North Umpqua River!|
|Laura taking it all in.|
|Hiking back up to the car, parked by that white fence|
We made it to the campsite! After unloading, it was off to the river again!
|August is vacation month so there were several families here but it wasn't crowded and everyone was friendly.|
|Someone left this neat cairn behind Laura.|
|The rolling hills were so beautiful, even in their sun-scorched, late August state.|
|And the water was pristine.|
|Check out one of the resident frogs who stopped long enough for a photo!|
|This is the best time of year for playing in the ultra-low water. And for rock hunting!|
|I took way too many photos but couldn't help it with all of this beauty!|
|The shifting sunlight made it impossible to ignore the photo opps.|
|This little boy reminded me of me, fifty-plus years ago. I hope he remembers this lovely place when he's a man.|
|Laura, again taking in all of the beauty.|
|In the day use area of the park, this vintage porta-potty made me chuckle. It's been here for a very long time.|
|A trail to more river access|
|Back at camp for dinner, Rogue poses for a photo. She's such a sweet dog.|
|The yurt on the right, the tent on the left and other campers off in the distance.|
|We had a private deck for viewing the river by day and stars by night.|
|Check out that view!|
|I took this photo of Susan, Beth and Laura while on a morning walk.|
|The yurt in the distance, up the hill|
On that same walk, I saw this interesting trio. With so much squawking and carrying on, I had to find out what was going on.
|Two turkey buzzards and an osprey walked into a bar...|
|Okay, it looks like the osprey has a fish that is also of interest to the hungry buzzards.|
|Nom, nom... this is delicious but my neighbors are so unruly!|
|Fine. I'm outta here and I'm taking breakfast with me!|
|Now what? Darn it!|
|This guy gets the ugly bird award.|
|There were lots of these little critters. They look similar to Susan's pet bearded dragon.|
|In the evenings, we'd be visited by rare Columbia Whitetail Deer. Whistler's Bend is one of the few areas where they still roam.|
Being a plant nerd, I had to get photos of the interesting green things I'd see on our hikes.
|I'm pretty sure this is Douglas' Sagewort (Please correct me if I'm wrong)|
|Red Star-Thistle, maybe?|
|Greek Horehound (Ballota pseudodictamnus) maybe?|
|Snow Queen or Synthyris reniformus|
|Poison Oak... of which there was an abundance!|
|More of it. So pretty but so naughty!|
|Looks like a Goldenrod|
|The Madrone trees were almost as prolific as the poison oak!|
|With the coolest bark!|
|Goodyera oblongifola going to seed|
|Salal and Cyclamen?|
|Fireweed was growing in a spot that was ravaged by wildfire two years ago|
|Sparkler grass (my term)|
|A fern and a boulder or two|
|Those hills and those trees!|
Laura, Beth and I went on a river hike at Swiftwater Park. But first we made a quick stop at the still-abandoned property that was once owned by our grandparents.
|Looking downstream towards Whistler's Bend Park|
|Beth and Laura taking photos|
|Straight across the water.|
|We couldn't help wonder about the downed trees. Maybe from that freak snowstorm in late winter.|
|The steep driveway that scared me as a kid looks pretty benign now.|
One other quick detour, the boat ramp at Colliding Rivers.
Once at Swiftwater, we hiked a portion of the Tioga Trail.
|According to Google maps this is Hatchery creek pouring into the river.|
|Mostly shaded, it was still too warm. We were sweating.|
|I forgot the name of this falls but it was roaring!|
|The burned area in recovery. Isn't nature something?|
|We took a side trail down to the river. It was paradise.|
|My favorite photo of the river.|
|The rock hounding urge never quits.|
|One of the more unique forest monsters|
Back at camp with Susie:
|We kept hearing squeaking and finally, after sunset determined that bats were living in the liner of the yurt by the door.|
|At dusk they'd fly out, one by one to have their bug dinner. We saw very few bugs!|
Another morning walk to give Susie and Beth a break from a very active doggie.
|Rogue, posing sweetly|
|This view from this ridge made my heart stop. Absolute beauty!|
|Rogue was patient while I gawked, but eventually we walked on.|
|Time to head back.|
Susan and Beth met this nice lady panning for gold. Laura and I had met her three years ago when we were here. (I forgot her name.) Susan was so interested in learning the craft that the lady let her have her panning bowls. That was really nice of her.
|Beth found a cool heart rock for Laura while trying not to fall on the slippery rocks.|
|Susan showing off her flecks of gold. She's hooked!|
The next morning, the rain came, making it not very fun to pack up and head home. It was a relaxing few days, bonding with nature and each other.