Sunday, March 8-14, 2015,
My solo road trip is not just about self discovery but a search for a reason to stay. I like Bend since it offers many activities but I’m not thrilled with the high desert aspect. I’m searching for lush greenery, sun in the summer, snow in the winter, flowers in the spring, and trees that show off their vibrant colors in the fall. I suppose I’m searching for a feeling of peace. A new place to call home. A new chapter in my life away from New England, How hard can that be to find what I’m searching for?
I say goodbye to my hosts and head to Eugene to stay in a cool Airbnb round penny house near the college. It’s cheap, at only $37 per day. On my way I stop in the sleepy little town of Sister’s, nestled at the edge of the Cascade Mountain Range. It’s a tourist town with an old cowboy feel in the middle of the pines. I find a café and have breakfast outside on the patio. The sun is shining in the clear blue sky on a lazy Sunday morning.
I walk around before leaving. Cute town, but I don’t feel the sense of home, so I get in my car and drive west on route 242. As I drive through the mountains I see blackened forests and what looks like smoke still smoldering. There’s a vista point ahead, where I stop and get out. I look closely and it sure looks like smoke coming from the ground. Blueish grey ghostly whispers floating in the air. A few trees spared from the fiery fate. The fire must have been a few years ago.
An information board tells the story of the fires. It’s called the B&B Complex Fire, the Booth and Bear Butte fires which started as two fires in August 2003 on the tail end of two other fires in 2002. When it was finally out in September it burned more than 90,000 acres which equals 140 square miles. That’s a lot of acres to burn.
I always wanted to live in the mountains but now I’m not so sure. The thought of fires raging out of control burning everything in sight turning the days into nights is not appealing. I hear the animals screaming in agony and fear as they try to escape; lost in the confusion.
As I drive, the black forest turns to green, as life flourishes once again. It’s close to noon when I see a sign for Koosah Falls. I stop and check it out. I can hear the deafening sound of the waterfall. A wide but well-kept pine needle path leads from the parking lot down to the viewing area. The McKenzie River plunges 64 feet off the cliffs to the pool below before continuing its chaotic rocky journey. Curious, I follow the trail known as Waterfall Trail as it runs along the river. A wooden sign with faint, chiseled lettering points to the Carmen Reservoir. I stop to admire the fast current. The colors are intense.
Shades of sapphire, turquoise blues and greens against the white water. It seems as though I’m in an enchanted land. The banks are a rich green with mossy laden trees. It’s magical as the water winds through the forest and the sun’s rays filter through.
Ahead I see a large boulder with a tree growing out of it. The base of the large tree looks like a human foot teetering on the top of the rock. The force of the expanding roots split the rock in two. Now this looks cool as I take pictures of this unique natural occurrence. Apparently tree roots are stronger than rock, go figure.
About a mile down the river empties into the Carmen Reservoir. A narrow automobile bridge crosses over. It looks as though a million diamonds are dancing on the water. I walk around as far as I can go before the trail ends at the dam. On the other side of the dam the river is calm almost stagnant as though exhausted from its wild adventure, careening off rocks to the calm reservoir below. This wasn’t on my list of things to see on my solo road trip but I’m glad for spontaneity and the road not taken.