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30 x 24"

acrylic on canvas

Kirsten Gallery, Seattle, WA


Just outside of Medford, Oregon, we stop for a wine tasting at RoxyAnn Winery. Their award-winning Pinot Gris is fantastic and the hillside vineyards are beautiful. From there, we accidentally find our way into the Umpqua National Forest, where we experience the umpqua hot springs. Clothing is optional here, and a sign at the trailhead warns of frequent nude bathers. We cross a wooden bridge that has been marked “unsafe for crossing,” and hike up a muddy hill before reaching the four-tiered springs. Each natural pool juts out from the cliff and, with a rushing river at the base, the view is incredible. The largest of the pools is covered by a make-shift roof, and decorated with peace signs, rainbows and candleholders. It’s a little too hot to bask in the spa for long, so we make sandwiches for lunch, and cool off in the river.

Also in the Umpqua Forest are twenty-four known waterfalls. Clearwater Falls and Whitewater Falls are breathtaking, but Tokeetee Falls is unforgettable. The hike alone is inspiring. After wondering through dripping trees and lush rain forest. We finally arrive at the falls, and become speechless. Water plummets forty feet for its first descent, creating a small turquoise pool in the cliff.  It then spills over, cascading down striated rock. A moss-covered opening has been carved out at the base, and the final pool appears calm and serene. We feel as if we have stepped into a paradise. During the hike back, we wander from the path and find the river that feeds the fall. There is an opening to the flowing

water. Several smaller falls have carved their way through tall rock, and are completely shaded from the sun. An enormous tree has fallen, creating a four-foot wide bridge to the lush cliffs that wait on the other side. We reluctantly depart.


We enter Crater Lake through a pumice desert, and then ascend into a winter wonderland. What appear as rock walls on either side of us are really mounds of snow, stacked by the daily passing of plows. We learn that the park has snow eight to nine months of the year, and it is often too hazy to see the sunken lake. It takes patience, but America’s deepest lake is soon revealed to us. I have never seen anything like it. The lake is only five miles wide, but its water is the bluest of blue. Wizard island juts up from the depths and, where the land touches the water, it forms and outline of teal

green. It is said that this is one of the cleanest lakes on earth. The water is cradled in the fractured remnants of Mount Mazama, a volcano that erupted so violently that the structure imploded on itself, some 7,000 years ago. Now 1,943 feet deep, eruptions continue to form beneath the surface, creating cone shaped landmasses such as Wizard Island.

We stop at a gas station with outrageous fuel prices, and Alfonso is yelled at while attending to the pump. Interestingly, we learn that Oregon is one of two states where customers are banned from fueling their own vehicles (New Jersey is the other). We hike to the waterfalls along the Columbia River Gorge. Multnomah Falls is the tallest in Oregon, but we take a liking to Bridal Veil Falls. The area has less of a tourist appeal, as it sits farther off the road. On our hike, we find a sweet surprise. Wild strawberries, raspberries and thimbleberries grow along the cliffs, and a variety of flowers and

insects appeal to our curiosity. We taste our way along the path and, upon leaving, stop to pick rainier cherries from a tree that arches over the road. The natural beauty of this state has ignited all five of my senses. We wonder how we have spent our entire lives in this country, without ever knowing of the majesty that exists here.