Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Westminster Woods PLUS Mini-Mission Trip Blog

Click HERE to view all Graduation Pictures
Saturday, June 23:  (This is the PLUS part!)
     Rick and I left Baker City around 10:45 – I was running a little later than planned!  We went to Les Schwab to have the tires pumped up a little, then to gas and coffee, and on the road right at 11 am.  Destination?  Emigrant Springs State Park and then on to Hermiston for Wyatt’s University of Oregon graduation party. 
     Arrived at Emigrant at 12:10, selected one of the full hookup sites (B-5) and hooked up the trailer, but did not unfold the ends.  Good thing because a heck of a storm came through while we were gone!  We registered and pulled out for Hermiston shortly before 1pm.  As soon as we began the descent, we could see the black clouds stretching clear across the western sky – angry skies!  Then wind blew and while we drove through Pendleton the rain pelted down. 
With Wyatt and his girlfriend, Christina
     By the time we arrived in Hermiston at 1:50, the skies were shifting to blue and the storm was past.  Midge said it had sent the party indoors quickly!  Everyone had just finished watching the video of Wyatt’s speech at UofO….we asked for another showing later in the afternoon and got it!  This party was for Wyatt from UofO and Jordan Smalley, OSU graduate – a Civil War party!  Smalley’s have a beautiful backyard for entertaining – pool, putting green, and Ping-Pong table set up.  And we were able to head outside by 3pm as the sun warmed things up again.  Nice time seeing Wyatt and his girlfriend Christina, Margie and the kids, Cal’s parents Richard and Priscilla who used to live across the street from us on Second St.  We left around 5:30!! 
    Quick stop for gas at the Pilot and we pull into Emigrant at 6:45 – things have filled up considerably!  Two couples in the site east of us traveling from BC down to Ghost Ranch!  We visited with them for about 15 minutes, and then set up the ends of the trailer, changed clothing, and went for a good walk. 
    The forest is thick with vegetation and flowers!  Thimbleberry, Queen’s Cup, Wild Roses, Red Columbine, Wild Honeysuckle, Bunchberry, Paintbrush, and Wild Geraniums…to name a few we saw!  The rain has made everything was green.  We wandered up around the horse camp area, then to group shelter, around the cabins, and back to the trailer.  Inside to read and crossword (Rick), while I organized my GA materials, downloaded some pictures from Wyatt’s party, and wrote!  In bed shortly after 10pm. 

Sunday, June 24:
Mountain Lady Slipper
Our Emigrant Springs campsite
     Sunday morning I figured was my last stretch of six hours of unscheduled, relaxing pace for the next two weeks!  Things are going to get busy from here on out!  Rick and I spent a leisurely morning, reading & drawing.  Then we took a walk along Westminster Lane past the Conference area, spying and identifying wildflowers along the way.  We went back up to the horse camp so I could photograph some of the wild roses and honeysuckle up there.  Rick had the major find of the morning: a mountain ladyslipper!  Similar to a Fairyslipper, this white flower is bigger and has a yellow & red polka dot “sock” slipping in at the back.  A really pretty orchid. 
     Back at the trailer we showered and then eventually packed up, ate some lunch, and meandered our way down to Westminster Woods (a whole mile!) and found plenty of people have already arrived!  Tours of trailers, walks in the woods finding flowers, and visiting with Judy Wilkins and our crew occupied the afternoon while the Session members met up in the chapel. 
Dinner crew for the potluck!
     Bill and Pat Fessel drove up to join us for dinner!  That made a total of 26 for the potluck, which was a FINE spread of salads and meat entrees.  Lynn and Rick cleaned up most of the dishes and we met with Dale at 7 at the chapel, where he introduced us to the camp and its history, talked about thinning trees a little, and outlined some of the jobs ahead of us over the next two days: staining the decks, ramp, and parking lot sides of the dining hall and dorm, rubber molding along the baseboard in both sides of the bathhouse, spreading bark chips on the trails, weeding around the chapel, new border “tree poles” along the walk to the bathhouse, and thinning and pruning some trees. 
Working HARD on devotions!
    After Dale was finished, we dove right into our first Devotions.  Katy is gone this coming Sunday, so our devotions are going to focus on preparing the liturgy for worship and each writing a portion of a sermon, which Amber will deliver since NONE of the rest of us will be in church!!  Tonight we discussed Genesis 1 and our role and responsibility in God’s call to care for Creation.  We all agreed we didn’t like the term ‘subdue’ used in NRSV, but rather like to figure we are to tend and care, be responsible for, the natural world which is God’s gift to us.  The opening hymn for Sunday was also selected. 
Lynn is dynamite at
holding those sticks!
     Then campfire time!  Music books, instruments, guitar, and s’more fixings were taken down to the campfire.  Rick worked hard to get it going – things were damp!  But successfully done and music flowed….in sorts!  By 10 we headed up to sleep!  Amber and boys are in one end of the dorm, Nanette and girls in the other end, Katy in a tent up in the meadow field, Conks, Lynn, and us in our trailers. 

Monday, June 25:
     I am up at 6 to head to the dining hall where I write, draw, and put the cinnamon rolls into the oven for heating up!  See Dale arrive around 7am, and eventually everyone stumbles in to find some breakfast! 
     Our task for the morning, which started out sunny and has turned cloudy, was the bathhouse and the staining.  The forecast for Tuesday is rain, so we want to get the stain on with a chance to dry.  But the clouds aren’t looking good.  An opening prayer asking God for a little time, and we are blessed with a BEAUTIFUL day of sunshine!! 
Kate and Michelle stain away!
Darrell lays down molding
     Bathhouse:  It took most of the day, but Darrell, Rick, and Nanette accomplished this task, with a little help from the three girls at one point right before lunch.  Thanks to Dale for bringing up e-directions on how to turn the ‘corners’. 
     Staining:  Katy, Cherrie, Lynn, Amber, myself, and the three girls painted all morning.  Katy and I went up to the chapel and applied a coat on the air conditioning cover as well. 
     Tree crew:  Dale took Benny and Carl and they applied bark chips to both playground areas, plus helped Dale cut down a few trees, one of which will be used for the border of the bathhouse path. 
     Late morning, Laura Harriman arrived with Corey and his friend Corbin, to work for the day.  They joined Dale and boys and did some more tree thinning. 
Benny & Carl cut down a tree!
     We broke for lunch around noon. 
     Afternoon jobs saw Katy, Amber, Laura, boys and girls all go with Dale to start spreading bark chips on the paths up by the chapel, as well as around the trees in the aspen grove.  Lynn, Cherrie, and I began work on the bathhouse path, while the molding crew continued their job!  They finished!! 
     Work closed for the day around 4:15.  People were tired, backs and knees were sore (old folks), or enthusiasm had waned (kids!).  Showers, games, exploration followed. 
     Lasagna dinner around 6!  Still eating up the leftovers from last night’s potluck as well. 
S'more time again!
     Evening was devotions (based on Matthew 4:8-11) and the writing of the Confession and Assurance of Pardon and selection of the second hymn.  Campfire included the “Spontaneous Melodrama” skits of the Prodigal Son and Daniel and the Lion’s Den.  We have some great actors and actresses in this group!  More songs and s’mores created with peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies.  (The PB was actually a prop for the skit, but it it delicious on a s’more as well!)
     Earlier to bed tonight.  People are tired! 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012
    I awoke around 1:30 to hear the sounds of raindrops on the canvas of our trailer, and then a funny sound, which I finally figured was the raining hitting the plastic vent cover in the bathroom!  It rained steadily all night and it still raining now as I write at 6:45 am.  It could be a wet work day! 
Tuesday work crew
     The group gathered in the dining hall around 8:45 to finally meet with Dale – nearly .8 of an inch of rain has fallen since it started shortly after midnight.  Forecast is for rain off and on all day long, heavy at times.  What to do? 
Michelle, Kourtney, & Nanette wash chapel windows
     We meet up at the chapel for Dale to share a presentation on trimming trees and forest management.  Interesting, but a little over the heads and interests of our younger workers!  And still too wet to actually go out and put it into practice.  So we put most of the crew to work giving the chapel a thorough cleaning – bathrooms, windows, etc.  Rick and I went outside and weeded the area that has been planted with a low growing drought resistant ground cover.  We got caught in a couple of downpours, so quite wet when done! 
     After lunch we got enough of a break in the rain to finish up the log borders on the bathhouse path, finishing just as the skies opened again and it poured!  By this time, Will had arrived to cut a few of the final logs. 
Afternoon hike!  WET!!
     Back to the dining hall to hold early devotions and finish up the liturgy, “sermon” and hymns for Sunday’s service.  Katy and Will then left after taking down Katy’s VERY wet tent.  Quiet afternoon, but around 4:45 we decided the sun was momentarily shining and we would take a walk up to the Oregon Trail ruts: Lynn, Cherrie, myself, Amber and the boys.  A wet hike, but we saw tons of Mountain Lady slippers, plus some of the invasive species that Dale had discussed this morning: Hounds tongue and St. John’s Wort.  I learned a little!
    Dinner was Wolf Meal as Lynn put it – scrounge and find something to eat!  Leftover lasagna, hotdogs, beans, spaghetti, watermelon, etc. all put out and most consumed!  I also cleaned out three cupboards in the kitchen where the dishes had been piled up helter-skelter.
    No campfire tonight.  Too wet out.  Evening enjoyed with a few games (Cherrie and Lynn played a round of cards) while I played a few games left by the PYGS four years ago with Amber and boys.  All out of the dining hall by 9:30 and into bed.  I stayed to write and draw for a few minutes, plus to read through a few of the overtures for GA. 
    We have dropped down to just 8 by tonight.  But a good time is still enjoyed by all. 

Wednesday, June 27:
     We awake to sunshine and beautiful skies!  Thank you God!!  I arose early to finish a final composite scribble of the mission trip, and after breakfast the cleaning began.  Nanette and girls had already tackled their side of the dorm, while Will and Katy checked to make sure the bathhouse was in order.  Major clean is the kitchen dining hall area and then to  cover the grounds for any trash etc.
     All cleaned, checked out, and on our way by 10 am!!  Rick and I took Amber and boys home in our truck, which seemed to be a great adventure for the boys! (although Benny fell asleep!)
     Mission Accomplished!!  When Ed checked us out, he was filled with praise for the work the group did and the conditions of the grounds as we left.  Great job Baker City Presby!!  Westminster Woods is in better shape because WE WERE THERE!!  

Click HERE to view all Westminster Woods pictures
Click HERE to view all wildflower pictures

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Redmond Trip: Taylor Clan Visit

Marg & Ging 
Click HERE to view all pictures from our trip

Tuesday, June 19, 2012
     Rick and I left Baker City this morning to make our third trip over to the Redmond area this year….this time to see my California sister, Margaret, her husband, Ron, and his sister, Tinny, and our nephew Tom and his wife, Heather.  It will be a short trip, but a good opportunity for a visit! 
       Eastern Oregon is incredibly green right now!!!  The grasses under the pines, the hillsides, the meadows – how many different shades of verdant (that fancy word is just for Rick who laughs when I use it!)  We drive through a few light showers and several big clouds.  It is cool out, but warmer than yesterday!  Rick drives the whole way to Redmond, but I work the entire time on needlepoint stables!  Good progress.  We receive a text from Marg as we drop down into Prineville – a need for more spaghetti sauce -= so we stop at the BiMart there and pick some up. 
We find some gorgeous iris in
bloom in the residential section.
     Arrive at Eagle Crest around 12:45.  Marg and Ron are out on a hike, but Tom and Heather and Tinny are at the condo.  Quiet afternoon visiting, but also a good walk around the grounds to the soccer field on the north side to a little craft and food bazaar, where Tinny picks up a half flat of strawberries for everyone to share.  We tried to cut through the golf course, but ended up with the long and round about method to get there! 
Marg and her spaghetti!
     Tom and Heather go to hit on the driving range while we are preparing the spaghetti for dinner.  Marg and I also make an overdue call to Mom to let her know we are here and together and all safe, etc. etc. ! 
     Dinner is spaghetti, beans, and the Italian tomato bread I brought over, plus two bottles of wine!  Good meal. 
     Marg shares the slides she took in Africa and the video of Ron’s father’s memorial service, up stairs on the TV there, while Ron and Rick watch the end of the NBA championships.  Eventually we get our mattresses ready and set up our beds out on the back deck patio.  It has cleared off and it going to be cool tonight!!  Yeah!  I am glad to have brought my new 5 lb. sleeping bag rather than my summer light 3 pounder. 
     The stars are glorious!  Even though I can’t see them as well as I used to once I take my glasses off.  I have my sleeping bad puffed way up, but I expect it will deflate some by morning.  Margaret is sleeping out on the upper deck off the room she and Ron are using.  She promised not to throw anything over the railing at us! 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Three Sisters from Hwy 20 near Sisters
Up around 6:10 to go inside and try to quietly read a little of my Bible devotions.  Tinny greets me with a low “Good Morning!” however, to let me know I don’t have to be quiet as she is already awake.    Gradually everyone arises as the rafters must be off and on their way by 7:45 to make the 80 mile drive up to Maupin.  They are heading up in Tom’s car.  Original plan was to use a different rafting service that would have driven them up for $30 more each.  We opted for the cheaper rates and drive ourselves!  Pretty sure it wasn’t going to cost $150 to drive to Maupin, and that’s the amount we saved! 
Sisters Quilt Shop
Marg and I finish up my pictures, check on our dinner items and put the chili into the crock pot, shower, and head for Sisters around 9:45 pm.  Our plan is to explore the shops and offerings of Main Street and the other street just south of it. 
Our plan was effective!  We enjoyed the various stores, the quilting shop, etc.  Lots of places with fun dog stuff.  Beautiful flowers everywhere.  We had a bowl of soup at Ali’s, and then drove out the Mackenzie Highway 242 toward the pass.  The gal in the fabric shop had indicated she heard the pass road was open.  But….no such luck.  We drove up the road 9 miles to find a gate blocking further access.  So sad, because it is such a clear and beautiful day, I thought the pass would be a good place to play for abit.  Instead, we drove back into Sisters and explored the shops of the side street! 
     Back to Eagle Crest around 4:45, having taken the wrong exit from Hwy 20 and winding up and down and all around the upper part of the resort.  Finally to the hotel unit where Marg used the lobby computer to access her email account, and I posted my devotional blogs for yesterday and today. 
     Back to the unit to cut and chop all the ingredients for tonight’s Frito boats (stuff, mountains, etc.) – Fritos with chili, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions, olives, avocados, and sour cream on top!  I cut up the watermelon, pineapple, plums, apricots, strawberries, and blueberries for a fruit salad.  Both were well received!! 
     Report from Rick on the rafting trip:  enjoyable!  They got to raft an extra 5 miles of the Deschutes since all was going well and the water was still high.  Rick swam the “swimmer’s rapid” (only one of our group to do so -  And he said it was just a little intimidating!  He didn’t do it twice as one of the other gals did.  There were two rafts in the group.  All our people in one, and the other 4 in the other.  Lunch was served right in Maupin.  Ron seemed pleased with the change in charters that we proposed - turned out to be a good choice!   Rafters were back in Redmond by 6:30, showered and ready for dinner shortly after 7pm!! 
    Tom goes back out to hit a couple holes of golf; Tinny and Heather take a short walk.  I write herein and Marg begins reading the new book she got today.  Quiet evening!  And everyone drops off early! 

Thursday, June 21:
     What a beautiful night out on the deck.  Besides a glorious sky of stars, it was warmer and the dew didn't soak our sleeping bags!  I didn't take the camera out with me, which was a mistake, as the Eastern sky greeted us around 5:15 with a colorful sunrise on the scattered clouds.  I thought about getting up to take a picture, and then decided to record it in my imagination and return to sleep!
      I did arise around 6 to read, reflect, and write, and then I asked Ron's sister if she would like to take a walk!  We had a delightful time in the early morning sunshine, walking and visiting down the length of the river path and coming out on the other side of the soccer fields. Saw several deer including a tiny little fawn.  Returned to the condo around 8am to find everyone up and stirring.  Breakfast, pack up, and by 9:15 Rick and I are pulling out of Eagle Crest, bound for Baker City, via La Grande!   After the required family group picture:
Tinny, Margaret, Heather, Tom, Ron

      This was NOT our fastest trip back through the middle of the state, but it was quite enjoyable. We stopped first in Redmond to visit the Wal-Mart store, checking out TV's and mounts for the new trailer, plus picking up a few other items on our list.  We thought about heading north toward Madras and then cutting over, but weren't sure we would be able to stay on paved roads the whole time.  So...back down through Prineville and over the Ochoco's to Mitchell.  Rick drove all the way while I worked more on the needlepoint creches.
Dayville store
     We had purchased some sandwiches/salad at the Walmart in case we weren't in a town for lunch.  So we stopped in Dayville, purchased a drink at the Country Store with its beautiful flowers, and then went to the city park to eat.  Classy restroom with FRESH flowers in each side!
Old barn on hillside
     At Mount Vernon we turn north on 395.  New road for Rick.  I traveled as far as just north of Long Creek years ago with a group of women attending an EOPW gathering.  Terrain is dry for a few miles, and then as we gain in elevation, the hillsides begin to green up with the grasses and pines that have marked our travels this spring.  Lush hillsides.  Over a couple of passes and we open out to the wide high mountain plateau region.  The town of Fox has a tiny abandoned little community church - classic building.  Plenty of old barns and ranches in disrepair to provide photo opportunities (if you are fast to click from a moving car!)  Hillsides covered with balsam root, but we also saw lupine and paintbrush, buttercups, and penstemon.  Camas Creek from Dale north to Ukiah was a gorgeous little stream, lined with thick grasses.
Camas Creek
     We located the B&K Auto Salvage on the Union Hwy just south of La Grande, picked up the wheel for the Honda, and I volunteered to drive the last 45 minutes to Baker City.  Rick had been at the wheel all day!  Home by 5 pm.
     We were glad to have the air conditioning in the car today - it was around 85-90 most of the way home.  WARM summer weather.  Good trip!  Family time always makes for a good trip!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Cracker Creek Saddle

Friday, June 15

Click HERE to view all pictures from our hike!

     Today Rick and I had a clear schedule with clear skies!  A great opportunity to take off....but where?  We are in the awkward time of the year....too much snow still for the high country, but not quite enough still to snowshoe.  We were going to pick up some new maps, but managed to drive around in circles trying to find the relocated Ranger District office, gave up and headed south out of town!  Destination now?  Sumpter, Bourne, and beyond!
The Honda finds a way
through the rocks! 
     Rick hiked up much of the road beyond Bourne last year, but this is the first time we have driven the truck up.  The well graveled road from Sumpter deteriorates quickly upon entering Bourne, but we threaded our way around the rocks and boulders slowly.  I mostly kept my eyes on the side of the road (spotting Forget-me-nots and Shooting Stars!) ..if I didn't watch the road, I didn't worry about whether the truck could handle it or not!  Later Rick informed me that the Honda never even shifted from front wheel to four wheel drive!  The route passes several old mines, completed with adits and rail tracks for the ore cars.  The Cracker Creek canyon gradually narrows as the road climbs another thousand feet to where we parked.
Ritz Canyon
      Around 2.5 to 3 miles from Bourne, a jeep trail takes off from the left.  We parked the Honda there and began our hike to the top of Cracker Creek Saddle.  We immediately had to cross the creek, but a handy log spanned the water amid fields of marsh marigolds and buttercups.  From there the trail was easy to follow....just follow the water flowing down the jeep road!  Nothing like the path of least resistance in the early summer!
     For about a half mile or so, the road was relatively clear of snow.  Mini-waterfalls and mini-canyons marked the route, in places cutting so deep you could see the yellow-orange clay below.  In one of those places, having just read up on the "Black Canyon of the Gunnison" in Colorado, I told Rick it was the "Orange Canyon of the Cracker".  He replied, "That must make it Ritz Canyon!"  So we called it!
A steep stretch of snow, but the saddle is in sight!
     The middle third of the hike was through a beautiful spruce forest, a rare sight in Eastern Oregon after the Spruce Budworm kill from 20 years ago.  Dense shade made for snow drifts everywhere, with rivulets of water between them all.  We got fooled a few times with soft drifts we plunged through, but for the most part the hiking was simple as  the route gradually steepened!  Finally we opened out to a very steep section of open snow, but with Cracker Creek Saddle visible in the distance!
Columbia Hill cornices of snow.  
     The last section of "trail" crossed the jeep road frequently as we went straight up the open south slope to the saddle. We had to cross a cattle guard and barbed wire.  The Elkhorn Crest trail was visible along the side of the mountain as it wound south from the saddle.  Cracker Creek  summit is the midpoint of the Crest Trail - north to Anthony Lakes 10 miles, south to Marble Creek Pass, 11 miles.  From the saddle it is another 1+ mile to Summit Lake.  Granted, our 2 mile hike climbed about 1100', but this is a much easier way to backpack into Summit Lake as opposed to the 10 mile trek in from Anthony!
Mt. Ruth at center right.  
     We spent nearly an hour on top, enjoying the panorama view from Mt. Ruth to the north, to the deep cut of the North Fork of the Powder River and the Wallowa Mts in the distance to our east, to Red Mt. above the Summit Lake pocket, south down the Cracker Creek canyon, and Columbia Hill, with its fascinating snow cornices, just to our west.
Memorial Site with Columbia
Hill in distance. 
     I looked for flowers up on top, but sadly found just one tiny little clump of a clover like flower....with a bee!  There were also some small clusters of lupine leaves emerging.
     We found a 2007 grave marker at the top, with incredible views both north and south.  Our guess is the deceased wanted his ashes taken to the summit of the Elkhorns.  It was pretty neat.
On Cracker Creek Saddle with Summit Lake
mountains behind us. 
     Finally, after taking the mandatory picture of the two of us using the tripod, it was time to head down, a jaunt which went considerably quicker than the hike up!  I got cocky and was jumping down through the snow and ended up on my face at one point when my left leg when all the way through!  By the time we got back to the truck, both of us had wet feet!
      This was Rick's Father's Day hike, so we stopped in Sumpter to celebrate with an early dinner at the Scoop and Steamer Restaurant. After a quick phone call, we then enjoyed a wonderful visit with Dean and Sharon Defrees at their ranch.  A GREAT DAY in God's creation!!!
Panorama view from top of Cracker Creek Summit
Left to Right: North to Mt. Ruth, east to North Powder River Valley, south toward Bourne, and west to Columbia Hill.
BTW....if you look closely at the above panorama, find the "half" tree.  Hug-in had trouble stitching together my picture because I moved two feet while taking the individual shots!

Shooting Stars
I can't help including a few flower pictures!  (There would be more, but they were out of focus!!)
Marsh Marigolds