Both Sides of the Mountain

683.sisters at sistersOctober started in a rush of activity with three book events in a row for me on both sides of the Cascade Mountains, the range that neatly divides Oregon into two very different landscapes. On October 2nd I enjoyed a lively discussion with an enthusiastic group at Amanda Bird’s “Lunch With An Author” at her Book Nest store in Springfield on the west side. And on the 3rd and 4th I enjoyed two nights with enthusiastic readers in the Paulina Springs bookstores, one in Sisters and one in Redmond on the east side. The above photo shows the Three Sisters which rise along that central range and overlook the town of Sisters with their proud beauty.

When I left I-5 for Highway 126 on my way to the Book Nest in Springfield I realized I could have just kept going east after lunch and would have ended up at my next location, but I opted to return home for another night in my own bed.

The Book NestAmanda Bird hosts a delightful venue of author lunches at her Book Nest, shown at left. Located in the Indulge! Antiques complex in Springfield, she takes advantage of the restaurant there to serve the lunches. We all sat around a long table, ate delicious food, and talked about my book. She has many regulars who attend these events, and they welcomed me with many thoughtful questions and comments of interest. My thanks to Amanda for the invitation. A fun time!

The next morning I headed eastward into the mountains, taking Highway 58 over the Willamette Pass and up Highway 97 through Bend to Redmond, where I stayed overnight. view redmondAnd what do you know but I had another room with a view. Those Three Sisters, even in more distant Redmond, still dominate the skyline. Some trees had already lost leaves, but snow remains sparse on the peaks.

With a quick change of clothes, I drove over to Sisters for the first night’s event with Paulina Springs Books.

657.hood avenueI found the store on Hood Avenue, which is a charming street of art galleries and other shops with a hint of the Old West in their board and batten structures and high storefront faces. Since the event started at 6:30, I got an early dinner in a courtyard restaurant at the Open Door across the street. The evening air lay softly over me as I sat in the courtyard among tall pines and quivering aspen, listening to haunting strains of music that sent my mind back to Martha’s story of love and loss.

656.sisters bookstoreAt the bookstore I was welcomed by Amanda MacNaughton, who’d invited me for the two events at Paulina Springs Books, and Ruth Ann Sparks, who would introduce me to people who attended.

The store has a strong following with their many regular author events. They provide refreshments and a raffle, and Ruth Ann gave me a lovely introduction. After my reading, we had some excellent book talk. A great evening!

Having most of the next day free, I decided to explore the area. I hadn’t been there in years.

660.cline falls lunchFirst, I wanted to see the nearby sights. I opted to grab a takeout sandwich for lunch and carried it with me to Cline Falls State Park, east of town.

A perfect day for lunch by the riverside.

After lunch I noticed Smith Rock State Park on the map north of town and decided to check that out.

673.smith rock.1Even as I approached the place I realized this was something spectacular. Great spiky rock formations rose from the broad landscape as if set there by mistake.

Volcanic activity had a large part in the overall landscape of Central Oregon, and this accumulation of rock formations resulted from several upheavals about 30 million years ago. Calderas collapsing. Molten rock erupting. Lava flowing. And a river cutting through.

Today it’s a hot spot for rock climbers. And there are many hiking trails. I love a good hike, but took only a short one, given my time limitations. And I’d have preferred my serious hiking boots on the steep gravelly slopes. Fortunately I’d at least thrown in my walking shoes. A fascinating place.

677.smith rock.2680.redmond bookstoreBack in Redmond, I prepared for the next event at Paulina Springs Books’ Redmond store. It’s right downtown on another street of art galleries and restaurants and other shops. Redmond has done a lot with their downtown to give it new life and make it a pleasant walking town.

The bookstore offered refreshments and a raffle here too, but they didn’t expect as many people as at Sisters. We didn’t have quite a full house in Sisters, but a good crowd. Well, in Redmond, the chairs soon filled and Ruth Ann had to scramble to move aside more book stacks and bring out more chairs. For once, Redmond outdid Sisters for numbers. Several had come expecting to hear about Martha’s “place” in Maupin, Oregon, and I had to tell them she never went to Maupin. But the town was named for her husband’s brother Howard, so it was all in the family. They seemed to accept that, and we had another lively Q&A session. Thanks again to Amanda, to Ruth Ann for her friendly introduction, and to Cedar Goslin for rushing out to the car with me for more books when the store ran out–a situation to delight an author. Another outstanding event!

685.mckenzie summit sign688.stark tree in lavaThe next day I set out for a leisurely drive home by way of McKenzie Pass, traveling through open forests of tall Ponderosa pines with their beautiful red jigsaw-puzzle bark and feathery needles, up a winding, narrow highway, to the lava beds on top. Volcanic upheavals sprinkled so much rock.

I could hardly believe the sign that showed tracks where wagons came that way in the 1860s. Right through the lava. The Cascade Mountains offer no easy way across, but this pass presents one of the more demanding routes even today.

Many dead trees scatter across the broad fields of lava. I didn’t find it surprising they were dead, but that many were still standing. They make a stunning impression.




686.lava fields

Beyond the lava beds Mount Washington rises in a jagged point on the left and Mount Jefferson forms a snow-laced cone in the distance on the right.


Turn the other way and you see two of the Three Sisters (below). The South Sister is hiding behind the Middle Sister.

687.sisters from pass

Finally, coming down the twisting route into the thicker woods of the western side of the mountains (below), a spray of sunlight seems to breathe the fire of life into the vine maple.

I take my own deep breath and am content.

689.vine maple mckenzie pass