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Archive for July, 2011

July 4and July 14?

I camp at Quinault Lake, in the national forest, mosquitoes fly around my head as i type. i am in the national forest, on or beside indian land. The forest here is not as razed and hurt as it was on the drive up. Does some know that it has been preserved. I sleep deep, my tent at the base of one of the few giant spruce trees that remain. I chose this spot, at falls creek campground, in part because of the tree.
But i wonder now, how i give most to the largest trees, those that stand above. so many struggle to just survive and grow to grandeur too. do i look away from the clearcuts because i can feel their pain? are those not the very places that need our energy and love the most? Yes, this area has been restored for recreation, but can a place be true if it is surrounded by those areas hollowed out, those places that are only a shadow or what they once were, or what they could be.

But of those areas, can i not accept them for what they are?- a woman on the bus turned around like i did the other day, a local girl said “she did not like what she saw” – and that is true, and i turned around for the same reason, went back to where i stayed and saw it there – the clearcuts and deformed hills that stood beyond the town. but we have done it, used it up, cannot just run away, cannot say i don’t like you anymore. we do that with people too, ask why they cannot thrive when all has been chopped and distorted too, used up for the profit machines. We do not see the light they still have, the beauty somewhere inside. the communities as hollowed out at the land. We cannot do it to the land, and expect to survive – but do we reject what has been created, move on through, no longer wanting to see. can we send love, connect not out of pain but of something higher.

a child came down to the lake, the lake that shows its beauty, glistening beneath the mountains that surround, though in the light or lack there of the forest shows its pain, becoming grey, and the older chopped zone still can be seen – but he does not see, the best that he knows, and that is the energy that he sends, of love and appreciation for what is. and this Lake is an oasis of sorts in the coastal realm, and i know further back more grows still.

as i sleep under the giant, i see that is what it is with the razed places, nothing left, no giants to inspire the others who are coming up, showing the heights to which they may reach, the grandeur they may become; do the trees not know, have they forgotten what their potential is. or having been cut down to many times, do they refuse to grow, not seeing the point of it anymore, knowing they cannot become what they were meant to be,, only timber, and not leaving any offspring.

Still this places is healthier than the lands i passed through, the forest grows again here, and is more than timberland – ihe timberland of the lumber companies, who have turned trees into merely resources to serve another end, without respect for what they are. and yes, i smiled, the depletion that i felt left me when i came back in to an area that was more preserved or allowed to regrow. and i see the forest is more than the trees – it is the ferns that grow, the slugs along the path – though not today, the mosses and so much more. it is a place of life, where life forces meet and join.

Still it does feel heavy mixed with joy, i am in the rain forest on a sunny day, a day where birds sing and people come out to play. I remember when i first came here, the only time, 10 years ago, and wanted to leave, a rainy day, and i did not yet know about the rain forest, about rain pants or protecting a camera. beauty, wanted to return, and see how i have changed.

I had thought about staying longer but the store is closed, shut down for good. A lodge next to the campground where i buy coffee, but with an overpriced restaurant. The sun shines, but i do not hike, walk the edge of the lake, stare at the rocks that come alive in a small waterfall, and then take the bus north, to yet another lake.

I return to the rain forest at Lake Quinault a week later after having traveled to different lands, after having reached the location where i was to go. I came back and slept under the very same tree, and this time i felt it’s pain – being one of the survivors must be hard, one of the few who still stands, who has witnessed it all – but who still stands tall and proud.

This time i experience the rain forest in the rain, laying in my tent for hours on end, my tent that i was able to set up before the skies opened and poured down tears, bouncing off the ground, splattering the dirt upwards, nourishing that which will grow again. I have been through the park, and to islands where much is being restored, islands of forests and preserves and farms. The rain pours down, and then it stops, i walk a path, and in places it feels like forest again, it is alive, and it see the moss dripping down, and a few slugs along the path. i pack up a drenched tent, the bottom soupy with mud, and catch a bus to the south. But as i have passed around here, i feel something has been stripped out of me – is it just the rain and gray, or is it more. I pass through towns and cities, and then i yearn for it again, yearn for the lake where some of the trees grow tall, and nature sings, but i do not return – I almost do, for what grows there does have a place in my soul.

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I have done it – traversed the Oregon Coast by public bus (almost) – coming out to the coast in Crescent City, CA and stopping in Astoria, OR today, though i may continue north through Washington – yes by public bus. I have done sections before, but never have gone from end to end, and this time i did it in reverse, taking my time, camping out on the way.

Most of the coast is linked by county transit systems, as Greyhound stopped running out here years ago. There is one 24 mile gap between Florence and Yachats, and i have heard murmurs of a connection coming one day. I love this mode of travel, for here the riders often talk to each other on the bus, and you get a view of the coastal communities you would not otherwise. It is not fast – most systems run 5 or 6 days a week, with sunday service non-existent, and there are only a few buses each day. I like to camp which is an inexpensive option with the hiker-biker sites in the Oregon State Parks. Although most buses make flag stops along the way, i often carry my pack several miles. The transit system can also be handy for anyone walking the Oregon Coast Trail, or cycling the oregon coast bike route  (most buses have 2 bike racks)

These are the transit systems i used going from south to north

To Crescent City (or Brookings, OR)

SouthWest Point from Klamath Falls (OR) Amtrak,  Medford(greyhound, ashland) or Grants Pass (Greyhound) – passing through towns on the way. I got off in Hiouchi, by Jedidiah State Park (redwoods) to camp for a night.

Crescent City to Smith River (for connection north)
– Redwood Coast Transit
also connects from Arcata (Greyhound, Amtrak bus) and highway 199

Smith River to Brookings to Coos Bay
Curry Public Transit runs up the coast as far as North Bend, stopping in the communities of Port Orford, Gold Beach, Bandon, and Coos Bay, and allows for flag stops on the 101. I took several days to make this trip, stopping off at State Parks enroute .

Coos Bay – out to Charleston (side trip)

Coos Transit   travels around the towns of Coos Bay and North Bend and out to Charleston, where Cape Arago is only a few mile walk

Coos Bay to Florence

Porter Stage Lines will take you to Florence (also to Reedsport) and inland to Eugene (Greyhound, Amtrak) and Bend and beyond

Florence

There is no bus service from Florence north to Yachats (about 26 miles). I must admit, i hitched this stretch this time from the north end of town, though i walked it southbound a few years ago, over a few days. Rhody Express will take you to the north end of town. The Oregon Coast trail, takes you both along the beach and the road. There are several campgrounds, both state and forest service along the way.

Yachats to Lincoln City (and Otis to connect north)

Lincoln County Transit  serves the many communities along this section of the coast, with buses from Yachats to Newport, Newport to Lincoln City (and to otis for northbound connections), and to Toledo inland. There are also local services in Newport and Lincoln City. With many towns, a variety of trails and landscapes, and four state parks with hiker biker sites, traveling this section of the coast is a breeze. At Newport – you can go inland to Corvallis and beyond on the Valley Retriever

From Otis through Tillamook to Cannon Beach

Tillamook Transit connects through to cannon beach, with service into Portland as well. The system has several bus lines that will take you to Pacific City, Oceanside and Netarts, Garibaldi and Rockaway Beach, and up to manzanita and-Cannon Beach, with connections made in Tillamook. In addition to the state and forest service parks, Tillamook county offers several county campgrounds with hiker-biker sites.

From Cannon Beach to Astoria

Clatsop County transit – Ride the Bus – has a direct bus line that will take you from Cannon Beach to Astoria, stopping in Seaside and other communities. At time of writing, this transit system had experienced major cuts (from almost hourly service to a few times a day etc)  but hopes to rebuild.

Beyond Astoria

once in Astoria (or seaside, cannon beach( you may go back to Portland  on NorthWest Point or continue North to Washington via Pacific Transit  to Aberdeen and from there up the Olympic Peninsula to the tip and around – or take the ferry to Victoria BC and north, or inland to Olympia and from there to Seattle and beyond, the inland side of the Peninsula.

Along the route you will meet many people and see places in a new way. the journey is not quick, but life is a journey and not a destination.

Update 2015

I once again spent the summer travelling the coast by bus – the system has greatly improved. with the North by Northwest (OXO) system linking the various transit systems and offering 3 day ($25) and 7 day ($30) passes that include a return between valley and coast and unlimited coastal travel. http://www.nworegontransit.org

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I sat on the beach in Barview, OR, listening to the ocean. In its murmur i heard “the sea will reclaim this all, the sea will reclaim this all”. I have heard this before out on the coast, but this time it spoke much louder than before. “this will all be returned to the sea”. The land is low where i sit, and where i camp is probably less than 10 feet above sea level. Even my tent site is on sand, though beyond the low scrub and under a trees. I am by the jetty to Tillamook bay – on land which people camp but few live. I look down the beach and see the headlands, and far up several miles to others, and look at the hills that lay behind – inland a very short way. I see a shoreline that may be, and know that this area is borrowed from the sea. And in the morning when i walked on the jetty i understood completely what is met by a maritime environment; the clouds lay low, and with the sea form a bowl of grey moist air; air so heavy that it feels as if it too, is as much of the sea as of the sky.

some of what will be reclaimed

I have had this sense before – down the coast in other lowlands, in Crescent City last summer when i was there, and i became afraid, and when i camped only a few feet from beach, earlier in the week. A few days have passed since i was in Barview, and that sense has returned to me. I walk the beach in Seaside, and again hear the same thing. i look at tillamook head to the south, and the hills that lay behind the town, and again i see a future shoreline. I wonder if it is also a shoreline of the past as timelines blur in my mind. And i know the sea will reclaim this all, it has before, it will again – but the question is when.

sign often seen along the coast

Is my sense merely fear brought on by the tsunami warning signs posted up and down the coast, and evacuation routes posted in campgrounds and in motel rooms. It is known that it will happen again. And i often think that is why these beach towns are not a place to live, have never really been, for the sea that caresses also engulfs. The winter storms slowly eat up the coastline, carving out the land.

I see the salt of the sea returning, the water salty like our tears, the water that is the element of emotions, and i wonder if god cries. And i wonder if the great waves and floods are a way of returning the salt to the earth once more. i think of floodplains along river banks, and how that provides fertility to the soil, but here the water is salty, and i know how salinization prevents crops from growing and can make inland seas dead. But in the ocean there is life, and perhaps its water and salt will purify all, so that something new may spring forth. will the sea wash all of this away i ask as i sit on the beach and i know the answer is yes, sometime.

Why does this come up over and over again? Why does the ocean speak to me this way? Why do i envision so many lowlands covered in water, be it by the slowly rising oceans or tidal waves? Is my discomfort when i venture out to low lying pennisulas connected to the mainland by only a thin stretch of land that lays as low or by a bridge, the fear of the waters coming in, the fear of  emotions engulfing what seems so solid, only to be swept away. Water represents emotions, and it has the power to carve and shape what seems to be solid stone. Am i that piece of earth that could be swallowed up or  re-formed?

Many times i walk the beach at low tide, aware of the land i am walking on belonged to the sea but a few hours before, and will return there once more, and will become part of the ocean floor. This is the intertidal zone, with a life of its own, a part of both, reminding us how we are connected. And i know, from books and writing, that much of what lay below the sea was once “land” and what is land was part of the sea, even that which now lay high above or far away. I know that the continents as they now appear, were not always this way, and the shoreline that we see is what it is, but only for a blip in the span of time.

giant ancient tree stump buried beneath the sea for 4100 years

I was by another beach, a tree stump on display – not merely the driftwood that washes ashore, but one of several uncovered in a mighty storm several years before.  A giant spruce tree estimated to be 4100 years old, buried for so long, only to be revealed. A reminder once again that the shore was not always as it is. I think of the rock formations up and down the coast, and also inland, that speak to me of creatures, peoples, and spirits who were caught unaware.  i know the land here once belonged to the sea – and perhaps the future shoreline that i see, is also one of the past. And once again i hear inside “the sea will reclaim this all” – and inside i hear, and that is ok.

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Ships waiting to sail out to sea

I wait by the river and look out to the many ships that stand still. Waiting, as am i. I am in Astoria waiting for the bus that will take me across the long bridge across the mouth of the Columbia River where it joins the Pacific Ocean and all the waters of the seas.

The tide is low, a minus tide, and as i cross the bridge sand bars come into view, and i wonder how the ships may pass through. As i ride along, by the shores of the river, and by the sea, vast areas of sand are revealed, places that seem to belong to the sea. I return later in the day, and the rivers and bays appear to be different places, and as the road lays low to the shores, i wonder when it will be engulfed by the sea. Today, all is calm, the tides come and go. When i cross over the bridge again, more ships are there, several lined up in single file, heading out to sea.

I think of the tides, how they affect not only what we see, but the journeys that we make.. The ships must wait for the tide to turn, for all to come flushing in, so that they may go out, and that is so true with our live too. The tides of life, the tides that come from a force much larger than us, one which we must respect. And the tides turn, at times easy to move forth, and at others a difficult or impossible tasks – fighting the currents or getting stuck in the muck. And at those times we must wait patiently, like the ships in the mouth of the river, stuck in a harbor so to speak. But it is also during those times, where the tide is low, that much that has been hidden is revealed,  in tidepools and beneath the sand..  I remember a low tide in a bay down the coast, where many gathered to dig for clams, and it is when the tide is low that gems may be dug out from beneath.

I return, to  high tide, and the ships are ready to sail, and the moment is now for the tides will  turn once again. They can not  linger if they are to leave today, for the opportunity only lasts for a short while. it will come again, but they will have to wait  once more. And i wonder about my journey of today; i left when the tide was out, but after its lowest point. The ‘seas’ of my journey were harsh, but i met others along the way, and realize that i turned around when the tide was high, and by the time i crossed over the river, it was beyond its peak. I got back to where i stay, beside a smaller river, by the estuary, and the flow was away from the sea, as the larger salt waters enter in, flowing upstream to the waters that are fresh.

But the tide has turned several times, and i am not a ship, and often as i walk the beach, it is the high tides that block my path,  or alter my journey along the sand. The flow of life, a river that flows one way until it meets the sea, the place where it must join, and at the border zone, the flow goes both ways, forwards and back, as all intermix.

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