Another Unplanned Discovery

August 4, 2019

Morning light filtering thru tall pines, mixed with the pine trees’ shadows spread a blanket of dappled light across the roadway, while overhead a lone raptor glided on the morning breeze. These sights I absorbed as I drove on into this new day of discoveries. Wherever I travel I am always amazed and marvel at the variety of beauty that presents itself. Whether that is a rolling grassland, abundant farm fields where ripening grain glows golden in the sun, corn fields tall green stalks swaying in the wind, majestic mountain ranges looming in the distance, forests in full Fall colors, streams flowing through verdant pastures or the desert’s expanse with muted colors, cacti, mesquite, sagebrush, highlighted by fire in the sky sunsets.

For all this natural beauty, I am grateful to be able to see it all, appreciate it all, to feel my connection to it all. It is in nature that I am most at ease, where the chaos of this troubled world is left behind. 

Today I added to my collection of memories of outstanding vistas.


Before starting out this morning, I revised my original route, adding a destination along the way and changing today's end point. Carter Lake National Park would be a modest side trip off of the major road, and considering that today this would be a shorter drive of about 270 miles, I felt this would be a quick and easy stop at another of the many national parks that I love visiting.

Crater Lake, as you might have known or guessed is in an extinct volcano. That pleasant drive through the pine forest this morning in all it’s peacefulness, was then followed by yet another drive high up steep slopes which were the sides of the old volcano known as Mt. Mazama. When entering the park one will notice that poles of about 6 feet are intermittenly spaced out along the edge of the road. These are markers for when the roads are plowed in the winter as a visual guide to those clearing the road and/or those who may be travelng on those roads in the winter.

As I drove higher and higher I noticed that the poles along that roadway were much taller ranging from about 10 to 12 feet tall. This indicates to me that snowfall is dramatically deeper the higher one ascends. An average of 43 FEET of snow are dumped on Park Headquarters with a snow depth of up to 115 inches on the ground. That explains those tall, tall poles.

My first view of Crater Lake, after I parked the car was STUNNING! That is the word that best describes that first look down upon that brilliant blue water. It is huge. The small island on one end is Wizard Island, which itself is a small volcano cone. With the bright blue sky and puffy white clouds overhead, it was picture perfect.

The lake itself is in the caldera of a once active volcano. About 7000 years ago the cone collapsed and over centuries natural rainfall and snow melt filled the basin. Native local tribes' oral traditions of the cataclysmic eruption are close to known geologic details. Their ancestral stories include this event as a part of their history, where sacred ceremonials and traditions are still observed to this day.

The vibrant blue color is real due to the water source coming only from rainfall and melting snow. With no tributaries feeding into the lake, there is no contamination from flowing streams. Additionally, the blue is so blue because other colors of the spectrum are absorbed in water while blue wavelengths are scattered and seen by the human eye.

I wanted to see more!

Picking the West drive, around the volcano’s edge, I stopped at a few other viewpoints, but none were as dramatic at that first site. Although I was tempted to stay longer and wanting to find a quiet, secluded place where I could contemplate and meditate on this marvel of nature, I knew that I had withdrawn more time from the day than I could allow if I were to reach my stopping spot for the night at a reasonalbe time. 

Reluctantly, I flowed back onto the busy highways and headed to The Dalles, Oregon (pronounced The Dales). Steadily onward I drove over landscapes that changed over the miles. 

As I neared The Dalles, rolling hills welcomed me with fields of grain that covered the hills like golden blankets. Some fields had been harvested leaving the curving, winding patterns of the stubble like paint strokes flowing over the hills. From one hill to another the views presented me with patterns punctuated with other fields of green. High on a hill stood a lone, long, grain truck, ready to resume it’s chore after the Sabbath. And faintly, in the distance, the ghostly image of a mammoth mountain rises above the rolling hills.


The farm boy in me still twinges with fondness for that life through these idyllic scenes.

We might all view and appreciate the diversity of our earth’s landscapes, in a similar manner to all of the diversity of the people on this earth.

As I am now on the banks of the Columbia River here in The Dalles, tomorrow’s crossing of it will take me into Washington state. My destination is Mt. Rainier, but I will be amenable to unexpected or unplanned diversions along the way.

IMG_0178 © Donald E. Kline 2012