Oregon Pilgrim

writings on nature and travel



Marching to our Destinies

It did not do to think, nor, for the matter of that to feel. She gave up trying to understand herself, and joined the vast armies of the benighted, who follow neither the heart nor the brain, and march to their destiny by catch-words. The armies are full of pleasant and pious folk. But they have yielded to the only enemy that matters — the enemy within. They have sinned against passion and truth, and vain will be their strife after virtue. As the years pass, they are censured. Their pleasantry and their piety show cracks, their wit become cynicism, their unselfishness hypocrisy; they feel and produce discomfort wherever they go. They have sinned against Eros and against Pallas Athene, and not by any heavenly intervention, but by the ordinary course of nature, those allied deities will be avenged. 

This passage from A Room with a View caused me to reread it repeatedly.

March to their destiny by catch-words — I think of twaddle on social media or the sayings people repeat and pass on as if it is wisdom though no one can recall who said it. Or prayers that don’t really speak to God but to the people who are listening. It is strange to listen to prayers to God that aren’t said to him.

Full of pleasant and pious folk. Yes, they are. Which keeps us from ever confronting them. Calling them liars. Shouting foul-play. They are harmless (are they?) Why shout? They are people who like to have their little world controlled and all people fit where they should. All people go where they should. In or out. Here or there.

Vain will be their strife after virtue. Because they have denied themselves (perhaps because they feel unworthy) what their hearts long for (perhaps they were tired of waiting, or didn’t believe it would ever come), they will always know they cheated their own hearts. It is hard to be really, truly good with a cheated heart.

As the years pass, they are censured. By who? Eros (love) and Pallas Athene (wisdom).

Their pleasantry and their piety show cracks, Ah, the unguarded moment, the secret sin, the mask slips, the heart which is so guarded has stopped beating, it suffocates.

their wit become cynicism, and now they are taking pot shots at groups of people or someone who doesn’t quite fit, isn’t from the race of Joseph, doesn’t understand, doesn’t get it.

their unselfish hypocrisy, when they look like they’re doing something nice for you, but there’s always a catch, there’s something they want.

they feel and produce discomfort wherever they go. Oh, dear God, could this be me? Do I? Do I not follow my heart or my brain? Am I not being really honest and true? Do I love, really love, without hidden motives, and is it powerful — a force to be reckoned with?

I love literature. It crucifies me and ushers me into ecstasy. I’m undone and I’m resurrected.



Enjoying Nature in the City

On a summer evening, we went to Bend for the art walk. Although the art was lovely, we chose to stop for some natural views too.


When I saw this sweet scene, I felt that deep love for where I live. It is a great place to be. The City You’ll Love to Hate


We began to cross a foot bridge and paused to listen to the water, to the distant sounds of the city celebrating, and watched the bats wing across the water.


Perhaps there are better places to live but I can’t think of any. I’m contented now.


And I’m happy to find beauty in out-of-the-way places as well as in my backyard city.



Face Time

Recently, at my Summer Lake trip, I committed to spending less time on my phone or any technology, eschewing multitasking, and being present. just wrote a post that made me feel like she’s been reading my journal. My thoughts exactly!

Full-Time Writer Mom

FaceTime logo

There’s a good reason why Apple chose “FaceTime” as the name of their video-calling product. Unlike a regular old phone call, it allows people with the FaceTime app to chat face-to-face. It’s something my husband and I used recently when our kids were out of town. I’m so grateful for the benefits of modern technology, but I also have to be careful not to let those same benefits turn detrimental.

I fought getting a Smartphone for a long time. My husband had a Blackberry for a while, and no offense to Blackberry, but it was a piece of garbage. I know now that it was just an inferior model, but its rudimentary GPS that only worked when you didn’t need it and super-slow Internet search capabilities left me underwhelmed. Not to mention that I would rather stay in the stone age than learn how to use new technology. Update the…

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Whiskey Springs

About a 45 min. drive and a few pieces of key equipment and …


we reach birding heaven.


Yellow-rumped Warbler, MacGillvray’s Warbler, Hermit Thrush, Swainson’s Thrush, Orange-crowned Warbler, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Hermit Warbler, Mountain Chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Western Tanager, Western Wood Pewee were just a few.


They all congregate here because of this unassuming bit of water


and all this protective foliage.


Life is good on an early morning with a slot of time dedicated to see and hear birds.


Huckleberry Picking

Some of the Harris family went huckleberry picking with some friends to a secret place which will remain unnamed.


Greta picked and picked. IMG_1116


Then, Greta realized she was the only one picking.


Some of the pickers had eaten so many huckleberries they were suffering from huckleberry coma!



And Cash too!


She stood up from her spot and wondered what to do. Should she rouse them from their slumber and get them picking again?



“Camping” in Summer Lake


If this is camping …


I could do it forever. Summer Lake might be in the middle of nowhere, but …IMG_0995

it has more than enough compensationsIMG_0972

When Greta saw our digs …


she did a little celebration dance. IMG_0965

Yeah, it was pretty tough, camping with the ladies,


but we managed.IMG_0985

We birded on the way home. Could it be possible that we got a glossy ibis? We’re hoping an expert would confirm our find. We startled an American Bittern from the reeds. This shy bird is a pleasure to see. Also on our list: Black-necked Stilt, American Coot, American Pelican, Pied-billed Grebe, Eared Grebe, Northern Harrier, Bank Swallow, Barn Swallow, Red-winged Blackbird, Great Egret, Great Blue Heron, Ruddy Duck, and Golden-crowned Sparrow. We ate cookies for every new species.

Wow. I shouldn’t have mentioned that.

Summer Lake was a delightful. I can’t wait to visit again.

Lake Shastina

The plan was to meet at Lake Shasta for a cousins reunion.


But, Lake Shasta had warnings about a toxic bloom, so we detoured to Lake Shastina. Cousin reunions are so much fun because there’s catching up to do, lots of laughter, and hanging out is a requirement. We wished all the cousins could have come!


We decided to catch the sunset,


but Ingrid wouldn’t leave the slack line.


Time for silly pics.


After dark, I went for a walk down the quiet road and the bats kept the bugs at bay above my head. These solitary moments give me the space or time to feel alive, to feel my existence in this wide world.

Blue Pool


Yep, it’s really that blue. That’s it — no filters. The downside is it’s a well-known destination. You have to navigate mountain bikers, lines of hikers, dogs, and people taking selfies as they jump into it.IMG_0742

Still, it’s worth it. The hike is shady most of the time, yet, the arrival yields that sense of accomplishment one always seeks on a journey.IMG_0747IMG_0743

We added a Pacific wren to our bird list to sweeten the deal. Lunched a la fresca. And said goodbye with a last, lingering look.IMG_0740IMG_0739

Goodbye, Blue Pool. You are beautiful to behold. I’m glad I saw. I’m glad I felt.




Exploring the Cascades

Bend has its slogans: Living at its best or My life is your vacation. Still, these slogans are only cool if you’re actually fulfilling them. Sometimes, I forget to get out into the wild places in my own backyard.

The broad strokes of the landscape are formed by volcanic activity, but the finishing touches are made by fire.

Ghosts of trees that did not survive fire jut from the forest floor with white sepulcher arms.


The woodpeckers are the grave robbers, making their living from the dead. And they are as unabashed and boisterous about it as Jerry in Tale of Two Cities. 


In our Cascade mountains, the Ponderosa pines tower over the dry needle beds. You can tell a Ponderosa by the club-like arrangement of the spindles. These Ponderosas surrounding the evergreen tree are just saplings.


The forest floor delivers sweet surprises if you stop to look.


Listen. A yellow-rumped warbler trills its cascading call and another answers. It has a spiritual essence as if the trees themselves are singing to one another.


Then, the moment is broken with the rattling and scolding of a squirrel.


There is no silence here. The wind moving through the upper echelons of the forest make a constant roar and the river rushes with its watery hum.

In the wash of green in a forest, color lurks on the ground. Tiny wildflowers bloom their quiet praise waiting patiently for love to find them in the form of a butterfly or bee.IMG_0477


The Cascade mountain range is one of the most unique ranges I have encountered. The highest  volcanoes of the Cascades dominate their surroundings and so they have a specific name and, often, a legend.


I love the legends. I feel we must once again animate our forests with poetry before the scientists crush the wonder from us. We sink beneath facts, numbers, and findings. I want to feel the stories again.


There was a time when our forests and stars held stories and mysteries because we had a relationship with them.

If we remain behind our walls of distraction and feed upon the facts fed to us through our devices, what will become of our stories? What will become of us?

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