Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Walking down that long, lonely road

In one of my excursions in Northeastern Oregon, I met a man.  A native american from the Nez Perce tribe.  We had many talks and I was intrigued about his family history.  Also of his people.  He talked about how they lived in the  Wallowa Valley  of Northeastern Oregon.  He gave me insight to the grand father, Tuekakas    (Chief Joseph the Elder) as the leader of the Wal-lam-wat-kain (Wallowa) band of Nez Perce   and the Chief's famous son; Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt, Hinmatóowyalahtq̓it  in Americanist  as orthography, popularly know as Chief Joseph, or Young Joseph ( March 3, 1840 - September 21, 1904) Young Joseph was famous for leading his people out of the Wallowas to evade the U.S. Solidiers that were sent to capture him because of rebellion against U.S authority.  I will not go into that in detail, but he was finally caught and surrendered.  Thus the famous quote was heard and instilled in the hearts of Nez Perce.  "I will fight no more forever!".

   With that, my friend invited me to his homestead in what he called "The little Park" located just west of the great Wallowa-Whitman National Forest about a mile or two north of Medical Springs in Baker County just south of the town of Union in Union County (La Grande area) of Northeastern Oregon.

I give you those last two photos so you can possibly see the contour of this area that was my friend's home; a 10 acre parcel nestled between these high mountains.  Forgive me for the photos, they do not show the elevation as they should be.  Rising more than 2000 feet or more from an elevation already at about 2700 feet at 'The Park" meadow.

One of my friend's tribal rituals was taking 'a cleansing of the Spirit' sweat in a hut. .  

The sweat hut in this picture is not exactly what he had made, but very similar.  He made it out of willow branches, a pit was dug towards the back of the hut.  He actually used army canvas blankets for covering over the willows.  The door was also made of a  canvas blanket.  A tarp was laid down on the floor of the hut, except near the fire pit. This hut worked well in holding the steam, and providing an almost airtight environment.

He invited me and a friend to come to his place, and to be cleansed of the evil spirits  and experiencing the ways of the Great Spirit.  He had been intrigued by some songs I wrote, and thought this would give me more inspiration of the wonders of our great land.  

One morning we arrived at his ranch about 9am.  We immediately hiked up to the back part of his 10 acre ranch.  There we found a small pond  capturing the run-off of the winter snows of the Wallowas. on the North side, and this sweat hut he had made.

Our task was to build a another fire pit in front of the hut by 10am;  Then as the fire embers burned hot , selected rocks would be put into the fire with a shovel to heat up.  

All the while he was giving these instructions, he gave us the lore of his ancestors of what we were going to experience.  He explained that the Elder Chief Joseph, who was now one with the Great Spirit,  was watching over his people and this land.  Those that followed the rituals in respect of the Great Spirit would receive the bounties and prosper into the future.

He explained we would do this by building this fire, heat the rocks, then take them into the fire pit in the hut and douse water on them.  Thus, giving us the steam, cleansing our spirit.  When we had pleased  the Elder Chief Joseph and Great Spirit, there would be a loud clap of thunder signifying that it was time for us to exit the hut and jump into the pond.  When we surfaced, there would be more thunder and rain would fall from clouds in the sky.   Sure, sure, sure my friend and I thought.  Like this is going to happen on a very dry summer day with clear blue skies.

While we sat there by that outside fire, and him explaining all of this he past a ritual pipe around.  He assured us these events he described will happen.  It will take about 2 hrs for the catalyst rocks to become hot and prepared for the hut.  He stationed me inside the hut about 15 minutes before that time and my friend to assist him in carrying with a shovel, those heated rocks into the hut.  

Then he had me enter the hut carrying a bucket of water filled from the pond. As I sat on the tarp waiting, he and my friend each brought a couple of hot rocks from the fire pit and dumped them iinto the smaller pit in the hut.  I doused them with water each time they were brought in, and about every 30 seconds or so as he instructed.

After all the rocks had been brought in, both he and my friend entered the hut and closed the canvas door.  I continued to douse the fire with water from the bucket. He would tell me when to stop.  He said we would sweat out the evil spirits of our soul.  

After about fifteen minutes, we all had our faces down on the ground near the edges of the hut, trying to get fresh, cool air from outside.  We were dripping wet with perspiration.  

Suddenly, there was a roll of thunder, just as he had predicted from what was otherwise a clear blue sky with no clouds.  Then it happened: lightning and thunder.  My Nez Perce friend was estactic, he was chanting and yelling; ""Ohhh Great Spirit!' We see you are well pleased with us! Please cleanse our souls and give us guidance for a good life!"

So as we purified our bodies and mind, we scrambled out of the hut and jumped into the pond.  When we surfaced, the rain was pouring down on us, just as my Nez Perce friend said it would.

Yeah, it was a little hard to believe, but it was happening!  After two hours of building the fire pit, jumping into the hut and having a good sweat for about 15-20 minutes.  There was thunder and lightning on what was otherwise a very clear, no clouds, sunny day.    ?????

I was so impressed.  How could this be?  Okay, so some of you have got this already, I was a young man.  It was something that I had never experienced.  But the beauty of it all was that it was so right!  So peaceful! So fulfilling! And I never have felt such a cleansing of my being, let alone my skin was so soft after that sweat.  My mind was so clear and comforted.  If anything, the ways of these people were to be totally respected, for they knew Nature and its beauty.

But I later found out that it was a pretty common weather pattern with a clear blue sky morning, the clouds would build up around Noon and within minutes a clap of thunder and lightning followed by a good rain for this particular area nestled under the west foothills of the Wallawa-Whitman National Forest.  Duh!  For we were located on the western edge of the Eagle Cap Wilderness that had peaks with elevations of over 10,000 feet.

But given the ritual, legends, beliefs, and the feelings of oneself in experiencing this event, its ominous in the fact that it happened while one's imagination went with it.

Do we indeed put too much into reality and not let our beliefs and imagination set in when it relaxes our soul?  If anything, this was definitely well worth experiencing, although I would give caution and warning in the use of sweat huts; be sure the exit is made such that with a slight push outwards you can open it up.  Do not block the entrance and do allow for ways of breathing outside air quickly when needed.

Until this day, I do take steam baths.  I think of the times I had with my friends in sweat huts.  I think of the beauty of this "Little Park", and because of the road to travel to this unique place, a song that it inspired me to write about.

I will share that will you now:

Walking down the long lonely Road...

Does anybody know what tomorrow may bring,
What the future holds for Love?
I'll tell you the answer in a song for you
For its written in the stars above.

Truckin' down the road trying to loosen my load,
feeling empty since you've been gone.
Wasting the days, until they past by,
Until I'm with you from now on.

"cause I'm walking down that long, lonely road.
Telling everyone I meet, where I go,
I'm walking down that long, lonely road,
Doing everything I please and heading back home.

I remember the places and the times
Of the moments I shared with you.
Now my mind is lost in the memories 
Of the happiness that we knew.

Does anybody know what tomorrow may bring,
What the future holds for Love?
I'll tell you the answer in a long for you
For its written in the stars above.

Copyright 1975, All rights reserved.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Speak to me Softly....

   I know its been awhile since I posted on my blog here.  Matter of fact, the last post was just this Memorial Day weekend 2015 and previous post was back in 2008!  A little blushing and red-faced here.

   Some friends have encouraged me to write again and share more songs that I may have.  So, here it goes.

   Speaking of songs, some of the most beautiful melodies can be heard by just taking a hike through a park, nature trail, mountain trails, wooded pathways, along river banks, or meadows.  All one needs to do is be calm, quiet and listen.  Birds can provide such beautiful music with their mating calls, cooing, singing, and chatter.  All one has to do is find a secluded spot, sit and listen, or walk  quietly along a trail in the forest.

   One afternoon I had returned to my campsite, after a nice hike and found that I had been ROBBED!  Well, actually, not really robbed.  I had left a loaf of bread out, and not packed away.  I know, stupid mistake for an experienced camper/hiker or woodsman.  Whatever, I was careless and paid a small penalty for it.  For my camp had been invaded by Camp Robbers.  Yep! These birds are actually called Camp Robbers.

   Well, everyone I knew called them CAMP ROBBERS. But they are also called the GRAY JAY (Perisoreus condenses), also CANADA JAY or WHISKEY JACK.

   They are actually one of my most favorite species of birds, for they are not afraid of humans and literally will eat right out of your hands.  Loud noises, quick movements, etc., of course will scare them away.  They travel in groups and sing when they approach or leave.

   When I was a child, living at my Grandmother's place, we used to have a group of these birds that would visit on a regular schedule in early morning.  My grandma had a plywood platform about 2 feet by 2 feet mounted flat on top of one end post of her clothes line outside.  She would faithfully put bread crumbs up on that platform to feed these birds when they arrived.

   If you put a bread crumb in your hand, one would land on your palm and take it.  Sometimes another would even try to crowd in which would cause a minor fight over who could get to sit, usually dropping the crumb to the ground where another would swoop down and grab it and fly off to a tree limb. 

   Then the BAD GUYS would come in: STELLAR JAYS. 

 (we called them Blue Jays, but after I became an adult, I found out that Blue Jays are yet another species; white body and blue wings)

 The Stellar Jays are a beautiful bird, but are more aggressive to the Camp Robbers stealing their crumbs and fighting with them, chasing them off.  My grandma would always yell at them and try to shoo them away, until the Camp Robbers would be done eating.  Then she would allow the Stellar Jays to have some bread crumbs too.

Back at my campsite, I was smiling to myself while remembering the Camp Robbers and seeing them again, friendly as ever.  I grabbed a couple more pieces of bread, broke it up to feed them.  As I sat there, they came closer and finally warmed up to me.  Landing on my shoulder, knee or arm, taking bread crumbs and flying off to a tree limb to eat. I finally had a slice of bread myself.  But I put a little bit of peanut butter on mine.

After a little while, the birds were done and mainly sat in the trees around me.  Then they started singing as they finally flew away.

With their singing, several other types of birds started chirping or singing as well.   Yes, including some Stellar Jays that were apparently following these Camp Robbers in case they found some food.  With the fond memories that were rekindled by the visit of the Camp Robbers, I wrote the following song that I will share with you now.

Speak to me Softly...

Click here if you care to listen to this song

Speak to me softly
All you birds in the trees,
And I will play you a melody.

A song about love
As it flows through the night
And vibrations
Of holding you tight.

There will come a day
When we'll be drinking our Wine
For I know that our love
WIll last a lifetime.

Some people go through out
Their various lives
Of this feeling high

Then I often think 
About the birds in the trees
And their chirping
Of this melody.


Sunday, May 24, 2015

In Memory of a dear friend...

   Memorial day is tomorrow, May 25, 2015.  I have suppressed so many memories of my own experience, but I think it is time for me to share a memory of a friend.  It has been 47 years since he  touched my heart. Many events of war and troubled times have come to past since then, but this one… this one… has affected me so deeply that I do not know how to express it any other way than to write it here. Hoping that someone will read, and look at this soldier with due honor and the Great Spirit’s forgiveness,  and knowing that he did his best in a time of war.

    It was 1968, Viet Nam, I was not in the army infantry or drafted as such, I was an Airman, actually at this time classified as E-5, Staff Sgt. I was an airplane mechanic in the air force. Deployed in a Combat Crew Training Squadron. (CCTS)   Our main unit was Tactical Air Command (TAC), on temporary duty assignment (TDY) to Viet Nam. Stationed out of Clark AFB in the Philippines, we frequently followed or flew with our aircraft to sorties in Viet Nam.  Our pilots flew their 100 sorties (missions) and then rotated back to Clark AFB. On this particular day, we were deployed to Cam Ranh Bay.  This day was one of the North Vietnamese special holidays in 1968. With that being said, they launched an offensive campaign that was massive and without regard to their own lives but in celebration of the holidays.
    I was working in Transit HQ, where our squadron and a few others were located on this temporary assignment. From out of nowhere, you could hear mortar shells and rocket explosions again and again. And the klaxon alert siren was going off. We ran for the nearest bunkers as we were taught to do. From here we would be issued our weapons and ammunition. Meanwhile , a line of F102 aircraft, and some F4’s were being hit by the incoming rounds, the shrapnel was flying everywhere, and you could see sizzling twisting objects with their smoke trails going off in all directions.

    Apparently it was a big push, North Vietnamese infiltrating the outer perimeters and making headway into the base.

   Before I knew it, an army soldier, jumped into my bunker apparently from one of those patrols on the outer perimeter. I looked at him and could not believe my eyes. He was an old high school buddy. He had been drafted and almost close to his end of tour of duty. At least he had an M16 rifle with ammunition. So far, all I got was a screwdriver. The Master Sergeant was trying to get us the weapons, but the ammo dumps were being hit by shells and almost impossible to reach.

   My buddy, yelled something unintelligent and ran back out towards the fighting. Suddenly, more explosions all around.. then it was relatively quiet. Small fire going on.. out front. The flight line superintendent came by again giving us M16’s but he could not get any ammo clips for us, except for one magazine. At least we had the bayonets. More explosions and then my friend, packing an injured soldier on his back, hit my bunker. He was yelling medic! Medic! Eye’s crazed. I cannot begin to tell you, how emotional the next moments were for me. Here was this soldier that my friend rescued but he had been hit multiple times when carried back to my bunker. He had no pulse and eyes glazed. He did not make it. My buddy was devastated, all that for naught. And it appears that my high school pal was saved from being hit by those rounds that killed this soldier.

  As suddenly as it started, it was over.  My buddy crying, and I was not one for lack of tears….

   Several years past, and I was again stateside on leave to my hometown.  I was downtown, and had stopped at a light and saw my buddy coming out of a bar there.  He had been drinking, but he said he was glad to see me and that I had made it out of the war.  I had thanked him for all that he tried to do that day and some ammunition he gave me.  He was looking pretty spaced out and kept asking me; “What do you want in your foxhole?  A friend or an enemy?”  I was confused and did not understand him, but thought he had too much to drink, and so I called a cab for him.  I tried to comfort him and told him it was best for him to go sleep it off and if he needed me for anything just give me a call.  I slipped my phone number into his shirt pocket.  I gave the car keys to the bartender back in side the bar and left.

  And again, some more years past, and I had returned to college, where I received a newspaper clipping from my grandmother.  It was my friend, his obituary.  He apparently took his own life one afternoon, not able to deal with the war and what he had been through. I wish I knew the circumstances surrounding his Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and why he could not go on with life.

He was a hero to me, a true compassionate soul that cared for the lives of others when put to the task.  He tried to do that, and for me, he DID do that.  I will always remember my friend from high school, and especially on Memorial Day.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

In Nature's Beauty..

Eagle Cap Wilderness - Northeastern Oregon
Wallowa-Whitman National Forest

Up where we belong - Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes
"How deep our sleep last night in the mountains here, beneath the trees and stars, hushed by solemn-sounding waterfalls and many small soothing voices in sweet accord whispering peace!

And our first pure mountain day, warm, calm, cloudless, -- how immeasurable it seems, how serenely wild! I can scarcely remember its beginning. Along the river, over the hills, in the ground, in the sky, spring work is going on with joyful enthusiasm, new life, new beauty, unfolding, unrolling in glorious exuberant extravagance, -- new birds in their nests, new winged creatures in the air, and new leaves, new flowers, spreading, shining, rejoicing everywhere."

-- John Muir (American naturalist and co-founder of the Sierra Club)

Some of my favorite camping trips have taken me to the Eagle Cap Wilderness area of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. This mountain range sometimes called "The Little Switzerland of America" is located East of La Grande, Oregon. The wilderness area can be accessed from Wallowa, Joseph, Enterprise, Lostine, Baker City, Hope, and La Grande. Permits are required for any length of stay in the Wilderness. There are no motor vehicles authorized inside its boundaries except for the Lostine River access route to a Horse Ranch staging area for backpacking into the back country. The highest peak, China Cap, rises to over 10,000 feet. The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest mountains are some of the oldest mountains in Oregon. They are even older than the Cascade mountains, and were once a island at one point in geological time when the rest of Oregon was ocean.
The times I've backpacked into this wilderness have awarded me with the fondest of memories. The wildlife have been seldom hunted by man, they are more curious then fearful of humans. The wildflowers that grow there are abundant being well-cared for by the Spirit of Nature.

West Eagle Meadows

The campsite that I frequently use is accessed from Medical Springs on the south end of the national forest. The staging area is the West Eagle Meadows Trail head. However, I like to camp at Lost Creek; a place I found while exploring the roads in the national forest area bordering the wilderness. This single camping spot is normally used by hunters during their season, but my venture is in late Spring or early Summer when the snow has subsided enough for access to the high lakes above West Eagle Meadows.

Lost Creek is so charming, a clear mountain stream with tall grass on its banks that locals refer to as "Deer Hair". The denizens of the forest that may visit are cotton-tailed rabbits, chipmunks, white-tailed deer, mule deer, fox, brown or black bear. The bears usually stay away, unless you come across them in the wilderness area. They don't seem to be aggressive, but I never took the chance. Also, a puma/cougar may be sighted too, but they usually see you first and retreat, not being a threat.

This specific excursion to West Eagle Meadows involved a hike into the wilderness to a couple of high lakes to fish for some native Eastern Brook Trout that had been bottom feeding all Winter. When the ice thaws on the surface of the lake, these hungry fish will come up after assorted bugs, mosquitoes, etc. To get to one of these lakes involved a one and one-half mile trek up a switch-back trail (one that zigzags up the mountain with a more gradual slope than one straight up). The trail was filled with hard granite pebbles that were eroded over eons of years into irregular shapes and treacherous to walk on. One could lose their balance quickly by slipping on these loose rocks. Also the trail crossed several seasonal glaciers that had not fully receded off the path yet.

Hidden Lake - Eagle Cap Wilderness

We were up at daybreak, packed and rearing to go. We headed off to the Trail head and started our hike up the first trail. The air was fresh, birds singing to us, and we were filled with anticipation of catching some fish at the high lake. The trek up was exhausting, even though we were in shape, it called for stopping and catching our breath. Towards the North side we ran into some packed snow and the one glacier that retreats to a very small area. The trail was blocked with snow and ice. The snow continued down the ravine for another 100 feet below us. It took us awhile, but slowly with sure-footed steps we made it across about fifty feet of snow and ice. We continued to the lake.

Once we arrived at the lake, the sun had risen high enough for us to shed a few layers of warmth, to soak in some sun rays in the cool brisk air as we fixed our fishing poles and baited the hook with some wet fly lures. Needles to say, the fishing was great, we limited out in about two hours and headed back. When we got to the glacier; my buddy with me slipped and slid about 40 feet down the snow pack. I continued across where I tied off a hand line on the base of a rock abutment and threw the rope down to him. He managed to pull himself along and back up to the trail with me helping. That was a close call for at the base of the snow pack below us was a bluff that he could have fell over a hundred feet below against large boulders and possibly killed.

If your travels ever take you to the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest and Eagle Cap Wilderness; take the time to get a day's permit or longer and hike into this beautiful area, unspoiled by humans. It is well-worth the trek. Please respect the Great Spirit Chief's land by packing out what you packed in. There are still places on this planet that should be cherished. We all should visit these places and take in Nature's Beauty:

"With the beauty before me,
May I walk
With beauty behind me,
May I walk
With beauty above me,
May I walk
With beauty below me,
May I walk
With beauty all around me,
May I walk
Wandering on a trail of beauty,
Lively, I walk."
-- Proverbs, Sayings and Songs, Navajo Indians

Sunday, October 12, 2008

See the trees....

Douglas Fir and Oregon Grape

Camping in the Cascades is one of my most relaxing activities. I love to hike among the tall conifers of Douglas Fir, Spruce, Hemlock, and Pines.

Usually, one can find Oregon Grapes (our State Flower) as undergrowth with these majestic trees. The Oregon Grape looks like Holly with its leathery leaves and can be very pretty with some bright red leaves interspersed among the evergreen leaves. Its fruit are small purplish-black berries. These berries have large seeds and some people use them in salads. They are quite tart though.

I love the smell of the forest after a light rain. Combined with the oxygen given off by all of the various plant life, the air is filled with a sweetness of an aroma that is truly hard to describe. Occasionally on a hike, I would find chipmunks chattering in a tree, running half way down the side, clinging to the bark and looking at me curiously. Then they would dart back up the tree and climb about a third of the way out on one of the lowest branches, sit up and chatter again. Needless to say, I would be extremely amused and would need to find an old growth fallen tree or tree stump and sit for awhile to enjoy the show.

On one such outing I was sitting on a moss-covered tree stump watching these squirrels when I noticed some movement out to the left. It was a large mule deer buck. For some reason I had not spotted the two does that led this magnificent creature into my area until I saw this buck. The does were already disappearing behind some undergrowth further to my left. Looking at the buck, I saw that it was sporting a large 4-point rack of antlers. I stayed quiet trying to remain motionless, for he could not have been more than about 75 feet from me. He foraged on a few berries and some leaves, constantly keeping alert to the sights and sounds of his surroundings. Suddenly, he raised his head quickly and looked into my direction sniffing the air. Oh oh.. he picked up my scent, he must have been downwind from me. I was not sure how he would react so I remained still and guarded. Sometimes these powerful creatures may lunge at you in an attack mode if they feel threatened. Most often, they will jump off, zig-zagging to get away. Well, he snorted twice, his breath bellowing out in hot steam, then stood motionless and listened, flicking his ears into different directions as if he was tuning in on certain sounds. Finally, he made one large jump forward and then leaped off into the forest.

I was totally awestruck and felt so fortunate to have seen this wonderful animal. He had strong muscles and held his head high as he walked. Truly, a creature that commanded respect for all those that witnessed his regal strut.

I then gazed upwards towards the sun's rays that were piercing through the trees casting beams of golden hue upon the forest undergrowth and floor. The beams were hitting me and making me feel warm giving me a natural high feeling. I thought to myself: The sunshine is making you high, you must be the Sunshine Kid! Then I thought of the love I have for Nature and for people in general. It made me think of romantic thoughts, of dreams and fantasies. It made me think of all the good in the world and forget the bad. It made me think of hopes, dreams, and loves that were still to be shared. I was overwhelmed again. It inspired me to write this simple little song, that I will share with you now:

Click here if you care to listen to this song
See the trees...

See the trees how they're
Just like our Love is
Reaching out for the Sky
The Sunshine Kid will get you

Come with me I want to know you
And show you how I'll adore you
For under the Skies above
We can fall in Love

Living with Nature's Beauty
I'll show you what I want
To be
Like a Bird up in the Sky
All I want to do is fly..


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Feel the Ocean Breeze

Heceta Lighthouse
While the Oregon Cascade Mountains hold dear to my heart, my second love of Oregon would be its magnificent coastline.

From the Oregon-California border to the mouth of the Columbia River shared by the State of Washington, the Oregon Coast is one of the most beautiful and scenic wonderlands that our country has to offer.

This post would be enormous if I attempted to provide photos of all of the coasts beauty from border to border, so I leave that to you, the reader, to take the time to explore this area if you haven't already.

Cape Perpetua
Several times during my College years, several of us would take a weekend (if not an extra day of no classes) and head for the ocean. Our main destiny normally would not be very far from Oregon State University in Corvallis. We would go to Newport and drive south to Cape Perpetua area where several campsites existed. This location is a few miles past the town of Yachats. Most often we would use the campsites as staging area to explore or play. We loved the Cape Perpetua area. From Yachats to Sea Lion Caves, we would explore the tidal pools, hike the trails, visit the Cape's Info center, have picnics and do a lot of partying.

Some of my friends were students in the Oceanography department and they would explain all the different species of Sea Urchins and Anemones that we would find. Some times the pools would display an abundant amount of sea life with breath-taking beauty of all the different colors of species that could be found.

Inevitably while playing around the tidal pools, we all would get wet one way or another; if we weren't trying to get close to a water column spray on each incoming wave, we were preoccupied enough to not notice the incoming tide water circulating around us and creating islands in the rocky shoreline. One time we almost had to swim to get back safely. We had found an incredible amount of sea life. From the Urchins and Anemones mentioned previously, we found Starfish, and again, several different species. This excited us. Being so distracted by the sea life, we stopped noticing that we were becoming isolated very quickly from the mainland. The tide had been moving in for quite a while.

We managed to make it back safely, but some of us actually lost footing and had to be grabbed, the currents and eddies were getting very strong.

From this Cape Perpetua Info Center and nearby camping, one could visit these tidal pools by taking about a 1/4 mile trail provided by the Siuslaw National Forest Service

I share this experience and photos of this beautiful scenic recreational area, for you to enjoy and hopefully take the time to visit if you have not done so already. The coastal mountains truly march right down to the sea here for the Cape's overview lookout point is approximately 500 feet above sea level. It is truly an awesome view. From this viewpoint, you can look way down to the Info Center, the Tidepools, the churns and out to sea for miles.

Well, as with any breathtaking experience I have enjoyed, it inspired me to write a song and I will share that with you now:

Feel the Ocean Breeze..

Click here to listen to the song with lyrics

Feel the Ocean breeze
A blowin' past your shoulder

And the salty taste of the chilly
Sea water
Out ahead a ship is docked
And swaying
And lovin' Seagulls soar in the air
A playing

I'm singing my song until the
And Dreamin'
Of moments I can share
Just by loving you.

Sitting by the fire light
Staring in the Night
Drinking our Brandy and
Watching the Pale Moon's Flight
We feel the glow of Love and all
Its passion
While the Waves go in and out
In Rhythmic Fashion.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Silver Fire

Toketee Lake

During my college years I worked in the Summer as an engineering intern for a private power company that had generation facilities at Toketee Falls, Oregon. Toketee Falls is located on the North Umpqua Highway 138 about 20 miles from Diamond Lake. I have made posts with photos of this beautiful area previously.

A Campfire

Being a student and the minimum wage pay given me, I could not afford the housing this company provided at their facilities, so I elected to just camp out all summer long while I worked there. My good friend that I mentioned previously in a post, worked on a fire suppression crew for the State Forest Service whose headquarters were also located at Toketee Falls. He decided to get out of the bunks and camp right there with me and he could be easily notified with his pager, if he had to suddenly take off to fight forest fires.

This was basically the formulation of a great many friends who would join us in the evening around the campfire after working all day, singing, drinking, joking, and just 'cutting up'. Of course we had a mixture of guys and gals that entertained themselves with other vices than just the drink. After an evening of merriment we would then become tired and go to our respective tents or sleeping quarters and 'crash'. Of course, when the weekends came, we would really party, visit waterfalls, hike and make another temporary camp while fishing, and just enjoy the outdoors.

I always felt sorry (at least for a little while) for the fire suppression crew after a night of our partying. For they were up at dawn for their daily exercise routine, which meant a five mile run around the Toketee Reservoir and calisthenics before breakfast. These guys really had to stay in shape for their jobs, they were front-line fire suppression fighters.

After becoming fast friends (many of us were together for about 3 summers in a row); we each developed 'nicknames'. There was STRETCH (yeah a guy at least 6'7"), BEAR (hairy guy-black long fuzzy curly hair and beard), COWBOY (my best bud from Wyoming), Pollock (a name he preferred), SHITMAN (a guy always saying.. shhhhhheeeeet maaaaannn), STONY (I won't go there) and yours truly, either ROBINHOOD (well, I had the campfire site and they were my merry men er.. and women) or STARFOX (yeah, before the popular game). Well I won't name them all, but you get the idea.

One evening, after singing, laughing, joking, and stuff; I was just fiddling with the guitar and out popped a short song, the lyrics I share with you now:

Listen if you will to the following song by clicking here

Silver Fire

I will sit by you
and rest awhile
Take off my burden
for a while.....

By a Sea
of Silver Fire
We'll light our pipes
and dream of days
for a while.....

We'll sing the Bronze of Afternoons
And Rhyme the light of distant Stars
And when my wandering feet return
And the Future guides my Way
I'll think of Songs and Afternoons
And be glad.

I've traveled long to taste the Sun,
seen the joys and felt the hardness of life,
I've passed some time on fruit and wine,
filled my cup with the bitter nectar of life.

And in the Bronze of Afternoons
And by the light of distant Stars
I've met with fate and I have learned,
that my time will someday end,
But I've had Songs and Afternoons,
and I am glad.