The journey to Medford is weird. I am warned to report at the airport three hours early because of heightened security at LAX, and I’ve already spent a very relaxed day at the hotel after the group left. Fortunately I decide to buy Tom Clancy‘s latest tome to while away the hours, and spend a few dollars on the Internet, learning that Ansett has gone bust, so occupy my time on the telephone changing the Australian leg of my journey to Quantas. I must say, it is quickly and pleasantly achieved.
The hotel shuttle transports me to the nearby airport. The vast check-in hall is virtually empty of passengers. Gun-toting security personnel are obvious everywhere.
I make sure my little bag containing nail scissors and needle and cotton are safely stowed away in my main luggage. I even include my bee-allergy epipen to be on the safe side, as yesterday the papers were full of pictures and descriptions of potential hi-jacker items, which had been confiscated. Sadly, I decide to leave my Zion walking stick at the hotel – but am assured that I will get a cheap hiking pole in Nepal.
It takes me two minutes to check in. Only a handful of passengers gather at Gate 86, and we each have three seats to ourselves.
In Medford, Sally wants to stay at home instead of going on our planned trip to Mt. St. Helens. I am not surprised, and am quite ready for a true break and rest.
This week, perched in their lovely house half-way up a pine-covered hill overlooking Sam’s Valley, it is wonderfully peaceful; but so, so dry. We anxiously watch frightening wisps of smoke on the horizon. One house just the other side of our hill goes up in flames, but is quickly controlled by fire-engines and a helicopter with swinging water bucket underneath.
After early morning communion on Sunday we join a church group for brunch in a cosy log cabin at Lake in the Woods, thirty miles away. One or two water skiers sweep by between the towering pine trees. Places are being closed up for the winter and there aren’t many postcards in the shop.
This is also the case at Crater Lake, seventy miles away. We drive there on Monday in Dennis’s Cadillac, watching the trees beginning to turn to autumn colours. As soon as there’s a chill, Sally says, the whole countryside will change overnight. I hope it will happen this week while I’m here, but I fear not.
We arrive at Crater Lake to find that the boat trip round the crater is not running and the Visitor Centre is closed. No matter.
We hike a little way up the rim towering over this blue, blue lake (when the sun is out) with Wizard Island poking its secondary pine-covered cone through the still deep waters. We glimpse Phantom Ship, part of the original cone, far to the right of this 20 square mile, 2000 foot deep lake. And we spot a Clark’s nutcracker perched on a whitebark pine. On the way back we stop to wonder at a natural bridge where the Rogue River gurgles into a hollow lava tube and gushes out again in white cascades two hundred feet further downstream.
I spend an interesting morning with octogenarian Larry Tweedie, whose grandfather, Bronson visited Kenya in 1909 when Roosevelt was there.
Bronson wrote a book on his year there (now out of print), when he went hunting with George Outram, bagging many trophies, and has left an album containing several interesting (hunting and non-hunting) photographs of that time. The book and photos, together with several articles written by Bronson (who was a newspaper man), make interesting reading.
But my time is up, and Hawaii beckons. Sally sees me off at the airport.
“Be sure to visit the island of Maui,” she says. “You will love it!”