Just returned from Crater Lake in Oregon’s Rogue River National Forest – one of the deepest and bluest lakes in the world! Our group of 16 spent time snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, hiking, and enjoying the lake’s extraordinary beauty.
The weather was stormy so views of the lake were rare and brief but the conditions were good and it was a fantastic and much-needed respite. We booked the rustic Union Creek Resort lodge and ended each day with food and conversation by a fire in the parlor.
Union Creek Lodge
During my last visit the trails were icy. This time conditions were better but my cross-country skills weren’t…. I turned back from the group ski early and spent the morning skiing easier trails along the rim. That afternoon I joined a fun and informative snowshoe group led by a local ranger.
On our departure day the sun came out and several of us decided to hike along the Rogue River. At this time of year the river is teeming with white water and the hiking trail was incredibly lush and beautiful!
The Pacific Crest trail passes through Crater Lake National Park and there are 90 miles of hiking paths and a variety of cross-country ski trails of various difficulties.
Loved by the Klamath Indians Crater Lake was discovered by gold prospectors in 1853. Thirty-five years later humans introduced trout and salmon into the water.
Inhabitants of the area include ravens, jays, nutcrackers, deer, ground squirrels, voles, and chipmunks. Elk, black bear, foxes, porcupines, pine martens, and pikas are among the other more reclusive animals living in the park.
Without a doubt Crater Lake is a natural wonder and one of Oregon’s loveliest attractions. The short trip was a refreshing mini escape.
Ailey II Group
Ailey II appeared at the Hult Center last night and it was an electric performance! The group of twelve dancers performed four dances choreographed by Alvin Ailey, Robert Battle, and Benoit-Swan Pouffer. Each dancer has been with the company for one to two years and competed with thousands to win their positions.
Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble started forty years ago and I first saw them perform at Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco. Their amazing talent continues to wow audiences worldwide!
“Ailey II is renowned for merging the spirit and energy of the country’s best young dance talent with the passion and creative vision of outstanding emerging choreographers.”
Ailey II Dancers
Mr. Ailey selected Sylvia Waters as Artistic Director and she led the company for thirty-eight years. When she retired in 2012 she named Troy Powell as her successor.”
Alvin Ailey established an extended cultural environment providing dance performances, training, and special community programs. His American Dance Theater first performed in March 1958 at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. The young African-American dancers went on to change the world’s perception of modern dance.
“Before his untimely death in 1989, Alvin Ailey designated renowned dancer and choreographer Judith Jamison as his successor.” She served for 21 years and the Company flourished under her leadership. In 2011 Ms. Jamison selected Robert Battle to succeed her as Artistic Advisor. Since then his energy and talent have brought new life to the company!
The evening’s grand finale was Revelations, a special piece choreographed by Mr. Ailey and one of my favorites! It’s a suite of touching, lively dances set to traditional spirituals and blues music including Wade in the Water, Sinner Man, and Rocka My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham. Their performance received a standing ovation!
During their 2013-2014 tour the modern dance company will perform in 30 cities throughout the US and abroad.
Eugene Symphony Orchestra
The Eugene Symphony Orchestra’s performance last night was sweet! Local weather has been foggy and cold but the symphony’s music cheered and warmed the audience. Since retiring in Eugene I’ve attended most of their performances at the Hult Center and look forward to each season.
Soprano Mary Wilson
The orchestra performed Benjamin Britten’s Four Sea Interludes from the opera Peter Grimes – Dawn, Sunday Morning, Moonlight, and Storm. They followed with several pieces from Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute, and Johannes Brahms Symphony No. 3 in F Major.
Guest soprano, Rachele Gilmore, could not attend the performance. Her substitute, Mary Wilson, stole the show with an amazing voice and fantastic stage presence. The audience went wild!
Alvin Ailey Dancers
In February the symphony performs Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring with guest violinist Fumiaki Miura and the Hult Center hosts the amazing Alvin Ailey dancers on the 26th. I’m looking forward to both performances!
Saturday morning I jumped a 6:00 a.m. ski bus to Mt. Bachelor for a day of downhill skiing! In the winter, local buses haul eclectic groups of skiers up the mountain to play in the snow. During the three-hour ride to Bend you can enjoy the scenery or take a snooze.
Graceful Powder Skiers
Skiing companions are sparse these days as most of my 60+ friends gave up downhill years ago. Instead, their winter adventures include exploring the back country on snowshoes or cross-country skis. Seeing the deep woods layered in fresh-fallen snow is a spectacular experience but I can’t rid myself of longing for the thrill of a downhill plunge – nothing like it! If you’re lucky enough to experience a day when your body, mind, and skis are in sync, it’s exhilarating fun!
Graceful Powder Skiers
So far this year ski conditions in the Cascades have been dicey but a series of storms last week added several feet to the base and brought a dusting of fresh powder. The ski report called for wind and more snow but I hoped for good conditions. Morning skiing was fine but wind and severe whiteout conditions enveloped the mountain in the afternoon. Several chair lifts closed.
Except for the most enthusiastic, brave skiers it definitely put a damper on the day’s activities. I’m a fair-weather skier who avoids areas that intersect raucous snowboarding haunts and sticks to long leisurely intermediate runs. Zero visibility is way too scary for me, so I stopped skiing around noon – disappointed but not willing to risk an accident or injury.
Berg’s Ski & Snowboard Shop
I began skiing in California in my 20s mostly at Lake Tahoe and Bear Valley. Back then we expected to wait in lift lines and paid $10 for tickets. Things have changed with $80+ tickets, speedy quad lifts, and helmets!
Mt. Hood Meadows
Oregon’s Cascade snow is very different from conditions in the Sierras. The powder skiing is phenomenal. I’ve learned to respect Mt. Bachelor and the challenging conditions it can present skiers.
Berg’s is starting a new bus to Mt. Hood next week and I’m looking forward to skiing there. Other ski resorts in the area include Willamette Pass and Hoodoo.
After a short delay, the bus departed the lodge around 4:00 p.m. Ski stories - told by exhausted skiers soothed by an overdose of endorphins – were the main topic of conversation. There were two buses yesterday. One got caught in a snow bank and had to be rescued. My bus made it safely home through the harrowing blizzard but the trip took two hours longer than usual. After a long day of adventure, the main question weighing on everyone’s mind was what was for dinner….
Oregon Mozart Players
The Candlelight Baroque Concert Saturday night was exquisite! It’s become a local holiday tradition and listening to the Oregon Mozart Players perform in a small candlelight atmosphere is uplifting.
The ensemble performed selections from Bach and Scarlatti with talented soloists including Eugene soprano Laura Decher Wayte, principal trumpet Dave Bender, and oboist Cheryl Denice.
First Christian Church
A special Dowd Harpsichord was part of the performance, and since the concert is held at the First Christian Church several pieces featured their incredible pipe organ.
We’re lucky to have a holiday season filled with so much special music. Last Saturday evening Pink Martini performed at the Hult Center and the annual Nutcracker ballet this weekend was fantastic – smile!
It’s snowing here today – a bit unusual but very beautiful!
Brookside Drive has sleds, snow boarders, and skiers instead of cars. The trees are magnificent!
Blue Mosque Istanbul
Settling into normal life after a trip abroad requires serious adjustment. Long absences skew reality and it takes time to absorb new experiences, sort them out, and write about the memories.
Since returning in September, I’ve spent hours pondering the latest trip but haven’t put pen to paper or rather fingers to keyboard. It’s clear that I most enjoyed the large cities and their energy, unique history, and distinct personalities.
Istanbul, Athens, and Prague were the cities where I spent the most time and they definitely impressed. Some other cities that linger in my mind include Ljubljana, Zagreb, Split, Budapest, Salzburg, and Vienna – all beautiful flowers.
Near Taksim Square
For me it’s best to become an invisible traveler. It’s exciting blending with the local atmosphere as you forget yourself and move from a state of normalcy and routine into the unknown of a foreign country.
Connecting with locals on a one-on-one basis changes the dynamic and is an enriching experience. I often get involved in volunteer projects during my travels but didn’t this time. Although there were many encounters and interactions, I knew they would be short-lived.
Now that I’ve had some time to digest the latest travel adventure I’ll revisit each city mentally and see where the memories lead. It’s not fair playing favorites but Istanbul may have fascinated the most. Reading Turkish author Elif Shafak’s beautifully written novel, The Bastard of Istanbul, brought back the sights, sounds, and smells of that powerful, exotic city divided by the magnificent hulking Bosphorus!
After a long trip, it’s wonderful savoring the comforts and safety of home. A cozy environment makes it easy to dwell on those faraway places and the invaluable lessons learned.
I’m once again ensconced in the chosen pursuits of my retirement, including yoga, oil painting, hiking, and volunteering – to name a few – but am already planning the next exciting travel adventure – South America.
South American countries briefly visited in the past include Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, and Chile. There are many treasures in South America and the plan is to take a more leisurely approach this time allowing a deeper look at the people, culture, and terrain. Preparation includes planning an itinerary and daily bumbling with on-line Spanish tutorials….
It will be interesting to see what happens as I combine factual blog postings and more personal memories into travel vignettes!