Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Jordan Valley country: Pillars of Rome, Jordan Craters, the Birch Creek Ranch

Jordan Valley, in the heart of of Oregon Basque country, lies in the extreme southeast corner of the state, along Hwy 95. It serves as the jumping off point for some of the most remote, most gorgeous volcanic country one can find in Oregon.  Meg and I spent Memorial Day weekend here, using the Basque Station motel as our base. (And enjoying great food at the local Basque restaurant and great coffee at the Rock House!)

We drove thirty miles west for an early evening picnic at the Pillars of Rome. These are incredibly extensive clay formations that reminded early settlers of Roman ruins. The next day we drove about eight miles back north on Hwy 95 and then traveled west on a dirt road to the Jordan Craters and the Birch Creek Ranch. Lava spewed out of the Coffee Pot crater about 3200 years ago, the most recent flow in Oregon. Wear sturdy shoes and enjoy the walk across this multi patterned/ "printed" lava.  The trail down into the crater is also a worthwhile hike.

If you are bold and venturesome, and have a high clearance vehicle with good tires, the drive down to the Birch Creek Ranch and Owyhee River campground operated by the BLM takes you to some of the most intense and memorable scenery you will find in Oregon. The road is not passable in the rain, but it dries out quickly. This location is almost as remote as the Colorado River through the Grande Canyon, and almost as beautiful!

Owyhee River at the Birch Creek Ranch. Camping is at the far right.

The road to the Birch Creek Ranch

This water wheel is probably a century old.

Canyon view from road to the Birch Creek Ranch

Meg looking down into Coffee Pot Crater

Coffee Pot Crater rim

Coffee Pot Crater and lava flows

It is a long way down.

Canyon country looking west toward the Owyhee River

Rome cliffs

Pillars of Rome

Sunday, May 27, 2012


L"Holy Spirit, illumine our minds with the light of faith.  Draw us past perplexity that we may ponder our personal calling and be enkindled by your love. Form us into the people of God we were meant to be. Discard our old, unfruitful selves. Let us not die and return to dust until we have been transformed by you. Teach us to adopt the mind of God. Convert our minds that we may turn from what is false and follow the path of your truth. Put on our lips the words of the psalmist: Praise the Lord!"  Susan Muto

God can do nothing for me until I recognize my human limits, and I give up my ego and allow Him to fill me completely with His loving Presence. That is what happened two thousand years to very human, very ordinary believers when the divine Spirit of God entered them at Pentecost. That Spirit still works in us today!

Leslie Gulch

Wallowa Mountains

Lake Taupo

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mother's Day

This day is a wonderful time to think of the love that has created us and continues to surround us.

Leslie Gulch

A vast land of magical shapes, spires, and walls, Leslie Gulch lies in the Owyhee river country of the extreme southeast corner of Oregon. I am drawn there in the springtime, when wildflowers and bird songs fill the canyons formed by volcanic tuff--ash that has consolidated through heat and pressure in solid rock. Wind and water have sculpted these walls into an infinite number of patterns. Early evening and early morning intensify the colors.

In May, when the days are clear, I simply put out a tarp, sleeping pad, and sleeping bag and sleep under the stars. Waking up at dawn to the melody of chukars, canyon wrens, and meadowlarks, I feel deeply alive and grateful. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Using God's gifts

1 Corinthians 12:10 from The Message, Peterson translation:

God's various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God's Spirit. God's various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God's Spirit. God's various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful.