The Time and the Hikers
Ruth was my mother. She was 53 when my father died. She had never worked for pay, and did not have to because my father had planned well for her future, but, as distraction for her loss, she worked as a teacher’s aide for several years. She took workshops and classes in various art media, expanding her long-time painting hobby from oils to watercolors, learning printing techniques, sculpturing with clay, crafting candles in seashore sand with her grandchildren. She was active in a community art gallery until a major stroke at age 83.
She met Victor at an art exhibit (that’s another story, for another time) and they found common interests in both art and outdoors. When the building where Victor was boarding was sold, she invited him to stay with her while he looked for another place, which never happened. They worked on their art, together, and separately when their interests diverged, and backpacked in scenic areas with cameras and sketch pads. After her stroke, Victor cared for her as only family can, something neither my brother nor I could do with geographical distance, growing families, and full-time jobs.
Victor’s photos and the letter to his Aunt Blanche turned up among Ruth’s papers. I find Victor’s writing as interesting as his painting. I have edited minimally, leaving Victor’s mixed tenses which, although not “correct,” seem to enhance his very personal voice. Ruth was 73 at this time, and I think Victor in his 50s. His (or her?) camera apparently started the trip with black-and-white film; they finished the roll and then inserted color film.
The Letter: Part 1
“September 30, ’85 Beautiful evening. Dear Aunt Blanche,
This is the letter I promised you last week. The writing may not be the thing this time. The including of the pictures may be the only way of sharing the trip with you and Uncle Gordon.
We left Beaverton on Saturday at about 10 in the morning and arrived in The Dalles at 1 p.m. to deliver five watercolors by Ruth and four other artists. They were entries in an Oregon Society of Watercolorists show that was to be included in their semi-annual meeting. With that duty done, the rest of the trip was ours to enjoy. Ruth, I, and the dogs turned south heading toward Tye Valley. At about 4 in the afternoon we see over on our left a deserted farm. The house has fallen down and most of the lumber has been packed off. We park the truck and walk up the driveway.
There it was standing as a reminder that there had been a house and it had a window. God how someone had planned and dreamed! The rope and lead weight was still in the window frame.
If I could share with you the beautiful metal colors these old machines gain facing the elements – I think you know. To the right of this stands the barn.
And as I was leaving to return to the truck, I turned around for one more look and saw something we had taken the trip for.
As we resumed our trip on south, we could see Mt. Hood to the west.
That night we slept in a rest stop about 25 miles north of Madras. I had put a box spring in the back of my truck for us to sleep on in our sleeping bags. That is another instance of why I think so much of Ruth. She is one tough little woman. We cooked our supper on the tail-gate with a Coleman two- burner. On both sides of us were couples in trailers cooking their suppers there. We were out in the cool evening air cooking ours.
The next morning we ate breakfast in Madras, not on the tail-gate, in a restaurant.
By noon we were south of Bend, at a junction with a road going to Newberry Crater.
For years I had heard about Newberry Crater. Having lived in Oregon all my life and never seeing it was just too much. I had passed by it going east, west, north, and south, but never seemed to have the time to drive off the main route to see it. Well, this time we planned to see it.
We arrived at about 1:00 at Paulina Lake Resort. It sits on the western shore of Paulina Lake which in turn sits in the western side of Newberry Crater. To get into the Crater we had to drive up and over the rim of the volcano (an elevation of about 3000 feet). The resort consists of a small store, restaurant, and about a dozen cabins. There is also a boat landing and dock for the many fishermen who come here to fish for trout. Soon after arriving, we decided to walk around the lake. It is seven miles around the lake. At 1:20 we take off down the trail along the western shore heading north around the lake.
The crater is about four miles across north and south, and about five across east and west. If you look at the foreground you can see how clear the water is in the lake. The resort is just out of sight on the right.