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Roaming at Smith Rock State Park

roam: verb - To move about without purpose or plan; to wander.

On a blazing hot Sunday several weeks ago, I visited one of the most amazing spots in Central Oregon, a state park called Smith Rock State Park. It’s a haven for rock climbers, as tall cliff faces shoot into the air at steep angles and varying sizes. For hikers like me, it’s a spot of sagebrush steppe with meandering trails and an array of plants and critters that can keep one occupied all day. It was a beautiful day in the rocks and always an education: as I sat on a sun-baked rock enjoying my lunch, I glanced down to see that I had chosen a spot which ants had chosen  long before me. I’d disturbed their home, and they were haphazardly scurrying across both of my feet and up my legs. I leapt into the air, squawking and dancing and stomping like a madwoman. It’s a shame I don’t have it on video. After apologizing profusely for killing several of their tribesmen in my surprise and panic, I offered them a hunk of my lunch. They examined it and, after deeming it unworthy, returned to their subterranean home. Apparently ants don’t care for fried fish.

One of my favorite things about dogs is that they are happy to visit just about anywhere – desert, beach, forest, whatever. They are eternally up for adventure.

The beautiful carvings of beetles.

I have decided that the doggie backpack is an essential item for the owner of high-energy dogs. A few hot hours carrying his own water around and he’ll sleep for the rest of the day.

Smith Rock’s craggy peaks and thirsty slopes.

The sun shines through waxy Oregon Grape leaves and the air is thick with the perfume of the plant’s tiny yellow flowers. Drunk on nectar, bees float heavily from bush to bush.

This is the first time I’ve gotten to see Curl Leaf Mountain Mahogany in bloom in person! The flowers are utterly tiny and easy to miss, but upon close inspection they’re actually quite beautiful and fragrant. This is a tree of serious drought tolerance, a very cool species.

Another shot of the Mountain Mahogany.

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Quotes

I used to be an avid quote collector but gave up this hobby years ago when I realized there was nothing I could do with quotes besides fill journals with them. Quotes are also more powerful when you happen across them, and there have been several floating in my head lately. Have any to add? Drop them in the comments!

“The sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do.” – Galileo

Harmony with land is like harmony with a friend; you cannot cherish his right hand and chop off his left. That is to say, you cannot love game and hate predators; you cannot conserve the waters and waste the ranges; you cannot build the forest and mine the farm. The land is one organism.” – Aldo Leopold

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” – Arthur Ashe

“Life is a grindstone, and whether it grinds a man down or polishes him up depends on what he is made of.” – Josh Billings

‎”Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.” – Marcus Aurelius

“One can only be lonely in relation to people. And being alone in the desert is to be alone with this expanse of wildness and wilderness, of rock and sky, stone and thorn. In loneliness, I feel closed in on myself, cut off. But in the desert, alone, it is as if I were expanding to join this vastness. Instead of being cut off, I was becoming a part of it.” – Lesley Hazleton

“What is the extinction of the condor to a child who has never seen a wren?” – Robert Michael Pyle

“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” – Greek proverb

“If you take away all the prairie dogs, there will be no one to cry for the rain.” – Terry Tempest Williams

“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” -Andre Gide

Hiking Adventure!

Ahh, I’m feeling so relaxed from an amazing 7-mile hike I took this weekend with the pup. (No Evil Beagle this time.) Designated wilderness areas are sorely underused (although we certainly don’t want them overused) – are there any where you live?

I really would love a tracking device for my dog to see how much distance he covers in the forest. If my friend and I hiked 7 miles that day, my dog easily had to do twice that, as he has the good habit of running ahead to scout, and then running back to check on his humans.

A tired dog is a happy dog. See those ears? We call those the “trouble ears,” because he always only holds his ears like that when he’s making mischief.

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