15 January 2019

Road Trip: EE-LV-LT-LV

Between an insecure craving to be needed and a Rick Steve's inspired urge to see the civilized world, I'm a sucker for workshop invitations.  Which is how we ended up in the Baltic States (squeezed between Poland and Belarus to the south, Russia to east, and the Baltic Sea to the north and west) this past July.  While I blathered away for a few days, EZ explored the heart of the university town of Tartu, Estonia.
One evening, a couple of the graduate students in the class kindly gave us a tour of their experimental forest, which includes the tiny old-growth Järvselja Primeval Forest Reserve that, in turn, houses the tallest specimens of several tree species in the region.
Heading south from there on day four, we paused to take in the grounds around 19th C. neo-gothic Sangaste Castle, a reminder of the long regional history of a feudal system in which the local Estonians were serfs more-or-less owned by the ruling lords who, largely, descended from 15th C. German teutonic invaders.
Heading further southeast brought us across the Latvian border, with a first pit stop at the 1750 wooden Catholic church in Bērzgale.
The graceful austerity of that national historic landmark contrasted strongly with the nearby Kristus Karaļa museum.  Begun in 2006, this modern sculpture park displays an unsettling obsession with making graven images of Christ.
Thus fortified, we sped on and across the border, making a beeline for the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius.  After wading through throngs of revelers engaged in sunset people-watching, we retired and took another stab the next morning at exploring the now deserted squares and streets of this cosmopolitan city of a half-million souls.  Although dominated by early 18th C. baroque architecture that gives it a grandiose flare, the dense old-town has a mix of styles dating back to the early middle ages.
Thus among the over five dozen churches in town can be seen various frescoes, such as these 17th C. Catholic scenes.
We particularly enjoyed the 2000 3-D stucco figures on the ceilings and walls of 17th C. St. Peter and Paul's Cathedral on the outskirts of downtown Vilnius, which practically reach out to grab you into the Kingdom of God.

Heading west and a couple hundred years back in time brought us to the island Castle of Trakai. Constructed, and then partially destroyed by Teutonic Knights, in the 14th C., the largely gothic brick castle was both fortification and home until it fell into disrepair in the 17th C.
Turning our back on this mass tourist attraction brought us to the historic wooden architecture of this quaint (read "poor") former fishing village.
Very similar houses, and many both younger and older, were found just to the northwest in The Open Air Museum of Lithuania, which began in 1966 to dot its 482 acres with clusters of buildings dating from different eras from the late 18th to early 20th centuries.
When not looking up at old homesteads on our long day hike, we occasionally looked down to take in the wildlife, such as this diminutive toad.

Further west near the center of the country we paused in the second largest city to view the remnants of the gothic medieval Kaunas Castle, the basement cells of which were (apparently) long used as torture chambers.
Turning north, we paused at a roadside memorial to the continuity of Catholicism where over 100,000 crosses and crucifixes have been situated on a hill since the mid-1800s.  I found the Hill of Crosses a profoundly melancholy and painful site, as the names affixed to many of the crosses indicated that most were placed by people in mourning--as we ourselves observed.
Crossing once again into the central country of Latvia, we peeked through the wrought-iron gates of 18th C. baroque Rundāle Palace at sunset.  This former summer hideaway has had a colorful history, serving variously as a military hospital for Napoleon as well as WWI Germany, a residence for Latvian veterans, a school, and a WWII grain warehouse.
The nearby Bauska Castle complex includes the restored ruins of a fortress built in the 15th C. by the Livonian branch of the Teutonic Knights.

This branch also founded the town of Jelgava further to the north, where we paused to admire the blue onion tops (containing 9 different bells) of a 19th C. Russian Orthodox church.
A quick jaunt toward the west brought us to the 14th C. fortified manor house in Janupils, owned by a family of Germanic barons for centuries.
Nearby is the 1901 neo-gothic Jaunmoku Manor hunting lodge, which had also once been a bit of everything and now houses the museum of forestry and hosts wedding parties.
The next (and final) installment will continue through Latvia and back into Estonia.

31 December 2018

Going Keto

When you consider the human diet for the past 10,000 years, it’s almost unfathomable that our species survived before agriculture.  Until, of course, you remember that we breed like rabbits and most of our offspring didn’t used to survive.  That, however, is a topic for another day. 

Back to diet.  Sure, hunters and gatherers ate a lot of meat (check) and assorted veggies (check), but the cultural and technological change that catapulted us into overpopulation and global dominance was the cultivation of grains.  If you’ve ever tried going on a grain-restricted diet (e.g., gluten-free, paleo, keto, lyme, or hypoglycemic-diets), you’ve surely noticed how prevalent grain-based foods are even to this day—even though most of us no longer need the boost in energy-laden carbohydrates they provide just to stay alive.

We don’t really know what our diet was like, say, 15,000 years ago, but we can safely assume that we were omnivores consuming an impressively diverse diet depending on where we lived and what Mother Nature had on offer.  Over millions of years, we got pretty good at extracting nutrition from what was at hand.  Subsequently, we can survive on almost anything, which partially explains why there are so friggin’ many of us on a planet with only 10-20% arable land.

Our excess in numbers is even more impressive when you consider that our adaptability with respect to food has been all downhill since then.  Once we became domesticated, our diets changed and our bodies (including our gut flora) became rapidly adapted to the foods we ate regularly, which for almost all populations included some form of grain (mostly grasses, like rice, corn, and wheat) and for many included a variety of milk products.

But what’s good for the population is not always good for the individual.  The very genetic heterozygosity that enabled the rapid adaptation of human populations (on average) to domesticated foods has permitted the retention of individuals with intolerances for some foods (think fatal peanut and shellfish allergies).  Combine that with a mixing of the gene pool among populations with specialized adaptations (e.g., those who didn’t have access to a lot of milk products and are lactose intolerant, or those not adapted to glutenous cereal grains) and it is almost impossible to predict what food intolerances will arise for any given individual.

OK, so we are genetically diverse survivalists who can subsist on anything.  Except when we are not.

I’ll admit that up to this point, my research into the human diet has not provided much guidance.  It does, however, provide some reassurance that most of us will probably survive no matter what crazy new diet fad we follow.  Whether it will do what you want is another thing.

What I want is better regulation of blood sugar.  Last year, I tested out the diet recommended for people with reactive hypoglycemia, which involved keeping the glycemic index of any given meal below the threshold that would trigger a hypoglycemic reaction.  Because this involved frequent meals and snacking, it worked beautifully during the day when I was eating, literally, all the time.  Turns out, it is very difficult to run out of fuel if you are feeding the engine constantly.

But there was a pretty big drawback to the reduced calorie 33%-33%-33% ratio of carbs:fats:protein I was consuming.  Because no one was feeding the engine at night, I had episodes of nighttime hypoglycemia almost nightly.  For weeks.  So I gave up on the reduced calorie part, but somehow kept the constant eating bit...

Fast forward 9 months, 5 pounds, 1 well-meaning but hopeless primary physician, 1 supplement-obsessed nutritionist, 2 physical therapists, $4K in bills, and 3 colleagues with chronic Lyme disease and we arrive at the Keto Diet.

Researchers arrived at the Keto Diet in the 1920s by starting from zero—as in zero calories.  It had been noted that epilepsy patients often had a reduction in seizures when they weren’t eating.  However, starvation is considered a poor long-term treatment option.  So they began to experiment with what kind of a diet would provide the starvation-induced reduction in seizures without actually starving their patients to death.  What they stumbled upon is known as the Ketogenic (or Ketosis) Diet, which is recent years has become a fad diet because it can result in rapid weight loss.

Remember our friend glucose from an earlier blog?  Turns out most of our cells can obtain energy in a couple of ways.  The lazy man’s route (feeding mode) is to break down the starchy foods we eat into the simple sugar glucose.  This presupposes that the man was not too lazy to find and eat some starch or protein.  Another route (fasting mode), which happens a few hours after every meal and at night after the easy carbs have all been used up, is for the liver to break down some of the carbs it tucked away for a rainy day.  The last route (starvation mode) kicks in gradually the longer it has been since you’ve eaten, taking over completely after about a week:  breaking down fat via ketogenesis into alternative fuels (so your cells are feeding on “ketone bodies” rather than glucose).

Now, pause for a moment and put this in the context of the development of the human diet.  We’ve been relying on easy carbs (alternating mostly between feeding and fasting modes) for the past 10,000 years or so, such that a “normal diet” (according to Kaiser) is about 50% carbs, 20% protein, and 30% fat.  However, until only very recently (and sadly even in present day Yemen), regular wars and crop failures led to almost annual periods of starvation, during which we survived because ketosis (which breaks down fat—largely our own) is part of our evolutionary toolkit.  So it is not too surprising that the body can learn to stop expecting carbs and switch to using ketones as the primary source of energy.  After all, that’s the whole point of packing on flab.

Tricking your carb-loving body into ketosis, however, requires a little deprivation.  Fortunately, starvation may not actually be required.  If your carb intake is low enough that your pancreas stops putting out insulin (ca. 5% of calories) but your fat intake is high enough to satisfy your energy needs (75%), you can enter “nutritional ketosis” and keep from starving even though you are in starvation mode.  If we assume 1500 calories per day for a small, non-athletic person, that comes to 20 grams of carbs, 75 grams of protein, and 125 grams of fat each day.  But there are more than 20 grams of carbs in one slice of French Bread, a tall glass of milk, or a banana.  Someone I know takes in 20 grams of carbs a day in his coffee milk; even sugar-free gum has a gram of net carbs per stick!  This is not easy.

Nor is it necessarily safe.  Long-term ketosis is definitely not part of our evolutionary survival strategy:  it’s a short term emergency option.  Further, nutritional ketosis is not the same on your body as natural starvation ketosis.  We know it is hard work for the liver, gall bladder, and kidneys and every so often someone doesn’t use up their ketones properly, permitting them to accumulate and dangerously acidify the blood (ketoacidosis).  Like with any calorie-restricted diet, you can also lose a lot of muscle mass if you aren’t careful, and it may be hard to get all your vitamins.  If your interpretation of a high fat diet is McDonalds, then obviously your risk of heart disease sky rockets.  Oh, and your breath smells like nail polish remover.

So why would anyone do this?  If all you want is to drop some blubber, then it’s probably not worth the risk and certainly not worth the effort:  join a gym instead.  However, there are some groups who may benefit from periodic ketosis.  Extremely low carb diets can reduce acid reflux, reduce insulin levels and stabilize blood sugar levels, and keep down inflammation, so they are recommended for some type II diabetics and pre-diabetics or others with funky blood sugar regulation issues and those with chronic inflammatory diseases such as arthritis and Lyme disease.  I hope it will help ‘reset’ my body’s relationship with carbohydrates to reduce my hypoglycemia and insomnia, facilitate a shift in gut flora composition, and possibly reduce my inflammation (which may or may not derive from Lyme’s).  [And, of course, since ketones can cross the blood-brain barrier, I’m hoping it will double my IQ.]

By late spring, however, I plan to re-embrace grain agriculture—quite literally, given the demands of kneading bread dough.  After all, I derive from solid grain- and diary-adapted stock, so I will sustain myself (figuratively) over the next few months with visions of butter-soaked, steaming hot slices of homemade rye.  That’s almost enough to make me glad our species survived. 

If you want to give it a try for a month or two, here are a few pointers:  start eliminating unhealthy food options from your abode two weeks out; plan your first week of consumption (down to every last stick of gum and packet of Truvia) before starting; get urine test strips to check your ketone levels in advance; start during a lull in work in case the transition is awkward; double your fluid intake during the first two weeks; get lots of electrolytes the first two weeks (e.g., bone broth); take supplements (multivitamin, leucine, fish oil); aim for fats from fish, avocados, olive oil, and nuts rather than hamburger and butter; keep up flexibility exercises and interval walking/jogging; and plan your post-keto diet and stock your house accordingly before you quit so you don’t just yo-yo it all back on.  If you’re in a category that led you to think this would be good for you, you probably need to be on some kind of life-long restricted diet anyway (i.e., no more skittles regardless).

15 December 2018

Road Trip: Schw. Day Trip

In my book, the first images of Germany this year hardly count because they were taken by EZ while on a June work trip without me (and we all know that a tree that falls in the forest when I'm not around to hear it doesn't make a sound...).

But it proved an interesting week-long conference on Sustainability, showcasing the many things they are doing around Freiburg im Breisgau (our old haunting ground) to reduce their environmental footprint.  In addition to garbage and recycling trucks that were literally clean enough to eat off of, he saw plenty of green roofs and walls and solar panels lining everything, including the balcony of this apartment building.

The real summer began when we took a day in July to tool around the sights not far from Schwemlingen, including hiking along the French-German border to check out the stone sculptures erected along the border between 1986-2010 to mark the peace and solidarity of this once-deadly and now open border.  Viewed here from the German side, those are French sheep in the background (although they were fenced in).

Which led us right into France, and to the reconstruction of the old castle at Malbrouck, from the 15th Century ramparts of which the surrounding countryside of woodlots and farm fields can be seen.  Keep in mind, however, that every sketch and woodcut from that time period shows the entirely landscape virtually devoid of trees--behind which enemy forces could hide.

Not far from here I finally got a halfway decent shot, through the car windshield, of a wildlife crossing.  The purpose of these overpasses, which are seen variously throughout western Europe, is to provide a safe route for wildlife to cross the road, facilitating natural movement of species as well as reducing the frequency of animal-car collisions.  Evidence of this year's drought could be found in the early seasonal senescence of the vegetation in the middle of the bridge where the relatively thin layer of soil holds the least moisture.
Back on the German side, we visited Villa Borg, a reconstruction of a Roman manor house very near the site of the actual >14 buildings that once stood at what was once a major pit-stop along the road connecting Trier (in the next northern state of Germany) to Metz (in France) to the south.  The archaeological evidence shows this was a prime example of the mixing of Roman and native Germanic cultures.
Thanks to the rather long detour off to the Baltic States (coming soon to a blog near you), the rest of our time was spent on domestic tasks, including developing a landscaping plan for converting IZ's rather extensive vegetable garden into a low-maintenance yard.  This schematic shows the final, long-term plan, but the implementation is planned in stages.
The first stage for this fall, done by a landscaping company, involved leveling the ground, laying weed cloth covered with some mulch, and planting the first wave of vegetation.  In addition to some ground covers, the plan includes several "ball trees", which are now all the rage in the tight gardens of Europe.  Some tree species (such as sweet gum shown below) have been bred and trained to have no low branches, stay within a narrow height band, and form a more-or-less round canopy.
Who knows what they'll come up with next!

01 December 2018

Morning Crossword Puzzle

What kind of day will it be?

I ask myself that every morning.  But I like to plan, so rather than shrugging and waiting for my daily fate to unfold, I give myself a little test to find out.  It's called the Morning Crossword Puzzle.

Years ago, when recovering from the "cognitive difficulty" that arose after 5 months of daily benzodiazepine use, in order to regain my brain I decided to do what seniors are encouraged to do to ward off dementia:  build little mental challenges into each day, like a crossword puzzle.  So every morning while gumming my oatmeal I work my way through the cheap easy crossword puzzles they sell at the grocery store.

At first I was chagrined (they are geared toward the elderly, so it helps to know slang from WWII through the 1980s), but after a while I got the hang of it and could usually get through one puzzle per pot of oats.  With a little caffeine, even faster.  Eventually, they got pretty boring and I arrogantly wondered why Penny Press was still in business.  But by then they were a habit.  A seemingly unnecessary one.

Until I stopped sleeping a few years ago.

Then I began to notice a pattern.  No sleep, no words.  Shave off a few hours of sleep, and suddenly my vocabulary drops precipitously.  At first, this was very frustrating.  What kind of an idiot can't get through an easy crossword puzzle???

But if you're going to be an idiot, the best you can do is to know you're an idiot--and plan accordingly.

There's a pretty direct correlation between how many hours of sleep I get and what I'm good for, but it's not always easy to know exactly how much sleep I really got.  Fortunately, the correlation between crossword puzzle performance and other daily tasks is also quite good, so all I have to do is attempt my Morning Crossword Puzzle and plan my day accordingly.

On a full-puzzle day (completed before the oatmeal is gone), I can do just about anything:  writing, analyzing data, planning, walking & chewing gum at the same time, etc.  I immediately and happily dive into my to-do list knowing I have no good excuse to not get everything done to my satisfaction.  And sometimes I even do!

On a half-puzzle day, I can analyze and plan and walk, carefully, with gum.  I take care of pent-up busy work:  scheduling, emailing, managing data, writing to-do lists for better days, tending to minor home repairs, blogging, photoshopping my picture collection, etc.  But the hard/important stuff gets shoved off to another day.  Fortunately, I've learned to plan on a certain number of these days, so they don't put me too far behind.

On a no-puzzle day, I can walk.  Without gum.  Barely.  I cancel my appointments and focus on what I can do:  eat, clean, read, watch TV, hold my head and moan.  My primary goal of the day is to keep my grumpiness under control so I don't get thrown out on the street.  It takes my full concentration to accomplish this.  I frequently fail.

Although the Morning Crossword Puzzle in no way improves my daily performance, its beauty lies in keeping me from trying to do things I shouldn't do.  I used to try to write on half-puzzle days, only to delete it all the next full-puzzle day and start over.  Or drive on no-puzzle days, only to find myself thinking "Did that car have the right of way?" about a minute too late.  It is definitely better, for everyone, to be able to plan my days accordingly.

It has also helped me to become more realistic.  I don't have to guess what percentage of the time I am, by my standards, totally good for nothing:  I know precisely how far I've gotten in the crossword puzzle book this month.  Which means I can be realistic about deadlines.  Lately, that has mostly meant shoving them out a bit further each day.

But if my current dietary experiment bears fruit [ironic word choice, seeing as all simple sugars such as fruits are forbidden], in a few months that trend may reverse.  Say, more half-days than no-days.  Then no more no-days.  Possibly eventually mostly full-days!  Penny Press is going to love me as I zip through my daily Morning Crossword Puzzle.

Right up until I no longer need to ask, What kind of a day will it be?

15 November 2018

The Life you were Meant to Live

How many times have you caught yourself thinking "What I really should have been was an X", where X is something marginally more interesting than what you actually do (like surfer, or accountant).  Or maybe others keep telling you what you ought to have done with your life (my mother-in-law's favorite phrase is "ein Handwerker ist an dir verlorengegangen").

According to Martha Beck, in her self-help tome "Finding your own North Star; claiming the life you were meant to live", we should stop ignoring these messages and bloody well use them--and a whole lot more--to find our bliss (so we can then follow it, per Joseph Campbell).

Unfortunately, it will not be quite as simple as translating your mother-in-law's colloquial conversation:  I may qualify as the worlds least (a) coordinated and (b) artistic human, making "craftsman" a poor fit.  But come to think of it, I have long been drawn to handcraft hobbies (remember "detrital art"?  and I still have more candles and braided rugs than I can use) and there isn't a square inch of our house that I've not personally renovated, so obviously there is some kernel of truth to be mined here.

Although Beck prefers a nautical metaphor, that's what her book is good for:  showing us how to dig through physical and emotional raw material to sort the valuable ore from the worthless and even dangerous tailings. This is, of course, a grueling process that forces us to wallow a bit in our ugliest mental spaces, facing demons so we can ultimately jettison our emotional baggage, reprogramming the voices in our head, and gradually learning to trust our instincts and embrace what she calls our "essential self".  So to open yourself up enough to get to your core, you really have to be willing.

Or desperate. You know, the kind of mental condition that comes about when your entire life is under threat (say, contemplating a high-stress full time job in a foreign country).  Let's just say I was willing.

The first thing I learned was that you not only have to be emotionally open to introspection and change, but you have to have a lot of time to do the legwork.  This book is filled with dozens of exercises.  Naturally, the first time I read through it, being oh-so self-important, I decided I could skip them and go straight to the 'answer'.  Duh, seeing as the answer comes from within, all that bought me was having to read the book--very slowly and in utter solitude--a second time.

And this time through, as I looked at my notes I started to see some patterns, had a few little Eureka! moments, and ultimately had no choice but to accept a few truths that I'd been zealously subjugating for years because they were at odds with how I felt I ought to be.  Amazingly, although I'm still not ready to share some of these revelations with the world (no, I was not meant to be a Las Vegas pole dancer), it was a huge relief to finally allow myself to accept moi.

Perhaps even more amazing was the realization that I had it all completely backwards:  I thought I was adequately happy with my life, and E. miserable, but after he worked through the book it turned out that he is pretty satisfied with his life and I am the one who needs change.  Oops.

I don't know yet what this will lead to, but I do know it will help keep me from getting further from my bliss (so no need to stock up on Canadian loonies after all).  So if you'd like to discover the life you were meant to live, there's this book you should read...

15 October 2018

Road Trip: SE Oregon

Although it may have been one trip too many, we rounded out our Oregon travels this year with the trip we had planned to take last year, before EZ landed flat on his back for five weeks.  So in late May we took off to finally show him the highlights of the extreme southeastern corner of the state.

But you can't get from the west to the east without crossing the Cascades, so our first stop (ok, after stocking up on our favorite Mexican fare at Torero's) was 286' Salt Creek Falls near Willamette Pass.

From there it was due east to the Fort Rock National Natural Landmark, one of ca. 40 tuff rings (formed around volcanic vents in a prehistoric sea) that rise out of the otherwise pancake flat high (4700') desert.

Nearby we submerged ourselves in Crack-in-the-Ground, a volcanic fissure amid western juniper and sagebrush seen here from above.

It marks the western edge of a shallow (30'), 2 mile-long volcanic-tectonic depression of sunken older rock, providing a very narrow hiking/clambering trail lined with moss and surely 20 degrees cooler than in the desert just above.

After a less than favorable night in Lakeview, we began day two by stopping off at 25' Deep Creek Falls, which form a barrier for the native redband trout but not the introduced (eastern) brook trout.

After dipping into Nevada and then heading north again, our next stop was the Alvord Desert, an 84 square mile dry lake bed where we walked around a bit on the cracked, alkaline surface.

Just to the north we paused at Pike Creek below the 9000' Steens Mountains, where dotted among the sagebrush lie dozens of 100+ ton glacial erratics.

Although the snowy Steens still rise in the background behind the intense bacterial lining of Mickey Hot Springs, we were saddened to see that the entire area been grazed to death (Harney County after all) and no longer has the native plants whose profusion of color used to enliven the desert.

The much (over-) acclaimed private 100' tall fossil-bearing clay palisades known as the Pillars of Rome were only seen from a distance.

Our final stop of the day was to catch the evening sun on the gentle bunch-grass slopes of the eastern side of the 1000+' deep Owyhee river canyon southwest of the town of Jordan Valley.

Following another memorable night at the single institution in Rome (punctuated by the cheeps of birds nesting in the walls of the cabin), we admired wildflower carpets at Upper and Lower Cow Lakes, playa lakes formed when Jordan Craters cutoff their streams ca. 10,000 years ago.

Heading north to cutoff the rain, we bumped along through the amazing tuff formations of Leslie Gulch, whose many pockets and holes reveal their origins in volcanic ash.

Miraculously driving in and then out of the rain, we next arrived at Jordan Craters, which are composed of basalt fields dotted with cinder cones that are sufficiently moon-like that (according to a BLM caretaker) NASA astronauts once trained here (as well as at Newberry Crater).

One of the nicest drives (and not just because it was paved) was along the Owyhee River, whose lazy waters meander through the sagebrush and rabbitbrush desert to cut deep canyons in the Owyhee Plateau.

Nearby was some exemplary columnar basalt, formed into angular hexagons as the lava slowly cooled.

We rounded out the day by passing through Nyssa and noting a family resemblance to the thunderegg (a tough crust protecting a hidden jewel...ok, a bit thick).

After an even more memorable night in Ontario, we tracked original Oregon Trail ruts (among the few on loess soil deep enough that they haven't been eclipsed by erosion) at Keeney Pass, which was used by Oregon settlers for ca. 40 years.

Further west we slipped south to pause at the Malheur Cave, a very large lava tube cave long used by the Paiutes and to this day used as a meeting point by local Masons (who even built a stage with bleachers ca. 500' into the cave!).

A bit further southwest is Pete French Round Barn, a covered corral and architectural memorial to a typically colorful (read "crooked") figure in the history of the west.

Nearby are the numerous formations at Diamond Craters Outstanding Natural Area, a volcanic field of ca. 8000-year-old basaltic flows, cinder cones, and low volcanic craters.

Only one of the craters, Malheur Maar, holds a lake and subsequently supports a ring of green between the black basalt and dusty green of bunch grass and sagebrush.

Not long after this we wandered through the historic Frenchglen Hotel and, quite unrelated, got our first flat tire.  The consolation for changing the spare in sun strong enough to finally get a sunburn was the roadside view across the Malheur Wildlife Refuge toward the Steens.

This placid view within the Refuge must have been the consolation for the second flat tire, achieved surreptitiously shortly before arriving at the Les Schwab in Burns just to the north.

En route back west on our last day, we paused at the remains of an old CCC camp (Camp Gap Ranch) that was established in 1934, housed ca. 200 men who built juniper fences, roads, and wells for the US Grazing Service until 1942, and was dismantled and relocated for the war effort before being partially restored in the 1990s.

Our last gravel road was up Glass Butte, where we hiked to the obsidian field for black-and-red glass souvenirs.  It was such a clear day that we couldn't help stopping at Pilot Butte in Bend to take in Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson, all three Sisters, and Mt. Bachelor.

Although the charcoal from the 2011 wildfire could still be smelled as we passed by in 2014, regenerating trees are now to be seen beneath the charred snags around Blue Lake just north of Mt. Washington.

Just back over the crest and down the McKenzie Highway we enjoyed the pristine waters of Clear Lake, which is fed by runoff from Mt. Washington and in turn is the source of the McKenzie River.

Nearby are two falls on the McKenzie River, both of which sported rainbows when observed from the Waterfalls Trail that afternoon:  the 64' Koosah Falls

and the 100' Sahalie Falls, which form the terminus of the two thick basaltic andesite lava flows that dammed Clear Lake 3,000 years ago.

They were, to quote Ray and other contemporary Oregonians, amazing!