In Bend, Oregon, the high desert begins to rise along the eastern slopes of the Cascade Range. At an elevation 5,325 feet (1,623 m), McKinzie Pass on Oregon Route 242, is at the western boarder of Deschutes county, about 25 miles northwest of Bend. The pass cuts through between the Three Sisters to the south and Mount Washington to the north.
The Dee Wright Observatory is an open shelter built with basaltic andesite lava from the construction site. The structure features windows aligned with views of the surrounding Cascade peaks. Of course, there were numerous photography opportunities! The observatory was built during the Great Depression by a Civilian Conservation Corps crew at Camp Belknap near Clear Lake.
Oregon Route 242 follows the path of a 1860 wagon route, it emerges from the forest and crosses a 65 square-mile lava bed (170 m). The Cascades are part of the Pacific Ocean’s Ring of Fire. All recent volcanic eruptions in the contiguous United States have been from Cascade volcanoes, including the famous 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption.
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Around 2001, I decided to build a Japanese water garden in my backyard. I studied and planned for almost a year. I learned as much as I could about the traditional Japanese garden, how to use plants, water and rock to reflect the natural world. Over the years my knowledge and appreciation of Japanese culture has grown. As such, a top destination during the family vacation to Oregon last summer was the Portland Japanese Garden.
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During our stay in Portland, we visited the Old Town district, the original urban core on the Williamette River. Our day included a stroll along the waterfront, a visit to the Lan Su Chinese Garden (to be featured in a future post), Old Town Pizza, Voodoo Donuts and finally a tour of the haunted Shanghai Tunnels Portland Underground.
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Araucaria araucana, or monkey puzzle tree, is native to the south-central Andes of Chile and Argentina. The leaves of this confer are thick and appear as triangular scales encircling the tentacle like branch, the pattern similar in structure to a pine cone. While the leaves last on average 24 years, the tree can live as long as 1000 years.
Its English name was derived during its early cultivation in Britain in the mid-1800s. While visiting an estate in Cornwall, a lawyer noted his friend’s specimen tree “would puzzle a monkey to climb that”.
The round globes are the female cones. Indigenous people in Chile and Argentina continue to harvest the edible seeds. Our Airbnb in Portland was named after this specimen. I am impressed on how striking this tree works as a monochrome composition.
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