Sunday, June 03, 2012

All recent posts notwithstanding, I really don't sit around all day feeling sorry for myself.  Like I said, there are good days, too.

Emma and I have recently gotten into geocaching, thanks to my friend Anne.  Geocaching is like a grown-up treasure hunt, wherein you use a GPS device to locate a specific set of latitude and longitude coordinates and find the treasure box (the "cache") hidden there.  Sometimes it's a large box with trinkets you can trade, sometimes the container is tiny and you just sign the log.

Thanks very much, Anne.  I really needed another hobby.  ;-)

Geocaching is SO FUN.  It's a perfect excuse to get out and go for a walk or a hike, or just see a place you've never been (and likely wouldn't have seen otherwise).  I love it.  And it's very good for Emma, who is otherwise prone to whining when I say we're going for a walk.  Geocaching gives her a goal, something to actually look for (and takes her mind off how tiiiiired her legs are, pleeeeease carry me Mom...)

It is also helping her get past her fears of bears and wolves and getting lost, a relatively recent development in her outdoors awareness thanks to a forest safety talk that the kids at her afterschool care program were subjected to last year.  Grr. But that's another story.

Anyway, we've been out and about.  Last weekend we went to a scenic overlook right off I-84 west of La Grande.  We've been here before, but were not aware of geocaching then.  So we found the cache, then enjoyed a little hike around the area again.

Blue Mountains overlook

It is so beautiful here.  Breathtaking.

The wildflowers were ramping up, and the larkspurs were casting a blue-purple haze over the hillside...


with the hairy balsamroot just starting to bloom...


scattered among the sagebrush, against the backdrop of dark green firs.


We walked down the trail to the lower overlook, and while the wild pink onions weren't quite blooming yet, it was still spectacular.

Blue Mountains overlook, Oregon

By now, that nearest hillside is probably pink with onion flowers.  I was going to go back today, but it was rainy and gray and I didn't get organized soon enough.

It was a great day.

self-portrait on the Oregon Trail

So that was last weekend.

Today, we went on another geocaching expedition (slightly closer to home because we didn't get out until late afternoon) to Hilgard Junction State Park.  This is right outside of town, right off the highway, in the canyon that the Grande Ronde River flows through.

There are two caches here, one of which is at the entrance, and one of which you have to walk for.  We got the first quickly, then set off down the forest road.  I was glad to see that the gate was locked and we had to walk the half mile in.

Hilgard Junction State Park, Oregon

The wildflowers were beautiful here, too.


The columbines were lovely sparks of color along the embankments.

The last bit before we found the cache took us away from the road, up a hill and into the woods.

on the trail of a geocache

Note please, the relaxed and smiling face, and complete lack of bears and wolves.  Geocaching is a really, really good thing for Emma.

(Also, how is it possible that she is so big?!!  And is now a fourth-grader?!!)

On the way back to the car, we spent a little time exploring Rock Creek, which flows along the road and joins the Grande Ronde River.  Very, very pretty.

Rock Creek

I also discovered on this walk that if there is a rock outcropping that is easily scrambled up, Emma must howl from the top.

howl like a wolf...

Apparently, it is required.  Yet she's afraid of wolves...?  I'm not sure what that's all about, but it was very funny.

The prize for me today, though, was the flower we saw on the walk back to the car.

mountain lady's slipper, Cypripedium montanum

Any day that I see an orchid is a good day.  And to see this spectacular mountain lady's slipper (Cypripedium montanum) in the wild, unexpectedly, was the icing on the cake of my wonderful day.

mountain lady's slipper, Cypripedium montanum


Liz said...

looks like a couple of fantastic excursions! glad that you & Emma are having a blast geocaching! :)

aknitter said...

Good job getting out today. GREAT pictures. Emma is such a beauty and the orchid is GORGEOUS.

yoko said...

Fantastic photos. Such vivid colors!

Anonymous said...

The Lady Slipper took my breath away! Wonderful pictures, everyone of them. Great picture of you and Emma. (The howling bit? She's finding her inner wolf! I'm still prone to howl at certain time. :)

That is such a beautiful area of Oregon. Thanks for taking us on your GC expeditions.