If you head over to Something In Her Ramblings, you might see a familiar face in today’s guest interview. Each week, that blog features a different female traveler in the “Women Who Travel Solo” series. I was asked about last summer’s trip to Niagara Falls, and about solo travel for women in general. I even provided some tips there that I haven’t mentioned on this site yet!
Nearly two weeks ago, I attended a young adult Bible study for the first time. Since I was a newbie, and summer and European possibilities weren’t too far away, I didn’t expect much to come of it. But little did I know that the group was planning an outdoor retreat! I didn’t know anybody, but since I was invited I decided to go for it. So on Friday afternoon, I brought my over-packed backpack, sleeping bag, and pillow to a big white van where I met up with a few of the others. We hopped in and headed south to Klamath National Forest in Northern California.
Now, if you read this website as inspiration for your own travels, I must warn you that I can only sort of help you in this post. This retreat was done mostly on private property. However, if you can find a natural setting, you can still imitate a multitude of things that happened in the past couple of days.
I do believe that the internet is a wonderful thing. But I think all of us can admit that, deep down inside, there is something missing from it. When we rely on instant connectivity, we tend to forget about connecting with the people and environment around us. Since everyone that went was in the same boat, we enjoyed some rare, uninterrupted face-to-face connection.
Have a Campfire
Mix a little bit of danger, a little bit of fellowship, and a little bit of visual stimulation, and you would get what’s known as a campfire. Now, campfire’s aren’t all fun. This weekend I ended up with a hole in my favorite pair of pajama pants due to a spark landing on them! But even after that incident, the fire ring was still the best place to circle up and participate in conversation.
For a couple hours on Saturday morning, each trip participant had the opportunity to go into a different part of the property for some time alone. Since there was no agenda during this time, we could read the Bible, nap, pray, snack, journal, sing, or just be still and become more aware of our surroundings. I did a bit of all that, except for sleeping. (The army of ants crawling up my shoes encouraged me to stay awake and alert!) My spot was next to the creek with cascading miniature waterfalls. While this activity was very simplistic, it actually turned out to be a unique and enjoyable activity. After all, how often do you get the opportunity be alone and away from anything man-made?
Whether it was taking the long drive to and from our destination, sharing a meal, setting things up, coexisting during downtime, or trying to figure out how to remove the head of a tick from someone’s skin without any tools, there were plenty of opportunities to enjoy each other’s company. (Except when we were enjoying solitude as mentioned in the point above!) Funny, interesting, and embarrassing stories were shared. It may have been because it was a limited number of people with limitations on things we could do (being off-grid after all), but we got to know each other faster than people I’ve seen on a regular basis over a long period of time.
Take a Hike
Hikes are always fun. We took a hike that would have been fairly short, except the trail wasn’t always a trail. Sometimes vegetation made it hard to find the path. Sometimes we had to climb over or in-between rocks. For a few instances we balanced on a log as we crossed the creek. There were several points where we relied on the literal helping hand of others. A couple people got scrapes or bee stings. Twice I fell! But the unique situations made it all the more adventurous.
Find a Waterfall
You must know that I love waterfalls. There weren’t any waterfalls that we found notable enough to be named, but we found several tucked away deep into the woods. We were quite possibly among the few people who were able to witness this unknown waterfalls, which in and of itself was something pretty special.
Raft a River
This weekend marked my first time rafting in California. Actually, it was my first official time rafting anything other than the Rogue River. While I didn’t attain my goal of rafting over class five rapids, we did hit a few fun class threes. Plus, there was plenty of calmer water where we just got to talk, splash around, and find birds and turtles. Our group took two rafts out on the Klamath River on Sunday, and it was a beautiful day for doing so. Definitely a highlight!
Don’t Keep Time
A few years ago, I read a book where one chapter issued a challenge to spend some time without keeping time. It was a nice idea, but since I always need to be somewhere or do something at a certain time every day, I could never do this for a sufficient period. But as we pulled into our camp for the weekend, I decided to turn off my phone and not turn it back on until we were headed home. I didn’t bring a watch or any other way to tell time. In fact, the only electronic I used was my camera, and the time stamp on that isn’t even accurate! Other than overhearing a few people tell each other what time it was, I had no idea what time it was at any point in time. It didn’t matter if it was 10 am or 2 pm, lunch time was when I was hungry. Bed time was when it was dark and I was tired. I don’t know if I went to bed at 9:30 or midnight. You probably won’t understand how it feels until you try this yourself, but it is a very freeing experience.
I also used this weekend as a study on how I pack, in preparation for packing for three months of Europe in a carry-on. Coming up, you’ll see what I learned from this experiment.
Since today is Memorial Day in the United States, I’m sure plenty of you have also enjoyed some sort of outdoor experience this weekend. Share what you did in the comments!
When I lived in the Midwest, I would have gone crazy if I stayed even one week in the same county! In fact, going to different counties was an almost-daily occurrence. In Ohio, I lived and worked in tiny Morrow County, which didn’t have much of anything. I would go to surrounding counties to attend church, go shopping, and basically live my entire life! In Nebraska, I lived across the river from Fremont, the county seat of Dodge County. However, the Platte River was the county border, so I actually lived in Saunders county. Every time I went to town, I switched counties, even though it was the same city!
But since I’ve moved to Southern Oregon back in September, I have not stepped foot outside of Jackson County. Fortunately, it’s not the same as the Midwestern counties I lived in. It’s really huge, and there are a ton of things to do! I recently decided to take a day trip around just a section of Jackson County, and I realized that there is so much I still have not seen! (And I’ve lived here nearly 20 years!) So without further ado, here is my one-day road trip in Jackson County, Oregon.
The first stop was not a planned stop. But after going through Eagle Point, this house was on the side of the road and I just had to stop for some snapshots.
You may have seen this house before. Do a Google Image Search for “retiring on a budget postcard”, and the first thing that will pop up will likely be a popular postcard picturing this house.
It’s actually called The Wood House. Although the house is certainly made from wood, it’s actually named that because of the name of the family who built and lived in it.
Everything except for a picnic and parking area is fenced off to visitors, but it is interesting to look at this longstanding house, as well as all the other old artifacts decorating the yard.
The second stop also wasn’t planned, but I had considered stopping at Lost Creek Lake. I ended up going to Joseph Stewart State Park’s day use area, just to walk around and behold the scenery.
The next stop was the highlight of the trip, and what I had planned the entire trip around. After driving to the little mountain town of Prospect and realizing that I had perhaps driven a mile too far, I turned around and ended up at the parking lot for Mill Creek Falls Scenic Area.
After a decent-length hike through the hilly woods, I arrived at a lookout point for the 173-foot Mill Creek Falls!
But after hiking a little bit further, I came to an even better site: Barr Creek Falls is 242 feet high, and the lookout for it was situated at a nice pile of rocks where I could sit and eat my lunch.
The area also had a good view of the river below, and nearby were some spots where I could hang my feet over what looks like a death-defying ledge!
When I had my fill of the falls, I took the trail over to another path that took me through an area filled with giant boulders and down to the bottom of this canyon. I saw what remained of the area’s first power plant, climbed rocks, and even did a TINY bit of splashing in the water! (Too cold to actually play in it!)
My final stop before heading home was back at Eagle Point. The Butte Creek Mill is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is part mill, part free museum! A video near the entrance pointed all many fascinating facts about the mill, the surrounding area, and the items inside.
After touring the mill, I walked along the path behind it downstream until I got to a covered bridge!
Now I have been to half of the Jackson County covered bridges this year, and I hope to see the others soon!
This was a ton of sights to cram into one day, but oh so very worth it! And I still haven’t seen everything in Jackson County! Of course, my traveler’s heart will likely lead me out of this county very soon!
I think waterfalls are pretty neat. Going to Niagara Falls this past summer only ignited my desire to see the beauty, majesty, and wonder of these natural works of art.
And while Niagara Falls is likely the best-known falls in North America, in my current state of Oregon, the best-known waterfall is Multnomah Falls. I have yet to be up-close and personal with that particular waterfall, but I did get to see it for the first time this past summer as well when my bus trip happened to end up passing by.
But now I’m in Southern Oregon. Jackson County, to be exact. A county so big, that to be entirely honest, I haven’t stepped foot out of it since I moved back here in September. A county known for its natural beauty and historical significance. Having grown up here, I knew some of the best places to hike, swim, and play. But since my interest in waterfalls has grown in recent years, I didn’t exactly know where the good falls were. But not to worry, I should be able to find dozens around my home easily, right?
Below is a picture of me at Tilomikh Falls. Do you see that wonderful waterfall? Yeah, I don’t either. It’s really more of a rapid. In fact, it wasn’t considered a waterfall until just a year or two ago.
Tilomikh is near a home where I nanny, and it’s a short drive from my home as well, so I go there quite often because it’s convenient, but definitely not because it’s impressive. When my Harry & David job finally ended on February 17th (because that was supposed to be a Christmas season job… haha), I was determined to go on a trip to find a real waterfall. And yet that same day of my layoff, where do I end up? Why, my mom invited me to Tilomikh Falls, of course!
Okay, so despite its size, Tilomikh Falls is still nice to look at, and I really can’t complain, especially after spending three years in the flat, plain Midwest where waterfalls are all but impossible to find. Still, I knew I needed to search for a real waterfall.
And last week, that’s exactly what I did. In fact, I found more than one waterfall, as well as a slew of other mini adventures! Last week was my first week working one less job (only three now!), and in addition to visiting a mountain range lookout and volunteering my weekend in the snowy mountains with Wilderness Trails, I took a waterfall excursion. And yet, I still haven’t left Jackson County! Stay tuned for when I share all about my jam-packed one-day road trip!