Meg and I hosted Disa, an AFS student from Iceland while she attended La Grande High School in 1985/86. She was a delightful “daughter” to us and older sister to Matt and Michael. She and her husband, Einar, visited us last July in La Grande. They were adamant then that we reciprocate and come to visit them in Iceland. And so here were are, along with Michael and his wife, Sara.
Iceland is everything the tourist books say it is. Here are a few pictures from the excellent trips Disa and Einar have led us on.
Disa and Einar drove us off road, off the normal tourist routes, to a remote valley where they help their farmer friends gather sheep in the fall.
Evocative remoteness summarizes the experience on The “Divide,” or the “Cat’s Back.” Located in a little visited corner of Wallowa County in NE Oregon, it provides some of the most beautiful country you will find anywhere in this nation. In 1885, sisters Daisy and Caroline Wasson came to live there on a homestead established by their parents. High, on an open ridge with spectacular views of the Wallowa and Seven Devils mountains, they spent ten years. Snowed in for six months of the years, they learned to sew from their mother, and do the multi varied tasks that made life bearable in the winter. In the summer, the place was magical. Daisy wrote about those who wondered how/why they could live in such “god forsaken” place: “I have a picture in my mind of Caroline, standing, listening. She has on a little white linen hat and she is holding her walking sticks, and leaning a little forward. I watch her, and then after a little bit ask what she is doing. ‘I hear music,’ she answers, ‘when I am real still and look at the mountains. I hear it.’
“I hear music when I am real still and look at the mountains.” Meg and I have enjoyed this music, the silence, as we have enjoyed the blessing and privilege to visit the Cat’s Back many times in the late spring. I hope you enjoy these pictures as well and “hear” the music for yourselves.
“If we don’t allow God to address the deep levels of our attachment to ourselves and to our programs of happiness, we will put into the world the negative elements of our self-centeredness, adding to the conflicts and the social disasters that come from over identifying with the biases and prejudices of our particular culture and upbring.” Fr Thomas Keating
Boy Scouts from La Grande Troop 514, led by Dr Koza and myself, enjoyed a most excellent June Friday/Saturday backpack trip to Strawberry Lake. The trailhead is out of Prairie City OR, about a two and a half hour drive from La Grande. The hike is a gentle mile and a half. The boys worked extremely well together, setting up tents, hiking up to Strawberry Falls, cooking dinner (backpackers thanksgiving from scratch) and breakfast (pancakes and sausage), retiring a flag, and playing a great game, “Terrain.” It was an exceptional time together.
Before leaving the Chalk Basin, Michael and I took one last hike. This hike took us cross county to an area above the lower Owyhee River knows as the chalk cliffs. On the float trips I have made on the lower Owyhee river, we have camped below these formations on the second night of rafting. I have always want to see this area from above. I finally fulfilled that desire.
PS I did successfully drive the Cherokee out to the road, although not as boldly as Michael 🙂