At Home in the Woods of Southern Oregon


This view from our patio features the first snow of the year. You are looking south at the Red Buttes, which are part of the Siskiyou Mountains that form the border between California and Oregon.

Two years ago Peggy and I decided to ‘settle down’ in Southern Oregon after travelling around North America for three years in our small RV. It was a good decision. We ended up purchasing five acres of property. The beautiful Applegate River flows in front of our house. Our back property line is the gateway to over a million acres of National Forest land.

The Applegate River, in front of our property, displays fall colors.

Walking out the back door and up our road leads to over a million acres of National Forest Land.

This graceful Madrone with its strange, pealing bark, provides shade for our home. It is one of numerous trees on our property. Other trees include Douglas Fir, Ponderosa Pine, White Oak and Red Cedar.

Morning mist outlines one of the Douglas Firs.

The same Douglas Fir, this time set off by the evening sky.

Peggy loves rivers and I love wilderness. It is a perfect match. Every morning we wake up with smiles on our faces.

Deer, bear, squirrels, foxes and numerous species of birds consider our property as part of their territory or at least a convenient stop off place. Last year a bear tipped over our bar-b-que. A couple of weeks ago a skunk let go under our house. This summer Peggy waged an unceasing war against ground squirrels that discovered her garden.

It all comes with country living. Mainly, we are amused by the antics of our furred and feathered friends.

Which way is the garden?

Is it here on your back porch? ( Junior has a better idea about where to find food.)

Surely you can’t resist feeding me? “Our” deer herd has trails running all over the property. Every day we get to see bucks, does, fawns and teenagers go about their lives.

At 2000 feet, we don’t get much snow… just enough to create a beautiful white wonderland. The deer, BTW, are Black Tail Deer. (Note the far deer.)

I used a Have-a-Heart trap to catch the ground squirrels and founded a new colony down the road and across the river on BLM land. The little buggers always went for the zucchini bait. I told them Peggy would be much less merciful. She was starting to practice with her pellet pistol.

We have been enjoying a beautiful fall and feel a slight tinge of regret that we are leaving to travel. I suspect the cruise of the Mediterranean with its extensive stop offs will make up for any regrets. Peggy and I do love to wander.

Gorgeous fall colors keep me running outside with my camera. I am admiring this beautiful Oregon Maple out the window as I type this post.

Another view from my writing chair. With fall arriving and temperatures dropping to freezing, this Geranium is one of Peggy’s last flowers of the season.

I thought about blogging while in Europe but I want to spend my time exploring.

So I’ve decided to focus my blog, Wandering in Time and Place, on my experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Liberia, West Africa. The stories are already written. Every other day I will post a new one chronologically in chapter format. When I get back in two months, I intend to publish the tales both digitally and in print as a book.

In the stories you will meet Boy the Bad Dog who ends up as guest of honor at a village feast, learn how to wage war against Army Ants, attend the hot machete trial of the Woman Who Wore No Underpants, and discover why the Liberian government felt the second grade reader I wrote was a dangerous revolutionary document. And that’s only the beginning…

I hope you will join me on the adventure.

The main street of Gbarnga, Liberia in West Africa where I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

Cathedral Gove: Green and Sacred… The Vancouver Island Adventure

Looking up at the towering canopy of trees, one easily understands how Cathedral Grove on Vancouver Island in British Columbia received its name. There is both beauty and a sense of the sacred.

An Episcopal Minister once asked my daughter why I wasn’t in church.

“Oh, he’s out wandering in the woods,” she replied. “He considers it a sacred experience.”

“You can’t get absolution from a tree!” had been his angry retort.

I suspect the man had never hiked in the wilderness and experienced the sense of peace and healing such an experience can bring. Maybe he should have checked in with St. Francis. As for me, I go along with John Muir who said, “The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”

I find any natural area, even a tree on a busy urban street, worthy of appreciation. But some areas deserve special attention. I’ve wandered the world to find them.

Cathedral Grove on Vancouver Island in British Columbia is one such place. Ancient giants of the tree world call it home. This is a land of Red Cedars and Douglas Firs, some reaching 250 feet in height and dating back 800 years. It’s known as an old growth forest, which means it’s a rarity, one of the few forests to escape the relentless chainsaw.

This springboard tree attests to the fact that even a beautiful area like Cathedral Grove was subject to the woodsman's axe. Loggers cut the holes in the tree so they could put in planks to serve as a base for cutting the tree down. The bouncy nature of the plank gave it the name springboard.

Gradually we are learning to value and protect wilderness areas but it is a race against time. Driven by the desire to maximize profits and acting under the guise of job creation, timber interests continue to value forests primarily in terms of board feet produced.

As Peggy, Ken, Leslie and I hiked along the trails, we were struck by the beauty and greenness of the Grove. Hopefully my photographs below capture what we experienced. I found that provides a good overview on the Grove and the issues relating to protecting such areas.

An inviting path led into the green forest.


Ken and Leslie Lake, along with Peggy qualify as Tree Huggers.


Roots of a Cathedral Grove forest giant tower behind Leslie and Peggy. A sign at the entry warned that trees fall during wind storms and that visitors should vacate the premises. Sounds like good advice.


Reaching toward the sky, Cathedral Grove trees can reach a height of 250 feet.


Typical of Pacific Coast rain forests, moss covers everything, providing another definition to 'being green.'


Beyond the greenness, I also found the twisted shape of limbs interesting.


No imagination was required to turn this moss-covered limb into a forest sprite. Or maybe it was a forest sprite...


Speaking of sprites, it appears that Ken might be shape shifting into one in this photo of him along with Peggy and Leslie in a giant tree hollow.