Coyote Spirit Festival – Summer Lake Hot Springs, Paisley, Oregon – a review

Summer Lake Hot Springs

I made the trip through the Oregon Outback to Paisley, Oregon a couple weeks ago to attend the Coyote Spirit Festival @ Summer Lake Hot Springs. It’s a place that I’ve visited many times before – usually on my way to or from the Great Nevada Arts Festival. It’s out in the middle of nowhere – the views are spectacular – and the quiet is soothing and delicious. Over the years I’ve gotten to know the various caretakers of the sacred land – and now am friends with the owner, Duane Graham. Duane’s the friendly guy who welcomes you when you hop out after your long drive.

So, this year, I rented a car, picked up a guy who’d just flown in from Hawaii and cruised East on 84, south on 197, further south through Bend on 97 and then East on 31 for 5 and a half hours and landed in the evening. I somehow missed Cassandra Robertson and Wynter Byrnes’s set, but got to hear a lot of fantastic music for the rest of the weekend. My personal highlight was the man who played something very sitarish/dulcimerish on Sunday morning to himself – but the music traveled everywhere – it was so soothing… Also, the music in the bathhouse – crystal bowls were placed in the water and people didged, as well – very magical!

Stage and dancers at SLHS

There were food vendors – my favorites were the raw/vegan folks – I had some raw oatmeal for breakfast on Saturday which was delicious. Also, the thin-crust pizza makers forced me to give up on my wheat-free ways on Saturday night, briefly.  And, Terry’s Trading Post was fun and magical. I hope to bump into Terry at another festival this Summer – what a character – he had a little of everything – and saved my passenger’s ass by handing over blankets and pillows to him as he’d arrived from Hawaii sans gear.

Summer Lake Hot Springs is like no place I’ve ever visited on Earth. The waters are healing and plentiful and hot! The views are spectacular. The price is right – very inexpensive to camp there and easy to get a good night’s sleep as it’s extremely quiet, generally 🙂  Go Go Go 🙂

I hope to return to the Coyote Spirit Festival again next year and perhaps bring a posse. The festival had a lot of folks from Bend, there, which was great – nice to meet interesting people from other parts of the state – who knew Bend had so many cool people?  And, lucky me, I’ll probably be down soon on my way to the playa.  If you ever get a chance to visit Summer Lake Hot Springs – go – take some time – soak in the amazing waters, enjoy the magical views – enjoy the bird life and great hospitality.  And, bring a hat – it can get chilly at night!   For more photos from the festival visit SLHS on FB.

The pond at Summer Lake Hot Springs

Nehelam

mmm, good morning world. I had a great adventure yesterday and am feeling revived and refreshed by it. I spent the day with Duane and Melani who run Summer Lake Hot Springs Resort in Paisley, Oregon. We traveled together to Nehelam where Duane wanted to show me land he had purchased 14 years ago and which he’ll learn more about the fate of today when he meets with investors who supported the purchase. It’s about 10 acres and it has a view of Saddle Mountain and the coastal range looking north. We drove out rt. 53 to get there, and stopped along the way to look at a cavernous creek in some light rain. Being in the Tillamook State Forest reminded me of why I spend time trying to defend the place. It’s such a magical land of creeks, rivers, logging roads, ferns, hemlock and undergrowth. And the rain just makes it all the wetter and greener – so magical.

The Tillamook State Forest is Oregon’s biggest and is the subject of much discussion around the area as it has a special place for many. A number of times in the 20th Century the forest burned and because it was the depression there was the CCC and many others (students, particularly) who traveled to the burned areas and replanted the forests.  People in Oregon have a special relationship with this forest. Nowadays, the forests are clear-cut by local timber companies and some of the money goes to fund local schools and government services. Unfortunately, due to the lack of nearby mills and market forces the logs mostly are cut and shipped directly overseas, to China, I believe.  Since the profits from the logging are tied to local services there is pressure to cut more and more trees thus leaving a landscape that looks trashed.

Photo by Danielle

Lately, our Governor has stated that he is in favor of a more balanced approach that would also take into account environmental factors (there are landslides everywhere) – other species (it’s Spotted Owl and Marbled Murulet country)(and lots of salmon and other fish species) – and recreation (fishing, hiking, camping, white-water rafting).  Unfortunately, it’s quite an uphill battle due to the fact that the Oregon Board of Forestry which sets policy for the forests is mostly made up of timber company owners and representatives.  I’ve testified before the group numerous times in Salem, and they are not swayed by public opinion at all.

More background on this issue can be found here.  And if you’d like to join my Facebook cause page, click here.

We arrived at Duane’s land near Nehelam in a downpour and put on our raingear and bushwhacked through the property, climbing amongst overgrown blackberry brambles and small trees and bushes. I’d seen pictures of the property in sunshine and I believe the views to the north and west are stunning, but yesterday the view was a wall of rain.  And, it felt so invigorating to wander around and be human bushhogs!  After about an hour we were all pretty soaked and we got back in the van and made our way to Manzanita with a detour to the town’s “rebuilding center” which is a collection of recycling and 2nd hand store which was a fun side trip.

We followed this up with lunch in Manzanita and then a wonderful drive home full of conversations about land, business, relationships and our personal stories. Duane and Melani are living a dream – living in the Oregon high desert and meeting interesting travelers from all over the world.  They both have great perspectives on life and are positive, evolved people.  It was such a nice combination to have great conversations and be out in the wilderness and I feel lucky today to have had the adventure!  Here’s to life, may we live it big and large and lusciously!  And, please join me in learning more about the Tillamook State Forest and how to protect it from greed.

100 Year Weather Event, or the future of life in the Pacific Northwest?

My heart goes out to everyone in the Pacific Northwest who is being adversely affected by the current rains.

In the Pacific Northwest we’re used to heavy rain and all that it entails. But the recent rains have led to a level of flooding and hardship that people are calling a “100 Year Event”. I most recently heard people talking about this at Breitenbush where I spent new years and learned that two of the newly built bridges that span trails there had been washed out. Next up have been the January rains which have led to roads washing out, peoples’ houses being flooded and lots of landslides. Some towns like Vernonia, Oregon, seem to be having repeat flood events and the recent news is of thousands having to leave homes around the state, car accidents and lots of property damage.

My main question is “is this global climate change and its effects?” If so, are those who are calling this a “100 year event” actually missing the possibility that this may be how life here will continue to be from now on – rainy, with more and more rain and displacement.

I’ve long been following demographic trends around population growth and have been making the connection between our increased numbers and our effect on the environment. More pollution, species loss, rapid glacier melt, and running out of resources like oil have all been shown to be happening on an upward trend for years. What is less obvious is how all of this effects our world in places like Oregon, where we’re in a situation like the frog in the slowly heating water – we probably won’t change what we’re doing until the heat is turned way up, otherwise, the frog, in this scenario slowly boils and dies. Now, with the current rain, we have a warning sign that can’t be ignored.

Will we be smart and move towards actions that will slow global climate change or will we continue to adjust to its adverse effects and grin and bear it? Some smart moves that I think Oregonians could take that might increase our chances of experiencing a better future would be to plant trees and stop clear-cutting the ones we have. This would improve our (and the rest of the world’s) air quality, help control storm water and erosion problems and keep hillsides from sliding. I also think it would make sense for there to be some sort of program to move people out of floodplains and onto higher ground.

If there’s a chance that this year’s rains might repeat regularly what other moves should we as a society consider to avoid the high costs of the damage and to keep us all safe and dry? I’m sure there are hundreds. Should we be removing any extra pavement that exists as the group Depave works to do? Should we be planting millions of fruit and nut trees to make ourselves more food self-reliant and cut down on shipping costs of food? Are millions of new community and backyard gardens in our future? I’d love to see a state-wide or bioregion-wide analysis done of how we currently use our land and other resources and plug in possible weather events into the equation. I’m sure that would shed light on how prepared we will be for any future contingencies.

Will we learn from the current weather event? I suggest we treat it not like a “100 year event” but plan for the possibility that it may happen again next week, and next year. Let’s plan for the future not be run over by it.

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I posted this article on Daily Kos and there have been 100+ comments in one day. It’s a very interesting discussion of this topic. I highly recommend giving it a read – some very cool analysis, ideas, links and videos on the topic.

Blueoregon

Blueoregon is a lefty blog. I write articles for it from time to time. It’s one of the best places to find out what’s going on politically in Oregon.

Blueoregon

Blueoregon also has a presence on Facebook.  Why am I writing like Ernest Hemingway? Perhaps, too much Moon Over Paris…

A great resource for media/political/social science jobs in Portland is Mac’s List

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