Summer Travel Memories

As the rainy season begins, memories of summer sun are good. One highlight was the Dee Wright observatory.

Dee Wright Observatory

Made of the same basalt rock as surrounds it, the observatory blends into the setting. A CCC project of the thirties, it draws visitors to the 360-degree views of seven mountains. We were happy to see five of the seven; two hazy for the others.

Mt Washington through portal

Mt Washington

There are several portals like this, each focusing on one of the mountains. Each mountain has a stone carved label, still legible but getting worn.  One year I tried to photograph the mountain and the label, but I couldn’t make the light work to show both. The next view is of one of the volcanoes from about 2000 years ago that created the landscape.

View of basalt and volcano

Scenery is like this for the last several miles of driving to the observatory. There was so little regrowth that we were quite surprised at how long since the volcano had erupted.

Snow Covered Mountains

Two of the Three Sisters mountains

The Three Sisters are the mountains that gave the town, Sisters, its name. I love looking at that snow in the hot July sun!

A second summer destination was Columbia Hills State Park in Washington–about two hours from Portland, just across the Columbia River. It is the actual site of many petroglyphs (carved in stone) and pictographs (painted on stone). Others were moved there from lower locations to preserve them when the dam at The Dalles was built. Several are located right by the parking lot and always accessible.

turtle like petroglyph

Although it looks like a turtle, the guide reminded us that no one but the artist knows for sure. The guide made no attempt to explain symbols, though some reference was necessary for discussion. You can see by the shadows that that one was carved. The next ones are pictographs.

broken pictographowl like pictograph

They have not tried to date the images, first because it would require chipping some of the stone. And second because they would have to date each one. There is no reason to assume all were created at the same time. The above were available to all. The special one, She Who Watches (below), was accessible only by guided tour. We made our reservations in March for July. At the time we were the first, but there were already reservations for June. There is room for only 20 people per tour and two tours a week.

she who watches

The legend is that as more Europeans were settling in the area, coyote came to the chief to report on the problems. She expressed a wish to watch over her people forever, so coyote changed her to stone.


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4 responses to “Summer Travel Memories

  1. Patricia

    I visited the Dee Wright observatory as a child and I loved it. It seemed so magical. Thanks for the pictures.

  2. What an interesting post! I love that you explain both the historical and current perspectives – I never made the connection that the town of Sisters was named for the mountains. And I don’t mind making conjectures about what the artist was thinking when he (she) made lasting impressions on the rocks … I’m just glad they left us something to remember them by.

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