Crater Lake - The End

I didn't wake up for sunrise on Saturday. Or, more accurately, I woke early enough for the sunrise, but decided I didn't want to leave the warmth of my sleeping bag. During the night, a strong breeze had blown over the park, making it an especially chilly morning and moving some of the forest fire smoke out of the caldera, which made it easier to capture crisp photos of the water and mountainsides.

Along the Rim Drive, the rock faces hide a slough of small cascades, one of which is marked. It is called Vidae Falls. The pool at the bottom is a mosquito pit, but the falls are still worth stopping for.

Too High

On my last drive around the rim before taking off, I stopped at the Rim Village and enjoyed a hearty (and overpriced) breakfast at Crater Lake Lodge. I spent a few more minutes enjoying the rocking chairs on the patio and got this shot showing snow and flowers together, a common sight throughout the park.

Snow Flowers

My last stop before leaving Crater Lake behind was at Watchman Overlook, where I got a less smoky shot of Llao Rock...

Llao Rock

...and this one, of the mountains to which I will someday return. This will not be my last view of Crater Lake.


Crater Lake - Day 2

My plan all along had been to hike up to the top of Mt. Scott, the highest peak around Crater Lake, and down the Cleetwood Cove Trail, to put my feet in the lake during the same day. After hiking up the Watchman Peak Trail, I realized that the altitude and my incredibly low level of fitness required a change of plans. So, instead of doing both, I only hiked down to the water. There is a warning sign just before one heads down the Cleetwood Cove Trail to let everyone know that you should not hike down if you're not in shape because the hike back up is like climbing to the 75th floor of a building. Despite that, I began the trek down. It was definitely worth the trip. The water was beautifully clear. In fact, it's the clearest lake in the world; you can see up to 143 feet down. All the pine pollen made it a little less attractive, but nothing's perfect.


I wasn't brave enough to immerse my entire body in the 50-ish degree water, but it felt good on my hot, trail-weary feet.

Dippin' My Toes

They offer boat tours and I was going to try to take one but, unfortunately, one of the boats was broken, so they cancelled all of the tours. So I didn't get to stop off at Wizard Island. I did get some pretty good pictures of it later on in the day, though.

Wizard Island

After spending about an hour by the lake getting sunburned on only one side of my face and huffing and puffing back up the trail in less time than I expected it to take, I headed to the Rim Village, where I had a lovely lunch at the Crater Lake Lodge. If you ever decide to visit this place, just be aware that everything you buy will probably cost about 50% more than you think it's worth. Of course, people on vacation are usually willing to spend a lot more money.

Worn out from my climb and full of yummy fish and chips, I spent a little while sitting outside in a rocking chair. Feeling rather accomplished, I jumped into conversation with a group of folks up from California who'd made a side trip to Crater Lake from Ashland, where there is a famous Shakespeare festival. They were contemplating the trek down to the bottom of the lake, but decided not to do it when I told them it took at least an hour and a half. They were nice folks. It's fun to chat with people on vacation. They are usually so much more friendly and willing to talk to strangers.


Since the point of my weekend in Crater Lake was relaxation, I found a place along the side of the road and took a nap in my car. Then I took a hike through a lovely little meadow full of wildflowers, through which this little butterfly and its friends followed me.


Since I'd missed pictures of the sunset on my first day, I spent the last few hours of my second day, I stationed myself at Watchman Overlook to observe the smoke-enhanced scene, then headed back to camp for another good night's sleep. The big question of the night was whether I would wake up early enough the next day for sunrise...


Crater Lake - Day 1

I've decided to make this a three part series instead of writing one long post about my trip to Crater Lake, which was incredible, by the way.

I woke at 4:40 a.m. on Thursday, July 24. My intention was to wake at 5:30 and leave by 6, but I was so excited that I was out the door by 5:15. The drive took almost four hours and provided its fair share of beauty as the roads wound up the sides of the Cascade range. Before I'd even gotten a glimpse of the lake, I had already pulled the car over at least four times to marvel at the sight of the mountains.

Here is a picture of my first view of the rim, just minutes before the lake spread itself out before me.

More Snow than Jersey

Before doing anything else, I drove immediately to Lost Creek Campground, where I set up my tent and stored my food in the animal proof locker. I couldn't help but ponder what a bear frustrated by the smell of food and the inability to get at it might do, but there was much to do and see, so that thought soon left my mind.

Once I'd established my place, I took a drive around the rim of the lake. Despite the haze created by all the forest fires, every view I had of the lake was simply stunning. I won't bore you with all of my pictures, but this one shows the brilliant blue of the water.

Deep Blue

Eating lunch at the Rim Village Cafe, I had my first ever celebrity sighting. Who would have thought I'd see a celebrity at a National Park? Anyway, I got a sly picture of Jin from Lost as he was snapping photos of his family. Daniel, I wanted to call and tell you, but there was no cell phone reception. It's him. Don't doubt me. I almost ran into him when we were both trying to get spoons from the dispenser.

Celebrity Sighting!

I spent most of the afternoon relaxing at my campsite. Around 4 p.m., I drove out to Watchman Overlook and hiked to the top of Watchman Peak, where I intended to stay until sunset. When I checked the day before I left, the trail was still closed, but the trail crew managed to dig through the 8 foot bank that remained on one side of the peak so that my plan to hike to the top would not be foiled. After about 3 hours and 100 pages in my novel, I was getting too cold and headed back down the trail.

Things Are Looking Up

It wasn't until I arrived at the car that I realized I'd either lost my keys or locked them inside. Fortunately for me, a lovely crew of folks from Illinois had a wire hanger and the skill to break into a car. It took a while, but at least I didn't have to get someone to take me to the ranger station. It doesn't seem like AAA would come out to the national parks. Unfortunately for me, my plan to take killer pictures of the sunset were bumped to the next night.

Driving back to the campsite was a harrowing experience. Windy roads, along the sides of cliffs, in the deep dark of night, are not fun driving for a weenie like me. I made it back safely, though, and settled in for a restful sleep before another full day.

To be continued...

It's Been Ten Days...

I guess that makes it about time for another post.

The most exciting things that have happened in the past ten days were my trip to Crater Lake and my second preaching engagement of the summer.

I'll be posting some pictures of Crater Lake in the next couple days. First, they need to be edited and uploaded to flickr, but that should happen tomorrow morning. My trip down to the lake was amazing. It made me even more sure that I want to move to the West Coast in the very near future, more specifically, the Pacific Northwest. We'll see how that dream develops in the coming year.

For now, I'm going to delay the report on Crater Lake and give you a little sumthin' sumthin' on the preaching. I'm glad I decided to preach a second time, though with all the talk about summer church work moving at a slower pace, I can't even imagine what the year must be like. Everything seems to come so quickly. There's always something else to do. It's like school: never a moment when you're actually done with everything.

Like the last time, I got a lot of positive feedback. At least three separate people told me I have a gift for preaching and most everyone just assumes I'm planning to become a full-time pastor. I'm not bragging. In fact, I would love it if someone would tell me that I'm terrible at preaching, that I don't have any gifts for pastoral ministry, that ordination should not even be a consideration for me. Instead, I'm beginning to get feeling that Presbyterian membership and ordination might be a path I'm supposed to go down.

It's not that I dread the thought of doing full-time church work, it's just something I've never really considered. There are millions of reasons I can think of that I'm not qualified for ministry, but I suppose no one is ever really qualified. Should I take these people seriously who make unsolicited comments about my future path in the church? or should I ignore all of their wisdom, including that of my supervisor, several retired ministers, and many long-time church members?

Study Prevention Bibles

I have to be honest, I love bibles. They are the only Christian consumer products that suck me in. Give me study notes and concordances, outlines and charts, mini-articles and extra-wide margins, and color maps (I love those color maps), and I'm a happy girl. I'm not sure why it is, but I love to hold a real bible, especially one with a leather cover and lots of pages.

More often than I would like to admit, I am tempted to buy a new one because of its pretty cover or extensive study notes. At such times, I have to remind myself that one Bible is enough for any person (and I already own at least five or six), that any version I might like to read is available online for free, and that the study notes are usually a disappointment.

Yesterday, as I was wandering around the internet, I stumbled upon the soon-to-be-released NLT Study Bible. Despite my scholarly pretensions, I actually like the New Living Translation and a blogger I read and enjoy, Scot McKnight, was a contributor, so I was interested in what this new Bible might be like. Fortunately for me, the Tyndale House website had a free preview of Genesis. Unfortunately for me, it was a complete disaster.

As I read, I became ever more convinced that this so-called study bible should be relabeled a study prevention bible. It's not just this particular study bible I'm down on; I think that most of them are bunk. The study notes don't present interesting research or thought-provoking questions. Instead, they spoon feed readers whatever theological agenda the editors happen to approve. Naturally, I don't expect study notes to be free of perspective, but it would be nice if they could, at least, inspire further reflection and, dare I hope, study, rather than handing out authoritative sounding interpretations.

Here is a paragraph from the introductory materials of Genesis:

Most scholars, however, do not accept that Moses wrote Genesis. The prevailing critical view, called the Documentary Hypothesis, is that Genesis was compiled from various sources by different groups of people. In such approaches, there is seldom a word about divine revelation or inspiration. For those who understand the Bible as God’s inspired word, such theories often seem unnecessarily complicated and conjectural. Genesis can be understood much more straightforwardly as the product of Moses’ genius under God’s inspiration with later editorial adjustments.

Later in his article, the author goes on to explain myth, giving an over-simplified and disturbingly narrow definition, and again dismisses all scholars that would even consider classifying part or all of Genesis as myth. Brief study notes are going to be over-generalized as a matter of course, but the author doesn't even attempt to treat scholars who have spent years developing alternate theories of authorship with respect. The opinion of "most scholars" is dismissed simply because it's too complicated. Not to mention the fact that people who agree with such theories are summarily lumped together as those who don't believe in divine revelation or inspiration. This paragraph might as well say "Don't listen to scholars; none of them believe the Bible, anyway." The anti-intellectual bent of the article makes me wonder why the authors and editors of this bible are even involved in the task of compiling what they call a study bible.

I don't think one needs a Ph.D. to interpret Scripture, but I do think any person who intends to interpret Scripture should be willing to consider the opinions of scholars who have spent the better part of their lives studying the text and context of the bible. We need to beware of accepting any explanation merely because it is the one that takes the least amount of thought. The Bible doesn't need to be defended against thought. A book labeled a "study bible" should inspire learning and inquiry. I've sat through too many bible studies where study helps were treated as gospel truth. The scholars who write these things should be held to a higher intellectual standard.

It's definitely good for my wallet that the NLT Study Bible was so infuriatingly unbalanced, but maybe not so good for the church.

It's July 11!

As I get older, I find that sometimes it's difficult to keep track of the date. Days slip by so quietly that I don't notice an entire week has gone by until I look up at the calendar and promptly fall out of my chair. How is it that an hour can seem like an eternity, but then you check and another week has disappeared, never to be seen again? Existential crisis much? Blah.

Emily was here yesterday. We went to the coast. Not knowing Salem very well, it's difficult for me to think of anything else to do. Our first stop was at some tourist shops. It was chilly and since our trip was rather spontaneous, neither of us had warm clothing, so Emily bought a fleece and I bought a hoodie. Big surprise: new hoodie! The best part is that this one screams "TOURIST!!!" and I plan on wearing it everywhere around Salem, even if the temperature is over 100 degrees. It's a personal mission.

After walking down the beach for a while, we headed to Kyllo's Grill for lunch, where we were seated by a window overlooking the ocean and ate a delightful meal. I had Dungeness crab alfredo. It was delicious! Emily laughed at how much I was enjoying my food, but after the disgusting meal I had at Maxwell's only two weeks prior, Kyllo's was wonderful. For only three more dollars than my meal at Maxwell's, I got food that actually tasted great and didn't make my stomach all wonky.

When we got back to Salem, we went to the mall to see "Get Smart." There were only about twenty people in the entire gigantic theater, so we got prime seats to enjoy the film and our smuggled in candy. The movie wasn't a constant laugh riot, but it was definitely entertaining. If you like the awkward humor of Steve Carrell, I would definitely recommend a matinee. Don't pay $10 for an evening show.

Other than my visit with Emily, the rest of the week was busy with church stuff. I've been planning events for kids and this past Wednesday we all learned more about patience and kindness by baking brownies. The kids seemed to enjoy themselves and I was glad when it was over. It's not that I don't enjoy them, but I get more worked up than I should be sometimes. Fortunately, I had some great helpers who cleaned up after us so that I could keep my head in the game instead of worrying about the messy trail we were leaving behind.

I also had a brief encounter with a concerned mother who was worried that I might be teaching her children it's okay to be gay. I was able to assure her that whatever my personal opinions, I wasn't going to be doing any sex education with kids whose parents I barely know and who barely know me. It wasn't a conversation I expected to have this summer, but I'm glad she came to me rather than pulling her kids out of the program and not telling me why. Perhaps I was naive to think that I wouldn't have to deal with sexuality issues this summer considering how much they are being talked about in the Presbyterian Church USA these days.

Now I should get to writing my children's sermon about the different kinds of soil. Did I ever tell you I hate children's sermons? Well, it's true.

The Kingdom Is Like...

In another few weeks, I'll be preaching for the second time this summer. The first time went over well, so they're giving me another shot. I haven't decided on my passage quite yet, but I think I'll work with the New Testament this time around. So, what does that have to do with the title of my post?

Well, I was reading through the lectionary texts for July 27 and was struck by the Gospel reading, Matthew 13:31-33 and 44-52. These verses contain four parables that describe what the kingdom of heaven is like.

It's like a mustard seed...
and yeast...
and a pearl...
and a net...

I couldn't help but laugh about the variety and the seeming contradictions contained in these descriptions. Obviously, the kingdom of God cannot be described in one way or in comparison to one object, but I can just imagine the disciples looking confused and scratching their heads at Jesus' words.

Despite the humor I see in this passage, I don't think I'm going to preach on Matthew because the Romans text for that week is just too tempting. Maybe I should jump out of the lectionary box, though. There probably wouldn't be that many people who'd notice.

Are there any passages that strike you as funny, laugh-out-loud funny?

To See Your Face

I just discovered the wonders of Skype. It's so much better than the phone! So much of what I hate about the phone is the inability to see gestures and facial expressions. Even though the webcam is a little grainy, I can still see the other person's face while we're talking.

My first conversation was with my lovely roommate Rebecca and her beautiful baby girl. Jenna didn't talk so much as lay there, but if we had just been on the phone, I wouldn't have seen her at all.

If anyone else has Skype and would like to have a chat, let me know and we'll get it together...unless I don't want to talk to you at all. ;)
Taken near the first house I stayed in here in Oregon. Lovely colors.
I will soon move into my final resting place in Salem. I'll be house-sitting. I'll be glad to have a place to myself.