Kelly and I were understandably hesitant to expect too much the next day of our trip, Monday, October 19. The weather was supposed to be warm and sunny, but it was in the 30’s when we got in the car and a thick fog made visibility difficult. Still, there was a surreal beauty to the fields of dried grasses and waterways on either side of us.

The sun-baked grasses glowed as the sun peeked through. Suddenly we spotted a huge bald eagle perched less than 20 feet from the car. Magnificent! This was only the beginning; throughout the day we also spotted fields dotted with plump hawks, lizards of brown and green, chipmunks galore, small herds of antelope, and about 8 coyotes out hunting! We think God might have been showing off a bit.

The sun burned through the fog in about an hour on our way to our first destination near Christmas Valley in south-central Oregon, Fort Rock. This impressive bowl formed in a volcanic eruption. Unlike Crater Lake, Fort Rock is dry and you can hike both inside and outside the rim. Kelly and I opted for the inside, accessible from the park entrance.

We were astounded at the beauty of this place. I hope you enjoy the photos; it was a challenge to only include this many!

I couldn’t stop taking photos!
Kelly added his own rock to the tower
A wonderful, easy trail
Kelly, king of the mountain
And me on my own smaller one

After seeing this we were so pumped, but wondered if the day would go downhill from there. Again, our GPS was no help, so we stopped at a market in Christmas Valley to get directions to Crack in the Ground, and a map! The lady who helped us was terrific.

“Go left at the highway,” she said, “turn left after the church and left again at the sign for Crack in the Ground. Its about 8 miles of gravel road and then you’re there.”

She wasn’t kidding! We drove 7.2 teeth-rattling miles of gravel road lined with rabbit brush, and an occasional house or scrubby tree. And then we were there—a pullout for about four cars and toilet. My heart rejoiced!

We took the short trail and suddenly there it was. A 20-30 foot deep crack, formed by underground lava flows. Originally two miles long it is now blocked in places where rocks have caved in. Kelly and I hiked the length of the first section and parts of the second and third. Most of the path is easy hiking while other spots you have to climb over, under, or around large rocks. We had so much fun! We felt like the good guys in a movie taking an underground passage to get away from the bad guys.

Again, we took so many pictures it was hard to decide which to share, but here are a few of our favorites.

View from above
View from below

 

After hiking both locations it was 3:00 and we were tired and hungry. Thankfully The Farmhouse Café in Christmas Valley has delicious hamburgers which we eagerly devoured. It was time to head northwest toward Black Butte Ranch near Sisters where we planned to stay the night.

Our final destination, The Hole in the Ground, was on the way. Although there was a sign off Highway 31, there were no markings after that. The forest is criss-crossed with dirt roads in every direction. After following several without any luck, Kelly and I decided to call it a day and headed for Sisters.

On our way we read about Kent Couch, a man from Bend who has made an impressive number of flights using lawn chairs and helium-filled latex balloons. Tons of research and ingenuity! But Kelly and I agreed we would stick to airplanes for our flying adventures.

As the sun began to set, the sky radiated orange, pink, purple, and gold against the central Oregon sky. Although Kelly stopped so I could take pictures, there was no way to capture the breathtaking beauty of the evening. A perfect ending to a perfect day.

As we snuggled into our home that night we thanked God for the day. It was delightful from beginning to end; filled with the astounding works of God. From the fog and wild creatures, to the rocks and crevices we explored. Our hearts were full of praise for God-given creativity to invent incredible flying contraptions, and God’s own handiwork in the sky. “Great are the works of the Lord; they are pondered by all who delight in them” (Psalm 111:2, NIV).

We went to bed that night so filled up that we only glanced at the next day’s schedule, choosing instead to savor the wonders of the day. We slowed down to enjoy the evening together and let our spirits catch up with our bodies.

The next day would prove to be another highlight of the trip. Come and join us tomorrow for our trip to Balancing Rocks.