After having two less hurried days, Kelly and I decided to go with the same plan on Wednesday, October 21, and go to only one place on the list. We set our sights on Silver Creek Falls near Sublimity and read about everything else from our book on the way.

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh gathered disciples at an alarming rate at the former Rajneeshee commune and almost overran the town of Antelope. Although he promoted free love there was nothing free about his teachings—evidenced by his collection of ninety Rolls Royces paid for by his followers. Things began to unravel when several unhappy Rajneeshees told the press that the salmonella outbreak in The Dalles had indeed been intentional as suspected. They also leaked information about their leader’s bio-warfare labs and plans to use infectious viruses in the future. After years of struggle, he was finally tried and deported back to India. In a lovely stroke of justice, the former commune is now a Young Life Christian youth camp.

Next we read about the mysterious appearance of a quarter mile wide image of the Sri Yantra on the desert floor of the Mickey Basin. Bill Miller first spotted it from the air and no one seemed to know who carved this giant Hindu meditation symbol on the Alvord Desert floor. Bill Witherspoon, an artist from Iowa, finally admitted he and his team of helpers had dug the 13.3 miles of lines, ten inches wide and three inches deep. Despite his explanation and even video footage of the process,  many desperately wanted to believe it had more to do with aliens, UFO’s or a mystical message from the gods, and debated it for years afterward.

Kelly and I read more stories about Sasquatch sightings and another water critter in the northeast corner of Oregon named Willowa Lake Wally. We read some disturbing facts about 1,001 concrete bunkers along I-84 called the Umatilla Chemical Depot between Boardman and Stanford. After the use of chemical warfare in World War I, the US decided to prepare our own for World War II, but vowed we would only use them if absolutely necessary. Thankfully we never did, but then had to figure out how to safely dispose of them. It was a slow process, but the last was slated for decommissioning by 2012. How cruel is war and how far-reaching the effects!

Also in 1941, the government decided to create a place for soldier training between Eugene and Corvallis, a few months before the Pearl Harbor attack. Camp Adair grew to a forty-four thousand acre training facility. During its operation (1942-1969) the 1,800 buildings served as warehouses, barracks, chapels, recreation facilities, and a hospital. During the war it became a temporary POW camp and cemetery for those who did not make it home.

The Trojan Nuclear Reactor in St. Helens took five years to build at the cost of $450 million and only provided electricity for three years before things went awry—the discovery of an earthquake fault nearby, construction errors, and the formation of a crack that leaked radioactive water. The reactor operated from 1975-1992, and the estimated decommissioning and demolition expenditures equaled what it cost to build. Even so, it was fun to watch the YouTube video of its demolition in 2006.

After that we took a break to look around as we drove. The recent Beachie Creek Fire along the Santiam highway destroyed 182,000 acres of forest and communities. The road reopened only days before our trip. This familiar route of mountains and hills of green forests with lush undergrowth, and the lovely Detroit Lake community and other small towns along the way, now looked tragically naked. Some stretches remained untouched, but most were leveled by the fire. Where homes once graced the Lakeside, blackened chimneys stood as mute survivors. We grieved for the families affected and prayed for their restoration and the rebuilding of their homes and businesses. Forestry workers and locals alike worked everywhere to salvage fallen trees and clear the way for construction and reforestation.

Then, as suddenly as it had turned black, everything was green again as we neared Silver Creek Falls. What makes this a “weird” location is its history with Al Faussett, who bought the land and the surrounding acreage when the owners refused to let him ride the falls in his homemade craft. Faussett first got hooked on fall jumping in 1926 when a movie crew offered $1,500 to anyone willing to ride a canoe down the Sunset Falls in Washington for a western they were filming. The stunt got cancelled, but Al chose to do it anyway and that was the first of his many fall jumping stunts including Eagle Falls, Spokane Falls, Oregon City Falls, and Silver Falls. His final jump off Shoshone Falls was the highest of all.

The road to Silver Creek Falls winds through hillsides of neatly planted Christmas trees of all sizes. Although Kelly and I have been there many times over the years, each visit is a delight. By the time we reached the north falls trailhead the misting rain had stopped and we were thrilled to get out in the brisk autumn air for a hike to the upper and lower South Falls, admiring true northwest beauty at every turn.

Everything we read and experienced on Day 6 of our weird adventure, reminded me of the word “seekers.” We are created with hearts that long to be filled; we may try many things, but only a relationship with God will satisfy. The Rajneeshees followed a deluded guru who promised love but delivered only lies. The Sri Yantra offers clear-minded meditation, but leaves its followers empty. Stories of UFO’s, Bigfoot, and sea serpents titillate our attraction to the mysterious, but cannot come close to the mystery of the God of the Universe. We seek safety, power, and thrills. Again, nothing compares with the Almighty God who abundantly gives His followers all that and more.

Jesus said it this way: “For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:32-34).

Kelly and I left Silver Falls and headed for Salem feeling satisfied with the way we spent our day. As we continually look to God to fill us up, no matter what comes our way–old age, sickness, financial worries, political upheaval, or a worldwide pandemic–we know God has a plan and purpose in it all. And He will take us safely home.

Come join us tomorrow for our excursions in Salem, my hometown, where we learned a bit of history and played in a corn maze like kids. Remember, if you’d like to leave a comment, just click on the title of the post and the comment box will appear. I always love hearing from my readers and other readers enjoy your comments as well!