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Saturday, August 13, 2005

 
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the perseid's trip was, ahem, stellar. :) lots of relaxation, exploration and culinary delights.

after our favorable experience at mcmenamin's edgefield, we stayed at mcmenamin's old st. francis school in bend. the rooms were very warm, covered with wood paneling we were uncertain was ironic and the food was mediocre. but one of the people at the front desk took exceptional care of us (hi, cynthia!), and their opulent soaking tub, which we went to as often as possible, was both gorgeous and relaxing.



we took the opportunity to trek to skeleton cave, a 1/2 mile lava tube, where our tour guide was both knowledgeable and kind. we took a little turn up bear alley, where the skeleton of a prehistoric bear was found, giving the cave its name. sven talked the guide into taking us even further than he had planned, and even squirmed his way through a very tight tunnel. it turns out the lava tubes are publically accessible, but i was still glad to see them initially via a wanderlust tour w/ just two other people in tow. the trick is to find a map that marks the caves, though; i'd hate to get lost in the high desert, even if i now know how to find protein grass, currants and sage.



because we had two unimpressive meals at mcmenamin's, upon returning we were forced to forage for sustenance elsewhere in bend. we asked our tour guide where he'd eat, and while it looked tasty, it had no vegetarian options. we asked one of our odd mcmenamin's waiter where he'd eat, and he recommended bend's culinary jewel: merenda, which served exquisite... everything! every bite was luscious and compelling.

but the clouds had been gathering since we returned from skeleton cave and i watched them with a sense of dread past nightfall. had we come all this way for aught? determined to find clear skies, around midnight i drove us further into the mountains. i thought we were going to go to sparks lake, but we turned off at todd lake instead, where we unloaded sleeping bags and the binoculars into an empty field and watched with relief as the clouds finally evaporated, leaving a sky thick with stars. sven was astounded by the milky way. there were so many stars we had a little trouble locating familiar constellations like casseiopia and hercules, but we were able to see faint constellations like the corona borealis shine like never before, and when we used the binoculars, the stars were like rice in soup. perseus & mars rose together, and as the night grew later, we even began to see some of the winter constellations rise: the pleides, auriga, capella & the kids, even taurus.

it was a very cold night. an owl floated a mere breath above us, perhaps surprised our noses weren't mice. we shivered under starfall for three hours before i reluctantly decided to return to the hotel. i was feeling like a wimp until we discovered the binocular lenses and blankets had frosted over! trixie's thermometer read 36 degrees. racing back to our overly warm room, we discovered we had left the window fan and the ceiling fan on, but after piling all the possible blankets on the bed we immediately fell asleep, ad astra per aspera.

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