Oregon Part 2: Lava Cast Forest
After several unsuccessful attempts to explore some caves near Bend, OR (nothing is open yet at the end of April) we stumbled upon signs for Volcanic National Monument and the Lava Cast Forest. The short jaunt from the main highway turned into a ten-mile drive along a winding gravel road blocked by evergreens bent with snow-cover. While it was a very tight squeeze in places and the rental car came out with some new battle scars, the trip was…somewhat…worth it (if even for the laughs). The park comprised a short mile-long hike through volcanic lava remains (which I would liken to a sea of pumice stone) and a series of “casts” made by lava that had cooled and dried around trees. The trees have long since died and decomposed, but the enormous casts remain, still bearing the unique fingerprint-like marks of ancient tree bark. While it was not the most spectacular place, it was certainly interesting and the desolation of the area provided a unique opportunity to meditate and reflect…and laugh, as I watched my mom sink into waist-deep snow.