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home : columns : columns July 25, 2017

5/9/2017 1:40:00 PM
Of a certain age...
By Sue Stafford

Forty-two years after his parents came west on the Oregon Trail, and 50 years before my birth, my paternal grandfather, then a young adventurer 20 years of age, spent part of the summer and fall of 1894 tramping along the spine of the Central Oregon Cascade mountains from Diamond Peak to the North Sister, in the company of Judge John Waldo, Oregon's version of naturalist and conservationist John Muir. Entries from his trail diary describe his time in "my neighborhood."

Tuesday, September 25

We were camped for the night at an elevation of about 7500 ft. on the north eastern side of the "Three Sisters" with but a single fir tree and an old stump for shelter. Otherwise every thing was lava with not a sign of vegetation.

Wednesday, September 26

We decended the mountains all day, and crossed a great many streams, the Judge and I on foot as both our saddlehorses were gone. After traveling about fifteen miles we came into a beautiful level country covered with a pine forest. There was plenty of good grass and water, so we camped on a small creek called "Trout Creek", having left the storm and rougher part of the Cascades behind us.

Thursday, September 27

Left camp at 11.30 A.M. and traveled through beautiful pine forests. At 1.30 P.M. we came to the first wagon road we had seen since leaving old lady Rigdon's. Here Potter left on horseback for "Camp Polk" six miles distant for a few supplies and the mail that Mrs. Waldo was to send from home. The Judge & I kept on due north, with the pack train, until we struck the Lebanon road, where we turned west. Here we saw the first house since Rigdon's. This place was called Graham's Ranch.

One hundred and ten years later, a long-held dream became reality when I moved from Seattle to Sisters to live in the shadow of the very mountains my grandfather had explored as a young man.

From the moment my dream surfaced to become reality, one step flowed easily into the next, from the sale of my home in Kirkland in one day, to finding my home on the creek in Sisters. The people who bought my home in February were in no hurry to move and allowed me to remain until May when my new home in Sisters would be available. The planned improvements were scheduled to take three weeks and there was not one delay. When I moved in on May 25, 2004, my new home was ready and waiting.

"But what are you going to do when you get there?" my disbelieving friends queried when I announced I was leaving Seattle after 33 years and returning to the state of my birth.

"I don't know," was my reply. "I'll find out when I get there."

My leap of faith, the result of following my heart, has indeed been rewarded with meaningful employment in a variety of settings, from Redmond Hospice to the Sisters Folk Festival to freelance writing for The Nugget and The Bulletin. Each of these jobs came to me rather than my seeking them out. Everything in which I have been engaged has drawn on my storehouse of life experiences, allowing me to use my various talents in new and rewarding endeavors.

Since arriving in Sisters, my life has felt ordained by a force outside myself. The ease and joy of the last 13 years have been confirmation that following my dream was meant to be. Call it predestination, synchronicity, magic, blind luck, or informed decision-making - it was the right thing to do and the rewards have been many.

When I look up at those magnificent snow-covered peaks west of my home, I imagine my grandfather as a young man discovering the magic of this special place and feel his spirit here with me.

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