Skip to content
October 5, 2011 / annakpf11

Scotty Odyssey—Silver Falls State Park

Outside of Eugene, we pull into a service station and Dave gets out to pump gas. A grizzled gent sidles up and extends his hand. “Fill her up on your credit card?” Dave turns away, suspecting the guy is running a scam. “No thanks, I’ll do it myself.” The man shakes his head. “Not in Oregon.” A surprise to us, but since 1951 Oregon state law has prohibited self-serve gas stations due to a variety of justifications including the flammability of gas, the risk of crime from customers leaving their car, the toxic fumes emitted by gasoline, and the jobs created. The ban is as much a cultural issue as an economic one. “When babies are born in Oregon,” the service station attendant smiles, “the doctor slaps their bottom and declares, ‘No self-serve and no sales tax.’”

Thus enlightened and refueled we continue through the fertile countryside of the northern Willamette valley, past tidy barnyards and Christmas tree farms. Our destination is the temperate rainforest of Silver Falls State Park, said to be the most beautiful state park in Oregon. We are not disappointed. It’s midweek, and we easily find a peaceful campsite amidst tall fir trees next to a small creek screened by a lacework of bright green leaves. “The temperature is perfect here,” Dave exclaims. And it is. Warm enough to wear shorts and cool enough for Dave to build a campfire. He tries out his new guitar while I slice vegetables for dinner of stir-fried beef, green onions, string beans, and sweet bell pepper served over wild rice. Before long, I put dinner preparations on hold and join him outside. An hour passes while he plays guitar and we sing as many songs as we can think of. He’s right about the way his new Martin sounds—mellow, sweet and clear. I cannot vouch for our singing.

The next day we hike fern-lined paths shaded by moss-coated hemlock and tall Douglas fir. We view three major waterfalls, sparkling cascades diving off canyon walls two hundred feet high.

The waterfalls are indeed spectacular, but what I enjoy most about Silver Falls State Park are meadow marsh walks in the early morning and evening. Foxglove, Goldenrod, and Queen Anne’s Lace border the trail. I weave my way along the narrow, grassy track through waist and head-high foliage painted late summer gold. Basil gallops ahead, a white blur in the twilight. Rustle of birds in the undergrowth. Scent of damp earth. Basil doubles back to check my whereabouts, then dashes off again. A trickle of water. Closer inspection reveals a sturdy beaver dam. Whir of wings. Hum of insects. The secret aliveness of such a place.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: