We sat on that bench for a while, cooling off and enjoying the views. We checked the map and saw that we were at the edge of the Rediscovery Forest. We headed in.
This is a person-planted forest, and is used to study different types of forest management. But it looks and smells just like the forests I grew up camping in. We walked between wide-spaced pine trees, watching jays zoom through the dappled sunlight, and inhaling the sweet pine smells.
We walked through the forest and out the other side, heading towards The Wetlands. This is a series of ponds that step down the hill, and is the largest construction in the Garden, but is well disguised. These natural -looking ponds take treated water from the Silverton City Water Treatment plant and use it to a create a wildlife sanctuary which is home to thousands of birds, frogs, and other animals. As the water flows downhill between the ponds, it becomes cleaner and cleaner, until it is ready to be used for watering the rest of the Garden.
About this time, we all realized we needed some time off our feet. Fortunately, Grandpa Nelson always knows where the snack bar is! We got some cold drinks and sat at a shady picnic table, listening to the birds and the breeze, feeling our energy return.
We pulled out the map to see what was next and noticed something called The Signature Oak on the other side of the Garden! “Can we go clear over there?” I asked. We figured out how to go through gardens we already knew to make a shortcut, and headed off. We passed back through the Conifer and Children’s Garden, and by the Market Garden.
We walked under a curving arbor covered with grapevines, and came out on the opposite side of the Garden! There in front of us was The Signature Oak, 99 feet tall, 22 feet in diameter at the base, and an estimated 400 years old. We could see that it had suffered some damage in the spring storms, but it was still magnificent.
We headed back down the hill, getting to the end of our second wind. There were other wonderful parts of the garden we passed, but just didn’t have the energy to explore. We decided we would leave the Northwest Garden and the Sensory Garden for our next visit; maybe when you come up!
By this time we had gone below the entrance, and had to climb a bunch of steps back up. Oh, man!
We took a few pictures of a small waterfall, got back in the car, and Auntie Bridgett drove us home. What a wonderful adventure!