Showing posts with label Opal Creek. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Opal Creek. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Oregon Fires and Hope for Better Times Ahead

My son-in-law on roof of their house in Mehama Oregon hosing it down. Evacuated with few clothes, phones, kids, dog and cat. 

One day emergency phone alert was prepare for poor air quality from wildfires way over mountains. Then next day alert said Level 3: Get out now!!!

They did. 

All of our family plus friends plus all their pets or farm animals and/or chickens now safe at our house in Salem. Fire got as close as 1/4 of a mile to their homes. 

Photos from days later when my son and son-in-law had sheriff's permission to try to get in for limited window of time to try save farm animals plus they hosed down roof by truck headlights and flashlights inside the dark house to grab their important paperwork or personal needs as quickly and safely as possible.

Poor phone (always my only internet) but worse signal now every where due to extreme air quality from 37 Oregon Wildfires. Worst fires right now in the world! Frightenly intense and so challenging for the firefighters.

30/35 members of our family and many more or my husband's childhood through high school friends evacuated to Salem with minutes notice.  Multiple familes  with dogs cats chickens with us since Monday of last week.

All doing fine.  Our own air is yellow to yellow orange,  incredibly smoky and thick.  Creates headaches, swollen or burning eyes, coughing and runny nose for the canary in the mine--me!

Most of Lyons/Mehama did but many lost homes. People up the North Fork River Road/ slept through 1 a.m. message waking up to flames due to silenced phones Some simply did not have enough time to get out no matter what. 

Statistically this fire moved 15 x faster than the world's fastest runner. If cars were blocked by fallen trees on only road no one could get out unless they were able to run to another car leaving farther down. 

Paul Allen Environmental Learning Center
Bilyeu Homes Inc  
Larry and Blake Bilyeu 
Photo 2007 by Michele Savikko Bilyeu 

Many are missing including one of past Governor's Vic Atiyeh's nephew. Founder and Fundraisers who created an amazing community around Opal Creek and Jawbone Flats now with many hard sad stories. 

Most likeky burned to the ground. Bilyeu Homes Inc our 2 person super environmentally conscious Dad and Son home office/home based business built the Paul Allen Science Center in the Opal Creek Ancient Forest area. 

Known affectionately as the Commissary when we were building it, it served as a hub of learning and activites for all. 

Our hearts mourn the loss of so much beauty that was a big part of our family's lives for decade's. My son still in contact with the people who lived and cared and taught classes there over time. Our family and friends building and working on many buildings there


Michele Bilyeu Creates *With Heart and Hands*: 

Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center 

Local online quilting business owner Bonnie Sullivan lost her beautiful home on the banks of the North Fork River. All gone.

She escaped the raging fire by flagging a car whose driver had to put her in the open trunk of a car that fully packed with her legs hanging out. Her husband was safe and away with work in Australia. But can you even imagine him learning of this half a world away? Bonnie, her sister. and mother are all from Salem and members of our. Mid-Valley Quilt Guild.  She wrote on Facebook thar she is fine and that she is lucky to have insurance.  Still it was built alongside what i assume must have been the family's original cabin. Sad to know that is gone as well. Oh the losses and the stories are heart breaking but the resilience of the human spirit is mighty.

SPECIAL REPORT: A night in hell - Santiam Canyon's ordeal | Salem Reporter | News about Salem – In-depth, Accurate, Trusted

Larry grew up living in both Lyons and Mehama and spent summers picking strawberries to earn money then swimming in the beautiful waters of tbe North Fork River every day he could!

Bilyeu Homes Inc. built a custom home for the Patterson family on an awesome site on the North Fork 16 years ago. Here are before and after photos courtesy of the home owners.

Although Larry still works along sidevof him our son Blake now runs our company and he heard almost immediately from them after the tragic loss of a beloved home filled with beautiful and deeply special memories. 

 They asked: "We lost everything. Can you help?" 

It was their home they saved for and finally built with coveted river front views and a great swimming area.

Now their house, antique furniture and a classic car collection all torched by heat and flames from this unimaginable massive fire.

Our hearts and prayers go out to all of these many, many families for all of their losses 

We still have the original vellums my husband rough drafted their custom plan on which can be used for new blueprints in the years ahead. Or a new plan if they so desire.  

We build very few houses a year but they are true homes and not just houses. We mourn the loss of this house and their grief and tragic loss. One can only imagine all of the grief and pain of these losses.

My own family home burned to the ground in Alaska in 1970. I was away at college at Oregon State learning by a hallway dorm phone at Oregon State University that my beloved cat died waking my brother up and using his crutches (he spent a year and a half in a body cast after a terrible accident ftom a dry docked boat falling on him as he worked underneath it) 

He woke up our parents  my mom running to neighbors to call fire department and my dad carrying my 3
unconscious brothers out a 2nd story window half throwing them down to our garage roof below.

Of course we said "yes" to our rebuilding our own home (my dad designed and built it with volunteer help) all those decades ago. We all need to have hope and a promise of renewal no matter how bad things are! Things can be replaced.  Lives cannot.

On top of everything else my almost 20 year old Kermit (she not a he) died a few crazy weeks ago. A long life still filled with health challenges, she was held, told stories to, and loved during her sweet passing naturally at home. 

Finally kissing her goodnight I woke at to a loud plaintive call for me. Gone and so soft and warm yet i told her how much she was loved and to follow the light over the rainbow bridge to my beloved Keira, her litter mate. 


If you're in our condition with any similar challenges and need love, hope and cheer i found this you tube little girl and her dad.  I cry with heart touched tears.

So incredibly sweet, well done and amazing little girl and her dad 🦄😊🦄

5 year old Claire Ryann Crosby sings "Tomorrow" from musical "Annie"

And with her dad Dave 
Claire Ryann Crosby sing "A Whole New World"

Michele Bilyeu Creates With Heart and Hands as she shares her imaginative, magical, and healing journey from Alaska to Oregon. Creating, designing, sewing, quilting, and wildcrafting... from my heart and with my hands.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center

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Posted July 5, 2007

The Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center and wilderness area is the largest contiguous area of low-elevation old growth forest left in Oregon. Its ancient rainforest is a remnant of the forests which once blanketed the Pacific Northwest. 

The Center maintains and stewards Jawbone Flats, a rejuvenated historic mining town in the heart of the 35,000 acre ancient forestwhich lies in the watershed of the Opal Creek Wilderness and Scenic Recreation Area. 

Located on the west slope of the Cascade Mountains, and about and hour and a half east of Salem, Oregon, it is a wonderful destination for hiking and exploring or spending a special day with friends or family.

The site, that is now Jawbone Flats, is believed to have been a summer camp for the Santiam Kalapuya Indians. The Whetstone Mt. Trail, which crosses the Opal Creek Valley, is believed to have been a frequent trade route for area tribes and the mountian,itself, may have been a sacred site for their sacred vision quests. It is an ancient and beautiful site.... filled with trees, plants, wildflowers, and wild life of all kinds.

Jawbone Flats was developed as a mining camp when gold was discovered after miners arrived in the area in 1859. The Jawbone Flats mining camp was built beginning in 1930. Remnants of the old mining equipment, vehicles, buildings, household equipment and supplies can still be viewed in natural settings scattered amongst the cabins which house both paid staff and volunteers, who oversee the area and help with general upkeep, teaching duties, and cabin and building rental by individuals or school and other educational groups.

Shown above: 
The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation Environmental Education and Learning Center still under construction 
by our family based business Bilyeu Homes). 

We were invited to become involved in the remodeling (using as much of the original materials as possible) and along with our family and many friends, worked for about a year and a half on these projects.
A labor of love as well as deep respect for the area and all of the many people who have lived as well as worked at Opal Creek/Jawbone Flats over many many decades.

We are in the process of creating their new Environmental Center...a science education classroom, commisary, and gathering place for students and staff, which we are conscientously restructuring with the use of FSC lumber and other environmentally sensitive building materials.

Larry and Blake Bilyeu are currently involved in the restoration of the original Commissary into this environmental science education center as well as building a storage and utilities building.

Since, the Fourth of July was a necessary work day for our family, we combined it with a family outing. While the guys worked on the interior of the building, my daughter, daughter-in-law and I, hauled river rocks by wheelbarrow from all over the Jawbone Flats area to the building site for placement on the woodstove's hearth area.

We took a wonderful break by having a lovely picnic down by the fresh cascading waters of Opal Pool. As you can see by several of the photos in this collage, I had great fun draping one of my Patriotic Heartstrings quilts on a log suspended over Opal Pool or hanging by tree limbs by our picnic spot. 

It not only connected me with heartstrings to the trees, water, air and connected me with that world to this one.

Michele Savikko Bilyeu