Monday, June 23, 2014

A trip south, happy and sad

For the last month, Hilkka and I have been in Southern California, visiting friends and many of the places we particularly like. This was a car trip, so, on the way, we stopped in Oregon, both coming and going. On the way back, we stayed for a day at Oregon's Crater Lake Lodge.

We have visited Crater Lake about a half dozen times over the various decades, several times with our son Derek. The lake is a water-filled caldera which is what is left from a huge explosion of a volcano now named Mt. Mazama. This time, we stayed at Crater Lake Lodge, as we have on several occasions in the past. It's a fairly expensive stay, with somewhat spartan "luxury" rooms, no TV, which is a good thing; you should get outside and take in the view from the various view points. There is internet access. The restaurant has improved considerably over the years; the food and service is first class. Scenery from the lakeside rooms is impressive.

In his blog of July 2007, Derek wrote about some of the places on Earth which he had visited, and which had a special connection to family and friends for him ( This blog entry was written just before his first operation for the colon cancer to which he would succumb four years later.

This time, our visit to Crater Lake was sombre and sad. In the evening, we dispersed some of Derek's ashes from a promontory close to the Lodge (see pictures). The wind blew them down towards the lake, and we wept, thought of his wife Airdrie and his daughters Marina and Meredith, but felt a certain comfort in having fulfilled one part of the wishes Derek had expressed in his blog.

Next morning, the sun rose above the lake in what became a beautiful day; we take this as a sign about the bright future Derek wished for his own family. 

Here are the series of pictures taken at Crater Lake - an expanded set of the ones we posted on Facebook a few days ago: . Click on any of the pictures for a closer view and a related description. 

From now on, any trips we take to this beautiful area will be in memory of our son. Crater Lake is situated in southern Oregon, about two hours' drive east of interstate highway five, so we will likely stop there, even if it is for just a day visit. We quite often fly to California; Crater Lake is located on the flight path from Vancouver or Seattle. We'll have a moment of silence when we pass overhead.


  1. Hello Sir,
    I stumbled upon Derek's blog two days ago, while surfing the net to obtain some information on cancer support groups. I read his last post, and felt deeply saddened yet inspired, and decided to read his blog since the time he got diagnosed. I tried my best to understand his thoughts on technology and gizmos but alas, I am no geek, and I had to brush past those. His tips on photography were extremely helpful, because it's my favourite hobby.
    One seldom finds a voracious writer who has maintained a blog for nearly more than a decade. It was uplifting to read his posts, even the ones he wrote on the days he suffered from treatment.
    I felt rather sad as I approached the end of his blog , because it was hard to digest the fact that a person such as him would stop existing. I have even watched a few of his videos on YouTube. I wish I had known him or had at least met him.
    So here I am, three years later, wishing for the impossible, because his style of writing, his words and outlook towards life is amazing. I now feel silly worrying about things beyond my control, because there is nothing harder than overcoming the fear of death and suffering. And your son did exactly that, and I can't thank him enough for it.
    I am from India, keen on pursuing a career in the field of cancer biology so that I can start or be a part of an endeavour that aims to find a cure for this disease, so that guys like Derek can hope to live till they're eighty or more.

    I hope your family is doing well. I would really like to meet you all sometime.

    Love and peace,
    Anjali :-)

    P.S : I tried posting this comment several times, but Blogger was having some issues. Sorry. :(

  2. I first heard about Derek when news of his passing & last blog entry made mainstream news around the world.

    I was in Sydney Australia, driving to a job I hated when the radio announcer told Derek's story and read out the last paragraph about Airdrie.

    I began sobbing immediately - anyone who has found the love of their life would easily related to the excruciating heartache he & Airdrie must have gone through. I had also just found out my grandmother had stage 4 lung cancer, so of course I looked up Derek's blog and read through it that night.

    His zest for life, his boundless curiosity, his courage to pursue his passions and get the most out of the precious gift that is life made a profound impression on me. He inspired me to stop wasting time, to live courageously and just make the most of the life we have. I quit my job soon after and began pursuing the things I love to do.

    While my grandmother passed away a few months after Derek, I am fortunate enough now to be doing what I'm passionate about every day, feeling truly fulfilled and hopeful for the future.

    I hope my story could bring some comfort to you, knowing that your son, in life and in death, inspired and continues to inspire people from all around the world to lead more fulfilling lives.

    I wish all the best for your family. There is no family more deserving of happiness, peace and prosperity.