“The key to a wonderful life is to never stop wandering into wonder.”
Weekly Photo Challenge – Wanderlust
“The key to a wonderful life is to never stop wandering into wonder.”
Weekly Photo Challenge – Wanderlust
If you walk on the Trout Creek trail at certain times of the year, you’ll probably see golden eagles soaring over the rimrock bordering the Deschutes River. This easy trail is located northwest of Madras, Oregon and the trail head is located in a nice Bureau of Land Management (BLM) campground. There is no fee for parking and hiking there.
The trail follows an old railroad track route. As I mentioned in a previous post here, there were two railroad companies competing to work their way south so for a while, there were two tracks. This rails-to-trails conversion serves hikers well. The trail heads west from the campground for 7.6 miles. On a recent hike there we hiked for two miles and then turned around. There’s an outhouse there and a good grass-covered area along the river for a lunch break.
We saw some interesting wildlife on our hike in April. Common mergansers were seen all along the route. The female and males have such different coloring and form you might think they are two distinct species. We saw ospreys on a nest and soaring overhead. Golden eagles and turkey vultures were seen in several places. Double crested cormorants were seen a few times. An unusually silent Townsend’s solitaire songbird did its best to make me think it was something else. See my post here about solitaires. Swallows circled and swooped over our heads. This area does look like it would get hot later in the year so keep a watch out for snakes as temperatures increase.
There are colorful growths of lichen on the rimrock cliffs that border the riverside trail. At one point I saw a huge “O” created by fluorescent green lichens. Were there some University of Oregon ducks out there influencing Nature?
Wildflowers were just starting to come out on our spring hike. I spotted a single beautiful delicate yellow bell flower along the trail. The mock orange shrubs were just starting to leaf out but later in the season their fragrance must fill the air. I saw the biggest bitterbrush shrub I have ever seen along this trail – about 12 feet tall.
The hike is framed by the cliffs rising above the river far below. You can see basalt and tuff from different geological time periods reflected in these formations.
The columnar basalt cliffs make this a popular destination for rock climbers. Climbers can try out over 130 routes there. Some consider this area to offer some of the best desert crack climbing around. For more details on climbing there, click here to read a post by climber Jeff Wenger or here to read a post on summitpost.org. Wenger explains how various groups got together with the BLM to implement a seasonal closure to protect nesting golden eagles – as opposed to a year-round closure. The cliff nesting area is closed to rock climbing temporarily from January 15 – August 15. It may open as early as May 15 but the hiking trail is open year-round.
To get to this trail head you have to go on a somewhat circuitous route so look at directions here under “Getting There.” You will pass through a one-lane tunnel at one point so make sure you have a loud horn. 😉
Silent Sunday – Photography
While out hiking last June near Camp Sherman, Oregon, we were surprised to find a young fawn hidden in a grassy field. Its mother was close by so we took a few pictures and continued on our way.
Weekly Photo Challenge – Surprise
Driving along U.S. Route 97 north of Redmond, Oregon, a bridge dramatically spanning a deep canyon grabs your attention. The Crooked River Railroad Bridge was built in 1911. It passes over the Crooked River, 320 feet below.
There is a nice rest area here with picnic tables, restrooms, and scenic viewpoints. You can get a bird’s eye views of birds of prey, swallows, and other cliff dwellers from here. We had a bald eagle glide over our heads while a turkey vulture drifted by nearby.
The Crooked River, true to its name, meanders in a twisting course through the canyon below the bridge. You get great views of the lichen covered cliffs from this viewpoint. This area was formed about 350,000 years ago as lava flows from the Newberry Volcano, 40 miles to the south, moved northwards.
This viewpoint is named after Peter Skene Ogden, who first entered central Oregon in 1825 when working as a trapper for the Hudson’s Bay Company. For more about the park, click here.
If you are a thrill seeker, you can bungee jump from the bridge in the summer. After a pilot program in 2016, the state gave final approval for bungee jumping businesses here.
Note the signs about leaving your dogs in the car. Unfortunately, some have perished when they accidentally ran off the cliffs.
The Crooked River Railroad Bridge has an interesting history. Two competing railroad companies were building rail lines on both sides of the Deschutes River in an attempt to be the first to reach the timber-rich country near Bend. There were also plans to connect this line to railroad lines from other parts of the state.
Jim Hill, owner of The Oregon Trunk Railway (a subsidiary of Great Northern Railway), worked on the west side of the river and Edward H. Harriman, owner of the Union Pacific Railway and other railroads, worked on the east side. Workers in the two competing companies got in fights and raided each other’s camps stealing food, alcohol, and supplies. When they reached Crooked River there was only one area where the geography allowed for bridge construction.
Since Jim Hill had bought that property two years before, Harriman’s company was forced to negotiate with him. Harriman had passed away in September of 1909. The terms of the settlement allowed other railroad companies to use the rail lines from the Columbia River to Bend. The two lines were eventually merged into one with the best grades adopted for use and the rest abandoned.
Construction of the bridge, designed by architect Ralph Modjeski, started on May 18, 1911 and it was completed on September 17 of that year. The fast pace was due to a rush to complete the line to Bend, 25.5 miles to the south. Jim Hill drove the golden spike in Bend on October 5, 1911.
If you visit the viewpoint, you will see three bridges. The Crooked River Railroad Bridge is located farthest west. The Crooked River High Bridge was completed in 1926 and it served as the main north-south highway until 2000. In 2000, the higher-capacity Rex T. Barber Veterans Memorial Bridge replaced that bridge. Formerly known as the Crooked River Bridge, its name was changed in 2003 to honor local World War II fighter pilot, Rex T. Barber. On one of his missions Lt. Barber, in his Lockheed P-38 Lightning, shot down a plane carrying Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto over Bougainville Island, northeast of Australia. Admiral Yamamoto planned and led the attack on Pearl Harbor. There is a lot of history, and beauty, associated with the Crooked River bridges.
Safe and secure in its nest, this great horned owlet looks content as an adult keeps watch nearby.
Weekly Photo Challenge – Security
A densely clouded sky can be seen as an excuse to feel sorrowful and gloomy or an opportunity to reflect back a glow of happiness and joy.
Weekly Photo Challenge – Dense
It’s been a while since I posted any photo bloopers so I figured it was about time for some more. Sometimes an imperfect picture needs a little modification. Here’s what I do with them. Enjoy!
To see more, go to one of my previous blooper posts here.
I got quite the scolding from this chickaree squirrel from its perch above me. Chickarees, otherwise known as Douglas’ squirrels, will try to defend their territory from just about anything.
Weekly Photo Challenge – Atop
Apparently some hawks think our backyard water feature is their personal smorgasbord. I often see a swoosh of wings go by as songbirds scatter. The Cooper’s hawk, and the very similar sharp-shinned hawk, are frequent visitors to our backyard. Like the jays that always seem to follow me, the Cooper’s hawk has now decided it must be one of my totem animals. I have seen them in a wide variety of habitats here in central Oregon. They always pose nicely for my camera. Here’s a bit more about them…
Range: Cooper’s hawks live throughout the United States, southern Canada, and Mexico. Their breeding range extends from southern Canada southwards to the northern parts of the U. S. They winter and live year-round in the southern and central parts of the U.S. and in Mexico.
Identification & unique characteristics: This medium-sized bird has the rounded, broad wings, and relatively long legs that help to identify it as an accipiter hawk. Adults are gray on their backs and on the upper side of their tails and wings. Their head has a darker “cap” and they have red eyes. There are thick dark bands on the tail. Their breasts have orange-reddish bars. Juvenile birds are brown on their upper parts and their breasts are streaked with brown. Their eyes are yellow. This hawk has a length of 14-18 inches and a weight of 8-14 ounces. Females are always larger. Cooper’s hawks fly in a distinctive way – a couple quick flaps and then long glides. This bird is silent much of the time though it does sometimes vocalize with a cak-cak-cak call during the breeding season.
It can be very challenging to figure out if you are seeing a Cooper’s hawk or a sharp-shinned hawk. Cooper’s hawks have a larger head, thicker legs, bigger feet, a paler back of the neck, and a rounded tail with a thicker white tip. The Northern Goshawk looks similar but it is much larger and it has a more distinct white eye stripe.
Behavior & life history: The breeding season begins as early as March. Courtship includes aerial chases and displays with gliding flights with their wings held up in a ‘V’ position. In bonded pairs, the male does a bowing display to the female before and after building the nest. Cooper’s hawks prefer to build their stick nests 25-50 feet above the ground in trees located in areas with flat habitat. Eggs are incubated for 30-36 days and the young birds are in the nest for 27-34 days. They lay 2-6 eggs. This skillful flier often sits in wait and in a sudden burst of speed captures its unsuspecting prey. They mainly eat birds but also prey on small mammals and, occasionally, frogs, snakes, and lizards. Bird prey ranges in size from warblers to robins on up to grouse (and chickens!). Cooper’s hawks live up to 12 years in the wild and as long as 20+ years in captivity. Predators of this bird include red-tailed hawks, great horned owls, and raccoons.
Habitat needs: Cooper’s hawks live in a wide variety of habitats that include mature forests, mixed woodlands, edges near wetlands, and in open country. They prefer to live in forested lands but are now common in urban and suburban areas. This may be due, in part, to the abundance of rock pigeons, one of their favorite prey species. This bird and other birds of prey are also attracted to backyard feeders.
Status & conservation: This hawk’s population is considered stable at this time. In the past, Cooper’s hawks were adversely affected by the pesticide DDT but after it was banned in 1972 their numbers increased. Since they prey on chickens, they were heavily hunted in the past. One of their names is “chicken hawk.” Cooper’s hawk populations may be affected by habitat loss and degradation.
Interesting fact: Cooper’s hawks do not have the notched bill that helps falcons kill their prey. They kill their prey by squeezing it and sometimes they even hold it under water to drown it.
Sometimes an artist’s greatest wish is that others will be able to see the emotion and spirit of a place in their work. I hope you can feel some of what I was trying to capture in this photo.
Art is about expressing the true nature of the human spirit in whatever way one wishes to express it. If it is honest, it is beautiful. If it is not honest, it is obvious.
Weekly Photo Challenge – Wish
A sky streaked with clouds frames Fort Rock, rising from the sagebrush sea in central Oregon. This is the view from Fort Rock Cave, where ancient sandals made from sagebrush were found. Sandals and other artifacts found there were determined to be 9,300-10,250 years old. Walking from the cave back towards Fort Rock, you can almost imagine some of the sights ancient people may have seen.
Weekly Photo Challenge – The road taken
Here is another great sculpture by local artist Greg Congleton. This sculpture depicts a team of draft horses pulling a log. Thousands of draft horses were imported from Western Europe in the late 19th and early 20th century to help with logging, farming, and moving freight and passengers.
Here is the sign nearby that lists some of the parts used to make this sculpture. Can you find any of them?
Note that this sculpture was donated by Penny and Phil Knight. Phil is the co-founder and chairman emeritus of a company named Nike. Perhaps you have heard of it.
Here is a video of Belgian draft horses at work dragging logs. They are pretty impressive.
Weekly Photo Challenge – A Good Match
If you want to go snowshoeing close to Bend, check out the trail at Swampy Lakes Sno-Park. It’s a short ways away from the more popular Virginia Meissner Sno-Park and is tucked in the shadow of Mount Bachelor. There are plenty of parking spaces but make sure you purchase a Sno-Park Parking Permit before you go.
Both Virginia Meissner and Swampy Lakes Sno-Parks offer trails for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and fatbiking. Some of the other sno-parks in the area also have places for snowmobiling.
We walked 1.75 miles on the easy Short Snowshoe Loop but there are a couple other trails that are longer and more difficult. The more difficult Long Snowshoe Loop trail is 3.25 miles long. If you want to get some good views from Telemark Butte, you’ll have to go on the longer Porcupine Snowshoe Loop. That loop is 4.1 miles long and it’s rated as more difficult. You can stop for a rest after 2 miles at the Swampy Shelter.
The Short Snowshoe Loop winds through beautiful pine forests and it has little elevation gain. The trailhead is at an elevation of 5,800 feet. You won’t get great mountain views but you may find the same solitude that we did last week. There were several cross-country skiers using the trails nearby but we didn’t see any other snowshoers. The trail was in great shape. We could see some fatbike tracks on our trail – they are not allowed on ski trails – so other people were out there recently. It was a nice quiet walk on a sunny winter day.
Make sure you bring the proper clothing and equipment for your trek. Go on a trail that fits your abilities – they are well-signed. There are directional signs but I would also bring a map and compass (and maybe a GPS). Here is a map: Swampy Sno-Park Trails
Fun Facts: Did you know that you can burn 450 calories an hour snowshoeing? If you run on snowshoes that increases your calorie burn to 1,000 calories per hour. Yes, people do run on special snowshoes designed for that purpose. According to Snowshoe Magazine, you burn 45% more calories snowshoeing than walking or running at the same speed due to exercising in the cold, having additional weight on your feet, and working against the resistance of snow.
Though barriers may sometimes block your way, if you persist you can find your way around them.
Weekly Photography Challenge – Against the odds
A strange and almost surreal photo that has rays of light, wave shadows, and reflections of floating leaves. Can you find the otter swimming in the background?
Weekly Photo Challenge – Shadow
Ready to celebrate a new month? If so, you might want to go to Bend, Oregon for the First Friday event. Every month select businesses keep their doors open late in support of the arts. Businesses in the downtown and Old Mill areas host artists while galleries feature the latest exhibits. This month Willow Lane Artist’s Creative Space joined First Friday for the first time.
As you walk around the area, you can stop in to view the art and get free drinks and snacks at the participating businesses. Some also have live music. It’s a popular event so get there early. We went a couple nights ago and the cool temperatures helped make the crowds a little smaller.
You never know what you will find at this event. One summer night we saw a young boy standing on a street corner putting out some amazing music on his fiddle. Just around the corner from him, a craftsman displayed his handmade leather works. Just across the street from them, a couple guys strummed on their guitars as they sang. Many passerbys stopped to admire the work of these artisans.
In the small downtown area, you can walk to a variety of galleries. One of my favorites is Red Chair Gallery. I always like looking at the wood boxes and carved pieces in this place. Mockingbird Gallery is the largest gallery downtown. They always have interesting metal sculptures there. Stunning nature photographs can be found at Jeffrey Murray Fine Art Photography. Multimedia artist Mary Medrano, known for her portrayals of animals, and jewelry artist Karen Bandy both work from studios downtown. Be sure to stop in the two frame shops downtown, High Desert Frameworks and Sage Custom Framing & Gallery, to look at their featured artists.
In the Old Mill district you can visit a gallery, a stained glass business, and a fiber artist studio. A large metal sculpture by local artist Greg Congleton can be found right outside the The Tumalo Art Co. There are a wide variety of artists showing their work inside the gallery. The DeWilde Art Glass studio is interesting because it’s housed in a 1912 building. The Little Red Shed was moved from nearby and was here when this site hosted two lumber mills. Lubbesmeyer Studio & Gallery features amazing fiber works by twin sisters Lisa and Lori Lubbesmeyer. They do detailed work that looks like wonderfully textured paintings.
The First Friday gallery walk was created more than 20 years ago by the Bend Gallery Association. It’s a great way to get a glimpse of the local art scene in an entertaining way.
While on vacation, I picked up a rock and it told me what it was meant to be. A Tyrannosaurus rex of course!
I took it home and got ready to paint. All of the ridges and depressions seemed to be in exactly the right spots. Even the greenish color was right. I darkened a few spots and enhanced others. I added scales with a tiny brush. The crooked grin fit right into the contours of the rock. The nostril and eye placed themselves along a ridge and depression.
Look past external appearances and you may find magic hidden within.
Weekly Photography Challenge – Repurpose
Sometimes you can be trudging along with a little dark cloud hovering over your head and you almost walk by something intended for only you to see. I had one of those moments years ago at Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge. I had been doing research there and often saw pronghorn on sagebrush covered hills in the distance.
The refuge was created in southern Oregon in 1936 to protect pronghorn, otherwise known as antelope. This icon of the Wild West is an interesting creature. More closely related to giraffes than deer, their uniquely shaped horns have a bony core that is covered with a sheath that they shed every year. They are capable of running at speeds as fast as 55 miles per hour for short distances.
On that long ago day, I took a hike by myself to sort out my thoughts. I walked on a trail that bordered a willow-lined creek. My head was down, focused on the gravelly trail ahead of me.
I almost didn’t notice the pronghorn next to the trail. It was so close I could have stretched out my arm and touched it. I stopped and looked at it as it stared at me. Pronghorn have enormous eyes shaded by long lashes. The pronghorn looked at me curiously with those expressive eyes. The disc of white hair on its rump started to stand up as it does when they are alarmed. I stood stock still.
I’m not sure how long we both stood there regarding each other. The pronghorn eventually made a soft snorting noise and moved on its way. I stood there for a while and the thoughts of anger I previously had disappeared.
Sometimes you just need to move on from things that make you angry or sad. I had a big loss this week but I decided to try to focus on some of the good things in my life. I also took steps towards more happiness.
Here are some of them:
• Rejoiced at having 150 followers on my blog as of this week (Thanks followers!)
• Joined a new children’s book writing group that meets locally
• Joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators group
• Signed up for eight springtime hikes
• Took pictures of wintery scenes
• Continued “research” on coffee shops in Bend
• Wrote, wrote, and wrote some more
I hope you find ways to dissipate the dark clouds in your lives!
Rivers make their own way
In a steady direction
When they find obstacles
And descending towards
A unique form of grace
Weekly Photo Challenge – Graceful
Robins feasted on juniper berries while waiting out the snowstorm.
Weekly Photo Challenge – Ambience
Mountain ranges on branches
Stars burst forth below
Logs into letters
The roughest spots smooth
New tracks in ancient places
I have always had a special feeling about Spasmodic Geyser in Yellowstone National Park. Why? I think part of it has to do with the interesting name. Check out this short video and watch for the butterfly that tempts fate.
Eruptions from this geyser range from a few inches to 20 feet in height. The time between eruptions varies but is usually in the range of 1-3 hours. Spasmodic Geyser has a temperature of 198° F. This geyser was named by Geologist A.C. Peale when he was doing work with the 1878 Hayden survey team. Peale chose this name due to the geyser’s erratic behavior.
Weekly Photo Challenge – Names