Kingbird surveying his realm

This western kingbird distracted us while we were on a field trip looking for Swainson’s hawks and ground squirrels. Their bright color and bold personality forces you to take notice of them.

Western Kingbird at Fort Rock, Oregon 21April2017

Western kingbird at Fort Rock, Oregon 21April2017

You can see part of Fort Rock in the background on the left. To learn more about the cave with ancient artifacts near there, see my post here. For information on the great museum at Fort Rock, see my post here.

Weekly Photo Challenge – Ooh, Shiny!

Friday Flowers & Flag Bridge

Just couldn’t resist posting one more picture of a bridge.  The color of the flags on the bridge are changed with the various seasons, holidays, and events.  This bridge is not far from the one I posted on Wednesday.  The bridge is in Bend, Oregon and it goes over the Deschutes River.  There are some nice trails to walk on near the river.  It’s also fun to inner tube, kayak, and stand up paddle board here. Colorful flowers around the area are in full bloom.

Bridge at Old Mill, Bend, Oregon 7July2017Flowers and bridge in the Old Mill district, Bend, Oregon 7July2017

Weekly Photo Challenge – Bridge

Visiting Westworld

In search of Westworld

Do you enjoy watching the HBO series Westworld? When I first watched the show, I wondered where some of the stunning outdoor shots had been filmed. Interesting land features and sunny skies serve as a backdrop in this series. I found out that several filming locations were in Utah so we visited them on a recent trip.

Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah 3May2017

Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah

Origins of Westworld

This series is based on the 1973 Westworld movie, written and directed by Michael Crichton. In this sci-fi classic, wealthy tourists visit an Old West-themed amusement park where they can indulge in any of their fantasies with no consequences. The “hosts” in the park appear to be human but they are actually androids. Though the skies appear to always be sunny, there are dark plot twists involving the hosts in both the movie and the series.

Castle Valley near Moab, Utah 4May2017

Castle Valley near Moab, Utah

Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy worked on the screenplay for the new series. It debuted on HBO in October of 2016. You may have heard of Jonathan’s brother, Christopher Nolan. The two of them co-wrote the screenplays for The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, and several other successful films. Jonathan worked as a writer, director, and executive producer on the Westworld series, roles he also held for the Person of Interest series. Continue reading

Rock Show – Madras, Oregon

We just got back from the Rock, Gem, and Mineral Show in Madras. I overheard someone say there were 135 vendors this year so it took a while to see everything. This is the 68th year of this event. It is sponsored by the The All Rockhounds Pow-wow Club of America, Inc. Prices for the rocks, gems, and minerals range from one dollar to hundreds of dollars. Parking, admission, and entertainment is free. The show takes place June 22-25.

Here are a few pictures I took today at the event. Do I know what the name is of everything I show in these pictures? No! I have always liked pretty rocks even if I don’t know what they are.  If you go to a big rock show like this, someone there can likely identify what’s there for you and tell you all about them. They may even tell a tale or two about the adventure they had when collecting them.

 

Peek-a-boo view

Northern flicker in western juniper nest 19June2017

Some birds you hear long before you see them. I was happy to follow the sound of a northern flicker’s calls to discover it was nesting on our property. Here it is peeking out from its nest cavity in a western juniper tree. Their markings are loud and sharp – just like their calls. I know the birds won’t be in their nest for long, but I am glad to catch glimpses of them glimpsing at me.

Northern Flicker2 11-14-2015

Weekly Photography Challenge – Transient

Water wise gardening: Growing more with less

Xeriscaping

Have you ever seen a plant out in nature and thought to yourself, “Wow, I wish I could have that in my yard!”

Mountain mahogany in the wild, Great Basin National Park, Nevada 8May2017

Mountain mahogany in the wild

Mountain mahogany in landscape 13June2017

Gray rabbitbrush (transplant) and mountain mahogany in landscape

Well sometimes you can and if you include certain types of plants, you’ll benefit in several ways including:

  • Saving $$$ on your water bill.
  • Ensuring that your garden plantings survive and thrive.
  • Attracting wildlife.
  • Spending less time on maintenance.
California Quail near prickly poppy and green rabbitbrush 25may2017

California Quail near prickly poppy and green rabbitbrush

Water wise gardening, otherwise known as xeriscaping, incorporates plants that require less water. The plants can be native to the area or from other areas with similar environments. There are hundreds of these types of plants that can be incorporated into your garden.

Deciding what to plant 

You need to consider the environment where you live. I live at an elevation of 3,400 feet in an area that gets about 10 inches of precipitation per year. Water is a precious resource here.

Desert primrose in the wild, Fort Rock, Oregon 9June2017

Desert primrose in the wild

Desert primrose in landscape 29May2017

Desert primrose in landscape

When deciding what to plant, you can start by going to a local plant nursery.  You could also check out information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Cooperative Extension System. Click here to find resources in your state. Local sources can tell you more about water requirements for different plants and what grows there, soil types and amendments, how to water efficiently, what mulches to use, and how to maintain your landscape.

Purple sage in the wild, Gray Butte, Oregon 15May2016

Purple sage in the wild

Purple sage in landscape 14June2017

Purple sage in landscape

Plan and design your landscape before you start purchasing plants. Consider establishing “zones” where plants have the same soil, light, and water requirements. Figure out what type of watering system you want to have. We use a drip irrigation system to target the plants with limited amounts of water. If you choose plants that grow well in your environment, they may require very little water once they are established.

Finding water wise plants

Find a source for getting plants that grow best in your area. I am very lucky to live near Wintercreek Restoration and Nursery, a nursery that specializes in native plants. I have also successfully transplanted drought tolerant native plants from other parts of my property. Some plants, like buckwheat, are more successful if raised from seed. Native plants may not need additional soil amendments when you plant them. Be sure to mulch around plants after planting them and do maintenance as needed.

Oregon sunshine "volunteers" in landscape 12June2017

Oregon sunshine “volunteers” in landscape

Oregon sunshine in landscape 12June2017

Oregon sunshine transplant in landscape

It can be a daunting task to get started with a water wise landscape design. You can hire a landscape designer or do it yourself. We have done it ourselves using local resources. I often buy plants that are small because they cost less. Last year my garden looked kind of pitiful. It takes time for the landscape to mature so I have to remind myself to be patient. This year, even after a heavy snowfall winter, the plants are much bigger so I am beginning to see their potential. Yay!

Beavertail cactus propagated from one leaf next to fringed sage 12June2017

Beavertail cactus propagated from one leaf next to fringed sage

Blurry songster

I recently heard a complicated and beautiful birdsong but it took me a minute to locate the songster. Though the photo I took was a little out of focus, the mockingbird’s song was loud and clear. Be sure to visit this site to hear it – Northern Mockingbird’s song. No wonder its Latin name translates to “many-tongued mimic.”

Northern mockingbird 7May2017

Northern mockingbird Mimus polyglottos

Weekly Photo Challenge – Focus

A story in layers

Moenkopi Formation at Capitol Reef National Park, Utah 5May2017

Moenkopi Formation at Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

The landscape at Capitol Reef National Park tells many stories in colorful layers of rock. The darker columns in the picture above are part of the Moenkopi Formation and it is 225 million years old.

The sedimentary layers of rock in this picture consist of silt, sand, clay, and gravel. The bands of gray and burgundy are made up of volcanic ash. The 700 foot thick layer at the base of the cliffs is the Chinle Formation. That formation contains a lot of petrified wood.

I was impressed by contrasting colors and textures at this park. If you take a trip to Utah, don’t overlook this park. There are a lot of hiking trails here and a short scenic drive.

Weekly Photo Challenge – Order

Wear in the world?

Can you guess where I was earlier this month? Yes! I was on a 2,754-mile road trip to see parks in Utah and Nevada. We visited five national parks and one state park in Utah and one national park in Nevada.

I love the artwork on these t-shirts. It’s nice to remember a place with a wearable piece of art.

BryceNatPk 6May2017

I took a few pictures while on this trip. 1,420 to be exact. Lots of material for future blog posts!

Newspaper Rock – Ancient Messages in Stone

Newspaper Rock, UT 4May2017An amazing example of petroglyphs can be seen on the road into the Needles section of Canyonlands National Park in Utah. Wow! I have seen petroglyphs before but never so many in one spot. There are more than 650 drawings on a rock wall at this state historical monument. The dark desert varnish provides a nice contrast to the messages carved into the stone.

Newspaper Rock 2, UT 4May2017The first carvings at this site have been determined to be 2,000 years old. People of the Archaic, Anasazi, Fremont, Navajo, Anglo, and Pueblo cultures have carved their messages into the rock over the years. Unfortunately, it looks like some more modern graffiti artists added to parts of the scene.

Newspaper Rock 3, UT 4May2017The meanings of the messages here have been difficult to figure out. Do they tell a story or are they merely scribbles? The Navajo refer to this site as Tse’ Hane – translated as  “Rock that tells a story.” It does indeed appear to tell many stories. Only the people who made the carvings know exactly what those stories were.

Weekly Photo Challenge – Heritage
Continue reading

Tumalo Dam Hike

TumaloReservoirHike12 10Apr2017

Bull Flat from Tumalo dam

It’s hard to imagine that the big flat area pictured above was once filled with water that all disappeared. Developer William A. Laidlaw was in this area in the early 1900’s and he promised settlers a project that would irrigate nearly 30,000 acres. Local businesses and settlers put up some of their hard earned dollars for the project but then figured out they were being taken advantage of. Laidlaw was burned in effigy in 1907 and 1912. New plans were made by the state for a reservoir.

Construction of the dam ca. 1914

Tumalo Dam construction.  Photographic copy of TID photograph (from original print on file at TID office, Tumalo, Oregon).

In 1914, the huge earthen Tumalo Dam on the edge of 1,100 acre Bull Flat was constructed. It took 18 months to complete. The reservoir was filled with thousands of gallons of water. A couple of school kids were passing by the reservoir one day and heard a roaring noise like a tub draining. A giant whirlpool was sucking down the water at the rate of 220 cfs – as fast as it was being filled. Yikes!

They tried plugging the hole with bales of hay and detonating dynamite on floating barges. Nothing worked. It turned out the engineer that designed the project had not done much work on the soil at the site. It is extremely porous and modern day engineers liken it to a sponge. There are also lava tubes underneath the surface.  Continue reading

Dangerous Beauties

Sisters 1Aug2016The Three Sisters volcanoes in Oregon are beautiful but one of the three is dangerous. The photo above shows Middle Sister, a dormant volcano​, and North Sister, an extinct volcano. Their other sibling, South Sister, is the troublemaker. This volcano last erupted about 2,000 years ago and research in 2000 indicated uplifting activity so it could blow again. See all three Sisters in the photo below. South Sister is on the left  – some distance from her siblings.

SistersView2 4June2016Weekly Photo Challenge – Danger!