Rollin’ wooden wheels from the past presented in monochromatic tones.
North of Madras, Oregon, you’ll find giant thundereggs tucked away on a hilltop near the ghost town of Ashwood. Polka-dot agates and thundereggs occur naturally at the Priday Polka-Dot Agate Beds.
The thundereggs you’ll find here are amazing! You never know what kind of treasures you’ll find on the inside.
I was impressed by the layered, colorful rock formations alongside the road on the drive to the site.
When we arrived, we were told where to dig and what to look for. The staff were friendly and knowledgeable about the local geology. Samples of rough, and cut and polished rocks were on display.
We asked if it was okay to bring our dogs while digging. They said we could and admitted to liking dogs more than some people. 😉
Giant thundereggs galore!
We brought our own rock hammers and bags, but they provide them for free. I noticed they had five-gallon buckets for collecting rocks and soon learned why. There are HUGE thundereggs here! I put a ruler into the picture below to show the scale of rocks we collected.
Some of the thundereggs at the Priday Polka-Dot site have mini stalactite or stalagmite-type formations inside. Collectors are fond of this type of thunderegg.
We both worked on prying thundereggs free from the substrate. It’s not easy work, but recent rainfall loosened the soil.
I always look at the rocks other visitors cast aside. You can find real treasures in these piles!
We had a couple of our finds cut in half. There’s a small charge for this service, but it’s worth it.
Just a reminder… rocks are HEAVY! They charge $2.00/pound for the thundereggs. I like rocks a lot so I thought it was worth the price.
We’ve collected thundereggs at Richardson’s Rock Ranch, south of here, several times, but the thundereggs at the Polka-Dot site are much bigger. Richardson’s no longer allows public digging, but it’s a good place to get extra-large thundereggs cut. They also have an excellent rock shop, including rocks with origins from all over the world for purchase.
Other rocks for sale
You’ll see large piles of various types of rocks for sale near the parking area at the Polka-Dot mine.
The polka-dot agate mine near the thunderegg site was not open for digging during our April 2022 visit. There’s a huge boulder of polka-dot agate near the cutting area and small samples nearby you can buy.
I bought a small piece to bring home. Black, brown, and red polka-dots are scattered across a white or light blue base on these agates.
The Priday Polka-Dot Agate Mine also has fire opal for sale but I misread the sign as $2.00/pound when it’s actually $200/pound. Ooops! Here’s a small faceted piece from a mine in southern Oregon that I purchased a while back on eBay. The Juniper Ridge fire opal mines are privately owned and there’s not currently a dig site open to the public.
Check the West Coast Mining website for operating hours or call ahead to make sure they’re open.
To get to the mine, drive 15 miles north of Madras on Highway 97. Look for the sign to Ashwood and head east nine miles on a winding, scenic road.
You’ll know you’re at the right spot when you see the polka dot-painted trailer.
An added bonus
When we were there in late April, we were happy to see one our local wildflowers in bloom. The magenta blossoms of the snowball cactus were beautiful!
We will visit the Priday Polka-Dot Agate Beds again in the future. It’s a wonderful site to find incredible giant thundereggs – and our dogs had fun too. 😀
Today I’m sharing a primrose painting, photo, and poem I created. When I was on a field trip in early June, we saw a “field” of this plant in bloom near Crack in the Ground. Tufted evening-primrose, Oenothera caespitosa, usually only bloom at night but on that day, dark clouds filled the skies.
Here’s a watercolor I painted of the flowers.
And here’s the work in progress in my little studio space.
This is the close up photograph I took of these beautiful flowers near Crack in Ground. I’m growing evening-primrose in my landscaping and, so far, the always hungry resident mule deer have not discovered them. 🤞
Here is a Sijo poem about these remarkable flowers.
Awakened when the moon rises over the silent desert
Flowers in sandy soil open, shining like pale lanterns
Enchanting the world with intoxicating scent, until dawn breaks
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The Powder House building, near Prineville Reservoir State Park in Central Oregon, makes a great subject for photographs. This historic rock structure was once used to store gunpowder. It’s located next to a popular boat ramp on the reservoir.
I’ll be showing how I processed this picture three ways with Corel PaintShop Pro 2021. Prior to trying out the various effects, I increased the contrast, brightness, and white balance slightly.
The first two show the original and the same picture with a Retro effect. For this image I went to Effects>Photo Effects>Retro Lab>Surreal. This effect blurred the edges like a vignette. I thought this effect emphasized the door in the building. It looked like a portal to another place surrounded by misty fog.
The next two show the original and the same picture with a Time Machine effect. For this image I went to Effects>Photo Effects>Time Machine>Albumen. This monotone effect reflects a technique used in the 1850s-1890s. It works well when you’re trying to emphasize the history of a place. A picture such as this might have appeared in newspapers of the time.
The last two show the original Powder House building and the same picture with a Pencil effect. For this image I went to Effects>Art Media Effects>Pencil. I played around with a few of the settings for this effect. I increased the intensity and luminance. You can select a color to emphasize and I chose a dark tone to the left of the door. This effect sharpened the edges, softened the colors, and darkened the sky. It makes it into a unique work of art.
When cannabis was legalized for recreational use in Oregon in 2015, dispensaries popped up all around Bend. Dr Jolly’s is one of these appropriately named establishments.
The first picture shows a vibrant mural at the south end of the building. This looks like a color-filled view of Cascade peaks located near Bend. Red flowers and blue marijuana plants grow in the foreground.
The second photo shows a view of the front of the building. A hand points the way to the entrance. Barbers poles, with green stripes instead of red, flank the doors.
The artwork at this business was created by Janessa Bork and Josh Ramp, of VIVI Design Co., in 2020. Their website refers to Janessa and Josh as the “dynamic duo [who] founded VIVI in 2018 with a focus on unique tactile presence.” They create murals – inside and out, signs, menus, and other graphics. The pair’s impressive talent is on display at Dr Jolly’s and many other local businesses.
When you focus on the eyes of your subject, you make a connection with them to share with others.
The intense golden stare of an alert Great Horned Owl.
The ghostly ice-blue eyes of a dog with ancestry from frozen lands.
The chestnut brown gaze of an immense grizzly bear in motion.
The always searching orange eyes of a Cooper’s Hawk on the hunt.
The coalescence of green in a glance from a contented cat.
The large, far seeing, deep brown eyes of a grazing pronghorn.
A focus on eyes of different colors enlightens us all.
Today I’m sharing pictures of the doors of Shaniko, Oregon. Once a bustling town known as “The Wool Capital of the World”, it later became a ghost town. Its current population is somewhere between 12 and 32, depending on the source.
The doors and doorways of abandoned and occupied buildings in Shaniko have a lot of personality.
From the curious…
To the grand.
From the rustic…
To the colorful.
From the practical…
To the necessary.
Though most of the people are gone, the doors of Shaniko live on.
guided by shadows
emerald meadows slumber
slip into summer
In late May, I went on a hike on part of the Santiam Wagon Road near Sisters, Oregon (see trail map at end of post). Carol Wall, of the Deschutes Land Trust, led this hike. We traveled along an out and back two-mile section of the road. This 400-mile route was used to move livestock and freight between 1865-1939. In the first 15 years of its operation, around 5,000 wagons passed over this route.
As I mentioned in a previous post, most travelers on this road traveled from the west side of the mountains to the east. My Santiam Wagon Road post gives details about a 2-mile hike on a different section of this route.
We gathered around the kiosk in the parking area and Carol had us imagine what this road must have looked like in the 1860s. The ponderosa pine and western juniper trees you’ll see at the trailhead likely didn’t exist at that time. Junipers expanded their range due to fire suppression and overgrazing.
Glimpses of nature along the trailContinue reading
High Desert voices can be heard throughout Central Oregon if you just pause and listen.
Bold shouts of the many
Quiet whispers of the few
Raucous calls of the many
Soft bugling of the few
Rising chorus of the many
Descending notes of the few
Here’s a picture of tulips up close growing in my garden. There’s something special about these two flowers.
They are the first to make it to this stage without being eaten by our resident deer!
This large Buffalo Bill sculpture is on a major street near the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming.
History of the Buffalo Bill sculpture
Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney created Buffalo Bill – The Scout to honor the town’s most famous resident. The dedication took place on July 4th in 1924.
Buffalo Bill Cody’s niece, Mary Jester Allen, was determined to honor his legacy after he died in 1917. She dreamed of opening a museum recognizing his accomplishments, despite the challenges. With her connections with the Eastern establishment, she convinced Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney to create a statue of Buffalo Bill.
Whitney agreed to create the sculpture, but didn’t like the proposed sites for its placement. She bought 40 adjoining acres. Whitney also ended up paying the entire $50,000 cost of the sculpture. The small town of Cody, evidently, could not raise enough to pay her.
A dream of a museum becomes a reality
In 1925, the International Cody Family Association formed. They proposed creating a Buffalo Bill Historical Museum. The town constructed a full-size replica of Buffalo Bill’s ranch home and opened it to the public in 1927. By 1949, the Buffalo Bill Memorial Association made plans to expand the facility. Western history and art, Native American culture, and natural history would be highlighted. A $250,000 donation in 1955 finally made expansion possible. Sonny Whitney, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney’s son, made that donation. In 1958, The Whitney Gallery of Western Art would become the first part of the world-class Buffalo Bill Center of the West.
Sometimes when you research one thing – a statue – you plunge down a rabbit hole and learn much more. I did not know the Vanderbilts, once considered to be the wealthiest family in America, had this connection with William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody and his legacy.
Mary Jester Allen would serve the museum in multiple roles from 1927 to 1960. Because of her actions and perseverance, the center now attracts millions of visitors from around over the world.
Here’s a pen-and-ink portrait I drew of a Bald Eagle. This stylized drawing captures their intense gaze and powerful bill.
Last week while I was photographing the “eyes” of aspen trees, I noticed a bald eagle overhead. It perched briefly atop a ponderosa pine to escape the Red-winged Blackbirds attacking it. It’s always amusing to see how large birds of prey react to territorial songbirds.
Do you have artwork you would like to share? Be sure to include the First Friday Art tag.
This beautiful exhibit at the High Desert Museum featured x-ray images of fish. X-Ray Vision: Fish Inside Out! The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Services (SITES) organized the exhibit.
I am presenting them in sepia tone. The photographers at the Smithsonian showed their structure in artistic layouts.
Though I wrote down the species of the fish in each display, I decided to let the x-ray images of fish speak for themselves. The wonder of Nature.
This exhibition closes at the High Desert Museum on May 8, 2022, but it will continue travelling to other museums around the country.
When I’m out walking among the aspen eyes early in the morning, I always feel like somebody’s watching me. While Michael Jackson was referring to his fans or the paparazzi with those lyrics, I’m referring to the eyes of nature. These aspen trees watch over me, always making sure I’m safe. My many-eyed guardians are beginning to leaf out with their distinctive fluttering leaves.
Last month, we collected petrified wood bits from Bear Creek, south of Prineville Reservoir in Oregon. The following pieces are one inch or less in size. Getting decent photographs of these tiny stones proved to be a challenge.
I set up a tabletop studio and tried a Panasonic Lumix and a Galaxy Ultra phone camera. I had to keep adjusting the spotlights outside of the studio. Each stone was given a quick spritz of water to bring out their color. After many unsuccessful attempts with both cameras, I finally got some good shots with the Panasonic.
Today I’m sharing a photograph of a colorful walk in Portland processed three ways. We visited the Portland Japanese Garden in October 2021. The fall colors are a photographer’s dream!
I’ll be showing how I processed this picture from the garden three ways with Corel PaintShop Pro 2021. Prior to trying out the various effects, I increased the contrast slightly.
The first two show the original and the same picture with a retro effect. For this image I went to Effects>Photo Effects>Retro Lab>Hue 90. This effect blurred the edges like a vignette and cast a green glow over everything. Even the carp in the foreground is green! It’s easy to imagine this as a strange world in a fantasy or science fiction book.Read more Continue reading
You’ll find The The Bend Wall mural on the side of Newport Market, a neighborhood grocery store in Bend, Oregon. The bright painting covers a 100-foot long wall on the side of the building.
This impressive piece of artwork was created by Bend artist, Kim Smallenberg.
The mountain in the center of the mural is Pilot Butte, a dormant volcano. On the right side near the peak, you can see a small fire. On the Fourth of July, commercial fireworks are launched from Pilot Butte, and sometimes, it catches on fire. Our Fire Department is always there and ready.
A large metal sculpture of a bear sits in front of one end. The mural behind the bear shows dogs around a campfire. Bend is a dog-centered town. Many residents own one, or two, or…
The Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum in Hood River, Oregon has a large collection of cars from the “Golden Age of Transportation” – the period from the early 1920s through the 1940s. The Museum has a collection of over 130 vehicles from the 1900s to the 1960s. You can get more information on vehicles in the collection by year or manufacturer here.
Cars from the Golden Age and beyond
Artifacts from the time period are on display near many of the cars. Here’s a camping scene.
Storefronts around the perimeter of the building add visual interest to the collection.
The color and design of the cars make them great subjects for photographs.
I noticed these whimsical doors in Tumalo, Oregon while visiting a pod of food trucks. The Bite currently hosts five food trucks. You can get an assortment of beers on tap inside the main building. There is comfortable seating inside and out.
These paintings were done by local artist, Nicole Fontana. There are more pictures of her work at The Bite here. She even included her whimsical take on things in the signs for handicapped parking spots. 🙂
Here in Central Oregon, homeowners can take steps towards fighting future fires for free. In the spring, you can dispose of yard waste for no charge. In Bend this year, the free disposal runs from April 30 through May 15. Here’s a link showing dates at all locations. The landfill also takes yard waste for half price in early November.
You may wonder why the local landfill is taking yard waste without charging the usual amount. Central Oregon is in the exceptional drought category, according to U.S. Drought Monitor.
A couple days ago, we went on a Lower Crooked River drive. We were there early in the morning, attempting to avoid an incoming storm system. I remembered I had been there about a year earlier for an afternoon drive. How would the lighting differ in the photos taken on both trips?
Just south of Prineville, Oregon, the Lower Crooked River Back Country Byway winds its way along the Crooked River. The 43-mile long road meets up with Highway 20 to the south.
This post highlights the 8-mile section between Prineville Reservoir and Castle Rock. See map at the end of the post. On this drive, the curving lines of the road and river contrast with the straight lines of geological features.
A morning drive
As we drove north from the reservoir, shadows covered the east side of the road. The morning light cast a warm glow over the canyon lands.
Basalt columns looked pretty in full light…
But took on more character in the shadows.
Here’s a western tiger swallowtail painting I did on a small wooden box.
Here’s one I saw on the High Desert Garden Tour a few years ago. The Western tiger swallowtail, Papilio rutulus, ranges throughout western North America.
The state insect in Oregon is the Oregon swallowtail butterfly, Papilio machaon oregonius. They have paler yellow coloring on their wings.
Would you like to attract butterflies to your garden? Here are a few things you can do, according to Gardeners.com:
- Choose plants that attract pollinators
- Limit, or eliminate, your use of pesticides
- Provide shelter for breeding and avoiding predators
- Provide water
- Consider keeping a beehive
For a good list of plants that attract butterflies, go to Attracting Butterflies, Hummingbirds and Other Pollinators.
Do you have artwork you would like to share? Be sure to include the First Friday Art tag.
Deadwood Stagecoach, 1867. Buffalo Bill Cody Center of the West, Cody, Wyoming
When taking pictures, you might want to think about composing your photo in thirds. What?
According to the Digital Photography School, the rule of thirds “is a compositional guideline that breaks an image down into thirds (both horizontally and vertically) so you have nine pieces and four gridlines. According to the rule, by positioning key elements along the gridlines, you’ll end up with better compositions.”
While browsing my photos, I realized horizontal layers are more important to me in composition. Do my pictures always follow the rule of thirds guidelines? No, it’s okay to bend the rules.
SLR Lounge notes, “Of all the “rules” in photography, the rule of thirds is one of the easiest to successfully break.”
My photo in thirds examples (with layers)
This sandhill crane is in the upper third corner, but the differing textures and colors of the plants catch your attention. This photo has four layers.
This pronghorn is near the lower third of the picture. I could have cropped it more, but I didn’t want to cut out the misty mountains in the background. This photo has five layers.
We have a resident herd of mule deer here and I refer to this buck as the guy next door. He didn’t seem to be bothered by my presence at all.
the path meanders
up a rocky desert butte
embraced by spring clouds
A white poppy up close growing in our garden last year. Poppies come in a variety of colors, but they’re also pretty in white.
I often look at bird photos I’ve taken later and find out they’re slightly blurred. Fortunately for me, the Bird Weekly Photo Challenge this week is “Blurry.” I’m highlighting funny bird moments to go along with the Lens-Artist Photo Challenge of “Humor.”
This American robin looked kind of mad that I interrupted a private moment with its Ring-necked Dove friend. Ooops!
Is this an ad for Subaru? Look a little closer to spot the Mountain Bluebird admiring its reflection in my mirror. It was quite taken with itself.
This western juniper looks like it had too much fun on Earth Day. I think it was trying to sleep it off. 😉
Thermophile color blooms near Earth’s core
In bouquets of startling brilliance
Fertilized by extreme heat
In caldera water
Where few dare to tread
Find a home,