Art in the High Desert

Art in the High Desert 2016

Art in the High Desert 2016

Art with a view

Set along the scenic Deschutes River, the Art in the High Desert event features 110 artists from throughout North America. Based on its sales of fine art, it is ranked number 12 for best fine arts festival in the nation. This is the ninth year of the event. The show features a wide variety of two- and three-dimensional artwork.

My favorite works there this year were created by local artist, Jason Waldron. He makes three-dimensional works created with wood and metal scraps salvaged in Central Oregon. They are large, dramatic, and expressive. Check them out at Waldron 3D.

Our Parks as Works of Art: Weekly Photo Challenge

Parks as works of Art - Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

Our National Park Service is celebrating its 100th birthday this week. I thought it appropriate to share pictures of our parks as works of art – with each framed and matted. Our 59 parks represent diverse and beautiful places and the Park Service works within a framework that helps to protect them. Hope that my “gallery” inspires you to visit some of them soon.

I have only been to 14 National Parks. How many have you been to? Do you have any photos to share of our parks as works of art?

Weekly Photo Challenge (WPC) – Frame

Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park
Mt Rainier National Park, Washington
Mt Rainier National Park, Washington
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Parks as works of art - Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Redwood National Park, California
Redwood National Park, California

Hosmer Lake – A Kayaker’s Dream

The view from a kayak on Hosmer Lake, Oregon 10Aug2016
The view from a kayak on Hosmer Lake, Oregon

Have you ever finally made it to a place that people had told you you HAD to go to? For me that place was Hosmer Lake. Why didn’t I go here sooner?!

We went early on a mid-weekday morning. I had heard about the crowds sometimes here on weekends. It can get very crowded – especially in the summer.

Bald eagle at Hosmer Lake 10Aug2016
Bald eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus

There is a concrete boat ramp leading into a bulrush-lined meandering lake. After boarding our kayaks, we were soon greeted by a bald eagle perched in a nearby tree. It was almost as if it had been planted there for a photo opportunity. We paddled on and took a channel to the left.

Fish galore

Looking under our boats, we noticed many large fish. It is a fly fishing only catch-and-release lake. There are brook trout, rainbow trout, and Atlantic salmon here. They stopped stocking salmon in 2015. Now Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife is stocking cutthroat trout and “Cranebow” rainbow trout in Hosmer Lake. Cranebows are hatchery fish derived from wild redband trout that live in nearby Crane Prairie Reservoir. They are feisty and strong compared to other fish.

For more information on where to fish within 90 minutes of Bend, go here.

Great blue heron, Ardea herodias 10Aug2016
Great blue heron, Ardea herodias

The lake is shallow and clear so, according to one fisherman we saw, the fish may see you long before you attempt to catch them. We saw a great blue heron patiently perching next to the fisherman in pursuit of its own fish dinner.

Habitats of Hosmer Lake, Oregon
Habitats of Hosmer Lake

Flora & fauna

The conifer forests, bulrushes, and water plants bordering the lake provide habitat for several types of birds. Swallows ascended then dipped  low over the lake. A nighthawk squawked as it pursued a meal of flying insects.  Yellow-headed blackbirds tiptoed across floating water plants. Meanwhile, a sapsucker stayed busy probing a downed tree by the water’s edge. Pied-billed grebes and ring-necked ducks drifted by us with their young. A double-crested cormorant submerged and then surfaced many yards away.

Hosmer Lake views, Oregon
Hosmer Lake views

If you go at a time of light usage, you may not see anyone else for a while. It’s almost like you are in the wilds of Alaska instead of just 36 miles from the city of Bend, Oregon.

Hosmer Lake info

Hosmer Lake is one of the lakes along the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway near Mount Bachelor, Broken Top, and the Sisters mountains. We get used to seeing these peaks in Bend but to see them up close like this as you paddle along is spectacular.

Kayaking at Hosmer Lake, Oregon
Kayaking at Hosmer Lake

The lake is located at about 5,000 feet in elevation. The average depth is only three feet but it gets as deep as 12 feet. Hosmer Lake has a surface area of 198 acres. There are two U.S. Forest Service campgrounds located at the lake.

Fun fact: This lake was previously called  Mud Lake. Before a small dam was installed on the lake in 1958, the lake was marshier and muddier. It was also home to murk-creating carp before they were eliminated in 1957. In 1962 the lake’s name was changed to honor Bend naturalist, Paul Hosmer.

Rare opportunity – with a twist: WPC

Young Western fence lizard, Sceloporus occidentalis
Young Western fence lizard, Sceloporus occidentalis

So I was sitting in my living room when I saw this lizard scamper across my porch. Seeing a rare opportunity to get a good picture, I jumped up, dropped everything off of my lap, and grabbed my camera. The lizard moved fast but I managed to grab it. After it calmed down from the initial shock of being grabbed by a towering giant, it sunned itself calmly in the warm summer rays while perched on my hand.

Young Western fence lizard, Sceloporus occidentalis
Soaking up some rays

I quickly snapped several pictures as it posed for me. After I felt like I had snapped enough photos, I gently placed it down on the grass. That was when the fun began. It climbed up my pants leg and vanished from sight.

I brushed my pants this way and that but no lizard. I went into my bathroom and stripped off my pants and shook them and turned them inside out – no lizard. I took off my shirt and thoroughly searched it – still no lizard. I got dressed and happened to look in the mirror and saw a teeny tiny head peering over the top of my head. The little sneak! I grabbed it and took it back outside.

Rare opportunity Young Western fence lizard, Sceloporus occidentalis on my head
“She will never see me here!”

The pictures that you see at the beginning and end of this post are of the lizard after it had temporarily hidden from me. Do you see the look of satisfaction in its eyes? It took advantage of the situation and saw a rare opportunity to hitch a ride so it could explore new worlds.

Weekly Photo Challenge – Rare

Young Western fence lizard, Sceloporus occidentalis
Young Western fence lizard, Sceloporus occidentalis

Dee Wright Observatory


Dee Wright Observatory

Dee Wright Observatory in the distance from the trail

Dee Wright Observatory, Oregon

Dee Wright Observatory, McKenzie Pass, Oregon

Looking like some medieval castle about to be attacked by dragons, the Dee Wright Observatory is located near the top of McKenzie Pass at an elevation of 5,187 feet. No, there is not a telescope set up here for star viewing, but you can see several Cascade Mountain peaks nearby standing tall amidst 65 square miles of black lava rock.

The lava is from relatively recent flows from Yapoah, Little Belknap, and Belknap Craters. One of the types of lava you will see here is called Block or A A lava.

Though there is little rainfall in this area, there can be up to 20 feet of snow. The melting snow travels through cracks in the lava to underground reservoirs that feed the McKenzie and Metolius Rivers.

The McKenzie Pass Highway follows parts of the McKenzie Salt Springs and Deschutes Wagon Road that was built in the period of 1866-1872. It was used to move cattle east. The wagon road was established as a toll road in 1872. It’s hard to imagine how travelers made it over the rough lava rocks at the pass and many had to abandon their wagons. See my previous post on the Santiam Wagon Road for a little bit more history on the wagon road.

The Dee Wright Observatory building was completed in 1935 by the Civilian Conservation Corps. This and other projects in the area, such as the Santiam Ski Lodge, employed many people in a time of economic hardship. Dee Wright supervised the crew but passed away a year before the observatory was completed. This site was named in honor of his 24 years of service with the Forest Service as an officer, guide, and packer.

There are large and small openings in the observatory that have labels indicating which mountains you are viewing. If you follow the staircase up to the top of the building, you will find a peak finder. Arrows pointing in various directions show the distance to different peaks with their respective elevations. You can see many peaks including the Sisters, Little Brother, Mount Jefferson, Mount Washington, Black Butte, Cache Mountain, Dugout Butte, Condon Butte, Scott Mountain, South Belknap Cone, Belknap Crater, and Little Belknap.

View of Mt Jefferson and surrounding peaks from lava fields

View of Mt Jefferson and surrounding peaks from lava fields

If you want to take a short hike, the ½-mile long Lava River Recreation Trail is right next to the observatory. This accessible trail has informational panels that will teach you more about the site.

We drove the entire 82-mile loop of the McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass Scenic Byway. We started at Sisters and drove west along the winding byway. The two-lane road is only open for part of the year due to snow. If you go early in the day, you can avoid the traffic – motor vehicles and bicycles. Note that vehicles over 35 feet long are not allowed on this narrow, curvy road.

Subalpine forests near Scott Lake

Subalpine forests near Scott Lake

It’s an interesting drive because you pass through several types of habitat. East of the loop you will see drier sagebrush steppe habitats. As you travel around the loop, you will go through Ponderosa pine forests and subalpine forests. On the west side of the loop, you’ll travel through mixed conifer forest areas with high rainfall. Keep your eye out for interesting wildlife that live in the different habitats along the route.

You can see Clarks’s nutcrackers, gray jays, woodpeckers, crossbills, grosbeaks, rock wrens, Northern goshawks, and grouse in forested areas near McKenzie Pass and several types of ducks and sandpipers at nearby Scott Lake and Hand Lake. There are also deer, elk, and many other mammals here.

DeeWright9 1Aug2016Belknap Springs, located 23 miles west of McKenzie Pass,  is  3,625 feet lower in elevation. If you coast most of the way down like we did, look at the gas mileage you can get! Ours went all the way up to 99.6 mpg. It’s a fun drive with a lot to see.


Bird Bloopers: Weekly Photo Challenge – Fun!

Trumpeter swan Blooper 15 July 2016

I figured out these were not bad pictures, they were just bird bloopers so I had a little fun with them. Enjoy!

Weekly Photo Challenge – Fun!

Cooper's Hawk Blooper 31 Aug 2015
Siskin Bird Bloopes 1 Aug 2016
Great Horned Owl Blooper 8 Apr 2016
Flicker Blooper 14 Nov 2015
Tanager Bird Bloopers 4 June 2016

G’night Primrose: WPC – Morning

G'night primrose - Tufted evening primrose, Oenothera caespitosa
Tufted evening primrose, Oenothera caespitosa

One of my favorite things to do when I get up in the morning is to look out my window at this night-blooming primrose. I love getting a glimpse of its bold yet delicate blossoms before they go to sleep and close up during the day.

Weekly Photo Challenge – Morning