Finding serenity in a kayak: LAPC

I always have a way of finding serenity when I’m in a kayak.

Majestic mountains can surround you in a gentle hug.

Finding serenity at Wallowa Lake, Oregon 4 June2019
Wallowa Lake

You can pause and reflect on your life.

Reflections at Clear Lake, Oregon 30August2016
Reflections at Clear Lake

Wild animals will welcome you to their landscape.

Finding serenity, Mule deer at Three Creek Lake, Oregon 24September2017
Mule deer at Three Creek Lake

You see things from a totally different perspective.

Mt Bachelor from Hosmer Lake 9August2016
Mt Bachelor from Hosmer Lake

And if you pay close attention, Nature will point the way.

Reflection at Little Lava Lake, Oregon 28September2017
Reflections at Little Lava Lake

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Serenity

Springtime Cosmos: A Photo a Week Challenge

It’s always a thrill to see these lacy-leaved springtime cosmos in the morning sun.

Springtime cosmos Bend. Oregon 21June2019
Cosmos Bend. Oregon 21June2019

A Photo a Week Challenge – Flowers

Unique Sights-High & Low: LAPC

The Lens-Artists photo challenge today is “unique.” I thought of several unique sights I’ve seen in Oregon that fit this category.

Unique sights "Super 8" Petroglyph, Harney County, OR 11April2019
“Super 8” Petroglyph

Our guide in Harney County referred to this ancient petroglyph as the Super 8. Do you see a resemblance to an old movie camera? Petroglyphs are carved into stone while pictographs are painted onto stone.

Hairy clematis flowers 4June2019
Hairy clematis flowers

I saw these hairy clematis flowers at the Hell’s Canyon Overlook earlier this month. This unusual flower has a lot of common names including lion’s beard, leather flower, vase flower, and sugar bowl. They look similar to prairie smoke flowers featured in a previous post.

Unique sights Great Basin Spadefoot Toad 4May2018
Great Basin Spadefoot Toad

I can’t help but think of the words “unique sights” when I recall this toad I found in my high desert yard. I thought it was so interesting that I wrote a short story about it called The Toad Queen.

Pronghorn buck 1May2018
Pronghorn buck

Pronghorn are one of my favorite animals. Besides being fast and looking cool, they are in their own family. They are the only member of Antilocapridae.

Hawk taking off 25February2017
Red-tailed hawk taking off

Sometimes you see a common species, like this red-tailed hawk, from a unique perspective. I snapped a quick picture of this one taking off from a cliff.

Unique sights sky colored by fires nearby, Bend, OR 2July2014
Fire in the sky

A few years ago, fires were burning around us in all directions. Fortunately, none of the fires were very close but the smoke caused the skies to turn brilliant colors.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Unique

Nature Walks with Llamas

Llamas in eastern Oregon 13April2019
My guy, Marty McFly

This spring I tried something new by going on two nature walks with llamas. The first hike was part of the Harney County Migratory Bird Festival in eastern Oregon. The second hike, just north of Burns, Oregon, was to help a llama get certification for the Pack Llama Trial Association (PLTA).

First Hike

On the first 4-mile hike, my llama was Marty McFly, AKA “The Professor.” He was not the most dominant llama there, but he was considered to be the smartest. He was always on the lookout. Llamas have large eyes, much like pronghorns, so they can spot predators.

Close up of Marty McFly 13April2019
My, what big eyes you have

If you go on a hike with pack llamas, they can carry all of your gear. Well, at least 60 pounds of gear. You have to weigh each pack so that they are about even on both sides.

On both of the hikes I went on, I worked with llamas from the Burns Llama Trailblazers group. They have llamas that are trained in packing, cart pulling, and livestock guarding. They train the llamas to do packing from a very young age by having them carry miniature packs.

Pack llamas getting ready to head out 13April2019
Getting ready to head out
Pack llamas ready to hit the trail
Time to hit the trail

So what’s it like walking with a pack llama? Kind of like walking with a very big and inquisitive dog. These highly-trained animals keep a loose lead and they’re very sure footed. Though some are more spirited than others, they have an overall gentle nature.

Movin' on down the road 13April2019
Movin’ on down the road

We stopped for lunch at a small lake and tied off our animals. My llama had been quiet the whole trip, but once we stopped he became more vocal. I thought he sounded like Chewbacca from Star Wars. The reason he was complaining was because he wanted to keep going. Llamas can walk many miles in a single day.

Barn swallow 13April2019
Barn swallows were having a little lunch too

Second Hike

On the second hike I went on this spring, we traveled three miles. My llama that day was a young female named Manzanita. She was going for Basic Pack Llama Certification. She had to walk a three-mile course with 250-500 feet elevation gain. The llamas in this level carry 10% of their body weight.

Manzanita waiting to go on the trail 3May2019
“Hi, I’m Manzanita!”

We would encounter five different obstacles. These would include walking through tight places, moving up/over/across obstacles, and walking at least ten feet down a flowing creek. Did you know llamas often have a fear of water? Neither did I.

Cattle & horses, eastern Oregon 3May2019
The local livestock was keeping an eye on us

Manzanita did fine and passed all of the tests with flying colors. There are four levels of PLTA certification. At the highest level, the llamas walk on a 10-mile course with 2,500-3,000 feet elevation gain. There are 20 obstacles. The animals carry 25% of their body weight.

I was happy doing the shorter hike. My llama companions had a good walk and so did I.

If you are interested in helping out with pack trials, they can always use more volunteers to lead the llamas so contact the Pack Llama Trial Association .

Llamas from behind 3May2019
The end of the trail is near

Pining for Ponderosa Pine: LAPC

Ponderosa pine is a tree for the senses. These trees can grow as tall as 268 feet. Their bark turns an interesting shade of orange-red as they mature.

The branches twist and contort into interesting shapes as the tree ages.

Ponderosa pine tree 31May2019

The furrowed bark has been described as smelling like vanilla, butterscotch, or cinnamon. The bark looks like jigsaw puzzle pieces.

I love taking pictures of bark! See Silent Barks for a few more of my photos.

Ponderosa Pine bark

Ponderosas grow in mountainous areas but can also be found along meandering waterways.

Pine trees 31June2017

Ponderosa pines host a wide variety of wildlife species, including great horned owls.

Great horned owl in a ponderosa pine tree 8May2015

Though young trees are destroyed by fire, older Ponderosa pine trees have thick bark, which can protect them in low intensity fires.

Burned forest near the Sisters, Oregon 2September2015

Trees in burned areas produce cones with more seeds. More seedlings grow in burned areas and in edges between burned and unburned areas.

Ponderosa-Pinecone-15June2019

This lesson will have to end here because my dog is eating my “model.” She likes pinecones better than any toy I can buy her at the store. 😀

Dog eating cone 15June2019

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Trees

Favorite Rocks in Oregon: LAPC

Oregon rocks come in a wide variety of shapes and colors. Here are a few of my favorite rocks.

Craggy cliffs circling wonder

Blue Pool 14September2016
Blue Pool

Sculptures shaped by the sea

Favorite Rocks, Pacific City, Oregon 21June2018
Pacific City

Lined with layers of lichens

Favorite Rocks Lichens, Tumalo Creek, Oregon 9April2017
Tumalo Creek

Sharpness bordered by softness

Favorite Rocks Obsidian, Glass Buttes, Oregon 1May2018
Glass Buttes

Painted with pictographs in the past

Lizard pictograph, Harney County, Oregon 11April2019
Harney County

Clustered in concentrations of color

Favorite Rocks Painted Hills, Oregon 26October2019
Painted Hills

Rounded by rambling rivers

Favorite Rocks Metolius River, Oregon 24June2016
Metolius River

Lens-Artist Photo Challenge – Favorite Things

Ancient Words: Monochrome Monday

Ancient-Words at Newspaper Rock, Utah -4May2017
Ancient-Words at Newspaper Rock, Utah -4May2017

These petroglyphs at Newspaper Rock State Historic Monument near Monticello, Utah look otherworldly in infrared. To see the whole amazing rock in color, see Newspaper Rock – Ancient Messages in Stone.

Wild Oregon-Steens to the Sea: LAPC

There are many wild Oregon places and this post highlights just a few of them. The ever changing skies can make familiar landscapes look completely different. Here are some portraits of Oregon’s wild places.

Oregon is an inspiration. Whether you come to it, or are born to it, you become entranced by our state’s beauty, the opportunity she affords, and the independent spirit of her citizens.

Tom McCall, former governor of Oregon
Steens Mountain 1May2017
Steens Mountain
Wild Oregon - the Painted Hills 26October2018
Painted Hills
Hart Mountain October 1984
Hart Mountain
Smith Rock, Oregon 10February2016
Smith Rock
The Sisters from McKenzie Pass, wild Oregon 1August2016
The Sisters from McKenzie Pass
Crater Lake, wild Oregon 12October2014
Crater Lake
Mt Hood 14October2017
Mt Hood
Metolius River, Oregon 4June2016
Metolius River
Haystack Rock, Pacific City, Oregon 21June2018
Haystack Rock

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Wild

Awash kinetic sculpture: Art that captures wind & water

This is a kinetic sound sculpture that’s part of an exhibit at the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon. The exhibit is called Desert Reflections: Water Shapes the West and it runs through September 29, 2019. This exhibit used the combined talents of scientists, historians, and artists.

When you play the video on this post, listen carefully to the music in the background. The sounds of High Desert water and wind were recorded. They were combined with the “color” of music played on a Skinner church organ.

As the artists at Harmonic Laboratory state, “This evokes the richness of the region, a place shaped by many forces interacting in a complex way.”

As you stand underneath the sculpture, the calming tones, continuous motion, and gentle breeze helps you feel some of the energy that’s such an important part of High Desert environments.

Freedom of Expression Challenge – Art