Big Tree – Biggest Ponderosa Pine: TTL

This gigantic pine is Big Tree, AKA Big Red, the biggest Ponderosa pine, Pinus ponderosa var. ponderosa, ever recorded. It’s located in LaPine State Park, north of La Pine, Oregon. Though it lost 30 feet of its crown during severe storms, it is still the largest Ponderosa pine in circumference.

Big Tree in Oregon

Here are some facts about this tree:

  • Circumference: 28 feet 11 inches
  • Height: 167 feet
  • Crown spread: 68 feet
  • Approximate age: 500+ years
  • Board feet: 25,000

LaPine State Park Manager, Joe Wanamaker, gave insights about Big Red in an article in the local Source Weekly. He thought it was spared from being logged due to evidence of fire damage. This may have affected the quality of the wood harvested. Wanamaker also pointed out this tree is growing in an ideal location where water tends to collect in the soil from the nearby Deschutes River.

A paved, ADA accessible, 1/4 mile trail leads to this unique sight. Foot traffic around this much-loved attraction caused soil compaction that threatened its growth. A protective fence was constructed around it in the year 2000.

In this map of the park, from Oregon State Parks, Big Tree is located in the lower right corner.

Thursday Tree Love – 111

Smiles of summer sun haiku: WHPPC

smiles of summer sun photo

souls from the past send
wispy notes in azure skies
smiles of summer sun

Weekly Haiku Poetry Prompt Challenge (WHPPC)- Note and Send

Yellowstone Hot Springs-A great escape!: LAPC

On our recent visit to Yellowstone National Park, we took a side trip to Yellowstone Hot Springs. This attraction is located in Gardiner, Montana, about ten minutes north of the park.

Yellowstone Hot Springs

An interesting history

In the last 100+ years, this site has passed through many hands. In 1899, French-Canadian immigrant, Julius LaDuke, staked a mining claim here and discovered it contained hot springs. He created LaDuke Hot Springs Resort to serve miners and visitors to the area. The resort included a large plunge bath and several smaller private baths. A two-story hotel was built nearby. LaDuke entered into a short-lived purchase agreement with William F. Cogswell. This was one of many setbacks in his life.

Visitors traveled by coach to Electric, later known as Aldridge, and then had to cross the 150-foot wide river to the springs. LaDuke employed barges, then a cable ferry, then a ferryboat, and finally a swinging footbridge for his guests.

Guests rumored to have visited LaDuke Hot Springs Resort include President Theodore Roosevelt and famous frontierswoman, Calamity Jane.

Meanwhile, Electric Hot Springs Company made plans to build a hospital and sanitorium one mile to the north. They employed Frank Corwin as their resident doctor. Since they needed to pipe hotter water to their site, they attempted to purchase LaDuke’s property but he refused. He sold it to John H. Holliday for $6,000 who sold it to Corwin 20 days later for $1. Corwin Springs Hospital operated from 1909 to 1916. An unexplained fire destroyed the buildings in 1916.

From 1922 to 1940, Eagle’s Nest Dude Ranch was located here. The current owners, Church Universal and Triumphant, acquired the property in the 1980s.

Read the fascinating history of this site at “Taking in the Water” at LaDuke Hot Springs Resort.

This historic site re-opened in March of 2019 after extensive renovations.

View of grounds

Yellowstone Hot Springs

When we visited in the first days of June, there were only about ten visitors. This site is well-maintained and inviting.

The unique characteristics of these pools, and their suggested health benefits, are highlighted on their website.

Yellowstone Hot Springs

Two smaller round plunge pools are located within a larger pool. One of the plunge pools has water temperature warmer than the main pool, while the other has colder water temperatures.

Every day, staff posts the current water temperatures on a board near the changing rooms. The large pool averages 98-100 degrees Fahrenheit. The “hot” plunge pool averages 103-105 degrees, and the “cold” pool averages 60-65 degrees.

After lounging in the warm pools for a while, the cold pool feels much colder! 😉

Yellowstone Hot Springs

The grounds are landscaped and clean with lots of places to sit and take in the views.

Even the changing/shower area is nice and tidy.

Changing rooms

The entrance sits at the foot of scenic mountain landscapes. Yellowstone Destinations offers tent and RV sites right next door.

Yellowstone Hot Springs

I have been to many hot springs in my travels and this was one of the better ones. We plan to visit again on our next trip to Yellowstone.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Getting Away

Flowers flowers everywhere!: Friday Flowers & FOTD

I saw flowers, flowers everywhere while walking the riverside trail in the Old Mill District of Bend this morning. This is my favorite time of year to walk by the plantings near the amphitheater. Can you see why?

Flowers, flowers everywhere

Friday Flowers & Flower of the Day (FOTD)

Yellow & white iris up close: Macro Monday

I saw this yellow & white iris in bloom in mid June. When you see them blooming, summer is on the way. The golden colors in this blossom mirror the warmth of summer days to come.

Yellow & white iris

Macro Monday

Creatures of the mist – haiku: LAPC

creatures of the mist
graze in meadowlands of steam
whisperers of warmth

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Black & white

One more chance-Backyard bird adventure: BWPC

So, the other day I heard a loud “chirp, chirp” call outside my house. I peered out the back door and spotted a baby American Robin in the middle of the yard. Maybe it was the same one we put back in its nest several days before, giving it one more chance at life.

When I approached, the young bird walked underneath some cactus in my garden. Meanwhile, both parents continued chirping loudly.

Oh no!

A movement nearby caught my eye. A Red-tailed Hawk lurked in the background, watching the fledgling. No wonder the parents of the baby robin were upset!

I tried to catch the young robin, but it flew. Not well, but I was pleased to see it could now fly. The bird settled in the gravel and rocks, right under my High Desert mural painting. Maybe it wanted to be a character in one of my stories. 😉

Oh no again!

I headed back towards my house when, whoosh! A Cooper’s Hawk flew towards the baby robin.

“No!” I said out loud. The Cooper’s Hawk veered in another direction. I often see this hawk in my yard. Here it is taking a bath in our water feature.

Meanwhile, the Red-tailed Hawk flew to another tree, followed by the robin pair. They harassed the large hawk, so it moved to yet another tree.

Something landed in that tree above the Red-tailed Hawk. The Cooper’s Hawk! Now the smaller hawk was harassing the red tail.

The young robin stayed put, but it was in a vulnerable, unprotected location and I was concerned for its safety. Our dogs, or the many free-roaming cats in the neighborhood, might attack the bird there.

One more chance

This baby bird deserved one more chance, I decided. I scooped up the bird, intending to place it inside a dense shrub.

As part of its protest at being moved, the robin pooped. I was wearing slip-on shoes and the poop splattered onto one of my shoes and my bare ankle. The robin squawked in its loudest voice.

Undeterred by its verbal and physical protestations, I kicked off the poopy shoe and settled the baby robin deep inside a cinquefoil shrub. A spiky-leaved Oregon grape shrub growing nearby offered added protection. The parent birds perched anxiously nearby.

Should I have taken this bird to an animal rescue organization? No, they get too many fledglings from well-intentioned people in the spring. This young bird can fly and may be safer out of its nest at this stage. Predators are more likely to prey on nests the longer they’re occupied.

I moved this bird back into its nest several days before when the nestling was blind and flightless. Was that okay? Since I touched the young bird, won’t the adult birds abandon their baby? It’s okay to put recently hatched nestlings back into nests. No, your scent won’t keep the young bird’s parents away. Most birds don’t have a highly developed sense of smell.

When You Should–and Should Not–Rescue Baby Birds gives more information on this topic.

The pair of robins chirped nonstop after I moved their fledgling, but quieted as the time passed. I hope that meant they found the young bird.

Will this baby robin survive? I don’t know. Though I helped, Mother Nature will make the final decision

Bird Weekly Photo Challenge – Common birds in your area seen this time of the year

Kayaking at Prineville Reservoir: LAPC

We went kayaking in early May at Prineville Reservoir after an unexpected change of plans. The high elevation lake we had planned to visit was not yet open.

The 15-mile long Prineville Reservoir covers 3,030 acres. It’s located south of Prineville, near the geographic center of Oregon.

I had never kayaked here before and wasn’t sure what to expect. The geology surrounding the lake was a pleasant surprise.

This formation was smooth and vegetated on one side and bursting with colorful rocks on the other.

These layers of color looked like a slice of spumoni ice cream.

Layered rock formations

When I paddled a little closer, the layers rippled with texture.

Layered rock formations
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The burnt forehead bird – Hawaiian moorhen: BWPC

I was lucky to see the ’alae ’ula ,”burnt forehead” bird, while visiting the Waimea Valley on the island of O’ahu several years ago. This subspecies of mudhen is the Hawaiian moorhen or Hawaiian gallinule.

Population estimates range from 300-500. Due to their secretive nature, it’s difficult to know their exact numbers. Hawaiian moorhens live mainly on the islands of O’ahu and Kaua’i, with a few reports of sightings on the islands of Maui and Hawai’i. The 15 birds living at the Waimea Valley site are considered a treasured natural resource.

burnt forehead bird

So where does this moorhen get the “burnt forehead” nickname? Here’s an explanation from the Waimea Valley website:

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Whirlybirds up close: Macro Monday

Whirlybirds up close on a maple tree in my High Desert yard. I have fond childhood memories of collecting whirlybirds from the ground and tossing them up into the air. Watching them helicopter towards the ground was cheap entertainment in those days.

Whirlybirds up close

Macro Monday

Seeing things differently with photo edits: LAPC

Photo editing is all about seeing things differently. I had fun with my Corel PaintShop Pro editing program in this post.

Making colors shine

I was impressed by the rainbow of colors at our local Farmer’s Market. This photo looked like it would be a good candidate for the kaleidoscope special effect and I was right. Wow!

Farmers marketSeeing things differently kaleidoscope of veggies

The color or the structure?

I took this picture near Grizzly Peak in Wyoming and I couldn’t decide which edit I liked better — color or black & white? The blue sky in the background pops in the color version, while the structure of the trees gets your attention in black & white.

Sylvan Lake, WyomingSeeing things differently in Wyoming

Eliminating distractions

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Symphony in the skies: Monochrome Monday

Symphony in the skies

We witnessed a symphony in the skies over Shoshone National Forest. Spectacular cloud formations and landforms are common sights near Cody, Wyoming. Dramatic wispy clouds such as these often fill the skies.

Monochrome Monday

Baby bird among the berries: Macro Monday

This morning I was out taking pictures of the sunrise and noticed this baby bird among the berries. It was lucky to have landed in a place covered with a cushioning layer of western juniper leaves.

I looked up in the tree overhead and spotted the nest. An adult American robin perched nearby, completely motionless. I talked to it and got no response at all. I have read that birds sleep with one eye open but this one didn’t follow that theory.

When we placed the baby bird back in its nest, it squawked and that finally got the attention of its parents. I hope it stays in the nest and fledges with its siblings.

Baby bird among the berries

Robins like junipers because they provide shelter and food. In the fall, they and other thrushes eat as many as 220 berries in a day.

The nest is in this tree. Can you spot it?

Robin nest in juniper tree

Macro Monday

Pink flowers in my yard: Sunday Stills

Today I’m featuring portraits of pink flowers in my Bend, Oregon yard. All of these plants are drought tolerant, once established.

The first photo is an ice plant. This groundcover has cheerful starburst flowers and succulent leaves. The leaves turn a bronze color in winter. We had an escapee take root in another part of our yard and it survived without watering.

Ice plant

The second plant is a Woods’ rose. This native 2-5 foot tall shrub attracts bees, butterflies, and birds. Red rose hips develop once the flowers lose their petals.

Pink flowers of Wood's rose
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Loop-de-loop lodgepole: Thursday Tree Love

Loop-de-loop lodgepole

I saw this loop-de-loop lodgepole pine growing alongside Firehole Lake Drive in Yellowstone National Park. Everyone drove right past it but I had to stop and take its picture. I wondered what stopped it from going straight up. It figured out how to grow around obstacles and keep going in the right direction. A lesson for us all.

Thursday Tree Love

Norris Geysers – big & little: LAPC

We just returned from a trip to Yellowstone National Park and the Norris geysers were spectacular, as always. Some of the geysers are big and showy; others are small but still impressive.

The picture below is of Steamboat Geyser. Gray stone, dappled with red and brown-colored rocks, surrounds the vent.

In 2020, this geyser erupted 48 times. Water shoots 300+ feet into the air, making it the tallest in the world. This year, once again, we just missed its latest eruption. It went off on May 31, 2021, the day we drove to the park from Bend, Oregon.

Steamboat Geyser

Here’s an overview of the basin. If you don’t have time to walk the trails, You’ll get great views from this observation area.

Norris Geyser Basin

Here’s a view from the trail. There are geysers everywhere you look in the Norris Geyser Basin.

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Ponderosa pine bark up close: Macro Monday

Ponderosa pine bark up close. This bark is made even more interesting with drips of amber pitch.

Macro Monday

Colorful lichens up close: Macro Monday

These colorful lichens are growing on a rock in my High Desert yard. So much variety in a tiny landscape!

Colorful lichens up close

Macro Monday

Warner Wetlands-Wonderful throughout the year: LAPC

The Warner Wetlands of south central Oregon are beautiful throughout the year. I dug into my archives to find photos taken long ago there, supplemented with a few recent ones.

You can view wispy sunsets over the wetlands in the summer.

Warner Wetlands view in the summer

Moody cloudscapes over them in the spring.

Warner Wetlands in Oregon

Snow and ice covering them in the winter.

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Volcanic views from Lava Lands: Pull up a Seat Challenge

I recently hiked the Trail of Molten Lands at Lava Lands Visitor Center and paused to take in the volcanic views. The center is located within the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, a place with many recreational opportunities.

I took these photos from the Phil Brogan Viewpoint. On a clear day, you can see Mt. Bachelor, the Three Sisters, and other peaks in the distance. On this day, clouds covered them in soft shrouds. The visitor center reopened on May 20, a couple days after my visit. It’s a great place to learn more of this area’s volcanic past.

Volcanic views from Lava Lands, Oregon

Here are a couple pictures of the volcanic views from a closer angle.

Lava Lands, Oregon

This 1.1 mile trail winds through basalt lava flows surrounding Lava Butte to the viewpoint.

Volcanic views from Lava Lands

Pull up a Seat Photo Challenge Week 22

Spectacular sights seen in blue & green: LAPC

I’ve been out and about more recently and photographed several spectacular sights seen in blue and green.

I thought the pictures deserved a story, so I made up a tiny tale to go with each one. At a virtual conference I attended yesterday, I learned a “micro-story” is a form of flash fiction with 300 or fewer words. I’m calling the following stories “mini-micros” since they range from 43 to 58 words. Not sure if they qualify as true stories, but they were fun to write.

Mini-micro tales

A crowd of manzanita shrubs watches a shifting skyscape in awe. Their pink blossoms open in silent applause. Snow-covered Cascade volcanoes rumble in the background, taking in the show from a safe distance. Steam billows from their peaks, merging with the dancing clouds.

Spectacular sights seen near Bend, Oregon
Paulina-East Lake Rd, Oregon

Clouds emerge from a crack in the ground on a chilly spring morning. They radiate outward from the ridgetop and tree branches stretch and reach towards them. Striated boulders celebrate by tumbling and crashing down a steep slope. An osprey drifting overhead crows in anticipation as another glorious day begins.

North shore of East Lake, Oregon
North shore of East Lake, Oregon
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Canada geese & goslings: BWPC

Though some consider Canada geese to be a “nuisance” species, they sure have cute goslings. I watched these young ones growing up fast in Bend, Oregon.

Canada geese & goslings

Here’s what they looked like a week later.

Waterfowl in Bend, Oregon

When I was out kayaking at Prineville Reservoir, these recently-hatched goslings struggled to conquer the huge-to-them wall.

Birds at Prineville Reservoir
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Manzanita blossoms up close: Macro Monday

Manzanita blossoms May2021

Manzanita blossoms are putting on a show right now in Central Oregon. The delicate pink blossoms contrast with the thick, leathery green leaves and red bark. The bark on these shrubs peels like on a madrone tree. It’s one of my favorite local plants but it refuses to grow in my garden. That gives me an excuse to seek them out in the wild.

Macro Monday

A bold blue sage border: Friday Flowers

bold blue sage border

I saw this bold blue sage border in the 80-acre Oregon Garden, located in Silverton, Oregon. It’s impressive how they pay attention to all the plants surrounding bold flowers such as these. The framing brings out their best features.

Friday Flowers

Within a small seed – 4 haiku: LAPC

Within a small seed blanket flowers
Blanket flower seed heads

within a small seed
a tiny new life slumbers
awakened by sun

Hops and chives
Hops & chives

emerald limbs stretch
stems lengthen and reach skyward
embraced by springtime

Flower border May 2020
Mixed flower border
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Colorful lichen up close: Macro Monday

Colorful lichens up close

A rainbow of colorful lichen up close. These lichens grow on the rocks in my High Desert yard. Though they are small, they have a big presence

Macro Monday

Following Pronghorn: LAPC & WWP

I’ve been following pronghorn for years. They have much to teach us.

following pronghorn near Great Basin Npk

A restless past

In the distant past, I was always restless, bounding from place to place, relationship to relationship. Once I started sensing my roots taking hold, I would break free, fleeing restraints. I sprinted towards the next place or person. Like an animal being pursued by a predator, I found it easier to run.

Grazing pronghorn buck in Yellowstone

Following Pronghorn

One day I started thinking of pronghorns, those iconic creatures of the Wild West, differently. Maybe I could learn something from them. They are a one-of-a-kind animal, not quite fitting into any family. I felt that way too and I began following pronghorn.

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A colorful corner in Bend: Friday Flowers

Here’s a colorful corner filled with blooming summer flowers. This planting includes: hollyhocks, foxglove, blanket flowers, ‘orange blaze’ red hot poker, black-eyed Susan, pansies, and more. I’m looking forward to seeing them again in a few months.

A colorful corner in Bend, Oregon

See more photos of flowers in bloom at Flower Border at Old Mill and A peninsula of flowers.

Friday Flowers

A white coneflower up close: Macro Monday

Here’s a white coneflower up close in my garden. I usually see pink or purple coneflowers, but they’re also pretty in this color. Their scientific name, Echinacea, comes from the Latin word for ‘sea urchin’ and the Ancient Greek word for ‘hedgehog.’ The spiny cone-shaped central disk resembles some type of prickly creature.

White coneflower August 2020

Macro Monday

Elusive birds captured – finally!: LAPC

One of the challenges of photography is capturing images of elusive birds. Sometimes certain species are not considered difficult to photograph, they only elude YOU. Here are a few of mine.

Intelligent & elusive birds

I have been trying to get a decent photo of a black-billed magpie for a long time. These intelligent birds usually take flight when I approach. I finally captured the essence of a magpie recently near my home. This photo shows its long, elegant tail, striking markings, and iridescent plumage.

Slide the slider to the left to see the type of photos I have taken in the past of magpies. This one was near Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park. It teased me by hiding behind the sagebrush.

Elusive birds - magpie March 2021Black-billed magpie May 2018

Shy & elusive

I’m lucky because mountain bluebirds nest in my yard. When I visit Glass Buttes, an hour away, during the spring months, the bluebirds pop out ready to be photographed.

However at my home, the birds are especially shy, as you can see in the second shot. They somehow sense I’ve picked up a camera and fly away or turn their back towards me.

Mountain bluebird pair April 2018Elusive birds - mountain bluebird

Distant & elusive

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Wildflowers in the Desert – Nonet poem: LAPC & SS

Wildflowers in the desert sunshine
Emerging in harsh conditions
Shining with an inner light
Colorful expressions
Jewels in the sand
Ephemeral
Presences
Fleeting
Views

Wildflowers in the desert photographs taken at Gray Butte, Oregon in the springtime.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Colorful April

Sunday Stills – Emerging