Autumn walk in Bend: LAPC – Finding something red

An autumn walk in Bend, Oregon 8October2019

A beautiful October walk along the Mill A Loop Trail in Bend, Oregon. The rising sun’s rays highlight gold and red fall foliage. The sunlight was hitting the trees just right on this autumn walk.

An American flag flies from one of the Old Mill smokestacks. Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) renovated the 28,000-square-foot former lumber mill and opened a retail store there in 2005. They retained much of the building’s historic charm and it’s one of Bend’s iconic landmarks.

The Lens-Artist Photo Challenge (LAPC) today is Find Something Red.

Noticing the lines in a scene: LAPC

When I travel, I think about photographing what I see by noticing the lines. Your eye wants to follow where they lead you. Here a few leading lines from northern Oregon.

Noticing the lines on the way to Hood River, Oregon 10October2019
Fall foliage along Oregon Route 35
Passing by Mt Hood, Oregon 11October2019
Passing by Mt Hood
Looking west towards the Bridge of the Gods, Oregon 11October2019
Looking west towards the Bridge of the Gods
The stairway leading to Multnomah Falls, Oregon 10October2019
The stairway leading to Multnomah Falls

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Leading Lines

Spruce cones up close: SMM

Spruce cones up close

A photograph of spruce cones up close that I took in my Bend, Oregon yard.

Sunshine’s Macro Monday (SMM)

Ordinary to extraordinary: Monochrome Monday

Even a little bit of snow turns the ordinary into the extraordinary. Here are some patterns in the snow I noticed on my morning walks.

Ordinary to extraordinary snow patterns in Bend, Oregon 20 January 2020
Cattails in winter snow, Bend, Oregon 13 January 2020
Ordinary to extraordinary a dusting of snow over pinecones and pine needles, Bend, Oregon January 2020
Snowfall over a brook, Bend Oregon 19 January 2019

Monochrome Monday

One acre at a time: On the Hunt for Joy Challenge

One acre at a time, Summer Lake, Oregon November 2017
Part of Summer Lake is included in the Diablo Mountain Wilderness Study Area

Last week I helped preserve a bit of the desert, one acre at a time. Sometimes it isn’t apparent how your $$$ help a cause. When you donate to conserve.org, you can see your money in action.

Mule deer doe, near Malheur NWR, Oregon April 2019
Mule deer doe

Making a difference

For only $46 per acre, you can help the Oregon Desert Land Trust purchase part of the 118,794 Diablo Mountain Wilderness Study Area in eastern Oregon. You can view a 360-degree photo of each individual acre and choose which you want to help buy.

They are trying to purchase 880 acres that are currently in private hands. The Land Trust and Global Wildlife Conservation organizations will match funds for each donation to make the $182-per-acre purchase.

Once the purchase is complete, the public will have access to the land. The purchase ensures that the site will not be developed in the future.

Pronghorn herd at Hart Mountain, Oregon August 2019
Pronghorn herd

This bit of the desert includes interesting natural and archaeological features. The salt flats and rimrock hillsides are home to mule deer, pronghorn, greater sage grouse, and burrowing owls. Migratory birds live in the sagebrush and greasewood habitats.

The Paisley Caves contain evidence of humans that dates back to over 14,000 years ago. The nearby Fort Rock Cave and Catlow Caves contain similar artifacts.

Catlow Caves artifacts, Oregon April 2019
Catlow Cave artifacts

If you donate to this site, you can visit “your” acreage. I haven’t visited the parcels I helped purchase yet, but I can’t wait to see them in person. It will bring me great joy to see how I made a difference, one acre at a time.

Burrowing owl pair, Malheur NWR, Oregon April 2017
Burrowing owl pair

New photo challenge

There is a new weekly photo challenge called “On the Hunt for Joy Challenge” and the topic this week is “Get Outside.” I thought this would be a perfect time to feature this conservation opportunity.

On the Hunt for Joy Challenge – Go Outside

Firehole Swimming Hole: LAPC

On your way to see Old Faithful, you may want to take the 2-mile long Firehole Canyon Drive to the “heated” Firehole swimming hole in the Firehole River.

You will drive past the 40-foot waterfall of Firehole Falls.

Firehole Falls in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming May 2018
Firehole Falls 2018

Just a little farther up the road, you’ll see the Firehole swimming area. The hot springs of Yellowstone National Park feed into the river and heat the chilly water to a comfortable temperature. There is another swimming area called Boiling River near the north entrance of the park.

Please read the regulations and find additional information about the Firehole and Boiling Springs swimming areas at Swim and Soak prior to your visit. Most of the park’s hot springs are extremely hot and soaking in them is prohibited. These are the only two places where swimming is allowed.

On our last few visits, we have been at Yellowstone in May and June. The Firehole has been closed to swimming because the water level was too high. It’s a nice place to take a short break when you are out exploring the park.

Firehole swimming hole, in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 2011
Firehole swimming area 2011

You can access the area by this staircase when it’s open.

Firehole swimming area stairs in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 2011
Firehole swimming hole stairway 2011

Swimming the river in the summer

When the water levels drop in the summer, you can drift the river beginning near the cliffs. Large signs warn you about the risks of swimming here so use common sense.

I took the following two pictures in July 1998. Note how the trees in these pictures show the effects of the fire of 1988. Compare them to the pictures above, taken in 2011 and 2018.

In nature, lightning causes fires that help thin overgrowth and release the seeds of certain types of pine. The photos in the beginning of this post show how a healthy forest is regrowing in Yellowstone.

Firehole swimming area in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 2011
Firehole swimming hole 1998

This is what the Firehole swimming hole typically looks like on a warm summer day. I have many fond memories of swimming here with my family over the years. It is a special spot!

Firehole swimming hole in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 1998
Firehole swimming hole 1998

Lens Artists Photo Challenge (LAPC) – Special Spot Shots

Prostrate lupine – a tiny beauty: Friday Flowers

Prostrate lupine on Steens Mountain, Oregon 29 August 2019
Prostrate lupine

We stopped at the Kiger Gorge overlook on Steens Mountain in August and saw tiny flowers at our feet. These are prostrate lupines, Lupinus lepidus var. lobbii. I put my hand in the picture just to give you an idea of the scale.

This native plant grows in alpine habitats. The tiny blue or purple flowers measure 1/3 inch across. The plant grows to a height of 4-6 inches. Another common name for this low profile plant is “dwarf lupine.” Lupines have distinctive leaves that are almost star-like in form. The seedpods are often covered with soft “hair.”

Prostrate lupine blooms in June, July, and August. The plants I saw in late August were growing at 9,000 feet in elevation. Everything blooms later there.

Kiger Gorge Overlook, Steens Mountain, Oregon 28August2019
Kiger Gorge Overlook

This lupine ranges north to the Cascade and Olympic mountains in Washington State, south to northern California and east to western Idaho and Nevada. Prostrate lupines grow on talus slopes and in rocky pumice soils at high elevations.

Prostrate lupine is a perennial that grows in areas with heavy snowfall in the winter and short dry summers. Like other lupines, its flowers attract pollinators.

Friday Flowers

Favorite Pictures 2019: LAPC

It’s that time of year when you share some of your favorite pictures. As usual, I have a hard time narrowing it down. Please enjoy this selection of wild places, wildlife, history, and a pinch of art at the end.

A brilliant desert morning
A brilliant desert morning on my October birthday in Bend, Oregon
Magic in the wind, Nevada 29August2019
Magic in the wind in northern Nevada
Kiger Gorge, Oregon 28August2019
Kiger Gorge on Steens Mountain, Oregon
A rosy outlook
Roses in bloom in Hood River, Oregon
A swirling clematis growing in Culver, Oregon 20July2019
A swirling clematis growing in Culver, Oregon
Bird not for sale, robin nest in grape plant, Bend, Oregon 21July2019
Robin nesting in a grape plant at plant nursery in Bend, Oregon
furry & feathered, killdeer at Yellowstone National Park
Killdeer at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Close up of elk in velvet, Wyoming 2June2018
Close up of elk in velvet in Wyoming
Stepping back in time. Horse gear at the High Desert Museum, Bend, Oregon October 2019
Harnesses, bridles, a wagon, and other gear on display at the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon
Close up of the apothecary at Kam Wah Chung John Day, OR 26October2018
Close up of the apothecary at Kam Wah Chung in John Day, Oregon
Sod House Ranch, Malheur NWR, Oregon 9April2016
Sod House Ranch at Malheur NWR, Oregon
Pocket Barn Owl 31January2019
Pocket Barn Owl painted on a rock by Siobhan Sullivan

May the new year bring you wisdom, patience, and peace.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge (LAPC) – Favorite Photos of 2019

Summer’s bounty on display: LAPC

Snowy quilts now cover the gardens, but I remember summer’s bounty

Glossy purple eggplants, leafy green artichoke buds, and garlic cloves wrapped in crisp colorful coverings

Summer's bounty, Bend, Oregon farmer's market 19 June 2019

Rainbow shades of plump tiny tomatoes

Summer's bounty, Colorful cherry tomatoes, Bend, Oregon 19 June 2019

I remember the fresh taste of cool cucumbers, the crunchiness of celery, and the sweet snap of carrots

Summer's bounty, Vegetables at a farmer's market in Bend, Oregon 19 June 2019

Smooth rounded new potatoes, rough deep red beets, and elongated pods of green beans

Summer's bounty, Bend, Oregon Vegetables at a farmer's market 19 June 2019

Winter is on our doorstep, but I look forward to the tastes, textures, and colorful tones of summer’s bounty

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge (LAPC) – On Display

Rainy view of otters: Pull up a seat challenge

Log bench shaded by tree at High Desert Museum, Bend Oregon October 2019

I had a rainy view of otters from this log bench shaded by a red-leaved tree. The otters at the High Desert Museum seem to have fun no matter what the weather is.

Rainy view of otters at High Desert Museum, Bend Oregon October 2019

Pull up a seat challenge

Covered in coldness poem: LAPC

Covered in coldness
Obscured from view
Layered in lightness
Dazzling and new

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge (LAPC) – Cold

Sunflowers & Stagecoaches at the Steens

Sunflowers & stagecoaches? You may be wondering how those two things go together.

Last August we explored the Steens Mountain area by car. Did you know you can drive all the way around this 50-mile long mountain and to its 9,700-foot peak at certain times of the year? The views from up there are breathtaking!

Common sunflower

The following pictures are from the dirt road on the east side of Steens Mountain. Common sunflowers, Helianthus annus L., were in full bloom along the road.

Sunflowers & stagecoaches at Steens Mountain, Oregon August 2019

As their name implies, common sunflowers are common throughout the conterminous United States and in parts of Canada and Mexico. Sunflowers have been introduced in other parts of North America and throughout the world. They occur in a wide variety of habitats including prairies, roadsides, near railroad right-of-ways, savannas, and forest edges.

Sunflowers at Steens Mountain, Oregon August 2019

These leggy plants grow 1.5 to 8+ feet tall and bloom from July through October. Their iconic flowers actually have two kinds of flowers. The yellow “ray” flowers look like petals but each is an individual flower. The “disc” flowers, at the center of the brown head, are usually small. If you magnified your view of the center of the flower, you would see that each of these disc flowers had five petals. The alternate leaves, and the main stem are covered in coarse hair.

Common sunflowers at Steens Mountain, Oregon August 2019

The value of sunflowers

Sunflowers are valuable to both wildlife and people. The seeds are sought out by many species of birds. Do you have sunflower seeds from the cultivated variety of sunflower in your bird feeder? If you do, you know how much birds and other wildlife enjoy eating them.

Now on to how this plant is used by humans. Wow! Where do I start?

You have probably munched on sunflower seeds, but did you know the yellow flowers are also edible? They make a colorful addition to a salad.

Historical uses

In July of 1805, the Lewis and Clark expedition traveled along the Missouri River in Montana and recorded these observations on sunflowers.

The sunflower is in bloom [NB: Copy for Dr. Barton ] and abundant in the river bottoms. The Indians of the Missouri particularly those who do not cultivate maze make great uce of the seed of this plant for bread, or use it in thickening their soope.    they most commonly first parch the seed and then pound them between two smooth stones untill they reduce it to a fine meal.    to this they sometimes mearly add a portion of water and drink it in that state, or add a sufficient quantity of marrow grease to reduce it to the consistency of common dough and eate it in that manner.    the last composition I think much best and have eat it in that state heartily and think it a pallateable dish.

There are many medicinal uses of this annual plant. Flowers were used for heart problems and in treating burns. Roots were used in treating blisters and snakebites. Native Americans made a leaf tea to treat lung ailments and high fevers. A poultice was applied to snake and spider bites. Seeds were used as diuretics and to help heal coughing.

Some current uses

In addition to the historical usages, sunflowers are used in creating dyes, soap, cattle and chicken feed, and a fine silky fiber, similar to hemp. Sunflower oil is widely consumed in both North America and Europe.

Fun Fact: Some Native Americans believed sunflowers were a symbol of courage. Warriors would carry sunflowers cakes with them into battle. Hunters would sprinkle themselves with sunflower powder to keep their spirits up.

Sunflowers & stagecoach stop

So now you know more about sunflowers, but why is this post called Sunflowers & Stagecoaches? While taking pictures of the sunflowers, I remembered to look for an old stagecoach stop I had seen on a Circling Steens Mountain birding field trip. Ah ha! Found it. See the dark spots in the middle of this photo? Those are the remnants of a stagecoach stop.

Sunflowers & stagecoaches at Steens Mountain, Oregon August 2019

Here’s a closer look. The crumbling rock walls are all that’s left of this stop.

Stagecoach stop at Steens Mountain, Oregon August 2019

Stagecoach travel

In the late 1800s to early 1900s, stagecoach routes crisscrossed the West. On the more heavily traveled routes there were stops every 25 miles or so. Why that distance? That’s about how far a team of horses pulling wagons full of goods and passengers could travel. Their progress was slow due to difficult terrain and weather that could quickly change from scorching heat to bone-chilling cold.

Some of these stations were just for changing horse teams while others had accommodations available for travelers. The stops in Fields and Frenchglen offered more options for weary travelers. One stop near the one pictured above charged 25 cents for overnight lodging and meals. The charge for the care of each horse was an additional 25 cents.

Travel along these stagecoach routes was not fast. For example, the east-west route from Ontario, Oregon to Burns, Oregon took approximately 40 hours. Today that 130-mile route takes 2 hours 12 minutes. But imagine all the sights those early travelers must have seen on those slow journeys…

A marvelous moth at rest: SMM

A marvelous moth in Nevada May2017
Glover’s Silkmoth Hyalophora columbia gloveri

I saw this marvelous moth near Great Basin National Park in eastern Nevada. What a beauty! 😀

Sunshine’s Macro Monday (SMM)

Watching & waiting for clouds: LAPC

Watching & waiting for clouds

Turning the sky into a color collecting kaleidoscope

Watching & waiting for clouds over Bend, Oregon 2August2014

Expressing their thoughts with fiery punctuation

Orange clouds in sunrise over Bend, Oregon 12October2014

Or softening their words in pastel tones

Pastel sunrise over Bend, Oregon 13July2014

Watching & waiting for clouds

Painting the world with their bold thoughts

Colorful sunrise over Bend, Oregon 15October2015

While gazing at us through eyes lined in brilliance

Watching& waiting for clouds. Bend, Oregon 6January2018

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge (LAPC): Waiting

Teepee made from tules: Monchrome Monday

This teepee made from tules is a re-creation of what Native Americans of Central Oregon once used as a home.

Teepee made from tules, Bend, Oregon October 2019

Tule bulrushes (pictured below at Hosmer Lake) grow along the shores of lakes, ponds, and waterways.

This plant was used to make teepees, baskets, mats, bedding, footwear, and clothing. Tules were also used medicinally, as a source of food, and in making boats.

Bright bouquets of fall foliage poem

Bright bouquets of foliage near Sisters, Oregon October 2015
Fall colors near Mt Hood, Oregon October 2019
Fall's finery near Benham Falls, Oregon October 2014
Bright bouquets of foliage at Old Mill district in Bend, Oregon October 2019

Autumn
is bright bouquets
shining in fading light
warming our souls through the winter
season

All Seasons Photo Challenge

A black & white world – 4 haikus: LAPC

In a black & white world, everything is laid bare for all to see.

A lack of color
Highlights drama in the skies
In brilliant detail

A black & white world, A storm brewing near Sisters, Oregon August 2019
A storm brewing near Sisters, Oregon

A lack of color
Gives expression to patterns
Often unobserved

California quail near prickly poppy, Bend, Oregon May 2017
California quail near prickly poppy

A lack of color
Reminds us of distant times
Dimming yet dazzling

A black & white world, Shaniko, Oregon May 2018
A side street in Shaniko, Oregon

A lack of color
Brings fading autumn blossoms
Back to vivid life

Autumn hops blossoms, Bend, Oregon October 2019
Autumn hops blossoms

In a black & white world, the loss of color can often lead to seeing things in a new light.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge (LAPC) – Monotone

Blazing star beauties: Friday flowers

Blazing star beauties in Bend, Oregon August 2019
Wildflowers blooming on Pilot Butte in Bend, Oregon August 2019
Pilot Butte view in Bend, Oregon August 2019

I saw these blazing star beauties at the top of Pilot Butte in Bend, Oregon last August. Pilot Butte is an extinct volcano that is a state scenic viewpoint. It’s a great place to visit for a 360 degree high desert view! You can see in the photos that these flowers are growing on cinder rocks. The Sisters volcanic peaks are in the background of the last picture.

Blazing star, Mentzelia laevicaulis, is a native plant that grows along roadsides and on sandy, gravelly, or rocky slopes. This plant has showy star-shaped flowers filled with bunches of yellow stamens. The flowers can measure 5-6 inches across.

They grow 3-6 feet tall and bloom June through September. The rough leaves are gray-green in color. One of their common names is ‘stickleaf’ because the leaves have barbed hairs that stick to clothing, etc.

Native Americans used them medicinally for several ailments. Roots were used in treating earaches, rheumatism and arthritis, and thirst. Fevers, mumps, measles, and smallpox were treated with a root infusion. Root infusions were also used to reduce swelling of bruises. Leaves were boiled and the liquid was used for stomachaches and as a wash for skin conditions.

Blazing star plants range from southern Canada south through the western United States (Zones 9a-11).

They can be grown in gardens from seed or starts. This plant grows well in full sun in gravelly or sandy soils. They require little water and the bright yellow flowers look great in rock gardens.

Blazing stars are biennials or short-lived perennials. They are hardy and deer-resistant. The blossoms are of special value to bees, butterflies, and moths.

Fun fact: The spectacular flowers open mid-morning and stay open throughout the night so they are a favorite with nocturnal pollinators like hawk moths and carpenter bees.

With two you can… : LAPC

The Lens-Artists Photo Challenge this week is Seeing Double. Sometimes two heads are better than one.

With two you can share your wisdom.

With two you can share wisdom. Burrowing owls at High Desert Museum, Bend, Oregon 2016
Burrowing owls

With two you can have differences of opinion…

Ospreys nesting along the Deschutes River, Bend, Oregon 2018
Ospreys

But learn to work together in the right direction.

With two you can go in the same direction. American avocets near Malheur NWR, Oregon 2019
American avocets

With two you can brave the elements together.

With two you can brave the elements. Moss-covered hemlocks at Mt Bachelor, Oregon 2016
Mountain hemlock

With two you can reflect the best in each other…

Bitterroot flowers in bloom near Chimney Rock, Oregon 2016
Bitterroot

And learn to function as one.

Yellow bells near Malheur NWR, Oregon 2019
Yellow bells

Lens-artists Photo Challenge – Seeing Double

Stories within the layers of stone: LAPC

Sometimes I look at layered rock formations and imagine stories within the layers.

This formation at Fort Rock looks like the giant prow of a ship bursting through the cliffs.

Stories within the layers, Fort Rock 10 June 2016

A closer look shows where the water levels were before the ship drained the basin.

Rock formation at Fort Rock, Oregon 10 June 2016

This jumbled formation at Malheur NWR looks like it was made by a giant who was in a hurry.

Rock formation at Malheur NWR, Oregon 8April2016

But a closer look reveals the perfect spot for great horned owls to raise their young and protect the land.

Stories within the layers at Malheur NWR, Oregon 8April2016

This Painted Hills formation looks like an immense shark swimming through the hills causing a commotion.

Painted Hills, Oregon 25October2018

A closer look shows some of the magical green stones left in its wake.

Painted Hills, Oregon 25October2018

There are stories within the layers that you can learn if you just pause to look and listen.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Layered

Candids of Critters: LAPC

Sometimes you get lucky when you’re taking candids of critters. This little burrowing owl gave me a knowing wink right when I took its picture.

Candids of critters. Burrowing owl blinking. Oregon

We visited the Caswell Sculpture Garden in Troutdale, Oregon a couple days ago. This sculpture of two great blue herons is right by the entrance.

Great blue heron sculpture by Rip Caswell, Troutdale, Oregon

I noticed a movement near the willows right behind this sculpture. I spied a real great blue heron!

Great blue heron, Troutdale, Oregon

This ground squirrel didn’t want me to know where it was hiding its cache. It had so much in its cheek pouches it could barely walk.

Candids of critters. Ground squirrel, Bend, Oregon

These spotted pigs look content in this shot, but one of the piglets had just escaped its enclosure. I scooped it up and returned it to its family.

Pig and piglets. Hood River, Oregon

There are lots of opportunities to take candids of critters right on our property. This morning I was out walking my dogs and I noticed this orange tabby cat. He blended in so well with the plants around him that my dogs didn’t even notice him.

Orange tabby hiding in the weeds Bend, Oregon

I took this candid shot of my dog, Shelby, relaxing on the window seat. See her ball right next to her head? She is dreaming of when she can play fetch again. 😀

Candids of critters Dog sleeping with ball

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Candid