Where the pronghorn roam: Monochrome Monday

Where the pronghorn roam 1November2017
A large herd of pronghorn near Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge, Oregon

Monochrome Monday

White-crowned sparrows: Monochrome Monday

These bold little white-crowned sparrows can raise or lower their “crown”, depending upon their mood. They occur throughout North America, but their bill color varies. It can be orange, yellow, or pink depending upon where they live.

They have a cheery and distinctive song that you may recognize. Listen to it here.

Fringed Gentian: Friday Flowers

Gentian 30May2018

The fringed gentian, Gentianopsis thermalis, grows in meadows, bogs, and on moist ground. This species prefers growing in warm places and it’s common near geysers and hot springs in Yellowstone National Park. It is the official flower of the park.

This plant grows to a height of 4-16 inches and blooms in May through August. This annual has purple flowers 1.5-3 inches in length. The showy flowers are fringed along the edges.

Fringed gentians can be found across northern Canada and south through the Rocky Mountains and into parts of New Mexico, Utah, and Nevada.

Native Americans used gentians to treat headaches and as an antidote to witchcraft.

Fun fact: The flowers curl up and close on cloudy days leaving just the tops visible. The closed flowers resemble a small windmill.

A different world-Utah rocks: LAPC

You live in the image you have of the world. Every one of us lives in a different world, with different space and different time.

Alejandro Jodorowsky

The geology of Utah is so unique and interesting. I imagined many details of alternate worlds while visiting there.

Alternate worlds at Capitol Reef NPk 5May2017

The formations at Capitol Reef form thrones ready for giant-sized royalty.

Mountains at  Zion NPk 6May2017

The mountains of Zion National Park look as though they have been compressed, kneaded, and scratched by the claws of big cats

Patterns at  Canyonlands NPk 5May2017

At Canyonlands National Park, an army of stone soldiers is forever frozen in time.

Different worlds at Bryce Canyon NPk 6May2017

A city of towers pushes out the forest at Bryce Canyon National Park.

Patterns at  Arches NPk 3May2017

At Arches National Park, layers of earth tilt and reach towards the sky, hoping they may someday form archways of stone.

Lens Artists Photo Challenge – Something different

Roses-Summer Blooms & Fall Fruit: Friday Flowers

Roses Blooms 13September2018
Roses Fruit 18October2018

I enjoy watching these roses growing along the Mill A Loop trail along the Deschutes River in Bend, Oregon. They produce a bounty in the summer and the fall for walkers and wildlife.

Friday Flowers

Winter Walks in Bend: LAPC

Winter is a special time of the year here in Bend. Winter walks around the neighborhood are highlighted with landscapes covered in snow and ice.

He who marvels at the beauty of the world in summer will find equal cause for wonder and admiration in winter.

John Burroughs
Winter Walks Art Station 9March2019

Buildings are blanketed with snow and edged with icicles.

Old Mill, Bend, Oregon 9March2019

Twisting trails are carved through snowdrifts.

Meandering rivers are covered with a cool layer of ice.

Bare branches are clothed in frost and snow.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Around the Neighborhood

White Sturgeon – A square peg fish: WPC


I immediately thought of this picture I took of a white sturgeon when I saw that this week’s photo challenge at Traveling at Wits End was Something that Doesn’t Belong.

White Sturgeon & trout, High Desert Museum, Bend, Oregon 20February2018

In this photo, taken at the High Desert Museum, a young white sturgeon is surrounded by trout. It doesn’t quite fit in.

You might think this odd fish looks prehistoric and you’d be right. Sturgeon existed 200 million years ago, during the Jurassic period.

Though most sturgeon live 11-34 years, they have been known to live up to 104 years (!) They grow to an average length of 6.9 feet and sometimes grow to a length of 20 feet. The maximum weight recorded was 1,799 pounds. In fact, they are North America’s largest fish. So the fish in the picture may look small now, but it has a lot of growing to do!

High Desert Voices Newsletter – March 2019

I’m sharing the March issue of the High Desert Voices newsletter. It’s a newsletter for volunteers and staff at the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon. I help out with the newsletter and I’m particularly proud of this issue.

High Desert Museum newsletter, High Desert Museum entrance

This issue of the High Desert Voices newsletter includes a History event – 19th Century Making & Mending; Art – a new exhibit by Native American artist, Rick Bartow; Nature – a fact sheet on white sturgeon; People – a profile of our Communication Director; and Recreation – a trail through the colorful Blue Basin. There’s a little more related to updates for the different areas of the Museum and kudos, for work well done.

Enjoy the newsletter! To see more, go to Volunteer Newsletters.

Finding a new world in close-ups: LAPC

When I last visited Yellowstone, I was searching for a new world to inspire me in my fiction writing. Here are some that I found…

New world Artists' Paintpots 2June2018

A new world of waves and wonder

New world at Black Pool 2June2018

A world of contrasting colors

Artists' Paintpots 2 2June2018

A world of muted rainbows

Three Sisters Spring 2June2018

A warm and fuzzy new world

Mud Volcano 30May2018

A cold, colorless, and cracked new world

Grand Prismatic 3June2018

A world where meandering water turns to gold

new world at Anemone Geyser 30May2018

A new world where everyone lives in spherical houses along the shore

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Close-up

Love nature and share the love: LAPC

Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.

Frank Lloyd Wright

Here are a few pictures of wild things resting, feeding, and breeding. They are always reminding me to love nature and share that love with others.

Love Nature Gray wolf, MT 2June2018
Gray wolf

There are nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls.

George Carlin
Trumpeter swan & mallard, OR 19May2018
Trumpeter swan & mallard

Being born in a duck yard does not matter, if only you are hatched from a swan’s egg.

Hans Christian Andersen
Pronghorn, WY  1June2018
Pronghorn

…When alarmed, their rapid career seems more like the flight of birds than the movement of an earthly being.

George Ord
Love nature, Ospreys on nest, OR 26April2019
Ospreys on nest

It’s not only fine feathers that make a fine bird.

Aesop
Pine siskins, OR 7April2018
Pine siskins

Each bird loves to hear himself sing.

Arapaho

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Nature

Elk of the Shadows: LAPC

Elk in shadow, Wyoming 2June2018

Solitary grazer

Hiding in filtered light

Antlers flocked in

Downy velvet

Oblivious to his

Wonder

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Shadows

Landscape of Grand Prismatic: LAPC

The water in some of the springs presents to the eye the colors of all the precious gems known to commerce. In one spring the hue is like that of an emerald, in another like that of the turquoise, another has the ultra-marine hue of the sapphire, another has the color of topaz; and the suggestions has been made that the names of these jewels may very properly be given to many of these springs.

Nathaniel Pitt Langford in Diary of the Washburn Expedition to the Yellowstone and Firehole Rivers in the Year 1870.

Grand Prismatic Spring is the crown jewel of hot springs at Yellowstone National Park. The landscape of Grand Prismatic has all the colors of the rainbow. The cracks and tracks add some interesting texture as well. This 370-foot wide spring is the largest in the United States and third largest in the world.

Landscape Grand Prismatic Yellowstone National Park 3June2018
Close-up Grand Prismatic Yellowstone National Park 3June2018
Landscape Grand Prismatic Yellowstone National Park 3June2018
Tracks at Grand Prismatic Yellowstone National Park 3June2018
Landscape Grand Prismatic Yellowstone National Park 5June2015
Close-up Grand Prismatic Yellowstone National Park 3June2018

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Landscape

Unusual Clouds Above Bend : LAPC

The sky takes on shades of orange during sunrise and sunset, the colour that gives you hope that the sun will set only to rise again.

Ram Charan
Unusual Clouds in Bend, Oregon 18October2017
Clouds in Bend, Oregon 25January2016
Clouds in Bend, Oregon 30September2016
Clouds in Bend, Oregon 6October2017
Unusual Clouds in Bend, Oregon 9November2018

We have many beautiful sunrises and sunsets here in Bend, Oregon. Sometimes the unique colors and forms of the clouds are totally unexpected and they’ll take your breath away. Here are a few of those moments my camera allowed me to capture.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Unexpected

Blue Basin Trail – Island in Time

Green scenes on Blue Basin trail

Blue Basin hike, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon 26October2018
An otherworldly landscape in Blue Basin

I did this easy hike on the Blue Basin trail in John Day Fossil Beds National Monument last October. I felt like a stranger in a strange land on this trail through blue-green badlands.  

Blue Basin hike, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon 26October2018
A bench along the trail

The trailhead is 14 miles northwest of Dayville, Oregon. This trail is in the Sheep Rock Unit of the monument. The Island in Time trail is a 1.3 mile long out and back trail with an elevation gain of 200 feet. The Blue Basin Overlook trail also starts here. It’s a 3.25 mile trail with a 760 foot elevation gain. There are several other trails nearby.

Blue Basin hike, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon 26October2018
Colorful contrasts

The geologic history

The unique blue-green colors of the rock formations in Blue Basin are stunning.  They range from a pale dinner mint green to a darker, bluer green. The blue-green and tan claystones and siltstones are part of the John Day formation.  There were multiple eruptions of Cascade Mountain volcanoes 29 million years ago. The ashfall formed the blue-green layers of this basin. Celandonite and clinoptilolite give these formations their green color.

A shallow creek of green-tinted water

You’ll see impressive tiered layers of rock bordering the trail. At the end of the trail, an amphitheater of colorful stone will surround you. I had the place all to myself on my hike. Rotate your way around this photo sphere to see what I saw.

Blue Basin Lower Trail

I also noticed the smaller landscapes on this trail. Here are a few of those scenes.

Fossil and facts on Blue Basin trail

You will see several fossil replicas covered with protective plastic bubbles along the trail.  They removed the actual fossils to protect them from the elements.  Over 2,000 species of plant and animal fossils have been identified in the vicinity.

Blue Basin hike, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon 26October2018

Cat-like Nimravids. These cats ranged in size from bobcat-sized to tiger size.
Blue Basin hike, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon 26October2018

Oreodonts. This sheep-sized mammal was once as common as deer are today.
Blue Basin hike, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon 26October2018

Tortoise. This tortoise is like species living today.
A cracked shell may have caused its death.

Map and a word about dogs

Blue Basin map, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon 26October2018
Map of Blue Basin and vicinity

Here’s a map of the Blue Basin. Please note the warnings associated with this trail. In the warmer months of the year, you may see rattlesnakes. In October, I saw none.  Blue Basin experiences high temperatures in the summer months so be prepared.

Blue Basin hike, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon 26October2018
My dog liked this nearby trail better. No bridges!

There are 13 metal grate bridges on this trail. The sign says dogs may refuse to cross and you may have to carry them. My dog would not cross the first bridge.  Sorry, but I couldn’t imagine carrying a 60+ pound dog over 13 bridges.  She waited patiently in the car on that cool day.  

Amazing paleontology center

Don’t miss the amazing Thomas Condon Paleontology Center while you’re here. The displays impress me and I’m always excited to see paleontologists hard at work in the viewing area. I often wonder what new treasures they will uncover in their daily work.

Badgers & Magpies & Leopards, Oh my!

Badgers Yellowstone NPk 13June2011
Badgers at Yellowstone National Park

In The Story Who Came to Visit, I mentioned I would be doing an Open Mic event here in Bend. Yes, it does take a bit of courage to do something like that. Yesterday I read a short piece from the children’s book I wrote during NaNoWriMo. The audience was eager to hear the work of local writers.

I read a story about a bullied girl who finds her courage after talking with a magpie and a badger. They both have hidden weaknesses but found their inner strength. Nuǎn, the main character in the story, finds her strength just when she needs it most. A snow leopard that had attacked her and left her scarred is about to attack another child.

Here’s an excerpt from that scene:

Snow Leopard’s ears perked up, and he turned towards her. “You again, Nuǎn?” He hissed and bared his teeth. “Yeowrrr! I already marked you once. Stay out of my way.” Snow Leopard struck out at her, scratching her arm with his long claws.

“You marked me again!” Nuǎn held her hand over the wound. “The first time you marked me, it made me weak. No more!”

Nuǎn grabbed an ax in the yard and swung it down, chopping off the end of Snow Leopard’s long tail. The big cat yowled in pain and leapt over the fence.

“Now you are marked!” Nuǎn yelled at the leopard as it bounded away.

I have a lot more editing and revising to do, but my work in progress was well received by the audience. 🙂

Back to work…

Bald Eagle: Don’t Fence Me In

Bald eagle out for breakfast

Bald Eagle & fence 18January2019

I saw this bald eagle standing in the middle of a field this morning and couldn’t figure out why it was there. Then I noticed a couple magpies flying close by. Hmmm. Upon closer inspection, I saw a deer carcass several feet away. I guess everyone was there for a breakfast buffet.

The Road To… Oregon: LAPC

The curving road

Here are some curving roads to various scenic destinations in Oregon. When you’re driving down the road you never know what sights you’ll see just around the bend.

What is straight? A line can be straight, or a street, but the human heart, oh, no, it’s curved like a road through mountains.

Tennessee Williams

The Road To...Fort Rock, Oregon  10June2017
The road to… Fort Rock
The Road To... Mt Hood, Oregon 15October2017
The road to… Mt Hood
The Road To...Hart Mountain, Oregon  2November2017
The road to… Hart Mountain
The Road To... Mt Bachelor, Oregon 29September2017
The road to… Mt Bachelor
The Road To...Steens Mountain, Oregon  5April2018
The road to… Steens Mountain

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Curves.

Prairie Smoke: Friday Flowers

A Rose by Another Name

Prairie Smoke Wyoming 1June2018

Prairie smoke, Geum triflorum, is a native plant of the prairies and it’s a less showy member of the rose family. The sepals on their droopy flowers are fused shut so they can’t open fully. I was drawn to this plant with its plain flowers and deeply serrated leaves.

The plants grow 6-10″ tall and bloom in late spring through early summer. Once the flowers are fertilized, they are followed by feathery wispy “fruits” (achenes) that somewhat resemble smoke. Another common name for this plant is Old Man’s Whiskers. The semi-evergreen leaves turn varying shades of red, purple, and orange in the fall.

Native Americans used prairie smoke roots and crushed seeds in eye washes, sore throat remedies, yeast infection treatments, and to help with stomach and menstrual cramps. The Nlaka’pmx used its roots in a drink and in a body wash in sweathouses. The Okanagan also used it in a love potion for women.

This plant can be found in southern Canada and in the central and northern United States (Zones 3-7). It grows in gravelly soils, but also in silty and loamy soils.

It can be grown in rock gardens and prefers sites with moist springs and drier winters. Prairie smoke tolerates summer sun and has low water needs.

Fun fact: Prairie smoke flowers are pollinated mainly by bumblebees. They have to force their way into the closed flowers to reach the nectar.

National Park Travels: LAPC

These photos are of our National Park travels within 1,000 miles of our home. We are lucky to live so close to so much beauty.

I tried to consider what was in the foreground as well as the background in these shots.

National Park Travels - Yellowstone, Wyoming 30May2018
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
National Park Travels - Arches, Utah  2May2017
Arches National Park, Utah
National Park Travels - Canyonlands, Utah  4May2017
Canyonlands National Park, Utah
National Park Travels - Capitol Reef, Utah  5May2017
Capitol Reef National Park, Utah
National Park Travels - Bryce Canyon 6May2017
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
National Park Travels - Zion 6May2017
Zion National Park, Utah
National Park Travels - Great Basin 6May2017
Great Basin National Park, Nevada
National Park Travels - Crater Lake 12October2014
Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – My Travels

See more of my park photos at Utah National Parks: Trees & Rocks

Chives vignette: Friday Flowers

The color has faded in these blossoms but they are still beautifully framed by the long spiky leaves on this chive plant.

Chives Vignette 10July2018

Friday Flowers