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.
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.
Here’s a view from the trail. There are geysers everywhere you look in the Norris Geyser Basin.Continue reading
Ponderosa pine bark up close. This bark is made even more interesting with drips of amber pitch.
These colorful lichens are growing on a rock in my High Desert yard. So much variety in a tiny landscape!
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.
Moody cloudscapes over them in the spring.
Snow and ice covering them in the winter.Continue reading
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.
Here are a couple pictures of the volcanic views from a closer angle.
This 1.1 mile trail winds through basalt lava flows surrounding Lava Butte to the viewpoint.
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.
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.
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.Continue reading
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.
Here’s what they looked like a week later.
When I was out kayaking at Prineville Reservoir, these recently-hatched goslings struggled to conquer the huge-to-them wall.Continue reading
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.
within a small seed
a tiny new life slumbers
awakened by sun
emerald limbs stretch
stems lengthen and reach skyward
embraced by springtime
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
I’ve been following pronghorn for years. They have much to teach us.
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.
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.Continue reading
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.
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.
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.
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.
Distant & elusiveContinue reading
Wildflowers in the desert sunshine
Emerging in harsh conditions
Shining with an inner light
Jewels in the sand
Wildflowers in the desert photographs taken at Gray Butte, Oregon in the springtime.
The challenge this week is to show photos of birds seen over the past two weeks. As spring progresses, more and more birds, and tourists, are showing up.
Here’s a California scrub-jay perched on an interpretive sign in Bend, acting like a tourist. They change the flags displayed on this bridge throughout the year. On this day, they happened to match the jay.
I’ve been seeing this lone swan near the flag bridge for several weeks. It was hard to figure out if it was a tundra swan or the less common trumpeter swan. It finally got within a few feet of me last week. It’s a tundra swan. See the bit of yellow near the eye? They don’t always have the yellow patch, but it’s the best clue.
For comparison, here’s a trumpeter swan we saw this week at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The skin between the eye and bill is thicker and all black.Continue reading
Today I’m sharing a sockeye salmon 2-sided rock painting I created. On one side you see what this fish looks like when it’s spawning, and on the other side you see what it looks like at other times in its life cycle. They look SO different!
Sockeye salmon travel from the ocean to freshwater to spawn. Kokanee are a landlocked version of sockeye. If you’re lucky enough to catch one, they are especially delicious smoked.
Here’s a video of sockeye spawning in the Adams River in British Columbia, Canada. The 3-minute video, by Luke Gibson of Life of Luke, shows aerial and underwater shots of the fish. I loved his creative solution to filming underwater shots on a limited budget! A true artist will always find a way to work around obstacles.
Do you have artwork you would like to share? Include a First Friday Art tag on your post.
Close up view of a frosty ponderosa pine pom-pom in black and white.
Last week we visited Crack in the Ground in Central Oregon near Christmas Valley. You may be wondering what exactly this place is. Well… it’s a huge crack in the ground in the middle of the desert.
I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was impressed by the crack’s picturesque angles and curved surfaces.
There’s a 2-mile trail inside that reaches a depth of ~70 feet below the surface. We took the left path that has a more gradual entrance. It’s in the middle of the picture below. This trail is relatively easy but if you go the whole length, expect to climb over boulders and through some cracks.
But how did this crack get here? It’s an ancient volcanic fissure. I learned in most climates, fissures fill up with soil and rock from erosion. Since it’s so dry here, there has been relatively little filling.
Crack in the Ground sits within the Four Craters Lava Bed. During the Pleistocene, four cone volcanoes were active here. A shallow depression formed when older heavier rock sunk. The fissure opened near the edge where there was tension along a fault zone. This Bureau of Land Management map shows the extent of the lava beds and the location of Crack in the Ground.Continue reading
The 0.4-mile Trail of the Whispering Pines winds its way through the forest near the visitor center. You get great views of pine trees, Lava Butte, and several nearby volcanoes. This path sits on part of Newberry Volcano, a 1,200-square mile shield volcano.
South Sister, pictured on the left above, is the youngest and most geologically active of the Three Sisters volcanoes. The mountain last erupted 2,000 years ago, but a “bulge” began forming in 1997. By 2001, the bulge grew to 9 inches in height and 10 miles in diameter. Its growth since that time has slowed considerably. Both South Sister and Newberry are regularly monitored for volcanic activity.
When I was a young child, my grandfather often told me the tale of the Lost Forest. Here is how he told it…
The people of the village disliked them for their beliefs, distrusted them for their appearance, so they fled. The villagers pursued them so they ran faster and faster.
They paused on a faraway hill and sought shelter beneath the sagebrush. The pursuers shouted in the distance. Unsure what to do, they became a part of the environment.
One by one, they stood still and extended their arms with palms tilted upward. Long green needles sprouted from their fingertips. Puzzle-like bark crept over their skin. They wiggled their toes and pale white roots snaked their way into the soil. A shudder ran through their bodies and branches poked through their buckskin clothing.
And then they grew. They shed their human form and grew taller and taller.Continue reading
Close up view of rough & rippling bark of a western juniper tree near Bend, Oregon.
Today I’m featuring photos of waterfowl reflections taken on the Deschutes River. The first picture is of a lone swan that has been hanging around Bend, Oregon for the last several weeks.
Here’s a pair of common mergansers taking off along the Trout Creek trail, north of Madras.
Here’s a pair of hooded mergansers in Bend, Oregon.
When I walked around a corner into a gallery at the Baker Heritage Museum a couple years ago, I didn’t know what to expect. Wow, what a special moment! As you may know, I like rocks and this is an amazing collection of rocks, minerals, and fossils.
One of the first pieces you see is a 950-pound crystal from Arkansas. I would love to have something like that in my rock garden.
Two sisters in Baker City, Mamie Cavin and Elizabeth Cavin Warfel, collected specimens for 45 years and donated their collections to the museum in 1983. The 18-ton Cavin-Warfel Collection, together with other donations at the museum, is considered to be one of the best collections in the country. In fact, at one time the Smithsonian offered $500,000 to acquire it.
Cabochons and cut pieces of picture jasper cover one wall. Cabochons are gemstones that have been shaped and highly polished, rather than faceted. Billy Wyatt donated this collection.
Colorful specimens of green malachite and blue azurite are in this cabinet. Both are secondary minerals found in copper deposits. Malachite is one of my favorites and I have a few in my collection. The Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries donated specimens related to mining to the museum.
After the fire, this split-trunk western juniper tree is still standing tall in the grasslands near Warm Springs, Oregon.
Walking among the hoodoos in the morning light, feeling out of my element.
Sculpted towers surround me, casting tall shadows. Their wind-carved faces turn towards the sun,
until clouds block their view.Continue reading
Snow-capped mountain ash berries are a delicious dessert for our feathered friends.
Close up view of a cluster of crystals sprouting off of a matrix.
During the chilly winter months, I sometimes think of the steam-filled landscapes of Yellowstone National Park. I wish I had a natural hot spring in my backyard. The thermal activity beneath Yellowstone is always producing steamy white clouds.
This view is from the Artists’ Paint Pots trail. Lots of contrasting colors and great views of the steaming basin from the top of the trail.
This is a hot spring near Morning Glory Hot Spring, one of my favorite sites in the park. See the ravens enjoying the warm water?
Grand Prismatic has rainbow colors, layered soil, and lots of steam. Did you notice the bison tracks in the foreground?
The bison spend time near the hot springs throughout the year. Here’s a pair grazing near a boardwalk trail.Continue reading