I saw this abandoned building on a corner in Howe, Idaho. Though I could not learn the history of this specific building, I learned a well-known historical figure spent part of his life nearby.
The Little Lost River, located north and east of this site, was once known as “John Day’s River” or “Day’s River.” In 1810, the John Jacob Astor Pacific Fur Company set out to establish a base of operations at the mouth of the Columbia River. They made many discoveries along the way while searching for the easiest routes of travel. John Day, an experienced hunter and trapper, was a member of the party.
John Day’s travels
The group, led by Wilson Price Hunt, divided into four parties when food became scarce. John Day became ill and was left behind with Ramsay Crooks on the shores of the Snake River. The two men eventually made their way to the mouth of the Mah-Mah River, where it joins the Columbia. At that site, the two were robbed of all their belongings and stripped naked by Natives. Because of this incident, the river was renamed the John Day River. Crooks and Day were rescued days later by Robert Stuart, of the Pacific Fur Company, and taken to Fort Astoria at the mouth of the Columbia River.
In June 1812, Day accompanied Stuart on a trip back east, but he was left on the Lower Columbia when he appeared to experience an emotional breakdown. He returned to Fort Astoria and hunted and trapped in the Willamette Valley.
John Day in Idaho
When the Pacific Fur Company was sold to the North West Company in 1813, Day became a free trapper working under contract with them. Though exact information on his travels is limited, Day made plans to work in parts of southern Idaho and northern Utah.
In 1820, he was at the Company’s winter camp near Little Lost River, Idaho, with Donald McKenzie. John Day passed away there on February 16, 1820. The winter camp is thought to be near Fallert Springs, Idaho. That’s about 19 miles north of this abandoned building on a corner in Howe.
John Day’s name is associated with:
- John Day River, Oregon
- The cities of John Day and Dayville in Grant County, Oregon
- John Day River and unincorporated community in Clatsop County, Oregon
- John Day Dam on the Columbia River
- John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon
- John Day Formation strata
- Day’s Defile, Butte County, Idaho (Historical place name near where he is supposedly buried)
Monochrome Monday (MM)
Sometimes you visit places where the landscapes are pretty as a picture. Here are a few places I’ve visited in the western states that feature picture postcard views. I tell a tiny tale about each of them.
Kiger Gorge on Steens Mountain, Oregon is full of drama. A giant serpent tunneled through here leaving scales of deep green. Wise ones believe the sweetest water can be found in shallow wells beneath these strands of greenery.
Morning Glory in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming is a glorious sight. The artist who created this landscape experimented with various colors. She could not settle on using a single color and discarded her pallet here for us to find.
This grandfather tree in Arches National Park, Utah often told tales of wild places to his many grandchildren. When he passed, they honored him by preserving the bones of his existence and planting golden flowers near his roots.
Herds of clouds collect over northern Nevada in the spring, deciding whether they will release showers in the upcoming seasons. If you listen closely, you can hear their whispers drift by you carried by the desert wind.
Do you see the largest sea stack in this photo of Ruby Beach in Washington State? I think it was a giant beaver who was busy eating and ignored the incoming tide. The beaver became stuck in the sand, unable to escape. She has been there for so long that a row of trees took root along her spine and grew to towering heights.
Do any of the pretty as a picture places you have visited have hidden tales?
Once a year, in the middle of June, Clearwater Native Plant Nursery opens its gates to the public. This contract grow nursery provides native plants for restoration and landscaping projects. Plants sold here grow well in upland, riparian, and wetland habitats. The nursery is located in Redmond, Oregon.
Clearwater Native Plant Nursery provided plants to the Deschutes Land Trust for the restoration of Whychus Creek, 15 miles to the northwest. The plantings provided wildlife habitat and helped stabilize the soil near the creek.
Clearwater Native Plant Nursery Annual Sale
I had never been to their annual sale before. This nursery is not open to the public the rest of the year.
We arrived soon after opening and there were already a lot of people there. Plants ranged in price from $3 for a 4-inch pot, to $27 for a 5-gallon pot.
Plants for sale are laid out in neat rows.
Walking through them is like being a kid in a candy store.
You can find the plant labels at the end of the rows.
I purchased eight plants including the rosy pussytoes and showy penstemon pictured below. They are great wildflowers to include in my low water usage landscaping.
Some of the plants for sale had already bloomed. Gardeners need to use their imagination to think of what these plants will look like in the future.
I remember seeing prairie smoke plants at Slough Creek in Yellowstone National Park and wanted one ever since. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the plant I purchased at the sale will fill out and look like the ones in Yellowstone.
A few tips if you plan on attending this sale…
- A list of plants this nursery sells is on their website to view ahead of time.
- Parking is limited but people don’t stay long so be patient.
- Helpful volunteers are available to answer your questions.
- Bring your own boxes and/or wheeled carriers. They are not provided.
- Take a picture of the plant label at the end of the row. Individual plants don’t always have labels.
- Bring cash! They do not accept credit or other forms of payment.
Friday Flowers (FF)
When you travel the backroads in this part of the country, it’s not uncommon to see cattle herds movin’ down the road guided by cowboys. We saw a couple cowboys on horseback moving this herd near Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
You’ll see dust clouds long before you see the animals.
The cattle often stop in the road until they are pressured into moving. Watch for signals from the horseback riders to their dogs herding the cattle. Do your best to stay out of their way.
Slowly push your way through. They will move, but they’ll complain about it the whole time.
While waiting to get through a herd, I often look at the unique markings of each animal and guess what their personalities are like. The cow and calf pictured above are big talkers, always willing to give their opinions. The one closest to us in the shot below is bold and sure-footed. She leads the others in the right direction.
A part of the Old West lives on in the present when you see cattle movin’ down the road, guided by riders of the range and their remarkable dogs.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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! 😉
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.
The entrance sits at the foot of scenic mountain landscapes. Yellowstone Destinations offers tent and RV sites right next door.
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.
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.
creatures of the mist
graze in meadowlands of steam
whisperers of warmth
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.
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
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.
So where does this moorhen get the “burnt forehead” nickname? Here’s an explanation from the Waimea Valley website:Continue reading
This is a woodland scene, painted and carved onto a 10″ x 10″ mirror. I created this work with acrylics in a folk art style and carved around the edges of each element. A meandering creek hosts a coyote, raccoon, and leaping salmon. Tall evergreens border the shore. The bald eagle is soaring over snow-capped peaks in the distance. This woodland scene is loosely based on where I used to live.
Do you have artwork you would like to share? If so, include a First Friday Art tag on your post.
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!
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.
Eliminating distractionsContinue reading
Here are ten pieces of alley art you can view along NW Gasoline Alley in Bend, Oregon. I previously featured artwork decorating another alley in Tin Pan Alley Art in Bend.
This collection of artwork is part of a public initiative supporting local arts and culture in Bend, Oregon. The paintings take Bend’s outdoor lifestyle into consideration.
The people in Alley Art
The first piece is Firebreather by Avlis Leumas. This artwork serves to recognize the work of wildland firefighters in the past, present, and future. When it sells, half of the proceeds will go to The Wildland Firefighter Foundation, a group providing emotional and financial support to firefighters.
This piece, by Sheila Dunn, is a portrait of legendary Bend skier, Emil Nordeen. He moved here from Sweden in 1920 and was instrumental in establishing the Bend Skyliners Mountaineering Club. The group promoted local skiing as well as search and rescue and alpine climbing.Continue reading
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.
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.Continue reading
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
There’s a new sculpture at Tumalo Art Co. in Bend, Oregon. The Homeward Bound sculpture of a deer, by Danae Bennett Miller, is a cast bronze piece. Danae uses a lost wax process to create works of art. I previously featured one of her horse sculptures in Outdoor Horse Sculptures. That post highlights the work of several impressive sculptors.
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.
This Colocasia Esculenta mural, created by Danny Fry in 2020, shows colorful elephant ear plants. This plant, referred to as taro or kalo, is common in Hawaii, where Danny grew up.
The colorful leaves of this mural represent the mix of people here in Bend, Oregon. Many people move here from other locations, and this mural reflects that growth in a positive light. For example, Bend hosts several thriving restaurants and businesses run by Hawaiians.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
rise swallow the wind
rapid plunge trailed by bubbles
joyful rays of sun
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.
A collection of pinecones shown in black and white. These cones were found in the Lost Forest of Central Oregon, a remnant from another time.
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