This is a scene from a museum in Baker City, Oregon. I thought the rustic details came out much more clearly in black and white.
This is a scene from a museum in Baker City, Oregon. I thought the rustic details came out much more clearly in black and white.
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.
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.
I noticed a movement near the willows right behind this sculpture. I spied a real great blue heron!
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.
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.
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.
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. 😀
Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Candid
These coneflowers’ colors are fading as summer turns to fall. Their form is still beautiful and I look forward to seeing them bloom next spring.
Tiny pale flowers
Curving fragrant slender stems
I watched one smart squirrel figure out how to get around the “squirrel-proof” cover on this bird feeder. It knocked seeds to the ground and feasted on them. Clever little creature.
I watched squirrels at other feeders here on another day and they gave me quite the scolding. Here’s a short poem I wrote about them.
On a recent trip revisiting Steens Mountain, I thought back on what this place looked like decades before. When I got home, I browsed my photos and realized several pictures I took on this trip were taken in nearly the exact same spot.
Places seem to me to have some kind of memory, in that they activate memory in those who look at them.W. G. Sebald
Some places call you back to them. While revisiting Steens Mountain this summer, I realized it is one of those places for me.
Here are a few “then” and “now” pictures I took of the Steens.
Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Pick a Place
I’m treasuring Friday flowers with a friend before the weather changes. It was warm and sunny here yesterday but snow is predicted this weekend. The weather in the high desert is always interesting. 😁
Magic in the wind
Pushes whirling windmill blades
Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Magical
Sensationalized accounts of the “Promised Land” caused the single largest voluntary migration in America. Artists such as Albert Bierstadt presented glamorized versions of the journey along the Trail.
I dug through my archives to find pictures of this mellow fellow we once had as a pet. Calypso Blue was a miniature horse and he measured 32 inches at his withers. He was one of the mellowest horses I ever met. His companion, Scooby, pictured here, was a lot more feisty.
I think I took these photos on the day we bought him. It took a LONG time to brush out that mane and tail.
It’s hard to tell in these photos, but underneath all that mane he had piercing blue eyes. We sold him when we moved. This mellow fellow went to a home with a little girl who showered him with affection.
Catlow Cave artifacts, including sagebrush bark sandals, grass & bark baskets, and arrowheads & spearpoints, are displayed at the Harney County Historical Society Museum in Burns, Oregon. There are a couple pointed sticks that may be “knitting needles”, used to knit the sagebrush bark together.
These cave artifacts are between 9,000 to 10,000 years old. The Northern Paiute people lived in this region. There are several caves in the Catlow Valley cliffs. Petroglyphs adorn some of the rock faces.
Do you want to learn more about the native peoples who lived in this area thousands of years ago? Consider taking a guided tour to the Fort Rock Cave hosted by Oregon Parks and Recreation. Be sure to visit the nearby Fort Rock Valley Historical Society Homestead Museum. This small museum has more examples of cave artifacts from this region. The woven items were practical but also works of art with distinctive patterns.
Angles are often used in art and architecture and are also found in nature. Here are several photos that show art and nature from different angles.
This sculpture of a flock of birds zigzags down a foyer and flutters around the corner of a building in downtown Bend, Oregon.
Swallows collect beakfuls of mud to create these nests along the roof angles at Summer Lake Wildlife Area, Oregon.
Columnar basalt forms when volcanic rock cools rapidly. In this picture, at Cove Palisades State Park, the columns formed in different angles. Orange lichens highlight their form.
The supporting beams at the Warm Spring Museum are set at different angles in imitation of how shelters from the past were constructed.
Trails of smoke from passing jets form an angle that points toward a field of flowering corn in Silverton, Oregon.
Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Angles
We stumbled upon the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center in northern Oregon one autumn day . The Center opened in 1997 but we had never been there.
Wouldn’t you like to have a river winding across your floor like this one in the entry hall?
How about a cedar dugout canoe? Some were up to 50 feet in length.
The Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum is in The Dalles along the Historic Columbia River Highway. Built in the 1900s, this road was the first scenic highway in the U.S. The highway winds through areas with forests, rocky cliffs, and dramatic waterfalls. We were planning to visit Multnomah Falls that day, but it was inaccessible due to a fire.
So we ended up here and a Columbian mammoth trumpeted with joy when he saw us. We stayed out of the way of his 16-foot long tusks. We found another interesting critter close by.
Did you know that there were once dire wolves in Oregon? Me neither. They were the largest canid to have lived, weighing as much as 150 pounds. Sometimes creatures portrayed in stories, such as Game of Thrones, actually existed.
Next we walked into a gallery of Native American artifacts. This center features artifacts from Wasco, Northern Paiute, and Warm Springs tribes.
Beadwork and basketry always impresses me. It would take so much patience to create something like that, something I don’t always have.
In another part of the center, the practice of fishing the Columbia River off of wooden platforms is highlighted. Native Americans fished this river for thousands of years but the runs of salmon have decreased dramatically due to dams and warming water temperatures.
Several displays referred to the explorations of Lewis and Clark.
They passed through the Gorge traveling west in October of 1805 and on their way back home in April of 1806.
Members of the Lewis and Clark party traded with the natives for needed supplies and information on routes. See those strings of beads hanging from the display? Beads had great value as an item to trade at the time.
Naturalists were eager to explore this new land and this display shows some of the winged wonders they encountered. That’s a lot of butterflies!
As the United States expanded its territories in the 1840s and 1850s, more settlers moved toward the West. Lt. John C. Frémont explored the Oregon Trail, camping at The Dalles in 1843. The Army helped map potential wagon routes through Oregon.
Thousands of settlers soon made their way to Oregon and towns sprung up to support them.
Businesses catering to the settler’s needs prospered. Those are some nice saddles!
The railroad expanded into Oregon. Chinese immigrants helped construct railways and worked in the gold mines. They brought elements of their culture with them.
Though some of their customs and products, such as fireworks, were appreciated by the largely European American residents, Chinese often encountered prejudice.
This exhibit detailed archaeological work on the Chinatown site that once existed in The Dalles. After the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, it was more difficult for them to stay in the United States. Most moved away from The Dalles by the late 1920s.
For some history about Chinese in John Day, Oregon, about 200 miles to the south, read Kam Wah Chung: A Step Back in Time.
Excavations at Chinatown have uncovered many artifacts and evidence of past floods and fires. In 2013, this site was listed among Restore Oregon’s Most Endangered Places.
There were a couple things we didn’t see on this visit.
The Columbia Gorge Discovery Center was a nice place for an unplanned stop. Lots to see and do there. We were there in October and there weren’t many other visitors. The fall leaves outside the building greeted us in bright shades of gold.
There’s a great fountain just outside the front door. I leave you with the calming sounds of its waters.
I saw many plants I’m familiar with on this tour. Some I knew the names of, others I was like, “Uh… what was your name again?” Fortunately, the plants were labeled or the person whose garden it was could tell you.
Here are some old friends.
Here are some new-to-me plants. As I add to our landscaping, I’m always on the lookout for new and interesting plants.
One of the stops this year was at the Oregon Agricultural Experimental Station in Madras. They offer a ton of information about plants.
At our first stop on the tour, we saw this lizard at the base of a tree. It looked like someone “borrowed” the end of its tail. No worries! It’s growing a new one.
I wasn’t sure if I could come up with things that were old, new, borrowed, and blue but this lizard helped me out.
We saw this spectacular plant growing next to lavender at our last stop. The form is interesting and the blue color is uncommon in plants.
It was a day filled with visits to colorful gardens in Madras and Culver. As always, the tour was very inspiring! Here are some of the things I saw last year on the tour.
To end the perfect day, I won a gift certificate for a local plant nursery in the raffle–for the second year in a row! 😀
This cat in the shadows is my cat, Motor. He turned 17 this month and he keeps healthy by getting plenty of beauty sleep.
Birds of the shore are common in the spring in parts of eastern Oregon. Why? Because flood irrigation is one of the main methods used to water the crops. As the snow melts off surrounding mountains, it collects in rivers and reaches the lower elevations.
It is released in controlled amounts in the Harney Basin, where 320 bird species congregate. This ancient method of irrigation benefits the rancher and the birdwatcher.
Birds such as sandhill cranes take advantage of all of that water. You can see flocks of them in the photo above and a single bird below.
I love seeing delicate long-legged beauties such as black-necked stilts and American avocets.
If you’re lucky, you may even see a Wilson’s snipe. Yes, they really do exist.
Flood irrigation creates temporary ponds and lakes with miles and miles of shoreline.
I saw quite a few long-billed curlew this spring. I was dive-bombed by one once when I was too close to her nest. That bill is dangerous looking! It can measure more than eight and a half inches in length.
Thousands of Ross’ and snow geese congregate in this area.
Waterfowl are common in the ponds and lakes. Here is a raft of ducks. This image is a little blurry but I included it to show the difference between canvasbacks and redhead ducks. The pair on the far left are redheads. See how the plumage is more gray? There are lots of opportunities to get clear views of many species.
You may see elegant swans as well. Trumpeter and tundra swans have been seen here.
You will be amazed when you spot unique birds of the shore, such as this American bittern. Keep your binoculars handy when traveling through this country in the spring and you will be rewarded.
Lens Artists Photo Challenge – Seascapes and/or lakeshore
I saw plenty of raptors on a Birds of Prey tour in the wide-open country of Harney County, Oregon last April. We ventured briefly into the Malheur National Forest in search of eagles. Though we didn’t see any eagles, we did get a nice view of an American kestrel.
We saw immature and mature bald eagles later that day. It’s always exciting to see them.
Some of the wildlife out there was keeping an eye on us. This herd of elk on a distant ridge top watched us for a while.
Raptors were common and we saw many of them perched on fenceposts and telephone poles.
Ground squirrels hang out in the irrigated fields and the birds of prey congregate there to find an easy meal. They like to perch on the pivot irrigation systems.
Turkey vultures also enjoy some nice fresh ground squirrel. This one was close to the road and we had a great view of it having a little snack.
We were lucky to see a prairie falcon, the only one we spotted that day.
Mule deer were common. This herd had 30+ deer.
We stopped in another spot to take pictures of deer then noticed something else in the foreground. Two burrowing owls! Can you find both of them in the photo with the deer? That was my favorite observation of the day.
This tour was part of the Harney County Migratory Bird Festival. Our guides that day were Ben Cate, from the High Desert Partnership, and Melanie Finch, wildlife technician with the U.S. Forest Service .
Though I know certain species well, I’m no expert when it comes to identifying raptors. I rely on helpful tour guides and field guides. I have field guide books and the iBird Pro app, but this handy fold out pocket guide is really helpful.
This guide includes silhouettes, identifying markings, and different color morphs. It was a dark spring day on this trip and the silhouettes page helped make identifying birds easier.
We saw quite a few raptors so it was a successful seven-hour field trip. Until next year…
Here are a few of my purple pretties in full bloom in my High Desert yard in Central Oregon.
Ponderosa pine is a tree for the senses. These trees can grow as tall as 268 feet. Their bark turns an interesting shade of orange-red as they mature.
The branches twist and contort into interesting shapes as the tree ages.
The furrowed bark has been described as smelling like vanilla, butterscotch, or cinnamon. The bark looks like jigsaw puzzle pieces.
I love taking pictures of bark! See Silent Barks for a few more of my photos.
Ponderosas grow in mountainous areas but can also be found along meandering waterways.
Ponderosa pines host a wide variety of wildlife species, including great horned owls.
Though young trees are destroyed by fire, older Ponderosa pine trees have thick bark, which can protect them in low intensity fires.
Trees in burned areas produce cones with more seeds. More seedlings grow in burned areas and in edges between burned and unburned areas.
This lesson will have to end here because my dog is eating my “model.” She likes pinecones better than any toy I can buy her at the store. 😀
Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Trees
Oregon rocks come in a wide variety of shapes and colors. Here are a few of my favorite rocks.
Craggy cliffs circling wonder
Sculptures shaped by the sea
Lined with layers of lichens
Sharpness bordered by softness
Painted with pictographs in the past
Clustered in concentrations of color
Rounded by rambling rivers
Lens-Artist Photo Challenge – Favorite Things
This is a kinetic sound sculpture that’s part of an exhibit at the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon. The exhibit is called Desert Reflections: Water Shapes the West and it runs through September 29, 2019. This exhibit used the combined talents of scientists, historians, and artists.
When you play the video on this post, listen carefully to the music in the background. The sounds of High Desert water and wind were recorded. They were combined with the “color” of music played on a Skinner church organ.
As the artists at Harmonic Laboratory state, “This evokes the richness of the region, a place shaped by many forces interacting in a complex way.”
As you stand underneath the sculpture, the calming tones, continuous motion, and gentle breeze helps you feel some of the energy that’s such an important part of High Desert environments.
Freedom of Expression Challenge – Art
Have you ever stepped inside a time capsule and discovered a place frozen in time? You have the opportunity to visit such a place if you stop at the Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site in John Day, Oregon. The small building, located two blocks north of Highway 26, was, at one time, bustling with activity. Kam Wah Chung, which translates to the “Golden Flower of Prosperity,” served as a dry goods store, herbalist shop, import business, house of worship, and boarding house. It also housed an informal library and post office.
As you step into the dimly lit interior of the building, you get a feel for what life was like decades ago.
Boxes and tins of everyday products line the shelves. Merchandise stocked at Kam Wah Chung appealed to both Chinese and American customers.
In the backroom, larger boxes of supplies fill the room.
The apothecary is amazing! Stacks of small neatly labeled boxes reach to the ceiling.
They used many herbs in the practice of Chinese medicine, but also more exotic things like lizard feet, bat wings, and bear parts. A small room across from the apothecary served as a place to treat patients.
You step through a low doorway to get into the kitchen. The table and wood stove look ready to serve a hot meal.
An early version of a refrigerator cabinet sits in a corner.
Religion was an important part of everyday life and small altars, with dried oranges and incense stick offerings, are tucked into various nooks.
Two sets of bunk beds are in the same room as the kitchen. Advertisements line the walls and undersides of the bunks, in case you might need to purchase a suit while staying there.
As you pass through another door, you’ll enter a private bedroom. You can’t go upstairs, but additional boarding and living quarters are located there.
The building was constructed in the 1860s as a trading post, and it was put under lease to the Kam Wah Chung Company in 1878. Ing Hay and Lung On, both originally from the Guangdong Province of China, formed a partnership and purchased the business in 1887. It served as a gathering place for Chinese immigrants who traveled to Oregon to work on railroad lines and in gold mines. In 1862, prospectors discovered gold in Canyon City, two miles south of John Day. In 1880, John Day was home to over 2,000 Chinese, the second largest Chinese community in Oregon and one of the largest in the U.S.
Ing Hay, also known as “Doc Hay,” practiced herbal medicine and pulsology. Doc Hay lost his sight, but he claimed he could use his sensitive hands to identify ailments based on a patient’s pulse. Western medicine was in its infancy at that time and anyone could claim to be a doctor. Nearly half of patients treated by “quack” doctors died from infection. Ing Hay served both Chinese and non-Chinese patients and was a well-respected healer throughout the region. He was considered a “municipal treasure” after he used his herbal remedies to prevent the spread of illness during the Influenza Epidemic of 1918.
Lung On, also known as “Leon,” was a well-educated man fluent in both English and Chinese. He used his charisma and many skills in his work as a merchant, labor contractor, mediator, and translator. After the gold rush, he turned to other endeavors. Lung On started a mail-order clothing company and also had one of the first car dealerships and service stations east of the Cascades. He also dabbled in real estate and horse racing. Lung On was a successful businessman and he willed his $90,000 estate to Ing Hay. Both men continued living in the Kam Wah Chung building for nearly 60 years and were considered valued members of the community.
Though both had family in China, they never returned to their native country. One reason for this was the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Increasing tensions between Chinese and resident laborers in a struggling economy led to a series of laws. The Act stated that Chinese could not become U.S. citizens or own land. Teachers, students, diplomats, and merchants were given limited rights, but weren’t always allowed back into the U.S. if they left the country. In John Day, Chinese could only live in a small neighborhood near Kam Wah Chung and it served as a refuge for them. More moved to John Day in 1885 when the Chinese neighborhood in Canyon City burned to the ground and they were not allowed to rebuild. It was a challenging environment for people of Chinese heritage and they felt safer living near each other.
Chinese could not own guns in Grant County so Ing Hay and Lung Ho kept meat cleavers at the ready to defend themselves. You can see evidence of how they were harassed by observing bullet holes in their metal-clad front door. The thin layer of metal didn’t stop any bullets, but it prevented fire from destroying the building.
Lung On passed away in 1940 and Ing Hay moved to a Portland nursing home in 1948. He passed away in 1952 and his nephew sold the building to the city of John Day. Ing Hay wanted the building to serve as a Chinese history museum, but that request was forgotten. The Kam Wah Chung building remained locked until 1967. When the doors were opened, everything inside was largely intact. Over 30,000 artifacts have been cataloged. The apothecary contained hundreds of herbs, some of which no longer exist in the wild. One of Doc Hay’s medical books may have been compiled 300-500 years ago by one of the founders of Chinese medicine. If the book is an original, it would be one of the few copies known to still exist.
Kam Wah Chung was deeded to Oregon State Parks and Recreation in 1975 and leased to the city of John Day. It opened to the public in 1977. The state took over management of the site in 2004. The Friends of Kam Wah Chung help manage a small visitor center and store housed in a separate building.
Oregon State Parks and Recreation offers free 45-minute tours of the Kam Wah Chung site from May 1 to October 31. A guide must accompany visitors. The guides offer visitors a wealth of information and they obviously enjoy sharing their knowledge. Their talks are enhanced by informative recordings. The tours fill up fast so this year they are experimenting with making reservations in advance.
There are several exciting updates related to Kam Wah Chung. Plans are in the works for a larger visitor center that may include a “virtual reality” room that would simulate the interior of the building. Recent archaeological research at the site has revealed where the temple and other buildings may have once stood. In July, students can participate in an archaeology field school on the site as part of the Oregon Chinese Diaspora Project. Malheur National Forest, Southern Oregon Laboratory of Anthropology, and Kam Wah Chung are among those working on this project. The Discovery Channel is working on a documentary about Chinese traditional medicine and they have shot footage at Kam Wah Chung and several other locations. The program is expected to air in North America in the fall of 2019.
This site is an important destination for those interested in history. It is the best known example of an historical Chinese mercantile and herb store in the United States. Chinese scholars have expressed great interest in Kam Wah Chung and they visit the site regularly. As news stories related to discoveries at the site have spread throughout China, it has become a destination for Chinese tourists. People from all over the world visit Kam Wah Chung.
There has been a significant increase in the number of visitors from the Netherlands. Locations near Kam Wah Chung were featured in the highly popular Dutch reality program “Wie is de Mol?” which translates as “Who is the Mole?”
I am fortunate that this site is only about two hours away from Bend, Oregon, where I live. It’s a trip well worth taking.
Here are a few interesting facts about Kam Wah Chung:
To view a 2015 Emmy nominated documentary about Kam Wah Chung produced by Oregon Public Broadcasting, see Oregon Experience – Kam Wah Chung. The personal stories recounted by people who knew Ing Hay and Lung On helps to bring the history of this remarkable place to life.
This is a reprint of a June 2019 article in High Desert Voices, a newsletter by and for volunteers and staff at the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon. To see more issues of the newsletter, go here.
The Daily Spur – Tour
The sand lily, also known as the star lily, is a delicate perennial wildflower found in western North America. It grows in sagebrush deserts, open montane forests, and in sandy and rocky soils.
The plant above is growing near sagebrush in an uncultivated part of my property near Bend, Oregon. There is only one plant and I look forward to it blooming every spring.
I have seen “fields” of sand lily growing in other locations. This field was seen on a hike near Tumalo dam.
Last year I planted two sand lily plants I purchased at WinterCreek Restoration and Nursery and they bloomed a couple weeks ago. This nursery specializes in native plants that use little water.
If you see sand lilies in nature, you may be tempted to dig them up to plant in your yard. Unfortunately, this plant, with its long rhizome growing beneath the soil, does not transfer well.
Please enjoy them in nature and purchase them from a trusted source. They will grow in USDA zones 5-9. They do well in rock gardens with lots of sunlight. Sand lilies require very little water to shine brightly in your garden.
Here’s a haiku about this plant I featured in a previous post – Tiny Oasis
The vision must be followed by the venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps – we must step up the stairs.Vance Havner
This stairway of art in the Old Mill district of Bend invites you to hear its story. The garbage can and utility box are supporting cast members in this tale.
This work is by Yuya Negishi. I show another of his pieces and tell a bit more about him in Big Bold Art in Bend.
Here is a short video showing Yuya creating this stairway of art.
Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Street Art
This bench awaits you at the end of the Blue Basin Island in Time Trail at John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in Eastern Oregon. When you sit there, you are surrounded by an amphitheater of greenish blue stone highlighted by hills of red volcanic soil. It’s a dramatic, and impressive, landscape.
Here is a 360-degree view of what I saw at the end of the Island in Time Trail.
When focusing on only parts of a scene, showing less can reveal more.
This fox didn’t pause to smile for the camera, but this image of her running across a sun-dappled meadow captured her spirit.
This image doesn’t include any wildlife or colorful flowers but it conveys peace.
Snowfall accentuates and enhances the simple and beautiful form of bunchgrass growing in my yard.
There is an arch at the top of this formation at Clarno Palisades but I was amazed by the stair steps near its base.
Part of the moon hid in the shadows during an eclipse but showing less can reveal more of its interesting details.
Lens Artists Photo Challenge – Less is more