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.
Covered in coldness
Obscured from view
Layered in lightness
Dazzling and new
Lens-Artists Photo Challenge (LAPC) – Cold
Watching & waiting for clouds
Turning the sky into a color collecting kaleidoscope
Expressing their thoughts with fiery punctuation
Or softening their words in pastel tones
Watching & waiting for clouds
Painting the world with their bold thoughts
While gazing at us through eyes lined in brilliance
Lens-Artists Photo Challenge (LAPC): Waiting
This teepee made from tules is a re-creation of what Native Americans of Central Oregon once used as a home.
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.
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 lack of color
Gives expression to patterns
A lack of color
Reminds us of distant times
Dimming yet dazzling
A lack of color
Brings fading autumn blossoms
Back to vivid life
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
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 have differences of opinion…
But learn to work together in the right direction.
With two you can brave the elements together.
With two you can reflect the best in each other…
And learn to function as one.
Lens-artists Photo Challenge – Seeing Double
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.
A closer look shows where the water levels were before the ship drained the basin.
This jumbled formation at Malheur NWR looks like it was made by a giant who was in a hurry.
But a closer look reveals the perfect spot for great horned owls to raise their young and protect the land.
This Painted Hills formation looks like an immense shark swimming through the hills causing a commotion.
A closer look shows some of the magical green stones left in its wake.
There are stories within the layers that you can learn if you just pause to look and listen.
Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Layered
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
On the Oregon Trail
History of Trail
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.
National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center
Covered wagons – Inside and Out
Life and Death on the Trail
Sharing the Trail
Visiting the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center
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.
Creatures from the Ice Age
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.
From cultures that date back >10,000 years ago
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.
Lewis & Clark’s travels
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.
Settling into Wasco County
Thousands of settlers soon made their way to Oregon and towns sprung up to support them.
The right saddle
Businesses catering to the settler’s needs prospered. Those are some nice saddles!
The Chinese in mid- to late-1800s Oregon
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.
Gorge Discovery Center. Etc…
There were a couple things we didn’t see on this visit.
- The Columbia Gorge Discovery Center put a lot of time into restoring native habitat on the 54-acre campus. There is a short nature walk with interpretive markers around the buildings.
- They have a Raptor Interpretive Program that uses live falcons, hawks, eagles, and owls. They have presentations for visitors on days that vary with the season.
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
Birds of Prey Tour
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 .
Raptors Pocket Guide
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