Lower Crooked River drive – am & pm: LAPC & FFC

A couple days ago, we went on a Lower Crooked River drive. We were there early in the morning, attempting to avoid an incoming storm system. I remembered I had been there about a year earlier for an afternoon drive. How would the lighting differ in the photos taken on both trips?

Just south of Prineville, Oregon, the Lower Crooked River Back Country Byway winds its way along the Crooked River. The 43-mile long road meets up with Highway 20 to the south.

This post highlights the 8-mile section between Prineville Reservoir and Castle Rock. See map at the end of the post. On this drive, the curving lines of the road and river contrast with the straight lines of geological features.

A morning drive

As we drove north from the reservoir, shadows covered the east side of the road. The morning light cast a warm glow over the canyon lands.

Canyon views

Basalt columns looked pretty in full light…

Columnar basalt

But took on more character in the shadows.

columnar basalt

The Bureau of Land Management notes, “The most significant contributor to the outstandingly remarkable geologic resource are the unique intra-canyon basalt formations created by recurring volcanic and hydrologic activities.”

Chimney Rock was shrouded in shadows. Rays of sunlight snuck through the cloud cover to cast light near the butte’s base.

I have hiked the 1.3-mile trail to the base of Chimney Rock. You get 360-degree views of the landscape and, in the spring, you’ll see stunning desert wildflowers in bloom.

Chimney Rock

As we rounded another curve, I saw the dark gray palisade formations in the distance that always catch my attention.

Crooked River Canyon

An afternoon drive

I remembered seeing them a year before, driving from the opposite direction. The afternoon light was starting to shade the palisade formations near Palisades Campground.

Crooked River Canyon

Parts of the road were in full sunlight, while distant hillsides were shaded.

Winding road

The columns of basalt appeared to bend in the midday heat.

Near the northern end of the Lower Crooked River drive, where the scenic part begins, rimrock formations emerged from smooth hillsides. They serve as a gateway to the Lower Crooked River, where dramatic landforms reflect the light and absorb the shadows.

Crooked River Canyon

Lower Crooked River camping

This section of Highway 27 includes nine campsites and two day-use areas. See Lower Crooked Wild and Scenic River, Chimney Rock Segment for more information.

Bureau of Land Management

Lens- Artists Photo Challenge _ Light and Shadow

Friendly Friday – Leading Lines

Stories unfolding in the rock in Wyoming: LAPC

When I drove the highway west of Cody, Wyoming, I saw stories unfolding in rock formations along the road.

The short paved trail in the photo below takes you to a place of wonderment along the North Fork Shoshone River.

Stories unfolding from a distance

The rock formations along the ridgetop are a village of homes with a view carved by the common folk. At one time, the richest man in town lived in a round home atop the tallest tower. He bragged about his wealth to anyone who would listen. One day, he danced with glee around and around inside the house. It fell to the ground, but he survived. From then on, he lived a humble life in a square home and he never danced again.

Stories unfolding in rock

Sheep Mountain is a distinctive landmark about 15 miles southwest of Cody.

Predators kept chasing bighorn sheep herds grazing in the Absaroka Mountains. One ram, larger than all the rest, laid down to keep watch atop a mountain. His immense size frightened the predators away, and he stands guard to this day.

Unfolding stories Sheep Mountain, Wyoming

Traveling farther west, you’ll notice a sign for another attraction. This is Chimney Rock, one of several places by that name in the United States.

Stories with a closer view

The best chef in the land baked a luscious layer cake of soft and hard rock for a special celebration. She told everyone not to touch it until the party.

Chimney Rock

Unfortunately, a hungry, mischievous child cut off a slice before the big event. Uh oh!

Chimney Rock

This appears to be a peaceful scene of multi-colored mountains bordered by trees growing near the river’s edge. Do you see the rock fence on the left side of the photo above the thick stand of green trees?

Stories unfolding Shoshone National Forest

If you look a little closer at the “fence” you’ll see where an angry giant tried to rip the earth apart, forming a deep rift. Stories unfolding in the rock are not always what they seem.

Rift in wyoming

The Palisades stand like elegant castles alongside one section of the road.

The Palisades, Wyoming

The royals wanted their people to have a comfortable place to live. Each shelf on the towers serves as a home for scaled, feathered, and furred residents. The grateful residents tend the gardens growing next to the towers, providing food for all.

The Palisades, Wyoming

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Earth story

Word of the Day – Wonderment

Stilbite up close: Macro Monday

This is a beautiful piece of stilbite up close. Specimens like these, from the stilbite subgroup, can be found near Mill Creek, Polk County, Oregon. The crystals on this mineral are gorgeous, but I also like the parallel lines surrounding the cavity in this piece.

Stilbite up close

Macro Monday

Labradorite up close: Macro Monday

Here’s a picture of a piece of polished labradorite up close. This feldspar mineral has a unique appearance. Its iridescence catches your attention and is referred to as “labradorescence.” I like holding a piece with a lot of color and tilting it to see different colors in the light. The parallel lines of color within the stone, the twinning surfaces, reflect the light.

Labradorite up close

Macro Monday

Along the Mud Volcano Trail: Monochrome Monday

These are some of the sights you’ll see along the Mud Volcano Trail in Yellowstone National Park.

Here is Mud Volcano, located at the base of the trail. It used to have a 30-foot tall volcanic cone. Albert C. Peale, a member of the 1871 Hayden Geological Survey, noted, “The trees all about this place are coated with mud showing that it throws out mud sometimes to a considerable height.”

However, sometime prior to the area being designated a National Park in 1872, the cone blew up in an eruption. This area is still worth a visit. The rumbling sounds, smell of sulfur, and various thermal features make it a treat for the senses.

Mud volcano

Here’s a closer look at the cracked mud around the base of Mud Volcano.

close up of cracked mud

The 0.7-mile trail includes these stairs that take you up to Black Dragon’s Cauldron and the Sizzling Basin. They certainly came up with some interesting names for these thermal features!

Stairs on Mud Volcano Trail

Monochrome Monday

Special somethings around the house: LAPC

This post includes photos of smaller-sized special somethings collected over the years.

Special somethings discovered

The first photo shows a radiator cap from a 1928 Pontiac. We found it buried in the forest where we used to live. The Indian brave sculpture is so detailed!

Special somethings radiator cap

The next photo shows a picture of my favorite salt & pepper shakers. This pair was found in an antique store in Snohomish, Washington. I’m not sure what year these were made, but they look like Depression-era glassware.

Depression glass S & P

Things from the earth

The next photo shows a piece of black obsidian. I found this piece at Glass Buttes, about an hour east of Bend, Oregon. This rock has radiating curves that developed as it cooled thousands of years ago.

Special somethings black obsidian

The next photo shows a fossil gingko leaf. This was found at Stonerose Interpretive Center & Eocene Fossil Site in Republic, Washington. We took our family there to dig for fossils as part of our annual camping trip. It’s my favorite fossil I’ve ever found because I love gingko trees!

Fossil gingko leaf

Special things with sentimental value

The next photo is of a mug and planter. These were purchased decades ago in Rhodes, Greece by my dad when he was in the Navy. I assumed they must be valuable, but recently found a set of three of these mugs for $45 on eBay. Oh well, I still like them.

Ikaros pottery from Greece

The last photo is of a toy stereo. When I was a teenager, I asked for a stereo every year for Christmas. Our family was not well off financially and stereos used to cost a lot more then, relatively speaking. They bought me this one year and, even though it’s not in great shape anymore, I’ve kept it around to remind myself you don’t always get what you want. 😁

Toy stereo

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge (LAPC) #182 – Interesting Objects

A Painted View: Pull Up a Seat Challenge

A painted view in the Painted Hills in John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon. Rainfall from a passing storm brought out the colors of this natural wonder.

A painted view
Painted Hills, Oregon

Pull Up a Seat Challenge

Observatory of the Past: LAPC

This observatory of the past is on McKenzie Pass near Sisters, Oregon. Dee Wright Observatory was built in 1935 by the Civilian Conservation Corps to showcase the human and geological history of this location. The round tower sits atop a small hill.

Observatory of the past

Here’s what it looks like when you approach it from the west. It’s one of the odder roadside attractions in Oregon but one that should not be missed.

Observatory of the past

The Observatory is constructed of local lava rock. The triangular-shaped rail supports look like rock cairns.

Dee Wright Observatory

But what can you observe from here? You get excellent views of some of our local volcanoes, including North and Middle Sister, pictured below.

North & Middle Sister

You’ll see panoramic views of lava beds bordered by volcanic mountains. On the left you can see the top of Mt Washington. Mt Jefferson is in the middle of the picture, shrouded by clouds. On the right you get a partial view of Black Butte.

View from Dee Wright Observatory

Here’s a closer view. See Mt Jefferson hiding under the clouds?

Mt Washington & Jefferson

An observatory of the past – Geology

This sign highlights part of the geological history. The lava flows that covered this landscape are young, in geological terms. If you have time, walk the 0.50 mile interpretive trail at the site.

Observatory of the past

From the inside of the structure, you can peek out of square and rectangular windows to see the peaks. Labels are below each window.

Dee Wright Observatory

On top of the building you’ll find a peak finder.

Dee Wright Observatory

Here’s a closer view.

Peak finder at Dee Wright Observatory

Old Wagon Road

This area served as a route for wagons to get across the Cascade Mountains in the late 1800s. It must have been an incredibly rough ride.

Old Wagon Road

If you visit this area…

  • Consider traveling the 82-mile loop McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass Scenic Byway. We drove it in September while searching for fall foliage.
  • Note the road to the observatory closes during late fall and opens again in the spring because of high snowfall.
  • The winding, narrow McKenzie Pass Highway does not allow vehicles over 35 feet in length.
  • Watch for bicyclist traveling along the 38-mile long McKenzie Pass Scenic Bikeway.

For a little more about this observatory of the past, see my previous post – Dee Wright Observatory.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Interesting Architecture

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Shapes and Design

Oregon mountains from afar: LAPC

Today I’m featuring views of Oregon mountains from afar. We’re lucky to have wide open views of these landmarks.

The first picture shows a view of the iconic Cascade Volcanoes west of Bend, Oregon. From left to right you can see Broken Top, South Sister, Middle Sister, North Sister, Black Crater, Mount Washington, Three Fingered Jack, Black Butte, and Mount Jefferson. Visitor can drive scenic roads, hike, rock climb, bike, go boating, fish, hunt, and nature watch around these peaks. This map helps you find the activities you’re looking for.

Oregon mountains from afar

The second picture shows mountains east of Terrebonne, Oregon. The highest peak is Gray Butte, where I’ve seen lots of stunning wildflowers in the spring. At the base of the mountains, on the left side, you can find Smith Rock State Park. This park is a destination for rock climbers and hikers from around the world.

Oregon mountains from afar

The third picture shows Steens Mountain, in the southeast part of the state. This fault block mountain is 50 miles long. At certain times of the year, visitors can drive to the 9,733-foot peak. It’s a trip well worth taking and the views are spectacular. You’ll see the pale sand of the Alvord Desert far below and stands of mountain mahogany and aspen near the peak.

Steens Mountain, Oregon

The fourth picture shows the Painted Hills, north of Mitchell, Oregon. The stripes of red, tan, orange, and black in this photo record the effects of past climate change in this region. There are several trails in the Painted Hills Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. One of my favorites in the nearby Sheeprock Unit is the Blue Basin Trail.

Painted Hills, Oregon

Consider the weather when viewing Oregon mountains from afar

When you’re out exploring Oregon mountains from afar, check the weather conditions in advance. Did you notice the cloud cover increasing in each of these photos? Clear skies show off the Cascade Volcanoes along the skyline, but rainy conditions bring out the soil color in the Painted Hills.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Going wide

Pushed by hot magma haiku: Haiku Prompt Challenge

pushed by hot magma
through ancient layers of rock
the pull of dawn’s light

pushed by hot magma
Grand Prismatic Spring from overlook, Yellowstone National Park

Ronovan Writes Weekly Haiku Poetry Prompt Challenge # 371 – Pull and push

Kayaking at Prineville Reservoir: LAPC

We went kayaking in early May at Prineville Reservoir after an unexpected change of plans. The high elevation lake we had planned to visit was not yet open.

The 15-mile long Prineville Reservoir covers 3,030 acres. It’s located south of Prineville, near the geographic center of Oregon.

I had never kayaked here before and wasn’t sure what to expect. The geology surrounding the lake was a pleasant surprise.

This formation was smooth and vegetated on one side and bursting with colorful rocks on the other.

These layers of color looked like a slice of spumoni ice cream.

Layered rock formations

When I paddled a little closer, the layers rippled with texture.

Layered rock formations
Continue reading

Norris Geysers – big & little: LAPC

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.

Steamboat Geyser

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.

Norris Geyser Basin

Here’s a view from the trail. There are geysers everywhere you look in the Norris Geyser Basin.

Continue reading

Volcanic views from Lava Lands: Pull up a Seat Challenge

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.

Volcanic views from Lava Lands, Oregon

Here are a couple pictures of the volcanic views from a closer angle.

Lava Lands, Oregon

This 1.1 mile trail winds through basalt lava flows surrounding Lava Butte to the viewpoint.

Volcanic views from Lava Lands

Pull up a Seat Photo Challenge Week 22

Crack in the Ground – An amazing sight!: LAPC & FFC

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.

Crack in the Ground, Oregon

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.

2-mile trail near Christmas Valley, Oregon

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.

Fissure near Christmas Valley, Oregon

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

Pine trees at Lava Lands: Thursday Tree Love

Pine trees towering over an ancient lava flow at Lava Lands Visitor Center, in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, Oregon. You can see South Sister and Broken Top in the distance.

Pine trees at Lava Lands, Oregon

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.

Thursday Tree Love

An amazing collection – Baker City Rocks!: LAPC

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.

Giant crystal from Arkansas

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.

  • An amazing collection in Baker City

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.

Malachite and azurite
Continue reading

A cluster of crystals up close: Macro Monday

A cluster of crystals

Close up view of a cluster of crystals sprouting off of a matrix.

Macro Monday

Steam-filled Yellowstone landscapes: LAPC

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.

Steam-filled Yellowstone landscapes

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?

Ravens at Yellowstone National PArk

Grand Prismatic has rainbow colors, layered soil, and lots of steam. Did you notice the bison tracks in the foreground?

Steam-filled Yellowstone landscapes

The bison spend time near the hot springs throughout the year. Here’s a pair grazing near a boardwalk trail.

Continue reading

Marvelous Malachite up close: LAPC

Today I’m sharing close up photos of marvelous malachite. According to geology.com, malachite is a “green copper carbonate hydroxide mineral.” The site also refers to its striking green color and that’s why I collect it.

This first piece has a rough texture and interesting shape. For scale, it measures 1.5 x 1.0 inches.

Marvelous malachite up close January 2021
Rough green stone close up January 2021

The second piece is opposite of the first – rounded shapes and smooth textures. It measures 3.75 x 1.5 inches.

Marvelous malachite up close January 2021
Close up of green stone January 2021
Continue reading

Igneous rocks up close: Macro Monday & SS

The following images of igneous rocks up close were taken in my yard near Bend, Oregon.

Igneous rocks Bend, Oregon November2020

What’s an igneous rock? Geology.com describes them as being “formed from the solidification of molten rock material.” For example, granite, gabbro, basalt, scoria, and obsidian are all types of igneous rock.

Igneous rocks Bend, Oregon November2020

You probably notice some of these rocks have round bubble-like holes in them. These “vesicles” form when gas is trapped within the melted rock at the time it cools and turns solid.

Continue reading

Wandering the roads of Utah: LAPC

The Lens-Artists Photo Challenge this week is the long and winding road. Wandering the roads of Utah a few years ago, we saw many picturesque roads.

The Mt. Carmel Tunnel in Zion National Park.

Wandering the roads of Utah, Zion National Park May 2017

Winding dirt roads bordering the canyons in Canyonlands National Park.

View of Canyonlands National Park, Utah May 2017

Utah State Route 95 curves down towards the Hite Bridge in Lake Powell.

Continue reading

My Mount St. Helens Adventure: FOWC

On May 18, 1980, a trip to help band golden eagles at the Yakima Canyon in eastern Washington turned into an unexpected Mount St. Helens adventure.

Mount St. Helens, Washington March 1980
Mount St. Helens in March 1980

The adventure begins

I was part of the Young Adult Conservation Corps, working for the Washington Department of Game in Olympia, Washington. We spent most of our time in the office, but we took occasional field trips. One of the wildlife biologists invited four of us to help him band eagles and we were excited to get out in the field. 

Virginia rail by Becky Matsubara
Virginia rail by Becky Matsubara

     We piled into John’s Volkswagen van and took off for eastern Washington. John suggested stopping at Crab Creek Habitat Management Area, 20 minutes south of Royal City, to do a little birdwatching before driving south to meet the biologist. We stopped and saw yellow-headed blackbirds, cinnamon teal and other kinds of ducks, a short-eared owl, and two Virginia rails with a newly hatched chick.

Google map showing location of Mount St. Helens & Royal City, Washington
The red marker indicates the location of Mount St. Helens and the yellow marker shows the location of Royal City, Washington.
Continue reading

Making the cut-Capitol Reef National Park: LAPC

The Lens-Artists Photo Challenge this week is cropping the shot. I’m sharing before and after images taken at Capitol Reef National Park near Torrey, Utah. These pictures show examples of making the cut to highlight the subject matter.

Sometimes you want to cut a road out of the picture so you can focus on the scenery. I loved the layered land forms at this park.

Capitol Reef National Park, Utah May 2017
Before…
Making the cut (cropped image) Capitol Reef National Park, Utah May 2017
and after.
Continue reading

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone: LAPC

When I saw that the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge this week was A River Runs Through It, I immediately thought of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.

This river meanders its way through colorful rock formations

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone 13 June 2011

And pounds down in the Upper Falls

Upper Falls, Yellowstone National Park 13 June 2011
Continue reading

Photo Bloopers 4: More photo fun

It’s time once again for fun with photos. Welcome to Photo Bloopers 4! This is what I do with pictures that don’t quite fit in or turned out weird looking. They needed a few words to make them more interesting. Hope they entertain you!

Photo bloopers Ground squirrel at Lava Butte, Oregon July 2018
Painted Hills in Oregon with funny caption October 2018
Western juniper tree burdened with cones (berries) August 2019
Photo blooper of pronghorn surrounded by rainbow colors April 2018
Continue reading

Stories within the layers of stone: LAPC

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.

Stories within the layers, Fort Rock 10 June 2016

A closer look shows where the water levels were before the ship drained the basin.

Rock formation at Fort Rock, Oregon 10 June 2016
Continue reading

In this land…Oregon countryside : LAPC

In this land near Diamond, Oregon 29August2019
Near Diamond, Oregon

In this land, Nature weaves colorful tapestries into the earth and sky

Pronghorn buck, Hart Mountain
Pronghorn buck, Hart Mountain

And creates havens for its creatures to pause and rest

In this land, Alvord Desert, Oregon 28 August 2019
Alvord Desert

In this land, pale sandy deserts settle in some basins

Continue reading