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.

Crack in the Ground & Green Mountain Campground - BLM

As the lava cooled, it formed spots with interesting textures. Great for photos!

As we found out, temperatures within the fissure can be 20 degrees cooler than at ground level. These photos were taken on March 23. When we saw the trail ahead, we decided to stop here.

Crack in the Ground, Oregon

Why? On this trip we brought our dogs and didn’t want to do our own version of dog sled racing on the slippery surface. 😉

Crack in the Ground, Oregon

Make sure and bring the essentials, including warm clothing, on this short hike. You’ll travel on a 7.5-mile washboard dirt road to get to the site, but it’s well worth it to view this unique attraction.

Also consider visiting the nearby Lost Forest, another special local attraction.

Lens Artists Photo Challenge – Geometry

Friendly Friday Challenge – Something Learned

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

This cabinet features moss agate. It often contains formations that look like mossy growths and specimens can be found not far from Baker City.

Moss agate collection

This cabinet holds fossils on the top shelf and petrified wood on the bottom shelf. The middle shelf holds fossilized bones. One of the best places to collect fossils in Oregon is in the town of Fossil. 🙂

An amazing collection in Baker City, Oregon

There are several slabs of Muscovite on the top right shelf and clear Selenite below it on the second shelf. Can you find the jade in this display? Rockhounds can find jade in the southwest corner of Oregon.

Muscovite, selenite, & jade

This display has a wide variety of specimens. There are examples of marble on the third shelf. I like the tiny carvings in the lower right corner.

An amazing collection in Baker City, Oregon

The middle shelf contains many examples of quartz. I like the greenish rock on the top left shelf. It’s the mineral Adamite and it has a neon green glow under ultraviolet light.

Adamite and other crystals

The brown crystal clusters in the middle of the next photograph are “desert roses.” Their flattened crystals look like rose petals. Some of the pink rocks on the top shelf are Rhodonite.

Desert rose, rhondonite in Baker City, Oregon

There are some nice slabs of Brazilian agate on the top row. I have several that I use for coasters. The agates on the second row are Oregon bubble agates.

Amazing collection of agates

This case contains some great amethysts on the second row. Did you know the Ancient Greeks thought if you held an amethyst in your mouth it could prevent drunkenness? There are a few rose quartz rocks on the right side of the top row.

Amethyst and rose quartz, etc

There are some beautiful quartz crystals in this display. The ones on the top shelf are from Arkansas – tiny cousins of the giant one at the beginning of this post. The bottom shelf contains Oregon quartz crystals.

Cool quartz

If you’ve visited this museum in the past, consider stopping by again when it reopens since displays change. Members of the Baker Rockhounds have put hundreds of hours into organizing, cataloging, and cleaning materials in the collection. With the help of geologists, everything is getting labeled correctly. Sometimes they make unusual discoveries and if you look long enough at this amazing collection, you will too.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Special Moments

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.

Steam-filled Yellowstone landscape

Sometimes the steam blends in with dramatic cloud formations. This photo was taken at Excelsior Geyser moments before a downpour.

Excelsior Geyser

Mud Volcano used to have a 30-foot tall cone, but it blew apart before the park was established in 1872. Now this constantly boiling pot of gray mud produces wispy steam clouds that drift over the surrounding hills.

Mud Volcano at Yellowstone

This is Steamboat Geyser and when it erupts, it can shoot water 300 feet into the air. We missed its eruption by a few days. 🙁

Steamboat Geyser

The Norris Geyser Basin is a great place to see steam-filled Yellowstone landscapes. Just a reminder–this basin sits at 7,600 feet in elevation. I was the only one on the trail on this late-May day when a snowstorm moved in. Brrr!

Norris Geyser Basin

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Subjects starting with the letter ‘S’

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
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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.
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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
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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
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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
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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

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Finding Different Angles: LAPC

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.

Different angles Bird sculpture, Bend, Oregon 17August2019
Bird sculpture

Swallows collect beakfuls of mud to create these nests along the roof angles at Summer Lake Wildlife Area, Oregon.

Red, white, & blue--swallow nests 30March2018
Red, white, & blue–swallow nests
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Obsidian Up close & personal

I enjoy visiting Glass Buttes in Central Oregon to collect obsidian. Did you know there are over 24 kinds found there? Here are photos of obsidian up close. The stones are beautiful in color, but also in form.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Detail

Favorite Rocks in Oregon: LAPC

Oregon rocks come in a wide variety of shapes and colors. Here are a few of my favorite rocks.

Craggy cliffs circling wonder

Blue Pool 14September2016
Blue Pool

Sculptures shaped by the sea

Favorite Rocks, Pacific City, Oregon 21June2018
Pacific City
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Yellowstone Elements: LAPC

The Lens-Artists Photo Challenge this week is the five elements of metal, wood, water, fire, and earth. Here are pictures that feature several of the elements that I took at Yellowstone National Park.

Yellowstone Elements -Morning Glory Hot Spring, Upper Geyser Basin 30May2018
Morning Glory Hot Spring, Upper Geyser Basin
Yellowstone NP - Firehole River, Midway Geyser Basin 5June2015
Firehole River, Midway Geyser Basin
Yellowstone Elements - Near Blood Geyser, Artists' Paintpots 2June2018
Near Blood Geyser, Artists’ Paintpots
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Blue Basin Bench: Pull up a Seat

Blue Basin bench at John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

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.

Pull Up a Seat Photo Challenge

Showing less can reveal more: LAPC

When focusing on only parts of a scene, showing less can reveal more.

Fox at Yellowstone 7June2018

This fox didn’t pause to smile for the camera, but this image of her running across a sun-dappled meadow captured her spirit.

Peaceful pond 25July2018

This image doesn’t include any wildlife or colorful flowers but it conveys peace.

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A different world-Utah rocks: LAPC

You live in the image you have of the world. Every one of us lives in a different world, with different space and different time.

Alejandro Jodorowsky

The geology of Utah is so unique and interesting. I imagined many details of alternate worlds while visiting there.

Alternate worlds at Capitol Reef NPk 5May2017

The formations at Capitol Reef form thrones ready for giant-sized royalty.

Mountains at  Zion NPk 6May2017

The mountains of Zion National Park look as though they have been compressed, kneaded, and scratched by the claws of big cats

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Finding a new world in close-ups: LAPC

When I last visited Yellowstone, I was searching for a new world to inspire me in my fiction writing. Here are some that I found…

New world Artists' Paintpots 2June2018

A new world of waves and wonder

New world at Black Pool 2June2018

A world of contrasting colors

Artists' Paintpots 2 2June2018

A world of muted rainbows

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Landscape of Grand Prismatic: LAPC

The water in some of the springs presents to the eye the colors of all the precious gems known to commerce. In one spring the hue is like that of an emerald, in another like that of the turquoise, another has the ultra-marine hue of the sapphire, another has the color of topaz; and the suggestions has been made that the names of these jewels may very properly be given to many of these springs.

Nathaniel Pitt Langford in Diary of the Washburn Expedition to the Yellowstone and Firehole Rivers in the Year 1870.

Grand Prismatic Spring is the crown jewel of hot springs at Yellowstone National Park. The landscape of Grand Prismatic has all the colors of the rainbow. The cracks and tracks add some interesting texture as well. This 370-foot wide spring is the largest in the United States and third largest in the world.

Landscape Grand Prismatic Yellowstone National Park 3June2018
Close-up Grand Prismatic Yellowstone National Park 3June2018
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Blue Basin Trail – Island in Time

Green scenes on Blue Basin trail

Blue Basin hike, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon 26October2018
An otherworldly landscape in Blue Basin

I did this easy hike on the Blue Basin trail in John Day Fossil Beds National Monument last October. I felt like a stranger in a strange land on this trail through blue-green badlands.  

Blue Basin hike, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon 26October2018
A bench along the trail
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Soft sights at Sunset Lake: LAPC

A harsh landscape with soft edges

Soft sights at Sunset Lake, Yellowstone National Park, WY 2June2018

There are many soft sights to see in Yellowstone National Park’s harsh environments. Soft and steaming mist drifts over Sunset Lake. Soft puffy clouds float over rounded hills in the distance.

Soft sights at Sunset Lake, Yellowstone National Park, WY 2June2018

The colors along the shorelines blend softly into one another giving the lake its name. To me, it is a mystical sort of place that has many stories to tell.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Soft

Clarno Palisades Hikes

Stepping back in time at Clarno Palisades

Arch at Clarno Palisades 15May2018

Arch at Clarno Palisades

In May I visited the Clarno Palisades area, 18 miles west of Fossil, Oregon in the Clarno Unit of John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. This unit gets light usage.  We only saw a few other visitors.

The palisades at Clarno Palisades 15May2018

The palisades

There are three short hikes near the covered picnic area. The Geologic Time Trail winds along ¼ mile to connect you to the other two trails. Interpretive signs note the changes of the last 50 million years. The colorful small signs explaining the geologic history looked brand new. The Trail of Fossils takes you up a ¼ mile loop trail on the hillside and shows you fossils that left their imprints in large boulders.

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