Some of my best photos from 2021: LAPC, SS

It’s time to share special photos from the past year. Please enjoy this selection of nature, history, and art photos from Bend Branches.

Best Nature Pictures

The first photo shows a scene at the Portland Japanese Garden. We visited in October, when fall colors were at their peak.

best photos Portland Japanese Garden

This picture shows a pronghorn buck at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. My following pronghorn post includes several pictures of these icons of the West.

Grazing pronghorn buck in Yellowstone

We get spectacular sunsets and sunrises in our High Desert yard in Bend, Oregon. I wrote a two-line essence poem to go along with this image.

best photos dusk desert sky

The next photo shows Emerald Pool at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. The contrasting colors around this hot spring make it one of my favorites.

Emerald Pool, Yellowstone

This photo is of a Cooper’s hawk right after she had a bath. This regular visitor to our yard is always entertaining!

Cooper's hawk visited me

Best History Photos

This is a picture of one of the passages in the burial tomb at Knowth in County Meath, Ireland. I wrote a short story to go along with pictures of this historic site.

Best photos Knowth, Ireland

This is a biplane located at the Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum in Hood River, Oregon. Black and white processing shows off the structure of this plane.

nose to nose with biplane

This picture shows an old farm truck parked along a rural road in Bend, Oregon. It’s parked along one of the 51 farm-to-market roads built in Deschutes County during the early 1900s.

Best photos old truck

This is a display of tail dresses at the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon. They’re called tail dresses because the deer’s tail is left on the cured skin. You can see them near the neckline on these dresses.

Tail dresses at High Desert Museum

This picture shows an old farmhouse and windmill at a ranch in Central Oregon. To give this a more aged appearance, I used a filter that muted the reds.

A home from the past in Oregon

Best Art Pictures

This is a close-up view of a bison sculpture by Greg Congleton, one of my favorite local artists. The name of this sculpture is Wooly Bully.

best photos bison sculpture

This is a sculpture of Sacagawea that’s located at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West museum in Cody, Wyoming. I admired how the artist portrayed her as a calm yet powerful presence.

Sacagawea sculpture in Cody

This is a close-up view of a mural located outside a computer repair store in Bend, Oregon. Born Again Babylan represents mysteries of the past and technology of the future. See the whole mural here.

close up of mural

I featured the next image for a haiku challenge with the words blue and world as prompts. This art piece is at Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, Ireland. It represents bubbles forming during the beer brewing process.

Blue worlds sculpture

The last picture shows an ornament on my Christmas tree. I have a collection of reindeer and I like this one because of its joyful expression. The ornaments are each like a tiny work of art.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Favorite images of 2021

Sunday Stills – 2021 in the Rearview Mirror

Beaded buckskin Powwow outfit: Wordless Wednesday

Beaded buckskin Powwow outfit
Beaded buckskin Powwow outfit, High Desert Museum, OR

Wordless Wednesday

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

An old bench at Sahalie Falls: Pull up a Seat Challenge

This old bench at Sahalie Falls, Oregon stands in stark contrast to the new fences bordering the trail. It’s nice they preserved a piece of the past here.

Old bench at Sahalie Falls

It’s a short walk from the parking area to view the falls. Aren’t they spectacular?

Pull Up a Seat Photo Challenge 2021 – Week 42

Past their prime: LAPC

Here in the High Desert, things tend to last well past their prime. Though this old truck shows signs of wear and tear, chances are it still runs.

Past their prime truck

This truck is located on rural property along Deschutes Market Road. This is one of 51 “market” roads in and around Deschutes County. These farm-to-market roads were built following passage of the Oregon Market Road Act of 1919. Prior to their construction, farmers navigated many miles of bumpy, rutted dirt roads to deliver their goods.

old truck

A label on the truck’s door reads S & M, Land & Livestock. I’m not sure if this was a local company. There were many ranching operations in Central Oregon, large and small, in the 1870-1920 pre-Industrial period.

Old land & livestock truck

This old barn is located on Innes Market Road near where it intersects with Gerking Market Road. Roads were often named after nearby landowners. Though this building may look past its prime, it’s mostly intact.

Old earthen barn

An interesting thing about this barn is that berms of earth provide part of the structure. We have temperature extremes in this area, including the possibility of nighttime freezing throughout the year. The insulation provided by the soil helps keep livestock and stored produce at optimal temperatures.

Past its prime barn

You can see a peek of the Sisters volcanic peaks on the left side of this photo. Excellent views from this old barn!

View from old barn

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Seen Better Days

Dam It! Beavers and Us: One Word Sunday

I’m always on the lookout for beavers when walking the river trails in the Old Mill District of Bend. I listen for the sound of a tail slapping the water and search for the silhouette of a rounded head breaking the water’s surface. Why look for beavers next to a shopping area? Because these industrious creatures found an ideal spot to build a lodge there. I’ve always wanted to know more about beavers, so I visited the Museum’s Dam It! Beavers and Us exhibition.

Beavers exhibit in Bend

This multimedia interactive exhibit offers visitors the opportunity to learn all about the North American beaver, Castor canadensis. Tall, cutout panels representing forest trees divide the room. Dappled light shines onto the imaginary forest floor. A re-creation of a beaver dam is tucked into a corner for kids to explore.

Beavers exhibit in Bend

In another corner, a large box suspended from a parachute drifts towards the ground—more on that later. An Oregon flag, featuring a beaver, flutters against a wall near the entrance. Video featuring the important connection of beavers with Native Americans plays in another section. A colorful animation featuring the life cycle of beavers plays on a large screen on the back wall.

Parachuting in Idaho

History of beavers

In the center of the room, displays of articulated skeletons, fossils, and beaver-chewed trees draw your attention. One skeleton shows a North American beaver, while the other shows a giant beaver, Castoroides. As its name implies, the giant beaver was much larger than present day beavers. The extinct giant beaver weighed 198 to 276 pounds, while modern beavers weigh 24 to 71 pounds. Dramatic changes in the landscape after the Ice Age may have led to this large mammal’s demise during the Pleistocene era.

Beaver skeletons & fossils

In the more recent past, beavers have played an important part in Native American culture. The Blackfeet Nation considers beaver to be one of the three original animals. They played a key role in the distribution of water and land. Beavers also taught people how to be moral. Though many tribes traded skins with settlers, Blackfeet chose not to because of beaver’s cultural importance. They celebrated beavers in a ceremony called the “Beaver Bundle”, an event passed down through generations.

In the late 1800s, things changed for North American beavers when European demand for their skins skyrocketed. They used beaver skins in creating hats and other products. The mercurous nitrate used in curing felt for hats led to the term “mad as a hatter” because of the chemical’s toxic side effects.

Beaverskin hat

Because of high demand, beavers were overtrapped and prime habitat was destroyed. Beaver populations plummeted. One of the contributing factors was the Hudson Bay Company’s (HBC) decision to destroy beaver populations “as fast as possible” to discourage westward migration from American competitors. In the period from 1823 to 1841, HBC intended to make the Snake River territory a “fur desert.”

Trapping of beavers

Changing perceptions of beavers

  By the end of the 19th century, perceptions of beavers changed and conservation efforts began. In the 1920s, they moved beavers to areas where they lived in the past. Scientists recognized the value of the beaver in wetland habitat management.

We know beavers as one of nature’s engineers. The ponds and channels they create support diverse flora and fauna. As the effects of climate change increase, these sites serve as important refuges from wildfire, and they also help reduce flooding. 

The exhibit highlights the stream channels beavers help create around rivers in two large-scale images. One features an enhanced image taken near Sunriver. The many abandoned braided channels around the Little Deschutes River stand out in this picture.

Willamette River

The other picture, of the Willamette River, uses LiDAR imagery to show the stream channels that existed over the last 12,000 years.

Little Deschutes River channels

This exhibition features several examples of current work involving beavers. In 2016, in Birch Creek, Idaho, five beavers released near the creek enhanced the habitat. Rare Bonneville cutthroat trout populations increased after the introduction. The Tulalip Tribes, in Washington State, relocated beaver to streams on treaty lands as part of their watershed management program. Other tribes plan to follow their lead. In Oregon, biologists created Beaver Dam Analogs (BDAs) on East Fork Beech Creek and Bridge Creek. These artificial dams established habitat for beavers and fish populations have rebounded.

Surprising facts

Back to the box suspended from a parachute mentioned earlier in this article. Why is this box featured in the exhibit? In the 1940s, wildlife agencies dropped beavers from planes in crates designed to open on impact. This method helped re-establish beaver populations in remote areas.

Beaver liquor & coat

There is one more item of interest to mention in this exhibit. Did you notice the bottles of alcohol in the display case on the left side of the photo above? Those bottles contain Eau de Musc whiskey. Tamworth Distilling flavors this whiskey with castoreum, an oily substance from castor sacs located under a beaver’s tail. The distillery notes its “bright and fruit qualities (raspberry) and rich leathery notes along with creamy vanilla aroma.” Would you care to make a toast to beavers with a glass of this? I’ll leave that decision up to you, but we should celebrate this engaging exhibit for teaching us more about our remarkable state animal.

This exhibit is on display at the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon through October 3, 2021.

One Word Sunday – Exhibit

This is a reprint of an article I wrote for High Desert Voices, a newsletter published by and for volunteers at the High Desert Museum. This article was featured in the August 2021 issue.

Windmill at Fort Rock: 1-to-3 Photo Challenge

I thought this windmill at Fort Rock would make a good candidate for showing three ways to process a photograph. I used the photographic effects in Corel PaintShop Pro 2021. This picture was taken at the Fort Rock Homestead Village Museum in Central Oregon.

Prior to trying other effects, I decreased the brightness by 4 and increased the contrast by 10.

The first two show the original and a platinum processed image. This processing was popular from 1873 to 1920 but was discontinued due to the high costs of platinum. For this image I went to Effects>Photo Effects>Time Machine>Platinum. I tried black and white processing but liked the slightly warmer tones of this effect.

Windmill at Fort RockPlatinum process

The second two show the original and a cross process image. This process resulted from mismatching the film and development chemicals on purpose. For this image I went to Effects>Photo Effects>Time Machine>Cross Process. This effect oversaturates the colors and they really pop.

Windmill at Fort RockCross process

The last two show the windmill at Fort Rock original image and the same picture with a glowing edges effect. For this image I went to Effects>Artistic Effects>Glowing Edges. This is a more artsy effect. I bet it would look good under black light! 😉

Windmill at Fort RockGlowing edges effect

One-to-Three Photo Processing Challenge – September 2021

Diablo Dam in black & white: Monochrome Monday

At one time, the Diablo Dam in Washington state was the world’s tallest dam. This 389-foot tall dam is located on the Skagit River. Construction began in Diablo Canyon in 1927. Though completed in 1930, the Great Depression delayed generation of electricity until 1936. The 1920s architecture stands out in this black and white photograph.

Diablo Lake Dam

Monochrome Monday

Kingfisher art – sketches & paintings: First Friday Art

Today I’m sharing kingfisher art. I drew the following images several years ago. In studies such as these you attempt to capture the essence of the subject. You’re not going for detail in this type of drawing.

Sketches of birds

John James Audubon

I’m also sharing images of belted kingfishers from a couple wildlife artists. The first painting is by John James Audubon. It’s featured in The Birds of America, published in 1827. I was fortunate to see a volume of this book in a library at a university.

At present, there are only 120 complete sets of The Birds of America known to exist. The 435 engraved plates used to create the original books measure 39″ x 26.” These enormous illustrations helped educate the public about the importance of birds. Interest in The Birds of America persists to this day. In 2018, a full set sold for $9.65 million dollars.

Kingfisher art by Audubon

Louis Agassiz Fuertes

This second illustration, by Louis Agassiz Fuertes, features a Black-billed Cuckoo, a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, and a pair of Belted Kingfishers. This plate was in Birds of Massachusetts and other New England States, published in 1925. This three-volume set was written by ornithologist Edward Howe Forbush and illustrated by Fuertes.

You may not recognize Fuertes’ name, but he was a gifted artist and ornithologist. In fact in 1891, at the age of 17, he became the youngest member of the American Ornithologists’ Union. He admired the work of Audubon but had his own style of painting.

Paintings of Kingfishers & Cuckoos

Both of these artists worked from specimens they collected in the field to create their kingfisher art. Audubon is known for positioning freshly-killed subjects with wire armature, a revolutionary technique at the time. However, Fuertes put more time into studying birds in their natural habitats. Some think this knowledge gives his paintings an added “sense of vitality“.

Do you have artwork you would like to share? If so, include a First Friday Art tag on your post.

On a corner in Howe – John Day history: MM

I saw this abandoned building on a corner in Howe, Idaho. Though I could not learn the history of this specific building, I learned a well-known historical figure spent part of his life nearby.

in Howe, Idaho

The Little Lost River, located north and east of this site, was once known as “John Day’s River” or “Day’s River.” In 1810, the John Jacob Astor Pacific Fur Company set out to establish a base of operations at the mouth of the Columbia River. They made many discoveries along the way while searching for the easiest routes of travel. John Day, an experienced hunter and trapper, was a member of the party.

John Day’s travels

The group, led by Wilson Price Hunt, divided into four parties when food became scarce. John Day became ill and was left behind with Ramsay Crooks on the shores of the Snake River. The two men eventually made their way to the mouth of the Mah-Mah River, where it joins the Columbia. At that site, the two were robbed of all their belongings and stripped naked by Natives. Because of this incident, the river was renamed the John Day River. Crooks and Day were rescued days later by Robert Stuart, of the Pacific Fur Company, and taken to Fort Astoria at the mouth of the Columbia River.

In June 1812, Day accompanied Stuart on a trip back east, but he was left on the Lower Columbia when he appeared to experience an emotional breakdown. He returned to Fort Astoria and hunted and trapped in the Willamette Valley.

John Day in Idaho

When the Pacific Fur Company was sold to the North West Company in 1813, Day became a free trapper working under contract with them. Though exact information on his travels is limited, Day made plans to work in parts of southern Idaho and northern Utah.

In 1820, he was at the Company’s winter camp near Little Lost River, Idaho, with Donald McKenzie. John Day passed away there on February 16, 1820. The winter camp is thought to be near Fallert Springs, Idaho. That’s about 19 miles north of this abandoned building on a corner in Howe.

John Day’s name is associated with:

  • John Day River, Oregon
  • The cities of John Day and Dayville in Grant County, Oregon
  • John Day River and unincorporated community in Clatsop County, Oregon
  • John Day Dam on the Columbia River
  • John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon
  • John Day Formation strata
  • Day’s Defile, Butte County, Idaho (Historical place name near where he is supposedly buried)

For more on John Day, see this article on Oregon Encyclopedia or this one, on the city of John Day’s website.

Monochrome Monday (MM)

Trapper’s cabin re-creation: Monochrome Monday

I saw this life-sized trapper’s cabin re-creation at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming. The details in the log walls, elk’s head, and snowshoes stand out in sepia tones. This is one of many amazing exhibits inside the museum.

trapper's cabin re-creation in Cody

Monochrome Monday

The façade of Newgrange – A short history: LAPC

The stone façade surrounding the 5,000-year-old Newgrange monument in County Meath, Ireland is impressive. However, I learned Newgrange’s façade is not what it appears to be.

façade of Newgrange March 2020

I liked the way the patterns in the wall changed from dark-colored stones to dark dotted with white…

Dark & light wall at Newgrange March 2020

To light dotted with dark stones.

Façade - Dark & light wall at Newgrange March 2020

The white stones over the entryway make it stand out.

Entranceway at Newgrange March 2020
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Miller cabin in the morning: Monochrome Monday

Miller cabin in Bend, Oregon

I took this photo of the Miller cabin in the morning at the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon. I used the platinum process for this image. This method, popular from 1873-1920, was discontinued due to the high cost of platinum.

Monochrome Monday

In the Oregon Outback: Monochrome Monday

Here’s a sepia tone view of Fort Rock Homestead Village Museum in the Oregon Outback. Twelve buildings built in the early 1900s were moved to this site. It’s one of my favorite roadside attractions in Central Oregon.

In the Oregon Outback March 2021

Monochrome Monday

Mayors Square Mural in Troutdale: Monday Murals

This photo of the sun-dappled Mayors Square Mural reflects past times in Troutdale, Oregon. Muralists Dwayne Harty and Tammy Callens created a depiction of what the town looked like in the early 1900s. Completed in the fall of 2016, this work shows every type of ground transportation available in the beginning of the 20th century. The mural includes a train, horse & buggy, automobiles, bicycle, freight truck, and freight wagon.

Mayors Square Mural

Monday Mural

Halters & bridles of old: Monochrome Monday

Halters & bridles at Fort Rock, Oregon  November 2020

Halters & bridles on display at the Fort Rock Homestead Village Museum in Fort Rock, Oregon.

Monochrome Monday

Kitchen at Kam Wah Chung: Monochrome Monday

Kitchen at Kam Wah Chung October 2018

The items of various shapes and sizes in the kitchen of Kam Wah Chung stand out in black and white. I visited the Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site in John Day, Oregon a couple years ago. As I described in my post about that experience, it was like stepping back in time. This small building served as a general store, apothecary, doctor’s office, boarding house, religious center, and meeting spot for the Chinese people of the community in the late 1800s. Most worked in mines or on railroad line construction.

The co-owners of this business were Lung On, aka “Leon”, and Ing Hay, aka “Doc Hay.” As a result of their hard work, the business thrived for many years. Lung On passed away in 1940. Ing Hay moved to a nursing home in Portland, Oregon in 1948. The building stood vacant until it was opened in 1967. It contained a treasure trove of artifacts–over 30,000 have been cataloged so far.

Visitors can visit this site with a guide to learn more. It is a fascinating tour, made more interesting by the fact that the owners of this business were directly affected by the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. It is a part of history many of us never learned. Seeing a site such as this makes overlooked parts of our history come alive.

For information on tours, visit the Oregon State Parks site. Note Kam Wah Chung is only open seasonally and may be affected by COVID-19 restrictions.

First dusting of snow: Monochrome Monday

First dusting of snow Redmond, Oregon

The first dusting of snow covered this old shed near Redmond, Oregon. Winter is on its way to the High Desert!

Monochrome Monday

Wooden wheels: Monochrome Monday

These wooden wheels are featured in a display at Baker Heritage Museum in Baker City, Oregon. This museum offers visitors glimpses of everyday objects from another time.

Wooden wheels Baker City, Oregon

Monochrome Monday

Vaqueros – Tools of the trade: Monochrome Monday

Tools of the trade vaqueros Oregon April 2019

Vaqueros, otherwise known as buckaroos, worked the range in eastern Oregon for many years. The spurs and ring bit pictured were handcrafted by a silversmith in Mexico, circa 1750.

Pete French Round Barn Sept 2017

These pieces are on display in the small museum located at the Pete French Round Barn. It’s a great place to visit from an historic and architectural perspective. The barn is one of my favorite local attractions.

Pete French Round Barn Sept 2017

Monochrome Monday

Plateau Indian Beaded Moccasins: LAPC

I’m featuring pictures of Plateau Indian beaded moccasins for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. The challenge this week is “A labor of love.”

After so much was taken away from Native Americans, creating beadwork became a labor of love. They preserved parts of their culture by decorating everyday items.

Plateau Indian beaded moccasins, High Desert Museum, Oregon August 2020

Prior to the European invasion of North America, Native Americans decorated their clothing with shells, porcupine quills, and bones.

Beaded footwear, High Desert Museum, Oregon August 2020
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Wolfe Ranch root cellar: Monochrome Monday

Wolfe Ranch root cellar, Arches National Park, Utah 2May2017

Wolfe Ranch root cellar at Arches National Park, Utah. This ranch was settled in 1888 by John Wolfe and his oldest son.

Monochrome Monday

The Choctaw’s simple act of kindness: LAPC

A simple act of kindness, Kindred Spirits Sculpture, Midleton, Ireland 5March2020

In 1847, the worst year of Ireland’s Great Famine, people of the Choctaw Nation of the southeastern United States sent a gift of $170 to Ireland. The money, worth thousands in today’s dollars, was collected to help the starving people of Ireland. Over a million Irish people died from starvation and disease in the period from 1845 to 1849.

Honoring a small act of kindness

Cork-based sculptor, Alex Pentek, created the Kindred Spirits sculpture to help honor that simple act of kindness. The Making of Kindred Spirits shows the artist discussing its creation. The 20-foot tall sculpture, in Midleton, County Cork, was unveiled to the public in 2017. It stands in Ballie Park beside a popular walking trail.

Ballie Park, Midleton, Ireland 5 March 2020

But why would the Choctaw have sent such a gift when many of their people were struggling to survive?

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Favorite Pictures 2019: LAPC

It’s that time of year when you share some of your favorite pictures. As usual, I have a hard time narrowing it down. Please enjoy this selection of wild places, wildlife, history, and a pinch of art at the end.

A brilliant desert morning
A brilliant desert morning on my October birthday in Bend, Oregon
Magic in the wind, Nevada 29August2019
Magic in the wind in northern Nevada
Kiger Gorge, Oregon 28August2019
Kiger Gorge on Steens Mountain, Oregon
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Beaded bags: LPM Photo Adventure

These beaded bags are some of my favorite works of art. The bags are part of a display at The Museum at Warm Springs. In this region, work with beads began in earnest in the early 1800s. The beads, created in the glass shops of Venice, Italy, were transported across oceans, mountains, and plains. Settlers, trappers, and explorers used them in trade.

When you look at these photos, you will notice something becoming more clear in the background. Right across from this display, there is a modern-day image showing members of the three tribes that live on the Warm Springs Reservation. You can see their reflections in my photos of the bags. It was almost as if they were looking over my shoulder making sure I noticed their presence.

This museum features parts of their history you probably didn’t learn about in school. It also shows their resilience and celebrates their heritage. These beaded bags are a part of their culture that preserve moments worth remembering.

Horse & eagle beaded bags, Warm Springs, Oregon 25 October2019
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