Spruce Goose is a sight to see: LAPC

Last month, we took a trip to see the Spruce Goose at the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum. This museum is in McMinnville, about 50 miles southwest of Portland, Oregon. Its star attraction is the airplane associated with Howard Hughes, Jr.

In 1942, steel magnate Henry Kaiser approached Hughes about creating a massive flying boat. Hughes was well known for breaking records as a pilot, including a 1935 landplane airspeed record of 352 miles per hour. In 1938, Hughes flew around the world in 3 days 19 hours 17 minutes, beating the previous record by almost four days. He was also a brilliant engineer.

After Kaiser withdrew from the flying boat project in 1944, Howard Hughes renamed the plane H-4 Hercules. It’s also called the Hughes Flying Boat and the Spruce Goose. Hughes become obsessed with the project. Though the original intention was for the aircraft to help with war efforts, by the time they completed the project, the war was over.

Hughes flew the plane on November 2, 1947. He wanted to prove it was airworthy and not just a flight of fancy. In its first and only flight, he flew it at an altitude of 70 feet for 26 seconds. The aircraft flew for about one mile at a speed of 135 miles per hour.

Exterior of the Spruce Goose

I knew the Spruce Goose was large, but I had no idea how enormous it was. I’m including several exterior photos to show the scale of this massive aircraft. The first picture shows a view from the second-story balcony.

Spruce Goose

The next two show aircraft on display under one wing and then the other. They look so small in comparison.

Under wing view

There’s a diorama showing the construction in progress on the left side of the photo below. Helpful volunteers are stationed nearby.

Under wing view

This view is of the huge nose section. Vintage airline seats are set up under the nose for those seeking a brush with greatness.

Spruce Goose nose

There are informational displays in and around the Spruce Goose. A photo of Howard Hughes, Jr. is in the lower right on the display board below and you can also see him speaking with congress. This display shows several pictures of parts of the plane being transported.

Howard Hughes

The next display shows construction photos and a construction breakdown drawing.

Spruce Goose construction

The original plans included clamshell opening nose gear to make the plane easier to unload. This diorama shows how Hughes envisioned the Spruce Goose doing its job.

Proposed docking facility

After the flight

After its flight, Hughes paid around one million dollars a year to retain a crew and maintain the aircraft. He passed away in 1976, but he always hoped it would fly again. Initially, plans were made to part out the Spruce Goose to eight museums.

After aviation officials and the public expressed concern, the Spruce Goose was gifted to the Aero Club of Southern California and put on display in Long Beach. When Disney took over ownership of the location, they displayed it for two more years but decided it no longer fit with their plans. In 1992, the plane was put up for auction and Michael King Smith and Delford M. Smith, founders of the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum, had the winning bid.

Moving and reassembling the Spruce Goose was a big undertaking. After many hours of painstaking work by volunteers and staff, the aircraft was open to the public in its new home on June 6, 2001. On November 5, 2022, the museum will host the Spruce Goose’s 75th Anniversary Gala.

This 9-minute video from the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum about the Spruce Goose shows its flight, temporary home in California, long trip to Oregon, and its current home in McMinnville.

There are carefully preserved artifacts near the aircraft, including Hughes’ original log book.

Artifacts from Flying Boat

Do you know what’s pictured below and why it’s important to the path Howard Hughes, Jr. chose? The answer is at the end of this post.

Hughes' drill bit

Interior of the Spruce Goose

The inside of the aircraft can be seen by climbing a stairway or taking an elevator. For an additional $30, visitors get a 15-minute guided tour of the cockpit.

This view shows the fire suppressing canisters.

Interior flying boat

Here’s a more distant view. What are those colorful objects on the right side of the picture?

Spruce Goose interior

If you guessed beach balls, you’re right! Howard Hughes was worried the Flying Boat may not float, so he had these inflatable balls put in the lower hull and wing floats.

wing floats

A few more Spruce Goose facts for you:

  • The plane is actually made from birch, not spruce.
  • Wingspan 320 feet 11 inches; length 218 feet 8 inches; height 79 feet 4 inches; weight empty 300,000 pounds.
  • Still the record holder for largest wooden aircraft, largest seaplane, and largest propeller plane ever built.

Did you guess what the odd object pictured above the first interior shot was? That’s a drill bit that made Howard’s father, Howard Hughes, Sr., a rich man. He disliked the bits used to drill for oil and bought the rights to a bit created by Granville A. Humanson for $150. He improved the design significantly and applied for several patents. The bit, with its 166 cutting edges, became the industry standard. Howard, Sr. created the Hughes Tool Company and leased the bits to drillers.

The money Howard, Jr. inherited at the age of 19 helped him tremendously when pursuing his aviation interests. He increased his personal wealth with forays into entertainment and real estate businesses. Later in life, his eccentric behaviors affected him personally and financially.

When you have a lot of time one day, read the long entry about Howard Hughes, Jr.’s fascinating history on Wikipedia. Wow, what a life!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Flights of Fancy

Barn beside the road: Monochrome Monday

A barn beside the road near Redmond, Oregon shown in black and white.

Barn beside the road

Monochrome Monday

Weird and wonderful sights: LAPC

In your travels near and far, you may find weird and wonderful sights.

Weird architecture

Sometimes you find a weird sight when you’re driving down the highway and look it up later. This is the Smith Mansion, located in Wapiti, Wyoming, halfway between Cody and Yellowstone.

Lee Smith, a former builder and engineer, began constructing this structure from locally harvested logs. However, he became obsessed with adding on to the building, which led to his divorce. For 22 years he continued construction so that eventually it was 5-stories tall. One day, unfortunately, he slipped while working and fell to his death. His daughter owned the house for many years until it was sold to a neighbor in 2020.

Weird

For a better look at this amazing structure inside and out, watch this video by Scott Richard.

Wonderful tastes

At other times you’ll go a little off the beaten path in search of a good meal. This delicious barbecue dinner is from the Apple Valley BBQ in Parkdale, Oregon. Parkdale, at the base of Mt Hood, is a small town with a population of about 650. Fruit orchards fill the valleys in this part of Oregon and the restaurant incorporates fruit into their meals. The coleslaw pictured contains slices of fresh pears. They use local cherry wood to smoke their meat. Yum, definitely one of my favorites!

Apple Valley BBQ
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Imagine a World Exhibition

     The Imagine a World exhibition at the High Desert Museum focuses on past and present efforts to create utopian communities. Participants joined for assorted reasons, including religious persecution, environmental concerns, and anti-war sentiments.

     The communities featured are in the Western United States. Founding members often thought of the West as an idyllic, “empty” place to settle. However, they did not always consider who was already living in these environments.

Imagine a World

Indigenous Futurism

     As you enter the gallery, two life-sized astronauts suspended in front of a bold painting of bison catch your eye. Two bright paintings adorn the walls next to this display. These works represent Indigenous futurism. They highlight how important cosmology, science, and futurism have been to Native peoples. Grace Dilon, Ph.D. (Anishinaabe) states that Indigenous futurism is part of the process of “returning to ourselves.” The goal is to recover “ancestral traditions in order to adapt in our post-Native Apocalypse world.”

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Sheepherder’s wagon Haiku: HPC

sheepherder’s wagon
rolling across windswept plains
steady sentinel

Sheepherders wagon

Haiku Prompt Challenge – Rolling and Steady

Historic Short Bridge: Wordless Wednesday

Short Bridge
Short Bridge, South Santiam River, Oregon

Short Bridge
View of bridge from the side

Historic Short Bridge, built in 1945.

Wordless Wednesday

Santiam Wagon Road 2 hike: LAPC

Santiam Wagon Road
Santiam Wagon Road

In late May, I went on a hike on part of the Santiam Wagon Road near Sisters, Oregon (see trail map at end of post). Carol Wall, of the Deschutes Land Trust, led this hike. We traveled along an out and back two-mile section of the road. This 400-mile route was used to move livestock and freight between 1865-1939. In the first 15 years of its operation, around 5,000 wagons passed over this route.

Santiam Wagon Road map
Santiam Wagon Road map


As I mentioned in a previous post, most travelers on this road traveled from the west side of the mountains to the east. My Santiam Wagon Road post gives details about a 2-mile hike on a different section of this route.


We gathered around the kiosk in the parking area and Carol had us imagine what this road must have looked like in the 1860s. The ponderosa pine and western juniper trees you’ll see at the trailhead likely didn’t exist at that time. Junipers expanded their range due to fire suppression and overgrazing.

Sagebrush-steppe
Sagebrush-steppe field

Glimpses of nature along the trail

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Deadwood Stagecoach: Wordless Wednesday

Deadwood Stagecoach

Deadwood Stagecoach, 1867. Buffalo Bill Cody Center of the West, Cody, Wyoming

Wordless Wednesday

Terry’s Hanger Shop: Monochrome Monday

Terrys Hanger Shop

Terry’s Hanger Shop is part of one of the displays at the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum located in Hood River, Oregon. This large museum features airplanes, automobiles, and other artifacts. This shop is one of the many storefronts featured around the perimeter of the building.

Did you notice the sign showing the hours they are open? “Gone Yesterday Today and Tomorrow.” Someone has a good sense of humor. 😉

Monochrome Monday

The Guinness Harp at Guinness Storehouse in Ireland

Today I’m sharing photos and a short video related to the Guinness harp. The emblem is based on a 14th century Irish harp known as “O’Neill” or “Brian Boru.” Guinness has featured a harp image on its beer labels since 1862 and trademarked it in 1876. The logo consists of the harp, the GUINNESS® word, and Arthur Guinness’ signature.

Harps outside the Storehouse

Here’s a harp on a sign outside the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, Ireland.

Street sign in Dublin

Here’s another harp outside the entrance where visitors can take horse-drawn carriage tours.

Guinness harp

Harps inside the Storehouse

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Fun with photos – Photo Bloopers 5: LAPC

It’s time once again for fun with photos. Welcome to Photo Bloopers 5! 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!

hawk photos with FumFum
Harris’s Hawk at Dingle Falconry Experience in County Kerry, Ireland
Burning Man truck
Truck featured in Burning Man exhibit, High Desert Museum, Bend, Oregon
Carousel horses
Carousel horses at Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum, Hood River, Oregon
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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
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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