Feeling Cheesy? Visit Tillamook Creamery

Sculpture at Tillamook Creamery 12 20June2018

Last June we happened to be in Tillamook, Oregon the day the new Tillamook Creamery visitor center opened.

Tillamook Creamery Visitor Center 20June2018

They have 1.3 million visitors a year and the new 38,500 square foot facility is a welcome addition. The original visitor center opened in 1949. We visited that much smaller center years ago.

Yes, you can still watch them making delicious cheese and get samples, but there’s a lot more there now.

The new displays are interactive and informative.

I loved the layout of some of these displays. Crisp, bold, and bright. They are works of art.

Tillamook County Creamery Association creates the products you find in stores today. This co-op was formed in 1909 and there are almost 100 families in it now.

Store at Tillamook Creamery 11 20June2018

They have a big store with everything from clothing to specialty dairy products.

If that’s not enough, they also have a dining area with several options. You can get ice cream, yogurt with toppings, and a range of other choices. These include everything from tempura battered cheese curds (huh?) to mac and cheese, pizza, sandwiches, and a few breakfast items. I was pleasantly surprised to see the food at the center featured in a funny article in Food and Wine.

If you have the time, this is a stop worth making.

Unusual Clouds Above Bend : LAPC

The sky takes on shades of orange during sunrise and sunset, the colour that gives you hope that the sun will set only to rise again.

Ram Charan
Unusual Clouds in Bend, Oregon 18October2017
Clouds in Bend, Oregon 25January2016
Clouds in Bend, Oregon 30September2016
Clouds in Bend, Oregon 6October2017
Unusual Clouds in Bend, Oregon 9November2018

We have many beautiful sunrises and sunsets here in Bend, Oregon. Sometimes the unique colors and forms of the clouds are totally unexpected and they’ll take your breath away. Here are a few of those moments my camera allowed me to capture.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Unexpected

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

The trailhead is 14 miles northwest of Dayville, Oregon. This trail is in the Sheep Rock Unit of the monument. The Island in Time trail is a 1.3 mile long out and back trail with an elevation gain of 200 feet. The Blue Basin Overlook trail also starts here. It’s a 3.25 mile trail with a 760 foot elevation gain. There are several other trails nearby.

Blue Basin hike, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon 26October2018
Colorful contrasts

The geologic history

The unique blue-green colors of the rock formations in Blue Basin are stunning.  They range from a pale dinner mint green to a darker, bluer green. The blue-green and tan claystones and siltstones are part of the John Day formation.  There were multiple eruptions of Cascade Mountain volcanoes 29 million years ago. The ashfall formed the blue-green layers of this basin. Celandonite and clinoptilolite give these formations their green color.

A shallow creek of green-tinted water

You’ll see impressive tiered layers of rock bordering the trail. At the end of the trail, an amphitheater of colorful stone will surround you. I had the place all to myself on my hike. Rotate your way around this photo sphere to see what I saw.

Blue Basin Lower Trail

I also noticed the smaller landscapes on this trail. Here are a few of those scenes.

Fossil and facts on Blue Basin trail

You will see several fossil replicas covered with protective plastic bubbles along the trail.  They removed the actual fossils to protect them from the elements.  Over 2,000 species of plant and animal fossils have been identified in the vicinity.

Blue Basin hike, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon 26October2018

Cat-like Nimravids. These cats ranged in size from bobcat-sized to tiger size.
Blue Basin hike, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon 26October2018

Oreodonts. This sheep-sized mammal was once as common as deer are today.
Blue Basin hike, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon 26October2018

Tortoise. This tortoise is like species living today.
A cracked shell may have caused its death.

Map and a word about dogs

Blue Basin map, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon 26October2018
Map of Blue Basin and vicinity

Here’s a map of the Blue Basin. Please note the warnings associated with this trail. In the warmer months of the year, you may see rattlesnakes. In October, I saw none.  Blue Basin experiences high temperatures in the summer months so be prepared.

Blue Basin hike, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon 26October2018
My dog liked this nearby trail better. No bridges!

There are 13 metal grate bridges on this trail. The sign says dogs may refuse to cross and you may have to carry them. My dog would not cross the first bridge.  Sorry, but I couldn’t imagine carrying a 60+ pound dog over 13 bridges.  She waited patiently in the car on that cool day.  

Amazing paleontology center

Don’t miss the amazing Thomas Condon Paleontology Center while you’re here. The displays impress me and I’m always excited to see paleontologists hard at work in the viewing area. I often wonder what new treasures they will uncover in their daily work.

Badgers & Magpies & Leopards, Oh my!

Badgers Yellowstone NPk 13June2011
Badgers at Yellowstone National Park

In The Story Who Came to Visit, I mentioned I would be doing an Open Mic event here in Bend. Yes, it does take a bit of courage to do something like that. Yesterday I read a short piece from the children’s book I wrote during NaNoWriMo. The audience was eager to hear the work of local writers.

I read a story about a bullied girl who finds her courage after talking with a magpie and a badger. They both have hidden weaknesses but found their inner strength. Nuǎn, the main character in the story, finds her strength just when she needs it most. A snow leopard that had attacked her and left her scarred is about to attack another child.

Here’s an excerpt from that scene:

Snow Leopard’s ears perked up, and he turned towards her. “You again, Nuǎn?” He hissed and bared his teeth. “Yeowrrr! I already marked you once. Stay out of my way.” Snow Leopard struck out at her, scratching her arm with his long claws.

“You marked me again!” Nuǎn held her hand over the wound. “The first time you marked me, it made me weak. No more!”

Nuǎn grabbed an ax in the yard and swung it down, chopping off the end of Snow Leopard’s long tail. The big cat yowled in pain and leapt over the fence.

“Now you are marked!” Nuǎn yelled at the leopard as it bounded away.

I have a lot more editing and revising to do, but my work in progress was well received by the audience. 🙂

Back to work…

The Road To… Oregon: LAPC

The curving road

Here are some curving roads to various scenic destinations in Oregon. When you’re driving down the road you never know what sights you’ll see just around the bend.

What is straight? A line can be straight, or a street, but the human heart, oh, no, it’s curved like a road through mountains.

Tennessee Williams

The Road To...Fort Rock, Oregon  10June2017
The road to… Fort Rock
The Road To... Mt Hood, Oregon 15October2017
The road to… Mt Hood
The Road To...Hart Mountain, Oregon  2November2017
The road to… Hart Mountain
The Road To... Mt Bachelor, Oregon 29September2017
The road to… Mt Bachelor
The Road To...Steens Mountain, Oregon  5April2018
The road to… Steens Mountain

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Curves.

2018 Favorite Photos: LAPC

It’s always hard to pick favorite photos at the end of the year. Here are several representing nature, history, and culture. Enjoy and have a great New Year!

Favorite Photos – Nature

Favorite Photos – History

Favorite Photos – Culture

Maybe my most favorite photo from 2018…

Green worlds beneath me. Aquatic plants at Yellowstone National Park, WY 2June2018

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Photographic review of 2018

Tin Pan Alley Art in Bend

Seven artists featured in Tin Pan Alley

The Tin Pan Alley Art “gallery” is located in a short alleyway in downtown Bend, Oregon. The alley features large pieces of art created with a variety of media. Some are 2-dimensional while others are more sculptural. Do you have a favorite among these wonderful pieces of art?

This collection is part of a public art initiative that supports local arts and culture. It takes our outdoor lifestyle into consideration. Another example of outdoor art is featured in many of Bend’s roundabouts.

Mixed media

Tin Pan Alley Art  in Bend, Oregon  22December2018

This is The Visitor by artist Carol Sternkopf. This is a mixed media piece that combines photography, vinyl, paint, twigs, wood, metal, and salvaged home decor. Nature and animals were important in Carol’s childhood. She incorporates them into her art. She hopes viewers think about the “larger story within the magnificent blue owl’s eyes” in this piece.

Tin Pan Alley Art  in Bend, Oregon  22December2018

Here’s a picture of the whole collection. We like to go to the Lone Pine Coffee Shop in this alley. It’s small, but it’s our favorite. The owner takes the craft of creating the best cup of coffee very seriously.

Metal and wood

Tin Pan Alley Art  in Bend, Oregon  22December2018

This is Love Lost, Love Found by artist Bill Hoppe. This colorful metal work represents the artist’s interpretation of an 11th Century Indian manuscript. The many pieces of this sculpture were created by hundreds of community members. This was part of a community engagement goal set forth by the Central Oregon Metal Arts Guild.

Tin Pan Alley Art  in Bend, Oregon  22December2018

This is Tomas’ Riddle by artist Judy Campbell. This piece is created from steel, wood, and lights. Judy was inspired by infinitely repeating patterns, or fractals. In this piece she sought to bring the “abstract concepts such as love, mystery, and infinity into the earthly plane.”

Tin Pan Alley Art  in Bend, Oregon  22December2018

This is Ride with Me by artist Jeff Remiker. The mountain culture, especially biking, is a big part of Bend. Jeff was inspired by a childhood love of bike riding. He incorporated wood and metal work into this rustic piece. Viewers can interact with this piece by putting things into the bike basket.

Tin Pan Alley Art  in Bend, Oregon  22December2018

This is an untitled piece by artist Andrew Wachs. This piece was inspired by basalt rock formations that can be found throughout Central Oregon. The artwork represents a close-up perspective of a vertical overhang. Andrew works with metal and wood design in his studio, Weld Design Studio.

Photographs and paintings

Tin Pan Alley Art  in Bend, Oregon  22December2018

This is Southwark by photographer/artist/adventure seeker Amy Castaño. This photograph of a bikeway in London captures some of the many textures and sights of the city. Amy looks for unique viewpoints, different angles, interesting parts of the ordinary, and the perfect radiant light.

Tin Pan Alley Art  in Bend, Oregon  22December2018

This is A Parade of Strange Ideas by artist Phillip Newsom. This vivid painting represents a spontaneous procession of ideas “emerging from the unconscious and growing as multi-dimensional shapes in some back-alley of the mind.” Phillip’s work includes book & magazine illustrations, animal portraits, murals, landscapes, and graphic designs.

Blue Pool Reflections: LAPC

The Artwork of Nature

I visited Blue Pool on a cool September day. Mother Nature was busy there producing colorful works of art. The colors in the pool are unbelievably beautiful and intense. On this day, the warm colors of fall leaves were reflected on the water.

As I mentioned in Blue Pool is a Jewel, the reflections look like Impressionist paintings. I could have stayed there for a long time taking pictures. Can you see why?

Blue Pool Reflections  14September2016
Blue Pool Reflections  14September2016
Blue Pool Reflections  14September2016
Blue Pool Reflections  14September2016
Blue Pool Reflections 15Sept2016
Blue Pool Reflections  14September2016

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Reflections

Holiday Lights Winter Paddle Parade in Bend

Last night we had a front row seat to watch the paddle parade go by on the Deschutes River in Bend, Oregon. This event has taken place for many years, rain or shine. It was kind of blustery weather last night but there were still a lot of people participating in the parade.

Paddle Parade, Bend, Oregon 14December2018
The watercraft headed toward the Flag Bridge

The event is hosted by Tumalo Creek Kayak and Canoe in the Old Mill district. Participants dress up their watercraft and themselves with colorful lights. The parade takes place from about 4:00 to 6:00 pm. After it’s over, everyone gets together for nice warm drinks.

Paddle Parade, Bend, Oregon 14December2018
Of course Santa has a raft pulled by flamingos!

Santa and a few of his elves were there to help spread good cheer. The flamingos towing the raft looked sort of tired.

Paddle Parade, Bend, Oregon 14December2018
Lots of kayaks

The boats went a little past the Flag Bridge and then turned around.

Paddle Parade, Bend, Oregon 14December2018
There were a few stand up paddleboarders out there

The breezy conditions made it hard to paddle upstream but it was easy going back down.

Paddle Parade, Bend, Oregon 14December2018
Colorful kayaks

Everyone looked like they were having a great time. There were a lot of people watching this year — more than I’ve seen before.

Paddle Parade, Bend, Oregon 14December2018
Darkness sets in

We watched part of the parade from inside a nice warm restaurant. It was a wonderful way to watch one of Bend’s special winter events. 🙂

Lens-Artist Photo Challenge – Celebrations

The Story Who Came to Visit: RDP

Last month, The Darkness of Hills, The Lightness of Wings came to visit me for 25 days. Yes, that was a long visit. She spoke a little bit to me each day until she was 50,129 words long.

Story in Painted Hills, Oregon 14 26October2018

I started her as part of the NaNoWriMo challenge. That’s short for National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write 50,000 words in a month. It’s a commitment I wasn’t sure I could make, but I did it.

I knew I wanted the story to take place in the late 1800s and I wanted to include a Chinese girl who moves to Oregon to work with her grandfather. He’s a doctor and she knows how to make herbal cures. That’s all I knew when I started writing.

I found my inspirations to build a story from several sources.

Story Kam Wah Chung  in John Day, Oregon 26October2018

To help create my main character, we visited the Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site in John Day, Oregon. This amazing place was an apothecary in the late 1800s and early 1900s. It’s like a time capsule from the time period I wanted to focus on.

One of the medicines the main character uses is called Tiger Balm. This pain reliever, invented in China,  has been around since 1870 and its scent is calming yet spicy. I have a jar of it and used it when I got in a terrible bicycle accident years ago. Its unique scent reminds me of healing.

Story Ring Billed Gull MalheurNWR 2018

If it’s a story written by me, of course it includes animals. I thought back to a ring-billed gull I nursed back to health at Malheur NWR. I was there for four weeks as part of a 12-week immersive ornithology class. The seagull in my story is the narrator; a first person secondary character narrator. Am I crazy? Here’s an excerpt:

“So who am I watching from above? I have wings but I’m no angel. In fact, I’m a seagull and what happened that day changed my life. Here is the story of dark hills and light wings. Yes, my wings are a part of this tale, but on that day they weren’t so light. This tale starts with me but it has been passed down beak by beak.”

Story Magpie Drawing 2007

There’s also a magpie character in my story and I thought I’d write about a magpie and another animal. I considered using a badger since they live near magpies in my high desert home. I did a little research and found out I had made the right choice.

Huān 獾 is the Chinese word for badger. It sounds just like huān 欢, The Chinese word for ‘joyous, happy, pleased’ according to Chinasage. Magpies in flight are often portrayed with badgers and this represents happiness both in heaven and on earth. A picture of a perched magpie represents a wish for future happiness. This was a happy coincidence for me that I tried to weave into the story.

Story in Painted Hills 26October2018

We visited the Painted Hills, near John Day, for further inspiration. That setting added a touch of magic to my tale. The hills have a way of communicating with the main character in my story that only she can understand.

I used a little of this and that to build this story. The first draft is complete but the hard work of editing and rewriting has just begun.  Lots of hours to go.

I signed up to read from my book for five minutes at an event in Bend, Oregon in January. Yesterday I worked on editing four pages to present to the public. How long could that take? Much longer than you might think! I’ll let you know how it goes in January. Stay tuned…

Ragtag Daily Prompt – Build

Making a Splash: LAPC

As you wade through the waters of your life you often end up making a splash. Sometimes you make a big loud splash and other times you need to make a quieter one. Maybe only a ripple. Here are photos of quieter splashes I have seen in Oregon.

Making a Splash, Common merganser pair on the Deschutes River 2April2017

Common merganser pair on the Deschutes River

Making a splash, River otters, Bend, Oregon 19March2018

River otters at the High Desert Museum

Making a splash, Mule deer drinking from my water feature, Bend, Oregon 15July2017

Mule deer drinking in my backyard

Making a splash, Western grebe on the Deschutes River 21October2016

Western grebe on the Deschutes River

Making a splash, Trumpeter swan family at Summer Lake 1November2018

Trumpeter swan family at Summer Lake

Lens-artists Photo Challenge – Splash!

 

Viewpoints of Oregon: Photo Challenge

The challenge on Travel with Intent today is Viewpoint.

Here a few viewpoints of Oregon from places I’ve visited. Some are from places labeled as a viewpoint; others are taken where people stop to see a special view.

Viewpoints of Oregon, the Painted Hills near John Day 26October2018

The Painted Hills in eastern Oregon

Viewpoints of Oregon, great horned owl nest south of Burns 6April2018

The view of a great horned owl nest south of Burns

Viewpoints of Oregon, the view of Mt. Hood from Highway 26 14October2017

The view of Mt. Hood from Highway 26

Viewpoints of Oregon, the view from Lava Butte 4Sept2014

The view from the top of Lava Butte

Viewpoints of Oregon, the view from Gray Butte of the Cascades 8May2018

The view from Gray Butte of the Cascade Mountains

Viewpoints of Oregon, view of the Sisters from Bend 24September2017

The view of the Sisters from Empire Boulevard in Bend

Visiting Sunriver Nature Center

Learn about the natural world by visiting Sunriver Nature Center

Sunriver Nature Center & Observatory is a great place to learn more about the natural world. This small interpretive center is on the west side of Sunriver, Oregon. It’s in an area that includes pine forests, meadows, and the meandering Deschutes River. The “edges” between these habitats are good places to see wildlife.

 

You can observe local wildlife by walking the trails on your own or going out with a guide. The Sam Osgood Nature Trail winds around the property. In the spring and summer keep an eye out for trumpeter swans. Guided bird walks take place every Saturday morning in the spring, summer, and fall. I have been on several of the walks. You’ll see waterfowl in the pond, raptors flying overhead, and songbirds along the walk. Great gray owls have been spotted in the area occasionally. You never know what you might spot on one of these walks.

 

 

There are also programs for families and kids. There are Kids Nature Camps for kids 4-10 years of age at certain times of the year. Family programs might include offerings such as Family Birding, Aquatic Explorations, and Eco Bike Tours. During the school year, staff travel to nearby schools to give presentations.

 

The Sunriver Nature Center building has live animals, diorama displays of local habitats, hands-on exhibits, and a collection of rocks with a focus on meteors. Their collection of live animals includes birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects. Birds of prey are used in daily educational talks in the amphitheater.

Visiting Sunriver Nature Center, Sunriver, Oregon

This is a licensed rehabilitation center so there may be some birds not on public display. With the help of staff and volunteers, the birds get much needed medical attention. If possible, they are released back into the wild.

The Oregon Observatory

The Oregon Observatory offers spectacular views of daytime and night skies. There are opportunities to see galaxies, nebulae, and planets and their moons. The observatory has a large collection of telescopes available. Kids can learn about astronomy through visits, classes, and through community outreach. Look at these amazing photos from the observatory! Hours vary – click here for the most current information.

A few sights to see at the Sunriver Nature Center

Sunriver Nature Center, Sunriver, Oregon

One of my favorite places to hang out is near the bird feeders. You’ll see lots of birds, and an occasional squirrel, taking advantage of a free meal.

Visiting Sunriver Nature Center, Sunriver, Oregon

Here’s a room where reptiles, amphibians, and insects can be viewed.  It’s called the Creature Cave.

 

Birds of prey can be seen up close and personal in their enclosures.  A building was constructed recently to house and exercise the Center’s raptors.

Visiting Sunriver Nature Center, Sunriver, Oregon

Check their website to find out about current events and to register for camps and walks. Staff and volunteers take some of their wildlife ambassadors (like the great horned owl pictured below) to events in the area. Sunriver Nature Center is a non-profit that depends upon donations. Click here to donate.

Visiting Sunriver Nature Center, Sunriver, Oregon