We witnessed a symphony in the skies over Shoshone National Forest. Spectacular cloud formations and landforms are common sights near Cody, Wyoming. Dramatic wispy clouds such as these often fill the skies.
We just returned from a trip to Yellowstone National Park and the Norris geysers were spectacular, as always. Some of the geysers are big and showy; others are small but still impressive.
The picture below is of Steamboat Geyser. Gray stone, dappled with red and brown-colored rocks, surrounds the vent.
In 2020, this geyser erupted 48 times. Water shoots 300+ feet into the air, making it the tallest in the world. This year, once again, we just missed its latest eruption. It went off on May 31, 2021, the day we drove to the park from Bend, Oregon.
Here’s an overview of the basin. If you don’t have time to walk the trails, You’ll get great views from this observation area.
Here’s a view from the trail. There are geysers everywhere you look in the Norris Geyser Basin.
You will also see wonderful thermophile “paintings” alongside the trail. I loved the green colors here!
This is Minute Geyser and it used to go off regularly. Unfortunately, many years ago tourists threw rocks into its vent so now it doesn’t erupt as often.
This is one of my favorite little geysers. Vixen Geyser’s opening is only about a foot across and the rocks surrounding it look like they’re covered with gray fuzz. This geyser is not colorful, but it goes off often. As soon as I walked up to it, it erupted.
Here’s a video of Vixen Geyser erupting right on cue. It’s like it knew I was there waiting for the show.
Map of Norris Geyser Basin
The map below shows all of the main thermal features in Norris Geyser Basin. The two main trails vary in length, with the Porcelain Basin being the shorter of the two. The Back Basin trail is 1.5 miles and the Porcelain Basin trail is 0.5 miles.
We visited the basin at 7:15 am and hardly anyone was there. If you go at midday in the busy season, expect to park outside the parking area alongside the main road. You may have to walk quite a ways to reach the trailhead. Consider going in the early morning, late afternoon, or early evening, when crowds are lighter.
One more thing…
Just a little reminder to be prepared for the changeable weather within Yellowstone. The last time I visited this trail, it snowed. I forgot to bring a change of clothes and I got soaked. Unfortunately, that’s when I found out I could not buy pants at any of the stores within the park. Uh oh! This time I stashed a change of clothes in our car before we left home. 😀
The Warner Wetlands of south central Oregon are beautiful throughout the year. I dug into my archives to find photos taken long ago there, supplemented with a few recent ones.
You can view wispy sunsets over the wetlands in the summer.
Moody cloudscapes over them in the spring.
Snow and ice covering them in the winter.
Sweeping scenic views of them in the fall.
And you get the drama of Hart Mountain rising above them with its massive presence. This fault-block mountain towers 3,600 feet above the valley floor. Its highest point is atop Warner Peak, elevation 8,024 feet.
Visiting Warner Wetlands
There are numerous lakes in this 40-mile long wetland and some are seasonal. One of the lakes, Mugwump Lake, varies significantly in its water level. The lake is named after the politically independent and unpredictable mugwumps.
The Warner Wetlands host a wide variety of wildlife, including 42 mammal species and 239 bird species. Fish in the wetlands include crappie, bass, bullhead, and trout. If you’re lucky, you may see an endangered Warner Sucker, a fish that only lives here.
This area doesn’t get a lot of visitors due to its isolation. Visitors can enjoy camping, hiking, OHVing, birdwatching, hunting, and fishing. When water levels are high enough, there’s a canoe trail you can follow in the northern section (see map). You’ll find a short birding trail in the southeast section. There’s also a public site to dig sunstones for free, located several miles northeast of the lakes.
If you’re feeling a little worn out after all your outdoor adventures, check out Hart Mountain Hot Springs Campground on the refuge. There’s a rock structure surrounding a hot spring pool located within the campground. You can find another undeveloped pool in the meadow about 100 yards away. Exactly what you need after a hard day of outdoor recreation!
The Bureau of Land Management manages the Warner Wetlands. Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge is located just to the east of the lakes.
I recently hiked the Trail of Molten Lands at Lava Lands Visitor Center and paused to take in the volcanic views. The center is located within the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, a place with many recreational opportunities.
I took these photos from the Phil Brogan Viewpoint. On a clear day, you can see Mt. Bachelor, the Three Sisters, and other peaks in the distance. On this day, clouds covered them in soft shrouds. The visitor center reopened on May 20, a couple days after my visit. It’s a great place to learn more of this area’s volcanic past.
Here are a couple pictures of the volcanic views from a closer angle.
This 1.1 mile trail winds through basalt lava flows surrounding Lava Butte to the viewpoint.
I’ve been out and about more recently and photographed several spectacular sights seen in blue and green.
I thought the pictures deserved a story, so I made up a tiny tale to go with each one. At a virtual conference I attended yesterday, I learned a “micro-story” is a form of flash fiction with 300 or fewer words. I’m calling the following stories “mini-micros” since they range from 43 to 58 words. Not sure if they qualify as true stories, but they were fun to write.
A crowd of manzanita shrubs watches a shifting skyscape in awe. Their pink blossoms open in silent applause. Snow-covered Cascade volcanoes rumble in the background, taking in the show from a safe distance. Steam billows from their peaks, merging with the dancing clouds.
Clouds emerge from a crack in the ground on a chilly spring morning. They radiate outward from the ridgetop and tree branches stretch and reach towards them. Striated boulders celebrate by tumbling and crashing down a steep slope. An osprey drifting overhead crows in anticipation as another glorious day begins.
Deep in the forest, two bull elks battle in an intense fight for the right to mate with cows in their herd. Their horns clatter and lock together. The fight lasts so long they become frozen in place. Meanwhile, a young elk spike, the one everyone overlooked, bugles with joy.
Over the years, Big Tree lost a bit of his height because of windstorms and bad weather, but he’s proud to keep his place in the record books. He tells anyone who will listen that he is the largest circumference Ponderosa pine in the world. Like many of us, Big Tree lost height and gained circumference as he aged. 😉
I’ll share more spectacular sights seen recently in future posts. So much to see in the spring – one of my favorite times of the year!
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.
I liked the way the patterns in the wall changed from dark-colored stones to dark dotted with white…
To light dotted with dark stones.
The white stones over the entryway make it stand out.
The wall includes rough white quartz, rounded gray granodiorite, coarse-grained gabbro, and banded siltstone.
Upon doing further research, I learned “façade” has a double meaning at this site.
The rediscovery of Newgrange
In 1699, a local landowner, Charles Campbell, rediscovered this passage tomb. He had instructed laborers to collect stone from the site, and they inadvertently found the entrance to the tomb.
Several prominent antiquarians visited the site. They debated who constructed the monument and what purpose it served. Theories on who made Newgrange included invading Vikings in early medieval times, ancient Egyptians, ancient Indians, or the Phoenicians.
In the meantime, the site experienced degradation caused by the passage of time and vandalism. In 1882, Newgrange and sites nearby gained protection under the Ancient Monuments Protection Act. The Newgrange, Knowth, and Dowth passage tombs, located in an area known as Brú na Bóinne, received recognition as a World Heritage Site in 1993.
Here is Newgrange’s entrance in the late 1800s, before restoration. Numerous archaeologists participated in conserving the site.
A façade begins
From 1962 to 1975, archaeologist Michael J. O’Kelly oversaw excavation, restoration, and reconstruction. Once excavation began, a large quantity of small stones were found. O’Kelly concluded they must have been part of a wall. Under his guidance, his crew made a steel-reinforced concrete retention wall to hold the stones in place.
Many in the archaeological community disagreed with this controversial decision. In fact, P.R. Giot said it looked like “cream cheese cake with dried currants distributed about.”
Newgrange’s façade is “the face of a building,” as defined by the dictionary. However, you could say it’s “a false, superficial, or artificial appearance or effect,” another definition of the word.
When reconstruction at the nearby Knowth monument began in 1962, archaeologist George Eogan took a fresh approach. He believed the stones formed a welcoming “apron” on the ground near the entrance.
The photo below shows the stones near the entrance to Knowth. Both sites are amazing, whether you prefer the cream cheese cake look or not. 😉
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 😉
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.
These street scenes in Dublin happened on March 6, 2020, six days before the lockdown. On this St. Patrick’s Day I thought it would be nice to remember what “normal” used to look like.
Here are a couple buskers downtown. See the crowds pausing to take in their performance?
They were not allowed to perform around the winter holidays due to COVID-19 concerns. Some traveled to Cork or Galway where they didn’t have the same restrictions.
Here are a couple views of the famous Temple Bar. Lots of people out and about.
People waiting for the bus outside O’Neill’s. Love this building’s interesting architecture and pretty green trim.
Horse and carriages lined up outside of Guinness Storehouse waiting to transport tourists.
We spent the whole day taking in the street scenes in Dublin. A couple of the businesses had names that were entertaining. 😁
We ended the day with a great dinner at the Bakehouse. I had salmon and my daughter had corned beef. Yum!
A funny thing happened after my trip to Ireland and Northern Ireland last year. I checked an ancestry site I’m registered on when I got home. It said I had 71.4% British & Irish ancestry, mostly from County Kerry & County Cork. In 2019, I only had 49.6% British & Irish ancestry. Guess a part of my ancestral homelands stuck to me when I left. 😉
On this day when everyone is a bit Irish, I hope you have a good day with better ones to come in the future.
May you have warm words on a cold evening, a full moon on a dark night, and a smooth road all the way to your door.Irish blessing
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.
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.
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.
This cabinet features moss agate. It often contains formations that look like mossy growths and specimens can be found not far from Baker City.
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. 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Grand Prismatic has rainbow colors, layered soil, and lots of steam. Did you notice the bison tracks in the foreground?
The bison spend time near the hot springs throughout the year. Here’s a pair grazing near a boardwalk trail.
Sometimes the steam blends in with dramatic cloud formations. This photo was taken at Excelsior Geyser moments before a downpour.
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.
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. 🙁
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!
I like using digital magic to bring out the best in my photographs before I post them. I use Corel PaintShop Pro, a less expensive alternative to Photoshop.
Clean up an image
This is a slide I kept in my tent during fieldwork and tiny spots of mold had grown on it. They couldn’t be removed physically so I used a digital scratch remover and cloning tool to erase them.
Crop an image
I took this picture of a pair of burrowing owls at the High Desert Museum. There was a lot of glare on the window of their enclosure. I cropped the photo, and in the edited version, they look like they’re in a natural setting.
Today I’m featuring images portraying oceans of emotion from a trip last year to Northern Ireland and Ireland. The images reflect the eight basic emotions defined by psychologist, Robert Plutchik.
Northern Ireland ocean views
Anger – Winds at the Giant’s Causeway were reaching 80 miles per hour. As each wave crashed upon the shore, froth shot out of a hole on the left side of this picture. It was as if Mother Nature was foaming at the mouth.
Fear – The incoming storm frightened most of the tourists away from Carrick-a-Rede. It shut down shortly after we crossed due to high winds.
This year I went on a quest with the goal of finding fall colors. Here’s a 4-part haiku story based on pictures taken on the Mount Hood Scenic Byway in Oregon.
Deep in the mountains
Mount Hood surveys the landscape
Draped in mossy robes
Rooted in shades of autumn
Fall’s gala begins
We recently took a short drive west from Bend to visit Dillon Falls. Splashes of color border the river near the falls.
Temperatures were cool and we didn’t see anyone else on this early morning trek.
The short trail to the falls is lined with manzanita shrubs – one of my favorites! They have so much character.Continue reading
This is a sculpture of Fungie, a bottlenose dolphin who has lived in and around Dingle Bay in County Kerry, Ireland for 37 years. He has brought much joy to visitors and residents over the years. Unfortunately, he has not been seen for over a week. A large scale search is underway.
Fungie holds a place with Guinness World Records for being the longest-lived solitary dolphin in the world. He is thought to be in his forties.
I am sending good thoughts his way…
May you live as long as you want,Irish Blessing
And never want as long as you live.
Last summer we took a trip to southeastern Oregon where we saw the brilliance of the desert.
Contrasting colors atop 9,733-ft Steens Mountain.
Colorful soils rounding a bend.
Rabbitbrush in bloom near Big Indian Gorge.
Mountain mahogany trees growing on a ridgetop.
Some think of deserts as dull and boring. However, if you look at things in a different way, you’ll witness the brilliance of the desert.
Being able to participate in an encounter with an Eurasian eagle-owl was one of my favorite things on a recent trip to Ireland. You have the opportunity to see various birds of prey up close and personal at the Dingle Falconry Experience, located on the Dingle peninsula.
This bird is a female named “Fluffy.” Eurasian eagle-owls are one of the largest owls in the world. Females, which are larger than the males, measure 30 inches in length. This owl’s wingspan is typically 4 feet 4 inches to 6 feet 2 inches.Continue reading
The Brothers Stage Stop, in Brothers, Oregon, is a little oasis in the high desert an hour east of Bend.
When I walk my dog in the Old Mill district, I always smile when I see the art at the amphitheater. The Les Schwab Amphitheater is the main venue for large events in Bend, Oregon. Minneapolis artist, Erin Sayer, painted the crow on one side of the stage and the owl on the other.Continue reading
Isn’t this dragon door spectacular? It’s a beautiful work of art with an interesting story behind it.
Do you recognize the tree-lined road in the photos below? This road, in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, is featured in the Game of Thrones television series.
Do you see the big stump on the left? Four of the 245-year old beech trees fell in windstorms over the last few years. The reclaimed wood was used to create several doors. The dragon door is one of ten doors installed in pubs and hotels in Northern Ireland. Each door represents a scene from season six of Game of Thrones. You can download a Journey of the Doors passport and collect stamps as you visit the location of each door.Continue reading
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.
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.
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.
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.
A unique landmark
Vista House is a unique landmark sitting high above the Columbia River about a half hour east of Portland, Oregon. Perched atop Crown Point, 733 feet above the Columbia River, this site serves as a rest stop and observatory for people traveling the Historic Columbia River Highway.
Assistant Highway Engineer Samuel Lancaster was the supervisor of the Columbia River Highway project in 1913. It was his idea to offer a place that would make the natural wonders of the Columbia River Gorge more accessible to visitors. Lancaster thought Crown Point would be an ideal site for “an observatory from which the view both up and down the Columbia could be viewed in silent communion with the infinite.”Continue reading
Hells Canyon National Recreation Area is tucked into the northeastern corner of Oregon and the western edge of Idaho. We visited Hells Canyon in the spring last year. At the overlook, the meadows were carpeted in wildflowers. Perfect timing for pictures!
Many different types of flowers were in full bloom.
We had great weather to take in the panoramic view. The Snake River winds through this canyon nearly 8,000 feet below the canyon rim. Hells Canyon, the deepest gorge in North America, is almost 2,000 feet deeper than the Grand Canyon.Continue reading
A traditional Irish stew & brew at The Quays Bar and Music Hall in Galway, County Galway, Ireland. This stew, accompanied by a Guinness, is a local specialty served at this restaurant.
Wherever you are on this St Patrick’s Day, treasure the things that matter to you the most.
Here’s to your roof,Irish Toast
may it be well thatched
And here’s to all
under it –
May they be
Travel with Intent: One Word Sunday – Specialty
She unfurled her gossamer wings and searched for a far away land, greener than green. After a journey of many miles, she caught glimpses of Ireland & Northern Ireland. When she landed in a lush green pasture, a part of her remembered…
Though I usually keep my travels within driving distance, I just returned from a 10-day trip to Ireland and Northern Ireland with my daughter. After losing my brother and father within months of each other, I felt an urge to visit the land of my ancestors.
We drove about 1,600 miles and I took lots of photos. I will be sprinkling glimpses of Ireland & Northern Ireland into my blog occasionally. Enjoy the scenery!
We recently visited a newish bakery for a cup of coffee and a sweet. This sweet spot has a good variety of sweets and beautiful artwork.
Check out this large mural full of flora and fauna. Find out more about the six artists that helped create the artwork in this space here.
The front counter has bold black and white tilework.Continue reading
If you decide to walk the short Cave Spring Trail in Canyonlands National Park, you will be rewarded with unique encounters with history and nature.
The 0.6 mile loop trail takes you past a narrow cowboy camp tucked under a rock ledge. Camps like these were in use from the late 1800s to 1975. The Scorup-Sommerville Cattle Company managed as many as 10,000 cattle in this region. Cowboys lived a life on the range and artifacts from their outdoor camp remain at this site.Continue reading