Birdwatching on the Redwood Coast

Birdwatching on the Redwood Coast

It seems that no matter where I venture, there are beautiful vistas, birds to watch, out-of-the-way places to explore.  On this mid-January trip, I went in search of Brant, a mostly black goose known to winter along the west coast.  I didn’t see any.  Never one to dwell on disappointment, I tend to invent my own fun.  As it turned out, the brant weren’t really missed after all on this 3-day break from winter.  It was a marvelous time filled with wonderful sights, shared with my 87-year-old mother and traveling companion.

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Redwoods-Mt. Lassen Trip – Part 2

Redwoods-Mt. Lassen Trip – Part 2

Please see Redwoods-Mt. Lassen Trip – Part 1 for the coastal route that brought us to Brookings.

Some stretches of US-101 between Brookings and Eureka are perched on the side of slopes that more closely resemble cliffs than hillsides. We remembered news reports from last winter about horrific storms that dumped a foot or more of rain in northwestern California, so we shouldn’t have been surprised to see landslides. Cal-Trans has been hard at work shoring up slopes to restore the highway, but I don’t expect that work will be completed for many months to come. In three places, there was only a single lane open and light signals had been placed to direct traffic.

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Redwoods-Mt. Lassen Trip – Part 1

Redwoods-Mt. Lassen Trip – Part 1

Part 1 is all about getting there, because we took the scenic route from Portland. To see our adventures in the California Redwoods and Mt Lassen Volcanic National Park, please see Redwoods-Mt. Lassen Trip – Part 2.

After a long, exhausting summer for both of us, my 86-year-old mother and I hit the road for a trek to see the California Redwoods and also Mt. Lassen Volcanic National Park. We both had seen redwoods on previous trips, but neither of us had taken the time to stop and experience their grandeur up close. And the most we had seen of Mt. Lassen was a freeway sign pointing toward it.

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Klamath Basin and Beyond

Klamath Basin and Beyond

It has been a dreadfully wet spring in Oregon and Washington this year.  Gardening plans are on indefinite hold while the lawn grows knee high for lack of a dry day to mow.  Like many others here,  I live in the Pacific Northwest because I love trees and green vistas, birds and gardens.  We gladly trade a love of Nature for half a year of clouds and drizzle, and we feel we have the best of the bargain.  Not so much this year, however.

It was in this context that I watched the weather forecasts in hopes of finding 3 consecutive dry days in April.  The wetlands of the Klamath Basin in southern Oregon and far northern California are a resting place for birds migrating farther north, as well as a nesting place for many thousands of other birds.  Ever since I stumbled on that information last winter, I have been looking forward to seeing all those birds with my own eyes.

I found a window of opportunity on April 14, 15, and 16.  Each day would have unsettled weather with some chance of showers, but overall, it didn’t look too bad.  I told my mother and favorite traveling companion to pack a bag and then we were off.
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Celebrating Winter, Skagit Style

Celebrating Winter, Skagit Style

Last fall, when planning our trip to the North Cascades, I tried my best to find a time to travel that highway before it closed for the winter and also to see the Snow Geese that arrive in late fall to spend the winter in the area.  It was not meant to be, so we enjoyed the fall colors in the mountains, vowing to return in winter, if possible, to view the snow geese.

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One Journey Ends and Another Begins

One Journey Ends and Another Begins

As I said in my previous post:  Sometimes, when life has kicked you in the teeth, the best thing to do is make some time to find a little joy.  There hasn’t been a whole lot of that lately, but it’s time.

I haven’t felt inspired to write, even though plenty of blog fodder was available from a scenic and educational road trip October 4-9.  Finally, now that another road trip is in the works, I am ready to write about that other journey and the therapeutic road trip that followed.

Just 15 days after my last post, on July 1, Dad passed.  The following months were a blur of activity – everything from arranging flowers for the service over a long holiday weekend to updating my mother’s legal paperwork to changing the name on the phone bill.  Mom had lived first with her parents, then with her husband, so at 85 years of age, it was time for her to learn how to be independent and it was not easy.  By September, I was ready for a change of pace and started thinking about taking another road trip.  When I asked Mom if she would like to go, she jumped at the prospect.

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Life Happens: It’s About The Journey

Life Happens:  It’s About The Journey

Two Women on a Bridge

It has been said that life is what happens when you are busy making plans.

My parents did a lot of planning. In their 20s, they planned how to scrape together the money to buy a modest home of their own. In their 30s, they planned how to pay off the mortgage in 17 years instead of 30. In their 40s, with an empty nest, they planned their retirement. In their 50s, when their parents died they began to think about their own mortality, and they planned some more. Dementia was never in their plans.

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On Doing A 365

On Doing A 365

As 2014 drew to an end, I found myself looking for inspiration.  Photographic inspiration, in particular.  I have been interested in photography since about 2011, but frankly, I wasn’t very good at it.  I had a decent camera, a Fuji HS20-EXR, but aside from an occasional eye-popper, my photos were mediocre.

My brother is a musician and has been known to say that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become proficient at playing an instrument.  Not content with being a proficient bass player and cranking out Blues or Top 40 numbers, he invested at least another 10,000 hours with a Hammond B-3 organ before becoming an organist in an small black church, where he learned the gospel style.  The man has talent, but talent alone has not made him the musician he is today.  It was practice, practice, practice.

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Exploring Northeast Oregon

Hells Canyon

Day 1

A visit to Hells Canyon has been on my Bucket List for awhile.  Not being one to just hit the highway and drive straight to a destination, I found some worthwhile sights to see along the way.  First up was the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.  There are actually three separate units in the park and, while each is markedly different, they all share colorful and unusual geological formations.  According to the park’s website:  For almost 150 years, paleontologists and geologists have been visiting the John Day Basin to study the area’s abundant fossils and surrounding geology. In 1975 the fossil beds became a National Monument to preserve a world class record of plant and animal evolution, changing climate, and past ecosystems that span over 40 million years.

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No One Spoke

Don’t ask why I chose to reblog this.
Just read it.
Then you will understand.


Friends and I enjoyed sun, sand, and surf with other beachgoers on a recent Saturday. Sitting slathered in sticky sunscreen beneath our umbrellas, we pointlessly brushed sand from our legs as we discussed evening plans. The seagulls overhead laughed louder than the swimmers splashing in nearby waves while those of us on the beach napped, read, or simply watched people. My friends discussed how relaxing it was and how nice it would be to sleep late the next morning.

Sleep late? I mentioned to them that we only get so many sunrises in a lifetime. Shouldn’t we get up to look at a few?

They stared blankly for a second then shook their heads in unison. No.

In the wee hours of the next morning, alone in the dark, I started the short walk from house to beach guided only by dim lights above the boardwalk. It was eerily quiet at…

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