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.
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.
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…
Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge is located adjacent to Bowerman Airport in Hoquiam. It occupies just 2% of the intertidal habitat in Grays Harbor estuary yet hosts up to 50% of migrating shorebirds. The mudflats here are the last to be flooded at high tide and the first to be exposed as the tide recedes.
I decided to take up photography in September, 2011. Two things happened to prompt that. One, my arthritic hip was getting worse and starting to limit my activities. Two, my 12-year-old point-and-shoot camera with 3X optical zoom quit zooming. An online friend of mine, N, had recently purchased a Fujifilm HS20-EXR bridge camera with 30X optical zoom and I was impressed with the photos she was posting, so I bought one for myself. And that was the beginning of my photo-taking hobby.
One of my favorite places to go for a daytrip is the Washington coast and, in particular, the area around Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor. The town of Raymond, located where the Willapa River enters the bay, is just 70 miles and 1½ hours from home. I have passed through it many times on my way to explore Washaway Beach or the fishing town of Westport.
On this trip, my main goal was to look for migrating shorebirds. I knew the Grays Harbor Shorebird and Nature Festival was coming up soon, and it spotlights the migrating birds, as well as year round residents. We have had a warm spring, so the migrating birds might already have come and gone, but it was worth a try and as good an excuse for daytripping as any. Besides, I had a new camera to try out. A quick check of the tide tables told me it would be low tide in Willapa Bay around 2:30 the next day (Sunday, April 26) and low tide is a great time to look for shorebirds foraging in the mudflats exposed by low tide. And that was that.
On Saturday, 7 March, I trekked south to the Portland area to visit my parents and do some sales-tax-free shopping. As I drove south on the I-5 freeway past the town of Kalama, I glanced to my right at a towering totem pole near the Columbia River waterfront. That pole has been there for years, but I have never stopped to have a closer look and I determined to investigate on my return trip.
This morning, we got a call from the mechanic in Toledo, saying he was done with the scheduled maintenance on my car. Always conscious of my 365 challenge on Flickr, I took my camera. After getting the car, DH went on home in the truck and I headed for South County Park.
Just across the Cowlitz River from Toledo, South County Park is centered around a former gravel pit that is now a lovely 14 acre pond. It is stocked with fish, has a public boat ramp (though I have never seen a boat in the pond), and has four fishing piers which are also good for watching the resident waterfowl.
This local gem has a paved footpath and I never fail to enjoy myself when I stop there. I tend to forget about it and drive elsewhere to enjoy parks and photograph waterfowl. Why is that?
KLUTZ (noun, slang): A clumsy, awkward, or foolish person; uncoordinated.
Years ago, when I bought a house in a new housing development in a San Diego suburb, I had a perfect opportunity to make new friends. Everybody was new. Everybody was at least cordial and many were friendly.
Portlandia is a 35-foot-tall hammered copper statue. Portlandia is a satirical TV series. To my mind, Portlandia speaks to the ecclectic culture of Portland, Oregon.
According to Wikipedia, Portland is “known for its abundant outdoor activities, liberal political values, and beer and coffee enthusiasm. Portland is home to a large number of independent microbreweries, microdistilleries and food carts that contribute to the unofficial slogan ‘Keep Portland Weird’. In comparing Portland to New York City and San Francisco, Lonely Planet writer Becky Ohlsen said, ‘Something about how cheap and isolated Portland is, allows oddballs to explore odd behavior without being squished by economics or the harsh judgment of fashion people.'”