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.
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.
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.
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.
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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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.