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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Grays Harbor – and Cementing An Online Friendship

Grays Harbor – and Cementing An Online Friendship

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.

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Raymond and Points Beyond

Raymond and Points Beyond

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.

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Tallest Totem Pole

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.

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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?

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