Thursday, July 30, 2009

Summer fun on the Seattle waterfront

So I never have taken the time to visit the Seattle waterfront areas during prime tourist season. Being in Seattle all week last week for 8 hours during baseball camp gave me a chance to use the time one day to give it a try and enjoy seeing what all of the fuss is about for people visiting these areas. Pike Place Market?

I've only been there once, in February! What a fun way to spend a few extra hours I had. I even treated myself to a good bowl of chowder for lunch with a sandwich. Carousels, boats, fruit, lobster tails, great fun!

Oh, and I hit the Seattle Aquarium as well...

...and the library on the University of Washington campus to round out the day.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Central Oregon roamings, the end - buildings of past and present

Throughout my 5 days driving around mostly in solitude on backroads throughout Central Oregon I mixed in my travel time with hunting for a favorite subject of mine: abandoned buildings or historic buildings being preserved. It made the journey time between other photographic attractions a joy!

The first thing that jumped out at me was a stunning abandoned Locust Grove Church, built and opened in 1895.

(above: Wheeler County/Fossil; Crook County/Prineville; Sherman County/Moro)Then as the week progressed I continued by hitting many county courthouses - I love the rich historic old buildings that shine in the smaller population counties east of the Cascades! I wish more of "the big cities" would have their old original courthouses still like you see so much more in the Inland NW.

Toss in a number of abandoned homesteads here and there, and I had a nice collection of buildings to bring home with me! Thanks for letting me share all aspects of my Central Oregon trip, as this marks the end of my talking about that trip. A much more enjoyable way for me to share how much I enjoyed the trip than to just toss out a few locations and photos that I visited! Now I need to get on with "all of the other places I've been since June" - stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

An "Owl" of a day

Last week I was in Seattle every day while my son was working hard in the heat at a baseball camp. I used the chance to tour around some places I normally wouldn't have made the time to travel all the way into the city to visit and it was a lot of fun! One hot day I went to the Arboretum and walked many of the paths there. Just when I was thinking "pretty place, but need to come in late spring for flowering shrubs and in fall for color" I passed a small pond and for some reason looked up.

Staring at me just above the pond on a tree branch? A lovely Barred Owl! After photographing it for a minute or so, it flew to another branch farther away, up in a maple tree. I left it alone after another minute and enjoyed my luck! I passed by the area on my hike out about an hour later and went to see if it was still there. Knowing it had been I looked more closely at all areas around the pond, and after a couple of minutes indeed did locate the lovely bird again! It had worked its way far up into a top notch of a different big-leaf maple tree and appeared to be napping.

Oh, I saw a Great Gray Owl also!!! But for that one...I was cheating. Woodland Park Zoo has a great way to photograph them if you see it out in a very natural setting. Ha!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Central Oregon roamings, part 11 - Tumalo Falls and a thunderstorm

Didn't I refer earlier in posts about "the incoming threat of serious weather" that held me back from additional roaming about in Newberry National Volcanic Monument? Yes, I did - and I skipped a long planned 1/2 day stop at the fabulous High Desert Museum south of Bend as well. But as I left there with rumbles of thunder booming the storms seemed they might be building over the US 97 corridor and Bend and moving NE slowly. So I chanced adding one more photography stop I've longed to do there which was 15 miles west of Bend.

Tumalo Creek comes crashing through old burn areas and blasts off a cliff into a canyon forming the lower and most popular part of Tumalo Falls. If you hike a few miles up the creek trail you will find 2 other falls along Tumalo Creek. With distant VERY near constant lightning and thunder rolls from the east of my photographic position at Tumalo Falls, I chose to just hang close to the truck and not risk being on a 6-mile hike should THOSE massive black clouds keep building westward too. I was rewarded with enough great scenery just here anyhow!

Now...the REAL adventure began as I drove back to Bend intending to get back to Prineville some 28 miles NE of Bend for the last night of my trip. This photo was the beginning of things to come as I came back to town:

What we have here is the start of the massive severe thunderstorm warning results that hit the Bend area while I was out at Tumalo. Here there is only areas of 1" of hail on the ground with a lot of water. By the time I was in "old downtown Bend" the ground had up to 4" of hail covering it! To make matters worse, then the storm followed suit with up to 2" of rain in 20-30 minutes. The water had no where to go since all storm drains were clogged with hail. Results? It took me over two hours to find a way to get from the west side of US 97 to the east side of US 97 to get out of town! Every underpass under the highway was flooded with as much as 8' of water in the form of a lake. Thankfully my GPS helped me get far enough south on very goofy side streets to find an OVERpass to get over the highway that didn't just lead me to a low area under water. I only wish I had taken a photo of the snowplows working in town. Yes, you heard me right. Second week of June and the department of transportation quickly got snowplows on the trucks to "plow" the hail off the roads faster to clear storm drains! It was hilarious and a funny way to end my last day in the area before heading home the next morning!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Spider Meadows and Backpacker Magazine

Many of you know I do mapping work for Backpacker Magazine where I get GPS routes mapped out with data that I then write up details of a full trip. The current August 2009 issue of Backpacker went one step further where they used one of the routes I mapped for them as a special insert segment "Rip and Go" with details you need to go enjoy a special day hiking - and best deal of all was to see a 1/2 page photo used as artwork to accompany the piece. A good day to look in the mail....

Monday, July 20, 2009

A special day...for man and the moon

Today stands out to me. Since as early as I can remember, I have always been in awe of the earth's moon. I remember cold camping trips as a child on the Oregon Coast with a clear night and a lunar eclipse while camping near Florence, OR. I couldn't have been more than 7 years old but it is as clear of a memory as if it were yesterday! I was thrilled to enjoy all lunar eclipses that I could since (including the one in October 2004 shown in a few photographs here).

Why is today worth standing out in my mind? Of course it is because today marks the 40th year anniversary of that magical day on July 20, 1969 when man first stepped foot on the moon. Hearing the broadcast of that day today just brought chills to my skin as it did when I was a little kid! Today I raise a high-five congratulations still to Neil Armstrong, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, and Michael Collins for their brave feat, and to all people involved in taking them to the moon.

I hope we again see this feat taken in the coming 20 years...we are long overdue.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Central Oregon roamings, part 10 - Newberry National Volcanic Monument - Paulina Creek Falls

OK, so still no thunder was happening when I completed my "hike the Big Obsidian Flow TWICE" gig. So I quickly headed back down the road a bit to the trail head for Paulina Creek Falls. The main view of the falls is a very easy 1/4 mile flat walk. Another more spectacular view from below in the "canyon" is maybe 1/4-1/2 mile down (and back up then!). Another view from the other side of the creek is a lovely 2/3 mile or 3/4 mile each way hike up the creek to the lake outlet, then back down the other side to view. I did all three strolls!

What a lovely place on a day when it was muggy, but getting cooler and breezy. Alas, just as I was hiking up from the last viewpoint for them, boom...first thunder! So my day was done here. Thankfully I was aware of the incoming storms that were predicted to hit. What an UGLY drive back out to US 97 from up in there! And it got much much worse in Bend...that's for another story!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Central Oregon roamings, part 9 - Newberry National Volcanic Monument - Big Obsidian Flow

Finally, I'm back in town and actually might be leading somewhat a normal schedule for a few weeks! Moving further south from where I left off talking about the Newberry National Volcanic Monument at Lava Butte, I headed south toward quickly building clouds and just before reaching the LaPine area on US 97 south of Bend went east and up into the main Newberry Crater area. I could spend a full week just exploring up in this region alone! Paulina Lake is of course a landmark to this, a massive lake in the old caldera of the volcano. Short on time due to knowing I'd be dodging lightning storms by early afternoon I opted to explore the Big Obsidian Flow at the base of Paulina Peak (wish I could have gone up there but snow still blocked the road and no way I was hiking to the high point in the region with scattered thunderstorms brewing!).

The Big Obsidian Flow is that, a massive lava flow that in many parts is almost entirely made up of obsidian - a hike on glass! Being someone who grew up fascinated with arrowheads carved from obsidian found at Native American camp areas, seeing SO much obsidian was just heavenly to me!

There are great views straight up at Paulina Peak, to the north overlooking Paulina Lake, and the snout of the flow is truly amazing to see the thickness of the flow. Wow.

I even hiked it twice. Not by design - but because when I was 1/2 way done with it I realized I had no spare CF cards in my backpack as they were back in the truck! So I completed the loop, got my gear, and did the hike again! Worth every moment....

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Break from the action....

Hello to everyone - quiet here, isn't it? Well, that always means one thing: I'm busy out enjoying trips to places and not at the computer adding blog entries! I just got back from 4.5 days with my family around the Olympic Peninsula and while I could add a lot of information as well as my next part of my journey to Oregon (Newberry National Volcanic Monument is up next!), I can't. I'm leaving in just 14 hours to go for a five day journey to the North Oregon Coast with my son for much hiking, fishing, biking, fishing, fishing, kite flying, hiking, fishing, biking, s'mores roasting fun!

Back at you on a regular basis in a week - take care and hey, make summer a good one for you right now!
(photo: very small black-tailed fawn nursing with mama in avalanche lilies on Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Central Oregon roamings, part 8 - Newberry National Volcanic Monument - Lava Butte

As a child who grew up in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, one of the annual types of trips we did was to always head east to explore and camp around the regions south of Bend, Oregon. The lava lands. Having a full day left in this area once I completed my multi-day tour of the John Day Fossil Beds I was excited to bring back memories and finally see some of those places again some 20-25 years later! Lava Butte, Newberry Crater, High Desert Museum, the list went on!

I headed south of Bend early from the Prineville area and got to the first intended stop - Lava Butte just 10 miles south of town. Ah, the memories I have of driving up to the cinder cone top of the butte! Wait - sign upon entry "Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.". ARG! But this played to my advantage in a way...while everyone else I saw turned around, I knew it was OK to park by the gate as long as you didn't block the gate or road. I hiked in and had the entire 2+ hours I spent hiking the Trail of Molten Lava through the lava flow below Lava Butte all to myself on a sunny warm muggy morning. It was wonderful!

The trail is a weaving paved path taking you through many wonderful formations in the lava geologic history of this area, all well marked with very timely nice interpretive signs. A side trail takes you up to a high point below Lava Butte to view the massive size of the lava flow heading westward towards the forests of the Cascades, all serving as views at Mount Bachelor, Broken Top, and the Three Sisters.
While it was unfortunate that I wasn't able to visit the visitors center here, having this entire area to myself was strange - and rather wonderful!