Janet Brien's photos

Cleawox Lake and Sand Dune at Honeyman State Park…

28 Apr 2021 32 19 84
(+3 insets)(view large to really enjoy the scene!) Time To Head Up the Road to Honeyman! Time flies and after a fantastic week-long stay at Tugman State Park, we packed up and moved a short 30-minute drive up the coast to Honeyman State Park. We have driven past this park several times in the past couple of years but didn't have the chance to stay here until now. Since Tugman State Park is so close to Honeyman, we drove through the campground last year to check it out. WOW! So huge! Eight loops brimming with over 400 well-spaced sites nestled in a lovely forest, and just next to the Oregon Dunes! We really wanted to stay here, so when it came time to book our 2021 trip, we made sure to secure a spot. You can imagine how happy we were to get a full two weeks in the site that was perfect for us! Hooray! Today's Picture Honeyman is a short walk from several lakes, including beautiful Cleowox Lake. On our first morning here, I popped out of bed and hot-footed through the entire length of the campground--a 10-minute walk. Then I went along a nature trail that passed tiny Lily Lake (a large pond) and popped out at the edge of Cleowox Lake. The sun was shining brightly as I walked out onto their floating dock and the view out there totally took my breath away. The main picture today is a panorama which shows the lake where one of the dunes reaches the lake. We can't get over the combination of dune + water feature! (The Skeleton Coast of Namibia is totally on my bucket list!) Today's Insets The first inset shows the mist rising up off the lake in the other direction, the sun's rays shining down and creating cool lens effects. I'm also sharing a picture of glowing moss and leaves along the trail out to Cleowox Lake. Finally, morning sunlight filtering through another tree and casting beautiful shadows on the pavement just couldn't be ignored! I hope you are all having a wonderful week! Explored on 4/30/21; highest placement #21.

Rough-skinned Newt at Tugman State Park (+6 insets…

25 Apr 2021 35 21 102
(+6 insets!) (The larger size shows the wonderful texture!) This is such a wonderful park. We've been here twice now, and after this 5-night visit, we'll be back again in a couple of months, to meet up with Steve's sister and sons for a multi-campground shared adventure! We love Tugman's beautiful Eel Lake and the short and long trails that skirt part of its edge. We love the glowing-green moss and fern-filled forest. We love the birds and squirrels we are privileged to see. We love the peace and serenity of this gem. And we also love that the campers here share the reverie of this area too. It's just super. A couple of days ago, Steve and I hiked the long, 6-mile trail around part of Eel Lake's northeastern edge. We stopped at the 2.5-mile point where trail maintenance ended and sloppy trails and slimy logs crossing streams took over. We'd been to the end last trip and didn't need to risk slipping and falling just to say we did it again. On the way to the turn-around point I was delightfully surprised to find a little newt moving slowly across the trail in front of me. Cooing in joy, I pointed it out to Steve as I passed by, and promptly found another one. We watched the trail carefully to make sure we didn't accidentally step on one. They were very hard to see unless moving but happily we spotted several more and moved past them safely. On the way back, Steve took the lead and watched his step like a hawk. "Oh! I found one!" Moving into the moss at the side of the trail, we watched the cutie-pie climb into the forest of greenery. I grabbed my camera and took pictures with the hopes my flash wouldn't bother it too much. Crossing my fingers, I looked forward to checking my pictures when we got back. I didn't expect anything but a blur when I loaded my images on my computer, so when my main picture today came up, I lit the room with my beaming smile! JACKPOT!!! :D Today's Insets Inset #1: The American Robins run around in the big park meadow like a determined army, run-stomping their way in starts and stops, plucking out worms and insects as they go. I got lots of total winner shots, and this one was a favorite! Inset #2 and #3: There are lots and lots of Side-Band Snails adorning the trail here and there, especially in the morning. I have a couple of pictures that turned out well. Inset #4: At the end of the short path is a wonderful old hand-hewn bench that makes for a cool but awkward place to sit. So they added a new bench last year which sits further back and is much more comfortable. I noticed that someone thought it would be cool to carve their initials into it, and before I began ranting about defacing property I noticed that the initials were our own! I promise we didn't carve our initials there!!! :D Inset #5: This lovely tree trunk is a favorite that I appreciate every time I pass by…I'm adding the other picture I took from last year too. :) I hope everyone is doing super--and thank you so much for your lovely visits and comments!! Explored on 4/28/21; highest placement #7.

Canada Goose Hen & Goslings at Eel Lake, Tugman St…

23 Apr 2021 64 47 154
(+2 insets!) (please view large for the most adorable view!) Bucket List Shots Do you have an actual list of pictures you hope to take some day? I don't, because it would take a lifetime to list them all! However, when I find them out in the world, I am catapulted star-ward and over the moon! Steve and I left Harrison Beach a few days ago and arrived at Tugman State Park several hours later. This is one of our favorite spots with its beautiful Eel Lake, skirted by two outstanding trails that we adore. My first morning I went to the end of the wonderful 1-mile long trail that leads out to a bench on a point where one can sit and enjoy the lovely view. When I arrived, my motion disturbed a family of geese--with BABIES!!!--and I wasn't quick enough to get decent pictures before they were too far away. I stared, cooing and in love, at the fluffy babies and their attentive parents. Maybe I'd see them again, I hoped. The next day I was all-consumed by macro photography and as luck would have it, didn't see any geese, though I did hear them. Yesterday though, I took my Sony bridge camera with it's marvelous 600mm zoom lens and crossed my fingers. Soon I got to the park's wide-open meadow with its picnic tables, gazebo and playground. The dock sat peacefully at the edge of the lake and I wandered over to the water to look at the view. Jackpot! Just then I spotted motion in the water. OH!!! The goosey family was there!!! And LOOK at how ADORABLE they were! One parent in front, a stream of fluffy babies, and then another parent. They motored along and I had my camera out and clicking away like a fiend. Then I noticed more movement...ANOTHER FAMILY!! OHHHHHH!!!!! So many chickies! I counted...one, two, three...four, five, six...SEVEN! My lucky number! I moved along with them very quietly and slowly, hoping they wouldn't swim away. The first family I spotted did swim away, but the second family wasn't worried about me and they swam closer and closer! In fact, the goslings emerged from the water at the boat ramp and walked around, their parents right there to keep an eye out for danger. Conveniently, there was bench and I sat there taking pictures and resisting the urge to coo at them out-loud! :D They all began to move towards the bank where I was seated and to my delight, up onto the grass scrambled a baby! And then two...three, four! One parent in the water with the other goslings, one on the grass with the adventurous kids; I sat, completely enchanted, and watched the little ones plucking at the grass and running around. I got to experience this magical scene for about ten minutes before one by one the goslings plopped back into the water, popping up like fluffy yellow corks, and rejoined the other chicks and parent, and the other parent slipped into the water behind them. Off they went and my beaming smile followed them as they cruised away. "Bucket List: Goslings and family"...COMPLETE! :D Hooray!!! (I have a couple of insets of the babies too! :) I hope you guys are all doing great! Explored on 4/24/21; highest placement #1.

Rock-Strewn North Harris Beach (+5 insets!)

12 Apr 2021 44 27 115
(+5 insets) (Please view large...so pretty!) The experience of strolling up North Harris Beach is mind-boggling in its beauty. The views are amazing, whether looking out to sea or up and down the coastline. The reason this campground is booked solid all summer long is obvious the moment one looks out on the coast and sets foot on its glorious beaches. How we were lucky enough to reserve a solid two weeks (the limit) is beyond us but we have enjoyed and deeply appreciated each and every precious day here! Today's Pictures My main picture is taken looking northward on North Harris Beach. The view is totally spectacular and please do treat yourself to the larger size so you get a better understanding of this awesome view! :) Today's Insets Inset #1 is a panorama looking down the coast, just above the roughly paved trail down to South Harris Beach. Totally incredible view! Inset #2 is a natural doorway through boulders on the zig-zag trail down to North Harris Beach. You can see Goat Island off in the distance. Inset #3 shows part of the Sunset Point Trail, which parallels the main campground road but meanders in and out of the forest and features jaw-dropping peeks of the coast here and there, along with benches to sit and enjoy the view. Inset #4 is what I've named "Triangle Rock" and like here, it often has a seagull perched on top. It's been fun to experience the tides fully here, and there are times when there's no water surrounding the beach-side of the rock. I can't resist walking over to touch the rock when I have the opportunity! Inset #5 shows a stream emptying out on North Harris Beach, creating a dramatic edge between the water and sand as it makes it way to the sea. Have a super day everyone!! Explored on 4/20/21; highest placement #2.

Sunset at Harris Beach State Park--We're Off on ou…

06 Apr 2021 66 38 162
(+5 Insets!) (Sorry this is really long...scroll down to "Today's Picture" for info about my presentation today) What a Difference a Year Makes Last year we'd just started to seriously plan our upcoming RV trip when Covid hit. We would eventually leave three months later and had a fabulous season of adventures. This year we didn't have to wait! A couple of months ago the state park reservation system changed to allow bookings six months ahead and we jumped on the opportunity. It took hours that day but we locked in nearly 3.5 months of our season! From then on, we slowly prepared and began packing a few things. Steve worked on upgrade projects as weather permitted--it gets very cold here in the winter and our shop isn't heated so he worked on days that were warmer. Steve kept last year's preparations in mind and this year he didn't hurt himself just as we were about to leave. Both of us were very careful because we learned what a total bummer it was to be trailer-ridden and unable to hike, cycle or enjoy the beautiful setting we were in. We Could Hardly Wait to Leave on our Adventure As April rounded the corner, we got increasingly excited because our first reservation would be on April 6 at a hugely popular campground we never thought we'd get into--Harris Beach State Park. Amazingly, we got a full two weeks at a perfect site for our large rig! Steve and I worked very hard all the way until the very moment we left and then it was showtime! Our live-in house guest arrived--just as excited to move in as we were to move out! He loves staying at our place and we don't blame him--the outdoor activities and beauty of this area are so nice. But traveling around in a "home on wheels" is even better! :D Topping this with a win-win situation is so perfect, isn't it?! Off and Away! I walked down to the gate, opened it up and waited for Steve to make his way through. As our rig passed by, I couldn't help but watch and think of the past fun we'd had in the last couple of years. This season we were set up for almost six months of camping, YIPPEE!! NO MORE WAITING! It was time to GO!!! I pulled the gate shut, locked it and trotted across the road to hop into our fabulous truck. Steve and I shared a face-to-face grin and high-fived. LET'S GET THIS PARTY STARTED!!! What a Wonderful Drive Driving out to the Oregon coast, we took a route that many RV and trailer owners have openly worried about online. The two-way road gets very narrow in places and at a few points there are some very tight curves combined with rocky walls which encroach on the road. To make matters even worse, there were areas where trees used to lean over the road with branches that hung low enough to be a real concern. We were happy to learn that the trees were gone and it turned out that we had no problems with the curves or the rock walls, though we did go cautiously through those spots. We enjoyed a beautiful three hour drive through redwoods, past verdant meadows and farmland, and finally we reached the gorgeous coast! All the while Steve and I chatted about our trip and Pumpkin supervised from her Lucite travel cage braced between my knees. Munching on her food and whistling joyfully, she couldn't be happier either----she adores travelling and camping too! Once we arrived at the campground, Steve had no problems backing into our site. We'd learned to make sure the sites we reserved would be easy to get into--we've had our share of stressful parking memories! Upon parking, we hopped out of our truck to congratulate each other with a big hug. Our happy Cheshire Cat smiles couldn't be bigger! Our very first site was HARRIS BEACH!!! YAHOO!!! What a way to start our 2021 camping trip! Today's Picture We arrived and set up early enough that we could walk a quick 5-minutes out to one of the nearby vistas to take sunset pictures! Can you say "drop-dead gorgeous"? WOWZERS!! You can see a silhouette of Goat Island offshore--it happens to be Oregon's largest island, though a mere 21 acres. It's been a National Wildlife Refuge since 1936 and is one of the largest nesting sites in the state, home to 11 species and over 100,000 seabirds during breeding season! Today's Insets Looking south is rugged coastline including tide pools and lots of driftwood. I couldn't stop appreciating the huge boulders around us and then Steve pointed out a plane above us complete with jet trails! I also got a picture of the evening's warm sunlight showing of the side of a pair of large boulders beyond which one can see both a small butte and a sliver of beach with drift wood at the top of the beach. The second row of pictures show a panorama I took the next morning from the shore of North Harris Beach. Finally, the butte shown in my third inset has a trail that emerges out to a jaw-dropping view... my last panorama is a view up the coast from Harris Butte. :) I hope everyone is doing well! Steve and I got our first vaccine shot yesterday, hooray!! Explored on 4/17/21; highest placement #2.

Dappled Shadows at LL Stub Stewart State Park! (+3…

03 Sep 2020 60 37 182
(+3 insets) Detroit Lake Was Not Our Cup of Tea Although we had a really nice time at Detroit Lake State Park, we weren't sad to leave. It was too loud and frenetic with too many people--including large, multi-families mixing without safeguards--we felt like campers were being very territorial and disrespectful of everyone else who was there other than them. The main road past the campground was extremely loud and busy--thank goodness our campsite wasn't one of the many that were right next to it!. The lake often had boats zooming by that were so noisy you needed to plug your ears. There were groups of people openly drinking too much, being obnoxious and yelling back and forth--we even had a huge multi-family next to our site that thought it was ok to play music very loud and spread their stuff everywhere including the edge of our campsite. We actually had to complain about them; thankfully the rangers came over to enforce pandemic policies--to our great relief they left the next day and it was hard to resist adding "Don't let the door hit you on the way out!" Granted, this place really would be perfect for water sport fans and families. It just wasn't for us. We like it quiet and intimate and want to be around like-minded folk who love nature, solitude and respect the peaceful revery of camping. Onwards to a Favorite: L.L. Stub Stewart State Park! A few hour's drive north brought us back to one of our top campgrounds, L.L. Stub Stewart. I've gone on and on about the wonders of this place. Hiking, biking, hanging out…and there's just so much more. It's a marvelous slice of heaven and we were delighted to have the opportunity to stay for nearly two weeks! Today's Picture I'm sharing an image of a common sight at L.L. Stub Stewart--mesmerizing shadows undulating over beautiful forest trails. There have been times where I couldn't progress more than a few feet before stopping yet again for another picture! :) Today's Insets My first inset shows a different trail we walked on in the park--there are literally dozens of them! My second and third insets are my last from Detroit Lake State Park--one of them is a collage showing a neon blue mud dauber wasp on creeping sage. The other shows a drying flower with others behind it in soft bokeh. There were many other pictures I wanted to process from Detroit Lake but I ran out of time and will have to revisit them down the road. Thanks So Much! I hope you are all doing well! I appreciate all of your visits so much and I hope that my pictures make you happy…please stay safe, warm and dry! Explored on 4/05/21; highest placement #1.

Colombia Coriopsis at Detroit Lake (+5 insets)

20 Aug 2020 50 26 137
(+5 insets) Moving On to Detroit Lake! The day finally arrived when Steve and I said our goodbyes to LaPine State Park and headed to our next campground stop. We were counting our lucky stars every single day on our 2-part Covid Summer Trip! How fortunate that in the middle of a world pandemic, we had a way to travel safely and still have a fabulous time! From LaPine State Park we drove two hours north and pulled into Detroit Lake State Park. This park turned out to be a very popular destination for families, party people and water sport fans and though we had a wonderful time, it was ultimately too boisterous and loud for us. My two trip reports are linked from insets 2 and 3. Today's Picture Detroit Lake Campground's rocky beach was a wonderful surprise for photography. There were lots of flowers and the brightest were the glowing yellow Colombia Coreopsis. I couldn't get enough of them! This beautiful blossom even has a tiny fly on the edge of a petal, complete with iridescent wings. Today's Insets The first inset is a narrow vertical crop that shows these flowers in several stages: drying bloom getting ready to create seeds, a bud preparing to explode into bloom, and in the background, a blossom in bokeh to reflect upon. Such fun scenes to capture. Inset 2 (Colombia Coreopsis) and 3 (Creeping Sage) are clickable and will bring you to individual trip report pages about our stay at Detroit Lake and each is loaded with many insets to enjoy. The last two insets are our trip maps to remind you where we are on our adventure, in case you've been following along. It's the second part of our Covid Summer Trip, so that map is presented first, with the first part map posted for you to see as well. Thank You! How wonderful to get so many visits from folks looking at my pictures! It's all a person could hope for but I get more. You guys are so kind for leaving such nice comments and stars too...THANK YOU SO MUCH! :) I think we all hope that our pictures will be seen by at least a few people, so I'm always so happy that I usually get a bunch of visitors who appreciate my presentations. You're the best. Please stay safe, dry and warm! Explored on 4/03/21; highest placement #3.

Gigantic Longhorn Beetle at LaPine State Park (+10…

16 Aug 2020 52 37 178
(+10 insets!) (view large for awesome detail!) Photography Immortalizes the Wonders We Witness How often do you see a picture you've captured that leaves you feeling astonished and awed by the subject? It's so amazing to have this miraculous technology at our fingertips. It used to be for just the devoted professional. Now everyone has access to the simple aim and press of a button to make a lifetime memory. It's wonderful. Better still, with that rise in technology, resulting image quality has increased exponentially so that no matter who you are, the pictures are better than ever. How incredible that a recording a lifetime of high-quality memories is available to everyone! Macro Bokeh Junkies Still Need DSLRs Even though technology has made it easy for anyone to capture awesome shots, there is a limit. If you want to take macro pictures that have stellar bokeh, you still have to step up to the big league and use a DSLR with a dedicated macro lens. I will never forget how hard I tried to force my point and shoot super zoom camera to create the type of pictures my husband was capturing with his (current at the time!) Canon 5D + 180mm macro lens. As a budding photographer, I learned what "bokeh" meant and why I simply couldn't get what I wanted out of my marvelously versatile super-zoom. It was infuriating, but I sure learned a lot! Finally I gave up and waved a white flag of surrender. It took a lot to learn how to use a DSLR--and I will always be working on my education!!--but I instantly fell head over heels in love with my Canon 5D MkII and the incredible 100mm 2.8L lens. Oh, that creamy, lovely bokeh! (I also learned that I don't like to use the 180mm lens because even though it's creates the best bokeh, it's way too heavy and requires a tripod: no thank you!) NOTE: Since I moved up to a DSLR in 2011, the quality of macros you can get from camera phones and point-and-shoots has gotten incredibly good! In fact, my new 8x superzoom Sony camera captures fantastic macros with very nice bokeh--much better than my old 30x Canon PowerShot! Phone cameras also have astonishingly good macros and really super bokeh too. The lay person won't be able to tell the difference but bokeh junkies won't be satisfied. Today's Picture I was returning to the RV one morning after creeping around with my Canon and macro lens when I looked at our RV and nearly fell over. HOLY MEN IN BLACK BATMAN, LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THAT BEETLE!!! Hanging out on one of our many picture-sized windows was a ginormous long-horned beetle. This is the largest beetle in the United States, growing as large as 2.6" in length! ( I found a picture of someone holding one so you can get a better understanding of just how huge these critters are. ) Though enormous, the pine-borer was well-camouflaged on the black-tinted glass and I nearly missed seeing it as I rounded our trailer that morning. It was positioned high on the glass soI had to hold my camera up and brace my elbow on the trailer so I didn't shake. Most of my pictures turned out so blurry I had to laugh. I needed to be sure I got something crisp so after a bunch of attempts I returned with my macro flash, but most of those were blown out despite the settings I fiddled with. It's hard when your subject is on a reflective surface! But in the end, I was successful. My main image was one of my first pictures, taken without a flash. Would you just look at that awesome bokeh?! All these years later and I am so madly in love with my 100mm 2.8L lens…can you blame me?! :) Today's Insets Inset 1: the first picture shows another view of this amazing beetle, taken with the macro flash. I spent some time removing the harsh reflected shadow and the result, processed in b/w, turned out well I think! Isn't the pebbly texture on its back cool?! Inset 2: this is a close-up of the male pine cone I shared a couple of days ago. The texture is just awesome! Inset 3: yet another picture of the lovely Ground Smoke flowers I saw on one of the campground loops. Even though the bush was literally right next to the current resident's trailer, I bet they never even saw this treasure! I nearly missed it myself…only the breeze and sunshine that caused the tiny flowers to glimmer and flash got my attention. Inset 4 & 5: this is a macro view of a large species of coralroot orchid that I found at LaPine (In my last presentation I shared a pair of images that showed a smaller species with a hungry wasp on it). These dried pods remind me of Chinese lanterns and glowed beautifully in the sunlight. You can also see the sticky carpet of resin balls on the stems and stalk…don't touch!! Inset 4 shows a picture of two dried stalks and the pods that dance up their length. Inset 6: the impossibly neon-yellow color of this Powdery Sunburst Lichen cannot be missed. I found it growing everywhere and though I took many pictures, experience warned me that they'd be blown-out no matter what I did. This picture has pretty good exposure but the bright areas still suffer. I needed a day with heavy cloud-cover so I'll try again in the future! Thank You! I hope all of you are having a super week. Stay safe, dry and warm and thank you so much for your visits! You know how I feel about you guys!! YOU ROCK! :) Explored on 4/01/21; highest placement #3.

Male Lodgepole Pine Cone at LaPine State Park (+8…

15 Aug 2020 51 27 148
(+8 insets!) "Normal" Pine Cones Are Females! Imagine my surprise when I learned that pine trees have two kinds of cones: female and male! Actually, just go look in the mirror…because I am sure you're equally surprised! But stop and think: have you ever seen the curious little things scattered around on the ground under a pine tree that defy explanation? Or weird clusters of odd growths on some pine trees that you couldn't identify? Those are the male cones which are responsible for releasing pollen. We don't usually see the male cones because they are often found at the tops of the trees. However, some trees have male cones lower down. In fact, some trees are entirely covered with either male or female cones. If you'd like to know more, Wiki's Conifer Cone page is full of useful information, and NW Conifers: Lodgepole Pine talks about this species specifically. Today's Picture I was creeping around LaPine State Park and found myself admiring one of the countless pine trees there. The park has many species, mostly Ponderosa and Douglas Fir, but there are many others too--grand fir, cedar, larch and juniper to name a few. My eye was drawn to something odd on a cluster of pine needles and upon recognizing what I was looking at, a smile spread across my face. It was a male pine cone which has incredulously skewered itself on the pine needles. Shaking my head in disbelief, I stared as I brought my camera up for pictures. How in the world does this happen? Naturally it's merely statistics and I'm looking at the lucky winner of Nature's contest, "Caught on the Way Down." It's a favorite of mine and I cannot resist taking pictures of these miraculous finds. I'm not surprised that people have asked me many times, "Did you stage that shot?" It's reasonable to doubt these sights--seeing them out on my strolls, I have a hard time processing their probability too! But occur they do, and I'd never, ever "set a stage" for a "better" picture. This is Nature at her gob-smacking finest! Today's Insets Insets 1 & 2: Here and there on the pine needle-carpeted floor of the forest, the remnants of coralroot orchids could be seen. Standing as high as 8-10 inches tall, the dried stalks bristle with sticky resin that likely tastes horrible to deter opportunistic munchers. These unusual orchids can bloom from April to September depending on conditions but I believe what I'm showing is merely a dead plant, a bloom that was frozen in time and dried to show the moment. Could I be wrong? The lovely little black and white wasp I found seemed to think so, busy with hopes of nectar inside. To be honest, I didn't touch this plant so I am speculating its dried state. As it is, I'm not positive on the species either--coralroots can be very different from one another and yet are still the same species. I have not seen flowers that look just like this so I may be wrong! Let me know if you have info to clarify! Insets 3 &4: The forest around LaPine State Park is almost entirely brown or conifer-green, so when another color shows itself, you notice! First you'll see what I believe is a pair of wild gooseberries and they grow on tough shrubby bushes, determined to thrive in this dry desert environment. I also found a berry which had dried up, fallen off the bush and landed on the twig of another bush. I liked the translucence, wrinkled texture and the interesting lines of the twig branching this way and that. Inset 5: Once in a while I noticed odd burl-like growths on the branches of pine trees. I have learned that this is actually a disease called western gall rust. It can kill trees but for homeowners, these trees can be successfully treated. Inset 6: Finally, I've got a b/w image of a group of "golf-tee" fruticose lichen I found dried on a stump, waiting silently for the rain of late fall to arrive and bring it back to life. Inset 7: I added this last picture to show male cones growing on a tree. These were on our property! :) Thank You! There are few things that make me happier than knowing that a picture I took has made another person happy. What a gift it is to share my love of photography with others! Your visits, comments and stars truly make my day. It's such fun to see what you've come up with to share with us too, so thank you very much for the opportunity! I hope that everyone has been having a great week so far! Please stay safe, dry and warm! Explored on 3/30/21; highest placement #1.

Tiny Queen Carpenter Ant at LaPine State Park (+6…

16 Aug 2020 52 32 185
(+6 insets!) The Magic of Being In The Moment As creative spirits, all of us seek to slip into that special time when we are experiencing the world in a kind of magical flow. We forget about time. We forget about problems. We forget about almost everything…except for what's exactly in front of us, shown through the lens of our camera. Being in the moment is sort of like being one with the universe, I guess. You feel it right down to the bottom of your soul and when you do, all is right with your world. What I've said will sound really weird to anyone who cannot tap into their creative spirit, but to everyone else, you Get It. Makes the world go 'round for us and every one of us--be it Leonardo DaVinci or Ansel Adams, George Carlin or Leonard Nimoy…everyone knows this pinnacle of creatives and we lust for it. Aren't we lucky to be part of that special group?! Wandering in the Moment with Camera In-Hand Unfortunately, you can't just flip a switch to get into this creative place. Everything has to be just right. If you're not in the mood, if something's off, there's no way you'll get into that space. I can feel when things are clicking into place and when I do, I grab my camera and pop out of the RV… Today's Pictures I felt the smallest sensation of something crawling on me and when I looked on my arm, I was amazed to find a tiny ant with wings--it was a queen! After carefully moving it to the sandy ground I got this picture to share. Today's Insets The first is another picture of the beautiful little flowers called Ground Smoke showing bokeh flowers behind. Then you'll see a mushroom that I found on my morning walk. I'm always triggered to look at anything round but I could hardly believe what I was seeing because it was so dry--how could a mushroom possibly grow in loose, dusty soil without moisture? It was also really big--at least 5" in diameter--what a find! I can only imagine it survived on the early morning dew but still, I was stunned. The next couple of pictures show a pine tree's shadows on the side of the RV, and I stood mesmerized as the shadows moved with the breeze. There's something so zen about watching shadows, isn't there? Next is a bone-dry, age-old stump that I couldn't resist photographing…the texture, still-visible radiating age circles and lovely gnarled edges are so wonderful! And finally, the yellowing pine needles of a dying branch were really pretty to me and interesting to appreciate. Thank You! Your visits mean so much to me, and totally make my day! Thanks always for your visits, stars and wonderful comments. You guys are the best! :) Have a wonderful day and stay safe out there! Explored on 3/28/21; highest placement #1.

Coville's Ground-Smoke at LaPine State Park (+5 in…

16 Aug 2020 47 28 170
(+5 insets!) Oregon is Brimming with Natural Wonders to Discover Since we got our first RV in 2018, we finally had the opportunity to explore, enjoy, and appreciate the boundless beauty of Oregon. We've been along the rugged coast and beaches and nestled in deep woods. We've experienced Oregon's version of a rain forest, and we've frolicked amidst gorgeous meadows that hug riversides interspersed with small forest nuggets. Another area we've gotten to know is Oregon's "high desert" where LaPine State Park sits. Imagine a very dry area with lots of sandy, loose soil, but instead of cactus there are pine trees and hardy scrub brush. It's not so dry that rivers don't run through and the Deschutes River begins its journey here, travelling from Little Lava Lake, about 25 miles northwest of LaPine, and eventually joining Oregon's largest river, the Colombia, after a trip of 250 miles. LaPine State Park is One of Our Favorites…What About You? You would think that such a dry place wouldn't be high on our list, but it sure is. True, the plant life isn't as varied as a moister locale, but it's lovely nonetheless, and what it lacks in variety of plants, it more than makes up with all of the hiking and biking trails found here. Steve and I have such a great time here that since discovering this park, it's a "Must Go" spot every year. What about you? Do you have a special place that you simply must go to anytime you're in the area? I'd love to hear about it! After all, if we're lucky, we'll someday make it to your neck of the woods, so why not entice me with your favorite park(s)? :D Today's Main Picture Every morning when I'm at LaPine, I walk around each campground loop and then head up one of the trails to the park entrance before travelling back along the Deschutes River and finally back to our "home on wheels." One morning I was walking past a campsite and noticed a bush with tiny white flowers. A closer look revealed beautiful tiny blossoms which begged for proper macros. Later that day I returned with my beloved Canon and macro lens and managed to get a bunch of very nice shots. Isn't it wonderful when you are successful despite the fact that a breeze is trying to ruin every picture? I was delighted that within my large group of hopefuls, I got an assortment of crisp images amongst a bunch of blurry ones. This picture of "Coville's Ground Smoke" was my favorite, but I have two more to share in my next uploads for LaPine. Today's Insets LaPine is a very popular home to many species of squirrels, including one that's often mistaken as a chipmunk, the Golden-Mantled Ground Squirrel. I admit being very surprised when I realized the "chipmunk" I photographed on a lava rock was actually a ground squirrel! Another common resident is both the smallest chipmunk and also the most widely spread, otherwise known as the Least Chipmunk. I got a fun picture of one working on a little pine cone which I turned into a b/w to show off the fun shadows. If you look carefully around a pine tree, you'll often see droplets of sap oozing from woodpecker holes or broken tree limbs and if the sun is in the right spot, the droplets will glow beautifully! I'm also sharing a crusty droplet of resin that's dried up but interesting to look at with lots of granulated detail. Finally, the last picture is a collage of images that shows a group of ants attacking a caterpillar to bring back to its nest. I appreciate these glimpses of nature's cycle of life, and though it's too bad for the caterpillar, it will be an important source of food for the colony and I was fascinated by this show. Thank You! I always appreciate your visits, stars and comments--my smiles warm the room! I am so happy that I can spread a bit of joy, interest and hopefully some education to your day--it's what I hope for every time I post one of my presentations. Please take care of yourselves and I hope you have a wonderful weekend! Explored on 3/26/21; highest placement #3.

Kayaker Appreciating Flock of Common Mergansers on…

13 Aug 2020 33 22 151
(+14 insets!) Volcanic Recap to Fully Appreciate Today's Images of Paulina Lake Visiting a volcanic area really requires a bit of education because it's so important to understand why it's so incredible and should deserve an awed appreciation. So the other day I explained a few volcanic terms to you including volcano (the four main types are composite, shield, cinder cone, and supervolcano) cinder cone (a tiny volcano), crater (a large, bowl-shaped cavity within most cinder cones) and caldera (a large cauldron-like depression formed when a mountain collapses after a volcanic eruption). National Geographic explains that "craters are formed by the outward explosion of rocks and other materials from a volcano. Calderas are formed by the inward collapse of a volcano. Craters are usually more circular than calderas." A Pair of Lakes in the Newberry Volcano Caldera Both craters and calderas can be so huge that you can't even see them because they can cover many miles…even the size of a small country. The Apolaki Caldera . in the Philippines is 93 miles across, and South Africa's, Vredefort Crater is over 190 miles across! The Newberry Volcano's caldara is tiny in comparison--a mere 5 miles across--but unless you are high above, you cannot see the definition of this area. The deepest depressions of the Newberry Caldera are the homes of two lakes--Paulina and East Lake. These pure water lakes are fed only by rain, snow melt and hot springs and thus, they are a gorgeous, deep blue (The most famous lake in Oregon is Crater Lake, known for its incredible blue color and pure, unsullied water fed only by snow melt and rain). Today's Pictures One day Steve and I drove 30 minutes from LaPine State Park to Paulina Lake and hiked around one side. It was an incredible day, shared by Pumpkin in her front-pack cage and all of us had a lovely adventure! The main picture shows a fellow in a kayak who was able to quietly approach a flock of fabulous-looking Common Merganser ducks. Today's Insets Although I wasn't able to get close to these birds, I did get a couple of nice group shots to share. As we walked around the edge of the lake I saw many scraggly trees bending over the water. I also got a picture of a boat owner enjoying the lake. At one point I saw a cluster of bees on a Bull Thistle and it was only later that I discovered how cool these grey-eyed bees are! Sadly, I didn’t get any great pictures of the bees' faces but this picture turned out nicely otherwise. (if you'd like to see their amazing eyes, take a look at this page: Featured Creatures: Common Long-horned Bee. ) Finally, there was a stream that actually led from the lake in a very swampy marshy area and the light and shadow against the cloud-strewn sky is just delicious! :) I am also adding the pictures I posted months ago of our walk around Paulina Lake for a more complete presentation. Some pictures show the jaw-dropping obsidian boulders, rocks and chunks we found along the trail here, one of Newberry's special features. AMAZING! I hope everyone is doing well! The rollout of vaccine continues and we are hoping to get ours sometime in the next couple of months. Please stay safe, dry and warm! And thank you very much for all of your visits, comments and stars! :) Explored on 3/25/21; highest placement #15.

Amazing Views Along Lava Lands Interpretive Trail…

12 Aug 2020 65 41 214
(+5 insets) Capturing Unforgettable Sights Aren't we lucky to be photographers?! It's so wonderful to be able to look through our pictures and be transported back to the very second an image is taken. Quite often, every detail comes back--the smell, the sounds, the temperature, how we are feeling just then…it can be like a time machine, can't it? Some places we visit are indelibly imprinted on our minds because they are so incredible. This walk at Newberry National Volcanic Monument's Lava Lands Interpretive Trail was just that sort of place. It's so amazing to visit a place so entirely foreign to what's feels normal, isn't it? As we meandered on the paved trail, we stopped to read and appreciate the informative plaques along the way. The visual portrayals of this event had us staring off into the distance and picturing in our minds what this volcanic event might have been like back then. I always appreciate the perspective I get from these experiences. I think it's so important to be reminded of just how small, temporary and insignificant we all are. For me, this makes me feel even more impressed and I gain a greater understanding of our planet. Fabulous. :) Today's Pictures The main image today shows the path we walked on with the gorgeous view in both the fore- and background. What a day. What an opportunity! What luck to have a way to visit this place while a pandemic is raging over the planet?! Wow. Today's Insets I've included another handful of images to show some of the highlights of our walk and I hope you enjoy them! If you are ever able to visit, I cannot recommend this walk highly enough! I hope you're all doing well--I've been visiting your photo streams and it's making me happy to know that some restrictions are being lifted and you're able to explore again! Please stay safe!! Happy Spring!! Explored on 3/22/21; highest placement #1.

Lava Lands Interpretive Path (+7 insets!)

12 Aug 2020 30 18 138
(+5 insets) (please view large!!) Protecting our Wonderful Natural & Historical Places I don't know about you, but I've always assumed that every park out there is a zillion years old. But it's not true! New park lands are being set aside and protected all the time. In the US as an example, there have been 13 newly designated national parks since the late 1990's--they had been listed as state-level or other types of parks before that. National park status in the US means more funds and protection--which is a great thing! However, the added wear and tear due to more visitors is the double-edged sword. Land set aside as state parks, monuments and historical areas are added on a regular basis, often deeded for this purpose after a land-owner died or a dedicated group was able to purchase the property. I was surprised to learn that sometimes a park will get a downgrade in status, from national status to a state park, monument or another lesser designation. Maybe a state will want to assume control, or an area will be so sensitive to traffic of any sort that it's removed from a roster to protect it from harm---Shoshone Cavern National Monument was renamed Spirit Mountain Cave and is now only accessible with rarely-provided permits. Other times it makes better sense to join nearby areas into a larger park--General Grant National Park was added to the nearby Kings Canyon National Park, for instance. What about your country? It's fascinating to learn what's new and changed in regards to new parks and historical areas in your home country! Newberry National Volcanic Monument was carefully divided from the Deschutes National Forest in 1990 and includes 54,000 acres of land dedicated to the protection and promotion of this special area. By setting aside special spaces and promoting the areas to the public, money can also be generated to develop trails and information to educate visitors. Interpretive Lava Lands Trail What an amazing path for everyone to enjoy! Wheelchair-accessible, this trail winds and zigzags up and around piles of eon's old lava flows, interspersed with detailed signs along the way. The area was very popular and we had to deal with non-stop groups of people who often didn't wear masks. Still, the mind-boggling experience of this place was worth it. We couldn't stop taking pictures!! (If you're interested, here's a video which shows how wonderful this path is: Accessible Adventures: Deschutes National Forest ) Today's Pictures I'll have two post's worth of images to share and today's main image is a panorama which shows the path leading up into the field of lava. Mind-bending, no? We had to stop and stare or risk stumbling off the path in our delirium! :D Today's Insets I have a number of pictures that show the view as we made our way up and down the path, enjoying every spectacular moment. Could the sky be any prettier?! :D The last image shows part of the interpretive area shown through the conifer forest at the edge. I hope everyone is enjoying the emergence of spring! It's waking up around here and we're getting ready for our 2021 RV trip! So busy!! Please take care of yourselves! Explored on 3/20/21; highest placement #39.

Happy Fence Friday from Lava Butte! (+5 insets)

12 Aug 2020 51 40 171
(+5 insets!) (Please view large for an awesome sight!) Staggering 360 Views and an Important Job The Lava Butte cinder cone, a prominent feature of in Newberry National Volcanic Monument, has been designated as a fire lookout since 1931. The trail that goes around the lip of Lava Butte is an unforgettable experience and it's easy to see why this lookout is able to call in over 100 fire sightings every year. Volcano, Cinder Cone, Crater and Caldara: What's the Difference? Volcanic terms can be so confusing to me and though I knew was a cinder cone was, I didn't quite understand the difference between a crater and a caldera. Turns out I needed a bit of clarification and I thought you might find this interesting too! Volcano : there are four main types--composite, shield, cinder cone, and supervolcano. Cinder cone : the smallest type of volcano and easy to recognize as a volcano because they are compact and easy to see completely. Caldera : large cauldron-like depressions formed when a mountain collapsed after a volcanic eruption Crater : a large, bowl-shaped cavity in the ground and an obvious feature or most cinder cones. If you'd like more information about volcanic terms with pictures and videos, I highly suggest this page: Lumen Learning: Types of Volcanoes . Today's Pictures I have an early Happy Fence Friday panorama that shows the Lava Butte Lookout Tower and part of the magnificent 360-degree view from the lip of the butte. We could not get enough of the jaw-dropping vistas we made our way around the edge of Lava Butte's 160-foot deep crater. What a totally staggering and memorable experience! Today's Insets The first inset shows the ruler-straight I-5 highway which is seen in the main picture's panorama. This highway is the west coast's most important vehicular corridor and travels all the way from Mexico to Canada! It was really cool to stand and stare at this view and think about the importance of this transportation artery to our country's infrastructure. I enjoy seeing our world's "chess pieces", and the I-5 highway is one of them. My second inset shows a "lava pebble" in a pretty setting with trees and sky behind. Next was a surprise! I thought this was a darling chipmunk at first glance until I realized that it had no stripes on its face--that's not a chipmunk at all! It's a Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel! Can you say cute? :D Finally, the last two insets show two more lovely views from our trip around the top of the Lava Butte cinder cone. Spring has sprung here with our remarkable showing of "all four seasons in one day"…rain, threatening snow flurries, warm sunny afternoons, armies of clouds, crazy wind and hail…we have it all! I really hope that everyone is doing well! Please stay safe, dry and warm! Explored on 3/18/21; highest placement #9.

Amazing View on the Way Up to Lava Butte at Newber…

12 Aug 2020 32 14 140
(+5 insets!) (Please view large, it's worth it!) :) Mind-Blowing Landscapes Do you sometimes have a hard time dealing with your pictures because they show such incredible views? There are some days when the sky is so beautiful that any picture you take is incredible. There are some places that are so staggering that you could close your eyes and click the shutter release at anything and every picture would be amazing. When you have jaw-dropping skies combined with unbelievable scenery, the combination can cause a meltdown! Our visit to Newberry National Volcanic Monument was just that sort of experience. It was hard to choose which pictures to process and which to leave out, but I tried for picks which weren't too similar. I am sure you know what I'm talking about! It's been a terrible struggle but here's today's batch. Today's Main Picture The main image today shows a panoramic view from the road that leads to the top of Lava Butte. It was absolutely amazing to see this eerie, incredible sight as we made our way up the hill to the lip of the caldera and lookout tower. Happily, the road was closed to vehicular traffic--it would have been miserable to deal with bunches of tourists driving up and leaving us to deal with choking car fumes in the heat. Today's Insets The first inset has a story to go with it. As Steve and I stopped, yet again, to take in the vista on our walk up, we noticed movement on the road. Eyes goggling, we saw that it was a cyclist…heading up this steep grade (about 10%) in the glowing heat of the late morning. We stared at each other…it was Insanity! As the rider eventually passed by, huffing and puffing like a properly-cared for engine, we congratulated him on the impressive effort. At the same time we couldn't help wondering what demon possessed him to climb this steep hill. Our amazement was eclipsed later when we headed back down an hour later and saw him climbing the hill…AGAIN! He was so fit that he spoke to us as he chuffed by, saying he does this three times in a row for training, three times a week! Incredible!! He wasn't the only one either. We saw several other cyclists making their way up to the top, and others who abandoned their bikes on the way, clearly misjudging the challenge of this monstrous hill. I will say that when it comes to a challenging bike ride, this is not what I'd want to do. Long-distance works for me but crazy climbs are not my thing, and especially not in the heat. UGH!! :D Other insets show the brick-red road and hillside, a view of the lookout tower as we walked up the hill, and a crazy panorama that shows the lookout tower and the magnificent view from the lip of the caldera. Finally, a peek through the trees to see a view of the Cascade mountains in the distance. I hope everyone is doing well! Stay safe, dry and warm! :) Explored on 3/16/21; highest placement #8.

View from Lava Butte Cone at Newberry National Vol…

12 Aug 2020 32 18 160
(+7 insets!) (Please view large! :) A Quick Pitstop Home From Part 1 of our Covid Trip After returning from the first part of our "Covid Summer" RV trip, we spent a couple of weeks at home while Steve updated some things on the truck and trailer along with replenishing our supplies. We had our reservations set up for the next couple of months and were delighted to be pulling out again and heading back to a favorite campground! Part 2, Stop #1: LaPine State Park Our first stop of Part Two of our Covid Summer RV Trip was a favorite of ours--LaPine State Park! The campground is surrounded by miles of trails that are super for biking, hiking, horseback riding or just going for a stroll. They lead through the alpine desert forest and meander along the Deschutes River. Past huge Ponderosa Pines, along streams and even a waterfall! The campground has three large loops with 120 sites and yet the solitude is just a short walk away. We love this place so much! (the map for our trip is posted so you can see where we went) LaPine is Mere Moments from Newberry National Volcanic Monument! This area of Oregon has ancient geologic significances and just 15 minutes away from our campsite is the sprawling remnants of the Newberry Volcano. Seated in the vast Deschutes Forest (covering a staggering 1.8 million acres), the Newberry National Volcanic Monument is contained within just 86 square miles and is an outdoor lover's paradise! Trails for everyone, lakes for fishing and recreational sports, and of course, for anyone interested in volcanos, this place is a treasure trove! Today's Main Picture I have several posts' worth of pictures to share from this jaw-dropping place. First up is a view from the top of Lava Butte, which also shows the yawning caldera and the incredible view that shows a series of mountains in the distance. Today's Insets I have two panoramas which include the main image and shows more of the caldera along with the gorgeous view. I also have a closer view of the mountains that we couldn't get enough of. Next, as we stood gaping all around us, I noticed a toy-sized train making its way through ancient lava fields and past a lake. I've also posted a flower picture: walking back down the steep, spiraling road that leads up to the top of Lava Butte, I was totally surprised to see a cluster of bright pink Dwarf Monkeyflowers! I've never seen this type of flower away from boggy, wet environments and was totally amazed they were growing in dry lava-rich soil. Finally, another cool thing from the butte was the interpretive lava trail located far below us. Paved and accessible by wheelchair, this trail has signs posted along the way to explain the history of the volcanic events that occurred long ago. I have a picture of the area and another one which shows the trail that's highlighted in pink. Stay tuned for lots of pictures from our walk there…what a knockout spot! (I've also included two pictures of Lava Butte that I posted some time ago and the map of Part Two) Spring Forward! The time changed to Daylight Savings last night and though I'd normally be totally exhausted from losing an hour, I never set my bedroom clock back to "Fall Back" time--I don't have much adjusting to do, hooray! :) Steve, on the other hand, looks like a confused groundhog blinking in the light as he stumbles around trying to make sense of the world! :D I hope everyone is doing well and staying safe! Hooray for Spring!!! Flowers are popping out everywhere and each day brings us closer to our 2021 RV Trip! YAY! Explored on 3/14/21; highest placement #3.

Cascade Mountain Range: South, Middle, North Siste…

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