Saturday Self-Challenge: Things That Fly or Float

(+2 insets!) (please view large for even more detail!) We had originally planned to visit two other places on our Central Oregon Trip, including a two-day side trip out to the coast at Tillamook and a four-night stay at Detroit Lake State Park. Because of our transmission snafu, we ended up turning our four nights at L.L. Stub Stewart State Park to 11 nights and cancelling our other destinations. However, we did end up adding a different destination for our last five nights: Diamond Lake! We'd discovered this place on the way home from my birthday trip last year. We'd headed up to Sun River for a few glorious days of hiking and biking at the end of September and on the way back to Medford we had enough time to stop off at a spot along the way that we'd only driven past before. There was a 10-mile paved path around this beautiful lake which seemed like the perfect distance for a brief stop. That trail turned out to be one of the most delightful we'd ever had the pleasure of riding on and we wanted to return and repeat the experience. I'm happy to report that going around Diamond Lake again was equally fantastic on our second time around! During our stay we also went on another bike ride and a long hike, along with two days of fishing! The RV campground we stayed at was super too, with a wonderful forest setting and lots of birds and other animals to enjoy. I went out with my macro lens one morning and got hundreds of neat images as I strolled along. Part of my wandering took me down to a small, lazy creek clogged with logs which emptied into Diamond Lake. There I found all kind of cool subjects by the water, including damselflies! My main picture today shows my lucky close-up portrait! I have an inset which shows the whole damselfly. Unfortunately the light was low enough that I couldn't get a proper full-dof image but I'm still very happy that I got such a nice, crisp image of its face. This guy was so brave…I just kept creeping closer and closer until I stopped because I didn't want to scare it away. I managed to get a dozen pictures that were crisp, hooray! :) And what luck…today's Saturday Self-Challenge is all about things that fly or float! :D (I'm also sharing an inset that shows the creek so you can see how filled with logs it was! The creek really seemed more like a pond but there was a culvert which led under the main road there and emptied into Diamond Lake) Pam, it's wonderful to be in communication with you again--I've really missed our little back and forth conversations! Best of all, I'm so happy that you are so understanding that I won't be able to post pictures every day when I'm away. It would have been nice but you know how it is! :D *SENDING BIG HUGS YOUR WAY!* Explored on 7/8/19; highest placement, #1.

Adorable Belding's Ground Squirrel Kits at Diamond Lake

(+2 insets!) Diamond Lake was the last place we stayed on our epic 25-day RV adventure and that's where we got to see these hopelessly adorable ground squirrels! In fact, there was also a group of bitty little chippers (chipmunks) that lived in a hole almost directly under our RV! All of these little guys were such fun for us to see and interact with. One morning I needed to cut up some new bread squares for Pumpkin and just before I tossed the pile of crumbs in the garbage, a fine thought entered my mind…"Ooooooh, let's have some fun!" I popped out of the trailer and carefully poured the crumbs into the entrance of the little chipper's hole. I went back inside and realized that Pumpkin's nut and seed-treat container also needed refilling. "Oh my, look at all of these bits and pieces…whatever shall I do with them?!!" Out I went and I had to laugh because in the few minutes I was away, the pile of bread crumbs had diminished! "Busy little chippers, have some more!" Adding the pile of nut bits and seeds on top of the bread crumbs, I climbed back into the coach and peeked out the window. A little face was poking out of the hole, hard at work! I laughed and carried on with Pumpkin's food. A few minutes later Steve stepped inside, "HEY! There's a chipmunk out there eating a pile of stuff, it's so cute!" I told him what I'd done and we both looked out to see the cutie pie stuffing its cheeks with goodies! So adorable. The little ground squirrels which I'm featuring today were really cool because we'd never seen them before. In fact, I couldn't be positive exactly WHAT they were. I figured they were some sort of ground squirrel but they were smaller than the ones that live on our property and actually, they looked totally different. Short tails, non-spotted coats, I wondered what they were. Only, I couldn't tell. And I had no way to know. Why? No internet. Zip, nada, zilch. And that simply drove me batty! If there's one thing that I must have, it's the ability to do research on all of the things I'm curious about! And let me tell you, I'm a very curious little monkey indeed! I always have been and I always will be…the world is such a fascinating place with endless things to learn and discover! When I was a kid I learned about the amazing place called the library. I would become so enchanted with this fantastic portal to knowledge that I started working at my school library in 4th grade and this continued through my senior year in high school. When the internet came to be, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven! To think…a research library the size of the world, available from the comfort of my home. What a sweet deal. The internet immediately became my favorite resource for investigation and I have always called upon it ravenously. But now…to find that I cannot have it whenever I want…well, let's just say it's been extremely frustrating. The fact is that I just can't stand not knowing something and having to just deal with it. ARGH! I will say that within an hour of having an internet connection again, I made a beeline for "ground squirrels of Oregon" and just like a hopeless junkie finally getting a fix...ohhhhhhh the RELIEF of finally discovering what this little guy was: a Belding's Ground Squirrel !! LOL, you probably think I'm a little off the deep end but I can't help it…I just GOTTA KNOW! :D I am also including two insets with a couple of other views. These are all youngsters and totally adorable (in case you didn't figure that out yet!) :D. And the reason we've never seen them before is because they don't live in our county and are found in a fairly small area in comparison to the very common California Ground Squirrel, found all over the western U.S. Pam, do you guys have ground squirrels where you live? Monstrous little fellows, they are always trying to dig under our foundation, the stinkers! Yes they are cute but my opinion of them is not the best because they are so destructive and eat all of my flowers! Well, they were here first so I can't complain too much! I hope all is well with you today my dear! :) *BIG HUGS*

On Diamond Lake with a View of Mt. Thielson

(+4 insets!) Since I've been posting about Diamond Lake for the past two days, I thought I'd continue the trend with another adventure we had when we were there! We'd done some reading and learned that Diamond Lake was supposedly an absolutely fantastic place for fishing! If reports were to be believed, the fish nearly jumped into the boats, so eager were they to become our dinner. We couldn't wait to try our luck! First we tried shore fishing. A few hours of nary a single nibble, we retreated to our RV feeling a bit disappointed but understanding that you can't always get lucky! And besides, we were looking forward to the next day, as we'd signed up for an all-day boat rental! Visions of a boat full of fish swam around in our heads as we fell asleep that night. We PLANNED to get up at about 7am…but when the thermometer read 30 degrees we quickly decided a nice long snuggle was a much better idea. The fish could wait, thank you very much! The sun was shining brightly when we arrived at the marina. It was a much warmer and more reasonable hour of 9am, and we were soon on our way with Steve happily motoring us along. We'd gotten advice on where we should try our luck and soon we were anchored, baited up and casting our lines into the cobalt waters of Diamond Lake. Cutting to the chase: we are now convinced that Diamond Lake has no fish! :D We spent about 12 hours between us with not a single bite. We tried fishing all over the lake with no avail. We did catch some weeds and an old, rusty lure but I don't think that counts. We saw a few fish jump so there ARE fish in the lake. As highly touted as one of the best lakes to fish in Oregon, they certainly didn't bite while we were fishing. We tried everything from real and fake worms to flashy spinners and all kinds of interesting baits which included floating and non-floating marshmallows in a variety of colors and scents, we tried using bobbers to get distance, down and up presentations (bait sinking down from a bobber or floating to a specific depth, using weights to sink the bait or bring the bait down to a certain depth as it floats from the bottom) reeling in slow and fast, and just letting the bait sit. Not a single nibble. Even though it would have been fantastic to catch even one fish--or get a single nibble for that matter, we didn't mind. It was fun to get the opportunity to try. We got to use lots of different methods. We both got better with our casting and rigging our lines. Our conversations were very nice and it was so peaceful just sitting out there on that beautiful lake, gazing up at the lovely mountains that peered down at us with their snowy caps. One of the things I mentioned was the bliss of having all of this time to just SIT and soak in the atmosphere and setting. Steve agreed completely. In between our attempts to catch fish, we had a fabulous day on the lake. The weather was wonderful. Puffy-white clouds kept the heat down when the sun caused us to take off our sweaters. Later on the storm clouds raised a bit of concern but it never rained. Steve was happy as a clam motoring up and down the lake, across from one side to the other, maneuvering in to dock up for bathroom breaks, and even keeping us from harm! When we began the day's adventure on the lake, the water was mirror-smooth, but as the hours passed, a breeze formed and in the afternoon it began to get windy enough that being out in the middle of the lake was quite choppy indeed. After returning to the boat after a lunch break at the RV, we decided to motor the long distance to the southern shores. We'd read that bait fishing was said to be fruitful and since we saw no boats so far from the marina, we thought maybe we'd have a chance at a nibble. However, the closer we got, the choppier the water became. Upon arriving at a likely fishing spot, our boat bobbed up and down like a cork with waves that we large enough to be disturbing. We realized that fishing would be stressful and perhaps even dangerous because of the unpredictability of the white-caps and wind. Looking at the ominous storm clouds above, we agreed it was time to head back. Carefully moving through the choppy water, Steve hugged the shoreline and I held on tight. We likened the trip to an "E-Ticket-Ride" with the constant slap-slap of the boat bouncing over the waves and steering to aim into the swells. Both of us laughed with the excitement of the ride, what a thrill! Once we returned to the marina, we climbed out of the boat, exhausted but very happy with our day. We squared up with the harbor master and as we drove the three miles back to the RV, both of us enjoyed talking about the nice day we'd had. Yes, it would have been nice to have caught some fish we still had a great time! I am including four other pictures as insets which show the lovely setting, including Mt. Thielson (pointy cap) and Mt. Bailey (round cap), the beautiful forest edging the lake, and a pair of fun pictures of Steve fishing and motoring us along! Pam, I'm hoping this day has treated you well--I'm sorry to hear that you have a similar problem with pesky rodents. Moles are absolutely horrible as well. We get them too but not as much as the ground squirrels. UGH! Oh well, live and let live…but we don't have to like it! :D *BIG HUGS TO YOU!*

A Forced March on the Howlock Trail at Diamond Lake

(+5 insets) (please view large to see extra beauty of this trail!) (sorry for the blown out bits on some pictures!) (oh, and get a cup of coffee...it's STORY TIME! :D) Even before Steve and I made reservations to stay at Diamond Lake, we were told that there was one serious problem with it: This place is absolutely notorious for MOSQUITOES. In fact, we met a State Park camp host earlier on our trip who mentioned that the mosquitoes were so bad that when she stopped for a visit a couple of weeks previously, she and her friend were swarmed by blood-suckers before they even got out of the car. They actually had to abort their visit because they couldn't get away from them. Steve and I couldn't believe this lady wasn't exaggerating, and even though we read a lot of comments from other visitors who stated the same thing, we didn't want to believe them. Confound it all, we wanted to go to Diamond Lake! A few mosquitoes were nothing to be scared away from, right? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! <--- That's a maniacal laugh, one followed by many more…oh, so many more! It turns out that this camp host was 100% accurate. When we pulled into the campground, we stopped at the registration booth to check in. Steve was greeted by mosquitoes before he even entered the building. When we got to our site, we were soon surrounded by bunches of 1"+ blood-thirsty monsters which quickly drove us into the trailer. We couldn't stop repeating, "OH MY GAWD!! THE MOSQUITOES!!!" We sprayed ourselves with mosquito repellant and to our relief, that kept them at bay. Sort of. Did you know that mosquitoes are perfectly happy to push their sharp proboscis' through your SHIRTS and into your skin? Wherever we didn't have repellent, they'd land and attempt this sneaky method to separate us from our life's liquid. If they couldn't land on us, they would fly around us in boisterous clouds. We noticed to our disgust that they would land on us anyway staying as long as they could before being repelled by the noxious fumes, ever-seeking a tasty meal. Somehow they knew to swarm around the door to our trailer so we'd have to dive in and out as fast as possible to keep them outside. We were unsuccessful. At least they were large enough that we could see them easily. They were also slow-moving, which helped too. Still, we began to accumulate bug bites, especially Steve. For some reason he attracts mosquitoes much more than I do and he was extremely unhappy about his popularity and the resulting bites. One morning he woke up to feel lots of itchy spots on his back. I counted them. TWELVE BITES in one small area, the poor guy!! Thank goodness for our method of treating itchy bites: all it takes is a wet paper towel that's been heated up in the microwave, and then pressed on the bite. This burns out the histamines that cause the itching and stops it completely for several hours or more. If only we'd known this simple trick as kids! For multiple bites, a hot shower does the trick. Steve had plenty of those during our stay--I mostly got bites on my hands so could just run them under the hot water for relief. I am usually very tolerant of mosquitoes. "WHATEVER" is my usual response, but these guys were relentless! They follow you all over the place! When I went down to the creek to take pictures, it was just incredible and I was finally driven back to the RV to get away from them. Insanity!! On our last day before heading home, we decided to go on a hike. The day before we'd ridden our bikes around the lake and it was MARVELOUS! What a glorious ride! It's true that the mosquitoes would begin to swarm if we stopped for too long but once we got going we quickly left them behind. We figured a hike would be the same situation. We forgot some extremely important logic: our bike ride was just an hour and change, along with the fact that riding our bikes quickly left the mosquitoes behind. But hiking…not the same thing. Not at all. There was a lovely hike we discovered that led from a trailhead just a few miles from our campground and meandered up onto the side of Mt. Thielson for an out and back of about 10 miles. The pictures were wonderful and we were really excited as we set out that morning, our backpacks readied with bottles of water and a wonderful lunch. I even brought my Sony so I could take pictures on the way back. Little did I know I'd never take it out… Have you ever participated in a relay race? Run with a baton, pass it to the next person, they take off and so it continues. Now, picture a pack of mosquitoes. Imagine Steve and me, walking along a trail with a cloud of mosquitos following along behind us. As we walk along the path, the first mosquitoes eventually get tired and slow down. BUT WAIT! What's that I see? Why, there are NEW mosquitoes standing by to take up the chase! HOORAY!!! *glower* The hike started off well enough--what a BEAUTIFUL TRAIL!!! Dappled shadows captivated me, flowers were here and there to delight me, and there was even a beautiful creek to enjoy. We stopped to drink some water. Within seconds we were surrounded by a cloud of mosquitoes, so we took off again as soon as we'd had a few sips. I stopped to look at the creek below and…omg…THE MOSQUITOES!! "KEEP WALKING!!" Steve cried, and off we went. Anytime we stopped walking, we were soon surrounded. What's more, where sweat had washed away repellent, the mosquitoes landed in droves. Frantic slaps would often resemble blood baths. I usually keep calm about bugs flying around but they were landing on my face and hands, my arms and everywhere else that didn't have a lot of repellent. I simply couldn't believe this assault! Steve got the extra strong lotion and I slathered it on everywhere. STILL THEY SWARMED! We took off at a fast walk and finally left them behind. We were not quite to the half-way point, which was where we would stop and have our lunch. We were both very hungry after several hours of hiking and we needed a break--we hadn't paused for more than 30 seconds since we began this walk. But just as we were about to sit and enjoy a much-needed rest and break, the mosquitoes caught up to us again. Suddenly we realized our biggest mistake: The mosquitoes would not let us rest. They would not let us eat our lunch. They would not stop. Ever…until we were lifeless, dried husks. All kidding aside, we were hungry and tired and never planned on a non-stop hike without a break. And yet, that was exactly what was forced on us. No way would we get to the turn-around spot--we turned around right then and began heading back. Each of us had a bag of mixed nuts to eat as we walked, and we drank water on the move as well. I was in front and Steve told me that there were dozens of mosquitoes following along behind me, and undoubtedly they were behind him too. Neither one of us had ever encountered such a situation in our lives. Nor had we walked so long without a break. In the end we would walk about 5 hours without stopping. We were so exhausted that we had to be very careful about where we placed our feet. It's times when you're tired that you are most likely to hurt yourself and we both knew it. We stumbled plenty but did our best to keep our heads on straight. Thankfully we got back to the truck without a problem but both of us were dead in the water when we got back to the RV. It's funny--we would have been able to hike for many more hours, many more miles, had we only been able to stop for even a moment. It's too bad about the mosquitoes because the hike was just lovely…the pictures I'm sharing today aren't the best because they're from my phone and suffer from overexposure. But you get the idea. Bottom line: if someone warns you about mosquitoes, LISTEN TO THEM!! :D We've since learned that the mosquitoes leave in late August and don't come back until spring, and that's why we didn't notice them the last time we'd visited--it had been the end of September! We'd love to come back to this beautiful place but we'll never return during mosquito season!! Pam, have you ever had to deal with a mosquito invasion like this? I pity anyone who had had to deal with relentless clouds of these blood-sucking monsters!! *tosses a mosquito net your way along with a hug* Explored on 7/10/19; highest placement, #10.

A Mother's Love

(+3 insets!) I'd like to apologize for not being around ipernity for the past couple of days. I have been totally distracted by an all-encompassing project that's seems like idle fun and entertainment but it's actually very important. Steve and I will soon be going on our longest trip yet--6 weeks--and we'll be traveling all over Vancouver Island! Our campsites are all reserved now, thanks to Steve's diligent hunting, internet surfing and hours of phone calls. Planning worked out much better this time because we made sure there was a lot more time before our trip began. We still had to contend with a couple of holidays but it all worked out in the end and our itinerary is all set now! My job is Activity Director and it's been my task to discover awesome stuff for us to do…hikes, mountain bike and paved paths to ride, places to go fishing, lovely drives, cool towns to visit, festivals and events not to miss…it's a dizzying amount of stuff to look up and organize. Directions are needed, pdfs need to be downloaded, dates must match the times we'll be in the area, and I also have to make sure it doesn't take too long to get to various places that look like fun. Some of the highlights will include hikes to lovely waterfalls and one that will take us to a crashed airplane from 1945. Another adventure will take us on a quick ferry ride to Newcastle Island for a grand afternoon of bike riding with amazing views. We'll go to the world-famous Butchart Gardens in Victoria and the nearby butterfly gardens--this is where Steve will have to drag me and my camera away or we'll never leave! :D We'll go fishing for trout, salmon and bass in lakes and streams--maybe even some ocean beach fishing too! One day we'll float lazily down part of the Cowichan River in a pair of innertubes. We'll go on a long drive to see many areas we'll not be able to stay, and one place we'll drive to is the Pacific Rim National Park and many, many provincial (state) parks too. There will be trips to mountain bike riding parks and strolls along quaint harbors. Though we'll be eating our own food most of the time, we'll certainly make room for world-class sushi at least a few times! :) With so many days for us to explore this beautiful island, we're hoping to get a really nice experience of all that Vancouver Island has to offer! All that being said, I still have a lot of work to do finding cool stuff for us to see and do! So I wanted to let you know that my time is short and I hope you understand! There's just not enough time in the day for all of the things I'd like to do! Today's pictures are my last few that I've processed from Diamond Lake, though I have piles yet to do. My main picture is not going to be a favorite of arachnophobes but it's pretty darn special and I just had to feature it for my leading image. The day that I went on a macro stroll, I wandered down to the creek that leads out to Diamond Lake. The water in the creek was moving very slow and it was a lot more like a log-jammed pond than a proper creek. The mosquitoes there were absolutely ecstatic by my arrival and they seemed to think they were very clever with their joke, "Have you arrived for lunch?" Hardy har har…but the joke was certainly on me because they dined heartily while I was forced to ignore them. Why would I let myself become lunch!? Honestly, I just couldn't help myself. I found so many incredible flowers and grasses to photograph, and as you saw the other day, damselflies too! As I rounded the edge of the stream to go on the other side, I looked down when I saw a round, light-colored something moving very quickly right at my feet. It could only be one thing--a mother spider carrying her egg sac behind her! It was something I'd never seen before and wow was I excited! The spider stopped stock-still just below, partially hidden by some blades of grass. By shifting very slowly, I was able to get a pretty clear view of her and with virtual fingers crossed, I clicked away, gradually leaning in closer and closer until I felt it would be too alarming if I got any closer. Stepping away to give her space, I was satisfied by my series and hoped I'd have something I could use. As you can see, I *WAS* successful! I am over the moon with joy to get this picture of a hunting spider (not sure of the exact species) with her lovely egg sac. WOOT! :D I also have three insets to share. One of them is another picture of the creek from the other side that I got with my Sony later that day…it's just such a cool looking creek with all of the logs in it! The second inset really pulls at my heart. On my way back to our RV I encountered this majestic old beauty of a dog. It wanted to very BADLY to come up to me for some attention but I needed to get away from the feasting mosquitoes so I only paused long enough for this picture. What a dear, dear doggy! And finally, a picture of our truck and trailer at our campsite! I've been taking a picture at each campsite and some day it will be fun to put them all together into a massive campsite show! :) Pam, I had to shake my head in horror to read that there are mosquitoes that make your joints swell…that's horrendous! I have read from others--Ruth especially--that some folks are badly allergic to mosquito bites…what a terrible situation. :( I do know that insect bites vary from bug to bug and person to person…who knew that mosquitoes could be so toxic? I mean, of course MALARIA but in the US…I'd just not thought they can be so bad! *SENDING BIG HUGS YOUR WAY!* Explored on 7/13/19; highest placement, #3.