Learn Something New Every Day!

Archive for the ‘New Activity’ Category


I wanted to participate in the Lens-Artist Photo Challenge 40: Something Different, but I could not think what to post.  See, I am a creature of habit.  No matter what the season, I tend to take photographs of nature.  If it is Spring, I must be taking pictures of flowers.  Nothing different there, other than changes in the colors on the hills or a flower blossoming from bud to full bloom.

Yesterday, I was out about town running some errands.  And stopping to take some photos of pretty flowers found along the way.  Again, nothing different there. Except that these are different flowers than I have posted recently.

As I was stopped for one errand, however, I thought, “Hey, I could photograph this—that would be different.  I do not usually photograph this.  In fact, I doubt if very many people do at all.”

My something different, therefore, are these photos.  I have cropped them a bit, but I have done nothing else to the image.  Can you guess what these photos represent?

Maybe this last photo will help you guess.

Yup, I was driving through a car wash.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


“I try to give people a different way of looking at their surroundings.  That’s art to me.”  Maya Lin

“Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.”  Edward de Bono

“Being different gives the world color.”  Nelsan Ellis

“You can become blind by seeing each day as a similar one. Each day is a different one, each day brings a miracle of its own.  It’s just a matter of paying attention to this miracle.”  Paulo Coelho

“Be less afraid to be different.”  Alex Sharp

“Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.” Margaret Mead


I usually take trips in Spring and Fall, sometimes in Summer.  This year, I chanced a trip in Winter—and it was great.  My main goal was to go to Klamath and Tulelake National Wildlife Refuges to see some bald eagles.  In my younger days, I thought little of driving 10 to 12 hours a day, just to get from Point A to Point B.  If I followed that practice, my trip would have been 3 days: One to drive 12 hours to Medford, OR; another to visit the wildlife refuges; and then a long drive home.  The trip would have covered about 1400 miles, staying mainly on I-5.

Now that I am old(er) and wiser more experienced, I have three basic rules I use to plan my trips:

  • Travel no more than about 300 miles a day, so there is plenty of time to stop and play.
  • Always look for scenic routes that will get you where you want to go.
  • Add some extra days to your trip, just to take time to play—especially getting out in Nature.

With these rules in mind, my trip changed to an 8-day drive, covering about 1800 miles.  Instead of having one great day out in Nature, I ended up having six—with eight stops along the way.  I saw eagles, geese, redwoods and even a little stretch of beach.  I’ve already shared posts on these major stops along the way, but there are a few final bits and pieces worth sharing.

This trip was especially fun because my good friend Raquel was able to travel with me.  We have been friends for about 30 years, and her sense of humor and love of adventure make her a great traveling companion.  We don’t even drive each other crazy—well, at least not too much.

We did travel a bit on I-5 in Northern California and saw some nice views of Mt. Shasta as well as another look at Priscilla, the Dragon Princess.

But we also traveled some small state and county roads.  As John Denver sings, “Country roads, take me home, to the place I belong.”

It rained a bit on this trip—and I loved it!  We never saw so much rain that it interrupted our plans.  And looking out through rain-drenched windows is always fun.

I am never sure if they are coming or going, but I love seeing geese in flight!

I have always loved trees, and this trip provided ample opportunity to experience the mighty redwoods.  As John Muir explains, “The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”  But there were some other wonderful trees along the way too.

Nature is always massive and majestic.  But looking deeper always showcases some great details in Nature as well.

On my trips, I spend a fair amount of time staring into Nature.  Here are a few photos, where some faces seemed to be looking back.  Do you see them too?

Next week, Spring 2019 officially arrives.  For many, it seems that this long, harsh winter will never end.  But it will.  And when spring arrives by you, take time to enjoy it.  I am already planning some day trips to find wildflowers in the area.  Spring really is everywhere.  These flowers were blooming along the road even on my Winter Trip.

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant.”   Anne Bradstreet

“That is one good thing about this world—there are always sure to be more springs.”  L. M. Montgomery


Our Winter Trip was nearing the end.  This second to the last day, we were driving from Eureka, California to Sacramento, California.  We knew we would see some mighty redwoods along the way as we started out on Highway 101.  We even drove part of the alternate route labeled Avenue of the Giants, traveling along Eel River and through towering redwoods.

Internet Photo

Avenue of the Giants is a 32-mile portion of Old Highway 101 that is surrounded by the Humboldt Redwoods State Park. Humboldt RSP was created in 1921 through the efforts of the Save the Redwoods League that even back then valued the large trees much more alive than dead.  Over the years, through purchase and donation, this state park has grown to nearly 53,000 acres.  Roughly a third of the park (17,000 acres) is old growth redwoods, making it the largest expanse of ancient redwoods in existence.

We did catch glimpses of the Eel River along the road.


As we continued our drive along Highway 101, heading to Highway 20 where we would head east to Sacramento, we noticed an intriguing sign:  Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree.  We just had to explore! This privately owned location in Leggett, California, became the eighth stop on our Winter Trip.

The Underwood Family has privately owned the land since 1922.  In 1937, after the tunnel was cut through the Chandelier Tree, the family opened the tree and its surroundings as a tourist attraction.  For a small fee, tourists can enter the property and enjoy the trees.

After a short drive, one comes to the drive-thru tree.  Throughout the property, there are also places to hike and picnic as well as shop in a little store.

I loved this poem!

But we were also thrilled to notice a fun surprise hiding throughout the redwoods:  wooden carvings. These sculptures—carved with a chainsaw out of redwood—were interspersed throughout the trees, catching tourists by surprise.  There were bears and eagles and deer and squirrels and turtles, and more. Two artists are responsible for these carvings, and they apparently return periodically to add more art.  The two artists are Dayton Scoggins (Artistry in Wood) and Mark Colp (Wooden Creations).

This eagle sculpture is my favorite.

If you have never visited this little tourist attraction, add it to your list of places to see.  It is delightful!

The Goodbye Committee

Not far past this little drive-thru diversion, we picked up Highway 20 en route to our hotel in Sacramento.  As we drove, the temperature dropped, and we even experienced some snow.

Once we drove out of the snow, we saw a rainbow.

Once in the hotel, we heard the news that Highway 20 closed because of the snow that—apparently—kept falling behind us.  The next day, we made it home to Bakersfield, ending a great Winter Trip.

Winter Trip Stop 7: ROOSEVELT ELK

As part of our Winter Trip, we were driving from Medford, Oregon, to Eureka, California, enjoying redwoods and ocean views along the way.

Closing in on our hotel, we figured our day was almost over.  Then, we saw a sign directing us to a spot to view some elk. Maybe. It was raining, light but steady. Still, we decided to take see what we could find.  Apparently, elk do not mind snacking in the rain.  Thank goodness.

Our seventh stop, therefore, became viewing Roosevelt Elk off the Davison Road exit from Highway 101, near Orick, California.

Named after President Theodore Roosevelt, the Roosevelt Elk is the largest of four sub-species living in North America. By 1925, there were fewer than 15 Roosevelt Elk alive in California; their number has increased to over 1,000 today.  These massive animals are 6 to 10 feet in length, and they stand 2.5 to 5.6 feet tall at the withers (base of neck, above the shoulders).

My friend took this video, showing how oblivious the elk were to us and the rain.


It was great to see these magnificent beasts so up close and personal.

Winter Trip Stop 6: BEACH ALONG HIGHWAY 101

“The Sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.”  Jacques Cousteau

We were heading home on our Winter Trip by driving from Medford, Oregon, to Eureka, California.  Covering about 200 miles, this day’s drive was actually the shortest leg of our trip. Earlier in the day, we visited Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, enjoying all those great trees.  We would reach the hotel in a couple hours.

But then, a couple miles south of Crescent City, we spotted a pretty little stretch of beach, literally right next to Highway 101.

This small stretch featured black sand, rocks, driftwood, and pounding waves. Its beauty called to us, and the beach became the sixth stop on our trip.  My friend hiked the beach a bit, even in the cold wet weather, collecting some driftwood.  I simply enjoyed watching and listening to the waves.  They were mesmerizing, soothing, almost spiritual.  I could stay here all day!

These videos capture the allure of the crashing waves.


“I go to the sea, and the sea. . . with its great wide sounds, cleanses me with its noise, and imposes rhythm upon everything in me that is bewildered and confused.”   Rainer Maria Rilke

“The voice of the sea speaks to the soul.  The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace.”   Kate Chopin

“In every outthrust headland, in every curving beach, in every grain of sand there is the story of the earth.”  Rachel Carson

“We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch—we are going back from whence we came.”  John F. Kennedy

“I could never stay long enough on the shore; the tang of the untainted, fresh, and free sea air was like a cool, quieting thought.”   Helen Keller

“The cure for anything is salt water—sweat, tears, or the sea.”   Isak Dinesen

“Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

“My life is like a stroll on the beach. . . as near to the edge as I can go.”  Henry David Thoreau

“Sponges grow in the ocean. That just ‘gets’ me. I wonder how much deeper the ocean would be if that didn’t happen.”  Steven Wright


“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”  Dalai Lama

I have always loved the above quote.  It is a good life lesson on doing what you can to make the world better.  Of course, it is also a reminder that those little things in life are worth noticing.

When I travel in Nature, I keep the second lesson in mind.  It is relatively easy to see the grand vistas, the big trees, the grandiose features.  I find it is also worthwhile to look smaller, so to speak.  To see the little wonders that are all around, the ones that are especially easy to overlook. Spring wildflowers give great opportunities to get lost in the details.

But Winter offers its own small wonders as well.  The bald eagles and sandhill cranes I saw were glorious, but the soft subtle beauty of their feathers was incredible as well.

The following photos are some of the other wondrous details I noticed on my recent Winter Trip.

“Look deep into Nature and then you will understand everything better.”  Albert Einstein

“The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them.”  Paulo Coelho

“Imagination makes you see all sorts of things.”  Georgia O’Keefe

“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature.  It will never fail you.”  Frank Lloyd Wright

“Close scrutiny of an object in nature will nearly always yield some significant fact. . . . “  John Burrough

“If you will stay close to nature, to its simplicity, to the small things hardly noticeable, those things can unexpectedly become great and unmeasurable.”   Rainer Maria Rilke

“Caress the detail, the divine detail.”  Vladimir Nabokov

“God is in the details.”   Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

This post is my response to Lens Artist Photo Challenge 34 Close Up.  Also, note that the opening quote is often attributed to a range of people, not always just the Dalai Lama.



My friend and I were about halfway through our wonderful Winter Trip.  The plan was to start heading home, but we opted to take the longer, more scenic route than to just drive quickly down I-5. This day’s drive was simply taking us from Medford, Oregon, to Eureka, California.  We traveled along Highway 199, also known as the Redwood Highway, eventually connecting with Highway 101 in California.

It was raining a bit that day, but we still knew the drive would be gorgeous as it skirted along various redwood state parks.  We knew we would stop and explore any location that looked especially enticing.

Eventually, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park along Highway 199 about nine miles east of Crescent City caught our eye and became the fifth stop of our trip.  We entered the park near its campground where there is easy view of and access to the Smith River that runs through the park.

Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park was created in 1939. It protects 10,430 acres of redwoods. The park was named after Jedediah Smith, the first white explorer who—in 1826—made a two-year trapping expedition into the area.  Today, the park is considered the most unspoiled redwood park.  Although it has 18 miles of hiking trails, there are great stands of old-growth redwoods that are not accessible via trails.  The park is a popular location for fishing and offers 100 campsites.





We had a great time exploring this lovely spot!  Then we continued on our way, heading to Eureka for the night.

Do you remember Star Wars: Return of the Jedi?  Where there is a speeder race through some redwoods?  That scene was partially filmed in a part of the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.  Here’s the video clip! WHAT A RIDE!



As part of our Winter Trip, my friend and I stayed over in Medford, Oregon, specifically to drive the Rogue Umpqua Scenic Byway.  Even though some rain was expected, we knew the 172-mile drive southeast from Roseburg back to Medford was going to be impressive.  The route leaves I-5 in Roseburg on Highway 138, then follows Highway 230 and Highway 6 back towards Medford.

This route is labeled “scenic” because it travels through a national forest and past countless bodies of water, major rivers, and numerous waterfalls within hiking distance; at some places, remnants of the area’s volcanic past are also evident.  The multi-highway route was first named a National Forest Scenic Byway in 1990. It was then upgraded to an Oregon State Scenic Byway in 1997 and finally named a National Scenic Byway in 2002.  The beauty of the drive is evident from the road, but there are also stops along the way to explore—and hikes for those who are interested.

We first explored the colliding rivers area.  It was raining a bit, but my friend still went exploring.

The colliding rivers location offers a view of the unique geologic phenomenon where the North Umpqua River and the Little River collide. This is the only place in the world where two rivers meet head-on like this.

The lingering fog along the route was beautiful and gave the landscapes an eerie mysterious feel.

We also explored the bridge and trailhead at the Swiftwater Recreation Area. My friend explored river views from both sides of the bridge in the parking area. The deep turquoise color of the water is beautiful and typical.


Volcanic activity played a big part in sculpting this whole area, so I appreciated seeing lava remnants along the road.

We spotted this fun little waterfall—right beside the road.  My bet is that winter’s extensive rains helped this waterfall erupt.


Throughout the day, we also marveled at the lichen on trees and moss on some rocks–just beautiful!

About halfway along the route, we initially missed the turn onto Highway 230.  That left us continuing on Highway 138 for about 15 miles. It was a desolate snow-impacted route.  It looked as if the snowplow had been through relatively recently.  Once we realized we needed to turn around, we noticed that no roads or parking areas off the main highway had yet been cleared.  GPS kept saying, turn right on this road, and all we saw was a snow-covered field. Once we found one plowed turn-around spot, we headed back to the hotel.

Once we were back at the hotel watching the news, we heard that the area had been heavily impacted by snow the day before.  There were even several accidents.  No wonder no one else was on the road.  Again, we felt very lucky to have avoided such bad weather.

We were also thrilled that we had, had another great day. Since we did not fully finish the scenic drive, we need to plan another trip in this area.  Sounds great to me!


“It’s a great event to get outside and enjoy nature.  I find it very exciting no matter how many times I see bald eagles.”  Karen Armstrong

I have wanted to see a Bald Eagle in the wild for a long time now.

The Klamath Wildlife Basin was the destination I had in mind when I started planning this Winter Trip.  Literature said that eagles often winter there!  There are four wildlife refuges right together that comprise the wildlife complex:  Upper Klamath, Bear Valley, Tulelake, and Lower Klamath.  Upper Klamath is only accessible via boat.  The small Bear Valley National Wildlife Refuge is reportedly where the eagles roost overnight, but the place is only accessible by foot during hunting seasons.  But the other two—Tulelake and Lower Klamath—are accessible year-round and even offer an auto-route for viewing.  My friend and I plotted our trip, heading to these wildlife refuges as the third stop of our trip.

The morning drive started early. At 5:30 am to be exact.  Eagles are apparently most active from sunrise until about 11 am.  The two-hour drive to the area seemed longer than expected, since it was in the dark on a road through the mountains. The day was cloudy, but we did not really see rain or snow.  The clouds also meant we did not see Mt. Shasta, which looms in the background on clear days.

Following printed directions from MapQuest as well as GPS details, we made it to the area.  But for another couple hours we were still not finding the right spot for viewing.  In fact, we ended up driving the outskirts of the Lava Beds National Monument that was right there in the general area as well. A nice little surprise—but not what we were looking for.

We were about ready to give up, when we saw a lone eagle fly overhead.  At least one eagle was in the area!  We decided to take a break and check maps again as well as online directions from various websites.  The phone (vs. car) GPS offered some new directions to follow. The area was wild and open and a bit desolate, but beautiful. Even before we started seeing birds.

Finally, we found the auto-route that promised some viewing opportunities.  Soon there after, an eagle sat in the road ahead of us.  It flew off before we could get close enough to even think about taking pictures, but our hopes soared.  Over the next several hours, we were lucky enough to see some eagles and a couple hawks.  Most of them—of course—flew off before we could get too close.  I was still thrilled.  Seeing the Bald Eagle in the wild was another bird for my life list.

RED-TAILED HAWK:  adult birds have red tails while juveniles have stripped tails; body plumage can range from light to dark, often a strip on the chest. 18 to 26 inch length, 3.6 to 4.7 foot wingspan

We saw about 15 eagles that day, and some even let us get close enough for some photos.  One even did not fly off as we expected when we drove closer.  It was a magnificent experience to be almost close enough to touch this great bird.

BALD EAGLE:  females are larger than males; considered mature at 4 or 5 years. 28 to 40 inches length, 6 to 7.6 foot wingspan

“A lot of people have heard about the bald eagle, but you don’t really appreciate the majestic nature of a bald eagle until you actually get to view one.”  Scott Root

SOME DETAILS ABOUT THE AREA:  The Klamath Wildlife Basin is located in northern California and southern Oregon.  The various areas within the basin are important stops along the Pacific Flyway. The Wildlife Basin is comprised of several separate wildlife refuges that are accessible to visitors year-round.  Hiking options are available in the two main refuges, but there is also a 10-mile auto route.

The Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge was established by President Roosevelt in 1908 as the first national waterfowl refuge.  It is comprised of almost 51,000 acres with a mix of shallow marshes, open water, grassy uplands, and cropland.  Tulelake National Wildlife Refuge was created by President Coolidge in 1928. It is a 39,000 acre refuge of open water and croplands.  Over the years—and more and more recently—water has been withdrawn from the area to address agriculture business demands.  This action has a resulting negative impact on the wildlife that can take refuge in these areas.  Although the bald eagles have come back from the earlier threat from DDT, they are still in danger from pesticides and habitat encroachment.

“It is never too late to go quietly to our lakes, rivers, oceans, even our small streams, and say to the sea gulls, the great blue herons, the bald eagles, the salmon, that we are sorry.”  Brenda Peterson

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

This movie clip from Continental Divide (1981) shows a quick look at the eagles mating dance and then offers a verbal description of how this mating dance works.  Good movie, by the way.

This video shows the eagles actually joining together as they fly the mating dance.



As my friend and I continued our Winter Trip, we planned our second stop to the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area.  We were hoping to see some birds as we headed north from Sacramento, California, heading to Medford, Oregon.  The wet weather expected in the area was not due until the evening, so we were confident we would have pretty weather for the drive.

The Gray Lodge Wildlife Area is located a little more than an hour from Sacramento, off Highway 99.  In some marshy fields a bit before reaching the wildlife area, we saw our first birds for the day.  Big birds.  In great numbers.  Not the expected red-winged black birds, but swans, geese and cranes.

I was ecstatic.  It has been a long time since I first started birding and keeping a life list.  But today’s sightings were all new birds for that list.  Yeah.

TUNDRA SWAN:  45 to 59 inch length, 5.5 to 6.9 foot wingspan

SNOW GOOSE, (Dark or Blue Phase):  25 to 32 inch height, 4.4 to 5.4 foot wingspan

SANDHILL CRANE: 31 to 54 inch height, 5.5 to 7.6 foot wingspan

RED-TAIL HAWK:  18-26 inch length, 3.6 to 4.7 foot wingspan

Feeling that we had already had a great day out in Nature, we continued our drive, still looking for the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area.  We found it within a few minutes and were delighted by even more birds.

The Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, located about 60 miles north of Sacramento, is situated along the Pacific Flyway.  The Area provides a haven to over 300 species of birds year-round.  Its roughly 9,100 acres include reflective ponds, grassy fields, and wooded areas, offering water and shelter for birds and animals.  Seeing and hearing all the birds in the area was majestic.  I could have spent a lot of time there, just enjoying the experience.

As abundant as the water birds were today, quite a few were not very cooperative about being photographed.  For example, we saw Canada Geese, Wood Ducks, and Black-Necked Stilts that would not let us snap an individual photo.  But lots of other birds were cooperative!

Actually, the broad, open expanses with so many birds was fascinating, engaging.  I could just watch them all for hours!

SNOW GOOSE, (White and Dark Phase):  25 to 32 inch height, 4.4 to 5.4 foot wingspan

GREAT (or COMMON) EGRET:  up to 3.7 feet tall, 31 to 41 inch length, 4.3 to 5.6 foot wingspan

LITTLE EGRET:  22 to 26 inch length, 2.9 to 3.5 foot wingspan; black legs and beak, yellow feet

GREAT BLUE HERON:  36 to 54 inch length, 45 to 54 inch height, 5.5 to 6.6 foot wingspan

We saw smaller birds as well.  I think these names are correct, but if anyone notices a problem, let me know.

Northern Pintail

Bufflehead Duck

American Wigeon

Ruddy Duck

American Coot

Northern Shoveler

Ring-Necked Pheasant

What can I say?  This place was incredible!  I am already making plans to visit Gray Lodge Wildlife Area again in the Spring to see what birds visit at that time of year.


Tag Cloud