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Winter Trip: SOME NATURE UP CLOSE

“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.

SOMEHOW IT FELT COLDER ONCE I NOTICED THIS RAVEN IN THE TREE.

Winter Trip Stop 4: ROGUE UMPQUA SCENIC BYWAY

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!

Winter Trip Stop 3: KLAMATH WILDLIFE BASIN

“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

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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.

EAGLES ARE JUST GLORIOUS!

Memories of Summer: Redwood Highway (2017)

In August 2017, I took a driving trip to visit some scenic areas, including Lassen Volcanic National Park and Crater Lake.  Part of that trip included a short drive along the Redwood Highway (Highway 199 out of Oregon that becomes Highway 101 in California). It was a pretty drive, despite some tourist traffic and construction delays.  I was pleasantly surprised at the abundance of wildflowers along the road.

I always enjoy wandering through little stands of redwoods.  The small grove I enjoyed on this drive was the Amelia Earhart Memorial Grove, a part of Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park.

A short stretch along the coast is always a treat, even on a cloudy day.

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QUOTES FROM AMELIA EARHART

“A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.  The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves.” 

“There’s more to life than being a passenger.”  

“The fun of it is worth the price.”  

“Adventure is worthwhile in itself.”   

“Everyone has oceans to fly, if they have a heart to do it.  Is it reckless? Maybe. But what do dreams know of boundaries?” 

“Better do a good deed near at home than go far away to burn incense.”   

“Never interrupt someone doing what you said couldn’t be done.”

 

Roadside Treasures

In June, a friend and I drove from Bakersfield, California to Portland, Oregon.  We had a great time and saw some beautiful scenery.  Even when we were not visiting somewhere specific such as Crater Lake or the Mt. Hood Scenic Byway, natural beauty was all around.  That’s one of the main reasons I love to drive when on vacation—there is always something wonderful to see along side the road or at various hotels and shopping centers.

You just need to keep your eyes open for nature’s treasures.

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Clouds are always wondrous!

Of course, not all that we saw was captured on film.  Along the road, we saw egrets, red-winged blackbirds and several hawks.  Flowers danced along the major highways, even when we could not easily stop to take a photo.  There were even some sunflower fields and the beginnings of rice fields along the way.  Of course, there were also treasures we knew where there but were hidden by clouds.  Mt Hood in Oregon eluded our cameras as did Mt. Shasta in California.  This photo of Mt. Shasta is from years ago, but it emphasizes what a wondrous, substantial peak can be easily hidden by clouds.

The best unexpected treasure on this trip was Priscilla, the Dragon Queen of the Sierras.  I’ve written in more detail about Ralph Starritt, the incredible artist who created the life-size dragon.

Dorena Bridge, Oregon

It was a pretty day when a friend and I started our trek home.  The first leg of the trip was simply driving from Portland to Medford.  Since that drive would be at most five hours, there was more than enough time to take a detour to find some nature—and some covered bridges near Cottage Grove.  We took the exit that promised a drive around Dorena Lake and five covered bridges.

DORENA BRIDGE

Our first stop was Dorena Bridge. Built in 1949 for under $17,000, this 105-foot bridge initially connected Government Rd. with Row River Rd.  The bridge is no longer in operation, but sits just off the road, near the river, allowing a bit of exploration.

 

We continued our drive, seeing lots of green and some pretty wildflowers.  Unfortunately, we did not find the other bridges.  It was not until we were heading to the hotel for the night that we saw the turn we probably should have taken earlier in the day.  Of course, if we had taken that turn, we may have never stumbled onto Wildwood Falls.

WILDWOOD FALLS: This somewhat hidden water spot must be enticing, but deceptively dangerous as well. There is a sign there, commemorating those who have lost their lives here.  It shares a quote from Helen Keller: “So long as the memory of certain beloved friends lives in my heart, I shall say life is good.”

It was a good day.  We will just have to go back sometime—with better directions—to find the other bridges.

Mt. Hood Scenic Byway

When my friend and I were driving into Portland, we saw views of Mt. Hood off in the distance.  Knowing we were going to explore the Mt. Hood Scenic Byway sometime in the next few days, we did not stop to get photographs.  Bad call.  Clouds and haze settled in for several days, so seeing Mt. Hood again did not happen.

Google Image

Mt. Hood, however, is an impressive peak, even if not visible.  The Multnomah Tribe named this volcano Wy’east. But in 1792, the peak was labeled Mt. Hood by a member of an expedition exploring the Columbia River. In notes, the peak was described as “A very high snowy mountain. . . rising beautifully conspicuous in the midst of an extensive tract of a low or moderately elevated land.”  “Very high” is a good description since Mt. Hood is a bit over 11,200 feet high. It is the highest point in Oregon and the fourth highest point in the Cascade Range. Although officially considered a “potentially active volcano,” it is typically considered dormant.

The Mt. Hood Scenic Byway was a beautiful drive, even though I did not see Mt. Hood all day.  The drive is a rough circle, taking Highway 26 southeast out of Portland, then picking up Highway 35 north, and eventually taking Interstate 84 west back to Portland. The clouds were consistent throughout most of the day, and there was even a little rain.

Along the Columbia River on I-84

The route drove through the small town Rhododendron, Oregon, and found some namesake flowers, even though it seemed the end of the season.

The roadsides wove through some little canyons bordered by trees and impressive cliffs.

 

The wildflowers were gorgeous! I especially enjoyed the Lupine, Indian Paint Brush, and Dogwood.

(Does anyone know what this flower is?)

There was a little campground with some pretty fields and Dogwood trees.

Late in the afternoon, I took a side road, following a sign for Lavender Valley. It was not as big an area as I had hoped, but it was rather picturesque.

It was a good afternoon.

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