Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Who rules "Blossom Festival" -- Mother Nature or Father Time?

The 2011 Hood River Blossom Festival came and went, basically without blossoms. Some rain. Some wind. Some sun. But, no blossoms - well, not in the orchards. There were blossoms in yards and flowerbeds, just not on the fruit trees. 

We drove the "Fruit Loop" looking for blossoms, but still found none. Yet, we were treated to sunny weather, beautiful scenery and stunning views of Mt. Hood. This day we traveled up to Cooper Spur and walked up to the ski resort. Watched two skiers and their dog. Looked like the dog loved the run down the hill and tolerated waiting for the skiers to make the return trip.

While we missed the blossoms this year, we did have a good time. The wind was cold. Really cold at times. Yet, the people of Hood River and the Blossom Festival were warm and welcoming. We had great visits with the photographers, artists and craftsmen. Pleasant time all 'round. We're looking forward to another Blossom Festival, blossoms or not. 

In a week or two, the Hood River Valley should be all dressed up for the big Blossom Fesitval party. Just a bit late this year. May be that Mother Nature is taking her time getting ready.

That's what we get. Mother Nature and Father Time decide when the timing is right to show off. I tend to think that Mother Nature won this argument. She's protecting her blossoms. Father Time just wanted to party. :)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Birthday Oregon!!!

What a grand day to celebrate the birthday of the state I love. Oregon became a state 152 years ago today, Valentine's Day. Two special days in one.

February of 2009, Jeff and I just happened to drive by the Oregon State Capital while driving through Salem on our way to Newport to celebrate our first Valentine's Day together. What a sight. Crowds of people on the Capital grounds. All there to celebrate our Oregon. It being Valentine's Day, there was even a wedding party posing for their portraits on the Capital grounds. I thought, "What a great day for them. Oregon's birthday, Valentine's Day and their wedding day. Three great days all in one."

We were so pleased to have been drawn to downtown Salem and drive by the Capital and be able to join in the grand celebration. While enjoying the festivities we were nearly run over by a former Oregon State Governor. She was in a bit of a rush. :)

Walking the grounds reminded me of times my Grandpa Booth took my brother and me for walks downtown. What great memories. I can still hear him telling us about Oregon. The Capital grounds. The flowers, trees, squirrels and birds. The state buildings and where he worked. He was a proud Oregonian....transplanted from Wyoming. Just as my Mom and Grandma were. My Dad was born in Oregon. Me too. Jeff too.

Happy Valentine's Day Oregon. More importantly, Happy Birthday. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

High Valley Falls, Northeastern Oregon

Tucked away in northeastern Oregon is a beautiful falls. Well off the path, but, oh so worth the trek. A highway drive through farmland. Over hills on back roads that narrow and turn into a one-lane trail. Pull off the road. Park the car. Walk over a bridge. Take what passes for a trail. Make your way over or under a tree leaning over that trail and you'll be treated to a waterfall cutting its way through basalt cliffs. Mother Nature's erosion at its finest.

High Valley Falls is a peaceful oasis in the forest. A place for reflection and meditation. A place of solitude and wonder. A place for quiet exploration and to photograph simple beauty. 

A goal of mine is to make this trek in the Winter. I know it will be beyond cold, but I want to see High Valley Falls all dressed in white.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Multnomah Falls, Columbia River Gorge

Multnomah Falls, Columbia River Gorge, OregonIf you're like me and thousands of others, while driving on I-84 you struggle to catch a glimpse of Multnomah Falls, a well-known icon of Oregon and the Columbia River Gorge. Next time. Stop. Exit the freeway, park in the lot, take in the view, snap some photos and explore the scenery. You'll be glad you did.

The falls is split between the upper falls and lower falls. The total drop of the falls is about 620 feet making Multnomah Falls the tallest in Oregon. Cliff walls reveal the local geology exposed by floods.

As you might expect, higher volumes of water happen in winter and spring. Larch Mountain's underground springs are the continual source of the falls. 

Hike up the 1.2 mile trail to the top of the falls and you'll be treated to beautiful views of Multnomah Falls and the Columbia River Gorge. From there you can continue hiking to the top of Larch Mountain or take the Wahkeena Loop Trail. 

If you're lucky enough to live in the Northwest or able to visit often, visit Multnomah Falls at various times of year. Winter-Ice, Spring-Runoff, Summer-Refreshing, Fall-Colors. Next time you're driving the Columbia River Gorge, plan ahead, allow some time to stop.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Island of Time. Blue Basin, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

Pulling into the parking lot at the Blue Basin trailhead I never guessed what we'd see on our hike let alone how hot it would be. Temperatures in this canyon terrain are often 20 degrees higher than nearby locations. It reminded me of the temps in Hells Canyon. 
Thankfully, we had water for our hike into Oregon's badlands.

Even in the heat, the hike was worth it. The colors, textures and formations of the canyon walls are fascinating. White. Tan. Brown. Chocolate. Gray. Green. Blue. Sprayed-on cement. Dried Mud. Incredible Inclines. Fossils of various plants and animal ancestors. Castle-esque hilltops. A glorious amphitheater.  Deep grooves mocking river beds. One section resembled a rock-ledge waterfall (see blue-green ledge in my photo).

I imagined a past with a vastly different terrain. I see a river coursing downhill. My thought was that this place had captured  "A River in Time."

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Hill of a Different Color. Painted Hills Unit, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

See what I mean? All of the sudden you drive around a bend and there it is. The Hill of a Different Color.

The only one in the immediate scenery with such dramatic, vivid color. Looks like a show-off.

The Painted Hills show signs of heavy erosion in their volcanic ash layers. This erosion has revealed the tones and hues of the claystones. Colors and intensity change with available light and moisture. Once you see these colors for yourself, you'll want to return at a different time of year.

The photos I took of the Painted Hills were taken in September.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Painted Hills, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

Imagine driving through the Oregon "outback", lots of rocky terrain covering hills and deep valleys, sparse vegetation for miles, then the road you're on makes its way around the hillside and there in front of you are hills of a different color... the kind you've heard tell about. Painted hills. Semi-solid colors. Stripes and bands of red and gold. Some blotches of black. Broad strokes of dark green and mahogany and the shades of purple. "WOW!", you say. You wonder how much more color is underneath that rocky crust. Somehow the already exposed earth in all its magnificent colors with fascinating stories may not be enough for your curiosity. You still wonder how much more color is there.

Take in all that color and know that this was caused by volcanic episodes, dramatic heating and cooling, the deposits of minerals and of course, time. Ahh, time and Mother Nature. What a great combination of powers, creating some of the most interesting and spectacular art in the natural world.

Come see the gallery of the Painted Hills Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. Experience the colors and textures for yourself.