Friday, May 29, 2009

Back Home - Again

Last Night out was at the KOA in Culver Oregon. The owners were great and Steve Klontz even came to the RV to help with the WiFi Connection on my new laptop. I had not realized there is a manual switch for wireless and since it had worked since we bought the laptop I'd never had that problem. Thanks Steve.

Orace Gabriel Collver moved from Coos Bay, Oregon to Eastern Oregon and founded the town of Culver. He built a general store, which housed the post office (He was Postmaster) and became the center of the community. In 1911, the railroad came through, but on the opposite side of the valley, so the town relocated to the railroad. Orace had the whole house moved to the new location, while the townspeople used the lumber from their old homes and buildings to build new ones. The upstairs of his store housed a meeting hall that was used for local events and dances.

As we were leaving the campground a farmer was plowing the North forty.

From Culver we passed through Redmond, Oregon and since it was Memorial Day the streets were lined with American flags.

Halfway to Sisters, Oregon I stopped for a shot of the Three Sisters Peaks.
The three peaks have 15 named glaciers among them, nearly half of all the 35 named glaciers in Oregon. The Sisters were named Faith, Hope, and Charity by early settlers.

Another very high peak on the horizon was Mount Washington. The pointy main peak is a volcanic plug that was heavily eroded by glaciers in the last ice age.

We then drove through the town of Sisters a very nice tourist destination. The main events in Sisters are the Sisters Rodeo and the Annual Quilt show.

When we got back home we were enchanted by our neighbor Sharon's blooming cactus with a marvelous flower.

Our dark Iris was about to open (It's open in the last picture) and I was excited about seeing it open fully.

Our tall white Iris blooms were all out ...

... as were these tiny blue Siberian Iris plants.

I just love these little guys.

The Lupin had all fully flowered as well...

... and the small blue Oregon Iris

Even the Foxglove was blooming and ...

... our Peonies in the back yard.

The Dogwood is just starting to bloom and the tree is full of blooms.

The birds were around because I left some feed in the feeders. There was this Blue Jay...

... and a few Gold Finch hanging out.

The Gold Finch is the most common bird at our feeders and this time of year the males are in full color.

They are lovely birds and fun to watch.

The Osprey even came around and perched in the Huge Cottonwood tree in the field next door.

Back to the flowers and a close up of the interior of a Peony.

Sharon and Charlie, our neighbors, brought us these cacti from their recent trip.

Finally this is the dark Iris bud when it is fully open and it's my favorite Iris.

No Scrabble

Quote of the Day ~
"One man scorned and covered with scars still strove with his last ounce of courage to reach the unreachable stars; and the world was better for this." Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra a Spanish novelist and poet The quote is from Don Quixote

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Painted Hills, Fossils and Monument

This is a big blog with lots of pictures since we were off the Internet last night and did an awful lot over the last two days. I'm publishing the pictures and will add the words tonight.

Our big adventure started in Redmond, Oregon then a drive along the Ochoco River where we caught some fishermen enjoying the river;s recreational activities.

There were beautiful vistas almost everywhere along our drive...

...but none more beautiful than the "Painted Hills"

We were not even there when we saw these examples. Notice the footprints all over these while in the park that is disallowed.

Sharyn hung out in the Musemobile while I got those pictures.

The white exposed portion of the hill in the distance is where we entered the park.

In the foreground is the picnic area at the entrance with the hill behind it.

My family used to take vacations that passed the painted desert and I don't remember the painted desert as colorful as these hills. Notice the yellow in the crevices, they are Chaenactis and Bee-Plant.

"The clay of the Painted Hills has an ability to absorb water and swell. It retains water so well that most plants are not able to draw the water from ground. The clay is also dense, making it difficult for most plants to take root. Some plants succeed. In the spring the crevices and gullies of the red hills are filled with the bright yellow blossoms of Chaenactis and Bee-Plant."

Since it was Memorial Day Weekend there were lots of people there for the the recreation. Being the parent of four boys it was nice to see young adults out enjoying life. Thanks for the shot I hope your day was great.

From the lookout you could see a rainbow on the hills.

"The Painted Hills are made of layers of hard claystones, of many types, which include ancient soils (paleosols) and lake beds. In recent years the surface of the hills has weathered into softer clay.

The claystones were formed by several events and processes. About 33 million years ago, volcanoes from the ancestral Cascade Mountains, 100 miles to the west, slowly deposited layer after layer of caooled ash. Plants and animals churned and tilled the surface, and air oxidized the ash. Ground water flowed, leaching and redistributing minerals. Over time, the ashfall became soil. Under hundreds of laterdeposits, compaction, cementation, and recrystallization process occured. The original ashfalls where changed structurally and chemically, resulting in the colorful claystones and clay. Some of thes claystones are classified as zeolitized claystones"

On a closer view the colors almost come alive.

"The varied combinations produced minerals of different colors that make up the hills. Sometimes the color of one mineral dominates, such as the rust colored layers, rich in iron oxide (Fe & O). A blend of minerals may create a color different from originals. The yellows are blend of iron and magnesium oxides. The black "hash-marks" are primarily colored by manganese oxide.

Also, depending on the amount of moisture in and on the hills, light reflected and absorbed differently. This causes ever-changing tint of the reds, buffs, yellows and other colors."

We didn't go very far into the park but will next visit.

This is a spot anyone with an imagination and love of the amazing will love.

Of course at the picnic area I did get a couple of shots of flowers, both alive ...

... and dead

We even saw a Tepee on the way out of the park.

Sharyn spotted this rock spire and took this picture...

... and I took this shot of a formation that could be called America's pyramid.

After a brief drive we arrived at the Thomas Condon Visitor Center of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. The center is at the bottom of the Sheep Rock Capstone and it's mountain.
"A short distance south of the visitor center is a viewpoint of Sheep Rock, a colorful landform made of layers from the John Day Formation, and capped by Picture Gorge Basalt. Exhibits at the Overlook include a memorial to Thomas Condon, pioneer minister and naturalist, who was the first to bring scientific attention to the fossil beds."

Sharyn stopped to read the markers talking about Sheep Rock Capstone and...

Picture Gorge both majestic sights.

In front of the Center was a prehistoric skull replica of a pretty mean looking creature.

Inside is a research center on display ...

... that give us an idea what it's like doing research in paleontology in the lab...

... and in the field. Later in the blog we even got "hands on" experience fossil hunting.

What we found was not this detailed or pristine as these samples.

The center is very informative and ...

... the displays are very well done.

I think this is the skull of an ancient Boar,

This tiny specimen was under a magnifying glass I even managed to shoot it through the glass.

There were also wonderful backdrops to the fossils...

There backdrops added more than color they gave a feel for the actual environment these creature once lives,

The two fossils above are both sides of a fossilized catfish -too cool.

"There is an easy quarter-mile interpretive walk winds past imprints of tropical plants like palms; paleo-botanists have also found the fossilized seeds of tiny bananas here. What happened to Oregon’s palms and bananas? Scientists believe that roughly 34 million years ago, as sea currents shifted, temperatures cooled across the globe, and rainfall decreased, the wildlife of eastern Oregon began to look more and more like it does today."

As we worked our way to the town of Monument we passed the beautiful Cathedral Rock formation.

"This large block of the John Day Formation slid down from the high bluff to the west. A geologically"recent" event, the slump caused a re-routing of the John Day River, which now forms a horseshoe bend around the base of Cathedral Rock."

Okay I like old barns and this one was along the way.

We finally arrived at the Monument Motel and RV Park, and registered with Jackie the owner of this very nice RV Park with only a few sites but a great place to stay.

The views from our site were fantastic...

... and the grounds very nice and well maintained.

The Monument Cemetery was behind the motel and for Memorial Day Weekend it was fitting to see the flowers and flags.

There was a variety of vegetation and I liked the muted colors and blend of texture.

You can see a little of the previous two images in this one shot.

There was an open field growing soy I believe and a few volunteers of other plants around the edges.

I got low for this picture of the field and homes...

... and also for this shot.

Then I got up close and personal for this shot of some grass gone to seed.

I went back out at sunset to get the golden glow all photographers love...

... to see the colors come alive and details become enhanced...

... like these thistles and ...

... this ridge across the way.

We saw our first Bullock's Oriole two feet from our front door and I got this shot through the screen, I wish it were better but I guess that's life.

"The Bullock's Oriole hybridizes extensively with the Baltimore Oriole where their ranges overlap in the Great Plains. The two species were considered the same for a while and called the Northern Oriole, but recently, they were separated again. Molecular studies of the oriole genus indicate that the two species are not very closely related."

The next day (today) we followed the John Day river and stopped at a wayside for some pictures of the river...

... there I found a Juniper tree...

... and even got a picture of it's Juniper berries.

The Clarno Palisades is a great place to picnic and walk some very nice trails. We were on our way to the town of Fossil so we only stopped for a Picture. The Clarno Unit is one of the three "Units" of the John Day Fossil Beds. Each unit is a place set aside for visitors like the Painted Hills and Sheep Rock Unit.

"The cliffs of the Palisades are the most prominent landform in the Clarno Unit. The Palisades were formed 44 million years ago by a series of volcanic mudflows called lahars . The Palisades, preserved a great diversity of fossils in an environment very different from that of today. At that time, volcanoes towered over a landscape covered by near-tropical forest fed by approximately 100 inches of rain per year. Tiny four-toed horses, huge rhino-like brontotheres, crocodilians, and meat-eating creodonts roamed the ancient jungles."

I did find another barn, this one with a corral.

We next stopped for a picture of yet another massive butte with a great cap rock.

When we got to Fossil, it was on purpose we went to Home of the "Falcons" at Wheeler High School.

They have a fossil bed behind the school where for $5.00 you can climb a steep hill (Yes, that's Sharyn) get a few simple instruction and a putty knife to probe the rocks.

When Sharyn talked to the woman in charge she found out the rocks behind Wheeler High School in Fossil, Oregon represent the bed of a shallow lake that existed here aduring the Oligocene era. The climate at that time (33 million years ago) was temperate, but somewhat milder and wetter than today. Sharyn was told that fossils the we would find here are mostly leaves and branches of the deciduous trees that grew along adjacent stream banks and in adjoining wetlands.

... hack away at rocks looking for fossils.

This stack was the one I made while looking.

On the way back out we passed the combination Library/Town Hall/Fire Department and I took this picture for Carol C. and our Library staff in Creswell so they can be proud of all their hard work making our local library a real treasure.

I almost forgot here are a few of our fossils. Actually I'm not sure this is a fossil or just a discolored rock but it looks like a plant.

To the left is a fossilized seed (the dark dot) and to the right a leaf.

No there is a leaf (lower middle) but the dark shape makes me wonder if it's a small creature from the past, maybe a prehistoric duck.

Scrabble Score - Scrabble Queen 337 - The Contender 320

Quote of the Day -
"I shall collect plants and fossils, and with the best of instruments make astronomic observations. Yet this is not the main purpose of my journey. I shall endeavor to find out how nature's forces act upon one another, and in what manner the geographic environment exerts its influence on animals and plants. In short, I must find out about the harmony in nature." ~ Baron Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander von Humboldt


©Paul Viel