June 9, 2017 Bend, Oregon

Journey's End ???

Journey’s End ?

Today was to be my second day of driving the entire 60 plus mile Denali National Park Road on my Professional Photographer’s Road Permit, but that was not to be.

The Road to McKinley
The Road to McKinley

I have been stationary in Bend, Oregon since April 27th undergoing testing and then treatment for Myeloma, an incurable cancer of the blood.

Denali Grizzly
Denali Grizzly

Instead of shooting grizzlies in Denali, I am camped on the Loop Road of the Saint Charles Hospital Campus, while being treated as an outpatient at the Bend Medical Clinic and had waited until I had completed my first round of chemo treatments before I wanted to write this post.

While this is an incurable disease, it is optimistically classified as a “controllable” cancer, with some folks surviving a decade or more. At this point, that is obviously the outcome I would prefer to see. My response to the first three drug therapy round has been favorable and I am on  a game plan that hopefully will bring about remission and the opportunity for a stem cell transplant , perhaps as soon as in August. Just have to wait and see.

Where initially I was told I would have to stop traveling to battle this condition, they now are telling me that if I make a successful recovery from a transplant, it is completely possible that I could resume my full-time travels and could have periodic testing done to monitor my status while on the road. So my best case scenario is that I could be back on the road before winter sets in here in Bend, Oregon.

And of course there is also the very definite possibility that things may take a turn for the worse, but at this point I am cautiously optimistic and will keep you posted .

Since this blog was started four years ago to share my adventures on the road, and since I won’t be doing any traveling for the next several months, blog posts will probably be few and far between for a while.

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April 24, 2017 Malhuer NWR, Oregon

Abandoned Ranch
Abandoned Ranch

More From Malhuer National Wildlife Refuge

Ruddy Drake
Ruddy Drake

Always get a kick out of the male Ruddy Duck and his sky blue bill during breeding season.

Redhead Pair
Redhead Pair
Redheads Takeoff
Redheads Takeoff

Plenty of ducks encountered this week while driving through the refuge and was able to get a few decent flight shots when there was enough light, lots of overcast mornings.

Ring-neck Drake Takeoff
Ring-neck Drake Takeoff
Mallard Drake in Flight
Mallard Drake in Flight
Gadwall Takeoff
Gadwall Takeoff
Cinnamon Teal Pair
Cinnamon Teal Pair

This pair of Cinnamon Teal have been found on this spot every day this week, so I assume she is sitting on some eggs.

Cinnamon Teal Drake
Cinnamon Teal Drake
Avocets
Avocets

American Avocets hunting along the flooded fields.

Long-billed Curlew
Long-billed Curlew
Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Crane

This Sandhill was one of several pairs out hunting the flooded cow pastures along the highway.

Ferruginous Hawk
Ferruginous Hawk

A completely drenched Ferruginous hawk manning his roadside hunting perch during one of this week’s showers.

Ferruginous Hawk
Ferruginous Hawk

The look says it all, he doesn’t care for this weather any more than I do.

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April 21-25, 2017 Malhuer NWR, Oregon

Grey Ghost
Grey Ghost

I arrived at The Narrows RV Park and set up camp. Very nice, well maintained campground where I have stayed a few times before. About 20 miles south of Burns and only a couple of miles from the refuge headquarters, this is a convenient spot to stay.

My first day out I encountered nine different male Northern Harriers, the grey ghosts, and Malhuer is one of the few places I have ever found that these guys can be found in numbers. But for some strange reason, I never again encountered more than one or two of them again during the rest of my stay.

Meadowlark
Meadowlark

Meadowlarks were out singing for mates all throughout the refuge.

Meadowlark
Meadowlark
Ringneck Pheasant
Ringneck Pheasant

I almost always get some good chances at capturing the brilliantly colored male Ring-necked Pheasants here, but never quite like this sequence.

Ringneck Pheasant
Ringneck Pheasant

He was escorting two hens and not 30 feet from me started this “rooster crowing” display.

Ringneck Pheasant
Ringneck Pheasant
Ringneck Pheasant
Ringneck Pheasant
Ringneck Pheasant
Ringneck Pheasant

Can’t say it really sounded anything like a “cookie-doodle-dooo”, but it must do something for the gals.

Ringneck Pheasant
Ringneck Pheasant
Ringneck Pheasant
Ringneck Pheasant
American Bittern
American Bittern

Another pleasant surprise was getting a chance at a couple of bitterns, this guy assuming his classic camouflage position, apparently not realizing he was surrounded with short green grass, not his usual hiding spot within the taller straw colored grasses.

Long-billed Curlew
Long-billed Curlew

Curlews and white-faced ibis were plentiful throughout the refuge this spring…

Willet
Willet

… as were willets, this one perched high up on the smokestack of an incinerator, kind of an unusual spot to see one.

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April 20-21, 2017 California to Malheur NWR, Oregon

Mount Shasta
Mount Shasta

A Loooooong Detour to get out of California

I broke camp at Westport Union Beach and headed south down Route 1 to Branscom Road and up and over the coastal mountains to Route 101 North. My plan was to head up along the Oregon coast on 101 and pick one of the oceanfront State Parks to camp in for a few days before heading farther north. Just a relatively short drive today. Unfortunately, that is not how the trip unfolded.

The far northern section of Highway 1 has been closed for quite some time due to the heavy rains there this winter … that is why I headed back inland to Route 101 before heading north. However, after getting on 101 and going north to where Highways 1 and 101 meet, I was greeted by a flagman standing in the middle of 101 and turning traffic around, due to a rock slide that was covering the highway to a depth of 15 feet and more ( he said ).  To head north, I had to backtrack south down 101, pick up Route 20 east to I-5 north through Redding and past Mount Shasta, then hit the state of Oregon many miles east of the coast. In total this amounted to a 7 hour 240 mile unplanned detour over some lousy roads ( aren’t all the roads in California lousy? ).

As a result of this totally unplanned change in direction and delay, I changed my mind about my next destination and left I-5 at Weed to pick up Route 97 north to Oregon and headed for the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and the Narrows RV Park.

Mount Shasta Through the Windshield
Mount Shasta Through the Windshield

The one nice thing about this detour was that the new route took me past Mount Shasta for the first time and the mountain at sunset was a pretty spectacular sight on this rare and beautiful blue sky day. I ended up spending the night at an Oregon Welcome Center Rest Stop instead of an Oregon State Park on the coast and made it to The Narrows the next day around noon.

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