July 20, 2017 Bend, Oregon

Denali Caribou Acrylic on Canvas 18" x 24"
Denali Caribou Acrylic on Canvas 18″ x 24″

New Acrylic Painting

I managed to complete a second acrylic painting this week and am sort of pleased with the result, although there still is a lot of room for improvement. Spent the better part of week painting and repainting the foreground and finally left this version since I want to move on to another subject. If interested, you can right click on the image and see a larger version of the painting.

When I was doing watercolors several years ago, I always struggled with foregrounds and I guess that will not be changing now with acrylics. The one obvious advantage of working with acrylics rather than watercolor is that you can paint over your mistakes and try again, not so with watercolor. This scene is a composite of two photos I took in Denali National Park two summers ago. The caribou, the most magnificent specimen I have ever seen, I encountered on the road into the Teklanika Campground where I was camping. The mountain in the background, of course, is Mount McKinley, as viewed from the park road halfway into the Park.

I may well redo the foreground for the about the tenth time at some point in the future when I have a better handle on exactly how to handle these ( new to me ) acrylic paints, but for now, I will call this done and move on to my next painting, a couple of Great Egrets in breeding colors, involved in an aerial territorial dispute.

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July 10, 2017, Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake National Park

I had been waiting quite a while to revisit Crater Lake National Park here in Oregon, located about 100 miles south of Bend, where I am currently staying. First visited way back in 1993 on a month long excursion up the west coast, I had been wanting to return since the loop road around the lake had been closed due to snow on my first trip up there.

What's Left of 548 Inches of Snow
What’s Left of 548 Inches of Snow

So, sitting here in the Saint Charles Hospital camping area, I have been online checking the road conditions in the park for the past two months, waiting for the all clear before doing the 200 mile round trip. The park’s website said that the north entrance road would finally be open around the 6th of July, so I waited until the Monday after the holiday week to make the trip.

I read somewhere that the park received more than 548 inches of snow this winter, a little more than normal, thus the later than usual opening of the north entrance road, the south entrance, I believe, is always kept open.

Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake National Park

The loop road was still partially closed, only 9 miles on the northern end of the lake was open to traffic. If planning a trip here this summer, or actually anytime in the next three years, be aware that there are some pretty long construction delays you will encounter due to heavy road work scheduled over that period.

Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake National Park

The lake has some of the purest water found anywhere, being fed entirely by rain and snowfall only, no rivers or streams enter the lake.

Crater Lake, That's Water, Not Sky Behind the Rocks
Crater Lake, That’s Water, Not Sky Behind the Rocks

You pretty much have to see it to believe it, the blue of the water is something to behold, due to water clarity and extreme depths, this is also the deepest lake in North America. The shot above is taken looking down on that rock formation and that is the lake in the background, not the sky. I have experienced nothing but blue sky days like this every day for the past six weeks, no clouds, no rain, just sun and blue skies every day. Boring, but beautiful.

Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake National Park
Pollen Patterns, Crater Lake National Park
Pollen Patterns, Crater Lake National Park
Pollen Patterns, Crater Lake National Park
Pollen Patterns, Crater Lake National Park

Surrounded by coniferous forests, the surface of the lake today was just covered by pollen in places along the north shore.

Nothing new to report on the health front, now in my third four week round  of chemo and still suffering no side affects with weekly test results still running very positive, leaving me more optimistic about the future every week. Keeping my fingers crossed!

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July 5, 2017 Bend, Oregon

 

Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display

Happy 4th of July

Saint Charles Hospital Camping Area
Saint Charles Hospital Camping Area

The shot above is of the small, eleven site camping area on the Saint Charles Hospital Loop Road where I have been camped for a month and a half now. In the background is Pilot Butte, and it just so happens that the city of Bend launches it’s 4th of July fireworks program from the top of the butte.

Lucky me !

Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display

This was the first fireworks display I remember viewing since way, way back in my working days where we did a nice program at the resort I managed.

Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display

As a result, this also was the first time I have ever attempted to photograph fireworks, and there are some unique challenges.

Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display

My main problem was that the action was just too darn fast and furious. Being new to this, I wanted to be able to check the monitor on the back of the camera to see how I was doing with my settings, but the fireworks just kept on firing every few seconds for the short duration of the show, so I had to just keep shooting and hope.

Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display

The other thing was that I had nothing but my neighbor’s trailer to include in the shot to provide some sense of place, just nothing of interest for a foreground.

Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display

And, of course, the very bright lighting over the camping area, reflected off the bright white sides of the neighbor’s truck and trailer also created problems.

Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display

But it certainly was an interesting first attempt and now I guess I’ll have to look for, and then manage to stay awake, for some more fireworks displays when I hit the road again.

Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display

Nothing new to report on the myeloma front, having just completed round two of chemo, with this being my week off from treatments before starting round three. Feeling good with no side effects from the chemo, energy is back and I have resumed exercising, well actually just walking the hospital loop a couple times a day, roughly two miles a day. Working on a couple of new acrylic paintings and trying to stay cool inside since it has been in the 90’s now for a week or so.

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June 28, 2017, Bend, Oregon

John Day Colors
John Day Colors

Some Good News!

John Day Colors
John Day Colors

First off, I would like to thank all of you that have sent encouraging comments regarding my current health situation, it is greatly appreciated. I originally had no intention of posting progress reports on that front, but several readers suggested I should, so I will keep you posted.

But since the main purpose of this blog is to showcase the landscapes and wildlife of this continent, let’s proceed in that direction first.

John Day Colors
John Day Colors

I am currently camped along the loop road around the Saint Charles Hospital Campus in Bend. The hospital has a small, eleven space campground with full hookups that it graciously supplies to it’s patients and their families, free of charge. And for me, it has been a lifesaver! The Bend area has a few very nice, and very expensive RV Parks, and the surrounding area also has several public and private campgrounds. However, they all have one thing in common … they all are booked pretty much solid throughout the summer months. And, until I was allowed to park my rig here, I was out of luck trying to find a place to stay for my chemo treatments. So, thank you, Saint Charles !

John Day Colors
John Day Colors

I have been here undergoing weekly treatment now for seven weeks and really haven’t had the emotional, or at times, the physical energy to get out and explore the area.

John Day Colors
John Day Colors

A couple weeks ago, on a ninety plus degree day, I needed to cool down, so I hopped in the Prius, turned the AC on and did the 100 mile drive east to the John Day area of central Oregon. I only made it to the painted hills section of John Day, but that alone was worth the trip as I hope some of these shots may show.

John Day Colors
John Day Colors

Earlier this month, I made a return trip to Malhuer NWR in the Prius to check out what the refuge had to offer in early summer. I was really hoping to be able to explore the Stines Mountain area and perhaps get a chance to see some of the wild horses there, but the road was still gated.

Common Nighthawk
Common Nighthawk

The refuge certainly looked different than on my previous visits, both of which were in very early spring. There was very little bird activity, and the roadside shrubs and bushes were now all leaved out and the fields were now covered with three and four foot high grasses, so even if there was anything there, it would be impossible to see anything.

The only shot I even took was of this common nighthawk sitting in the middle of the refuge road.

Memorial Day, Mount Bachelor
Memorial Day, Mount Bachelor

Memorial Day weekend, I drove up to Mount Bachelor, only 20 miles out of Bend. Base depths on the hill were still at eight feet at the end of May and the parking lot was quite crowded, with many RV’s and folks staying in tents below the high parking lot snow banks.

Memorial Day Camping, Mount Bachelor
Memorial Day Camping, Mount Bachelor

Seventy-five degrees and sunny, ideal weather for golf or fishing down in town, yet perfect spring asking weather half an hour away, not hard to see why this area is so popular. Just an incredible amount of building going on and housing is very expensive here.

A Lab in it's Element
A Lab in it’s Element

Got a kick out of this lab enjoying himself chasing snowballs on the parking lot snowbanks.

A Lab in it's Element
A Lab in it’s Element

OK, Here’s the Progress Report

Hood Canal Action
Hood Canal Action

I have forced myself to resume painting and just completed my first acrylic painting on canvas. This is a composite of a few photos from the Hood Canal in Washington, where Bald Eagles and Great Blue Herons congregate in late spring to take advantage of the sculpin spawn in the oyster beds along the shore where  Big Beef Creek enters the canal.

This painting measures 24″ x 16″ and depicts the way the Bald Eagles harass the herons to give up their catch. The eagles perch in tall pines along the shore and watch while the herons hunt through the oyster beds looking for the spawning sculpins. As soon as a heron plucks a fish from the water, the eagles swoop down from the pines and force them to give up their catch. You can right click on the image if you would like to see a larger version of the painting.

On the myeloma front, I just completed round two of my multi-drug chemo therapy, and my oncologist is very pleased with the results thus far! My kidney function, not that long ago at a stage four kidney disease level, just a hair’s breath away from requiring dialysis, has already returned to completely normal function. My red blood cell count is slowly increasing and all the bad stuff is rapidly decreasing, indicating that the chemo is doing it’s job. Other than some severe fatigue initially, the result of the disease and the aggressive chemo approach, I really have had very little, if any, adverse side affects, no nausea, no pain, no hair falling out, etc., and the last couple of weeks, even the fatigue has gone away, as the red blood cells continue to increase.

My oncologist says I am, in his words, ” way up on the good side of the bell curve “, as far as my chances of having a good outcome to this process. He says the fact that I have had such a rapid reversal of the progression of the disease, along with my bodies ability to tolerate the potent drugs, bodes very well for my immediate future.

He assures me that I am a very viable candidate for a stem cell transplant and that procedure could possibly be done as soon as August. He has also suggested that perhaps, and he says he is about at a 50/50 position on this, I may be one of the folks that may be able to keep the disease in remission without the transplant because of how my body has responded so far, but the final decision will be made after another round of drug therapy.

But the overall prognosis has decidedly changed in a positive way, and for that, I am most grateful.

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