March 26, 2018 Springdale, Arkansas

Signs of Spring
Signs of Spring

A Trip to the Pet ( Toy ) Store

Signs of Spring
Signs of Spring

I arrived at the Hickory Creek COE Campground outside of Springdale, Arkansas last week and set up for a two week stay to visit with my older brother Bill and his wife Jan. Not having seen each other in many years, there was a lot of catching up to do.

Magnolia and Pines
Magnolia and Pines

Signs of spring are beginning to appear here in the economically booming northwest corner of the state. Walmart makes it’s corporate headquarters in Bentonville just a few miles north of Springdale and that presence has brought prosperity to this part of Arkansas. New strip malls and housing developments are going up almost everywhere you go in the region.

The Whole Pet

Maltese
A Kid Let Loose in a Toy Store

Bill and Jan own The Whole Pet, with three pet stores in the area ( in Springdale, Fayetteville, and Fort Smith ) and Pearl, Sam, and I drove into Springdale to visit their newest operation.

Maltese
Man, Look at those Toys!

Pearl is now 12 weeks old and continues to amaze me with her fearless, no holds barred attitude. A visit to a store is a new experience for her, and rather than staying by my side and cautiously  poking around, she hopped through the door and galloped in to check out what must be a pretty exciting place for a dog to explore.

Sam and Pearl
Sam and Pearl

Only took her a few minutes to wear Sam down, sliding around the slick floors.

Maltese
Oh, the Choices!

I’m sure Bill and Jan know better than I, but I’m not sure I’d leave so many interesting toys at puppy height.

Maltese and Golden Retriever
Playing Keepaway

The store offers do-it-yourself dog bathing facilities as well as professional grooming and this twelve week old Golden Retriever had just been groomed. Pearl wasted no time getting acquainted and teasing the him with a game of keep-away.

Pet Shop Action
Pet Shop Action

The action was just too fast and furious for me to keep up with.

Maltese
Playing Fetch

They have a few different sized tennis balls for dogs displayed on a floor level shelf, so it didn’t take long for Pearl to find one that was just the right size. She quickly picked on the new game of fetch.

Maltese
I Wanna Play Something Else

Not having the longest of attention spans, the game of fetch didn’t last all that long. Besides, there was a lot more to explore in this new place.

Maltese
Playing Tag

After the Golden left, it didn’t take long for Pearl to find a new playmate, here chasing this youngster around the shop. Without a doubt, the boldest little pup I have ever been around.

Maltese
A New Playmate

Playing fetch, or more like Keep-away, with her new playmate.

Maltese
Where’s He Going

I had to step out to the car to get a different lens for the camera and when I turned around and saw this, just had to take a shot.

Maltese
Think I’ll Choose the Horse

Some one foolishly placed stuffed animals on the lower shelf and Pearl found a Clydesdale that seemed to need some attention.

Maltese
Playtime

Hope I’m not expected to buy all these toys.

Maltese
Timeout

After an hour or so, she finally just had to take a break before resuming her explorations.

The Whole Pet Store
The Whole Pet

If you are ever in this area, don’t miss checking out The Whole Pet.

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October 20, 2017 Bend, Oregon

Abandoned Farm
Abandoned Farm

Wandering Around  Central Oregon

I took a couple of trips out of Bend last week looking for foliage primarily. I have to admit that I didn’t find much on either trip but sure did put in a couple of long days and a lot of miles looking.

I returned to the Cascades and revisited Sahalie Falls and Koosah Falls, then continued west on Route 126 to Cougar Dam Road, shown as Route 19 on my Oregon atlas. Though I encountered a little bit of snow and ice on the road at the absolute highest elevations, I enjoyed this drive on the western side of the mountain, through the rain forest and alongside the south fork the McKenzie River.

From Atop Sahalie Falls
From Atop Sahalie Falls

Before heading down Route 19, I walked the short trail to the top of Sahalie Falls for a different perspective of the falls.

Sahalie Falls
Sahalie Falls

 

Sahalie Falls
Sahalie Falls

The other perspective of Sahalie Falls. I then drove the quarter mile down the road to Koosah Falls with the intention of hiking back north up to Sahalie Falls to check out some of the blue pools along that stretch of the river. Unfortunately, I never got very far on the trail, being forced to retreat and retrace my steps back to the car after going no more than a few hundred yards up the  trail. The side affects of my chemo were making themselves well known here and the weakness in my legs forced me to turn back to avoid injury. Sure hope this subsides at some point and I regain some strength in my legs or I will be forced to give up hiking and thus lose a lot of photo opportunities..

Then on west to Route 19 and eventually back east on Route 58.

Rain Forest Foliage
Rain Forest Foliage

I would recommend driving Route 19 if in the area. It is a decent two lane paved road winding down the west side of the Cascades roughly following the South Fork of the McKenzie River.

Mossy Rocks
Mossy Rocks

As you can see from the two images immediately above, this side of the mountains gets a little more rain than the eastern side near Bend, thus lush, green rain forest and lots of moss.

Abandoned Farm
Abandoned Farm
Abandoned Farm
Abandoned Farm
Abandoned Farm
Abandoned Farm

My other day trip went north and east of Bend up through Antelope and parts east of there, but produced nothing to speak of as far as scenics or wildlife are concerned. The old abandoned farm pictured above is the only thing I even got the camera out for on this very long day on the road.

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September 28, 2017 Bend, Oregon

Exploring the Cascades

Below Sahalie Falls
Below Sahalie Falls

With some wonderful autumn weather presenting itself, I drove about 80 miles north of Bend to check on foliage on the eastern slopes of the Cascades. While traveling south on Route 126 towards Belknap I happened to stop to check out a couple of waterfalls along the way, Koosah Falls and Sahalie Falls.

Sahalie Falls
Sahalie Falls

Unfortunately, instead of my camera gear, I only took Sam along with me for a longer than expected, though still short, walk along the trail to Koosah Falls. I did take the camera gear down the trail to Sahalie Falls and will be going back to revisit both falls on a better day for water shots, less in the way of perfect blue skies.

Oregon Foliage
Oregon Foliage

Mostly coniferous forests here in Oregon, so fall foliage is certainly not the same as back in New Hampshire, but if you search long enough, there are some stretches of mixed forest here and there, and that is the case along Route 126.

Oregon Foliage
Oregon Foliage
Kayakers on Clear Lake
Kayakers on Clear Lake
Lava Fields Foliage
Lava Fields Foliage

The one thing here that is unavailable in New Hampshire is a shot of fall foliage in a lava field. Throughout the Cascades there are many large lava fields and the pioneer plants that take hold in these fields do tend to be deciduous shrubs and trees.

Yesterday I completed round 5 of 6 of my chemo treatments at the Bend Memorial Clinic. One more three treatment round and I will be swapped over to a Revlimid maintenance treatment and taken off the steroids and other chemo drugs. Might take a couple more weeks here in Bend to get the new maintenance dosage adjusted since my oncologist plans on starting off with some pretty low dosages. So it is looking like early November before making my escape from Bend for warmer climes.

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March 27, 2017 Sequoia National Park, California

Sequoia National Park
Sequoia National Park

Finally Make it to the Top!

Weather for today was forecast to be nice, even up in the mountains! I left camp in complete sunshine and warm temps and headed up into Sequoia National Park.

Redbud
Redbud

Always have to stop for the redbuds.

Sequoia National Park
Sequoia National Park

One minute, redbuds in bloom, next minute six foot snow banks and icy roads as I drive up and into the clouds. Again, these two shots were taken only 15 miles apart, but with a 6000′ change in elevation.

The Climb up to the Sequoia Groves on Route 198
The Climb up to the Sequoia Groves on Route 198

This small section of the road climbing to the sequoia groves is all at about a 6 – 8 % grade … and this is just a tiny portion of this serpentine road. Needless to say, this is one road that you do not take your RV on. Each twenty miles of travel on this highway probably only covers a straight-line distance of 5 or 6 miles, made necessary by the altitude gain of roughly 7000′ on this highway through the park.

Sequoia National Park
Sequoia National Park

Fortunately there were a few breaks in the clouds up in the sequoia groves, even saw a couple patches of blue sky. I was constantly monitoring the outside thermometer in the Prius as it hovered dangerously close to 32 degrees all the way through the groves along the highest elevations of Route 198 through the park.

Sequoia National Park
Sequoia National Park
Sequoia National Park
Sequoia National Park

Definitely a winter wonderland feeling up here today!

Sequoia National Park
Sequoia National Park

The crowds certainly thinned out at the higher elevations today as most folks were probably a little concerned with icy road conditions. Note the photographer’s assistant in the back of the Prius protecting my gear from marauding squirrels.

Sequoia National Park
Sequoia National Park

The clouds cleared as I proceeded north on Route 198 to Kings Canyon National Park …

Looking Toward Yosemite
Looking Toward Yosemite

… and began the descent on Route 180 to head home. In the image above … way out there is my next destination, Yosemite National Park, just waiting a bit for the weather to warm a little more before heading there, since they are still getting regular dumps of snow right now.

Roadside Waterfall
Roadside Waterfall
Roadside Waterfall
Roadside Waterfall

Leaving Route 180, I headed down the steep, winding grades of Route 245, where I stopped for a few shots of this nice little roadside waterfall.

Roadside Waterfall
Roadside Waterfall
Roadside Waterfall
Roadside Waterfall
Redbud Guardian
Redbud Guardian

Continuing down Route 245, I once again had to stop and shoot the redbud blooms and found this impressively massive bull guarding access to the best spot to shoot from.

Redbud
Redbud

Today I covered about 120 miles in my loop up and through the two National Parks. All the side roads up in the park are still closed by snow, so there would be much more to see if I were here in the summer, but I don’t think I would ever be able to handle the crowds. All the roads are two lane with no place to pass pretty much the whole length of the highway, so summer traffic would undoubtably be a bear. Plus there would be no redbud that time of year!

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