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.

Thank you for shopping Amazon from my site!

When you click ( on the image below) through to shop Amazon from here, I get a tiny commission, one that does not in any way impact what you pay, and all those tiny commissions eventually add up and that helps me keep this blog going !


 

 

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!

Thank you for shopping Amazon from my site!

When you click through to shop Amazon from here, I get a tiny commission, one that does not in any way impact what you pay, and all those tiny commissions eventually add up and that helps me keep this blog going !


 

March 19, 2017 Success Lake COE Campground, California

Wildflowers Across Lake Success
Wildflowers Across Lake Success

Looking for Sequoias

The scene above is what I see when I leave my campsite in the Army Corps of Engineers Campground on Lake Success just east of Porterville, California. This is a nice enough campground with paved interior roads and lots of green grass with sites that are for the most part, pretty well spaced. The spaces are all backins and are reasonably large but very few are terribly level.

Unfortunately there is only a very weak Verizon signal here and I was unable to even get weather forecasts online here. There is 50 amp electric at some sites and some sites have shared water spigots. There is a dump station in the campground as well as trash dumpsters. $30 night with 50% discount for old farts.

Fields of Wildflowers
Fields of Wildflowers

While here I took a couple of trips in the Prius up into the mountains to explore Sequoia and King’s Canyon NPs for Sequoia trees. I drove Route 190 from the campground up into the Sequoia National Forest until I came to where the road was still closed by snow.

Red Buds Blooming
Red Bud

At around 3000′ elevation, I ran into lots of red bud in bloom, hope to get some better shots into a future post because there are areas where entire hillsides are dotted with these colorful trees.

California Route 190 in Mid-March
California Route 190 in Mid-March

Once up around 6000′, there are snowbanks still hemming the roadway …

The End of the Road, Route 190
The End of the Road, Route 190

… and around 7000′ you come to the end of the road, where they just stop plowing in the winter and wait for spring ( May or even June ) to reopen the road.

Entering the Giant Forest
Entering the Giant Forest

This is the scene as you enter the Giant Forest along Route 198 east of Three Rivers in the Sequoia National Park. To reach this point traveling up into the park from the south, you will have negotiated about five thousand switchback turns as you ever so slowly ascend from 300′ elevation to 7000′, don’t even think about driving an RV up here! These were the first sequoias I ran into but I had to turn around here for an appointment I had back in Visalia, but I will venture farther up and into the park in the next week ( weather permitting, lots of rain coming ). Stay tuned!

Thank you for shopping Amazon from my site!

When you click through to shop Amazon from here, I get a tiny commission, one that does not in any way impact what you pay, and all those tiny commissions eventually add up and that helps me keep this blog going !


 

September 22, 2016 Grand Tetons, Wyoming

Pronghorn Buck
Pronghorn Buck

Teton Bison and Pronghorns

Clouds Over the Tetons
Clouds Over the Tetons

Been fighting the weather here recently, very mixed bag of conditions, lots of clouds, heavy morning fog, and late afternoon rain. The early morning image above is a good example of the mountains creating their own weather conditions. This was taken several days ago and was one of the last mornings the Tetons were even visible.

The Oxbow and Mount Moran
The Oxbow and Mount Moran

Fall has officially arrived here as the trees are starting to put on their autumn show.

Mount Moran
Mount Moran
Teton Foliage
Teton Foliage
Teton Foliage
Teton Foliage
Cottonwoods
Cottonwoods

Mormon Row

Teton Bison
Teton Bison

Mormon Row is a north/south dirt road connecting the Gros Ventre Campground to the Antelope Flats Road. I drive this road every morning that it is not raining because there is a large herd of bison grazing in the area, plus a couple small bands of Pronghorns, and, if the animals are on the correct ( west ) side of the road, in just the right portion of the fields, they can be photographed with the Tetons in the background with the mountains being bathed in the early morning light.

Teton Bison
Teton Bison

The past week, I have had a few opportunities to almost get the perfect shot. But something is always just a little less than perfect. The sun is covered by low hanging clouds leaving nice light on the mountaintops but the bison and foreground in shade …

Teton Bison
Teton Bison

… or I manage to get some light on the foreground and the sky clouds up over the mountains …

Teton Bison
Teton Bison
Teton Bison
Teton Bison

… or the clouds throw some part of the image, trees in the mid ground above, in weird dark shadow.

Teton Bison
Teton Bison

What seems to happen most often though is that the herd will be grazing on the wrong side of the road, west side in the afternoon so you are shooting into the sun, or the east side in the morning …

Teton Bison
Teton Bison

… resulting in this kind of impossible shot.

Teton Bison
Teton Bison

But still, I have some really nice reference photos for when I finally get back to painting, where I can then paint in the perfect sky or well lit foreground.

Teton Bison
Teton Bison

You might ask why I don’t just hop out of the car and hike out in the field to get the herd between myself and the mountains with the sun at my back? Well, these fields  ( flats, meadows? ) are hundreds of acres in size, on both sides of the road, and there is not a single tree anywhere in those hundreds of acres, so I don’t really feel it would be too wise to go tromping around out there amongst hundreds of bison with nowhere to hide if one of them happened to take offense with my being out there.

Teton Bison
Teton Bison

These guys are seriously large, and even with the car as my protection, when you are right in the midst of them, they can be very intimidating.

Teton Bison
Teton Bison
Teton Bison
Teton Bison
Teton Bison
Teton Bison
Teton Bison
Teton Bison
Teton Bison
Teton Bison
Teton Bison
Teton Bison

Pronghorns

Pronghorn Buck
Pronghorn Buck

These beautiful animals are one of my favorites out here in the west. But, like the bison, they just refuse to cooperate for this photographer and are always located in the worst possible lighting conditions when I encounter them up close enough to get some nice shots.

Pronghorn Buck
Pronghorn Buck

In dead shade wth the rising sun behind them, like in the two shots above.

Pronghorns
Pronghorns

This group I actually encountered in a place where I could get them out in good light, with the sun at my back, as you can see with the sun on the mountains behind them. But just when they arrived at the perfect spot for a ridge top photo, a cloud blocked the sun behind me … just can’t seem to catch a break when it comes to these guys.

Pronghorns
Pronghorns

And they are moving fast, so there is no waiting for the sun to pop back out and get that great shot.

Pronghorn Buck
Pronghorn Buck
Pronghorn Bucks
Pronghorn Bucks
Pronghorn Bucks
Pronghorn Bucks

These guys put themselves in position to get some great light on them, so, of course they moved out onto a section of the flats that is being reclaimed  for native grasses to take over.

Pronghorn Bucks
Pronghorn Bucks

Someday I’ll get that perfect shot!

Thank you for shopping Amazon from my site!

When you click through to shop Amazon from here, I get a tiny commission, one that does not in any way impact what you pay, and all those tiny commissions eventually add up and that helps me keep this blog going !