July 27, 2018 South Beach Campground, Washington

Maltese
Pearl at 7 Months

Fogged in at South Beach

Pearl has made it to 7 months as of today so I thought I might include a new photo of her as she has changed quite a bit from the last time I took any shots of her. Still very independent, but is gradually coming around to realize that it is in her best interests to listen to me more than just occasionally. House breaking has finally been successfully completed and she has become agreeable to have her harness and leash put on when the situation warrants.

South Beach Campground
South Beach Campground

Haven’t been posting anything lately as I seem to find myself unmotivated to get out and do much. We have been socked in with heavy coastal fog for a week or more now, although as soon as you get just a half mile inland, there are bright blue skies and very warm temperatures, in the high 80’s and 90’s. But here in the campground the fog keeps temps in the 60’s.

South Beach Campground
South Beach Campground
Coastal Fog
Coastal Fog

I have driven up to Forks and then back down to the coast to LaPush and Mora in the bright, hot, sunny weather, but as soon as you get back near the beach you run into the coastal fog bank again, so nothing to photograph lately.

Gulls on the Beach at LaPush
Gulls on the Beach at LaPush
LaPush Harbor
LaPush Harbor

I did drive about 30 miles south one day and then did the loop road around Lake Quinault hoping to get some shots of the many small waterfalls along that road. However all the small streams were bone dry and thus obviously no waterfalls.

Roosevelt Elk
Roosevelt Elk

I did however stumble across these Roosevelt Elk. First time I have ever encountered a mixed sex herd of elk, bulls, cows, and calves, all feeding or resting along the riverbank.

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July 12, 2018 South Beach Campground, Washington

South Beach View Through the Windshield
South Beach View Through the Windshield

Return to South Beach

In 2014 I discovered this little jewel of a campground as I made my first trip around the Olympic Peninsula. At that time, when I pulled into the campground, I was a little underwhelmed to say the least. What lay in front of me was a very crowded narrow gravel strip with RV’s and tents packed in as tight as sardines, lots of dust, smoky fires, and people wandering through the tightly spaced campsites. I grabbed the only available spot right at the entrance, as far from the beach as was possible, and figured I would only be able to tolerate staying in this hectic, congested spot for a night or two.

Fifty-one days later, when they closed the campground for the season just after Labor Day, I left with a whole different attitude about this very unique camping spot. As with real estate, location means everything here. After a couple nights camped at the entrance I was fortunate enough to see a unit leaving a beachside campsite and moved myself over to the vacated site. Still packed in tight with little space between the front and rear of my motorhome and my neighbors, at least now I could draw the blinds on the driver’s side of my rig and thus sort of close out the congestion on one side of the campsite. And the view out the other side was of the beach. I was serenaded to sleep nightly by the sound of the waves crashing on the beach, drowning out  ( most of ) the noise of the other campers. Days were spent reading and walking on the beach with Jenny and Sam. While the west roasted under 90 plus degree temps that summer, here at the beach it was a pleasant 70 – 80 degrees every day and nights were just right for sleeping with temps in the 50’s.

So for quite some time I have been wanting to return here and get a respite from the summer heat.

South Beach Campsite
South Beach Campsite

After a couple nights in a campsite across the road from the beachfront sites, I was able to move into this wonderful campsite, probably the best site of the 60+ sites in the campground.

South Beach Campsite
South Beach Campsite

Nobody in front of me, nobody to the left, and only the beach to the right.

Surf Fishermen
Surf Fishermen

This is my morning view out the passenger side window, not bad for a campsite that costs me all of $7.50 a night. There are no hookups of any kind here, no water available and no dump station, but those are available about 5 miles north of here at the Klalaloch Campground. Being out in the open as this site is, satellite reception is fine and there is a very strong Verizon signal here.

A Most Unusual Day in the Campground

South Beach Early Morning
South Beach Early Morning

The early morning shot above shows me in the campsite I had when I first arrived here on Monday.  The site I coveted was directly across the road from where I was and the woman tenting there told me she was leaving on Wednesday, so on Wednesday morning I signed myself up for four nights in that spot and sat back waiting for her to vacate the site so I could move over and set up there. But there turned out to be a little fly in the ointment in the person of a production company that moved in early that morning to shoot commercials for an RV manufacturer … and they had chosen the perfect site to use for that shoot, the site I was intending to move to as soon as the woman vacated that site.

I was a little dumbfounded to learn of this from a casual conversation with a fellow camper who happened to be part of the production crew. I told her I  was a little bewildered that there were no postings of any kind that an event like this was happening and when I checked with the campground host to find out if this was for real, they had no knowledge of this either .. kind of strange, but then again, this is a campground run by the federal government, the National Park Service.

So there I was, ready to move to my ideal campsite, and I was told that it was to be used by the production company, not me, even though I had paid for the site and there was no indication anywhere that someone else had reserved that site for the day. As a younger man, I would probably have fought to move onto my paid for site regardless, but at this stage of my life, I decided to just roll with the punches and see what transpires.

In the Middle of the Action
In the Middle of the Action

So I remained on my original campsite as the production crew set up all around me as you can see in the image above.

Caterer
Caterer

Behind me a caterer had his trailer and set out a spread for breakfast and coffee breaks.

Wardrobe Motorhome
Wardrobe Motorhome

In front of the caterer was the wardrobe bus for the models, occupying the rear of this motorhome while the front of the trig was an onsite production room for the photographers.

Wardrobe Motorhome
Wardrobe Motorhome
Prop Trucks
Prop Trucks

Three rental trucks house all the various props and equipment the photographers would need for the shoot.

Unloading Props
Unloading Props
Setting Up for the Shoot
Setting Up for the Shoot

Around noon, a fifth wheel was moved onto the ( my ) site and set up for the first shoot.

Models for the Shoot
Models for the Shoot

The models moved in and the staff set out props for the shoot. Looks like a pretty nice site, wouldn’t you say?

The Shoot
The Shoot

Photographers, there were four of them involved, started doing external shots after an hour or so of interior shots.

Shooting Platform
Shooting Platform

I set up my ladder behind my motorhome and allowed the photographers to use my roof as a shooting platform.

Getting a Better Angle
Getting a Better Angle

Probably should have gotten a liability waiver from them, but fortunately, no one got hurt climbing up and down from the RV.

Lunch Break
Lunch Break

As I mentioned before, I was in the center of all the action, and that was no different as the caterer set up tables to serve lunch to the crew. Although I didn’t partake, I might note that I was invited to join them for lunch by the production managers.

Lunch Break
Lunch Break
Lunch Break
Lunch Break
Lunchtime
Lunchtime

This young woman typified the attitude all of these folks, pleasant, hard working people that genuinely appeared to enjoy what they were doing. I spent a long day , from 8 AM until 10 PM with these people, the drivers, the photographers, the caterer, the ” worker bees “, and the managers and they were all genuinely nice people. I would have to say that I have never encountered such a mixed bunch that appeared to work so well together.

Motorhomes Move In
Motorhomes Move In

After lunch they moved the fifth wheel out and moved in two motorhomes that they spent the rest of the afternoon and evening shooting.

Motorhome Reflection
Motorhome Reflection

I got a kick out of the reflection of my dowdy rig in the highly polished exterior of the $578,000 45 foot motorhome.

Motorhome Reflection
Motorhome Reflection

You certainly would not see any reflections when looking at the side of my motorhome.

At 9:30 PM, the photographers got their final sunset shots of the motorhomes and the day’s shooting was completed and the boss called it a wrap to the cheers of the hard working staff. The motorhomes were moved out and I was able to finally move onto my cherished spot. By 10:30, about an hour after my normal bedtime, I was finally set up and ready to enjoy the rest of my stay at South Beach.

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September 14, 2017 Bend, Oregon

Sunrise, the Palouse, Washington (24" x 16" Acrylic on linen)
Sunrise, the Palouse, Washington (24″ x 16″ Acrylic on linen)

Still Just Killing Time in Bend

Yesterday was the start of Round Five of my chemo treatments, just one more round to go after this one and maybe I will be able to hit the road again by the end of October and head south for the desert, since Florida and the coast of Texas are now out. I had planned on returning to Rockport, Texas and Goose Island State Park, one of my favorite winter stays, where I  spend my time shooting Whooping Cranes and other birds, but I’m sure the hurricane has made this and  all of my favorite stops along the Texas coast ( such as the beach at Aransas Pass ) something I need to pass on this winter.

So, not sure where I may head but am sure I will eventually end up going back to the BLM areas around Yuma and then maybe on to Tucson, an area I have only visited once before and that was back before retiring, so I didn’t get to explore that area thoroughly.

Am continuing my attempts at acrylics and just finished the painting of the Palouse in spring, as seen from the top of Steptoe Butte. As you can see from the photo of that painting at the top of this post ( you can right click on it to see a larger version ), it didn’t come out too bad, every painting presents me with an opportunity to learn a bit more about these acrylics and this one was no exception. Am beginning to figure out how to blend a little better with these paints as there was a lot of blending to be done on this painting. One of the nice things about staying here at the Family Stay Area at Saint Charles Hospital is the free Wifi signal from the hospital. Not having to worry about my $10/GB Verizon signal, I have discovered  a ton of uTube videos on acrylic painting lessons, and, while most are not all that great, mostly because I am looking for realistic painting styles, there are several that have been quite helpful.

Having little else to do to combat boredom here, I am grateful to have resumed this intense interest in the challenge of learning how to master these acrylic paints. I have to stay here to have these continuing chemo treatments but the treatments themselves, including blood draw, oncologist visit, and infusion treatment for the one drug that is administered via injection, takes only about an hour and a half one day a week. That leaves me with most of the treatment day and all of the other six days to find something to do. Bend is a very nice little city with wonderful surrounding mountains to the west, but extensive forest fires have raged in the area all summer and smoke is everywhere, leaving me with what would have been a debilitating case of cabin fever if not for this resurrected interest in painting. It seems odd to not be out photographing birds and other wildlife after doing so almost every day for the past 4 plus years, but the only use my photo gear gets these days is to take a shot of my latest painting to post on this blog.

But it now does appear that I will be able resume travel, and wildlife photography sometime before winter, and for that I am grateful.

Myeloma Update

Not being able to come up with a “caregiver ” to assist me for a couple of weeks after the hospital stay for a bone marrow transplant has left me ineligible for that transplant procedure, the best hope for an extended period of remission for this relentless disease. However, my oncologist continues to insist that he has never been completely sure that a transplant would be best for me anyhow, saying I may have an equally decent chance of remaining in remission for at least a couple of years or more on a maintenance drug routine. With or without a transplant, this cancer always returns, it is just a matter of how long one can stay in remission and thus off the most powerful drugs ( that eventually take a toll on the body ) that gives you the best chance at a longer survival and a better quality of life living with the disease.

Every thing I read, and he agrees, at this time says that the transplant procedure is the first line of defense in terms of length of remission. However the procedure is no walk in the park and there are some, though still relatively small risks of complications that can be life threatening. Recovery from the transplant can take from a couple of months if you are are lucky, to as much as a year, it varies greatly from patient to patient. And often there are lingering problems from the procedure that never go away such as loss of taste or continuing  fatigue. He points out that some recent studies have shown that the difference in length of time in remission between transplant patients and those going on a maintenance drug regiment only is just a matter of nine months to a year. Since the procedure  essentially robs you of the first three to as much as twelve months of that first year of remission, some oncologists are beginning to lean towards no transplants for some patients, especially for those that have had a robust positive response to their initial drug therapy. And, of course, that is a category I happen to fit in.

After reviewing blood work test results, in yesterday’s conversations with him, my oncologist says he remains amazed at the continuing strong  positive results of this treatment plan. He says everything looks good and progress continues to be made in all realms to getting this thing into remission. He definitely plans to finish up this course of treatment after one final, sixth round and switch me over to an oral maintenance regimen, at which time I can leave the area and resume my travels. I will be required to have monthly blood tests at a hospital or medical facility wherever I happen to be, with the results emailed to him so he can monitor my progress and be able to make whatever changes to the regimen  that may be required. As long as I can be reached via email, he has no problem with my being off wandering anywhere and he will be able to keep up with me via email. He states that he would anticipate no new problems arising during the first two or maybe three years ( with no guarantees of course ) and that when new problems do arise, he says at current, there are eight or nine alternate drug cocktails that can be implemented to get the disease back under control.

But, and this he is most optimistic about, there are so many new, almost daily, updates on treatment and even possible cures for this cancer, that as long as a patient is able to remain alive, there are new ways of combating this coming down the pipeline, the most encouraging, being new T-cell therapy. So, of course, I had to go on the internet and Google T-cell therapy. The links below are a couple of results of this search, interesting reading if you have the desire to do so ( and it spares us from having me attempt to describe exactly what this is all about ),

https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/research/car-t-cells

and

https://www.seattlecca.org/treatments/immunotherapy/immunotherapy-facts/t-cell-therapies

Guess that’s about it for now. Weather here has begun to moderate and turn toward cooler autumn temps, actually is quite comfortable today and is supposed to drop to forty degrees tonight, my kind of weather, still patchy smoke from the fires though.

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May 4, 2015 The Palouse, Washington

The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise

Greeting the Sun Atop Steptoe Butte

Well, I was up early enough to make it to the top of Steptoe Butte on time this morning after missing it yesterday morning. Yesterday, I got distracted at home working on the computer, processing images and doing posts from my time at Malheur NWR, and didn’t realize how early the sun came up, and, therfore missed the optimum few minutes of morning light.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version ( and be sure you do ! ).

The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise

No narrative today, the images say it all for me, just a wonderful place to be at 5:30 in the morning!

The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise

I hope some year to make a trip here in June when the fields are all covered with greens and yellows of maturing crops. At this time, probably more than half the fields are bare earth, looks like most of that has been freshly seeded but nothing has sprouted yet. Still absolutely stunning to view, but I do believe it gets even better a little later in the summer.

The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise

For the very first time that I have experienced it, there was no wind blowing on Steptoe Butte this morning, thus I was able to get these shots with flowers in the foreground. Every other time I have been up here, the wind has been howling, and these foreground grasses and flowers would have just been a windblown blur. Some mornings, the rocks probably were moving a bit also, you really are exposed up here.

The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise

Future Posts ?

I just want to alert followers that there might be an interruption in my posts over the next few days, or weeks, as I cross over the border into Canada, on my way north to Alaska.

To avoid excessive fees, I must disable my Verizon Jetpac when I cross over, so I am just not sure what my WiFi situation will be and thus I’m not sure how my posting will go. I have been told that I should be able to visit most Tim Hortons, McDonalds, Public Libraries, etc., and be able to pick up an internet signal on my new laptop I bought for this purpose, and thus, should be able to continue doing posts, although on a somewhat reduced schedule. We’ll just have to wait and see how this all works out. I have no doubt that the opportunities for wonderful landscapes and wildlife shots will be abundant. How quickly I can get them onto posts remains unclear at this time, so please be patient and bear with me ( pun intended, get it ? ).

 

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