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 24, 2015 Wasilla to Cantwell, Alaska

Rainbow Over the Parks Highway
Rainbow Over the Parks Highway

A Few Surprises Heading North to Denali

Spotted Horse
Spotted Horse

Since I awoke to rain at my wonderful boondocking spot in the Wasilla Walmart parking lot, I decided to forego loading the Prius and getting soaked and so decided to make a final drive along some of the back roads in the area. I found this neat horse along the Farm Loop Road, grazing alone amongst the fireweed and knee high grasses.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Spotted Horse
Spotted Horse
Moss Abstract
Moss Abstract

These colorful mosses along the roadside also caught my eye and I managed to snap a couple shots as the sun was starting to poke through the rain clouds here and there.

Moss Abstract
Moss Abstract

By 10 o’clock the rain had stopped and the sun was drying things out so I returned to camp and loaded up the Prius, did my last minute stocking up on groceries for Denali at Walmart, and headed north on the Parks Highway.

Rainbow Over the Parks Highway
Rainbow Over the Parks Highway

North to Denali

About an hour or two into my drive north, the skies clouded over once again and I ran through some intermitant showers. As I passed the Mount McKinley Viewing Areas, both South and North, all I could see were low hanging clouds, clinging to the mountains to the west, no possible sighting of McKinley.

Pot of Gold ?
Pot of Gold ?

As the rain became a little more serious, I decided to pull off the highway around MM 203.5, a little south of Cantwell, and make camp for the night. I knew that the intersection with the Denali Highway was just a few more miles north of here and I figured this pulloff would be a good place to unload the Prius and explore the road conditions on the Denali Highway to see if I wanted to take the motorhome in there to boondock.

It turned out to be a bit of good fortune that I stopped at this particular spot as a rainbow appeared not long after I got myself setup. I wish I could have gotten some better shots of it, but I was really struggling trying to keep my equipment from getting too wet as this particular rainbow presented itself accompanied by the heaviest rains I have encountered so far here in Alaska. And when the rains subsided, the rainbow disappeared. Oh well, nice to see one after a long dry spell between rainbows for me. Though quite unexpected, I managed to pick up a pretty good Verizon data signal here and was able to do some blog posts from this location.

Mount McKinley from My Pulloff Campsite South of Cantwell

Mount McKinley from My Pulloff Campsite South of Cantwell

Finally, Mount McKinley Appears !

The very next morning, I was up a little late, for me, and when I went outside with the dogs at 7 AM, I was stunned by this view back south along the Parks Highway … Mount McKinley ! Absolutely clear blue sky and not even any mountain created clouds starting to show around the base or the peak of the mountain.

Mount McKinley from My Pulloff Campsite South of Cantwell
Mount McKinley from My Pulloff Campsite South of Cantwell

This was shot from my campsite with my 600mm lens from about 40 or 50 miles away. So since I never even saw the mountain in my two weeks in the area back on my last trip to Alaska, and since the extended weather forecast for my time here this year does not look too promising, I had no choice but to unload the Prius and backtrack 70 miles to try and get some shots of the mountain.

Mount McKinley from the North Viewing Area
Mount McKinley from the North Viewing Area

This is a shot of the tip of McKinley taken afrom the North Viewing Area along the Parks Highway at MM 162.7. Not the best place to get a shot of the mountain as other shorter mountains block the view. There is a large parking lot with side by side camping here, not my cup of tea for sure.

From the North Viewing Area
From the North Viewing Area

These are some of the mountains south of McKinley shot from the North Viewing Area.

MM 134.8 Denali Viewpoint South

Mount McKinley from the South Viewing Area
Mount McKinley from the South Viewing Area

Finally, a shot of Mount McKinley, 22 years in the making for me! This shot was taken from the parking area of this turnoff. Simply a spectacular sight.

Mount McKinley from the South Viewing Area
Mount McKinley from the South Viewing Area

To the right of the parking lot viewing area, there is a trail that takes you up a hill to another, even better viewing area, overlooking the Chulitna River. If you get here on a day when the mountain is visible, BE SURE to take the short walk up to this second viewpoint, it should not be missed. ( Also, be sure to click on some of these images to see the larger, sharper version )

Mount McKinley from the South Viewing Area
Mount McKinley from the South Viewing Area
Mount McKinley from the South Viewing Area
Mount McKinley from the South Viewing Area
Mount McKinley from the South Viewing Area
Mount McKinley from the South Viewing Area
View From South Viewing Area
View From South Viewing Area

The jagged peaks of the mountains surrounding McKinley are quite impressive in their own right.

Jagged Peaks
Jagged Peaks

After spending an hour or so here ( I even put the camera down for a bit, sat back and just drank in the grandeur of the scene in front of me, something I often forget to do ), I turned around and headed the 70 miles back to my roadside campsite.

Along the Parks Highway
Along the Parks Highway
Along the Parks Highway
Along the Parks Highway
Along the Parks Highway
Along the Parks Highway

What a difference a day can make! These three images above are of just one of the multi-colored mountainsides that were completely concealed along the Parks Highway by yesterdays inclement weather. They were passed by yesterday without even a second glance, and today, just breathtaking.

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April 6, 2015 Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

Petrified Forest N. P.
Petrified Forest N. P.

An Afternoon Tour of the Park

Made the short trip to Petrified Forest National Park and set up at the gift shop free camping area.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.Petr

Petrified Forest Free Gift Shop Campground
Petrified Forest Free Gift Shop Campground

I did not expect to find this free spot to boondock, so this was a welcome surprise. The gift shop is located right at the intersection of Route 180 and the Petrified Forest Park Road. The sites are flat and easily accessed by any size rig. I spoke with the woman in the gift shop and she said there is a 4 day stay limit. Turned out to be a quiet place to stay with minimal light disturbance, and very convenient for access to the park.

Petrified Forest N. P.
Petrified Forest N. P.

My original plans were to bypass this park, one of the few National Parks I had never before visited. Petrified trees just aren’t something that has a whole lot of appeal to me, but, with temperatures north of here still getting below freezing at night, I figured, why not check it out. And turns out, I am glad I did.

Petrified Forest N. P.
Petrified Forest N. P.
Petrified Forest N. P.
Petrified Forest N. P.

The landscapes along the 28 mile Park Road are quite spectacular, to me at least, much more of an attraction than the thousands of pieces of petrified wood scattered throughout the park.

Petrified Forest N. P.
Petrified Forest N. P.
Petrified Forest N. P.
Petrified Forest N. P.

The photo opportunities are numerous, as are the number of photographers here. My only gripe with this park is that it closes the gates at 7 PM and doesn’t open them until 7 AM, thus a photographer misses most of the ” Golden Hours ” at both ends of the day. I imagine the colors of these desert landscapes would be breathtaking a little earlier in the morning or later in the evening, than I was able to capture.

Petrified Forest N. P.
Petrified Forest N. P.
Petrified Forest N. P.
Petrified Forest N. P.
Petrified Forest N. P.
Petrified Forest N. P.
Petrified Forest N. P.
Petrified Forest N. P.
Petrified Forest N. P.
Petrified Forest N. P.

Subtle colors and textures, while visible in these shots, would be more obvious if taken when the light wasn’t quite so strong. The other issue I had shooting during the day was the WIND ! Wind advisories were in effect all during my stay here. That meant steady winds of 30-40 mph with gusts sometimes exceeding 50 mph. The wind died every evening around 8 PM and then started picking up again around 7 AM. All these images are taken handheld, because the wind was strong enough to make using a tripod impractical.

Petrified Forest N. P.
Petrified Forest N. P.
Petrified Forest N. P.
Petrified Forest N. P.

The Painted Desert

Petrified Forest N. P. Painted Desert
Petrified Forest N. P. Painted Desert

The park is bisected by I-40 at about the 20 mile mark of the 28 mile Park Road, and the landscape changes dramatically once north of I-40.

Petrified Forest N. P. Painted Desert
Petrified Forest N. P. Painted Desert
Petrified Forest N. P. Painted Desert
Petrified Forest N. P. Painted Desert

The subtle cool pastel tones of the rock formations on the south side of I-40 change to the warm red sandstone tones, more typical of the desert southwest colors.

Petrified Forest N. P. Painted Desert
Petrified Forest N. P. Painted Desert
Petrified Forest N. P. Painted Desert
Petrified Forest N. P. Painted Desert
Petrified Forest N. P. Painted Desert
Petrified Forest N. P. Painted Desert
Petrified Forest N. P. Painted Desert
Petrified Forest N. P. Painted Desert
Petrified Forest N. P. Painted Desert
Petrified Forest N. P. Painted Desert
Petrified Forest N. P. Painted Desert
Petrified Forest N. P. Painted Desert
Petrified Forest N. P. Painted Desert
Petrified Forest N. P. Painted Desert
Petrified Forest N. P. Painted Desert
Petrified Forest N. P. Painted Desert

Petrified Wood

Petrified Wood
Petrified Wood

Although I did say I was not drawn to this park by the namesake petrified forests, I did do due diligence and attempt to find something interesting in all the chunks of petrified wood lying scattered throughout this park.

From Wikipedia “Petrified wood (from the Greek root petro meaning “rock” or “stone”; literally “wood turned into stone”) is the name given to a special type of fossilized remains of terrestrial vegetation. It is the result of a tree or tree-like plants having completely transitioned to stone by the process of permineralization. All the organic materials have been replaced with minerals (mostly a silicate, such as quartz), while retaining the original structure of the stem tissue. Unlike other types of fossils which are typically impressions or compressions, petrified wood is a three-dimensional representation of the original organic material. The petrifaction process occurs underground, when wood becomes buried under sediment and is initially preserved due to a lack of oxygen which inhibits aerobic decomposition. Mineral-laden water flowing through the sediment deposits minerals in the plant’s cells; as the plant’s lignin and cellulose decay, a stone mould forms in its place. The organic matter needs to become petrified before it decomposes completely.[1] A forest where such material has petrified becomes known as a petrified forest.

Elements such as manganese, iron, and copper in the water/mud during the petrification process give petrified wood a variety of color ranges. Pure quartz crystals are colorless, but when contaminants are added to the process the crystals take on a yellow, red, or other tint. “

Petrified Wood
Petrified Wood

The result of this process does yield some interesting, almost abstract, images.

Petrified Wood
Petrified Wood
Petrified Wood
Petrified Wood
Petrified Wood
Petrified Wood
Petrified Wood
Petrified Wood

Final note, if you are passing anywhere near this park I would recommend stopping for a day or two and exploring, it turned out to be a pleasant suprize for me.

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August 20, 2014 South Beach Campground, Washington

Driftwood
Driftwood

Still Slumming as a Beach Bum at South Beach

Not much to blog about in recent weeks as I continue my do nothing lifestyle here on the beach. Actually my days are mostly spent continuing my online learning and also attempting to revive my long neglected painting skills. I have only left the campground twice in the past couple of weeks, once, to drive 3 miles north to the Kalaloch Campground to dump tanks and refill my fresh water and propane tanks, and one long ( 140 mile roundtrip ) drive down to Aberdeen to get new tires for the Prius and replenish my stores at Walmart. Not much to see on that trip other than the a drive through the depressing town of Holquim and then Aberdeen, itself a fairly sorry little city that has apparently fallen on hard times despite their obvious attempts to revive the downtown area. As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Another view of ( Shantytown ) South Beach CG
Another view of ( Shantytown ) South Beach CG

And speaking of sorry little places, above is another view of my present sorry little place, the South Beach Campground. As you can see, this spot that I have enjoyed so much is little more than a very cramped, bare gravel parking lot that just so happens to occupy a precious little piece of the remote Pacific coastline. My rig is located about half way down the line of RV’s and tents perched on the edge of the small bluff above the beach. The crowded, cramped conditions as well as the seemingly above average percentage of rude, inconsiderate campers here makes enjoying this beautiful spot a little challenging some days, but the constant lull of the crashing waves makes a lot of the disturbances blend into the background … most of the time. Plus, when it gets too bad, one can always climb down the bluff and take a long walk on the beach and get away from it all, something I both want to do and am forced  to do most days. Lately, the days have been uniformly foggy and gray in the morning, then clearing and sunny in the afternoon. There is a steady breeze off the water everyday that dies completely every night, temps are around 70 during the  day and later fall into the upper 50’s for wonderful sleeping weather. It has only spit a little rain once in the month that I have been here. The weather, like the location, is all but perfect.

driftwood
Fallen giant

A short distance up the beach from the campground is the large piece of “driftwood” shown above. I wish there had been a person standing near it when I took this photo to give one a sense of scale of this fallen giant. The stump stands a little more than 8 feet above the sand where it lies, and when I paced off the length of the trunk to where it is snapped off, it came to more than 140 feet, the height of a fourteen story building. At the point where the upper end is snapped off the diameter of the trunk is still close to five feet. It is hard to imagine something this immense being pushed down a river to the sea and then floating around at sea for who knows how long before finally being deposited here.

Beach shelter
Beach shelter
Beach shelter
Beach shelter

 

 

 

 

 

At low tide, the sand beach is close to 100 yards wide, and at the high tide mark transitions into a 30 – 50 foot wide mound of wave rounded stones upon which sit unending stacks of driftwood. Here and there along the beach, enterprising folks have constructed makeshift shelters out of the driftwood.

Tideline tale
Tideline tale
Crabshell
Crabshell

Last night the wind changed around to the south and southwest, an unusual occurrence during my stay here, and produced some strong waves, roaring, rather than lulling me to sleep last night. This morning the tideline looked like a death zone with thousands ( millions? ) of dead crabs and jellies wished ashore.

Washed up jellies
Washed up jellies

Beach Stones and Driftwood

Beach driftwood
Beach driftwood
Beach stones
Beach stones

In an attempt to reawaken the artistic side of my brain, I searched above the tideline yesterday and came up with these images.

Beach driftwood
Beach driftwood
Beach stones
Beach stones
Beach driftwood
Beach driftwood
Beach stones
Beach stones
Beach driftwood
Beach driftwood
Beach driftwood
Beach driftwood
Beach driftwood
Beach driftwood
Beach driftwood
Beach driftwood
Beach stones
Beach stones
Beach stones
Beach stones
Beach driftwood
Beach driftwood
Beach driftwood
Beach driftwood
Beach driftwood
Beach driftwood
Beach stones
Beach stones
Beach driftwood
Beach driftwood
Beach driftwood
Beach driftwood

 

 

 

 

 

 

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