October 26, 2019 Lancaster, PA.

Are We Having Fun Yet?

I arrived in the  Lancaster area Tuesday, looking forward to revisiting the area and the Amish culture I find so fascinating. I was a little surprised to find the campground I stayed at the last time I was here, all but fully reserved for the weekend. I really did think the crowds thinned out a bit post Columbus Day.

View out the passenger side window

Not so, it turns out. Out of over 100 sites, I was offered a choice of two that were not yet filled for the weekend.

View out the front windshield

Now this is camping at it’s finest! Aw, the glory of beautiful sunrises, the scent of pines, the wonder of the wide open spaces, yes, all but a true wilderness experience.

View out the driver’s side window

I guess I need to return back out west, this type of “camping” is certainly not for me. And did I mention that this wonderful secluded site goes for just a little under $50 a night. Now where can you find a deal like that?

Amish Images

I really have been struggling to get inspired to take any photos of this unique landscape. The narrow backroads through Amish country have absolutely no shoulders so there is all but no place one can pull off and get out to take a shot. Years ago, when I was last here, I could more easily get photos since, at that time, I towed a trailer with a motorcycle inside, not a car as I now do. With the bike I could get off the road despite the lack of a shoulder.

Add to that, the greatly increased car traffic on these back roads and the apparent need to rush to wherever they are going, tailgating like crazy, and there being no shoulders to pull over on, one has no choice but to bomb through the countryside at 50-60 mph, not exactly conducive to enjoying the scenery.

Amish Daycare

So I will have to share some pictures I took back years ago, the first two farmscapes above were taken this year, the only images obtained in five days of driving around.

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

Heavy rain forecasted for Sunday, then a couple of nice days predicted, maybe I might get some shots before I leave.

September 21, 2019 Jonesport, Maine

 

Pearl Exploring the Blueberry Barrens

Blueberry Barrens Forever

I arrived at the Pleasant River RV Park in Addison Saturday afternoon after a long (expensive) trip north on the Maine Turnpike. Having never stayed here before, and reading that there were only 6 campsites here, I was pleasantly surprised to get this very nice spot with full hookups and a nice view.

Sunrise the next morning!

I came through some startling colors in vast blueberry fields, I think they are called barrens, on the way down to the campground. So soon as I was settled in, I drove back out to see if I could get any decent late afternoon shots. These wood ducks merit a return to the side road I found them on, but my noisy approach, as I was not expecting to see wood ducks, spooked an entire flock of them.

There is some color here and there on roadsides, with some vivid colors in the wetlands and around the pond edges. Certainly not peak foliage here yet, but the blueberry barrens are another story!

I went back Sunday morning to see if I could get some better color with the early morning light.

Driving the narrow, very dusty gravel roads through the barrens, I had to just keep shooting away, so, once again, I apologize for the number of photos, but the colors fascinated me.

Incredibly, looking at images of these blueberry barrens online, I don’t believe these are at peak color yet, but still impressive to me as I have never encountered  them before.

The fields are picked clean this time of year, but on a few little steep hillsides heading into the woods, there are areas that the mechanical harvesters probably can’t access, leaving a few berries here and there. Being a commercial operation, I did not get out and pick any of these, though I was tempted!

 

 

January 22, 2019 Imperial Dam LTVA, California

House Finches
House Finches

Strong Desert Winds

I am forced to take a break in the action today as the wind from the north hits 35-40 mph and I am all but blown off the desert knoll I am perched on.

Wind Cancellation
Wind Cancellation

I made the mistake of filling this feeder with seed for the finches right at sunrise this morning. An hour later the wind began to blow… and blow some more. The wind emptied it, and the other platform feeders in just a matter of minutes.

Outdoor Studio
Outdoor Studio

The calm before the storm this morning. I did get to take a few shots before the wind started howling ( pull in the motorhome slides howling and put everything outside inside howling ). The shot above shows my setup for all the bird images I am posting on the blog.

Verdin
Verdin

This Verdin was a newcomer here….

White-crowned Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow

…as was this White-crowned Sparrow.

The Watering Hole
The Watering Hole

I did add a watering hole for the birds this week and it is quite popular with everyone but the Gambel’s Quail. Don’t know why, but they walk right past it several times every day and never stop to drink.

Mourning Dove
Mourning Dove

I started out with just a single Mourning Dove here a month ago, but that number has increased to as many as thirty in here early in the morning and late in the afternoon.

Anna's Hummingbird
Anna’s Hummingbird

As much as I’d like to keep trying to get some nice hummingbird shots and perhaps lure in other types of hummers …

Bees
Hummingbird Repellent

… the bees have pretty much brought my attempts to do so to a halt. Other than the first hour or so after sunrise they are constantly swarming the sugar water feeders and very effectively deterring the hummingbirds attempts to approach the feeders. Since they are also hovering around me I end up having to remove the feeders for my own protection.

House Finch Variant
House Finch Variant

Male House Finch Variant

House Finch Variant
House Finch Variant

This guy has obviously caught my attention. Apparently, this color variation is not terribly uncommon, especially in the Southwest. From the Cornell Lab:

 “All male House Finches have the same potential for yellow, orange, or red coloration. Researchers who kept House Finches in captivity found that the red plumage was replaced by yellow plumage unless a carotenoid pigment was mixed in with their food during molt. In the wild, three carotenoid pigments found in natural foods give House Finches their color. Beta-carotene produces yellow to orange colors, isocryptoxanthin produces orange colors, and echinenone produces red colors. Yellow House Finches are frequently seen in the southwest and Hawaii where natural foods are low in some of these carotenoids. In the east birds often feed on the high-carotenoid fruits of ornamental plants.”

House Finch Variant
House Finch Variant
House Finch Variant
House Finch Variant
House Finch
House Finch

A ” normal” male House Finch.

Gila Woodpecker
Gila Woodpecker

Another newcomer here was this male Gila Woodpecker.

Gila Woodpecker
Gila Woodpecker

And he was joined by the Mrs. this morning…

Gila Woodpecker Pair
Gila Woodpecker Pair

…though they usually feed at separate feeders.

Gambel's Quail
Gambel’s Quail

And of course, yet more Gambel’s Quail shots.

Gambel's Quail
Gambel’s Quail
Gambel's Quail
Windblown Gambel’s Quail

A bit disheveled looking as that north wind pretty much blows this guy right off the top of the knoll.

Quail
Evening Gathering

Taken last night around sunset when the quail come in to feast before roosting. Like the doves their numbers have increased from just a single pair early on to as many as twenty-four in here at one time now.

Sunrise
Sunrise

Lastly, a couple of sunrises from the past week, showing the varying colors from day to day. Most mornings, there are no clouds to produce the dramatic sunrises I like to see.

Sunrise
Sunrise

December 21, 2018 Imperial Dam LTVA, California

Whole Lot of Nothing
Whole Lot of Nothing along the way in Nevada

On the Road Again ! ( Finally )

After four months of confinement in Bend, Oregon, I finally received permission to head south for warmer temperatures. My oncologist told me I was ” in a good place right now ” as far as my bloodwork was concerned and he gave me permission to head south to Yuma where arrangements have been made for me to continue weekly chemo treatments. After surviving several nights of temperatures in the very low teens here in Bend without the motorhome freezing up, I had been granted a little weather relief recently as temps warmed up considerably and the danger of freezing up decreased significantly. But the cold would definitely be reoccurring this far north and I had been anxiously awaiting a chance to escape Bend and head south.

So after my 9 AM doctor’s visit and chemo treatment, I packed up and was on my way south by 11 AM Thursday for the trip to the LTVA ( BLM’s Long Term Visitor’s Area ) at Imperial Dam in Winterhaven, California.

Snow Fears
Snow Fears at 6000′

Wanting to avoid the traffic and high gasoline prices going through California, I was pleased to get a good weather window to take the more easterly route to Yuma through the state of Nevada. Route 20 east out of Bend took me to Route 78 east and south into Nevada where I picked up Route 95 south. This route was all 2 lane highway, with a short section of I-80 thrown in, and the road was in very good shape, with no severe inclines or mountain descents, and not a whole lot of traffic. my only concern along the way was along a section of highway that ran around 6000′ elevation and where signs of snow started to appear along the highway.

Sunset in Nevada
Sunset in Nevada

Fortunately, the only snow I saw was on the distant hillsides and I was able to make great time and covered the 1050 mile trip to Quartzite, Arizona in just two days of driving. After filling up with gas and propane, I spent the night at one of the 14 day stay BLM camping areas in Quartzsite before driving the remaining 60 miles to the LTVA at Imperial Dam, arriving Saturday morning.

Perfect Desert Campsite
Perfect Desert Campsite

Incredibly, I was able to snag my favorite spot here, the exact same campsite I had here last winter. Perfectly isolated with a great view of the surrounding area, uninterrupted by other campers.

View Out Front Window
View Out Front Window

As an added bonus, I know from last year that I should be able to entice birds to my site, so I will have something to do here other than just painting and doctor’s appointments.

View Out Side Window
View Out Side Window

All the surrounding vegetation provides a lot of cover for the quail and other birdlife here. Unfortunately for little Pearl, it also provides a lot of cover for coyotes. Our first night here, I went to bed around 9 PM, tired from the 2 day long drive, and not 5 minutes after hitting the bed, I was startled awake by a coyote wailing directly under my bedroom window … I could have reached out and touched him/her?, it was that close. Don’t know if it was upset that I settled in on it’s territory or if it was warning me of it’s presence , or maybe it was just the full moon, who knows. But I do know I won’t dare let Pearl out unescorted.

Pearl Exploring her New Campsite
Pearl Exploring her New Campsite

She seems totally unaware of the potential dangers here and wants to get out and investigate all the new smells.

Sunrise
Sunrise

Nice to see the colorful sunrises and sunsets again here in the desert, hope to capture many more before I leave.