July 30, 2017 Bend, Oregon

Balloons Over Bend
Balloons Over Bend

Balloons Over Bend Festival

Until I saw them coming my way during my daily walk around the hospital loop road, I was unaware that this weekend Bend was celebrating it’s annual Balloons Over Bend Hot Air Balloon Festival. Since recovering my energy several weeks ago, I make it a habit to walk the roughly one mile long perimeter loop road of the St. Charles Hospital every morning before the traffic rolls in, so I am out there around 6 or 7AM daily … and that, of course, just happens to be the same time that balloonists favor for their flights.

Balloons Over Bend
Balloons Over Bend

This morning, as I was just approaching home, I watched as the pilot of this balloon carefully set down on the paved parking lot amongst several tall street lamps, just across from where I am camped on the hospital’s loop road. As I walked by, the chase team arrived and as they were hauling out the protective tarp to collapse the balloon on, I hurried the short distance to the motorhome to grab my camera for some shots and managed to get this one of the balloon just as it was being deflated.

Balloons Over Bend
Balloons Over Bend

A little later, another balloon came along the same route, but this one continued on across the hospital campus to the north.

Balloons Over Bend
Balloons Over Bend

Two more balloons show up after coming over the top of Pilot Butte.

Balloons Over Bend
Balloons Over Bend

As you can see from the image above, the hospital camping area had a front row seat for the show this particular morning. Note the non-interested spectator ( Sam ) in the motorhome, keeping an eye on Dad, not terribly interested in the balloon activity.

Balloons Over Bend
Balloons Over Bend

 

Another Way to View Balloons Over Bend
Another Way to View Balloons Over Bend

There were others getting a very close, and I imagine, a very interesting perspective on the activities.

Balloons Over Bend
Balloons Over Bend

 

Balloons Over Bend
Balloons Over Bend

 

Balloons Over Bend
Balloons Over Bend

 

Balloons Over Bend
Balloons Over Bend

Another Completed Acrylic Painting

"Maine Harbor Reflections" 18'" x 18" Acrylic
“Maine Harbor Reflections” 18′” x 18″ Acrylic

This makes three completed paintings since I have been waiting out my treatment schedule. Learning a little bit more about these acrylic paints with each completed painting and may eventually get the hang of how to use them.

Nothing much new to report on the health front. Chemo continues and results are all going in the right direction. My oncologist has set up a referral for me to go to Portland and meet with the specialists who will do the transplant procedure ( if that is the way they recommend going ) sometime in the next week or so. He also wants their input on perhaps truncating my chemo regiment since I have had such a rapid positive response so far. This means I may get this over with a little sooner than originally expected.

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July 5, 2017 Bend, Oregon

 

Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display

Happy 4th of July

Saint Charles Hospital Camping Area
Saint Charles Hospital Camping Area

The shot above is of the small, eleven site camping area on the Saint Charles Hospital Loop Road where I have been camped for a month and a half now. In the background is Pilot Butte, and it just so happens that the city of Bend launches it’s 4th of July fireworks program from the top of the butte.

Lucky me !

Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display

This was the first fireworks display I remember viewing since way, way back in my working days where we did a nice program at the resort I managed.

Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display

As a result, this also was the first time I have ever attempted to photograph fireworks, and there are some unique challenges.

Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display

My main problem was that the action was just too darn fast and furious. Being new to this, I wanted to be able to check the monitor on the back of the camera to see how I was doing with my settings, but the fireworks just kept on firing every few seconds for the short duration of the show, so I had to just keep shooting and hope.

Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display

The other thing was that I had nothing but my neighbor’s trailer to include in the shot to provide some sense of place, just nothing of interest for a foreground.

Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display

And, of course, the very bright lighting over the camping area, reflected off the bright white sides of the neighbor’s truck and trailer also created problems.

Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display

But it certainly was an interesting first attempt and now I guess I’ll have to look for, and then manage to stay awake, for some more fireworks displays when I hit the road again.

Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display
Bend Fireworks Display

Nothing new to report on the myeloma front, having just completed round two of chemo, with this being my week off from treatments before starting round three. Feeling good with no side effects from the chemo, energy is back and I have resumed exercising, well actually just walking the hospital loop a couple times a day, roughly two miles a day. Working on a couple of new acrylic paintings and trying to stay cool inside since it has been in the 90’s now for a week or so.

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April 18, 2017 Westport Union State Beach, California

Westport Union State Beach
Westport Union State Beach

Last Few Days in Beautiful But Expensive California

Westport Union State Beach Campsite
Westport Union State Beach Campsite

After soaking in the rain for several days in gloomy Bodega Bay, I headed north up the coastal highway on a relatively nice sunny day through Mendocino and then Fort Bragg, to Westport Union State Beach.

Westport Union State Beach Campsite
Westport Union State Beach Campsite

I had found this spot a few years back when I camped inland and drove the Prius through the coastal mountains and then along the Coast Highway, at the time, a little leery of taking the motorhome over the challenging mountains to the coast. Back then I thought this would be a nice remote peaceful spot to spend a bit of time doing nothing …. but in a beautiful setting!

Back then there were many campsites right on the edge of the bluff above the beach, today there are only a few left. Wave erosion has forced the campground to close most of the sites along the bluff as the bluffs are rapidly being lost to the ocean. No Verizon signal here, no water, no electric, no dump station, and sites are $33/night. Wonderful view and absolutely great place for being lulled to sleep at night by the crashing surf below.

The drive over the mountains on Route 20 or farther north on Branscom Road to get back inland to Route 101 is really not that severe if one takes it easy and is prepared for some long 6% grades and some fairly sharp curves, but it was easily done in my motorhome with the Prius in tow.

Yet more rain while I was here and I guess I am about ready to leave beautiful, but expensive California and head for Oregon.

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April 13, 2017 Bodega Bay, California

California Coast
California Coast

California Coast

Monday morning I left the Mariposa Fairground and made what I thought would be a 4 hour trip to Bodega Bay on the California Coast. My 4 hour trip ended up being closer to 7 hours when I made the mistake of heading north from Mariposa on Route 49, a road I had not driven before. Well, turns out there are a few 7% grades to climb and descend, as well as about a thousand sharp switchbacks and hairpin turns along that route, and, although it was nothing my rig couldn’t handle, I seldom found myself going much over 20 mph.

And then, when I finally reached route 101 and turned north to Petaluma, I encountered some of California’s infamous commuter traffic heading north to home after a work day spent in the San Francisco area ( I’m guessing ). Four lanes of northbound traffic were squeezed down to two lanes at a point where there was an on ramp with traffic backed up forever, and this resulted in a traffic jam of about seven miles moving at stop and go speed and taking around an hour to cover the those seven miles into Petaluma where I was finally able to get off the highway and head west to the coast on uncrowded secondary roads. I have no idea how these poor folks can handle this day after day. This backup was caused strictly by traffic volume and not by any kind of construction or an accident along the way … this would be a daily occurrence!

Without a doubt, this state has got to have the most dangerous aggressive drivers I have encountered. Couple that with the deplorable condition of most of the roads in the state and horrific traffic conditions and suffice it to say, this is not a fun state to travel in. Add in the higher cost of everything out here, gas  ( where does all the gas tax money actually go since it obviously isn’t showing up in highway maintenance ), camping fees ( my spot in Bodega Bay is $34/night for a primitive site and is much less than anything else around here ),  and food ( I was going to treat myself to a fresh seafood dinner in one of the local restaurants, but checking out menus and realizing that it would be over $50 for any sort of meal, I had a sandwich at home ). But then, there is an unbelievable amount of unique and gorgeous natural features in the state, so it pretty much is a must see state. Grin and bear it, I guess.

Westshore Camping Area on Bodega Bay
Westshore Camping Area on Bodega Bay

Anyhow, I finally made it to the Westshore Camping Area in Bodega Bay around 5 PM and was able to get into a site that had three midweek days that were unreserved. All the reservable sites in the campground were reserved for the weekend, so I hoped maybe someone would move out of the two first come, first served sites before my three days were up … and lo and behold, both sites opened up the next day and I was able to claim one of them and thus can stay here through the weekend now.

Weather continues to be very wet, rain every day so far with just one 6 hour window of sun and cloudy skies when I was able to zip up Route 1 for 30 miles and get these shots.

Campground Wildflowers
Campground Wildflowers

Some spots of nice wildflowers but no poppies in bloom yet, still a couple of weeks away.

California Coast
California Coast
California Coast
California Coast
California Coast
California Coast

Probably because of the weather, but traffic on Coastal Route 1 is pretty light right now, making it a very pleasant drive.

California Coast
California Coast
California Coast
California Coast
Russian River Harbor Seals
Russian River Harbor Seals

At the mouth of the Russian River, Route 1 climbs up to hundred feet or so above the beach and you get this view of a stretch of beach where the harbor seals haul out.

Russian River Harbor Seals
Russian River Harbor Seals
Russian River Harbor Seals
Russian River Harbor Seals

Wonder what the “sleep number” is on those rocks, these guys look like they are pretty comfortable.

Peregrine Falcon
Peregrine Falcon

This Peregrine falcon was perched atop a sea stack only a few feet from the edge of the highway …

Peregrine Falcon
Peregrine Falcon
Peregrine Falcon
Peregrine Falcon

… keeping an eye on everything while doing his morning preening routine.

Peregrine Falcon
Peregrine Falcon
Peregrine Falcon
Peregrine Falcon

I’ve never encountered one of these birds that was so unafraid of humans nearby. Of course there was no way you could get out to where it was sitting, but still quite unusual for a bird of prey to be this unconcerned with human activity so close by ( less than 100 feet ).

Hillside Grazers
Hillside Grazers

Along Route 1, you have some incredibly steep drop-offs to the cliffs and beach hundreds of feet below, with no guard rails, so most people probably don’t even notice the cattle grazing of the green hillsides on the other side of the highway. These animals have to be in some kind of shape to handle the steep grades of their pasture land.

Kruse Rhododendron State Reserve
Kruse Rhododendron State Reserve

About 30 miles north of Bodega bay is the Kruse Rhododendron State Reserve, where rhodys grow wild up to 30 feet tall under second growth redwoods. Unfortunately, I was a little early to catch the rhodys in bloom, but it must be something to see in a month or so.

Kruse Rhododendron State Reserve
Kruse Rhododendron State Reserve

The four mile drive ( single lane one way gravel road ) takes you through a dark, damp, coastal rain forest. Lots of moss and ferns to see in addition to the rhodys and redwoods.

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