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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June 28, 2017, Bend, Oregon

John Day Colors
John Day Colors

Some Good News!

John Day Colors
John Day Colors

First off, I would like to thank all of you that have sent encouraging comments regarding my current health situation, it is greatly appreciated. I originally had no intention of posting progress reports on that front, but several readers suggested I should, so I will keep you posted.

But since the main purpose of this blog is to showcase the landscapes and wildlife of this continent, let’s proceed in that direction first.

John Day Colors
John Day Colors

I am currently camped along the loop road around the Saint Charles Hospital Campus in Bend. The hospital has a small, eleven space campground with full hookups that it graciously supplies to it’s patients and their families, free of charge. And for me, it has been a lifesaver! The Bend area has a few very nice, and very expensive RV Parks, and the surrounding area also has several public and private campgrounds. However, they all have one thing in common … they all are booked pretty much solid throughout the summer months. And, until I was allowed to park my rig here, I was out of luck trying to find a place to stay for my chemo treatments. So, thank you, Saint Charles !

John Day Colors
John Day Colors

I have been here undergoing weekly treatment now for seven weeks and really haven’t had the emotional, or at times, the physical energy to get out and explore the area.

John Day Colors
John Day Colors

A couple weeks ago, on a ninety plus degree day, I needed to cool down, so I hopped in the Prius, turned the AC on and did the 100 mile drive east to the John Day area of central Oregon. I only made it to the painted hills section of John Day, but that alone was worth the trip as I hope some of these shots may show.

John Day Colors
John Day Colors

Earlier this month, I made a return trip to Malhuer NWR in the Prius to check out what the refuge had to offer in early summer. I was really hoping to be able to explore the Stines Mountain area and perhaps get a chance to see some of the wild horses there, but the road was still gated.

Common Nighthawk
Common Nighthawk

The refuge certainly looked different than on my previous visits, both of which were in very early spring. There was very little bird activity, and the roadside shrubs and bushes were now all leaved out and the fields were now covered with three and four foot high grasses, so even if there was anything there, it would be impossible to see anything.

The only shot I even took was of this common nighthawk sitting in the middle of the refuge road.

Memorial Day, Mount Bachelor
Memorial Day, Mount Bachelor

Memorial Day weekend, I drove up to Mount Bachelor, only 20 miles out of Bend. Base depths on the hill were still at eight feet at the end of May and the parking lot was quite crowded, with many RV’s and folks staying in tents below the high parking lot snow banks.

Memorial Day Camping, Mount Bachelor
Memorial Day Camping, Mount Bachelor

Seventy-five degrees and sunny, ideal weather for golf or fishing down in town, yet perfect spring asking weather half an hour away, not hard to see why this area is so popular. Just an incredible amount of building going on and housing is very expensive here.

A Lab in it's Element
A Lab in it’s Element

Got a kick out of this lab enjoying himself chasing snowballs on the parking lot snowbanks.

A Lab in it's Element
A Lab in it’s Element

OK, Here’s the Progress Report

Hood Canal Action
Hood Canal Action

I have forced myself to resume painting and just completed my first acrylic painting on canvas. This is a composite of a few photos from the Hood Canal in Washington, where Bald Eagles and Great Blue Herons congregate in late spring to take advantage of the sculpin spawn in the oyster beds along the shore where  Big Beef Creek enters the canal.

This painting measures 24″ x 16″ and depicts the way the Bald Eagles harass the herons to give up their catch. The eagles perch in tall pines along the shore and watch while the herons hunt through the oyster beds looking for the spawning sculpins. As soon as a heron plucks a fish from the water, the eagles swoop down from the pines and force them to give up their catch. You can right click on the image if you would like to see a larger version of the painting.

On the myeloma front, I just completed round two of my multi-drug chemo therapy, and my oncologist is very pleased with the results thus far! My kidney function, not that long ago at a stage four kidney disease level, just a hair’s breath away from requiring dialysis, has already returned to completely normal function. My red blood cell count is slowly increasing and all the bad stuff is rapidly decreasing, indicating that the chemo is doing it’s job. Other than some severe fatigue initially, the result of the disease and the aggressive chemo approach, I really have had very little, if any, adverse side affects, no nausea, no pain, no hair falling out, etc., and the last couple of weeks, even the fatigue has gone away, as the red blood cells continue to increase.

My oncologist says I am, in his words, ” way up on the good side of the bell curve “, as far as my chances of having a good outcome to this process. He says the fact that I have had such a rapid reversal of the progression of the disease, along with my bodies ability to tolerate the potent drugs, bodes very well for my immediate future.

He assures me that I am a very viable candidate for a stem cell transplant and that procedure could possibly be done as soon as August. He has also suggested that perhaps, and he says he is about at a 50/50 position on this, I may be one of the folks that may be able to keep the disease in remission without the transplant because of how my body has responded so far, but the final decision will be made after another round of drug therapy.

But the overall prognosis has decidedly changed in a positive way, and for that, I am most grateful.

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June 9, 2017 Bend, Oregon

Journey's End ???

Journey’s End ?

Today was to be my second day of driving the entire 60 plus mile Denali National Park Road on my Professional Photographer’s Road Permit, but that was not to be.

The Road to McKinley
The Road to McKinley

I have been stationary in Bend, Oregon since April 27th undergoing testing and then treatment for Myeloma, an incurable cancer of the blood.

Denali Grizzly
Denali Grizzly

Instead of shooting grizzlies in Denali, I am camped on the Loop Road of the Saint Charles Hospital Campus, while being treated as an outpatient at the Bend Medical Clinic and had waited until I had completed my first round of chemo treatments before I wanted to write this post.

While this is an incurable disease, it is optimistically classified as a “controllable” cancer, with some folks surviving a decade or more. At this point, that is obviously the outcome I would prefer to see. My response to the first three drug therapy round has been favorable and I am on  a game plan that hopefully will bring about remission and the opportunity for a stem cell transplant , perhaps as soon as in August. Just have to wait and see.

Where initially I was told I would have to stop traveling to battle this condition, they now are telling me that if I make a successful recovery from a transplant, it is completely possible that I could resume my full-time travels and could have periodic testing done to monitor my status while on the road. So my best case scenario is that I could be back on the road before winter sets in here in Bend, Oregon.

And of course there is also the very definite possibility that things may take a turn for the worse, but at this point I am cautiously optimistic and will keep you posted .

Since this blog was started four years ago to share my adventures on the road, and since I won’t be doing any traveling for the next several months, blog posts will probably be few and far between for a while.

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April 24, 2017 Malhuer NWR, Oregon

Abandoned Ranch
Abandoned Ranch

More From Malhuer National Wildlife Refuge

Ruddy Drake
Ruddy Drake

Always get a kick out of the male Ruddy Duck and his sky blue bill during breeding season.

Redhead Pair
Redhead Pair
Redheads Takeoff
Redheads Takeoff

Plenty of ducks encountered this week while driving through the refuge and was able to get a few decent flight shots when there was enough light, lots of overcast mornings.

Ring-neck Drake Takeoff
Ring-neck Drake Takeoff
Mallard Drake in Flight
Mallard Drake in Flight
Gadwall Takeoff
Gadwall Takeoff
Cinnamon Teal Pair
Cinnamon Teal Pair

This pair of Cinnamon Teal have been found on this spot every day this week, so I assume she is sitting on some eggs.

Cinnamon Teal Drake
Cinnamon Teal Drake
Avocets
Avocets

American Avocets hunting along the flooded fields.

Long-billed Curlew
Long-billed Curlew
Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Crane

This Sandhill was one of several pairs out hunting the flooded cow pastures along the highway.

Ferruginous Hawk
Ferruginous Hawk

A completely drenched Ferruginous hawk manning his roadside hunting perch during one of this week’s showers.

Ferruginous Hawk
Ferruginous Hawk

The look says it all, he doesn’t care for this weather any more than I do.

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