November 11, 2018 Bend, Oregon

Goldfinch
Goldfinch

More Birds From the Hospital Parking Lots

Cedar Waxwing
Cedar Waxwing

Hopefully, this will be my last post from Bend, Oregon as it is getting quite chilly here in the morning, temps in the low 20’s and even dipping into the teens once in a while. I’m getting tired of scraping heavy frost off the Prius’ windows before heading out to appointments in the morning and the 70 degree temperatures outside of Yuma are looking pretty good right now.

Cedar Waxwing
Cedar Waxwing

Wednesday is the first chemo treatment on my new bi-weekly schedule and if the numbers look right after that session, I plan to head south first thing Thursday morning. Was planning on driving down the California coast but with all the recent fires have decided to go inland down through Nevada.

Cedar Waxwing
Cedar Waxwing

The parking lots at the St. Charles Hospital have many decorative crabapple trees  and birds other than the Cedar Waxwings appear to partake of the fruits of these trees.

Robin
Robin

In addition to the Waxwings, I have found Robins …

Nibbling
Nibbling

House Finches ( ? ) …

Goldfinch
Goldfinch

Goldfinches, and Northern Flickers hopping through the branches and picking off fruit..

Cedar Waxwings
Cedar Waxwings

The Waxwings, however, remain my favorite bird to chase here. A flock of around 30 birds frequents the area daily and I can just see them in the tops of the aspens up the road from my campsite. On weekends, when the hospital parking lots are mostly empty, when I see them fly in, I hop in the Prius and go out for some shots ( during the week, the parking lots are full and thus I can’t get the car anywhere near the trees where the birds are feeding, needing the car to serve as a blind as these guys are quite skittish ).

Cedar Waxwings
Cedar Waxwings

When the Waxwings get spooked from the trees near my campsite …

Sharp-shinned Hawk
Sharp-shinned Hawk

… by creatures such as this sinister looking predator, I can usually follow the flock’s flight to trees in a different parking lot …

Cedar Waxwings
Cedar Waxwings

…where they settle in the tops of taller trees and check for predators before descending to the crabapple trees to feed.

Goldfinches Browsing on Aspen
Goldfinches Browsing on Aspen

Crabapples are not the only food source around the many parking lots as this flock of Goldfinches demonstrate …

Goldfinch Browsing on Aspen
Goldfinch Browsing on Aspen

…dining on the fruit of the birch tree.

Hopefully, my next blog post will be from somewhere on the road in Nevada as I head south to the LTVA north of Yuma, Arizona.

November 6, 2018 Bend, Oregon

Cedar Waxwings
Cedar Waxwings

A Welcome Change of Pace

I was sitting in my recliner reading yesterday when I happened to glance out the motorhome window and saw some birds bouncing around the branches of one of the decorative crabapple trees that line the entrance to the hospital parking lot. Being about a hundred yards away, I couldn’t tell what kind of birds they might be, but experience has told me that one of my favorite birds, the cedar waxwing, was most likely to be partaking of the bountiful small fruits that these trees were laden with.

Cedar Waxwing
Cedar Waxwing

So, I dug out my long camera lenses and hopped in the car to see if I might get a few shots of these beautiful birds. I chose to use the car so that I could use it as a blind, it’s not that I didn’t want to walk the short distance to the trees. And sure enough, my hunch was right … cedar waxwings! Unfortunately, these trees are completely out in the open with no kind of backdrop to shoot against, so all I could get were shots like the one above, a colorful bird against a bright white sky, certainly not the most desirable of shots.

Cedar Waxwings
Cedar Waxwings

So, I took a short drive around the hospital grounds, looking for more crabapple trees and waxwings. Only a couple hundred yards from my motorhome, I noticed a fair number of birds gathered at the top of a poplar and saw some of them flying down to a couple of crabapple trees to feed, then zipping back to the top of the poplar.

Cedar Waxwing
Cedar Waxwing

After a couple of false starts, I managed to position the car so that I was shooting with a hospital building serving as a background to the trees, and all I had to do was wait for the birds to choose a branch where I had an unobstructed view of them feeding.

Cedar Waxwing
Cedar Waxwing

As I stated previously, these birds are one of my favorites, love the distinctive black mask and the small dabs of brilliant color on the wings and tail.

Immature Cedar Waxwing
Immature Cedar Waxwing

I was a little disappointed that 80% of this small flock were apparently juveniles like the one above, not having fully achieved the distinctive coloration of the adult birds.

Common Nighthawk
Common Nighthawk

When downloading images to the computer of today’s shots, I found this image of a common nighthawk that I took last spring in the campground I stayed at when I visited Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. I couldn’t believe the bird remained still as I took these shots with a short lens, approaching to within six feet of the fence rail he was sleeping on. I didn’t need to get any closer and he was still relaxing there when I walked away after taking his picture.

The opportunity to get out and do some bird photography today was greatly enjoyed and makes me all the more anxious to get out of here and head south for the desert and hummingbirds, quail, and all the other birds that are waiting for me there.

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October 26, 2018 Bend, Oregon

Mountain Above Bend
Mountain Above Bend

Medical Update

Sorry for the long delay in posting anything on this blog, but as some of you have probably guessed, I had a serious relapse of my Multiple Myeloma. As I have stated before, I did not want this travel/photography blog to become nothing more than a medical update blog, so since I am not traveling and have been confined to Bend for two months now, there has been nothing to blog about, other than health issues.

In late October, while I was staying at South Beach CG on the Olympic Peninsula, I began experiencing extreme fatigue and felt there was something seriously wrong. Since I figured I could make it the day’s long trip down to Bend and the oncologist that saved me a little more than a year prior, I packed up and headed south. I made it to Bend and drove up to a snow park near Mount Bachelor to camp. The following day I drove down to Bend and checked into the Emergency Room at St. Charles Hospital. I remained in the hospital for two weeks, including a three day stay in ICU where I since been told I came close to buying the farm, due to an infection that my nonexistent white blood cells could not fight off. My Multiple Myeloma had returned with a vengence.

My oncologist got me started on a new chemo regimen while I was hospitalized and that has now continued for the last six weeks on an outpatient basis. As was the case last year, I have been able to stay in the 11 space hospital camping area while I go through this recovery process again. This full hookup camping area on the hospital campus is once again, a true life saver.

Today my oncologist told me that I could probably resume traveling sometime around the end of November, and he could arrange for me to receive the last couple of months of chemo infusions at a hospital in a warmer climate. It does appear that I probably will get the cancer back into remission as the last few weeks’ blood numbers look very encouraging. So maybe this blog will resume in it’s former form by the end on November. Here’s hoping!

The Kindness of Strangers

As I mentioned above, when I arrived in Bend, I parked my motorhome in a Snow Park up near Mount Bachelor, about 17 miles outside of Bend. The next day when I drove down to the hospital, I locked Pearl in the bathroom with her bed, toys, water, and food, not knowing if I would have to be admitted to the hospital or not ( though I had a feeling I would be ).

My first concern, when the Emergency Room doctor quickly conveyed how perilous my condition was and checked me into the hospital, was how to get Pearl rescued. The solution turned out to be a Forest Ranger the hospital called who came to my bedside, took my info and motorhome keys, and drove up to the Snow Park and picked up Pearl and then delivered her to the Humane Society of Central Oregon in Bend where she could be cared for until/if  I was released from the hospital. On top of that, on his own, he went to the shelter to check on her two days later and relayed her status to me in the hospital, something he certainly did not have to do, but that was greatly appreciated.

Since the Myeloma had clogged my kidneys once again, I had to undergo treatments in the dialysis unit where they ran my blood through a centrifuge of some kind to filter out the Light Chains, though they did manage to keep me from requiring dialysis thankfully. This took several sessions over five or six days and lasted several hours each day. I can not say enough about how wonderful the staff of this department was at a very trying time for me.

The department head ( Mary) was very concerned about the welfare of Pearl ( maybe a little bit about me also ) and her confinement at the Humane Society, and insisted that she would go pick her up and keep her at her  home until I could take her back … and she did just that, with Pearl ending up staying with her for three weeks. And I might note that Pearl was reluctant to return to life in the motorhome after being spoiled with a fenced yard, being able to sleep in a real bed, new toys, and more pampering than she she ever gets from me. But she has readjusted now to her her prior dull life wth me, though she really looks forward to having Mary come take her for a walk every week.

The Dialysis Unit nurses and doctor were also concerned about my motorhome sitting unattended up in the Snow Park while I was confined to the hospital and asked if I needed someone to go up and get it and drive it down to the hospital and set it up in the hospital camping area. Talk about “above and beyond the call of duty”. Sure enough, two of the male nurses in the unit took my keys, drove to the Snow Park, prepped the motorhome to travel ( raise the jacks, stow the TV and lower the satellite dish, etc. ), and drove the motorhome back to the hospital, backed it into a space and hooked up the utilities for me so that I had a place to go when I got released from the hospital. I can not say enough about these kind folks!

If it weren’t for the freezing temperatures and snow, I would elect to stay here in Bend to complete my treatment, but living in the RV, I do need to get to a warmer climate before the snow does start to fall. I’ll resume some blog posts when I hit the road!

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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