John Day River near Twickenham

John Day River near Twickenham

Our road trip to the Painted Hills of Oregon was taking longer than I expected.  Not that I was disappointed with what we were experiencing along the way, but I was hoping to photograph the Painted Hills in the low morning light.  There were no direct roads from the Clarno Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument to Mitchell, the gateway of the Painted Hills Unit.  So as we were making our circuitous way along the highway, I suggested we take a shortcut through Twickenham and enter the Painted Hills through the backdoor rather than through Mitchell.

Both my husband and I have enough life experience to know that many shortcuts on a map are actually the opposite.  And this time was no exception.  Once we arrived at Twickenham and crossed the John Day River, we turned onto a gravel back road which promised to follow the river for several miles.

I thought it would be a pretty route, and I was not mistaken.  The landscape was refreshingly green along the river.

Irrigation along the John Day River

Irrigation along the John Day River

Our drive along the John Day River

Our drive along the John Day River

But soon the road went up and up, parallel to the river perhaps, but too far away to see it.  We twisted our way down the narrow gravel road, hoping not to encounter a vehicle coming towards us, because we would have been hard pressed to share the road without plunging off.  My palms began to sweat.  This section seemed to be taking longer than I expected (again).

The map showed the road turning south away from the river at about the halfway point along the “short” cut.  We saw a sign for the Priest’s Hole Recreation Area, and figured that we had reached the proper point.  George wanted to check out the river before turning away from it, so we took a break from driving so that he could cast his fishing line into the water.

Priest's Hole Recreation Area along the John Day River

Priest’s Hole Recreation Area along the John Day River

It was a beautiful spot.  Very peaceful.  It would have been great fun to join some of the parties drifting along in their rafts.  I enjoyed strolling around, taking photographs, and checking out the plants.  George was happy to have his fishing pole in his hands.

John Day River

John Day River

George's fishing pole

George’s fishing pole

Rafters on the river

Rafters on the river

Pebbly beach

Pebbly beach

Volcanic rock, the origins of much of this area

Volcanic rock, the origins of much of this area

I have no idea what this plant is.

I have no idea what this plant is.

Mysterious growths on these leaves; they looked like beads on a necklace.

Mysterious growths on these leaves; they looked like beads on a necklace.

Fishing

Fishing

This area also gave us some tantalizing glimpses of colorful hills.  Were these the “painted” hills?  Were we finally getting close to our destination?

Landscape near Priest's Hole Recreation Area

Landscape near Priest’s Hole Recreation Area

Tantalizing glimpse of painted hills

Tantalizing glimpse of painted hills

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Pinkish hill in the distance

Pinkish hill in the distance

After a relaxing break, we got back on the road and kept watch for the entrance to the Painted Hills Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.  We were still on the gravel road, but the ride was now smoother and the vistas more open.  We saw more colorful hills in the distance.  We were getting close.

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Approaching the Painted Hills of Oregon

Approaching the Painted Hills of Oregon

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I had no regrets about how long the trip was taking because every moment was an adventure.  And the rewards continued with the Painted Hills.

 

 

My favorite part of Texas was the Gulf Coast.  We followed the coast from Corpus Christi to the Louisiana border.  Much of the time we were driving on narrow, barrier islands.  The land is flat, so we could see how easily this area can be devastated by hurricanes.

The shore was lined by sargassum weed (not seaweed), washed up from the Sargasso Sea

Laughing gull standing on sargassum weed, North Padre Island National Seashore

Sunset over our campground, North Padre Island National Seashore

Sunrise over the Gulf, delayed by a cloud bank on the horizon

Morning, North Padre Island National Seashore

A flat expanse of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge

The entire Gulf Coast is a mecca for fishing. We saw people fishing in the surf, from the shore, from piers, and on boats.

Landscape near Brazoria, Texas

Fishing pier, Galveston

Brilliant blue jellyfish washed up on a Galveston beach

Galveston had many lovely, old houses like this one.

The coast is lined with homes on stilts, like this one near Port Bolivar.

The western part of Glacier National Park is dominated by Lake McDonald.

Little did we know that much of Glacier National Park shuts down by mid-September.  Most campgrounds were closed by September 19th. This was the final weekend for staying at the Lake McDonald Lodge and the Glacier Park Lodge at East Glacier.  The Going-to-the-Sun Road was closed between Avalanche and Logan Pass on September 19th for construction, so we had to access the park from two different entrances, about 90 miles apart. 

Still, we counted ourselves lucky to have so much of the park in uncrowded circumstances. We divided our time — half of Day 1 in West Glacier, and the morning of Day 2 in the park by St. Mary’s.  The weather was too blustery for our planned hikes, so we just enjoyed the scenery and short trails close to the road. 

Shoreline of Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park

Looking across Lake McDonald to fire-ravaged slopes and distant peaks

We could drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road as far as Avalanche Creek.

Deeply crevassed bark of fir tree on Trail of the Cedars nature trail

These tree roots reminded me of pigs' hooves!!

My husband fishing off the dock at Lake McDonald (no luck)

A few early touches of fall colors on the shore of Lake McDonald

Pebbly shore of Lake McDonald

A peek at the magnificent lobby of the Lake McDonald Lodge

The drive between West and East Glacier and the St. Mary’s entrance was stunningly beautiful.    We took it at a leisurely pace, twice (there and back).   Not a bad compromise for the forced inaccessibility of the Going-to-the-Sun traverse across the park.  We stayed in an inexpensive motel (aah, the showers! the bed!) in East Glacier instead of the more expensive National Park Lodge.  We felt we were able to appreciate a lot of Glacier National Park’s scenery and other offerings even on such a short visit.

Along Hwy 2 between West and East Glacier

Look at the amazing array of colors in the ditch of Hwy 2

Peek at the lobby of the Glacier Park Lodge in East Glacier. It would be open one more day before closing for the winter.

Andy Goldsworthy-like sculpture on the lawn at the Glacier Park Lodge

Urban Salmon Fishing

September 25, 2009

My husband fishing for salmon from Harbor Island

My husband fishing for salmon from Harbor Island

Fishermen line up on the dock at Harbor Island

Fishermen line up on the dock at Harbor Island

Fishing under the Seattle skyline

Fishing under the Seattle skyline

Salmon fishing at dusk, Seattle

Salmon fishing at dusk, Seattle

My husband has found a new fishing spot on Harbor Island.  A virtual United Nations of fellow fishermen line up elbow to elbow for their chance to catch salmon.  The view of downtown Seattle and the shipyards is incredible.

Fisherman at Harbor Island

Fisherman at Harbor Island

Gentle Fisherman

August 5, 2009

Fishing on Lake Union with Seattle skyline

Fishing on Lake Union with Seattle skyline

My husband's hands with fishing reel

My husband's hands with fishing reel

I think the following poem captures the spirit of my husband whenever I see him with a fishing pole in his hands.

Fisherfolk
by Robert Service

I like to look at fishermen
And often times I wish
One would be lucky now and then
And catch a little fish.
I watch them statuesquely stand,
And at the water look;
But if they pull their float to land
It’s just to bait a hook.

I ponder the psychology
That roots them in their place;
And wonder at the calm I see
In every angler’s face.
There is such patience in their eyes,
Beside the river’s brink;
And waiting for a bite or rise
I do not think they think.

Or else they are just gentle men,
Who love–they know not why,
 Green grace of trees or water when
It wimples to the sky . . .
Sweet simple souls! As vain I watch
My heart to you is kind:
Most precious prize of all you catch,
–Just Peace of Mind.

Fishing pole shortage

May 31, 2009

Fishing pole over Snake River

Fishing pole over Snake River

Fishing on the Columbia River at dusk

Fishing on the Columbia River at dusk

“If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there’d be a shortage of fishing poles.”
     — Doug Larson
My daughter's first fishing trip with her Grandpa

My daughter's first fishing trip with her Grandpa