Long view of the boardwalk at the Painted Cove Trail

Long view of the boardwalk at the Painted Cove Trail

Four short trails provided access at different parts of the Painted Hills Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.  Each allowed closer access to the painted hills.

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The Painted Cove Trail took us on a nature walk around a rounded clay hill.  We stayed on a boardwalk for most of the short trail.

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Dramatic skies above the Painted Hills

Dramatic skies above the Painted Hills

Another trail, the Red Hill Trail, took us to yet another painted hill.

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We had timed our visit perfectly.  The rains held off until we were on our drive back north to Washington.  The rain came in cloud bursts, so heavy that once I had to pull off the road until the rain let up.  As we crossed the Columbia River into Washington, a vibrant rainbow appeared, seemingly giving a final blessing to our trip.

Clouds scudding along the Cascade range in Oregon

Clouds scudding along the Cascade range in Oregon

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And then the skies let down a curtain of rain.

And then the skies let down a curtain of rain.

Crossing the Columbia River into Washington (taken from the car window)

Crossing the Columbia River into Washington (taken from the car window)

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Self-portrait in side view mirror

Self-portrait in side view mirror

I would like to embody an attitude of adventuresome-ness.  With the right attitude, I think that anyone can become an explorer of the world.  For me, adventures at home and farther afield feed many other parts of my being.  They give me opportunities to make photographs, provide subjects for future paintings, and fill my heart and soul.

As with most people I know, life is very busy right now.  I simply do not have enough time to spend on all the things that I enjoy.  But these days I am determined to work some short road trips into my life.  Things seem to have conspired to make this a possibility.  I am still working a three-quarter of full-time position, and I have to work every other weekend, but every two weeks I also get four days off in a row.  I recently bought a new car which makes driving pure pleasure, and I am so grateful to have economical and dependable wheels.  I am now old enough for my very own “senior” National Parks pass, a lifetime gateway to our natural world.  And I have a great companion in my husband — he is easygoing and does not mind frequent stops for photographing — and he helps with driving.  So I am well set just now to take advantage of the privilege of adventuresome road trips.

We traveled along this scenic byway to the Painted Hills of Oregon.

We traveled along this scenic byway to the Painted Hills of Oregon.

I can think of a long list of relatively short-distance road trips that I would like to make.  For example, I would like to explore and document in photos the five National Scenic Byways and 22 State Scenic Byways in my home state of Washington.  I would like to travel around the Selkirk Loop in Canada, just north of Washington State.  The list can grow even longer when I consider the many places outside the state.

During my most recent stint of days off work, my husband and I drove to the Painted Hills of Oregon.  It was very much a journey of discovery that took us to a part of Oregon that neither of us had ever driven before.  In fact, nobody I knew has ever been there.

I had seen a few photos of the Painted Hills, and knew they would make great photographs, especially in the low morning and evening light.  But the weather forecast was for clouds, showers, and possibly even some thunderstorms.  It would be a long drive (over 7 hours according to Mapquest) and I didn’t want to feel like the trip was a bust if I couldn’t photograph.  But in the end, I decided that I would never do anything if I waited for the whims of the weather — and we decided to go.

I’m so glad we did.

No matter that it took us 15 hours (15 hours!!!) to arrive at our destination with stops for fishing (George), photographing (me), construction delays (it took 1 hour to go 5 miles in the middle of the night on I-5 due to construction — aargh), and a shortcut on the map that turned out not to be “short” with the slow driving on a curving, gravel road, but which was picturesque nonetheless.

We made the strategic decision to start our road trip at 10 o’clock at night because 1) my husband tends to stay up late anyway, 2) I thought it was no loss to travel the familiar (and boring because we have done it so frequently) I-5 drive down to Portland and I-84 stretch along the Columbia River in the dark of night, and 3) I could sleep while George drove and take over when he got tired, and vice versa.  In spite of little restful sleep, my body seemed to come awake during the daylight hours — and the lightening of the skies began around 4 a.m. in these days leading up to the summer solstice.  So by the time the sun started to rise in the morning, we were on a quiet stretch of U.S. Hwy. 97 in Oregon.  And I was waking up to some awesome landscape.

Sunrise off of US Hwy 97 in Oregon

Sunrise off of US Hwy 97 in Oregon

The day’s sights just kept on giving.  I will need the weekend to upload my photos, edit and caption them, and select the best to share with you in next week’s blog posts.  I hope you stay tuned.  The Painted Hills had not been on my radar for all the decades I have lived in the Pacific Northwest, and my expectations were exceeded.  They are located in the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, and once again I felt privileged to have access to an incredible place set aside by the national government for all to enjoy.

With the longer-than-expected driving time, we missed the low morning light on the Painted Hills.  And our road trip did include rain, but we were lucky to visit the Painted Hills before the rain hit.  The skies were filled with dramatic clouds and thankfully we avoided the intense mid-day light that washes out the colors of the landscape.  It seemed fitting that we were blessed with the huge arch of a rainbow over the Columbia River on our way home.  Glorious sunrise.  A beauty-filled day.  Color-rich rainbow at day’s end.  As close to perfection as we could have wished.

Driving home on Oregon Hwy 26

Driving home on Oregon Hwy 26

Rainbow over the Columbia River

Rainbow over the Columbia River

Sketching Bay View

July 21, 2014

The sketchbook of one of the Let's Sketch Bay View participants, Michele Cooper

The sketchbook of one of the Let’s Sketch Bay View participants, Michele Cooper

Yesterday I participated in an outdoor sketching event in the Skagit Valley, “Let’s Sketch Bay View,” hosted by Edna [Breazeale]’s Neighbors.  Bay View is a village on the shores of Padilla Bay, an estuary near Anacortes, WA.  Artists were invited to draw, paint and sketch from a choice of sites including the Breazeale Interpretive Center and its trails and grounds, Bay View State Park, and the Bay View community.  Several residents opened their private gardens to sketchers as well.

Morning rainbow over Padilla Bay

Morning rainbow over Padilla Bay

Hollyhocks by the blue house in Bay View

Hollyhocks by the blue house in Bay View

Ed and Mary's garden, Bay View

Ed and Mary’s garden, Bay View

Any day is a good day if it finds me with a paintbrush in my hands, especially after a too long break from sketching.  I found a comfortable spot in Ed and Mary Epps’ garden where there was a wealth of natural subjects.  It was a time for meeting a special group of friends and kindred spirits with whom I originally crossed paths because of this blog.  What a talented and fun group they are!  Sometimes I am floored by the miracle of friendship.

“Let’s Sketch Bay View” was well organized and the planning resulted in an atmosphere that was welcoming to artists of all skill levels.  Informal, yet productive.  At the end of the afternoon the participants met up at the Breazeale Interpretive Center to share their work, mingle, and enjoy cookies and lemonade.  Community and art-making — a convivial combination.

Another painter in Ed and Mary's garden

Another painter in Ed and Mary’s garden

Bonnie in the garden

Bonnie in the garden

Bonnie's sketch of cabbage (those jewel-like colors!)

Bonnie’s sketch of cabbage (those jewel-like colors!)

Jude's painting in progress

Jude’s painting in progress

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You can see more of Michele's work at www.michelecooper.com

You can see more of Michele’s work at http://www.michelecooper.com

My watercolor sketch of geranium foliage from Ed and Mary's garden

My watercolor sketch of geranium foliage from Ed and Mary’s garden

For another look at the day of sketching, follow this link to the Anacortes Sketcher’s blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bow that Bridges Heaven

September 13, 2009

Rainbow over the Inside Passage

Rainbow over the Inside Passage

Rainbow on the last evening of our cruise

Rainbow on the last evening of our cruise

On the final evening of our cruise, a rainbow arched 180 degrees across the sky.  It felt like a fitting gift to mark the end of our vacation at sea.

“Boats sail on the rivers,
     And ships sail on the seas;
But clouds that sail across the sky
     Are prettier far than these.

There are bridges on the rivers,
     As pretty as you please;
But the bow that bridges heaven,
     And overtops the trees,
And builds a road from earth to sky,
     Is prettier far than these.

If all were rain and never sun,
     No bow could span the hill;
If all were sun and never rain,
     There’d be no rainbow still.”

— Christina Rossetti

Popsicles

July 23, 2009

My daughter with a Rainbow Popsicle from the ice cream truck

My daughter with a Rainbow Popsicle from the ice cream truck

One of my daughter’s quintessential summer experiences was buying Popsicles and ice cream treats from “Joe’s truck.”  You couldn’t miss when the truck was in the neighborhood — you could hear its repeating carnival tune approaching from several blocks away.  Neighborhood children were drawn to the truck like it was the Pied Piper.  There was something special about buying a cold treat from Joe, something better than simply eating one from a box purchased at the grocery store and kept in your own freezer.  Choosing from among the offerings in Joe’s truck was a small indulgence on a hot summer day.

I haven’t seen or heard Joe’s truck in several years.  I wonder if it still cruises the neighborhood on days when I’m working.  Ice cream trucks are an urban phenomenon — I never encountered one during my farm childhood.  As an adult, I remember thinking that the repeating music would drive me crazy if I had to listen to it for too long.  But I’m sure the ice cream truck brings back nothing but happy memories for my daughter.

Miracle Ice Cream
by Adrienne Rich

Miracle’s truck comes down the little avenue,
Scott Joplin ragtime strewn behind it like pearls,
and, yes, you can feel happy
with one piece of your heart.

Take what’s still given: in a room’s rich shadow
a woman’s breasts swinging lightly as she bends.
Early now the pearl of dusk dissolves.
Late, you sit weighing the evening news,
fast-food miracles, ghostly revolutions,
the rest of your heart.

 

 

Broken Rainbow

May 29, 2009

Mary Cassatt book and a box of my old oil pastels

Mary Cassatt book and a box of my old oil pastels

"A rainbow lay dusty and broken..."

"A rainbow lay dusty and broken..."

A Box of Pastels

I once held on my knees a simple wooden box
in which a rainbow lay dusty and broken.
It was a set of pastels that had years before
belonged to the painter Mary Cassatt,
and all of the colors she’d used in her work
lay open before me.  Those hues she’d most used,
the peaches and pinks, were worn down to stubs,
while the cool colors — violet, ultramarine —
had been set, scarcely touched, to one side.
She’d had little patience with darkness, and her heart
held only a measure of shadow.  I touched
the warm dust of those colors, her tools,
and left there with light on the tips of my fingers.
     — Ted Kooser

How do you color your world?  I am partial to blues and greens, but I try on other color palettes, too.  My oldest sister sometimes gives me fabric scraps from her quilting stash, and when I make something from these fabrics–country-like colors of beige, dusky blues, greens, and burgundies — I am always pleased with the results.  In my house, my bathroom and the guest room are painted deep blue, and the entryway and wall along the stairwell is a deep sweet-potato orange.  I like color, and I’m looking forward to experimenting more with it in my life.