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

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Self-portrait: my reflection in a shop window

When I was walking in Pioneer Square recently, my gaze was arrested by my reflected images in the shop windows.  I stopped to photograph these ghostly mirages.  I have few photos of myself because usually I’m the one behind the camera.  So these shots were a fun departure from the norm.  I felt like a figment of my own imagination.

Reflected image

I like the ghostly effect

A ghost among the candied apples!