Quite a few people have asked me why I made Oregon my home. I note that none of them were Oregonians… The most beautiful places usually require a bit of walking, but not everything. Here are a few of my reasons for calling this home.
First, This is where I am camped at the moment.
In the area, Spring runoff fills the reservoirs.
… and the streams.
… and the springs.
When we talk about Oregon green, this is what we mean.
Best of all, every photo in this post was taken within 50 feet of a road.
I have seen the Tetons from late May to late September, but never in “winter”. I decided to change that on my trip north. My thinking was, I might see some snow on the ground, and this early in the season, it would not be busy, so my chances of seeing bears would improve.
When I got here, the winter look was delightful.
The skies were pretty overcast, though. It wasn’t quite what I wanted. Still, critters were out and about. The elk herd was moving north, out of the elk refuge.
Bison were on the road near the Gros Ventre Campground.
And there it was – a male grizzly, on a hillside near Oxbow Bend.
I continued up to Jackson Lake, where we had been swimming last summer. Well, I wanted snow…
Soon thereafter, a bit of mixed blue sky showed up, and I made the most of it.
Inspired by friend Jan, I played a bit with the last shot above. My engineer’s mind wants to make every photo as accurate and realistic as I can, but Jan urged me to just experiment. So, I took that shot, and adjusted the levels for maximum intensity of white, darkening everything else.
I like it.
Next day, we had a bit of fresh snow,
and the sky turned blue. I know these are repetitive, but without an editor, I couldn’t decide what to cut.
So, the side trip with 4 extra days of driving was worthwhile. I am really glad I did it.
I know – it has been a while since I posted. I have been taking isolated pics here and there, but nothing that I felt belonged here.
Anyway, I am now on my way north from New Mexico. I stopped for a few days at Ken’s Lake near Moab, Utah. With the bike, I was able to get out of the campground. Just east of the campground is a waterfall that can be seen from my site. Riding as close as I could get, I set up my tripod.
The falls seem to just appear, but a bit of rough hiking, which I did years ago, revealed that they come from a drainage tunnel built to divert water to the lake. Sorry – no pics of that this year.
Further up the hill (about 800 vertical feet) is a 4WD trail. I went a short distance up it to a rock wall with petroglyphs.
Below the rock wall, is a nice little waterfall.
For being in the middle of the desert, this is a pretty interesting area.
Wet weather in southern New Mexico is, to me, unusual. We have just passed a storm system that brought first, a cooling, then two days of wet weather, then the storm cleared leaving cooler weather behind.
The clearing of the storm happened at dusk, with the dramatic clouds, moving east, lit by a setting sun.
The next morning I awoke to see the lakebed, mostly dry, blanketed in white, a soft, smooth surface hiding the lowlands but letting prominent formations peek through.
As the sun began to brush the cloud tops, the smoothness began to change, as if threads were pulling bits of cloud upward.
The surface was quiet, almost unmoving, looking like a photo of stormy seas- still, but showing turbulent currents frozen by the lens. The photo below is not of the sky. It is looking down on the sunlit top of the cloud, with the ridge of the background mountain showing in the upper right.
As the sun continued to rise, it pulled the cloud with it, dividing the lakebed from the peaks.
My visit to the Colorado National Monument was about the land, physical features. When I left there, I was searching for color, specifically fall colors. I revisited the Cimarron CO area. It had produced well in the past.
A few days of rain later, I was having my doubts. Then, just at sunrise one morning, with more storm clouds coming in from the west, I woke to see this out my back window.
OK, it wasn’t the color I was looking for, but it was nice, plus, one of the benefits of this lifestyle is that it is easy to be patient. As the stormy weather cleared, it began to look like my wait might be rewarded. That evening, the view to the west looked like this.
The color was definitely coming. The next morning, there was more color in the campground.
Jim, Kathy and I went up to the area east of Owl Creek Pass. We were rewarded for the drive with wonderful color.
I can now head for New Mexico, having seen the golden aspens in full color.
Every hour, the light changes in Colorado National Monument. Yesterday, I did a late morning wandering. Today, I went to the south end in the early afternoon.
The sign said, “Winding Road”…
These look small in the photos, but I assure you – it is grand.
No need to pedal, and no town, but the bike is a lot of fun here. I am at Colorado National Monument. I’m not doing trails with the bike, but the road, in most areas, has no safe place to stop a car for a photo. With the bike, I am able to stop almost anywhere and get the pic I want. So yeah, I’m having fun!
By the way, there are cars in the below pic – above the cliffs, just to the right of center…
It has been dry, dry, dry in the northwest. That is finally starting to change. We had a storm front come through midday today.
In the distance there was some lightning. Up close, some of the peaks looked like volcanoes fuming in anger.
Mid-storm, we got some hail. Yep, that’s what those white blurs and streaks are.
It began to pass – all too soon, returning sun to the east face of Mount Moran. We need a LOT more rain.
It left us with the familiar range with a crown of clouds – and a bit of ice on the ground.
For the past week, I have been hanging out at a snow plow turnaround off Buffalo Valley Road, overlooking Buffalo Fork. I have seen lots of haze, but did not do much photography.
Last night, a front came through, preceded by showers. This is what I saw just before going to bed.
And this is what I awoke to this morning, my day of departure.
Nice spot… but it is becoming “discovered”. I had it to myself twice during the week.
I am dry camping a few miles east of the Grand Teton National Park, above the Buffalo Fork, a tributary to the Snake River. Around me are fishing, camping and hunting access roads and wilderness trails. I started out near the campsite, following a two rut path down toward the stream.
You can see my RV and a neighbor, with whom I am sharing the site, in the photo above.
Next, I headed east along the road to a wilderness trail. The north leg headed up, and the south leg headed down. I went north.
About 50 feet later, having almost lost it three times, I turned around. The bike was fine – it wanted to climb, but the trail was perhaps a foot wide, with uneven edges, several inches of dusty, very loose dirt, and underbrush right up to the edge of the trail, which had sharp angles in it. The hoof prints showed it to be used primarily by horses. Maybe with the reflexes and balance I had 40 years ago, I could have done it, but I decided, not now.
I headed further east and found a fishing access “road”. It would be impassable for the Subaru due to deep ruts and sharp dips in places, but the bike enjoyed it.
Finally, the scenery I wanted was beginning to open for me.
OK, now THIS is NICE. This is what I was hoping to find with my new legs. I know, the light isn’t great. I am shooting toward the sun. There is haze in the air from wildfires to the west. The peaks are far away. Still – this put a smile on my face.
OK, it is 4:30. Time for a nap…