Yesterday, I took advantage of the almost-new moon and beautiful clear weather to take photos of the stars at Lost Lake. This small lake sits in the shadow of Mount Hood, and, despite its proximity to several towns and major highways, offers a surprisingly good dark sky.
In the morning, I took a kayak out onto the lake, where I saw some excellent birds, and even managed to photograph some of them without tipping my boat.
On my way, I also stopped by Oregon’s iconic Multnomah Falls, which drops over six hundred feet, and is consequently very difficult to photograph with a 35 mm lens …
This weekend, I traveled to the John Day Fossil Beds in central Oregon. As the name suggests, this National Monument is a paleontological treasure, with fossil assemblages spanning forty million years of Cenozoic paleohistory. The Thomas Condon Paleontology Center at the monument’s Sheep Rock unit is absolutely excellent, with beautiful fossils, an active research lab and up-to-date exhibits.
But, I admit I wasn’t here for the fossils so much as I was for the exceptional landscapes of the Monument’s Painted Hills Unit.
The Painted Hills are made up of ancient soils, and their changing hues record the area’s transition from an ancient forest to a grassland environment.
Walking through the park is almost like traveling to a new world — Red Hill looks like a part of Mars dropped into the middle of Oregon; the purple rhyolite clays of Painted Cove feel like something from a fantasy novel.
Unlike Mars, though, the Painted Hills are far from lifeless. They emerge from a beautiful mixed sagebrush and juniper woodland, which is home to a large variety of insect life, including dragonflies like this Variegated Meadowhawk (Sympetrum corruptum) who was obelisking on my car antenna.
The Painted Hills are beautiful at all times of day, and lend themselves to abstract landscape photography with a long lens to capture colors and patterns. At sunset, however, the hills truly shine, mixing dramatic light and shadow with the red and gold of the formations.
This is a remarkable location, and I’m looking forward to coming back.
Hello, internet, how are you? I’ve had a hectic year, but a pretty good one!
Here are some things that I did with it
Got serious about birding Or at least more serious than I was. Australia started the love affair, but this year, I’ve actually started waking up with the dawn chorus and visiting wetland habitats to look for kingfishers and waterfowl. I’m up to 427 species on my life list, and am even starting to learn how to tell gulls apart.
Took a roadtrip across the Western US I started in Houston, made my way to Big Bend, cut through White Sands National Monument, Carlsbad Caverns and the Chiricahuas, made a quick stop at the Grand Canyon, turned North to visit my folks and check out Rocky Mountain National Park, then headed West again to hit up Arches and Antelope Island before visiting a friend in San Fransisco, then looked at the fantastic trees of Muir Woods and the Ancient Bristlecone Pine National Forest, took in the glacial-carved splendor of Yosemite, spent the hottest night of my life in Death Valley, fell in love with Zion … and finally made my way back to Texas. It was a hell of a trip.
Moved to Oregon Portlandia is now home! I’m loving the green, my proximity to the sea, and all the great coffee and waterfalls. Plus, there are some pretty cool birds that make their home here.
Visited Mexico In early January, I took a trip to Cabo San Lucas, where I got to snorkel with whale sharks, heard whalesong for the first time (while diving, no less!) and ate a lot of really delicious tacos.
Bought Some Plants Okay, okay, maybe this isn’t that exciting, but I’ve really been getting in to growing house plants. I’m especially excited about my carnivores and my orchids.
I hope you’ve have as great a time as I have. Next week, I’ll be taking some time to travel the Oregon Coast & Crater Lake, and I look forward to sharing photos of that adventure with you all.