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Sunday, April 29, 2012

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

These fossils still lie on location in the Blue Basin of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument's sheep rock section. We marveled at Oregon's contrasts:  wet coastline, snow-capped mountains, lush wine-producing valleys, and towering tuff walls that enclose fossil beds.

This monument holds an amazing treasure trove of information about some fascinating mammal fossils. No dinosaurs here!

Mammals from the Cenozoic and previous eras lived here 15 to 44 million years ago. At that time this arid desert-like region was wet and swampy - thus the turtle shell fossil you see above. Later, volcanoes buried the swamps. Forests, savannahs, and finally deserts supplanted the wet pre-historic landscape. New mammals evolved with each environmental change.

My favorite mammal fossil remains that ruminating swine, the oreodont!
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Wayside Shoe Tree

Just outside Mitchell, OR, we HAD to stop and take a photo of this tree
on our way to the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.

We learned that these shoes send "happy trails" messages to travelers in the same way that Tibetan prayer flags send blessings with each waft on a breeze.
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Friday, April 27, 2012

High Desert Museum - near Bend, OR

     Barb and I stopped at the High Desert Museum a few miles south of Bend off Highway 97, on our way to Crater Lake. Founded by Donald Kerr, a young biology student from Portland, it is both an interactive teaching museum and a home for rescued raptors and other high desert animals. 
     We were introduced to this gyrfalcon, who is actually a transplant from a breeding facility in Pennsylvania. She is currently being trained as an aide for educational talks. This curious female pecked and nipped at her handler looking for goodies, but it's her feet not her beak, one must treat warily. The claws are a falcon's most dangerous weapon, so they must be controlled at all times. You'll see that the handler has a very secure grip on those talons!
     This lovely lady-bird remained on a tight leash at our inside presentation, but during the summer she may show off her flying ability. Then, visitors can watch falconry demonstrations in the museum's outside arena.
    As always in a museum, we managed to while away a few hours, meandering through the grounds, visiting other birds of prey, a working scale model of a sawmill (Bend's major industry until logging declined and micro-breweries took over :-), sleeping otters, and the Leapers and Creepers exhibit that included the beautiful sulcata tortoise.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Yachats Beach

Nature's art appears beneath my feet.

A pause on our morning walk revealed gorgeous patterns of sand and water alongside a misplaced river rock.

Not long after that brief stop, Barb and I encountered a man wearing a Taos Hockey baseball cap. Turns out Tom Dahaney (?) used to live on Upper Ranchitos Road in Taos, next door to Vanda, a friend with whom I sometimes ski!

Small world, eh?
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 We went to see Crater Lake, but it was (mostly) closed!

Janet, Crater Lake B&B's gracious owner, was very generous with travel suggestions. Following her guidance, we drove up the hill and parked beside a ten-foot high snowbank at the entry to a plowed driveway. A short walk across the snow was all we needed to digi-capture the view. For anything beyond a quick look, we'd have needed lots more time and snowshoes or cross-country skis.

After a good look, we headed west to Union Creek, where Beckie's serves homemade pie and simple supper. I don't usually start off with dessert, but deep study of the menu led me to believe that pecan pie and red wine were my best option. I thoroughly enjoyed practicing the dictum that "Life is short, eat dessert first." Those nuts, sugar, and fermented fruit-sugar were not just best part of the meal - they're the only part I want to remember.

Neither Barb nor I would make a special trip to eat anything from Beckie's menu, and for sure, not the hum-drum apple pie! But we both agreed that Crater Lake could be worth a return visit when rim roads are open and we can take a boat ride across its spectacular blue.
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Bend, OR

Cascades view from Riverwalk
Evoked a moment of envy - an active, lively downtown filled with micro-breweries and smell-good eateries just a block from this walk along the river to Drake Park. It's got everything from reasonably polite geese to Shakespeare: doggone nice - and lots of dogs walking through think so, too!

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mill Inn, Bend, OR #2

Does your chewing gum lose its flavor on the bedpost overnight?

Maybe you noticed the bedboards on the fence behind the Statue of Liberty in Barb's photo....if not, here's your chance to get a closer look. Yep, when you don't know how to give some pizzazz to a parking lot fence, just add a headboard or two or half a dozen. 
The Mill Inn offers visual delight in every corner, wall, fence, and cranny. In fact, at one point, I looked up to find an artificial owl perched overhead. My favorite room was the second floor front right - the ski room with an old-fashioned toboggan on the wall serving as a coat or towel rack. (You get to choose.)
I slept in the golf room - adorned with antique golf clubs, golf photos, golf mementos; if it had to do with golf, you'd find it somewhere in room 5.
Mom - you'd have felt right at home here :-)
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Mill Inn, Bend, OR

Lady Liberty Transplanted?

The Mill Inn, a landmark B&B in Bend, OR, reflects the Brooklyn upbringing of its late owner. Whenever you ask about this statue, the locals in Bend have learned the appropriate response:,"Fuh-gett-about-it!!!" Though the building is owned by an educational institution, its gracious and cheerful manager, Dave, provided a breakfast to die for - starting with bowls of coffee, fresh fruit and drop scones, oj in a frozen carafe, Belgian waffles with cinnamon-dusted bananas — and it didn't end there. Quiche with avocados atop AND he insisted on sending us on the road with more scones. Dave is Bend-born and proud of it:  speaking readily on its behalf in a Seattle Times article about the many breweries on its Ale TrailPosted by Picasa