Category Archives: Our Environment

Orcas on a Wednesday

Today we rode our bike fridays around the island, exploring the roads that lead out to the ocean. One very noticable thing about the island is that most off the beach property is privately owned. It is very difficult to find beach access and there is very little walkable beach on the island because it is marked as private. It is nice here, but this aint Oregon. We rode our bikes to the north end of the island, and from the end of the road you can walk to the water, but the beach on either side of the road is private.

After the ride which included a stop for newpaper and lattes, we headed back into Moran State park, and partway up to Mt. Constitution, stopping at mountain lake.

From here we headed partway around the lake, then taking a trail that took us up the mountain to twin lakes, where we could hike completely around these two lakes as well.

That makes four lakes that we have discovered here in the park (Cascade, Mountain, and two Twin lakes) that have trails completley circumnavigating the lake shore.


The trails and facilities here are well maintained, with a mix of newer bridges, old plank trails and that incredible stonework of the CCC.

The trails to the lakes were incredibly green with moss, coverering old fallen old growth timber that have laid here undisturbed for decades.  The wide assortment of mushrooms along this trail were surprising.

A week on Orcas

We are on a week long retreat to Orcas Island.
5 hours by car and 1 by ferry, and you are in a different world.
We are lucky enough to be housed in an exceptional home.

With a view of EastSound Bay from the front porch.

And while at times it has been cloudy, it is quite warm, and only seems to rain at night. Which is why you shouldn’t leave your moon-roof open at night.

And, so far, have had two amazing dinners at restaurants where we could watch the sun set over the bay.
The first such dinner was at the Outlook Inn. Everything in town is within easy walking or biking distance.

Good clover. Bad clover.

We  found this nice field of clover one cool summer day during a weekend bicycle ride through the farmlands west of Mt. Angel.  It was during the Petal Pedal starting at the Oregon Gardens. Fifty miles on the bikes in the country is a pleasant day.  This is a good use of clover, and it looks nice.

Good Clover

We found this patch  of clover on a very hot summer afternoon. We were coming home from work. A day at work is not as pleasant as a day on the bike.  This clover is not good clover. It does not look as good in my yard and it does not have a good use.

Bad Clover

Honey argues that this clover does have a good use, and perhaps it should be left alone for the bees to enjoy.
She does have a good point, but I think we will have to do something to keep it under control.

Bad Clover

Walks and Alpacas in the Gorge

On Super Bowl Sunday we spent the day wandering in the Gorge.

First stop, the Starvation Creek rest area. Nice place to stretch the legs and wander on the paths along the creek.

We went into Hood River and out into the Parkdale area, stopping at Foothills Yarn and Fiber, where they raise Alpacas, and have a nice store for yarn supplies.

Along the way we spotted this old building. I assume, since it is in the heart of the fruit orchard area, that it is the remnants of a fruit growing operation.

Then making one last stop at the Hatfield Trailhead to walk out along the paved bike/pedestrian path that goes through the Mosier Twin Tunnels. Didn’t make it to the tunnels as its a fair walk on foot. Much easier on bikes.

January snowshoeing on Bennett Pass road

We snowshoed out from Bennett Pass rest area, along the ridge to one of our favorite viewpoints.
The rains and warmer weather has turned this weeks now into a crunchy walk, hard enough that our poles rarely penetrated the surface. And no snows on the trees at all. We were walking in the low laying clouds, but the temperatures were quite comfortable.

This is an out and back walk, simple to follow, with no significant elevation changes.
Here we encountered a downed tree on the trail that was no real obstacle while on foot.

Downed tree on Bennett Pass road

It is at this point we like to stop for lunch and enjoy the view of the mountain.
Today there was no such mountain view.

Fog covered valley from Bennett Pass

Stopping at Timberline lodge, we were afforded a pretty good view through the clouds, of Mt. Jefferson.

View of Mt Jefferson from Timberline Lodge

Timberline has installed a new walkway to keep the snow drifts from the entrance.
Aesthetically speaking, it isn’t much of an improvement over the old Quonset hut style walkway it has replaced.
It really doesn’t seem to fit into the style of the Lodge, but I suppose its more about function than form.

New walkway into Timberline Lodge

Cutting our Christmas Tree at Victorhill

Victorhill Farm.

This is where we have cut our Christmas tree for the last 4 years.  We found it because it opened earlier than most, which allowed us to prepare for a Christmas party. Once there, Honey has discovered that her taste matches that of Blenda the artist/owner. She loves the stuff they sell in their barn, and we spend as much time looking at the wreaths and decorations as we do the tree.
And they have a lot of very good u-cut trees.

Our Hummingbirds

We have installed hummingbird feeders in front and back.  The feeders have been pretty busy in the dawn and dusk hours.  Honey makes new nectar every week in order to keep it fresh and our little hummers seem to appreciate it.  We have begun to study their habits, and note which birds seem to make the best effort to claim the feeders as theirs.  We have even started to name some of the regulars which help us track their usage.  Tippy seems the most dominant, though Ducky makes frequent visits.  Just the last few two weeks we have begun to see this red headed hummingbird quite every day as well. No name for him yet.

Charlie the chimp at Oregon Zoo suddenly dies

Charlie the beloved patriarch of the Oregon Zoo chimpanzee family passed away suddenly Thursday afternoon.

Senior primate keeper Dave Thomas said the 39-year-old, 160 pound chimp was expected to live another 20 years. Charlie survived the African bushmeat trade to become a pet donated to the zoo in May of 1972.

Slideshow: Charlie the chimp

“It’s the end of an era, and the zoo will never be the same,” Thomas said. “We have to go on though, to provide care and support for our remaining females: Delilah, Leah, Coco and Chloe.”

The four female chimps were surrounding Charlie as a volunteer saw him down. Thomas was the first staff person to respond and initiated an emeregency response system. Vets and other staff rushed to the chimp exhibit.

Several minutes passed before the female chimps could be moved safely away and by that time, Charlie was dead, Thomas said.

The females have since been placed together. Leah and Delilah went straight to where Charlied died, Thomas said. He thinks they will continue to look for him for several weeks, believing he might be alive.

Thomas said the primate staff will try and keep as regular a schedule as possible to help comfort them.

“The girls need to know that we are still here for them,” Thomas said.

Grafitti at the Springwater trail

We love riding our bikes along the Springwater trail as it follows the Willamette, between Portland and Oaks park, below the heavy traffic of McLoughlin Blvd. I took this picture in December of 2006, shortly after this power pole was put up. It was pretty cool, since it was some simple bike graphics. It made a small statement about Portland and what this trail was about.

Now, in June of 2009 it is just ugly.

Hill Days. Day #1 Dog Mountain

Honey wants to hike. And for this day, the hike is to be up Dog Mountain, since the wild flowers are in bloom. Dog Mountain lies about 14 miles east of The Bridge of the Gods, on the Washington side of the gorge.  There is a pretty good parking area, directly off highway 14.  Its Sunday, and there’s a forest service guy directing people to park.  We got there pretty early in the morning and it seemed a little odd to have a someone telling all 12 of us where to park. But ok, he was pretty cool and had a lot of good information for us.  From the lot the trail head, with bathrooms are only about 300 feet away.  So up we go. And it doesn’t take long for the trail to start to get steep.  From there on, in alternated between steep and substantially uphill.

It wasn’t long before we came to a fork in the trail and had to make a decision about which way to go. Hmmm, didn’t seem like a tough choice to us.

So, after hiking for a bit and getting to a point where, it seemed to me, that we were probably getting close, the trail opens up from the cover of the trees and you can see up the mountain.  Uh, is that where we are going? Kinda. Honey says.  Ok, great.

We had a great view from the top. We brought a lunch and sat quietly on the slopes at the top, along with 30 or so other hikers, ate our lunch,  and enjoyed the view.

From the top, you can look down at Windy Mountain and Skamania.

Off to the North you can catch a view of Mt. St. Helens.

And, just the tip of the peak of Mt. Hood.

The trail up to the top, on the exposed side, on this day was very windy.  On the way down, we hike down this trail to the point it dissappears the then switchback to the right.  The views on this portion are great, but the wind and loose rock made for a bit of a challenge.  On the way up, at the point the trail disappears, we headed off around the lee side of the mountain.  No view, but no wind either.

Various sources clock the round trip  from 6.5 to 7.1 miles, with about 1850 feet in elevation gain, taking about 4-5 hours. The trail is nice, though much of it isnt wide, requiring someone to pull to the side with others are coming from the other way. But, making the hike rewards you with a collection of wildflowers, views of Mt. Hood, Mt. St Helens, and the knowledge you just made it atop the 2,984 ft. Dog Mountain. Watch for poison oak along the trail. Oh, and when we returned I saw the need for the parking instructions, the lot was packed and there was a string of cars 1/2 down the road.