Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Reflections from a Journey Through Time in Oregon

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

Last Monday Kim and I traveled 300 miles round trip from Bend, Oregon, through the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. One of the richest and most varied deposits of fossils anywhere on earth, it is also one of the most strikingly beautiful landscapes. In the dry high desert land of East Central Oregon lie treasures of the past that hold keys to the future. While today we are concerned about the effects of human activity in changing our climate, seeing the geological record of Oregon’s past made me realize in a deeper way that the earth is indeed a living planet. It has changed dramatically in the past and will continue to change. Our present land and ocean formations are recent in geological time. The constant movement of the techtonic plates, the subduction of life forms under the plates, and volcanic activity in many forms continue to shift our environment. As shifts occur, climate changes. Fossils from bananas and avocados indicate that Oregon once was a lush tropical forest now found in places like Panama.
In the geological time frame, humans are but a brief recent episode. Like many species in the past we may also become extinct. Humans in any form have been around as a species only a couple of million years or even less, about 200,000 years, if we speak of homo sapiens, our species. By contrast dinosaurs were around about 260 million years. We are the only species that has created a culture that separates us from the natural world. We fail to recognize that we are not separate but indeed have about 100 trillion microorganisms that live within us, approximately ten times more than the number of cells in our body. Our life is not possible without these microorganisms that enable us to perform functions like digestion of food. Our lifestyle today, in a society based on fossil fuels, fails to recognize that those fossils lived millions of years ago.
The Painted Hills, our first stop, is an amazing assortment of red, yellow and white mounds from the Oligocene era between 38 and 24 million years ago. The reds represent wetter climates and the yellows drier climates. The soils were formed from volcanic ash over a period of four million years. Overlooking the painted hills is Carrol Rim which is topped by a 28.7 million year old tuff of ash flow from a vent in Eastern Oregon.
Our second stop was the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center at Sheep Rock. This is an operating laboratory for scientists working on fossils found in the area. It is also a visitor center with panoramic murals of life represented by fossils. Sheep Rock, across the road from the Center, has layers of silica rich volcanic ash with a green tint that carries fossils from 24 million years ago. It is topped by Columbia River basalt from 15 million years ago and overlooks the John Day River.
Not far from Sheep Rock, as the road follows the River, is Goose Rock, a rounded mass of lava that emptied into the ocean about 80 million years ago. Here in the river we found three River Otters, playing and feeding. We watched them and they watched us for about 45 minutes, a truly wonderful experience of communing with another species of mammal.
Next on the road was Cathedral Rock, a towering cliff of red and green ash deposits from 29 million years ago that rises above the John Day River. Nearby is the Blue Basin with colorful banded layers that are 29 million years old.

About  two hours from the Paleontology Center near the town of Clarno is the Palisades, a group of towers formed from a series of mudflows 44 million years ago.  The fossils here include an assortment of 173 species of trees, vines, shrubs and other plants found thus far as well as animals that inhabited a near-tropical forest.  Unlike most of the other sites, some of these fossils are visible on the short trail.

After a day of viewing fossils and beautiful mountains and hills formed millions of years ago, I came away with a newly awakened sense of awe and humility.   I am part of something much larger and much older, and I am not in control.  Life is a beautiful gift present wherever we look to find it. Life calls for giving back.

Overlooking the Painted Hills

Looking Up in the Painted Hills

View from the Painted Cove Trail

Carroll Rim

A Brightly Banded Hill

Sheep Rock

Goose Rock

River Otters Swimming

River Otters Looking

River Otter Eating Crawfish

Cathedral Rock

Cliffs of the Blue Basin

Hill with Ash Tuffs

The Palisades at Clarno

The Palisades at Clarno

Fossil of a Leaf

20th Annual Delaware River Sojourn

Monday, June 30th, 2014

I returned Saturday evening from seven wonderful days on the 20th annual Delaware River Sojourn, a refreshing and exciting trip with the largest group ever, which once again included my life partner, Kim.  We began with a couple of days paddling one of my favorite stretches of the River from Shohola Rapids to Matamoras.   It includes some of the best rapids, beautiful scenery and an increasing number of Bald Eagles.

The third day included the Delaware Water Gap, five bears sited, I think the most ever on the Sojourn, and an eagle with a fish.  A mother bear and two cubs came out near the eagle and the mother took the fish the eagle had caught, seeming not to bother much about the large group of canoes and kayaks in the middle of the River watching her. Shelley DePaul, Chief of the Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania, led us thorough the Gap, blessing each of us with smoke and cedar, singing and praying in the Lenape language, reminding us that the River is sacred to the Lenape people.

The fourth day included the waves of Foul Rift, a stretch not done on the Sojourn since the first one.  Even with many novices among the 95 participants that day, we came through with no injuries and only a few people taking an unexpected swim.  This year we were blessed with beautiful weather every day and only one storm at night.

The Delaware River is a treasure, about two hundred miles of undamed beauty above Trenton.  Each time I paddle I am caught up in the magic of slow living, taking the time to observe, enjoy and experience the sacred wonders surrounding me, such a contrast to the life most people see as normal. In the tidal section of the River where we paddled from Neshaminy State Park to Bristol and returned, the contrast was evident. Speed boats and jet skis whizzed past us at top speed creating large waves with their  drivers lost in the fast and destructive world powered by oil, likely totally unaware of their impact.  River tugs floated past us going toward Trenton.  Our presence on the River represented a meeting of two worlds.

The images below are a small selection of the images that will be placed on my web site later with those of eight previous sojourns.

Crowded Shohola Rapids

Damon caught a fish

Bald Eagles at Nest with Two Juveniles

Coming Through Staircase Rapids

 Dan Easily Does Butler’s Rift

Mother Bear with Fish

Approaching the Delaware Water Gap

 Mitzi Going Through Foul Rift

 Paddling Below Martin’s Creek Power Plant

 Waiting to Start at Riegelsville

 Dawn at Neshaminy Looking Toward Philadelphia

 Approaching Bristol

Jane and Dave

 River Tug and Jet SKi

 

Tryon Creek State Park

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

Near Lake Oswego, Oregon, lies an urban treasure, Tryon Creek State Park.  Almost 700 acres of preserved forest around Tryon Creek, a stream protected for Steelhead and Salmon, it is easily accessible. The only Oregon State Park within a major urban area, Tryon has many walking paths and holds numerous treasures of a typical forest in the Willamette ecosystem. About ten minutes from where my Mother lives, I had a wonderful walk yesterday for several hours, exploring a few of the wonders. Below are some examples of what I found.

 Transformed Stump

 

Moss Sculpture

 

Ferns on the Tree

 

 Moss and Ferns

 

Like a Rain Forest

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seattle Sunset

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

Sunday I arrived in Seattle after leaving freezing rain in Philadelphia.  It was a beautiful sunny day here so after checking in to my hotel I walked a few blocks to the Space Needle.   Having been to Seattle numerous times this was my first time to go up and get the wonderful 360 degree views of the city and surrounding mountain ranges. I could not have had a greater reward-clear views in all directions to Mount Rainier, to Mount Baker, to the Olympics and a colorful sunset.  Below are a few choice shots.

Seattle Space Needle

Seattle Skyline at Sunset

Seattle Sunset Looking South

Seattle Sunset Looking North

Seattle Skyline at Dusk

The Indian Ladder Trail

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

 

The Indian Ladder Trail at John Boyd Thatcher State Park just outside Albany, New York, is one of the most interesting paths for a short hike that I know.   Located on the Helderberg  Escarpment, the towering limestone cliffs have many different formations. The layers contain remnants of history dating back millions of years.  Caves, waterfalls, and emerging underground streams dot the landscape alongside the trail.  With careful observation one can easily find fossil remains of the geological history.  

The trail itself was used by the Mohawk Indians 400 hundred years ago to reach a trading post on the Hudson River.   The name comes from the ladders originally used to  reach the top. Great views of the Adirondacks, the Green Mountains and the Hudson Valley are found at the top of the trail. 

Last Sunday I had the opportunity to walk  the trial with three of my favorite people, my partner Kim, and two young people, Colby and Caitlyn, whom I have known their entire lives. With heavy rain in the morning, we waited until early afternoon before departing.  The rain and clouds left most people seeking shelter, so we had the trail almost to ourselves.

Once again I came home inspired by the beauty and majesty that can be found in the natural world wherever we happen to be.   

  Colby and Caitlyn on the indian Ladder Trail

cliffs overhang the Indian Ladder Trail

Colby and Caitlyn under towering cliffs on the Indian Ladder Trail

Colby and Caitlyn with Kim on the Indian Ladder Trail below towering cliffs

The narrow trail passes by an overhang

Colby and Caitlyn under a large overhanging cliff

Small Waterfall among the rocks

Colby plays in the water

View of the Hudson Valley from Under the Rocks

The cliffs above the Indian Ladder Trail

An almost dry creek ready to descend

Kim, Colby and Cailyn in a dry creek

Niagara Falls

Monday, June 17th, 2013

On Saturday Kim and I explored the wonders of both sides of Niagara Falls.  This piece of  the natural world brings one close to the tremendous power of water. I stood close to the edge of the falls watching the largest volume of water going over any falls in North America, tumbling by, falling to the waters below and creating a rising cloud of mist.  I looked at the rapids above the American Falls observing the beauty of this clear, rapidly flowing  water, dropping over the surface below, not aware that it was approaching the precipice awaiting a few hundred yards beyond. Water is amazing, beautiful and powerful, life-giving and life-destroying, providing refreshment and recreation,  always changing and always present.  Niagara Falls gave me the gift of renewed energy, recognizing that I am connected to this natural wonder with about 70% of my body composed of the same substance I was watching flowing by in massive amounts over the falls.

The American Falls at Niagara

Horseshoe Falls

Cormorant in the mist over Horseshoe Falls

Looking downstream on the Niagara river with all falls in View

The American Falls and Rainbow Bridge

Flowing Toward Bridal Veil Falls

Japanese Garden Portland

Saturday, May 18th, 2013

On Thursday I visited the Japanese Garden overlooking the downtown buildings of Portland, Oregon, and was reminded of the unity of the built world and the natural world.   While there I felt a oneness with nature, a deep spiritual connection with all around me.  The experience was an escape into a special place, constructed yet natural.  Rocks, water, shrubs, bridges, walkways, ponds, buildings, sculpture, birds, fish - all set among the tall douglas firs that are native to the area.   Nothing felt out of place. It invited me to experience the wonder of all that is around me and appreciate the interconnection of everything.   It presented a  picture of life that flourishes, one that takes its energy from relationships carefully affirmed.   It demonstrates possibilities of a new kind of world, one that resonates with what is already present within us and can be built around us to replace the world that destroys, disconnects, and denies that we are part of the lifegiving systems of the earth and the universe.

pond at Japaese Gardens

Zig Zag Bridge and Lower Pond

staircase in natural garden

Sand and Stone Garden at Japense Garden

Shreiner’s Iris Gardens

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

I’ve been visiting my almost 93 year old Mother in Lake Oswego, Oregon this week.  Today we decided to take in one of the seasonal delights in the area, the Shreiner’s Iris Gardens near Salem.  From May 10 until June 9 the gardens present a spectacular show of color as the hundreds of varieties of iris are in peak bloom.  The day started out rainy but just after we arrived the rain stopped presenting a perfect  day for flower photography, cloudy skies, no rain or wind, and flowers filled with moisture drops from the earlier rain.  I covered the gardens quickly awed by the great variety of colors and combinations of flowers.  I only wish I’d had more time in this paradise of flowers.

Shreiner’s iris Gardens

iris variety

group of irises

Clouds from the Air

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

Last Monday I flew from Philadelphia to Portland, Oregon.    As usual I had my camera ready and had elected a window seat near the rear clear of the wing.   I had hoped I might find an image of Mount Hood just before landing as I had in the past.  Instead I became fascinated by the ever changing shapes of the clouds below.  I was reminded of images from Georgia OKeefe.   The flow of water in the clouds presented innumerable opportunities for images.   As the sun became lower the colors  added interest.   I seldom remember seeing images of clouds taken from the air. Here was another opportunity to produce images that help people see the world in a different way.

Clouds and Mountains

Sun set on Clouds

Sunset Colors

Last weekend at Ocean city and Assateague

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

Last weekend I showed my photography at the Ward International Waterfowl Carving Competition in Ocean City Maryland.   The carvings are incredible, looking like they are ready to fly away.   I won third place for the best retail booth design, a new honor for me, since I had never had an award for my booth.  Yet the real highlight of the weekend, as it is every year, is the evening trip to Assateague Island.  This time Saturday night gave me some of the closest views of the wild ponies I’ve had as well as a wonderful sunset over the Bay.Wild Pony at Assateague Close Up  wild Pony at Assateague  Sunset at Assateague