Tag Archive: Birds


US 395 at one time ran from San Diego to British Columbia. It lies on the east side of the Sierra like a divider. I would like to traverse more of it, having been fond of the California section in-between too foggy-cold and too hot. Dreams happen here. Ghosts and mysteries are allowed to speak. It takes me back to my girlhood when I could hear the calling of nature and even blindfolded see the wavering colors of trees, back when I could sense holes in the substance of day-to-day reality, the grown-up adult kind, where people don’t fly in their dreams and a road is no more than an engineered transportation device.

I’d left out the town of Burns, OR, before I’d reached the 2nd part of the 395 south of Hwy 20 and finding Lake Abert and the tiny town of Valley Falls.

Birding Country, Burns, OR

Birding Country, Burns, OR

I’d  spent the night at the Burns RV Park wanting a shower and a place to wander about, I never did explore the town. Turns out the area is known for birding with an annual festival and ongoing activities at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on the Pacific Flyway. I’d missed the annual birding festival in April but could happily see myself seeking birds. There are many treasures along Oregon’s 395.

The land of birds

After passing Lake Abert the next day before crossing the California border I stopped in Lakeview, OR for a walk. It’s the County Seat of Lake County. I was pondering the downtown signage of churches near the administration center, taken aback that so many could exist in such a small place when a gentleman stopped to ask if I needed anything. Turned out he was the DA, he told me he loved knowing everyone in town and had returned after working in other locations, pointing out the building where he’d bought his first gun. Maybe he was a hunter, I don’t know.  As we conversed he lamented the young people leaving, there didn’t seem to be much to keep them busy, even the theater was defunct, needing extensive and costly repairs. I wished him well and continued my walk, lots of ranches in the surrounding area; the town would make a great backdrop for a movie.

How many churches does this small town have?

How many churches does this small town have?

Lake County Courthouse Lakeview, Oregon Post Office

Maybe a good movie set?

Maybe a good movie set?

On the way out there was a fellow herding cows on the road, he yelled at us motorist to go slow although no one was traveling faster than 5 mph, his voice was loud and stern! If you click the Lakeview link above be sure to watch the video, a true county town, with a big sign of a tall man waving his pistol. Seems there’s an National Antelope Refuge 65 miles north on Hwy 40. There are also petroglyphs in the area.

If you do any of this drive I’d suggest spending a lot more time than 2 days it took me and bring along some cash. The little town where I bought gas was super friendly, like Canada, however they had a terrible time making a phone connection for my credit card, they kept trying while I hung out for a while but in the end I offered cash, you might want to make sure you have a stash for times like that.

Alone at Goose Lake

Alone at Goose Lake

I crossed the border without noticing but I did notice a sign saying Goose Lake State Recreation Area so I turned around back to Oregon and took the short road to the campground. Lots of space, only 1 or 2 sites were being used. I almost camped there and would have if I’d had my dogs with; instead I drove to the day use area and parked.  Wow, there were my birds! Not a human in site. I had to talk myself out of nervousness of being alone, this time on foot. The lake / wetlands was low yet gorgeous and so alive!

Goose Lake, low water level.

Goose Lake, low water level.

Goose Lake wetlands

Goose Lake wetlands

Goose Lake vegetation

Goose Lake vegetation

DSC00609copy

 

I went on to Susanville to spend the next night, no particular reason, there were many pullouts on the mountain road and campgrounds on side roads. I’m used to having my dogs, we go for long walks and they tell me if there’s anyone around, that’s my only excuse for rushing along and not choosing to stay longer and explore.

Drought is very evident in Oregon as in California. I’m more aware of its effect in areas where I know the general pattern of the land. It’s scary how dry and hot everything is, be super careful!  CA, OR, WA, Canada, NV, AZ are all short of water. It will be a tough summer, fires are already blazing. I pack a respirator and a few extra breathing masks for those times one has to drive through a fire area along with extra drinking water.

I used to love campfires when I was a girl, but they don’t make sense unless you’re truly need one and are practiced in how to build one and keep it from accidentally spreading. Watch out for equipment you might have that creates a spark, remember to check your propane for leaks.   Keep the basics right there with you, shovel, lots of water, bucket, fire extinguisher not a bad idea. Clear the area of all debris so that embers can’t catch and never walk away and leave a smoldering fire, re-think the whole thing if its windy.  I’ve been known to stop and put out smoldering campfires that others have left behind. If you smoke carry your butts out with you don’t toss them on the ground. Learn about lightning storms…  don’t pitch tents near the highest tree, etc.. if you enjoy a few drinks remember safety first …   let’s get through this summer as safe as we can.

There are 100 fires burning now in Alaska

 SONGS

Katie Melua – I Cried For You

Somewhere over the Rainbow – Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwoʻole

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My phone provides pleasure, especially via Tunein Pro radio, right now I’m listening to Folk Alley via my little pop up black portable speakers–I-Home–I think they are. Other favs, Sleepbot Environmental, Silent.li Nature Sounds, Misterium, Niryana Relaxation Radio, KCBX Public Radio, WKSU Classical, All Classical Portland. Most of these are for sleeping to kill the annoying wine in my bad ear, but they are for pleasure as well.

 My parking spot in the rain at Konocti Vista Casino, first night in Lake County

My parking spot in the rain at Konocti Vista Casino, first night in Lake County

Taking a walk around the Casino

Taking a walk around the Casino

My Note’s GPS is far better at finding and laying a trail via car or walking than my Garmin. My newish Garmin is a confused and wayward creature, I don’t recommend it although I loved my original one. The Note provides overview maps and specialty info. My e-mail is delivered as received, same for Facebook. I can watch movies, read a book, tell the time, count the stars or at least know what I’m seeing up there in the night. I can keep in touch, video and photograph what I see, draw a picture or pen a note. I can record fantastic bird and nature sounds. My Note will talk to me if I ask it to, it will sing to me in my own voice from one of the moments when no one was listening but my Note. Remember when one needed a daypack for all their stuff? All I need is my Note, a water bottle, a hat and my dogs. Oh and my wallet, which brings me back to the story of losing my wallet. How many of you have experienced precognition? If you have an explanation I want to know.

Comes cordis Olympia of Flying Curls Lagotto Romagnolo at the dog park

Comes cordis Olympia of Flying Curls Lagotto Romagnolo at the dog park


Flying Curls Mason at the dog park

Flying Curls Mason at the dog park

I had returned to a favored spot, the dog park at the Kelseyville County Park. Now this involves a pet peeve of mine; its women’s jeans pockets. Men’s pants have nice roomy pockets, front and back. Women’s have itsy-bitsy teeny weenie pockets, some pockets are even fake, oh how I hate those! How many road savvy, feet hiking, dog toting, camping, fixing, picture-taking, RV driving where other RVs don’t dare to go, women, have the space to carry a purse or need to with a nifty Note? So what’s wrong with pockets? One for the phone, one for the wallet, one for dog treats, one for pooper bags and I’m good to go. Why must they be so shallow?

I thought of leaving my wallet, it’s one of those Eagle Creek things, lot’s of stuff can go in there, I actually have a sort of purse, a green sling bag from Magellan’s Travel Supplies in which I keep my checkbook, camp cards and a few other things; my wallet and phone will fit in there if needed and I don’t want my too small pockets bulging…. ah hum… leaving my wallet in the LT was a good idea, I was thinking, but being the don’t trust anyone sort, my head plays the scene… while I’m off having fun, someone breaks into the LT, maybe they take my wallet, or maybe they take the van …. better have my phone, my dogs, my wallet and a jacket just in case. I was a Girl Scout, a leader of my troop and learned to Be Prepared. I’m skilled at worrying. My Mother taught me to think ahead. I doubt she ever thought I’d get it. Even if it doesn’t seem like it, I’m excellent at listening. I listen to what others don’t say out loud, I listen to the animals, to the wind, to the sound my feet make, to the dogs breathing, to the sound the stars make and more.

So, there I was in Lake County on a too tired day not understanding why an environment of such astounding beauty should be inhabited by communities of drugged out, smoking, beer drinking, trash heaping, badly groomed, overly poor, burned out humans. I’m gonna say beauty is learned thing. No I’ll change that, beauty is natural, but the senses can be so degraded that humans lose touch and start living in a collective illusion, often an ugly one.

My private world of water and birds at the lake, Lake County, CA

My private world of water and birds at the lake, Lake County, CA

So I had the feeling, actually a premonition, maybe you could call it a vision, that I would actually lose my wallet that day. I don’t pay too much attention to these things being a skeptic. I was considering what a silly idea losing my wallet was; I could leave it stashed in the LT but since I planned to do some meandering I decided my premonition was nothing more than a reflex from the panic of the last week; I’d be extra careful. After playing with the dogs I was tired headed to Clearlake State Park to spend the night, having earlier that day rejected a half-dozen so called RV Park/Resorts in Kelseyville and Lakeport that were run down Trailer Parks of the kind that we used say were trash camps, the one or two that looked nice were private, none seemed to have any offerings for an overnight guest in defiance of their welcoming signs. So, I rolled up to the State Park kiosk, surprised that this time there was a human in the booth rather than a note saying one should self-register, I’d been here the day I arrived but had gone to the Casino for their Internet access and plug-in power.

I tired to pay my entrance fee. No wallet! No panic either, this time I knew I’d lost it, I’d known I was going to after all. I pushed the LT over the rough roads, bump and grind ignoring the dogs look of pained “do you have to do that, Mom” look, as fast as I could. The young pole fishing couple in their blue 4×4 waved me over just as I arrived at the dog park, they were about to disappear. “We were gonna mail this to you,” he said. A few more moments they would have been gone.

Camping at Clearlake State Park added to my study of the uncommonly seen species, the human male fisherman. At the State Park they come out into the open and are to be found everywhere! They are a noisy bunch but seem to be having a lot of fun. I walked all the paved roads from top to bottom, some 3 or 4 times as dogs are not allowed on the trails. On the upper roads, which had been barricaded from traffic I was completely alone save for my dogs, no fishermen, no campers, only me and the dogs. It was gorgeous. I found my favorite spot up there but it was closed for the winter.

I’d began my observation of the Human Male Fisher the previous night at Clearlake RV Resort; the first hour at the resort I spent raking dog poop and cigarette butts from the camp site I choose; my dogs were embarrassed, they hid under the LT until I’d cleaned the mess. I felt sorry an Australian Shepard mix tied outside a weathered trailer, never saw his owner, the dog was waiting until I went to sleep and tied up outside in the morning, don’t know if the piles were his but he had a sad lonely bark. I suspect I was the only “visitor” in the Resort; the others appeared to be semi-permanent. Only one resident was brave enough to check out the newcomer (me) other than one of the wilder young girls who asked a lot of questions. The man brought his dog, a cute but vicious little chihuahua over to poop while he tried to engage me in conversation. He was smoking and trying real hard to explain about his retirement and moving to Clearlake, I was polite but cold. I cleaned up his dog’s gifts after he left.

I loved my spot on the lip of the lake with no view of the campers far behind me. I laid out a nice clean big mat for the dogs and a few smaller ones to collect mud. We had a private paradise to ourselves. I left dogs off leash, Olympia played in the water, Mason and I watched the birds. I relaxed tossing the ball to Olympia, sitting in my green chair over a good dinner on Mom’s little nautical folding table. I felt like I was in a Disney Nature World, but it was real! Mergansers, plovers, mallards, greebe, coots, osprey: the feeding in turns… what expert fishers the birds are! The four guardian geese. The rituals, the crickets, squirrels, pond turtles, the bullfrogs, turkey vultures and hawks, the wind… it was rapture. The Resort was not so great, the wi-fi didn’t work, the shower took quarters so I didn’t bother, the store was closed, the pool and hot tub chained linked closed. I paid way too much to be doing my own cleaning but my spot had to be singularly the most vibrantly elegant bit of lakefront that I’ve experienced. I dreamed of having a place like that. I drew a picture, read my book, cooked a great meal, I was happy.

To my horror in the morning I made my first sighting of the human male fisher, they often came in pairs, in boats, looking very serious in special costumes and talkative among themselves at an hour long after the fish have retreated; what’s alarming is that they hunted for fish in the dirtiest part of the lake made even dirtier by the inhabitants of the resort… and I put all the blame on the humans here not the dogs. I dreaded what would happen if they caught a fish and took it to their wives for dinner…. mercury in the lake too. . . sick kids, sick mom and dad.

Keeping Guard over us

Keeping Guard over us

Clearlake 056

Clearlake 077

I think Clearlake needs to be repurposed as a naturalist habitat. I love all the organic farms. . .pears, peaches, apples, walnuts, grapes, herbs and figs, melons, berries, olives, pomegranates, lamas, flowers, free range pheasants, chickens, goats, wild turkeys, etc. but not the failure of the fishing economy and the collapse of tourism. The Lake is troubled, contaminated but she’s ancient and beautiful. It would be terrible to turn the borders into another Lake Tahoe where you have to pay for a view and the traffic is thicker than frozen butter. So if I won the lottery…. well who knows. Bed time now.
Clearlake

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Clearlake 054

This turned out to be a favored camping spot: River Reflections RV Park … could’ve, should’ve spent another night there but with the rain I went exploring as you already heard…. Oh yay yay Great camping spot with a view of the Feather River. Had our section to ourselves, peaceful and serene.

The Park had some sticky seed pods in the grass, Mason was suspicious, when something funny gets in his paws he gives me this look, like, you gotta be kidding, what, walk on the stuff, no way! But he’s little I can pick him up. I gave him a nice foot massage and all was forgiven.

On our last walk of the day we sat at the bottom of the boat loading ramp watching the birds.

On our last walk of the day we sat at the bottom of the boat loading ramp watching the birds.

night

Rain Outside Our Window

Rain Outside Our Window

Oh yeh….. and the dam – I would have liked a tour but I wasn’t finding anything that day. Maybe it was down the way too small and steep looking dirt / gravely and wet road that I didn’t dare take the LT on or maybe further up the hill or maybe on the other side… I was driving in loops and circles.

Oroville Dam from the road

Oroville Dam from the road

The Power of Birds

I wrote this yesterday, but could not post as there was no Wi-Fi,   Tonight  it’s iffy…   will see..

Okay, no pictures tonight, not enough  bandwidth to load them…  but here’s the text…  photos to come. Oh, there’s one….more later.

As I sit at the bottom of the boat ramp at River Reflections RV Resort & Campground in Oroville CA,  tired dogs snuggled close, a rapid streak  fills the flickering of  first one eye then the next, replacing the uncomfortable tailings of ocular migraines and visual snow. It is a goodness only surpassed by the cacophony of dinner calls, territorial puckering, perhaps mating rituals; it is after all early spring. The whistles , hoots and calls of 5 or 7 or 10 species eradicates tinnitus. The noise of the birds is like a waterfall in sound. And again, another flash of bird power that feels so good to my eyes, shattering the stasis of torn nerves. I don’t know how they can fly so fast then seem to slow as l watch. I want to memorize them,  They are beauty and doctoring entwined. It is magic.  Today has been a feast, all this natural music. Earlier there were carpets of tiny flowers , purple butterflies, more fantastic bird songs and strange roads my GPS sends to test my mettle. I plugged in my desired location and was instructed in rather bad English. The road unexpectedly turned to gravel, oh heck, I thought, someone had told me the road was paved, this must be temporary  but it went on. I swore, knuckles clamped on the wheel it was time to turn around, give it up, I could not pass this way, yet I’d experienced before how I never see others making the journey I’m making only to arrive and find there is a crowd…  how did they get there! The road was too narrow to turn around. Who would find me and the dogs I wondered, I passed homes until they disappeared. This time just before I reached  my destination–Table Mountain Ecological Area–a ranch appeared, cars appeared and a cross-road… paved of course, with a double yellow line.  Oh! And all these folks were picnicking and walking dogs. Everyone happy, with the thunderclouds and dotted sun. Folks asked me about Olympia and joked about investigating the cow piles. I was glad I found it. Wildflowers jumping up and down.

Table Mountain Ecological Area

Table Mountain Ecological Area

Still earlier, I had driven into Chico from Paradise; Paradise I have decided is a delight to those living in Chico because of its stunning Pines. The town is filled with trees, Dogwoods, Maples I think, Willows maybe, I’m guessing since I don’t know, some of which were in bloom, white, others blazing pink amid the evergreens, a delight in contrast to the heat of Chico. Yet I was not taken with the town, it seems better suited for seclusion. I loved the off-road walkways walking with the dogs, didn’t see any residents on them. The Safeway was packed with men, maybe going fishing?  As one guy told me, this isn’t San Francisco you can’t expect to find those fancy foods here, my tastes for the natural organic stuff…. life here is more basic. Maybe it was just the day, I’ve never seen so many guys grocery shopping, l felt dwarfed standing in line with them.

Stopped at Bidwell Park in Chico, loved it! 3,670-acres! The dogs ran free, Olympia blasted into the pond, Mason in wonder…he seemed stunned, fascinated by such a place; didn’t love the speed bumps on the road in… those are tough in the LT. I took the road to the end. Dogs were permitted off leash on the hiking trails!!! That’s love. We played amid Pipevine Swallowtails, geese, herons, ducks, salamanders, and flurries of assorted  and noisy song birds with their accompanist insects.  I liked Chico,well, I loved the Park and therefore the town! The Natural Food store was yummy; tons of students. Then the challenging drive…my Garmin secretly laughs at me; those 4 by 4 trucks can’t get anything over on the LT. I could do it. Twisty, steep, gravely, no shoulders, bring it on. The reward was wildflowers and at my campsite more birds!!!!

Early this morning it rained, I felt relaxed, I almost never feel that way. I woke at 6:30 with the wind, then the rain came. I lazed in the Park for a few hours, took the dogs for a walk in-between showers but then I left. I might have stayed another day it the Park had Wi-Fi. Instead I went in search of a wildlife viewing area which I couldn’t find. Every turn I made was the wrong turn. I was frustrated so decided to head to Clear Lake State Park…  I stopped here and there, for a walk, near a river, or a downtown or a path.  Someone slide up next to my LT, maybe another camper, maybe a truck….  they left a long wound on my motorhome, sliced fibreglass badly all along the rear wheel and compartment and more. I was upset, then Olympia started in with her I want to play tennis ball sulkiness…. why did today turn out to be irritating and troublesome when yesterday was a delight?  The rain turned gray and muddy. I passed on the State Park, I passed on the nearby RV Park and am at the Casino…ho-humm, a parking lot, but it’s quiet. Patience  I need patience and please, please bring back those magical birds and butterflies and singing insects….