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Archive for August, 2010

Saturday mornings find us at the Klamath Falls farmers market with cooler bag in hand. We look forward to the growing season and have been going to these markets for many years, but have found that the trend is to sell more crafts and less produce. That is certainly the case at the Klamath Falls market. There is a limited variety of produce from just a few venders, most of whom seem to be backyard veggie gardeners. Limited quantity, variety and hit or miss quality does not, however, keep the price down. We pay top dollar for produce grown without pesticides and herbicides, irregardless of a given gardener’s skill, so we have learned to get there early, walk the market to inspect all options and then make our selections while choices are still available.
Wow, that sounded kind of negative, didn’t it?! We may not be happy about limited choice, but we do get some great vegetables at the market and are happy to have the opportunity to get truly fresh produce.

Klamath Falls farmers market

We found a very clean laundry that has never been busy when we’ve gone which makes the weekly chore rather pleasant. We settle in with a cup of coffee and our iPads and the time flies by.

Laundry day

Geothermal heat has been harnessed for heating buildings since 1900, especially in the downtown historic district.

We took the poodles in for grooming. It’s always fun to be able to see their faces again.

Moore Park is beside Upper Klamath Lake.
Driving along Lakeshore Drive, we come around a curve in the road and see a bright green field and lots of huge shade trees. The park, with its grassy playing fields and picnicking areas, is an odd sight in the arid landscape and owes its existence to heavy, daily watering. We don’t stay in this section, but park our car and head up away from the lake, into the dry, wooded hills. We may see the occasional runner, walker or biker, but it’s lightly used and amazing for it’s close proximity to an urban area. We think Klamath Falls residents are really lucky to have this park and the Link River trail just beside it. We often walk both in order to do a loop.

Moore Park

Sprinklers shoot water in greats arcs. We have sprinted through them to cool down on a hot day. The tremendous amount of water provides great habitat for midges which are out in force after a watering. We usually get back from a walk about then to find our car covered with little, bright green bugs.

This is not a grainy photograph, but clouds upon clouds of midges. The whole hillside (most of which is out of frame to the left) was aswarm that morning and the masses of midges made a quiet, persistent humming noise, like the sound a transformer makes.

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We parked in a dusty lot at a bend in the road, not far from a tiny grocery/convenience store. According to the map, we were in Olene, OR, but there was no other evidence of a town in any direction; just few widely spaced houses with outbuildings, big fenced pastures and a slow, quiet river winding through the gap in low mountains to either side. It wasn’t especially early. In fact, we were out too late yet again for our comfort, all four of us.
We geared up for a walk, with humans toting water for four, knowing that two 100 oz. CamelBak bladders wouldn’t be enough water for us all on a long walk in this heat.
We had been wanting to see something of the OC&E Woods Line Trail. Converted from the Oregon, California & Eastern Railroad, 100 miles of trail connects Klamath Falls to Bly and to the Sycan Marsh. This short stretch that we walked is a vehicle width dirt track and starts out beside the Lost River and Canal B of the Klamath Project (system of irrigation for cropland).

OC&E Trail on left, Canal B and then Lost River to far right

The countryside is quiet and open just outside of the Klamath Falls area. We saw Western Fence Lizards scurrying off of the edges of the trail ahead of us. Scrub Jays shrieked at us from Junipers on the hillside.

Western Fence Lizard

Blazing Star

Juniper

Close-up view of Juniper's root and burrows in hill

Patches of bent and broken stems in the otherwise tall grasses beside the trail were evidence of squirrel feeding zones. We watched a ground squirrel standing upright on back legs, reaching up and, paw over paw, pulling tall stems down until it could get to the seed at the top.

Ground squirrel eating seed

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The rumble of a passing train is an expected sound when we stay in an RV park anywhere we’ve traveled in the US. It seems rare that we don’t hear a train horn sometime during the night and we’ve grown to love the sound, as long as there is enough distance to take the edge off of the thunder. Klamath Falls has a large train yard and trains are a common sight and sound as we drive around town. A railroad passes about of a quarter mile from the park and we sometimes wake to the sound of a train horn, followed by the cries of coyotes echoing the sound.

Looking north from 6th St. Bridge

View southward

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Klamath Falls

Like many other creatures, we have settled for a short time beside water in the high desert. The Klamath Basin (located in southern OR & northern CA) has diverse habitats and is especially rich in wildlife, and we have looked forward to the chance to explore in more depth than on previous visits. The town of Klamath Falls is nestled by two lakes, the Upper Klamath and the Ewauna, the two connected by the Link River. Shortly after our arrival in Klamath Falls, we went for a walk at the edge of downtown by the Link River. We shrugged into our CamelBaks while the dogs drank from their bowl. It was still cool, but we could feel the heat from the newly risen sun and the air was filled with flying bugs. Really filled, with clouds of various hatches, mostly midges. These are the sort of hatches flyfishers look for to determine what sort of fly to use. “Match the hatch” is usually the best policy, but here — good luck getting a fish to choose your little fly amongst millions and millions of the same! We were glad these bugs weren’t the sort to be interested in our blood. Other life was also clearly abundant. Dozens of Barn Swallows flitted through the swarms. We figured that they just kept their mouths open, scooping their plentiful prey. Western and Clark’s Grebes, American White Pelicans, Double-Crested Cormorants and Ring-billed Gulls dotted the southern end of Upper Klamath Lake and the head of the Link River. Snowy and Great Egrets, Green herons, Black Crowned Night herons and all sorts of ducks lined up on or paddled amongst rocks just off shore — all of it an amazing sight for these avid birders.

Barn Swallows

We saw so many birds (like the Snowy Egret and California Quail pictured in collage), insects, Mule deer, mink and turtles in the first 20 minutes of this walk.

Beside the Link River

Purple pin: Link River

South end of Upper Klamath Lake

Below: A sudden squawking and a flurry of wings as an immature (2nd year) Black Crowned Night Heron challenged (and lost to) a Snowy Egret for its fishing spot. The heron landed a couple of rocks away and they both immediately went back to fishing.

All's well

American White Pelicans

We watched these Pelicans fish as a team, much like Humpback whales. Three to five of them paddled close together in the shallows, using partially submerged rocks as a barrier against which, by circling and closing, they bunched minnows which they then scooped up in concert.

Non-breeding Clark's Grebe

Klamath Basin is a stopover spot for millions of migrating birds and fall migration begins soon!

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East of the Cascades

At home in Collier State Park, near Chiloquin, OR

Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel

Heat, sun, bugs and wind — east of the Cascades in Oregon feels familiar, much like the eastern foothills in central Washington, and we’re experiencing that familiar climate shock that goes with crossing the Cascades and going from wet, lush forest to high desert.

Collier State Park — We set up “home”, thankful for the shade in this campground set amidst conifers with little undergrowth. Miniature puffs of dust rose here and there from the brief, explosive digging of ground squirrels. As with other squirrels and chipmunks in tourist areas, many of these were quite tame, some even coming right up to our feet with the dogs lying there.
The Williamson River flows by the edge of the campground and in the morning we walked through the arid woods toward the thick screen of greenery that borders the river, shielding the water from view until we were almost upon it. A heady smell of blended herbs was in the air as we approached, as were mosquitos. Lots and lots of hungry mosquitos. Although we’d prefer to walk in the morning’s coolness, we ended up walking later when the little biters weren’t so active.

Snack break in the shade beside the river

Williamson River

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Across the mountains

We left the coast, taking Hwy 38 along the Umpqua River across the Coast Range, then quickly across the valley (away from that I-5 corridor), and into the foothills on Hwy 138, following the North Umpqua River up into the Cascades.
From chilly coast to hot valley, to cooler Cascades, then back to hot on the other side of those mountains — always with comfortably cool nights.   We overnighted and stopped to hike in the dramatically differing forests along the way.  We watched salmon leaping at  Deadline Falls and walked to a few other waterfalls along scenic 138.

Fall Creek Falls

Lisa hiking in Cascades forest (in favorite Fivefingers shoes)

Very lenient pet policy at this RV park

Locals giving Brian some advice

We bypassed busy Crater Lake National Park (which we’ve seen) and spent a couple of days at Collier Memorial State Park near Chiloquin, OR.  As in eastern Washington, Oregon is tinder-dry east of the Cascades this time of year.  And hot!  Such a change for us since we are long used to cool and clouds in WA and AK.

To be continued . . .

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Reality vs memory

Rockaway Beach, OR

The Oregon coast is spectacular, but seems much more crowded, with more houses, businesses and traffic, than in the past. Of course, it is the height of the tourist season and we also try to take Juneau, AK into account when saying this. Having lived in a remote, pristine area, where human civilization is a tiny dot amidst vast forests and water, our definition of a natural environment is stringent compared to what it was before. Humanity undoubtedly presses more heavily on nature in coastal Oregon, but how much more heavily we no longer feel we can objectively say.

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