Suicidal butterflies

This is a California Tortoiseshell butterfly.  It is about the size of a half-dollar coin.  There were hundreds, maybe even thousands of them fluttering around as I descended McKenzie Pass from the Dee Wright Observatory south towards the little town of Westfir (a considerable distance).  I have never seen so many butterflies in the “wild” in my life.  It was absolutely amazing.  I call them suicidal because so many of them seemed to want to fly right in front of my car.

One of these years I need to go up to the Blue Ridge Parkway back home in North Carolina to see the annual migration of Monarch butterflies.  Kathy, we need to put that on our bucket lists.

UPDATE: I’ve posted a second picture. Unfortunately, his willingness to pose is due to the fact that he’s deceased. 

Two out of three ain’t bad


These are two of the “Three Sisters”, a range of mountains located west of Bend, Oregon.  You are seeing North Sister and Middle Sister.  South Sister is a little shy and is hiding behind Middle Sister from this vantage point. The locals have nicknamed the three mountain peaks Faith, Hope and Charity.

This photo was taken from the parking lot of the Dee Wright Observatory, located along the McKenzie Pass Scenic Highway.  To get here I traveled through the little town of Sisters (go figure), a real cute little town which hosts lots of music festivals and a huge annual quilting event.

Dee Wright Observatory

This structure is located at the highest point of the McKenzie Pass Scenic Highway which travels through Willamette National Forest and the surrounding area.  It is constructed entirely of volcanic lava rock and sits in the middle of a huge area (hundred of acres, probably) of the same, black rock.  It was built in 1935 by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

The round building has an open area on top which affords the viewer an unobstructed 360 degree panorama of the area.  The room below it has several large windows, as well as two “viewfinder” windows which point towards the mountains (see post below).

Viewfinder windows


If you are looking at posts from the bottom up, read the post above first so this makes a little more sense.

There were two of these pane-less windows in the wall of the Observatory, made by merely leaving (and/or cutting) a gap in the rock.  They each point at one of the two “Sisters” mountains which can be seen to the east.  Each window has wording etched in the rock below it indicating which mountain you are looking at and how far away it is.  Pretty clever, even for 1935.

The mountain in the lower photo is North Sister.  The window with the sign points to Middle Sister (but that sign was more legible).

Bobbing for apples

This was the first bungee jumper I saw (seen standing in the platform in the post below) bobbing up and down after taking the plunge.  A total of three people jumped in the hour or so that I was there (two visitors and one employee).

And no, JohnBoy didn’t get talked into trying it.  When I was out on the bridge checking out the setup a young lady asked “Are you ready to jump, sir?”.  I replied “No ma’am, I’m afraid of heights and it is all I can do to be out here talking to you”.

I waited and waited for someone else to jump so I could get a video but finally gave up and left.  I guess I’ll just have to wait until I’m in Colorado in a few weeks to get video of my nephew, Sam, bungee jumping.  (There, Sam, I’ve thrown down the gauntlet….).

Bungee jumping in Terrebonne, Oregon


These were taken at the Peter Skene Ogden State Scenic Overlook, just off Route 97 north of Redmond, Oregon.  I stopped here Saturday on my way down to Bend but at that point it was about 7 o’clock in the evening and the shadows were long so I came back today to get better pictures of the canyon and, bingo, discovered this bungee outfitter set up waiting for victims, er, customers.  The bridges span the Crooked River, which is 300 feet below.

The top photo is looking east from the pedestrian bridge towards the vehicle bridge which carries Route 97 over the gorge.  To the west there is another bridge which carries rail traffic (there are LOTS of trains transporting cargo here in the Northwest).


Looks like I finally wore him out

This is Micah, my playmate for this week.  My Airbnb hostess adopted Micah about two months ago and he is a very rambunctious puppy… just full of energy… well, except right at the moment.  When I came out on to the back porch after finishing yesterday’s blog posts here he was, racked out on a lounge chair.

Balloon Festival in Bend, Oregon



I just took these about 2 hours ago.  The majority of the balloons flew yesterday and there were only about 6 that flew today.

The top picture was taken on my way to the launch site.  The balloon suddenly appeared drifting quickly from right to left (and very, very low).  I grabbed my camera and was able to snag a picture while I was driving (sorry, Shawn.  I know you’re going to yell at me!).

I was able to find a perfect place to park with the sun behind me and the mountains in the distance.  Then I just waited for the right shot.  I really wish I would have been here yesterday morning, as my Airbnb hostess said it was the largest number of balloons she had seen in the air in all the years she has lived here.

Last night I went to a “night-glow” event (where the balloons stay on the ground and are illuminated from within the envelope).  For various reasons I didn’t get there until it was almost over and only saw two balloons lit up.  I am disappointed at how the pictures I took turned out and don’t feel they are blogworthy.  My friends Eric and Shawn went to a similar event in North Carolina a few years ago and took some awesome pictures.  Now I just need to talk them into starting a blog!

Go ahead, count ’em. I’ll wait.


Now multiply that number by about 12.  If I panned the camera from left to right, that is how many wind turbines were on this wind farm.  And there were more than that looking various directions off in the distance.

Or maybe they are really propellers which are causing the Earth to rotate…