Malheur NWR

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I stopped at the Malheur NWR headquarters for information. I knew this time of year wasn’t prime for bird watching but I had seen so many birds at the Tule NWR, maybe there would be lots of birds here. I asked, “Do you recommend taking the auto tour?” Other visitors overheard me and answered my question with, “No way. It is a waste of time.” But on Saturday, I drove the south portion of the auto tour and throughly enjoying it.

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Thousand Creek Gorge

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I has vaguely heard about a canyon/gorge north of the Virgin Valley campground. I wasn’t sure how far the walk would be, so I made the sad decision to leave my old dog Rocket in the trailer. This was the first time I would leave him behind because of his age. I knew that on this trip he wouldn’t be able to go on all my walks so I reminded myself many times that it would be OK to leave him behind. I put Razzy on her leash and started to leave the trailer imagining there would be a fight by Rocket to leave too. Instead he seemed to tell me it was OK to be left behind, he jumped up onto the bed as I closed the door and Razzy and I left. Razzy and I enjoyed our walk but it seemed a bit incomplete without Rocket along.

The Thousand Creek Gorge that we found was amazing. Below are photos from the walk and then we drove to an overlook. I was amazed at the overlook. Four to five hundred feet of shear straight walls. I have never seen anything like this before.   The photos don’t capture the aw from the overlook.

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View from the road walked from the campground.

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Shirk Ranch

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This is big country.  Driving Hwy 140 you can see vast distances. By Sage Hen summit  I could see the Steens to the north and the Pine Forest Range to the south with fresh snow on the top. It is a wonderful middle of nowhere type of place.  In the valley of Guano Lake there were miles of grass land.

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The area labeled Guano Lake on maps.

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Lava Beds NM and More

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I came to the Lava Beds National Monument to see the caves and found so much more. The area is full of surprises, contradictions, and irony with a complicated history of war mixed in.

The geology of the lava tube caves was interesting but unexpectly it didn’t grab my interest. I felt an uneasyness as I ventured into the dark caves. And with my headlamp and a large flashlight both on, I couldn’t light up the cave to see the details of the rock. So I stopped visiting the caves and ventured out to see other sights I had heard about.

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This tree is living in about two feet of rock over a cave.  And it looks healthy!

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Heading South

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Driving south from Seattle to the Lava Beds NM gives one plenty of time to think about how to solve the world’s problems. I didn’t do that, I just zoned-out and drove. Smiling as I enjoyed the scenery. I had forgotten how pleasant the drive is between Biggs and Madras on Highway 97. Not much traffic and high plateau farming and ranching. At the north end are huge un-worldly wind turbines.  Looking at them reminded me of all the marvelous things engineers have figured out.  After a night spent at the Haystack Reservoir East Shore Campground I continued driving south.  It was a rainy day, raining the entire way from Madras to Klamath Fall with low clouds. No scenery and lots of traffic.  Ugh.  The dogs and I needed to take a break and do something other than driving so we stopped at the Collier Memorial Logging Museum. What a pleasant surprise.

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Gravelly Range

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I had been wanting to go to the Gravelly Range for a few years.  I was in the area last year but skipped it due to wild fires on the north end. This trip I would make it; however, not as planned.  And the wildflowers… would my gamble on the dates picked to see the wildflowers pay off?  I drove up the Warm Springs Road.

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Driving up the Gravelly Range.

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