Low on Diesel February 13, 2007

Today I was heading to Spray, Wheeler County, Oregon, located adjacent to the John Day river in eastern Oregon. I was driving my diesel powered Dodge pickup. Given its weight and four wheel drive the Dodge is a great vehicle for winter driving. I know better than to get too low on diesel because many of the small town stations in eastern Oregon do not carry diesel fuel.  But I thought a larger town like Condon would surely have diesel. The tank indicated about one eighth full as I pulled into Condon but no green diesel pumps greeted me. The next nearest town was Fossil.

The town of Fossil, the county seat for Wheeler County, was another 20 miles away, within easy reach, but if they didn’t have diesel I might have to call my son back home and have him mount a rescue… he would not be happy with me. Home was three hours and 164 miles away and I was headed the wrong way.

Fossil Wheeler County courthouse

The town of Fossil has been bypassed by the main highway so I turned into town… a fuel station with a green pump was a happy sight. The station attendant suggested I wouldn’t be so happy with the price but it sure beat walking… even though a fill-up cost eighty eight dollars (about 25 gallons).

We chatted as he filled the tank… he said most stations didn’t carry diesel because the ranchers had their own storage tanks and bought fuel directly from the distributor.

I was early for my appointment in Spray so I stopped roadside along the John Day river near Spray and hiked a ways up the hill. I was looking for moss… Marvin and I have signed up for a class in Bryophytes at the University of Oregon and I thought I might find something interesting to photograph.

Moss John Day River bank 2/13/2007

I was surprised to find a “Lomation cous” blooming happily… in spite of winter-like conditions.

Lomatium coos
Lomatium coos John Day River bank 2/13/2007

When I get back home I’m going to see about putting a 100 gallon transfer tank on the Dodge. I’ll be able to go to Mexico and back without stopping for fuel.


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Doggy Bombs at Catherine Creek January 27, 2007

Lyle, Klickitat County, WA: This morning I drove from Gresham to Heppner, starting at 0600 AM. The wind in the gorge was strong enough to move my Dodge diesel 4wd pickup that weighs in near 8, 000 pounds. Just past Hood River the sky went overcast and freezing fog was present the rest of the trip.

On the way home I crossed the Columbia River into Washington at The Dalles, planning to take a look at Catherine Creek, near Lyle WA. I was the 12th car in the parking lot and before I could unload my camera gear another car parked, its occupant quickly headed up the hill on the hiking trail.

It had been rumored that the first blooms of spring have been seen at Catherine Creek but I had no luck finding anything. It must be a popular place to bring the family pet judging by the number of doggy bombs along the trail. Apparently hikers here do not pick up after their dogs.

The wind was light but it was bitter cold. Exposed flesh turned numb within a few minutes. Snow was visible on the higher ground with snow sticking to the trees. Icicles were common wherever ground water was present and puddles were frozen over. It is still winter here.

When I returned to my vehicle a number of hikers were gathered in the parking lot. I would guess the day was used for hiking rather than searching for wildflowers.


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Snow and Ice at Table Rocks January 25, 2007

When I travel to Southern Oregon and I’m in the vicinity of Medford I take some time to climb one of the Table Rocks… either Upper Table Rocks or Lower Table Rocks.  In season there are spectacular wildflower displays on these hills. On the way south on I-5, passing Canyonville, roadside snow gave me some warning of what was to come.

Today I headed for Upper Table Rock… no particular reason for the choice except to change the view.

At Upper Table Rock ambient air temperature was close to 50 degrees but snow lingered in the shadows. When wet the dirt around the parking lot is the stickiest stuff known to man… a few steps in this stuff and your feet begin to feel like you are walking with snowshoes.

About a hundred yards up the trail I turned back because the trail ahead was icy… and as elevation increased it would only get worse. I would need crampon traction devices to safely negotiate the trail.

I’ll be back when the snow is gone.


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Warming Up January 23, 2007

Gresham OR:– Blue sky and sunshine. It is the second consecutive day since the new year with ambient air temperatures above 50 degrees. Snow and ice have melted except for in the deepest shadows. The infamous Columbia River Gorge wind is calm. The grass is showing more green and early spring flowers will soon be poking their shoots above ground. It is almost time to go afield looking for wildflowers.

What’s magic about 50 degrees? The chemistry of chlorophyll starts to work. Grass turns green, leaves turn green… spring is in the air.


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Margaret’s coyote coat

coyote coat
Margaret with coyote coat

Photo by Jan Jackson

Margaret raises sheep… and this is a coat made of coyote pelts… sort of a reverse on a wolf in sheep’s clothing.


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