Thursday, September 9, 2021

Beverly Beach State Park Camping

This trip was a planned escape to the Oregon Coast. Planned to escape from the 90 degree temperatures in the valley. Planned on purpose to go the day after the Labor Day Weekend in order to escape the crowds. And, planned to escape from the renewed restrictions brought on from a resurgence of COVID 19. In general the idea was to head to Lincoln City to bird at Alder Island Trail, wander down the coast-line to Newport, turn up the Yaquina to Toledo, and circle back to Dallas, taking a few days and a couple of nights.

Knight County Park

Traveling down the Salmon River, as we approached Otis, I caught a glance of Cascade Head, I realized that in place of Alder Island, a good first stop would be Knight County Park on the Salmon River Estuary. We got out, stretched our legs, got out our birding gear, made a bird list, and attempted to do a reset on the stress of scheduling. 

gull gulping a crawdad

Our next stop was the Alder Island Trail at the Siletz National Wildlife Refuge.  Here, a gull that was gulping down a crawdad caught our attention, and Jeanette's Merlin app identified it as a Glaucous-winged Gull. After completing a bird list, we set up our chairs and table outside the van and enjoyed a great salad lunch brought from the Dallas Retirement Village. Venturing on we stopped at Boiler Bay, parked next to the ocean and put down the bed to stretch out for a rest, and work on the bird lists. Here is our bird list. Boiler Bay State Scenic Viewpoint, like so many of the coastal Rest Areas, is now closed from 10 PM until 6 AM, a continuing disappointment to us, after years of parking overnight. I'm sure the Pandemic, plus last summer's wildfires was a double whammy as people sought out overnight parking.  The simple solution for us was to check out Beverly Beach State Park for a campsite.  Without the need for hook-ups, a tent site is plenty good for us, and they had lots of tent sites available. Twenty-one dollars during prime season.

campsite C-18

We picked a campsite close to the rest-rooms, and fairly blocked from other campers.  Some down time, dinner, and finishing the series "Guilt" on PBS On Demand finished up our evening. We last camped here at Beverly Beach State Park on July 26-30, 2009.
sunlight streaming through the trees

The next morning we set out to walk and bird on the Spencer Creek Nature Trail. See bird list here. The towering Sitka Spruce stream-side, and lush coastal vegetation, made for a dreamland hiking adventure, punctuated by the spruce cones bombing down from great heights by the harvesting squirrels.
Douglas Squirrel enjoying a cone from his labor.

After hiking the Spencer Creek Nature Trail, we attempted a hike on the beach, only to turn back at edge of the sand because the fog was so dense we could not even see the ocean.  Checking out we traveled on to Newport for a stop at the Dollar Store for some shopping. Next we ventured up the Yaquina Bay Road, stopping to watch a flight of Brown Pelicans. We made another bird list, and enjoyed our lunch.

Lunch and birding stop

Our next planned stop was at Paddle Park for some afternoon relaxing, but the gnats where so pesky that we drove on to Toledo and sought some shade at the Yaquina & Pacific Railroad Society's train museum. We spent the afternoon enjoying the shade and the cool breeze coming in our back doors.  It was a very restful time and I got a lot of computer work done on photos. 

Yaquina & Pacific Railroad Society

After dinner, we were ready to move next door to the marina to park for the night, when Jeanette suggested we could just as well drive home.  That suddenly sounded like a good option as to opposed to parking in a hot parking lot.  In a little over an hour we were back home to the Dallas Retirement Village, rested and revitalized. 



Saturday, August 28, 2021

Marys Peak

Parking Lot on Marys Peak

Yesterday afternoon, David and LaVerne Knaupp, neighbors of ours, returned from a picnic on Mary's Peak. They showed us photos of some strange birds they saw. We recognized them right away as Gray-crowned Rosy Finches. With warm weather and temperatures in the upper 80's forecasted for Saturday, Jeanette came up with the idea  to escape from the heat of the valley and travel to Mary's Peak for some hiking and birding. And we would have an excuse to test out and enjoy another trip with our new Winnabego Pocket camping van.

Jim at the Trailhead for trail #1388

Shrimp salad for lunch

Jim likes the handy work station

Jeanette likes the comfy bed to relax on


Happiness is where two hearts align in the great out of doors, and a love shared in adventure. Jeanette and I have shared many adventures here on Mary's Peak over the years. Camping, hiking, and photographing wild flowers and birds. Today we were reminded that we are beyond grateful for our good fortune.    


Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Maiden Voyage of the Pocket - Day 3

Early morning light at our campsite

We had an extremely quiet and peaceful night at our National Forest site near Calliope Crossing. The Truma furnace hummed along through the night.  We were quite cozy, but surprised when we drove away in the morning to notice that the outside temperature was 29 degrees!  We were so comfortable inside the van that we had no clue. Very impressed with the insulation and heating system in this new van. 

The first stop of the day was in Sisters, where we enjoyed our breakfast while parked at the City Park. Next was gas, and then on to Bi-Mart.  I spent computer time on the blog, and Jeanette shopped for little odds and ends. Our next stop was at Indian Ford Campground were we had lunch and then got in a good walk and some birding. Here is our bird list.

Jeanette spotting birds 

The green of the Quaking Aspen trees and towering Ponderosa Pines in this Indian Ford Creek location make for very pleasant birding.

Our trip home to Dallas in the afternoon was smooth and uneventful, over the Santiam Pass on Highway 20 and down into the smoke filled valley.  Several traffic stops along the route as work continues along the highway to remove timber from the devastating forest fires. The van was very comfortable to drive, we switched off driving duties. Overall we are happy to report that the van exceeded our expectations.  The unique floor plan is ingenious, giving a spacious feeling inside that belies the smallness of this short van. The electrical system of solar and batteries performed flawlessly, providing all the electricity that we needed to run the refrigerator, the furnace plus all the lights and charging phones and my laptop. A good indicator of our satisfaction is that while traveling home we were already making plans for our next trip.   

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Maiden Voyage of the Pocket - Day 2

Day two, August 23, began after a quite night's stay at Little Nash Sno-Park, and a continuation  of checking out Sno-Parks. Sno-Parks have been a favorite overnight option for us for many years. November thru April a parking permit is required, put May thru October it's fair game for all, no fee, or reservation required. Some have restrooms some do not, for example Little Nash Sno-Park.  So our morning started with a search of a Sno-Park with a restroom.  Ray Benson Sno-Park came to our rescue. An important focus of these first two days has been reacquainting ourselves with the many Sno-Parks in the Santiam Pass greater area.  Once as familiar to us as a person's neighborhood, from our days of cross-country skiing, they now need a little refreshing.

Mt Washington view from Highway 20

After Ray Benson, we checked out a couple more Sno-Parks before descending down the Santiam Pass on Highway 20 for the greater Sisters area.  Our first primary destination was the e-bird Hotspot of Calliope Crossing.  A well known birding location, it had been on my to-do list for many years.  

Jeanette searching the trees at Calliope Crossing

We parked and walked Indian Ford Creek down-stream and made a bird list. Then we walked up-stream and made a second list. Next we moved to a secret location for lunch and our night's stay. Our afternoon was was spent lounging around and getting better acquainted with our new Pocket van.  There is quite a learning curve in figuring out all the systems, and the right place for everything, and each day it improves a little more. 

Goldern-mantled Ground Squirrel 

Here is proof we enjoy all of wild life, not just birds. Taken from the comfort of the dinette in our van.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Maiden Voyage of the Pocket - Day 1


Little Nash Sno-Park

Last week we picked up our 2022 Winnebago Solis Pocket, starting a new chapter in our life.  We have been wrestling for some time with whether we are too old to go RV traveling.  Are we in a time of our life, due to old age that we should be content to just go about our day to day lives in the retirement community where we live? Boring and depressing. Or, as we recently concluded, should we go for it, buy a new small RV and travel our hearts out. 

We have spent the past year traveling in a very small van, a Ram Promaster City, outfitted for camping by Cascade Campers in Nevada City California.  But, I recently became aware that because of it's limitations we were not that motivated to go camping.  It was great for day trips, perfect for a second vehicle, and as easy to drive as a car. 

This spring two major RV manufactures introduced new models on the shortest of regular van chassis just under 18 feet.  The first one built by Thor Motor Coach has been plagued by engineering mistakes, poor quality construction, and a limited distribution strategy. Second to be introduced was Winnebago with the Solis Pocket.  It caught our attention right away, but seemed over priced and spares on the extras.  As time went on it became apparent that Winnebago was spot on.  What was lacking were frills that we could do with out.  The floor plan was ingenious. And the distribution channels were wide spread with dealerships even in Oregon. We finally got to look at one at Johnson RV on August 5th.  It surpassed our expectations and we plunked down some money, and returned on the 18th for delivery.

That's kind of a long introduction or perhaps attempt at justification, but this afternoon Aug 22nd we took off on our first trip with out Pocket. The spark that got us going was a photo my brother Mark sent me from Echo Basin up in the Cascades.  Our general plan was to travel up the South Santiam and perhaps park over night at Tombstone Sno-Park. Arriving at mid afternoon, it was hot and no cell service, so we travel on checking out Lava Lake Sno-Park, and Fish Lake dispersed camping area, and then landed at Little Nash Sno-Park with nice shade of pine and fir trees.

More details tomorrow.     

Friday, August 6, 2021

Fledging Day

newly fledged baby bluebird

The big news is that our baby bluebirds fledged yesterday!  This is the second batch this season for the pair of Western Bluebirds that occupy the nesting box in the Common Garden area here at Dallas Retirement Village. When I inspected the nesting box back on July 18th there were two tiny babies.  We have monitored the area daily, fearful for them because of continuing heat.  Our hopes would be boosted when occasionally we would catch a glimpse of an adult coming to the box with food, but they are so cautious and quick that there would be many days we did not see them, and then we would become convinced that the babies were dead. So it was with great joy on August 5th that we saw them flying around with their parents from one roof to the next.   
the bedraggled mother

the proud papa

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Rickreall Creek Trail System

Black-capped Chickadee

Rickreall Creek winds its way through the center of Dallas.  Along its banks the City of Dallas is developing a system of trails. At this point it is made up of 8 different sections, or phases. Eventually it will become one continuous route. It is a fantastic location for birding, even though not all sections connect at this time. I enjoy every minute of my time here looking, listening and photographing birds.  Here is a collection of my favorite photos taken so far for this month.

Cedar Waxwing

Wilson's Warbler

Violet-green Swallow

Spotted Towhee

Green Heron

Wild Turkeys

Monday, July 12, 2021

Osprey Success

This is a story of Osprey success!  For background you need to know that this Osprey season of 2020-21 has been a very difficult one. For the second year in a row the Osprey nest in Independence at the Riverview Park failed. This is a closely watched nest site because there is a live camera mounted there and it is watched by a wide audience. Last year the male just disappeared, and the female stopped setting on the eggs.  This year she had two new suiters, but she eventually seemed to give up on them and abandoned the nest.  Another nest site is located at 9th and Patterson in West Salem, also with a live cam, but the extreme triple digit heat in June killed the three juveniles. So this morning, June 12, I was very pleased to find three large juveniles on the nest site in West Salem on Murlark Ave.  

Three healthy looking juveniles on the Murlark Ave. nest site.  Easily identified as juvenile by the white edging on their feathers. The bird in the middle obviously has a full croup, a good indication they are getting fed. This nest site is only about a block away from the river. 

While watching the juveniles I noticed a forth bird circle around, which gave chase to a fifth bird, an obvious interloper. She continued to circle the nest, producing clucking noises toward at me.  Eventually I figured out that she was not going land at the nest as long as I was pointing a camera around, so I hid out of sight under a tree.  Then she came into the nest.

You have to look close at this photo to notice that there are actually two Osprey.  They are so close together that they look like one bird.  It actually appears that the mother is giving a protective hug to one of the juveniles.  Adults are easy to identify by the yellow eyes, where as juveniles have brown eyes. Click on the image for a closer look.


Saturday, July 3, 2021

E.E. Wilson Wildlife Area

one of many new benches along the trail

We took a trip this morning to go birding at E.E. Wilson Wildlife Management Area. This is the site of the former Camp Adair, a US Army Training Base from 1942 to 1945. Jeanette had suggested it several times recently as a place to go birding, and I was not that interested, but once again she had the right idea!  I checked eBird, and it has been ten years since we were last birding there. This nice new bench in the shade of an oak tree caught my attention right off, it's one of many improvements we spotted on our walk to the fishing pond.


Jeanette using Merlin to record and identify a singing bird

The real story of the day however, was our first experience with our iPhone using the Bird Song ID feature of the Merlin app.  It was amazing!  Jeanette is shown in the photo above recording a bird's song.  Almost instantaneously, Merlin identifies the bird and displays the name and image of the bird. This will truly be a transforming tool for anyone interested in identifying bird sounds. It allowed us to probably double the number of birds we were able to identify today.  You can see our eBird Observation List with photos by clicking here


Friday, July 2, 2021

Huddleston Pond - Willamina

Yesterday we took off for a morning of birding at one of our old favorites, Huddleston Pond in nearby Willamina.  We have birded there a lot in winter over the years, because a lot of waterfowl visit then.  But we have not visited much in the summer, so this was almost a new experience.  We were surprised to discover the mosquitos were one of the most numerous life species. One of the most pleasing finds were these nesting Ospreys, shown in the bottom photo. The male is on the left, and the female is on the right.  Not shown in this photo is a juvenile who popped it's head up for a moment. This is particular reassuring to find a successful nest after nest failures this year in Independence, and this past week due to heat a nest failure, three juveniles in West Salem.  You can view our e-Bird Observation List and additional photos by clicking here.


Monday, June 28, 2021

Coastal Safaris

For the past two weekends Jeanette and I have fled the intense heat here in the valley, to seek out the cooler climes of the Oregon Coast for birding and camping in our trusty Ram Promaster City camper van. This morning, Monday June 28th, I have finally found some time to sit down and post a report in the comfort of our residence at Dallas Retirement Village.

Toledo and Florence - June 19-20

We left Dallas Retirement Village early Saturday morning, traveling south on Kings Valley Highway, and West on Highway 20 to our first destination, Toledo and the Depot Slough Path. Here is our Observation List. 

Jeanette counting Canada Geese on Depot Slough

Our hopeful camping destination for the night was at Alder Dune Campground, just north of Florence.  We arrived mid-day and were pleased to have our choice of three different campsites.  We chose a nice secluded site, #27. 

After settling into our campsite we took a bird walk on the trail that circles Alder Lake, and additional bird walks through the campground loops and along side Dune Lake. Our site, #27, was located in the southern loop next to Dune Lake, which is open on a first come first served basis year around. The northern loop, located next to Alder Lake is by reservation and only opened during the peak season. 

For our second day we elected to travel south to bird at Lagoon Loop in the Siltcoos Recreation Area. Here is our eBird Observation List. We spent our second night at Alder Dune Campground and then made an uneventful return to Dallas on Monday Morning. 

Toledo and Waldport - June 26-27

With temperatures forecasted for Dallas in the triple digits we again headed to the coast and Toledo to bird at Depot Slough Path. While walking on the Depot Slough Path, we got a call from Ron Noble to check on where we were, they were heading to the coast, so we invited them to stop in Toledo.

We enjoyed a picnic lunch in the shade with Ron and Bev and their son Kent at the Yaquina Pacific Railroad Historical Society Park. After lunch the Nobles traveled on, and Jeanette and I spent time exploring Toledo by car. We had dinner at Timbers, and then went to East Slope Park to hang out and bird.  Here is our e-Bird Observation List. We parked for the night at the Toledo Marina. The next morning found us traveling on to Newport and south on Highway 101 in search of more camping locations.  Campgrounds, rest-areas, and view points were all full and overflowing.  At Washburn State Park we found a stop to have lunch after Jeanette removed a traffic cone.  Over lunch we reviewed our options and elected to turn around and head back, and hopefully find a place in Waldport were we could stay. In Waldport Jeanette got some groceries, and we noticed a lot of complaining from an Osprey nest across the street.  I checked e-Bird for Hotspots so that I could log this observation.  I discovered a nearby Hotspot called Lint Slough Trail.  We decided to check it out, and we were amazed at the wonderful trailhead.  We spontaneously took off on a bird walk.  Here is our e-Bird Observation List.


The beauty of the trail along Lint Slough was more than we could have dreamed of.  The trail was lined with spreading Sword fern, with a background of Salmonberry, Thimbleberry and Twinberry, Red Huckleberry, and Evergreen Huckleberry. Towering overhead where tall Douglas Firs and Sitka Spruce trees, the middle elevation was filled in with Rhododendron and Cascara, completing the lush forest. 

The Lint Slough Trail trailhead turned out to be a great location for dinner and a quiet evening.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Birding at Buell Park

Twice a month through the summer Jeanette and I are leading a Bus Birding Trip of the Village Birders from the Dallas Retirement Village.  Dallas Retirement Village provides the bus and driver, and I plan out the destination. Our first trip, on June 3rd was to Mt. Fir Park in Independence. This week's tour was to Buell Park off of Highway 22 on the banks of Mill Creek. You can see our bird observations here
Nine people, plus Jeanette and I and our bus driver, Falene Richardson, made a total of twelve.

Jeanette provided cantaloupe and cookies.
Our last bird of the morning was a hard to find Chipping Sparrow.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Birding on the Rickreall Creek Trail

A reader of this Cascade Ramblings blog, pointed out to me during lunch yesterday, that I haven't been posting as many blogs lately. OK Judy, so here you go. Truth is, we are simply not traveling as much these days, and I have always thought of the blog as a report on adventures.  But now we pretty much have all we need right here, or close by, to this small town of Dallas. This afternoon's bird walk is a good example.  Rickreall Creek runs right through the middle of Dallas, and several sections of creek-side trail make up the Rickreall Creek Trail System. For our walk this afternoon we choose to walk the section from the Dallas Aquatic Center to the east.

 The majority of flying creatures we saw were butterflies, specifically this species, a Western Tiger Swallowtail. With a wing span of a couple of inches they can trick you for a fraction of a second to think it's a yellow and black bird. Below are some of the actual birds I was able to photograph.  For a complete Observation List click here.

Spotted Towhee

Brewer's Blackbird

Band-tailed Pigeon

Acorn Woodpecker