Ah, Jared's Java. Pleasant taste. Slight Monsterism.

Welcome to the home of my mind, where I brew my intellectual and spiritual joe. Sit back and let me pour you a cup or two. I promise not to cut you off, even after you get the caffeine jitters.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Where the Aspen grow

Well, I'm back. As promised, it'z sursdai, y'all biscuitheads, and I'm posting something. I'll revel (or rather bore) you with some photos I took on my trip. I did it with an $85 Sanyo 5mpx digital camera from Wal-Mart and a $20 Quantaray Tri-pod (got it at Ritz Camera).

As I mentioned before, we went to the Steens Mountains in Eastern Oregon. It is beautiful out there. We were camped about 80 miles (130 km, for my Canuck buddies) southeast of Burns at Fish Lake (there's like 10 of those in Oregon, don't get me started on how many "Lost Lakes" there are). It is gorgeous high desert, and we were at about 7400 feet altitude (2255 meters). We were higher than Denver. There was Sagebrush (as in the cooking herb), Aspen and Juniper trees, and lots of other beautiful trees and plants. More on the Aspen later.

This is my dad at camp just before nightfall on our first night there.

This is both of us with the moon rising in the west just after 10pm the first night. Camping clothes aren't flattering. -_-'

The next day we headed out to the Kiger mustang viewing area, but just a few miles outside of camp, we had to stop for this. The camera doesn't have great zoom, so you'll just have to do the best you can with your computer. It is a buck and doe antelope. If you zoom in on the doe, you can almost make out the fawn. Through the binoculars my dad and I could see it nursing. It was very precious.

This is called Indian Paintbrush. It is all over the place up there. It can also be found at higher elevations on Mt. St. Helen's in southwest Washington.

This photo opportunity made me very sad that I didn't bring my digital SLR. I would've been able to pop on a telephoto lens and pull it in. You can just barely make out tiny white dots on the central plateau of the photo. They are the wild Kiger mustang herd still living free. They are monitored and managed by the Oregon BLM. Occasionally (about once every six years) some are rounded up and sold to keep the herd small enough to manage. This was about 60 miles (95 km) from camp by roads, but it was only about 12 miles as the crow flies. The last 12 miles of road was nearly impassible. You had to have 4wd and a high clearance to get through to the Kiger viewing area. We were probably the first to pass it since the snow melted a few weeks ago.

Here's us just to the left of the picture above. Our camp was somewhere in the mountains directly behind us.
This is us just a couple of miles from camp further up the gravel road. We set out with the goal of passing all the way through the Steens on the Steens Mountain Loop Road. This was taken on Sunday, and there's still plenty of snow up there.

This is just about a half mile down from the last picture. It's my dad sitting right in front of Kiger Gorge. Despite the name, we saw no horses. I want a refund of my tax money that paid for that deceptive sign.

Still, it was gorgeous, so here's us just above it. It was scorching hot at lower elevations (below 5000 feet or about 1500 m) that day, but up here I still needed my beanie and hoodie. It was crisp with the wind blowing.

This is the Alvord Playa. It is the driest place in all of Oregon receiving only 6" (15 cm) of rain a year. It still has plenty of natural springs along the border of it, though, which you can see well if you zoom in. Between the two rock spires at the center of the picture you can see the Alvord ranch. The Alvords settled this area in the 1870's or 1880's, hence why everything is named after them. The ranch is still in operation today. This picture was taken from the Eastern Rim (the eastern border of the steens). From here you can see all the way into Idaho. It feels like you can see forever. The camera couldn't capture that; it's just something you have to see for yourself.

Here we are on top of the Steens Summit, the highest point of the range.

I had to snap a picture of the gps. There's the lattitude and longitude. The air was pretty thin up there. It took us a while to climb the half mile journey to the summit...but it was so worth it.

This is Wild Horse Lake just below the summit. Loved it. It is gorgeous. It was formed with glacial waters and is fed by snow run-off when it melts.

Here's a somewhat dramatic photo I shot of my dad on the last day. We were in a ravine and I bent down with the camera to try to capture the scene. I couldn't see if the photo shot well or not later (the sun was making the view screen unviewable from the glare). I was pretty happy with it.

Here's me with the ravine in the background. From the angle it is difficult to tell I'm smiling.

The fish were really biting that day. Here's dad with "tits up" Timmy, as we called him. He must've caught a dozen fish. He released all of them, but a couple went "tits up" hence the name.

Isn't this a beautiful sunset? I just loved it. The camera didn't do to bad of a job capturing it.

We had deer wandering through our camp every night. This buck came within about 15 feet of us and I was able to snap off this photo. He raised his head up while the shutter was open, hence the blurring of the image.

All in all, it was a good trip. I'd recommend the Steens to anyone looking for a great camping vacation. The campsite prices are good and there is tons to see.
Every night as I was falling asleep, the sound of the aspen leaves quaking would sing. They sound like a trickling or rushing stream (depending on how hard the wind is blowing). It was so peaceful. I hope that I can someday live where I can hear that noise. It gave my mind and heart peace, which has been rare and hard to get lately.
Well, I probably won't do any blogging this weekend, as I don't yet have internet at our new place (which I will be trying to get fixed tomorrow). So have a great weekend.


R said...

Great pictures, looks like you had a good time. Beautiful out there, it is.

Love the axe in the first picture. You guys were roughing it.

Gwen said...

Wow, beautiful. I was so impressed with the sunset picture, I could see thousands of stars. But then I realized it was just the dust on my monitor.... Looks like you had a great time!

queen z said...

Looks like a great trip, very impressive scenery around those parts. I spent a lot of my viewing time examining you two in the pics I notice things about people much to others chagrin. Your dad looks like you but how did you get so tall? For some reason I had you pegged as a shorter guy. Also he had his hand in his pocket in almost every pic of you two. Just thought I'd throw that out there. Do you have siblings?

KingJaymz said...

r - Yes, we totally roughed it. We brought a solar shower, but it only worked well enough to wash our hair and arms every day. We used sanitary wipes to clean everything else.

gwen - That means you clean your computer monitor about as often as I do.

queen z - Re: Height. I have some tall uncles on my mom's side, and my great-grandfather was a tall man. Re: Pockets. It's just a natural thing for him. No real explanation there. Re: Siblings. Two brothers by birth, but I don't talk about them much. They're deep in the throes of drug and alcohol addiction (among a few others), and I rarely see them. They move frequently and don't stay in touch.

uberstrickenfrau said...

OoooWeee, PeeWee! That was some trip! Glad your back in one piece!

clumsy ox said...

Loved the pics. Hope your trip was worth leaving your blog readers stranded for a few days. Hope you feel good about that...

KingJaymz said...

usf - I may not be for long. My lovely job is tearing me to bits. I'm desperate for a new one. I hear the midwest is nice this time of year.

Ox breath - From the man who has so much room to speak he couldn't fit it all in the Grand Canyon. It feels lovely...

But, truly, I missed blogging. This is where my real community and family is. They all know who they are (and those who maybe think they aren't quite but will be soon). I forgot to take my journal too, which is really my blog away from blog. I alternate starting each entry with "Dear Mister Pretend Henshaw" and "Dearest Diary".

~*SilverNeurotic*~ said...

Amazing, simply amazing!

uberstrickenfrau said...

Oh my! I laughed and laughed when I read 'Dear Mr. Pretend Henshaw,"
that was classic! I wish I had written that!

Dapoppins said...

Great pics. I can't believe you know so much about the area you camp in. Did you study before you left?

Looks like you had some quality time with the father figure. That's always good.

The Family Jewels said...

Your pictures are so great that it almost makes me want to try camping...or not. I am not wanting to leave the comfort of my air conditioning! It looks like you had a great time and I am glad you got to spend some quality male bonding time with your dad. Glad you're back!

Niki said...

Beautiful pics, but give me the Marriot anyday! ;)

Glad you're back safe and sound. Thanks for not taking - or atleast not sharing - the photos of your Dad you thought about taking! lol

The midwest is beautiful this time of year...and a bit soggy right now. Or is CO not considered midwest?

Chat with you soon!

Delia said...

The scenery was absolutely beautiful. And it looks like you and your dad had a great time together.

Anne said...

Well, I'm late. I have to say, you can really see the grandeur of God in those photos.

Chelf said...

It has been raining a lot here in Oklahoma. I thought I could give you a verse of my old "we gave it new lyrics" song from my camping days. Maybe, someday, if I am lucky, I will get pics of that area, and share.
(to Home on the Range)
Oh give us a camp
Where the weather is damp
And the rain keeps the children from play,
Where despite all you do
There's no dry tennis shoe,
And the River gets higher each day.

Home, home in the Rain
Where the field now looks like a swamp.
Though Gene's not that old,
He's beginning to mold,
And the rest are decidedly damp.
We kept changing the names of the camp directors and boys' counselors each time we sang the chorus. There were at least three verses. I may find that someday, like when I finally find that Crockpot Apple Butter recipe. They were both taken by the Borrowers, I am sure.