View of Irvine Lake from Fremont Canyon Ridge

Irvine Lake from Fremont Canyon Nature Preserve

Fremont Canyon Nature Preserve

Fremont Canyon is often referred to as “the Yosemite of Orange County” due to its striking beauty and massive granite formations. It is rich in biological diversity and history. The area is also home to many rare, threatened and endangered plants and animals. The Irvine Ranch Conservancy conducts frequent scheduled docent-led hikes and also lead mountain bike rides and equestrian rides enabling nature lovers to experience the canyon’s remote wonders. Registration for docent-led programs is required due to the area’s sensitive habitat, but all programs are free. (LetsGoOutside.com).

The docent-led hike I joined on a recent Saturday morning was informative and mildly challenging. We climbed to the top of the ridge on some continuously steep hills. Our pace included many stops to learn about the flora and fauna where we learned about animal scat and animal tracks. One hiker also made a cast of mountain lion foot prints that were embedded in the creek bed from recent rains.

This panorama image was captured with an iPhone 6Plus and edited in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. Learn how to

unleash the power of your iPhone

this summer at Santiago Canyon College/Community Services with Julie Diebolt Price. Here is our schedule of classes.

Getting All My Ducks in a Row

All My Ducks in a Row

We got all our ducks in a row at Oxbow Regional Park in

Gresham, Oregon

Ducks and an easy hike awaits you just 7 miles east of Gresham, Oregon at Oxbow Regional Park. Using a National Forest Pass or paying a $5.00 day use fee affords easy access to the whitewater of the Sandy River, well marked hiking trails, picnic areas and campsites.

Riverbank restoration in process

The riverbank is under restoration because the river has undercut a wide path as it forms the oxbow curves. The exposed stumps on the shoreline have been carbon dated to 1780. At that time an eruption of Mt. Hood, a stratovolcano and now the highest mountain peak in Oregon, caused a mudflow to completely bury the forest.

The buzz of chain saws accompanied us on our “hike” until we rounded a bend and the trees muffled the sound. We learned that the Forest Service was grooming the tributary for salmon breeding by creating pools of still water with downed logs.

You only need a mild interest in spending time outdoors either walking in the forest, or hiking, or camping, or simply communing with nature to enjoy Oxbow Regional Park. But, for someone like me who has seemingly found a new lease on the outdoor life, this park is a jewel in the crown of the Mt. Hood National Forest.

NOTE:

Actually, the “duck” photo above is a family of Canadian Geese – adults and adolescents. But, you already knew that, if you’ve read this far, so there is no need to correct my “mistake”.

Hiking Barlow Wayside Park in Mt. Hood National Forest

hiking forest trail

Barlow Wayside Trail

You are about to enter a forested wonderland where everything is part of a whole – every plant, animal, tree, fish, bird, bug, and slug has its place…so, says Clackamas County and Bureau of Land Management Sandy Ridge Trail System.

The scent of the forest draws me every time I am in the Pacific Northwest. And, this little gem,

Barlow Wayside Park

that once used to be the Barlow Road, the last segment on the Oregon Trail, is my new favorite outdoor activity destination.

Hiking

on the Little Joe Loop is a very easy and enjoyable trail to navigate as are the Falls Loop and Northern Loop trails. While this park is a short way from Highway 26 on the way to Mt. Hood, it is easy to find and is well marked by road signs.
Here’s what we saw on our riparian adventure…

mushrooms on pine - hiking at Barlow Wayside Park

Mushrooms on pine nurse log

mushroom curly close - hiking at Barlow Wayside Park

Curly forest mushrooms

mushrooms on nurse log - hiking at Barlow Wayside Park

Mushrooms on nurse log

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mushrooms are the surface “fruit” that carry spores for propagation. Some mushrooms grow on organic matter (dead trees), while others in the soil are part of a larger, unseen underground fungus organism.

Nurse logs are fallen trees that become a resource of nutrient rich organic matter, water, and insects that vegetation and animals depend on.

Source:  Clackamas County

As I am not a mushroom expert, I don’t know if these are edible. If they are, one couldn’t possibly go hungry in this forest.

Delightful Dahlias Worth the Visit

Delightful dahlias took our breath away when we attended the

Annual Dahlias Festival

Watch the video to see a sampling of the blooms on display. They are really remarkable.

Swan Island Dahlias sponsors the festival and are celebrating their 89th year. Canby, Oregon, the dahlia capital of America is located in Central Oregon. It is a one-hour drive south of Portland.

You can learn how to grow these gems at this annual event and place orders for tubers (strangely resembling sweet potatoes) that will be delivered in the spring next year. They teach where and when to plant, soil preparation and planting, staking, watering, fertilizer, digging, and winter storage. For more information you can visit the Swan Island Dahlias website at www.dahlias.com.

The flowers bloom in August and September, not in the spring like many other flower species. They are a hearty and long-lasting flower that should bring a lot of enjoyment.

Location is a state of mind

Location is a state of mind

While contemplating the state of my existence today, I realized that location is a state of mind. We have owned our Pacific Northwest home for about seven years (as long as our youngest grandchild is old), and it just seems to get better the more we spend time here.

I am enjoying the river and deck from our home on the Sandy River in Oregon. It is approaching dusk. We have just enjoyed a meal that was prepared almost a year ago and frozen for a later date. Today was the later date. Damn, I am a good cook! The meal , Shepherd’s Pie, was probably made more enjoyable because I didn’t have to think about ingredients, grocery shopping, or food preparation. I simply had to thaw, throw a salad together, decant the wine, serve al fresco and simply enjoy the sound of the river and enjoy the sunset. The mosquitoes are not an issue tonight, thank goodness.

The desire to travel and explore foreign lands doesn’t go away. But, simply enjoying the simple life that we can sometimes take for granted, speaks volumes to my heart.

I’m listening…

 

Three Misconceptions About Travel

When thinking about traveling around the US or abroad, many people believe it’s very expensive and only rich people can do it.
This is only one of the most common misconceptions when it comes to traveling.
But believe me, as a person who works in the field, there are many more! This is the kind of belief that makes traveling impossible for so many people, who in fact would love to travel and see the world.
Here are three common misconceptions about travel.

# 1 Misconceptions – Traveling is Very Expensive and Not Anyone Can Afford It

Yes, traveling can be pretty expensive if you book a 5 stars hotel, dine out every day and all that. But traveling isn’t about spending all your year’s savings in a few days with caviar and Mumm’s champagne.
There are so many alternatives to expensive travel, from low cost flights, special travel offers, cheap accommodation (Airbnb) or even free hosting like Couchsurfing, free tour guides, WWOOF (Willing Workers on Organic Farms), Workaway and many other alternatives that will help you spend less and travel more. Personally, I have used Airbnb for lodging more than once and have been very satisfied.

Isn’t this the whole idea around travel? To see more of the world? Myth busted!

# 2 Misconceptions – Traveling isn’t Safe Especially when Traveling Alone

Yes, many of us have seen the movie Taken and it kind of invites us to stay at home, where at least we’re safe. And this applies if you’re traveling alone or if you’re a woman in particular.
But it’s a long road from being nervous and labeling traveling alone as unsafe. In fact, contrary to general opinion, if you follow a set of “rules” you should be relatively safe and sound.
It’s important to keep your valuables hidden, avoid unpopulated areas at night, make friends with your hostel/hotel staff, stay alert and look confident.
These simple guidelines will definitely make traveling safer for everyone!

# 3 Misconceptions – I Don’t Have Enough Time to Travel

Traveling is about seeing some other parts of the world, besides those you are already familiar with. It’s not about moving to someplace else and spending months on end there.
So, for those who believe they don’t have time to travel, let me tell you, this is pure a misconception. Travel isn’t just about going very far from home for a very long period of time.
It can be a short road trip over the weekend to a nearby city or Wild Park, a mini-vacation that you can definitely afford and have the time to enjoy without extensive drive time. You can even consider a stay-cation in your home town. See it like a visitor and you may be surprised at how much you learn and enjoy.
On my recent stay-cation, I discovered a macro world in my own backyard.

Travel Misconceptions stay-cation spider web with water and spider

Spider web, complete with spider, after watering the garden … On a stay-cation!