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Spring has been an amazing adventure that I can’t wait to tell you about, but first I want to finish this series from Klamath Falls…….After our last Winter Wings organized field trip, refreshed, refueled and nourished, my friend Nancy and I headed back to Lower Klamath NWR to see what we could find.

Such an amazing place…the East Cascades Audubon Raptor Survey coordinator told me that I’d want to live there after experiencing it.

He was partly right.  I can see that I’d be at the refuge constantly!

There were ducks and geese in every waterway we drove by…

It was fun to watch this set of Northern Shovelers taking off…

…and fly right in front of us….

…only to land even closer to us!  Aren’t they an interesting duck?   One of my faves.

Ruddy Ducks are so fascinating with those beautiful blue bills.

We also saw more Pintails close to the road as well as Buffleheads, Wigeons, and so many more.

We saw Northern Harriers everywhere…..

We stopped at the owl nest that Dick Ashford took us to and we found Mama sitting on the nest but could not see Papa anywhere.

We watched this Rough-legged Hawk for a little while….

…until he took off to grab a snack.

Not sure what he found, but we left him in peace to enjoy it!

My friend & I stayed to shoot the sunset, but alas it wasn’t as spectacular as the rest of our day had been.  Still, it’s a beautiful place with much to see.

The end of another fabulous day on a National Wildlife Refuge in Southern Oregon….

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Cloud Cap Inn

July 11, 2015

Steider Studios.Cloud Cap Inn Side.6.28.15

The last Sunday in June a friend and I went to Cloud Cap Inn for a tour offered by the Forest Service.  It’s only available during summer and only on Sundays.

Steider Studios.Cloud Cap Inn Front.6.28.15

It’s one of those places near me that I’ve always wanted to go see, but until now didn’t take the opportunity.

Steider Studios.Bear Grass on Cloud Cap Road.6.28.15

Bear Grass blooms lined one section of the winding gravel road bringing life back to the charred forest from the Gnarl Ridge wildfire in 2008.

Steider Studios.Ranger Ron at Cloud Cap Road.6.28.15

Ranger Ron Kikel is incredibly knowledgeable and led us through the Inn room by room, telling us the history of the Cloud Cap Inn.

Steider Studios.Cloud Cap Inn Tour.6.28.15-2Most of the interior was too dark for my camera without a tripod or flash but one of the tiny bedrooms, flooded with light from a window displayed signatures from those who stayed at the inn and signed their names on the bedroom walls.

Steider Studios.Cloud Cap Inn Tour.6.28.15-4The dining area ~ boots lining the top beam belong to Crag Rats, the oldest volunteer mountain rescue group in North America.  They have leased this building for more than 50 years as a staging site for rescues on Mt. Hood.

Steider Studios.Cloud Cap Inn Tour.6.28.15-5

Built in 1889, the Cloud Cap Inn is the country’s oldest high alpine ski cabin. It was built on the site of the first “season long” public resort at timberline (1883), a tent camp hosted by Mrs. David Cooper, of the Cooper Family which gave its name to the distinctive ridge above the inn.

The inn, built at an elevation of 5837′, was constructed of amabilis fir, cut from a site about 2.5 miles below the inn and hauled up the mountain by teams of horses. William Marcy Widden, a Portland architect drew the plans.”

You can read more here and Google for images of days gone by.

Steider Studios.Cloud Cap Path.6.28.15

Out the back door, we enjoyed our picnic lunch, then hiked this little path.

Steider Studios.Clouds.Cloud Cap Inn.6.28.15

Clouds gently blew in and we caught a few sprinkles of rain.

Steider Studios.Mt Hood from Cloud Cap.6.28.15

One last shot of Mt. Hood before heading back to our ‘city’.

Steider Studios.Cloud Cap Inn.6.28.15

By the way, we thought we had to park at the campground below Cloud Cap Inn and walk up, but there’s a large gravel parking lot you drive up to.  The road isn’t as daunting as it looks.

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On the way back down we stopped at Inspiration Point.  The waterfall and river were muddy brown.

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At the bottom of the Inspiration Point trail is this stone monument.  I would love to know the story of Stephen.

Steider Studios.Mt Adams behind Burned Trees.6.28.15

Driving on Cloud Cap Road through the scorched forest was eery.  On a clear day we could’ve seen Mt Adams glow as the sun lit her up.

Steider Studios.Wild Lily on Cloud Cap Road.6.28.15One last delight, among the wildflowers blooming was a stand of wild lilies.  It was another fabulous day in the Columbia River Gorge.

A Sizzling Summer

August 9, 2014

Steider Studios.Please Don't Eat the Cosmos1

I can’t believe it’s been almost 2 months since my last post!  This summer is flying by faster than ever and I am barely keeping up.  My garden is overrun… with weeds and deer.

Steider Studios.Kilnload of WallPockets.8.7.14My studio is working overtime catching up with orders. I’m having a run on recycled glass wall pocket vases at the moment ~ you can see the finished versions here.

Steider Studios.Elk with Babies

Since the first day of summer I’ve traveled to Conboy National Wildlife Refuge often to find Sand Hill Cranes, Elk, Otters, Waterfowl and any wildlife that presents itself to me…

Steider Studios.Treasure on the Beach

I’ve learned to use LightRoom for my photo processing and management; celebrated my sweet girl Treasure‘s 7th BirthDay and my BFF’s 60th!  I’ve had lunch, dinner, coffee and wine with friends over the last 7 weeks…

Steider Studios.Rowena Fire.8.7.14

…I’ve had brush removed from my property for fire protection by a 6 man crew that knocked it out in three days!  We seem to have wildfires near us every summer now.  This wildfire is almost out At Rowena Oregon, across the Columbia River From Lyle WA where I watch eagles and osprey.

Steider Studios.Family at Long BeachI went on a very fun multi-generational family vacation across Western Washington exploring only a fraction of what my state has to offer, including a ride up the Space Needle for the first time and a drive on the beach at Long Beach!

Steider Studios.Baby Osprey Stretching Wings

I continue to check on several families of Osprey along the Columbia River.  The babies have grown up so fast.  I was shocked at the rate of growth in the 10 days that I missed while in Alaska.

Steider Studios.Moose in Denali.2014

Yes, I was in Alaska teaching for Half Moon Creek for the 4th time.  My 4th visit to Alaska was magical and deserves a post…no, several posts just to show you how beautiful Alaska is and how much fun we had.

I have volunteered for Columbia Arts, managed my way through the relaunch of my sales site, Zibbet

Steider Studios.Group Hike to Bird Creek Meadows.

…and formed new friendships with a new hiking group while traversing Bird Creek Meadows!

In short, I have not been able to make myself sit at the computer while the sun shines and I can play outside!  I’ll try to get my Alaska Adventure up soon for you to dream up your own Alaskan Adventure.  It’s one of those places that I wish everyone could experience.  I am already working on getting back there!

Teaching at Half Moon Creek Gallery in Palmer Alaska for the third time, we landed in Anchorage with a side trip to Homer  scheduled first.  Cloud covered, we could see hints of blue sky causing our spirits to soar.  Each previous working vacation has been rainy, cloudy, and generally stormy.


As the sun came out, we knew this trip – our third – would be charmed.

Especially when we saw a moose along the highway before we’d been in Alaska a full day!

As we pulled into Homer, it was a bit dark, but hey….it was 10pm!

We splurged and stayed at Land’s End Resort Hotel, the last building on the Homer Spit.

Our room had a fantastic view and I braved the cold wind, going out on our deck often to breathe in the sea and sky.

Our first full day was long and early, beginning with a halibut fishing trip for my better half.  I had booked a birding excursion, but my trip was cancelled due to high seas.  So I Looked for eagles birds  on land….

…found some seagulls in a parking lot at 6:30 am after dropping my hubby off at the docks, then decided to treat myself to a latte since most of the birds were still asleep.

At Two Sisters Bakery I found one of the best mocha’s I’ve ever had!  Took their shelter from the rain, a warm cinnamon roll and a little wi-fi.

Next I went on a guided hike at the Wynn Nature Center and since I was the only one at 10 am I had a naturalist all to myself for an informative and personalized tour.

The views from Skyline Drive on my way back into town were breathtaking and I still had time to use my plastic at all the galleries, gift shops and book stores in Homer.

Back to my tireless hunt for birds along the sandy shore of the spit…

…found plenty of seagulls….

…and finally….the following day on our way out of town….

…after countless blurry images, this guy decided to pose for a few shots.  He wasn’t happy about it, but he did and I was grateful.

Later that afternoon in Girdwood, we took a short hike at the Historic Crow Creek Gold Mine, ending at the creek’s edge.  We stayed at a B & B and our evening meal just across the street at Double Musky Inn was one of the best ever. Thanks to everyone who recommended it!

Girdwood hosts the Alyeska Resort with an Arial Tram that takes you to the top of Mt. Alyeska, 2300 feet up in seven minutes….. with astonishing views.  When we were here last year it was closed due to high winds, so I was really looking forward to going up.

Not wanting to break our record of clouds and rain in Alaska, this was the clearest shot I had of  Turnagain Arm from the top of Mt. Alyeska.  Exhilarating, nonetheless!

The Alyeska Hotel, viewed during the tram’s descent….which might be a bit scary if you’re in the front.  OK, yes I was scared, but only for a minute, and there were children onboard, so I smiled valiantly, held on tightly and loved every moment even though my white knuckles implied otherwise.

The gardens at Hotel Alyeska are spectacular….the roads in downtown Girdwood are under construction, so I just grabbed a latte and we continued our northern journey.

Almost to Anchorage we stopped at Potter Marsh, the southern end of the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge with incredible views of Turnagain Arm.

Alas, I wasn’t having a lot of luck with my birding adventure this week, but I did find a few feathered friends to photograph.

The scenery was breathtaking … as it always is … in Alaska … despite gray conditions.

Our next stop enroute to Palmer was the Alaska Botanical Garden in Anchorage.  A lovely short hike with a warning that bears were in the area; but the only wildlife we saw were mosquitoes.  Fortunately I had citronella oil with me.

Can you tell I am completely enamored with the Himalayan Blue Poppy (Meconopsis)!  I’ve tried growing them to no avail, but here in Alaska they thrive.

With time for one more stop before arriving in Palmer, we chose to hike at the Eagle River Nature Center (you know I was hoping to see an eagle!).

We found baby swallows, but no eagles in sight.  The setting was gorgeous and we had a great hike!

My Powderology class is the reason for my being in Alaska.  Two days, ten students, 4 kilns filled twice, and a ton of fun at Half Moon Creek in Palmer!  Once again, I had a set of talented people unafraid to take risks, play and explore.  Does anyone in Alaska know what can’t means?  I think not!

A collaged collection of student work, I did not pick up my camera as often as planned.  We start having fun and I forget to document!  It was one of those magical classes where everyone connected, shared ideas, and laughed together.

And we all excitedly gasped as the kilns were opened in the morning!

Our trip to Palmer wouldn’t be complete without a drive up to Hatcher Pass for stunning views.  One last treat by our lovely hosts at Simon’s in Anchorage with a panoramic view of Cook Inlet, then back to our B & B to pack up.  All in all, the third time WAS a charm!  We loved every moment and want to again thank Half Moon Creek for offering another opportunity for an amazing adventure!!

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Field of sunflowers, north of Sacramento

My husband & I headed for Sacramento to see his folks and decided to take the scenic route home, turning an otherwise long tedious drive into a mini vacation.  Returning north on Hwy 97 we planned to stop at all the landmarks I remembered from my childhood family vacations driving from Southern California to visit relatives in the Pacific Northwest.

Mt. Shasta

Our family always traveled on Highway 97 and thrilled at many landmarks along our route.  We’d usually spend the night in Redding or Red Bluff, the halfway point – wow have those towns grown up & turned into big cities!    Doris was the last California city heading north and my mom loved Doris Day.  We’d  scream with delight as we reached her.  The Klamath River felt so much larger and longer when I was 9, 10 and 11 than it did this week.  It was exhilarating to see many white cranes and a couple of bald eagles along the river.

Crater Lake

Mom never stopped at Crater Lake because she wanted to reach her sister’s house (where we stayed) in South Central Washington by nightfall. Crater Lake was a ‘definite destination’ on this trip with my husband and it did not disappoint.  The lake was majestically beautiful and a stop I’d strongly recommend, with breathtaking views in every direction.

Vista from Crater Lake

Most of my childhood Highway 97 memories are a blurry monotony of pine forest seen from the back seat, eyes wide open watching for deer.  It was oh so lovely for my husband to stop at my every whim.

Heron at Grass Lake

There was one stop however that my sister and I could not, would not miss if we had anything to say about it.  Just beyond Crater Lake sat a destination that no kid of that era, driving along Highway 97 could resist.  We’d start working on Mom to stop there as soon as we piled into the car in the morning.  She rarely wanted to stop, but it was the only way she could get two road weary, whiny, needling kids to give her peace for the duration of our yearly trek.  Thunderbeast Park. 

My husband was primed and ready to stop, pay the entrance fee and maybe even spend ‘quality time’ in the tourist trap gift shop that I remember so fondly as a pre-teen.  Alas Thunderbeast Park is gone!  Replaced with a chrome shop for trucks!  There’s one lonely decrepit  Thunderbeast left along the highway beckoning truckers with the chrome shop sign.  I was very disappointed to say the least.

Compelled to find out what happened when we got home, I began my internet search.  The only information I could find, other than personal blogs just like mine asking what happened was this post on RoadsideAmerica.com:

Roadside America says Thunderbeast Park, built in 1962 closed sometime before 1996 when they visited.

I also found a bit of information about the cement beasts and their creator, Ernie Nelson (who also built Prehistoric Gardens on the Oregon Coast in 1953) here:

Littlest Sister at Thunderbeast Park, 1974

Then I searched my old photo albums and to my dismay, even though I remember many photos taken there, could only find these two taken when my two sisters and I drove back to California on our own in 1974.  Sheesh, was I old enough to drive that far?  With no adult supervision?!!

1974, one of the beasts and me

I’ve had a fun summer and hope you  have too, but it’s time to get back to work with fresh summer inspiration…

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