Monday, July 30, 2012

Scorched earth

Cattle in the background

South of French Glen on our return trip for the Alvord Hot Springs we saw these fields burned in the Miller Homestead Fire. There are cattle in the one photo but I'm not sure what there is to eat. North of French Glen the fire jumped the road in some places. On the left is burn, on the right is the green of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Another cattle drive

After the Alvord Hot Springs we went to Fields Store for burgers and a shake, then continued to the Catlow Valley on the West side of the Steens. Coming through a narrow winding canyon we encountered a heard of cows and calves coming toward us complete with buckaroos. We safely navigated our way through snapping photos as we went.

Alvord Hot Springs

Looking toward the pools from the road

The paths to the pools

Looking back to the road

Hot pool and John in the cool pool

Hot pool looking back to the road
Last week John and I took a trip to the Alvord Hot Springs via the East Steens Highway for my birthday.  We had visited in January but it was too cold to get in because the pipes were broken. This time it was too hot. There are two concrete pools and someone had routed all the pipes into one pool so that when we got there the one was too hot and the other pretty cold. So John rerouted the pipes and we had a nice sit in the "hot" spring.  The hot springs are on private land but were maintained for years by one man who died several years ago. Someone put in the two concrete pools and put up corrugated tin for a wind break. Being in an isolated area, of course, someone shot holes in the tin. This is not Martha Stewart country.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Shelman Horse Sale

Little guy waiting to go into the ring

This horse didn't want to walk across the pallet so he jumped.

Pulling a tire
A local horse breeder and trainer had a sale this summer, and I went to take photos. It was at the Bell-A ranch this time. I got to see some of the horses for sale who were identified with numbers on their flanks. Different buckaroos put the horses through their paces which included pulling a tire and walking over a pallet.  It shows how well the horses are trained.The little guy in the photos with the big hat someone said was 5 or 6 years old. Shelman trains horses for working with cows. At one of his auctions I went to last year one horse went for $7,000.

Bell-A Homestead

The Bell A is a ranch near Burns that was originally owned by Bill Hanley who died in 1933. I wrote an article on him for the Oregon Encyclopedia. (The link is  The Shelman Horse Sale was held there recently, and I went to see the place and take photos. It is a truly gorgeous piece of property. 

Terry and Tim

Here's Terry at the Central Pastime Bar where she goes to watch her favorite San Francisco Giants pitcher, Tim Lincecum.  She can't get the Giants games on cable at home.  John and I joined her one Friday afternoon to watch Lincecum win the game. Terry likes his style of pitching -- very tai chi.

Art Walk Musicians

Kate Marsh (left in photo) helped organize an Art Walk in Burns where the work of over thirty local artists and artisans were displayed. One could walk from store to store to see the exhibits or drive to different locations. Some musicians sang and played on the sidewalks. Here are singers Kate, Jane and I with guitar and autoharp ready to entertain. It was fun but the traffic was so loud no one could hear us. It was probably better that way. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Juntura Hot Springs

Oasis Cafe in Juntura

Dry thistle. So I thought it was pretty.

Note road entering and leaving river. We did not drive across.

Malheur River

Ugly River Shoes necessary for wading rivers
I don't really know if that is the name of these hot springs which are on an island in the middle of the Malheur River a few miles east of Juntura. You have to know where you are going to find them. Of course, John knew since he is a hot springs aficionado. We went yesterday, stopping first at the Oasis Cafe in Juntura for lunch and on the way back for one of their fabulous milkshakes. However, one has to pause on reading the hand lettered signs on the door of the cafe:  Restrooms for customers only; We cannot accept any trash; We have worms. Hmmm. We found the road into the hot springs and met a couple walking out whose battery went dead in their giant truck while they were listening to the radio in the middle of nowhere. Of course, we had jumper cables and they were soon on their way which left us the sole use of the shade of the lone juniper to park our truck. One has to wade the fast moving river to get to the island. John did but we had to find me a slower moving spot to wade across since I'm such a frail thing. I didn't take the camera across the river because John was afraid I'd take a tumble in the water and loose the camera. So no hot spring photo but just imagine the big pool at Mickey Springs and that is what this one looked like. By the time we left the temperature was 102 degrees. That milkshake sure tasted good.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Fire danger

Smoke cloud looking east

Smoke cloud looking south. Blue sky to the right.

Smoke, smoky and smokier
This past week and the week before John was called out to the Miller Homestead fire near French Glen and the Anderson Valley fire. Both are contained now. He volunteers with the Crane Rangeland Fire Dept, an all volunteer community organization.  A 1,000 gallon Rangeland water tank truck is parked in our yard. John maintains it, keeps it filled from a neighbor's irrigation well, and drives it to where it is needed when called. Photos are him leaving for the Miller Homestead fire and the smoke from the fire on our horizon which was 60 miles to the southeast of us. We postponed a weekend jaunt to the Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge because of the fire danger in the area. Both fires were set off by lightening.


Blitzen and his mother, Harriet. Aunt Yoda is in the background

Blitzen is over three months old now and loves to bite and devil his mother and aunt. He seems to prefer the latter and spends a lot of time bothering her. Both mares seem to put up with him. He's loosing his baby fur and is becoming very sleek.  He spends most of his day eating, sleeping, rolling in the dust, galloping and playing.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Modern Cattle Drive

Cow dust storm
Truck to the left pushing the cows
Horse in trailer along for the ride
Create dust storm. Push cows with truck pulling horse in trailer. I thought this was funny because the horse was along just in case. It was a small move, only about 100 head of cattle. The local rancher was moving the cows to a different pasture that had more feed and was close by. Most of the move was over dusty ranch roads where a truck could be easily used instead of a horse or ATVs (All Terrain Vehicle), also known as 4-wheelers.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Skeleton in the Desert

On July 5, 2012, we took a day trip with our friends, Kate and Ron, to a remote section of Harney County east of the Steens Mountains. Ron took us to a place called Mickey Basin to the north of Mickey Hot Springs where he spent the night two years ago guarding the site of an apparent suicide scene. A skeleton was found by a BLM patrol officer in a mound of rare green vegetation by an alkaline lake bed. A man from a distant community, apparently upset over the breakup with his girlfriend, drove out into a rocky sagebrush-strewn landscape with no paved road and barely visible gravel lane in January intent upon taking his own life. He was driving a Honda over roads hardly passable in a four-wheel drive truck, let alone a small car. He backed the Honda into a shallow hole he dug out of the mound and covered the car with brush. He hooked up a hose from the exhaust to the inside of the car and left the car running. That didn't seem to work so he used a rifle to shoot himself in the head. The skeleton was found upright in the driver's seat, an empty whiskey bottle on the floor. How the man found the site in a Honda remains a mystery. Even more astounding was that the patrol officer found the site in June of that year because it was so remote and so well hidden. The suicide victim had dug his own grave and hid it, thinking he'd never be found. The coroner declared the death a suicide.

Looking across the alkaline lake, in the far distance are unusual green mounds. We drove across the lake bed coming back.

Tailgating in the middle of nowhere

Ron and John investigate the site where the car was found

Ron, a retired law enforcement officer, with lake in background

the shallow depression where the car was

investigating the unusual greenery

can you find the road in this photo?

the middle of nowhere

Mickey Hot Springs

Main pool looking SE

Main pool with the Steens in the background

hour glass pool

the water was actually rolling coming out of this pool

same pool which looked like a vent

vent pool

more of the vent pool

the water drained from the pools and spread out but was still hot to the touch

new baby pool with photographer

interesting colors

On our trip to Mickey Basin on July 5, we stopped at one of the many hot springs in the region. This one is boiling coming out of the ground. Yes, I stuck a finger in and got burned. Hot springs are a fascinating phenomena. Makes you wonder where that water was, it is so hot.