December 2021: knitting, the neighborhood, gnomes for the holiday…

Knitting – I finished up some holiday projects – socks, a hat, two gnomes, and a brioche skirt for me! …

I learned how to make a Dorset Button, as a tree ornament, from a kit by TJFrogg of Skye.

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And I finished a cross stitch bookmark kit for my husband, which he purchased in New Zealand, and which represents our hope to return there some day to see Mitre Peak in Milford Sound.

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Neighborhood…On my neighborhood walks, I witnessed fall colors giving way to holiday decor…

Tree baubles, disco Santa, and the abominable snowman…

On one block, four or five large installations face off, including two Snoopys:

December has brought lots of rain, and now a deep freeze and snow between Christmas and New Years.

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Holidays…We had a quiet Hannukah at home.

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Our daughter was home from DC for about 2 weeks. I missed her assistance with the holiday prep elf work last year.

We were so glad to enjoy Christmas dinner with friends, also missed last year. We got to see their tree, and share our time on this one day, all vaccines and pretest precaution protocols in place.

Being able to be with a limited number of family and friends made this so much better than last year. I am grateful we are all healthy!  I wish everyone a triple vaxxxed (or whatever it takes) happy New Year, 2022!

December 2021, Walking adventures

We went on a couple of hikes, and walked among Van Gogh paintings in a digital art experience.

Lyle Loop, 12/2/2021, 5 miles, 1250 feet

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Clockwise track

A new loop has been carved out of the Nature Conservancy Lyle Cherry Orchard property. We tried it on a windy (but not tooo windy) day- lovely blue sky and puffy clouds our backdrop. We climbed up the familiar tiers of basalt flows, above the Convict Road,

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Looking down on the Convict Road

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Windy blue skies above

then headed west, to a new trail carved into the grassy slope.

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It curves around the mountain above the town of Lyle.

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As the trail circled to the north, Mt Adams appeared on the horizon.

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Zooming in

On the northern side of the loop, out of the wind, we walked through lovely oak woodlands, occasionally switching back past views of Lyle, and of Mt Adams again.

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Lyle, Klickitat River delta

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Lyle town sign, in white rocks

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Mt Adams again,

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now with clouds.

Eventually, our trail intersected the Cherry Orchard Loop, and we descended on the familiar trail.

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A lovely day on the sunny side of the mountains.

Tracy Hill, Catherine Creek, WA, 12/8/2021,  5.3 miles, 1200 feet

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Our counterclockwise trail map 

Calm and bright; clouds topping the highest hills; some blue sky distant:

DSC01336some of our plant friends in their winter garb:

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bitteroot

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parsley

Ravens and cows:

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ravens

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cows

Columbia River shining:

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oak and ponderosa sharing the sky:

Ent on the skyline: 

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It’s very birdie in this section, chirping and calling, flashes of blue, rust, white and black between trees, I can’t quite see them; blue jays and woodpeckers?

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Up Tracy Hill’s open slopes:

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View up Major Canyon, to the east

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Seating at the top of Tracy Hill

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A well earned rest

and down again:  

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halfway down

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above the arch

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Looking back at the top of Tracy Hill

It felt a bit like walking in a painting. I was interested to compare it with walking in digital paintings the next day…

Beyond VanGogh, Oregon Convention Center, 12/8/2021 – We did actually walk in pictures, as the digital imagery swirled around us, and the paintings painted themselves on the walls. All beautiful and colorful, and an excellent reminder of Van Gogh’s work. I loved seeing:

the flowers that melded together then blew away:

the swirls of starry night whirling:

walls of self portraits:

buildings appearing from simple sketched lines to full color paint strokes:

signatures writing themselves in a patchwork of squares:

dark starry skies dripping down the walls:

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However, Beyond Van Gogh was not a wilderness experience. I enjoyed the visual imagery, but would have liked to see it in an Imax setting. Perhaps if we had been stationary, I would have felt more in control regarding Covid precautions, especially now that omicron is spreading. There were too many people wandering around in the hall. I was constantly checking over my shoulder to get away from someone standing tooo close with their mask slipping down. I guess I’m not ready to resume life in the peopled world yet.

For the rest of December it has been raining, and now is cold (for us) and snowing. Not conducive to driving to the trails or hiking.  I’ve mainly been taking neighborhood walks in the brief dry spells. I will be glad to return to walking in the real hills after this Canadian cold front moves on.

12/14/2021 Waiting for the winter solstice…

Snow Geese and Sandhill Cranes near Vancouver Lake, WA

I had heard rumors, and we had a day with some sunshine amidst the weeks of rain…

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Sandhill cranes and snow geese near Frenchman’s Bar

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We found a couple of view points through the berms and fencing around the Columbia Land Trust cornfields where we could see the flocks of birds wintering there. We saw the cloud of white geese stir up, then settle.

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Sandhill cranes were grazing near the cornfield, often flying in groups of three…

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We were using our zoom lenses, far from the birds, but could hear the honking of the geese, and that special purring trill of the sand hill cranes. And were grateful to see and hear them!

Meanwhile…

New York Times notice today:

Image 12-16-21 at 5.29 PM

Image 12-17-21 at 1.01 PM

NZ2020: Day 14, To Lake Ohau

February 7, 2020

Today began with a hike near Queenstown, then we drove north to the vicinity of Aoraki/Mt Cook.

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Driving route to Lake Ohau

Queenstown: After breakfast at a local cafe, we took a last walk through Queenstown and along the Lake Wakatipu waterfront.

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Wall art in our breakfast cafe

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Quiet morning in Queenstown

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Queenstown waterfront

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Sam Summers’ Hut Hike – 5.4 miles, 800 feet

Then we drove west along the shores of Lake Wakatipu to the Mt Crichton Loop Track trailhead.

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Trailhead map – our trail circled in light blue

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Dipping schist along the trail

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View back to Lake Wakatipu

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Juvenile lancewood, or horoeka

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Adult lancewood

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A bog near our turnaround junction

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Small lake

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Lake Dispute, Lake Wakatipu

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Waterfall on Twelve Mile Creek

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Quartz layers in the rocks behind the waterfall

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Sam Summers’ Hut

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An old gold mining lodging

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Rustic…

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The history

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Interior…

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Meadows and sandstone outcrops on the return hike

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Twelve Mile Creek

I enjoyed the hike, and it was good to stretch our legs on an easier trail, after the challenging hike yesterday, and another challenging hike planned for tomorrow.

Arrowtown: Next, we drove back through Queenstown, and on to Arrowtown, where we stopped for a picnic lunch in the park, and a short wander around the western style gold rush town.

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Western facades in Arrowtown

DSC07124DSC07125DSC07128Driving north: For the next few hours, we drove north along Hwys 6 and 8, with several short stops, and lots of interesting scenery along the way.

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Last glimpse of The Remarkables as we leave Arrowtown

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Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge

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Wine country near Gibbston

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We stopped at a fruit stand near Cromwell, with orchards of ripe nectarines (southern summer!), and delicious homemade ice cream.

At Lindis Pass, over 3000 feet in elevation, we walked up to a viewpoint over the dry tussock landscape. The golden rolling hills reminded me of the high deserts of eastern Oregon and California.

DSC07143DSC07144DSC07146DSC07147 We took one last break in Omarama, where I found a few post cards, but no knitting wool.

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Lake Ohau:  We arrived at Lake Ohau around 5 pm. Once again, I was taken by surprise, by the startlingly turquoise blue of the lake, and the barren mountain slopes streaked with colorful landslips beyond. I was not expecting anything so stunning, as we had just been passing through the dry summer landscape of the Mackenzie Basin. And into my mind came memories of the southwestern US, where I spent a fair amount of time geologizing in my younger days. Here in New Zealand, I was seeing glacial lakes such as those that filled many of the basins of western North America in the ice ages. It was like going back in time, in a way, and I was grateful to see a version of this ‘geologic setting’ in real life. So striking in starkness and color. Another of the amazing experiences I would have on this trip. And there would be more beautiful images later today!

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Lake Ohau, Ben Ohau

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Our lodge room had ‘picture’ windows overlooking Lake Ohau and the near and distant mountains. Standing beyond but higher than all was the stunning Aoraki/Mt Cook, 12,218 feet tall, the highest mountain in New Zealand. From our vantage, it was a giant chunk of glistening white, it’s peak plateau about a mile long, it’s faceted shear white slopes facing us, calling attention to itself, and I felt lucky to see it.

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Our lodge room

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Lake Ohau

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Aoraki/MtCook

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Aoraki/MtCook

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The other glaciated mountain at the end of Lake Ohau

After a dinner in the lodge of pumpkin miso soup, salmon, and chocolate mousse, we returned to our room to see the moon rising and the the mountain glowing in the twilight, then in alpenglow. I seemed to be sitting in a picture postcard.

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Later, the rising moon was reflected in the lake, and Aoraki/Mt Cook shone with moon glow.

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We also saw Orion in the sky, but have not yet seen the southern cross. This day ended well, and tomorrow we were looking forward to getting closer to Aoraki/Mt Cook.

November 2021 report…

 A month that sped by, interludes of rain and wind and another atmospheric river, a few hikes, some knitting, and a family Thanksgiving celebration indoors…

Hikes:

November 5th – Wildwood Trail, miles 0 to 1.5, Portland, OR

On a sunny afternoon, we walked the first section of the Wildwood Trail as part of a 3 mile loop. We saw some late fall color, a bald eagle, and a few other interesting trees.

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liquidambar


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oak


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bald eagle

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Redwood trees


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Huggable!


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Monkey puzzle trees

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Not huggable! 

I only have about 3 miles left to have completed all 30 miles of the trail.

November 10th – Catherine Creek – Bitterroot/Stringbean/Rowland Wall trails, WA

Another 4.5 mile loop on a sunny day in the eastern Gorge, Washington side. 

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Up the Bitterroot Trail, view to Catherine Creek Arch.


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Oak groves on the west side of Rowland Wall.


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Spotted towhee


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Lunch view to the east toward Rowland Wall

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another towhee?


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Handsome old tree snag


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Westward view


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Back over Rowland Wall

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Orchards of Mosier

We took a quick stop to check out the bald eagle nesting grounds on the nearby Klickitat River, knowing it was probably too early to see them.

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No bald eagles yet,


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but plenty of Osage Oranges,

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and some small birds in the bushes.

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Three bushtits


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Spotted towhee

November 18th – Deschutes River Trail, OR

A two hour drive to get out of the rain – a pleasant 5 mile walk with friends…

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Canada geese near the trailhead


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The river level is high!


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Some fall colors along the banks


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Cliff views as we start uphill…

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View back to the river mouth.

November 23rd – Stonehenge, WA

Again we drove east, looking for good weather. We found sun, but too much wind! We drove through the wind power installations in the hills, then stopped for our lunch break at the Stonehenge replica/ WWI Memorial near Maryhill, WA. 

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Rainbow and white caps on the Columbia River, from the Hood River Bridge.


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Driving through wind power country…

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Stonehenge Memorial out on a bluff over the Columbia River…

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West toward Hood River

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Eastward views

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Sun on the cliffs near Lyle, WA, as we drive back west into the rain.

Thanksgiving:

We celebrated with friends, 

while this bird feasted on the rudbeckia seedheads in our front yard:

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Knitting

Mostly on a brioche project. I have become quite experienced at repairing knitted purls and vice versa.

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Neighborhood

Many walks during the dry intervals. Leaves saying goodbye…

and this guy looking to the future…

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