Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Look Who We Have Hanging Around

We have a mesh sunscreen that pulls down over the large back window of our RV. It is very handy when we're in a sunny place, like La Grande, Oregon.

Yesterday we noticed that a new visitor had taken up residence between the sunscreen and the window.

This little bat seems right at home. The only problem is that unless you look really closely, it appears to be inside of the trailer. Kind of gets your attention!!

Mark

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Men Love Peppy Girls

Union, Oregon is a small town a little ways down the road from us.  In searching for things to do in the area we discovered there is a museum in Union called the Union County Museum.  We enjoy visiting museums and headed out to do some exploring.

Union County has a rich history that begins with Native Americans and continues through the passage of pioneers during the early days of the Historic Oregon Trail migration.  People began settling in the area when gold was discovered in the Blue Mountains in 1862.

The museum is staffed by very nice volunteers.  One of the women working the day we visited was very good at being helpful with interesting facts and tidbits.  She knew when to leave us to explore on our own and wasn’t overwhelming with too much information.   That is a sign of a very good guide and is really hard for most people to accomplish.  We appreciated her enthusiasm and knowledge and also her willingness to let us discover all the museum had to offer on our own.

After paying a small entry fee - I got the senior discount - we were immediately engrossed in this very well maintained museum.  It turned out to be much larger than it looked from the outside as there were more buildings in the back.

For a while I didn’t think we were ever going to get past the front door!  There was so much to see. 

The museum starts with all kinds of medical equipment and information about the area around the late 1800’s.  I always find old medical equipment fascinating and somewhat creepy.
Early syringe - this looks painful! 
 Amputation kit - it didn't look like it had ever been used.
I wonder how well these worked!

Did you like the title to the blog?  Well, you can be a peppy girl too!

We moved on to life in town with the general store, post office and bank. 
The General Store display was loaded with interesting items. 
 Original General Store ledger from October 8, 1884.
Post Office.
Bank vault.

It seems like I always find the hand crafts the most interesting part of any museum we visit (I wonder why?).

The Union County Museum has some wonderful displays of hand crafts, clothing and decorating.



Beautiful stitch work!

 Button Hooks.

Button collection.
My mother had a button box.  I remember pushing my hands through all the buttons, dumping them on the floor and sorting by size.  It was a lot of fun.  I wish I had them now.  If I had room, I would collect buttons.

All the rooms in a typical house were full of interesting things to view.
 Bedroom
 Parlor
 Bath
 Kitchen

After seeing all there was to see inside the museum, our wonderful volunteer told us there was more to see in the buildings out back.

There was a lot more to see!  Wagons, black smith shop, etc.
 Blacksmith shop
 Wagon displays
I had no idea there was a wagon odometer!

We had a great time wandering through this delightful museum.  If you’re ever in the area, it’s a very enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours.


Saturday, August 5, 2017

The "Wildlife" at Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area

Teri and I have taken the opportunity to explore various parts of the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area. While most of the habitat is marsh (duh...) there are also plenty of grasslands and even some higher elevation forest. Over the month we've been here we've seen a nice variety of birds and animals.

The most common large animal has been White-tailed Deer. There are also Mule Deer and Elk in the area, but we've not seen either. We did see this doe with her twin fawns.

Speaking of families, we got here in time to see some waterfowl still with young. This Northern Pintail hen is leading a nice brood.

A Northern Shoveler had a brood that looked younger than the Pintails. 

This little Kildeer chick was running around on a paved road. Not the best way to make it to adulthood!

There are a lot of coyotes here at Ladd Marsh. They are a major predator of the young birds. 

We enjoy seeing Cliff Swallows in their unique mud nests.

With plenty of insects to eat, various swallows zoom around our site in the evenings. They make a very challenging photography subject.
Barn Swallow

Cliff Swallow

Stay tuned for more bird, animals, and insects from Oregon.

Mark

Friday, July 28, 2017

Making Progress

It has been a while since we blogged. We got sort of burned out after all of the Alaska blogs, but we're still at Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area in NE Oregon and doing fine.

You might recall from a previous blog that our main task is to get the Volunteer RV site cleaned up and ready for future volunteers. The biggest part of that job was to get the workshop/storage building fixed up. When we arrived the building had holes in the walls, mice inside, and was looking tired.

The first job was basic clean-up. I tackled the outside with a heavy-duty weedeater, while Teri took on the interior with a dust mask and shop-vac. Oh, and plenty of wasp spray!!


Next came replacing the siding on the south side of the building. The weather had taken it's toll and there was no way to salvage this side. So we stripped it off. Notice the holes in the side. Woodpeckers and/or rodents!!


With the old siding stripped off we thought that attaching new siding would be quick and easy. What we hadn't realized was how crooked this building is. Not a square corner or vertical line to be found! Placing the first sheet of siding up revealed that the building was out-of-plumb by about 4" top to bottom. Look at how the edges of the sheet (don't) line up with the corner or the studs. 


With the old horizontal strip siding the alignment hadn't made much difference, but with 4' x 8' sheets you need something vertical to nail to. So we found ourselves adding addition studs to make these new sheets work. Once we got that finished we put on fresh tar paper and started attaching the new siding. 

With the new studs we got the rest of the sheets up and primed in no time. 

The final steps on the outside were to paint and trim. The refuge had a brand-new paint sprayer still in the box that made quick work of the painting. The color? Why Barn Red of course!!

With the terrible tilt on the building trimming the corners to look decent was a challenge. We wanted the trim on the new side to look vertical to match the lines in the siding, but needed it to be flush with the other wall. If you look close you'll see that the trim boards are tapered from bottom to top. Custom trim, by Mark & Teri!!  Once painted it looks pretty good. 



We'll tackle the inside next time.

Mark

Monday, July 3, 2017

Change of Scenery!!

After four months at the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, we decided that it was time to move on. We'd completed our major projects and had a couple of minor misunderstandings with the management there. We felt like we were looking mostly at emptying garbage cans and sorting through recycling for the next couple of months. We've never left a volunteer gig early, but neither of us was looking forward to more time there so we "gave our notice" and headed south.

We had spoken with Oregon Fish and Wildlife a couple of summers ago about their opportunities, so we reached out to them again to see what they had available for July and August. We received a couple of different offers, and selected Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area in northeastern Oregon.

Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area is just over 6000 acres in size, and protects one of the largest remaining wetlands in NE Oregon. While much of the area is wet meadow and marsh, the refuge also includes prairie grasslands, upland shrub, and conifer habitats. It is designated an Important Bird Area (IBA) it is also home to many mammals include elk herds.

Our job is a simple one. Get the RV volunteer area cleaned up and fixed up. It has been a few years since they had an RV volunteer, and the manager would like to make the site more attractive to future volunteers.

The RV pad is on an old homestead site. We are in a grove of large trees (Black Locust and Walnut) planted by the former residents. They provide welcome shade and lots of habitat for birds. We are completely surrounded by nesting Tree Swallows along with many other species of birds.
Tree Swallow in Nesting Box

Bullock's Oriole

Northern (Red-shafted) Flicker

Our view is our over a huge marsh, with the Blue Mountains in the background. We're told that herds of elk will be coming down from the mountains and will feed in this meadow in August.

There are two outbuildings on the site that are pretty run down. This one is supposed to house a washer and dryer, but we haven't found the key yet to check it out!  Hopefully those appliances will be working when we get in there, but it sounds like the building hasn't been open in several years. We'll get a chance to spruce those buildings up and get things working.

Compared to Washington's Olympic Peninsula this is a warmer, drier, and sunnier area. We are running the A/C to keep cool in the afternoon, but with the low humidity it is always comfortable in the shade. 

We look forward to our first workday on Monday morning, where we will find out what exactly we've gotten ourselves into for the next couple of months.

Mark

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Alaska Journal - Day 13

We docked in Juneau, the capital of Alaska, this morning.  While having breakfast the crew got everything ready for disembarkment.  This was the end of the line for our trip.

There are no roads connecting Juneau to the rest of Alaska or to the rest of North America.  It is reachable only by boat or seaplane

We had a couple of hours before our shuttle to the airport.  It was too early in the morning for most places to be open but we walked around looking at the sights.

We walked past the State Capitol building, which was modest as state capitols go. Since it was Saturday we didn't expect for it to be open, but we would have liked to look inside. 


The local Ravens were pretty friendly. They were probably used to getting handouts. 

After walking around for a while we found ourselves in the area where the big cruise ships dock.  There were many, very large, souvenir shops in this area and I did find a place to pick up a few souvenirs.  We bought a few t-shirts and other things.  I had already bought a magnet at the start of our trip in Seattle and one in Ketchikan but I couldn’t resist picking up a couple more.  


It was time for our shuttle to the airport.  The cruise folks had already taken our luggage so we hopped on a luxury bus with only our carry-on bags.

We splurged on first class seating for the flight back to Seattle. Pretty nice!

Mark got some great pictures of glaciers as we flew out of Juneau. The idea of glaciers being "rivers of ice" is well illustrated here. You can see several smaller glaciers flowing in to the main glacier, which finally melts into the river.

The flight was uneventful.  With first class seating we got a hot lunch and cookies.  We landed in Seattle on time and got back home about 8 p.m.

Please leave a comment or send an e-mail if you have enjoyed our first trip to Alaska.

The end.