Saturday, July 14, 2018

White-faced Ibis

Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge in southeast Idaho is home to about 5000 white-faced ibis in the spring.  The birds breed in colonies in the bulrushes, and the refuge has one of the largest nesting colonies.

Just outside the refuge I came across lots of birds flying in and landing in the deep grass of a hay field.  They eat aquatic insects, earthworms, larvae, and so on, and often find food in damp soil.  I’m not sure why they were gathering in this field.

It was fun watching them glide in and disappear after they landed.  They just kept coming, and every once in awhile a few would poke their heads up to see what I was doing.

I have no idea how many were hiding there, but they tend to congregate in huge colonies.  I was lucky to be able to watch these interesting birds.
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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Shane Cabin

Linda and I stayed in Jackson Hole, Wyoming for two nights so we could explore Grand Teton National Park.  After seeing most of the popular sights we left the crowds and drove to the Gros Ventre River Road.  Here we found a cluster of three log buildings popularly known as the Shane cabin.

This is an old homestead with a remarkable history in popular culture.  It started In 1916 when Luther Taylor homesteaded here.

Extra care was made to make the cabin comfortable.  The inside of each log was flattened, insulated with newspapers, whitewashed and covered with layers of decorative wallpaper.  The marks of the ax or adze can still be seen, but the paper covering is gone.  Through a window we could see one of the outbuildings.

In 1948 the property was sold to rancher Andy Chambers and his son Roy, who rented the cabin out for a couple of years.  The cabin had been vacant for a while when it was used in the 1953 movie "Shane" and has been abandoned since then.  The black and white photo shows the other remaining outbuilding.

This beautiful view of the Grand Tetons was probably one reason the cabin was selected for the iconic western movie, thought by many to be one of the best ever.

Now the cabin is returning to the earth.  The roof and floor are gone, and the cabin’s floor joists balance on a few remaining foundation rocks.  No one has tried to preserve the site and there isn’t even a sign to describe its wonderful history as a homestead and then a movie star.

Please be aware that these photos are copyrighted.  They must not be used without my permission.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Millions of Wildflowers

There are foothills in the Bear Lake Valley that always have a lot of spring wildflowers, but this year is exceptional.  Linda and I were invited to a wedding at a beautiful house on 300 acres high in the foothills and were amazed at the view and the mass of wildflowers.  The owners graciously invited us to return for photos, and we went back twice.

Most of the flowers are arrowleaf balsamroot, a showy, large flower.  Many acres of the hillside are a mass of yellow because of these flowers.

This area had several varieties of lupine mixed with the arrowleaf balsamroot.

Here are two of the many variations of lupine.

Patches of blue camas were a surprise because they are usually found in wetlands.  When I went back a couple of days later many of them were drying out.

We continued higher up the hill on our second visit.  The mass of yellow flowers disappeared and were replaced by scattered Indian paintbrush.  It is remarkable how the elevation change made such a difference.  It has been a beautiful spring.

Please respect my copyright and do not use these photos for any purpose without permission.  Thanks.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Trumpeter Swans Nesting

I haven’t been able to get out much lately, so this is my first post in a long time.  I went with Bruce Grayum to Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge and saw quite a bit of wildlife, including a few trumpeter swans.  They are the world’s largest waterfowl, and were very rare here just a few years ago.  Now there are several nesting pairs in the refuge, and they can be seen in several places in the valley.

There was one pair preparing to nest on an island in the biggest pond along the auto tour route.  We could see the female dragging reeds into a pile for the nest.

Soon she left the nest and swam out to the male, then both took off and flew close to where we were watching.  Because of there size, trumpeter swans need a long runway for takeoff.

The two swam together, often bobbing their heads, which is flirtatious behavior in the swan world.

They were beautiful to watch swimming together and I hope we will be able to see baby swans soon.

Thank you for viewing these photos.  Please do not use them for any reason without my permission.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Catalina Federal Honor Camp

Over the years I have visited four of the World War II Japanese Internment camps and learned about the shameful imprisonment of people just because they were of Japanese descent.  The four camps I have been to are Manzanar, California; Heart Mountain, Wyoming; Minidoka, Idaho; and Topaz, Utah.  I previously posted photos of Minidoka and Topaz on this blog.  Here is the story of another site where people from those camps were sent if they were “troublemakers”.

I just returned from visiting my son and his wife, Brian and Laura, in Tucson, Arizona and while there visited the remnants of a prison camp.  The Catalina Federal Honor Camp housed over 8000 prisoners between 1933 and the early 1950’s.  They were there to build the Catalina Highway up Mt. Lemmon, and among the prisoners were 46 Japanese draft resisters, conscientious objectors, and Gordon Hirabayashi, who defied the government relocation and turned himself in to the FBI.  He was convicted of a curfew violation and sentenced to 90 days in prison after fighting the charge all the way to the Supreme Court.

The prison was an honor camp without walls.  Painted white stones and strong warnings were all that kept the prisoners there.  Even so, the Japanese prisoners were transferred from internment camps in leg irons by armed guards.  Mr. Hirabayashi was the exception.  He hitchhiked to the camp.

The draft resisters were pardoned in 1947, and Gordon Hirabayashi’s conviction was overturned in 1987 when it was discovered that evidence in his favor had been withheld.  He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously in 2012.  After the war, the camp was used as a labor camp for juvenile offenders, then a youth rehabilitation center.  After it closed in 1973 the buildings were destroyed, and the site turned into a campground.  It is now the Gordon Hirabayashi Recreation Site in honor of its most famous prisoner. 

I am grateful to an old friend, Merry Lewis, for taking Linda and me to this historic site.  In a sense, this is a ghost town with nothing but walls and concrete slabs left where there used to be barracks, a mess hall, employee cottages, a baseball field, and many other buildings.

Left, Linda
Right, Merry

 Photos are copyrighted and must not be used without permission.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Museum of Clean Gallery

The Museum of Clean is a quirky, fun, family oriented museum in Pocatello, Idaho.  They have such diverse displays as antique pre-electric vacuum cleaners, the world's first motorized vacuum cleaner (which was horse-drawn), a chimney sweep exhibit, and a replica of Noah’s Ark in a state-of-the-art 74,000 square foot building.  They also have an art gallery which includes a rotating display by local artists.

Don Aslett is the founder of the museum.  He has written 40 books and completed over 6000 seminars, workshops, and TV filmings all about “clean.”  I spoke to him when I visited the museum a few months ago, and he said he would like to have Linda and me exhibit there.  I had forgotten all about it, when one day I got a phone call inviting us to hang our photos in November 2017.

So, Linda and I hung 24 photos in the art gallery at the museum for the month of November.  A few are shown here.  I would like to thank Don Aslett for the opportunity, and Museum director Brad Kisling for all his help getting us set up.  He could not have been friendlier or more helpful.  Just about everyone should enjoy a visit to this very unusual museum.

As usual, our photos are copyrighted and cannot be used without our permission.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Monarch Mine, Nevada

After leaving Sprucemont, Nevada (see the previous post), we continued up Spruce Mountain about two more miles.  The road got much rougher, although it was not nearly as difficult as we expected.  I did use four-wheel drive, and in one or two places low range, and was glad I recently added skid plates to my truck.

Our first view of the mine area included a few houses along a side road.  The area is very steep, with houses on different levels of the hillside.

Most of the buildings are frame houses, but there is one cabin made from massive logs that probably dates back to the earliest days of the mine, around 1899.

This is a true ghost town.  Many buildings are totally collapsed, and those that are still standing have a lot of damage.  Some look like they were nice at one time, but now the wallpaper is peeling and the ceilings coming down.  But, their positions high on the mountains had great views from the windows.

There is a huge crumbling ore bin right in the middle of the residences, and a mine shaft nearby, so miners didn’t have to go far to work.  The gigantic timbers were held together with massive nuts, bolts, and square washers.  Now many are gone, and others are beautifully rusty.

The Monarch Mine was a big producer of lead during World War I.  According to the USGS website, 

"About $200,000 worth up to 1902; 21,000 tons ore worth $475,000 from 1919 to 1921; more production through 1952. Total production was over $1,000,000 worth, including some zinc and copper."

This photo gives some idea of how steep the mountain is, and how houses were built on plots leveled out of the hillside.  We enjoyed exploring the townsite, but didn’t stay long because snow flurries started, and we were a long way from pavement.  The Spruce Mountain mining area was well worth the visit.

I hope you enjoy the photos, but please respect the copyrights and do not use them for any purpose without permission.