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Rivers of Life






From the river that flowed from Eden at the beginning of Genesis to the water of life at the end of Revelation, the Lord has given his people an actual source and not merely a metaphor for how He sustains us, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. The Bible is filled with references to water. Certainly, we can find no more soothing place to sit than by a river, listening to its sounds resonate from ripples to rapids, and seeing its ever changing, never changing flow.

A note on these particular pictures. I arose early in the morning before we left Yellowstone and went into the Park, along the Madison River, for sunrise. To obtain this kind of color, find high cliffs that glow in the early morning or early evening light above a river. The reflection of this light in the river creates the gold effect.

Playing with light and water






After I posted Monday’s blog about freezing the water action at the brink of a waterfall, I mulled over this thought: what if our busy lives were frozen throughout the day by stop action photography? What would we see about ourselves and the people and places we were interacting with?

The pictures for this blog are less philosophical. I just want to encourage those of you with cameras to take your time along a slow moving stream and see the possible patterns. One tip: shoot even if you do not actually see a pattern in the water; you will be amazed at the scenes your camera captures that you were unable to detect with your eyes. Taking pictures like these is similar to a kaleidoscope–you never know how or what the colors, textures, and light will form. These pictures were all taken within a ten yard distance along the Firehole River in Yellowstone.

The Brink of Lower Yellowstone Falls



I love moving water. From brooks and creeks, to rivers and waterfalls, one can become absorbed a range of moods. Water is like a dance, both in sound and in movement, from placid, calm waltzes to pulsating, chaotic disco.

On the brink of Lower Yellowstone Falls, the roar is deafening and the water swift. With the camera, however, action can be stilled and detail seen. I love these two pictures, both for their jade green colors as well as for the multiple manifestations of the water–droplets, spray, solid flow. I did not see those aspects with my eyes. I only appreciated them after I downloaded the images.

The Stillness of God’s Majesty



The magnificence of Yellowstone is often marred by the large numbers of visitors who ply the roads, the boardwalks, and the trails. Nonetheless, early morning and late evening light lift one’s mind, heart, and soul to what soars beyond our human desire to control and define. The light draws us to a wonder of what God has created for us. And, in those moments He reminds us to “be still and know that I am God.”

Sharing Yellowstone






In August of 1958, my father took our family to Yellowstone in our trailer. He showed me how to set it up and take care of things, and then took the bus from West Yellowstone to the Presidio for three weeks of Army reserve training. At age 15, as the oldest child, I got to be “the man of the family.” I taught my mother how to fish, and she excitedly caught three cutthroat trout in Yellowstone Lake. After fifty years, the memories are still strong.

With stops, West Yellowstone is a twelve hour drive from La Grande, Meg and I have taken Matt and Michael to the Park many times. I call it the “Disneyland of the Outdoors” because of the multiple geologic features and the wide range of outdoor activities.
It is a special place to show visitors. Although Meg was not able to go with us, Jasmine, Marshal and I had a great trip from June 11 through June 15. We stayed in a two bedroom log cabin at a KOA outside of West Yellowstone and made daily trips into the Park. They enjoyed the vastness and the variety of the scenery. They were deeply appreciative to be there, and I enjoyed sharing their enthusiasm and their learning.

Flora and Fauna of the Alvord Desert







When I was in the sixth grade, I fell in love with horned lizards (the so-called horned “toads” ) after viewing a movie at the nature center in Death Valley. Shortly after that, my father found a horned lizard and gave it to me; I was awestruck that such a wish had been wonderfully fulfilled. The memory is deeply ingrained in me today at age 67. I have long been fascinated by the horned lizard’s dinosaur like appearance.. Its head resembles a miniature triceratops. The fossil record dates this creature back to the mid Miocene, about 15 million years ago. Southwest Indian tribes portray it as a symbol of strength and sang healing song’s that referred to its behaviors. As you can see from the petroglyph picture from the Hart Mountain area, it was recognized and honored in the rock inscription.
Jackrabbits are not really rabbits, but hares. Hares are the larger cousins of rabbits. They look awkward and silly with their large ears and feet. Yet they can move at speeds up to 40 miles an hour. Their powerful hind feet can propel them up to ten feet “in a single bound.” I love this backlit shot of the jackrabbit hiding from me in the sagebrush and Indian paintbrush. Some scientists believe that the blood vessels in the ears help radiate heat while the jackrabbit is resting, those cooling its body temperature.
Golden gilia, Indian paintbrush, and purple lupine are three flowers that carpet the Alvord in the spring when the rains have been good. Golden gilia thrives in the alkali soil found here. Indian paintbrush blooms throughout the sagebrush country. Their color is not actually the flower, but the bract/leaf that attract hummingbirds to assist pollination. It is high in the mineral selenium, and was used medicinally by American Indians, as well as for paintbrushes as the name suggests. Alvord paintbrush have a marvelous unique redness to them.
Finally, it is impossible to overlook the lupine, whose purple spreads across the damper grasslands where the Steens begin to rise from the desert. They are in the legume family, and add important nitrogen to the soil. They contain poisonous alkaloids and are deadly to sheep and livestock.

The Alvord Desert, Borax Lake, and Mickey Hot Springs








The playa that forms the Alvord desert stretches out beneath Steens Mt, a marvelous fault block mountain that rises to more than ninety six hundred feet. This playa runs nine miles north/south along the Steens and stretches six miles east. Tens of thousands of years ago, a lake almost two hundred feet deep covered the playa. Now, it is intermittently covered with water depending on the season. Land sailors, car racers, bicyclists enjoy the area when it is dry.

Borax Lake, at the southern end of the Alvord, near Fields, is fed by hot springs which contain a high concentration of borate. When the hot springs evaporate, a high concentration of alkali is left behind. Between 1892 and 1902, about 400 tons of borax were boiled down and crystalized annually. Mule teams transported this processed borax to the railhead at Winnemucca, NV, a distance of 120 miles. Borax Lake is now owned by The Nature Conservancy, and offers excellent birding.
Just north of the Alvord, Mickey Hot springs bubbles away, both as hot pools and as mud pots. Some springs have dried up, leaving interesting alkali patterns in the crust. Springtime blooms carpet the area. Golden gilia is particularly beautiful, as are the Indian paintbrush that grow up through the sage.

He will never abandon us



Oswald Chambers writes in “My Utmost for His Highest” that God will never leave us, “not for any reason, not my sin, my selfishness, stubbornness, nor waywardness. Have I really let God say to me that He will never leave me? If I have not truly heard this assurance of God, then let me listen again.”
What a promise! Even when we are busy, distracted, fantasizing, lost, wrapped up in ourselves, God is always there, calling us back to the right path where He ever waits for us. Even though the road we often take meanders, twists, and gets confused, He continually shows us the straight path to Him.

Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge








Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge is located on a massive fault block ridge that ascends abruptly nearly three quarters of a mile above the Warner Valley, north of Lakeview. This remote area of of Oregon contains rugged cliffs, steep slopes, and broad sage brush and grasslands steppes. A special treat is a hot springs that is lovely to soak in. The views extend forever, and in the late spring, wildflowers of all colors dot the terrain. Memories of Indian presence are found in petroglyphs and obsidian shards.

This diverse landscape is filled with over 300 species of wildlife, primarily birds (239 species) and mammals (42 species). Although we only saw saw pronghorn antelope and mule deer, big horn sheep hang out in the steep canyons. Birds of note that we saw included sage grouse and a short eared owl.