Little Things

We have just returned from our annual trek to Portland, Oregon to visit my dad and his wife.  We made this a relatively low-key trip.  In the past, we’ve taken longer trips to Portland to allow time to meet our friends in Seattle and do things like take a side trip to Olympic National Park in Washington or spend a week in Glacier National Park.

This time, we spent a lot of time debating if there was a way to go to Portland with Tisen.

The reality was that we would need to spend 6 days driving if we didn’t fly and there was no way I was going to load Tisen into the cargo hold of a plane.  If we were going to take 6 days to drive to Portland, I wanted to make it an adventure through Yellow Stone–a place I have yet to go.  But, neither Pat nor I could afford to take that kind of time off work.

In the end, we opted for asking our friends to watch Tisen and keeping our trip short.  Our friends from Seattle offered to come down to Portland to spend a day with us so we didn’t have to take 2 or more days to see them.  My dad didn’t plan any multi-day side trips; we would have plenty of flexibility in our schedule to visit with our friends.

So, last Monday morning, the alarm went off at 4:00AM and I hopped out of bed like that was the time I got up every day.  By 5:45AM, Tisen was fed and walked and we were packed and ready to roll.  Tisen excitedly ran for the van just sure he was going on a new adventure with us.  I had a hard time dropping him off at our friends’ house.

We made it to Portland a little early and by 2PM were sitting in my dad’s family room with full bellies (having stopped for lunch on the way from the airport) and suffering from only mild separation anxiety.

It felt good to just sit and hang out, catching up.  I, of course, got out my camera and started looking for things to shoot.

Pat sat across from me with his feet up on a foot rest.  I noticed for the first time that his shoes, which he has had for at least a couple of years, have outlines of the shoemakers on the soles.  I couldn’t resist trying to shoot the soles of his shoes.

Then, my dad was telling a story and chuckling.  I had to capture some of his facial expressions (although most of them didn’t come out so flattering).

Finally, I put my macro lens on my camera and went out to the garden.  My dad’s wife is an amazing gardener and can always be counted on to have beautiful flowers.  Although the surprisingly cool temperatures sent be back inside after only shooting a couple of flowers.

Finding Sanctuary

I discovered tonight that I’m almost out of digital photos I haven’t used in a blog post!  Who knew a year of blogging could use up 9 years of digital photos?  I’m going to have to start searching the archives again–there have to be more photos in there!

I did discover these series of shots taken two years ago during an annual trip to Portland, Oregon.  Pat and I went to the local Audubon Society Preserve there and did a hike through their woods.

It’s an amazing property for many reasons.  First, it’s been meticulously maintained as a natural, native habitat.  Most people don’t associate “meticulous maintenance” with “natural, native habitat.”  Usually, we think of a golf course.  Unfortunately, as I know from volunteering at the Audubon Society here in Chattanooga, without ongoing hard labor to remove the invasive species that pop up every time one turns one’s head, they get out of control and turn native habitat into something completely foreign.  It’s unfortunate we humans can’t agree that invasive species shouldn’t be sold or planted.  Until we do, those of us who value preserving native ecosystems have a lot of work to do to prevent those habitats from being overrun by the rest of the population’s right to decide what to plant on their own property.  But, don’t let me get on that soapbox.

The Portland Audubon Sanctuary is a 150 acre property of dense forest, including a stand of old growth trees, a pond, and a creek that’s carved some small hills within the already hilly Portland topography.

Walking through the forest area made us think we were in the rain forests of the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state.  We didn’t see too many birds while we were hiking.  Those we did see were a tough for me to ID–somehow, even the birds that also live in the East looked different enough that I couldn’t feel confident I’d correctly identified them.

When we stopped at the lovely gazebo on the pond at the sanctuary, we discovered a group who was out watching a Northern Saw-whet Owl perched in a tree and up so high that without binoculars, it couldn’t be spotted.  Fortunately, a kind man let me look through his so I could see it, too.  It was about the size of a Screech Owl (tiny) and very adorable.

The Portland Audubon Sanctuary also boasted some spectacular fungal growths.  Between the mushrooms and the weird, coral-like growths, I didn’t mind my limited success at birding (especially since I was without binocs).

In addition to the Sanctuary, they also provide rescue services for injured birds and keep some unreleasable birds on display for educational purposes.  This mean being guaranteed to see some interesting birds even if nothing in the woods showed itself.  I particularly liked the Americal Kestrels on display.  They looked like they were making faces at me.

It’s a great place to visit and support if you’re ever in the Portland area.