Monday, August 18, 2014

Wildfires and Supermoons

It's been a busy summer throughout the John Day Valley.  Conditions have provided the 'perfect storm' for wildfires with tinder dry forests, lightning strikes and shifting winds.  Throughout the state, wildfires have ravaged lands on both the west and east side of Oregon.  One of the larger fires in our area erupted about 20 miles southwest of John Day on state, federal and private lands.  Close to the town of Dayville, this particular wildfire has been burning for most of August up to this date. A level 1 evacuation alert is still in place for some who live near the fire area, which means be ready for possible evacuation. As I write this post on Sunday night, the containment is listed at 60% with nearly 65,000 acres burned. I took these photos to illustrate the seriousness of this particular fire that has consumed so much land.  Thankfully, cooler temperatures have moved into our region with some rain but more threats of lightning storms are ahead.

Fire view near Mt. Vernon
Fire views south and east of Dayville
(Click on photos for enlargement)
What a pity it is to view the ensuing damage done to the land after the fire has had its way in its assault on the pristine countryside. That was evident in a recent wildfire in the Ochoco Mountain range.  A portion of Highway 26 had to be closed because flames had jumped the highway. It has since been contained and the highway re-opened for travel back and forth between Eastern and Central Oregon.  Traveling to Bend the other day, it was sad to see chard hillsides and twisted stick remains of  once lovely Ponderosa Pine and Juniper trees.  We are grateful to all the firefighters who risk their lives in the face of such an awesome force as fire.

On an entirely different subject, as most of you are aware, this is the year of three supermoons to grace our skies.  The first was on July 12, the second on August 10 and the next will be on September 9th.  A supermoon is defined as a lunar phenomenon where the moon reaches a point in its orbit closest to the Earth, where it appears bigger and brighter.  There have been many spectacular photos on the internet of various places across the world showing a specific setting of the supermoon.  Here are a few that I took from my back yard.  The first two were shot on August 9, taking advantage of a clear sky.  You never know what to expect on a given evening, where cloud cover and/or smoke can obscure the moon in viewing.  That is what happened on August 10, where the clouds covered the moon and stars in our area.   I kept hoping for the haziness to scatter and slowly, by 11:00 at night, there was enough visible supermoon to take a few photos before the clouds moved in again.  It makes for an interesting effect as you can tell in the third photo below.


Next month, there will be a show of the Perseid meteor showers alongside the supermoon that will provide some amazing celestial pictures.  In 2015, there will be an occurrence of six supermoons, which will make photographers happy all over the world.

I discovered this quote which I like very much:  "The moon is a loyal companion.  It never leaves.  It's always there, watching, steadfast, knowing us in our light and dark moments, changing forever just as we do.  Every day it's a different version of itself.  Sometimes weak and wan, sometimes strong and full of light.  The moon understands what it means to be human.  Uncertain.  Alone.  Cratered by imperfections." - Tahereh Mafi, Shatter Me

I'd like to use this same quote and tweak it a little bit.... "The Presence of God is a loyal Companion.  The Presence never leaves.  The Presence is always there, watching, steadfast, knowing us in our light and dark moments - The Changeless One, overseeing our changing ways.  Every day we are versions of weakness and strength, the ebbing and flowing of light.  The Presence in Jesus, understands what it means to be human.  The Presence is The Certainty when we are uncertain.  The Presence is The Friend who is with us when we think we are alone.  The Presence is The Embrace which holds us in our imperfections."

You are invited to visit The-Turn Up Patch for my next posting on Monday, September 1.  See you then!
* Update on Derek, Daniel and Josiah....  My previous post was about these three young men cycling across the United States.  They are currently on Day 43 of their journey and presently in Kansas after traveling through Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado.  They were set back a few days because of a mishap that Josiah had.  However, he bravely presses on with a cast on his arm as the trio continues their biking adventure.  Be sure to catch up on their blog:         Stay safe guys!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Life is Good - Go Big or Go Home!

Last month, as I traveled along Highway 26 in Eastern Oregon, I encountered three young cyclists carrying the American flag on their bikes.  One cyclist in particular, had a huge flag fastened onto the back of his bicycle that flowed proudly in the breeze as he energetically rode down the road.  My curiosity peaked and I stopped to find out what they were all about and asked if I could take their photos.  They gladly obliged... 

Derek explained that they were taking the flag across the United States to make a statement for "FamilyLife", which is a nonprofit organization focusing on the importance of the family unit.  They are biking across the country this summer to raise money and awareness promoting Christ-centered marriages and families.  A quote from Daniel, "I believe if you want to change the world, you start with family first by living a Christ-centered life." 
You can check out the website at this link:

As I talked with Derek, he mentioned that it was his first time out west from Pennsylvania and was impressed with the diversity of Oregon scenery.  I wondered to myself, if this is the first time west, why are they traveling east??  The mystery was solved when I started reading their blog and discovered that the trio flew from Pennsylvania to Portland, Oregon and began their trek across the United States from Astoria.  Their destination, after a 4,000 mile journey, is Yorktown, Virginia.    When I met them, it was on Day 11 of their journey and their goal was to reach John Day to spend the night.  I mentioned to them to stop at the Silver Spur Restaurant in Mt. Vernon and was pleasantly surprised that they took my advice.  In reading their post entry for that day, I noticed that Josiah wrote about enjoying root beer and milkshakes at the Spur.  Way to go guys!!

Derek, Daniel and Josiah

I watched them as they traveled down the road impressed with these young men who bike with purpose and intention to accomplish their 'miles with a message'.   By the time you read this post, they have completed about half of their route, gearing up towards the last stage of their journey.   I encourage you to check out their blog, TransAmerica 2014, and read the daily entries complete with photos.  The link is:

Currently, the trio are on Day 29 and have biked through Oregon, Idaho, Montana and presently in Wyoming.  Catch up with their travels and join them in their adventure - Josiah does a great job of logging in their days on the trail in words and photography.  You can also read about the 'who, what and why' of these three young men cycling for a cause.  Enjoy their Facebook Page as well, which is - TransAmerica Bike Trip.  

My encounter was short with Derek, Daniel and Josiah but I felt richer in my spirit for meeting up with their inspiring energy.  I like the slogan that their daily posts end with...."Life is good.  Go Big or Go Home!"   Prayers from Eastern Oregon continue to go with you for safe travels.  God Bless!

At the time I met up with these three young men, Central and Eastern Oregon were plagued by wildfires ignited by lightning strikes.  Two weeks later, much has been contained and new ones have been set off due to these on-going storms.  The smoke has caused an eery cast to our skies but we have had some wondrous sunrises and sunsets as a result of these atmospheric conditions.  I took this photo the other evening as the sun was descending in the west, melting into the hillside....

August Sunset in Eastern Oregon

Join me in two weeks at The Turn-Up Patch on Monday, August 18 for whatever "turns up" in my next post.   See you then!