Monday, June 6, 2011

road trip jounal 2011

These are the journal pages that almost didn't happen...

On this same trip last year, I was pretty consistent about working in my journal/sketchbook everyday -- mixing in some collage, landscape paintings, and plenty of birds.  The cold weather really put a damper on things this year and it wasn't until our final day at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge Headquarters that I was able to sit in the warm car (sheltered from the wind) to do some sketching.  For most of the trip, my downtime usually involved reading while snuggled into a sleeping bag or listening to music when it was too cold to even hold a book open.

Despite my initial lackluster desire to make art, I'm glad I finally got my creative groove on and now have some memories of this trip recorded in my little book.  Truth be told, most of the work I did after-the-fact -- putting down the paints and recollecting with Erik over the sequence of destinations during our week on the road.

This messy sketch is the one exception -- my single attempt at some en plein air art-making.  We had a really fabulous sunset one of the nights we camped up on Hart Mountain.  We drove out to breathtaking vista, ate our dinner, and then settled in for the show.  Erik hiked out to the point furthest on this peninsula-like viewpoint, while I stayed back and splashed on a bit of color and tried to stay warm.

 {marsh wren and olive-sided flycatcher}

Our last day at Malheur was a good one for birding, as Erik was able to ID several elusive flycatchers with the help of some fellow bird nerds.  It was quite a sight to see them all standing around his camera, looking at the screen, debating if the bird in question was a Gray Flycatcher or a Dusky Flycatcher.  Of course, this was made more humorous given that Erik was at least a foot taller and two decades younger than most of his fellow nature-lovers.  I wish I'd snapped a picture of the scene.

 {lazuli bunting and western tanager}

It just occurred to me that it might be worth saying something about why this Malheur place is so darn special, especially for anyone reading my blog who doesn't live in Oregon.  Well, I guess the big reason is that this spot in southeastern Oregon is a big oasis within a larger desert -- an oasis with lots of water and vegetation that attracts tons of migratory birds coming up from Central and South America (in the spring), headed to northern latitudes.  While I am more of a "birder's companion" and not one to carry binoculars around with me, the variety of the species is really quite amazing.  It's a place I look forward to visiting again and again, though I've vowed that next time I will bring several hot water bottles to put in my sleeping bag at night!

{savannah sparrow and gray flycatcher}