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Don Davis

Stories by Don

Painted Hills make a soulful impression

Painted Hills, the Palisades and even a Shoe Tree are unique features of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.

Time ticked deeper into the afternoon as we sped along Oregon Highway 26, between the Sheep Rock Unit and Mitchell.Tick-tick-tick. ...Nevertheless, at 2:39 I stopped the truck on an incline to gawk at the shoetree.Ah, the essence of reality: A tree in the

Crooked roads less traveled

Scenic adventure is found along backroads on a visit to all three units of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.

Many crooked roads lead to the widely separated three units of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument of Eastern Oregon.A small map in the pamphlet 'John Day Fossil Beds” displays a few of the oft-traveled ones.The less-traveled one we chose promised

World according to Nora the Schnauzer

Nora has a little different take on the wildlife adventures she takes with Don Davis, aka Bossy.

I got mail!An e-mail, addressed to me: Dear Nora!Bossy read it to me.Woof!The e-mail said: 'Every week we look forward to the description of your travels and the pictures your human takes while following you.”The 'human” must be Bossy. I call him that, af

$n$ A trip hunting for herons ends at Palouse Falls

A search for great blue herons at Lyons Ferry turns into a trip to the scablands of Palouse Falls.

On the first of March, half-a-dozen great blue herons surrounded nests in tall trees near Rooks Park and Whitman Mission.That means, according to the rules of inductive reasoning, that herons all around the area have succumbed to the nesting urge.If true,

Elk watch at Oregon's McKay Creek

A trip up Oregon's McKay Creek into elk country shows a healthy herd, despite wolf warnings.

An e-mail from Bearpaw Outfitters, titled Elk - Near Pendleton, Oregon (Feb. 17, 2011), claimed that within the next five years wolves will decimate the elk populations in Washington and Oregon as they have done in Montana and Idaho.Many people accept thi

$n$ Critters on film

You don't need much more of a reason for a back-road drive around the area than to pick up a camera and capture some critters in photos.

Pals Darlene and Nora the Schnauzer accompanied me on a mid-morning drive along the back roads toward Touchet to hang with wild critters.If you dawdle along during these waning winter days and observe carefully, you may see any number of raptors (red tail

Anthony Lakes adventure

From a furry friend in the restroom to flopping on the snow, a Nordic ski trip to Anthony Lakes is fraught with frustration.

In less than an hour at the Anthony Lakes Nordic trails, I felt like going home.After the 131-mile Saturday drive from Walla Walla, I spent 12 excruciating minutes at the only one-holer in sight. I shifted from foot to foot, clinched my jaws and willed fo

'Shoeing on Andies Ridge

Twenty-eight-degree temperatures freeze snow to make the snowshoeing trip easy for man and his best friend.

The crunching of my Tubbs snowshoes broke the silence as Nora the Schnauzer led our trek to Andies Ridge two Fridays ago.A recent rain hardened by a freeze had left the snow in perfect condition for her. She cavorted on the crust without sinking even a to

$n$ Pelicans may be clowns or klutzes

American white pelicans around Ice Harbor Dam bring the word ‘clownish' to mind — or are they just clumsy?

Unlike stiff-necked bald eagles, American white pelicans clown around.Well, they appear to, although perhaps not on purpose. Perhaps they just klutz it up.They display a thrilling grace in flight. They also impress when afloat, like regal sailing ships.Ye

OUTDOORS - Chasing critters in the McNary Game Reserve

Voles, lizards and the occasional raccoon scat combine to entertain at the Wallula Unit of the McNary Game Reserve.

I never expected to learn a potentially life-saving detail about raccoon scat on the Wallula Unit of the McNary Game Reserve.I didn't even recognize the black poop as raccoon scat.Luckily I had my book about animal signs in my fanny pack (Scats and Tracks

OUTDOORS - Fly like an eagle around Lake Coeur d'Alene

The trees and skies around Lake Coeur d'Alene are filled with eagles, which make for spectacular photos.

After 42 intense minutes on snow-packed Interstate 90 from a Spokane Valley motel to Lake Coeur d'Alene, I pulled Nora the Schnauzer's sweater over her head and front legs.She jumped out of the wagon at 8:03 a.m. and raced across a public boat launch and

Finding a Winter Wonderland at Lake Coeur d'Alene

Snowy Coeur d'Alene yields a plethora of eagles amid the scenic sights — after fighting icy roads and traffic to get there.

The wagon's tires whined and thumped at 65-plus miles an hour as I jockeyed for an opening in the freeway wolf pack.Darlene noted the 60-mph speed-limit sign that whipped past on her side of the road.'Whose idea was this, anyway?” I said, trying to add a

Eagles fly, despite the blizzard, on a trip up the Tucannon

An excursion in search of bald eagles turns into a blizzard in the Tucannon River Canyon.

On the day after Christmas, a mature bald eagle perched on top of a charred snag near Watson Lake in the Tucannon River Canyon. Its snow-white head and tail shimmered in the afternoon sunshine.To the south, however, a dark-gray sheet of rain hastened towa

OUTDOORS - A trek by the river

Ski poles are required to navigate the paths on a winter excursion at Mill Creek and Bennington Lake

Cold, foggy days have run together lately.Yet, as I recall, Nora the Schnauzer and I skied along Mill Creek and to Bennington Lake on Monday or Tuesday of last week.I rode the skinny boards, that is, while Nora scooted, dashed and zipped.Actually, at firs

OUTDOORS - Feeding Frenzy

Elk at Haines, Ore., are fed hay through the winter - and visitors can stop to watch.

A light snow fell as Darlene, Nora the Schnauzer and I arrived at the Anthony Creek winter elk-feeding site near North Powder, Ore.The flakes fell on three colorful, well-padded toddlers and a small group of adults waiting for the season's first tour amon

Walk at McNary Wildlife Area offers a plethora of options for wildlife photography.

McNary Wildlife Nature Area is the canvas for Chuck and Grace Bartlett's photography.

When chill winds whip up Columbia River riffles on short winter days, the tree-lined ponds at the McNary Wildlife Nature Area near Umatilla provide a welcome sanctuary for migrating water birds.So meeting nature and wildlife photographers Chuck and Grace

OUTDOORS - Hanford Reach provides beautiful sunsets

Don Davis and Nora the Schnauzer check out the Wahluke Unit at the Hanford Reach in November.

A blazing orange-red Hanford Reach sunset unfolded as I balanced on both knees and snipped at the 22nd cockle burr collected by Nora the Schnauzer.She lay on her back, and fine hairs under her right front leg clasped the burr close to the skin.I snipped w

OUTDOORS - Scenic changes at Wallowa Lake

Views of Wallowa Lake differ greatly depending on the season and time of day.

The view from the north shore of Wallowa Lake changes with the seasons, the days and the times of day.Blue skies, with boats, water-skiers, parasailers and sky-blue water, leave a lasting and colorful impression.The opposite, however, may also be true.As

Watching water on a cruise down the Columbia River Gorge

We reached Multnomah Falls for the very first time at about 11:30 a.m. on a recent sunny day, after years of passing it by.I parked directly in front of the Multnomah Falls Lodge.Nora bounced in my lap when a woman approached the car. Half out of the wind

OUTDOORS - A wealth of waterfalls

The Columbia River Gorge boasts 115 waterfalls in its 1,700 square miles.

A camera buff's perfect sunrise dawned at Rowena Crest a few days ago, but I missed it.Well, mostly.I spent 20 minutes pestering a motel clerk in The Dalles about a bill that confused me.Finally, I accepted the verdict, mumbled, 'Well, all right,” and we

OUTDOORS — Silence surrounds Oregon's Big Sink

The silence and sense of foreboding surrounding the three-mile-wide, horseshoe-shaped indentation in Umatilla National Forest is made more mysterious when compasses are occasionally rendered useless

When I shuffled across pine needles to the edge of the Big Sink, I stopped to listen.Silence.I studied the 70-foot fir and tamarack trees below. They stood motionless.Silence. No breeze soughed through the boughs.Nora the Schnauzer padded softly along the

OUTDOORS - Don Davis takes a tour through his wild kingdom

When the osprey smacked like a falling brick into the water at Mill Creek near Rooks Park, I missed the photo.I saw the hawk dive and aimed the camera.Tall canary reed grass blocked my lens, however.I mumbled 'Well, shucks,” to Nora the Schnauzer.She cont

Critters abound at Heller Bar and on the Grande Ronde River

I stopped to snap a photo of an angler in a blue shirt. He sat on a large rock across the Grande Ronde River from me.He made lackadaisical casts in the warm afternoon sunlight.I left Nora the Schnauzer in the car, stepped to the roadside and I clicked off

OUTDOORS - Foggy stroll ends Oregon Coast trip

Strolls along foggy Yaquina Bay's North Jetty, and a stop by Cape Foulweather's gift shop, put an end to an excursion to the Oregon Coast.

NEWPORT -- As usual, a gloomy fog lay over the beach at dawn during our recent Oregon Coast visit.

OUTDOORS — Rain doesn't stop the fun at the Oregon Coast

But Nora the Schnauzer just needs her blue raincoat before heading back into the sand and surf.

NEWPORT — Nora the Schnauzer wanted out at 4:34 a.m. one day last week.The cobbled patio glistened in a wind-driven rain. Whitecaps rolling toward the beach looked unnaturally luminous. So did a flock of ghostly seagulls that strutted along the sand at su

OUTDOORS - Fishing the South Fork Umatilla River yields high catches

After I hooked and released a third 8-inch rainbow trout without removing it from the South Fork Umatilla River, I paused and pondered. I had cast half-a-dozen times, so 3-for-6 means a .500 catching percentage.Usually my percentage hovers in the .085 or

OUTDOORS - 'Stuff happens' — like water-filled boots — on a trip to Sheep Creek.

When Sheep Creek filled my boots, I relaxed and waded the rest of the way to the falls.No matter that a witness saw me slip on a rock, swing from a log and, mumbling, drop into the knee-deep current.Stuff happens.I had parked earlier at the trailhead for

OUTDOORS - Maxwell Lake provides soothing silence

The quiet leads to a nap before the hike out of the Eagle Cap Wilderness

I woke to a soothing silence after napping beside Maxwell Lake in the Eagle Cap Wilderness.Nora the Schnauzer and I had hiked the four-mile trail over the pass that morning. We explored, and I took photos while several teenagers larked.When they left and

OUTDOORS - Maxwell Lake provides peaceful escape ... unless there's a vuvuzela

But Don Davis has mellowed enough not to give the horn-blowers a piece of his mind.

I must be mellowing.Not so long ago I would have ached to put a boot in the kid's vuvuzela.I let it pass, however, when it recently mangled the peacefulness of a day hike to Maxwell Lake in the Eagle Cap Wilderness.Here's how it went.The wagon's thermomet

OUTDOORS - South Fork of Walla Walla River is cool escape

The South Fork Walla Walla River Trail provides water and shade on really steamy summer days, so Nora the Schnauzer and I can handle a two- or three-hour walk upstream and back.That's what it takes to run her battery down.So I told myself when she became

The perfect fly shows up at Rocky Ford Creek

My wife Darlene, Nora the Schnauzer and I motored north to Rocky Ford Creek, near Soap Lake, a few days ago.I whetted my angling skills against the rainbow trout released into that spring-fed stream by the Trout-Lodge, Inc., hatchery.The wide-bodied fish

OUTDOORS — See and be seen at Lake Creek Trailhead

My grandson Danny Hermann has a new Nikon camera.He left his labors at cool University of Oregon environs a few days ago for a short visit with family and friends in the wilting Walla Walla valley.One day, to cool off and to test the Nikon on birds, anima

OUTDOORS - A hot day for a walk in Pioneer Park

Don Davis and Nora linger in the July heat at Pioneer Park.

A yellow-and-black swallowtail butterfly fluttered past with erratic roller-coaster dips and dives at Pioneer Park.It flitted in and out of my view through the camera lens from deep shade to shimmering sunlight.I squinted with one eye to track its flight

OUTDOORS - Unleased at Anthony Lake

I donned the daypack, attached two cameras to a Cotton Carrier harness, gripped the bamboo walking stick and tramped along the Anthony Lake shore behind Nora the Schnauzer.She carried her pack with water and snacks.A soft mid-day breeze that cooled my rud

An old stash of wooly buggers saves the day at Black Mountain Pond

I bent over the fishing vest that lay spread out in the back of the wagon.'Darn,” I whispered.I pinched the tippet on the fly-line leader between thumb and forefinger.'Well, darn,” I added and looked over my shoulder.My wife Darlene and Nora the Schnauzer

OUTDOORS - Worms and rain don't damper Don and Nora's spirits at Pittsburg Landing

I groaned to sit up on the Therm-a-Rest mattress. With my legs through the door, I pulled on my pants and boots.'Ohhhh!”I crawled from the tent and staggered to my feet. Nora the Schnauzer passed me, stretched mightily and shook so hard three of her feet

OUTDOORS - Bounding deer catch Nora's attention at Kirkwood Bar

My fatigue-dimmed wits finally grasped the "thump-thump-thump" as I pushed the final tent stake into the ground.Bounding deer!I unbent an aching back, straightened stiff legs and gazed across Kirkwood Bar.Three deer, does or antler-less bucks, sailed high

OUTDOORS - Seeing red foxes in adventures across the region

The columnist has seen more foxes this year than ever in 2010.

Until this spring I can recall seeing a red fox twice in the past many years.One ran across the road in front of my pickup once near Union, Ore.Another time, one stood out in a pasture as I drove between Baker City and Haines, Ore.So, in April I thoroughl

OUTDOORS - For Don Davis, snow means: Drat-drat. And drat

A snowdrift threatens the completion of an ATV trip in high country terrain.

NOTE: Part 2 of this report from Eastern Oregon appeared in this space last week. Well, drat.Drat-drat.And drat.A snowdrift blocked the two-track trail.Bill DeLong walked away from his ATV to study it. I followed, frown in place.Ears flapping, Nora the Sc

Take road once traveled through Eastern Oregon

NOTE: Part 1 of this report about a foray into Eastern Oregon appeared in this space last Wednesday.Bill and Jewell DeLong met Nora the Schnauzer and me when we pulled into their driveway at Vale, Ore., on a recent damp and blustery Tuesday morning.'I hav

OUTDOORS - Don Davis sees a familiar face in the water near Vale, Ore.

makes a spine-chilling appearance in the water during a trip to Bully Creek Park/Reservoir near Vale, Ore.

Nora and I arrived at Bully Creek Park/Reservoir, near Vale, Ore., in the mid-afternoon on a 52-degree, cloudy and windy Monday.Half-a-dozen Townsend's ground squirrels greeted us at campsite No. 3. They skittered every which way and ducked into nearby ho

OUTDOORS - Adventures up the South Fork Walla Walla River Canyon

From high on Lincton Mountain Road a few weeks ago, I looked through a long camera lens at a waterfall across the South Fork Walla Walla River Canyon.Judging from ponderosa pine trees near the falls, which may grow over 200 feet tall, I deduced that the w

OUTDOORS - Great wildlife and photos are a short drive from Walla Walla

WALLA WALLA — My wife Darlene, Nora the Schnauzer and I have logged many interesting wildlife sightings in the area this spring.And we have photos.Within about 30 miles of home we've seen bluebirds, quail, pheasants, herons, a family of red foxes, cottont

OUTDOORS - Excursion to Oregon Coast isn't complete without Cape Kiwanda climb

This is part three of Don Davis' reports on the Oregon Coast. The previous two appeared in the last two weeks.

OREGON COAST — Most climbers choose the steep South Face Route to the summit of Cape Kiwanda.They prefer the direct approach, although it often demands the hands-and-toes crawl.Then they resemble beetles creeping up a brown wall.Nora the Schnauzer and I c

April is a good month to explore the Oregon Coast

Walla Walla U-B columnist Don Davis enjoys less crowds and popular attractions at the Oregon Coast.

NEWPORT, Ore. — April is the coolest month.It's a time of wind, rain and sunshine, with modest crowds at the popular attractions on the Oregon Coast. And that's cool.So, wind buffeted the car as we tooled south on Highway 101. Yet, frequent sunshine broke

OUTDOORS - Life as a Beachcomber

Exploring beaches along the Oregon Coast can be so distracting, it can get some people in trouble.

NEWPORT, Ore. — The knife-edged wind rattled against my blue-and-white parka and black rain pants.The parka's hood, zipped tight, covered my head and lower face up to my nose.Nora the Schnauzer wore a light-blue raincoat that covered her back and chest. S

$n$ OUTDOORS - A Sunday Drive

turns into a trip down Nostalgia Lane on a rambling drive through Northeast Oregon.

I slept too late to go fishing on a recent chilly and windy Sunday.Well, that was my excuse. Actually, I didn't feel like cleaning a bunch of fish.Really.Then, with most of the morning gone, my wife Darlene said, 'Let's go for a drive.”Nora the Schnauzer

Rule No. 86 proves true while angling on Tucannon lakes

Normally when I see a lake along the Tucannon River drainage without any anglers, I pass on by.It's Rule No. 86: No anglers equal no fish.For vice-versa, read Rule No. 87 (Many anglers equal many fish).Yet, when a man picking up trash ambled by with a whi

OUTDOORS - Finally, a Frog Lake 'Brruuuupppp!'

A frog may have actually been heard on a hike to its namesake.

I heard a frog croak at Frog Lake a few days ago.'Bruuup! Brrruuuppp!”Not very loud. Perhaps a small frog, or a sleepy one.Nevertheless, a frog is a frog.That's a first for me, actually, since I've never seen any water at Frog Lake.Or any frogs. I'd never

Klicker has perfect game for Wa-Hi

The Blue Devils' pitchers throw two five-inning, no-hit games in Friday's sweep of Chiawana.

WALLA WALLA — Wa-Hi's Hope Klicker and Alyssa Ambler tossed a pair of five-inning no-hitters, including a perfect game by Klicker, in a Big Nine Conference Cascade Division sweep of Chiawana here Friday.Klicker fanned nine Riverhawks and walked none while