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Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Oregon: If you choose to get out a map, we are just south of Burns, Oregon. Look over on the east side of the state, mid-way down to find a large lake. When the lake is full, it is the largest in the state. Today we started our day at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center where we picked up guides and a free CD to play at various points of interest in the refuge. We drove nearly every loop and nearly every loop is on a gravel road. My teeth are rattling. My car is filthy.

We had a blast.

I want to post probably way too many 27 photographs and - since I am exhausted - will only write short captions and call it a night. If you are a birder, you must make a pilgrimage to this refuge.

Yellow Headed Blackbird

Northern Shoveler

Typical view today

Pronghorn Sheep with baby

Much of the refuge is covered with rivers, creeks, lakes or marshes

Cinnamon Teal

Blitzen Valley

Diamond Craters Outstanding Natural Area

One of the highlights of our day was a stop to Pete French Round Barn. Built by local land baron and cattleman, Peter French, in 1875-ish, the barn is 100 feet in diameter and has a 60-foot round stone corral surrounded by a 20-foot wide outer circle paddock. Mr. French used this barn to train and exercise horses year-round.

Pete French Round Barn

Barn Interior

DT, outside the round barn

We were ready for lunch. Last night, I had prepared that lovely Mango-Ginger Chicken Salad from last week (I am perfecting the recipe and DT does not mind eating it a few times as it is so lovely).

I may have tossed-in a few handfuls of cashews. Recipe coming soon!

Look at my poor Honda! Absolutely covered in dusty dirt.

The back bumper was equally dust-covered. This wildlife-spotting is a dirty business.

The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is fed by the snowfall from the nearby Steens Mountain. Do not be confused by this 50-mile long range-looking mound. It is just one really long mountain!

The gap in the mountain (middle of the above photo), Kiger Gorge, was caused by a glacier. This area is famed for wild Kiger Mustangs, now-feral horses brought to America from Spain in the 1700's. The wild horses are oddly marked with zebra-like stripes on their legs. Kiger Mustangs are now protected by the BLM. We did not see the illusive Kiger Mustang today.

Mooooove along people. There's nothing to see here.

But we did see about a zillion cows with their calves. Much of the refuge is range land.

Crumba Reservoir - the preserve has a mixture of wild and controlled waters

This gorgeous male Pheasant is safe here - no hunting allowed on a wildlife refuge!

Stop #13 on the audio tour is Benson Pond. Named after a game warden, Benson lived on the refuge with his wife. The small building in the photo below was a well house used by CCC workers in the 1930's as they planted willows and excavated what would eventually become Benson Pond.

Trees planted by the Civilian Conservation Corp

Benson Pond


Old beaver dam at Benson Pond

A Great Horned Owl nests in a willow along the shore of Benson Pond.
This year she had two babies - this one posed for DT.

Red-Winged Blackbird

Of all the critters we say today - deer, rabbit, antelope, coyotes, and birds of every make and model - the most prevalent creature was the beautiful Red-Winged Blackbird. They are everywhere. They are everywhere at our house in Portland as well. but we never see them in Indio. We did see a Green Heron today - wonder if the little guy who lives in the rocks in front of our casita has been following us up to Oregon?

Our last tour stop was to the famous Frenchglen Hotel in Frenchglen, Oregon.

There are a few rooms to rent, breakfast & lunch are open to the public, but dinner is served (reservations only) family style at three communal tables. Dinner guests were sitting outside, binoculars around their necks, gazing into the surrounding trees - pre-dinner bird watching!

Dinner is served!

We were exhausted, filthy and ready to head back to our motorhome - 34 miles north, all on paved roads! I needed a shower and a martini (surprisingly in that order) and then I simply reheated something from the freezer to fill our bellies.

With this last photo, I will call it a night.

Outside the Frenchglen Hotel
(but I'm pretty sure the hotel has indoor plumbing)

Until my next update, I remain, your car-wash-needing correspondent.

RV PARK: The Narrows RV Park - Full-hookup gravel pull through with 50 amp, a picnic table, patio and a fire pit. This little campground has a restaurant, and bar, store, ice, bathhouse, laundry, gas station. We are paying about $25 per night with our Good Sam discount.