Last month, I got to be an Artist-in-Residence for the National Park Service for the second time. I spent two weeks writing poetry about Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve’s old-growth forests and stunning cave formations.
The cave at the monument is a type of marble dissolution cave. Acidic rainwater flowed through blue-veined marble to create it.
This month, I got to spend a day hiking through some incredible stands of old-growth white pine in Cook Forest State Park. This is without a doubt the finest forest in the Midwest.
The largest trees range from 250-450 years old and are upwards of 200 feet tall. These are the tallest trees in the Midwest.
I spent this spring hiking along the upper and lower Hulls Gulch trails in Camel’s Back Park / Ridge to Rivers.
I saw many new flowers (including two new blue ones).
Recently, I got to spend two weeks at Craters of the Moon National Monument as part of the National Park Service’s Artist in Residence (AiR) program. This post contains pictures of the wildflowers and geological features I saw — like spatter cones and cinder gardens — while I was writing in the park.
I love the arid, mountain landscapes of the West. I love the native wildflower and animal species that live in mountain ecosystems. I love the aridity of the desert. I love its total lack of humidity and 100+ degree heat.
But with the aridity of the western landscape comes fire season with its forest fires and wildfires.
Last summer there were forest fires burning in Idaho and two adjoining states at around the same time. The smoke from all of them was blowing down into Boise. For weeks, the city was ensconced in a hazy layer of burning, lung-clogging smoke.
This is normal.
It’s like that in every state in the West.