The print. (Oregon City, Oregon) 1977-1989, May 18, 1983, Image 4

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    Malheur explorers take time out for lunch at Buena Vista.
Malheur : Never a dull moment
(Continued from page 1)
It wasn’t my usual hour for
rising, but to get in a full day’s
activities it was necesary to
crawl out of bed at 6 a.m.
Following a good breakfast, and
the building of a good lunch,
everyone climbed onto the bus for
an exciting day of bird iden­
tification. Around noon we
stopped at Buena Vista for a
spectacular view. The lunch
break was filled out with
scorpion hunting. After lunch we
drove out to the “P” Ranch,
where the previous owner had
lived prior to the area becoming a
refuge.
The owner in the late 1800’s
grazed some 45,000 cattle on the
land, as well as some sheep,
which is a big contributing factor
as to why the land is a desert area
today. The bam that sits on this
land is the original, built in the
1800’s.
Deryl Hampton, science instructor at the College, holds up day's
prize catch , a Western Sage Rattlesnake.
There was a bit of let-down
after the “P” Ranch, when we
went to see some Turkey
Vultures make their 4:30 p.m.
landing on the top of a tower.
Three vultures showed up, but I
guess they decided they didn’t
want to land on that particular
day, leaving the anxious group
without the sight of the at­
traction.
After dinner, evenings were
anything but boring. They were
filled with such things as playing
volleyball, pingpong, pool,
shuffleboard or the biggest
evening attraction, poker. But,
believe it or not, some people
were known to have done some
studying during the four days.
Early mornings were always
interesting, as there was always
somewhat of a race to see if the
men or the women would use the
showers first. On one occasion
there were already three women
standing in the shower room
(fully clothed) when one of three
men walked in, and deciding he
didn’t want to wait for them, he
disrobed while the women were
still in there. Needless to say, he
got the shower.
On Saturday morning I did
the unbelievable. Now keep in
mind this is on a weekend, but we
got up by 5 a.m. to watch the
mating ritual of some Sage
Grouse.
But getting up that early on a
Saturday, you had to know it
wasn’t going to be that great of a
day, especially since we watched
the birds before I had a chance to
get a caffeine fix.
The first problem that oc­
curred on that day was getting
the bus turned around on a
narrow, dirt, one-way road. But
thanks to a fork in the road and
the masterful maneuvering of
Bob the Bus Driver, this was
taken care of handily.
But this wasn’t the end of the
trouble, as the road to the lava
caves was under repairs and not
fit for travel for a Gray Line bus,
as much as Bob the Bus Driver
might have liked to think he could
go four-wheeling in it. So we
missed out on taking some rafts
down the water in the cave, and
seeing, or perhaps not seeing, the
ultimate dark room, where you
can’t see your hand right in front
of your face.
Then came a sight that
looked ridiculous if you didn’t
know what was going on. People
were standing around shaking
little balls of magma. Yes, there
is a logical explanation. The
magma balls were hollow with
more chips of magma inside, to
make a rattling noise. Also
sighted near this area were some
sand lillies, an extremely rare
plant.
The day’s highlight, and the
highlight of the trip, for me
anyway, came next when we
went out and actually looked for
rattlesnakes.
Being
the
aggressive
newspaper
photographer I am, I naturally
wanted to get as close to the
Western Sage Rattlesnake as I
could. Climbing over a
large rock is the only way to get
close to the snake, so that is what
I did. But as soon as the snake
was in the open, I was trampled
by a woman who came charging
at me, smashing me against a
rock. Alli actually saw of her was
a gray sweat shirt. But I guess
that’s all to be expected in the life
of a photographer.
Sunday morning, and time to
leave for home came fast, but we
still had one more sightseeing
stop, at Glass Butte. During our
lunch hour stop there one of the
students, Jim Flanary, found a
young hawk separated from its
mother, which looked like it
wasn’t going to survive much
longer.
Flanary planned to take the
hawk home and turn it over to the
Audobon Society. But with the
warmth of the bus, and getting
some liquids into it, the hawk got
strong enough so that Jim let it
go, and it flew off right away.
It was cold enough at Glass
Butte, that as we were beginning
to leave it started to snow; other
than that the weather the entire
trip was fairly good.
(This is the first of a two-part
series by Rick Obritschkewitsch,
a former editor in chief of The
Print. Part two, to be published
next week, will tell the history of
the Malheur National Wildlife
Refuge, including the College’s
involvement and the types of
programs the refuge has to of­
fer).