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Where We Live by John Silveira and Richard Blunt. Photos and commentary from Oregon and New England.

Want to Comment on a blog post? Look for and click on the blue No Comments or # Comments at the end of each post.

Archive for July, 2012


The 2012 Curry County Fair, Part 1

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

There are just over 22,000 people living in all of Curry County, Oregon. In area the county is over 28% larger than the State of Rhode Island but only has about 2% of that state’s population. In other words, it’s pretty sparsely populated.

Every year, for a century, the county has has hosted a fair. As far as I know, for the last several decades it’s been held here, where I now live, at the county seat, Gold Beach.

It may be because of troubled economic times but, since I’ve been here, the Fair has been getting smaller and smaller and this year’s edition is the smallest one I’ve seen so far. However, small or not, I wouldn’t have missed the Fair for anything.

The Fair usually lasts four days, from a Thursday to Sunday, and on Saturday there’s a parade that passes through the city on its way to the fairgrounds. This year Backwoods Home Magazine had an entry in the parade, so I took photos of it.

All of the photos I’m posting today were taken with my Canon 5D Mark III and my Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II USM lens. On many of the cropped-sensor cameras, this lens would have too narrow a field of view for everyday use, bu it makes a decent “walk-around” lens for a camera with a full-frame sensor. So, it worked just fine for the parade.

Many of the photos I’ve posted were were cropped, and a few were lightened up, using ACDSee 7.0.

I met the BHM contingent on Caughell Street. (The consensus is that the street’s name is pronounced “Call.”) They were told to assemble there at 10:00 a.m. and the parade would start at 11:00. Left to right are Cody Hawkins (with the golf bag), Sammy Duffy, Robby Duffy, Jeff Ferguson, Toby Stanley (with all the candy), Steve Wilhite (in the baseball cap), and Al Boulley (holding up the other end of the BHM banner). Just to the right of Al is Toby Stanley Sr.

Shutter speed 1/320     f/6.3     ISO 100     focal length 70mm


This is the candy that was going to be passed out along the parade route. The dentists in the county were dancing with joy.

Shutter speed 1/400     f/7.1     ISO 100     focal length 70mm


These were some of the parade entrants assembled behind BHM.

Shutter speed 1/1000     f/10     ISO 100     focal length 70mm   (I also had to lighten this photo considerably.)


I went back to the parade route and waited. This was the main body of the parade coming into sight. The biplane, flown by “Lucky Jim” did flyovers of both the parade and, later that day, the Fair itself. But one of the first things I noticed was that not only was the Fair smaller, the parade itself had fewer entrants and the crowd lining the route was thinner.

Shutter speed 1/800     f/9     ISO 100     focal length 70mm


No parade would would be complete without veterans.

Shutter speed 1/500     f/7.1     ISO 100     focal length 70mm


Coming up behind bagpipers was BHM.

Shutter speed 1/640     f/9     ISO 100     focal length 80mm


Here are the boys parading right in front of the site of the magazine. Notice the sign in the background? Notice how shamelessly I plug the magazine?

Shutter speed 1/640     f/8     ISO 100     focal length 70mm


Another thing every parade needs is pretty girls. These are the Gold Beach High School Cheer Section.

Shutter speed 1/640     f/9     ISO 100     focal length 70mm


And there were politicians…

Shutter speed 1/640     f/8     ISO 100     focal length 70mm



Shutter speed 1/640     f/9     ISO 100     focal length 75mm


…old cars (I loved this one)…

Shutter speed 1/500     f/7.1     ISO 100     focal length 70mm


…pretty girls on horse…

Shutter speed 1/640     f/8     ISO 100     focal length 70mm


…and a contingent to clean up behind the horses.

Shutter speed 1/1000     f/7.1     ISO 100     focal length 170mm

Near the end of the parade was the 4-H contingent. Though a small part of the parade, they are a big part of the Fair.

Shutter speed 1/640     f/9     ISO 100     focal length 70mm


One of the most intriguing parade entries was two of the guys who made up part of the Street Drum Corps that would perform at the Fair. More about these guys, later.

Shutter speed 1/640     f/8     ISO 100     focal length 70mm


Bringing up the rear of the parade were the fire engines and I wished I’d had earplugs. However, they were nice to see.

Shutter speed 1/640     f/9     ISO 100     focal length 70mm


And in less than 25 minutes, the parade had passed me by. I told you, it was a small parade.

Shutter speed 1/800     f/9     ISO 100     focal length 70mm

Next, the Fair itself.


Kolp Gardens–Mid Season Harvest

Saturday, July 21st, 2012

This is the time, during  the growing season, when the efforts of serious gardeners begin to stand out from the crowd. The gardens shown here are on the northwest end of Kolp Gardens. Most of the plots in this area measure 2500 square feet. All of them are worked by serious gardeners with years of experience. These photos were taken on the third day of a rainless heat wave that sent temperatures, in the gardens, to about 100 degrees. During times like this the cool, clean water of Farmington River makes gardening at this level possible. Some of the gardeners use long hoses attached to powerful water pumps powered by gas generators. With these rigs they pump water, from the river, to large containers set up in their gardens. This is one area where the atmosphere of family cooperation is very evident. The closest garden in the overview photo is worked by a gardener named Luke. It is actually three 2500 square foot plots maintained  as one by Luke and his family. Luke often works with other gardeners; helping them solve problems with planting and harvest. During long dry spells he will share his water resource with neighboring gardeners.  A close look at the gardens in this area reveals that his plan is working. The container shown below was set up by Luke; it holds at least 300 gallons of water.

Every year the lilies in my garden act as barometer for the growing season at the Gardens. Here they are in full bloom awaiting a visit the annual visit from a migrating Monarch butterfly. Their development also tells me that the mid season harvest is under way.

Lou, one of the gardeners in this area takes a few minutes from his harvest to call home and let his family know that he stopped by the gardens, after work to pick some lima beans and broccoli. He will fill these baskets two or three more times during the growing season.

Below is one of the most productive gardeners in this area. Along with her family she maintains two large plots. This year she has planted Thai basil, chili peppers, snap beans, squash, onions and at least two varieties of hardy greens. In this photo she is tending several rows of summer squash. Pictured below is her adjacent plot containing ,what I estimate to be, over 100 flourishing chili pepper plants.  Her family will often help her with her gardens, but she is without a doubt, the gardener in charge. Nothing happens in these gardens without her approval.

In spite of the dry hot weather that has plagued the gardeners for the past few weeks; Master gardener, Terri , continues to demonstrate her talent for planning, planting and maintaining an extraordinary garden. In my next update, I will list the flower varieties pictured here.

There are several gardeners named Lou working plots in this section of the gardens. The Lou pictured below is working in what appears to be a tropical forest.  Actually,he  has planted his garden in growth of wild giant sun flowers.  He tells me that the  flowers provide shade for both him and his plants during the hot months. When the plants mature he removes the heavily seeded flowers and hangs them in his back yard to feed the birds and other small animals gather food for the winter months.

The flowers pictured here are at least 8 feet tall. Since these flowers are somewhat a hindrance to the professional farmer who plows the gardens at the end of the growing season; Lou chops down and removes remaining stalks and removes them from the fields.

While walking through Luke’s family garden, he directed me to a long row of fruiting tomato plants. He pointed to a plant at the beginning of the row that  looked a little out of place, and asked me if I knew what kind of tomato it was. I recognized it as a Tomatillo (pronounced, toh-MAH-tee-yo), a close relative of the tomato. The Aztecs are believed to have domesticated this fruit in 800 B.C. It contributes a tart but refreshing flavor to a variety of Mexican green sauces like Salsa Verde  This green sauce is a combination of roasted or boiled tomatillos combined with onions, fresh chili peppers, fresh garlic, olive oil, fresh cilantro,  lightly processed  with a little fresh lime juice. The tomatillo can also be used in a variety of sauces for meats, added to  a variety of stews or eaten raw. This fruit is not always  available  in supermarkets in this area. It is my hope that Luke will be willing to share a little of this new found bounty.

In the next update we will see some the late season crops like melons, potatoes, squash and onions. Several interesting varieties of the vegetables are planted  throughout Kolp Gardens


Hunters Cove

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

“Pristine beaches” is a cliché.  However, here on the southwestern Oregon coast, they actually exist. The beaches are nearly perfect and they are often devoid of people. The reason is the low population, the cold water, and the generally “lousy” weather. Really. No one lives here, no one swims*, and it always rains.

But the beaches are beautiful.

I started taking photos of them when all I had was a Canon G2 and then a G5, more or less point-and-shoot cameras. Having a digital SLR has changed that. The adage that a better camera won’t make you a better photographer is simply not true. At least in my case it’s not.

Some of the locals refer to the beach I show below as “Myers Creek” because a creek of that name flows nearby and this beach is where it empties into the ocean. But I call it Hunters Cove because that’s what the maps call the little cove that lies between the south side of Cape Sebastian and Myers Creek to the south.

The beach is very accessible. There’s a turnout on Highway 101 that overlooks it, and I frequently see cars there that have pulled off the highway for the view. You’ll be giving yourself a treat if you’re ever in this part of Oregon and stop there yourself.

Bring your camera.

All of these photos were taken with my former camera, a Canon 60D, using an EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens.

* I’ve never seen a girl in a bikini here. (Sigh.)


I took this photo in November of 2011. The view is looking north from the turnout on Highway 101. A storm was either moving in or moving out, I don’t remember which. The large hill to the right is Cape Sebastian. It’s the highest point on the Oregon coast. The rock on the left is part of what’s called Hunters Rock. It’s actually a small island.

Shutter speed 1/100     f-stop 20     ISO 100     focal length 18mm


This is the same view as above, but taken on a nice day two months after the one above.

Shutter speed 1/250     f-stop 10     ISO 100     focal length 18mm


This photo is a view from the same turnout, but looking south, in November 2010, about a month after I got the camera and lens. It was a beautiful sunny day and you can see a few people came out to enjoy the weather and the beach. I was experimenting and had the circular polarizing filter on the lens for this shot.

Shutter speed 1/400     f-stop 11     ISO 100     focal length 18mm


This is one of the many arched rocks on the Oregon coast and it’s there at Hunters Cove. I took this and the next two photos in June of 2011. My friend, Jennifer Mack, made me get out of my apartment that morning because she knew there were some terrific photo opportunities that windless morning with the bright sunny skies and the ultra-low tide. This rock is at least 200 yards long and easily visible from the turnout.

Shutter speed 1/125     f-stop 11     ISO 100     focal length 42mm


This is the arch in the rock. The tide was so low that morning I could get very close. Had I wanted, I could have waded into the arch itself.

Shutter speed 1/250     f-stop 11     ISO 200     focal length 135mm


While standing in front of the arch, I turned and looked south. The windless morning allowed for almost perfect reflections of rocks of all sizes.

Shutter speed 1/125     f-stop 11     ISO 100     focal length 55mm


This photo, from 31 January 2011, was taken during one of those serendipitous moments I’ve had since I got my DSLR. I couldn’t have planned having these strangers showing up on the beach at sunset with their dog.

Shutter speed 1/400     f-stop 9     ISO 100     focal length 106mm


This rock is directly west of the turnoff and just a few hundred yards out. Some days, when the waves are breaking right, I can get some beautiful shots of them exploding over this very rock. Like I say, if you come here, bring your camera.

Shutter speed 1/400     f-stop 8     ISO 100     focal length 135mm



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