Article and Photographs by Larry Turner (
High on Adventure, January 2020

  Bison grazing   Buddahs  

Everyone’s world turned upside down recently with the pandemic COVID-19 (C-19). None of us are exempt. As of this writing all states but eight have issued a stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders. My son Steen and I left Montana in late March a day before that state issued such an order, as I needed to get back to my Oregon home after being more than a month away. Steen’s seasonal job as the chef de cuisine of the famous Cafe Kandahar - Montana's Finest Dining Restaurant ended two weeks earlier as a result of the pandemic.

In a period of a month prior to our departure, I had gone through three flight cancellations, two of which I had to eat the ticket. The third though, I was given credit toward a future flight ... and boy am I glad that I had canceled that flight on March 18 to Medford, Oregon with a 4-hour layover in Seattle. That flight from Seattle to Medford had two confirmed C-19 folks aboard. One of those passengers brought the scary virus into my home county of Klamath. At the urging of my son, my sisters and brothers, I had canceled the flight a day before, on March 17. Prior to that I also canceled a flight to Vancouver, Canada, as my ski buddy John and I were scheduled to ski Whistler-Blackcomb for two weeks. During that period, the ski resort closed down, so we would have been stuck in ski paradise unable to ski! I had been skiing Whitefish Resort at Big Mountain and it, too, closed early for the season because of C-19. It closed on a glorious bluebird Sunday and I was on the slopes when the announcement came.

I am still able to adventure as I live in a very small farming community with access close by to some amazing places (I’m a mile from the California border), including Tulelake and Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuges (both are in California), Lava Beds National Monument ... and I can literally hike from my home as deep into the country as I wish, following an old canal bank. And there is a plethora of country roads for biking. Some of you readers will not have the luxury for outings like I do, but make sure that you get out and get your exercise, keeping a safe distance from your fellow planetary traveler. Exercise builds up the immune system, making you more resistant to C-19.


In Oregon our only National Park (Crater Lake) is in my home county and it is closed down, as are the national forests and state parks. Please check though as this is subject to change.

However, the land that the BLM administers in Oregon is open, with some exceptions. Here is what the BLM directive says:

“The other major federal land management agency in the Northwest, the Bureau of Land Management, is also closing its campgrounds, some day-use sites and restrooms,” the agency said in a news release.

However, the BLM, which manages much of the desert in Eastern Oregon, reported that there are still plenty of areas to explore. 

BLM stated that it will keep open the trails and wide-open spaces often used for recreation.

"Multiple opportunities remain for the public to enjoy the outdoors as long as visitors heed orders, guidance, and advice of local and state officials and the Centers for Disease Control," BLM said in a news release.”

California has similar restrictions as Oregon. It is best to go on-line and do research if you want to get outdoors for adventuring.


  Arlee, Montana   Buddha  
  Guddha art   Buddhas  
  Buddha view   Entry to the garden of one thousand buddhas  
  Bison head   Big Mountain snowboarder  
  Evening view from Ravens   Flathead Lake Montana  
  Flathead Lake calm   Flathead Lake evening  
  Flathead Valley barn   Rollicking bison  
  Glacier Parkjust before closure   Montana barn  
  Last day skiing Big Mountain, Whitefish, Montana   Social distancing Flathead Lake  
  Ravens and Islander Inn   Swan River Folks  

When the social distancing C-19 directive came down, it was easy for my son and I to avoid people, as he lives in the country between Whitefish and Kalispell. Prior to Montana Governor Bullock’s directive (, I was able to take several solo local adventure trips to Glacier National Park (now closed), the National Bison Range, Flathead Lake (the largest body of freshwater west of the Mississippi), Bigfork/Wood Bay and the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas ( in Arlee. I ended up spending 10 days at my friends’ Brian and Lisa’s wonderful Islander Inn ( and

Travel had largely come to a standstill in this part of Montana and most of the time I was their only guest. Brian and Lisa also own and C-19 has temporarily closed Ravens but Whistling Andy Distillery is open for bottle purchases and hand sanitizer. Whistling Andy spirits are extraordinary, especially the Cucumber Gin, Hibiscus-Coconut Rum, Straight Bourbon Whiskey and Barrel Select Whiskey. When things open back up, travel their way and give them some business. You’ll love this beautiful, laid back part of Montana. And there is a slew of hiking/exploring possibilities in the Bigfork/Swan River area. A friend and I hiked the four plus mile Swan River Trail off River Road (downtown Bigfork) and also the Wayfarer Park Trail. Both of these are currently open.


  Tulelake great egret   Tulelake pelican and egret  
  Tulelake Mt. Shasta view   Tulelake and Mt. Shasta  
  Tulelake snowgeese   Tulelake white fronted geese and pelican  
  Tulelake Refuge   Tulelake National Wildlife Refuge sunset  
  Tulelake Refuge road   Tulelake sunset  
  Tulelake view   Tulelake western grebes  
  Tulelake white fronted geese    

I live in the small Oregon town of Malin (800 plus folks), allowing me more elbow room for distancing during C-19. Some of you readers live in a small place like myself or maybe even in the country. Many of you live in the city or suburbs, which creates greater challenges for self distancing. No matter, it is important to get out and exercise and enjoy fresh air. The air has gotten even fresher as there is less pollution now as a result of temporary shutdowns and less driving. It’s springtime so if you have a garden, embrace it. If not and you have a location that allows such, start one! I’ve been using my greenhouse as a storage area for years but I’m emptying it and taking it back to its original intention.

Everyday I take a walk/hike of upwards to five miles. Often, it is right from my house. However, since returning from Montana, I’ve been driving a short distance to Tulelake National Wildlife Refuge, just south of my home. Not only can I photograph from my vehicle, but I’ll often park and do photo hikes. The spring migration continues and I’ve been able to capture images of a variety of birds, including raptors, eagles and shore birds. I’ve especially delighted in photographing white-pelicans, western grebes (the ones that do the stand-up breeding dance on top of the water), snow geese and bald eagles. The white-faced ibis have arrived and soon I’ll be photographing them. Few folks have been at the refuge, giving me plenty of elbow room. Where I live though, my lifestyle has always been self distancing and shelter-in-place.

In addition to a plethora of birds, I also have been photographing a variety of mammals including deer and coyote.


Lava Beds
Lava Beds camp
  Lava Beds closure sign  

  Lava Beds hiking   Lava Beds road  

    Lava Beds evening campfire    

I take my camper with me so I am able to make lunch in the field. The camper allows me to spend nights in the field, which I did last weekend outside the boundary of Lava Beds National Monument. Lava Beds is open to the public for driving, hiking, biking, exploring. Campgrounds and restrooms are closed so prepare accordingly when visiting. I keep hand sanitizer in my vehicle at all times, along with wet wipes (and a mask, if I need one). Always bring a shovel (place it in your trunk or inside your pickup bed) to take care of the need to go #2 when no facility is around. Dig a hole, do your thing, cover it up and then place a rock on top. It is very disquieting to come across where people have dumped and left toilet paper. Don’t be that kind of thoughtless litterbug! When day hiking in the back-country, bring tp and a small trowel with you.

Information on Lava Beds National Monument can be found at: and


Restaurants throughout the country have been suffering from C-19. Currently, they are closed in Oregon and California for sit down service. However, you can get takeout. In my area I recommend these places: Tulelake,CA (530-667-4201) and in my hometown of Malin (541-723-2830) and Malin Country Diner (541-723-3132). Since I’ve been photographing near Tulelake, I’ve ordered several times from Senor Tequila and their food is superb. Nothing less can be said of Bigoni’s Pizza Barn and the Malin Country Diner.

None of us have an absolute answer as to when the C-19 restrictions will be lifted, but eventually life will go back to normal. Take this time to discover your own backyard, to catch up on things undone in your household, to read, to enjoy closer family time, to relax, to take deep stock on life’s most important values and valuables and also time to plan future adventures.


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