Friday, July 26, 2013

Critters of Glacier National Park

We saw plenty of wildlife on our recent trip to Glacier.  Unfortunately they did not sit still and pose.  A better wildlife photographer than I would spend all day in a blind, camera on tripod, waiting.  Unfortunately, my tripod broke in transit and I didn't have the time needed to patiently wait.
Our most exciting encounter was with this bull moose.  It was in the grass near the dock when we got off the boat in the Many Glacier area.  Considered more dangerous than a grizzly, he was none too happy to see us.
Less threatening was this marmot we saw along the trail on our way back to the lodge.
Around Logan Pass, the goats ignored us, sharing the trails with the human hikers.

A group of rams ran across the trail and quickly moved away from human contact but still close enough for a shot of the impressive horns on this guy.
We just caught a glimpse of this bear from the bus.  It is barely good enough to see that it has the concave shaped face of a grizzly rather than the convex profile of a black bear.  While I wish it had been out in the open for a better shot I was glad I was in the bus rather than in the woods, up close and personal!
Linked to Camera Critters

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Or, how I spent my summer vacation.

We don't always spend our vacations camping.  Sometimes we try something different.  We wanted to visit Glacier National Park in Montana but didn't feel like driving that far and we were less than enthusiastic about camping in grizzly bear country, so I booked a tour called "Great Lodges of Glacier".  A tour that put solid walls between us and the grizzly bears at night.
    To get to the starting point we flew from Sacramento to Portland, Oregon and then rode Amtrak's "Empire Builder" overnight to East Glacier, Montana.

After that is was Jammer Joe's responsibility to get get us from place to place in one of the historic canvas topped touring buses.  These buses, built in the 1930s were renovated between 1999 and 2002.  Be sure to bring sunscreen when the canvas is rolled back for viewing the magnificent Rocky Mountains.

 The tour stays at four lodges operated by Glacier Park Inc.
 The first stop is Glacier Park Lodge in East Glacier.  The lodge is located on the Blackfeet reservation and is across the road from the railroad station.  It was built by the Great Northern Railroad to lure tourists to travel west on their trains and opened in 1913.  

In the lobby, the roof is supported by huge timbers, whole tree trunks 36 to 42 inches in diameter and 40 feet long.  The logs still have the original bark.

These lodges are not for those who feel the need to be connected.  There are no televisions in any of the lodges and cell phone and wi-fi coverage poor to none.

Next stop was Canada at the Prince of Wales Hotel in Waterton Lakes Nation Park, the Canadian portion of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.  The next morning there was time for a hike or sightseeing in town followed by afternoon tea in an area off the lobby.  The highlight of the tea was the amazing view through those picture windows.

Then it was back to the United States for a two night stay at the Many Glacier Hotel.  This was our favorite due to the magnificent setting.  A boat ride across two lakes led to several trails.  We chose to walk the two miles back to the lodge, talking and calling out "hey, bear" lest we startle a grizzly in the woods.
The last night of the tour was at Lake McDonald Lodge, the only one on our tour not built by the Great Northern Railroad.  The tour would have taken us to the train depot or airport in Kalispell but we asked them to drop us at the Belton Chalet in West Glacier.
This is another of the original Great Northern hotels and is now privately owned.  It had been allowed to fall into disrepair after Word War II when it was sold by the Railroad.  Now lovingly restored, it maintains its historic charm while giving guest modern conveniences.
The staff drove us to the park service's Transit Center where we were able to catch the free shuttle to trail heads.

Linked to Our Word, Tuesday

Sunday, June 16, 2013

My World

I have been neglecting my blogs of late, I know.  So, what have I been doing?
Well, Hubby and I try to walk five miles a day or occasionally get out on our bikes.  We've also been camping and visited our mountain home.  When home in Lincoln where I have internet access I have instead been busy in the garden.

Back in 2009 I had removed the lawn in the back yard.  This year I decided that the yard lacked interest.  I needed to define the spaces, make rooms.

So we built a fence to set off the back patio and added a little bridge over the dry stream bed where I piled some of the many rocks I had dug our of the beds.

I edged a pathway with more of the stones and bought some DG to make the paths.

I made this "Rube Goldburg" contraption to support bird netting over the blueberries and I have added some shade cloth to protect them from the hot sun.  I also added more fruit trees, keeping them small so I could have a greater variety.

Unfortunately, the wildlife enjoys our garden, too.  Deer prune the strawberries, fruit trees and grapevines.  They would eat the tomato plants and other vegetables if I didn't keep the plants covered with netting.
Raccoons eat the peaches and apricots and voles like tomatos.

The  critters don't get it all, though.  They don't like onions and garlic so that is my most successful crop.  I keep netting over my tomatos and beans and so far nothing has gotten those.  We have blueberries every day for breakfast in spite of tenacious mocking birds who seem to find their way through the netting.
Peppers, eggplant and squash are starting to flower but it will be a while before they are ready to harvest.
Time for me to go back out to the garden.  I need to find a way to keep the critters from the fruit trees, and the grapevines need to be trained to a support, and....

Post Script:

As we were getting ready for our evening walk, Jules spotted my nemesis in the neighbor's yard.

He had come through our yard first, leaving tell-tale tracks on the pathways. 

 Get more views of what is going on in the world at Our World, Tuesday.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Fledgling Tree Swallows

We have a nesting box for Bluebirds and Tree Swallows.  Each year it is put to use by one or both species. 

But though I enjoy watching the parents come and go, feeding their young, I have never been around when the nestlings fledged.

This year was different.  The young were almost out of the box and I had no plans to be away so I watched.

Finally, a few mornings latter there was a fledgling swallow on top of the box, singing for his breakfast.
Then another flew from a nearby perch and joined him while a third called from the box, all still expecting to be fed.
Still being fed by the parent birds and still irate if the other gets fed.
The parents seemed not to play favorites, feeding each in turn.
The next day, all were gone but the box did not stay empty for long.  Another pair are now nesting.  Now that the weather has turned hot, I am wondering if they will be as successful as the first pair.

To find more birds, visit Wild Bird Wednesday, hosted for us by Stewart.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Auburn Farmer's Market

My world is at the eastern edge of California's Sacramento Valley.  Not quite on the valley floor but not really the Sierra Foothills, Hubby likes to call it the "toe hills".
One of the great things about this area is its variety of locally grown food.
In the Summer you can find a Farmer's Market any day of the week, and there are two year around markets.  While the variety may not be as great in the winter months it puts the cook in touch with the rhythm of the seasons and encourages one to try cooking what is currently growing.  With the coming of spring, the number of vendors has increased here at the Auburn market, open Saturdays year 'round.

While most of the vendors feature produce and goods from Placer or the adjoining counties, Rodriguez comes from Watsonville on  the coast.  It's about 200 miles, not close but a lot closer than most grocery stores get their food.
With its marine influence, it is hard to beat the quality and variety of food grown there.
If citrus is what you crave, though, you can't beat Placer grown mandarins!  Mine don't come from the market but from my own garden.

So what can you find besides veggies?  Well, how about some fresh picked mushrooms?

Or some freshly baked bread.

Pistachios,   locally grown, in the shell, flavored or turned into a spread.
Olive oil in several flavors.  Dedrick's features cheese from north of San Francisco as well as imported cheeses.
Tired of chicken eggs?  How about turkey or duck eggs?
We don't eat much meat but most of what we do eat comes from my friend Bob at Coffee Pot Ranch.  The beef is all grass fed and lean.  All of the meat is hormone and antibiotic free.  I've been out to the ranch and seen how well treated the animals are.

Wine?  Of course.  This is California after all and not all of the wine comes from Napa or the Central Coast.  There are plenty of fine wineries in the foothills.

If you don't want to wait until you get home with your purchases to eat, well how about some pizza.  Not in the mood for pizza?  There is also a vendor selling fresh hummus and pita, another with samosas and other Indian food and of course Mexican food is also on offer.
One rancher even brought his livestock.  This man sells skin products made from emu oil!  He assured me this gal would never be turned into "product".  She has a name and once named the animals are safe.  At least until old age makes them unproductive breeders.

You can see more of our wonderful world at Our World, Tuesday.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Looking for Panstarrs

In hopes of getting a shot of Comet Panstarrs I drove with my gear to a nearby viewpoint.
March 8 was a perfect night with clear skies but alas, the comet had set by the time the sky had darkened enough to view it.
March 9 had a similar issue plus the marine layer was creeping over the coast range 50 miles away.  March 10 we walked up to enjoy the view but since it is 3/4 of a mile I didn't bring my camera gear.
Last night, March 13, I tried again.  By now the comet was higher in the sky, away from the glare of the just set sun.  Unfortunately the clouds in the west were also higher.  Although the comet was faintly visible through the clouds it was to faint for a picture.  I did enjoy the sunset, though.
Clouds on the western horizon are normal here, great for sunsets by not too good for comet gazing.

I'll be checking SkyWatch, Friday to see if any other sky watchers had better luck.  Follow the link and join me there.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Don't Feed the Wildlife!

Hubby and were headed out for an evening photo shoot when we came upon a van stopped in the middle of the lane.  What was going on?  A coyote on the side of the road.  I quickly grabbed my camera with no time to check the settings before Jules drove around the other vehicle (when will I learn to leave it in auto mode?)
This is what I found when I downloaded my images, woefully underexposed!  The camera had been in manual mode, set for much more light.  All was not lost, I was shooting in raw.
 Not the beautiful image I would have liked but good enough to make another point.  Not only had the driver stopped in the traffic lane, he was feeding the coyote and inviting it in to his van!  We then heard a woof of a different sort, a ranger pulled up behind.
The driver was pulled over at "Valley View", our first photo stop and I heard the ranger say he was giving a citation for stopping on the road but the "biggie" was the citation for feeding wildlife.  I don't know what this will cost the driver but it can be as much as $5,000.
Human food is not good for animals (much of it isn't good for humans, either).   Feeding wildlife can train them that humans are a source of food and they can become aggressive and dangerous.
Wildlife should not be fed or approached but no matter how hard rangers try, some folks just don't get the message.

See more critters at Camera Critters.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Impressionist Reflections

We saw a great art show while in Yosemite--"Yosemite Renaissance"
 I was inspired to try something a bit different.
Soft light and ripples in the water allowed me to make some interesting, almost painterly, images of the reflections in the Merced River.  
Follow the link above to see what the creative artists of "Yosemite Renaissance" did last year in a variety of mediums.  If you find yourself in Yosemite between now and May 5, stop and see the current exhibit at the museum.  You might find yourself inspired as I did.

See more reflections at Weekend Reflections, hosted for us by James

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Alligator Pear

This California girl couldn't pass up a sign like this, seen on Highway 41 just east of Morro Bay.

Avocados are one of my favorite fruits but good ones are not easy to find. 
They are sometimes called "Alligator Pears" and like many true pears they ripen off the tree.  Perhaps some commercial growers pick them too early, before they are fully mature or they are improperly handled after picking.  Whatever the reason, the ones in the super market often lack flavor or show signs of rot.
They are picky about growing conditions, they don't like it too hot and are susceptible to freeze and frost damage.   Many of the trees we drove past showed such damage due to an unusual cold snap.  The coastal areas of California, south of Big Sur are the best growing areas.
Another interesting fact is why most cultivars are not self fruitful.  "A" cultivars open in the morning of the first day of bloom as female, close mid-day and open the next day in the afternoon as male.  "B" cultivars are female in the afternoon of the first day of bloom and male in the morning.  Thus they can not pollinate themselves

The avocado ranch had a little store with perfectly ripe and soon to ripen avocados.  They were delicious.  They also sold a variety of gourmet items such as avocado oil (it has a very high smoke point), balsamic vinegar, salsas, chips and dipping oil.  I bought a habanero  salsa that son Eric found to be adequately hot and quickly devoured.  I now have yet another reason to visit Morro Bay.

Linked to Signs, Signs, hosted for us by Lesley.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Limekiln State Park

While camping at Morro Bay we decided to drive up the coast and check out Limekiln State Park.  This was one of the parks slated to be closed until the state found funds to keep it open.
The park sits on the coast and features both ocean views and deep, shaded redwood groves.  There were also several hiking trails and we chose the short (1 mile each way) trail to the historic limekilns.
The trail follows a lovely creek which is crossed several times by nice, sturdy bridges.
 One of the kilns featured this impressive stone base while three others were just tall steal cylinders.

Limestone was packed into the kilns and smelted into powdered lime which was then shipped to be used in the making of cement.  The combination of limestone and abundant redwood to use as fuel made this a viable but short lived operation, the limestone ran out before the redwood.

There was another trail I wish we had been able to explore.  It went up to what I am told is a very lovely waterfall.  Unfortunately, there are several stream crossings and no bridges on that trail.  I didn't have time for what might have been a tricky and time consuming adventure.  Perhaps another time.
You can learn more about the park and the trail here.  For a map to its location, click here.
To see more of our amazing world, visit Our World, Tuesday.

Memo to self, don't link when tired