Monday, December 28, 2009

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Merry Christmas! Feliz Navidad!

What happened to the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas?!? One of my New Year´s resolutions (right after getting young and thin) will be to write more consistently. In the meantime....

We just returned from a great visit to Ohio. The time is always too short when I´m visiting my family, but we had a wonderful time. I will be posting pictures soon. In the meantime, I hope your holiday was happy and spent with the people you love.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas

Last weekend I met up with Toni, my former law partner and friend for over 30 years for a Spa-Girls Weekend in Las Vegas. I can´t believe it has really been 30 years, but we met the first day of law school in 1978. Neither of us has changed a bit, of course.

I had a blast, and I think she did, too. The National Indian Rodeo Finals, or something like that, was being held at our hotel, Southpoint Hotel and Casino, so we decided to go watch them for a while on Friday night. It had been quite a while since I had seen a rodeo, and I don´t remember it being this rough. The steers in the steer wrestling competition were big! And the bucking horses really went at it. Quite a few of the guys went limping out of the arena. In other words, it was a great show.

Even better than the rodeo was the Indian market that was held at the same time. Great jewelry, clothes, ropes, boots--everything the cowboy needed or wanted. I bought a pair of beautiful inlaid turquoise earings in the shape of the bear. Toni found a great vest and necklace. We had only been in Vegas a few hours, but we were off to a great start.

Saturday was Spa Day. I would love to tell you how great the Hot Rocks Massage was, but what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Toni had the best one is all that I can say.

After getting all relaxed and soothed, we were ready for the Strip. We taxied to the Bellagio and stuffed ourselves at their buffet. I would tell you that Toni couldn´t eat just one crab leg, and I couldn´t eat just one dessert, but what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. But I did skip all those fattening vegetables.

After the great dinner, we waddled through The Bellagio. It has a huge display of Chihuli glass in its lobby. Looking at it and the flowers in the Conservatory are two of the best free things to do there. It makes donating a few dollars in the slots less painful.

Next we tried our luck at New York New York. I hit it big at the Wheel for 20 huge dollars. Seriously huge. They were gold disks about 5 inches in diameter. No hiding that win!

We decided to have a drink in the Big Spenders Bar, or whatever they call it, to celebrate. This was a fun way to donate back the 20 bucks since I was destined to lose it into a machine if I went back to playing. Better to sample their coffee and Amaretta. Yummy.

We were on the go non-stop from Friday afternoon until Sunday afternoon. Then we had to head back to reality. I would love to tell you all the wild things we did, but what happens in .....

Can´t wait to do it again!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bicycle Days

Sunday was a great bicycle day, as was today, so we biked to lunch both days. On Sunday we took a long bike ride first, then rode to the Granite Falls golf course for a hot dog.

Kent in front of the snack bar.

Their chili dogs are great. Made with Dillon´s chili, they are a meal in a bun. We each had one of them and then waddled on home.

Posted by PicasaToday was equally great biking weather, so we road to Dillon´s for lunch. They have great specials, and I rarely get to go there except on the weekends. Today the special was Taco Salad, which Kent had. I had a half order of Nachos, which I have never had here. Yummy.

The swan in the photo isn´t real, which is a disappointment. The Association rules forbid us from putting out plastic flowers or yard ornaments, so I think they should have real swans. So do the coyotes.
But at a distance they look real, and unless you´ve read this fine print, you probably think they are.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Sun City Grand Wildlife

It is time to leave Yellowstone behind and get back to reality. The trip had only lasted a week, but I managed to write about it for a month. Plus I am now working on the Yellowstone scrapbook. Getting a lot of bang for those dollars. :)

But now that the hot summer is over, the snow birds and other wildlife are returning to Sun City Grand. It's time to put the vacation behind me and focus on the local fun.

The Harris Hawks are back. I have seen them flying and yesterday saw three of them perched on streetlights. They are always a treat to see. The photo above was taken last year. I hope to get an even better picture this year, but this one will have to do in the meantime.

Harris Hawks are sociable, unlike the Red-Tail Hawks that we saw in Ohio. You can usually see all three Harris Hawks together. When I was driving into Grand yesterday, they were perched on three light poles, all in a row, next to one of the golf courses. Guess it was lunch time.

This photo is my favorite. This visiting coyote was on my back porch, and she had a pup with her, too. The pup is at the top of the photo, but hard to see. This was taken in 2006. Since then I have seen lots of coyotes, including one on my walk on Friday morning. But this is the only one of two that I saw on my porch, and the only one I was able to photograph. I keep hoping she'll come back.

Posted by PicasaThis Great Horned Owl was sitting in my neighbor's yard one summer evening in 2007. It had been extremely hot for days, but that night the wind began blowing. It was hot air, of course, but at least it was a great breeze. This fellow perched on the stump and spread his wings out, apparently to get cooled off. I was amazed! He stayed there for over an hour.

They stay in Grand all year, but I rarely see them. But we have been hearing them the last few weeks since we have been able to keep the windows open. One night the whoooo's were so loud that he (she) must have been in my neighbor's tree.

A couple of nights ago, Kent and I were walking at dusk. One of them flew about 10 to 15 feet in front of us. He was totally silent. No swooshing or flapping of wings at all. Just a whisper of air as he glided by. A few minutes later, when we were on the walking trail, we saw him again. This time he was perched on the high wall that separates Grand from Highway 303. A great hunting site.

Currently, the best SCG wildlife are bobcats. I have not yet seen one, but other people have. In fact, one of Kent's friends sent photos of a bobcat and two kittens that were hanging out on his porch. How lucky is that! He doesn't live far from us, so I am keeping my eyes open. And buying cat food.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Yellowstone Adventure Ends

  1. On our last night, at Chico Hot Springs Resort, we had a prĂ­vate dinner in the Wine Cellar. While we dined on gourmet meals, we talked about the future of wolves in Yellowstone.
    We have spent a week together and become good friends and traveling companions. Tomorrow we will return to our normal lives. Already I miss the wolves and the fun I have had on this trip.

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Chico Hot Springs Resort

Our last night was at Chico Hot Springs Resort in Pray, Montana. What a great place!

Step back in time in their lobby.

Spent some time here!

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Friday, October 30, 2009

Lake Yellowstone Hotel

This is a grand hotel by Lake Yellowstone. It was built in 1891 and has been restored to look like it did in the 1920´s. It is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Our room was very pretty and had a view of the lake. Plus, there was a really cute bear cub on the bed, which of course I had to bring home with me. The proceeds from the sale of the cubs helps support the Yellowstone Foundation. Too bad the cub wasn´t real.

Kent in front of a Yellow Bus. The original buses started touring Yellowstone in 1936, but they were discontinued in the 1950´s.

When the buses were sold, the Skagway Streetcar Company in Alaska bought 8 of them for its company. In 2001, they returned the vehicles to Yellowstone, and now they are touring again. We didn´t get to ride in one, but we did see one at Mammoth Hot Springs. Looking good, Kent!

Some of us in the Sun Room before dinner. I treated myself to Duck, which was excellent. Afterwards, we had drinks here with Pete and Mel, a young couple from England, while a pianist played the Grand Piano. A wonderful evening.

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Arnica Fire

        When we first arrived in Yellowstone, the Arnica Fire was mostly smoke.   This photo was taken from the Lamar Valley, looking toward the fire, on Friday.  Occasionally we could smell the smoke, but it appeared to be a very small fire.  ´
        Studies have shown that small, controlled fires are needed for many of the ecosystems.  So the current trend is to keep it contained but allow it to burn itself out.  

     On Saturday, however, the winds picked up and the day grew hotter, which allowed the fire to grow.  The same weather conditions occurred on Sunday.  Roads had to be closed and more aggressive measures taken.  
     We were scheduled to go to West Yellowstone on Sunday and to Old Faithful, but we couldn´t get there with the road closures.   We ended up staying the night in Gardiner, but no one minded.   The hotel was very nice.  It overlooked a stream, and dinner was great.
      The next day we were able to get to Lake Yellowstone, pictured above.   The fire was clearly visible from there.   As we got closer to the hotel, we could see the sprinklers wetting down the trees in an attempt to keep the hotel safe.   It was an eerie sight.

Posted by Picasa    If you look closely, you can see the bucket hanging from the helicopter.   The firefighters were getting water from Lake Yellowstone to pour onto the fire.   The weather was forecasted to turn cold and snowy on Wednesday, which would end the fire.   In the meantime, the firefighters worked to contain it. 
       The fire burned approximately 9300 acres, or 14.5 square miles, according to the newspaper I bought.  Fortunately no one was injured, and the fire didn´t damage any structures.  
       The firemen said that if the rain and snow came on Wednesday, it would be a season-ending event.  That´s fireman-speak for ´´the fire will be out soon´´.    And it was.

Norris Geyser and the Dragon´s Mouth

Because of the forest fire, we didn´t make it to see Old Faithful. However, Yellowstone has many lesser-known geysers, vents, mud pots, and other interesting features.
The Norris Geyser Basin had plenty of steamy sites. They were very colorful, and the aroma of sulpher added its own ambiance.

Kent in front of Emerald Spring.

The Dragon Mouth Spring was in a different location, closer to Hayden Valley. It was very noisy and steamy--a great Dragon!

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Kent and Janet in Yellowstone

The way we looked most of the time in Yellowstone.

Looking for wolves in Lamar Valley.

Kent with Linda at Artist´s Point.
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Saturday, October 24, 2009


What can I say?  Watching the wildlife graze made us hungry.  
Whenever we stopped to watch, Linda brought out hot coffee and goodies.   We not only came back with great memories--we came back a few pounds heavier.  
Coffee, boysenberry yogurt, and wolves will always go together in my mind.

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Yellowstone Afternoons

When the days warmed up, as they tended to do the week we were there, the animals went back into the woods or their dens or anywhere cool.   So our group used that time to sightsee.
One day we stopped at the Apollinaris Spring.  In the early days of wagon trains and horses, travels could find good drinking water here. 

Some of our group checking it out.

Artist´s Point

A view of the Grand Canyon of the  Yellowstone and the Lower Falls. 

Yellowstone is known for its geological features.

Due to the forest fire, we weren´t able to get to Old Faithful.  Instead, we went to Dragon´s Mouth and the Norris Geyser Basin areas.   We saw lots of mud pots, geysers, and other steamy, smelly things.  They were unique and interesting, but they weren´t wolves. 

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Hayden Valley and the Canyon Pack

We stopped at Hayden Valley a number of times, and some of the group hiked into it one afternoon.  It is one of my favorite spots.  For scenic beauty, I think it out shines Lamar.  This photo shows the Yellowstone River meandering through it.  Canadian Geese and ducks were always swimming there.  Nathan said it is usually a good place to find bears, but we didn´t see any.

Wolves were what we wanted to see, and the viewing at Hayden was the best.   The Canyon Pack lives here, and one morning we saw a beautiful grey female and a black pup.  We heard the wolves before we saw them.  A distinctive howl floated through the still morning air.  I had been hoping to hear a howl.  When we were at Lamar, I could see that pup howling, but I couldn´t hear him because of the distance and the wind.  Finally I had heard a wolf!

The wolves were on a hillside that would be on the far right, if the picture extended that far.   We were able to watch them through the scopes, but also through the binoculars.  This pup was very healthy looking, and the adult was beautiful. 

The pup sniffed at everything and played for a while before it went over a hill and disappeared.  The female wolf, however, stayed for a much longer time.  At one point it looked like she was watching for the other members of the pack.   Sage grew here, too, and she rested in that for a while.  Then she began working her way to the right. It looked like she might be checking out brush for small game, but if so, she didn´t find any.  We were able to watch her for quite a long time before she trotted out of sight.  

She was beautiful, and the wolf that I was able to see the best.  I will always remember her.

The Yellowstone River cuts through the Park, reaches Yellowstone Lake, and continues down to the southeast boundary. We went as far as Yellowstone Lake, staying a night at Lake Yellowstone Hotel.    

A very early morning picture of the river. 

The Canyon Pack would be the last wolves we would see.  We saw other animals, including Big Horn Sheep, a Jack Rabbit that dashed across the road in front of the Adventure bus, a small herd of female elk, a couple of coyotes, and maybe a few mountain goats.  I never could see the goats, but some of our group might have.  We went looking for a badger that had been spotted by another group, but we never found him.  But Yellowstone is so beautiful, that just being there was enough (after seeing the wolves, of course).
We had been scheduled to go into West Yellowstone and to Old Faithful.  The fire, however, continues to grow.  Nathan and Linda are keeping tabs on road closures and hoping that we won´t have to be evacuated.     Camping out in the Adventure bus might be more adventure than any of us want!    

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