A perfect maiden voyage

We returned yesterday evening from our trip to John Martin Reservoir State Park.  We had a glorious time and I highly recommend visiting this park. We spent zero time at the reservoir, but explored Lake Hasty which is below the dam and also hiked the Red Shin Trail. Yesterday morning I was up at 7:00 (quite early for me) and ran around the lake (and then again in reverse). The sun was shining as the geese honked and the ducks quacked and paddled. I grinned pretty much the whole three miles.

When we’d first arrived at tree-filled Lake Hasty Campground late afternoon on Wednesday, a couple Turkey Vultures casually flew overhead. Then my attention-deficit kicked in because there were SO MANY BIRD SOUNDS. I immediately got out my binoculars and Sibley, but as soon as I began to focus on one bird/sound I was distracted by another. After a while, I began feeling overwhelmed by my ignorance ** and Zippy suggested a walk around the lake. Good call. The light was incredible and I just drank it all in.

Lake Hasty

Tons of Cliff Swallows were swooping above the water and along the shoreline. I took loads of photos, many of which were photo-bombed by swallows.

Red-winged Blackbird & Mourning Dove plus fly-by Cliff Swallow

We eventually made our way back to the campsite as a few vultures floated overhead. Then I noticed something: vultures in the trees around our site. We watched in awe as one after another floated down and into the trees, their wings sounding like crinkling paper as they touched the branches.

I count eleven Turkey Vultures in this photo.

About twenty vultures roosted above us all night. We felt honored. The next evening, we returned from our lake excursion in time for me to set up the camera and tripod. We waited quietly. Two vultures settled into a tree next to us and then . . . nothing. About three minutes later, they took off. Guess they headed off to find out where the rest of the gang was roosting. Won’t lie, it was a disappointment. But expecting two nights of turkey vultures might be a bit greedy. Best to share the wealth.

** I spent the final morning focusing on birds — sights and sounds — without worrying about the camera, and made progress. I identified a Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle variation) and felt immense satisfaction. I’m now going through my many poor quality photos of ducks on the water, seeing if there’s enough detail for identifications. I’ve found a Horned Grebe and a Blue-winged Teal. Woot!

Inauspicious beginning

We’re headed out for our first camping trip of the year and this is what it looks like outside:

April 28, 2021

The good news? We’re headed to another part of Colorado (John Martin Reservoir State Park) where the high will be an acceptable 59 degrees. Cloudy, but warm enough. And maybe that cloud cover will make for better bird photos. We shall see.

The other good news? Even though it’ll get down to 39 degrees tonight, we’ll be toasty (we hope) in this work-in-progess:

This is our maiden voyage in Moby, the cargo van we’re converting to a campervan. I’m excited to hit the road!

Infinite storm of beauty

Uncompahgre National Forest, July 30, 2019.

When we contemplate the whole globe as one great dewdrop, striped and dotted with continents and islands, flying through space with other stars all singing and shining together as one, the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty.  ~ John Muir

Tree songs

Bockman Campground, State Forest State Park. June 12, 2019

A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship. But though to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease.  ~ John Muir

Nostalgia

State Forest State Park.              June 12, 2019.

June 2019 seems like a lifetime ago (hell, February 2020 already feels like historical fiction), and I just spent time looking through photos from one of last summer’s camping/hiking trips. I remember how hot it was in the Bockman Campground when the sun rose in the sky and how happy our doggo was every time we came upon a patch of snow during our 8-mile hike. I remember waking up to a moose grazing next to our tent. I remember photographing this old building, thinking that with a little fixing up, it might make a nice place to spend my days.

We didn’t camp this summer. We’ve only hiked in the nearby open space. Until this country gets its collective act together, it seems I’ll have to make do with memories.

Deciding to act

After meeting with my critique group, I’m tweaking some plot lines and revising my opening chapters. I’m struggling today because I’m not 100% confident about how to change one plot line. I keep telling myself to make a decision and write it out, and that if it doesn’t work, I can write it again another way. But I want to be “right” the first time; I don’t want to write it again.

Tenacious wildflowers in Uncompahre National Forest. July 30, 2019.

And so I sit, paralyzed by indecision.

The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.  ~  Amelia Earhart

This is my public statement: I’m going to act. I will make a plot decision and keep writing. And I will prevail in these revisions because there’s one thing I can say with 100% confidence: I am tenacious.

Emma as motivator

This is Emma at our campsite during last month’s camping trip. We had a jolly time hiking, birding, staring into the campfire, and then sleeping in the tent as elk bugled in the near distance and moose browsed in the immediate vicinity (as in, a few yards from our tent). I can’t wait to go again. But we can’t pack up for our next adventure until I finish some writing projects, so I’m putting Emma here as a reminder of the fun ahead of us next week.

The Jay formerly known as Gray

I took this photo at our campsite last month and just now when I went to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology site to verify my identification (Gray Jay), learned  that Gray Jays are a thing of the past. In 2018, the American Ornithological Society voted to change the name from Gray Jay to Canada Jay.

What else did I learn?

“The Canada Jay stores large quantities of food for later use. It uses sticky saliva to glue small food items to tree branches above the height of the eventual snow line.”

Now that’s thinking ahead!

Thankful Thursday: Snow for a hot pup!

We just got back from two days camping in the mountains. Yesterday we hiked about seven miles which is a long trek for a short-legged doggo. We gave Emma water throughout the hike and that definitely helped keep her going. But the best remedy was the snow we came across here and there. She rejoiced in this particular patch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A cool pup is a happy pup.