My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Favorite Memories From 2012

I was reading one of my favorite garden bloggers, and saw she had reviewed her year with favorite pictures. Another blogger is suggesting that we all do the same thing and then link back to his blog. This is another reason I love to write a blog and read other people's blogs.  They really both expand my views and energize me. But anyway, I decided to do the same. 

This past year has been the  most exciting year of my life. ( At least except for the year I got married or had my first child.)  I got to work and explore California and Eastern Oregon and got on vacations in Idaho, North and South Dakota, Montana, and Minnesota, New Mexico, and Utah.  I've also had some great times in Texas and Louisiana since I've returned south. I've had more adventures this year than most people have had in a decade.

 I spent the first two months of the year at Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, for a total of four months there. I got to live with three young guys in the bunkhouse, which was a new experience, and had four of my friends visit me for a week. We also had a famous visitor, the falcated duck, who stayed for nine weeks and attracted around 10,000 visitors. Wintering ducks and wading birds were our big attraction there. The flyout every evening was magnificent and awesome. We also had raptors, including bald and golden eagles. And I enjoyed the people I met there, including people that came for the tours I led or for the children's photography workshop I facilitated.  We even had an eagle sit low enough in a tree that all the children could get a good picture of it on their little cameras.

 A few of the birds of Sacramento  Complex Refuges

 While there I did a lot of traveling and  especially loved meeting  the chickens of Yuba city. And I was totally blown away by the Mendocino Coast Botanical Garden. It was fabulous, even in January.

A few of the feral chickens of Yuba City

A few of the fantastic gardens and plants at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Garden.
 At  the end of February, I made two trips to Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, about four hundred fifty miles away, to get all my stuff transferred. On the second trip, I took a break and visited the Sundial Bridge at Turtle Bay, which crosses the Sacramento River in the heart of Redding, California. I was stopped by  big-horned sheep in Oregon on my way to Malheur.

The Sundial Bridge at dawn

These are iconic pictures for me. I love the California quail, was amazed by the big-horn sheep encounter,and my picture of the Blitzen River was a finalist in the National Wildlife Refuge Association Photography contest.

The two big icons of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge are Malheur Lake and Steens Mountain.  Steens Mountain is visible from most places on the refuge. Malheur Lake is too big to photograph from the ground.

A view of Steens Mountain in early spring
 I was told to be SURE and visit the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. I ended up visiting it twice, the second time to show it to my friend, Lucy.  The fantastic colors in the Painted Hills were the most amazing parts of the monument to me.

A view in the Painted Hills Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds
 I fell in immediate love with Malheur  - both the refuge and the staff.  I begged to stay all summer. But there wasn't room for me in August so I started inviting my friends to take a vacation with me. Several of them did, and I also had my own vacations in between. I ended up having to spend two months on various vacations in New Mexico, Idaho, Montana, North and South Dakota, and Minnesota. It was definitely NOT a tough life.

One of the beautiful mushrooms I found in the Boundary Waters

The pool called Morning Glory in Yellowstone National Park

Crystal Falls in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Yellowstone Buffalo
  I worked back at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in October, finishing up my bee pinning and bee display.  I'll write a blog on it as soon as I get the finished files for the posters my boss was making, using my pictures. She is also going to send pictures of the finished display.  I just left dried plants with bees and butterflies glued to them and several boxes of pinned bees.

My  friend, Lucy, stopped by to see me on her way from Alaska, where she worked all summer, to Texas. She hung around so long, I suggested she just ride home with me. We managed to cram in lots of good places including, Craters of the Moon National Monument,  Bryce Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and Petrified Forest National Monument.

A few hoodoos

View on the Emerald Falls Trails in Zion
 I enjoyed getting to spend time with one of my oldest friends, Hulin, and also visiting the huge camillia research garden in his town.

I finished out the year by visiting old friends and getting in some more paddling. I also did a lot of cooking and gardening. The end of the year found me back in Louisiana at Lake Fosse Point State Park camping and paddling.It's going to be hard to top last year. But I'll definitely make the effort to do so.

Paddling a little canal with Bill and Bob in the Atachfalaya Basin
One of the features of Natalie's yard is a huge satsuma tree. It gives the neighbors and us fruit from late November until February. One neighbor trades us deer sausage for the fruit.  A very good exchange!