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Sunday, December 28, 2014

Looking Back at 2014: Some Memorial Views


From my canoe on a water trail in Okefenokee Swamp


Early morning swamp view

The best views are from a boat
The view Pat and I woke to on the St. Mary River

I love paddling under clouds - feels like I'm between worlds

I moved from a watery world to one of hills and wetlands, and big skies at Red Rock Lakes NWR. 

The ever-changing view I was forced to look at every day from my various living quarters at Red Rock Lakes


Perhaps my favorite picture taken on the north side of Red Rock Lakes

The look of the hills near the end of the summer


View down Red Rock Creek to the Centennial Mountains  in late May with the Fish Guys


Lower Mesa Falls on Henry Fork - we didn't paddle this part

My daughter introduced me to Ottawa on a several day visit.   I traveled by bus and foot, and also took one boat tour on the Ottawa River.


View from inside the Canadian Museum of Nature

Maman the spider- built by the artist in honor of his mother, a weaver

View of the large hall in the Museum of History

The Locks on Rideau Canal
 My oldest daughter and son-in-law also took me to the Montreal Botanical Garden. It is one of the most fabulous gardens I've visited.

The best place to watch time pass

The Olympic Tower next to the garden

I spent the last six weeks of summer at National Bison Range. Last year the government shutdown caused the bison roundup to be postponed and I didn't get to see it.  So I went back for another try at helping with it.  And I got to do my favorite job - closing down the nineteen mile auto tour - a lot  This is where most of the next pictures were taken from. 


View of the Jocko River Valley from the first high point of the tour

The cars were stopped to watch the elk in rut but the light is what stopped me

My National Bison View of the Mission Mountains from my bedroom and
kitchen - here with first snow


View near Lost Trails NWR, a little refuge managed by National Bison Range

On the way home I was overwhelmed by the fantastic formations at Dinosaur National Park.


A selfie I took on a hike up to see pictographs at Dinosaur


Looking down the Yampa River in Harpers Corner section of Dinosaur NP


A view from a high trail looking down on the green River.  You can see the Yampa River in the background. 

A view into a box canyon at the end of the tour road in Dinosaur NP

A view of the Green River at one of the campgrounds at Dinosaur

 I drove from Dinosaur NP to Arches NP.  And then spent a day there the following day, after traveling a little further to find a vacant camp site.

Delicate Arch in Arches NP
 My last stop was the Needle Section of Canyonlands NP. The last part of the drive - which was not the most direct route - was also breathtakingly beautiful.


Along the Pot Hole Trail in Canyonlands

Strange formations in Canyonlands

My trip home from Utah often had overwhelming scenery.   I  stopped for the first night just before a high pass.  It snowed and, the next morning, I was driving - with a lot of stopping - through scenes like this.

The best kind of snow - look at it but no shoveling

I must say getting to see all these beautiful views of spectacular lands is yet another great reason to be homeless.

I'm riding up with my friend, Natalie to visit my daughter in Pittsburg, Pa.  So I'll take a Christmas week break when this comes out.  Then I'll have a few more weeks until I start physical therapy on my shoulder.

Happy Holidays to all of you.  And may  you design and produce your best lives of all in 2015.  And may Joy be with you always. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Looking Back Over 2014: Memorable Animals

Since I work at National Wildlife Refuges, knowing at least some of the names and life histories of the animals on the refuge is mandatory.  But I probably work on the refuges because of the animals, so I spend a lot of time looking at them and being awed, amused and amazed by them, when working or not.

Okefenokee was all about the birds and alligators. There were a lot of waders on the refuge as well as lots of other birds, but there were few ducks.


Bathing hooded merganser


I never realized how beautiful anoles are until I took this closeup on the observation tower

Red-shouldered hawks were very common

Sometimes we had over 500 robins near the Visitor Center area

This blond racoon was often seen along the boardwalk

I don't often give yellow-rumped warblers much respect but they are pretty. 

American Tree Sparrow - love that sweet face


Baby alligators are really cute

Palm warblers were everywhere - I saw my first one here

I was at Okefenokee for the beginning of breeding season - here
a Carolina wren is singing his heart out

Bachman's sparrows are very hard to find until they start singing


I got my second snowy owl - this one in Florida


This was the rare Sherman's fox squirrel - I spent months trying to bag one


The pig frog - often heard but seldom seen

At Red Rock Lakes, one of the projects is to learn more about the Arctic grayling.  One of only two populations in the lower forty live here.  The refuge is working to restore more traditional habitat for them.


A beautiful fish I got to see when I  photographed the Fish Guys tagging these grayling fish. 


I got to see the breeding pelican's horn


Got a rare pose of a common bird at Elk Lake


A lot more antelope calves survived at Red Rock Lakes


Moma, last year's son and this years infant - taken past sunset and camera could not shoot fast enough

Carole showed me a lot of wonderful animals when I visited her in the Rocky Mountains.  A few of them I only saw here.


Pine Grosbeak



A pica, one of the species severely impacted by global warming

The National Bison Range was established to save the Bison.  Last year I got to see them in the rut but this year I got my first picture of them in Mission Creek looking like water buffalo.  And I was able to enjoy weeks of the elk rut.  In fact, the morning I left, I photographed a really tired elk walking towards  a little grove of trees next to the bunkhouse. 


Bison in Mission Creek


Some of the cows - and calves - of the most dominant bull elk

Top bull running off a challenger

A little lagniappe found on my search for fall color


An engaging beggar/robber responsible for dragging my jacket out of my car in Canyonlands NP

I'm thankful I get to spend so much time observing animals.

Merry Christmas.  Hope you get to help with one or more Christmas counts.