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Friday, August 17, 2018

Flower Friday

In wet parts of the forest, coneflowers have blossomed recently. Due to the lack of rain, they started fading very fast after opening. However, the alert butterflies fed on them before they faded.

Every year, Fireweed blooms at about the same time as the coneflowers. I adore its brilliant pink color!

Although I hate to admit it, the blooming of these flowers usually means that the end of the flower season is drawing near. It always feels like wildflower season is too short.
Happy Flower Friday! We'll enjoy the flowers for as long as we can!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Thankful Thursday - For the Stars Spinning in the Sky

One night that we were camped out earlier this summer, there was no moon and the sky was perfectly clear. We could see zillions of stars in the ink black sky.

I made a time lapse of the stars spinning around the North Star. It is very short but I think it's amazing to see how many stars were visible that night.

I am thankful for every one of those stars!

You can watch the video either here or at Youtube.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Wordless Wednesday - Summer Dreamy Day

I wish that the gorgeous days could go on forever!

Monday, August 13, 2018

A Moose Trio Play like Kids in a Pond

During a hot spell, a trio of moose who have been traveling together played in a pond.

They swam  a lot!!!

I couldn't capture it in still photos but they didn't just swim - they played and frolicked.

I did make a video of their pond play which you can watch here or at Youtube. They splashed and galloped and seemed to purposely hit the water surface with their hooves - making big splashes! Enjoy!


P.S. My posts may be erratic over the coming weeks. Please don't worry about me if this site is quiet. I will get back to my usual schedule before too long!

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Black Dog Sunday

Does our Black Dog still look like a puppy? To me, he does. His eyes are so wide and ready for some play!
Yesterday, he definitely behaved just like a puppy - very mischievous. Perhaps all the debris on his face tells part of the story!

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Caturday: The Mountain Lions are still Thirsty

A couple of days ago, I had the very strong feeling that a mountain lion had come through our neck of the woods. I hadn't yet seen a clear-cut sign that I consciously noted... but I must have noticed signs subconsciously.

Then, I started paying close attention to the places where I know that mountain lions mark. Sure enough, big "scrapes" had been left under Ponderosa Pine trees where a male mountain lion had kicked backward with his hind paws and then urinated in the scrape. Males do this very frequently while females rarely do it.

Later, after I'd left Shyla at home, I checked my trail cams on the route where I thought that the lion had traveled. Bingo, I'd hit the jackpot. This was where my cams captured the first video footage. I bet that this site is starting to look familiar to regular readers!


The lion made a circuitous route to his favorite drinking spot where I've shown you mountain lions drinking a number of times.

And, to my surprise, he was still active in the middle of the day. He must have been hungry. And, I was not too far behind him - I really didn't expect that he was still awake close to noon!
The photo above caught my attention because you can see the paw pads on the hind right paw. As someone who loves to track, it was cool to see the paw as a lion walked!

Then, he was still in the nearby area after sunset that night - again taking a long thirsty drink of water.

He looked in that direction, and then he departed. I hope that he found something to eat that night.

Most of this was from video cams. You can watch the videos either here or at Youtube. Enjoy!

Friday, August 10, 2018

August Wildflower Friday

I love summertime flowers... and seeing my pups playing in them. We are lucky to have a gorgeous meadow within a 5 minute hike from our house.

A little while ago, many of our meadows had a late season yellow flower in them. Now, we have a few of those yellow blossoms left but very few compared to a few weeks ago. One day, those flowers had beautiful Lady Bugs on them.

I loved the combination of yellow and red so I made lots of photos of the Lady Bugs. Doesn't that front dot on on the next Lady Bug look like a heart? What a beauty she is!

Another glorious red sight has been our Indian Paintbrush. They are almost finished blooming at our elevation but they had a banner year! They were numerous and their red was incredibly vibrant.

Their color looked great along with Shyla's fur.
I have been so surprised by our year of amazing wildflowers. They've somehow thrived despite the dryness. I have smiled at them almost every day this summer!

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Thankful Thursday - So much to be grateful for

I am grateful for the beautiful red sunlight at sunrise.

I am grateful that we have only smoke and no active fires near us. That is the Continental Divide behind Shyla, and you can barely see it through the smoke.

I am grateful for the breaks from the smoke when we can see gorgeous blue sky over a meadow with an amazing singletrack trail beckoning me to pedal up higher.

I am grateful that fate let me find my wedding ring, which I lost in the forest on an extremely cold day last winter - 7 months ago. Today, I stopped to check a trail cam, and there it was, lying at my feet. I've been wearing a replacement one... but I'm so glad to have the one that the Runner slipped onto my finger all those years ago.

Can you believe that my eyes picked out the ring from the forest duff on the ground?

Lastly, I am grateful for our current Labraduo. As we walked in the forest this evening, my heart swelled with gratitude for this incredible pair.
There was a day when I would've never visualized R as the big brother who guides his fearful sister through life - but that is his role and he fills it perfectly.

There is so much to be grateful for when I pause and think about all the parts of my life!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Colorado's Sole Lighthouse

My favorite part of Colorado is the mountains. I enjoy them every single day.
Shyla and I love playing in full view of the Continental Divide.

I do occasionally miss the ocean, living in land-locked Colorado means that the seaside Labrador romps of our earlier life don't happen. I also thought that we had no lighthouses since we have no coast. I was wrong.

Because today is National Lighthouse Day (much to the delight of Madi and her Mom), I decided on a whim to google whether Colorado has any Lighthouses. Believe it or not, we do! It's by a large reservoir and is the highest lighthouse in the country, sitting at 9017 feet above sea level. It is actually used for navigation on the reservoir. I've never seen it with my own eyes but here is a photo from the web.
I learn something new every day!

Monday, August 6, 2018

Bears Swim, Eat Ants, and Mark Trees at this time of year

The bears endlessly fascinate me throughout the summer (and during the occasional winter when I find an occupied den). Every year in June, they swarm to certain routes lined with bear marking trees for mating season. Then, mating season ends in early July, and they head toward the hyperphagia (eating) phase of the summer when they eat tens of thousands of Calories per day to prepare for entering the den in autumn.

We are now in hyperphagia phase. I've never completely figured out where the bears spent their time in this phase. This year, I have trail cameras in new places where I've seen bear sign to see if I can catch a glimpse of them.

So far, it's been a success. I've learned that they love to swim and bathe at this time of year, one of the hottest times of year. This bear was about to slide into the pond for a swim.

They like to dig for ants at this time of year.

And they even mark trees at this time of year.
I'm guessing that this guy is wandering outside his normal haunts because I don't recognize him. He's a classically handsome black bear, with a brown snout and dark fur.

I made a short video including the footage of them swimming, checking out an anthill, and tree marking.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Black Dog Sunday

We are grateful that our Black Dog is having nothing but smooth sailing this summer!
He's now closer to eleven years old than ten... and he still runs every single day on our mountain trails. If I catch a glimpse as he and the Runner start out, I see our Black Dog with his leash in his mouth, enthusiastically urging the Runner to start out faster!

R has his mandatory every 4 month ultrasound coming up, just to keep an eye on the size of his splenic and adrenal tumors. He's had the tumors for almost a year now, and they haven't grown. My fingers are crossed that the trend holds.

Here's to more happy summertime adventures with our Black Dog!
Every adventure is better with our Black Dog!!!

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Bathing Black Bear Beauty

My trail cams captured Mohawk, a black bear sow, taking a bath in the stinkiest pool you can imagine. It may be stinky but the great news is that it still has water!

Mohawk is such a character. She's been around since her youngest days and is truly coming into her own. She has claimed a prime piece of territory as hers. She probably was able to do this because of the losses of two ursine matriarchs of our area in recent years. I don't know what happened to them - I simply know that they disappeared.

Mohawk is probably the daughter of one of them. In the black bear world, daughters stay in their mother's territory. If the mother is alive, she cedes a portion of her land to her daughter. In contrast, male cubs must travel long distances to find their own territories well away from their mothers.

One of the big features of Mohawk's territory is that she has two springs that run almost all the time. I've never yet seen them dry. Her favorite is an exceptionally stinky one that may help prevent parasites from inhabiting her skin or GI tract. That's the only explanation that makes sense to me about why the bears favor the stinkiest water source!

She took a very vigorous bath, including rubbing her face with her front paw extensively. She also blew bubbles whenever her snout went under water. You can hear it in the video.

She rolled over on her back with her paws in the air at one point.

She startled once, almost leaping out of her skin. And finally, she went bipedal for us. I believe that she was sniffing a branch hanging over the pool, just out of view of the cam.

Mohawk will have cubs this winter in her den if she gets enough to eat and stays safe from humans between now and then. She mated with Tiny this summer - so it will be especially fun to see their offspring, knowing who the parents are!

Here's the video of her bath. Be sure that your sound is turned on so that you can hear her blow bubbles!

Friday, August 3, 2018

Flower Friday

At our elevation, the wildflowers are starting to fade. However, I've barely shown you what did bloom in our mountains because everything bloomed at once!

The lupines that bloom at high elevation stun me every year. I love their purple!

They grow in the midst of a variety of wildflowers, including our yellow sunflowers and the native chocolate Labrador.

The yellow and purple makes a gorgeous combination.

Another of nature's bouquet's caught my attention. One reader pointed out that art school told him that red and purple don't go together. Both he and I disagree with that point of view!

As the flowers are drying out here, I think that we'll have to spend some time at high altitude, galloping and pedaling along trails lined with later-blooming flowers!

Even Columbines bloom late up high in our mountains. My last Columbine bud at home was preparing to open but a rodent ate it before it bloomed.
Where were the dogs when I needed them to protect my precious Columbines? Sleeping on the job, again!

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Thankful for our Shyla

This morning, before I'd even had breakfast, sweet Shyla had melted my heart.

Sadly, we'd awakened to a hazy world filled with smoke from fires to the west of us. The only upside to that is how it colors the sunlight rosy. Shyla was lying in a sun puddle, and I just had to take her photo because her fur was glowing red.

She started out looking at me, with those big and innocent eyes.

Then, R came into the room, and Shyla let her eyes flit over to him.

After she returned her attention to me, she decided to cover her nose -- which was about the cutest thing that she could have done at that instant!

For this Thursday, I am thankful for our sweet Shyla. I'm so glad that we have her warm, funny, and loving spirit in our lives.

I am also thankful that our friend Brian who hosts the Thankful Thursday Blog Hop.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Wordless Wednesday - Summertime Beauty

The two belles of summer

I wish that summer would go on as far as this trail

Sunflower camouflage!

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Learning Courage

Over the past month or so, I've been sharing some of the "goofy" training that Shyla and I have been doing. I've been helping Shyla learn to embrace novel things rather than be afraid of them.

Some of the training setups that I've shown you were based on a course that I took called "empowerment". One of the most fun parts of the course is referred to as "Yes, I like broccoli!". In essence, it involves putting a goofy setup of pots, pans, and other silly things that you have in your house out on the ground in front of your dog. Then, you prevent your dog from going to those things by pushing her away from them.

This "pushback" ignites the opposition reflex, which makes your dog really want to get to the silly setup. Here's a short example in video form for you.


I used this concept to get Shyla to sit in a Chewy box this morning. I put the box out on the floor, and I pushed her away from it, verbally egging her on a bit as I did it. As soon as I let her go, she was climbing in the box!!! Prior to this, she always acted very wary of boxes when I tried to get her to interact with them.

Shyla doesn't need any tricks to get her to interact with things in the natural world. This is K's stump, and Shyla stood tall upon it this morning as she inhaled a distracting scent.

And then, Shyla stood on the edge of a boulder with her toes hanging over.
She's such a courageous girl in so many ways!