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Thursday, May 31, 2018

Thankful Thursday - Our Mountain Lions are Grateful for the Rainfall

Today, we and our wild cats are celebrating the rain that has fallen recently. A mountain lion repeatedly visited a small water hole to quench his thirst. He drank and drank and drank!

This was his arrival at the water hole. Look at his massive front limbs and paws!

He noisily scooped the water into his mouth with his tongue. You'll hear the sound in the video.

Something caught his attention, and he paused to look at it. I was struck by his coiled muscles and how powerful he looked.

He must have had a carcass stashed nearby because he came back to the water hole repeatedly. He drank with crazy thirst each time. He occasionally paused to look around, like in this photo. Also, look at his reflection.

He came back on yet another night, drinking from a spot close to the camera. Those shoulder muscles awe me!

A bobcat also drank during the same time period. He's much smaller but so much more colorful!

I compiled this footage into a short video that features the mountain lion drinking very close to the camera and also features the bobcat vocalizing after he finished drinking. It was the first time that I'd heard a bobcat make a sound!

After the tragedy of a mountain biker being killed by a mountain lion, several of you have kindly expressed your worries about me being out alone in mountain lion territory. I am very aware that there's some risk in living as I do. However, I take that small risk because being out in the forest and observing our wildlife brings such joy to my life. Quite simply, I'd be far less happy if I gave up my forest and wildlife time, just to keep myself a little safer. I don't believe that playing it safe would make me happy because I'd lose so much. So, I will keep on riding silently through the favorite habitat of the large beasts that inhabit our forests.

I can even go so far as to say that I love our forests even more *because* these animals roam there.

On this Thankful Thursday, I am grateful that our wild cats have water to drink and that they are thriving in our forests.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Wordless Wednesday - The Duo!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Spring Sky

On our morning mountain bike ride, I continued to revel in the green leaves and deep blue sky.

Moreover, I realized that I could "look" straight upward with my camera. I lost my ability to crane my neck to look straight upward 8 years ago when I had a 4 level fusion in my neck. I loved being able to overcome that deficiency with my camera!

What a gorgeous view!!

I have to say that springtime is my favorite season by far. I think that Shyla concurs!
I love the colors and the feeling that summer adventures stretch out almost endlessly into the future.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Meeting Moose on our Morning Ride

On a recent morning, I was pedaling up a steep hill when Shyla sat in the middle of the trail and wouldn't budge. I thought that it was probably a hiker ahead of us (Shyla is scared of hikers, especially ones with dogs). Because we haven't met a moose on a trail in a couple of months, it didn't even cross my mind that it might be a moose.

But it was. In fact, it was two moose, a mother and a yearling calf. The calf quickly backed into the forest so I got no photos of her. The mother was looking straight at me when I went ahead to see what had made Shyla halt.
Normally, a mother moose staring straight at me would cause me to scurry away. But I wanted to try something different on this day. I stood behind a big tree, and I kept talking to her in a very calm and soft voice.

She immediately acted less worried and went back to foraging on aspen trees. It's funny how the tallest animal in our forest is always reaching up for stuff to eat.

After each reach upward, she'd come down with twigs in her mouth. You can see them barely sticking out of the side of her mouth.

In my interest in her activities, I forgot to keep on talking. She looked straight at me again.
I resumed talking calmly and stayed behind my tree.

My talking (an idea from an experience moose-watching friend) made her unworried again. You can see another twig hanging from her mouth.

At that point, I decided that I'd better not push my luck. I snapped one more photo, and I turned to leave.

However, I had one more problem. Where was Shyla?
I spotted her quite close to me, hiding among the shrubs. What a good dog she is! And she's so smart when it comes to moose. Yes, Shyla, I know that I shouldn't aggravate them because they might charge us.... just like they've done in the past.

Although I am afraid of moose, I still love watching them. They are the goofiest looking animal in our forest - so goofy that I have trouble remembering that they are dangerous!

I called Shyla from her hiding place, and we set out to find a route that gave the moose a wide berth as we continued heading up higher.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Black Dog Sunday

Our black dog makes us laugh so frequently. His exuberance about everything on earth sometimes
prevents him from focusing on any one thing.

During a recent recall, a scent caught his nose as he ran to me, causing him to try to look toward it while trying to sprint straight ahead.

Later, in the same session, he refound his laser intensity. His goofy look is SO typical of this full-speed-ahead dog!
Life is definitely more interesting with our crazy black dog in it!

Friday, May 25, 2018


I know that Memorial Day is supposed to mark the start of summer. However, it is only really the start of spring here in the mountains.

Green is appearing everywhere! It's that lighter green of early springtime.

Here is a verdant valley that Shyla and I have explored recently.

Even the valley has towering Aspen trees forming a green canopy over our heads.
It's my absolute favorite time of the year!

A flower and memories

Like so many things in our natural world, these flowers bring back a flood of memories.

About nine years ago, our yellow Lab was nearing the end of a battle with cancer. These flowers were blooming, and he managed to pull me hard enough to eat one of them!

Dogs have the most incredible hearts, living each day to its fullest for as long as they possibly can. Within a week after pulling me to eat a flower, he was gone.
I miss Angel S but I'm glad that a flower makes me remember him.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Thankful for sun puddles and beautiful eyes

Shyla's eyes say so much. As she looked over at the Runner.

Glancing at an odd sound outside.

Looking at me, hoping for a treat!
I love this girl's expressive eyes. And I love sun puddles like the one that she was enjoying.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Drama within the elk herd

When we first moved here, an old-timer told us that we'd "get sick of the elk" within a few years. That has never happened.
Oftentimes, we'll hop in the car to go see the elk when they're hanging out and grazing nearby. We usually don't need to drive because they're less than a half mile away. However, we've learned that they are spooked far more easily by people on foot than people in vehicles.

When we're in a vehicle, they often stand and stare at us impassively, with apparently no worries about us.
It always makes me laugh when we have an "elk traffic jam". When the entire huge herd is present, it can take a long time for them to cross the road, which makes for a humorous excuse for being late someplace.

The other evening, they were crossing in twos and threes. These two started across the road together.

Then, the front one turned around to look at the the other one. Notice at how their ears are back, suggesting that they weren't entirely on good terms.

Then they both reared up onto their hind legs, looking each other in the eyes.

Soon, their front hooves started flying toward each other. Look at how flattened backwards their ears are.

They continued taking swipes toward each other. I was amazed by how long they could balance on their hind legs.

None of their blows appeared to hurt the other. I think that their hooves might have touched during this spat but that was all. Like so many animal behaviors, I suspect it was ritualistic, with neither elk wanting to cause injury.

Then, they both returned to their normal four-legged lives.

During their spat, they forgot that they'd been trying to go from right to left across the road. They walked back to the side of the road that they'd started on.
For the occupants of the two vehicles stopped by the elk crossing, it had been intriguing to watch the mini-drama between two cow elk.

Nope, I don't think that we'll ever be "sick of the elk"! Instead, we'll probably always go watch them when they are hanging out near our house.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Black Dog Sunday

We love our Black Dog!

Friday, May 18, 2018

Glorious Cacti!

Our Ball Cacti are continuing to wow me with their blooms!It never ceases to surprise me that they do so well at higher than 8,000' in the mountains.

The range of flower colors surprises me. These are the light colored ones.

And these are the darker magenta ones.

Some have one flower on top (like the first photo) while others have up to 16 flowers clustered on the top of the cactus.

Always, when you look closely, you can see the pollen dust released by the flower lying on the petals just waiting for a pollinator to carry it to another flower.

There are two disadvantages to having cacti. One is the dogs' paws... it hurts to step on a cactus spine with bare feet!
The other is my bicycle tires... which go flat when punctured by a cactus spine.

Despite those downsides, I love our cacti flowers!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Thankful for moisture!

It's been raining and raining!

The meadows are getting more green, and the elk are overjoyed. They barely look up from the grass when people pass.

We found a frog (Boreal Chorus Frog) in one of our garden beds.

It must be mighty wet outside for him to have left the safety of a nearby pond.

The world is looking healthier everyday.
I'm glad that our elk can finally fatten up before they migrate to higher elevation for the summer.

And I am so thankful that the fire danger is less extreme, at least for now.