Vacation

A quick update from the road, instead of going to Yellowstone and the Tetons this fall like I normally do, I decided to stay more local and go to Mount Rainier National Park and Olympic National Park.

I finished my stay in Mount Rainier yesterday and had a great visit (despite the weather) and am about to head out to the Hoh Rainforest for some good ol’ forest hiking. I focused on the higher altitude trails in Rainier instead of the lowland forests since I knew I was coming here, but I’m ready for a day of trails with giant trees and little altitude change!

Once I edit the pictures there will be new galleries for hoary marmots and sooty grouse, the marmot gallery in particular should have a number of pictures. I spent a lot of time watching marmots and pikas in the talus fields with Mount Rainier as the backdrop (when the clouds didn’t cover it). I had never seen hoary marmots before and often based my hiking plans on trails with the best marmot and pika viewing opportunities.

We all have our priorities.

There will also be updates to the existing galleries for pika, black-tailed deer, Townsend’s chipmunk, and golden-mantled ground squirrel (or possibly a new Cascade golden-mantled ground squirrel gallery, I need to pin down the species ID).

Oh and a new black bear picture or two, apparently you don’t have to travel to Yellowstone to see bears …

No Blackberry Breakfast

Close-up of juvenile red-tailed hawk's face looking down

There’s an invasive species of blackberry that has spread across the Northwest and is prevalent at Ridgefield. A variety of animals will use the berries as food or the thickets as cover, but this young hawk was using it as a place to listen for breakfast, every sound from below drawing its eyes downward. It didn’t end up catching anything, at least not during our time together.

String Theory

Our cat Emma chews on a piece of green yarn with her tongue sticking out in our backyard in August 2008. Original: _MG_7141.cr2

I used this green yarn to tie up some coneflower that were in danger of falling over and ended up with a piece of leftover yarn. During Outdoor Time, I’d drag it around behind me while running around the yard with Sam and Emma in hot pursuit. I held it loosely in my hand so that they could step on the string and capture it, then I’d pick it back up and the game started anew.

This quickly became our favorite game and the fun lasted for a week or two.

But then Emma started carrying the string away when she captured it. She’s always had a thing for strings so I didn’t think anything of it at first. If I didn’t take back the string, she’d find a spot to sit down in the yard and start chewing on the string. I thought it was cute so I grabbed the camera for a few quick pictures, but then I realized she was actually breaking off pieces of yarn and swallowing them.

I nipped that behavior in the bud right away, we’ve had a bad experience before with a thread chewer

You Don’t Want To Be A Cardboard Box In Our House

Our cat Sam chewing on a cardboard box

The only furnishings in our living room are cardboard boxes for the cats to play and sleep in. Templeton and Scout both loved boxes, so I wasn’t surprised to see the newcomers enjoy them so. I was surprised to see Sam add fiber to his diet by chewing on the boxes, a behavior I assumed would go away once he was no longer teething.

I assumed wrong.

Some Lessons You Have to Learn the Hard Way

Our cat Emma playing in the purple coneflower in August 2008. Original: _MG_7226.crw

I’ve warned Emma to stay out of the coneflower. Oh how I’ve warned her! Time and again I told of how they’d lure her in, let her drink in their beauty, then attack when she let her guard down. But did she listen to me? No she didn’t. Some lessons you have to learn the hard way.