A Question for You Ellie

Our dog Ellie rests her head on her stuffed hedgehog dog toy

Ellie you say that hedgehog loves you as evidenced by how often it stays with you, but would it stay if you weren’t chomping on its head?

Our dog Ellie looks at me with seemingly sad puppy dog eyes as she plays with her stuffed hedgehog dog toy

I’m sorry Ellie, I’m sorry! Of course hedgehog loves you, it does it does. Please don’t look at me with those sad puppy-dog eyes!

Our dog Ellie plays with her stuffed hedgehog dog toy as it falls across her front leg

There’s my happy girl! That’s better … wait, Ellie, why is hedgehog running away?

A Change of Plans

A close up view of a large redwood tree on the Simpson-Reed Trail in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, the left half showing moss-covered bark with the right half showing the exposed red pulp

On my journey to the redwoods, I expected to work mostly with the widest angle of my lens, highlighting the immense size and height of these ancient trees. However, my plans changed instantly the moment I stepped on the trails. I was struck both by the myriad colors and textures of the trees as well as their tenacity in hanging onto life despite fire and storm damage. This is one of my favorite pictures from the trip and also one of my earliest, I stopped off for a quick hike around the Simpson-Reed Trail in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park before continuing on to my hotel in Crescent City.

The bark of this redwood was colored green by moss, while on the right of the picture where the bark has been stripped away, you can see the red pulp that gives the redwoods their name.

Sign of Sanity

A Douglas' squirrel sits atop a tree stump on the Hoh River Trail in the Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park

While visiting Olympic National Park in 2004, my wife and I escaped the crowds of the Hall of Mosses Trail and walked down the lovely Hoh River Trail where we met this Douglas’ squirrel. When you spend time photographing something as common as a squirrel at a place as special as the Hoh Rain Forest, some of the other tourists look at you with a mixture of curiosity and pity, as though you’re either slightly mad or slightly a moron.

Both of which might be true, but I enjoy photographing squirrels and do it no matter where I am, especially species like this one that I see less often. While the squirrels I see in my yard in the city are invaders from the east, the Douglas’ squirrel is one of the native tree squirrels in the Northwest.

At Least One of Us is Sleeping

Our cat Scout sleeping on the window seat

We arrived home late at night after a week-long trip to visit family in Mississippi and I knew I wasn’t going to get much sleep. Whenever I return from a long absence, Scout wakes me up throughout the night in 30 to 60 minute intervals to pet her and reassure her.

Even though we had a friend pet sit while we were gone, Scout doesn’t like strangers or disruption in her life and stayed hidden for most of the week. That first night back, however, she let me sleep more than I expected. She made up for it the next couple of nights and by the weekend I was pretty worn out. After she was satisfied that life was back to normal, she returned to her favorite haunts like the window seat and slept a peaceful sleep.

Sunset on the Rocks

An American pika peaks out from a rock wall near sunset on the Pinnacle Peak Trail in the Paradise area of Mount Rainier National Park

When I visited Mount Rainier National Park in the fall of 2008, I saw more pikas on the the Pinnacle Peak Trail than I’d ever seen on a single trail before. It would only be a slight exaggeration to say I saw more pikas on that hike than I had seen in my entire life until then. They weren’t all close to the trail, the talus fields are extensive and often lead far from the trail, but some of them were close enough for pictures, including this pika that popped out of a rock wall near sunset.

What Are Your Intentions?

An American bison stands on the Storm Point Trail at sunset in Yellowstone National Park

Bison are the easiest of the big mammals to see in most of Yellowstone as they sometimes hang out in large groups near the road. They generally leave people alone but seem so docile that inevitably someone will get too close and end up getting hurt. It’s not so easy to underestimate them on the trails, however, where it’s hard to ignore their size and speed. And of course the horns. You are in their domain and there is no car to retreat to.

This was one of a group of bulls that was coming in my direction on the Storm Point Trail. While you are supposed to stay on the trails in Yellowstone, I decided to let the bulls have the right-of-way and stepped into the meadow. However, they soon veered off the trail themselves to go for a romp in the wallows so I was able to safely continue down the trail.