Out For a Walk in the Neighborhood

A bobcat looks at me as it walks under a tree in our neighborhood in Scottsdale, Arizona in November 2019

This morning I arrived at the trailhead at 6:30am when the automatic gate was due to open, looked to be a lovely morning as the high thin clouds turned pink and orange. Unfortunately the gate didn’t open, I gave it another 15 minutes before returning home where my wife joined me for a walk in the neighborhood. We soon met a few neighbors and their four dogs, always nice to share some love with sweet pups! Later on my wife’s allergies forced her to return home so I walked to some areas I hadn’t been yet. On the way back I heard a loud cry from nearby and looked up to see a bobcat! And another! And another! The first two weren’t too happy with the third, I took this picture of it as it turned back. What a lovely morning, met three neighbors, four neighborhood dogs, and three neighborhood cats!

The Forest Was Dead, the Land Was Not

A moose cow walks through a dead forest at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming in July 2004

A moose cow walks through a dead forest at Yellowstone National Park. I find that pictures don’t properly convey just how large these creatures are. In this case I was standing at my car beside the road but in the Tetons I sometimes met them on the trails, I never had any close calls but the big bulls during the fall rut certainly demand your attention. I’m thankful for each time we met, it was always a special treat.

Little, But Less So

Two black bear cubs walk single-file up a hillside

Two black bear cubs follow their mother (she’s just out of frame to the right) up a hill in Yellowstone National Park in October 2006. She was very protective of these two, when another adult bear came wandering by she sent them scurrying up a tree without waiting to see if the other bear meant trouble (it didn’t). The cubs were still quite small compared to an adult but were much heavier than they would have been in the spring, a necessity for the winter that arrives early in Yellowstone.


A black bear named Rosie walks near a stream amidst fall color in Yellowstone National Park in the fall of 2006

There have been multiple generations of Rosies in Yellowstone, a name given to a line of female bears that has stayed near the Roosevelt area. According to a park ranger on my fall visit in 2006, the previous Rosie didn’t appear to have survived the winter, she had lost a lot of fur before she hibernated. The new Rosie was a fine mother, looking carefully after her two cubs (who were following her just out of frame). She’d been tagged in her ears to help identify her, although its hard to tell in this picture since it matches the bits of brown leaves in her fur. The picture was a bit of a nod to wildlife photographer Nick Nichols, whose work in National Geographic inspired me. The light was low and the bear moving, so I tried to capture the movement with a low shutter speed and panning with the bear instead of trying to go for sharpness and freezing its motion. A technique Nick did well but I did not, but I still enjoyed the moment.

Through These Flooded Fields

A Columbian white-tailed deer fawn walks through a flooded field

The water levels at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge are managed to mimic the seasonal flooding from the Columbia River in the days before the dams. But this flooded field comes courtesy of an unusually wet winter, even for the Pacific Northwest. The fawn is a Columbian whitetail, born to one of the does that was transplanted in the third wave of relocations.

The Walker

Our elderly black lab walks towards me in the dog park

In her elderly years Ellie isn’t able to deal with the heat as well as she used to, so she wants to go on shorter walks in hot weather. After a heat wave had us retreating to the air-conditioned bedroom all week, the weekend dawned with the relief of cooler weather. After we visit the dog park I let Ellie guide me the rest of the way so she’s in control of where and how far we go. She loves our time together so I can generally trust her judgement on when she’s getting too tired and needs to go home – unless she thinks food is waiting at home, then forget it, walks are no longer of interest.

That cool Saturday morning we started off in the dog park then ventured out into the neighborhood like normal, but instead of eventually turning for home she just wanted to keep going and going. We meandered up and down streets but at each intersection she said she wanted to go further. I finally made her head home after an hour and fifteen minutes as she was slowing down and visibly tired, even though she kept asking for one more block, and by the time we reached home it was a new record for her elderly years of 1 hour 20 minutes.

That evening it was warmer but still not hot and she gave me a 45 minute walk. The next morning was also lovely but after going half a block she suggested going back home. I figured she might be a little sore after yesterday’s marathon but asked her to go another two blocks to the park. She agreed and must have limbered up as not only did she not ask to go back but put in another 1 hour 20 minute walk, again with me having to point her back towards home when she was getting too tired.

That evening she again balked after going half a block but started again when I suggested we at least make it to the park, but a few yards later she again asked to go home, so I relented and we headed back home for some head scratches and belly rubs. She had more than earned the time off.

That Monday morning I woke as I often do these days, to Ellie “accidentally” waking me by repeatedly bumping into the mattress with her head. In her younger years she preferred to accidentally wake me by jumping up on the bed and dancing around but that’s a bit much these days, long walks or no. She looks at me with the greatest joy when I climb out of bed so I can’t help but give her a hug, even if I know that part of her excitement is that she is about to get a white dental bone, her favorite treat, while I have breakfast.

This picture is from an unusually hot June when we were at the dog park, I was hoping she’d run towards me but in the heat a saunter was as much as she could muster. I was holding out a treat so I knew she wasn’t faking and I put the camera away and we continued on our walk.