Wildlife/animals


Batty Bird

As I cooled my trail-weary feet in a mountain stream, I noticed a small creature flitting above the water about tree top height. A glut of recently hatched gnats no doubt inspired the critter’s erratic hover.  The flier was bat-sized, a little small for a bird, and its flight was bat-like as well.  Yet the evening seemed too early for bats.  I watched for several minutes trying to distinguish bat or bird and finally got the right angle to see that the head was bird-like. Shortly after that, as I sat beside our camper, something flew just over my head and apparently clung briefly to the side of […]


Crustacean Liberation Cruise 2

“See the lady in the pink shirt? I think she’s from Colorado. She’s got a blog and everything.” I was actually wearing green, so I overheard Emily Ford, the event organizer, pointing a faux me out to her setup team. A retired Water Resources Director and lobbyist from Houston, was also awed that I’d come 1000 miles to the Texas gulf to rescue crabs from derelict traps. Well, excuse me, but Abandoned Lost and Discarded Fishing Gear (ALDFG) kills countless sea creatures every year including dolphins, whales, turtles, seals, and yeah, crabs. Why wouldn’t I want to help? An unexpected bonus came in my being assigned […]


Jungle Bowl

My favorite bowl game took place in the Amazon River basin in Peru. The ball was round, and the “crowd” didn’t speak much English, but they gave us the best seats in the house. We only heard about the game because our jungle guide mentioned it as we returned from an excursion to see monkeys, caimans, and medicinal plants–complete with instructions for making cocaine. The game might have been better if the field had been longer since the players generally kicked the ball from one end to the other.  We didn’t get to see much tricky dribbling. We also didn’t get to see anyone score. […]


Northern Normality 2

Rode an ATV to tea Fresh from meeting Sam Magee. Grand digs and heirloom china too, All because “we like you”? We like you too and we might stay But oh, the winter’s cruel they say.   So dark and cold that fissures crack, Grit and grunt to fill them back. La, the stories locals tell Of artfully rebranding Hell. Engage the neurons, thrill and train Before the darkness drills your brain. Wouldst thou learn a sexy skill? Tassel twirling o’er the hill. Weaving, pickiin’, tossing ax, Write a memoir, make up facts. Ice worms dancing in the road? Sober […]


Where to Go, Go to Guys 2

We asked half a dozen professional Themopolisians where we should go to watch the eclipse, but much as they tried, we got little help.  In the nick of time I pointed out the town’s road maintenance yard and reminded Steve that an Alaskan road maintenance guy had given great advice in another situation. Sure enough, he sent us to a perfect hillside overlooking the valley, no one around but a few horses, a herd of antelope, and a couple of highly compatible locals.  When totality commenced we could hear people cheering up and down the valley.  How could we have […]


Berries and Bears

I’ve always loved finding sweet ripe serviceberries (pronounced sarvice) while hiking in the mountains.  The Waterton Park guide called them Saskatoon berries which has an even funner ring to it. Our campsite was overrun with them, so when our dog spotted a bear rummaging around right under our window, I was only surprised that the bear didn’t stay longer.  


Bowhead Blessing 1

I wanted baleen bad, but I didn’t want to go to jail over it — especially in the middle of giving a whale lecture. So when Steve and I set out for Anchorage, I called NOAA and asked how I could carry a piece of a protected species around the world without risking handcuffs. No problem, actually. If a member of a Native Alaskan tribe inscribes the baleen with artwork, it is no longer taboo. Better yet, the agent I talked to, had a few illegal pieces that were cluttering up the NOAA office, and he was happy to gift […]


A Favorite Dad Story

“We scouts raised enough money to stay on Grand Mesa for two weeks. The Mesa is the highest flat-topped mountain in the world. It’s beautiful country; forests of blue spruce, ponderosa pine, and aspen with flowery meadows in between. The flat top collects rainfall in three hundred sixty lakes and a zillion marshes. Those wet-lands make for a whole lot of hungry mosquitoes, but we scouts were tough. After two weeks of eating the fish that ate the mosquitoes that feasted on us, we were all blood brothers, and there was no mystery left in the circle of life.” Thought […]


Travels with Mom

  In the fifties, Crater Lake was overrun with bears. My parents watched a man taking a picture, go rigid when he realized that a bear was using him as a leaning post. A less friendly looking bear tempted Mom to try for a bear-on-the-attack photo. She popped out of the car and waited for the bear to rear up and threaten her. When it did, she lost her nerve and sprinted around the car. She kept trying, and she might have pulled it off if a cranky ranger hadn’t got involved. In the sixties, tattoos weren’t for “nice” people. […]


South Padre Sign

Can you give me a clue to step two? Jump?  Head between knees?   Fire!?