Wildlife/animals


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!?


Mile High Sea Sightings

Snorkeling the Under the Sea exhibit at the Denver Aquarium would have been more exciting if I hadn’t watched it on every round I’ve made as a volunteer guide. Still my view from the top revealed a number of things I’ve never have seen from the walkway. An interesting fish approached and took a big interest in my gloved fingers.  I knew that no snorkelers have ever been nibbled in Under the Sea, but thanks to that visit, I also knew that the dive safety team’s decision to glove against fish nibbles was an excellent call. Active moray eels are easy to spot near exhibit windows, but in the quiet recesses they drape themselves in crevasses and over a […]


Mile High Snorkel 2

It was the most pampered snorkeling trip I’ve ever experienced.  Kim got me rigged up in top of the line gear, including a wetsuit that floats, then had me sit with my feet in the water while she slipped on my flippers! No waddling across the beach like a duck in clown shoes, no getting queasy in the waves, no fear of, drowning, drifting out to sea, animal attacks or boat strikes.  No worries period.  Any time I lifted my head, Kim was there with a float to steady me, answer questions, adjust my gear.  Much as I love the ocean, […]


Mile High Dive

Dry-landers take heart.  If you’re yearning to snorkel with sea creatures a thousand plus miles from the nearest seashore, Landry’s Denver aquarium will have you swimming with more sting rays, eels, fish, and skates than sea snorkelers can hope to glimpse.  You may even spot some mermaids.   Too calm for you?  In another exhibit, you can scuba dive with the largest sharks in Colorado either as a guest or volunteer.   It’s a great way for divers to keep in practice when a trips to the coast are such a strain.   After a year of driving to Denver to work as a guide, I can attest that Landry’s is a breathtaking place to […]


Wireless Bird Call

On a rickety, hundred foot tower in the Peruvian rain forest, our guide couldn’t spot the toucans he’d hoped to show us. “I’ll call them,” he said, and pulled out his cell phone. We all laughed and watched as he pushed an icon and…played a toucan recording. The toucans came. I recognized their beak shape, but they weren’t Fruit Loops toucans–just dark colored birds we might see anywhere except for their profiles…that and answering phone calls.