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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Big sky country

Montana didn't look like I had imagined that it would. The state derives its name from the Spanish word for mountain yet the western part of the state didn't inspire a tribute to John Denver's Rocky Mountain High. Instead, I could have almost convinced myself I was looking at the Allegheny mountains in central Pennsylvania.

Whitefish Lodge - Montana - July 2012
View of the marina on Whitefish Lake, outside of the
Lodge at Whitefish Lake in (where else?) Whitefish, Montana. 

That's not to say I was disappointed. It was beautiful, and the 60 - 75 degree daytime temperatures were a welcome respite from the Arizona desert heat.

Whitefish Lodge - Montana - July 2012
View of the marina on Whitefish Lake, outside of the
Lodge at Whitefish Lake in (where else?) Whitefish, Montana. 

A conference coupled with a corporate directors' meeting sent me to Whitefish giving me part of one afternoon to explore the area.

Whitefish Lodge - Montana - July 2012
Lodge at Whitefish Lake
 
My room faced a nature preserve and was wonderfully peaceful. The summer days are long this far north, and the last rays of sunlight didn't disappear until 10:00 PM. I LOVED IT!

Whitefish Lodge - Montana - July 2012
View from my room - Lodge at Whitefish Lake
 
For night owls like me, I feel cheated with so little daylight in the evenings in Arizona. Instead, it gets light at 4:45 AM--a complete waste of sunshine.

Whitefish Lodge - Montana - July 2012
View from my room - Lodge at Whitefish Lake

The Lodge was furnished with cliché mountain trappings (no pun intended) including more than a dozen stuffed animals. This wolf was so life-like he looked like he could walk right off the display. Most of the taxidermy was for sale for those who might have a hankering to add a dead animal to their home décor.

Stuffed Wolf at Whitefish Lodge - Montana - July 2012
Very lifelike stuffed wolf - Lodge at Whitefish Lake

Part of Tuesday afternoon we had some free time, and a few of us headed to Glacier National Park to drive a part of the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Time and temperatures cut our trip short. I was the only one in the group dressed for the mountain temperatures, and I was also the only one in the group who likes to travel to national parks. No doubt, there's a correlation...

Glacier National Park - Montana - July 2012
Glacier National Park

Driving the Going-to-the-Sun Road was on my bucket list. Although I'd like to go back and drive the whole road, I can officially cross it off of my list. I've at least been on it.

Glacier National Park - Montana - July 2012
Glacier National Park


Glacier National Park - Montana - July 2012
Glacier National Park

There had been a forest fire a number of years ago, and the damage was still apparent, but the forest is repairing itself as nature always does.

Glacier National Park - Montana - July 2012
Trees scarred by a forest fire - Glacier National Park


Glacier National Park - Montana - July 2012
Ravens in a tree scarred by a forest fire - Glacier National Park


Glacier National Park - Montana - July 2012
Tree scarred by a forest fire - Glacier National Park


Glacier National Park - Montana - July 2012
View from the Going-to-the-Sun Road - Glacier National Park


Glacier National Park - Montana - July 2012
View from the Going-to-the-Sun Road - Glacier National Park


Mountain Goat Glacier National Park - Montana - July 2012
Mountain Goat - Going-to-the-Sun Road - Glacier National Park


Glacier National Park - Montana - July 2012
Glacier along the Going-to-the-Sun Road - Glacier National Park


Glacier National Park - Montana - July 2012
View at Logan's Pass - Glacier National Park


Glacier National Park - Montana - July 2012
View at Logan's Pass - Glacier National Park

Alpine Flowers - Glacier National Park - Montana - July 2012
Alpine Flowers at Logan's Pass - Glacier National Park


Alpine Flowers - Glacier National Park - Montana - July 2012
Alpine Flowers at Logan's Pass - Glacier National Park


Big Horned Sheep - Glacier National Park - Montana - July 2012
Big Horned Sheep at Logan's Pass - Glacier National Park


Big Horned Sheep - Glacier National Park - Montana - July 2012
Big Horned Sheep at Logan's Pass - Glacier National Park


Big Horned Sheep - Glacier National Park - Montana - July 2012
Big Horned Sheep at Logan's Pass - Glacier National Park


Columbia Squirrel - Glacier National Park - Montana - July 2012
Columbia Squirrel at Logan's Pass - Glacier National Park

Copyright © Deborah A. Ayers - All rights reserved.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Grow where you are planted

For the better part of the year, Pincushion cacti do an excellent job of impersonating rocks. Unlike showier succulents, their small size and nondescript appearance make them easy to overlook (and step on). But all that changes when the monsoon rains bring out their brilliant blossoms.

Pincushion Cactus - July 2012
Pincushion Cactus - Tucson, Arizona

Untrained eyes often look at this landscape and bemoan, "Nothing grows there," until they're treated to a display like this.

Pincushion Cactus - July 2012
Pincushion Cactus - Tucson, Arizona

These cacti are blooming all over the yard, and I can find them in some of the most unlikely places. They serve as a reminder: "Grow where you're planted."

Pincushion Cactus - July 2012
Pincushion Cactus - Tucson, Arizona

Pincushion Cactus - July 2012
Pincushion Cactus - Tucson, Arizona

Pincushion Cactus - July 2012
Pincushion Cactus - Tucson, Arizona

Pincushion Cactus - July 2012
Pincushion Cactus - Tucson, Arizona

Pincushion Cactus - July 2012
Pincushion Cactus - Tucson, Arizona

Pincushion Cactus - July 2012
Pincushion Cactus - Tucson, Arizona

Pincushion Cactus - July 2012
Pincushion Cactus - Tucson, Arizona

Pincushion Cactus - July 2012
Pincushion Cactus - Tucson, Arizona

Pincushion Cactus - July 2012
Pincushion Cactus - Tucson, Arizona

Copyright © Deborah A. Ayers - All rights reserved.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A rescue worthy of Animal Planet...


As I was taking out the trash this evening, I noticed a 6" lizard hanging on the wall in the garage. "Poor little guy," I thought. He can't live for more than a day or two in the hot garage.

He must have scampered in when the garage door was up. I went over to size up the situation, and he ran up the wall and positioned himself in the crease just below the ceiling. There was no way I could reach him up there.

Time to put my great Macgyver skills, and animal know-how to work to rescue him!

Tools:
  • one five-gallon bucket
  • one long pool noodle
  • one large towel.
If you know anything about lizards, you know they can break all land speed records and adhere to just about any vertical surface except glass. Many times I've witnessed a startled lizard go zooming across the side of the house only to encounter a window and then WHUMP! fall to the ground. I was going to use this knowledge to save this little guy's life.

Armed with my gear, I took the pool noodle and tapped the wall behind him. He skittered about four inches. Tap, tap. Skitter. Tap, tap. Skitter. I carefully guided him toward the window.

When he was just inches from its wide, smooth expanse, he tried to go around. Clearly, this guy knew all about window whumping, but to escape the big foam thumper, he had no choice but to skitter onto the glass. In that split second that he went airborne, I caught him in the five-gallon bucket. He landed with the usual whump, and I covered the bucket with the big towel to keep him from evicting himself from it with a vertical leap.

I opened up the garage door, walked about 20 feet away (I didn't want him scampering in again!) and released him back into the desert. Time elapsed: Five minutes. The feeling afterwards: Priceless.
Copyright © Deborah A. Ayers - All rights reserved.