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Sky and I got away for three days last week. The weather continues to be fairly cool, well cold, most days. The dog water froze outside each night and I was grateful for a working heater in the camper. We walked and walked and walked and saw a fair number of deer. There was one otter that entertained me for an afternoon. We also saw a skunk on one of our rambles in the hills. Luckily, I saw it before it saw us! I identified 64 bird species and am sure I missed some whose songs I didn’t recognize. We had a fine campsite overlooking a small lake with a variety of waterfowl and one lone swan. There were numerous buttercups in bloom and one Astragulus and some tiny lomatiums. The snow had just finished melting and while we were there, we had one impressive snow squall that left the hills white til the sun came out again. Mountain Bluebirds were everywhere! Red-winged Blackbirds, American Robins and Canada Geese woke us each morning with their songs and calls.

Here is my bird list for the three days:

Canada Goose 

Tundra Swan 

Wood Duck 

American Wigeon 

Mallard 

Green-winged Teal 

Ring-necked Duck 

Greater Scaup 

Bufflehead 

Barrow’s Goldeneye 

Hooded Merganser 

Common Merganser 

California Quail 

Ruffed Grouse 

Dusky Grouse 

Pied-billed Grebe 

Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) 

Eurasian Collared-Dove 

Mourning Dove 

Virginia Rail 

American Coot 

Turkey Vulture 

Osprey 

Northern Harrier 

Red-tailed Hawk 

Great Horned Owl 

Belted Kingfisher 

Red-naped Sapsucker 

Downy Woodpecker 

Pileated Woodpecker 

Northern Flicker 

American Kestrel 

Say’s Phoebe 

Black-billed Magpie 

American Crow 

Common Raven 

Black-capped Chickadee 

Mountain Chickadee 

Northern Rough-winged Swallow 

Tree Swallow 

Violet-green Swallow 

Ruby-crowned Kinglet 

Red-breasted Nuthatch 

Pygmy Nuthatch 

Brown Creeper 

Bewick’s Wren 

American Dipper 

European Starling 

Western Bluebird 

Mountain Bluebird 

American Robin 

House Finch 

Cassin’s Finch 

Pine Siskin 

Chipping Sparrow 

Fox Sparrow 

Dark-eyed Junco 

White-crowned Sparrow 

Song Sparrow 

Spotted Towhee 

Western Meadowlark 

Red-winged Blackbird 

Brewer’s Blackbird 

Yellow-rumped Warbler 

Our second site had the best sunrises and sunsets. That incredible October light. All these images were made from our lovely lakeside campsite. My girls look good in the evening light.

The girls and I set out on a road trip the end of last month. It was supposed to be nearly three weeks long but instead it was five nights. Luna has an inflamed achilles tendon and is unable to walk much at all so we mainly stayed near our campsite or went for drives. She was ok with that and Sky was happy since we camped next to two different lakes and we got to visit some friends too. I was the unhappy one. I need to be able to get out and move. I tried leaving Luna in the camper but then she barked. She really, really wanted to go and explore but it was impossible. Ken was working from home the next week so we returned to the Methow (not a bad place to be) so Sky and I could go hiking.

We did stay in two new (to us) campgrounds and that was fun. The autumn light was marvelous! Wonderful sunsets and sunrises and one rainy afternoon. One campground is definitely a place to return to. The other one is surrounded by the effects of the summer’s wildfires. I should be used to burned trees by now, right? Here are a few images from the first campground.

Last week, the girls and I took the camper over the mountains to camp in the shadow of one of the iconic northwest volcanoes. After the massive heat dome that brought us record-breaking high temperatures recently, it was good to be someplace cooler and greener. We even had a couple of overcast days and Luna was able to do two six-mile hikes! At her age, she cannot tolerate the sun and temperatures much over 70°. She (and Sky too) had great fun in a new place smelling all the smells and exploring everything. And wouldn’t you know it, Sky discovered a much-abused tennis ball three miles up the flank of the volcano. It was just one of four balls that she found on this trip.

I noticed that this trail started off as an old road. Farther up the trail, I began to notice large old stumps, reminders of the old growth that once blanketed much of western Washington. Later I read that the area had been logged all the way to the tree line, back in the day. When I was out on my kayak, I could see the outlines of the old clear-cuts.

Since it was an overcast day, we did not get to see views of the big mountain. We did enjoy the cool temperatures and even some fog. Back at home temperatures remained in the 90’s and a lightning storm ignited several forest fires. I am glad we got away for bit.

The girls and I headed to the eastern part of the county for a week-long camping trip. We enjoyed tall larch trees and a quiet lake. Ken joined us for the last two nights and we also enjoyed visits with several good friends. There were a few flowers blooming, including a small patch of coralroot orchids. It’s still very green with lush new growth on all of the conifers. It looked like there had been a big windstorm this spring. Many trees were uprooted or broken.

Here’s a bit of camping life.

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