A Backwoods Giggle


My wife and I were exploring a new section of trail near the Willamette River outside Salem when I noticed the forest floor was being overrun by these small, clover like plants (pictured). Being incurably curious, I said:

“I wonder what that is.”

To which my wife happily offered…

“The forest giggling.”

I nodded satisfied, and we carried on.


Between a Rock and a Park Place


I was talking with a friend a few months ago who told me that there was absolutely nothing of interest to do in her hometown of Cocoa, Florida. It was so bad she claimed, that she rarely ventured out of her home into a world beyond television. I told her to hold on a moment, then returned with a list of things within a few miles of her place that would interest me if I lived in the area including an ancient mammoth museum and a high school play. These ideas came courtesy of Google of course, but with a little grit, other charming pieces of culture can be found by the curious mind.

Take my walk in the park this morning. Walking my dog for a little bit of fresh air, I found a small painted stone nestled against an old growth Douglas Fir tree near the sidewalk. I took the above photo before venturing into a nearby shop to ask if they had any idea as to its origin. Turns out, a local artist took up the habit of painting stones a few years ago before hiding them in the park to be discovered by children. Collecting the art has become an almost Easter Egg like hunt ambition for toddlers who delightedly line them up against their windows after snatching them from their hiding places.

Honestly, I think ridding myself of cable two years ago was one of the most pivotal choices of my life. You lose a certain level of numbness and free up energy to see life with more detail.

Moose Magic


I attended a park picnic last Saturday evening where I met a Field Biologist who was studying moose populations in Montana as directed by the state. According to data, there has been a very mysterious crash in the female population of moose the last few years and he and a partner were investigating as to why.

Imagine my surprise to come across this young female (pictured) feeding near a small pond the very next day! We pulled over to watch as she scoured the vegetation beneath the water surface very industriously; raising her head every so often, a river pouring off her snout, to check on us. It was one of those magic moments only nature can provide. I can’t imagine losing this majestic species. What a thrill.

Memory Pull


It had been over a year since we’d visited the Alameda Hot Springs Retreat in Montana, but that didn’t stop our dog Barley from digging in like a tractor and pulling me to the room we stayed in previously right after I hooked him up to the leash. I continue to respect our animals abilities for memory and emotion as I move forward in this life and spend more time with them.

A Different Light 2


One of the things that makes early morning walks so enjoyable is the soft light that changes the ordinary familiar scene into something new. This got me thinking about how the scene I shot (above) is actually four scenes if you consider the seasons, and many more if you apply other influences. There is the geography of a specific place, the time of day, the mood of the observer, your cultural view, and other factors that may combine into a million possible perspectives.


Songs of Spring


If you love nature and have a wetland or preserve within driving distance of your home, here’s a great activity for you and the entire family. Call your local Audubon society and see if they sell a CD with short recordings of song birds in your area. Mine cost me about $10 and featured most of the water and song birds migrating through my state in Spring and Fall. I merely had to listen to the CD a couple of times focusing on difficult birds to see such as the Grasshopper Sparrow (pictured) and then set off to see what I could hear. It’s a very tricky way to identify birds, but presents a great challenge to the ear and first time birder. I highly recommend it as it will give you an entirely different hiking experience.

Isolated Beauty

2014-09-05 22.45.36

I decided to get up before dawn yesterday and head up to hike in Glacier National Park as things have started to cool down in the high mountains this early September. I decided upon the Highline Trail near the main visitor center off Going-to-the-Sun-Road for two reasons: one, I had never hiked the east end of the trail, and two, there were some impressive high cliffs you pass along that are not like any other hike in the park. This trail eventually reached Haystack Mountain where a pass would take hikers to the isolated Granite Chalet. Having climbed over mountains and shale outcrops camping as a kid I felt pretty confident in my footing so I advanced down the trail at a pretty good clip dancing my way around people from all over the world as I made my way past them. By-the-way, Aussies always the friendliest while Italians won’t give you the time of day. Anyway, I eventually came upon a gentleman sitting on a large rock block with his mouth open scanning the valley below. He said, “Wow, we’ve got nothing even close to this in New York.” I responded, “Yeah, well just wait until you try to order a latte.” We both laughed and I moved on. About a mile and a half in on what would be roughly a six mile hike for the day I saw a particularly nice view and stopped to take a photo. As I adjusted the camera settings, my legs got a little wobbly and almost passed out. I forgot I was at high elevation and just about went ass over tea kettle off the high cliff. The drop from the two foot wide trail was about 1,000 feet. I would have seriously splatted and been bear food with no prospect of being heard from again. I think maybe getting in shape is going to be a priority this Fall.

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