Sunday, May 18, 2008

Its Been a Hoot!

This has been a fun week despite some bumps along the way, such as a flat tire and a computer melt down! On Thursday we headed into Cody, carefully nursing a plugged tire on the Suburban, just hoping to make the repair shop without a major blow out. Our spare was jammed up under the vehicle and wouldn't release and our other vehicle happened to be in the shop getting its 100,000 mile servicing, so we were stuck limping down the highway, holding our breath much of the way. A few miles this side of town I happened to glance out the passenger window and see a dark shape in a tree alongside the road. I focused in a little more and realized I was seeing a great horned owl and what appeared to be a huge baby sitting on a branch beside her. I yelled my delight to Ken just as I took in the fact that there was another baby on the branch above and one more just below. Four great horned owls in one tree! I was in heaven. The only bad news was that I didn't have a camera with me and, because of our fragile tire state, we couldn't simply pull over and do a U-turn back for Ken to see the sight. I filed it away in my memory bank as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

The next evening we had dinner at the ranch of our good friends Mary and Luis. The air was clear, the temperature was perfect and the view was phenomenal. Just as were finishing an amazing meal, their resident elk herd of about 400 head wandered into the pasture and mingled with the white tail, mule deer and antelope that were already there. The curlews are nesting right now and their warbling yells provided the sound effects for the show. It is hard to imagine a more perfect setting.

Yesterday we packed our bikes into the repaired Suburban and headed for Yellowstone to join a group of cyclists for a 42 mile ride in the Park. This is the only time of year you can even think of riding the Park as the tourists have not yet arrived in the staggering numbers we will see in a few weeks time. As we approached Cody I began scouring the trees for the owl family. Sure enough, they were perched in a tree not far from where I had seen them on Thursday. This time I had the camera with me and I convinced Ken to turn around so I could get a shot or two of the magnificent birds. As I left the vehicle one of the babies spooked and flew to the ground so I quickly took a couple photos of the remaining three and got back in the car. Their positioning was not as photo ideal as it had been on the earlier day but I am excited to have the pictures I do as I don't think these baby hueys will be around for too much longer.

The ride in the Park was perfect! I got to ride at a pace I really enjoyed, the company was delightful and the weather couldn't have been better. The highlight was seeing a wolf on the ice of Yellowstone Lake but traffic was such at that point that I didn't feel I could stop to take a photo. Another one for the memory bank! On the way back to Fishing Bridge from West Thumb we all stopped at a prearranged spot for a group photo and we had a friend take a photo of Ken and me in front of the frozen lake.

After we got home last evening Frank the cat had his first chance of the day to spend some time outside. Unfortunately it didn't last long as he got hounded back into the house. I have said before he is not much of a hunter and I guess the magpies are onto him. The aggressive birds all have chicks right now and they don't tolerate any animal invading their space. This one herded Frank all the way from the hay pile to the door of the house, running behind him squawking and actually pecking him on the tail when he showed signs of slowing down. I know poor Frank was humiliated by the experience!

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