Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Day 2 - and another new bird!

Yesterday I woke to blue skies here. I started the day at my conferecne, but after lunch I couldn't take it any more. Th forecast for the rest of the week is rain. So I headed up to hike another mountain. and it was one of the best days I could have imagined!

A quick run down of the highlights -

Blueberries and crow berries galore - I could have sustained myself on the mountain with just these.

A raven and red fox in the alpine. The raven flew over sqawking and then flew down to the ground, so i looked with my binocs and there was a beautiful red fox. They both kind of looked at each other, approaching and then retreating. I didn't see any food, but maybe that was what it was about. Finally the fox took off and the raven stayed.

When I reached the top of mountain, I could see Denali peak (highest in N. america) - it was over 100 miles away, but was still huge. It was quite a sight. The last time I saw that mountain was in 1966 when I came here with my parents.

Then to top it off, a northern harrier (a kind of hawk) flew over, and scared up some big birds. Well, part of the reason I had hiked all over the tundra was to see some rock ptarmigan. so, I walked over to where the birds landed and there wer 5 or 6 rock ptarmigan!!!! New bird #2 on this trip!

Now this morning it is raining, so no more adventures until Thursday, when I have the day free. Love you all.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Alaska update

I've only been here one full day (Sunday), but it feels like I have done and seen a lot! I looked at the weather forecast and it said it was going to be mostly sunny so I thought this would be a great day to do a short hike. There are mountains right next to Anchorage, so I decided to hike up one called flattop. On the drive up I saw a nice bull moose (I don't have my camera, so these photos are just for effect!). It turned out that the sun never came out, in fact I hiked up into the clouds and never had any good views. But it was awesome anyway. Just a few feet on the trail I spotted a NEW BIRD! It is called a gray-cheeked thrush. Number 532 on my list!

Then I went to the conference and listened to some depressing papers on the effects of global warming on polar bears. Not good news. Then back to my hotel to watch the Denver Broncos beat the Patriots, and finally out to the Brewhouse for a luscious IPA and a salmon BLT. All-in-all a pretty good day!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

North to Alaska!

I'm about to head down to the airport for my trip to Anchorage, Alaska. I'm looking forward to the conference and some time to hike and birdwatch. The weather forecast is for cool (high 40's to low 50's) and wet, so that's not too exciting. But as long as it doesn't snow, I should be able to get out and do some hiking.

One place I want to go is the Chugach mountains, just to the east of Anchorage. There are a few trails that are 3 miles or so that get you up to the alpine. I can get up early, do that, and not miss my meetings! One of the birds I hope to see up in the alpine is the Rock Ptarmigan.

I also have a few really nice restaurants in mind, including the Glacier BrewHouse Brewery.

I'll post more when I get back home. And tell you if I saw any new birds, of course!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Updates from the Fort

Grandma and Grandpa just left after a really nice visit. We had a good time catching up on news, telling them all about all of our kids, hanging out by the campfire, and spending some time at the Mannings too. Megan just turned 21, so we had a little gathering last night and enjoyed some Cozzola's Pizza - yum!

G & G are doing well. We took them to see the Worthington independent living housing here in town, and they enjoyed it. They are thinking more about their future living options, so it was good to see what is available in town.

Regan really enjoyed having them here too. Grandma is always giving her little treats, so of course, they are best friends. But as you can see, Grandpa and Regan shared some special moments too! That's Grandpas foot in the photo.

Mom leaves Wednesday for a visit with her Dad, and then out to the Outer Banks with Diane and Dick and cousins and babies! I'd be joining her except I'll be up in Alaska for work and looking for good birds there. I plan to drive down from Anchorage to Homer and maybe I can add 3-4 new birds to my list!

Lastly, I wanted to show you how beautiful the vase is that you gave Mom for her Birthday when we were up in Minnesota. Love you all.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Making apple crisp with Grandma and Grandpa

My parents are out for a visit and I decided it would be nice to make an apple crisp with apples from our orchard. But I had forgotten we have a really amazing apple peeler/corer device. So, I started to get ready to peeel them by hand, and my Mom says "What about that machince you have?" Then I remembered and got it out and voila - in a few minutes we had enough apples ready for two crisps! Taa Daa! And thanks to Grandma for her better memory than mine!

Love you all.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Scottish Fun ... in Colorado!

Mom and I just got back from a great day up in Estes Park at the Longs Peak Scottish Festival. While we were there, Quentin called from Stirling, Scotland! So, even though our being at the Estes Park Scottish Festival pales by comparison, we did manage to have a lot of fun.

Nathan, Scott, Cody, and Rick all drove from Minneapolis, and Troy flew in from Hollywood. We started the day off with some coffee, smoothies, and bagels for breakfast, then there was a super parade with lots of bagpipe bands and many Scottish family clans, and even Scottish dog breeds! At the main event, we enjoyed some good music, beer, a bit of scotch, launching of bowling balls into a lake with a giant catapult, and lots of people dressed up in Scottish style, kilts and all.

Here are a few pix of the good food, good company and parade. Love you all.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Fall in the Fort

It's such a great time of year, and since you all can't be here we thought we'd post a few pix of our place. We're getting quite a few apples this year. I made a few apple crisps and last night we were having dinner on the patio and Quentin suggested that we make some apple cider! Sounds like a great idea - now we need to find a press and figure out how.

The flowers and vines around the patio are really filling in. it's such a nice place to relax - we wish you were all here and we could have a glass of wine together!

Besides the nice apple crop, we are also getting a good number of my favorite - raspberries! I just love snacking on a few each time I go out in the yard. What a treat.

I was walking over to take a picture of the pond and I noticed two young mourning doves very close by. They were totally unafraid and they wandered over to the waterfall for a drink and just hung around while I took some pix. I
wish all birds were as cooperative and easy to get such good looks!

Tomorrow Quentin heads to Scotland! He has a 7 a.m. flight, so we'll be getting up early. He's all packed and ready to go. Mom and he did a good job going over the packing lists and getting him some new clothes, etc. He has a big layover in Chicago, so will get to visit with Laurel and Freddie and Grandma and Grandpa too, so that will make the trip even more fun. Then it is a direct flight from Chicago to Glasgow. Then a bus ride to Edinburgh for orientation, and then on to Stirling. He'll have a short homestay with a family and then start classes. We, of course, are very excited to go over and see him and travel together. What fun!