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Eagles and Hawks

My challenge for a number of years has been to capture a fantastic photo of an eagle or hawk.  My eye has gotten where I can spot them quickly, mostly when driving down the road.  Often times I don’t bother stopping because of several reasons such as a bad angle, by the time I came up close they flew off, traffic is such that it’s not safe to stop, etc…

My regular job that I work at has started up again, which requires me to drive about an hour up a canyon to where I work and an hour back.  This gives me plenty of opportunity to see these magnificant birds.  Only problem the opportunity to capture them hasn’t worked out.

On my way home, I tried by having my camera out and ready, but still no success.  These creatures are smart, once you slow down or stop they know something is up, and they will fly away faster than you can pull the camera out.

Yesterday I was coming home from a job and saw the most amazing thing.  Only problem is, that I didn’t bring my camera.  Total bummer, for it would have been perfect.  There was a dead rabbit on the back road.  I see lots of ravens, and as I came closer-slowing down-I noticed that there was an eagle in the center of the road,  eating the rabbit.  The ravens flew off, but the eagle was so busy eating that he didn’t pay much attention to me.

So I  drove extremely slow towards where this eagle was eating off the rabbit on the roadway.    I was able to get within 6 to 9 feet of it.  The bad thing is, I didn’t have my camera with me.  I would have been able to take some fabulous pictures of it, with how close I was and the angle, etc.

Instead, I watched it and observed it for nearly 15 minutes.  Fortunately for me their was no traffic on the road, and the eagle was so busy eating that it didn’t fly away when I moved into its zone.  It was interesting to watch it so closely as it devoured the meal.  It would use its beak to tear the rabbit fur off, then peel into the flesh and eat it.  The strength in it’s beak was something else.  Then to see it’s feet cling to the kill to steady it while it tugged at it with it’s beak was fascinating.

So much for the perfect picture…this is like the third time to have a opportunity like this, and miss it because I didn’t have my camera with me.  You’d think I’d learn.  Maybe someday.

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Billings again

Today was the day to go fetch Steve from the Billings airport.  Once again I left my camera at home.  A BAD thing to do because that’s when one will always find those perfect picture moments.

How does one describe in words what a picture can convey?  Well for me pictures can say things far better than I can in words.  Never was gifted at that, but I’ll attempt here in this post.  By the time you’re done reading, if you do, you’ll probably wish I did have the camera too.

Sure enough, I saw quite a few perfect pictures.  One was of the river valley outside of Belfry.  The fog coated all the bushes, trees, etc….next to the river with all its white glory.  Then the river had steam rising up in the cold air.  There were quite a few places that would have composed a GREAT picture.  Alas no camera…so I guess I’ll have to keep the image in my mind till it’s replaced.

Then there was an area that had at least two dozen black ravens all together.  They were feasting on a road kill.  It was quite the site because I don’t think I’ve ever saw more than three together in one area.  Made me appreciate my own method of eating in the comfort of a warm home.  Then I saw numerous hawks perched here and there.

Coming home, I thought I saw a wolf.  So we pulled over to view it.  Of course it knew that wasn’t normal, so it immediately ran off.  We watched it run across the field from a distance and tried to figure out if it was indeed a wolf, maybe a coyote or fox.  Regardless, that would have been fun to try capturing.

When seeing animals while traveling like this, it’s hard to capture those pictures, because by the time you stop, pull out your equipment, etc…the animal is long gone.  So I try to console myself by saying I wouldn’t have been able to get it anyway, but then that is the fun and challenge in trying.

In the end the trip to Billings this week may have been well worth the time, even if I didn’t capture those pictures, because their are some positive possibilities on the horizon for Steve.  Now, that would be the most perfect picture!  Yet I’m not sure if words or pictures can capture the deep feelings involved in that moment when it indeed becomes real.   Just hoping those possibilities don’t die as the others have.

Yellowstone Rescue

As I was driving home from work on Friday September 25th at about 2:30PM I noticed alot of haze or smoke in the sky.  It has been a hot week so I knew by the look that there was a fire somewhere around in the region.  I figured it was around Billings, MT because I knew they had been having fires around there from lightning strikes.

Earlier in the week I was thinking how wonderful it was to get all the way through August with no smoke filled skies from forest fires burning around in the western region.  It has been so nice to have clear skies and fresh air.

As I was driving home, my cell phone rings and so I let it go to voice mail.  When I got close to my home on the dirt road leading towards my house I listened to the phone message.  It was from my husband informing me that Ryan’s car broke down in Yellowstone Park. That about the time I parked in the driveway.  So I walked into the house into my husband Steve’s office to learn more of the situation.

He looked at me and said he’s been on the phone for about an hour trying to figure out the best way to get Ryan help.  Steve said that Ryan’s car broke down about 5 miles east of Old Faithful.  So he was checking into the cost of having it towed, etc.  He found out to have it towed in Yellowstone you have to use the parks approved towing company.  He found out that it would cost over five hundred dollars to have it towed from where he was to just the East Entrance of Yellowstone.  Then it’d have to be towed from there into Cody which is about another seventy five miles away.

Steve then called UHaul and found we could rent a trailer that hauls cars for under fifty dollars.  Being that our main breadwinner is unemployed we couldn’t afford the towing for over five hundred dollars so we decided on this option.

So we hurried and did chores because we knew we’d be getting home around midnight.  Grabbed some water, some snacks, and of course my camera’s and took off for town to pick up the Uhaul trailer.

We had just got our 1993 Chevy Suburban fixed after it sat for a good part of the summer because it wouldn’t start.  This suburban has taken us to many places around the USA, Canada, and Alaska so needless to say it has 315,000 original miles on it.  So considering all that, we are reluctant to take it very far or trust it to long hauls.

Yet the other newer Suburban needs a new transmission that costs around two thousand dollars.  So we aren’t using it for many long drives now, certainly not for pulling a trailer on steep grades.  You can read about that story here. It was cheaper to fix the older suburban and use it.

After picking up the uhaul trailer we begin our Yellowstone Rescue, with little clue to what awaited us.

As we were traveling we all wondered whether Ryan had popped the question to Bri.  See his plan was to ask her to marry him.  He had stewed for some time how to make it a memorable event.  She had spent the week with us and he was on his way to take her home.  He planned some tricky things to trick her but the break down was not part of that plan.

I guess they had someone give them a ride to the Old Faithful Lodge.  It was a really good thing because they didn’t have cell reception and little did any of us know how long the wait would be.  Ryan did make good on the time and did ask her to marry him inspite of the upset in the plan.  His plan was to ask her at Old Faithful and so that part worked out.  They do have their own story about that part.

Little did any of us know the extent of how memorable this event will be for them.  Yep, introducing her to Murphy’s law at Old Faithful.  A sign that they should always remain faithful to each other no matter what comes into their lives (even Murphy’s law).

Anyhow as we are waiting in line at the East Gate of Yellowstone National Park we noticed that most of the cars would leave the pay booth, turn around and leave the park.  I thought that was odd but we didn’t think much more than that.  Well when it was our turn we found out the reason.  They closed the road (Fishing Bridge to West Thumb) that would take us to Old Faithful.  The other route was closed because of road construction (Norris to Madison).

So our only real option was to drive up to the North Entrance, into Montana, up to Livingston across to Bozeman and then head down into Idaho and to the West Entrance.  That just made our midnight tip into an all night long trip.  Here we thought we’d be home by midnight.  Now we were looking at about 8:00AM or 9:00AM.  Sad thing is that I had work at 8:00AM.

Well, we needed to rescue Ryan and Bri so we continued to travel onward through the park.  We did stop at two places where they had road blocks to see if things had changed and we could go the shorter route.  One ranger told us the road had a fire burning across it and that it would most likely remain closed till Saturday night late.

Here I’ve been wanting to go to Yellowstone to take pictures.  Every fall I do it about the first week of October.  It’s a perfect time to capture some great pictures.  I ruled it out this year because of costs and car problems.  Now here we were and yet we were fighting time.  So I really couldn’t stop for things and compose wonderful pictures.  There certainly was the opportunity.  We stopped maybe twice for me to do a little.

We got to Old Faithful about midnight.  Then we had troubles locating Ryan and Bri from the instructions they gave us.  We finally connected and took off to the broken down car. On the way they reported hearing that the road opened about 7:00PM that night.  That means that they opened it like ten minutes to a half hour after we asked.  Needless to say we weren’t happy about that.  That would have saved us many hours, many miles, money, and worry about our own suburban breaking down from a longer trip than planned.

Thankfully we had some flashlights.  Our next problem was getting the car up onto the trailer.  There was no hoist to pull the dead car up the ramp onto the trailer.  So we tried several different things.

One is that we pushed the car back up the slight incline to see if it would get enough momentum to go up onto the trailer.  Well it almost went off the ramp.  Not a good idea.  So we put our 14 year old in the car giving him instructions of driving carefully up the ramp and yet not going off the front so using the brakes, etc.

Then Ryan, Bri, Steve, Neal, and I pushed the car up the ramp and onto the trailer.  We tried keeping everyone on the sides so if it went back it didn’t run over someone.  Thankfully we got it up on the trailer with no problems except the effort of pushing.  Got it all hooked up and ready for the trip home.

We decided to risk going home the shorter route and see if it was indeed open.  It was! Yippie!!  Our trip will be a bit shorter.  We really didn’t know what to expect.  Of course it was dark but we couldn’t see any evidence that the fire burned across the road like we were told.  We figured we’d see red hot glowing spots.  None.  However we did see and smell lots of gagging smoke.  There were areas that was so thick you couldn’t see very far ahead.  Maybe a two car lengths ahead.

It was a spooky feeling.  What if we broke down in the dead of night?  It wasn’t a pleasant thought for sure.  It also made us feel grateful that Ryan and Bri’s car didn’t break down in that area.  They may have been forced to be towed out.  We also felt lucky that we didn’t use the tow because they would have been stuck by the road closer and ticking up the time.  They charged by miles and time.

We made it home safely at about 4:00AM on Saturday September 26th.  I slept about about 2 1/2 hours and then got up to go work.  Boy was I tired.

Below is the few pictures I did get while on the drive.  Some of them aren’t very good because I didn’t get to compose the pictures…some were snapped as we drove.  Not the best way to take a picture.

I3_2746_09252009_SS_4x8_500

This is one of the first views that greeted us as we came off Sylvan pass and got to see Lake Yellowstone in one of the scenic pullouts.  We did stop so I could compose this picture.  It’s looking across Yellowstone Lake to the Lake Village area where the fire is burning.  The fire is called, “Arnica Fire”

I3_2748_09252009_SS_4x8_500Here is another shot that I composed from the same scenic pullout as above.  If you want to learn more about this fire then visit the Yellowstone park web site here.

I3_2757_09252009_SS_4x8_500This was taken from a scenic pullout along the route (I think it was in the Bear Lake Area) between Norris and Mammoth.  It’s looking southwards towards where the fire is burning.  Taken just before dark.

I3_2756_09252009_SS_4x8_500This is taken from the same rest stop as above except looking westward towards the setting sun.

I2_0115_09252009_SS_4x8_500This picture is taken from the suburban as it’s moving slowly enough for me to grab a quick picture.  This is taken as you come down into the Hayden valley area.

I2_0129_09252009_SS_4x8_500This was taken just before the Obsidian Cliff Area after leaving the Beaver Lake area scenic pullout.  There was a traffic jam with tons of pro photographers with all their fancy equipment set up to capture this herd of elk.  I had to be satisfied with taking this out of the suburban window as we moved in and around the traffic jam.

I3_2774_09252009_SS_4x8_500Mammoth is always full of elk in the fall.  It’s incredible how they take over the little town.  People have to really be careful walking around so as not to get charged by a bull elk.  This one was causing a stir.  A park police was following it around the best he could to make sure people stayed safe.  This was shot out of the suburban window as we waited at a stop sign.  It’s not a good picture because I had to use the flash, etc.  Yet it does show how incredible this bull elk is.

Pictures to share…

I was looking though my digital pictures on my hard drive looking for some pictures I needed. Instead of finding what I was looking for I came across these and thought I’d share them with you. Enjoy. Should you want to purchase one just contact me.

Moose

Moose

Rushing Water

Rushing Water

Nightfull on the North Fork

Nightfull on the North Fork

Tunnel Light

Tunnel Light

Beautiful Flowers

Beautiful Flowers