” . . . the public land endowment of the United States is one of the greatest perks of this democracy.  Rich or poor, every citizen of the United States of America has title to an area almost the size of Italy.”
— Timothy Egan, “The Geography of Nope,” The New York Times online Opinionator blog, September 27, 2012

Cascade peaks blanketed in clouds as the sun rises on Saturday morning

Every year in late September the country celebrates National Public Lands Day by offering free entrance to the national parks.  When possible, I try to take advantage of the free admission because I am frugal, and the regular cost of entry makes visiting a rare treat for me.  You may recall that two years ago, my husband and I took a road trip to Glacier National Park in Montana on National Public Lands Day.  (You can revisit those blog posts here and here and here.)

Timothy Egan, a writer whose blog I follow regularly, reminds us that our national lands are under threat by politicians, generally Republicans, who want to mine this shared inheritance for its resources and material riches.  The full article can be found at this link.  I support keeping our national parks and national lands for the general public to enjoy.  They are a rare and awesome treasure and shouldn’t be plundered.  I think a worthy goal would be to visit every national park before I die.

This past Saturday I got up very early and drove in the dark so that I could be at Sunrise on Mount Rainier in time to watch the actual sunrise at 7:07 a.m.  I had to use my windshield wipers to clear a misting rain on my way there, and I was worried that the clouds might hide the rising sun.  I arrived at Sunrise shortly after 6:00 a.m. and waited.  As dawn approached, I could see Cascade peaks blanketed in clouds all around me.  Mount Rainier itself played peek-a-boo with the clouds, revealing its snow-capped peaks and glaciers in fits and starts.  It was quite a show.  Here are some photos:

Driving to Sunrise on Mount Rainier in the dark. I saw the moon set and then waited for the sunrise.

The lightening horizon illuminates the cloudy Cascade range.

The clouds were generally thick and gray, but there were a few moments of glowing color.

Mount Rainier peeks through clouds, viewed from the parking lot at Sunrise Point.

A handful of spectators watching the sun rise at Sunrise Point.

Tree line on a distant peak, with clouds

Snowfields on Mount Rainier

View from the final approach to Sunrise on Mount Rainier

Paintbrush along the road

Mount Rainier in the early morning light as I was about to depart

Elk at the edge of the road down from Sunrise on Mount Rainier














Gone Into the Fields

March 6, 2012

“Away, away, from men and towns,
To the wild wood and the downs-
To the silent wilderness
Where the soul need not repress
Its music lest it should not find
An echo in another’s mind,
While the touch of Nature’s art
Harmonizes heart to heart.
I leave this notice on my door
For each accustom’d visitor:-
‘I am gone into the fields
To take what this sweet hour yields.'”

Percy Bysshe Shelley, from “The Invitation”

Plowed fields under a dusting of snow

I’ve just returned from a week’s trip to Minnesota to stay with my 93-year-old Dad on the family farm.  It’s been an unseasonally dry and almost snow-less winter in Minnesota, but a storm passed through during my stay.  The farm was on the south fringes of the storm front, and we got just a small amount of snow, some rain, and sleet.  My sister, who lives in northern Minnesota, got 10-inches of snowfall in one day!

The farm is quiet in winter.  I enjoyed my solitary walks through the woods and fields.  Like Shelley, I kept my eyes open to what the Minnesota winter yielded.

Water after it has passed through the culverts under our driveway

Thin ice

My brother raises elk; this is his bull elk (looks like it has a third antler!).

Empty nest

Animal tracks in the snow . . . raccoon?

Dried leaf



And here are some photos of wildlife sightings during my Colorado road trip:

Tiger Swallowtail along the Spring Creek bike trail in Ft. Collins

Head-on view of Tiger Swallowtail

Acrobatic fox squirrel, Ft. Collins

Elk along Trail Ridge Road, Rocky Mountain National Park

Pine grosbeak, Rocky Mountain National Park

Mule deer, Great Sand Dunes National Park

Mule deer

Western Tanager, Great Sand Dunes National Park

Juvenile ground squirrel "out on a limb," Wheeler Geologic Area

Mountain bluebird, Wheeler Geologic Area

Collared lizard, Ute Mountain Tribal Park

Collared lizard

Nesting Black Swift, Box Canyon near Ouray

Cassin's finch, Box Canyon near Ouray

Chipmunk, Maroon Bells Wilderness Area

Zoo Animals

December 31, 2010

Yesterday was the last day for my Zoo Walker’s Program at the Woodland Park Zoo.  So let me share a few pictures from my zoo outing:

Giraffe at feeding time

Wolf, Northern Trail exhibit, Woodland Park Zoo

"The gaze of the wolf reaches into our soul." -- Barry Lopez

Elk, Northern Trail exhibit, Woodland Park Zoo

Toucan, Rainforest exhibit, Woodland Park Zoo

The toucan was a welcome splash of color in this winter season.