Archive for June, 2016

Byers Lake

I went on a nature tour of Byers Lake yesterday. ¬†Salmon spawn there, but the only things abroad, other than people, were a pair of common loons and a pair of trumpeter swans. But they were on the other side of the lake, and I don’t have the telephoto capacity for them.

But man, what a view!







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Alder cones


Unusual for a deciduous tree, alders reproduce with cones. They also make it very hard to look into a forest, which could be hiding a bear or a moose.




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Moose tracks and sign

This is the first of my Alaska posts. At Denali State Park, we came across moose tracks and sign. We decided against following them into a little ravine for a very simple reason. There were a few calf tracks mixed in with the big ones, and no one wants to meet a moose cow who wants to protect her calf!


Moose tracks are a lot larger than I expected– much larger than a domestic bovine’s.


Moose scat:


Calf track:


(Not my hand).


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To the Last Frontier

I’m off to Alaska for almost two weeks. I’ll keep you posted.

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Some thoughts from Edward Abbey

“Every man needs a place where he can go to go crazy in peace.”

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My guess is she’ll be laying eggs soon.


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Raccoons out foraging

These two raccoons are in their summer coats, and I think they are females that have been nursing young. If you’ve never seen one before, they have an interesting way of moving. They are plantigrade but light on their feet.

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miley posing

Ancient man and ancient wolves hooked up. Dogs are the artifact of that relationship.

But the 21st century is testing that relationship. As traditional communities and belief systems have fallen to the wayside, dogs have become a kind ersatz religion. Every breed has its taboo topics: Brindle in salukis and basenjis. White in German shepherds. Ridgeless ridgebacks. The length of dachshund backs.

Talk of crossbreeding results in furious invective. Talk of training methods starts unending fights. Raw feeding is a war.

And for heaven’s sake, never talk about pit bulls!

This is not a community that is designed to attract people. Only the dogs themselves and what they have to offer really keeps it going.

If you are by nature a gadfly, be prepared for ostracism.

As someone on the political left living in a conservative state, I can say that I’ve lost more friends over dog-related issues than I ever dreamed of losing in discussing politics.

I’ve become convinced that there really isn’t a place for me in these communities. It’s taken me a long time to realize it.

This is not fun anymore.

I’m moving beyond this world. I will always admire good dogs.

But I don’t think I’m a “dog person” anymore.





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Every 17 years, the temperate forests of West Virginia become cicadaland. ¬†We don’t have that much of a presence of cicadas. We usually get a few weeks of dog day cicadas in August into September, but they don’t last all summer.

But when we hit that particular year in the life cycle of the 17-year periodic these forests start buzzing as if they were somehow the jungles of Southeast Asia.

Never mind that just a few months ago, it was subzero (Fahrenheit).

This is now a jungle!

If you’ve never heard the sound these things make, here are few examples.

In the morning as they are getting fired up, and one up close in my fingers!

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She’s pretty well-hidden:


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