Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Here in the Tetons

The weather is wonderfully warm and sunny, but between wildfires and prescribed burns, there is a smokey haze everywhere.  Poop!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The first batch of fall colors

The maples are always the first to go. Julie and I went for a walk this morning and you could see large patches of color.  The maples, aspens, and oaks seem to go in waves and even those waves are separated by elevation and direction of the slope.
Not spectacular, but it really makes it feel like fall.  Thankfully, our temperatures are still hitting the 70's every day and it doesn't look like it will change for at least another week.  No snow yet!
We did run across a few trees that were just spectacular.  I'm hoping to get some nice color this week up in the Tetons.  I hope their aspens are ahead of ours.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Back to Antelope Island

My photography assistant Jasper joined me for another trip to Antelope Island.  It started off with an interesting twist.  I saw a handful of birds and then noticed something bigger out on the mud flats.  As I got closer I saw it was a big fluffy coyote. He stared us down for a minute before heading off to find breakfast.
I have to leave home around 6:00 to get to Antelope Island by sunrise, but it's worth it.  The flat water and soft light make such a difference.
A lot of the birds were the same as I saw last trip.
But there were thousands of little shore birds.
I watched this bird for quite a while.  Instead of efficiently poking for food like everyone else, he seemed to be half flying, half walking the entire time.
I love the long bills on these guys. 
This one was walking a bit before flying.
Of course, it isn't just about birds.  This pronghorn was hanging with some bison not too far from the visitors center.
Later on a found the rest of the herd.  There were about 100 of them.
When I was photographing the bison, I noticed some movement in the background.  Out came a pair of coyotes, wandering through the bison herd.
And after mom and dad came through, a younger coyote followed them.  This was the first time I have seen coyotes out on Antelope Island.  This family wasn't as healthy and fluffy as the first one I saw.
My biggest success for the day was also my biggest failure.  I have been hunting high and low for a Burrowing Owl.  I know they are on the island, but they are fairly rare.  I finally found one, sitting on the edge of his burrow.  Before I could stop the truck and get a picture, he was gone.  I waited for 20 minutes, but he didn't come back.  I checked later and he still wasn't back.  Very sad, but I will check when I go back next time.  Here is a picture so you can see what I'm hunting for.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Houses around the neighborhood

This house is being built about half way between our house and Old Town.  The owner is seriously indecisive, which is leading to a VERY long building process.  They started this 15 months ago and it doesn't have the siding done or the roof shingled.  I talked to the builder and he guessed there was another year to go. 

It's a very odd floor plan.  The house is over 7500 square feet and has six bedrooms, but it has a two car garage and a tiny kitchen.  Weird.
At the bottom of our hill is an attached pair of condos, both of which are for sale.  They should be a great place for vacationers.  Nice finishes, gourmet kitchens, cherry floors, 5 bedrooms, a bus stop out front and a 3 minute walk into town. Oh yeah, and a never ending series of building problems.
I'm not a real estate agent, but I am pretty sure you don't want to be selling your house at the same time they are ripping all the stone off the facade.  These places are about two years old and they have been in a constant state of rebuilding.I've never heard all the details, but they must have a lot of leaks.  I've seen dry wall guys, flooring, and now stone work. Maybe they could just rent the places out to a good handyman and call it quits.
In stark contrast is the little cabin/shack next door. I was mocking the decision to rebuild this little building in a post here. To their credit, they have done a wonderful job rebuilding the place.  It looks nice and even has some pretty landscaping.  I still question the sanity of paying to rebuild something that must be about 400 square feet, but they have done some very nice work.
This picture is from up on the hill, looking across the street from the little shack and the two catastrophic condos.  As you can see, it is a mix of very large houses and a handful of old historic shacks.I heard rumor that the reason the shacks aren't purchased, torn down and replaced, is that the historical records of ownership are so convoluted that it isn't clear that you would really own the final result. I'm sure you couldn't get title insurance if that was the case.
There is a noticeable pickup in housing construction now. It is way off the peak, but it sure beats the complete lack of housing work going on last year. 

Up in our neighborhood (April Mountain), we went from having 6 of 39 condos on the market to none on the market.  In fact, realtors were sending out inquiries a few weeks ago.  They had a buyer who wanted something in April Mountain, but there were no listings.  Yeah!  Now make the prices go back up!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tour de Suds 2011

This morning Jasper and I took a walk down to City Park to catch the beginning of the Tour de Suds mountain bike race.  It's held every year as a way to mark the transition from summer to fall.

Jasper was jealous when we arrived and he saw this little dog catching a ride in a back pack.  He was complete happy getting to effortlessly cruise along.  The person providing the transportation was not competing in the race, but it wouldn't have surprised me.
The race is short and steep, 7 miles long with 2700 feet of vertical gain.  It starts on the city streets but switches over to single track.
But this isn't just a bike race.  It's an opportunity to get silly and ride with friends. This guy was lucky we were in the high 40s. Otherwise this would have been a toasty costume.
These folks were all dressed up, but the thing that impressed me most was the fact that the guy was going to do the race on his unicycle.
A different way to get one wheel per rider is to use a tandem.  I can't imagine how hard it is to navigate something this long up the switchbacks.  We really do have mountain biking unicyclists here.
A few bananas, a gorilla (on the left), a gladiator and something that looks like a lime green sperm.
Coordinated bees. Dress together and ride together.  I wonder if they finished this way.
One of my favorites is the guy on the left.  I didn't get a great shot, but he is dressed like a farmer and he has an inflatable sheep in a garter on his back.
Captain Marvel was in the middle of the pack.  Seems like he would be right up front.
And my winner: an inflatable sumo outfit with a pink ballet outfit. He made riding look a lot easier than it should have been.  Could be interesting once he gets into the trees on the single track.
Just another odd day in Park City.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Return of the Mini-Donkeys

If you have followed this blog at all, you know I enjoy stopping close to the Home Depot to allow Jasper to visit with the llamas.
Today he got a rare visit with the mini-donkeys. This was the first for 2011.  I'm not sure where they live when they aren't in this field, but they only seem to join the llamas for a few weeks before heading off to their winter homes.
As for the "mini", you can see how much smaller they are than a llama.  I would guess they are Jasper's height but a good bit thicker.The black one is a foal and what getting pushed in the butt by his mom whenever he slowed down.
Right across the street from the donkeys was a sign that summer is over.  The first batch of leaves are starting to turn.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Confusing sign

I am used to seeing signs in the public restrooms.  The most common are from the health department reminding employees to wash their hands.  Today wash a bit of a surprise.
 I did go back outside and check the sign on the door.

I wonder what they think about the guys who eat at their restaurant.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The variables of a photography trip

I have planned a trip up to Grand Teton National Park in two weeks to do some photography.  For this kind of trip, I should be able to get some decent shots no matter what, but there are a lot of things that can come together to make it spectacular.
  • First is the fall foliage.   When Julie and I visited the park five years ago, it was early-to-mid September and the leaves hadn't started changing.  The end of the month has a much better chance, but every year is different. There are lots of aspens and even the meadows dry out and turn pretty.
  • Will it have snowed?  Snow up on the 13,000 foot mountains can be great for pictures.  Snow down in the valley can be cold, wet and miserable.  
  • Will those damn fires get put out?  There are wildfires burning all over the US right now, but it is the ones in the Pacific Northwest that I care about.  They skank up the otherwise gorgeous scenery.  I actually found a very helpful web site that covers this from the University of Maryland.  They report on it, but of course, there's nothing you can do about it.
  • The size of the moon.  At least this one is completely predictable.  On September 27th, there is no moon, so even the days around it will be very dark.  This makes for some really interesting star pictures away from all the city lights.  I just have to drag my butt out at night in the cold, after long days of hiking around.  I still regret having not done this at Bryce Canyon two winters ago.

Here's a picture I got in 2006, and we had the same problem with fires in Montana.  

Should be fun and it's always a good learning experience.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Tonight's full moon

Bill Benson and I were coming back from a delicious barbeque dinner at Bandits as the moon started coming up over the horizon.  By the time I could get home, grab my camera, change lenses, and hook up the tripod, I had lost the interesting horizon and it was just moon and sky.

Then a set of clouds wandered under the moon, just above the horizon.  The shapes and lighting were very interesting.

The fringes almost look like NASA's pictures you see of nebula. Very wispy with changing color.

Not thrilling, but it sure beats watching TV.  While I was shooting, my associate photographer Jasper (the dog) was busy trying to see the large deer we could hear stomping around in the scrub oak about 50 yards above us.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Damn neighbor dogs

I get so tired of the neighbor's dogs coming over to play with Jasper's balls in our yard.  These even had the audacity to take a nap in our yard after they got done playing.

Oops.  Perhaps those aren't the neighbor's dogs. Looks more like a mother moose and her two calves. Jasper found them when we came home from the grocery store.  I sent him around to the back yard, but he stopped dead in his tracks.  Good thing.  Our neighborhood has already lost one dog to a moose, and nothing says "pissed" like a mom protecting the calves.

One of the calves woke up enough to pose.

The dog was ok with the moose, but the cat was quite ticked off.  Her tail was puffed up and flicked back and forth. She tried staring them down, but they were not intimidated.

Finally they all got up and started munching on my trees.  At least they were just shredding the leaves and not actually ripping the branches off.

Mom was always keeping a sharp eye out for any trouble, but she mostly just let the little ones do their own thing.  Apparenlty this was appreciated because one came over and gave mom a kiss.

This calf decided he/she was full of my trees and laid down for the night.  As I have seen before, laying down is not a graceful thing for a moose.  You start by kneeling down and leaning forward.

Then it looks like you just fall down until gravity has had its way with you.

Right now they've all crashed for the night in the back yard.  We'll see if they are around tomorrow, but if they are, the lawn sprinklers come on.  They poop in giant piles and shred our plants.  Enough is enough.

Rack of bunny

We joined some friends and went out to a local restaurant, Talisker on Main. They serve a fairly high end menu, with some interesting choices.  This was Bobbie's rack of bunny after she had eaten all the good stuff.  They listed it as rabbit, not rack of bunny, but it is what it is.

The good news is that most of the food served was raised or grown locally (the new fad), but I can't tell you where the bunny farmer was.  I wonder if there is the equivalent of "Kobe Beef" for rabbits?

Why is it that the general population thinks that killing some animals to eat is just fine (cows, chickens, pigs, sheep, fish,...) while others are terrible (bunnies, deer, dogs, cats,...)?  I can understand the ones we tend to think of as pets, but why is a deer or a horse different than a cow? Why is a rabbit worse than a chicken?  And of course, each choice is very regional.

Monday, September 05, 2011

I ran in a small 5k race this morning at our city park. It was nice weather, but I wasn't in a very motivated mood. I did ok and apparently finished in second place in my age group, but that may be because there were only two of us.  I have no idea and they haven't posted the results online.

The amazing thing was my next door neighbors, Monty and Hannah Lutzker.  About a week ago Monty thought about having Hannah run the 5k.  She had been hiking a lot and competing in some short triathlons. Hannah is only six years old.

Hannah did amazingly well.  After only a week of training, she ran the 3.1 miles in about 33 minutes, or less than 11 minutes per mile.  I knew she was pretty, but now I know she's an athlete.  I'm going to have to keep training to stay ahead of her.

Here's a leftover picture from my recent half marathon.  I like the pictures from early in the race because I tend to look a lot happier and more comfortable.  And yes, that is the same shirt.