gulch

Went hiking on Sunday before the snow came. 1.5 miles round-trip through the gulch just outside Castle Valley (off Hwy 128).

alcove nature trail

Today it was windy and warm ahead of the snow storm that arrives tomorrow. Beth and I took advantage of the unseasonable temps and headed toward Fruita, CO, to the Colorado National Monument.

It was our first time going, and we only hiked one trail; the Alcove Nature Trail. An easy hike, mostly level, at around 5800 feet. The highlight was the end of the trail, standing surrounded on three sides by towering rock walls.

snow and sunset

Castleton Tower and Adobe Mesa at Sunset

winter 2017

picture of sadie the dog standing in the snow

It’s been a bad year for precipitation. Since I got back from Thailand, it’s only rained once–maybe twice.

The first snow of the season (something I’d usually expect in November) comes at the very end of December. It sure is pretty, though.

Sadie has rediscovered snow, after Lucy showed her the joy of bounding through it. All of our dogs are at least some part basset, so even a moderate snow storm like this one has the snow up to their chests.

dog jumping in the snow

Fox-like, Sadie likes to shove her face in the snow to check out what’s going on beneath. But she really likes running through it.

Here’s Lucy and Sadie playing:

dogs playing in the snow

PS: Penny, the very serious and dignified basset, wanted no part of the snow or the playing.

found bones

The other day, hiking near Round Mountain in Castle Valley (we call it Round Mound), I spotted this spine + ribs just off the path–probably from a deer, probably killed by coyotes.

It has to have been there for awhile, picked clean and bleached white.

pronghorn

I see small groups of these when I drive to Grand Junction once a week. They are fast, and very wary of cars.

It’s been hard to get a picture of them, but today I captured a few. Really happy with how this turned out:

sunset storms

Something about the geography of our valley makes the summertime pop-up storms avoid us, for the most part. Arches, to the west, and the La Sal Mountains to the east seem to get 80% of the action.

While we could use the water, I can’t complain about the view…

eclipse

Beth and I drove out to the Trail of Time, a path with informational sign-posts in a fossil-rich area (part of the Morrison Formation), just inside the Colorado border.

Among the desert scrub and near an ongoing, active escavation, we watched the eclipse.

Out here, the eclipse approached about 87% totality at 11:40 a.m.

Afterward, we had a great lunch in Fruita, and went wading in the Colorado River.

It was a good day!

scorpion

Nope

My morning routine is pretty solid:
– let dogs out
– drink coffee asap
– have no interactions with arachnids

Found this scorpion in the sink, very startling.

I don’t have the mental fortitude to deal with this so early, so I trapped it under a mason jar, and then put the dish tub a top it so I wouldn’t have to look at it so the cats wouldn’t go after it.

Later in the day Beth helped transfer it outside, where we let it go free.

rufous

Every year in April, hummingbirds arrive in Castle Valley. At first it’s only one species, the black-chinned hummingbird.

Around late July, another species arrives: the Rufous hummingbird. Quick research suggest why: the black-chinned hummingbird travels from northern US/southern Canada to winter in Mexico, while the Rufous hummingbird starts its journey much further north, around Alaska. As it makes its way to Mexico it stops for a bit in Castle Valley.

Yesterday following a rain storm, I went outside to try and snap a few pictures of the Rufous hummingbird–as I have taken several of the black-chinned.

My iPhone camera did all right, but many of the shots (of the unmoving, perched bird) were blurry. Some day I’ll get a better a camera.

Here’s the best shot, full-sized image: