At a rest stop in California, nothing around but the interstate, Joshua trees, and empty space, these ravens hung out near the trash cans looking for easy meals.

Not at all afraid of people. There’s no zoom used on this photo, I just walked right up.


For Beth’s birthday we invited a few to the Zoo Chateau in Denver, CO for a writing retreat.

It snowed almost the whole time.

But we got to visit with (and bottle-feed!) two kangaroos that lived there.

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.

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.


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:



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.


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:


In the little garden just outside my office, I have a few bird feeders set up. Mostly little sparrows and, more recently, lazuli bunting. I love watching them fly about, chattering and arguing about who is entitled to which perch.

Beneath the feeders, even more little birds hop about and eaten the fallen seeds on the ground. There are also little ground squirrels and big fat tree squirrels picking through the blanket of seed husks for something dropped–not just discarded.

Frequently, we see cottontail rabbits passing through or digging into the red topsoil and stretching out in the cooler dirt beneath

My favorite, though, are the hummingbirds.

They arrive in mid-to-late April and stay through early fall.

This year I was ready for them, and had several feeders set up as soon as I saw the first one. In the last two weeks or so, the little birds have really increased in number. It rained today, and the temperature didn’t climb above mid-40s, but the hummingbirds were out in force.

At one point, I saw 6-8 of them drinking from the feeder at the same time, while still others buzzed around them.

Mostly, they spend their time defending the feeder (very territorial, these birds) or trying to slip in and get a drink.

I walked out this evening and stood very still right next to the hummingbird feeder. I’d say I was about a foot or less away. Before too long they came back to the feeder and were as active as ever. I recorded a video as I stood. Quite an experience having them hover near, checking me out, or buzzing my head as they flew past.

Here’s the video:


Bonus, here’s Castleton Tower, Priest and Nuns, and Adobe Mesa lit up during sunset: