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Dave’s groupies

letter to family written 8 June 2016

Dave stayed local for a few early morning photos experimenting with different compositions. This time Dornan’s in Moose was the subject. Their chuckwagon food service just opened this week, hence the teepee. I voted to have coffee and resume reading the book I fell asleep with last night. This morning was far and away the warmest morning we’ve had here — 50 degrees. So I am watching the thermometer to see when it will be warm enough to go outside and sit in the sunshine!  

Thunderstorms are expected this afternoon so Dave is off quickly to get his daily hike in. This time he starts in Lupine Meadows. An innocuous sounding name that means straight up! I remember it well and I remember being quite mad about the false advertising years go when I got talked into the hike. From there Dave continued on to Garnet Canyon until the snow was too deep on a scree field to safely traverse and turned around. The 7.5 mile hike ascended 1800 feet of elevation. Along the way he met a very curious marmot that came to his feet until Dave reached for the camera, then he’d scamper away, but come back to his feet as soon as the camera was put away. Not so camera shy was the black bear (colored brown) Dave and a pair of hikers saw on the trail. “She was just being a bear,” Dave said. And soon she was back in the undergrowth. From his climb, almost to the tree line, he had quite a view of our temporary piece of the valley.

Meanwhile I took advantage of the glorious weather in my own way.  Sitting at the picnic table I read a little, I sewed a little, and I watched birds and mountains a little. Heaven!! The neighbor’s three legged cat came over for a little lie down on the porch. One of the Gentlemen Caller bison was nearby. With binoculars I saw a dozen birds riding his spine — they looked like dragon scales.

Storm clouds built and collapsed around us until enough of them got their act together to actually drop precipitation. First, was pea-sized hail, which made quite a roar as it pelted the metal roof of the cabin. It upset the bison and we could see the herd, a half-mile away string out into a long line that was running flat out along a ridge and then down into a ravine away from us. After the hail came rain drops that made lemon sized splashes on the gravel driveway. You know who was in his element, camera at the ready, pacing the outside porch observing! In 30 minutes it was all over. 

After dinner we decided to go moose hunting again. At the same spot on the river as last night was likely the same bull as last night. And also like last night, he was laying down in-between some tall bushes — not moving. As we are setting up our cameras in hopes he will become more active, some woman Dave must have talked to yesterday came over and thanked him for the photo location tips he had given her. I decide to walk the river bank and see if I can spot anything else of interest. I didn’t find much and as I walk back, I hear tires slide in the roadside gravel, it sounds like a near accident. I look up and there are a dozen people piling out of the car and running, leaping sagebrush, and gathering around David! {Yesterday some couple from Raleigh NC talked to him — they know one of Dave’s old classmates who is a TV met guy there] Turns out they were Xavier students in the parks for 10 days and 4 college credits. Dave made sure they all saw the moose. Groupies everywhere I say!! A group of friends from France tentatively asked me what did I see. Moose and Beaver were hard to translate, but once I zoomed my camera on the animals, then they could see where to aim their binoculars. So, we saw the Lazy Moose, two beavers (who became alarmed and slapped the water with their tails) and a bald eagle! Not a bad night!

Playing Tourist

“Must love coffee and chocolate,” could not be a better job requirement!

A quiet day in the neighborhood. Drove into town. Dave got a haircut. Wandered the streets. Stopped in a real estate office to do a little house hunting and visit a prospective neighborhood. Had lunch at a great little cafe. Saw a massive pollen cloud driven upriver by a gust front. Watched hail and rain drive the local bison herd into the forest. Read until we couldn’t keep our eyes open.

pollen clouds blowing north up the Teton Valley

Another quiet day

A surprise stack of work e-mails was waiting for Dave this morning, so unfortunately was stuck inside for much of the day. We did fit in a late picnic down by the ferry. The snow melt is said to be at its peak right now — the river was muddy, greased-lighting fast, and high up the banks. Float trips down the Snake River must happen in record time. We decide to have an early dinner so we can go moose hunting earlier this evening — we are tired of hearing everyone say that the Lazy Moose was ‘really active twenty minutes ago!’ 

We went back to the spot we saw moose the last three times. We were the only car there. We walked the river bank for a quarter mile or so, then sat down to wait. An hour passes. Nothing. No eagle. No beaver. No moose. I do see a hole in a tree and watch it. Turns out to be a European Starling nest, with a rather large chick. So we train the cameras on the hole to wait for Mom’s return, and keep scanning the river and shrubs for moose. After 2.5 hours, we gave up. Drove back via the little town of Kelly — one of the homes currently for sale is there and recognized it as we drove around. A very eclectic neighborhood of log shacks, gypsy vans, horse barns, yurts, and one six-figure monster home — all jumbled together. But the location is the other side of the butte from where the cabin is — so you can’t beat the location!

The moon is over the Tetons tonight. I think Dave is going to give taking a few pictures a whirl. Fingers crossed!

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