Saturday, December 26, 2015

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all our friends in Blogland

This post deviates from the norm in that it is the Christmas greeting that we bogged down in sending as a personal message to our friends.  A few got them, but only a few before Christmas day arrived on our doorstep.  

From her guilty look, Karen and I believe the attached photo is of the author. 

Peck Peck,   Peck Peck  Peck

Oh Hi, it’s me, Stella the Steller (Jay that is)

I’ve hung around this “squirrel cage” too long.  I should fly to someplace warm for the winter — where it doesn’t rain every day.  Yet, I’m like Adam and his fondness for apple pie, and there’re these peanuts.  Buckets of them!

The grouch complains my pecking on the window  — to alert him there are no peanuts — wakens him too early or during his naps (when he’s recovering from my 3:00 AM alarm).  How else would they know the situation is dire?  Besides, when a Stellers Jay is UP, the whole world should be UP.

Sitting at the gentle lady’s window sills where she feeds me, my growing family, cousins, second uncles and other relatives as well as those annoying squirrels, I happened to notice what transpires inside that glass.  Not much!

In fact, absolutely nothing for awhile last winter.  All I saw was a ticket receipt mentioning Sierra Vista, Arizona.  Of course!  It’s famous for birds.  The grouch said the area virtually bristles with old people walking around with binoculars exclaiming about feathered critters I’ve never heard of — nor had they.  Fast becoming bird experts without binoculars, the grouch and gentle lady photographed every moving creature — including the bird watchers.  Back at their new favorite winter hang out, Rail Oaks Ranch, they downloaded the photos to see what they were so excited about seeing.  “Drat — just another brown bird.”  And how the gentle lady could mistake a swarm of a thousand killer bees for a bird baffles me.   She says, “They were moving.” 

I spotted a ticket receipt for a ferry ride to Haines (Alaska) in May.  They and a friend (Brian Paust) stayed 24-miles out the road to escape the crowds — near Canada where they made sorties into alpine country.  There, the gentle lady who can’t get enough of bears, showed her mettle.  Bravely focusing on the rump of a grizzly, perhaps a quarter mile away, she lost her composure when it started running kind of towards our car — apparently running from another bear.  Never mind that we were encased in a 3455 pound steel enclosure not counting the weight of the three occupants and their cameras.  That’s why no images of a “charging” (OK — fleeing) grizzly are among the 57,951 photos and 214 videos downloaded onto this machine.  The grouch’s ears are still ringing from the gentle lady’s admonitions to FLEE.

Returning from Canada an apologetic customs agent confiscated one organic orange.  Rules are rules and Washington bureaucrats figure fruit purchased in Haines might get infested with fruit flies during a couple of hours on the frozen Canadian tundra.  We felt safer after that.  He never queried us about fruit during subsequent re-entries — nor did we have any.  Both he and the grizzly were friendlier than a TSA official who considered the grouch a security threat because he forgot to take off his belt at the Tucson airport.  Would he rather have the grouch’s pants fall down in the X-ray machine?

In August ticket stubs showed the gentle lady flew to Iowa to see her cousin while the grouch explored the Olympic Peninsula with his brother.  There, the grouch learned his head needs a shoe if he’s going to use it as a foot.

Meanwhile, the gentle lady headed “up north” with cousin Connie — to Wisconsin’s Four Mile Lake.  The lasses borrowed kayaks from the Pfeffers to explore every bay and inlet of the lake — on the surface anyway.  Why am I not surprised that they adopted a family of otters — or was it vice versa?

She got a new camera in August and now continually sneaks up on me, my kin or anything else with fur or feathers.  She’s really fond of the rodent clan, especially squirrels and porcupines.  The later remind her of the grouch — except they’re cute and more personable (the porcupines that is).

Occasionally the grouch makes marks on this pecking machine.  He calls it a blog.  That’s where to get their real news (sort of).  It has the catchy address:  Even the grouch who memorizes their credit card number the day after a new one replaces the old — when it gets stolen in cyberspace (3-times this year) — can’t remember their blog address. 

I counted four different humanoids inside their “cage” this year.  Mandy, now a full-fledged Seattle nurse turned up last Christmas.  David, who can repair anything with wires going into it and deliver a pizza without sampling it first arrived shortly afterwards.  And Tamia, who can drive an 18-wheeler and dip net Dungeness crabs (OK, not simultaneously) came for Petersburg’s 4th of July celebration.  Since it was their second anniversary, she brought along her hubby (Cash Philo) who can make an airplane actually fly. 

Squawk!  Someone’s on the stairs.  I’m out of here.

Oh no, peanut shells on our key board — and, what’’s with this gibberish?   Wait!  Fact checking tells me something is missing.  There’s no mention of Christmas, it’s often forgotten meaning and it being merry.  We sure hope it is for all our friends — and these gluttonous jays, too.  We’ll have to fill a stocking with peanuts for them at 3:00 AM Christmas morning.

Dear Friends and Family:

The evergreen tree, which stays green all year, is such a beloved symbol  — reminding us all of life everlasting.  The gift of Jesus is not under the tree but wants to live in our hearts, to be shared all year long!

“Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone,but in
 every leaf in springtime.”
                                                 Martin Luther

In this world we live in there is great brokenness.  We are reminded of this every day as we listen to the news.  We despair and yet the gift of Christmas reminds us to hold steady and not give up — to respond to this broken world with the one thing that can defeat it — Jesus’ Love and His message.

Lord, listen to your children praying
Lord, send your Spirit in this place;
Lord ,listen to your children praying.
Send us Love, send us Pow’r, send us Grace.

We pray that all of you have the most blessed and wonderful Christmas.


Don and Karen

                                                      Lots of evergreens trees on Petersburg Mountain.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Memories and Birds

Maybe you saw me.  I was the kid under the cream-colored cowboy hat — fishing pole in hand, pedaling his red, one-speed American Flyer bicycle along US 40 during the Utah trout season — that is if you drove that route in the mid 1950s.  Interstate 80 has long since eliminated that section of highway and the portion of one of the two streams I fished now lies under concrete.  It’s the one up Parley’s canyon that everyone knew didn’t have fish — the one where I drifted nightcrawlers or flies beneath undercut banks in quest of those “nonexistent trout.”  My canvas creel was usually a bit slimy with our dinner when I bicycled home.

My other destination was the foothills above Salt Lake City where I’d kick around in the scrub oaks “hunting” for pheasants and quail.  I didn’t have a gun, but that didn’t curtail my thrill in the chase.  Sadly, that area, too, has long since disappeared under subdivisions and asphalt. 

When I turned 14 my desire to hunt with shotgun or rifle was satisfied — although not on those hillsides, but rather in the marshes along the Great Salt Lake.  However, I never enjoyed actually shooting a living creature — a feeling of remorse quickly erased my moment of satisfaction.  That all changed when I purchased a Yashica camera with a telephoto lens.  In 1964 graduate students in the University of Alaska’s wildlife department seemed to be ordering cameras from Hong Kong en mass.  I caught the bug, one of life’s fateful decisions that chartered a happy new course for me. 

That course lead to Karen and a mutual love of photography.   Soon, Karen “shot” past me in capturing the thrill of the hunt.  It seems that, while I always appeared as a threat to our quary — anything that moves — critters somehow sense the gentle side of Karen. 

This winter, with her new Canon Powershot SX50 camera, Karen has been particularly successful in “bringing home the bacon.”   But, don’t look for her on her new Trek gun-metal silver 10-speed bicycle wearing a cowboy hat.  You’ll be more successful in finding her hiding behind pilings on the docks in Petersburg’s boat harbor or hunkered down along the Wrangell Narrows shoreline — if you look really hard.  She’s not always very obvious — to critters or us humans.

      Eagle eyed Karen spotted this northern pygmy owl during one of our walks.  I would have walked right past it.

                                   We're suspect this song sparrow would satisfy the palate of the owl. 

                                Even larger birds like the Steller's jay might find itself on the owl's menu.

Another predator -- Yes, the American dipper, famous for walking on the bottom of streams to feed on aquatic insects, also catches fish -- even juvenile salmon.

               Black turnstones over-winter along southeast Alaska shorelines brightening up drab overcast days.

              A pair of male buffleheads cause us to marvel at the diverse plumage of male waterfowl species...

As does this pair of male common goldeneye ducks.  We were surprised to find this species of goldeney because we're more used to seeing...

Barrow's goldeneye.  I always thought the primary difference between the two was she shape of the white patch behind the bill.  However, comparing these two photos, there's much more.

Some people confuse harlequin duck males with wood ducks.  However, harlequins have a considerably different life history, nesting along mountain streams in which they feed and overwintering along coastal shorelines.  Don't look for wood ducks in any of those locations.

When most people think of wild ducks, one of the first species that come to mind are mallards.  Here Karen "captured" a male with his drab (to our eyes) mate.

You can see why this male American wigeon earned the species the name baldpate even though it's head is far from bald, but rather adorned with white feathers.

Speaking of hair dos, this female common merganser looking for it's next fish dinner sports a dandy, only to be outdone by her "cousin," the red-breasted merganser.  Karen still has her eye out  for that well as anything else that moves -- or even blows in the wind.


Saturday, November 14, 2015


Once again, I must confess, I painted two more portraits based on photographs from friend’s Facebook posts.  Unprincipled!  Unscrupulous!  Lacking respect!  Alas, I’m guilty as charged.  My only defense — how could any sane person resist the obvious delight of the “models”— Jilly and Brooke.  

I based Jilly on a photo by Grace Wolf, beginning it last summer.  I soon reached what I thought was the conclusion — except for the background.  I “high fived" myself for a job almost well done.  But wait!, what to do with the background seemed as elusive as an Ivory-billed woodpecker in Arkansas.

So, I photographed her and, with the aid of Adobe’s Photoshop Elements, created several picture packages — you know, the kind your 3rd-grade teacher gave you to take home for approval when your class pictures were passed out.  I hand colored each image with different background colors and themes.  Bingo!  My chief advisor, Karen, gave her approval for one concept.

Enter, fear!  What if…?  So I set Jilly up in my studio while I contemplated Karen's suggested background.  Months passed.  Finally, feeling unusually brave one day I dove in to finish the project.  YIKES!  I rubbed it out.  More time.  Finally, D day arrived and in two bold sessions, Jilly emerged.  Now, my number one and two critics, Karen and John McCabe said “NO, Jilly’s chin needs more work.”  Sigh!  More sessions, and as is my norm, once I modified one area, I ended up reworking her entire face.  “No!”  More sessions.  Karen suggested it might be my developing cataracts.  And then Karen proclaimed “Stop. Jilly is done.”

                                         Jilly    12x12 inches   Alkyd on Canvas  Private Collection

I didn’t have that kind of time for Brooke.  I had a deadline.  Her grandparents are moving out of Petersburg and handing it to them to deal with is so much easier than mailing art — the anxiety of wondering what creative way the postal service might find to convince me it was lost until, surprise, they delivered it. 

                                       Delight   12x12 inches   Alkyd on Canvas   Private Collection

Now, I’m delighted to say “Jilly" and “Delight” are out of my studio and, hopefully have found good homes.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Life on the Docks

Winter in coastal Alaska has a bonus not enjoyed by someone living in — say — Delmar, New York (where I finished high school) or Brookfield, Wisconsin (where Karen grew up).  Like grizzled retirees from those same towns chasing the winter sun, waterfowl and shorebirds, fleeing iced-over ponds and marshes in interior portions of the continent, sashay down to our coast.  Here they happily spend the darkest months indulging in fresh seafood delicacies that dwell in our marine waters.  They join larger members of the animal kingdom whose “wings” just aren’t powerful enough to enable them to fly — except through the water.

                            A pair of Common Loons newly arrived after interior lakes began to freeze over

Barely more agile on land than a bowling ball and even less so in the air, this Harbor Seals epitomizes grace when it "flies" through the water.

This is particularly true at the northern end of Wrangell Narrows, the site of the city of Petersburg, where harbor seals and Steller’s sea lions are joined by thousands of gulls, ducks and shorebirds.  Here upwelling seawater nourishes an ecosystem filled with enough species of marine worms (yum) and fish to keep “everyone” happy with the added bonus of tasty ground-up seafood processing waste from our local canneries.  

A Common Loon wrecks the day of a fish -- but can it swallow that big of a victim without a set of wolf-like choppers?

                                                                     No Problem!  Well, maybe just a little.

For the record, one local cannery’s permit required wastes to be discharged in waters somewhere around 30 or 40 feet below sea level.  Wellllllll…..I once joined inspectors diving on that outfall.  While we navigated to the site, the diver made his final preparations.  Oxygen tanks filled— check.  Dry suit on— check.  Regulator functioning — check.  Tank valve open — check.  A couple of test breaths — check.  Weights on — Check.  Get ready, we’re closing in.  STOP!  REVERSE ENGINE!  WATCH OUT!  DON'T HIT THE PIPE!  If he had jumped over the side of the boat at a deep spot he might have gotten his knees wet.

I never saw the final inspection report.  However, I couldn’t help but notice that currents are so fast at the site that the discharge is well diluted.  Instead of looking like a biological wasteland around the outfall — as sterile as Mars but less colorful — the area looked more like a Hawaiian coral reef.  It’s a great place to cast a fishing lure during higher tide levels.

This week Karen took her new Canon Powershot SX50 camera out on the docks to give it another test run.  The first day, as she slowly crept up on several sleeping seal lions, she paused.  “Why do I have this uneasy feeling?”  The dock began rocking and bobbing accompanied by the increasing volume of a gurgling sound.  Suddenly a geyser of water reminiscent of Yellowstone’s Old Faithful erupted as it gushed out of a standing pipe -- the one under which she was hiding.  Karen had been creeping from pipe to pipe using them as photographic blinds — if one can use a standing pipe as camouflage.  Only Karen would take a shower on the docks — without a towel.  Most others seek out more private facilities.

Nevertheless, brave Karen returned the next day, this time using her navigational skills to avoid that “trap.”  She went to a different dock.

                                                 Steller's Sea Lions know the meaning of comfort.

                                           So who's keeping track of whose flippers belong to who?

            Black Turnstones and Surfbirds seem to sense that Karen is a softy when it comes to predatory instincts.

Petersburg's upside down Harbor Seal cruises through the harbors in it's own style.  Don't knock it until you've tried it.

                                                                           It's downright addictive.

A short-billed Dowitcher proved a challenge in deciding if it was the short-billed species or the long-billed version.  Here's hoping we got it right.  The surfbird was an easy call.

This Bonapartes Gull is unlikely to stick around all winter, but will be another harbinger of spring in five or six months.  Just the thought of that makes us think it's on to something.

                                             You know, there's more than one way to fly.  I wonder......

Monday, October 12, 2015

A Surprise Thanksgiving

Every American knows that Thanksgiving falls on the last Thursday of November.  The salmon trollers, gill netters and seiners have lashed their boats to the dock.  So, too have the halibut and black cod long liners, crabbers, etc.  The harbor is pretty much full, the seas — less so.  The tourists have retreated to more southerly climes.  It’s also a terrific time to kick off Christmas sales.  Yes, the Pilgrims knew exactly what they were doing.

But were they the first?  If you have a calendar you might notice that Canadian Thanksgiving falls on the second Monday in October while the US Thanksgiving doesn’t roll around until the fourth Thursday in November.  Could it be?

          Fall colors brighten an aspen grove along British Columbia's portion of the Yellowhead Highway.

Just one year ago we were reminded why Canadian Thanksgivings are a primo time to drive through southern and central British Columbia. The reason?  Autumn splendor.  The only down side is the closure of some of Canada's number one tourist attractions -- thrift stores.  OK -- Karen is not the kind of girl attracted to the Wallmarts, Disneylands and theme parks of this world.  Neither am I.  Karen’s quest for the ultimate bargain cannot be belittled.  After all, she once spent 50 cents to buy a beat up box filled with prints by some artist we never heard of.  Back home we discovered those prints are valued at somewhere around $5,000.  

     Fall colors at the base of some aspens -- just as "delicious" as any New England sugar maple grove.

Oops, Karen, Are you sure this is the Yellowhead Highway ?  I'm not sure it's the kind of road that connects Prince Rupert, BC with Winnipeg, Manitoba.

During that autumn of 2014 our final day on the road fell on Canadian Thanksgiving.  Adding to the woes of closed thrift stores, we steamed straight into our first encounter with serious rain of that trip.  Blazing golds and reds of central British Columbia gave way to muted ochres and crimsons, then as we closed in on the coast, to the dull browns of sodden alder leaves.   Our spirits sagged knowing the drawing card of fall travel was in it's final throes.

       I don't think we're ever driven past Seeley Lake without stopping and taking at least a dozen photos.

Karen, what are all those little dots on that beaver pond?  They don't look like trout chasing bugs to me.

                            Let's think of it as a demonstration of the power of the sun to recycle water.

However, checking into Tall Trees Bed and Breakfast in Prince Rupert changed everything.  "I'm having a party tonight,”  Andrea, our hostess, announced.  "It's Thanksgiving and you're invited to join us." 

And, so, Karen and I had turkey dinner among an eclectic group of Canadians — Andrea’s “orphan” friends who hailed from all over Canada.  Our spirits soared as we filled our bellies with turkey and all the trimmings, met new friends and then played a game, just like we do at home, until well past our intended bed time.   We had a 3:30 AM check in for our ferry the next day, but Thanksgiving celebrations trumped sleep.  After all, it was Thanksgiving.

   OK, it wasn't pumpkin pie, but we didn't complain.  We just hoped there'd be some left for a second helping.

Andrea's assistant.  Any B&B with a dog automatically gets a 5 star rating with Karen.  Of course Tall Timbers would still get one anyway.

Here are two bonus shots.  On Thanksgiving eve -or was it the eve of Thanksgiving eve,  Either way check out Spotted Lake next time you're traveling in the Osoyoos, BC area.  We heard about it from a friendly Canadian customs agent.


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Karen's New Camera

Karen needed a new camera.  Her Canon Powershot SX20 developed an issue after somewhere around 230,982 shots (give or take one or two).  Turn it on and it would whirr, rasp, grate, and screech as the lens extended.  Same when she zoomed in for one of her fabulous telephoto shots.  Stellers jays scolded in protest as they tried to cover their ears with their wings.  Squirrels fled to their tree-top refuges and threatened to throw spruce cones at her.  Porcupines, too.  She shot the baptism of friends children and the Pastor had to stop mid-sentence while he waited for Karen’s camera each time she zoomed in or out..  The final blow came in August.  Karen’s birthday!  I wanted to give her something special, something more romantic than a bag of lime flavored Tortilla chips.  Ah, a new camera!

Using my well-honed skill in pulling off surprises, I asked Karen what kind of camera she might like, subtly suggesting an upgrade of her Canon Powershot SX20 might be worth considering since she had already mastered the skill of turning it on.

                                                       Karen tests her new camera on muskeg vegetation.

Enter the research phase of our pre-August 19th activities.  Karen spent hours pouring over videos, reviews, analyses and camera comparisons between various models, certainly enough to earn a Masters degree, if not a PhD on the subject.  The latest version, the SX60 sounded like it would better serve as a sinker to keep your bait near a halibut.  The SX50 sounded great for shooting videos while running from a grizzly bear while shooting videos over your shoulder, but not so much so if you didn’t want to change batteries twice during the chase.  Ah, but the SX40.  Yes, the SX40.

With a decision “in hand,” off I went shopping on the internet.  Alas, I soon found that any reputable camera dealer carried the SX50 and SX60, but the SX40 — that model achieved fame back in the days before fire was invented.  Naturally!  OK, Karen, “what is the name of the outfit where you cornered the market on Charles Wysocki puzzles?”

“Oh yeah, eBay.”  And there it was.  The perfect camera, one of what were probably the only three brand new Canon Powershot SX40’s left north of Antarctica.

Now, about that time Karen began preparations for a trip to Iowa to visit her cousin, with the scheme that the two of them would drive up to Wisconsin as soon as Karen recovered from a plane trip that included a flight from Seattle to Denver via Los Angeles — only 800 extra air miles to enjoy staring at the back of the seat in front of her from a distance of approximately 3 inches — close enough to smell the perfume on the lady in the next seat forward — or was it the one in the seat in front of her?

Whichever, I checked on when the order could arrive.   Yes, the expected date of delivery was the day Karen would arrive in Iowa.  Perfect!  I placed the order as Karen and I celebrated.   We talked of the joy she would have getting acquainted with her birthday gift as she lazed on the dock at Wisconsin’s Four-Mile Lake.

As Karen headed south I began tracking the camera order.  Oh oh, all it said was the USPS had received notice there was something for them.  Days passed.  No change.  Finally, the words flashed on our computer screen.  The USPS received Karen’s camera in Brooklyn, NY, the day she and cousin Connie were driving to Wisconsin.  OK, at least Karen was coming back to Petersburg via Iowa so could pick it up on her way back.  She still could use her whirring. rasping, grating and screeching SX20 to terrorize Wisconsin’s chipmunks and jays.

Alas, Karen really did get a surprise for her birthday.  Upon returning to Iowa, she opened the box containing her dreamed of Canon Powershot SX40, and there, nestled in the packing material and grinning back at her was — a Canon Powershot SX50 — the model she had rejected because she didn’t want to be able to take videos over her shoulder of a bear chasing her and have to change batteries twice during the chase.  She knows perfectly well that you don’t run from a grizzly, you leave your husband behind to deal with it.

After much pondering and ruing and everything pensive, Karen brought the camera home.  After another week of pondering and ruing and everything pensive we decided to keep it.  If Karen didn’t like it, then I would use it and we would replace it with a Lumix or Nikon or Olympus or anything besides a Canon Powershot.

Which brings me to this blog post.  This week Karen began playing with her new treasure — her first forays with her brand new Canon Powershot SX 50.  

The test -- Does Karen's adopted red squirrel prefer the SX50, the SX20 or does it matter as long as free peanuts are included?

                                    This saucy Steller's jay agrees with the squirrel.  Peanuts trump noisy cameras.

Another test -- a hike around Man-Made-Hole, a gravel extraction site the USFS connected with an adjacent stream to form a pond complete with an inviting trail around it.

                                                                                An alder leaf over the trail.

                                                                                  And one on the pond.

                                                   A Sitka Blacktailed Deer likes the quieter camera, too.

                              Meanwhile several coho salmon in "fall" spawning colors have something else on their minds.

                                                               Crab apple leaves on the bank above the salmon.

 Bunchberry, also known as Canadian dwarf dogwood leaves lend a splash of color to a muskeg during another test.

                                                                             As do these bog cranberries.

Somehow Karen got so absorbed in shooting close-ups, she forgot about testing the camera on distance shots.  Next time.  Meanwhile, her ever skillful husband managed to reformat the camera to a square format.  Now I have to figure out how to get it back to our preferred rectangular shape.  The testing continues.

Friday, September 18, 2015

One Way to Get a Fish Dinner

He was standing by the road in downtown Petersburg, his thumb out, fishing pole in hand.    We knew him, had even given him a ride before, so pulled over. 

“Where you headed, Lorry?”

“Ohmer Creek,”. he responded in his characteristic gravelly voice — a voice often heard on KFSK, Petersburg’s public radio station where Lorry volunteers to host an eclectic mix of shows from classical music to rock.

“You’re in Luck, That’s where we’re headed.”

Only Karen and I were headed off for a hike on one of our favorite trails while Lorry was headed for one of his favorite fishing holes.  With a short detour we delivered him unscathed to his destination with a promise to check to see if he wanted a ride home when we headed back to town.

                       A handicap-accessible portion of the OhmerCreek Trail parallels our favorite beaver pond.

                   Nearby looking towards the pond.  Come to think of it, perhaps I should include a shot of the pond.

There:  This is a blog readers challenge.  Use the reflection of a leaning spruce tree in the beaver pond along with the image of the shoreline and that of seeds of something washed against the foot bridge to create your own image of the pond.

Oh yes, the foot bridge.  We intercepted the migration of a porcupine crossing the bridge.  After several unsuccessful attempted detours he or she retreated.  Good thing, too.  It was much safer where it came from.

For us the day proved to be the kind that makes us love the mystery of this coastal rainforest with the added bonus of autumn colors — at least a few in places where they decided it was time to shed their summer green mantle.  We lingered long and often.

                 By lingering (waiting for me) Karen discovered this Sitka Spruce limb cut down or off by a beaver

                        And these low-bush cranberries which had a short survival span after she spotted them.

This is about a colorful as alders get in fall.  Although they are related to birch trees, one thing they do not share is the wonderful yellow color as summer transitions into winter.  However, their bright spring ""plumage," not dissimilar form these fall colors, somewhat makes up for it after a drab winter.

                Karen "waltzes" through the muskeg adjacent to the trail being careful not to step on any cranberries.

At last we completed the two mile circuit the trail offered over a variety of surfaces — older gravels melded into the forest floor, across a weathering bridge we dread seeing the day it has to be replaced, down slippery single plank boards, over an area of little more than mud holes between exposed roots and finally a brand new elevated gravel pad that removed us psychologically from the forest until the route ended on on a gravel road for the last half mile or so — the last segment  decorated with seemingly lost wooly bear caterpillars, the larval stage of tiger moths.

Woolly Bear Caterpillar on an alder leaf.  Now I've been seeing these caterpillars in the fall for a number of years, and rescuing them as they crossed the road for the same number of years -- tossing them into the grass, but it finally took Karen's keen observational skills on this hike to figure out where they really belonged.  Yep -- they like munching on alder leaves. 

As promised we returned to Lorry’s fishing hole to see if he was ready to “hitchhike” with us home.

“Naw, I think I stay a while longer.  Oh, would you like a coho,” he said pointing to a large, bright salmon laying nearby.  We drooled.

“Are you sure you don’t need it?” I replied, but Lorry was sure and in the end he added a nice cutthroat trout to the ante.

                                                              Lorry and his gift.  He even cleaned it for us.

And all we wanted to do was give a kind gentle man a lift.