Sunday, May 31, 2009

Hope and Change

A little hope and change" (or maybe "shuck and jive") on the weather front this morning. The Freeze Warning has been dropped to be replaced by a Frost Warning.

Issued by The National Weather Service
State College, PA
5:50 am EDT, Sun., May. 31, 2009




So instead of getting into the 20s it will "only" get to the low 30s. That's good...right? My tomatoes will still get covered. The beans and squash will have to fend for themselves.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Global Warming my A**!


Monday is June 1st, right? Should be warm weather, no? So explain this little bit of hoopla:


Issued by The National Weather Service
State College, PA
3:37 pm EDT, Sat., May. 30, 2009





What the hey!? We ARE one of the northern most mountains (there's only one ridge between us and NYS) so that's basically the Aerie. Could be a good thing that 1) cold air sinks and 2) we are at 2100 feet in elevation on the side of the mountain. The drop-off is some 700 feet to the valley floor so there's plenty of area for that cold air to sink.

We had a similar warning for the Aerie just two weeks ago.

Friday, May 29, 2009


Speaking about the log ends of the cabin... It took a few years but a pair of Robins finally decided to build a nest on one corner of our log home. The only surprise about that is that it took over two years (none in 2007 or 2008). We had to evict a Robin from the basement and the front entry way several times when we were constructing in 2006. We'd knock the nest down and the next day the foundations of a new one would be constructed. (The damn bird got up earlier than we did and lived on site so he had an hour or two head start. We didn't arrive until 7:30 AM and left around 5 PM each day.) We've had Robins nesting in the pines around the clearing but this was the first on the house.

Robins' Nest

It's definitely not one of the prettiest nests I've ever seen. I'll blame that on the use of man-made materials. The long plastic strips are from the tarps that wrapped the logs when they were delivered. I used one to cover the firewood and it weathered into these 3/16 inch wide ribbons. They were plentiful and available close to the nest site. A true Robins' nest of woven grasses and mud can be quite lovely. This jumble? Not so much.

Its location gets high grades, however. On the top most log end it's well out of harms way. It's under the eave so it's protected from the rain. It's on the southeast corner of the house so it's sheltered from the northwest winds.

Robin babies.

I will wait a bit to tear down and discard this ugly nest because--if I count noses correctly--there are three baby Robins in there at the moment. They remained perfectly still as I took their portrait so whether there is a fourth in the background or not is impossible to tell unless I climb a ladder.

They look to be a week or so from leaving the nest. There was considerable down visible from my vantage point but the coloration suggests they have started to grow "real" feathers. Certainly, they are being well looked after as Mom and Dad were hanging out in the trees a few feet away and giving me what for as I took these photos.

Luna Moth at the Aerie

When we arrived home in the wee hours of Sunday morning (2 AM), I noticed a Luna Moth fluttering around the lights outside the garage and front door as we unpacked the truck. It disappeared and i thought nothing of it until Terry called me into the garage this morning. After five days inside the garage, this moth had finally reappeared. It was tangled in some cobwebs and looked considerably worse for wear. It had spiderwebs wrapped around its legs and the tips of its wings and "tail" were shredded and bedraggled. I removed the webs and set it outside on one of the log ends where it promptly got blown about.

It was still alive and moving feebly but it doesn't look like it will survive. Based upon the "fuzziness" of its antennae I am assuming that this is a male. They use scent to track down females and the antennae are their olfactory system.

Luna Moth

These are beautiful moths--among the largest in North America--and it always disturbs me to see one die, but they are far from uncommon or endangered as some think. We had many appear in the shrubs along the edge of the clearing when we were constructing our home. A temporary street light that served as our night protection system early on attracted them to the area and, as to be expected, that brought bats out to feed. Only the wings would remain to tell the tale.

Aerie Visitor

I mentioned last night that we had a raccoon visitor on the deck an hour or so before it got dark. This critter made itself right at home and helped itself to the sunflower seeds in the tray mounted on the deck rail.

Getting comfy.

Saying grace.

Prepared to stuff face.

Stuffing face.

I let it eat for a little while before going out to see if it would demonstrate normal cautionary behavior when confronted (i.e. run away). It did which made me happy as it meant I didn't have to shoot it. As I said, nothing worse than having a rabid raccoon around.


The trip to the wine country of the Finger Lakes will have to wait. While the weather as cooperated (mostly) I woke up this morning with sinuses as solid as concrete and (somehow) post nasal drip at the same time. No way could I really enjoy the delicate fragrances and tastes of wine right now.

All sorts of pollen alerts out and I think that may be what's hit me. I was fine until we got back from out west. Different trees and flowers plus the mold and mildew from the wet forest floor. *sigh*

Another day.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Aerie Evening Report: May 28, 2009

Not much to write about today (or yesterday for that matter).

I'd rather not discuss the news right now as so much of it is depressing. From the government takeover of GM and the total dissing of the bond holders in favor of the unions who created much of the problem; the no-pay, no-play choices being made in the closing of car dealerships--and the fact that closing the dealerships makes no sense to start with as they operate independently from the manufacturing wing; the nomination of a judge who has shown decided leanings in favor of discrimination as long as it's white males being hurt and who has stated that the 2nd Amendment doesn't mean what it says; a Speaker of the House who thinks it would be just dandy for the government to control our every choice as long as that saves the earth from the boogieman of global warming;.... It all just makes my blood boil.

Then again, I've come down with a bit of a summer cold or perhaps an allergic reaction to something in bloom. Although, the allergy pills I've been taking don't seem to affect my symptoms--**cough**cough** which include a cough and enough phlegm to refloat the Bismarck, I guess I should feel lucky that whatever is bugging me has not sunk to my chest but remains in my throat and above.

Today was overcast, dreary and muggy...which was better than expected. The temperature didn't get much above 65 degrees because the sun never did come out. The forecast T-storms stayed far to the west along the shores of Lake Erie as they headed northeast into New York.

Other good news: the truck got its overdue maintenance yesterday and the guys at the shop got to see what I was talking about when I said the windshield molding had blown away. They ordered the part after calling California to find out what part it was. (The darn thing is replaced so seldom that it is not in their handy dandy computer program! Yet I'd bet that every body shop and windshield installer could have told them what it was.) They told me it could be a couple of days before they get it in then called today to say they already had the part. (They must have sent it priority mail or FedEx.) I'm scheduled to have the work done on Monday.

Due to the truck work, I'll put off going to the Bolt Hole until at least Tuesday. I had planned on going up Saturday afternoon or Sunday but the truck comes first.

I did some repairs to two Adirondack chairs we have on the deck. They are made of 1x pressure treated lumber (not carried by Lowe's I discovered) and one seat slat warped quite badly and one leg split and broke in the area of a large knot. Both conditions are difficult to avoid in the pine they use in pressure treated lumber.

I also put up some poultry (chicken) wire fencing along the side of one of the vegetable beds. I thought a rabbit had gotten in to eat some of my bean plants, but upon closer examination I concluded it was just bad seed growth.

We had a visitor this evening after dinner. A solitary raccoon came up on the deck to help itself to some sunflower seeds. It's been to the feeders on the side a couple times just before sundown but today it was out on the deck a good hour and a half before dark. It lay out in full stretch and shovelled seed into its mouth as swiftly as it could. I snapped quite a few pictures of it through the front glass--some using the flash--and it never acted perturbed that it was on not-so-candid camera. I'll post one tomorrow after I've gone thorugh them all.

I finally decided to go out on the deck and scare it away. (If it didn't scare, I might have to shoot it.) As soon as it heard the side door open, it was on its way. That's a good thing. A diseased 'coon is nothing to mess with.

If the weather holds off tomorrow Terry and I may take a drive up along Saranac Seneca Lake (DOH!) and do some wine tasting and perhaps lunch/dinner.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Evening report from the Aerie

It was a mostly cloudy and chilly 50 degrees when we got out of bed this morning. Cold enough that the window fans had quit blowing of their own accord and cold enough that a hot breakfast of eggs and toast washed down with hot coffee was necessary.

Terry went down to Curves (a daily exercise and gossip collection routine) and picked up our mail on her way back. Lots of mail. Much garbage mail, many magazines and a stack of bills only some of which required immediate attention. The rest aren't due until well after the first of the month. (The latest gossip had to do with the final approvals given to Lowes to start construction of their store on old Route 15 south of Mansfield and the opening of a Wingate Hotel in the new industrial park off Route 6 and adjacent to the new Route 15. The ladies tend to look at the big picture and leave the soap opera personal stuff alone.)

Around noon, the sky, which had been thickening all morning finally began to spit rain. A slow, steady, soaking rain has been falling ever since. Getting the plants in the ground yesterday may have been a good move. The rain will help them get started even if the cool temperatures slow their growth. Fifty-one was the high and it's been in the 40s for the rest of the day.

I've got an appointment tomorrow to get the Tundra checked out. It's due for its 20K service--it actually has 25K on the odometer after the long trek to the west coast and back--and I want to see about getting the windshield molding replaced. That's the piece gone with the Wyoming wind. The service manager on the phone didn't understand what I was talking about. He seems to think this is a part of the windshield itself, so tomorrow's visit will be part show-and-tell. Sure hope I don't find out I shouldn't have been driving with this molding missing.

I got 8 solid hours of sleep last night but the body is still trying to recover from the marathon we pulled on Saturday into Sunday. As I said then, I never did get to sleep Saturday night--I didn't even lay down. Conclusion: All-nighters were meant for persons younger than I. This gloomy day hasn't perked me up any, to be sure. It'll be an early night.

Some random thoughts on recent trip

We've been home for a bit now and gotten used to the idea. Some outside chores (grass, garden--more plants, shed--ant infestation!) have been taken care of as well as grocery shopping and laundry. So I guess it's time to reflect on the experiences of our trip to the west coast and back.

We covered over 6700 miles in our journey going out on I-80 (most of the way) and returning on I-90 (most of the way). We traveled major highways and local ones through areas we had not been through before. Besides attending the wedding of Rick and Sandy in Eugene, we got to spend time with Terry's sister and her family who came up from the San Francisco area and out from Chicago. We reconnected with an old college friend now working as a director in the BLM out of the Oregon offices. We briefly got to visit Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park. We spent a morning birding at the Migratory Bird Refuge outside of Logan, Utah. And we took a short drive along Route 101 along the Oregon coast.
Many places we saw need to be visited again...and again. Our necessarily brief visits did not suffice. The Bird Refuge, the national parks and the Oregon coast will require additional time. Even though we've been to the Tetons and Yellowstone before, they are always beautiful places to visit. The coast, actually any coast, requires getting down to the water's edge and searching the tidal pools and debris carried in by the waves to really enjoy the experience.
The Interstate Highway system is a blessing and a curse. It's nice to be able to get on it and go. But because of its very nature of promoting speed through rural expanses, you really do not get the flavor of the country you're traveling through. Sure, it's better than flying over the middle of the country but there are all those small towns that are by-passed.

The system is also getting old. Much of it is in need of (and getting) repair/expansion. I've joked of how in most states the construction crews should start at mile 0 and work to the end of the road. When finished they go back to 0 and start over again. Gives meaning to the never ending road that goes on and on.
Speaking of repair/reconstruction. I do wish I had just one nickel for every reflector barrel (the Daleks of road construction), stick (something new: like a barber pole only in orange and silver), or paddle board (they resemble Gumby right down to the two "eyes" that are hand holds at the top, though some have only one) that are set out on the roads to direct/alter traffic patterns around construction sites.
I like traveling westbound for several reasons. 1) I like being able to drive early in the morning and not have the sun shining in my eyes. 2) The mile markers along the roads count down the miles as you cross a state. (Miles are counted from west to east and from north to south for some reason.) You can actually see progress being made as the numbers decrease to 0. Heading east, unless you know for certain what the last mile is, you have only the increasing miles to judge progress while the final goal is unknown.
Trying to bird at 70-75 mph is damn near impossible, but there are some birds that really stand out.

Coming east, we found clear evidence for South Dakota's love of the Ring-necked Pheasant. We saw dozens of them along the edge of I-90...alive and dead. Apparently mating pheasants are as dumb as deer, possums and skunks when it comes to tractor trailers. A short walk along the roadway could have produced all the feathers needed for a decade of fly tying.

Sandhill Cranes, while more difficult to spot in the marshes and fields along the way because of their coloration are really easy to identify when they are seen. And there were lots to be seen in eastern Minnesota and Wisconsin.

White Pelicans are easy to spot and identify when you see them on a small pond.
Wyoming is windy! But it is also one major oil producing state along our route. There were a few wind farms to be seen but more oil fields. (Perhaps Wyoming is too windy for the turbines. I could easily see them getting torn apart in the 50 mph--gusts to 75 mph--winds we ran into.) Minnesota actually had more windmills than any other state we passed through. We saw some in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wisconsin as well. Even when the wind was barely more than a whisper, the blades on the turbines were spinning at one revolution per 4-5 seconds. As majestic as they look, they will not, however, produce nearly enough energy to even supply a quarter of our electrical needs as a nation.
The Tundra was a very comfortable ride. We had no mechanical problems to speak of and only suffered at the hands of the Wyoming wind when the molding at the top of the windshield was blown away. The 5.7 liter 8-cylinder engine produced approximately 17.5 mpg despite the steep climbs, strong headwinds and some city driving. It seemed to prefer the 60-65 mph range best and yielded over 21 mpg through the Tetons and Yellowstone. Gas prices rose during our trip from $2.15 or so $2.45 (same station to start and end the trip) and averaged $2.34. The highest price we paid was in Yellowstone NP where it cost $2.70 at Old Faithful.
Fuel cost us about $850 and motel rooms averages $85-90 per night. (The one in Eugene being the priciest of course, since it was the one we stayed in the longest.) As a result, it's not an economical substitute to a cross-country flight. However, we would not have done half the things we did if we had flown out. There would have been no birding in Utah, or trip through the Teton and Yellowstone parks. No, instead of those activities, we would have been crammed into a tin can filled with strangers and their children for four hours, and then have had to switch to another, smaller tin can in either San Francisco or Denver (with out the opertunity to visit either place) to complete out trip. Yeah, that would have been fun.
Every once in a while I have this road-trip thingy inside that demands to be let out. The short jaunts to the Bolt Hole (225 miles one way) may keep it at bay as will a circuit of the Adirondack Park (125 miles) via Routes 8, 30 and 12. A trip down to Hamburg or Harrisburg to visit Cabela's or Bass Pro (140-150 miles round trip) may work for a week or two. But they are mere day trips and there's still that thousand-plus miler inside waitng, lurking and ready to take control and nothing will help but that I get out on the road and go. That desire has been put to rest--for now. The small kernel(s) of the next road adventure(s) is(are) already there inside growing a little larger each day.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day

Not to rain on anyone's parade, but I've seen several bloggers and talking TV heads the last few days touting the meme of saying "Thank You" to serving military and veterans this weekend as part of the Memorial Day celebration. Some went so far as to stress that folks take time out from family fun activities to do so.

Now that's swell and all, but that display of gratitude should be done on a regular basis whenever one meets an active, or retired military person. It should be noted that we have a holiday for just such a public display of gratitude. It's called "Veterans' Day" and occurs on November 11th.

Memorial Day is set aside to give thanks to those who gave all in the service of our country. Men and women who's lives were cut short in their efforts to protect and defend the ideals of freedom. These are the ones who gave all in service to the United States of America.

Monday is a day for the rest of us to give thanks and remember these fallen heroes.

Regardless of what you are doing on Monday, at 3 PM stop and pause for a moment of silence. And remember. Someone somewhere paid the ultimate price so you and I can enjoy the freedoms we have today.

Let us remember and strive to see that they did not die in vain.

Aerie Chores: Gardening

Two weeks away and the lawn looks like a jungle. We hired a friend to in to feed the cats and clean up their litter box, but the lawn and seeds I planted outside were left to themselves. Over the course of the two weeks it looks like we had over two inches of rain according to the gauge. (I'll know more precisely later when I empty it.)

The rain, combined with some cool nights, produced good growth in the onions, lettuce, and spinach. The beans have sprouted and most seem to have survived but they're a bit spindly.

As for the broccoli; there are just two plants in the three rows of seeds I planted. Same for the zucchini and cucumbers. Four hills of each and there's nary a sprout showing more than the seed leaves. (Of course, the cold nights might have something to do with that. Zukes and Cukes are definitely warm weather plants. I guess I'll have to go to Agway and get some of their started plants.)

As for today, I'll be cutting grass right after dinner.

UPDATE: Grass is cut and trimmed. I had to run to Wally World to get some oil for the 4-cycle gas trimmer. I didn't have any in stock. Once the oil was topped off and the gas tank filled, the trimmer started up on the fourth pull. Terry pulled some weeds from the flower and herb beds as well as clipped the grass around the Rose bush. The rose looked dead 4 weeks ago but shot out some stems soon after the temperature warmed up. One is over two feet long and is sporting a bud. That probably means we're due for a visit from the local deer.

It's been raining hard just to our south along the I-80 corridor and to our east along I-81 but here we've only had overcast skies. Tomorrow is supposed to be better but the rain, in the form of scattered T-storms (40-50% chance) will return on Tuesday and linger through Thursday.

End of the trail

For those of you wondering how the marathon road day ended....this is not it.

(First seen at Erica's Blog)

I can not, however, speak for my son's previous cross-country treks. He did report that everything went fine on the longest one (Idaho to NJ; non-stop) except for the hippos dancing in hula skirts on the dashboard as he crossed PA.

Nor did it end like this:

Photo of End of the Trail by James Earle Fraser (1876-1953) as it appears in the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, OK. (No, we did not stop there...this time. But you can click here to go to the Museum's web site for more information.)


We departed Albert Lea, MN at 6:30 AM CDT on Saturday and rolled in to the Aerie at 2:15 AM EDT on Sunday morning. A distance of 1050 miles or so covered in approximately 18 hours and 45 minutes with stops for meals (3), potty (2) and gasoline (3) included. (Some of the stops were multipurpose but none was more than 30 minutes.) After brief morning showers, the weather cleared and we had no rain at all through Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio or Pennsylvania.

Terry did almost three hours of driving in Ohio...during daylight...without rain. I usually let her drive the more challenging stretches that have included severe thunderstorms, fog, construction sites, etc. or all of the night, so she was shocked and pleased to have been given such a relatively easy stretch at the wheel.

More to be written later on Sunday when I've had a chance to get my thoughts organized.

PS: The cats were extremely pleased to see us.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Major travel day

We pulled out of Gillette, WY early this morning and headed east across the antelope plains into the rising sun. And there were herds of pronghorn up and about as we drove to South Dakota.

This is a road trip though the northern plains and that means only one thing...a stop at Wall Drug was mandatory.
Wall Drug, South Dakota

We lingered over a second breakfast/early lunch and then hit the road again still heading east. We stopped at the visitors' center on the east shore of the Missouri River where they have a wonderful display dedicated to the Lewis and Clark expedition and its travel through South Dakota.

Then it was east once more as we headed to Mitchell, SD and the Cabela's store there. We planned to make this a lunch stop at Cabela's but were disappointed to learn they had closed their cafeteria last year. Just not enough custom, the clerk said. Oh, well. A brief tour of the store to pick up one or two items and then Hardee's for lunch and back on I-90 east bound.

Out of South Dakota and into Minnesota we went, finally stopping at Albert Lea for the night.

Our total distance traveled for the day was around 660 miles (about 9 hours driving) but we spent time at both Cabela's and the visitors' center (about 1 1/2 hours). Plus we "lost" and hour due to crossing a time zone (Mountain to Central) in the center of South Dakota. Lets call it a 10 1/2 hour day plus the hour "lost" to the time zone gods.

Tomorrow will also be a long day but virtually all of it will be spent behind the wheel as we will go all the way to the Aerie crossing the rest of Minnesota, portions of Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania. MapQuest says that's about 1065 miles and 17 hours (add one more for a time zone leap and say 18 hours) which should get us home a little after 1 AM Saturday night/Sunday morning. There's nothing we wish to see between here and there so gas, potty and meals are the only stops we'll be making.

Back in 1993 we drove non-stop (except for a three hour visit to the Cabela's in Sydney, Nebraska) from Denver, Colorado to northern New Jersey. That little trip was 1775 miles and took 35 hours. (Including the Cabela's stop that seems ridiculously long today having seen the store again.) And my son has been known to do crazy things like drive non-stop from Moscow, Idaho to Morristown, NJ and from Jackson, WY to the Aerie in 36-40 hours...alone.

Okay, I agree. We're not that young any more, but we should still be able to handle this. Especially since I've actually gotten Terry to drive the Tundra a little--one hour yesterday and another today. She'll get her turns behind the wheel tomorrow.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Driving east out of Yellowstone

This morning (Thursday), Terry and I left Mammoth Springs Hotel after avoiding the bison nursery in the front yard and headed east through the park. Although the road through Dunraven Pass was closed and the Route 212 outside the park and heading toward Red Lodge was also still snowed in, we wanted to exit the park via the northeast gate and head down to Cody, Wyoming...and that is what we did. (They are hoping to have those roads open to traffic on Friday.)

The drive along the northern edge of Yellowstone Park was mostly uneventful. The bison and elk were again up and out in large numbers for the morning show and we saw one pronghorn antelope within the park. We also got to see some of the marmots, an osprey on its nest and a few mule deer. Traffic? Non-existent. This may be the ideal time to visit the park. Kids are still in school and the weather is iffy so folks aren't in vacation mode yet. Those who are traveling are retirees, college students (who have just gotten out of school) and couples with out kids.

Anyway...back to the travel. We drove east, as I said, through Yellowstone Park and out into Shoshone National Forest lands, on to Cody and then across the basin to and over the Big Horn Range. Highways 296, 120 and 14 were our friends. We got to see where Chief Joseph and his band of Nez-Pierce escaped Howard's troops...again, before they headed up into Montana. We drove switchback after switchback first coming down out of Yellowstone through Silver Gate and Cooke City then climbing the Big Horn Range and then back down again. And the truck loved every second of it. Especially the downhill runs. It's been averaging 20-21 mpg in the high country. I might just have to ask the mechanic to adjust the engine to run lean.

We stopped frequently to admire the scenery, read the historical and geological markers and even stopped at the falls on the Shell River in the Big Horn Range just to walk around. Even so, we go as far as Gillette, Wyoming by 5:30 PM and decided to crash for the night.

A small herd of bison along the Lamar River valley in Yellowstone.
No rollerskating allowed.

A view in NE Yellowstone (I think)

Geology happened here!
Along the Shell River in Big Horn National Forest

More geology along the Shell

The falls on the Shell River

The evening show

Between Old Faithful and Mammoth Springs, there were several stops to view the critters who had come out to play. Some of those stops were by choice and some were due to the critters literally.



Bison and calves

Bison hold up cars

Tuesday's Travel

Tuesday Morning, Terry and I backtracked our way out of Eugene and headed east. The ride up Route 126 along the McKenzie River to Sisters wet but grand. From there we took a more northerly route heading toward Ontario and then Idaho Falls. We didn't make it because we stopped at the John Day Fossil Beds along the way. So we stopped in Jerome, Idaho instead.

John Day Fossil Beds Visitors' Center

The visitors' center was well worth the stop. The displays are excellent and the early Age of Mammals found in the area are well documented.

Wednesday morning we left Jerome heading to Jackson, Wyoming for lunch and then north through Grand Teton National Park then on into Yellowstone Park. Jackson has grown considerably since we last visited in 1993. But the Tetons are just as beautiful.

Grand Tetons

Yeah, there was lots of snow even down along the roads driven by visitors. Snow was also abundant throughout the southern parts of Yellowstone Park. Much of Yellowstone Lake was still covered with ice as was smaller Lewis Lake.

Lewis Lake, Yellowstone National Park

We drove to Old Faithful and stopped to walk the short geyser trail, to watch THE geyser erupt, and then have dinner at the Old Faithful Inn.

Old Faithful

Old Faithful Inn

We tried to get a room at the Lodge but they were booked for all but the most expensive rooms and we opted not to spend $250 for just one night. Instead, the clerk at the Lodge called the Mammoth Springs Hotel and found us a room with a bath for half that amount. So, after dinner at the Inn, we drove north to Mammoth Springs for the night. Our trip would have been more swift, but all the animals came out to play. While the snow virtually disappeared as we headed north, the bison and elk came out for the evening show...and everyone was stopping to enjoy the action.

More on that and Thursday's drive to Gillette.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

More from the wedding

After the vows, rings and dog tags (yes: dog tags) were exchanged, the contract signed by the happy couple, the bride was kissed and the pronouncement of "man and wife" was made, it was time to be presented as Mr. and Mrs. for the first time.

Mr. and Mrs. (Photo by Terry)

Then it was back on the pedicabs to return to the hotel for a celebration with food, drink, entertainment and friendship.

And they're off! (Photo by Terry)

John (the bride's father) and I did what Dad's usually do: cleaned up after the kids. But this time we had a lot of help in the form of several of the other guests. Chairs were returned to the park shed and the podium and pavilion (unused because it was such a nice day) ended up back in the Tundra to be returned to the rental center on Monday.

Since the guest list was small and intimate (just 30 or so attendees including the preacher and her husband) there were few eligible for the traditional bouquet and garter toss--so they only did the former with both males and females participating.

Sandy gets ready to throw her bouquet. (Photo by Joated)

The youngest (and I suppose quickest) person in attendance, Adam, caught the flowers. Partly because his older brother avoided them.

Despite (or maybe because of) being a Santa Cruz Slug,
Adam ended up with the flowers. (Photo by Joated)

Being small and intimate, Rick sort of lead everything through the evening, announcing when chow was ready and assembling every one for the cutting of the cake--a small, elegant cake just big enough for everyone to share. The topper decoration was unique and personal. It consisted of caricatures of the bride and groom. Sandy in her gown stands before her two pet rats who are, in turn, standing on her law books. Rick stands poised with his rake in hand. He says it's the one tool he uses everyday and is "special" to him.

Cake topper. (Photo by Joated)

The cake was cut with all due ceremony and there was no smearing of the face. (I suppose too many guests--and the bride--having graduated from law school the day before made it impossible to even consider it. That and the fact that the groom climbs trees and uses chainsaws on a daily basis.)

Cutting the cake. (Photo by Joated)

When the ceremonial activities and dinner were over, it was time for entertainment. Rick and Sandy decided against a dance floor. (It would have been empty most of the time.) Instead they hired Mr. Bill of Mr. Bill's Traveling Trivia Show to run a contest pitting youth against wisdom.

Mr. Bill and Rick (Photo by Jessica)

Mr. Bill and his daughter Tina emceed a trivia contest that pitted 20-somethings against one another and versus the adult table. (Although the adult table broke into three teams also: San Francisco, Chicago and Pennsylvania.) One 20-something table banded together as The Eavesdropping Sore Losers and won the trivia contest by by a mere two points over The Joats (Terry and me). If it hadn't been for the 90's music questions--oh, and the basketball ones, too--we coulda/shoulda won.

Everyone had a great time enjoyed themselves.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sunday afternoon in the park

Sunday afternoon, my son, Rick, married Sandy in Eugene, Oregon. The ceremony took place under a cloudless sky beneath THE cherry tree in the Owen Rose Garden on the banks of the Willamette River. (And it is one heck of a cherry tree!)

At the ceremony--which was pretty much written by Rick and Sandy except for the Oregon legal parts--the Best Man (Rick's cousin Adam) read a very brief biography that went something like this: Sandy grew up in Chicago, Rick in New Jersey. She went to college in Iowa (Grinnell) and he went to Idaho. They met in Armonk, NY on the Hudson River. She went to law school in Eugene while he went off to Iraq with the Marines and Guyana to teach. He finally returned to the US and went to Eugene to become an arborist while she graduated law school--yesterday. Today (Sunday) we are here to see them wed.

Before the ceremony: American (Neo-)Gothic.
Where's the pitchfork? (Photo by Jessica)

Most of the bridal party took pedicabs or a shuttle bus supplied by the hotel from the hotel to the park. All except Jacki, the brides sister and Maid of Honor, who was transporting a wheelchair-bound guest. She got lost getting from the hotel on one bank of the river to the park on the other. And she had lent her cell phone to someone else so she could not be contacted. That might be the reason for the pensive looks in the photo above. I trust it was not second thoughts.

Jacki did arrive some 10 minutes late and the ceremony progressed.

The wedding party was small consisting of just:

Best Man Adam (Rick's cousin)
& Maid of Honor Jacki (Sandy's sister)(Photo by Jessica)

Here comes the groom:

Terry escorted her son to the altar. (Photo by Joated)

(When Rick was in High School he was asked to write an essay on his most stressful moment--and couldn't think of a one. He failed that essay but I be he could ace it now!)

Here comes the bride!

John escorts his daughter to the altar. (Photo by Joated)

Even the preacher was a bit nervous. It was her first time officiating a wedding.

Another first timer. Annette did a fine job. (Photo by Jessica)

More later. This morning (Tuesday) Terry and I started heading east. The bugger about doing that is you lose time while covering no distance every time you cross a time zone. On the road for twelve hours today but did less than ten behind the wheel. One time zone, and some sightseeing (John Day Fossil Beds) accounted for the rest. I'll have more to say on that and more from the reception tomorrow.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Wedding Bells are ringin'

Today's the day.

Richard Bernard will be getting hitched (officially) to Sandra Marie in the Owen Rose Garden under the cherry tree on the banks of the Willamette River at 4 PM PDT.

It will be a small wedding with Sandy's folks are here from Chicago; her sister from Washington state; and her Aunt from Florida. Rick's sister Jessica and Grandmother are here from New Jersey; his Aunt Lucille, Uncle Doug, Cousin Laura, and Cousin Adam (who's stepped in as Best Man) all come up from the San Francisco area; and Cousin Brian and his girlfriend Vicky (who have been on a wedding tour--Great Britain last weekend, New York City yesterday(!) are also here--I think--from Chicago. Then there are friends from New Jersey, Washington, right here in Oregon and other various and sundry points around the country. For only 28 people or so, the distribution is quite amazing.

It's a gorgeous day for an outdoor ceremony. Nothing but blue skies and very light breezes are in the forecast.

More much later tonight or tomorrow morning.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

To the Pacific

After a bountiful breakfast at The Original Pancake House in Eugene, Terry and I took Jessica and Mom out to the Pacific Coast. Rick had given me some complimentary tickets for the Oregon Coastal Aquarium in Newport and we were going to take advantage of a lovely day to drive over to the coast and have a look-see.

Route 126 west to US Highway 101 north brought us to a place called Sea Lion Caves (a commercial venture) just north of Florence that provides trail access down to some observation points where you can view seals and sea lions and numerous shorebirds. We chose not to pay the $10-12 fee each and walk down the equivalent of 6 flights of steps. Still, the view from the gift shop and the walk along the road was excellent.

Across the small bay from Seal Caves is this picturesque lighthouse:
Haceta Head Lighthouse

After a brief look around the area of Sea Lion Caves, we continued north on Rt 101 to Newport. We passed lots of little state parks and beaches along the way that looked like great places to explore stream outlets and tidal pools. The tide was out and that exposed plenty of wide beaches and rock outcrops.

The aquarium was easy to find and had ample parking even for a beautiful, warm Saturday. I didn't bother to try to take pictures of the fish, invertebrates and sharks in the tanks. Nor did I try to photograph the seals and sea lions in their tank as it would have meant shooting through some grimy glass. And the sea otters were a wee bit uncooperative, too. That left some birds. Specifically the dapper (or perhaps clownish) Tufted Puffins and the tuxedoed Common Murre.

Tufted Puffin

Tufted Puffin

Tufted Puffin

Common Murre

Friday, May 15, 2009

Three more from Bear River

Water birds were not the only things we saw at the Bear River Refuge. There's apparently a healthy number of Ring-necked Pheasant there as well. We spotted four of them including this one who was courting a female in the grass and two other males who were in dispute over a prime corner lot.

Ring-necked Pheasant.

Two Black-ground Night Herons flew down and land a short distance away from us as we were stopped to look at other birds. They were, of course, juuuust out of sight for a camera shot. Later, as if to reward my patience, a third bird landed in the open where it posed for this shot.

Black-crowned Night Heron

And finally...there were lots of little grebes present on the water. The Eared and Horned Grebes stayed too far out on the water for any chance of a photo, but the Pied-billed Grebes were more accommodating...despite their curmudgeonly appearance.

Pied-billed Grebe

Thursday, May 14, 2009

More from Bear River

Speaking of elegant wading birds...I present the Stilt.

American Stilt

This delicate little bird looks like it is walking on pink stilts.

An all white, medium sized egret at the refuge, the Snowy Egret was brought to the edge of extinction back int he 1800s when it was killed for its delicate, long plumes to decorate women's hats.

Snowy Egret

Another very common bird at the Bear River Refuge was American Coot.

American Coot

Shaped like a small, round duck (the rugby ball to the duck's football--short and squat vs aerodynamic), the Coot feeds on grasses and aquatic vegetation. Its wide, flat, feet allow it to walk on weed beds as well as stir up the shallows of a pond to up root submerged plants

One of the most colorful of the water fowls is the Cinnamon Teal.

Cinnamon Teal

And one of the largest is the White Pelican.

White Pelican