The river is on the verge of opening up too.
A while ago, I wrote about how Junior Bear has been from Coast to Coast to Coast.
He’s also been at the highest and lowest places in North America. (At least, the places you can get to by car).
Twice, actually. Here are photos from both trips.
The high point is Mount Evans, Colorado, at 14240 feet.
Normally, getting to 14,000 feet without an airplane involves investing a big chunk of time and physical exertion to hike there. While also making sure you have enough food, water, proper clothing and survival gear.
But on Mount Evans, you can leisurely drive to the top in your Honda Civic. Wearing shorts and flip-flops. For crying out loud.
Why on God’s Earth would they build a road there?
Probably because they could.
Only in America.
(But of course, I still had to drive it!)
The Low Point is Death Valley. At 240 feet below sea level.
Like Mt. Evans, there’s nary a tree to be seen. But for different reasons.
The temperature might have something to do with it…
You know when you’re cooking something in your kitchen, and you open the oven door, and there’s a sudden blast of hot dry air in your face?
Death Valley’s like that.
Except it’s not a one-time blast of hot air. It’s continuous.
Lucky, my Honda Civic sat this one out, this time.
My friend was nice enough to lend me his air-conditioned truck.
Otherwise, the Bear would have melted.
What I like about where I live, is that the wilderness is never that far away. Today, I thought I’d go for a ride with Junior Bear and try to spot some moose. You can usually find them in the Provincial Park this time of year, right by the highway. Apparently they like the road salt.
We weren’t disappointed. This evening we got a hat trick: Two bulls, just starting their antlers, and one cow.
These critters weren’t that afraid. They were obviously used to having people gawk at them. They tolerated our presence, provided we kept a respectful distance.
Of course, Junior insisted on having his taken photo with each one.
I’m sure I’m not the first person on the planet to take a photo of a moose with their Teddy Bear.
But I wonder how many people have photos of their Bear with THREE different moose….taken on the SAME evening?
(I think Junior must hold some kind of record, after today.)
Last year, I went for a country drive to catch the fall colors, and take some photos. I wanted to find some landscapes to paint later on.
I did the same thing today, on the spur of the moment. Coincidentally, almost exactly six months later. I find it interesting to compare the two sets of photos.
Hmph. Early spring kind of SUCKS, in terms of finding good subjects to paint. Everything is washed out and drab.
But give it another two months. Everything will be bright green again. And four months after that, we’ll be back to the fall colors.
That’s one thing you can say about Canada. The seasons are never boring.
A few years ago, I was hiking in Arches National Park. After several hours of trudging through the desert, I had finally arrived at my destination, and I wanted to stop and admire the view.
Another middle-aged couple happened to be there: a woman posing, while her husband snapped photos. They appeared to be German. (Europeans really love the American Southwest, a big chunk of the tourists in Utah are either French or German).
As I walked to admire the view, I heard the man abruptly tell me in his thick accent:
“Pleez do not valk there, ve are taking peek-chahs.”
The dude was basically monopolizing the entire scenic lookout, and apparently no one was allowed to walk there until he was done taking photos.
Normally, I wouldn’t mind, and would gladly have walked around…IF someone would have asked me nicely. But Herr Gunther didn’t so much as ask me, but ORDERED ME.
What a dink, I thought. Oh well…
Then another couple came by, somewhat younger, in their 30′s.
“Pleez do not valk there….”, Gunther ordered, again.
At which, the younger gentleman (let’s call him Hans) answered back, in the same German accent:
“Vell, you sir, can GO TO HELL!”
I was shocked, but delighted to hear this. (I wish I had had the fortitude to tell Gunther off!)
“Vell, I am taking peek-chahs, you do not stand in front of my photos”, Gunther answered.
“You do not OWN zee National Park! Ziss is Public Land!”, Hans man replied. Then he pointed to me:
“…undt you do NOT tell ziss Gentleman vere he can valk and vere he can’t valk, he has as much right to be here as YOU DO!”.
“Yah, but you do not interput my photos!”
“Vell, then you WAIT, until other people have gone!”
This exchange went on for several minutes, and kept escalating. (I suspect NATO was soon going to declare DEF-CON IV. )
Finally, Gunther’s beady little eyes bulged with rage, and he started to yell “You….F*#$ OFF”
“No…YOU F@#% OFF!”
At this point, I think the two men were going to come to blows. The women stood by, alarmed.
I think young Hans would have easily taken down Gunther, and Gunther knew this.
Puffing his cheeks, he sarcastically yelled out “Yah…Yah…Ziss is very NICE. VERY GOOT! YAH!”, and stomped off with rage.
(Looking back, I wonder why they argued in English..was this for my benefit, perhaps?)
Anyway, after the dust settled, Hans apologized to me.
He said he was sorry I had to see that, but he was sick and tired of seeing his fellow countrymen boss around other tourists like they owned the place. People like Gunther helped perpetuate the bad German stereotype, he explained. We’re not all like that, most of us are nice.
And he was. We ended up chatting for a good 45 minutes, long after Gunther had stormed off. These were kind folks. I spoke mostly with Hans, as his girlfriend’s English wasn’t very good.
Then it was time for my mandatory Bear Photo. I took Junior out the knapsack, and posed him in front of the sandstone arch, and took a photo.
Of course, I had to explain my whole Bear-Photo ritual to these strangers. Hans thought this was awesome! He and his girlfriend laughed and smiled. (Junior Bear often has this affect on people).
Looking at me, she then shyly whispered something into Hans’ ear.
“My girlfriend vants to know if she can also have a peek-chah vit the BEAH!”
“Of course!” I agreed.
And she seemed genuinely delighted as she posed with Junior. I had made her day.
More shy whispering, and Hans informed me that now she ALSO wanted to get a Bear of her own.
(Yes! Looks like I’ve made another convert!)
Then it was time to part our ways, and we said goodbye.
All in all, it was a good afternoon. I made some temporary friends, had a great hike, and somewhere in a photo album thousand of miles across the Atlantic, Junior’s posing with a nice blonde woman.
Last week, I wrote that the leaves had peaked. And they have.
But they’re not totally done.
We’re not out of the woods yet! (Insert groan here.)
Actually, it’s a strange year, because the fall colors seem to have gotten a second wind, and there was another peak.
Especially in Upstate New York, where I was hiking last weekend. There were still a few pockets of nice color, here and there. Even some lingering red.
Well, yellow came back with a vengeance!
Thanks, Whoever is in Charge.
It was nice to get one last hurrah, before everything gets covered in snow.
(And at least now, I have some landscapes to paint during the winter!).
I thought I’d do a repeat from last week, and try to photograph some more fall colors.
But you know what?
It was okayyyy…but not great.
The flaming bright colors have faded to rusty ochre shades. The trees are noticeably barer.
And the reds. The beautiful reds are gone! I could almost cry.
What a difference 8 days makes. Here’s a photo I took on September 29th:
Here’s the same photo today, October 7th:
Yes, the leaves have definitely peaked.
That’s it for 2008.
It’s a bittersweet time. I feel like a kid at the mall the day after Christmas, when they start taking down the decorations.
Oh, well, that’s life, I guess.
I’m just SO GLAD I got out last week, and took those photos when I did.