Oct. 5, 2022


I noticed this lovely mongrel dahlia today--we have both types blooming separately, but bicolor ones are rare.



We call these urchins, since they resemble sea urchins...



This was the view across the mill pond this morning...


This was the pond/slough at the James Slavin Conservation area southwest of Spokane this afternoon.  The pond was full of  ducks and geese, mostly mallards and Canada...  I think it would be interesting to visit in the spring, since it's a semiarid pine woods quite different from our area...

Oct. 22
It's been a slow month, with the killing frost holding off, and forest fire smoke adding a pall to otherwise pleasant fall days.  We only started heating yesterday.  We also got the first measurable rain in months yesterday, and managed to get a hike in to the high line trail in Farragut Park.  In spite of the dryness some mushrooms were blooming:


Oct. 29
I made a car tour to Minnesota to visit my family there.    I like to drive the back roads, like Montana 200.  I knew a winter storm was predicted, but it sounded fairly mild... I have always lived in the north...


It proved to be driving many miles at slow speeds on icy unplowed roads.  Just a couple inches of snow, I thought...  First I saw a Fedex truck jackknifed in the ditch.  About 10 miles further, I started swerving, and ended up sliding off the left side of the road backwards.  The roadside was rather like this, not too steep or wooded on the sides of the road...  I was able to get back on the road by building up speed in the ditch until I could go up the slope...  Only minor damage to the car...  Chastened, I kept going.  This is the emptiest part of Eastern Montana.   I finally made it to Miles City, where the forecast had just been for rain... There I could have gotten on I94, but had planned to go on US 12.  I stuck with the plan, and as US 12 rose out of the valley, the snow appeared again on the road, and got deeper. I would have turned around but there was nowhere to do so.  The snow got about 4 inches deep, and my car has a low clearance, so I was often pushing snow at 35 mph.  I got behind a pickup pulling a trailer that gave me good ruts to stay in.  At one point a snow plow was coming towards us, and I immediately decided I would drive on the wrong side as soon as he passed.  Unfortunately, he was not plowing, apparently just driving to where his route was...  An hour and 30 miles later a plowing truck came, and immediately both the truck ahead and I switched lanes on the empty highway, but switched back whenever there was a low visibility hill in case some other fool was out on the road...  
At the first town I stopped and checked how to get to a freeway...  I was about halfway between I90 and I94, so I headed to the shorter 60 mile north jaunt in hopes of better roadways.  After that drive with snow blowing crosswinds, I reached the interstate to find only one lane open on each side, due to packed snow and ice.  An hour or two later and the freeway was clear....  


It was late fall on the Cannon River in Northfield...


I got to see a red bellied woodpecker



I walked along the freight yard where I once hopped a train to Chicago one spring break...  The nearly always incomprehensible grafitti on rail cars always entertains me while watching trains go by.  So much paint and labor sent off to an uncaring world...  This D3UpsideDownPeaceSymbol had remarkably subtle color sense and design going on...
I partially came for my mother's 100th birthday, but since she's deep in dementia she sometimes recognized me but couldn't really register whether I'd be there for her actual party (which I avoided as a dedicated introvert).  As too young a child, I read the orginal Gulliver's Travels, one land was where people lived immortally.  The only catch was that they still aged...

On the way back, I got to spent an afternoon and overnight at the Badlands N. P.  I took a lot of photos, and these stood out for me:


Although I like the pointy spires, this looks totally primordial...




Some parts look like worn down monuments...


Although I got some closeups of bighorn sheep right along the car, this was more interesting, looking down from a vista point...


In this view  there are two bison dots in the middle left, and  a car and people on the right end for perspective...



This is another unexpected elephant skin mound at the edge of the formation...


At the Sage Creek campsite (after a 12 mile drive on bumpy gravel road), I learned the camp is on a prairie dog town and they were totally acclimated to people.  It was also a bison range...


After reading the warnings about approaching bison, and having seen a video of one charging a woman trying to pass them, I wanted to get by a couple of them to walk to Sage Creek, but this one eyed me coming and raised his tail, which is a sign of aggression...  Instead I climbed the hill behind the camp:

This is a view of the edge of the campground with dozens of bison within a short distance (more than seen elsewhere in the park--I overheard someone saying they are privately owned like cattle)...




books read
Currently enjoying:
Dark Currents by Lindsay Burroker  Her strength is warm characters and catchy dialog, and original work in fantasy and SF genres...
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