Solitude on the Road

I’ve always loved going for drives in the car, mostly as the passenger, but I’ll gladly do the driving if it means being alone and recharging for a bit and possibly doing some exploring. One thing I miss from Colorado is that feeling of remoteness that I often had. I didn’t live in a big town or even that near a big city so it was very easy to drive a short distance and feel like there weren’t a lot of people around. It’s been a little more difficult to find that here nearer a big city without having to drive too far.  So, I had the idea to take day and do a lot of driving on a weekend and Josh said, why not stay the night somewhere so you don’t have to do all that driving in one day?  Sold!

I think everyone needs to be on their own at times, but as an introvert it’s a necessity for me.  I do often get quiet time each day, but it doesn’t always feel like enough, especially when one or both kids has trouble sleeping and that time is interrupted. Also, as much as I love the cats, Uzi has somehow become even clingier and the second I relax, he’s on my lap. There are times when I am just touched out – by kids, by cats, by everyone and everything and even my own skin feels like it’s too much. So, this time away was very much needed and overdue.  I drove… and drove… I think I spent about 10 hours in the car total?  I went with the intention of looking for birds and did find some, though, not as many as I had hoped.  I didn’t take any amazing photos, but I did find a very funny squirrel and most of all I found space to breathe deeply and in silence.

I mentioned in a previous blog post that I accidentally left my really warm clothes at home, so without my big hat and gloves I wasn’t able to do much of the wandering by foot I had wanted to do. It was around zero outside, and with just a light knit hat and gloves I didn’t want to wander too far.  The snow was crunchy so I managed to scare a deer or two and some other birds, but once I got farther away from a road (with barely any traffic) I just stopped and it was… perfect. I could hear birds even if I couldn’t see them, many of which I had never heard before.  I could hear the scurry of squirrels and what I imagine was another deer or two as the crunch of the snow was louder, but more delicate than my own trudging.  It was in that moment that I knew when we got our own cabin it has to be more remote. I need a place to recharge on a more regular basis.  I need my place, you know? Now if we can just find that perfect spot near a lake for Josh. Granted, my ideal place would be in the mountains, but I’ll take what I can get.

Get Outside

The past week was a busy one, and the weekend ended up being no different.  The kids were up bright and early and were ready to GO.  Our original plans changed, so we pulled out Plan B – when in doubt, go to the zoo!  We invited Josh’s dad Mike to come along with us and away we went!  Despite it being overcast, the temps were surprisingly nice and it was the emptiest the zoo has ever been when we’ve visited.  It was AMAZING!

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Finding a table to eat at was a breeze and the kids were able to wiggle and move around as much as they wanted!

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I didn’t pet the sharks, but everyone else got to, which was awesome. It’s usually really hard to find a spot for the kids when we’re here so they were thrilled.

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It might seem weird to document your kids using a hand dryer, but this is the first time EVER that they have agreed to use one. They usually are afraid of the hand dryers.  More winning!

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Onward, ho!

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Also, my husband was winning because I was able to take a few photos with my big camera and I’m actually in more than 1 or 2 photos and don’t have totally weird face!

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It was so nice for the kids to be able to run around and actually get up close to see everything without any crowds.  We don’t often get to do that and it was especially exciting at Grizzly Coast (the boys were in the water up against the glass rough-housing) and it’s awesome to get to see the bears up close.

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You’re also more able to get away with putting your kids on the fence to give them a better look at critters. Don’t worry, the Takin’s looked fairly harmless. 😉

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She’s a tree in the wind. Seriously, though… no crowds!!  We even managed to walk past the carousel and the kids didn’t even argue when we said we weren’t going to ride it that day.  Say what?!?

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Telling Grandpa all of the things and enjoying the fall leaves on our walk.  We’re already at that point where so many more trees are beyond peek and heading into the dying yellow color than are at the glorious red and orange point.  Such is life.

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My favorite.  I love mountain lions so much… bobcats too.

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We headed home a little before 4:00 and Phoebe of course crashed on the way, which also meant she didn’t want to fall asleep at bedtime, but we could also hear someone with some thumping bass, so that didn’t help.  Sunday I woke up to this glorious tree outside our bedroom window:

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Then at some point I realized I need to go grab groceries, so I loaded up Phoebe and away we went!  She managed to pinch her finger in the shopping cart wheel when we got back to the car, and was quite upset the whole ride home and most of the afternoon.  I kind of wanted to punch the old man in the parking lot who looked over at me and shook his head in that way that clearly meant I was an awful parent.  She has a blood blister, but no long-lasting damage and I have a feeling she isn’t scarred for life.

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Happy Monday… oh… errr… Tuesday. How is it Tuesday?

 

This can only mean one thing…

Well, we have fish now, so that can only mean one thing… our next pets will be bunnies.  I have spoken and it will be so.  I mean, we might as well just add to our craziness, right?  Okay, not right away, but it’s happening!  I need fluffy little bunny friends in my life.  Did I also mention I suffer from extreme cute aggression?  It’s true.  Elmira is my spirit creature.

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Anyway, where was I going with this?  Oh yeah!  We have named the fish, and they are actually doing quite well (as in, no one has died).  The kids are still excited about them and love getting to feed them and give commentary on all of the fish’s actions.

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In case you can’t read their names, we have:

Patooey – Phoebe’s choice

Bagooey – Enzo’s choice

Tom Selleck – My choice, which was inspired by my fish’s mustache.

Lord Fishington III – Josh’s choice… need I say more?  His fish also had a mustache, only more snooty.

So, there you go.  Happy Friday everyone!

U of M Fall Raptor Release

Who doesn’t love eagles, hawks, kestrals and owls?  Birds (especially raptors) are fascinating and while we’ve been to different raptor centers, we’ve never watched a release of raptors back into the wild.  I figured we might as well go check it out and the kids seemed interested, so bonus points for that! Granted, the day started off a tad on the wrong foot when we didn’t leave the house as early as I wanted to.  We actually almost missed the first releases.  It was chilly and overcast, but the smell of fall was in the air and I was kind of glad it wasn’t warmer out because long walk carrying camera and a child would have made for a very sweaty and gross situation.  As it was, the field would not have been conducive for a stroller or a wagon so the kiddos had to walk through kind of tall grass. Due to our late arrival, we couldn’t get very close to the stage, but we were all still able to see the birds.  Now… pictures. The majority were a tad blurry.  I had my biggest lens zoomed in almost all the way, it was cold out and I had a child sitting on my feet for part of the time.  Ha ha.

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It was very cool to see two hawks, a kestral and a young bald eagle being released, though.  To watch them take flight was just so awesome and when the first hawk was released, a bunch of turkey vultures showed up overhead and it was a big celebration.

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I’m not super bummed about the blurry photos… these kinds of things are best experienced in person anyway.

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After the release, we went to see some of the other raptors that they had outside… ones that would not be released for various reasons and now help educate people.

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I love owls.  I’m hoping to go out on an adventure by myself this winter in search of owls.  Since it’s a few hours drive north, I figure it’ll be a good time for the kids to stay home with Josh since they get a tad fussy when it’s cold out.  We see owls now and then where we are, but I’m heading north to find Great Grey Owls.

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Those eyes!!

Okay, and this little guy was just too adorable.  Had he not been attached to that guy, I would have wanted to stick him in my bag and take him home.

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And of course, the magnificent and ever so regal Bald Eagle. Amazing birds.

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I’ll save our Apple Orchard visit for another day. 😉

September Caterpillars

At the beginning of summer when we went to pick out plants at the nursery, I don’t remember Enzo grabbing milkweed, but apparently he did.  All summer we’ve watched this plant grow and grow until finally it flowered and honestly we’ve kind of forgotten about it.  We’ve been busy and haven’t been spending as much time out front.  Last week, however, Josh sent me a picture of something very surprising!

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Neither of us realized we had milkweed, so obviously seeing a milkweed caterpillar was a big surprise since that is all they eat.  As soon as I got home I went to the front to look for it and low and behold, there were about 6 or 7 more caterpillars on what we realized was milkweed.  I’m not going to lie, it was really exciting – I love monarch butterflies!  Some were still pretty small, and others were bigger getting ready to do this…

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I was hoping we’d be able to actually see the whole caterpillar to pupa process, but alas, at some point he completed the process and we discovered another pupa that we had missed close by!  We have three that we know of currently.

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Very unfortunately, however, we were hit with heavy storms and to my great dismay, two caterpillars did not make it to the pupa stage.  As for the other caterpillars that had been on the milkweed… well we looked briefly this morning, but couldn’t find them anywhere. We were running late and the mosquitoes have been fairly obnoxious lately, so the kids and I could only look for a few minutes.  Hopefully we’ll find that they are safe tonight.  Otherwise, I’m crossing my fingers that the butterflies will wait to emerge until we’re all present.  I read that they typically emerge mid-morning, so please let it be on a weekend!  I don’t want to disrupt them, but part of me is tempted to carefully move them (according to instructions) to hopefully ensure that these ones survive.  If nothing else, we will next year.  I also was unaware that you can get these awful little yellow aphids on milkweed and ours is rather infested… not to a point where there isn’t enough food for the caterpillars, but still something we’ll need to watch next year since the plan is to plant more milkweed. 🙂