Thursday, January 27, 2011

"That's a lot of bull..."

Elk, that is. Bull Elk. Dug these pics up from last fall when I journeyed near the Cades Cove ranger station in the Great Smokies National Park, not far from home. The re-population of the elk herds into the Smokies is quite the success story...this, a regal animal that was indigenous to the region before being wiped out by early settlers early on, along with habitat destruction. Estimates are the last of the elk disappeared in the late 1700s.

In 2001, 25 elk were brought in from another national park to start the program, with another 27 brought in the following year. To date, the population is estimated to be over 130 (actually, I could not find a recent, solid estimate online, but the herds are doing well).

All adults have huge leather collars with sending units on them, much like the invisible fence collars for dogs, as well as large yellow, numbered tags on each ear for identification (god forbid to be a fashion plate). For the sake of 'what if', I had a good friend proficient with photoshop remove said accoutrements from these photos. (Thanks, Ann!)

This is bull elk #16, one of threel dominant bulls in this particular herd. I was remiss that I did not have my camcorder or other recording device to capture the bugling calls, as they would (will) make excellent background tracks for my flute music. High on my list to capture once the tundra-conditions exit stage left!

It was a gorgeous sunny morning, and not too much in the way of tourist traffic. One has to go out of their way to even have a chance of finding the herd so gathered, and a good telephoto lens is a must. There are always those foolish ones that must think a) they're God's gift to nature photographers and inappropriately approach the elk, illegally, or b) they simply don't think, period. Thankfully, I saw no egregious transgressors.

The young 'uns are so cute, donned in dots and gangly legs trying to keep pace their bodies. At least 25 births were recorded in 2010, and of those 17 were successfully tracked and all 17 survived...a great testament to the continued perseverance of those involved with the reintroduction program, started back 10 years ago this year.

For the 'neat'ness of this success story is a flip-side issue for many national parks: leaving the property. Be it these elk crossing out into corn fields and taking down cow pasture fences, to the bison that wander out of Yellowstone and face a sadly unfriendly reception in Montana, fearful of brucellosis, mad cow disease, etc. That's another can of worms for another day...

Still having some real issues with Blogger...not sure why, either. Pics should enlarge when you click on them, but they don't, and there continue to be myriad settings that don't 'take' when I apply them. Bear with me as I figure it all out...or not!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

"Once upon a time..."

(NOTE: having some editing issues as blogger formats have changed...can't get pics to enlarge when you click on them, so bear with me a few days as I sift through the details...)

Long time no write, eh? Long time no get dead motherboard repaired was what it was. Been researching where Money Trees grow, but have had little success. Actually, that should be 'no success'. Been limping along on an old Dell laptop with a Pentium 4 chip...not quite the "8-track" of chipsets, but multi-tasking and overall speed was a bit lacking. While I could have blogged long before now, suffice it to say 2010 went down as one of those years I was happy to see come to a close. Like my art and flutes, if I'm not inspired to do something, might as well hang it up.

Alas, I finally found two nickels to rub together, and had the laptop motherboard repaired (video chipset issues). At the moment, it's working fine, but it was not returned that way...another story for another day. Maybe it's own chapter in my book I stopped working on, come to think about it.

So, whereinthehell do I pick up and begin? How about "ENOUGH ALREADY WITH THE SNOW!!!" ?

Molly, who LOVES all the snow....

Last winter was a doozy for snow hyar in these hills, and in October I pulled the long-range winter forecasts f
or my homeowners group for this winter....'above average' in temps, and 'below average' in precipitation. Those maps could not be farther off the mark, and they are maps I've never put a lot of stock in, anyway. December was one of the coldest on record, and if you don't believe me just pay my fuel and electric bills.

The White Christmas was really neat, and it being my birthday was the 11" icing on the deck. Since Christmas Day I've had 34" of snow. Now you get a glimpse of my disdain for that 4-letter "S" word.

11.2" Christmas Snow 2010

It would be nice if temperatures would get out of the freezer stage, but that hasn't been the case. Having to sled su
pplies to the house is getting old, and I absolutely have to get a 4x4 vehicle, one way or another. See first paragraph above. My biggest problem was that for the last snow (10"+) I'd taken a few days of work at News 14 to help with their weather forecasts for the Triad. I've come to understand fully it is better to get snowed 'in' than snowed 'out', which is exactly what happened.

While I do have chains for my front wheel drive wagon, I was coming up last Wednesday and, in a thick super-slushy patch, lost tire grip, and I spun the wheels. FYI, chains do not cotton to being spun. Yet another lesson learned the hard way as one of the chains snapped and created a bigger problem. Nothing that AAA and a 1.5 hour wait couldn't fix, though. Now waiting for my new chain set to be delivered...oh, wait, they can't deliver with this snow-covered mountain road I live off of. Setting aside the copious snows, I'm guessing that since the Christmas snow I've had no mail/package delivery for 15 or more days.

at least I have a foot path!

And winter has a long way to go. I'm sure before too long I'll look back on all this and it won't seem as much a pain as it has surely been. I am not alone in asking, "Is it Spring, yet?"...I need the greening of the trees so I can get back to identifying Money Trees more easily.

I'm feelin' the excitement already...

Wednesday, January 05, 2011