|We both slept late today. I am normally up early, but not today. We didn’t leave until about 10:00 and started driving north. Just a few miles from town, we started climbing and were soon in a dense stand of lodge pole pine trees. It was very pretty. It wasn’t too long and we headed down a gravel road just to check things out. We had only gone ¼ of a mile and Carolyn spotted a couple of what we think were sandhill cranes. I didn’t picture them being in a wooded environment, but there they were in a little meadow with a stream nearby. There were all kinds of small wild flowers along the road, many of which we had never seen before. We saw a forked horn deer. He still had the velvet on his antlers.
We got back on the main road and as we drove, you could see whole mountain sides that had dead and dying trees from the bark beetle. It’s such a shame to see, but I guess God has a better plan than we do.
We got to Memorial Falls about noon and decided to hike to the falls. It’s only 1/3 of a mile. It turned out to be a pretty little falls with another smaller one above it that we hiked up to. Carolyn wanted to take my picture standing at the top of the falls so I waited at the top while she went to the bottom to take my picture. When I got down, she told me she had discovered a Dipper’s nest. The dipper is a gray/black bird that dives into mountain streams to feed off of aquatic insects, their larvae, clams, snails, small fish and crustaceans. It gets its name from its behavior when it’s not diving. It stands and keeps dipping up and down. The nest that Carolyn had found was about 10’ up and right next to the waterfall. Sometimes they will even build them behind the waterfalls. They had used moss to build the nest, which is about double the size of a softball and has a hole on the side. Carolyn had seen the mother going into the nest and you could just see the 2 babies in the front of the hole. We took some shots and hoped we could see into the inside of the nest. We headed back to the car and as Carolyn was going to the restroom, I walked down by the stream and discovered another dipper nest. It was directly across the stream and up about 8’ high. I decided to get my camera out with the big lens and take some shots. While I was doing that, Carolyn got our lunch and lawn chairs and we watched mom and dad bring the babies food. They would swoop up to the nest, deposit the food in the mouth and then swoop out to the middle of the stream and land on a rock and start dipping. It was amazing to watch these little birds diving into the fast moving stream and come up in an entirely different place. They can dive up to 20’ deep and sometimes walk on the bottom to find food.
It was hard to tear ourselves away from that spot with the noise from the stream and watching God’s creatures living life. Especially one that has such amazing traits He has given them. We drove a total of 60 miles one way. After going through the thick forest for about 50 miles, we climbed up to the top of a big hill, and drove out of the forest as we crested the hill. Now we were in big open grasslands with the pine tress on the distant hills. It was startling how fast it changed. We were headed for a spot called The Sluice Box. It’s an area on a stream that has many places where the stream drops down, just like the sluice boxs the old miners used to use. It was a hike and we didn’t realize it until we had hiked about ½ mile that you had to cross the stream and go back and forth across the stream to continue. OK, we did that back at Camp Verde on one of our hikes, but this water was much colder, much faster and much deeper, so we decided not to try it. In fact, we saw some kayakers going past us as we were going upstream. We were disappointed we couldn’t go any farther so we decided to go back. The brush was very thick as we hiked through it. You couldn’t always see the trail at your feet. Now I can see how you could happen upon a bear without them knowing you are coming. They recommend talking loudly and clapping your hands often so the bears can hear you and run away. Let’s hope that works.
We headed back about 5:00 and were hoping to see some deer on the way back. We had only spotted 2 all day long. Well, we didn’t see any deer, but we did find a lake where there was open camping right on the shore. It was a Saturday and it was pretty busy, but we could picture ourselves camping there. Maybe next time. We were about a mile from town when we spotted an antelope with 2 fawns in a newly planted field. Carolyn always gets excited when she sees babies so I had to stop and back up so she could look at them through our binoculars.
It was a great day for us. Something we discovered long ago, if you only slow down and really look at your surroundings, you will discover amazing things that most people go right by. God has made a special place for us and most of it we miss. Stop and look. Bend over and really look and you will be amazed at all there is to see. Millions of plants, insects, birds, creatures. All so very different than what we walk past. We discover new things all the time, just by “looking”. It’s what keeps us amazed at what God has done and who He is. And we praise Him for that.
We head to Salmon Lake State Park tomorrow. It’s about 160 miles. We are headed towards Glacier National Park after we leave Salmon Lake. We will spend a couple of days in Salmon Lake State Park. I am looking forward to getting to Glacier. We plan on spending a week there. No moving every day or two. Yeah.