Robin Territory! – Part 2

July 5, 2020

To pick up from where I left off, a week ago, we haven’t seen the fledgling since!

I hear what I think are young robin chirps, and hope that’s our little fledgling, that he’s survived the various neighborhood threats – cats, dogs, raccoons, cars, fireworks (ha).

Meanwhile this past Wednesday, July 1, David and I were sitting on the patio, and spotted a robin with a worm dangling from its beak.

Wednesday, July 1

Where are you headed with that worm, Mr. Robin?

To the nest! The eggs have hatched!

Here I captured a video.

Hungry little buggers!  Now both parents are running themselves ragged, feeding their brood.

A robin flew down I thought, to scavenge for food, hey, see how hard they work!

Showing you how to bathe after a hard day’s work.

I’m guessing that the eggs hatched out on Tuesday, June 30, and (with some luck) they will fledge on July 12-14. They have to survive in the nest 7-9 more days. I check on them several times a day. There is danger lurking in the trees around us. You hear them first, the magpies. They are no songbird!  A cousin of the crow, they hover over you from high up in the trees making a loud distinctive ‘wock, wock, wock-a-wock’ noise. They are smart though, and it’s hard to capture a photo of them – they hear the front door open and off they fly … Here’s one in the yard across the street:

Magpie! I heard the ‘wock, wock, wock-a-wock’ first.

We also have a large murder of crows in our neighborhood. Murder? Yes, did you know a  group of crows is called a murder?

Met this murder of crows in a neighbor’s yard, July 3

As in, they murder hatchlings, or eat the eggs in the nest even before they hatch. Crows, ravens, magpies and blue jays are all members of the Corvidae family of birds – loud, rambunctious and very intelligent. Crows are among the smartest animals on the planet. Here is an interesting link about crows. They live all over the world, except for Antarctica. They will eat practically anything – road kill, frogs, snakes, mice, corn, human fast food – yeah, keep a strong grip on your next take-out order. According to the article they are actually very social and caring creatures.

U-huh. Tell that to a robin. We had a nest with fledglings last year – as the fledglings grew bigger they also chirped louder and disappeared from the nest, about the time I spotted three magpies on our deck. You tell me …

Yesterday was the 4th of July. Our local fireworks, parade, and other large group festivities were canceled due to Covid-19. So of course people all around us were shooting off their own illegal fireworks, sky high. Our neighborhood felt like a war zone. I worried about the robins, with the loud BOOMS!, screeches and flashes all around them, over several hours. We came inside, closed all our windows and were able to drift off to sleep. But what about the robins?

I checked on them this morning, and all is well. Whew! Mom and dad are busy as ever. I refreshed the water in the bird bath.

I suppose it being  Sunday, July 5, still the weekend of our Independence Day, our neighborhood will turn into a war zone again tonight. Okay, I’ll admit that we bought fireworks too. For sensitive ears, mind you. I wasn’t thinking of our back yard robins when I bought them, but I’m pretty sure, the robins didn’t mind them much. This one was our personal favorite, and, well, if you ever find yourself at a fireworks stand contemplating the ‘Sir dumps a lot’  firework and wondering what it does

here’s a video from beginning to end:

‘He’s like our dog. He just keeps pooping and pooping …’

Look carefully again, you will see a robin flying across the yard in the background. Those parents were keeping a close watch on things.

Although watching those pooping doggies in action may have made the robins wonder what size brains humans have to compel them to create such a ridiculous thing. I’m sure there’s a lot of things humans do that confuse and confound the robins.

All I know is, this human is channeling the robin’s spirit and energy the next time I take a bath.

Robin Territory!

June 28, 2020

I have a thing for the American robin. Sure, it’s a common bird of North America and who hasn’t seen a robin’s nest, a robin’s egg – a fledgling? Do you ever have a summer pass where you haven’t had robins foraging for food in your front yard? Discovered a nest?

They disappear in the fall and as winter passes into spring I start watching for the first sign of robins.They are a migratory bird, but some do stay through the winter, high up in the trees, hidden out of sight. I never see robins here in the winter months. It’s such a thrill when you first hear one in early spring and to experience that first sighting – which, this year, happened for us on March 17. The robin was high up in our May tree and I captured a photo of it from an upstairs window.

First robin sighting! March 17

We enjoyed sitting on our patio watching for the robins. One robin would perch on a high limb in our honey locust tree and break out into a sharp lilting song – as if announcing the official arrival of spring, yet a new season of hope and rebirth!

Or maybe to lay claim to his (or her) territory – to announce to the world that this robin has found a place to nest and raise a family, possibly two or three broods – in our back yard. (We are careful not to use any lawn chemicals or pesticides – I literally claw the pigweed out between the cracks in our brick walk, to avoid using Roundup.)

Well, sure enough, on May 21 we discovered a nest with at least 3 eggs. Yay!!

Discovered it May 21 – Yippee!

The female was roosting faithfully.

Look carefully and you will see her tail. Female robins build the nest and sit on the eggs.

Robins can produce 3 successful broods in one year, but only 40 per cent of nests successfully produce young. We were hopeful for this nest.

Then on Saturday, May 23, Memorial Day weekend hit. Literally. We woke up to snow on Saturday. And it kept snowing through the morning.

Our back yard, Saturday May 23

We felt like we were living a live scene from the Twilight Zone. I took a video of our back yard. (Notice on the patio table the bubbles we had been playing with the day before with our grandkids):

Nature delivered a cruel blow. Several branches of our blooming lilacs snapped from the weight of the snow

Good thing lilac limbs are flexible

and our front magnificent maple tree lost two large limbs. (Aren’t we used to this? Why don’t we own a chain saw?)

I checked on the robin’s nest. Can you see her tail?

She was faithfully roosting, and, yes, covered in snow. Poor thing.

By days end, though, the skies had cleared and the snow was melting away. And sadly, the nest was empty. Had the mother robin just given up? It was a vicious storm.

I read that 40% of robins’ nests successfully produce young. Tough odds! Would they try again?

Sure enough, on June 9 we discovered a new nest. The female was just finishing it when we discovered it.

New nest! June 9

We kept an eye on the nest for several days, but so far no roosting. Then this past Monday June 22, there she was – sitting on it. Dang! These robins are sneaky. The incubation period for eggs is about 14 days. Will we be hearing the peeps of hatchlings by … July 4th? Maybe. One can hope.

I checked on the nest yesterday – lookin’ good …

I was sitting on our patio when I started hearing what was surely the cries of a hungry robin fledgling, coming from the direction of the large spruce by the shed in our back yard. I wandered closer and, there it was perched on an outer branch about 5 feet off the ground, peeping away. I watched that little bird for a long while and captured some photos and videos. Here’s the first one:

Daddy takes charge

After the robins leave the nest, it’s the dad who takes over their care, feeds them for about two weeks, while they learn how to fly, groom, hunt for earthworms and ripe fruits, how to signal a cry of distress. It’s an extremely vulnerable time! Only 25% of fledged young survive until November. And from that point on, only about half the robins alive in any year will make it to the next year.

A lucky robin can live to be 14 years old, but robins live on average only 2 years in the wild.

Getting back to our little fledgling, he stood quietly for a good while, waiting for daddy to return. Magpies, cousins of the crows, were squawking nearby, and I’m sure this little one knows to keep quiet …

Well, until he got really hungry. Here comes daddy to the rescue.

Our daughter Megan and her friend Olivia were out on the patio with me now, witnessing this little fledgling. It turns out – it could fly – a bit – which I caught in the next video seconds after I took the last one.

I wasn’t sure exactly where it landed, but it was obviously in those tall bushes.

You can see the weather had turned blustery. Yeah, well that wind ushered in a 25-degree drop in temperature and pouring rain overnight, with much cooler weather forecasted to persist through today and tomorrow.

Haven’t even tried to find our little fledgling or checked on the robin’s nest today. I’m all bundled up in layers inside our house made of brick, with the heat blasting. Just glad I’m not a little fledgling, to be honest.

The Mother’s Day Gift that Keeps on Giving Through Father’s Day

June 21, 2020

Our son, Aaron, flew out to Idaho with his two kids on April 15, 2020 after their daycare in Alpharetta, Georgia, shut down because of Covid-19. How could he and his wife, Wei, both work full time jobs from home and take care of four-year old Franklin and 14-month old Bailey running wild at home? The Georgia Covid numbers were much higher than here in southeast Idaho. We wanted to help them. So we developed a plan – he’d fly out here with them, grandma and grandpa (David and I) and aunty Megan would babysit the grandkids, while Aaron worked remotely from our home office. Wei stayed back in Georgia working from home, we’d figure it all out as time went on.

Fast forward to mid-June. All told, Aaron, Franklin and Bailey stayed with us two months. Georgia opened up again, and Aaron and the kids flew back to Atlanta on June 11.

We enjoyed lots of adventures sheltering in place at our house in Idaho over that eight-week period with Aaron and our two grandkids. We took family walks around the neighborhood on some fine spring evenings (maintaining social distancing of course):

April 26, 2020

In retrospect, it’s a wonder to me how David and I raised three kids. How could I have been a stay-at home mom?  While the grandkids are precious, filling our lives with constant delights and surprises, it is honestly quite exhausting to entertain a 4-yr-old and 14-month old at home throughout the day, every day. From the moment they wake up (with the birds it seemed) each wanting different breakfasts, to the moment you finally get them both tucked into bed at night, you run around like a staff of five, with the feeding, diaper changing, cleaning up spills, pulling toys and games out of your butt to entertain them, in this case, separately, because Bailey is too young for legos, and loves to step in and destroy whatever Franklin has built with one stroke.  Thus, our dining room table, and kitchen counters were quickly relegated to Franklin’s legos, and airplanes, and … whatever else got tossed on on them out of Bailey’s reach.

‘Situation normal’

Although, Franklin was a big help to David when mowing the lawn.

Megan and Bailey were best buddies at the get-go. Girl Power!! At age 4, Franklin is absolutely certain that he’s too old for naps.  I would beg to differ on most days as he would fall into a perpetual whine by 4 pm, lying underfoot as you attempt to make dinner, dragging his ‘pillow’ around. Bailey is down to one nap a day, our strategy was to keep her active and busy till 1 pm, give her a bottle, then nestle her in the pack’n play for hopefully a two-hour blissful reprieve.  

Imagine the ecstasy I felt on Mother’s Day, May 10, when, miraculously, both Franklin and Bailey went down for naps at 1 pm. Megan retired to the basement to watch Netflix, David sat at the computer to do crosswords, wow, perfect time for me just to crash on the living room couch, grab a power nap, bask in the quiet, reflect on the legacy of my motherhood …. lying there on the couch looking up at the ceiling, hey, what’s that? I hadn’t even fully positioned my body into comfort mode when I noticed a wet spot on the ceiling above me.  What?  How can that not be a water leak?

I called to David to come down and look at the ceiling in the den.  Well, what do you know?  A Happy Mother’s Day gift from the upstairs toilet. What the hell? We should deal with this right now, while the kids are sleeping. David cuts the wet chunk out of the ceiling. Chunks of plaster come raining down, he pulls out the saturated insulation. “Go flush the toilet and see what happens.”  Sure enough water hits him in the face from the hole in the ceiling, dang we weren’t quite prepared for this.  We spend the rest of nap-time getting the plaster mess splayed over the carpet and couch out of there before the kids are into it.

What’s wrong with this picture?

So, yeah.  I guess when we replaced the tile in the upstairs bathroom, like, five years ago, the toilet hadn’t been reset properly and had been slowly leaking all this time.  Except we didn’t flush it that much, so the spills didn’t penetrate the ceiling till Aaron and the grandkids were using it.  

For God’s sake! Don’t flush the upstairs toilet! Not pretty.

David just set the wet chunk of cut-out ceiling on top of our heating/air conditioning unit outside to dry out.  

Which it has.  Like, weeks ago.  Sitting atop that unit suits that piece of ceiling just fine.  

Meanwhile, we’ve been carrying on as if nothing is awry in our den.  

Except one morning we looked up, there was Tigger. He had apparently bounced so hard he crashed into the ceiling.

What mischief had he and all the other stuffed animals been into during the night?

 

Frankly, over the past 8 weeks, Tigger has been bouncing all over the house. Meanwhile, I’ve taken several still-life photos of the ceiling situation, and honestly, could that hole in the ceiling somehow, if you will, look like it was carved out purposely to complete, say, a three-dimensional wall/ceiling abstract grouping?

Good feng shui? Nice balance with the new ceiling treatment

I had about convinced myself that I could actually just live with it. What the hell. The hole in our ceiling is not hurting anything. No one ever sees it now except us, with this Covid-19.  Besides, it would serve as an interesting conversation starter if or when we entertain guests in our home again.

Alas, Aaron and the kids are gone now, been gone for … 10 days. We’ve cleaned the house, spic and span, restored the dining room to its old self. (How do you spell peace and quiet?)

Wow! We no longer have to eat standing up!

All the kids’ toys are put away, down to the last lego we discovered yesterday under the dishwasher.

“Hello!”

Boy does the house look spiffy! Uh, except for the gaping hole in our den ceiling.  It has to go. 

David is on it.  I say that because, well, I’m not. Can’t even cope with the thought of hiring someone.

Happy Father’s Day, honey. Kinda funny how this ended up ultimately being your gift on your special day. Something about … uh … balance? I dunno. One of life’s unsolved mysteries?

Meanwhile, we’ve got the memories. And about 1000 photos and videos of the grandkids. This is one of my favorites, appropriately shared on Father’s Day – Franklin and Bailey with grandpa:

 

Yes, we’ll miss them. But I think we’ll manage. We have accumulated a sizable to-do list here. 

 

 

A little Easter Miracle during Covid-19

April 12, 2020

April, 2020 – Spring in southeast Idaho! We’re sheltering in place – David, Megan and I – doing a lot of puzzles at home. I make runs to the grocery store. We do venture out for long walks through our neighboring park, Tautphaus Park, weather permitting. We skipped our walk on April 2:

April 2, 2020

I know the fresh snow is beautiful – pristine! You just have to dress for it, right? Wrong. That much snow is flat out ugly this time of year. But yes, just wear your down parkas, pull up your boot straps and your hoods, don’t forget your gloves! Early spring in Idaho is just like winter. The highs in early April feel like the highs in February.

Then just like that the temperature sails up 20 degrees. You’re in the middle of your walk and you’re burning up in your jacket. You peel it off and tie it around your waist. This happened to us this past Tuesday, just five days after that snow storm. We were walking toward home in a big open area at Tautphaus Park, when I peeled off my jacket, then turned to Megan, grabbed and jerked her arms out of the sleeves of her winter jacket – whew! love it! Spring is here!

But when we got home Megan said, “Mom, my bracelet is gone.” Oh no! It must have come off with the coat! Suddenly in my mind, there has never been a bracelet more loved, more precious, than Megan’s bracelet. We had bought it at a flea market in Beacon, New York – last September – when we were visiting Adam and Meredith – Megan’s oldest brother and his wife. Oh what a wonderful trip that was – all those great memories embodied in that bracelet. Oh why had I been so careless? I loved that bracelet.

The next day, last Wednesday, I said, “Hey Megan, let’s go back and try to retrace our steps on that walk – see if we can find your bracelet.” (Okay, super long shot here, but what the heck, we have to try, right?) “Oh yes, I remember – first we passed that huge old tree with a raptor perched up high in it – then we turned on the street by the skate park past the huge cottonwood forest, then we walked diagonally across that wide open field by the fountain. Half way across that field, that’s where we got hot and pulled our jackets off.”

We were at the wide open area now, with our eyes scanning the ground in circles looking for a stretchy bracelet made of turquoise nuggets and silver beads. Uh-oh. Oops. There’s a guy hitting light golf balls right in our direction. Shoot! Well, lets zig-zag our way quickly toward him – he’ll just have to be patient with us while we look till we get to him.

Sadly, we didn’t find the bracelet. When we made it up to the golfer and his female friend I explained (from ten feet away, of course) our situation. That Megan had lost her bracelet here yesterday and thank you for being patient with us while we looked for it. He said, yes, he’s lost a lot of golf balls too. But he would keep a look out for the bracelet when he’s retrieving his balls. Yeah, sure. Oh, if you happen to find the bracelet, maybe just leave it at the base of that tree over there. He nodded.

Darn it! Oh well. Easy come, easy go. Well, not really, but I’m trying. The following day, Thursday, the three of us, David, Megan and I (and Rudy of course) repeated that walk we had done on Tuesday through Tautphaus Park- past that tree where the raptor was

Some kind of Raptor

(I had taken a picture of it on Tuesday.)

and the huge cottonwood forest

Tautphaus Park

Although, it seemed pretty futile at this point, finding the bracelet. It was a goner. We got all philosophical about it on the walk … “You know what?” I said. “We were lucky to have found that bracelet in the first place. It was really special. Likely made by an American Indian. The Great Spirit led us to it and now the Great Sprit has freed it back to the Universe – to anoint the life of another living creature.” “Yes.” said David. “Maybe a crow.”

“He picked the bracelet up in his beak and flew off with it to drop it in his nest as a bauble.”

“Or perhaps a squirrel. They are very busy this time of year.”

As sad as I am about losing that bracelet – don’t think I’d climb to the top of a tree to retrieve it from a squirrels’ nest.

We’re back at that huge field near the fountain where we took our coats off:

The three of us fanned out to scan a wider area, searched quite thoroughly, as we worked our way to the end of the field. Oh well. No go, Joe. It’s okay. Oh wait, let’s just check the base of that tree, can’t hurt …

What? Megan, come see!

What were the odds? It feels like a miracle!

Back at home we signed a thank you note.

Set it at the base of that tree right where we had found the bracelet.

The next day, Good Friday, we walked over to the park again. Was the note still there?

Megan! Come look!!

It’s an Easter Egg!

We brought it home. Washed the plastic egg with soap and water, of course, wiped it down with a disinfectant wipe, then set it out in the sun for the afternoon, take that, Covid-19!

As always Megan puts her bracelet on first thing every morning.

And Rudy keeps his eye on that wiley squirrel in our back yard,

April 11, 2020

who is expert at social distancing himself from Rudy.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Rudy vs. the Foxtail, uh, and other stuff

February 29, 2020

Our miniature poodle, Rudy, is turning 12 in April. His age is starting to show in his slowed movements, his hesitancy to jump around and play like he used to, and his increasing ‘yelps!’ as he jumps down from the couch, or performs what used to be his usual tasks. We are making more frequent trips to the vet with him, too, for starters, he’s had ten teeth removed in the past two years.

He’s always fancied himself a stunt doggie, joyously leaping on and back off high beds and bar stools. He hurt his back with his stunts by the time he was three years old and so we installed pet stairs by each of our beds to avoid further injury. Now he races up the steps onto the bed but climbs back down rather gingerly.

Although, recently, how many weeks ago (?) his yelps got louder, and more frequent; you would just walk in his direction, reach down to pet him and he would let loose with a screaming yelp. “Hey, I didn’t even touch you! I didn’t do anything! What a baby!” Something was seriously wrong with him. Serious arthritis in his shoulder? Hip? A back issue?

The thought of Rudy growing old was sad and depressing. “Honey, we should consider getting a new puppy! It will make it so much easier to deal with our sadness as Rudy deteriorates. Then after Rudy dies, we will still have a young playful doggie to assuage our loss.”

After Rudy dies?” Is he that bad off? Yes, it seemed so. Something was seriously wrong with him. Does he have cancer?

I made an appointment with the vet. “Something is really bothering Rudy, a bad tooth, maybe? Hip, back or shoulder?” The vet checked his neck, pushed his back legs around, checked his shoulders, “How old did you say Rudy is? He’s in pretty darned good shape for a 12-yr old dog! Okay, yes, he needs his teeth cleaned.”

“Let me check his ears.” she said. Grabbed a long swab, raised up Rudy’s floppy ear, shoved it in, “YAAELLLP!” Huh. Is he just being a big baby over someone checking his ears? “I have to put him under to clean his teeth, and at the same time I’ll check his ears, trim the excess hair out.” Okay.

Rudy spent the whole day at the vet, getting his teeth cleaned. I arrived to pick him up and was told that the vet wanted to talk to me about Rudy. Okay. Meanwhile I paid the bill – $225.00. Two-hundred and twenty-five dollars?? “Yes, for the anesthesia, the cleaning, the antibiotics and the foxtail.” Foxtail? You’ll have to ask the vet, she said. Wait in this exam room …

The vet came in, explained that she had cleaned Rudy’s teeth and luckily didn’t have to pull any teeth. Then she opened her hand, unfolded a chunk of gauze and revealed the specimen she had extracted from deep within Rudy’s ear – A foxtail that was embedded right up against his eardrum.

Ouch!

She handed me the foxtail wrapped in gauze and I shoved it in my pocket. It was a bit mutilated by the time I got home with it, but here, I took a photo of it:

I’d rather have an earwig in my ear

Foxtails are a grass-like weed mostly found in the western half of the U.S. ‘Wild barley’- they have bushy spikes running along the tops of the plants that make them look like foxtails. This link contains a nice photo of foxtails plus numerous dire warnings about how dangerous they are to your pet. The barbed seed head of the foxtail plant can work their way into any part of your dog or cat – inside the nose, ear, eyes, and mouth, embed between their toes. Because the tough seeds don’t break down inside the body, the embedded foxtail can lead to serious infection. They can lodge in your dog’s eye, or migrate from inside your dog’s nose to its brain. They can be inhaled into- and then perforate – a lung! In other words, keep your pet away from foxtails! I guess we were lucky.

Meanwhile back at the vet’s office, I had admitted to the vet how worried I had been about Rudy, how he is growing old and it makes me sad. She said, “He could gain two years of life by losing a couple pounds. Think of all the stress that extra weight puts on his joints…”
OOOOh – Ouch again.

A couple of pounds? I refrained from explaining to her that Rudy has been on a diet to lose weight for at least six years. All the money we’ve heaped on their clinic purchasing their $85.00 bags of metabolic dog food! That, yes, we measure out 3/4 cup of their scientifically metabolically formulated dog food each day. Although I was honestly surprised he had only gained an ounce on this visit given that over the Christmas Holidays he was the primary playmate of our two precious grandchildren.

A total team player

“I bet I could hold that for you”

Mighty Protector – keeping a close eye should something go awry…

alert and ready to pounce …

He popped right up to the counter to eat ice cream

Rudy conferring with Megan and Franklin, “Is the ice cream soft enough yet?”

Captured this video of the ‘Sharing Game” Rudy loved to play with Franklin and Bailey.

Way to wait your turn!

Rudy works his magic on the rest of us as well. Here he is on standby to assist Megan

You know, in case she is confused about which mouth to put that bite in.

Rudy is also expert at hypnotizing your food, see if he can make it levitate into his mouth when you’re not looking.

He transforms into ‘stunt dog’ when dishes call to him.

The ‘soup bowl licked clean’ trick

I do remember when we got Rudy as a puppy and I studied the ‘Poodle for Dummies’ or some such instructional dog book (that one sounds right). On about page 3 it declared in large bold letters, NEVER GIVE YOUR POODLE TABLE FOOD. FEED YOUR POODLE DOG FOOD ONLY. Well that’s fine, but Rudy is quite convinced he’s not a dog. He’s a human. Here he is, hanging out with us, on the far end of the couch, insulted by the image on the TV. You can see it in his seething eyes …

“I am not in any way related to that species on the TV”

Suffice it to say, I’m not real confident about Rudy losing weight, much less two pounds. I gave David and Megan a giant pep talk about it when we got home from the vet’s office: “Hey, the vet says if Rudy lost his extra weight then it could extend his life by 2 years!” To which David replied, “Put up with Rudy an additional two years? Why would we want that?”

Okay, that settles it. We’re getting a puppy for David’s birthday.

Alpine Mountain Days!

July 2, 2019

Every year the town of Alpine, Wyoming holds a Mountain Days Festival on the third weekend of June, a tradition which started over a quarter-century ago. This year it was held on Friday-Sunday, June 21st – 23rd. The festival includes Mountain Men, Native American Performances, live music, food vendors, commercial booths, a triathlon, chili cookoff, raptor show …

Alpine Mountain Days
June 21-23, 2019

My brother Eric, who owns an Antique/gift store, has a booth at this festival every year. This year David and I decided to travel to Alpine and check it out. We rented a room at the Flying Saddle Resort just outside of town, on account of the motel on the main drag, the Bull Moose Inn and Saloon, was booked. (Do towns with a population of 828 have suburbs?)

Alpine, Wyoming, is about 40 miles south of Jackson Hole (where purportedly the billionaires have run off the millionaires) and many Alpine residents work in Jackson. Alpine sits at the end of the Snake River Canyon where the Snake River enters the Palisades Reservoir. Three rivers converge at Alpine, the Snake, the Salt and the Greys. You would love Alpine if you enjoy snowshoeing, ice fishing, or skiing. The snowfall, on average, is about 500 inches a year.

Here you see an aerial photo of Alpine from this Wiki page (which grants permission to share)

Alpine – uh, somewhere in that valley snowfield

We arrived in Alpine on Friday evening, June 21st. The first day of summer (yay!) and a high of … 58 degrees? Although when I complained about it to Eric he said, “You should have been here two years ago when it was 93 degrees.”

I took a photo of Alpine from our resort – where you can see the convergence of the Greys river into the Snake.

Alpine is hard to catch in photos


The Salt River converges into the Snake near Palisades Reservoir on the other side of Alpine.

Up and at em’ early Saturday to hit the Mountain Days Festivities. Free Pancake breakfast! Or breakfast at the one restaurant in town, the Yankee Doodle Cafe. The triathlon starts at 8 Am – swimming! We heard that participants were jumping in, then back out, on account of the 33-degree water temperature. But they did announce a winner after 10:30 am who crossed the finish line.

Meanwhile check out the booths! At least 30 of them, food vendors and merchants selling American Indian jewelry, photography, alpaca wool clothing, pottery, art, furs, Davy Crockett coon hats (Classic! My brothers each had one, uh, about 55-60 years ago?) – here, I took some photos – :

Shop till you drop!

Might be tempted on a Davy Crockett coon tail hat for nostalgia, but a whole skinned coon?

No country for raccoons

One booth was plastered with wooden signs:

“NO TRESPASSING – VIOLATORS WILL BE SHOT – SURVIVORS WILL BE SHOT AGAIN” (??) Might be a big seller in this part of the country, based on the retail shop on the main drag across the street:

Get your guns and ammo here!

At some point Smokey the Bear made an appearance

“Only YOU can prevent forest fires!”

Smokey on a toke break. (Ha – Just kidding)

Our most favorite booth of all was, of course, Eric’s. We walked right past it the first time through, I was so distracted by the bright merchandise and baubles around me – I was looking left, and you entered his booth to the right, under a little awning, but then it spread out into an open grassy area, because, well, I can only explain this in a video I took of Eric’s booth. (Turn up your sound…)

That’s Eric sitting back there in the blue fleece, on this breezy Saturday in Alpine.

Garden spinners – flowers, eagles and owls, Oh My! Dragonflies, and even a bat – metal garden art of all sorts. Propelled by the wind. Newly refinished antique trunks and dressers. An old carpenter’s work bench. And Sasquatch!

A disgruntled Sasquatch walking out of Eric’s booth

Across the street from the vendors is Mountain Man Trader’s Row and the Indian Village:

A weathered bunch

Where the mountain men and Indians gathered, danced and sold their wares.

The Shoshone Indians performed ceremonial dances. I captured a bit of one – not the most elaborate, but worth sharing

imparts maybe some understanding of the origins of punk rock (??)

And of course, the chili cookoff. Eleven entries – and for five bucks you could sample them all and not be hungry again for six hours.

Chili Cookoff!

The chicken chili won. (Note to self- Make chicken chili next time I enter into a chili cook-off contest with a $50.00 1st place prize. All the red chili’s taste nearly the same, because they look the same.)

On Saturday afternoon The Teton Raptor Center presented two raptor presentations, free to the public. Well worth seeing! Located in Wilson, Wyoming (near Jackson Hole) the Teton Raptor Center receives and rehabilitates injured raptors from private citizens and Fish and Game, with the goal of releasing them back into the wild. They keep the raptors who can’t survive in the wild, due to permanent injuries. They use these birds to educate people about raptors and how human behavior affects their well-being. The presentation today included a Golden Eagle, Red-tailed Hawk, Great-horned Owl,a Bald Eagle,a Kestrel, and a Peregrine Falcon. I took photos of them all while listening to their histories.

Meet Gus, the Golden Eagle:

He fledged the nest with a broken wing that never healed properly. So he couldn’t fly. Gus is the second oldest bird in the center, at 14 years old.

Owlie – the Great horned owl – was hit by a truck in Wilson Wyoming.

Owlie and the Bald Eagle

One wing was too badly damaged to heal properly. His disposition was very grumpy until they discovered he had severe arthritis in his damaged wing. They removed the section of wing that was inflamed and learned that owlie’s owlishness had been due to pain. He is now a much happier bird. Owlie is also 14 years old, one of the original birds in the center.

Owlie with the red tailed hawk

Red tailed hawk

The red-tailed hawk – was brought in with a broken wing after being hit by a car. The wing was rehabilitated but when they released him he refused to leave. They finally determined that in addition to a broken wing he suffered from a brain injury.

One point that was driven home in the presentation – Don’t toss apple cores and other edible scraps out your car window thinking it’s fine because they are ‘biodegradable’. Birds fly down to snatch up the food but can’t get aloft enough on take-off to avoid getting hit by passing cars!

The Bald Eagle: Female (you can tell males and females apart by their size – females are much larger than males!)

Bald Eagle!

She was sent to the center from Missouri – found sick from a severe bacterial infection caused by drinking polluted water. She was finally healed, but the infection had seriously damaged the bones in her wings so she could no longer fly.

You can tell her age by the color of her head. It doesn’t turn completely white until the bald eagle is about five years old. This eagle is about four, which is why she has a salt-and-pepper-colored head.

Photo of the kestrel – a much smaller bird, but still a raptor (but I don’t remember the story…)

Kestrel- in the photo above and below

Peregrine Falcon: This guy was captured after not leaving his nest:

It was discovered that he had a bacterial infection in his eyes. The center was able to cure the infection and restore his vision, but the peregrine falcon couldn’t hunt because his cloudy vision had caused him to miss grades K-12 where the parents had taught the fledglings to hunt.

Check out this link to the Teton Raptor Center. You can visit these birds in Wilson and experience educational raptor encounters similar to what we experienced here at Alpine Mountain Days. Or come to Alpine the third weekend of June during any year!

Eric, David and I ate dinner Saturday night at the new brewery in Alpine – Melvin Brewery – that started up in Jackson, Wyoming, and then they moved their headquarters to Alpine and vastly expanded their operation.

The Melvin Brewery sits right at the tip of Palisades Reservoir. They distribute beer to bars in Idaho Falls and other surrounding areas. Here is the view from their patio (although lovely for summer, but a bit too chilly to eat outside today.)

Melvin Brewery Patio overlooking Palisades

It’s Sunday morning and we need to hit the road back home. We stop by Eric’s booth one more time and hang out a bit. The morning is peaceful, the air is calm, and noticeably warmer than yesterday. We sit, entertained by the little children that belong to the Indian family that sells alpaca wool clothing in the booth behind Eric …

Too precious!

David is wearing his new ‘Melvin Brewery’ sweatshirt he bought yesterday from a vendor.

We particularly like the back of it.

Yeah! Don’t hate. Party.

And on that note I think I’ll put a wrap on this.

Baby Robin on the Premises! – Part 2

June 25, 2019

Part 2 of 2 – To continue where I left off … You might be wondering about the fate of that baby robin in our back yard that fledged about June 1. We discovered him on June 2, on our back compost pile with both parents close by. We woke up every day after that looking for that little guy, so tiny, vulnerable and dependent! He didn’t fly at all. He hopped a bit, behind his parents, begging for food, and hopefully would learn quickly to hop up onto tree branches for safety. My previous blog followed him through his first four days as a fledgling – my last video of him was on the evening of June 6, finding him safe and sound (whew!) after a huge thunderstorm.

But then the next day we didn’t see him at all. And the next day after that. Oh no! Both neighbors to the west of us have cats. Our neighbors to the east have a fenced yard with three big dogs!

Meanwhile, Rudy continued to keep the back yard safe from strangers.

And we kept a close eye on Rudy

Rudy demonstrates how to relax in a patio chair

Other birds were busy making nests – helping themselves to inventory from our hanging pots. Hey, glad to help!

The irises were out in full bloom

Blooming snowball bushes graced the whole town,

The horse chestnut tree blossoms are my absolute favorite. The tree blooms in red or white:

Nice try, Rudy, but you missed the shade. Stop dilly-dallying!

Here’s the blossom up close.

horse chestnut

There’s a giant white horse chestnut tree in nearby Tautphaus Park, blooms in early June. I have missed it some years…

Ancient horse chestnut tree!

“Hey David – stand by that tree and let me take your photo!”
(Ugh. If I must …)

June 4, 2019

There, you get a little perspective on how magnificent that tree is.

Close-up – the blossoms stand over 6″ tall!

Okay, but what about your little robin? you ask. Did you see him again? Why yes we did! On the morning of June 12, 8:49 AM, we could hear him chirping. Then, looking out our upstairs bathroom window, we spotted him!

See him in the lilacs! His light round breast (between the limbs)

“Chirp, chirp, chirp!”

Here. I’ll zoom in …

Yes, that’s him! Between the limbs. He’s hungry!

He disappeared into the corner of our yard behind our giant spruce tree but then was back out that afternoon pecking around for food (but mostly still begging from his parents). At 3PM I captured a video from inside our kitchen through our back door window. You don’t hear chirping on the video. What you hear is Rudy whining to be let out, and Megan’s friend Amber disciplining him to stop whining, which he does. I believe Amber to be some kind of dog-whisperer.

That video was taken Wednesday June 12 at 3PM. Yeah, so our little birdie has survived as a fledgling for at least 10 days! And he’s certainly not a strong flyer. I did see him sort of flit up into the lilac bushes once today. He was back out in the lilacs along our back property line again at 8:40 PM. Chirping away. “Daddy I need my bedtime snack!”

The next afternoon the robin family was back in our backyard. The baby still looks tiny but he can surely hop and run faster! I captured this video about 5 PM. June 13 – the baby fledged at least 12 days ago. He looks so tiny still!

Meanwhile the slugs have devoured the hostas.

Yes, I’m sure it’s slugs. We go through this every year.

This year I didn’t use slug bait (is it really safe for birds and animals just because the package says it is? …) I know for sure now that robins eat slugs – and we are surely laying out a feast for our robin family through the slug orgy taking place in our southwest corner garden.

And, well, our our hanging flower basket is looking a little ratty. My, the birds have been busy!

On the evening of June 13 I glanced out our front dining room window. What? Is it snowing? I stepped through the front door into a magical spring atmosphere of birdsong and drifting down

The poplar trees are shedding all over town.

Black Poplar

Saturday, June 15 – 10 AM. There he is! – hopping in our back yard along our landscape curbing. Two weeks after fledging and surely he’s a pretty strong flyer by now. But I haven’t seen him fly. Robins forage for food on the ground and I suspect he has to do most of his own foraging by now. He still looks so young!

Well, he did fly up into a tree. Several days have passed and we haven’t see him. I guess the little birdie has flown away – has he joined the larger flock of robins? Are his parents raising another clutch by now? Do we have some hidden bird nests up in our giant honey locust trees somewhere? Huh. If we do, the wind did its best this past Wednesday and again Thursday (June 20), to knock them out!

I just read today that 90 percent of baby robins don’t live through their first year. I am happy to report though, that our little robin was busy foraging for food just this morning in our back yard – Monday, June 24, a full three weeks after he fledged. I took a couple of photos of him. He still has that distinctive round light belly.

Monday, June 24, 2019

I watched him forage for bugs, worms, slugs and berries for several minutes. Then he flew off. I’ll keep a lookout for him!

David has resumed his game of frisbee with Rudy in the back yard. They have both perfected their technique to where they’ve got a smooth thing going – David with throwing, and Rudy with catching.

Not bad for a 11-yr-old dog and a 73-yr-old man. Yes, I’m capturing it in photos and video … this magical spring in the autumn of our lives.

Life is good!

Baby Robin on the Premises!

June 9, 2019

This story begins on my husband David’s 73rd birthday, June 1, 2019. We’re relaxing on our back deck, basking in the wonders of spring, the fragrant breezes, the chirping of birds, when our tranquility is interrupted by a crow ‘caw-caw-ing’ through the quiet calm from a high tree limb above us. What?

Yeah, I know about crows, and their close relative, the magpie. They prey on the smaller songbirds, the robins, in particular (they clearly don’t prefer starlings, based on their ballooning populations). We experienced the preying magpies three years ago, the last time we knew of a robins’ nest in our back yard. I was so happy to see the nest, then hear the hungry chirping of hatchlings, for a day, maybe. The discovery that the nest was empty occurred on the same day I chased several magpies off our back deck. I did some research on magpies and blogged about the experience (link here). Yes, magpies and crows are smart, dominant birds, higher up on the food chain than robins and other songbirds, and they eat baby birds for breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner, and dessert, pluck them right out of their nests.

So imagine the ruckus caused by that large black crow perched above us in our giant honey locust tree. Actually, you don’t have to imagine it because I captured a video of the moment it was chased off by a flock of robins.

Way to go, robins!

The very next day, June 2, we discover a baby robin perched atop the corner compost pile in our back yard. Whoa! The baby bird hardly moves or startles when we approach. So I capture a pretty good photo of him (I’m calling it a ‘him’ – I just am) .

Baby robin adopts a new nest

His chances of survival? He barely hops, much less fly. Is he injured? Why is he here all by himself? What happened to this little robin family? Did that crow’s presence yesterday have anything to do with the fate of this lonesome little one – where are his siblings? Was he driven from the nest prematurely? He’s lucky to be alive!

Here is a link to robin facts. Most robins die their first year. Robins lay one egg a day for the average of 3-5 eggs in a clutch. They hatch 12-14 days after the last egg was laid. Robins jump from their nest (fledge) when they are about 13 days old and they all fledge within two days.

It takes fledglings about two weeks after they leave the nest to become strong flyers and independent birds. (!!)

In August 2014 (5 years ago already, whew!) I blogged about the last robins’ nest we had – where I captured the three babies on video when they fledged and we watched them hop about the yard for a few days (one of them died the first day). Here’s the link! (There are three parts to the story and when you open the link you scroll to the bottom to read them chronologically.)

Bird banders have found that only about 25% of young robins survive their first year. If they do, most wild robins live to about the age of 5 or 6.

The mother builds the nest and sits on the eggs. She builds a new nest for each brood. Both the mother and father feed the babies. The babies beg for food, even after they fledge.

Speaking of begging baby birds, let’s get back to our baby robin that we discovered in his ‘new nest’ on June 2. I had a good view of him on our compost pile from an inside window, and yes, he basically stood atop that compost pile and begged, and both parents seemingly spent their entire waking hours scavenging for worms, insects and berries to feed him.

He stayed atop that compost pile, begged, and was fed for most of his first day. But then, toward evening, Hey! Where did he go?

Empty nest!

He had mustered up the courage to fly – about three feet where he was now perched on our backyard fence! Here you see him – his tail that is, sticking out the backside of the fence.

See his tail sticking out?

So of course Megan and I sneaked out front and sure enough, there he was, perched on the fence.

See the little guy!

Begging away, calling for his parents, who were scavenging just a few feet away. I captured a video at 7:07 PM:

The parents were always just a few feet away in our front yard as that little guy stayed perched on the fence.

Daddy duty

Finally about 8 pm the little one hopped through the fence back to his ‘nest’:

The end of his first full day and he is learning to hop to safety!

We ended the day happy – he had survived his first day and returned to his nest!

He seemed sated, as well. Good night little birdie! Stay safe!

Monday morning, June 3, Day 2: Megan announces, “Mom, he’s on his nest!” And sure enough, I was able to capture a photo.

Monday, June 3, 8:36 AM

Of course, he was hungry and now hopping after his dad and begging!

Look out little birdie. You’d better take shelter! I am happy to report he made it safely through the whole day, and that evening, there he was back on his ‘nest’, our compost pile.

Whew! Made it safely through another day!


Tuesday morning – June 4 – Day 3! There he is right in plain view on the edge of our neighbor’s driveway:

Beware the cat, little birdie!

Oh boy, he’s getting braver, but still not moving much. Hey little birdie, those neighbors have a cat! But, he makes it through today, and sure enough, he’s back on his nest by bedtime.

Wednesday, day 4 – 11 AM – he’s in the back yard, with his helicopter parents!

Wed, June 5. Yay! See them in the shadows?!

We watched him hop along our back row of lilacs, and peck for food himself. But that night he didn’t return to the nest.

Thursday, Day 5 – We hear thunder through the early morning hours. Why of course, we wake up to a huge thunderstorm. I captured a video of the storm out our back door:

You have to learn to survive little one! Where is he?

The storm has blown over and the sun is out. We hear him, from inside the house, the distinctive hungry chirp from that baby robin … Step outside! There he is!!

Our backyard is so beautiful after a rain!

Storm has blown over – here comes the sun!


Life is good. We took our last video of him that evening at 8:40 pm. – from our upstairs bathroom window:

Good night little birdie! Stay safe! Where was he roosting now? Hopefully up on a tree limb?

It is Sunday now. June 9. We haven’t seen our little birdie since Thursday evening. We’ve been watching out for him though. We keep an eye on our poodle, Rudy, as he did grab a baby bird in his mouth one spring. Rudy, for now, gets his own seat at our patio table.

Little Lord Fauntleroy

And keeps the back yard safe from strangers.

“BARK-BARK-BARK-BARK-BARK-BARK-BARK” Stop it, Rudy. You’re driving the whole neighborhood nuts!

Tho, can’t do much about the hungry raptors hovering above …

Photo taken from our back yard Sunday, June 9

Plus we have issues with squirrels, who are also known predators of baby robins. These rascals are always out frolicking:

The squirrels are certainly happy

But no worries. Rudy keeps them in tow:

I am hopeful that our little birdie is still alive, practicing his flying and other survival skills. A week has passed since we first met that little fledgling – is it seriously going to take him another week to become a strong flyer?

We still spot adult robins in our yard. So that’s a hopeful sign. Although, this little birdie’s mother has likely already built another nest and is possibly sitting on a second clutch of eggs. So it’s daddy who is feeding and watching over him.

The families stay together for at least three weeks after the babies leave the nest. This is such a dangerous time for baby robins as they need time, and nurturing, and safe places to practice flying, away from cats, dogs, predatory birds, snakes, squirrels, cold, storms …

Take care, little birdie. You gotta grow up smart and fast to beat that 25% chance of surviving through your first year.

Hurricane Iniki, Coco Palms Resort, and Feral Chickens

February 17, 2019

Kauai trip, Jan. 2019 – Part 3 …

Woke up this morning to find that, sure enough, it’s still winter.

Idaho Falls, 10 am Sunday, Feb 17, 2019 –

Whereas in Kauai I would be listening to the sounds of ocean surf and Albatross mating calls, here in Idaho it’s the whirr-whirr-whirring of snowblowers:

Next door neighbor at 10 am this morning.

Not that Kauai doesn’t have its fair share of storms. On February 10, 2019 – just a week ago, a potent storm slammed Hawaii with 191-mph winds and 60-foot waves, and even dropped snow on Maui. Here check out this Washington post link on the storm!

The most famous storm to hit Kauai was hurricane Iniki. It struck the Island on September 11, 1992 at peak intensity with 145mph winds and gusts up to 225mph. There is still evidence of the hurricane today, with feral chickens running everywhere

Which begs the question: “Why did the chicken cross the road?”

You’d think in Kauai, free-range chicken would be offered ‘cheep-ly’ and abundantly in the grocery stores.

But just try to catch a feral chicken! Then if you do, try to cook it for proper tenderness, which reminds me of a joke Victor likes to tell:

“How long do you boil a Kauai feral chicken?”

“Boil a rock, and when you get it tender enough to eat – that’s how long you boil a Kauai feral chicken.”

Kauai had been home to underground cock-fighting and thus, when hurricane Iniki hit 26 years ago, many chicken coops were blown apart, freeing the chickens and roosters on the island. Except there are no mongooses or other natural predators to hunt them or eat their eggs and so their population has exploded since the hurricane.

Feral pigs and goats proliferate as well, and provide great incentive for hunting. Here we passed some hunters with their kill – a wild pig. Laying on top of the caged hunting dogs – good job, dogs! (At least four dogs? – with proud expressions.)

Jan 27, 2019

We ran into a guy on one hike who was off hunting with his rifle for feral goats.

In my previous blog I talked about the 48-inch rain that hit the north shore of Kauai last April, and how a section of Kuhio Road is still closed today, nine months later, from the damage. Well, you might have heard of the Coco Palms resort in Kauai. It was built in 1953, on 32 acres, including a 17-acre coconut grove of over 2000 trees that had been planted in 1896 by a German named William Lindeman.

The Coco Palms Resort became a popular hotspot among royalty and stars. Scenes from the 1958 movie South Pacific were shot at Coco Palms. Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby were regular visitors, as were the Von Trapp Family Singers. It was a favorite hang-out for Elvis Presley. They filmed the wedding scene in Elvis’s movie Blue Hawaii at this resort. By the early 1970’s the hotel had grown to over 400 rooms, and hosted over 500 weddings a year. It had been a Hawaii landmark for 40 years … until Iniki hit…

A blog (link here) written by Daniel Thorne – contains some very interesting information – he toured the resort in 2008 and provided photos and this map of the original resort in his blogpost (thank you Daniel):

On January 27, 2019, David, Eric and I drove right past the Coco Palms resort. I had seen this blocks-long abandoned concrete structure on previous trips and didn’t know what it was. Well, my friend, it’s the Coco Palms Resort – what’s left of it – still standing untouched today, 26 years after it was destroyed by hurricane Iniki.

Coco Palms resort – Wailua, Kauai

The Coco Palms resort sits on the mouth of the Wailua River on the eastern side of Kauai, about seven miles north of Lihue, which also happens to be an ancient site of Hawaiian royal property that has been in dispute since 1866. Roadblock after roadblock has deterred progress on repairing or re-developing the property. Ownership groups battled insurance companies (already bankrupted by Iniki) and struggled to get the money to rebuild. Local cultural activists continued to lobby against redevelopment to protect the sacred Hawaiian ground. Anyway, there have been several attempts at redevelopment. Here is a fascinating article about Coco Palms entitled “Abandoned Kaua’i Jewel – the Coco Palms” and a book has been written about it, ‘The Story of Coco Palms Hotel,’ by David Penhallow, who was a good friend of Grace Guslander, the creative force and engine behind the hotel’s original growth and success.

Hurricane Iniki caused an estimated $1.8 billion damage (in 1982 money value) and left residents without power for up to 3 months. Over 1400 homes were completely destroyed and another 7200 were severely damaged. Iniki hit Kauai shortly after Hurricane Andrew leveled south Florida, so Americans were a little hurricane-weary at this point where sympathy and aid were concerned …

Another interesting tid-bit from the article above, “Abandoned Kauai Jewel: The Coco Palms” – Stephen Spielberg and 130 members of his cast and crew were in Kauai filming Jurassic Park when Hurricane Iniki struck. Luckily they were able to find safe refuge in a hotel.

Oh, and by the way, you can still tour the Coco Palms today through Coco Palms Tours and Tees (link here) run by Bob Jasper. And you can also get married (or renew your vows) at the Coco Palms through Blue Hawaii Weddings. (Send resident caretaker Larry Riviera an email: LarryRiviera@hawaiian.net ) The massive coconut grove must still be there.

According to the same article above, by the late 2000’s the resort rapidly disintegrated, despite efforts of various interested investors to try and save it. Meanwhile, copper thieves, ornament hunters and vandals have nearly completely stripped the buildings. In February 2013, thieves broke down hotel walls and made off with four of the resort’s original 8-foot-tall doors, weighing 200-300 pounds each, hand carved from solid Koa wood, valued at $50,000 each, but to the collectors and fans of the Coco Palms they are priceless.

As late as August 2013 a group of Hawaiian investors developed plans to purchase the property. Reconstruction was announced to take between 12-18 months, beginning in 2014, restoring the resort to look very similar to what it was pre-Iniki. But now in 2019, it is clear no progress has been made.

So I dunno – there may be a 32-acre Real estate property available on the Kuhio Highway that sits on the mouth of the Wailua River on the eastern side of Kauai, about seven miles north of Lihue. A 17-acre coconut grove with over 2000 trees is included.

Of course, did I mention that it also sits below the flood plain?

Kauai’s Epic Rainfall, April 14-15, 2018

February 10, 2019

(January 2019 Kauai Trip – Part 2)

Imagine you are visiting or living on the north shore of Kauai near Hanalei in the middle of April, 2018. You wake up on Friday, April 14, 2018 to a hard rain. Forecast calls for a major storm, so you hunker down inside your residence. The storm hits about 5 am but it’s ever more fierce than you imagined. It’s raining HARD, and continuously, throughout the day and into the night. You just can’t believe the persistent pounding on the roof and surfaces outside. Finally in the middle of the night, Friday night, you go out and capture a video: (take a little time here to listen – the sound of rain (albeit in small doses) can be a bit relaxing …)

Video taken Saturday April 16,3:30 AM by Theriault Brigette

Finally by 5 am Saturday the rain begins to subside. This storm turns out to be epic – dumping an average of 2″ an hour in Hanalei – 48 inches in 24 hours! Residents emerge to discover widespread damage and devastation – washed out roads, upturned vehicles, homes on the verge of collapsing or washed away, people stranded. Landslides.

You venture out, manage to get down along Hanalei Bay and witness the aftermath, maybe capture some respectable photos and video of the devastation. Here’s a video from (what must be) a drone, where one can see that Weke road – which runs between multimillion-dollar houses along Hanalei beach, near the dock, is clearly destroyed. So are several houses…

April 2018 Flood-posted by Aaron Feinberg

Rescue teams disperse in helicopters, rafts and jet skis. 152 people are evacuated by helicopter. Flooding sweeps a herd of buffalo away at a nearby ranch and buffalo are stranded in peoples’ yards and in Hanalei Bay. Buffalo stranded in Hanalei Bay? Yes. Someone captured a video of Hawaii cowboys, “Paniolo” on jet skis catching stray buffalo in Hanalei Bay:

Hawaii Paniolo catching buffalo

30 campers are stranded on the Kalalau Trail along the now-isolated Napali Coast. Bad timing for a backpacking trip! Turns out the Kalalau trail and Napali Coast are cut off because the only road going there, ‘Kuhio Highway’ has sections that are completely washed away.

To give you an idea of where this epic rain occurred, here are a couple of maps of Kauai. This first one is of the whole island –

Island of Kauai

This second map is a closeup of the North Shore where the April flood hit the hardest: Hanalei, and Napali Coast…

North Shore

The section of road in red is the Kuhio Highway that connects you to the Napali Coast – Ke’e Beach, Kalalau trail, Lumaha’i Beach… The road is closed because of extensive April 14-15, 2018 flood damage.

So when David, Eric and I visited a couple of weeks ago (Jan 17-31, 2019) we hung out on Hanalei Beach and then decided to take the Kuhio highway over to our favorite beach of all time, why of course, – Lumaha’i Beach! We weren’t even through Hanalei when … What ??

Kuhio Highway

Wow! Nine months after the flood and the highway is still closed? Is there no way to get to Lumaha’i Beach?

Nope. Not unless you have a permit to go past the barrier – and only as part of a convoy that enters and exits the area every 1 1/2 hours. If you live past the barrier, then you get a pass, but you still have to enter and exit the area with the convoy. Say you are a contractor, building a new house or or something past the barrier. You have to get a new permit every Monday (in Lihue) to enter the area for that week, and exit, with the convoy.

We learned much of this from talking to the locals. The Kuhio Highway had literally been washed away in places off the edges of the slopes of the Napali Coast. After removing debris they have to ‘slope scale, stabilize and reinforce’ the road – it’s a massive construction project. Here’s a link with lots of information about the ‘Project Status’ of the road repair – (for you engineering types who would likely find this fascinating):

Project Status as of 12/28/18

The town of Hanalei is fully alive, however, with businesses open and doing fine. Eric even successfully persuaded David and I to walk with him to the end of Hanalei Beach and then further along the rocky coastline to see if we could get to Lumahai Beach on foot. Sure Eric, why not?

We didn’t get too far till we had to turn back!

The end of the beach at Hanalei Bay

Directly parallel to us, off to our left is where the convoy begins. David counted 60 cars that lined up to go through at about 12:45 in the afternoon, January 26, 2019.

Here’s a couple more photos I took of Hanalei Bay as it looks now:

Hanalei Bay

The dock

And a couple of the houses on Weke Road along the beach near the dock that were severely damaged on April 15 and still standing, as if they haven’t even been touched since the flood (insurance settlement issues?? Too unsafe???):

Now dear reader, if you have any time, energy or inclination to look at another April 15, 2018 Kauai flood you-tube video – this last one is really quite interesting. It was posted by a local woman – obviously someone who lives or has lived on or close to the beach here where the flood took out these houses. Anyway, she provides close-up coverage of the flooding around the houses on the beach and interesting commentary about the building of these (multi-million dollar?) houses in this unfortunate location:

Weke Road Flood update Hanalei 5-2-18- Felicia Alongi Cowden

And lastly, wouldn’t you still like to get to the fabulous Lumaha’i Beach? Dang! Well, you’re in luck because I can take you there. Here is a video of the beach I took on a previous trip to Kauai, way before the flood – posted in one of my previous Kauai blogs – link here.

Although my video doesn’t hold a candle to a video I found on You tube of the same spot: click on this video by Cyndi Totti – taken on January 20, 2016, during record high surf with an added bonus of lots of girls in bikinis diving into the crashing waves (You’re welcome).

Aloha! Now you understand why my brother Eric was coaxing David and I to walk with him along the treacherous rocky coastline beyond the barrier to get to Lumaha’i Beach!

Meanwhile, back at home in Idaho at the moment …

Sunday, Feb 10, 2019

Yeah. Nature pretty much gets her way.

No worries. We’ve hired a crew to shovel us out. They’ve just pulled up in front of our house

Sweet!

Young strapping males

Feb 10- 5 PM – Yes!!

Oh, BTW- After every hike on the beach at Hanalei we do have the option of refreshing ourselves with a round of Iniki Mai Tais at the Kalypso Restaurant in Hanalei.

Kalypso, Jan 21, 2019 3:15 pm

And feed off of my brother Eric’s infectious energy.

Although look at those eyes. What new mischief is he up to? Devising another lawless scheme to get us past that barrier over to Lumaha’i Beach? Hmmm. Seems likely. What do you think?

Oh, and by the way, click on this link if you’d like to give to the Kauai Relief and Recovery Fund through the Hawai’i Community Foundation.