Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Backyard Nature Walk

Hooray for part-time work on nice days! I got out of work at 11am this morning and valiantly held off from going to basketball at noon and re-injuring my ankle.

Must... resist... must... wait... for... ...frisbee.

Not being able to play frisbee this weekend would suck. I've been looking forward to this weekend of frisbee since the DUI tourney in Davis about a month ago. Looking forward to taking some more photos like these:

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Tony was the big loser at poker night last time I was in Sacramento, although we both lost a big pot to Melinda, who made Tony stand on top of me, while I still had to hold my ear from a previous bet. He eventually wound up wearing not only flamingly red lipstick, but also "Halloween Orange" nail polish. Of course they both had to stay on the entire next day at the frisbee tourney, which I'm positive contributed to our big win.

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Oh yes, how could I forget the cape I was forced to wear by Roxie (or was it Melinda? I seem to have a hazy memory of that night). The cape proved handy when I drunkenly started betting clothes... but yes, looking forward to some frisbee on Saturday!

Instead of ballin' it up, I went for a little walk in the national forest behind my house. Ichi lasted about 20ft, then scampered back to the house to stand guard. I walked past the new home being built, and found myself in an open area in the forest. It seemed a bit odd to have a gap in the middle of a forest, but then I saw a chimney. No fireplace, no house--just a chimney. It didn't really seem photo-worthy at the time, but it was probably the oddest part of the trip. I'm guessing a fire burnt down the house, and left the cement-block chimney standing? It looked like a fun rock-climbing problem if it is still sturdy (which I didn't check). Next time...

I continued past the non-existant house and found a little trail that doubled as a property line for multiple houses. This is where I met my first obstacle in my journey--Mr. Squirrley:

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Where he got the peanut from, I have no idea. I didn't think Tahoe had any animals that laid peanuts, but apparently I was mistaken. Besides the dive-bombing blue jays (more on them later), Mr. Squirrley was the only animal to approach me on my trek. When he heard me coming he actually sprinted towards me (unlike all the damn unfriendly chipmunks--those tiny punks can go to hell, I got about 15 great pictures of dirt because they scampered away at the last milli-second). Mr. Squirrley perched up on a nice little stump for me, then did a few poses.

Eventually, he realized I had no food. As nice as Mr. Squirrley was, I thought he might offer me his peanut, buuuut he just ran off into the forest behind me.

I continued on my newfound trail and it eventually met up with Martin Rd. I saw a car drive past, so I turned around because this was a nature hike. Two blue jays found me, but were darting around just as fast as the chipmunks--so I failed to get any blog-worthy photos of the winged beasts.

**Goal for next picture-taking trek through the woods is to get pictures of both a blue jay and a chipmunk. I may have to resort to baiting them with some Ritz crackers, but they'll get their cameos in this here blog, mark my words!

Growing tired of missing shots of blue jays and chipmunks, I decided Martin Rd. was where the million-dollar photos would occur (they sort of had to, by default). I hopped off Martin Rd. after about 50ft, and saw a relatively steep road that looked like it might have a good vantage point of the lake. It was appropriately named Zephyr Heights Drive, so I felt good about my chances. Also, behind a tree hid a pretty large gate that deters motor-vehicles in the winter, which just had to mean this road got pretty hairy:

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The road was definitely steep. Maybe not as steep as some of the Sand Point roads I'm trying to get Tessa and Jrad to bike up in Seattle, but it had me straining. The pain was worth it though--when I got to the top I was treated to some gorgeous 180 degree views of the lake:

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The ferry was a neat shot, because I could see just about all of the lake from up there, and the only ripple in the lake was from that one ferry. I was speedily snapping pictures of the lake, when I guess I ruffled some feathers:

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This guy and his friend hopped up to the top of that tree overlooking the lake, then they dive-bombed me. If I had been a skilled photographer, I would have had a couple of amazing pictures, but sadly this blurry one was all I got:

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I took the hint and got away from their nest, wherever it was, and decided to walk a bit further on Zephyr Heights Drive. To my surprise, I found a little bird convinced that he could fell a tree:

I liked his attitude. He could tell that the telephone pole was not an ordinary tree, and he was determined to knock that sucker down. How houses got built in a National Forest in the first place has me shaking my head a bit, but if I was a bird, or a bear, or a chipmunk, I'd be pecking/mauling/nibbling at every man-made thing on my land too. I wished the little guy luck, after he was kind enough to let me snap about 100 photos of him. I was trying to catch him in a good action shot, but that guy's wings moved so fast all I ever got of him were still shots of him just sitting there pretending not to be knocking over the telephone pole. I finally just settled on a video.

By this point, my camera was starting to fill up, and I was getting thirsty, so I decided to head back home. I was strolling down the steep hill to the tune of a few guard dogs howling at me, when I caught a glimpse of them stuck on their porch, and just had to take a photo:

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They were cute, and just doing their job, so I didn't have any hard feelings.

I got back on the property-line path and two magnificently blue, blue jays trotted out to greet me. I went to go take off the lens of the camera slowly, and the birds kept their pose. I raised the camera slowly and tried to snap a quick picture, but they zoomed off and I'm pretty sure I heard blue jay laughter as I checked out my nice dust picture on the recall function of the camera. I'm almost positive they were the two blue jays from earlier on the path, who kept escaping my shaky hand. I gave up quickly this time and walked hastily back to the house.

I entered Ichi's "kill zone" about 20ft from the house, and gave a little peace whistle to Ichi, letting him know I was friend, not foe. I got a high-pitched Ichi meow in response and smiled to myself. I walked closer and slowed down, expecting Ichi to jump on me from behind one of the many parked cars in our driveway, but I saw no sign of him.

Then a piercing howl came from 10ft above my head:

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Ichi in a tree again--you wouldn't think I'd be surprised, but I honestly was surprised to see how high up he was. He was probably a good 15-20ft up. I'm not sure if he chased a chipmunk up there (I hope so, damn evasive chipmunks!), but Ichi was very hesitant on his descent. I ended up flipping an empty garbage can upside down, and raising it as high as I could so he could jump onto it, then be lowered safely to the ground--but I'll give you a second to figure how that actually turned out...

Not as intended, that's how it turned out.

Ichi bounced off the garbage can and did a triple sow-cow from about 10 feet up, bounced when he hit the bed of rock-pebbles, then darted away. He was healthy enough to snipe some of the turkey in my sandwich 5 minutes later, so I think he's alright.

Update: He's alright.

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Blogger HighOnPoker said...

I really enjoy your nature posts and photos. In fact, I'm damn envious. I wish I had all that around me. I've always been a fan of nature, even though I rarely get an opportunity to experience it.

8:49 AM  

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