Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I got junior

You can't really tell from the picture, but this is one of those big rat traps.

I'm still trying to catch Big Daddy.  As Mary said, packrats are smart.  They are really good at eating all the bait without tripping the trap, and when you really wedge the cheese in there, they just eat the exposed parts.  Yesterday I sprinkled some sunflower seeds from the bird feeder around on top of the trap, thinking maybe they'd be more focused on getting every seed and forget to be careful.  I don't know if that's what happened, but this is the first one I've caught.

Normally I'm a live-and-let-live kind of guy, but packrats are nasty.  They mark their territory with a smelly musk, which I now have on one of the bags my snow tires are in.  You often hear about them getting into vehicles and gnawing through wires and hoses, and I don't need that.  I won't use poison, but the trapping is on.  They may be bushy-tailed woodrats when they're outside, but in my garage, they're just plain old packrats.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Random Thoughts

Random Thoughts From Sula
  • It has been six weeks since I returned from my backpacking trip, and the thought of oatmeal still disgusts me. 
  • As far as I know, Hamlet contains the earliest literary reference to an uncle daddy, although Hamlet actually said uncle father.  Something was indeed rotten in the state of Denmark.
  • While grocery shopping last week, I made an impulse buy of some Super Bubble bubble gum.  It made me wonder how many years it had been since I'd blown a bubble. 
  • I never heard of Katy Perry before the big Sesame Street boob debacle.  Now she's everywhere.  But that Hot N Cold is a catchy tune. 
    Random Thoughts From Fort Worth (courtesy of LDB)
    • My coffee cup has a Thoreau quote on the inside lip.  I guess it's so you can see it as you sip your coffee (although you have to go a bit cross-eyed to look at it while drinking). Anyway, it says "Live the life you've imagined."  I have always liked that. But it got me thinking, what if your imagination sucks?  Or what if it's just pretty lame and boring?
    • If you want to make yourself throw up, get some Ortho Orthene fire ant killer and take a sniff. Whew! No wonder the ants leave.

      Friday, September 24, 2010

      The Start of Fall

      Thursday was a sunny fall day.  It was 48° in the afternoon.

      The river is low.

      If it gets much lower I'll walk to the other side without getting my feet wet.


      Harvest moon over the Sapphire Mountains.

      Tuesday, September 21, 2010

      Camping at Red Rock Lakes NWR

      Conventional wisdom says it's safe to go to Yellowstone after Labor Day because by then the crowds are gone.  Mari and I tried to go camping there last weekend, but we found out conventional wisdom is not infallible, so we headed west to Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge.

      Most of Yellowstone National Park is in Wyoming, but as you head out toward the west entrance, you cross into Montana. West of the city of West Yellowstone, Montana you cross briefly into Idaho.  It really doesn't matter as long as you remember that no matter where you go, there you are. 

      Starting to look like fall.

      The aspens were changing.

       At Red Rock Pass we crossed back into Montana.

      Red Rock Lakes NWR is an important wintering area for trumpeter swans.  We saw a few of them way out on the lake, but couldn't get a decent picture.   

      The upper lake has everything I like in a campground--it's small, not too well known, doesn't offer a lot of amenities, and it's a little bit hard to get to.  In the half dozen times I've been there, I've almost always had the whole place to myself. We weren't so lucky this time. The campground was about half full, but it's long and spread-out and we got a spot on the end, so it was good camping.

      Moon rise over the ridge behind the campground, accompanied by a hooting owl and howling coyotes.

      Morning at the upper lake.

      Later in the day, looking behind our campsite.

       Last look at the upper lake on the way home.

      More fiery aspens. 

      Thursday, September 16, 2010

      Driving the Big Hole

      I'm trying to focus most of my writing efforts on the Bob narrative, so I may be posting less frequently in the near term and posting more pictures.  Anyway, there's not much I can add to pictures of the Big Hole.

      A pronghorn had just crossed the highway, down on the right.

      The pronghorn is in the lower left here.

      The highway follows the Big Hole River.

      Old trucks in Dewey.

      There is an old train tunnel on the far side of the river.

      Tuesday, September 14, 2010


      I opened my garage door just as this critter was climbing across one of the cross pieces on the inside.  Technically, it's a bushy-tailed woodrat, but it will be forever known as the packrat.

      It tried to use the old Jurassic Park trick--"He can't see me if I don't move."

      According to one field guide, the bushy tail makes it more squirrel-like than ratlike, but I think that's just part of its PR campaign.  While squirrels and rats are both in the order Rodentia, the packrat is a member of the mouse family, and that's a dysfunctional family, especially when they leave the fields and try to come inside.

      Still motionless as I started to close the door.

      "He still can't see me, so he doesn't know I'm upside-down and look ridiculous."

      At this point it was really stuck, so I pushed on the outer part of the door with a shovel handle to give it a little wiggle room, and it righted itself.  Then the FedEx man showed up and distracted me, and the rat made its escape while I was outside.

      Wednesday, September 1, 2010

      Sula Moose

      I looked up from my dinner on Wednesday night and saw a cow moose outside my window.  She crossed the river and disappeared into the trees on the other side, so I couldn't get a good photo.  This was the first moose I've seen in the Bitterroot.  I'd seen them in and around Yellowstone and in northwest Colorado, but not out here.