Following are some pictures of the mountain goats we saw at one of the overlooks on the Beartooth Highway. The Beartooth Highway runs through the Absaroka Mountains. Mountain goats are not native to the area and were introduced from 1941 to 1958 by Montana Fish and Game (source fwp.mt.gov).
After having a hard time with low light conditions getting a picture of the marmots and pikas, I went back up the next morning and was successful in getting some video and pictures.
Following is the video of the mountain goats, pika, and marmot.
Our propane heater is broken and we were boondocking in Limber Pines in the Custer-Gallatin National Forest. It went down to 37 degrees the second night, so it was very chilly in the motorhome. If I wanted to freeze while camping, I could do it a lot less expensively in a tent. We reached out to our next campground and they could accommodate us early so we left. We went from 37 degrees in the morning to 85 degrees when we arrived in our new campground.
We are staying in Livingston, Montana before we head to a campground near the Beartooth Highway tomorrow where we will be boondocking (no utilities) for 4 days in bear country and we will have no cell phone service. Our stop in Livingston is only 55 miles to the north Yellowstone National Park entrance, so we thought we’d drop in for a couple hours. We know the park is extremely busy in the summer and it is best to get out of there by 10:00 when the crowds really start to come in. Also, the wildlife viewing is best at sunrise.
We woke up way before the sun to head on our short stay in the park. Our goal was to head to the Lamar Valley early. It is my favorite wildlife viewing area. Regis decided to do the driving and I reminded him to be careful since it will be dark. He said “oh because of the wild animals?” and I said “because of the domestic animals also. This may be range country.” Not too many miles after we left the campground, we came upon two huge white horses in the road. If they had not be white, they would have been more difficult to see. I don’t think either one of us considered the possibility that we would encounter horses in the middle of the road.
The sky was just beginning to lighten as we were about 3/4 of the way to the entrance when we started to see elk. Lots and lots of elk. There were hundreds of them and many babies. The road was too dangerous for a stop and it was still pretty dark, so taking pictures was not a safe or good option. We arrived at the park at 5:44 a.m. Once inside the park, we saw about a half dozen elk. Is it safer for the elk outside the park in the summer?
As we headed toward the Lamar Valley, we came upon a black bear. The sun had not yet come up over the mountain, so there wasn’t much light. Therefore, the picture is very noisy but it was darn cool to see the bear. We were able to stop the car and I stood outside the passenger door with the car between me and the bear. I had a 100-400mm zoom lens, so we are not as close to the bear as it appears and I think it would have walked right by us if cars didn’t show up coming the other way. They scared the bear and it turned into the woods.
When we arrived in the Lamar Valley we founds lots of bison. They were everywhere and there were many babies. I have a video below of some of the bison. At the beginning of the video, there are two young males play fighting. The bison were too close to the road to get out of the car and use the tripod, so I had to balance the lens on the car door with the window open. We went to the northeast entrance of the park and turned around and stopped at the bison again and got more video on the tripod. There were a lot more bison sleeping when we returned.
I was hoping to get an elk picture on the way back. My goal was to get out of the park by 10:00 and we left at 10:02. The line of cars to get into the park was backed up into the town of Gardiner. We have no problem experiencing Yellowstone with other people, but when too many show up, it reminds me of my congested commutes to work. We had to get up early for our amazing short experience in Yellowstone, but it was worth it. But, we didn’t see a single elk on the way back. All those hundreds of elk that we saw on the way to the park were gone. We don’t know where they went, but it was like they all transported someplace else. Unbelievable! We are now on a quest to get a picture of an elk before we get back home.
Regis got the following pictures of a violet-green swallow at our last campsite. I’m am behind on processing photos. When we arrived in the campground, we saw there was an active nest in an outbuilding. Regis took the time to stake it out and try to get some pictures.
As we continue our long trek home, we went from Washington State to our first stop in Alberton, Montana where we are camped on the Clark Fork River. The weather has been beautiful. We expected it to be hotter. It was in the high 70’s when we arrived and very nice while sitting outside but hot in the RV. After we went to bed, I had to put the air conditioning on in the bedroom to lower the temperature a couple degrees. Dart couldn’t stop panting. I got it to a comfortable temperature and then the rains came through and cool air came through the open windows. By morning, we had the heat on.
We drove to a nearby bighorn sheep viewing area this morning and did not see any sheep. It was a short drive and nice. On the way back, we stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few things and headed back. I set out to do a couple loads of wash and Regis got some pictures of the surrounding area.
No one has been wearing masks at our campground which includes a restaurant and casino, so I was a little bummed to be the only one wearing a mask. We went into Frenchtown nearby to do some grocery shopping and folks were wearing masks. We continue to wear masks. We have no desire to get sick, much less while we are traveling.
We left Port Townsend this morning and were sad to leave the Olympic Peninsula. We love the area and it is close to Jason for visiting. This morning, while still camped at Point Hudson, I noticed some river otters in the water. I grabbed Dart’s leash and the camera and I sat on a hunk of driftwood on the beach and watched the otters until they came ashore and disappeared. It was a family with two adults and two juveniles. They were too far out to get good pictures, but we have a couple here to post. They were a joy to watch. The adults kept getting food and lifting their heads above the water while the juveniles scrambled around them, perhaps not sure what they were supposed to do. Regis came out to photograph also. I also saw a bald eagle on the spit. It took off with a dead seagull.
It was a wonderful gift of the day to see the otter family on our last morning at Port Townsend. Our plan was to drive to Ellensburg, Washington to camp and then head to Gingko Petrified Forest State Park to see if we could see some bighorn sheep. We originally planned to camp in the park, but camping was closed although the park was open for day use. We altered our plans and stayed in a private KOA campground in Ellensburg which is about 30 miles away from the park. After setting up camp, we headed to the park. I wasn’t expecting to get to see the bighorn sheep since I already had the opportunity to see the otters in the morning.
At this point, Dart must have been truly miserable. He had the longest drive in the RV for awhile and perhaps thought he was in for some relief before we packed him up into the Jeep after setting up camp. After we got to the State park, I missed the turn to the visitor center and took the next one and lo and behold, we saw sheep. I thought I would not be so lucky since I got to see the otters in the morning. It was too much to ask for one day. Wahoo!
While we stopped to watch the bighorn sheep, I noticed a rocky/dirt road into the park that was closed but you could get a permit. It gave a phone number for me to call and I did and it gave me the code to get through the gate. We put the Jeep in four wheel drive and headed out on the road. It was terrible. It was so rocky we couldn’t drive more than a couple miles an hour. Dart was, of course, miserable. After driving in a short way, we got some good views of bighorn sheep before they exited stage right. Once we realized we impacted their behavior, we stopped the Jeep, but they wandered off anyway. After they left, we kept going.
We didn’t go far. I was certain Dart was beyond miserable and the road was no fun to drive, so we turned around and headed back. We headed to our usual place in the park to see the sheep, but there were people there and no sheep. Therefore, we were fortunate to have missed our turn and saw the sheep. We headed back on a scenic route to our campsite and saw lots of wind turbines along the way.
In Ellensburg, we went through a drive through to pick up dinner. We have had salmon the last two nights and we were going to have salmon again tonight. Having a lousy hamburger tonight wasn’t too bad. There is a story about all that salmon that may be boring but here it is. Regis went to the grocery store very early in the morning and the fresh seafood was not out and he picked up frozen seafood instead. We left some salmon out to thaw. I went to the store later to pick up a prescription and the seafood was out and I picked up a piece of fresh salmon too big to eat in one night. We have had fresh salmon the last two nights. I love salmon, but don’t mind skipping a day.
It was chilly most of the time we were on the Olympic Peninsula. As soon as we got close to Snoqualmie Pass, we began to see sun. By the time we crossed the Cascades, it warmed up. It was in the high 70’s today in Ellensburg but it felt hot after all those chilly Olympic Peninsula days. We better acclimate quick because I suspect it gets hotter as we move forward.
It is our last day here and I was hoping for some sun to get some action shots of some birds. It helps to have some light when you need a high shutter speed to capture the action. The day did not provide, so I made due with what was available.
I went back to the pigeon guillemots and thoroughly enjoyed watching and listening to them. I’m glad we discovered a way to get closer to them at Fort Worden State Park.
Dart went on a walk with me to an overlook to get this landscape view of the marina/RV park where we are staying. He was beat when we got back since we had to climb a steep hill for the shot.
This afternoon at low tide, I walked out on the spit and got some pictures of the gulls bathing.
It’s been in the low 60’s today. We know when we leave tomorrow we are heading into the heat. I think we are finally acclimating to the cooler temperatures, so it is going to be painful tomorrow when we start heading into the heat.
We have not been doing as much exploring as we usually do on our trips. If we venture somewhere that turns out to be too crowded, we turn back. Sitting still and enjoying the wildlife and scenery is just fine. I have no complaints. Over the weekend, I went to Fort Worden and it was crowded so I turned back. We went today and it was much less crowded, so we got to explore a little bit. We had great viewing opportunities of some pigeon guillemots. The science center at Fort Worden has some nest boxes for the guillemots and they regularly nest there. I love the red legs on these mostly black birds.
As we walked through the park to go to the headland where the lighthouse is located, we found some conifers with a bunch of chestnut-backed chickadees feeding in them. Those little birds move around very quickly and are often hidden by pine needles, so it was tough to get a picture.
We walked out to the headland and sat on some driftwood and heard some weird noises coming across the water. We figured out that it was sea lions on the buoy out in the water.
At this point Dart was done, so Regis stayed with him at the headland while I walked back to the car and came back and retrieved them. It is hard to see Dart wear out so fast now when he drove us crazy with his energy when he was younger.
Back at our campsite at Point Hudson, a submarine came by. We have seen a couple submarines come through the Admiralty Inlet but this submarine was not going on the usual route. It was clearly docking nearby and we got a nice close look at it.
We leave here on Wednesday so tomorrow is our last full day here. I am saddened somewhat because I love the area but I am also ready to explore some other places.
We particularly enjoy watching the otters while camped on the shores of Puget Sound. We saw them several times while camped on Bainbridge Island and we see them regularly here in Port Townsend. They appear to be very successful catching fish. We often see them near shore as they swim in the water in pursuit of fish. Once they are satisfied, they exit the water and sometimes roll in the sand afterward. They are adorable. Sometimes they exit the water to eat the fish and that’s when Regis saw the bald eagle steal the fish from an otter. We have seen them in the marina and running around outside the restaurants. I heard someone say they often go under the restaurants. They are very difficult to photograph. If the sun is out, the wet otters reflect the sun. A polarizing filter would help, but we don’t have filters for all our lenses. Other times, they are too distant to get a good shot. I think the picture Regis got above is one of the better images.
Yesterday, Dart turned 10. Because of his digestive issues the best treat he got was a little bit of spam with medication stuffed inside to aid in his digestive problems and a few bits of bacon. Regis took the stuffing out of his new bed and put it in in old bed and it worked out well. Dart is clearly happier with his old bed back.
We were fortunate yesterday that the sun came out in time to enjoy a picnic on the 4th. Jason, Dan, and Coco arrived in Port Townsend on Friday and are staying in a nearby hotel. They joined us at our campsite overlooking Puget Sound for lunch and Dan’s parents came up from the Kitsap Peninsula to join us. We picked up some take out food from one of the restaurants in the marina and had a lovely afternoon outside in beautiful weather. Jason and Dan performed a few songs for us with Jason on the guitar and Dan singing. It was a beautiful performance. After they sang “Hallelujah”, one of our camping neighbors stopped by to tell them how lovely it was.
Following are pictures of wildlife at Point Hudson.
We are camped on a small piece of land between the marina with a few restaurants and the water. Regis recently said he can tell easily whether it is high tide or low tide and I asked “what, by looking at the water?” He said he didn’t have to look at the water. He can look at the roofs of the restaurants. If they are full of gulls, it is high tide. Fewer gulls means it is low tide.
We have seen a lot of gulls here and I am enjoying them. Sadly, two days in a row this week I found a dead juvenile seagull on the shore and both are still there. I don’t know how they died. It seems to me that if the eagle killed them, it would eat them. I have seen some dogs running free on the beach chasing the birds, so I wonder if it could be a dog. I don’t know, but the birds look basically intact without checking them more closely.
The glaucous-winged gulls with the chick now have three chicks. This picture only shows two of them.
Dart vomited on his bed twice in the last week and after cleaning the cover a second time, Regis said the pillow stuffing had to go. It smelled bad. I drove two hours round trip today to try to get new stuffing. I wasn’t happy with the stuffing available in the craft store, so I checked out the nearby Petco and purchased a new bed instead. When I got back, Dart smelled it, got on it, and immediately exited. He was not interested. Argh! He has many beds at home because he inherited beds from our collies. I purchased his bed when I got him and he will turn 10 on Saturday. All his beds have been with him since he arrived in our house. He stuck his nose up at this new bed. Regis placed the cover of his old bed over top of the new bed and Dart reluctantly got on it this afternoon. He tried desperately to rearrange things and finally gave up and took a nap. Whew!
It has been typical Pacific Northwest weather the last few days. I saw the sunrise our first morning but the last three days have been foggy, drizzly, and cool. Usually, the water is calm so it would still be nice to sit out, but its cold. It has been in the low 50’s getting up to a high of 60 or so on a good day lately. Today, I brought out my winter coat and found that it is tolerable. As long as I can stay warm, I can appreciate it.
Overcast days are better for taking some pictures, so I took advantage of the situation. Here are my favorites from today.
Regis found this sign while wandering around in Port Townsend.
This morning, I mentioned to Regis that I had only see one harbor seal since our arrival. The last few times we were in this area, we saw lots of harbor seals. This morning, a group of them showed up. I felt better. Although, I know that the transient orcas having been doing well in Puget sound and they eat seals. The resident orcas eat salmon and they are not doing well.
Our trip this year was planned around this campsite in Port Townsend and a Hummingbird workshop that I was scheduled to take in Arizona in late August. After we left Port Townsend, we were going to work our way through Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado into Arizona for the workshop. I just found out the workshop is postponed until next year which is not surprising. As a result, we will head home after Colorado. We are enjoying being outside and exploring the country, but much of it is shutdown and we are trying to be safe. This is the first time I have come to Port Townsend and not gone out on the local whale watching tour. I go every time and see whales every time and it is a huge thrill. They have reduced the number of people on the tours but I would want to stay outside on the boat, which I have done in the past. But, it is really chilly here. If I’m cold on land, I’ll freeze on the boat. I was warmer last year on my trip to Alaska.
It is still lovely to hang around the campsites and enjoy the scenery and wildlife, but we haven’t been doing the other things we would usually do when we travel. Cutting short this trip may not be so bad and perhaps things will be better next year. I’m already planning the trip!
We have been enjoying walking around the near vicinity at Point Hudson in Port Townsend and enjoying the wildlife. When the sun is out, we sit in our chairs with binoculars and scan for wildlife, etc. Yesterday, Regis spotted a submarine being escorted out of Puget Sound. He pointed out the menacing boat behind the escorted sub. I said it didn’t look menacing and he assured me it was. He also noticed the other boats in front that were part of the escort. He had every boat identified and knew what was happening and I was only capable of maybe identifying the gulls flying by. I appreciated the education. We took pictures but they were on the other side of the inlet with a lot of humid air between us and them and the pictures are terrible.
I walked through town yesterday and visited a used book store that I love. I didn’t find the books I was looking for, but found others and was happy to pick them up. I love looking at the local art in the galleries and viewed them from the front window.
Today, I awoke to watch the sunrise and it was foggy so there was nothing to see. I will go with the flow. I later walked the beach at low tide and saw lots of sea anemones that should be green, but they were brown. I suspect that is not good.
The sun came out for part of the day, so we bundled up and sat outside in our chairs with Dart and scanned for birds, etc. with our binoculars. It was fun until the sky turned too cloudy again and it was too cold and we went back inside. My son loaned me his paddleboard so I could use it but it is too cold for me. I have seen people paddle boarding but I am a Floridian sissy and can’t bring myself to do it. I want very much to get out on the water. They rent kayaks in the marina but we are not sure they are open. With Covid-19, things are not normal. The office was closed today but I will try again tomorrow but I understand if they stay closed. We must take things day by day and be grateful for what we have.