Sunday, November 26, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Originally uploaded by egret's nest.
We're home from our trip to the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains. What a fantastic trip! Gathering both sides of our family together is usually successful but adding in lack of privacy, five days of togetherness, holiday stress, and all that good stuff ups the ante a bit. Thankfully, it all went really well.

Here's a brief rundown!

Tuesday after school, we headed off to the mountains! We left home at 2pm which is exactly what we hoped for. The kids were great on the drive which is a long one. It helped that for the first time, we let them watch a DVD in the car. We only allowed it after dark and when it was nearing bedtime. We drove through Yosemite National Park in the pitch black. I made Greg drive down Tioga Pass since even though it's pitch black I know all to well how long a drop off it is with no guard rails. We arrived at my folks in June Lake around 9:20pm.

We got up to a beautiful day in the Sierra. We wanted to do a little boondocking and since my mother a) hates driving on 4WD roads and b) had a lot to do to prepare, we headed off to do it. We were hoping to see wild Mustangs in the Montgomery Pass area but we didn't see any. We did see some horse poop on the road which was probably from them, however. We saw lots of amazing sites and explored some abandoned mine buildings. We made it up a nasty 4WD road with switchbacks to the top of Queen Saddle which has a lovely view all the way around. It was very cold and blustery up there -- I didn't even get out of the truck! On the way back down, we saw a very sweet and cooperative Mountain Bluebird (life bird). He posed on a tree for us and Igor (my step-dad) got a shot of him. Very fun! Greg's folks and sister and nephews joined us around 7:30pm that evening.

Thanksgiving Day dawned clear and bright. We decided to do the Bodie trip that day since I can easily lead it and Mom and Igor have been to Bodie plenty of times in their lives, thank you. So, off we all went. On the way to Bodie, we saw a Golden Eagle (life bird) wheeling around on the side of the road. Bodie is always spectacular. Thankfully the weather was pretty good -- cold but not unbearable. It's either miserably cold there or miserably hot there. My favorite part was watching my kids run wild in the town -- they were more secure going off from us with their cousins close at hand. We arrived back at my mom's in time for cocktails at her neighbor's house. Then we walked back home and had a great Thanksgiving feast. Igor cooks the turkey on his Weber grill and WOW is it the best turkey you've ever had! I really find all other turkeys to be "okay" at best after his! It's utterly fantastic. We ate and ate and ate. I felt a little sick at bedtime from all the food.
Friday was another fun day. Thanks to Igor's generosity, we took our kids skiing for the first time. They had an absolute blast! We sat in the cold (again not TOO cold) and watched them learning to ski -- it was wonderful! That night was my parent's anniversary so they went off to Convict Lake for dinner and we went to the Tiger Bar for our dinner! Totally fun!
Saturday may have been my favorite day. Igor and Greg took all the kids on a super hike. They went to Lake Gardinsky. Igor and my oldest nephew Evan took it even further and went up to the top of Tioga Peak. His first peak! They all had a blast but it was hard and tiring and cold. They saw tracks of bear, mountain lion, and Sierra Big Horn Sheep on the hike which was very cool. We gave them hot chocolate on their return and let them watch a DVD. Evan fell asleep but there was no doubt that he had earned it! Meanwhile, the rest of us went shopping. We explored June Lake which was mostly closed -- my mother went into every shop announcing, "I come bearing tourists!" Our favorite stop was the Thrift Shop -- we all made purchases including my father-in-law! Dinner that night was a conglomeration -- turkey left-overs and Igor's homemade wonton soup. YUM!

Sunday morning, we ate pancakes, packed up, and headed home. We hit rain when we got out of the Sierras which was lucky -- we got to use Tioga Pass both ways on the trip which saved us hours of driving -- Phew! The drive home was uneventful. We arrived home to a new roof on part of the house and a cat in the house. The roof is great -- no clue who the cat is or why she's hanging with us and crying. No pee or poop in the house so we think maybe the roofer came to check how the roof was holding up today and let her in either by mistake or thinking she was ours. I put her outside in the rain and gave her some turkey. Poor thing is still hanging around crying!

We're glad to be home though. What a great trip!

Birds seen on trip:
Common Raven - 40 or something crazy like that
Lesser Goldfinch - 1 (broken foot, staying at feeder instead of migrating)
*Mountain Chickadees -- countless
*Cassin's Finch - 2 (male and female)
*Golden Eagle - 1
*Mountain Bluebird - 1
Steller's Jays - countless
Dark-eyed Juncos - 6
American Robin - 1
American Coot - countless
*Northern Harrier - 1
Unidentified Hawks - countless
Hairy/Downy woodpecker (couldn't id) - 1
Great Egret - 8
Turkey Vulture - countless
Pigeons - countless
American Crow - countless
Merlin - 1
Gulls - countless and no specific id
*White-tailed Kite - 1
*White-breasted Nuthatch - 1
Pygmy Nuthatch - 2
Blackbirds - countless ( couldn't id)
(* means Life Bird!)
Other wildlife -
6 point Mule Deer buck


Anonymous said...

That sounds like a FABULOUS trip! What a thrill to see a golden eagle. They migrate through here but don't stay- I've never seen one.

LauraHinNJ said...

Great trip - sounds like you were very busy! Hope you'll share more pics.

Sandy said...

Sounds like a great trip! I enjoyed reading about it.

Susan Gets Native said...

So glad you had a safe and happy trip. I am on the fence about a portable DVD player for marathon trips. But it sound like you had some good rules...lots of folks use it as a babysitter, just like the Tv at home.
And what a bird list! Awesome... a golden eagle...I'm jealous. I have seen them at rehab presentations, but I can't count them. Shoot.
Glad you're back!

-llm. said...

Thanks everyone. We did have a fab trip and I'll try to get some more pictures up. I'm waiting for the Mountain Bluebird who was so cooperative. We took it with my stepdad's camera. Hopefully it will be emailed soon! :)

DVD in the car. It was hard but making the rule that it only goes on after dark seemed to make sense to us and to the kids which was cool. On the way home, we didn't watch one at all despite 6-1/2 hours of driving with only 2 breaks. The kids were stir-crazy but still being good when we got home. Of course, it only goes on if the kids ARE being good too which means that I've got to watch for that window of opportunity when they are crazy bored but not yet crazy fighting! :) Balancing act.