Oh no … say it isn’t so … how in the world can it be 2018 already?2017 was a year that just flew by in my opinion. It was a year of life-changing events, full of excitement and uncertainty … but being the adventurous souls that we are, both Tom & I were up for the challenge. Allow me to take a few moments to look back at some of our memories of 2017.The birds in Florida start the new year off already “in the mood” … with lots of nest building, courtship, and mating going on early on. There’s something so very beautiful and endearing about the great blue herons at this time.Before long, no matter the species, the new years hatchlings begin to emerge. Nothing to me is cuter that the sandhill crane colts when only days old, especially when they climb aboard the backs of their parents for the ultimate featherbed slumber. 🙂Black-necked stilt babies are amost equally adorable and ready to forage on their own within hours of hatching. That doesn’t mean that the parents can rest … far from it … their job is endless in keeping predators away from these little cuties as the begin to roam within the sandy shores and reeds of the wetlands.However, for me, the real stars for months of entertainment pleasure are the burrowing owls, especially when they first emerge from their burrows … all bright eyed, innocent, and exceptionally curious … they just don’t come any cuter.Though I tend to photograph them almost daily, they still grow up quite quickly and begin to fly about to nearby trees.Of course, no burrowing owl season is complete without captures of the “head tilt” that they are famous for. LOL.During our time in Florida, we were fortunate to have our daughter and son-in-law, as well as our two granddoggies come visit us. During 2016 and early 2017, Tom and I traveled out west to Colorado often looking for a home … perhaps a second home or not … where we could relocate to. While south Florida is a fabulous place to be and affords much like the beaches and warm weather, Tom and I have always enjoyed the mountains, colder weather, and we were looking for less crowds and a sense of community.So, at the end of July, Tom and several of his friends (thanks guys) loaded up the truck and off they went … go west, young man, as they say … all of the way to Colorado.On July 31st, my mom, her husband, my cat Buffy, and I all boarded our flight to Grand Junction airport and let’s just say that I was a ton nervous. Safely arriving in GJT, we were picked up by Tom and driven to our new home in Fruita, CO. In between unpacking what seemed like endless boxes (and truth be told they’re not all unloaded yet – yikes), I found the time to photograph different bird species in my own backyard.My mom was totally infatuated with the hummingbirds … OK, so was I … as they provided endless hours of entertainment as they flew in, and fought occasionally, at our feeders.Tom and I would also spend hours up on the Colorado National Monument looking for birds and wildlife, but also enjoying the spectacular views. Being that the Monument is only 4 miles from our home, we still venture over there regularly.Now, I had always wanted to visit Mt. Evans for the mountain goats and in 2017, I finally got to realize my dream to visit there, actually get up to the top, and see them frolicking around. See, on two previous trips, I was unable to even try due to road closures. They are simply amazing to photograph there … in that thin, cold air too I might add.In late September/early October, we met up with some friends and visited Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. This year, the leaves didn’t follow the calendar precisely, but when the views are this spectacular … who cares! The Tetons are one of those places that you could just sit and get lost in your senses, sights, thoughts, you name it. Of course, the Tetons are also synonymous with wildlife sightings … sometimes your sightings capture the essence of the environment and habitat as well.The fall colors did finally arrive in mid-October, so off we went to one of my favorite places so far, the San Juan Mountains. The colors and views, as seen from Owl Creek Ridge, were simply breathtaking. Nearby to Fruita is Highline Lake State Park, which also cooperated nicely with the fall transitional colors.Highline Lake SP also offers mountain biking trails, so when my daughter and her hubby came out to see us, they were shown the ropes on the trails by Tom, who totally enjoys the cycling (mountain and road) out here.Kelli has quite the adventurous spirit, so she took off on random dirt trails and enjoyed the view with her dog, Ridley, looking down upon the Colorado River.They came back and spent Thanksgiving holidays with us and knew exactly where they wanted to visit. Yep, you guessed it, the San Juan Mountains and the town of Ouray. We took the 4-wheel drive trails and found vast wilderness areas where the dogs could run free and play in snow patches.It really is so beautiful out in these mountains.During late November through February or so, the nearby town of Delta hosts thousands of sandhill cranes. It reminded me our days in Fairbanks watching them in huge flocks by Creamers Field. When they fly in, overhead, or when they take off, there’s no mistaking the calls of the sandhill cranes. It’s an instantaneous smile generator for me. 🙂Of course, that’s not all that congregates in the masses near Delta. Snow geese also arrive, as well as more Canadian geese than you can imagine!Driving around in the backcountry, you can also find many species of wildlife, such as the mule deer, elk, moose, desert bighorn sheep, black bear, coyote, bobcat, and if you’re really lucky, the elusive mountain lion. Can’t wait to see what’s in store for us in 2018.In December, we met up with our good friend and headed to Moab, UT, which is just less than 90 minutes away. He showed us phenomenal landscapes, accessed by high clearance 4WD vehicles. The beauty of this area just simply can’t be ignored … and the view go on and on. I know that we will be seeing a lot of Moab, Arches NP, Canyonlands NP, and the La Sal Mountains. 🙂Go about 75 miles in the other direction and you land in Rifle, CO, which is where this triple waterfall can be found.
Then one day, it finally happened, we got SNOW. OK, so it wasn’t the 3-6 inches that we were expecting, but it was SNOW. Later we found out that just a mile or so to the west of us, they got much more than we did. Hopefully, we’ll get it next time. Remember, I’m a Florida girl that loves the snow and cold. I know, let’s see what I think next year. LOLThe winter views at Highline Lake SP were simply breathtaking to me.Finally Christmas arrived … and I was a bit sad … for it was my first Christmas ever without spending it with my daughter. She was tied up being short staffed at work and couldn’t break away. That’s OK, we’re planning on a Tahoe break with her and her hubby in January.On a side note, I was quite thrilled when one of my images won 2nd Place in the Defenders of Wildlife Photo Contest (Wild Lands Division) …… and I found out that one of my other images was honored with being the cover image for the 2017-2018 16-month calendar for Defenders of Wildlife also. They do some amazing work, so I was quite pleased.Well, that pretty much does it for 2017. That being said, I bid adieu to 2017. It was a rollercoaster year for sure, but one that blazes the trail for an exciting ride ahead. Remember, with each new year, is a new chapter to be written by you … make it a good one! From all of us to you, HAPPY NEW YEAR!Next Up: Close to home
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