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Monday, July 21, 2008

A Mini-break to Switzerland - sort of.

At the top: Olympic Quality Scenery

I've been meaning to get up to Lake Tahoe for some birding for a couple of summers now. The pattern is, I think about it in June, then next thing you know, it's October and too late. This year Don got the idea to go on up, so when he asked if I was interested, we were off like a shot. Saturday morning we started by driving north past Donner Summit. After birding a couple of spots with some success, we decided to visit Squaw Valley, which is known more for it's past Winter Olympic glory in 1960, than as a birding spot. We paid our $22 each.

Squaw Valley


Soon we were in a big bucket, being schlepped up, over rugged rocks shaped by the Earth Mother to look like hound dogs, old men and precariously balanced bowling balls. The ride was about ten minutes and soon we were at the top where the air was fresh, cool, breezy, and I was screwed.

First off, I wore the crappiest of walking shoes imaginable - evil, ancient sneakers that were in the garage so long I forgot why I banished there. So when I tossed things into the car on Saturday morning, in went the sneakers; yes - I had wanted them in the car, but there ultimate goal was supposed to be the Good Will truck, NOT a hiking trip. Duh! So there I was, standing in a beautiful alpine meadow wearing evil sneakers, one size too small. Just standing still made my feet ache.

But wait! That's not all friends! Just as when I was in the heights of the Rocky Mountains a few weeks ago, the altitude of Squaw Valley kicked my fat arse and wheezy lungs, but good.

It is a pain in the arse being rotund.

So, I broke the tragic news to Don that he was going to have to search for our target birds - Grey-crowned Rosyfinches - alone. I was about to explain the details of my decision to him when I noticed him, with a wisp of alpine dust in his wake, he disappeared over the horizon.

Bugger.

Oh well! I still had a good time. I slowly meandering around a broad mountain valley, enjoying the sweeping vistas like a chunky nun-novice, singing "the hills are alive, with the sound of music...! La, la, la, la! With songs they..." You get the picture. Yes, it was a magical time, wish you were there.

In retrospect, I can't believe it didn't occur to me to photograph the Indian Paintbrush strewn meadows. I did however take photos of many of the little wildflowers. Here is one that looks like snow, for those, like me, who never make it up to such heights in the winter months.

>Not exactly Edleweiss, but it did look happy to greet me

Birding wise, I did see a new species for me, a lone Cassin's Finch, that sat on a little fence, just long enough for me to see what it was, then it was off on the winds; annoying skittish birdies.

The afternoon was wonderful - really felt like I was in Switzerland or someplace exotic, even though it is less than two hours from home; a classic mini-break.

One of the other diners at the Poolside Cafe


I lunched at the Poolside Cafe when Don made it back from his hike. He said it was fun, but he found no Rosy Finches. We drowned our sorrows in mugs of cold dark beer. Later, when we mounted the stairs up to the gondola for our trip back down the hill, I suddenly got so giddy I was certain for a minute there I was going to faint. I did not, but whoa! That was a close one. Drinking a beer, for me, was not one of my better ideas.

Uh... an afterthought; am I a cruel & selfish friend if I derived the ensiest bit of satisfaction that Don did not see Grey-crowned Rosy Finches? Highlight to see answer ----> Y E S ! ! ! !

[Those who fear Ms. Miller is going to drop dead any day now, should rest assured that nothing could be further from the truth. The woman is desperate to add the'Grey-crowned Rosy Finch to her life list' and to that end she will anything necessary - including - returning to Curves Women's fitness centers, for a healthy dose of aerobic exercises. She SHALL return to SquawValley and she will get her bird.]

Yes, I'll get you my pretty... and your little photo too! *cackle, cackle, cackle...*

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