Solitaire Anyone?…by Brad Marks

Greetings everyone! We are essentially at the midpoint of our winter trip south and I must say this has been quite a productive start to this year’s Average Year efforts (not updated yet, but link here). Ron was able to meet us down here for a week and recently headed back (ironically on the day the FAA grounded all planes). Now Linda and I need to head back to get all the birds we hid from him hehehe. We’ll be moving our base camp soon and that means connectivity may be in jeopardy. While we get that straightened out, I’m going to leave you in Brad’s capable hands to keep you entertained. In case you notice a green tint to this post, that’s due to the fact Brad has managed to tin a bird neither Ron or I have…I’ll let him tell the story.

Take it away Brad!

As you may have guessed, Jan and I have traveled to Colorado a few times recently.  Our daughter lives there so it gives us a very good excuse to frequent Colorado and all it has to offer.  During our visit last spring, we decided to check out some local hiking.  Many of the guide books lists dozens, nay, hundreds of hikes from casual walks to the much more adventurous challenging hikes, some involving ropes and harnesses.  We decided to see what was close by our hotel near Boulder.  After a brief All Trails app search, Jan found Eldorado Canyon State Park.  We first went last April, but Jan was hobbled by an injury and couldn’t hike far.  We headed back this fall to more fully explore.  Once leaving the Boulder area,  the highways turned into county or village roads (no center stripes in some cases) and then very quickly into unimproved roads.  By “unimproved” I mean not paved but graded every now and then.  Oddly enough the roads “improved” a bit once we were inside the park (still not paved though).  We’ve learned from last April not to make the rookie mistake of stopping at the very first pull-off. 

Hit the jump to read more about Brad’s Colorado adventure at Eldorado Canyon State Park!

Continue reading Solitaire Anyone?…by Brad Marks

A Foggy Hike…by Brad Marks

Greetings everyone, I hope everyone was able to enjoy their Christmas (or your celebration of choice) with family and/or friends. Ours was a bit hectic as we started early with our traditional gift exchange which has somehow morphed into “EVERY PRESENT IS MINE” event for Ruger. Hit the treadmill to pre-work off the annual feast and then promptly went to work packing up to head south. Thanks to brilliant idea from Linda, this is the first time we didn’t have to take down the 12′ (by now fire-hazard) real tree in the midst of the chaos. All that effort to get to somewhere with temps above single digits. As we will be dealing with some sketchy roads for at least the first long day… maybe 2, thought it would be a perfect time to bring out one of Brad’s post from another warm location. We’ll catch up later in the week… Brad, take it away…(note, you can click on the images to view the full size images)

Our first trip to the Big Island of Hawaii was in 2002 when we met two of our friends from Boston.  The four of us decided to go on a hike to see the waterfalls of Waipio Valley from a trail at the top of the valley.  Waipio Valley is located on the north side of the Big Island, in the Kohala Watershed Forest Preserve.  This wasn’t where all the tourists take the pretty pictures of the black sand and surf.  We were way back at the beginning of the entire Waipio Valley.  The tour book (Intrigued Legal says I can’t use the name because it’s considered an endorsement) gave us specific non-touristy directions to a fantastic hike with a 1500’ waterfall.  Once we had interpreted the instructions and turned at a certain colored fence located 3 (or so) miles outside of Waimea, because the instructions were that precise. Not really sure where the edge of town really was, it took us a couple of attempts to find the references in the book. We parked the rental car and climbed through the security fence.  Don’t worry, this was a pedestrian entrance to somewhat public grounds, shared with a private owner.  This part of the Big Island is all green; rainforest green not palm tree green.  The horses inside the fence were very happy to see us, or at least the treats they thought we were carrying.  After a few moments of nudging us with their noses, and realizing we had no treats, they wandered off.

The four of us followed the unofficial footpath past the municipal water supply and started into the rainforest.  The elevation was about 2700’ at this point and in the middle of a rainforest.  The temps were much cooler than along the coast, but still very much shorts and T-shirt weather at this point. 

After a minute or two in the rainforest, we kept seeing forms of Hawaiian Ginger along the pleasantly maintained unofficial trail.

Waipio Valley Hike by Brad Marks
(scanned 35mm film negative)

Hit the jump to read more about Brad’s Hawaiian hiking adventure!

Continue reading A Foggy Hike…by Brad Marks

Something Completely Different…by Brad Marks

With just under 5 miles to go, by the time you read this my last remaining goal of 2022 will be officially checked off. Oddly thanks to Covid, I was able push through the remaining miles and again break the 1200 mile ribbon – there were around 64 miles still to run at end of November. Over the years, I’ve found that running can help ward off sickness or minimally break down whatever heathens make it through my defenses. Feeling under the weather or exposed to the possibility equals 7-9 miles per day – less and don’t sweat enough to purge the sickies, more than 9 miles the immune defense get redirected to muscle recovery instead. I am definitely NOT advocating this approach for others, simply noting it as beneficial to my goal. As I celebrate the accomplishment, going to let Brad take you for a few miles on a hike. Put on your surest footing gear (not Crocs ha), this trek covers some dangerous terrain.

Take it away Brad…

Concrete.  Asphalt.  Crushed gravel.  Grass.  Granite.  Dirt.  Leaves.  Shredded tire chips.  Wood chips.  Mulch.  All good hiking surfaces.  What about hardened basalt?  You know, cooled lava.

I know. I know.  This site is called Wildlife Intrigued.  I have to admit, I’m not going to describe or show any photos of wildlife in this article (unless you count tourists).  But I thought it was interesting and would capture your attention and maybe, just maybe, entice you to visit Volcanoes National Park sometime.

Jan and I were able to reprise a hike we first completed in 2010.  As you’ve seen by now in a few of the past posts, we visited Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii.  And as the name implies, there are volcanoes involved.  Even though Kilauea volcano is currently erupting, there is no molten lava in the Kilauea Iki crater.  Actually, there’s no molten lava within two miles of where we were hiking.  This particular crater last erupted in spectacular fashion in 1959.  (See this site for iconic photos of the drive-in eruption of Kilauea Iki.)   

Despite having arrived early in the morning, the parking lot was nearly full.  I think we found the last available space in the small lot.

Kilauea Iki by Brad Marks

Hit the jump to continue the hike.

Continue reading Something Completely Different…by Brad Marks

Ravenpalooza…by Brad Marks

Somehow we are officially in December and as far as I can tell, we must only be getting one maybe two weeks top per month being no other explanation for how fast time is flying by. Yesterday I was wondering whether to isolate my Turkey from the rest of the fix’ns or just make one big scrumptious pile and douse it with the entire contents of the gravy bowl. A day later wondering if I’m going to get my shopping done before Christmas Eve (which, at this pace might end up being tomorrow). Thankfully, we can lean on Brad to keep us entertained while I wage battle with the hourglass. I must say, our new staff member is doing quite well on his goal milestones – especially the bonus counter for the use of “craptastic” – we never imagined it would find its way into a post in the “literal” sense. Editor note, he would have pulled a mega-score if he had replaced bird “pose[ing]” with a Python reference to the Norwegian Blue nailed to the perch – now that would be Senior Corporate Staff Writer at Intrigued material hehehe. Enough of my rambling, let’s get to Brad’s latest offering, the Ravenpalooza (or should that be Ravenpooplooza?).

Take it away Brad…

The Fall of 2021 was our first visit to Pikes Peak in Colorado.  Jan and I had high hopes of spectacular views from the top. The sun was shining in Manitou Springs at the base of the mountain where you board the cog rail to ride to the peak (visit here for more details on the cog rail).  We booked our tickets for the cog rail while driving to Colorado the day before, so we didn’t end up getting the best seats.  In fact, we ended up sitting backwards on the train as it headed up the mountain.  We were fighting gravity the whole way because the average incline is a 10% grade (up 10 feet for every 100 feet forward) with short runs of 25% grade.  This also means that while we were facing forward on the way down, we were still holding onto our seats so we didn’t fall into the laps of the people sitting across from us.

Unfortunately, the weather can change very quickly around the Front Range of the Rockies.  That visit was no exception.  As we approached 9,000 feet on the ride to the top, clouds settled in and the view diminished quickly.  At about 12,000 feet, snow started to slant past the windows.  By the time we reached the peak, we were in a full-on blizzard.  The snow was falling so fast, and the wind was so strong, that we had to follow the handrails to the visitor center for fear of getting lost in the white-out.  Understandably, we were disappointed not to have a good, or any, view at the top.  Jan and I did decide to run outside for a quick selfie in the blizzard, then ran back inside just as quickly.  After a quick break in the visitor center, we boarded the cog rail for the ride back down the mountain.

Fast forward to Fall 2022.  We bought cog rail tickets months in advance to try for better seats.  Jan and I  ended up with two front row seats.

Hit the jump to read more of Brad and Jan’s “clearer” return to Pikes Peak.

Continue reading Ravenpalooza…by Brad Marks

Changes Aren’t Permanent but Change Is: Part 2 of 2… by Brad Marks

Howdy folks! Not sure what it is like in your setting, but in our parts – it’s damn cold. As a gauge, my last two training runs have been on the treadmill. Guess what I HATE more than anything else…Christmas commercials before Halloween has arrived, BUT, running on a treadmill is easily second highest on my multi-volume set of things that make my blood “boil”. I enjoy running in the snow, tolerate running in sleet and fight through temps into the teens, however, 20mph winds pushing windchills into the single digits can freeze-“burn” the lungs right out of my chest. Reluctantly, tied on the Summer shoes, cranked up the conveyor belt and caught up on several streaming shows – harder that it sounds since I had to strain to hear over the body constantly nagging “Can we go OUTSIDE now!, how about now, I know what we should do..let’s go out there, please, please, pretty please, you know, real mean train outdoors, the ballet called, they want their tutu back, is that your picture next to the ‘wuss’ entry in the dictionary?!?” My body doesn’t even whine that much during ultra races. In an effort to save my sanity and maybe help push the mercury up (do kids even know what that means anymore?) let’s all toast our toes over lava with the second part of Brad’s post on Hawaiian volcanoes.

Take it away Brad…

Brief recap.  Twenty years spanning vacations to the Big Island.  Halema’uma’u crater relatively stable. Blah Blah Blah.  At the end of our last episode as we left our intrepid volcanic crater in the Spring of 2018, hell was breaking loose.  Literally. 

The first sign that something big was happening in 2018 was on April 30th when the lava in the Overlook crater at the Kilauea summit dropped significantly.  This meant that the magma had rapidly drained away from the summit and, based on the earthquake trail, was moving rapidly to the East Rift Zone.  To help with the scale of the next part of this article, please visit the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) site to see a map of the East Rift Zone.  I’ll wait while you go check out the map (humming a popular game show theme song). Halema’uma’u crater is to the lower left of this graphic. Here’s a re-post from a prior article.  It is a wildlife and adventure blog after all.  This trio was captured flying over the caldera on our last day on the island this year.  Remember, Nene prefer to walk everywhere and do not normally need to fly.  Just goes to show how large the caldera really is. 

Hawaiian Volcanoes by Brad Marks

OK, now we can go onto the next section.

Continue reading Changes Aren’t Permanent but Change Is: Part 2 of 2… by Brad Marks

Changes Aren’t Permanent but Change Is: Part 1 of 2… by Brad Marks

In a bit of a surprise, Brad has managed to bring us a two-part post. I have no idea how he had time to crank out not one, but TWO posts with all our new Intrigued employee required training that is just short of 30 online classes, two instruction led workshops and a week long retreat. Included in this curriculum: Information Security, Data Privacy, GDPR, Data Classification, Industrial Waste Management, Prohibitive Harassment (unless target is a lawyer), Insider Trading, Office Ethics: How Not to Embarrass Your Boss in Public (there are some Twitter employees that would benefit from our 2 day course), Corporate Assets Usage (jet, carpool, yacht, big wheel, unicycle, pogo stick, jacuzzi), Lawyer Hell Week (first rule of Hell Week, don’t talk about Hell Week), Performance Reviews, Incentive Compensation (I see Brad already added another “craptastic” check in this post!), Intrigued Birding Rules (link here), a complete viewing of the Monty Python comedy series and Field Safety 101 which includes a very useful workshop on how to properly swing (and if needed avoid) a tripod to escape a wild animal attack – hint, you do not use it on the animal. I’m exhausted just thinking about the workload. While I head off for some rest and a fruity drink with an umbrella in it, enjoy part 1 of Brad’s very “hot” topic.

Take it away Brad….

By now you may have noticed a few guest posts about birds and turtles on the Hawaiian Islands.  We have been fortunate to have been able to visit the islands several (more than a few, less than many) times.  We’ve also visited Volcanoes National Park each time we are on the Big Island of Hawai’i.  Who doesn’t like walking around on an active volcano?!  We’ve seen dramatic changes inside Volcanoes National Park.  I’m not talking about new parking stripes, or the remodeled Volcano House.  I’m talking about geological changes that can take thousands or millions of years to occur.  For example, Pikes Peak in Colorado looks pretty much exactly the same as it did 100 years ago, except for the new Visitor Center at the summit and the kitschy shops around its base.  The same could be said about the Kilauea caldera on the Big Island the prior hundred years.  Even Tom Sawyer’s creator, Mark Twain, seemed unimpressed at first with the Kilauea caldera saying it was “a wide level black plain” and that it was like “a large cellar – nothing more”.  Twain was unimpressed until he realized the scale of what he was seeing.  The “place looked a little larger and a little deeper every five minutes” he said.  Since the Halema’uma’u crater appeared in the early 1920’s there have been precious few large-scale changes.  That’s why after reviewing photos from our most recent visit this past August, I realized how much had changed since the prior visit in 2015.  And how much had changed from the visits prior to that.  Here’s my attempt at explaining or illustrating the changes we have witnessed over the 20 years of visiting Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island.  (time for a gratuitous volcano photo from 2010)

Hawaiian Volcanoes by Brad Marks
Continue reading Changes Aren’t Permanent but Change Is: Part 1 of 2… by Brad Marks

Now You See Me . . . Hawaiian Sand Crabs…by Brad Marks

With the day after day pressures subsiding I’m finally getting to work on Linda’s .. I mean my to-dos. Tops on that list is to battle the leaf invasion that has managed to break through my first line ranks and now pouring over the castle walls with reckless abandonment. The paired night (or high wind/rain) task is to get caught up on the Mothership with some very late race recaps and more than likely some haunt tutorials sprinkled in. While I’m tending to those, S.W. Brad is ready with a “ghostly” observation from the Hawaiian Islands.

Take it away Brad!

On the first morning of our first ever vacation to a tropical island in 2000, the last thing you might think to do is to rise early.  However, when your body clock is off by five hours and thinks it’s noon, you get out of bed even though the sun isn’t up yet.  (BTW, in the tropics there’s only a little more than 13 hours of sunlight in the summer, and up to 11 hours in the winter time, go figure) Ambitious you say?  Jet lagged I say.  At the time, I was in the habit of having a mug of honey ginseng green tea with a dash of local honey in the morning before work.  Jan had already been awake and moving for an hour or more.  After steeping my first mug of tea for the day, I walked the 100-feet from our condo to the beach.  Lucky for us, the condo on Kauai was on a beach on the east side of the island, which means we’d get a perfect view of the sunrise each morning.  My primary goal that day was to watch my first Hawaiian sunrise and see if the green flash was a myth. (It’s not a myth, by the way, check here as one of a hundred potential resources)

Hawaiian Islands Sand Crabs

As I stood watching the sky brighten in anticipation of sunrise, I noticed a lot of sand seemingly moving by itself.  I worked my way closer to see if I could figure out what was happening. 

Continue reading Now You See Me . . . Hawaiian Sand Crabs…by Brad Marks

A Face Only a Mother Could Love…by Brad Marks

Welcome everyone. I have to apologize for being a bit out of pocket lately and probably going to be spotty for an unknown amount of time going forward. Linda’s oldest brother is not doing well and need to focus on helping her and the family where I can. In the meantime I am going to put you back in the very capable hands of Brad for this and likely a few others as we close out the month.

Take it away Brad!

When I was in middle school (summer 1977) my dad took my sister and I to see Yellowstone National Park and the American West.  He wanted us to experience the park as he did in the summer of 1960.  After driving from central Illinois for what seemed like weeks we arrived at Yellowstone.  He took us on a Readers’ Digest tour of the park, driving the whole loop in just one day.  We did get to see Old Faithful, the Paint Pots, lower Yellowstone Falls, and a bison or hundred.  But as night fell, we exited the East entrance for my great aunt’s house outside the park.  (BTW, after he passed, I found the slides he took while we were there in 1977 as well as those from his trip in the 1960.  Now I have photos of Yellowstone from 1960, 1977, and 2008.  While the park structures haven’t changed much, the car styles and photo quality sure have.)

Fast forward a bit to 2008, I thought it might be fun to take our family on a driving tour to see a few of the larger National Parks in the western United States.  Since they are so far apart, we wanted to see as many as time and patience allowed.  My daughter said “Dad, it’s just a bunch of rocks, do we have to spend so much time there?”  Being the parent, and rather enthusiastic about the parks I said “Of course we do, it will be educational!”  Instead of driving we flew to Salt Lake City where we rented a car and drove to Yellowstone to stay for three days.  When we were leaving Yellowstone, my daughter asked if we could stay a few more days.  I said “I thought you said it’s just rocks”.  She said “yeah, but these rocks are so cool!”  We drove 700 miles from the June snows of Yellowstone to the 100+ degree temps of Moab, UT for Canyonlands and Arches National Parks for a few days.  More cool rocks!  And the finale, not because of grandeur but mostly because of geography and our travel route, was two days at the Grand Canyon. 

Fast forward to Spring 2022.  When we were planning a visit to western Colorado with our daughter and her boyfriend, she asked if we can visit Arches National Park.  I said it’s just a bunch of rocks. But she then said “yes, but they are really cool rocks!”  Actually, it has been very fun and rewarding to watch her grow into a very cool adult. I could write a whole series of articles on that original six state 4,000-mile driving trip, but that’s a whole different story (maybe a future multi-part series here if Brian starts training for another 100k run).   This article is on one solitary creature; the largest living land bird in North America and some say so ugly it has a face only a mother could love.

California Condor by Brad Marks

Hit the jump to read more about Brad’s ug….hmmmm… let’s go with “inner beautiful” feature.

Continue reading A Face Only a Mother Could Love…by Brad Marks

Guest Feature: There’s a What in the Tree? …by Brad Marks

I am definitely not in any condition to provide you a quality post. Although my race last weekend is officially over, my legs and various other body parts (some of which I didn’t even know I had) are in a constant bicker to see who can complain the most. Advil has apparently met its match! “You torture us like that and then try to bribe us with those puny anti-inflammatory pills !?! – we tell nerves to illicit more pain you fool – now crawl into the kitchen and get us some frozen peas!!!” Such a cranky bag of parts. Anyway, I’ll eventually get to a race recap, but for now, let’s just classify it as bittersweet. While I try to get everything calmed down, blisters popped, blood cleaned off and knots pressed out, I’m once again turning wildlife post duties over to Brad. Today’s adventure is a little closer to home and definitely rings the “Intriguing” bell. I’m sure you will enjoy. Note, WordPress was rendering the images a bit too small to really see the details, so I went ahead and added links directly to the photos so you can view the full picture – you can also use the link Brad provided at the end to view the complete gallery.

Take it away Brad…

Brian and I were both fortunate enough to be able to retire at relatively young ages from the same company.  And after 30+ years of running around like a (fill in your own phrase here) it is nice to have a slow day ever now and then. (BTW, Brian still needs to learn this) One afternoon while sitting on our four-season porch reading, Jan asks “is that a raccoon in the tree?”  I grabbed my handy bird binoculars and took a look at the mulberry tree.  It was a very still day so when parts of the tree move all on their own, something larger than a bird is moving in the tree.  The critter was out at the edge of a branch near the tasty leaves, but had no mask or stripey tail.  Coincidentally my camera was nearby so I tried a few photos.  It looks like a . . . no it can’t be one of those . . . in a tree.  I ran upstairs to get my really long lens to see if I can tease out the identity.  At first, I didn’t believe what the camera was telling me.  A quick internet search revealed that yes indeed, these animals do sometimes climb trees.

Groundhog in a Tree by Brad Marks

Hit the jump to read more about this surprisingly nimble creature

Continue reading Guest Feature: There’s a What in the Tree? …by Brad Marks

Guest Feature: Infinite Regress …by Brad Marks (and Family)

Greetings everyone! By the time you are reading this post I will be passing from the severe discomfort phase and transitioning to the path paved by torture. Self-inflicted, of course, so I have no one to blame but myself for my addiction to long distance trail running – hell, I even paid good money to punish myself ha. I have always felt it is good to know one’s limits – let’s hope over the next 15+ hours, mine is somewhere past a 100K! With the focus on the pre-race fretting, the race itself and an unknown length of time required for recovery, Brad has once again thrown me a lifeline with another guest feature. He is also working on additional posts so I might have to promote him from “guest” status to Intrigued Corporate Staff Writer – this position pays the same, but it sounds far more prestigious. Hope it doesn’t cause problems with his lovely wife as our staff writers are constantly being chased down by sexy hordes of groupies. With that, I’ll let Brad take you through another island wildlife adventure.

Take it away Brad…

Have you ever seen the photo of Earth hanging in the blackness of space?  I know some people think that photo is a fake, and that there are rocks holding the flat, Photoshopped, earth in place.  There are many stories about the creation of the earth, most involved animals (elephants, turtles, birds, water, etc.).  One variation of the many involves turtles and was first referenced in an ancient Hindu text. 

Fast forward to modern times.  Two people are discussing a variation of the creation story (heavily paraphrased here). 

Person One says, “Earth was created by putting soil on a turtle’s back, growing the Earth and then holding it up.”

“If that’s the case, what is the turtle standing on?” asks Person Two.

Person One replies, “another turtle of course.”

“Then what is THAT turtle standing on?” asks Person Two.  

Person One says, “Oh no you don’t, you are not going to trick me.  It’s turtles all the way down”.

At this point you’re probably wondering why I’m talking about turtles.  After all, isn’t this a birding blog?  True.  However, if you’ve ever seen a sea turtle glide through water, the motion their flippers make in the water is very similar the motions birds use to fly through the air.  See, I could tie this story back to birds (sort of), you just had to stick with me.  Plus, turtles are really cool. 

Hit the jump to read more about these intriguing creatures!

Continue reading Guest Feature: Infinite Regress …by Brad Marks (and Family)