Thursday, August 28, 2008

High Altitude Hiatus

Thank you to all my lovely friends who came by and wished me a happy birthday!  Alas, I did NOT get the chocolate clock for my birthday, but I did get chocolate, and that is what I really wanted anyway.   And in addition, our parents both sent us money for a little family vacation for our birthdays this year, bless them. And we found a terrific way to spend it.  Yes, we are located in the waste howling wilderness, but there are about 7000 feet of elevation between us and the mountains one hour east of us.  And that means much cooler temps nearby, with green things growing!  We escaped civilization for a couple of days and nights and enjoyed God's beautiful earth (the mountain part) and our children.  We also enjoyed peace and quiet, the sound of rain, the flash of lightning, a fresh breeze through open windows, the buzz of little non-biting insects, the songs of many bird varieties, the curiosity of deer and elk, and even some friendly (to humans) Avrals, for those of you familiar with the Terrestria Chronicles. hee hee.  These don't quite match Ed Dunlop's description.  See below.  Avral is "larva" spelled backwards.

Our rustic little home away from home.

Company for breakfast!  We had deer and elk come begging for something to eat.

Got treats??

One of the biggest highlights of our little vacation, this little doe ate half our bag of trail mix!  Oink oink!  Oh, whoops, wrong animal. I resented sharing my peanuts and raisins (No, of course I did NOT allow the girls to feed this animal the M&M's that were also in the mix!), so we switched to corn tortilla chips.  She liked those as well as raisins.  And what a messy eater!  The birds came and cleaned up after her, and the girls in the top bunk had a ball watching them from their "upstairs" window early in the morning.  There were also another doe and a young buck right behind this deer, but they were too shy to get in on the snacks.

What are you looking at??

The girls found these hideous grubs right out in the open along a dirt road we were hiking on.  These babies are huge, about 3" long and about 3/4" wide!!!  They have sideways mandibles (I'm sure there is a correct scientific term for that)   (And they are sooooo gross!!!!)   *shudder*   Look at my brave little girl children.  No boy is going to gross them out with bugs, ever!  Emily thinks they are soooo CUTE, and Elisabeth named them James and Melissa.  LOL!!  I told her something that gross does not deserve a pretty name, lol, and we agreed on Tree-Killer and Sap-Sucker.  They are beetle larvae of some sort,and since we were curious to find out just what sort of beetles they were going to grow up to be (Julie, do you know??), we took them to the ranger station and inquired.  The ranger told me, "I'm not sure what kind of beetles they are, but they look like they are about to have babies..."  I said, "These ARE the babies!" He said, "Oh...that's not good!"  (Here I am losing my faith in the ranger's knowledge...)  The ranger's office had a preserved specimen of the notorious and infamous wood-boring beetle larva, which appeared as if it had been soaking in preserving fluid for about thirty years.  I drew his attention to it and asked whether he thought that's what these creatures were. The specimen was in cloudy liquid and looked like it had been bleached.  It didn't have the same markings, but it was the same size as ours. Our local mountains had an infestation of wood-boring beetles some while ago, and many, many trees were lost as a result. The ranger's eyebrows went up in recognition of this creature.  I told him we were leaving and that we would let the beetle babies go, and he said, "NO! Don't do that, heh heh.  I'll find out for sure what they are."  He is supposed to call us with the scientific info.

Where did these ants learn to build the opening to their hill in a perfect circle?  We know the answer to that.  Actually this is a tube about 1" tall and 1 1/2" in diameter.  I never cease to be amazed at the diversity and variety of creatures God made!!!

I could have sat there and just looked at this view all day.  I love the huge boulders and the fresh-scented pines, sigh....

Long hike!!  Taking a breather.

Double bunk beds!

The girls' roommate, a big fuzzy spider.  Oh wait, the fuzziness is my photography skill... or lack thereof!

Oh yes, I must tell you about the snakes.  The week before we stayed here the snakes (and mice) were out in numbers.  The office lady saw three of them in two days, one of which helped itself in the front door and  up the stairs inside the ranger's office.  That one was just a king snake, but she also saw two of the Mohave Green rattlesnakes.  Those are BAD. They are very poisonous and, for snakes, unusually aggressive.  God was so good to send cooler temps this week.  The snakes stayed in their burrows. I would have been wayyyy to nervous to go hiking, or to let my kids out the door of the cabin! 

Thank you to our wonderful parents (and grandparents!) for providing us with this much-needed get-away.  We love you!!!!


  1. Oh Sally! What a wonderful holiday you had to the cooler temps!! As much as I dislike the desert, it seems to reward me for my patience whenever we head for higher climes. We never want to come home, never, when we head up.

    I'm so glad you had a great time!


  2. Oh, how fun. Sounds like a nice, elongated birthday. After looking at all your pics I think we may just have to break down and take a hike next month.

  3. It all looked great, EXCEPT for the icky larva or worm or what ever that thing was.......AND.....UGGHHH the SPIDER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOL

    The pictures are wonderful, thanks for sharing with us!!!

    Love Ya,


  4. Oh what a beautiful trip! Your description of the cooler temps and the smell of pine in the air made me long for Fall. What a neat experience for all of you to share. I'm so proud of your little one for being able to handle those "ghastly creatures" with such ease! Grubs gross me out (my son enjoys stomping them when I find them in the garden) and your so sweet to think that I may be able to identify them, but I've never seen such large ones and ugh the color and red poky (my scientific term for mandibles) things made them even more hideous. I find the conversation with the park ranger bordering on absurd but funny :-)! How did you keep from laughing out loud?! A larva about to have babies! hehe!

    So glad you guys got to have such a good time.

    Blessings, Julie

  5. you had this wonderful and well deserved get away. The pictures are GREAT too!!

    Sorry I have not been around much..... busy, busy, busy :-)

  6. Hi! Looks like you had a great time! Where exactly did you go? As far as that little worm, I have no idea. I had my older son look at the picture and he didn't know either. He usually knows all this stuff as he's our resident expert on the subject of bugs and insects. LOL He did say when it has bright colors on it, like those, it can be an indication of being poisonous. Just thought you might like to know that. LOL

    Glad you were able to get away and have some time off!!

    God bless you ~ Julie


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