Saturday, May 22, 2010

The last days at Squirrel Camp.

I'm currently at my good friend's homestead on beautiful Vancouver Island. I've had a great time here on the ranch. We hiked a bit, I helped out at a local farmer's market, the Montreal Canadiens won a game, and we had a great birthday dinner celebration for Jill. Tomorrow, I'll take two flights, first to Vancouver, then on to Toronto, and by this time tomorrow night I'll be tucked into my bed back home.

I've had these pictures uploaded for awhile now, but haven't gotten around to writing any captions. So, here goes.

Many mornings, especially when I managed to get out of bed on time, I would wake up to the sunrise colouring the St. Elias Mountains pink. We called these, of all things, Pink Mountain Mornings. One morning I happened to have my camera in my pocket. This probably isn't the best picture, but I think it's one of my favourite souvenirs, just so I can remember how fantastic the view out our front door really was.

During my last weeks I really wanted to find some squirrel babies on Chitty. I didn't succeed, but I did help out with a few other nests. Here's one more nest two pup. I have to admit I sort of miss working with the tiny, fragile squirrel pups.

One of the perhaps hundreds of Arctic Hares that live on Chitty. During the winter months they were snow white, but this one has started to take on it's spring colours.

My morning commute to work. The Old Alaska Highway. I took this picture to show how little snow was left by the start of May. And it was only about 40 cm deep on grid at this point. I was usually off my snow shoes, but still sinking through in the afternoon when the air was warm and the snow crust softened.

Little lichens I found on grid.

Common name is something like, speckled leatherleaf lichen.

A beaver-chewed tree, with sap running out in the sunlight.

This is an actual mosquito. It's actually the same length as my finger is wide. These guys were terrifying. They buzzed so loudly. I'm scared for the friends I left behind in the Yukon. The good thing is that they were very very slow. You could easily squish them out of the air.

A cone rose that I squirrel made for me.

Me and my last five nest babies on Lloyd. Lindsey took this picture. One is trying to escape, but I won't let it.

Lindsey and the same little five. They really want to go back in their nest now, but it's nice out, so we're taking advantage of this photo op.

The very last day at the KPI. I think I just wrote a blog post before Dylan took this picture. I told him to capture the action in the background including the locals you can see sitting on the wrong side of the bar. What a great place.

The musk ox heads and the KPI's solid gold edition of the Law of the Yukon. Posted in every public building in the Territory.

The outside view of the KPI. Doesn't it look like a welcoming place for weary travelers? This is the centre of town. The truck in front of the KPI has a permanent sign that says, "burls for sale". The man who owns it collects giant burls (a lot of trees up here have several witch's brooms, which are actually parasitic growths that create large bumps on the stems of the trees). These burls are used as decorative posts in many yards. I called this man, the Burls for Sale Guy. He liked me because I drank Five Alive every week at the KPI and that was his favourite drink. I may have mentioned him previously.

The town landmark, the Giant Mountain Cupcake. It was designed by a local artist. The blue thing at the top is an explorer. There are all sorts of animals on it.

For my last camp day dinner (and the first Squirrel Camp dinner for the new summer crew), I decided to make a special dessert and replicate the Giant Mountain Cupcake in honey spice cupcake form. I made a tower out of plates and a special little sign for each cupcake. All of the cupcakes were personalized for various crew members.

This ground squirrel was for Julia because she caught a lot of them on Agnes. We talked about that a lot because she carpooled with me and I also caught a lot of them on Chitty. I also made a ground squirrel nature video, which I will post when I get home.

The musk ox was one of my favourites. He was for Frances because she was learning to knit and that's where quiviut comes from. One of the newbies got the "Welcome" cupcake.

The little red squirrel went to postdoc, Amy. She is a great squirrler. And so on.

The sunrise on May 3. Frances and Dylan walk the 1 km stretch of road to Agnes. I head into Chitty. We leave Sasquatch at the pull-out.

That same morning, the frozen Old Alaska Highway, the day after spring blizzard.

Sulphur Lake begins to open, though. And Erin and Julia see otters playing in the water. They came flying up to camp to get up and we all went to see them, but the otters were hiding.

One last ground squirrel, flicking his tail and looking around. Probably for something good to eat. Like peanut butter. Or a blade of grass.

And, last, but not least, one of the summer crew brought Mini Catan to camp! Everyone was too tired to play, so I set up a fake game to take a picture. This is the number one item on my 2010 Christmas List. Coolest little thing ever. I think I would make a little Barbarian ship and expand.

So, that's all I've got for Squirrel Camp. I'm glad I got these all up. I still have to post about my last week in New Zealand. After this I went to Whitehorse for three days, Vancouver for three days, Victoria for a few days, and then out to the country to visit the ranch. I'll be back with a post about the southern Vancouver Island once I recover from jetlag. And we all know that takes me about two weeks or so.

Guten Nacht, Cass

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