Big Day for Wildlife

Yesterday (2-25-19) was a big day for wildlife viewing in the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, in northern New Mexico. Shucks, it’s only a National Monument, but has populations of wildlife that rival National Parks. And this is especially so in the winter, when a variety of northern ducks and bald eagles arrive at the generally ice-free waters of the Rio Grande to winter.

In less than an hour’s time, I was able to observe and photograph the creatures that follow. This first movie is of a pair of mallards feeding on midges that have been caught up in foam.

Not over two miles upstream, I spotted a group of bighorn ewes and young, part way up the slope on the far side of the river.

After filming this group of sheep, I looked back down at the river, and saw a long cylindrical shape in the water, which was, of course, an otter. I was seated in my van, using it as a blind, and the otter was about 160′ away (measured with Google Earth), so it was not alarmed. It swam leisurely up and down along the shoreline for a few minutes, before climbing out of the river.



A few minutes later, I filmed this group of ducks from an elevated pull-out. All but two of the ducks are goldeneyes. The two ducks closest to shore, with more pointy heads, are ring-necks. And a female mallard passes through the group.

Bald eagle on basalt boulder

Bald eagle

My last sighting was this bald eagle, which circled above me and landed on a basalt boulder. I then returned downstream to a pool where, yesterday, I caught a hefty rainbow trout that was rising to midges. But there were no risers there, and I caught nothing. Did I go home disappointed? Not a chance! Catching something would have been only the sprinkles on the icing on the cake. The Rio Grande had again provided precious moments of being with wildlife.

p.s. while the wintering birds arrive on their own, the bighorns and otters have been returned to the Rio Grande via very successful stocking efforts.


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The King Donald Chronicles, #60 – Selling Pardons for Criminals (Revised)

On Sept. 22, 2019, I changed the title of a series of posts from “The Donald Chronicles” to the “The King Donald Chronicles”. Well, and VERY regrettably, in these few short months since that date, DT has proved me right. This has been especially the case in the period following his recent impeachment acquittal by the Senate. He is, in the last couple of weeks, exercising King-like power. He has the Dept’ of Justice doing his bidding, has decapitated the Intelligence services and is pardoning criminals who are currently doing time. This last deserves a closer look.


This what I wrote yesterday: Clearly, these white-collar criminals will do whatever dirty work he may wish to assign them. Will we see him appoint one or more to his Administration? Or will he keep them undercover? And, perhaps more important, these pardons vividly express his contempt for the rule of law. He is showing us both what he is capable of and inclined towards. To quote Masha Gessen: “Believe the Autocrat”.

This is what I’m adding the day after: Last night (Friday, 2-22-20), Rachel Maddow  provided the most predictable and obvious explanation for at least  some of the pardons. He is selling them. Catch that TRHS show to learn all the gory details.

What else has he already told us, on numerous occasions?  That he is entitled to more years in office than the law allows, and maybe an unlimited occupancy of the Office. You can bet that he salivates over the idea of becoming President-For-Life. I’ll give you odds that he will actually come out and say exactly that within the year. But first, he has to win in 2020. And who can best assist him in that (as was the case in 2016), than his best buddy and role model – Putin. DT’s firing of the top officials in the Office of National Intelligence was about keeping his dependance on Putin as quiet as possible. He needs and wants Russia to carry on with its disinformation and other tricks, to influence the 2020 election in his favor. He knows, and we suspect, that if he is re-elected in 2020 he will never, thereafter, be removed from office.

The original title of this series: “The Donald Chronicles”, was based, of course, on DT’s nickname: “The Donald”. The nickname actually originated in 1989 with his wife Ivana, who was not so good with English at the time. And then it morphed into a derisive reference – that DT was a ludicrous figure.

But now, in light of all that has happened since, it’s not at all funny. Not in the least. We have an evil clown sitting in the White House, calling the shots. And when he has ascended to Emperor Donald or President-For Life, he will, without doubt, search out all his critics (it will be easy), and put us up against the wall. Putin, in Russia, does it every day – why shouldn’t he?

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The King Donald Chronicles, #59 – Trump’s Department of Justice

Once upon a time, the Department of Justice (DOJ) adhered to an ethic and mandate of being impervious to political influence. No more. With the appointment of William Barr to the position of  US Attorney General (and head of DOJ), the DOJ now does the bidding of the President. The AG has become the President’s legal enforcer and hit man.

This has become painfully evident in the wake of the President’s acquittal by the Senate in the impeachment “trial”, as the retributive blood-letting (and other shady maneuvers) begin: House impeachment investigation witnesses Lt. Colonel Vindman and Ambassador Sondland being fired, with the President threatening to criminally indict Vindman. But most recent and most egregious is the hand grenade thrown by the AG into the case of Roger Stone. Roger Stone, the absurd fop friend of the President, who awaits sentencing for seven counts of lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstruction of justice, in the proceedings of the Mueller investigation. The DOJ has ordered that the sentencing guidelines for his crimes be thrown out, to be replaced by something much more lenient. This unprecedented intervention led, first, to the four prosecutors involved quitting the case, with one resigning from the Department, and, second, over 2000 former DOJ employees calling for Barr’s resignation.

Did the Founding Fathers not envision this circumstance – that an AG could and would become the enforcer of the President’s political agenda? Let’s review. What/who, exactly, is the the Attorney General?

“The United States Attorney General (AG) is the head of the United States Department of Justice, a member of the Cabinet of the United States; as directed by the President of the United States, and the chief lawyer of the federal government of the United States.

Under the Appointments Clause of the United States Constitution, the officeholder is nominated by the President of the United States and appointed with the advice and consent of the United States Senate. The Attorney General is supported by the Office of the Attorney General, which includes executive staff and several deputies.

The 85th and current United States Attorney General is William Barr, appointed by President Donald J. Trump.  The Attorney General is not a President’s personal lawyer.” (Wikipedia)

So, to answer the above question, the Constitutional requirement of the “advice and consent” of the Senate appears to be the only safeguard put into place by the Founders against the appointment of an AG who might not administer impartial justice. Note also that: “The Attorney General is not a President’s personal lawyer.”

The Senate confirmation of William Barr was closely watched, because he was suspected of being a person who “might not administer impartial justice”. He of course lied through his teeth at that hearing, got confirmed by the Senate (which Senate is controlled by the President’s party) … and has turned out to be exactly what was feared.

We have entered a new phase of Trump’s Presidency. He and his henchmen are now newly emboldened, and will, every day, find additional ways to tear down our democracy and cheat in his bid for a second term. And beyond that, what? As he has suggested more than once, he believes himself entitled to more years in office than the law allows. But what does he really want? Nothing less than President-for Life.


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The Salmon River, ID #1 – 1981 and 1997

The Wild and Scenic Salmon River runs through the 2,366,757 acre Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness. Its waters are the purest in the lower 48 states.

In the summer of 1981, our bright new rafting company (New Wave Rafting Company) was faced with a drought on the Rio Grande. What to do? Acquaintances of ours suggested that we accompany them on a trip down the Main Fork of the Salmon River. These were founding and other members of a preservationist group named Earth First! Myself, wife Kathy and son Ethan were thrilled to join them, to experience the Salmon River in the company of kindred folk.

We traveled to Idaho in our 1-ton company van and made a beer stop in Blackfoot, ID. Turns out that one of our party had an uncle who owned a distributorship there, who directed a forklift to load a pallet of beer into the rear end of the van. At the put-in we saw that Dave Foreman’s raft  was a self-bailer i.e. he had cut the floor out. His frame was a homemade aluminum affair that exactly fit the dimensions of the main tubes, so that it rested on those tubes all the way around, with all weight  suspended from it. The pallet of beer was then transferred to his boat, which is all that he carried. And I must confess that I failed to get a photo of it!




Ethan Miller takes his turn pumping up our flimsy Udisco raft






Kathy and Steve, in our new Miwok






Our Udisco taco’ed, with a paddler whose foot got caught in the crease suffering a broken toe


Kathy and ?


The wilderness setting and sublimity of the scenery was conducive to drinking lots of beer and taking lots of drugs


Beach camp

Thanks, Dave Foreman and Earth First!, for the invite!

After our 1981 trip on the Main Fork, our next goal was to run the  Middle Fork  – perhaps the most prized river destination in the country. With the clearest water and an astounding native cutthroat trout fishery, we just had to get there! And, friends who had secured a permit provided us that opportunity in the fall of 1997. We flew into Indian Creek from Salmon, ID, with Wilderness Aviation.


Our put-in for this fall trip (9-21-97) was Indian Creek, at Mile 25. Seasonal low water in the very rocky stretch upstream of here argued against using the usual start at Boundary Creek (Mile 0).

1. SalmonAirstrip900#2'97TDeN.jpg

Seen in the center is Will MacHendrie, our host


Are those kayaks and canoe going into that little plane?


Well,  two of them went in


We pass over the confluence of Marble Creek and the Middle Fork


We circle over the strip, losing altitude


The final approach. The airstrip is seen ahead. A burned hillside is seen below.



The ramp and put-in, Mile 25


The put-in, view downstream


Kathy. We began to catch beautiful cutthroat trout (and release them) within minutes of launching.


same as above


Will MacHendrie, at Marble Creek Rapid, Mile 31.7. The pink tag on the rear of the kayak is his boat permit.


Kathy and Will MacHendrie


Kathy and cutthroat


Kathy casting. We used only dry flies – mainly grasshopper imitations.




Kathy and cutthroat


Tappen Falls, Mile 57.9


Kathy, enjoying Tappen Falls


Elk Bar Camp, Mile 79.6


Just one more fish!

Thanks, Will and Carol MacHendrie, for inviting us on your trip!

See Part #2, on our 2009 trip:

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The Salmon River, ID #2 – 2009

The Wild and Scenic Salmon River runs through the 2,366,757 acre Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness. Its waters are the purest in the lower 48 states.

NOTE: This post is preceded by a post on our 1981 and 1997 Salmon River trips. The Main Fork, in 1981, and the Middle Fork, in 1997:


In 2009, we were invited by our friends, Michele and Marcos Puigarri, to join their Middle Fork trip. It being late summer (8-21-09), we again chose Indian Creek as our launch point.


We met at the Village Inn, in Challis, ID


Middle Fork Aviation, Challis, ID






View towards the White Cloud Mountains


Indian Creek, again. As before, we circle over the strip to lose altitude.


The final approach



M.24.7Flight5of5 900_3632.jpg

It took 5 flights to get us and our gear to riverside


No electricity, no power inflator. Scott pumps.


The ramp and put-in, Mile 25


We are checked-out by USFS Ranger Amanda


Look at that clear water! Mile 25+


Indian Creek enters on the left, Mile 26.1.

M.30.6Little Soldier900_3639.jpg

Little Soldier Creek, Mile 30.6.


Lunch stop at Little Soldier Creek


Inlet of Little Soldier Creek, Mile 30.6


Rafts arrive at Marble Creek Camp, Mile 31.7


The Puigarri brothers rig-up, as Scott looks on


Marble Creek Rapid, Mile 31.7


same as above


Marble Creek Rapid. Scott, Laura and Sue


Pack bridge at Marble Creek, Mile 31.6


Hot Springs at Sunflower Flat, Mile 32.6


Marcos catches a cutthroat on a streamer


Lunch and a snooze, at Jackass Camp, Mile 37.2


Jackass Rapid, Mile 37.2


Mile 40ish


Culver Creek Camp ahead, Mile 45.6


Culver Creek Camp


same as above


Above Whitey Cox, Mile 45.9


Whitey Cox area, Mile 46.2


Whitey Cox Camp, Mile 46.2


White Creek pack bridge, Mile 47.7


Kathy, with cutthroat, Mile 47.8


Shelf Camp, Mile 48.1


Above Big Loon Creek, Mile 48+


Big Loon Creek, Mile 49.3


Lunch, at Big Loon Creek, Mile 49.3


Squawfish (aka Pike Minnow), caught on a Wooly Bugger, Big Loon Creek


Underwater Canyon, Mile 50+


Scott, at Hospital Bar Hot Springs, Mile 52.1


At Grouse Creek Camp, Mile 56.5


Evening at Grouse Creek Camp, Mile 56.5. A great camp!




Snake tossing, Marcos


Tappen Falls, Mile 57.9. The camera catches Joe grimacing …


… and Kathy exulting


Marcos at the oars, with Diego


Tappen #3, Kathy


Tappen #3, Marcos and Diego


Tappen #3, Scott


Tappen #3. Commercial raft with sweep oars, a Salmon River tradition

M.58.4BelowTappen3 900_3546T.jpg

Below Tappen #3, Mile 58.4, upstream view


Entry of Camas Creek, Mile 59.9


Camas Creek, Mile 59.9


Wide-angle view at Camas Creek lunch spot, Mile 59.9, with upstream to the left


Camas Creek, Mile 59.9. Three women on a rock.


Downstream view to Aparejo Point, Mile 62


Above Aparejo Point Rapid, Mile 62.6


The cutthroat trout is named for the red slash seen on its lower jaw


Clematis vine


Approaching Sheep Creek Camp, Mile 65.3


Pine, Sheep Creek Camp, Mile 65.3


Sheep Creek Camp, Mile 65.3, Laura


Diego is very pleased with his purchase of ice at the Flying B Ranch, Mile 66.8


The very rocky Haystack Rapid, Mile 68.1


Jack Creek Rapid, Mile 70.7


Jack Creek Rapid, Mile 70.7


Above Wilson Creek, Mile 72.7


Approaching Wilson Creek, Mile 72.8


Wilson Creek Camp, Mile 72.9


Entry of Wilson Creek, Mile 72.9


Area above Survey Creek, Mile 73


Commercial trip at Survey Creek Camp, Mile 74.8


Woolard Creek Camp, Mile 74.9


Cutthroat trout caught on a grasshopper imitation, Mile 74 area


Above Fly Camp, Mile 75.6


Bobtail Creek, Mile 76.4


Waterfall Creek Rapid, Mile 77.8


Entry of Waterfall Creek, Mile 77.8


Big Creek enters from the left, Mile 77.9. The section of river canyon called Impassible Canyon begins here. The Middle Fork trail, which has followed the river from the start, leaves the river here.


Camp at Cutthroat Cove. Diego fishes. Mile 78.9


Kathy and Steve, at Cutthroat Cove Camp, Mile 78.9


Then I went through the chair!


Packing up, at Cutthroat Cove Camp, Mile 78.9


Mile 82 area. One of the nicest walls in the canyon.


Mile 82 area. Sue


Lichen, Mile 82.5 area


Redside Rapid, Mile 82.7. Kathy


Papoose Creek, Mile 84.4, river left


Ship Island Creek and Peak 5548′, Mile 84.5


Parrot Cabin grotto, Mile 87.9


Approaching Upper Cliffside Rapid, Mile 88.6. Sue


She swam


Upper Cliffside Rapid, Mile 88.6. Kayaker surfs top wave.


Upper Cliffside Rapid, Mile 88.6. Another kayaker.

M.88.6U.CliffsideR.JoeSue900 3339D.jpg

Upper Cliffside Rapid, Mile 88.6. Joe and Sue.


Upper Cliffside Rapid, Mile 88.6. Marcos and Diego


View at Cliffside Camp, Mile 89.7


Rubber Rapid, Mile 91.1


Hancock Rapid, Mile 92.2, Diego


Hancock Rapid, Mile 92.2, Marcos and Diego


Solitude Camp, Mile 92.7, Marcos and Diego


Devil’s Tooth Rapid, Mile 93.4, commercial trip


Devil’s Tooth Rapid, Mile 93.4. Commercial sweep boat we saw earlier.


Devil’s Tooth Rapid, Mile 93.4, Joe


Devil’s Tooth Rapid, Mile 93.4, Kathy


Devil’s Tooth Rapid, Mile 93.4, Marcos and Diego


Devil’s Tooth Rapid, Mile 93.4, kayaker


same as above


House Rocks Rapids, Mile 94


same as above


Swells on a tongue, Mile 95 area


At the confluence with the Main Fork, which comes in from the right. Banded gneiss bedrock is seen through the water. Mile 96.3


Another look at same. Interesting!

We join the Main Fork, turning left.


Stoddard pack bridge, Mile 96.9


Cramer Creek Rapid, Mile 99


same as above

The take-out at Cache Bar was less than a mile downstream, at Mile 99.7. Thanks, Puigarris, for inviting us on your trip!

See Part #1, of our Salmon River trips in 1981 and 1997, with the Main Fork in 1981, and the Middle Fork in 1997:

















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The King Donald Chronicles, #58 – Putin in the White House

As regards Putin’s influence on King Donald, we know one thing for sure. We know that Putin is DT’s role model. DT has aspired to wielding power like Putin, and becoming eligible to join that exclusive club whose members are the world’s autocrats. And this does not speak to what actual hold Putin has on Trump. What they call “compromat”. What compromising material that he is holding over DT’s head.

But that may already be old news, now that he has been acquitted in his impeachment trial. DT has, in fact, achieved his ambition. He now holds absolute power. He can do whatever he wishes! And he will. He has started off, today, by purging his enemies, as one expects of a newly-empowered boss man.

What are we going to do about this very ugly and terrifying circumstance? Now that he has become, to invoke another purported role model, a Hitler. For me, this is more ominous than anything I have previously experienced. We will, of course, do our utmost to vote him out of office. But what if he loses the election and refuses to leave office? Or, having stolen or won four more years, he declares himself President-for-Life? This happens elsewhere, and could happen here. And all evidence, including his own words, indicates that that is what he has in mind.

We had better start discussing contingency plans. And in private. It’s very likely that it will soon become too dangerous to discuss resistance openly.

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The King Donald Chronicles, #57 – Acquitted

And so it came to pass, that on Wed., February 5, 2020, Donald J. Trump became the King of the United States of America. It was on this day that the Senate acquitted him of the two articles of impeachment brought by the House of Representatives- abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Although his guilt had been abundantly proved, and acknowledged by more than one Republican Senator, the Senate Republicans refused, (with the exception of Mitt Romney with respect to Article One) to remove him from office. This failure to punish him in any way, along with his lawyers’ argument that, as President, he can do whatever he wishes, now allows and encourages him to continue in his predictable ways. He is, thus, certain to make every effort, and enlist every ally – foreign and domestic – to corruptly win the 2020 election. It is too discouraging to dwell on the consequences to our American democracy if he should do so. Our only hope, therefore, is that enough of the American electorate will comprehend the danger that he poses, and come together to vote him out of office.

Some additional thoughts:

  1. The President’s obstruction of Congress (Article Two) was brazen. His order to disobey subpoenas and his refusal to provide documents was an open demonstration of obstruction. It doesn’t get any more flagrant than that. How, then, could Senators find him not guilty? Clearly, those Republican Senators broke their oaths of impartiality.
  2. Amongst the Republican Senators, only Mitt Romney had the backbone to vote to convict on Article One. This act of “moral courage” stands in stark contrast to the cowardice or self-interest of the rest of his caucus, and now adds considerably to his stature.
  3. It is time, finally, to ask what it is that motivates Republican legislators to hew so closely to the President. I do not doubt that these Republican legislators have Russian money in their pockets, as is very likely the case with the President. If there are specific reasons, beyond money, behind the influence that Putin wields over Trump and Republican Congressmen/women, they remain to be discovered … but that influence cannot be denied.
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Bosque del Apache, Jan. 29 & 30, 2020, #2

Light geese


Light geese and northern shovelers


Light geese


same as above


same as above

LightGeeseLgGroupTaking Off900DSC_0195-denoise.jpg

Light geese take off


same as above


same as above


Waves of geese head out to their feeding grounds

Sandhill cranes, in the morning


Sandhill crane


Sandhill cranes


Sandhill cranes


Sandhill cranes


Sandhill cranes


Sandhill cranes


Sandhill cranes


Sandhill cranes


Sandhill cranes


Sandhill cranes pointing, an “intention movement” that shows their readiness to fly off in the direction indicated


Sandhill crane takes off


Sandhill crane takes off


Sandhill cranes take off


Sandhill cranes take off

Sandhill cranes, in the evening


Sandhill crane approaches the roost


Sandhill cranes approach the roost


Sandhill cranes approach the roost


Sandhill cranes approach the roost


Sandhill cranes approach the roost


Sandhill crane comes in for a landing


Sandhill cranes come in for a landing


Sandhill crane lands


Evening at the Wetland Roost


Evening at the Wetland Roost


Evening at the Wetland Roost


Evening at the Wetland Roost


Evening at the Wetland Roost


Evening at the Wetland Roost

And lastly, did I mention that a visit to BdA also makes possible a visit to the Owl Cafe, in San Antonio? Their chili cheeseburger can’t be beat, and costs only $6.00!

End of Part 2


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