Tag Archives: bird watching

Canoeing and Wild Camping

To celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary this year Rob and I left the kids with the grandparents and embarked on a canoe expedition course to learn the necessary skills to head off on our own adventures. In that week we fell in love with canoeing and on our return invested in two canoes and the various paraphernalia required such as life jackets, dry bags and so on. The kids have been desperate to get out on the water with us but I’m in the final stages of dissertation writing for my MSc and with weather and tide considerations a couple of weeks passed before we had a chance. That chance came last weekend and we went for it, full bore!

We could have fit way more stuff but this is all we needed for the five of us overnight

We could have fit way more stuff but this is all we needed for the five of us overnight

We set off just before high tide going up stream with the flow which made for easy initial paddling. Although as we rounded a corner the wind caught us and with only my 8 year old in the front of mine we were much lighter than I had anticipated and we kept getting turned. Even with the camping kit there wasn’t a lot of weight in the canoe and it was very much in the middle (kit) and back (me)… first lesson learned in terms of kit positioning.

drifting paddling

Eventually after spinning in the water for a while and even walking along a stretch of shore until we were past the bend in the river that was catching the wind, we were back on route and arrived at our camping spot.

tide going out drying sicks high tide

Traffic on the river was busy around high tide and we didn’t want to draw too much attention so we didn’t set up the tarp until much later but we set about collecting and processing firewood. We lit the fire with a flint and steel using tinder we found around us and the kids played in the water before the tide went too far out. Rob strung them up a simple rope swing which proved fun for hours (and also caused irritating “my turn” arguments!!)

processing wood

Boys processing wood for a fire

rope swing water fun summer fun whittling

Dinner was a basic chicken curry and here I learned another lesson… when taking curry powder in a pot seal the pot in bag or decent container… the curry powder spilt in one of the dry sacks and covered EVERYTHING! I salvaged enough for dinner and sucked up the lesson. We had taken about 10 litres of water with us but actually on such a hot day and with cooking dinner and washing up this was only just enough. On our course we had learned about finding water on an expedition, filtering and sterilising but the river we were on is largely salt water so that wasn’t an option. There was a stream feeding into the river nearby that we could have got water from had we been desperate and next time we’ll take a suitable filtration system in case we need it.

cooking dinner

Cooking dinner on the fire

curry

Curry with a view

After dinner and some bird watching we set up the tarp and as the sun set we got the kids to bed and us shortly after… we had to be up at 5am to catch the outgoing tide back home or we would be stranded until mid-afternoon!

bird watching setting up tarp camp sleepign babies

The early start was brilliant, we had the camp packed down and ready to set off in half an hour and we made sure that we left no trace that we had been there… an important principle we are pressing hard on the children!

early morning

Up and ready to set off at 5.30am

The trip back was effortless on a mirror still river drifting with the tide. Of course at 5.30am we were the only human life on the river but it was teeming with bird life and the beauty of a canoe is that you can silently drift along without disturbing them.

morning shot misty morning one of me still waters

We were back at the car by 7am and heading home for a big old breakfast and a nap.

heading home for breakfast

heading home for some breakfast

Perfect Yellowstone

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After our disappointment at Yosemite we had lowered our expectations for Yellowstone, the mightiest and most famous of all the National Parks in America. It was probably wise as we had previously had very high hopes for this “Serengeti” of the Northern Hemisphere, having watched numerous spectacular nature and geology programs about the place. It was, however, unnecessary. Yellowstone did not disappoint. Far from it, our expectations, pre-Yosemite were easily surpassed and we were utterly blown away but the most incredible landscape, fascinating features, wonderful wildlife and fantastic people.

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Rob and Alfie using the scopes

One aspect of Yellowstone no-one can prepare you for is the smell! Boy O Boy does that place stink of rotten eggs and burnt matches. But that’s as wonderfully weird and interesting as all the other geological features of this super-volcano. I can’t capture the smell in photographs for you I’m afraid (although we did consider trying to bottle some for a particular Derby-dwelling, smelly bottomed friend back home). So you’ll have to settle instead for photographs of boiling mud pots, vast water squirting geysers and bottomless hot pools of magical colours.

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Stinky boiling mud pots

Old Faithful Geyser at Yellowstone

Old Faithful Geyser erupting

Morning Glory pool at Yellowstone National Park

Morning Glory pool – it has to be seen to be believed!

Yellowstone Lake

Yellowstone Lake

The wildlife in Yellowstone is unsurpassed anywhere else in North America. We had a list of “would like to see” animals and very few were creatures we actually expected to see. Well we were just ticking them off almost hourly for the first couple of days! On expanding our list to things we never thought we would get a chance to view, Yellowstone continued to perform, tick tick tick! Now, don’t think you can just rock on up and see grizzlies, wolves and mountain goats. You need to actually look for them and be in the right place at the right time… ie. The Lamar Valley at 5am. Indeed we Deans did rise at 5am (hardcore right?), bundled the sleeping children into the car with blankets and set off to see the wolves. And it paid off, we saw two separate black wolves and a big grey fellow. You also need to stay up at dusk to see more of your bucket list species but it’s the mornings that really pay off. From coyotes and badgers to birds of prey and yellow-bellied marmots, they all rise with the sun to be seen by the hard core nature watchers.

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Loading the kids in the car at 5am, Orla was surprisingly cheerful!

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A little note on rising early for parents – If you are planning to drive a long way from your base camp for the entire day then remember to take clothes and shoes for your children to wear once the sun is up… My children may have seen the spectacular geysers and hot springs of Yellowstone National Park but they did it in their pyjama’s and with utterly inappropriate foot wear which I ended up carrying for most of the way.

Sunrise at Yellowstone

Getting up early means spectacular misty sunrises

Sunset at Yellowstone

And staying up late means even more incredible fiery sunsets!

There are parts of Yellowstone which are particularly busy, around old faithful and anywhere a bear is hanging out near a road, thereby creating a “bear jam” as the hoards swarm to get photos. But, if you take a few of the tracks off the main roads, boy does it pay off. There is a 6 mile track between Mammoth village and Tower, where our campsite was, which was particularly quiet in the evenings and provided incredible encounters, such as a coyote hanging out with a badger right there in front of us. We also found secluded yet accessible fishing spots with no one else around and (with bear spray on Rob’s belt) we caught 6 brook trout which we ate for dinner back at the camp ground.

Fishing at Joffee Lake, Yellowstone National Park

Alfie fishing at peaceful Joffee Lake

Brook trout caught at Yellowstone

And the Brook Trout he and Rob caught which we had for dinner, yum!

The camp ground at tower was ideal for us, most of the park was easily accessible, particularly Lamar Valley where a lot of wildlife is easily spotable. All the campsites here have great fire pits and nice flat places to pitch the tent. Shady from the trees but with enough sunlight to warm up the air, we warmed water on the fire to bath the kids a couple of mornings and we all slept snuggly. Although getting out for a wee in the night in grizzly territory is a whole different experience.

bathing the baby in Yellowstone National Park

The best thing for us about the campsite was the people we met in the pitches near by. A slight disappointment for this trip for myself and Rob has been the lack of new people we have met along the way. We had imagined meeting all sorts of interesting and diverse people at campsites and in the National Parks. Admittedly we’ve met some lovely people at our wwoof placements and friends we’ve stayed with whom we already knew a little but at the campsites people have very much kept themselves to themselves. Until Yellowstone that it. The first night we arrived the children were invited to a s’mores campfire party which they loved and the next few nights we happened to find ourselves next to one of the most interesting and fun couples we could have hoped for. Bruce and Pat – wolf educators, film makers and authors, also brilliant with kids. Having lived with a wolf for 16 years they had fascinating stories and interesting takes on current hot topics. I shall tell you more about Bruce and Pat after we stay with them at the end of June at their Montana home but on returning to our tent after a late night wildlife watching we discovered our tent decorated with fairy-lights, lighting the way for our sleeping babies safely to their beds. Kind gestures make the best memories.

Camping at Yellowstone

Coming home to find the fairies had been

Everyone we met in Yellowstone were fantastic and interesting and helpful except for one nutty lady who wouldn’t shut up, convinced that there were both Bison and Buffalo there, two separate species, hard to tell apart… “you’ll have to ask an American Indian to know the difference”. Oh and “the brown coloured black bears are actually brown bears”… Right Oh! Apart from her (there’s always one!) people shared tips, stories and experiences as soon as there was a clear interest and everyone was helpful and kind to the children. We went to see the ranger, Jim, who we had met a month ago in Canyonlands National Park and got more fantastic tips about where to see our tick list species, and the harder things to spot… though a live skunk still eludes us.

So here is our list of what we saw in Yellowstone (there are plenty more things we’ve seen elsewhere in the States but that list will come at the end of the trip). It’s not totally exhaustive and there are plenty more birds which we didn’t positively identify but this is the vast majority:

Mammals and reptiles

Grizzly Bears

Wolves

Black Bears

Big horn sheep

Mountain goats

Elk

Moose

Bison

Unita ground squirrel

Beaver

Badger

White tail deer

Mule deer

Red fox

Yellow-bellied marmot

Coyote

Bull snake

Chipmunk

Jack rabbit

Common muskrat

Pronghorn

 

Birds and waterfowl

Osprey

Mountain bluebird

Red tailed hawk

Swainson’s hawk

Scaup

Trumpeter swan

American kestrel

Western tanager

Yellow rumped warbler

Northern flicker

Stellers jay

Brown headed cow bird

Brewer’s blackbird

Common loon

Sandhill crane

Common Merganser

Blue winged teal

Western meadow lark

Cliff swallow

Violet-green swallow

Tree swallow

American white pelican

Buffle head

Golden eye

Raven

Magpie

Killdeer

Rough grouse

Williamson’s sapsucker

Red-winged blackbird

Red breasted nuthatch

Canada goose

Great blue heron

It’s almost impossible for me to explain the magic of Yellowstone in a blog post and my amateur photographs really don’t do it justice. If you have even a vague interest in wildlife or geology then you must put this place on your bucket list. Save up, do it on a budget in a tent, get up at 4.30 or 5am to make the most of it and just do it. You’ll never forget the massive bear tracks in the mud crossing your path or the experience of seeing wolves eating a bull elk carcass. The incredible fire like sunsets will burn in your memories along with the vast sky with ever changing clouds casting shadows on the most incredible and diverse landscape. The revolting yet fascinating smells will linger in your nose to remind you of the volcanic activity bubbling away below you as you live and breath forever touched by perfect Yellowstone.

Black bear at Yellowstone

Black bear

Bison at Yellowstone

Bison

bison with calf at Yellowstone

Muma bison feeding her baby

Beaver at Yellowstone

Beaver munching some branches

Bull elk at Yellowstone

A regal bull elk from a distance

Trumpeter swan at Yellowstone

Trumpter swan

Coyote at Yellowstone

Camouflaged coyote

Yellow-bellied marmot at Yellowstone

Yellow bellied marmot with a snowy backdrop

Bear tracks at Yellowstone

Fresh bear tracks in the mud by the board walk around the hot springs and geysers

Hot spring at Yellowstone

One of the magical hot springs bubbling and boiling away

Boiling mud pots at Yellowstone

Vast and stinky, boiling mud pots

A small geyser at Yellowstone

A small geyser erupting and spluttering over us

Beaver at Yellowstone

And finally, here is the beaver from Joffee Lake again

A bad day turned good

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We reached our limit camping in the Rocky Mountains… The snow was too much. Day time temperatures of 4 degrees Celsius and night time temperatures dropping to -6 was a little too low for the Dean kids and the bad mood of the youngest who is unfortunately cutting her last teeth was taking us to the edge of reason and sanity. So despite loving where we were and gaining so much from the fantastic knowledge and experience of our host, Robin, we took the decision to move on to warmer climates for camping. We are heading back to the Appalachian Mountain range.

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Camping in the snow with a toddler is a step too far for even for us.

We had a brilliant time at Earth Knack and achieved lots despite the weather and toddler tantrums. We dug flowerbeds, build bridges, Rob did some tree work and the kids always love watching him working with a chainsaw. We potted up seedlings, prepared communal meals and emptied the compost toilets. We also made great new friends with Gray and Suzannah, the interns there now.

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The bridge Rob built with Suzannah and Gray

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Watching daddy working… and freezing!

We were a bit sad packing up but as the two younger kids decided to really step up the bad behaviour we knew the decision was the right one and we cracked on. But we decided to head to some hot springs to get clean and have some fun. It worked and we emerged clean and refreshed, ready to hit the road.

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Breakfast in the snow!

It’s funny how things turn out though because at this point things improved… Not only did we find the most delicious Chinese food in America a little cafe we happened to stop at but we then spotted a Golden Eagle feasting on it’s freshly caught prey in a field. We were able to stop right by the edge of the field and get an incredible view of it tearing the dead creature to pieces. It’s the first time I’ve seen a Golden Eagle and it was spectacular, breath taking and skin tingling.

Driving late into last night we drove along snowy mountain passes as the temperature dropped around us. But snugly in the car we knew a warm motel bed and indoor toilet awaited us instead of a freezing tent.

This morning, refreshed we headed to the Rocky Mountain National Park. The vast majority of it was shut due to the heavy snow but we went ten miles into the park in the hope of finally seeing a bear. Sadly the bears still elude us but we did spot moose, pelicans on a lake and some yellow bellied marmots which more than made up for the closed road and lack of bears.

Heading East again now past Denver we’ll be driving through Kansas tomorrow and on to Tennessee, the Appalachians and warmer weather. We might make it right over to the east coast for a beach day… We haven’t seen the sea for months which is a strange feeling when you’re used to seeing it from the kitchen window at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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Bird Watching in Monte Vista

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We decided to head to Monte Vista in advance of our wwoof placement which starts tomorrow (or today for UK readers). On arriving in this small town (supposedly a City although I have no idea how they differentiate between towns and cities here – this place is small!) to find that the whole place is a rather run down dump of a place, with an appalling Mexican restaurant I hope never to go to again.

However, after paying too much for luke warm fajita’s and far too much for some crappy accommodation we awoke the next morning to discover the area has an outstanding wetland nature preserve. We spent a few hours there in the morning watching incredible White faced Ibis, shovellers, ruddy ducks, marsh wrens (pictured above), yellow headed black birds a northern harrier, mule deer and a coyote and decided to return at sunset to try to spot owls and other birds of prey.

We passed the afternoon with some bowling and a hotel picnic dinner (which we’re getting pretty good at although still feel exacerbated by the waste created). A quick swim in a freezing pool and we got the kids in their pyjama’s for some late evening bird watching (or in Orla’s case Sponge bob watching).

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Yummy hotel floor picnic – chicken salad and strawberries!

It paid off – in addition to a couple of muskrats swimming silently through the water we also saw a stunning clarke’s grebe and a Swainson’s Hawk. Although by the time it was dark and we were heading out of the preserve we had yet to see an owl… “Go slow Rob, there’s no one behind” I said in the hope of spotting one on a telegraph pole… and for once he listened! And when I said “stop!”, he actually did! And sure enough there was the owl, perched on a pole. With no one around we watched for a while and then he flew off right past the car. A great sight, but sadly too dark to identify more precisely than as an owl.

When we got back, reeling from our bird watching, I submitted my book to the publishers and it’s a huge weight off before our wwoof placement in the morning – we are sipping champagne now. I’m not sure how much internet connection or laptop juice I’ll have for the next two weeks so if I’m silent that’s why, but I’ll be sure to fill you all in on my return to civilisation after that.

We’ve also just been through the photo’s from today and I seem to have got a setting wrong or something because, bar this reasonable marsh wren, they were all completely rubbish. Although I must admit I prioritised my binoculars today so I didn’t put a lot of effort into the camera and sorting out it’s blur… you’ll just have to look all the above birds up for yourselves I’m afraid.

All play and no work

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Finding the balance at the moment is kind of tricky. I’m am meant to be working whilst on the road. The book I’m currently writing about a medical condition is just not progressing as I had hoped… it was easy at home when I had childcare and evenings without distraction – I flew through chapters churning out thousands of words in a day. Here I have the children all day, Orla has dropped her nap (oh joy!) and then in the evenings it’s hard to find the motivation to carry on after blogging and sorting through emails.

The days are a combination of fun farm work, like milking the cow and collecting eggs, the mundane like sorting out meals and washing up (which is still pretty fun and novel in the Airstream), the mind numbing, like changing nappies and picking up clothes constantly, and the unbelievably exciting, like watching a bald eagle fishing on the river here. Plus we’ve been having campfires and using the bat detector and tracking deer through the woods (and, ahem, watching Game of Thrones on DVD). But that doesn’t leave a lot of time for blog and book writing or charity administration. I am proud to say though that I got up at 06:30am on Friday, sneaked out to the car (turned the heaters on!) and attended an online meeting. I suppose getting up early to work is an option that many people in my situation would embrace but honestly… it’s not going to happen so lets not pretend it is. I’m far more likely to get up at dawn to look for owls and coyotes and listen to the dawn chorus while watching the sunrise. And even that wouldn’t be a regular occurrence – sleep has become far to precious since having children.

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Rob and Patrick cleaning out the chickens

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Alfie and I spend a while trying to get a picture of him kicking a ball. This was my favourite.

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He climbs everything!

Slightly more frustrating is the lack of time with my camera. I am determined to get a decent picture of a bald eagle. Last night at dusk we spotted it flying along the river and when it perched I grabbed the camera, I got this rather ridiculous picture from our door in the hope I could see it more clearly on the computer but alas it was too far.

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Spot the eagle…

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Zoomed right in, barely visible… but proof none the less that we have seen a bald eagle! It was somewhat better in real life 😉

This morning we saw him again perched on a branch by the river but this time we were about 40 metres away from him… without a camera or binoculars! “Why on earth don’t you just take the camera out with you all the time?” I hear so many of you cry… You people with none, one or maybe two children… With three kids in tow I can only take the camera sometimes and only if I also have Rob with me. Picture for a moment if you will… me laden with kids coats they are refusing to wear, chasing Orla down the road (man can that girl move when she wants to!) Alfie is chasing her for me and I diligently have my camera over my shoulder and across my chest resting on my back while not in use chasing them both. Patrick is somewhere near me but he is sly like a fox and moves around me shadow style. Orla stops suddenly, Alfie crashes into her and down they both go like a sack of spuds. I catch up, anticipating the howls that are about to start and on swooping down to retrieve Orla to her feet the lens on the camera cracks Alfie on the head… On turning to comfort him and apologise Patrick is taken out, again by the lens… I can’t pick any of them up in case they kick the damn thing and they are all now crying and it’s starting to rain…

This scenario happens on a daily basis, add Swarovsai binoculars in to the mix and there is even more chaos. Actually, that’s not true, it happens multiple times every day and the only aspect of it that I can alter or improve is the camera/binocular element. It’s the kit I’m worried about obviously… the kids heads will be fine, it’s never a particularly hard clonk!

That said, I do take it out with me when Rob is with us (so he can sort out the scrapes and falls without braining the children in the process) and I love using it when I can. I just have to accept my limitations. But you all know me, when I’m determined to do something, like get a photo of a bald eagle… I do it, and I’m even more proud of it knowing the challenges I faced in getting it.

The WWOOFers are here

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We pulled up at New Vrindaban, the 1,000 acre Hari Krishna community nestled in the pretty West Virginia hills, with a mixture of excitement, intrigue and nerves. Our nerves mainly were regarding the behaviour of our children when placed within a strict culture of peace, quiet and respect… The boys current repertoire of jokes relate entirely to poo and wee, they are trained to wee outside in bushes and have the feet of baby elephants, which has lead to us aiming exclusively for ground floor accommodation. Patrick doesn’t walk at the moment, he bounces and hops (he’s a frog you see). Orla doesn’t walk anywhere either, she runs, well sort of, in her bum wiggling, feet stomping, clumsy sort of way.

The fellow who arranged our placement here is away for a few days and our nerves where therefore not quelled on arrival when we were met with blank faces. “Hold on” she said and dashed out the door to inform a colleague that “the wwoofers are here”, and it felt strange being on the other side of the fence, having let Rob know the same thing many times over the last few years on our own farm! (WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) Her colleague was none the wiser but, luckily, the lady found a slip of paper on the desk which suddenly made sense to her when we elaborated that there were five of us. Alas, we were given a key and directed to an upstairs apartment, in a block with poor sound insulation and with a lovely gentleman below us who is somewhat sensitive to noise. The kids are learning to tiptoe and whisper… Orla’s not a very quick learner though. On the plus, the kids are sleeping from 7pm to 7am which I think is pretty reasonable. On top of that, their behaviour really is improving now they are getting into the swing of things and there is lots for them to do here with a play room and outside play area, lots of local walks and masses of birds and mammals to spot and track. They have the deer track sussed!

The apartment is basic, to say the least, but as wwoofers, we expected that. And it’s free. Rob is getting involved on the farm, milking the cows and there is some tree pruning and care he can get involved in. We share meals with the community for breakfast and lunch and so far have sampled delicious Indian delights.

The wildlife is far more abundant here than further north at the moment. Presumably due to the much milder temperature – it’s positively balmy compared to where we have come from! And the lack of hunting combined with the organic management of this 1,000 acre setting means that the deer are so tame you can get right up close. We saw a massive turkey vulture fly right over and an owl fly past with a tiny shrew in it’s talons last night. Today we spotted the impressive, and slightly bizarre looking wild turkey. Much sought after in hunting areas they flourish here unharmed. I took the picture at the top of the deer and am obviously thrilled with it… feel free to compliment me on it… go on, it’s blinking great right?

So we are here for a little while, to explore the area, meet new people with interesting stories and cultures, to feel settled and rest our tight budget. We can also start planning the next section, which currently is as free as the wind.

Dancing Cats and Bald Eagles

 

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The Deans have landed… On their feet! A great nights sleep (albeit with a shockingly early start at 05.30am again) followed by a true American breakfast, cooked up expertly by our host at Lazy Pond B&B, Matt. Pancakes, bacon, maple syrup, sausages, French toast, potato hash, coffee… You name it, we had it!

Breakfast was followed swiftly by playtime in the snow…

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Alfie and Patrick in the snow at Lazy Pond B&B

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She looks so sweet here but was literally SCREAMING “Cheese” at me whenever I pointed the camera away from her!

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The snow is deep!!!

Snow play was followed by a trip to The Dancing Cat Saloon for yet more food, some jazz and some whiskey. If you visit Sullivan County in the Catskills you absolutely must visit this saloon. The mouthwatering menu lived up to its description and more… Fresh home made raspberry jam like I’ve never known and zabaglione, which is like a sort of cross between clotted cream and custard, amazing! They also have a distillery on site and we got a personal tour by the distiller himself, Monte. The kit looks like something out of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory and is used to make a host of interesting whiskeys, vodkas and gins of all sort of amazing ingredients from local farms.

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Catskill Distilling Company

Obviously we couldn’t leave without a bottle for the road.

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Most Righteous Bourbon by the Catskill Distilling Company

It just so happened that the co-owner of the saloon, Stacey, happens to be an avid eagle watcher and pointed us in the direction of the best eagle viewing area in the county… Which I’m sorry but I’m not posting publicly online… You’ll have to visit Dancing Cats and ask Stacey for yourself. If you’re not into Eagles then visit them for the music, food and the mermaid on the piano.

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The mermaid on the piano at the Dancing Cat Saloon

So it turns out our experiences of less friendly people in the city were very much limited to there. People out here in the Catskills could not be more friendly, more welcoming or helpful. We mentioned our slight nervousness at the snowy roads that we are not use to and were instantly provided with Monte’s mobile phone number in case we should run into trouble.

On leaving the Saloon we headed off to spot us some eagles. But not before stopping to check out the monument making the regions most famous event… Woodstock. It was kind of snowy so we couldn’t really see much but, dear readers, if you could have seen me wading through the snow that came right up to my bum just so I could get this picture to share with you… Well you would have been proud of me!

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Monument at Woodstock site… somewhat buried in snow!

And so to the eagles. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that, despite my navigating prowess, we have taken quite a number of wrong turns between New York City and here and we have turned around more times then I care to remember (or confess). We keep reassuring ourselves that we’ll get used to the signs and junctions but honestly, they come out of nowhere and every road has about 4 different numbers and names! Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration but I’ve successfully navigated in many a European country without issue or error and yet am utterly flummoxed right now. However, I have absolutely no intention of getting a Sat Nav so I’m sure I’ll get used to it soon (or end up in Peru?).

Eventually we found the place and Orla woke up right on que. The snow was starting again and we really don’t want to get stuck so we didn’t spend long… but… We saw a Bald Eagle. And it was magnificent. It was also brief so I don’t have a photo to share with you. But I will, I am sure, over the next few weeks and months.

Eagles weren’t the only wildlife we saw. I spotted a couple of deer and we saw a Blue Jay and a Common Merganser (google it if you’re interested).

To be fair to kids (and Rob and I need reminding “to be fair” as we moan between ourselves quite a lot about them) we were pretty impressed by how long they were in the car and the boys really got into the bird watching. They are getting pretty good with the binoculars now too.

Back to beautiful cosy and warm Lazy Pond we headed. Warm was what was needed, boy is it cold out. We have spent the evening watching Home Alone with the kids, snuggled up on the sofa.

I’m a little worried that we have been so spoiled at Lazy Pond that no where else will live up to it. But more about that tomorrow and until then, stay warm.

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