Since our check-in time was at 10:00 am, I decided to leave a little early and stop by MacDonald Pass on my way out. I had driven by the overlook area a couple of times, but hadn't stopped. We had rain the day before, so I was hoping to see some nice clouds and I was correct. What I hadn't realized was that high up and exposed, it was cold and windy. But I drank my Starbucks and ate my donut and braved the cold breeze to take some pictures.
|MacDonald Pass August 2 Early Morning|
I was familiar with MacDonald Pass before we even left North Carolina because they have video monitors on the pass to show weather conditions since it is a main road between points in Montana. During February and March, all we saw was SNOW!
After leaving MacDonald Pass I passed by Nevada Creek Reservoir and stopped for more pictures. Like so many of the campsites and fishing areas, they are beautiful, well maintained and clean. But the views from the lake were great.
About 2 miles off Highway 200, down a gravel road, I turned onto this road to continue to the trailhead. After passing horses and cattle, the road turned again and a sign showed I still had 7 more miles to go. I decided it was time to return to my scheduled route and get on to BOW. As I drove back to Highway 200 a couple of deer crossed the road. I stopped to take pictures and much to my surprise these beauties strolled by.
Three sandhill cranes, probably mom, dad and offspring. And they are tall! At first I thought they were emu (Texter and Savvy will giggle over that old family joke). This was a good omen for the weekend as I was scheduled to take a couple of birding classes at BOW.
Back on the road and a few miles away, I came to Lubrecht Forest, where this year's BOW was being held.
Winding down to the cabins and main area, I checked in and found out I was assigned to the 'log cabin'. I knew from the registration that the arrangement in the cabins was 4-6 people. I expected a more dorm like setting, but in this cabin there are little alcoves with a twin bed and cabinet for each camper and a curtain over the opening. It was like having your own little room. And there was a sitting area with a desk and couch. Bathrooms were just a short walk away.
I do have to confess this was the newest and probably nicest cabin. But with the little time you spent in them, it really didn't matter. As a BOW participant you could stay in the 'lodge' for a few dollars more. Only difference really was that the bathroom was in the building. Another option was staying in your own tent, for a few dollars less. I picked the middle option and was pleased with my choice.
The center building is the Rec Hall where we could purchase BOW items (t-shirts and hats, etc) and bid on the silent auction items. I donated some needlework pictures I no longer wanted. There was a nice variety of items available to bid on. I just purchased a t-shirt and a hoodie. With Texter's love of hoodies, we will see how long it stays in my possession. The dining hall is to the left. More about the food in a minute.
The pavilion was used for a couple of the classes, dinner both nights and a place to socialize. Also using the pavilion was this little fellow.
He was so tiny. I was expecting him to be a bit bigger, more squirrel sized. But he was hamster sized (not counting his tail) and he lived under a rock on the pathway to the pavilion. He and his friends came out in the evening to scurry around, looking for food.
Someone who was not as thrilled to see us in the pavilion was this creature.
There was a pair of robins with chicks still in the nest. They were a little agitated that there were people in their nesting area. But eventually their need to feed the babies overcame their caution of people. What was fun in watching them was sitting the with woman who did the birding classes and listen to her talk about bird behavior and habits. A posting on my bird watching will be coming shortly.
My classes I had were birding basics, bird walk, beginning kayaking and journaling/nature observation. I was a little concerned about the kayaking as Friday was cool and overcast. But Saturday afternoon was sunny and warmed up.
First off, I need to do a lot of yoga to become more flexible to get in and out of the kayak. That was my only issue with the experience. Thank goodness no one was filming as I felt like a 3-legged cow getting in and out. But I love kayaking! I can understand how peaceful it is and how you can really get lost in the experience. We were on a large pond and just paddling back and forth, finding your rhythm, listening to just the sounds of the paddle and the water and birds was wonderful.
We had a variety of different styles of kayaks we could try out to see which one we liked the best. I am so hooked now, especially as there are a ton of places to kayak in just a few minutes of the house.
My only problem with the kayaking class was that there was an osprey flying around the pond (small lake). We were disturbing fishing for her. I kept looking up to watch the osprey and forget I was in a kayak and start wobbling in the water. But we were lucky in that as we finished up and were on the bank we watched her catch a fish and fly off.
That was a meal sized fish for me to give an idea of how big the fish was. As we left the pond, the osprey are set up on a nesting platform just up the road. I stopped by on my way home and took a quick picture of the 'family'. Texter and Gibbs want to see an osprey as he use to be a crew chief on the osprey helicopters.
Another score for my 'birding' list.
There were 3 rules at BOW - (1) No politics; (2) Be safe; and (3) Have fun. There should be a fourth rule - eat until you drop!
One of the classes being taught was Dutch Oven Cooking. I now want to run out and get a cast iron dutch oven and cook in my backyard. Anyway, what was made during the class was served to us during 'social hour' before dinner. There were stuff mushrooms, rice with apricots, a brownie cheesecake, cobblers, potato dishes, a couple of chicken dishes served both Friday and Saturday night. You could fill up just on the appetizers. The whole weekend the food was good and plentiful. Saturday lunch, for example, was a chicken salad sandwich on a huge croissant roll, chips, fresh fruit and a chocolate chip cookie. Friday's lunch had been a huge soft beef taco with all kinds of toppings, Spanish rice, fresh fruit. Breakfast was ample to start off your day. Saturday morning was a breakfast casserole, Sunday morning was waffles and scrambled eggs. Both days had oatmeal with different toppings your could add, juices, milk and cold cereal. Going hungry was NOT as issue.
But the topper was Saturday night. This was the night we were going to have the auction and a little entertainment. We started out with the Dutch oven appetizers, then came the food. All I could think of was that Gibbs and Texter should have been there. In fact, eventually, after texting Texter with what was being served, she sent me a picture of her shooting me the finger.
What is in the pictures is a mere fraction of what was served. Apparently in getting ready for the Saturday night 'wild game' dinner, Fish, Wildlife and Parks people are asked what is in their freezer. Thus a wide variety of meats and fish which are then turned into all kinds of dishes. And yes, I did eat Mountain Lion. Tastes of chicken (for the Eddy Izzard fans).
There were elk sliders, elk steak, pheasant, elk meatballs served two different ways, walleye, paddlefish, salmon, dove in rice casserole, goose in rice casserole, goose sausage. And the list goes on. It was served over about an hour and I pigged out the entire time. I had to try everything. Afterwards, all I wanted to do was to lay there and groan I was so stuffed.
But the absolute best thing about the entire weekend were the other people there (there were a couple of men there too - they don't discriminate). At no time did I feel like an outsider or by myself. In fact, if you wanted a minute or two alone to catch your breathe, it was hard. There were no strangers there. You were welcome to sit with anyone and invited to sit down by everyone. The age of the women there ranged from 18 to 90 and it was like a gathering of friends. We laughed and joked and asked questions of each other of the classes the other people were taking. The problem is that you wanted to do everything, but could only take 4 classes over the weekend. The instructors were approachable and were there between classes and blended in with the rest of us. In fact, I talked to the woman leading the birding classes so much. Pat works on the National Buffalo Refuge and I will definitely be making a trip there in the near future. Nothing like the offer of a personal guide to move it up on my list of things to do.
Was it worth the $200 I spent? It was priceless. All I could think of on the way home was next year and who we can get to babysit so that Texter can attend. Next year I want to do the fly fishing classes. BOW WOW!