Mendocino Nat’l Forest: Wild Life!

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Yes, a bear!

Nothing to worry about (he says with confidence). Overnight, I heard the unmistakable growl of at least one bear! It was a short-lived event, taking place some 100-200 feet away from the Sienna.

From what I could tell, it was near the spot I have been washing my cowboy cookware after making dinner. Maybe it was the sound of frustration, as I eat almost everything I cook.

DINNER: Quick rice, can of chicken, yellow curry, stabilized milk; delicious! 

Along the one-lane road between cellular signal valley and Dixie Glade, my campsite, I was stunned to see the largest jackrabbit I have ever seen (with matching giant ears!) dart out in front of me last night.

I didn’t hit him/her and, yet again, when I stopped to look at where it had stopped on the side of the hill to recount its close call with a moving vehicle, I wasn’t fast enough with the camera to snap a photo. But, believe me, it was a monster size wabbit!

A doe and its fawn stood in the road blocking my path yesterday afternoon. Oh so cute! I was so awestruck at how pretty the little one was, I didn’t even think about the camera—and sure enough, they were gone in a flash, just not the flash of a camera!

Oh my stars!

I have also witnessed some incredible sunsets and sunrises over the mountain ranges that surround me (orange seems to be the predominant color). The snow that fell two nights ago on the nearby mountain peak seems to have all but disappeared today. It’s not surprising; even here it was much warmer, with the overnight low about 38º under unquestionably clear skies.

At one point during the night—as nature called—I looked up at the heavenly display and thought “that’s odd; not a cloud in the sky, except over there.” Boy, was I wrong! It wasn’t a cloud at all: it was the Milky Way in all of its glory.

Not very often have I had the chance to see our galaxy with the naked eye (too much light pollution in the cities where I have lived most of my life). A real treat it was to experience our local star neighborhood outside and not in photos or a planetarium.

Music in the forest!

It’s so quiet here, I can hear the wings of the birds flapping as they fly by me. So, I broke out my nifty battery-powered, Yamaha keyboard in the afternoon and serenaded the campgrounds with some music.

The moment I started to play, the forest stilled and not a single bird made a sound! That is, until I played—wait for it—some Mozart! When I did, a woodpecker began to, well, peck seemingly in time with the music (phrasing and all)!

Ridiculous, I thought, so I played something else. Quiet, once more. Then back to Mozart. And, again, the woodpecker started up! I repeated the “experiment” several times—with the exact same results. Amazing! Is it possible Herr Amadeus knew something we still do not know today? Could it be that Mozart’s musical inspirations were the songs of birds and that is why they respond when they hear his music? I don’t know (no one does) but, it sounds logical to me!

Communing with nature.

I continue to have the campsite all to myself, although I am hardly alone. Some crows, some very large crows, have discovered someone is living in their domain and the smell of his coffee, oatmeal and assorted dinners is hard to resist investigating!

The rules say, “Do not feed the animals” so, I don’t. I speak to them in crow, albeit not having a clue as to what I’m communicating, and they speak back! Not bad for a city kid.

The sun has peaked (peeked?) over the mountain top to my right, which means it’s oatmeal time. Back to the the campsite I go to fire up my little Coleman stove…. 

And still, there are no payment envelopes!

Happy trails my friends!

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