August 11, 2008

Home, Sweet Home!

I always hoped that one day I'd be fortunate enough to get a job at my dream park. But I never thought that it would happen so soon! But here we are, living and working at one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

It's not just a national park, either. It's also an International Peace Park, a World Heritage Site, and a National Biosphere Reserve. Yes, Glacier National Park is so awesome it needs to be protected four different ways.

So, we arrived on Friday around lunchtime and began settling into our new, temporary house.

We're still hoping that we can figure out a way to live in park housing long-term, but it's not a done deal, yet. So we're going to be spending much of our upcoming weekends house hunting.

But we're also planning on doing a fair bit of exploring, too. This is Sonja enjoying sunset on the shore of Lake McDonald.

Some of my most vivid memories of visiting Glacier as a kid (besides the bears and mountains and the awesome Going to the Sun Road) are of the rocks. Every stream, every lake, every puddle just seems to explode with color in a way I've not encountered anywhere else.

So, to kick off our exploration of our new home (did I mention we're now living at Glacier National Park? Cuz we are!) we decided to make the short drive from our house up the Going to the Sun Road to Logan Pass on Saturday morning. A nice, easy trip from our house.

Something else I remember quite well from visiting Glacier is seeing the incredible wildflowers along the boardwalk up at the top of the pass. I know that's one of the reason Glacier is one of my mom's favorite places.

Paintbrush, alpine monkeyflower and some little yellow thing I never learned the name of seemed to be the most prominent flowers blooming on Saturday.

This is an alpine monkeyflower (I think) being visited by a honeybee.

It wasn't just the flora that came out to welcome us to Glacier, either. The bighorn sheep made a very photogenic appearance.

Maybe it's because I hadn't had an opportunity to walk the boardwalk at Logan Pass since I was around 7 years old, but I never remember the wildlife getting this close. Well, no wildlife bigger than a ground squirrel, anyway. That's Sonja standing on the boardwalk behind the sheep. I swear that the sheep approached me and not the other way around.

And the sheep weren't the only ones. The mountain goats wanted in on the action, too. I was really bummed when I got home and saw that the camera focused on the mountain and not the goat when I took this picture. Talk about a perfect pose. Bummer...

And when I say they got close, I mean they got close! As a park ranger, it's my job to make sure that people don't approach too close to wildlife. Particularly to wildlife that can seriously injure them.

But honestly, I don't think there was a way we could have avoided getting this close to these goats. There were about ten of us standing on the trail, trying to figure out what to do as the goats surrounded us. It quickly became apparent that they couldn't care less about us. We might as well have been rocks as far as they were concerned.

This was particularly surprising to me considering there were two tiny kids in the group. The little ones were definitely the most skittish around us, but even they still passed with ten feet of everyone.

We were apparently so boring that the goats had to entertain themselves. These two started horsing around and chasing each other in the snow no more than 30 feet from us.

I always wondered where people went to get such good photos of mountain goats, considering their usual habitat and general skittishness. I guess now I know.

Anyway, I think it's safe to assume that you can expect to see lots of pretty pictures being posted on here in the coming weeks as we get to know our new home a little better. If you'd like to see all 29 photos from this past weekend (plus some extras from a little side-trip we took on the way here last week), you can visit my photoset at flickr.

But for now, all I can say's good to be home!


Steve said...

welcome home Paul and Sonja. just wish i lived close enough to drop by for a visit. if the park ever needs a data geek - gimme a call.

andy said...

Okay, fine... so maybe there are still flowers in Glacier, and darn cute sheep, but I'll be laughing come January... I know it. Arizona misses you guys already. Can't wait to come visit

Anonymous said...

Sweet home indeed!

Anonymous said...

WOW!!!!!!!!!!!We are SAVING OUR PENNIES ALREADY for our next drive to see you at your new HOME in GLACIER!!! It will definately be our FAMILY VACATION by spring-summer of 2009 or 2010!!!!!!!!!
P.S. Just don't give me a citation when I let the girls feed the ground squirrels crackers like you did when you were a kid!! (or I will report your past crimes to your boss!!! TEE HEE!)

kippur said...

Ummmm, we'll be there tomorrow.

Great pictures, you guys have a lovely back yard.

Mom & Dad said...

Welcome your new home! Hope you will be very happy there. It's so beautiful, we can't wait to be there, too! Definitely planning a trip in the Spring...that's probably June, right?
Miss you and love you. Mom & Dad