Sunday, May 29, 2011

Bird Wars

that's Marvin he's got there

While studying intently, I couldn't help but notice squawking noises of birds in the trees outside my home. I often hear birds outside, but not the chatter that this crowd was making, so I looked out to see what was up. The racket was coming from within the leafy heart of the tree and I was unable to see the perpetrators, but soon enough, just as my interest was waning, a crow appeared on the roof of the building next door. It had something in its mouth.

In its mouth, and soon at its feet, it was holding a small, dead bird; it was a bird of a different species. The crow began to peck at the dead bird, then looked up toward the tree, than pecked again. I'm no expert in bird communication or body language, but it looked like the bird was saying, "See this, I'm pecking your little Marvin, breaking his spine, then eating the marrow inside. He's a tasty little guy." There was a considerable amount of squawking from the tree, as I could only imagine Marvin's family looking on in horror as their little birdie baby was being devoured by a huge crow.

The crow moved his prey several times, as if keeping in direct line of sight with the prey's peeps. Eventually, crow took his kill up to a lightpost and one of Marvin's peeps followed close by, keeping at a safe distance in a tree.
crow moves so he is in full view of nest

As per usual, whenever I don't know something, I google it. So I googled "crow killing birds" and found that crows do indeed kill birds, usually sparrow and in the spring when the sparrows are young. So I got to witness a part of the lifecycle of a crow and sparrow, right from the comfort of my home.

Monday's Forecast

The forecast for Monday is hilly, with intermittent flat. Throughout the day, expect bananas, potatoes and sporadic brownies mixed with bagpipes and men in skirts and plaids, with spandex prevailing.

Sun is in the forecast for Monday! I am leading the 7 Hills of Kirkland Ride... what a coincidence!

You can ride any of the three routes (40, 60 or 100) but please register, as this is a fundraiser for the eastside homeless (not a contradiction in terms!)

Ride report will follow, with all the drama you'd expect from Whirled Traveler!

Monday, May 2, 2011

How to Sell a Subaru

If you're going to sell a Subaru, official car of the Seattle Mountaineers, the best way to do it is to drive to a distant trailhead on a really rough road. For example, the hike up Black Canyon requires a drive on the mostly-gravel Umtanum Road for 22 miles from Ellensburg. At the turnoff for Black Canyon is where interest in a Subaru really picks up. The road up to the gate is rocky and rutted, yet not too long. If you are lucky to be with another car who has low clearance (I think they call them "sports cars"), then you're really in luck. They won't be able to make the drive due to fear of bottoming-out so you may have to shuttle them from the turn-off to the trailhead. Once through the gate, close it behind you, and let the power and elegance of a smooth-riding Subaru sell itself on the bumpy, rocky, rutted road. You may feel like you are astride a horse, leaning from side to side as the car rocks up the road. You may even scrape bottom, but be able to assure your passengers (and would-be buyers) that they have nothing to fear, as the vulnerable undercarriage is protected with a plate, like your heart is protected by your ribcage.

Your passengers will arrive safely at the trailhead, awed by the relatively smooth drive and feeling like they have been cared for. They will hike up the canyon, admiring the flowers, the old cabin by the creek and the black basalt of the cliff walls. They will follow you anywhere because you have already delivered them safely up a nasty, rough road, therefore proving that you can overcome challenge with a simple press of your foot. They will follow you up the old road to the ridge top of Umtanum Ridge, with views to the Stuart Range and the ice cream cone of Mount Rainier.
Mt Rainier in the distance

At lunch, seated on the wind-scrubbed ground with patches of grass spread around (unlike the comfort of heated seats) more than a few hikers will remark what a wonderful car the Subaru is and how they either plan to buy one or are seriously considering one. Either way, they are hooked on the functionality and sheer beauty of the car.


Meanwhile, be sure to get them into a flower-induced state of bliss before you arrive back at the trailhead so that they associate that feeling with a Subaru. The flowering accomplices will work their charm, with their bright yellows (Balsamroot), purples (Shooting Star and Grass Widow) and whites (Bitterroot). Also in your favor is the openness of the surrounding area, a veritable "Big Sky" where it feels like there are no limits, either physical or emotional and you can breathe easily. Now is the time to remind everyone how you got here.
this is canyon country

On the drive home, be sure to make a coffee stop so you can show off the number of cupholders the car sports (yes, Seattle places a lot of importance on hydration and your car shows it). And it's important to keep yourself awake with caffeine, too, as the car is so quiet that it may lull you to sleep.

sketching the cabin
At the end of the day, you will have created new Subaru owners and have had a glorious day hiking in the mountains of eastern Washington.

And by the way, I love my Subaru but it's not for sale, so get your own awesome mountain car!