Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Light Slowly Returns to the North

I love winter in Montana, however, one of the hardest things about it now that I've caught the photo bug is that there's so little light. I'm thankful for the strobes that I've gotten because I've gotten so many wonderful shots with them this winter, but I really prefer to shoot by natural light. We're less than a month from the equinox and the sun is starting to return. I took advantage.

Mind you, I still like the strobes.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Puddle Jumper

Lunar Eclipse

From this:

to this:

and back again.

I was teaching a class. Leif was at home showing Ellie her very first lunar eclipse and taking pictures of the moon, like these two. He tried a 10 minute exposure picture, too, that turned out pretty cool, but here's a cool looong exposure picture of the entire eclipse. It was a pretty cool sight. Missed it? Come back in 2010.

At the Museum

On Saturday Leif took Ellie to the Museum of the Rockies for a while. Seems they had a good time...

Big Mike behaved himself and only tried to bite Ellie's head once.

Luckily, she escaped to the safety of a nearby bench to recover from her close call.

Then she thanked her rescuer father with a kiss. Pucker up!

All in all, it appears that they spent most of the museum visit outside exploring the farm. They had a good time, Ellie climbing on things, and Leif taking pictures of the little cutie.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Yellowstone in Winter

One of the best things about living here is that we can drive down to Yellowstone for the day, just because we want to. And yesterday, we wanted to. So we climbed into the car and drove the hour and a half or so to the northern entrance to Yellowstone at Gardiner.

Because it's winter, most of the roads in the park are closed to automobiles. But the northern entrance is still open, and there are a couple roads you can still take, at least for a little ways. We don't often head into the park via Gardiner, but it's fun when we do because we get to see the arch.

A little piece of trivia for you... Yellowstone was the first National Park, established in 1872. March 1st, in fact. If you don't believe me, read the sign...

On the way into the park, we were fortunate enough to see 3 bald eagles perched in a tree overlooking a river. They were incredibly majestic, sitting there against the backdrop of the mountains.

Once we were into the park, we made our way through the little town of Mammoth Hot Springs. I think the name should be changed to Elkville, though, because every time we are there we see tons of elk. They seem to think they own the place, and they can apparently read signs and know just where it is that they are supposed to plop down:

As is typical of any trip to the park, we spent most of the day in the car. The winter sun spent most of the day in our eyes. To make Ellie's life a little easier on the long car ride, we let her watch Baby Einstein and covered the seat with a blanket to keep the sun out of her eyes. She is much like her daddy and likes to be in a dark cave...

Winter has got to be the best time to visit Yellowstone. It's definitely the off-season, so there aren't too many people around. The views are spectacular in the cold, clear air, and everything is pristine all covered in snow. It is beautiful.

We decided to get out of the car and go for a little walk about mid-afternoon. So we put on all our snow gear (after our little trek up at Hyalite I was prepared for thigh deep snow this time!!) and headed out along someone else's trail in the snow. As usual, Ellie didn't want to walk in the snow, but she did give it a good try a couple of times, despite being cold.

The snow was mostly packed down, but every so often your foot would fall through and you'd find your leg lost in the snow up to the hip. You can only see one of my legs in the following picture, because the other is covered in snow. In fact, I am standing straight up on that leg, despite the fact that it looks like I am sitting in the snow. As you can imagine, it wasn't a very long walk.

We have been to Yellowstone a number of times, but one thing I have never seen in the park is wolves. They were reintroduced in 1995 and have reportedly been doing very well, but they like to stay out of sight. But while we were out on our little walk, we had the privilege of seeing 4 wolves harassing a few grazing bison. They were beautiful to watch and I was pretty excited to see them this close up. We saw a couple others, too, but they were much farther off.

We were fortunate enough to see another animal that we've never seen inside the park, too: big horn sheep. That's another reason to visit Yellowstone in the winter... all the animals come out to graze. The park is so serene and there seems to be a greater variety of wildlife to be seen. Here are the sheep, searching for a little something to eat:

As the sun started to dip below the horizon, we saw a bull elk grazing by the side of the road. We stopped to admire and in the quiet of the evening we heard the sound of owls hooting in the forest. It is a sound I'd never heard in the wild before and it was ethereal. The hooting echoed through the trees and made me stop and listen in wonder. It was amazing.

We started back home and enjoyed the setting sun over the snowy landscape and it made us both thankful that we live in such a beautiful place.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Feeding her baby doll

Ellie had a play date with one of her friends on Friday, while Elizabeth absconded to the scrapbooking store. When she picked up Ellie, the other mom told Elizabeth that Ellie had been "feeding" a doll. We had the same toys at home, so being good parents, we repeated the incident and took pictures.

And now, here's a gratuitous picture of Ellie throwing something at the camera.

Miscellaneous Bathtime Cuteness

"Camera!" she says.

Elizabeth says she's not looking forward to seeing this look from a teenager.

How I wish this had been in focus.

Jedi master

Thursday, February 14, 2008


The other day Ellie and Zoe had a little playdate and made valentines. Here is evidence of the mayhem:

It is also proof that Ellie did indeed make the valentine's and it isn't just Mommy scribbling to make it look like Ellie did it. =D

"What valentines?!" you may ask... Well, if you haven't gotten a valentine from Ellie yet, rest assured that it is in the mail... Mommy hasn't been so good at getting to the post office on time lately. =D


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Ellie's first snowman, a photo essay

It was 50 today, which really softened up and compacted the snow in our yard. That was sufficient justification for building a snowman. The balls rolled up and stuck together so easily that I got carried away and made three. Our yard's new enough that we don't have trees large enough to give their branches for arms. We only had baby carrots in the fridge. The snowmen were too fat for our coats. So we called the snowmen done as simple blobs.

In case you're wondering, 50 degrees in Montana is always a good excuse to break out the shorts.