A Long Trip Home

This post is a little different.

Since before November of 2020 my brother and his wife, who live in Tacoma, Washington, have been suffering from poor health, going from bad to worse. I wasn’t aware of how bad things had gotten until the day after Thanksgiving. I won’t go into the details, but by the end of December they needed at-home help, which they could not afford. Thinking that, with rehab, things would improve, Alan and I agreed to use the limited proceeds of my inheritance to hire a company to provide care eight hours a day, seven days a week. Unfortunately we were wrong in our assumption of the situation and things only got worse. Within six months they needed round-the-clock help. To get a better idea of how things were going, in June we flew out to Seattle to talk with my sister-in-law’s family and my brother and his wife. Two months later the decision was made by all to place them in an adult family home (AFH), clear the house and sell off any assets to help pay for their care.

In September we drove our truck out to help with the clearing of the house. It was quite an undertaking, and eventually we all agreed to hire a company to finish the job. With our part of the work finished, we visited with my brother, who was in a physical rehab facility at the time, and my sister-in-law, who was in the AFH by then. Afterward we drove up to the San Juan islands to visit my cousin, Hank, along with his wonderful wife, Pat, and my cousin Merrie Ann (Hank’s sister) and her husband Ken. It was a pleasant break to the stress of my brother’s situation. We took a few walks, watched and photographed birds, and enjoyed good food and great company.

From the islands we decided to take our time driving home and we headed first to Boise to see my dear old friend, Robin, then on to Yellowstone National Park, where I will now tell of our travels home…

Monday, October 4

We had visited Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge on a lark yesterday evening and saw a few things that got us interested, so we returned today. We didn’t expect to see all that much, but we got lucky and witnessed, for the very first time, western grebes “rushing” on the water. It was an unexpected delight. Grebes usually rush in the spring during mating season, so seeing this in the fall was a wonder. Now we want to see more of it in the spring!

Tuesday, October 5

The drive from Boise was uneventful until we decided to take a “shortcut” to West Yellowstone. Never ones to miss out on an opportunity to visit a wildlife refuge, we drove a very long, very dusty, quite bumpy road through Red Rock Lakes Wilderness, and then Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. After 45 minutes of the harried driving I was ready for a paved road! We were rewarded with some cool wildlife viewing though: we saw a golden eagle, sharp-tailed grouse, three moose, and a great gray owl. Nice!

We finally made it to Yellowstone Lodge after dark, grabbed a bite to eat nearby and had a good night’s sleep.

Wednesday, October 6

Up early, we headed into the park and up to Lamar Valley. We stopped a few times when we saw other photographers out, and at about our third stop we got lucky again. A collared (tracking device) black wolf was walking off into the distance. We managed to get some okay photos of it before it disappeared into the scrub. Someday we will be out earlier and will get some even better photos of wolves. Someday.

We continued up the valley and saw some pronghorn close to the road, and witnessed the beautiful fall colors of the aspens at the foot of the mountains.

Thursday, October 7

This morning we tried Lamar Valley again, but with no luck. After turning around on the east side we got some snow, but it didn’t last.

Disappointed, we drove south toward Grand Teton National Park. Along the way we hiked up to the overlook at Grand Prismatic Spring and I finally got a photo of the Spring that I’ve wanted to get for quite some time.

Alan wanted to see if we could track down that same great gray owl, so he drove over the Tetons. Lucky for us he did! We saw a momma bear with three (THREE) cubs! How fun. No great gray though. Oh well.