Sunday, April 3, 2011

Critters of the Night Brevet 200k, PBP Qualifier #2

Yep, I saw another Bobcat while riding a brevet in Oregon. I spied one on my first 400k (the same brevet I ran over a weasel). This time it was on Geiger Road at 3:30am where the road crosses a small stream. What a rush! I love nighttime riding on lonely country roads.

This route was put together by Marcello of the Oregon Randonneurs. Come to think of it, I met Marcello on this very 400k while I was photographing a Turkey Vulture. But this brevet last night was his night-starting 200k. I needed a 200k Qualifier for Paris Brest Paris, and I like the idea of practicing night starts as that's what it will be in Paris.

Only six of us started at 5pm--I wonder why more didn't join us?--and we jumped out fast. Once again, despite telling myself to start slowly I got into trying to hang with the faster guys. My rationale was that since we faced a stiff headwind, it'd be worth it. And it would have been if I wasn't too slow.

So I peeled off after 20k and rode the rest on my own. The weather held, and despite getting a spit of rain now and then, mostly we saw stars.

Before it got dark, I captured the picture above of a chawed tree along a bridge crossing a small stream. I'm guessing beaver since it was near the stream and porcupine often chew bark higher up the trunk, but I'm not certain. What do you think? Below is a closer look.

Reminiscent of a previous post featuring a beaver-chawed tree. Is there more beaver activity now, or am I just tuning in to beavers now that I've seen their handiwork while riding? Am I experiencing a rando version of the familiar Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon again?

I also really like the sounds. Lots of frogs last night. Once, it was quiet, and I was riding along when a frog croaked right next to me all of a sudden and very loudly. Maybe I startled him, but I know he sure startled me out of my pedaling reverie!

Like to hear some frogs I recorded last night? Check this audio file out!

Also saw a raccoon that crossed a road in front of me--from a wooded area along a stream on one side to an open field on the other. When he understood that he'd be out in the open by the time I got to him, he spun around and loped back from whence he came back into the brush and stood there staring at me in that scornful, defiant way they do.

It was a cold night--frost on my window after my 1.5 hour nap before driving back home to Seattle.

But it was nice and toasty in Marcello's and his wife Kathy's house. I was the last finisher, and she conjured up some biscuits and jam and hot tea for me. Really hit the spot. And as I ate she regaled me of their chicken-raising adventures. I was really interested as I've been contemplating chickens, even getting Dartre's blessing. But in the end, even though Kathy reminded me of how affectionate they can be (I really took to the chickens when I visited the farm where my grandfather grew up in Oxford, PA when I was a wee lad), I think I've come to the realization that we just don't need more responsibility in our lives.

On the way home from this nighttime brevet, I was pretty beat. But as I came upon the exit for the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge I had to stop. I used to visit there years ago, but they recently removed the dikes and opened up the area for reclamation by Puget Sound. The Ranger told me they doubled the amount of esturay in the Southern Puget Sound in this one restoration. Perhaps as much as 750 acres of restoration, I'm not certain.

I was too pooped to go for a stroll--I really wanted to be back home with the family--but I put it on our family to do list: visit the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge. As I was leaving I saw an older couple with cameras and huge wildlife lenses. They were fixated on the little pond adjacent the Info Center. There, just in front of us was a pair of Wood Ducks. Talk about beautiful! They said they were told that they had just descended on this spot for the first time this year.

Perhaps the most beautifulest of all the ducks (though the Harlequin is right in there), the Wood Duck is stunning.

But all the critters great and small have their habits, whether they be wild or domesticated. I am enchanted by them all.

Night brevets are cool!

Photo of Bobcat courtesy of National Geographic. Wood Duck photos courtesy of Wiki.

Keep it croaking,