Tag Archives: animals

A Look Back at 2011

Is it just me, or did 2011 fly by? It certainly was a busy year, thanks to some great opportunities to travel. Here’s a little look back at some of my year’s highlights.

We completed our biggest renovation project in three years…

Before & After: Bonus Room Renovation

bathroom before after

Which was promptly ruined…

This Old House

We explored our land in the winter and snapped some pictures of our wild tenants…

Special Winter Photography & Peek-A-Boo Deer

Jason and I visited the Milwaukee County Zoo for the first time in ages…

Warmth Draws Me Outside

I entered photos into a photo competition, a first for me. I didn’t win, but it was a start…

Photo Contest!!

Fern Spring

After making it into the Yosemite High Sierra Camps for the 2011 season, Jason and I made preparations for our trip…

Working with My Strenghts

Which were promptly decimated…

Back to the Vacation Drawing Board


We kicked off summer by camping in the backyard with our niece, Reagan…

Great American Backyard Campout 2011

Happy Campers

July brought our revamped trip to California, where we visited three national parks – Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon – instead of the originally planned one.

Complete California Vacation 2011 Series

Lembert Dome

And thanks to a family wedding in Washington, DC, we were able to add a fourth national park to our itinerary this year, bringing our total to 4 of 58 national parks visited…

DC Road Trip and Shenandoah National Park Series

Shenandoah National Park

2011 was a pretty good year. Can’t wait to see what 2012 brings!

A Deep Sadness

There is only one more story to recount from our weekend trip to Door County, one that made me incredibly sad. While I love to include photos in my posts, trust me, you wouldn’t want any sort of photo with this one…

Jason and I were traveling home along the interstate. I was trying to keep myself awake – if Jason can’t nap, I can’t  😕 – and I was watching the farm fields roll by out the side window. Jason, obviously scanning the road, saw a deer shoot across the northbound lanes. It narrowly missed the oncoming vehicles and made it to the median.

Then, it shot across our southbound lane…

Fortunately for us, the deer was well ahead of our vehicle. Unfortunately for the deer, there was a different vehicle right there.

The deer attempted to jump the minivan, but was unsuccessful. The van clipped it as it jumped, and the deer was sent airborne. After a couple of mid-air flips, it hit the road. By this time, Jason had stopped our vehicle and we had to sit there and watch the fatally injured deer attempt to get up – twice. Of course, it couldn’t. It finally just flopped to the ground and moved no more.

It was one of the most horrible events I’ve witnessed. I couldn’t keep from crying.

This incident definitely got me thinking. First, and this might make me sound like the most heartless person ever, but I didn’t even think about the people in the van. All I was upset about was the deer. Second, the sadness and pain I felt at seeing this poor animal hurt right in front of me made me feel like a major hypocrite. I’ve read Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food and The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and I’m now reading Skinny Bitch. I have a decent understanding of how our food industry treats animals. And I am a meat-eater.

But I’m now exploring a change in diet…

I have contemplated reducing/eliminating meat from my diet for some time now, but I haven’t gotten very serious about it. I have thought about it in terms of my health, especially as I seem to experience some major digestive issues with meat. At this point, I’ve eliminated a lot of dairy from my diet (but obviously not all dairy 😉 ). I’ve also thought about it from the eco-friendly side of the issue. But during the hour/hour-and-a-half car ride from the accident scene to Milwaukee, I started to think much more seriously about my food choices. In addition to making me feel like crap most of the time, eating meat also means that I’m eating the animals I care about very much.

After a few days have passed, I still feel the same. I’m already beginning to work on reducing meat in my diet. At this point, I would like to work towards a pescetarian diet. Huh?? Basically, it would be a vegetarian diet in which I include fish (and since I’ll likely include eggs, I would add an “ovo” to that  🙂 ). I’m not about going cold turkey. This is much more of a lifestyle change for me.

I plan on chronicling pieces of this journey here on my blog. Getting into the outdoors has really impacted my worldview. It has motivated me to take better care of myself and to care more for our environment. To me, there is no separation between how I treat myself and how I treat the world around me. And if I hope to enjoy the great outdoors for years to come, I best be treating myself and the environment pretty darn good  🙂


Bear Aware

When I think ahead to hiking through the high country of Yosemite, I realize that I need to be more prepared for animal encounters. We saw plenty of animals last summer, to be sure: lots and lots of deer, several bears (including one super close up), and a random coyote.



Our First Bear!

I’m well aware of the animals living in Yosemite, and I know how to deal with encounters with most of them. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t do a little review. Let’s look at black bears.

First of all, many black bears in the Sierra Nevada are brown in color…but they are not brown bears, aka grizzly bears. No way am I going into the thick of grizzly country 😯 .

  • I cannot hike alone. While Jason and I are doing a guided hike, this doesn’t mean that we’ll be walking with our group the whole time. I feel safe with Jason, but we still need to remain alert. And I need to resist any urge I might have to wander ahead or lag behind him.
  • If we encounter a bear that’s just doing its own thing, there’s no need to scare it or ourselves. Give the bear space and the right of way.
  • If we feel threatened by a bear, we should make ourselves appear as big as possible – kind of opposite of my goal to slim down  😉 . In reality, it means raising our arms and possibly even our packs above our heads. Additionally, we should make noise – shout, bang metal objects, etc.
  • If things turn nasty serious, we need to fight back aggressively  😯 . Running away would just encourage it to chase us, and that’s a race we would not win.

The other bear issue we need to plan for: food/scented item storage. While there are bear boxes available at the camps, we are still encouraged to carry bear resistant canisters. Add another item to our shopping list. Which reminds me, we still need to find our bear bells…


Question of the Day
Have you ever camped/backpacked in bear country? What kind of experience did you have?

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