Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Grand Tetons

After once again finding no chukars early yesterday morning, I arrived late afternoon in Jackson WY, which is on the edge of Grand Tetons NP. I first visited the park in 1968 as part of a 9000 miles in 3 weeks whirlwind tour of the western US before starting college. My oldest friend who I grew up with in Missouri and I drove his Chevy camaro, hitting as many interesting places as we could for future reference. One of the first was the tetons, and I have been back many times since, mostly in my teens and 20's to hike up into this magnificent mountain range. The top photo is of the Grand Teton. There is also a middle and south teton, but from the angle of this shot you can't really pick them out.

I was planning to meet a friend of mine from Austin here, but she decided that the 4th of July weekend did not work for her, and my birding schedule meant that this was when I needed to be here. So instead of enjoying showing her the tetons and Yellowstone NP for her first time, I went looking for calliope hummingbirds. It was a long winter here, and many wildflowers are still not in bloom so the hummers are not very visible yet. I saw many other birds including the barn swallow (middle photo) and the violet-green swallow (bottom photo). I particularly like the upclose frontal shot of the violet-green. Remember to click on the photo to enlarge it.

I also went for a walk around part of Jenny Lake in search of the hummer, but since today was July 3rd, there were so many other hikers/walkers that it was not all that enjoyable. Not 5 minutes apart I heard someone say to another person in their party, "are we there yet?". I also saw 3 young women carrying large backpacks clearly on their way up into the high country away from the crowds.

I ate dinner twice at a place called Nani's because a waiter I know from Tucson is here for the summer working there. It is a family owned Italian restaurant which has been here for 20 years. Because I like the food at Wildflowers in Tucson, I was hoping for a similar experience at Nani's. Unfortunately I can not say that was the case. The homemade bread, caprese salad with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil, and the stracciatella soup were up to snuff, but the main courses were only so-so. I had amatriciana pasta the 1st nite, but it was not made with hot pepper flakes so it was "lacking". The scottaditto--a lamb dish common also in Italy--was not as good as many I have had in Italy.

The wine list was pretty diverse and fairly priced. I had a bottle of '06 Argiolas costera made from cannonau the first nite, and a glass of Frescobaldi '05 reserve chianti tonite. Both were solid, true examples of their wine regions. All in all, I was glad to see my waiter friend, but I definitely prefer eating at his other place of work in Tucson.

Week #27 starts with 56 different species seen or heard, but no new ones for the year. Tomorrow I will be driving back down to Utah to Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, another place that I have known since my 20's. Stay tuned!

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