My favorite place

22 February, 2015            My favorite place

I took this picture around 12:30 this afternoon just as Mackey and Turner and I arrived at Pony Pasture. I put it up on instagram/facebook with the caption “My favorite place”:

My favorite place (a.k.a. "Paradise")

My favorite place (a.k.a. “Paradise”)

Of course when we got home and sat down in front of the fire, that was my favorite place! It’s kind of a moving target. 

Part of what I was thinking about when I put up that “my favorite picture” post on instagram/facebook was a quote I saw a number of years ago. It was the first time Evelyn ever took me to Project Yoga Richmond. They had a banner hanging from the wall that said “Wherever my travels may lead, paradise is where I am.” – Voltaire. I was staring at that slushy snowy river this cold gray Sunday morning and just thinking “this is my favorite place.” Where I am. I was fortunate to be there.  

We hiked for a long, slushy time in the snow and about 2:15 we rounded a corner and there were three beautiful whitetail deer lying in the snow watching us. Mackey and Turner were at that point considerably tamer than when we’d arrived (running for an hour in the snow is tiring), and the deer didn’t even get up. But boy they sure did not ignore us. Look at this gaze:

No lack of attention from this lovely animal.

No lack of attention from this lovely animal.

We were on the edge of the water for a long time between those two pictures. I took what I believe is my first picture of an adult male Redhead (Aythya americana):  


The appropriately named "Redhead." He's a striking bird.

Thank you for the correction Betsy – this is a Canvasback (Aythya valisineria). He’s a striking bird.

I suspect it’s the time of the year (mid to late winter) but there are a number of interesting birds showing up. It’s the leading edge of the spring migration. The really hardy birds are coming in. I got a decent picture of a male Hooded merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus ) earlier this week:

Handsome male Hooded merganser

Handsome male Hooded merganser

This morning when we were hiking I am nearly 100% certain I saw an American Kestrel (Falco sparverius ) in the woods along the river’s edge. But I was too slow with my camera and it was the first one I’ve ever seen so I am not 100% certain of my ID. I am 100% certain it was a raptor – nothing else looks or flies like a raptor – and it was only the size of a pigeon or a crow. I believe that a Kestrel is the only thing it could have been. Hopefully I’ll get a photograph soon.

Speaking of photographs I hope to get soon, here’s a Red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) I glimpsed just as we were leaving the park this week. I’ll get a better picture soon:

Glimpse of a Red-winged blackbird (sorry about the poor quality)

Glimpse of a Red-winged blackbird (sorry about the poor quality)

It’s been snowing here in Richmond a lot this week, although since my sister and her husband live in Boston I feel kind of wimpy even bringing it up. Here are Mackey and Turner (Mackey is lying down by the river’s edge, see him there?) enjoying the river in the snow:



All for now – it’s been a long day and a long weekend! Until next week,

Jay and friends.

PS The Yukon Quest, my favorite 1,000 mile sled dog marathon finished earlier this week. Lance Mackey, who my dog Mackey is named after, finished fourteenth out of sixteen teams. He’s won the whole thing four times. This year he won the “Challenge of the North  Award.” The race website describes it as “an award selected by Race Officials for the musher who most exemplifies the Spirit of the Yukon Quest.” More from the Quest website: “Mackey also took home the Sportsmanship Award.

“I’m pretty sure everybody in this field deserves that award,” he said.” They also quoted him saying ““I love this sport, I love this race, and I love the people in it. More importantly, I love the lifestyle.” said Mackey.” That precisely captures what I love about being a triathlete. Primarily that I love the lifestyle. Here’s the article: 

Sass, Mackey Claim 2015 Yukon Quest Hardware

Here is also a tremendous article written by a man named Larry Lowe. It’s from 2007 from when Lance won the first of his consecutive back-to-back Yukon Quest/Iditarod victories. The article is amazing. Lance is amazing. You can read it here (and I highly, highly recommend this) at The Other Lance.

PPS Can’t resist – I had this one of Mackey (my dog Mackey, not the sled dog driver) sitting around. He starts snuffling under the snow and rooting things up the moment he gets there. I guess his nose stays cold: 

Mister snowy-nose

Mister Snowy-nose

About Jay McLaughlin

I am a rehabilitation counselor. I have many friends with autism and traumatic brain injuries. They help me learn new things constantly. I hike with dogs at the James River in Richmond - a lot. I've completed an Iron distance triathlon a year for 11 years. My most recent was in Wilmington, NC in November, 2013. I currently compete in mid-distance triathlons. And work and hike and take pictures and write and eat.
This entry was posted in Birds, Dogs, Endurance, Fun, James River, Pony Pasture, Rivers, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!) and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to My favorite place

  1. ameiller says:

    Great pics and writing, Jay! Thanks as always!

  2. Thanks Andrew! I always enjoy the pictures and the writing – fun every week! Thank YOU for the note! Take it easy,


  3. Pingback: The low hanging fruit | NEWFAZE

  4. Pingback: The best of times | NEWFAZE

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