“2/2 x 2” or “Spoiled by owls”  

2 February, 2020            “2/2 x 2” or “Spoiled by owls”  

But first, a Great Blue Heron we spotted on our way to Pony Pasture this morning:

Great Blue Heron near the University of Richmond this morning:

Today is “2/2 #1” and fourteen years ago today is “2/2 #2.” I left Richmond to volunteer at the 2006 Yukon Quest – fourteen years ago today.  

I took this picture in my driveway shortly before we departed. That’s my old husky mix Ivory on the left. It’s his sidekick Nicky on the right: 

February, 2006 – Ivory on the left, Nicky on the right

According to my journal or blog, I pulled out of the driveway that morning with 111,745 miles on the green car. Mackey and Turner and I drove to Pony Pasture in it this morning. I took this picture when we returned. Fourteen years to the day after the above picture. Turner on the left, Mackey on the right: 

February, 2020 – Turner on the left, Mackey on the right

I took a picture of the odometer when we got home from the river this morning; today it has 228,031 miles. So in fourteen years I’ve driven it 116,286 miles. Of course in that fourteen years I also bought my blue Subaru; it has 152,537 miles. So I’ve driven 268,823 miles in fourteen years, including the trip. About 19,000 a year. 

As for “Spoiled by owls,” I photographed the pair again this morning. For the tenth consecutive week. In the same spot. I realize these aren’t magazine quality images. But it is so amazing to even see this. So I’ll keep putting photographs in until they stop spoiling me: 

Same owls (presumably) as last week, on the same branch (that is a fact)

I don’t go to the river with expectations – I just go to the river. But I first photographed an owl – on that branch – on the last day of November. And I photographed the pair today – on the same branch – and today’s the second of February. So in addition to photographing them in the same place for ten straight weeks, I’ve photographed them during four consecutive months. On 11/30 the sun rises at 7:04 and sets at 4:52, it’s above the horizon for 9:48. And the days keep getting shorter! And darker! And colder! But the owls stick to that spot. There’s less daylight each day for three weeks, then the days get longer. Today the sun rose at 7:12 and set at 5:34 – It was above the horizon for 10:22.

I shouldn’t expect to see owls when I walk down that trail – it is only a gift, ever, to see an owl. And to see two owls is more (IMO) than twice as good. It’s more like 10x better. It always feels like a privilege and a gift. Seeing them this regularly is already making me feel like it’s guaranteed, which there is no such thing in outdoor photography. They’re spoiling me! So every time I go I prepare myself to look up there and see an empty branch. But it hasn’t happened since Thanksgiving. Crazy.

I of course posed the picture of Turner and Mackey so they’d be lined up like Ivory and Nicky were in 2006. Here they are in a more familiar place, Pony Pasture this morning at a little after 11:00: 

Mackey and Turner this morning prior to the driveway picture

I’m a little bit all-over-the-place on this post – here’s another old dog picture. This is one of my favorites from that trip. Ivory and Nicky and I were chatting with some folks; it was real, real cold at this point. The setting is downtown Whitehorse and that’s the Yukon River in the background. If you want to read the whole blog post (it has two more pictures) you can click on it here at Road trip reading, and more

Me, Ivory and Nicky on the banks of the Yukon River in February, 2006

On the old blog (the link is above) I read a quotation I particularly enjoyed. This is taken directly from that old blog: “…It’s credited to Henrik Ibsen, “(Quoted in Sir Vivian Fuchs, Of Ice and Men).” Anyway, this is the quote: “There is always a certain risk in being alive, and if you are more alive there is more risk.”“ [[emphasis added]] The perfect sentiment for a 10,000 mile round trip mid-winter driving adventure to the Yukon. 

I had completed three ironmans in the three years before I began that trip, and I completed a fourth seven months after I got home. You’re really alive – really alive – when you’re doing an ironman, and I did one a year for eight years after that trip. But there’s a little less risk in being alive these days. Or anyway, it seems like there’s less. Hopefully no surprises! 

I visited Bryan Park this week and got a few pretty birds. I liked this Turkey vulture:

Bryan Park vulture:

I got this mockingbird in the same park on the same day:

Bryan Park mockingbird:

I took this bluebird picture the same day, though not in the park:

Bluebird sunning himself on a cold morning

Have a great week! Come back next week! 

All best, 


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, Bryan Park, Dogs, Flowers, Fun, James River, love, mockingbirds, Pony Pasture, raptors, Red-tailed hawks, Rivers, simplify, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!) and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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