The Golden Hour

After Zoe’s Sunday soccer game, we hustled out of the park because we wanted to try to get to Ogden early enough to eat dinner at our favorite Utah restaurant.  We did manage to get there early enough for dinner only to find that our favorite restaurant wasn’t open on Sundays; in fact, most restaurants didn’t seem to be open on Sunday in Ogden or Brigham City. That was disappointing, but I was still glad we had decided to stay in Brigham City because it meant that we could visit Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge early the next morning before heading out on the longest leg of our journey home.

After our discovery of the refuge several years ago, I seldom drive past without stopping, though we had to skip it on our trip to Colorado so that we could see Sydney’s afternoon soccer game.  I don’t think I’ve ever been to the refuge so early in the morning, at the “golden hour” right after sunrise.  I am generally not fond of nature shots that unnaturally pump up colors, but I was impressed enough with this view of a White Pelican that I pulled over and took a shot before we even got to the preserve.

Quite a contrast with this shot taken two hours later as we were heading for home.

The dramatic lighting even made me stop to get a shot of this Barn Swallow at the entrance of the tour, though I usually wouldn’t bother taking another shot of a Barn Swallow when I’m birding Theler Wetlands.

Sometimes the orange light almost served as a spotlight, as in this shot of a Yellowlegs.

The previous pictures were taken with the sun shining over my shoulder, but even the shots taken at an angle to the sun seemed more dramatic than usual, perhaps because the orange highlights called attention to the main subject.

I doubt that I am going to make it a habit to get out birding quite this early, but if you have to be on the road early it’s a nice bonus.  


Fittingly, we ended our trip to Colorado by binge-watching three of Zoe’s soccer games on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  Of course, that’s because that’s how we planned our trip.  After Jen emailed me about the girls’ games, I adjusted our visit so that we could see as many games as possible.  Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get there early enough to see the last of Logan’s games.  

Zoe plays on an elite team, and she’s a year younger than most of the players, but she managed to hold her own in all three games.  She scored two goals in the three games.  I think the team lost two out of three games, but, truthfully, I find it nearly impossible to follow scoring when I’m focused on taking pictures of a particular player, especially when I’m really focused on how my granddaughter plays, not how the team as a whole plays.

These games seemed to be called a little tighter than Sydney’s games were, but it’s clear that soccer is not a non-contact sport.

At this level all of the girls are fast and aggressive.

My camera takes shots pretty quickly, but I didn’t manage to get a great sequence of any of Zoe’s goals; these three shots come close.  I’ll have to admit that I had never seen Zoe kicking a goal with her left foot before.

Apparently, the goalie didn’t see it any better than I did until it was in the back of the goal.

Zoe has always been naturally fast, but she has complemented that with toughness.

We headed out for home after seeing her final game on Sunday which ended around 10 AM.  Luckily, the game was played 60 miles north of Broomfield, and we were only driving to Brigham City on Sunday where we hoped to visit our favorite sushi restaurant and visit Bear River Wildlife Refuge the next morning before the last leg of our trip.

Real People In Real-Time

Our trip to Colorado really emphasized how traumatic the last two years have been for us.  A year ago we had planned to visit in late Spring to see Logan graduate, but it didn’t make sense to visit for virtual graduation,  especially with all the other things that were going on with family members here in Tacoma.  

We knew before we went that it was a less than ideal time to visit. Jen and Tyson both had to work. Logan was heading off to Montana State with Jen on Friday, and Zoe and Sydney were starting school on Thursday.  As it turned out, Logan was also busy attending “goodbye” parties with fellow graduates as they, too, were about to leave for college.  We did manage to get him to take a break from his busy schedule and have breakfast with us at a local restaurant,  join us for dinner several nights, and we even participate in one night of board games.  Zoe wasn’t leaving for college, but between seeing friends, soccer practice, babysitting and finishing summer homework before school started, we didn’t see much more of her than we did Logan.  

We got to spend more time with Sydney, but even she was busy getting ready for school and practicing soccer.  She went out to breakfast and dinner with us, played board games several times, and, best of all, went shopping for her birthday present at Michaels. While we weren’t able to be there on her exact birthday, we were close enough that I suggested we should go shopping for her birthday and that way could ensure she would get something she actually wanted (besides, from past experience I’ve learned that grandkids usually get more expensive presents when they go shopping with me).  It turned out that I didn’t realize just how expensive beading supplies are and got a bit of a shock at checkout when it turned out we had $170 worth of beading supplies, nearly double my usual, cash birthday gift.  

We generally had Thursday to ourselves since the girls had school.  The highlight of the day was breakfast with Steve Allen, our long-time Tai Chi master, and his wife Stasia. We also had time to go birding, but, as Tyson pointed out, the birds seemed to disappear in late Summer, just as they do here in the Pacific Northwest. On our hour-long walk, I spotted a female Mallard,  two Snowy Egrets,

and a single dragonfly, sadly, the best sighting of the day.

Considering how many memorable trips we’ve had to Colorado over the years, this could have seemed like a disappointing trip, but it didn’t feel like it.  Instead, it felt like the moment when your doctor tells you that there’s no sign of cancer he has been treating you for.  After nearly two years without contact except for Facebook, emails, and an occasional phone call, it felt great to finally be able to visit in person.  As great as the internet is, it is no substitute for meeting real people in real-time.