Looking for the Elusive Walla Walla Moose
A critic asked why I take “endless photos” along Mill Creek.
Perhaps she remembered photos from my now retired newspaper column. Perhaps, less likely, she saw recent photos at the www.tripper.smugmug.com web site.
Anyway, that’s easy.
It’s a pleasant walk, and Nora the Schnauzer needs the exercise.
I did not quibble.
My brain, however, fast-reversed through a loop of wildlife images that Darlene, Nora and I accumulated while touring within a 60-mile radius of Walla Walla/Mill Creek in recent weeks.
Well, actually, we drove 105 miles to Eastern Oregon's North Powder Valley looking for elk, coyotes, foxes and eagles.
We saw swans, antelope, eagles, an old barn and turkeys.
Twice we fetched coffee and snacks at Starbucks before heading west through the Touchet Valley to the McNary Natural Wildlife Refuge's McNary Dam nature area.
On the way, we saw a bald eagle posing obligingly, then launching and flying, along McDonald Road, plus chilled-and-hunkering killdeer and a launching heron.
A passing rancher said he watched one of his cows have a 30-minute stare down with the eagle that stood on the ground, two yards away.
“The eagle looked huge, even close to the cow,” he said
Later, at the MNWR below McNary Dam, night herons clutched brittle branches and coots raced across the water.
At the MNWR ponds near Burbank, more swans sailed silently like great graceful galleons among clattering rowboats.
Once, we returned to Walla Walla via Highway 124-Luckenbill/Sudberry Road (looking for deer and coyotes):
We passed curious mule deer and a fading log structure.
During those weeks, we made the usual Mill Creek forays and captured images of ubiquitous Great Blue Herons, sometimes in interesting shades of gray.
As well as the equally ubiquitous common merganser launching.
We met a critic on a chilly, blustery day as March winds blew across Mill Creek.
The tall, slender woman’s husky brown dog, held tight on a leash, stood obediently by her left leg.
I called Nora away. She wandered off, to sniff among the rip-rap along the stream bank.
The woman wore a stern look, solid ankle-high boots, dark blue pants and a down-filled pale-blue vest zipped tight over a maroon sweater.
A dark blue scarf that matched her pants fluffed beneath her chin. She wore a billed cap that allowed thin brown-streaked grey hair to cover her ears.
A row of thin vertical lines showed on her upper unsmiling lip.
So, we do Mill Creek because:
It’s close to home.
It’s a pleasant walk, and Nora the Schnauzer enjoys the exercise.
“And we look for the moose,” I said.
The woman tilted her head back and squinted, creating wrinkles across her forehead and at the corners of her eyes.
“Yes,” I said. “Moose often visit Walla Walla. We're quite optimistic.”
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