Gifts From Friends

As I promised in my last post, I am going to share with you some 'gifts' I have received from our guests. All my readers know I take LOTS of pictures. I guess I feel that, to a point, a picture really is 'worth a thousand words.' However, if you have spent any time at the resort, you also know I spend the vast majority of my time (during season) inside. I cook. I clean. I answer the phone. Then, when I'm done, I start all over again. Thus you will understand why the photos taken by guests who are here enjoying the glories of a Centennail Valley are such gifts!

Furthermore, many of our guests are better photographers than I am - and many have much nicer camera equipment. In addition, many of these photos share aspects of life at and around Elk Lake which I enjoy but cannot capture due to schedule constraints. Thus I thought our blog readers would probably enjoy these offerings and recognize why I consider them to be more than a nice gesture but a real gift.

The Centennial Valley is beautiful. It is wild. It is pristine. It is home to many more people than animals. Thus most of these photos have wildlife as their subject.


The top picture and the first few which follow are courtesy of my favorite wildlife photographer, frequent winter (rare summer) guest, and good friend - Gary Pumplin. As you can see, Gary is a talented photographer. While many of his photos are not taken in the Centennial, they nonetheless, portray animals and birds which call the Centennial home.

Moose are year round residents in the Centennial. While they are seen most frequently in the winter, a young bull moose found his way into the yard just the other day. These guys, however, weren't in the back yard!

While less frequent than last year, bear sightings or track sightings are the norm around here. These beautiful, large predators are a thrill to see - from a distance!

Another illusive Centennial resident, badgers are not easy to spot - but they are extremely photogenic if you get lucky.

Another generous and talented photographer we were privileged to meet this year is Jerry James. While Jerry and his wife reside in California, during their week in the Centennial they proved to be more comfortable in a 'my' environment than I would be in theirs. Please remember, the images which follow are NOT public. They belong to Jerry James, San Mateo, California.

During their stay, Jerry and his wife, Sue, spent quite a bit of time pursuing the Centennial's wild inhabitants. All the pictures which follow were taken in the valley. And for those of you who wonder where the wildlife are in the middle of summer - these were all taken in the middle of summer.

On one of the last days of their stay, my hubby shared the location of our favorite 'swan viewing' spot. Jerry and Sue spent about an hour and a half enjoying the birds and capturing some wonderful shots.

While I have captured a few shots of these beautiful birds, nothing I have compares to the beauty of these. Thank you, Jerry, for sharing with us!

However, swans were not his only subject. He managed to capture a pair of pronghorns:

A beautiful young Swainson's Hawk:

A couple of young Grebes:

And a fantastic upclose of a pair of Sandhill Cranes:

Not every photo we receive is taken in the summer. Some are winter shots, like this one from Brian Holliday. This is definitely a shot you will NOT see coming from my camera. In fact, were it not for Brian's willingness to walk out to the far end of the front yard and take this photo, I'd have no proof that once in a while we get mighty busy!

With 49 snowmobiles in front of the lodge, you can imagine how many people we are trying to serve inside the lodge!

Not every photo our guests share with us involves wildlife. Not everything centers around the resort. In fact, our wisest guests (in my opinion) are those who take the opportunity to spend a night packed up into the Centennial's high country. The LaFay family (our French-Japanese friends who have spent more than one summer day in our company) took such a trip. And, in spite of less than perfect weather, they are already vowing to repeat the experience next time they visit.

This photo is courtesy of the LaFay family.

Of course not every fantastic horseback trek has been taken in the Centennials. Just saddling up and taking off from the lodge can be fun, too. This next fantastic photo of Bugs and Tina crossing The Narrows at Elk Lake is courtesy of Russ Johnston.

As you can see, we have been blessed with MANY beautiful photos and our guests have been blessed with MANY wonderful sightings and experiences here at Elk Lake. However, lest you think the wildlife sightings stop when winter comes to call, I have two more photos to share with you - one from my friend Gary whose photos I've displayed above:

And one from Len Tillum - another local, talented photographer who enjoys visiting the Centennial, but makes most of his treks in the winter.

I hope you have enjoyed this photo tour as much as I have enjoyed receiving these 'gifts' from friends. These are just a sampling of the many photos we have received over the years. If you have photos you'd like to share with us, please, send them along. If these images have sparked your interest, check out everything the Centennial Valley and Elk Lake have to offer. For now, I've got to get my camera. I see another photo opp coming up!

Lady of the Lake


Bits And Pieces

As I type this the view outside my window has taken a sudden turn toward winter. While yesterday's temperatures were warm and blue mixed liberally with the hazy clouds scattered across the sky's face, today things look completely different. Last night I went to bed to an Indian Summer. This morning I woke up to a preview of winter!

However, there are several reasons why I am enjoying the snow outside my window:

First (and most obvious): I'm inside looking out!

Second: With the Yellowstone fire doubling, tripling, or even quadrupling its size every day recently, I am glad to have weather to slow it down. While 'naturally started fires' are considered eco-friendly, I can't figure out the difference between the smoke from a man-made fire and that from a nature-made fire. Besides, the end result of the extremely hot fires which have been the norm over the last few years, is sterilized soil which grows little but weeds and dog-hair thickets of the junk tree, Lodgepole Pine. But then, that wasn't where this post was supposed to be headed!

Third: Any time you mix white snow with green evergreens, the sight is beautiful. However, add in gold and red aspens and the sight becomes absolutely glorious!

While we thought it might slip away unmarked, the Centennial didn't let us down. So, another September goes on the books as giving us our first day of measureable (barely) snow.

The pleasant but unseasonably warm weather made for good business. However, this time of year we are looking to take a break. So, while the cooler weather has slowed down the traffic, it has also signalled our soon up-and-coming break. Of course we don't 'officially' close until after the first week of hunting season, but things look like they will slow down substantially within the next week.

On another subject - I'm happy to say wildlife sightings are picking up. Several deer sightings of late. A moose tramping through the yard and entertaining dinner guests last night. A red fox trotting by the dining room window at the close of the evening. Elk bugling on the nearby hillsides. And, with this new weather pattern, I'm hoping the sightings will be picking up even more.

A recent post about our day on Red Rock Lake brought an unexpected but pleasant response. Peg Abbott from the Trumpeter Swan Society posted a comment and passed on some interesting (and valuable) information. Apparently the Trumpeter Swan Society has a blog. If you love these beautiful big birds whose preservation was the primary impetus for the setting aside the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, do check out their blog and website.

Another recent treat I will share with you more in an upcoming blog are photos we have received from this summer's guests. This swan photo is courtesy of Jerry James, a Californian who found (and obviously enjoyed) Montana's Centennial Valley.

One more blog I am contemplating is a mostly-photo sampler from our recent jaunt to Grand Teton National Park. While you may wonder how 'that' ties in with Elk Lake and the Centennial, several of our guests have made the trip while staying here or visited there before or after visiting the Centennial. Thus I thought they (at least) might enjoy viewing some of what we enjoyed. Just a sampling follows (but probably not exactly the subject you may have expected to see - more about that another time):

However, for now, I will cut this blog post short and, hopefully, leave you tantalized enough to come back and visit another day!

Lady of the Lake