Brace yourselves for one of my aircraft geek posts. The Airbus A380 is the largest passenger aircraft in the world, capable of carrying up to 850 passengers. The big two-decker has been operational for about four years but as it services a limited number of US airports (LAX, San Francisco, JFK, Dulles, and Miami) most of which I never go through, I hadn’t had a chance to see one. I was at LAX on Saturday afternoon waiting for my connecting flight back to Denver when I saw this one push back.

I added this picture with a relatively small Boeing 737 for scale. I’ve spent a lot of time around Boeing 747s and seen several Antonov An-124s, but was very impressed with this airplane. It caused a stir in the waiting area where I was sitting, with people taking pictures with their camera phones and pilots from other airlines talking about it. The A380 even had a car with flashing roof lights accompanying it, like a wide load escort on a highway.

While I was watching this extravaganza, a strange thing happened. The A380 and an Air France Boeing 777 (somewhat closer to me) had both pushed back, turned and begun taxiing to the east end of the runway for take-offs headed west out over the ocean. Suddenly all the aircraft froze, and a USAF C-17 came taxiing east from the far end of the airport, going about three times as fast as anybody else had been. He took about ten minutes as he swerved around the planes in his way, cut between the A380 and the 777, went to the front of the line at the end of the runway and took off.

What was a military transport like this doing at a civilian airport like LAX? It’s not really a joint use airport like some that we have. Who or what was on board that he was given priority over everybody else?

And Still More Shelves

It occurred to me after Steve posted his bookshelf pictures that we had done something similar about four years ago. I thought of a slightly different angle – I’ll post pictures of some of our cookbooks (and other food-related books) that we keep in shelves in the back hall near the kitchen. You can see this one is sort of heavy on New Orleans and Cajun. I still think The New Orleans Restaurant Cookbook is unsurpassed.

A lot of Junior League cookbooks here, and one of my faves The Silver Spoon. Connie has a recipe in the Colorado Cache Cookbook. That’s Verde the Birdie our Gambel’s Quail doll on the left.

Can you tell Connie’s inspired by Julia Child? When we lived in Santa Barbara we used to see her occasionally at the Saturday Farmer’s Market. One of our colleagues at work was a friend of hers and he had her sign all of Connie’s books.

Well now you know about some of our food preoccupations. You know Steve, for years now I’ve been convinced that you and Libby should do a cookbook.


The hotel where I’m staying in Tucson is across the street from the Arizona History Museum where I saw this statue of Father Eusebio Kino, SJ. Father Kino (1645 – 1711) was an early explorer and missionizer in what is now Baja California and Arizona.

For some reason I was particularly struck by the astrolabe he carries in his left hand.

Flies (follow up)

My “trolling for flies” post a few weeks back has resulted in an embarrassment of riches, and my adoration for the sharing nature of this human community. We’re humbled by the response, and plan to pass on the effort in random acts of fly-sharing along various rivers in the future.

Of course I wrote the blog post with humor, all the while hoping I’d get connected with flies and with people who use them. That happened. I called it my tale of woe in attempt to get people to send me new flies for fishing. I blamed everything on my son, who has taken all of our great gear for his own.

What also happened is that my post apparently offended at least one person who sent me an anonymous note telling me to quit the begging and “buy your own flies.” Please know I didn’t mean to bother anyone with the post, and I honestly thought it was funny.

Now to the flies! Legendary fly-fishing guide and fly tier Kate H. of Nevada sent me this message: “I’ll dig through the closet and see what I find in my old vest. Fear not, I am sure there is some old moth-eaten thing or two I can send. Your blog brought tears to my eyes …”

Here are the beauties that Kate sent up:

New York’s Bill K. was in the process of tying some salmon flies for an upcoming trip to New Brunswick when he read the blog post, so I was lucky all the equipment was out and in use. Bill made a few tough adjustments and created these three beautiful Elk Hair Caddis flies for our stash – one of my very favorite flies. What a lovely gift. And, a little later, Bill sent me a fly that is simply a work of art and is in the photo at the top of this post. Noting he doubts I’ll have a need for it, lest I’m pursuing Atlantic salmon, “Like many salmon flies, it has a lovely name: Blue Charm.”

Friend (and wild man!) Lane B. sent me what he called “Wal-Mart specials” – fancy grade poppers that are handmade in China, but distributed locally by Betts Tackle in Lane’s home turf of North Carolina. He said not to laugh too hard until we try them, since “fish will strike at the darndest, most unlikely things sometimes.” You’re right Lane, and we’ll have to give them a try. Now I’m going to have to find a bass pond somewhere. Lane also did a little artwork on the envelope, which I enjoyed, so have a look at those fancy poppers.

Colorado’s Chas sent a remarkable contribution – a fabulous collection of wet flies that were once his father’s. It’s with honor we’ll get those flies back onto western rivers. Thanks Chas, and to the late Otis Clifton, 1916–2003.

New England angler extraordinaire Paul D. sent a beautiful packet of flies via Steve and Libby. Oh but to have the success on a stream that I know Paul has had. We’re thrilled to try out flies tied by this trout master as well.

This was an entertaining exercise, and the flies are treasures. But the real jewels are the fabulous people we’ve crossed paths with in the process.

Windshield Family

One of the recent fads that I find annoying is what I call “windshield families” – you know, those semi-stick figure decals that show all of the parents, kids and pets on the back window of their car. I started seeing these in California a few years ago and now they are all over the place. I can’t imagine why people do that.

I can however, appreciate ironic variants on the theme – like this one I saw in eastern Oregon last summer.

Light blogging for me this week. I am in Tucson at the 69th Annual Plains Anthropological Conference. I’m presenting a paper on an Early Ceramic period site that we excavated in northeastern Colorado last year. I’ll blog about that later.


My new children’s book was released by Boyds Mills Press this month. Q readers will recognize the characters of this nonfiction photo essay: Rena the Akbash, Roo the wild burro, and six orphan lambs they raised on our ranch in western Wyoming. It was fun to watch and photograph all three species as they grew up together. I’m thankful that the book has been getting good reviews in the children’s literature world. You can order copies from your favorite independent bookstore, and from online sources such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Regular Q readers wanting personalized copies can shoot me an email with details to catu2 at mac dot com and I’ll mail the book, along with an invoice.

Q readers may also recall that last year I camped on Wyoming’s rangelands while my ewe herd was giving birth, and I was busy writing a book about the experience. I’m thrilled to report that the book has found a publishing home, so the next few months will be busy ones as we work on revisions, with the release date set for Fall 2012 (with Countryman Press, a division of W.W. Norton of New York). The book will include many of my best images, while it tells the story of the daily life of a sheepherder in the Rocky Mountains, with descriptions of interactions in the natural world on this shared range, and reflections on pastoralists around the globe. I’m fortunate to be paired with a great editor – one who worked on a Montana cattle ranch, and has fond memories of time spent in Kazakhstan.

Wild East

Here are a few irresistible photos from Lib’s friend Jeff Foott, who we saw in Wyoming and who just returned from our old haunts in Western Mongolia.

The third is just nice and speaks for itself. What I love about the other two is the way the Wild East partakes of all technologies from the Neolithic to the 21’st century’s simultaneously; a bit “cyberpunk” in style rather than Edwardian Steampunk…

The Owl Man

Unexpected new art, a gift from local sculptor- polymath (and probable cousin of some kind; see below– we share “origin myths”, though have not checked genealogy, and McCabes are rarer than most of my old books), Sigrid “Nina” McCabe, like me a committed incomer.

He is cute and even pretty but rather spooky– echoes of Bosch, Penitentes, old Spain, and maybe of medieval plague doctors with their protective beaked masks. Lib adds Gorey’s Doubtful Guest— I can see him there, too.

A fitting Halloween addition!

More shelves plus…

I’m getting feedback in email as well as comments on shelves- I suspect full bookshelves are common in the houses of Q readers, So, a few more, with and without tales. Remember to click for big images…

Mostly old or “special” books on the redwood desk:

Books n’ bones:

Some sporting titles and things…

Parts of some of my few actual collections- THW firsts, Beebe, Seton, Kingdon, Victorians, pigeons– and some random bug stuff.

Some Pleistocene objects, all from Peculiar as Christmas presents– Patagonian Glyptodont skin, Ural cave bear hand (the ursine Neanderthal); silver box with mammoth hair and cave bear teeth.

Another “object”, so called by Dr Hypercube at Diary of a Mad Natural Historian. What is it? (Not exactly what it seems).

A few books above bear looking at closely. The two volumes behind young Libby the climber above are the uncommon Latin Leipzig edition of Frederick II’s falconry opus De Arte Venandi cum Avibus, rare because only a small edition was printed as the allies bombed the city, and mentioned in Bruce Chatwin’s story “The Estate of Maximilian Tod”.

One more. Go back to the first photo and look at the book that rises behind the little cypress Louisiana decoy, just to the left of Al Hochbaum’s wonderful Canvasback on a Prairie Marsh (future post?) It is an “uncommon first edition”, to quote an old dealer’s scrawl inside the cover, of Greener on Gunnery– pretty damn cool.

But it is cooler than that, because the book, a gift from my very old friend (in time not age) Jeff Nicoll, was in its own time a gift from Greener to, well, the CZAR.

Around the House– an Occasional series

I thought I’d post a few photos I keep up in my library, which relate to Q – type subjects- click to “embiggen” as they say in Bloglandia…

First, on the bookcase, a few mentors living and dead: Anderson Bakewell, SJ, at the Magdalena shooting range about 1987 (Tom McIntyre’s title: “It’s been HOW long since your last confession?”); Floyd Mansell with muzzleloader shooting doves with son Phil & me; Dr John Burchard with the late Badari; Sirdar M. Osman in Dehra Dun– a mentor from afar but a real one.

Some goshawks from all over– Japan, Siberia, China, Japan again, Khyber pass photo by Catherine Lassez, with me in Montana.

(If you click to enlarge you may also be amused at the unrelated clips below…)

And a few more– Joe Bodio with black duck & 40 years later with Bets & spaniels; me and Floyd by Tom Huggler ca 1985; Jonathan Kingdon as a youth in then- Tanganyika with augur buzzard, and inset nearer present; Lib out front.