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It's About Time & Eagles & Cold Nights;

Posted 12-31-2013 at 03:04 PM by Ard
Updated 12-31-2013 at 04:00 PM by Ard

I have received some messages from a member who was so moved by the videos in my last entry that he had to contact me and share his thoughts.

This entry is just a little more in an effort to explain how my life has been, what made me who I am and the kind of experiences that guided my path and always will.

In the late 1977 I discovered the music, the music and the words that would become the sound track for the next 12 years of my life. Prior to 77' I was entertained by everything except artists who delivered a positive message. By 1980 I had taken to the roads of North America and used 2 hour cassette tapes to transfer the music and lyrics from the old vinyl albums that john produced to provide my soundtrack. I traveled alone and by motorcycle. I had a 1978 GS 750 which carried me for 62 thousand miles over these roads before being replaced with another ride. Camps were crude, some nights were cold and wet but the experiences were incredible. I was able to experience the west. The west before we were concerned with our billionaires buying it and fencing us out. The west before we were embroiled in debate over pipelines and tar sand oil extraction, and on and on......... The West.

Things were way different then, the cassette was bulky and the ear buds nothing like todays hi tech type but when tucked inside a motorcycle helmet they gave a stunning background to the things that I saw as I covered over 60,000 miles riding, camping and fishing the Rockies from New Mexico to Jasper Alberta. It was Ray's message that jogged my memories to those years and so I'm writing about the past.

When you listen to this try to imagine having just spent 3 days exploring the area around Lake Louise and the high country above Jasper. I was on my way back down south riding toward a series of mountain passes where I could see storms waiting for me as I would reach the higher elevations. These are times you never forget and every time I hear the music it brings tears to my eyes. Not sorrow, tears of joy and sometimes I begin to laugh while the tears form.

These pieces of music give life to those years and trips. I had no Go Pro, no digital camcorder, I had only my eyes, my mind and some Kodachrome to record it all with. But the music, I swear the music brings it all back perhaps better than a Hi Res Vid

I remember crossing back over into America and stopping in a small canyon where I saw a Golden Eagle riding the air along the rims. When traveling I could safely say I have seen thousands of eagles and hawks. like many people I have been drawn to them, I even got into paragliding for a while so I could see what it is like to ride the wind like they do for just a little while. Yes, there was a tune for that and that evening when I made camp I plugged my old ear phones in and this was one of the pieces for the day.

Here in Alaska eagles are very common but when I was growing up in North Central Pennsylvania they were endangered and nearly extinct. Here I have witnessed incredible things. Just 2 years ago on one of my regular rivers where I fish often there was a pair of Golden Eagles who had came into the area in late June. I was seeing them every day but one day there came an event.

I headed upriver and had a pretty good idea where I may run into one of the eagles. As I rounded a curve the huge bird took out of a tree on my left and began laboring up stream ahead of my boat. The eagle seemed to stay low and I could see its head turning and it was looking around. Suddenly another eagle came from above and behind me. Remember, I am in a river boat moving about 22 mph while this scene develops in front of my bow......... The second eagle is a Bald Eagle and it comes hard and fast in a dive at the golden. At the last possible fraction of a second before the imminent collision the Bald Eagle throws on the brakes - turns, and strikes the Golden on the back as it is working hard to gain speed and altitude. All of this occurring in perhaps 20 seconds from when the Golden came from its perch.

The bald flew above the golden and continued to attack until the larger bird gained enough altitude to escape the tree line surrounding the river channel. Just as the Golden was about to escape the bald Eagle's mate came at high speed and joined the chase. The golden disappeared out over the wetlands and the 2 Bald Eagles turned quickly and went back down river with a very purposeful flight.

When I reached my destination I sat down and thought about what I had just seen. I knew the Bald Eagles have a nest on the North West side of the river because I had seen it often in the distance as I would head home from each trip. So what had happened?

Essentially the Bald Eagle rules the sky in Alaska. There are very few things that can threaten those very precious young eagles who wait patiently in the huge tub of the nest for the parents to return with a meal for them. Yes very few things, but Golden Eagles? Now there's a problem isn't there?

Here you have 2 species who compete for resources, from food to nest sights in some cases although I've never seen Golden Eagles nested in a tree like the Bald Eagles do. Golden prefer the rock shelves of Hatcher Pass and they are there every year raising a youngster. But here on the river these birds had to have been passing through and decided to hang around for awhile. I had been seen one the day before this event and on the day after I saw what appeared to be 2 adults and 2 second year golden eagles.

Whether or not there had been an attack of the nest of the Bald Eagles and what I saw was the aftermath, I will never know. Because the second bald eagle came late I figured it was a strategy wherein the second bird was watching the nest until its mate was hard on the gold eagle. I think the bald were waiting for that golden to take out of its tree and then to attack it. When I came in a jet boat the golden flushed like a grouse when I got too close and what I witnessed was one of the most memorable aerial encounters I've ever seen.

I've given myself eyestrain watching the Bald Eagles through my binoculars while they are doing the courtship flights. Straining, peering as they become specks against the sky, then to come tumbling down with talons lacked together, turning, rolling through the air, breaking apart and soaring together perhaps to repeat the whole thing over & over. I see them catch fish and sometimes one will buzz my bow as I head up the Yentna River toward the cabin. Never, not once had I ever seen the 2 species at the same time.

Now you know what happened that June day of 2012

To close this entry up I'll share one more tune with a very powerful message. I was riding down through a pass in Wyoming just half an hour or so west of Buford WY. when the first part played. It was evening and I had spent several hours with an artist name of Gary Crawford at the General Store - gas pump and mail stop at Buford. He was a painter who had a couple large acrylics hanging in the Store. We talked like old friends who had just gotten together again for hours. Then as I rode down through those hills the sun was setting and around the corner of a mountainside came a string of Mule Deer running along. Maybe 10 of them in the golden sunset shining on them as they leapt and bounded along on a field of green that was perhaps the first time I ever really noticed the color green............

It's been a heck of a trip,

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  1. Old Comment
    gzarboni's Avatar


    That is a great story Ard. I haven't met you but I like your style.
    Posted 01-02-2014 at 06:03 PM by gzarboni gzarboni is offline
  2. Old Comment
    Ard's Avatar
    Thank You Glen
    Posted 01-05-2014 at 10:53 PM by Ard Ard is online now
  3. Old Comment
    Great story, as always. I live on a lake in central Maine -- it used to have 2 pairs of osprey living around it but about 6 years ago a pair of bald eagles moved in and the battles began. The whirling acrobats performed by those birds as they fought over fish and territory sounds very similar to what you described. The osprey have moved on; the eagles come back each year and raise one or two young, who eventually move on themselves. You describe what you see very well; thanks for it.
    Posted 02-07-2014 at 07:14 PM by gunner gunner is offline
  4. Old Comment
    Ard's Avatar
    Hi Joe,

    So happy to see you back and thank you for leaving me a message.

    Posted 02-08-2014 at 08:48 PM by Ard Ard is online now
  5. Old Comment
    Ard's Avatar
    I should mention that most of the scenery shown in the first music slide show I actually visited the areas and photographed myself in 1998 while traveling back and forth to Alaska. A stop in Jasper was on my list because of hearing about the place in John's song.

    I've been a lot of places,

    Posted 05-15-2016 at 05:15 PM by Ard Ard is online now
  6. Old Comment
    Ard's Avatar
    Here are a couple that left me get close......

    Click the image to open in full size.

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    Posted 05-15-2016 at 05:30 PM by Ard Ard is online now
  7. Old Comment
    Ard's Avatar
    Click the image to open in full size.
    Posted 05-15-2016 at 05:30 PM by Ard Ard is online now

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