Category Archives: Boulder County Parks and Open Space

Roasted Veggie Quinoa Salad (but mostly bugs)

My job with Parks and Open Space requires a lot of hiking. And when I say a lot I mean A LOT. On average I hike 4 miles every work day. And let me tell you the main thing I have noticed on my many, lengthy hikes through the plains and foothills of Boulder County. There are approximately thousands of different kinds of insects out there in the great outdoors (for once I may have been modest).

I promise there is a recipe in this post; it’s Food Fun Friday after all. I should be giving you a recipe or at least discussing why the food you’re eating is probably killing you slowly or something. First I would like to thoroughly ruin your appetite (just be glad I didn’t include pictures) by talking about insects, the least appetizing things I can think of.

Just a preview of what’s to come

I am going to be highly non-scientific for a minute so entomologists cover your ears. I have classified these insects I have encountered into five categories: the gross ones, the lovely ones, the dumb ones, the mean ones and the pesky ones.

The Gross Ones

These are the bugs that make me squirm: Spiders (I know not insects) and earwigs. But mostly spiders.

The Lovely Ones

The only bugs I will classify here are butterflies (or flutterbys as they should be called) because they are very nice to look at and they are curious but shy creatures who want to know what your business is in their neighborhood but won’t stay too close.

The Dumb Ones

Bugs that fall under this category include grasshoppers, cicadas and flies. I can’t tell you how many cicadas I have seen fly head first into the side of a hill or a tree trunk. They make a surprisingly loud crunch on impact then they take off again, apparently unscathed, on their journey. While I do enjoy the variety of colors you find, grasshoppers are especially dumb. when frightened, are critters that take flight (rather than stay and fight) and for some reason seem to think jumping right into my shins is the way toward safety. I’m sure you’ve used an outhouse at a trailhead at some point and know them to be often full of flies. Well they all panic when you come in and you hold the door open for them to escape into the wild and they just fly around frantically and never find the source of the fresh air.

The Mean Ones

This is the classification that encompasses wasps, hornets and biting flies. The ones that are just out to get you and leave a painful blemish behind. I haven’t been stung recently but I remain wary of these nasty buggers. Biting flies remain the bane of my existence; they are all just out to get me.

The Pesky Ones

These are the insects where the word bug comes from. They just bug the heck out of you. Mosquitoes for instance are extremely persistent and have that distinct buzz that really grinds my gears. I know they are just trying to survive by sucking my precious blood but seriously do they have to leave the obnoxious itchy red bump behind? I haven’t yet figure out what kind of fly it is that likes to circle my head as I hike 20 feet before flying off but when I do, they better watch out!

So, to return from my tangential story about pests; here is the promised recipe for quinoa and roasted vegetable salad for your enjoyment…

Start by cooking quinoa to package specifications. Chop up any veggies you find in your pantry. I used zucchini, summer squash, onions, carrots and potatoes. Toss all the vegetables together in a large bowl with 3 cloves of minced garlic, 1 Tbsp Herbs de Provence (buy herb mix or make your own), 2 Tbsp olive oil and 1/2 tsp salt. Then spread in a baking dish.

Bake for 30 minutes at 450°F stirring halfway through. Mix veggies in with quinoa and lemon dressing (juice and zest of one lemon, 2 Tbsp EVOO, 1 Tbsp Herbs de Provence) serve with chicken, or other protein, or by itself, whatever you want… what do I know? All I want to talk about is insects.

buzzz buzzz buzzzzzzzzz

I’m Back! (and hopefully for good this time)

Every website I’ve ever read about blogging says to never tell your readers that you took a break from writing because they either didn’t notice and now realize or they did notice and don’t need you to tell them. But it felt weird for me to return to the blog-osphere without at least addressing the multitude of changes that have occurred in my life. First, I graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in Rangeland Ecology concentrating on Restoration Ecology in December.

Here’s me standing next to the portrait of the founder of Warner College of Natural Resources

I moved back to my hometown and I got a job as a hostess and expeditor at FATE Brewing Company in January. They opened in February in Boulder, CO and I have loved working here and making new friends.

This photo is from their website

In April, I visited Portland, OR…

…with my mom, Debbie…

This is at a lovely breakfast place called Cheryl’s.

…and my best friend, Alyssa, and her mom, Wendy.

This photo of Alyssa and I is taken outside our hotel, Hotel D’Luxe

We sampled some local cuisine and toured and fell in love with the city.

Voodoo Doughnut

Also in April I started my second job with Boulder County Parks and Open Space. I am working in Education and Outreach, which means I get to go hiking in Boulder County at least twice a week talking to people about nature and the like. And they pay me to do that.

This is me in my uniform.

I also get to eat lunch with adorable critters like this Eastern Fence Lizard

…enjoy the beautiful wildflowers like this Rocky Mountain Columbine

…and churn butter, do laundry by hand, play games while dressed up like a 19th century prairie woman (Summer Heritage Event next Saturday 07/20 at 5:30pm at Walker Ranch).

On June 6th, I turned 23 years old, and was lucky enough to celebrate with my family and friends.

In June, I pet sit for the two most entertaining hounds I’ve ever met.

The black on is Stella and Hank is the brown one

 And just last week at the beginning of July I visited my best friend Kristen in L.A., CA (Hermosa Beach)

This is Kristen and I at the only winery we made it to (we meant to go to more but you forget things like that when you share a bottle of wine).
In Venice Beach we tried to match the cover of the Jack’s Mannequin album Everything in Transit
The fish market at Redondo Beach

So far it’s been a fabulous year. Except for the part when I got attacked by a wild turkey. That was one of those times when I wish I were on a reality television show because I bet it would be hilarious to watch now that the trauma has (sort of) worn off.

So I guess that’s the end of this post, you’re all caught up now and you can look forward to a post with a new workout on Workout Wednesday and a post about buttermilk cake on Food Fun Friday.

What’s that you say? You want to hear the story about the turkeys? Well okay if you insist.

It all started back when I was about 5 years old. A goose at the Denver Zoo bit me and ever since I have had an irrational fear of large birds in particular, but birds in general as well. They fly by, near your face and eyeballs, with those sharp beaks and gouging claws. Let’s not forget how closely they are related to dinosaurs like T-Rex. And then I saw that Alfred Hitchcock movie The Birds and it was all over.

But recently, due to my job with BCPOS most likely, I have had to make peace with this fear. I have started observing birds in the wild (instead of avoiding eye contact) and found humor in some of their actions. I was even was able to see the cuteness of a goose when I saw these goslings at Walden Ponds, east of Boulder.

One fine day I was patrolling at Heil Valley Ranch, just west of Longmont, CO. I was on the Lichen Loop enjoying the slight breeze and the gentle sunshine. I came across a group of wild turkeys. They were nesting in this area so I’d heard them in the distance on prior trips and had even seen them from a distance but this group was just off the trail.

They are the strangest looking birds, with the wrinkled, sagging skin around their heads and necks and they make sounds that I can only describe as a gurgling metallic bleat (whatever that means). I observed them, and took a few pictures as they walked away from me. Then I set off to continue my hike. The end.

Just kidding…

I was barely past the larger group of turkeys when I saw and heard a patch of western wheatgrass near the trail rustle. It startled me but I figured it must have been the wind. Regardless, I turned to look more closely and saw the feathers of another turkey. She had flattened herself to the ground probably out of fear of the strange creature that had approached her with quick, noisy footsteps. I turned to leave her alone but she decided it was time to protect herself (and her chicks).

In one swift movement she had made herself as large as she could by throwing her wings out and over her back and was merping (another turkey sound) her head off. I yelled in a frightened sort of way, which might not have helped the situation. Then in what I can only assume was an effort to make herself more aerodynamic she put down her wings down close to her body, lowered her head and charged toward me. I circled around a rock because I didn’t know what else to do (probably smart as since I’ve heard that turkeys have been know to puncture car tires so there’s no telling how my bare legs would hold up).

She reversed her charge and came back around the rock from the other side, still in the same head-down, wings-in position. My memory is a little fuzzy but I remember being chased around this rock multiple times before I began my mad sprint down the mountain, (away from the trail in the direction I wanted to go, toward the bit of trail I had come in on) backpack bouncing up and down.

She chased me about 20 yards in a herding matter and all the while I am hollering and yelping. I don’t know if she exactly intended to chase me right toward where her chicks were cheeping around on a bare patch in the grass, but I was forced to leap over them. I counted about three, possible four, adorable balls of fluff and feathers as I careened by/over them. My radio, clipped to my backpack belt, broke and fell, lost in the tall grasses. My ponytail fell out of its fasten as my hat blew off my head. I snatched the hat out of the air before it was carried away on the wind.

She stopped on a boulder, like a sentinel, ensuring I was gone for good. Then in a panicky way she scurried around collecting the oblivious chicks. I made it back to the trail with adrenaline, fear and sadness pulsing through my veins, tears splashing down my cheeks. I knew it was no good to go forward so I turned around and went back, defeated by a turkey.

And that is the end. Except I did end up finding the radio. I know that was concerning all of you very much; a poor radio left out in the rain with mad, wild turkeys on the loose.

Tell me about your experience with wildlife, domestic animals, children in the comments below.