My family and I decided that we would take a drive up to Strawberry Reservoir just above Heber. It was a pretty drive, full of leaves the color of bananas, caution cones, and first aid crosses. Surprisingly there were no fights, arguments, or thrown punches the whole way up the canyon. That's got to be a first.
As we were driving along, we saw this sign placed on the side of the road proclaiming that today was Heber Valley's Kokanee Salmon Day. I begged to turn right so we could go look, and everyone else agreed.
Smokey the Bear was there! And so I also begged to get my picture taken with him. Amanda was happy to go with me; Meghan was more reluctant "I don't want to. It's like getting your picture taken with Santa Claus!" But she did, when I told her she was being too grown-up and needed to act more immature.
Inside the Visitor's Center, there were three tables set up to teach about various parts of wildlife and the Strawberry Reservoir. I was particularly interested in the huge underwater sonar torpedo, used by the Scuba Diving Rescue teams. The torpedo sends out sound waves which are then sent to a computer, showing pictures of the lake or river floor. When the sonar picks up something out of the ordinary, it shows the object in the picture on the computer map. The operator can then click on the map beacon and find the exact coordinates of the object, i.e. boat, body, or other such thing. It was kind of sad that they've had to use it at the reservoir so many times, once two years ago when five people drowned. Still, the technology is amazing.
The other great part about the Visitor's Center was that they had an exotic animal show. The couple showed various animals that are allowed as pets in Utah but require special care. One was a boa constrictor, very scary and I touched it! BLEGH!! Another was an African Hedgehog named Huff 'n Puff, which was very cute, prickly, and liked some smell that I had on my hands, so he started drooling. There was also a green parrot who said hello, uh-huh, nope, yep, sorry, and good-bye. He likes almonds. My favorite though was a fluffy, oh-so-soft, grey Chinchilla named Gizmo. She was just precious!!! Almost bit Amanda because she kept touching Gizmo's whiskers, and she didn't like that.
After I looked at the animals for awhile, I went outside to see a midnight black raven, a beautiful oat brown barn owl, and a magnificent sienna hawk. They were really neat to look at.
I got tired of being pushed around by kids half my size, and I felt that if I left the birds and animals wouldn't be as crowded, so I started walking down the boardwalk to go see the Kokanee Salmon. There weren't very many swimming upstream as I walked along the trail, but as I reached the fishery I began to see the stop sign red and Christmas tree green of the salmon, fighting to get upstream to lay and fertilize their eggs. They truly are fascinating to look at. I got to the fishery and there were hundreds of salmon in the fish traps, which is where fish are caught to show people and also where the eggs can be regulated and transported by Fish and Wildlife workers. I learned how to tell the difference between male and female salmon: males have a prominent jutting bone above their nose and a higher hump along the back, which is mainly how you tell them apart. When ready to spawn, females have a large bulge where the eggs are held under their stomachs.
Gospel truth: the eggs really are orange. I know this because one of the workers caught a female fish, and she kind of exploded. At least the fish was already dead, but still. Kind of sad.
I met three awesome dogs-Rusty, Whimpers, and Prince. They were all pretty much amazing, each with their own personality and each very prone to kiss you. :)
All in all it was a pretty fun day. The scenery was beautiful, the people great, and the wildlife fascinating. Not to mention Smokey gave me a wrist band and eraser. That pretty much made my day.
This picture isn't from today, but it's from an adventure we had last fall. It seemed kind of appropriate, since I didn't have control of the digital camera this trip. :P Mom wouldn't let me have it. Darn.
P.S. I promise I'll post the third part of Homecoming tomorrow. Don't shoot me!!!