Friday, July 13, 2007

Summer at Pancho Villa State Park, July 2007

It may be summertime – and maybe it is hot – in the New Mexico desert, but there’s no lack of adventure here. And no lack of activity.

I’m settled into site #44, a permanent volunteer site complete with fountain/bird bath and tall trees to the west that thankfully block the afternoon sun. The day temperatures are anywhere between 95 and 105. And the nights cool down into the 70s – perfect for comfortable sleeping with windows open.

Most critters are most active in the mornings and evenings. The White-Winged Dove are active all day – singing ‘who cooks for you?’ and raiding the last of the sunflower seeds in my feeders. I have two bird feeders – a hanging one and one that attaches by suction cups to one of Jeremiah’s windows. Both are best suited for smaller birds, but that doesn’t stop the dove. What a comical sight to see six or more dove pushing each other out of the way at the hanging feeder. I’ve seen one on each side and two on the top and two or more others trying to dislodge the lucky ones. The doves also try to get sunflower seeds from the window feeder, but it is designed in a way that they can’t perch on the opening and eat. Only one dove has managed to get inside the feeder. The House Finch and sparrows get what they can, when they can. I also scatter seed on the ground and have seen the Cactus Wren eating there. These birds hang around and keep Cat entertained.

The Roadrunner stops by a couple times a day. And the quail seem to have had bumper crops of babies this year. It is not unusual to see one or two adult quail with a dozen or so little ones following closely.

My tall trees seem to be home to two owls – one is the Long-Eared Owl and the other is a Barn Owl. It is eerie to sit under the tree, look up and see one or both owls staring at me.

Also we have LOTS of rabbits – both cottontails and Jackrabbits. I also spent time watching a tarantula cross the road. I’m sure you know they have eight legs, but did you know that the first and third legs, and the second and fourth legs, on each side move in unison.

Cat goes outside each morning when it gets light and early evening before the sun sets very far. I haven’t seen, nor heard, any coyotes, but I don’t want her outside at times when she could possibly end up as someone’s dinner.

There aren’t many campers here – most of the time I can count them on one hand here in the southern section of the park. And there are six RVs with volunteers.

Park activities started with a July 4 celebration – complete with fireworks. The Friends group sold hot dogs, nachos, watermelon, sodas and water. I think every Mexican family in the area was here.

Speaking of the Friends group, one of my projects is to get their financial stuff on the computer. They have been keeping books by hand and it is a tedious job that hasn’t been done well. Once I get the Quicken software installed and the books set up, I’ll be teaching three non-computer members how to use it. Wish me luck.

The big buzz at the park is the resignation of Ranger Brian Houltin. He and his wife have plans to do other things. The transition will probably be tough because Brian has been here 13 years, and knows the most. The Park Manager is new – he was hired in March. When Brian leaves this week, the park that is supposed to have four rangers will be short two rangers. The State Parks Department moves so slo-o-o-oly.

For several evenings in a row we’ve had monsoon rains – cools things down so nicely.

I’ve been reading “Team of Rivals; the political genius of Abraham Lincoln” by Doris Kearns Goodwin. It is about 900 pages, and is a Pulitzer Prize winner. I’m also reading Max Lucado’s “In the Eye of the Storm.” And my usual entertainment – for great laughs before bed – is watching old “I Love Lucy” videos.