Saturday, April 17, 2010

Another life chapter is finished; another soon to begin

That’s right – nearly six months of volunteer time at Cave Creek Regional Park has come to a close. Long days, short days, busy days, lazy days – I enjoyed them all. Thanks to the park staff and other volunteers, I had a great time. I met so many wonderful and interesting park visitors and enjoyed helping them.

And here are some of the many things I learned:

-- Baby birds are adult-size when they leave the nest. I learned this watching a Curved-bill Thrasher parent feeding two thrashers of the same size. An exception to this are quail babies who are tiny fuzz-balls toddling around after a parent. (The first baby quail were spotted in mid April.)

-- Desert cottontail rabbits groom themselves just like cats do. They also take dust baths.

-- I’ve learned to identify more birds by their songs and calls instead of relying on sight.

-- My goal this spring was to learn the names of the wildflowers which were plentiful.

00 If you call horse manure “used alfalfa” it seems better and raking these deposits off the hiking trails was almost enjoyable. At least the hikers expressed their appreciation.

-- The majority of the folks that camp here are really nice – they make up for the occasional disagreeable one.

I went on three geo-caching outings – and learned what that is all about. Below is a picture of Sandi Koch (who was visiting Carol Rayburn) and volunteer Essie McClosky

And here's my favorite picture of Richard, Essie's husband:

Here's Sandi, again, with the geo-cache she found. One clue was that "32 horses" were visible from the cache site. (Ah ha! Mile 32 posted below a "horse crossing" sign!)

I watched a jackrabbit outside Jeremiah as it ate birdseed that had been scattered on the
ground. Since going outside to take pictures would send the critter running, I had to be content with what I could take through the window.

Here’s what I observed:

-- Jackrabbits are much larger than cottontail rabbits, and rather bony looking.

-- Its large ears are fairly translucent; vertical veins in them were visible. The ears were constantly swiveling from front to side to somewhat back, I assume to listen for any danger.

-- This critter has large, slightly protruding beady yellow/orange eyes and a knot on its forehead just above and between the eyes.

-- Their legs are spindly and their feet reminded me of camels’ feet; probably best for navigating
the sandy soil.

-- The rabbit’s tail is longer than I thought it would be, and it also sticks up, snug against its back.

The desert at Cave Creek Regional Park had massive amounts of colorful wildflowers while I was there. Yellow, orange, purple, blue, white – very impressive. The hills were carpeted with the yellow flowers of the Brittlebush.

Here’s another photo that I took while taking a break from trail cleaning – the clouds appear to
be radiating from the distant hill.

As I write this, I’m at home in Prescott Valley. I arrived to discover that Spring is here - my lilac bushes and Iris are blooming and a Robin visits. It is quite a change going from living in a small motor home to a real house! Cat spent the first day exploring outside and inside the house. Then she surprised me today by heading out to the motor home for her afternoon nap!

Besides taking care of some appointments and projects, I’ll be re-loading Jeremiah for our Great Summer Adventure 2010 which starts May 5. I’ve enlarged my travel plans, adding Kansas, Ohio and western Pennsylvania to my itinerary. So the states I’ll travel in are: New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, back

through Ohio/Indiana/Illinois to a corner of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico (again), back through Arizona to the San Diego area (medical checkups) and then back home. I expect to be adventuring until early November. Whew! Stay tuned; my plans are to write blog entries at least once a week, if not oftener.

I’ll close this with this and a picture Essie took of me surrounded by wildflowers

I choose not to curl up in a corner with a calendar and put Xs on days. On the contrary, I want to drain every ounce out of every day.