Monday, May 24, 2010

“Captive” at Fort Supply Lake

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Captive? Well, that’s how it feels at times. I arrived on Friday after a 270-mile drive from Tucumcari, NM, and this is my second day at the Corps of Engineers Fort Supply Lake Campground in north/mid Oklahoma.

I’m about 100 feet from the lake’s edge. Lush grass, tall trees, temps about 70 at night and pushing 80s during the afternoon. So what’s the problem? Wind! Strong most of the time and not letting up during the night. Jeremiah is rocking and rolling. And I had no Internet.

Am I wishing that the day would hurry up and be over? Not at all. I’m focusing on all the good stuff.

Somewhere I read these wise words:

When you hurry through your day, it is like an unopened gift thrown away.
Life may not be the party we hoped for; but while we are here we might as well dance.

Actually, it is not a problem; it is an opportunity to get some inside stuff done. These two very windy days have been spent reading, writing, cleaning, and just loafing. Cat sleeps most of the day – I think she is awake most of the night, going from window to window to “guard the house.”

Besides Oklahoma wind, there is Midwest humidity. Thanks to the wind, the mugginess was lessened.

As I fell asleep the first night, I was reminded of time spent at Southern California beaches as the lake waves crashed on the shoreline rocks. Sunrise, 6:26 a.m., was beautiful. Sunset at 8:42 p.m. was mostly be blocked by trees.

I’ve also braved the wind to wander outside. There are a few campers here, mostly with trailers and tents. The wind has “blown out” (surfer’s term) the lake, creating a jumble of waves. A flock of Canada Geese kept me entertained this morning. A lone pair escorted four babies along the shoreline.

The lake is created by a dam on Wolf Creek, a tributary of the North Canadian River. It was built in the late 1930s for flood control. Many birds seem to have taken refuge from the wind. I have seen robins, blue jays, mockingbirds, dove, great-tailed grackles and I think a Brewer’s blackbird. A beautiful blue jay has landed on the top of my window feeder several times, but it can’t figure out how to get inside for the seeds. A few hearty fishermen were trying their luck yesterday; fish species at the lake include largemouth bass, crappie, white bass, walleye and catfish.

Sunday, May 23

Moving on to Great Salt Plains State Park

With no promise of the wind letting up – and after calling Ms. Weather (a.k.a. Carol Rayburn) because she always knows, or can find out, weather forecasts – I left Ft. Supply Lake fairly early this morning. My destination was northeast and I was counting on a tailwind.

Along the way I saw an apparent life-sized bronze statue of a bull, but there was no good place to pull over for a photo. Below the statue was the sign “In Memory of Morris and Heston”. I was in cattle country and the statue was placed near the entrance to a huge ranch. Perhaps those were names of two prize bulls?

I also drove by the entrance to “Little Sahara State Park” and quickly discovered that the main feature of this park is off-road vehicles. Because it was Sunday, much of the traffic consisted of pickup trucks pulling trailers with ATVs.

The drive was delightful and relaxing. Plenty of colorful wildflowers decorated the roadside.

Oklahoma signs along the way admonished “Keep Our Land Grand.”

I saw lots of Cattle Egrets – an insect eater, according my bird book. This bird hangs out with cattle for the insects that are stirred up.

The distance between Ft. Supply and Great Salt Plains was only 118 miles; a short driving day in the wind. I passed signs promoting the Selenite Crystal Digging Area. The strong winds discouraged me from stopping. Later at the state park I learned more. Selenite is a crystallized form of gypsum. On the Salt Plains, “hourglass-shaped” crystals are formed less than two feet below the salt encrusted surface. This is the only place in the world to find the “hourglass selenite crystals.”

I backed Jeremiah into a site along the Salt Fork of the Arkansas River – and even though it was still windy, I set out to explore the park. My wanderings took me down a lovely trail, up and down 110 steps along the dam’s spillway and adjacent field of flowers near the chocolate-looking lake. Along the trail, someone had built a bird blind with bird feeders to watch and photograph birds without them knowing. Unfortunately, it was in disrepair and without bird seed.

I had already decided to re-route my travels and skip the northeast portion of Oklahoma. And to only stay one day at Great Salt Plains.

After a 140-mile drive today (Monday) I’m at Spring Valley RV Resort outside Halstead, Kansas. I’ll be here two days. The wind seems to have followed me, but appears to be lessening in velocity. Maybe I’ll be able to put my slide outs and enjoy the extra space.

Right now, a Baltimore Oriole is "inviting" me to come out and explore this place.