Thursday, June 28, 2012

What a week! How blessed I am!

Open your eyes to the wonder of the great outdoors and eagerly seek solutions to all challenges that come your way!

Youth Fishing Clinic
The park hosted its 6th annual youth fishing clinic this past Saturday. The NM Game and Fish, the Corps of Engineers, local businesses and the park Friends Group worked together to provide lunch and a fun fishing day for youths. A large, above-ground swimming pool was erected and the water filled with 200 good-sized and hungry Catfish. About 100 children, 12 years of age and younger, registered to fish and get gifts. A large portable grill was set up and one of the seasonal employees cooked burgers and hot dogs for everyone – probably feeding about 200 people. Lucky me, I got to be there to take photos and enjoy the event. I could not resist getting a photo of the boy “kissing” a catfish!

And here's the "loot" that was given out.

Dogs make this job fun
Scooby-do, Shelby, Spot Wally, Lupita – all names of dogs that have been here these past few days. All were happy to get dog treats that I keep in my pocket. I asked about Spot Wally’s odd name and of course there was a story to hear. The dog owners found this puppy – half dead – in a Walmart parking lot. Taking pity on the dog, the owners gathered him up and after a few days in a pet hospital, the dog went home with them. Here’s what this sweet – and lucky – dog looks like.

More about birds
I’ve paid more attention to the White-wing Doves when they sit on my window feeder and now have seen several with deformed feet. These feet are deformed in varying degrees, some on just one foot, and some on both. One, who has been unsuccessful staying on top of the feeder, has one foot that has no toes and the other foot has three deformed toes. I make sure to put some birdseed on the ground so ‘gimpy’ can eat. I emailed Eric, the owner of Jay’s Bird Barn in Prescott, and he suspects the deformity is genetic. Ranger Shank thinks it might be the result of frostbite.
A pair of Western Kingbirds has built a nest toward the top of a dead piñon tree – dead as in no needles to block the blazing hot sun. Two campers from Southern Arizona, Eileen and Ann, have a window in their RV that gives them a clear view of the nest. They report four hungry babies.
Three Ladderback Woodpeckers entertained me one afternoon. I’m grateful for the bird blind, allowing me close-up-and personal viewing.
Two “orange and black” flashes landed on my hummingbird feeder. They were a pair of Bullock’s Orioles. By the time I got my camera out, the female flew off.

 Hot, hot, hot! High temps in the 97 – 99 degrees
It’s a good thing that I’m an early bird and up before the sun peeks over the eastern hills. I take care of morning chores in the park, and by the time the heat arrives, I can be in Jeremiah keeping cool. It sort of cools down after 4:30 and most incoming campers arrive after 5 p.m.
The heat apparently is keeping the tent-campers away. I know from past experience that it is pretty miserable in a tent in hot weather. Lucky me, few campers in the primitive loop means less trash pick up for me.
With the heat and drought, the park is now in a “no-burn” status. And in a few days the lake will revert back to just being a river.

Ann from southern Arizona, traveling in a small Chinook van-type motor home, has been camped nearby for a couple of weeks. With her ability to easily go the seven miles to town to the grocery store, she offers to bring anything I want. So, I’ve had access to perishables and sugar (by the time I leave I’ll have gone through 15 pounds of sugar making ‘nectar’ for the hummingbirds). I’ve also picked her brain about the pros and cons of small motor homes.

Frank was one of two surprises this week
As I walked up to greet two campers and noticed they had a small dog nearby. Since I keep a pocket full of dog treats, I asked if the dog could have one. Camper picked up his pet and I noticed it was hairless. When I saw the pet's face, imagine my surprise when the “dog” was a hairless cat named Frank, and yes Frank enjoyed the dog treat. I never knew that hairless cats had been “developed”.

My other surprise was a trip to the local Dairy Queen and a stop at the famous Blue Hole
Imagine my delight when Ann and Eileen invited me to go into town - they were going to see the Blue Hole and then have a Dairy Queen treat. No hesitation on my part, that's for sure. Two photos from the day: Eileen and Ann and then Carol at Blue Hole.

Trash pickup report
n      Slim pickin’s this week; just a nickel and a penny. DQ total, after a surprise trip to the local DQ is now down to 78 cents
n      A 3+ foot long heavy metal pipe with a 10 to 12-inch disk welded on one end. I have no idea what it is/was for. A ranger hauled it away for me.
n      And more of the usual stuff..

Today – Thursday
Looking at my 7-day reservations report, I’ll have a full campground (electric loop) Friday through Sunday, then again on Tuesday. Surprisingly, as of today, there are only three reservations for July 4.

That’s it for this week. Here’s your thought to ponder:

We all have so many reasons to celebrate – so look for them!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Courting advice from the birds

The past gives us experience and memories
The present gives us challenges ad opportunities
The future gives us vision and hope
    -William Arthur Ward

Rain, glorious rain!
For three afternoons, we watched as thunderstorms appeared to give rain to the areas north, east and west of the park – but no much-needed rain fell here. Saturday, with a mostly full campground and an evening “celestial program” scheduled to be presented, the rain finally found the park. What a blessing – I swear I could hear the parched trees and shrubs saying, ‘thank you’. The rain and a blanket of clouds lasted until about 9 p.m. needless to say, campers chose to hunker down in their tents and RVs, skipping the program.

Horned Lizards fascinate me
I spent some time watching horned lizards this past week – and that sent me to for information. This desert creature – also called "horned toad", "horny toad", or "horned frog" – is neither a toad nor a frog. They are reptiles. Being cold-blooded, horned lizards depend primarily on their environment to control their body temperature – and they like it hot!
            Horned lizards have a spiny, wide, flattened body with a crown of horns on the back of their head. They prefer to eat ants, grasshoppers, beetles and spiders. Some of predators are hawks, snakes, lizards, coyotes and ground squirrels. Most fascinating is the fact that when a predator threatens the horned lizard, they can inflate their bodies to look like a spiny balloon and can squirt a stream of blood from the corner of their eyes.

White-wing doves with deformed feet
As I watched a White-wing dove try to balance on the top of the window feeder, I was surprised to see that his feet are deformed. Birds have three “toes” facing front and one facing back. This dove looked like he had “club feet” with shortened toes and no toenails. I’ve since discovered two more doves with problem feet.
            And on a brighter note – the white wing doves have finally figured out how to get into the window seed feeder. Here’s a photo – House Finch is puzzled!

People also fascinate me
-- My Albuquerque friend Adria arrived on Friday afternoon to spend the weekend. She has a van/camper. We had some sweet visiting time and walked the shoreline trail.
-- For three days, counting Adria and myself, we had six single gals – four had their own RV and two were traveling together. This called for special Happy Hours as we compared travel notes and RV choices.
-- Tonight we have two families in one large motor home – a brother and a sister and their families with plenty of teenage kids. They are on their way to the Grand Canyon.
--Ann, one of the single gals, has lingered here at the park. She has one of  those small Class B motor homes and I’ve been picking her brain as to her ways of stowing stuff.

Courting advice from the birds
Guys, are you having trouble getting a girlfriend? Here’s what three bird species do:
The Canyon Towhee – male droops his wings and quivers while ‘squealing’ in front of the female during courtship.
Yellow-headed Blackbird – flies with head drooped and feet and tail pointing down while steadily beating its wings.
Curve-billed Thrasher – male follows female during courtship, singing a soft song.

What’s on the ‘trash’ list this week?
  1. Several rubbery toys – kids or dogs?
  2. A golf club – a putter
  3. Three pennies to add to my DQ fund
  4. Two broken fishing rods – one branded as Shakespeare Microspin
  5. I think it is called a ‘stringer’ – a nylon rope with a pointed metal ‘needle’ on one end and a metal loop on the other end. (Obviously I’m not a fishing person.)
  6. And of course the usual stuff from previous weeks.

Love the hot mid-days
This week, except for Saturday, brought high temps in the 90s – perfect for staying inside Jeremiah to read and take care of minor projects. I finished reading Cussler’s Crescent Dawn; another story of intrigue and danger that makes the book hard to put down. Just started his book, The Jungle. A great way to spend a hot day. It’s Thursday and I finished reading the book this morning.

What’s next?
Less than three more weeks here at Santa Rosa, then I’ll be in Rio Rancho for three weeks. After that, I’m off to Navajo Lake State Park for two months. I continue to ponder possibilities after Navajo Lake.

"Choices are the hinges of destiny." --Edwin Markham

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A great week -- again! I am blessed

“If you study birds for only a season, you’ll be enraptured, and birds will give you a lifetime of enjoyment.” 
–   Ornithology professor Dr. Everett Myers

Hummingbirds have come from must be miles around! I have two nectar feeders out – for a total of 5 “spigots”. I’ve counted at least 14 at a time, jockeying for position at the feeders. I was surprised to see two female hummers perched side-by-side using the same spigot at the same time! I refill the feeders at least three times a day. Thankfully the park keeps me supplied with granulated sugar.

Friend Hilda and to the rescue. Being blessed with a lot of reading time during the heat of the day, I made quick work of the five books I brought.

Meow, meow!
For four weeks I’ve been hearing that there was a feral cat roaming the campground at night. But I never saw nor heard it – until this past week. I was getting ready for bed when I heard a cat and stepped outside Jeremiah. A black cat ran a short distance and then stopped to look at me but would not come closer. The cat is all black except its back feet and a spot on its chest are white. No, I am not tempted to have another cat yet.

PEOPLE – It takes all kinds
Sun worshipers. They arrived in a car that parked at a campsite in the loop within eyesight of my site. Next time I looked their way it was one of those classic double-takes – they were lounging near the picnic table – a well-tanned and scantily clad man and woman. She in a very brief black bikini and he in what appeared to be a black jock strap! I will say they both had super fit bodies. There were gone when I woke up this morning.

Three couples – three RVs. The women are sisters from Florida. They spent the day keeping cool in one of the RVs, while the husbands sat outside to enjoy cold beer.

Triathlon man participated in nearby Sumner Lake’s triathlon on Saturday morning; he was #55. He has a sleek, lightweight racing bicycle.

Grandpa and grandson from Galveston have made this park their first night on their trip. He travels in a restored old camper. Grandpa, a tugboat pilot, takes a grandchild each summer on a trip.

Parking problems. A couple with a medium-sized trailer came for the weekend. After eight or ten tries getting backed into his reserved site, he gave up in disgust and went to a pull-through site. The site he chose was already reserved by another camper and there were no available sites, so he went back and tried again and again. Wife had a walkie-talkie and was trying to help. It soon became obvious he did not know how, and things became tense and he blamed the trees and the site! They ended up in a pull-through site in the primitive loop. Later that afternoon a camper with the same size trailer backed in on his first try!

I scanned the incoming reservations list – Site 7, Lucille Billings – and gasped. Could it be…? Our family lived next to a Billings’ family during my ages 10 to 18 years. They had three children, a daughter named Lucille who was just a bit younger them I. Could it be her? I anxiously awaited her arrival and promptly went to the site when an RV arrived. Could it be her? She opened the door and I introduced myself, asking her if she grew up in Glendale, Arizona. She grew up in California.

Between the lake being so low and so muddy, many folks have been frustrated in their fishing. So I was surprised when the lady across the way caught a 28-inch Walleye that weighed 6 pounds!

n      Dairy Queen – here I come!  This has been a good week; I found a dollar bill, two quarters and three pennies. My DQ total is now $2.74!
n      Good luck? Let’s see – a rabbit’s foot brings good luck. Would four rabbit’s feet bring four times the good luck? And what would a rabbit’s tail bring? On one of my campsite cleanups I thought I was seeing a cotton ball near a bush. Picked it up – and discovered it was a soft, fluffy cottontail rabbit’s tail – but no rabbit attached!

n      Two empty 50ML bottles of “99 Bananas” liqueur; 99 proof, 49.5% alcohol! These were found at the rowdies’ campsite. It was these campers that required two phone calls to the ranger on duty after midnight on Saturday.
n      Two used coffee filters.

Finally, with half the state burning, the park system has a ban on charcoal or wood fires. Today’s project was to “gift wrap” all 50 campsite grills.

Today’s beautiful clouds!

PERSPECTIVE: Life is a matter of perspective. For a worm, digging is a lot more fun than fishing.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

What a great week! Photos, too

Nature gives to every time and season some beauty of its own. – Charles Dickens

We’ve had wonderful clouds these past few weeks.

Albuquerque friend Hilda Ripley arrived on Sunday for a visit. She brought me some groceries and also took me into Santa Rosa to do Laundromat and afterwards we had lunch. While she we here, we walked the lake’s shoreline trails and she helped me in some campsite cleanup. It was a sweet time
Along the lake trail we saw this structure (see photo), then after a stop at the Corps of Engineers Visitor Center, we learned it is one of two “wind warning” devices. 

The Pecos River was dammed; forming Santa Rosa Lake primarily for down-stream irrigation, flood control and sediment retention. The water goes to the Carlsbad Irrigation District and to Texas. And according to the park supervisor, the lake will probably be drained around July 4. The users have “called for” more water than is currently in the lake.

-- A denture case – no dentures inside
-- Fish hook – no line attached
-- Two dimes and a nickel – that brings my found money up to $1.30. I’m getting closer to having enough for a DQ ice cream cone.
-- And more of all I’ve reported in the past.

PEOPLE – It takes all kinds
Thank goodness for park maps. Two Korean couples arrived in a rented van/camper and through some seriously broken English, hand motions and the park map, they settled into a campsite. They were so gracious and appreciative. Later, seeing part of a newspaper on its way to the next county, I chased it down. It was from the Korean Philadelphia Times, so I knew where to return it, thinking perhaps they wanted it. The folks were extremely apologetic. The next day I fished another piece of the newsletter from under a bush. There were a few English words in an ad about businesses for sale. A produce business in center city was for sale for $700,000 and a Laundromat in North Philadelphia for $180,000.

Wendy and her two adopted Haitian daughters were my delight one morning. Berlande and Kenia (ages 7 and 6) both curtsied when they told me their names. They are on a trip throughout the Southwest, camping in a tent. Next stop will be the Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert. Other stops will be at the north rim of the Grand Canyon and then as many Utah National parks as they have time for.

Gone Postal says their card. The folks are Linda and Larry Collinson who have retired from the post office after 19 and 21 years there. Now they live in Florida and travel in an RV. She’s the sharp-eyed person who spotted the Red Racer up in a Russian Olive tree at the host campsite. While we were watching, the snake made its way down the tree and slithered into a hole beneath the rock water pond. Must be a nice cool place to live on
toasty summer days.

What’s for dinner? I was just wondering what to fix when a camper walked up with a plateful of Korean short ribs and thinly sliced beef! “My wife made way too much, he explained as he handed me the plate. Wow! I rounded out my dinner with some steamed rice, peas and a can of V-8! And there is plenty left over for at least three more meals.

A Western Diamondback Rattle Snake was making its way across the park road as I set out to check campsites. He was about four feet long and looked well fed. As he disappeared into a hole underneath a bush, I alerted two families camped near by to be alert and to keep their children in the campsite.
At first Hilda and I thought the horned toad in the road was dead; its head looked bloody and it was not moving. Using my pick-up stick I got him in my bucket to put the toad into the trash. Then the toad moved a bit and then a bit more. I decided that maybe it was just dazed so instead of the trash can, I put the toad off to the side under some trees, hoping it was OK. The next morning there was no sign of the toad so either he moved on his own or someone had toad for dinner. 

This is the fifth campground where I have volunteered (three in New Mexico and two in the Phoenix area). Santa Rosa is the first one that gets quite a few over-nighters – folks just getting off the road for the night and then leaving in the morning. The other four parks were not on a main highway; they were destination parks. SRLSP is mainly a destination for weekenders; primarily boaters and fishermen. However with the lake level being so low, this park probably has not had the usual number of boaters.

My park “work” gets done in the early mornings and evenings. During the middle of the day, I have time for my projects and for reading. I finished Clive Cussler’s Navigator and have started Robert Kurson’s Shadow Divers. While Cussler’s books are fiction, Kurson’s book is true adventure of two Americans who risked everything to solve one of the last mysteries of World War II. They found a wrecked German U-Boat off the coast of New Jersey – a submarine that no one knew was there.

In the book Shadow Divers, there is information about deep sea diving and the risks. One statement about the danger of the sport had this to say:
“…nature, biology, equipment, instinct and object conspire…to so completely attack a man’s mind and disassemble his spirit. Many dead divers have been found inside shipwrecks with more than enough air remaining [in their tanks] to have made it to the surface. It is not that they chose to die, but rather they could no longer figure out how to live.”

Each day I know I’m blessed to be alive!