Borrego Springs, CA

Friday, June 5, 2009

First Friday on the refuge

The first Friday of each month from April-October, Swan Lake NWR holds a first Friday family night of activities. Today was the first Friday of June, so beginning at 5:00 pm, the activities commenced. First up was a stop at the visitor's center, where I was working, to sign the visitor's register and enjoy some free homemade cookies and punch provided by the ladies of the Refuge Friends Group. In the museum area of the visitor's center, there was also all the displays, a mammal indentification challenge using footprints and scat, and a continuous playing of the Winged Migration movie.
From there, visitors went outside near the tower to have free hotdogs provided by the local sportmen's club and activities involving fishing pole casting and tanks of frogs (in various life stages). There were also picnic tables set up for eating, horseshoe pits and wildlife walks.

The local Ducks Unlimited Chapter also set up a tent and gave out prizes.
In between eating and other activities, visitors could also choose to either take a tractor ride...

or go on a horse drawn hayride...

At 7:00, there was a talk on reptiles found on the refuge...

There were live specimens and folks got to touch or not touch some local snakes.
After an official lowering of the flag at sunset by the local American Legion, there was a fireside talk about rondevous by a visiting mountain man. ;)

About 160 folks came to enjoy all the varied activities, and I sold $86 worth of merchandise in the visitor's center. I think these First Friday activities are well worth the effort. Everyone had a good time and I think this is a good way to bring the public into the refuge. After all, it will be the next generation that determines if we keep these wonderful protected wildlife areas.
Before the activities, I went to Chilicothe and had lunch at a mediocre Chinese restaurant buffet. I was kind of surprised to see that the dishes offered were almost exclusively chicken. I like a variety of dishes, but after talking to one of the Friends ladies tonight, I guess chicken is what you get at Chinese restaurants in the area.
Emma was quite upset with those huge horses they used to pull the hayride. They really had her shaking and growling. Of course, they parked their trailer right outside my rig. It's been a good day. Time to take Emma for her last outs. I'll be opening the visitor's center tomorrow at nine. I'm supposed to keep it open until dark....that's a long time...we'll see how that goes.
Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy

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