Borrego Springs, CA

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A scary experience!

This afternoon, I headed for the main part of the refuge to patrol the roads for litter. Some volunteers don't like picking up litter, but I do. The reason I like it is because I'm outside and can enjoy the wildlife while I'm working. I was driving my official refuge vehicle and decided to start with the route around Shoveler Pond. I had noticed quite a bit of litter there last week, but apparently someone else had picked it all up. I headed down the road to the boat launch on the bay. This is where many fisherman go. There is never a lack of beer cans, bait containers, and other junk that has been tossed along the road. I don't understand why fishermen (and women) can't take their trash with them. Anyway, I stopped numerous times to get out to gather the trash. As I tried to slow for more garbage, a light started flashing on the dash and an alarm was sounding. I couldn't stop...NO BRAKES! Thank goodness this happened on a refuge road and not on FM1985! I don't even want to think about the possibilities of what could have happened on that road where the truckers go about 80 mph.

I turned around and cautiously headed back to the shop only to find that the gate was closed and locked. I have a key to get in, but the problem was that a closed gate meant no one was is the temporary office area or the shop. I had noticed that Chuck, the staff that takes care of all the vehicles, had left the refuge around noon. Now what do I do? I didn't want to try driving the ten miles back to the rigs on FM 1985. I had passed John, the refuge assistant manager, on the road, but was unable to stop to flag him down. Thank goodness, I carry an emergency phone list for the refuge in my fanny pack. I called John, and he was able to return to the shop and get a different vehicle for me so I could get back home. Now I'm driving a ten passenger van around. That's really overkill for what I need, but at least the brakes work.

Before the brakes gave out, I was able to get a few shots around Shoveler Pond. One of the few survivors of the hurricane was out sunning himself. This big boy or girl was about eight feet long.
You can estimate the length of an alligator by looking at its head. The distance between the nostrils and eyes, in inches, converts to how many feet long the gator is.

I also spotted a Roseate Spoonbill quite a distance out in the fresh water marsh. This one wasn't very rosy, so I guess it hasn't been eating too many shrimp, which produce the reddish color.

Loosing the brakes was enough excitement for me for today. By the way, the body count is up to seven so far. After a suggestion from a reader, Jack, to fix them for Christmas dinner, I'm thinking of keeping them in the freezer so I can share the wealth with him in case he visits next month. ;)

Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy


  1. Kurt, the body count is the number of mice I have caught in my rig in the last week. We are having a real rodent invasion here, and I don't like it. :( Present body count is up to ten.