Borrego Springs, CA

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I'm back in Minnesota, don't cha know,,,

I left Swan Lake NWR at 9:45 on Monday with the plan to camp about half way to Minnesota in Des Moines, Iowa. As I arrived in Des Moines, about 2:30, I was pretty much still in the city and decided I didn't really want to stop yet. So, I headed on. I usually only travel about 200 miles a day, but I ended up traveling 385 miles and arrived at Rice Lake State Park around 7:30. It was a long day of driving, but all but 70 miles of it was on the interstate, which I think is a lot easier than driving back roads. I set up in the B-1 site that was my favorite during the seven years I camp hosted there before I retired.

A couple of interesting things happened along the way. I've never hit anything with the RV, but Monday was a first. A blackbird flew up from the median and smacked directly into my windshield. I'm afraid it was fatal for him and made me literally jump in my seat! Also, when I decided to bypass the campground in Des Moines, it kind of challenged my plans to arrive at Rice Lake with empty tanks. I had dumped the tanks on Saturday with the intention of dumping them again along the way to Rice Lake. You see Rice Lake doesn't have a dump station and I would be there for at least a week. Luckily, one of the rest areas that I pulled into in Iowa also had a trailer dump station, so I solved that problem...but not without a little bump. As I pulled the lever for the black tank, the connection at the receiving end separated and the contents started going outward rather than downward. It was a good thing that this particular dump station was set up to handle these kind of mishaps and things turned out better than I could have suspected. :)

I haven't been to Rice Lake in two years, and it was very apparent, as I filled the fresh water tank, that if anything, the mosquito population has increased! I got about six bites just filling the tank.

I decided not to take the satellite DISH with me on this trip, so , as I set up, I put up the antennae and turned on the TV to see what stations I could get. It was a shock to me to find I really couldn't receive any stations. The last time I used the aerial was before the official switch the digital TV. Luckily, the only station that sort of came in was a station explaining how to get some reception. Little did I know that I had to rescan for stations because stations now have different numbers. I did as suggested and was able to get quite a few stations, just not NBC, which is the station I like to watch in the morning. Any way, I'm settled in for a week.

Today, the first thing on the agenda was to find a vet for Emma. I called the vet I used when I lived in Kasson, MN, and was able to take her in for a 9:45 appointment. She is now on antibiotics and hopefully that and a dose of cranberry juice everyday will return her to normal.

Daniel, Crystal, Robyn, Avery, and I went out for lunch in Kasson, and then Robyn, Avery, and I headed for Rochester to find something for me to wear to the wedding and to run some errands for Robyn. We were successful all around, and got back to Robyn's dad's house around five. Emma spent the day playing with Dan's dog, Buddy, but was happy to hop into the car and return to the RV.

It has been a busy two days, and I'm pooped tonight. I hope I can sleep in a little tomorrow morning. I do need to get to the park office and register and pay for my site. It's a good thing they know me.... :)

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

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sunday's Blast from the Past...

I know I said I probably wouldn't post today, but I had forgotten that I was planning to do some pictures from places earlier in my journey on Sundays. So, after I did my five week stint at Richmond Lake Recreation Area in South Dakota, I hit the road with a time line of two weeks to get to near the Washington coast.

One of my stops along the way was Medicine Rocks State Park in Montana. This park was kind of off of the beaten path (about 25 miles south of US 12). The draw for me was free camping.

Of course that meant no hookups, but it was a beautiful spot and someone had left a great pile of firewood, so I had a nice campfire that night.

There were many sandstone outcroppings that stood quite high and all were shaped by the wind. Stretching to the west of these mounds were the great plains. The Native Americans considered this a place of great medicine. It turned out that I was the only one to camp there that evening.


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

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A break in the weather?

It was another long ten hour day at the visitor's center today. I only had a total of seven visitors, and the outside temps were in the mid nineties. There are supposed to be scattered thunder storms tonight bringing slightly cooler weather for tomorrow...only a high of 85. The air conditioner in the offices couldn't keep up with the heat, and the inside temp rose to 80. I turned on the overhead fan to keep from sweating.

After I closed up, Emma and I sat outside the rig and at least a breeze began to help mediate the oppresive heat. I refilled the bird feeders, and went about a few preparations for my departure on Monday. I dumped the tanks and cleaned and stored the dump hose, which resulted in numerous mosquitoe bites. The spot where I cleaned it was close to the woods and it was near sunset, so I was fresh meat for those little buggers.

After that, I tried my outside CD player once more and was shocked when it worked! I tried it about two weeks ago and couldn't get it to play a CD. That lifted my spirits and I listened to some Peter, Paul, and Mary while I did a few more mud wasp checks. Those wasps are still going into the refrigerator vent, but I can't find any mud tubes. I did find some tubes in the outside area where the dump outlets are, and scraped those off. I also checked another storage area and found some evidence of a rodent chewing on things. I'm hoping my moving to Minnesota for a week will eliminate some of these little challenges. :)

I'm planning on doing laundry and taking down the front sun shades in the morning before going to work. I called Rice Lake State Park today and talked to Joel, the park manager about the possibility of a site being available next week and over the holiday weekend. (I hosted there for seven summers before I retired) and he told me it shouldn't be a problem. I knew all their reservable sites were taken for the 4th weekend. That was a relief to find out. I probably won't post for a few days unless something really unusual happens...........

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

Friday, June 26, 2009

Early morning visitors and more geese arrive

Right at the crack of 6:00 a.m., Emma began her early morning jumping on and off the dashboard and muttering. It turns out there were more than rabbits and deer in our yard. My oldest son, Daniel, and his canine companion, Buddy, had arrived! They had driven all night from Denver to get here.
Emma and Buddy had a marvelous time playing together most of the morning. It was good to talk to Daniel and we really enjoyed our time together. Finally, about 11:00, we decided to go on a tour of the refuge. I put Emma in the motorhome so she could cool down from the 95* temps, and recuperate from all of her carryings on this morning. Then, Dan and I hopped into the car with Buddy in the back, and did the driving tour. As we were going down the road, we passed a refuge pick-up truck with the YCC students inside. I knew that they had been on a mission today to pick up another load of young Canada geese this morning, so I pulled over just in time to see them offload all the new inhabitants.
At first, the young geese seemed reluctant to exit the trailer. One or two took a tentative step to freedom...

And it wasn't long before their brothers and sisters followed suit....

Soon, the first batch was heading for Silver Lake....
But, there were still more inside...
A few of the older goslings were on the left, and the youngest were on the right...
After watching the older ones, the littlest ones made up their minds....

"Time to get out of here!!!"

In no time at all, they paddled and flapped their way to a more secluded cove on the lake. None of these geese can fly yet, but it won't be long. Once they learn to fly, chances are good that they will return here to the refuge after migration and hopefully nest here next spring.
While I was watching the unloading of the geese,
Dan took Buddy out in the nearby field for a run so Buddy wouldn't make the goslings more nervous.
After we covered all the refuge roads and sights, I took them down the road with the catfish impailed on the telephone post that I showed a picture of a few weeks ago. When Dan saw what was left of the remains of the fish, he suggested he stand next to it to give an idea of just how large this catfish was.
So, here it is...that was some big fish.
We returned to the rig and I fixed a shrimp dinner on the grill, and then Dan and Buddy once again hit the road. Dan wanted to make it to Minnesota tonight so he could rest up before his busy week ahead. Emma and I bid them goodbye, and hurried back into the rig to cool off. We'll be seeing them again in a few days.
Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy

Thursday, June 25, 2009

And the heat goes on....

It's been two more days of temps in the middle 90's with high humidity. Yesterday, I worked on repairing the ripped awning with my ever ready roll of duct tape (not sure if it's duct or duck).

Today, just before seven in the morning, the electric went out. I checked to be sure it wasn't just me. Turns out the whole refuge was effected. So, after about two hours, I turned on the generator as the temps were rising again. I needed to run it today anyway, so I did for about two hours. By that time, the electricity source was back on, and I switched over again.

In the afternoon, I went to Chilcothe for some groceries. Daniel called later in the day, and he is on his way to visit for a day. He should arrive about the time I get up in the morning (6 a.m.). I also noticed, this afternoon, that Emma is having issues with urination. After e-mailing a friend that is a vet, she suggested that maybe it is a urinary infection. I guess I'll have to try to find a vet locally tomorrow if her distress continues. It seems there is always a challenge to deal with.

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

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Some days are diamonds, others are stone...#2

This was pretty much a "stone" day. In no time at all it was 95* today with very muggy conditions. The heat index was 111* and it was suggested that you stay indoors in air conditioning if you could. I did! The AC didn't quite keep up with the outside temps, but it was sure better than being outside.

This morning, I decided to subscribe to Sirius satellite radio in my car. I've had a six month free trial, and I really enjoyed it. They had sent me a letter with an offer for reduced rates, so I called and signed up. This evening, I checked my bank account and found they had charged me more than the quoted price in the letter. I then called customer service to inquire about this and was told it was because of taxes. The letter I received said all taxes were included. Granted, this is only a matter of $16 over two years, but it kind of got to me. So, I asked to speak to a supervisor, with the same results. I will now endeavor to correspond with corporate headquarters as I think this is false advertising.

After that little episode, I went outside to sit with Emma in the steamy 90* heat so she could get some outside time. We had pretty much been inside all day and we both had a little cabin fever. I dug out a small fan from storage and turned it on to provide a tiny bit of relief. As I was sitting there, I noticed a spot on my finger that didn't rub off. I went inside to get my glasses, and this is what I discovered:

Yuck!! A tick was determined to attach itself to my finger. I got that bugger off and went back outside.

As I got comfortable in my rocker, the wind (which had been nonexistent) very suddenly really picked up. I literally jumped out of my chair and began to take the awning down. It was a real struggle, and before I could get it folded up, a four foot section ripped away from the front. I got it up the best I could, grabbed Emma, and headed inside. The weather radio said there was a strong fifty mph wind gust moving through...don't I know it! I pulled in the slides before damage was done to my slide covers, and Emma and I sat out the winds and ensuing lightning, thunder, and downpour inside. I can tell you I was shaking like a leaf while bringing in the awning! I'm glad it didn't totally rip off! I've never been in a situation like that where the skies were sunny with no wind and then suddenly whipped up so strongly.
That severe weather cell has passed through and I have now put my slides back out. There are still a few showers, but I think I'll be okay for the rest of the night. What a day...........

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

Monday, June 22, 2009

A little excitement out in the boonies

Monday is my laundry day here on the refuge (ho hum). I did have an appointment to meet Steve, the refuge manager, at 1:00 for an official tour of the refuge. When I walked over to headquarters, he said to jump in the truck and we headed out for an accident that had happened on one of the refuge roads.

Apparently, a local teen driver had rolled his father's pick-up off of one of the roads. There were two young people in the truck, and, luckily, no one was hurt. The gas was just pouring out of the back of the truck when we arrived.
The young man's father had arrived and was attempting to flip the truck upright when we got there.

Eventually, he was successful. I'm sure this was not a very good day for the young man in the blue shirt! The police and local fire departments were there also. It turned out, that since no one was hurt, the young man only received a citation for expired plates. It could have been much worse.

There was a ton of smoke coming out from underneath the truck as it was backed up to a point where it could be pulled out. The firemen had fire extinguishers at the ready, but didn't need to use them. They eventually towed the truck off the refuge. I hope that fellow has learned a lesson, and will keep his speed down and pay attention to road conditions.
All of this was going on in 95* heat, and after a while, I found one of the refuge vehicles that was running and had the AC on and got inside. Boy, it was hot and muggy! Steve and I spent the next two hours traveling all the back roads of the refuge, and I learned a lot about what goes on here to manage the assorted wetlands.
During our tour, we did quite a bit of talking and it seems Steve is hoping I'll stay into September to help with the school programs. I just may consider that since I have no committments for the fall and I would like to be here for the changing of the colors and the arrival of some of the migrating waterfowl. We'll see what happens....
After talking to my son, Daniel, today, it turns out that he will stop here on his way up to Minnesota to get married. So, I'm looking forward to seeing him on Friday, and will be preparing some shrimp scampi outside on the grill or fire, at his request. I'm sure Emma and Dan's dog, Buddy, will wear themselves out playing with each other. The forecast is for temps in the 90's all week, so they'll probably collapse rather soon (I hope).
Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Scenic Sunday or the Past Revisited

One of the blogs that I follow is http://fabgrandma.blogspot.com/ . The author of this blog has recently begun posting a Scenic Sunday picture of places she has been. I really like that idea and hope she doesn't mind if I borrow that idea on Sundays and post some pics of places I have been since I started fulltiming. I had been on the road for over two years before I started this blog, so I'm hoping folks will enjoy seeing some of the places I've been and the things I've done. I guess the pics won't always be scenic, but hopefully interesting.
My first volunteer assignment after hitting the road was as a campground host at Richmond Lake Recreational Area, near Aberdeen, South Dakota. That was back in the days before I towed a car, and had a motor scooter to get around on.

There were only about 24 sites to take care of at this place that fell under the South Dakota State Park system. I remember having a nest of Cooper's Hawks nearby, many pheasants around the area, and heat in the 110* range. I enjoyed my time there and the beautiful sunsets.

So, that's my first installment of "The Past Revisited."
Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A way to help the boredom

On Saturdays, I put in a ten hour day at the visitor's center at the refuge. It would help quite a bit if lots of people visited, but that is simply not the case here. I had a total of eight people today in three different groups, so that means many hours of nothing to do. Every Saturday, I vacuum the place to pass some time and arrange the chairs for Sunday's movie presentation. That takes about 45 minutes, so I'm still left with a lot of down time. I've started bringing my computer along so I can at least play spider solitaire and flip word2, but you can only do so much of that.

Last week, my son, Daniel, signed me up for Net Flix and that may be a real God send. I got my first two movies in the mail earlier this week and saved one of them for today. There is a pull down screen in the visitor's center and a projector and surround sound for the Sunday movies. This afternoon, I popped in "Chariots of Fire" and watched the whole two hour movie without anyone coming in. It's kind of like going to the movie theater, only I, thankfully, have control over the volume. ;) I did put it on pause at one point so I could run outside and take down the flag before the ever-recurring thunderstorms began.

So I'm planning to make good use of those Net Flix movies for the next couple of months! I hope there will be a good crowd for the movie tomorrow and that the weather is conducive to bringing out visitors.

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

Friday, June 19, 2009

Walt Disney Hometown Museum

This morning I headed for Marceline, MO, the home of the Walt Disney Hometown Museum. Walt Disney only lived in Marceline for four years, but for Walt they were memorable, and he always remembered how happy he was there.

The museum charges $5.00 for adults and includes a beginning tour by a volunteer. It is located in the old Santa Fe train depot right next to the very busy train tracks.

I took this picture of Mickey Mouse just before I noticed a sign that said no photos. The exhibits focus on the Disney family and Walt's childhood. On the second floor is a miniature of Disneyland that was made by an artist from Oregon. It is quite detailed and the amount of work that went into constructing it out of ordinary materials is impressive. It takes up an entire room.
I missed seeing Walt's Dreaming Tree that he would sit under as a child and let his imagination soar. In the past, it was a huge tree, but now it is barely alive.
I think the trip to Marceline was worth the visit.
More thunderstorms are predicted for this afternoon and evening. Maybe they will bring the temperature down a little. I plan to spend this evening perusing a new book that I had ordered that arrived today. It's about RV camping at Corps of Engineers Public Recreation Areas. After all, in July, I will be able to purchase a National Parks Senior Pass and one of the perks of the pass will be half price camping at Corps parks.
Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy

Thursday, June 18, 2009


The last two days the temperature has reached 95* in the shade! I think the humidity about matches that as well. Sultry really describes how it feels; like you could cut the air with a knife. Even Emma has taken to just laying in the shade.

A couple of days ago, I sent an email to a few people. I got a reply from my friend Susan in Minnesota, and she inquired if I realized that I had used the term "you all" in the email. Her comment was, perhaps I had spent too much time in the south and needed to get back up north. Well, Susan, I have spent much of the last two years in the south, but if I were really a southerner, I would have said y'all. ;)

Emma and I went on a slightly shortened daily hike this morning because it was already 85* by 9:00. Afterwards, I hopped in the car to do a little sightseeing. I drove to John Pershing State Park, but didn't do any of the hikes because of the heat. I'll save those for a slightly cooler day. I then went back to revisit the John Pershing Historic Home and visitor's center. I watched the movie that I had missed last week and found his life very interesting. Since the visitor's center is also a state welcome center, I was able to pick up quite a bit of information on what to see in the state.

I also asked the attendant if he knew where I could get some seasoned firewood. While I was viewing the movie, he checked with the maintenance person and came back with the name and number of a person that would deliver a load of wood right to my site. I may give him a call tomorrow.

Yesterday evening, I glanced out the table window and saw five Canada geese parade through my site. It turns out that about two hundred geese will be arriving at the refuge this week. We really don't have any resident geese here. The hundreds of thousands that use the refuge in the winter all migrate here from the north and leave to return north in early spring. So where are the 200 coming from? They are being transported here from Kansas City and from Six Flags in St. Louis. It seems they have resident flocks that are becoming real pests there. So, instead of just killing them all, they are rounding them up and shipping them here. I'm not sure that's such a good management technique, but then I'm not making those decisions. :) It does seem to me that eventually there could be a huge resident flock here and then how will the habitat also support all the migrant flocks that arrive each fall? Hmmm... So now, besides the raccoon, numerous rabbits, squirrels, and the deer, Emma will have two hundred geese to raise her blood pressure. The geese range in age from fluffly young to adults.

Well, if it cools down a little this evening perhaps we'll take a walk and see if we can find the new arrivals. I'm not sure what I'll do tomorrow.

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

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The challenge for the day

It finally stopped raining for the afternoon, and after going to town for my weekly grocery trip, Emma and I spent time outside under the awning. Once the rain stopped, the sun came out and it was like a sauna outside. I opened the awning and about five gallons of water came cascading out.

As I was relaxing in my rocker, I noticed some wasps hovering around the side vent for the refrigerator.

Notice that insect in the bottom left hand area.

These are the little buggers that are crawling inside the slats. I took off the cover, and here's what I found:

I guess they're mud wasps. The tubes they build are really quite fascinating, however, I really don't want them building them in my motorhome!

So, I propped a cup underneath the nest (?) and chipped away at it with a screwdriver. Most of the mud fell into the cup, so I've thwarted them for the time being. I had found another mud tube yesterday in between two of the outside storage doors, and scraped that one off also. I guess I'll have to check every nook and cranny around the rig.

There's always something to take care of.

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

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A peak on the wild side

While I was going through my morning ritual of reading travel blogs, Emma was getting all hyped up on the dashboard. So, I looked out the front window and immediately hopped up to get my camera. Here's what I saw:

Mother white tailed deer was telling her offspring to wake up!

"Okay, Mom, I'll get up."

Time to run and play....
"Hey, Mom, I think I see something over there!" (It was me hanging out the side window of the RV with my camera. I ended up with a cramp in my leg, but at least I didn't fall out.)
Playing and learning is hard work!

"I need a snack."
"Mmm...lip smacking good."

Okay, time to move on..........
What a cool start to the morning! That little peak at wildlife made my day.
We actually had a few visitors today and twelve people showed up for the Sunday afternoon movie. That more than doubled the amount of people that came in yesterday. Now I can start planning my five days off. If it doesn't rain too hard, Pershing State Park is at the top of my list.
Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy

Friday, June 12, 2009

A calm day

Not much happened today other than the fact that it didn't rain, which is notable. :) In the afternoon, the YCC kids dropped off a load of wood for my fire ring. I had dragged some large dead branches out of the woods and was very slowly using my bow saw to get it into managable lengths. The guys had a chain saw, so they cut up the rest for me.

So, tonight I cooked out....Italian sausage and onions and peppers. The only problem was the wood they brought me was very green sycamore. There's no way that wood was going to burn. The stack of wood I had gathered was seasoned, but because of all the rain the last few weeks it was a slow process to cook my dinner. I think I'll see if the local state park sells seasoned firewood.
It's back to work tomorrow. I hope 100 people come to visit the refuge.
Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Random thoughts on random topics

1. This fellow, or gal, slowly passed by my site last night. Nice claws...There are lots of rabbits around also. Slow and steady wins the race?? I don't know of too many animals that would want to mess with this snapper! The rabbits, on the other hand, are quite popular with the coyotes.

2. I've been working on my walking sticks and sometimes one of them speaks out to me as to who should receive it. Back in March, my brother, Carl, was one of the winners in a quiz I ran on this blog, and the prize was one of my walking sticks. The stick that I thought would fit him best has some nice "diamonds" on it:

But, alas, there is a problem at the top of the stick.

It has begun to split. My question for Carl, who has experience working with wood, is can this be fixed? Or do I have to cut that section off?
3. I've always thought that one of the best toys for kids is a big empty cardboard box. A good box can keep them busy for hours and doesn't cost anything. Now I know a similar toy for hyper-active dogs, like Emma. My friend, Diana, suggested giving Emma an empty water bottle. I've done that a few times, and by golly it works! It crunches when they bite it, is light enough to throw around , and keeps them burning off some of that excess energy.

Not the greatest pictures, but Emma was moving too fast for the camera to keep up!
The sun actually came out late this afternoon! Hope it sticks around for awhile.
Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy
p.s. Thanks Myrddin for the hint about the paragraphs!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Some sight seeing in between deluges

Yesterday I decided to try to visit a few of the local historic sites since it was the only day this week that was forecast to be sunny. First stop was the General John "Black Jack" Pershing Boyhood Home State Historic Site. It is located about 23 miles from the refuge in the small town of Laclede. I got the scoop on what to see at the visitor's center and decided to start with the guided tour of the house. Since I was the only one visiting, it was certainly a personally guided tour for the sum of $2.50.
General Pershing moved here with his family when he was five years old, and lived there for about twenty years. This was a large three bedroom home for those days (the 1860's) and his family fairly well filled it since there were six other children.
Also on the grounds is the Prairie Mound School where Pershing taught until he entered West Point.

The school now houses a museum through the right door and bathrooms through the left. The museum is self-guided and is solely about Pershing's life. He was a great military man. I can't imagine teaching 45 students aged 6-21 in this small schoolhouse.
Next to the home is a statue of "Black Jack" which is surrounded by granite tablets naming war veterans. Gen. Pershing got the name "Black Jack" because he commanded the Buffalo soldiers (African-American troops) while he served in the west in the late 1880's.

I think I'll return to this site again while I'm here because I forgot to watch the 40 minute movie on his life. I'd also like to get some better pictures when it's not overcast. I guess you can figure out that the predicted sunny skies only lasted about ten minutes. :(
About five miles west of Laclede, is one the four covered bridges that can be found in Missouri. So, that was my next stop. This bridge is certainly way off the beaten path, but worth the trip.
It's three miles off the highway down a gravel road, and then the hike through the woods to the bridge's location.

As it turns out, Locust Creek was diverted quite a few years ago so the bridge now spans dry land. It is the longest of the four remaining bridges and measures 151 feet. I'll also probably return to this site since my pictures of the side of the bridge didn't turn out.
I thought the toll rates for crossing this bridge were interesting. I wonder what farmers did in 1868 if they had an odd number of cows, hogs, or sheep? Maybe they had half pennies in those days.
I didn't spend a lot of time here since the thunder was beginning to roll and I was being eaten alive by mosquitoes. I'll remember to bring some bug spray the next time!
I then drove to Brookfield for a bite to eat and a few groceries. While I was in Wal-Mart, the heavens really broke loose and I was pretty soaked by the time I reached the car. It rained all afternoon. I attended a Friends of Swan Lake meeting in the early evening and it stopped raining long enough for me to put up my black oil seed bird feeder. You might think that would be an easy task, but it was a bit of a challenge. The two trees outside my rig have their branches trimmed to a height of about fifteen feet. In order to get a light rope over the branch to hang the feeder on, I tied it onto a two pound barbell and gave it a toss. I thought I was going to bonk Emma on the head a few times as she thought we were playing a game of fetch! Just as I was getting the hang of tossing it with the right amount of lift, the rain came down in buckets. Emma and I ran for the rig. When it stopped, out we went again. It took about a half an hour and two more dashes inside before I was finally successful. :0 I sure hope those titmice appreciate this.
This morning I had a long list of things to do including applying for social security benefits (again). I decided to try to do it over the phone since I wasn't successful visiting an office in April and my internet connection is not reliable enough to do it online. After an hour on the phone I was successful! Hooray!! I was really ecstatic that my cell phone stayed connected that long.
I only have one thing left on my list to do: dump the tanks. It's not raining out right now, so I that Emma and I will spent a little time out on the patio.
Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy
p.s. Please excuse the run on paragraphs, once again. On days that I upload pictures, I just can't seem to get any spaces between paragraphs. I don't know what's up with that.

Monday, June 8, 2009


About 4:00 this morning the rain moved in and fell, off and on, for two hours. Just before 8:00, I went to the visitor's center/headquarters for the monthly breakfast on the Monday after First Friday. Good artery clogging eggs, bacon, homemade sausage, and French toast were cooked up by staff and we all enjoyed chowing down and welcoming the five new YCC (Youth Conservation Corps) workers. They were pretty quiet this morning, and one of them remarked that it was pretty early in the morning for him to be awake. Boy, they all look so young! They will get a workout here for the next eight weeks, and maybe, eight won't seem so early to them by the end of it all.

The rest of the day was spent catching up on chores like laundry and cleaning the inside of the rig. Being the only volunteer here gives me plenty of time for thinking about where I'll go when I leave here and what to do next summer. I've kind of decided to not plan to volunteer this coming winter until February. I haven't done that before, so it is a new experience. Possibilities are flying around in my head...maybe I'll spend a month in New Mexico. I could do state parks or stay at an Escapee park. Then maybe I'll go to Arizona for a month and visit some friends. I just don't know yet. Being a planful person, it isn't easy for me to not know what lies ahead this fall and winter. I'm trying to be relaxed about this, but it isn't easy for me. :0

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

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Two long days at work

Manning the visitor's center of the refuge is my job on the weekends. On Saturday, I put in ten hours and today I did eight hours. My opinion so far...BORING!! There are hardly any visitors that stop in. The only visitors today came for the Sunday afternoon movie. There were eight of them, and they were all members of the Swan Lake Friends group and their relatives. They stayed for the hour watching this week's installment of Planet Earth and then hotfooted it back home. I had a couple of sales yesterday, but nothing today. I brought my computer along with me, so I spent most of today playing solitaire and another word game I have loaded on the lap top. Out of boredom, I vacuumed the whole place yesterday and picked up every visible scrap of litter outside today. I really need to talk to John to see if there isn't something I can do while just sitting there each weekend. Not having anything to do really makes the time drag. :(

On a brighter note, the weather has been interesting. Billowing winds all day with rain in the mornings and hot temps in the afternoon. I didn't get to spend much time outside this evening as another rain front came through just as I was closing things up.

I had a comment about the catfish I found nailed to the telephone pole the other day. Yes, I know this is an accepted method for skinning catfish, but it wasn't near anyplace you would expect someone to be skinning a fish. When I mentioned seeing this fish to the Friends ladies on Friday night, they knew more about it. So, here is the rest of the story....It seems a couple of teenage boys found this huge dead catfish and put it in the back of their pick-up. Then they proceeded to drive around town trying to tell the old timers about their great catch. One look by these seasoned anglers and they declared that it had been dead for some time! They also admonished the boys not to try to fillet this fish, as they had planned, as the meat would surely be rotten. So, I guess the boys just displayed their found trophy on a local pole. Their ruse was up!

That's what I like about small towns...everyone knows about everything that goes on. :) I'll check the sign again, but I think the population of Sumner, MO, is under 200.

My three days of work are done for this week, so now I'll have some time off. I'm planning to visit Pershing State Park this coming week after spending tomorrow doing laundry and attending a welcoming breakfast for the Youth Conservation Corps teens that will be working here for the next eight weeks.

A sidebar to this is that every Monday after First Friday on the refuge, a staff breakfast takes place. The refuge manager, Steve, raises chickens, so I'm told, and supplies all the eggs. I can understand why he has chickens after finding out and meeting, on Friday, his eight kids. I wonder if they also have their own cow???

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

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