Borrego Springs, CA

Thursday, September 30, 2010

A weekend in Boise

The latest report that I got this morning, was that they would fix the wheel bearing today, but the parts for the leveler seals would not arrive until Saturday.  That meant the work couldn’t be done until next Monday!  Okay, I can live with that.  While the rig was being worked on today, Emma and I took our seats outside at the picnic table.  I had forgotten to grab the book on my way out the door, so it was a twiddling your thumbs kind of day.  :)
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I was entertained by a pair of screaming red-tailed hawks overhead for a portion of the afternoon.  At least I didn’t forget my camera, but the day was not very exciting.  I didn’t want to drive anywhere because I wasn’t sure when they would be done with the rig for the day.  I was hoping, since I’ll probably be here until Tuesday morning, to move to the site on the end of the row.  That site also has a picnic table, and it is shaded in the afternoon.  I knew the folks in that site were leaving today, so I wanted to claim squatters rights on it!  The other advantage is that you only have folks parked on one side of the rig. 

Things went like clock work, and I was all set up on the end by about 3:00.  I even decided to set up the DISH since I’ll be here for another four or five nights.  Going along with the trend of the week, it gave me fits this afternoon trying to find both satellites.  :(  Oh well, what’s a little satellite searching in 90 degree temps.  I just made sure my ice water mug was filled and I had a towel to mop my brow.  Even Emma is being finicky and not wanting to eat her kibble.  Ack!!

To answer a few commenter’s questions:  No, I will definitely not take a picture of me flying out of the rocker when the sprinklers come on.  :)  Yes, I would recommend the book about 1000 places to see before you die!  And, I didn’t count how many places I’ve already checked off in the book, but let me just say that there are enough places left to last me the rest of my lifetime!  :)  Since I have three days ahead of me with no work being done on the rig, I’m hoping to check off a couple of the places listed around Boise. 
_MG_5937You know it was pretty boring today for me to take a daytime picture of the moon and fiddle around with it.  :)  I hope I’m gazing at the Sea of Tranquility.  :)  I could use a little of that.

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

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I think I need another shower :)

Well, I was at the service desk at the crack of 8:00 this morning hoping to get things started.  Along about 9:30, they came and got the rig.  Emma and I spent the morning at the picnic table.  It is astounding how many rigs go in and out of this place everyday!  There are six double bays, and three guys spend their whole days just moving rigs in and out.  It turns out, the technician that fixed the awning (yes it is fixed!) and checked the levelers is not the person who does the oil changes.  So, along about lunchtime they brought the rig back to me since there was a back up at the oil change bay.  I appreciated that since I was getting hungry.  :)

As he dropped off the rig, that technician announced that they don’t have the parts to fix the levelers (needs new seals) so maybe I’d like to continue down the road and get it fixed elsewhere?  Uh, no sir.  I’d likely be told the same thing down the road, so order the parts and I’ll wait.  I’ve got a good spot here with 50 amps, so I’ll just take up knitting or something (not!) until the parts come in. 

After lunch, I headed back to the service department to talk about the seals, etc.  They will be ordered.  Then, Emma and I went back out to the picnic table and a couple of hours later the guy came to take the rig in for the oil change.  Time began to drag a little, so…
IMG_5919I opened up the book I grabbed at lunchtime, and began to check off all the places listed that I’ve already been to.  Not too exciting for an afternoon, but each time I checked off a location or event with the year I was there, it brought back many sweet memories.  My dates ranged from 1952 (Mammoth Cave) to Sept. 2010 (Malheur NWR).  What a walk down memory lane that provided!  I haven’t covered all of the states and provinces yet, but I think I’ll have time to finish in the next couple of days.  :)

After they finished the oil change, I received more unwelcome news.  While doing the oil check and overall inspection of lubes and liquids, the technician found that my right front wheel has a bearing oil leak.  Uf-dah!  What else can go wrong?  But, as KERI commented, sometimes bad things come in groups of three.  My mother also believed that.  So, water pump, levelers, wheel bearings; I sure hope those are my three things for this trip!

I’m thinking, maybe I should just go out this evening and stand in front of the sprinklers so I can get giddy again when they turn on!  :)

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

PS…While Emma and I spent the day out by the picnic table, I did see two pheasants, three red-tailed hawks, and a bison!  No pictures, however.  :(  Maybe tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Good news, bad news, and a shower?

Most of my news today is good.  The folks at Rush Trucking got the new water pump and new belt installed, gave the rig a good workout, and no more overheating!  Hoorah!  The price of all those hours of repair time about made me faint, but I’ve got rolling wheels again.  I knew the delivery of the belt wouldn’t happen until around noon, so I left the motel room shortly after nine and headed for Nampa, ID.  I had several errands to run, and I was familiar with Nampa from my week’s stay in Marsing in August.  I definitely wanted to visit the fresh fruit and vegetable stand again, and I did.  I purchased something I’ve never heard of before.  I bought two Pluots.  They are a fruit that is a cross between a plum and an apricot.  Sounded interesting, so I’ll try a couple.  I also got one of those English cucumbers that are usually a couple of bucks each for 50 cents, and added a tomato, and a purple plum for a total of $1.80!  I wish there was a way to have these fresh tasty items year round.

On the way back to Rush Trucking, I checked out the Camping World lot where I will have the hydraulic lifts fixed.  I’m not too crazy about Camping World doing the repairs, but this is the location that the manufacturer of the levelers recommended.  They do have overnight accommodations for customers on a first come first served basis, so I wanted to check out if there were any sites available and exactly where they were located.  By the time everything got finished and sorted out at Rush, it was 4:30 and right in the middle of rush hour before I could leave and head for Camping World.  Luckily, it was only a 15 mile drive through lots of construction.
IMG_5916I was able to get one of the two sites that had a picnic table.  I chose this site so I could put Emma outside tethered to the table.  Despite the 89* temperature, and the stop and go slow traffic,  the engine heat gauge stayed where it was supposed to.  What a relief that was!
 IMG_5918There are ten sites, and seven of them are filled tonight.  The quarters are tight, but it’s free.  I was sweating bullets by the time I finished unhooking the toad and getting set up.  There are no water hookups, but I do have 50 amps electric tonight so the AC is humming away!
So now for the bad news.  It turns out the cost of my night in the motel was not $99, but $134!  I guess I’ve been out of touch with motel rates.  Besides the $20 for Emma, I had to pay two bed use taxes…one for her and one for me!  I guess I should have let her sleep on the second bed!  There were several other taxes besides.  Personally, I think that’s a ridiculous amount of money for a night with a bed and a TV.

The second frustration of the day was dealing with my extended warranty people.  I could just wring their necks!  I did everything according to Hoyle, but they threw up every kind of roadblock you can think of.  I won’t go into the details, but suffice it to say I’m not looking forward to dealing with them tomorrow about the malfunctioning levelers.  :(

After three nerve wracking days, I took out my rocker and sat on the luscious green grass in back of the rig with Emma.  Because we were in back of the rig, it was shady there, and I was able to enjoy this relaxing time until…the automatic sprinklers came on!  OMG!  That water was cold and blasted me full in the face!  All I could do was shout out loud and start laughing uncontrollably!  What a Chinese Fire Drill as I tried to collapse the chair and get Emma and myself out of the multiple cold water jets.  I know I was in need of a shower, but really!  By the time we maneuvered to safety, Emma, I and the chair were dripping wet.  It was a great tension reliever!  :)

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

Monday, September 27, 2010

From bad to worse!

It was a little nippy in the rig when I got up this morning at the truck stop, so I decided to turn the generator back on to run the furnace.  Guess what?  It wouldn’t start!  Another alarm went off when I hit the on switch.  :(  Okay, so I decided I’d use my house batteries to take the chill off.  They were fully charged last night.  Ha!  They were just about dead this morning.  Ugh!  So I put on a few more layers of clothes and took Emma out in the dark.  I just crossed over into the Mountain Time Zone yesterday, so it doesn’t get light until after seven.  I, of course, was awake at 6:00.  So, after her first outs, Emma and I sat in the dark for over an hour.  I didn’t want to use up the little power I had left in the batteries for lights.  I had the frig running on propane, but a light was blinking about low power that runs the little light inside and who knows what else, so I shut that down too.

When it was light enough to see my phone, I gave the road service company a call, and a short time later they said I would be getting a tow within 75 minutes.  I was going to be towed to  Rush Truck Repair in Boise, ID.
52 On the way to Anahuac 2010 Country Repair was the towing company, and the truck had a big picture of Superman on it.  I got out of the rig to quiz them on what they were going to do.  I had read all the manuals last night on the requirements for having the rig towed.  :)  They told me that they had done this many many times, and that they would simply detach the drive thingamajig (not drive train, but drive something) so that it could be towed at highway speeds.  It was quite interesting to watch the whole operation, I just wish I was watching someone else’s rig.  They attached their own back lights in the hitch receptacle, and away we went.  It felt kind of odd to be trailing behind my own home!   

It was a good 50 or so miles to get to Rush Truck Repair.  They were able to get it into a work bay by about 1:00, and began the task of trying to figure out what was the matter.  Meanwhile, Emma and I sat outside by the car.  After an hour or so, the manager came out to give me an update, and to let me know that Emma and I could sit inside the rig while they worked.  He also let me plug into electricity so I could recharge the batteries, and turn the frig back on.

They found two problems.  Foremost was the water pump that didn’t work.  He explained to me that this was a very important part in keeping the engine cool.  I guess it also resulted in the radiator not pulling coolant from the reservoir.  Then, he showed me a belt that was pretty beat up on the outside.  It also could have been slipping.  I, of course, really didn’t know what he was talking about.  He said he would have the guys stay late to get a new water pump (that they had to go get) installed, but that he couldn’t get a new belt delivered until tomorrow.  He let it be my choice, but did state that he hated to see me get back on the road with that belt.  I told him that I wasn’t interested in having this experience again in the near future, so I would stay in a motel tonight.  I had asked him when I arrived if I could stay in the rig in the shop if things took more than a day, but that was not possible.  I was surprised he let me stay in the rig while they worked on it!

Anyway, he then went and made reservations for me at a Holiday Inn Express that allowed dogs!  So, I quickly gathered a few things and headed over to the motel.  There were only two rooms left, and I got one of them.  It’s been about three years since I’ve stayed in a motel (pre Emma days), and Emma has never stayed in a motel, or a sticks and bricks for that matter.  I was very proud of how well she behaved as we came in and she had her first elevator ride.  Just maybe she is finally growing up a bit.  :)  Tonight’s stay is costing me $99 ($20 of which is the pet fee).  Gone are the days of a $29 room in a fairly large city.  :(

Oh yea, I had to call the other repair facility and was eventually successful in delaying my appointment for a day.  So, tomorrow when I pick up the rig, I’ll backtrack about 20 miles and try to boon dock in the dealer’s lot.  This will all be worth it if I can get most everything taken care of.  At least that’s what I keep telling myself.  :)  Getting the Splendide washer/dryer fixed will once again have to wait, however.  No one seems qualified to work on that item.

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

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sleeping with the Big Boys!

IMG_5911For the first time in my fulltiming journey, I’m spending the night at a truck stop!  And definitely not by choice!  I know lots of people do it to save a few bucks, but I’m here to tell you that this is culture shock for me.  I have always felt most comfortable in a campground when I’m traveling down the road.  I’ve also always felt like a behemoth going down the road, but compared to my neighbors I’m a pipsqueak.

So, here’s how I got here at the Love’s Truck Stop in Ontario, Oregon.  Emma and I left Malheur NWR right on schedule at 9:00 this morning with a destination of a campground fairly close to the repair facility in Nampa, Idaho.  As I plugged ‘Jack in the Box’ in, he wanted me to go 13 miles down an incredibly dusty gravel road.  I had decided to ignore him since I didn’t want every nook and cranny of the rig and toad to be clogged with very fine road dust.  My plan was to add a few miles to the journey, but to remain on paved roads.  As I turned right when he wanted me to turn left, he went into recalculating overdrive and told me trucks were prohibited on the route I was taking!  Not so, mate.  I was familiar with the beginning of my route so I tried to ignore him, but eventually I had to shut the GPS off as he continually told me to turn places where there was no road.  :)  Once I got to Burns, I turned him on again, and he was much more reasonable.  I headed East on US 20 towards Idaho, and that’s when the fun (?) began.

I had about 120 miles on US 20 through some of the most uninhabited terrain that I have encountered.  It was reminiscent of West Texas on I-10, except there were no road kills to count or windmills.  :)  Instead, there were a few mountains (around 4500’) to contend with.  As I was rolling along, I noticed that the engine heat gauge kept going up!  Ugh!  I had checked the coolant level before I left and topped it off.  Funny thing was, when I had to climb the mountain grades, the temp would drop back down to normal.  I was getting pretty nervous about this since I was sure I wouldn’t have any cell reception to call for help.  The hot engine alarm went off twice as I was driving, and as soon as I could, I pulled over to cool off the motor.  US 20 is a two lane road with no shoulder to speak of, and a definite drop off on the side of the road.  I tried eating lunch, but things didn’t settle too well since I was worried about the overheating. I checked the coolant level, and it was good.  Eventually, I limped into the Love’s Truck Stop in Ontario just in the nick of time.  Earlier, if I slowed way down, the temp would decrease, but it had gotten to the point where it wasn’t doing that any longer.  :(

I parked back in the trucker’s lot and went to see if there were any repair services here.  There weren’t.  So, I called my Emergency Road Service for help.  Since it was Sunday, they suggested that I spend the night at Love’s, and will arrange for a tow job in the morning to a facility that can service my Workhorse. 

I then went in to verify that it would be okay for me to spend the night in the parking lot, and they said yes.  I told them where I was parked, and that I had heard that trucker’s don’t always like motorhomes in their area.  An obvious truck driver was behind me in line, and he said “Tough with them!  Just don’t go dancing around naked in the parking lot!”   I told him I’d try not to do that, but sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do!  :)

So that’s how I ended up boon docking tonight in a truck stop!  It’s something I hoped never to do, but it sure beats being broken down out in the middle of nowhere with no cell reception.  I’m following those parking lot boon docking courtesy rules and haven’t deployed my (broken) levelers or put out my slides.  I did, however, kick in the generator as the temps inside the rig were in the 90’s this afternoon.  You can hardly hear the generator over all the noise the big truck rigs make.  :)  Maybe one of you can explain to me why they don’t turn off their engines.  I’m not complaining, just curious.  The rig on my left also has something that turns on every couple of minutes that sounds like a hot air balloon blasting away.  I wonder what that is? 

Tonight should be interesting when I literally climb into bed.  I sure hope I don’t have to get up during the night or I’m liable to break my nose crashing into the wardrobe slide.  If things had been different today, I would have regaled you with pictures of the onion harvest in Eastern Oregon.  I bet I saw millions of onions today.  I never knew they were grown here.
IMG_5909It’s a shock to move from the quietude of a wildlife refuge to the noisy goings on at a truck stop.  I hope tomorrow isn’t so adventurous, but I’m not holding my breath.  :)

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

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Packed up and ready to go

I spent the day today getting everything ready to head out in the morning.  It took a good portion of the day to do all the outside stuff and most of the inside stuff.  I didn’t think I’d make a post tonight since it was pretty mundane stuff and I didn’t plan to take any pictures of things like dumping the tanks or getting everything stored away.  Most everything was done by about 6:00 this evening, so Emma and I spent some time sitting outside before sunset.  That’s when I noticed a movement in the sage brush surrounding the fire crew bunk house.  Something was flopping around up there that wasn’t normal.  As several of the other volunteers stopped by to wish us a safe journey, that ‘something’ began walking towards the RV pads.
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It turned out to be a white pelican, and it was making it’s way right toward the RV pads!  Once Emma noticed it, I put her inside so she wouldn’t spook our visitor.  What in the world is a pelican doing walking down the refuge road?  It came right down the road to the pads, and stopped briefly to inspect each one.
_MG_5905 _MG_5886
It didn’t seem to mind that a couple of us were following it along with our cameras clicking.  I don’t know if it was injured or not, as it seemed to amble along just fine.  What an unusual occurrence this was!  I tapped on Sue’s door so she could come out to see what was in her front yard, and she said she was sorry she didn’t have any fish! 
_MG_5907As it made it’s way through all the sites, I just hoped it would get to some water and be safe for the evening.  It’s wings didn’t appear to be broken, but this is not normal behavior for a pelican.  As it strolled in back of the last RV, the coyotes began their nightly chorus.  Vaya con Dios, mi amigo!  :(   (Go with God, my friend)

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

Friday, September 24, 2010

Sod House Ranch

Besides preserving habitat for wildlife, Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is pretty unique among our nation’s refuges in that it also preserves vast amounts of human historical artifacts.  It is one of only two refuges in the nation that has a full time archeologist on staff.  I have alluded to some of this historical diversity in several of my posts over the last few weeks.  One of the posts showed you petroglyphs, pictographs, and ancient stone tools.  Today, Emma and I made a return trip to a more recent historical location on the refuge:  Sod House Ranch.
51 Malheur NWR, Oregon5Sod House Ranch served as the Northern headquarters of the French-Glenn Livestock Company, and construction began on it around 1880.  Pete French was manager of the cattle ranch which became the nation’s largest.  Many of the original buildings are still in tact, but the first thing I noticed was the original fences.  :)  ( I’ll be using a number of collages today since there are so many photos of this interesting place.)
51 Malheur NWR, Oregon6The ice house/cooler is on the left, and as you can read was built in 1900.  As hot as it gets here in the summer, ice was kept all year in this thickly built stone building.  The headquarters’ office building is in the center under the big cottonwood tree, and the kitchen building where three meals a day were prepared for the vaqueros is on the right.  The cottonwood trees are immense, and are now almost 120 years old.  Sod House Ranch is only open to the public after August 15 of each year because the cottonwoods are home to the colonial nesting great blue herons and double-crested cormorants. 
51 Malheur NWR, Oregon7Quite a few old ranch implements are preserved on the ranch, also.  Even the wheelbarrow wheel is made out of wood.
IMG_5830 IMG_5831
Aren’t you glad braking systems have improved over the years?  :)
51 Malheur NWR, Oregon8The biggest structure left on the ranch is the long barn.  This was used for housing the many horses used on the ranch.  Remember the Round Barn I posted a while back?  Well it is located about 40 miles from here and was part of the same ranch.  I told you it was big!
IMG_5856If you can get here by this weekend, you can still get an excellent guided tour of the ranch from fellow volunteer, Tom Killian.  You had better hurry, though, because he and his wife, Sue, are pulling out on Monday and there aren’t any volunteers left to take his place this year.  I suppose you could come over next year, but just remember to do it after August 15.  :)  The two folks taking the tour this morning, were none other than JoAnn and Judd Munsell, two of our newest volunteers.
IMG_5861 IMG_5859
Of course, one of the most important structures on any homestead has also been preserved!  Notice it’s a two hole model, and which side you use depends on how big of an ‘asparagus’ you have.  :)  Do you think people really did this daily chore in tandem???  Karl, the amateur archeologist volunteer, really thinks this is a marvelous outhouse.  You see, apparently there was a square area on the left of the two holes were the male ranch hands could stand up and relieve themselves therefore making it more pleasant for the female users when they sat down.  (I think you can figure out my drift here.)  Anyway, while I was telling the others about Karl’s theory, Tom remarked that he would be surprised if the ranch hands rode their horses all the way over to the latrine just to relieve themselves.  Good point, Tom.  :)

And finally, JoAnn says: 
IMG_5862                                                                   “THE END!!”

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

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Don’t leave home without it!

No, this is not a commercial for American Express!  What I never leave home without anymore, if I can help it, is my camera.  :)  This morning, I headed out to Burns to get my hair cut and finally pick up the case of wine I ordered before Labor Day.  The Safe-Way in Burns has messed up my order three times, but they assured me they had it right this time, and they did.
_MG_5597On the way, I made the usual stop at the Narrows to see if anything new could be seen in the shallow waters.  I caught this group of ducks taking an early morning snooze.
_MG_5602Over on the side of the pond was also a young black-crowned night heron.  He was also trying to catch a few winks, but that’s normal.  That’s why he’s called a night heron…he hunts at night and sleeps during the day.
_MG_5611 _MG_5613 
A little further down the road, I caught a glimpse of one of Emma’s friends patrolling for rodents in amongst the cattle.
51 Malheur NWR, Oregon4Before long, I reached the fields where the thousands of cranes had moved to early this morning to feed.  (I think you can click to enlarge each pic if you like)

I got my hair cut, picked up the wine, and stopped at a small bakery that I discovered last week for a fresh baked loaf of bread.  I have to admit that I also bought two sugar cookies.  :)  I generally don’t eat desserts, but I couldn’t resist.  I did not buy any of their tasty looking sweet rolls, though. 
_MG_5643  _MG_5670
Tonight’s post could have been titled “patience is a virtue.”  On my way home, I stopped on the other side of the Narrows, and spotted an American bittern on the far side of the pond.  In the past I’ve only gotten short fleeting views of the American bittern.  They usually quickly return to the reeds.  These two shots were taken across the pond.
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I just sat still and waited.  The bittern slowly made it’s way around the edge of the pond towards me.  I got these two shots as it had made it about halfway around.
_MG_5790 After quietly waiting for a half hour, the bird was directly beneath me.  I guess good things come to those who wait.  :)  I’m sure glad I didn’t leave home without my camera today!

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

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sunset Serenade

Today was my last day on the job at the Visitor’s Center, and I believe the first full day of fall after the autumnal equinox.  My calendar shows the equinox as tomorrow, but today is close enough.  I think the birds may somehow know this.
_MG_5584Overnight, thousands of sandhill cranes migrated into this oasis in the high desert from places far North.  The moon is full, and the winds must have been right!  Almost everyone that came into the VC reported seeing large flocks of cranes in the fields.  I’m sure they were fueling up after their long flight.  They are joining the 200+ pairs and their young that nest here.
_MG_5582I was happy to see an Osprey pull one of the carp out of the pond below the VC this morning.  The refuge needs all the help it can get in eliminating this invasive species of fish!
_MG_5583As I took this picture of the departing Osprey with it’s booty, I was able to capture a bit of Malheur Lake in the background.  The lake is about 40,000 acres this year, and this is about the only way you can see it unless you have an airplane.  There are no access roads open to the public.  Those cranes in the first photo were flying over the VC and headed to the field area between the pond and the lake. 

I had 79 visitors today, so I was pretty busy from opening to closing, and didn’t get much of a chance to get outside.  :(  It certainly made the day go faster as compared to only 7 visitors when I started here!

So, what about the sunset serenade?  Well, as Emma and I sat outside this evening just before sunset, there was suddenly a great loud ruckus going on.  All those thousands of sandhill cranes were descending upon Malheur Lake to roost for the night.  They generally roost in water to make them safer from predation by the coyotes…and no one can call sandhill cranes quiet!  Wow!  Even though the lake is about a mile away, you just couldn’t help but hear all those cranes whooping it up.  :)  I just love the sound of cranes, and when you get thousands of them all jabbering away at the same time, it is just something I will never forget!  After about ten minutes, they all quieted down, and then the great horned owl decided to chime in with it’s hoots adding bass notes to the symphony!  Not to be outdone, the coyotes added their mournful alto and soprano tones as well.  The Chicago Symphony would have a hard time competing with the wonderful wild concert I was listening to tonight.  What a fantastic musical send off for our time here at Malheur!  Is it any wonder that I continue to volunteer at National Wildlife Refuges?

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

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Working on a plan

I found it hard to believe that I had 29 visitors this morning!  Wow!  That’s quite a few people out here in the middle of the high desert of Oregon on a Tuesday morning in September.  I was busy enough that I couldn’t call the fix it place in Idaho until after lunch, but I’m all set up to get the levelers fixed next Tuesday.  At first the service department asked me to bring the rig in on Monday, and leave it for three days.  After I told them that I lived in it, they revised their plans and told me to come in on Tuesday.  I asked if I could pull in on Monday and stay in their parking lot for the night, and they said they had several spots for that with electrical hookups.  Alrighty then, I’ll be there fairly early on Monday since the sites are first come, first served.  :)  I haven’t decided yet if I’ll leave Malheur on Sunday or Monday.  We’ll see what the weather forecast is before I decide.

In the meantime, I’ve been trying to decide what route I’ll take from Boise to Houston.  It could be anywhere from 2500-3000 miles to get there depending on which way I go.  I put it on the GPS, and it routed me through Wyoming and Nebraska, but I’m thinking I might like to go through Nevada so I could maybe still stop at Death Valley NP on the way.  The GPS kept me on a lot of Interstates, but I’m wondering how US 95 or US93 might be through Nevada instead.  Have any of you traveled those roads?
_MG_5543I didn’t have very many opportunities to get out of the VC for photos today, but I had a few.  The resident fawn has just about lost it’s spots, and I’m wondering if maybe it is a male since I can sort of see those buttons on it’s forehead.?
_MG_5553I did get another chance at a pic of the black-throated gray warbler today in a more natural setting than the plant cage of  yesterday.  Man, those little warblers barely sit still for a second!
_MG_5568The white-crowned sparrows have arrived from the North, and really take advantage of the seeds from the bird feeder that get spilled on the ground.
_MG_5567I’m still filling the bird baths daily, and this robin stopped by for a dunk.  I haven’t filled the hummingbird feeders this week since they all seem to have headed for warmer climes. 

I’ve got one last day to work the VC tomorrow, and then I’ll have a couple of free days to explore and get things packed up.  I may try to do the Steen Mountain drive and hit the farmer’s market for one last haul of home grown tomatoes.  :)
_MG_5552                                                                    THE END!

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

Monday, September 20, 2010

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

That’s a famous old saying, but today I felt like I had a (so to say) bird in the hand and two in the bush!  :)  When I checked my email first thing this morning, I was given the address of the nearest fix it shop to repair my leveling jacks.  (that’s my so called bird in hand)  It is back in Boise, Idaho, but that is only a one day drive from here.  That will change my original plans of traveling down the Western side of California, but I can deal with that.  I’m sure there will be other things of interest along the way as I leave Boise and head towards Houston.  I’ll be working on the changed route over the next few days.

As usual, I packed my camera and took it with me as I headed in for a day of work in the VC.  I really wasn’t expecting anything new or exciting since I’ve taken it with me every work day for the last month.  However, I was in for a couple of surprises.  I’m not exactly swamped with visitors (23 today total), so in between guests, I sit out on the VC deck with my camera hoping for some action. 
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As I was reading one of the interpretive signs for the hundredth time, a Townsend’s Solitaire (a type of thrush) flew up and nearly landed on my telephoto lens!  He was as shocked as I was, and immediately flew off into the bush, hence my first bird in the bush.  :)  This was a bird that I had never seen before, but I knew immediately what it was since I was hoping to see one!  He’s rather drab in appearance being mostly gray, but has a big white eye ring and white outer tail feathers.  Of course, I chased after him for these two shots.  Too bad about the shadows, but I’m thrilled never the less.
_MG_5470A young Northern flicker (red shafted) flew into the same tree, and off went the Townsend’s Solitaire.  :(  Don’t you just like those polka dots?  Reminds me of a dress my mother wore when I was a child. (Women always wore dresses in those days)
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The shrubs and trees were just bubbling with little migrants this morning.  That’s a yellow warbler on the left, and a female common yellowthroat on the right.  The yellowthroat was shaking all it’s feathers like a dog shakes while it held onto a little worm in it’s beak.

I kept running in and out of the Visitor’s Center as folks arrived.  I didn’t give them the bum’s rush, but I was anxious to return outside after each visitation.  :)
_MG_5507At one point, I just sat outside on the steps leading up to the deck, and as I looked over at one of the cages surrounding a planting to protect it from the deer, I saw my second new life bird of the day!  Here was a Black-throated Gray Warbler.  Oh my goodness!  That was certainly not a bird I ever expected to see here…my second bird in the bush.  :)

I didn’t think the day could get much better than this, but it did.
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_MG_5499Soon there was a great racket coming from the skies, and the Sandhill Cranes began to fly overhead.  They never seem to be silent, and I just love listening to their trilling chatter back and forth.  These cranes are one of the major reasons that folks come here in the fall.  What a nice display they put on.  It’s just a shame that no visitors were on the deck at the time to enjoy this with me.  Five minutes later, folks stopped in and asked me where they could see some cranes.  :(

As expected, bird activity slowed down in the late morning and early afternoon, but…
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I was able to catch a glimpse of this Lincoln’s Sparrow that was taking a little afternoon rest in one of the trees.  It isn’t always easy to identify sparrows, but you can tell this is a Lincoln’s by the gray face and buffy wash on it’s upper breast.  It has a nice little eye ring, too.
_MG_5532I have seen many Black-billed Magpies in my time, but they have always alluded me when I have my camera ready.  Finally, today I got a photo of one.  I suppose now they will appear any time I take my camera out.  :)  That’s the way it always seems to go.  You look and look to see something, whether it be a bird or some other animal, and then once you finally see one, they appear before you every time you turn around! 

So, today turned out rather well…much more interesting to me than I thought it was going to be.  What can tomorrow bring?

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