Borrego Springs, CA

Monday, April 30, 2012

Haines Island Park

This afternoon Emma and I set off to discover what there was to see in the area around the Isaac Creek COE campground.  The host couple at the gate assured me that there was nothing to see.


Before we headed down the road, I stopped to view the other side of the dam along the Alabama River.  It’s getting hot down here in the south with temps nearing 90* today.


After driving around for about 20 miles, we did come upon the Haines Island Park.  It was down a road that eventually became unpaved.  The dirt roads down here are a bright orange/red.  That’s interesting.


There was a nice view from the top of the ridge by one of the picnic tables and playground.  We then headed down a steep curvy red road toward the river.


I found the campsites which are obviously for tenters along the Alabama River.  They were very secluded with lovely views of the river.  There was no water or bathrooms, so it is most rustic.  It was also empty of any campers.

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At the boat launch there was also a ferry across the river.  No one was around and there were no signs, so I’m not sure when it is in operation.  A neighbor at the campground later told me that on the other side is a very isolated community.  This is truly the back country of Alabama.

Other than this hardly used park, that was all we could find in the area.  I’m beginning to believe the hosts are correct!  I thought I could at least visit the Alabama River Heritage Museum, but the hosts said it has only been open one day so far this year.  Sad smile I guess there aren’t enough volunteers to man it.

Oh well, I guess I’ll just spend this week relaxing and reading…

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sweet Home Alabama

It was a pretty sweet day today, but before I get into my travels, I have to share a little incident from this morning as I was trying to leave the refuge.  Volunteers come in all shapes, sizes, and personalities.  A couple that I had volunteered with at this refuge last year arrived last night for their three month stint.  I was happy that I didn’t miss meeting up with Katie and Bruce again before I left town.  They are a hard working volunteer couple that are a joy to be around.  Like me, they pretty much mind their own business.  There is another couple here that works hard, but the husband’s mission in life is to get into everyone else's business, and all the politics that are involved in any refuge they are at.  He drives some of us crazy.  I must say he was instrumental in getting my rig out of the campsites this morning.  It took a half an hour, and I would have been more than a nervous wreck if I had done it myself. 

Now for the good part.  As I was out on the entrance road hooking up the toad, Katie and Bruce stopped by to tell me this tale.  It seems as soon as I left the campground, Mr. Busybody confronted Katie to find out what it was in the two little black plastic bags that I had given her just before I left.  You see, the camp dumpster is about a quarter mile away, and I had already gotten rid of my trash last night.  Rather than having to trudge over to the dumpster, Katie had agreed to take Emma’s two little poop bags from this morning for me.  Ha Ha!  Had I known, I could have given Mr. Busybody two gifts from both of us everyday for the last three months!  You can bet I left with a giggle bubbling forth from me as I hit the road.

The 150 mile drive to the Isaac Creek COE campground near Camden, AL, was blissfully uneventful. 


I had reserved site #17 sight unseen over the internet a while back.  When I arrived, I went inside the entrance booth to register, and after talking to the hosts, they suggested I might want to change my site to #37 right on the Alabama River/Claiborne Lake.  They were so accommodating for me.  As I made the drive around the loop to arrive at site 37, I was happy they had suggested the change. 


I enjoy woodsy sites, but 37 had shade, a view along the river, and easy reception for my DISH.  For $10/night for water and electric, it doesn’t get much better than this. 


                               If I sit on the bench at the rear of my site, I have a nice view of the dam.


The other direction offers a nice river/lake view.  I’ll be here for a week just relaxing and visiting the area.  This place is pretty much out in the middle of nowhere, but with my trucker’s antenna and amplifier, I almost have full bars roaming.  I also set up the DISH for great reception in record time!  It was a sweet day to arrive in Alabama for sure!


                                                                                    Goodnight all…

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Friday, April 27, 2012

I quit!!!

After an incredibly boring day in the VC on Thursday, I decided to lock everything up at 3:00 and head for home.  There were only three visitors total for the day, and no one was in the parking lot.  So I made that executive decision, and just before I walked out the door, I shouted, “I Quit!”  Of course no one was there to hear me, but it made me feel good anyway.  My volunteer stint here at Mississippi Sandhill Crane NWR has come to an end for another year.  No farewell luncheon for us five volunteers leaving here this weekend this year.  It’s kind of anti-climatic.  We were each given a free pass for a boat trip to Ship Island, but by the time we got it, time had run out to use it.  I had thought of going today, but it’s an all day trip, and I had to get busy packing things up and getting ready to roll.  Since there is only one of me, it takes a little more time than with the couples. 


Yesterday, before I went into work John helped me fix one of my MCD shades. (passenger’s window)  The night shade would not retract.  I had called MCD a while back about it, and they sent me a new one of these:


It’s the spring that goes inside the shade roller that automatically pulls the shade back up.  The note inside the package that was supposed to be directions for installation turned out to say to call them for instructions.  John, being the handy person that he is, decided not to do that.  Instead, within 45 minutes, he had the whole thing figured out, the new spring installed, and mounted everything back where it belonged.  I found it very interesting to help him as he vocalizes his thinking as he goes along.  I learned a lot.  Should the other shade develop the same problem, I now think I could fix it myself with another pair of helpful hands.  I get by with a little help from my friends.  Send a kiss


I finished with my meds yesterday, so I was finally feeling half human today.  It’s a good thing because I had lots to do.  The rig has been sitting under several large live oak trees for months now, and had developed a brown coating on everything that was kind of like mold.  I broke out the ladder and my new gallon of ‘The Solution’ and went to work.  I was certainly not up to doing the entire rig, but I got the front 1/2 of it done and all the major windows.  While I found it marvelous to use on the fiberglass, I’m not that impressed with the film it left on the windows.  Seemed like I made a hundred trips up and down that six foot ladder today, and with all the rubbing with my arms, I’m thinking I might be a little stiff tomorrow.


I took a break at lunchtime and grilled a package of hotdogs that I had on hand for when the grandkids were going to visit.  Thanks goodness John and Diana joined me for a picnic lunch and ate up some of those dogs.  No way I was ever going to eat them all.  Then I packed away the grill, tablecloth, and my outside rug.  I piddled with several other packing things outside, and eventually called it a day.


Tomorrow I’ll check all the air in the tires, take down the DISH, and do the inside prep after stocking up on groceries.  I’m not sure when I’ll post next, as I have no idea whether or not I’ll have reception at the next two COE parks I’ll be staying at.  I guess I’ll just see you down the road…

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Counting the days

In four days I’ll be heading out from the refuge with my volunteer stint over with.  Toward the end of each volunteering assignment I seem to get short-timers attitude.  I’m pretty much tired of being here, and am ready to move on.  Being stuck in the Visitor’s Center for the last six weeks or so, and being ill has just heightened my desire to put this place behind me.


As Sunday morning approaches, I’ll be all revved up and a nervous wreck until I’m well underway down the highway.  After the first day’s drive, I usually settle down into a calmer traveling mode.


Tomorrow begins the slow packing up of outside items.  I’ll probably even take down the feeders, so this afternoon I spent a little time trying to get those last shots at the Hard Rock Bird Café.


Lots of blue jays have been all over the woods since the first day I arrived back in January, but today was the first time one visited the Café. 


In years past I’ve offered the interns at the places I’ve been at a nice chunk of change to wash and wax my rig for me.  I did the same thing here, only upped the anti since I’ve got a bigger rig now.  Since interns are paid next to nothing for their time, they usually jump at the chance to earn some extra money.  Not so here.  These interns didn’t show the slightest flicker of interest.  Sad smile 


Shucks!  It was another of those great plans that went awry!  Oh well, I’ll at least get the windows all sparkling.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Picturing pitchers

A post of few words this evening as I spent today on mundane chores, but got lost this afternoon in pitcher picture heaven.





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These blooms may look the same as the flowers from the white pitcher plants, but they’re not.  These are only a little over an inch wide and only rise about six inches from the savannah floor.


They are the blooms of the parrot’s beak pitcher plant.  Once insects are lured inside the ‘beak’, a small trap door closes, and it’s curtains for the bug!  This pitcher plant is very small and spreads its beaks under the grasses.  This was a new plant for me, and I really had to search on hands and knees for it.  Cool beans!


Once I got back on my feet, Emma and I took a rest at one of the benches along the Dees Trail.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Final crane sighting for the year?

For the last six weeks or so it seems that I have had to work the Visitor’s Center almost all of my workdays.  I really enjoy the VC one day a week, but three days every week gets a little B-O-R-I-N-G for me.  Several factors have contributed to this lackluster change in my assignment here.  Circumstances arose that required more time indoors.  I’m not complaining too much, I just wanted to set the stage for what occurred this morning. 

I had a visitor fairly early this morning that was hoping to see a crane (all visitor’s believe they’ll see one at the VC).  She had stopped here a number of times on her cross country trips trying to glimpse one.  I explained that it was breeding season; there are about 130 cranes spread out over 19,800 acres, and that the chances of spotting one at this time of the year was less than good.  She, of course, was very disappointed.


As she was watching the refuge video, Doug came in to lead the 10:00 Birds and Buds trail hike.  I told him about her, and he asked if I’d like to take her out to try to see one of the cranes in a refuge vehicle. (He had seen one on his way into work) 

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Yahooie!!  You know I casually said, “Of course, Doug, if you want me to.”  Ya right!  We were out of there like a rocket on the 4th of July!  We drove about three miles to a horse pasture on the edge of the refuge property and found one of my favorite cranes.  We believe this was the female of the mated wild pair.  Experts are finding out that the male cranes probably do about 90% of the egg brooding, so it’s more likely to see a female feeding away from the nest.  She needs to spend more time feeding to build up her strength after producing the two eggs.

Notice she (?) has no leg bands.  That’s because both cranes of this pair were wild born, and have eluded capture by the biologists for over four years.  That’s the major reason I like this pair best.  Open-mouthed smile I have my own personal experience with a four footed ‘wild child’ that also prefers to escape capture.


Doug and I call this the wild pair, but the biologists refer to them as the orange pair.  That’s because this pair is smart enough to really ‘paint’ themselves up with orange-ish mud on their feathers.  It acts as camouflage when they are brooding the eggs on the nest.  It was a thrill to see this bird for both me and the visitor.  It may well be my last sighting this year before I leave the refuge.  So long my friend, and I hope your youngster beats the odds!


                                                                                THE END!!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Friday, April 20, 2012

Expensive morning at the Vet’s

It was time for Emma to get all of her shots renewed, and I wanted to get another year’s supply of heartguard  and the flea and tick treatment.  Emma was happy as a clam the whole time.  She wagged her tail and smiled at everyone until it was time to have her nails trimmed.  If ever there was a look of disdain on a dog’s face, this was it.  She didn’t jump around or squirm (hard to believe, I know), but just stared at the ceiling with this disgusting look on her face.  I had to laugh. 

Before long, it was time to pay the bill, pick up the heart and flea stuff, and be on our way.  As I put all the paper work into the folder I have for her, I tried to verify that the rabies and distemper shots would be good for three years.  The girl behind the desk said they were annual shots.  I told her I expected three year shots, and fully expected that Emma would be taken back for further shots.  Not so.  She simply changed the paperwork for the rabies to be good for three years.  She said they only give distemper for one year.  What’s up with that?   (Took me a bit to recuperate from the $360 bill too)


Anyway, this afternoon Diana and I headed out with our tall boots and walking sticks to try to get some pictures of the white pitcher plants.  Last year they were located in a rather unknown spot, and we had already scoped out that place out a few weeks ago and found their red blooms.  As we sloshed our way through the wet savannah we thought we were only going to find these pale pitchers.


                           But finally, we saw a splash of red in the distance.  (bottom left of the photo)


                                              Victory!  We slowly made our way over to the blooms.


                                             There were the elusive white pitchers with red veins. 

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These pitchers form a little later in the spring than the pale yellow pitcher plants.  Many of the white pitchers were just coming up.  I have more pictures of them, but I didn’t want to overdo it in one post.  Winking smile


If you look closely, you can see several ants being lured into this pitcher.  One of the times I posted some pitcher plants, a commenter asked if I had ever stuck my finger down in one.  I did today!  It’s incredibly sticky down in there… just like fly paper.  Now I’m walking around with just a stub on one finger!


Just joshing, of course, but you can see a couple of bugs on the outside of this pitcher and the shadow of one insect that is meeting it’s demise down in the pitcher.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Thursday, April 19, 2012

♫ ♪ Back in the Saddle Again ♪ ♫

There sure hasn’t been much going on for the last week other than me recuperating and trying to get back to normal.  The powerful antibiotics that I have been on have a week to go, and they’ve helped kick the stuffing out of me.  Of course, they’ve also kicked the stuffing out of the pain too.


                                                                          DWARF SUNDEW

Yesterday I worked in the Visitors Center, and I was pretty done for by the end of the day.  Brought my camera along as usual, but didn’t take a single picture.

_MG_7653It was back into work this morning, but I was feeling a mite better.  Most of the petals on the pale pitcher plant blooms have dropped off, but the pitchers are doing their thing to get nutrients.  Kind of reminds me of an animated pipe organ. 


                                   After work, I found Mrs. Bluebird perched on our clothesline post.

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Hubby was close by guarding their humble abode.  I do believe their eggs might have hatched today.  They certainly have been busy making trips back and forth to the bird house.

I seem to recall that Gene Autry sang “Back in the Saddle Again…”  At least that’s whose voice I hear in my head.  It’s a short post tonight, but I’m working on getting my foot back in the stirrup.


                       I leave you with tonight’s mystery warbler singing his heart out to the universe!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy