Borrego Springs, CA

Friday, August 31, 2012

Dancing with Wolves?

Yep, this morning was my time to help with the feeding of the captive red wolves.  I was hoping to get some spectacular pictures of the wolves as we made our way down several gravel roads and two locked gates deep in the forest of the refuge.  It’s a good thing I was hoping for rather than counting on great photos because that just didn’t happen.


A total of eight wolves are housed in several different pens.  The pens are quite roomy and include a den and lots of typical foliage.  Red wolves were declared biologically extinct in the wild in 1980.  Restoration efforts began in 1987 with the experimental release of red wolves at Alligator River NWR. 


Hard to tell, but this is the young red wolf intern, Ashlyn, decked out in her stylish bug jacket.  You can bet that I had on one of these jackets also.  The mosquitoes back in the forest around the pens were ridiculous!  With barely any skin showing, I still managed to get bit about 15 times.  Ugh!


As we approached each pen, the wolves inside began a non-stop circuit along the fence line furthest away from us. 


Not once did they stop long enough for me to try to get a decent shot.  The dense forest environment, provided another challenge as well.


It only took one year for those first released wolves to produce their first wild litter back in 1988.There are presently about 90 – 100 wolves living wild in the five counties that include and surround the refuge.


We expected the wolves to be a little upset since normally only one person comes to feed them.  When more than one person arrives, it usually means that one of them is going to be caught and examined or something.  The wolves are not dumb.  It turned out that Ashlyn’s boyfriend was also with us as he is visiting for the holiday weekend.


I thought perhaps that they would be fed dead rabbits or something like that.  Not so.  They are given a dry kibble similar to dog food.  Ashlyn did think that the kibble is composed of more wild type meat like bison though.  She also occasionally supplements the dry food with raw eggs.


When the captive pairs produce a litter, the pups are removed from the den to be placed in the den of a pair living in the wild.  Thus, the youngsters are raised wild.  These wolves are very fleet of foot, and can turn on a dime!


I sure wish I could have gotten some better shots of these endangered wolves, but between the chain link fences, the dense underbrush, and their excited state, it just wasn’t to be.  We only spent about a half hour at the pens.  The intern probably had other things to do, and with having her boyfriend visiting, I doubt that she was much concerned with me.  Winking smile  I’d like to return sometime when I could spend more time, and wait for the wolves to calm down.  Don’t know that that will ever happen, though.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Finally made it to the beach

I had a split day of work today to make things a little more interesting.  I was scheduled to work the Gateway VC for the morning.


The first order of business was driving the five miles to the maintenance area to drop off my car and pick up a refuge vehicle.  The radio tower next to the parking area was just covered with purple martins.  It’s a sure sign of fall approaching when all the martins and swallows begin to flock up.  It won’t be long before they all leave on their migration south for the winter.

Shortly after noon, I finished up at Gateway and headed for Pea Island.  This afternoon would be the last Sound Side Presentation of the season.  Just about all of the programs and tours finished up this week since kids will be heading back to school if they haven’t already.


I got to the Pea Island VC a little early so I decided to try climbing up and over the sand dunes to get to the beach.  This is the first I’ve felt able to tackle the dunes since I got here.  You can bet I took my cane, and began the trudge uphill.


Here was my reward as I crested the dune.  A beautiful sand beach on the Atlantic with hardly anyone around.  This is a far cry from the crowds that pack the National Seashore and the beaches surrounding the towns on the Outer Banks.


                   I wasn’t alone though.  This gull was standing guard on a slight rise in the sand.

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A little closer to the water, several willets were searching for food.  It was sure a lot easier to walk down by the wet hard packed sand.


I was hoping to find some nice shells as I made my way.  It was just about low tide, but there sure weren’t any shells worth collecting today.


I spent about an hour walking along the shore and enjoying the birds and sounds of the crashing waves.  I do appreciate the relaxing sounds of the surf.  After being here for six weeks already, it’s about time I finally made it to the beach.  For sure I’ll be going again.


All too soon it was time to bid goodbye to the waves and the sunken vessel the Orient.  It’s smoke stack is still visible at the top middle of the photo even though this ship sank during the Civil War.  This area along the Outer Banks is known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic because of all the ships that have met their end in these treacherous waters.

It turned out that no kids showed up for the Sound Side Presentation, so we got to go home a little early.  My guess is that just about everyone was out on the beaches on this beautiful end of summer day.  I’m getting pretty excited about my excursion tomorrow morning to feed the wolves.  I sure hope it lives up to my expectations.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What a day this has been

Little did I know that last night’s post about health issues on the road would garner such a response.  Between the comments posted and several emails, I have even more things to think about.  Of course, finding a medical facility and doctor that I’m comfortable with is number one, and I thank those of you who reminded me of that fact. 


Guess who I saw on my way to the dumpster this morning.  (I was going to the dumpster, not the bears)  The whole family was in the same spot where I watched the two cubs playing the other night.  Some of you may be getting tired of seeing bear photos, but as long as I’m seeing them I’ll be taking pictures of them and posting what I capture.  Which may mean six more weeks of bear photos.  Open-mouthed smile

One commenter mentioned that he thought the CARE program required people to have a live-in care taker with them.  I tried to check that out today, but the Escapees website appears to be down for a couple of days.  That little requirement would certainly put a monkey wrench in that idea.


                                                          Okay kids, lets get out of the road!

I also got an email from my brother, Kurt, who recently moved to Casa Grande, AZ.  He offered to be my nurse and chauffeur, and take care of Emma, were I to have surgery in Arizona.  That opens up another possibility.


                                                                  Single file now, and march!

A couple of other friends offered help if I were in Texas this winter.  I appreciate all the offers and advice, and truly thank you all.  Traveling solo doesn’t always mean you are alone.


                                          Okay, it looks like that person has stopped… we’re good.

After taking care of the garbage and getting another jug of water, I stopped at Gateway to check for mail.  When I’m at a refuge for a while, I do the Netflix thing and I’ve been enjoying some older movies in the evenings.  While at the office, I also wanted to check with Cindi about changing up my schedule a little bit this week.  I was thrilled when she agreed, so on Friday I’ll be helping to feed the captive red wolf pack that is housed in the middle of the Alligator River NWR.  Sweet!!  This is probably the only way I’ll ever get to see a red wolf except maybe in a zoo.


                                     Oops!  Hop off the road again.  I think she might drive closer.

It was obvious that this mama bear and her cubs had been coming from the woods on the east side of the road when I approached.  In order to get to the road, they had to go through the water ditch on that side, and all of them were pretty wet on the bottom half of their bodies. 


I’m also thinking this is a different family of bears than the ones I saw a couple of weeks ago.  This mother isn’t as skittish.  She kept her eye on me, but she didn’t disappear with the cubs as soon as she saw me like the other one did.  She’s also had some experience with humans before as that is a hard to see collar around her neck.  That collar has a radio transmitter so the biologists can track her movements.  I’ll have to ask around about her.  My guess is that she’s an old hand in this cub rearing business.


                                                                           THE END!!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Dealing with health issues while traveling solo

One of the challenges of fulltime RVing is handling health issues when they arise.  Many of us have a place that we return to periodically to visit our Primary Care Doctor.  My family doctor is at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, and I return there every two years for a checkup, needed tests like a mammogram, and to get prescriptions for my meds written.  Having that connection with someone who knows your medical history is great, and it works out fine as long as you’re in reasonably good health.


(Tonight’s photos are scenes from a drive around the refuge this afternoon after picking up my new glasses in Nags Head.)

What happens, though, if you get sick while you’re on the road and many many miles from that doctor?  I’ve had a few instances in the last year or so, where I’ve needed medical attention.  If you are a couple, your spouse/significant other can get you to a medical facility.  If you are traveling solo, you have to get there by driving yourself.  I have had to drive myself to a couple of urgent care centers in nearby cities.

_MG_0187Last November, my back went out, and there was no way I was able to drive.  Luckily, a fellow volunteer was able to take me to get some help.  Now fast forward to my present issue with my hip, and the possibility of needed surgery.


This opens up a whole different set of challenges.  Traveling solo, I just don’t have a care giver stored away somewhere that could help in the recovery and rehabilitation process.  Sad smile  So I’ve been doing quite a bit of thinking about the situation since it isn’t mandatory that I make the decision immediately.  So far, I’ve come up with three different possibilities.  Of course, all three depend upon me being able to buy some more time with the meds and cane to get me through the winter months.

_MG_0207The first possibility would be to drive to Minnesota next spring, and have the hip taken care of at the Mayo Clinic.  I could probably park the rig in my son Andy’s driveway. 


The second possibility would be to have the operation done in Indiana and stay in the guest bedroom at Robyn’s.  I don’t know what I’d do with the rig for the duration.  Both of these possibilities would have me relying on them for post-op care which I am reluctant to do.  They are both active, busy, young families with young children.


Lastly, I am considering staying in Livingston, TX, at the Escapee’s Rainbow’s End park.  I am a lifetime member of Escapees, and they have a wonderful CARE facility for members that allows you to stay in your rig during the recuperation phase.  Staying at the CARE facility also includes three meals a day and weekly cleaning of your rig and laundry.  Volunteers would also drive me to doctor appointments.  All three possibilities also leave me with the challenge of what to do about Emma.  I don’t know what I’m going to do about that.


Health issues are a challenge whether or not you are a solo.  They just add a few more things for me to think about.  I appreciate all the thoughts and suggestions you’ve provided thus far.  Several commenters suggested I start taking fish oil daily.  Just wanted to tell them that I’ve been taking fish oil for the last eight years.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Monday, August 27, 2012

Buying a little more time?

When I went to the doctor two weeks ago to get some relief from my painful hip, the doctor told me that a hip replacement was probably in my future.  He prescribed some meds to see if that would buy me a little more time.  I had the option of taking one or two of the pills once a day.  I started with one pill a day.  The first day there was a miraculous difference in the lessening of the amount of pain, but along with that came some nausea.  I worked through the nausea and it subsided after a couple of days.  However, after two weeks the effects of the pill also lessened.  All day yesterday and last night were very painful.  Since I didn’t have to work today, I decided to up the dosage to the two pills.  I didn’t want to do that on a day I had to work just in case the nausea returned.


In addition, I also went to CVS and purchased a cane.  I hated to make that concession, but what a difference those two decisions have made for me today.  By using the cane, it takes a lot of pressure off of the hip with each step.  I could actually smile instead of grimace as I walked along.  At least I got one with bright butterflies painted on it.  In my head, using a cane is like wearing one of those beaded things around your neck to hold your glasses.  It’s for old ladies.  Well, this old lady is here to tell you that you had better behave, or I’ll whack you with my cane!  Winking smile

I felt chipper enough this evening to take Emma for a drive in the car to see what we could see.  What a grand time we had.

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As we headed down Buffalo City Road, a female bear and her cubs were in the road.  Mom quickly headed for the woods, but the youngsters were a little reluctant to follow.  They had to sniff around and wrestle a little before getting off of the road.

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One youngster came back out to investigate something in the road.  It was a miniature canoe paddle that was about two feet long.  What a treat is was for Emma and me to watch this young fellow or gal spend some time playing.  Just like a little kid with a cardboard box! 


Then we were off to stop at the old bridge that goes from Manns Harbor to Manteo across the Croatan Sound.  This is the bridge where up to 100,000 purple martins roost each evening.  I wanted to experience their arrival before they all head south for the fall migration.


There’s a wonderful public pier with built in benches that offers the perfect view of the bridge with the setting sun behind you.  You’ll have to take my word for it that there are about fifty martins in the sky above the bridge in this photo.  It was a thrilling experience to watch all of the birds come in from every direction  just as the sun was setting.


And what a sunset it was over the Croatan Sound!  Hopefully the cane and pills will buy me some more time so I can continue to enjoy these experiences while I’m here.


                                                                                THE END!!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Kool Aid Kaper??

Another drive in the rain this morning to get to work at the Gateway Visitors Center.  I sure wish I could send some of this precipitation to those states ridden by drought.  As expected for working this location, I didn’t have any visitors until 10:30.  Then there was a a steady trickle through the lunch hour.


During one of the lulls, I stepped out on the back porch of the VC, and found this guy along the railing.  He was only about an inch long.

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Can’t remember if I’ve mentioned it before, but Saturday is switch out day on the Outer Banks.  That means all those folks that rented beach houses for the week along the coast head for home in the morning.  North and west bound roads are crammed with cars like a big city rush hour.  Then in the afternoon, the south and east bound roads are packed with the new group of renters coming in for the next week.  It’s quite a phenomena.  The morning is kind of like being at a campground on Sunday when all the working people make a great exodus for home after the weekend.  Some sight seeing destinations in the area are closed on the weekends since people are either leaving or settling in upon arrival.

I think the reason I had a flurry of visitors this morning is because all the rain this past week made people a little desperate to visit something today before heading home.  Whatever the reason, after 1:00, I could count the number of visitors stopping in on my hands.

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           So I was able to walk around a bit outside while waiting for business to arrive. 


The insects were certainly busy with a native blooming plant that looks like black-eyed Susan's.  The plants sure had more visitors than I did.

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              All of the recent moisture is bringing out a nice crop of fungus as well.

My drive back to the rig after work involves passing the entrance roads to several rather ritzy subdivisions outside of Manteo on the shores of Roanoke Island.  At one of the entrances I noticed a cardboard sign advertising a Kool Aid stand.  Now I’m a real sucker for kids that have the ambition to set up a lemonade or Kool Aid stand, so I pulled over.  As I stopped, I waved at the three youngsters that appeared to be about seven years old or so.  They jumped for joy, and got my cup of red Kool Aid ready.  In the meantime, a bare footed mother hopped out of a nearby old pickup to approach my window.  She said, “That will be a dollar.” , and grabbed the bill out of my hand as she hollered at the little girl to give me my drink. 

That kind of took me by surprise.  A buck seemed a little high for about 3 oz. of Kool Aid, but that’s probably what I would have given the kids anyway.  I don’t know, it just seemed a little odd to me.  Perhaps the family really needed the money.  At any rate, I enjoyed my two gulps of cold Kool Aid; red being my favorite flavor of bug juice, and as I headed home I tried to remember the last time I had a serving of this beverage.  It’s got to be about twenty years or so…


                                                                                    THE END!!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy