Monday, April 27, 2015

Merced & San Luis National Wildlife Refuges

It's been a few weeks, but Pongo and I finally made it out of the house for an afternoon.  It felt good to get out into the open air.

Western Kingbird -- Merced National Wildlife Refuge, CA
We started at the Merced complex.  The waterfowl are mostly gone aside from a few ducks and mudhens.  The refuge is far from empty, though.  Less plentiful in number than the large flocks of geese and ducks, the land is populated by kingbirds, swallows and raptors.  The great horned owls also remain.  The wetlands are now dry for the most part.

Great Horned Owl -- Merced National Wildlife Refuge, CA
Great Horned Owl
A few marshy areas remain at San Luis.  Pongo and I made our way there after touring the Merced refuge.  Our first good sighting was a great horned owl, a first for me at the refuge.  I was unable tp get a decent picture because he stuck to the shadows.You'll have to use your imagination a little bit with this picture.

Pongo jumped out of the car window again.  This is the second time he's done that, both at San Luis and both incidents happened within a few hundred yards of one another.  Last time he went after ducks that quacked at him.  This time he leaped after a ground squirrel.  It happened very quickly.  I keep a long leash on him when we're driving with his window open and I never go more than ten miles an hour, still it was a little frightening.  I was worried about him getting under the wheels but he was fine.  I told him not to do it again, but we'll see.  I want to keep the window down for him because he enjoys the drives so much, but I sure don't want him to get hurt.

San Luis National Wildlife Refuge, CA
Aren't the greens and yellows amazing?  What a beautiful time for a drive at the refuge.  I love the varied browns of winter, but Spring is even more to my liking.  I miss the big flocks, though.  I was hoping to see a coyote or two since we were there late in the afternoon but no such luck.  We didn't see one until much later in a field on our drive home.

Western Kingbird -- San Luis National Wildlife Refuge, CA
We saw a couple of swainson's hawks on elk fence posts.  I think I saw a couple of others in flight but I wasn't able to identify them with any cinfidence.  I've never seen swainson's hawks before, at least that I could identify, so that was cool.

Swainson's Hawk -- San Luis National Wildife Refuge, CA
Swainson's Hawk
The elk must have been tucked into the interior of their large enclosure because I only saw three.  The two males had velvet on their antlers.  I wonder how long until that comes off and they take on their tough guy demeanor.

Demeanors?  Spell check says no.  Dunno.  I should dig up a dictionary.  I guess I could google it, but I'm too lazy.

Anyway, it was a nice afternoon.  I just have to talk Pongo into keeping himself in the car while we're driving around the loop.

Tule Elk -- San Luis National Wildlife Refuge, CA

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Road Trip! Part Two

I didn't do any better at getting out last weekend than I did the weekend before.  Still, the return trip from Colorado has been solidified.  Well, as solid as Jello.  OK, OK, the trip out is solid, I still need to book campsites for the return trip.  Here's the idea for the route home.

Devil's Tower National Monument

Obviously, I didn't take this picture of Devil's Tower.  It's from Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Devil's Tower is a long way from La Veta, CO.  It's kind of on the way to Yellowstone from La Veta, though, so that's good enough for me.

You're right, it's only slightly on the way to Yellowstone.  I mean, if you take the long way to Yellowstone from La Veta.  Close enough.

Yellowstone National Park

Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park, WY
The Grand-daddy of 'em all.  Well, a case can be made that Yosemite was really the Grand-daddy of 'em all, but officially Yellowstone was the first National Park, so we'll go with that.  It's a magical place.  This will be my second visit.  I'm ecstatic at the premise.

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park, WY
Given my druthers I'd probably take Grand Teton over Yellowstone.  It's a less flashy park but it's also quieter and feels more like wilderness and less like Disneyland than the big park.  Who knows, we might even have time for a round of golf in Jackson Hole.

Reno, NV

Our final stop will likely be in Reno, NV.  It's a long haul from Jackson Hole to Reno.  We'll be making that drive in one day.  We'll see how it goes.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Road Trip!

I spent this weekend cleaning the garage and watching the Masters online.  That makes two weekends in a row that I didn't get out and do something.  Not only that, I'm not making a Spring trip to Death Valley this year.

I'm becoming stagnant.

There is hope.  I've got a trip to Colorado coming up this summer.  I'll be taking my time on the drive to see the sights.  Here are some of the planned highlights.

Las Vegas

LasVegas, NV
Weird town, Las Vegas.  It's not really my kind of place.  However, this is a road trip through America's South-West.  Las Vegas is pretty much a required stop.  I enjoy playing a little roulette every now and then, it'll be fun.

Grand Canyon's North Rim

Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
I've been to the South Rim a couple of times.  This will be my first time on the other side.

Monument Valley

John Ford made his best movies in Monument Valley.  This is someplace I've been wanting to go to for a long time.  Hopefully it works out this summer.  

I obviously didn't take this picture of Henry Fonda.

Mesa Verde

This is another place I've been wanting to go to for a long time.  We visited the Puye Cliff Dwellings on our last trip to Colorado and it turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip.  I have high hopes for Mesa Verde.


La Veta, CO
All that is just the trip out.  After a weekend of rock 'n' rollin' there's a whole other week to get back yet to be figured out.  More on that later, I'm sure.