Blog 52: Big Horns and Flat Tires
Sunday, July 03, 2011 Filed in: Camping | Mobile Productivity | Pet Photography | Wildlife Photography | Travel
ContentsRearview Mirror - Summary of the past week
Pups Across America! - Pics of the Kids at their best
Headlights - Our schedule as to where we will be heading
(Note: click on any photo for a larger image/slideshow)
By 6:00 a.m. all the Alexanders were entering the Colorado National Monument in our car, only about 15 minutes away from our campground. Jan was driving, and I was in the co-pilot seat, camera on my lap along with one to two pups depending on their mood and what we were sighting. Our hope was to spot and photograph Bighorn Sheep, but I knew our probability was low as the entire herd within the park only amounted to 50. Yet, within 10 minutes we came across a yearly male, munching along the side of the road. He was oblivious to our car and me hanging out the window with camera pointed at him, and I got in several shots before he casually strolled away walking right past us.
We had a great time winding up and down the monument road, enjoying the canyons and rock formations--during our first half-hour in the park we only saw two other vehicles. By 8:30 we had traveled the 26-mile road through the park and had developed quite an appetite. Of course Jan already knew her way around Grand Junction, and soon we were down on Main Street selecting a restaurant with outside seating. After a great Mexican breakfast we re-traced our path re-entering the park the way we had exited. The Visitor Center was now open, so we went in to check out photo spots and hiking trails. When I asked about critters, the lady said that the last Bighorn sighting was over a month ago. We felt even better about our rookie success. Just as we were leaving the park Jan let out a yelp--she had seen a big ram move rapidly from the top of a mesa down a steep hill then disappear--she scored a double.
Monday: Dinosaur Diamond Scenic Byway
After getting up early and working for a few hours, the four of us took a three-and-a-half-mile hike around Highline Lake. We were joined by scooting rabbits, flitting birds along the marshes, and an occasional Great Blue Heron making his way across the lake.
Mid-afternoon I got tired of work, so we took a road trip 70 miles north on highway 139 through the desert, up through the mountains, then back down through the desert culminating at the town of Rangely. This stretch of road is part of the 650-mile diamond-shaped zone of Colorado and Utah that contains loads of dinosaur fossils. It was a very nice trip with lots of pretty contrasts from the lush green on some of the valleys, the variations of pinks, tans, and browns of the hills and mountains, set upon a vibrant deep blue sky accented by the occasional bright-white clouds.
Tuesday: Avian Alert
Got up very early, working on some projects, then all four of us went out at 6:40 a.m. and walked Highline Trail again.
Mid-morning, Jan interrupted my work for an “avian alert.” The momma Great Horned Owl and her “daughter” (we think she is a female as she is almost as big as her mother and female owls are larger than males) were both sitting in a tree about ten yards from our coach. They were hunkered down as an upset robin was buzzing them and a furious Cooper’s Hawk was conducting fly-bys coming within inches of the owls.
Inquiries of others who had observed what had happened earlier said that the momma owl had snatched and ate another bird, probably a young robin, possibly a baby hawk.
Anyway, it was quite the campground event with many people taking time to get a close-up view of the owls. Of course the kids were the most curious and the most excited.
Wednesday: Flat Tire and More Sheep
Once again I got up quite early working on business. By 6:30 a.m. we were all out on the Highline Trail enjoying the cloudy weather as we hiked along. When we got back I had a couple of conference calls, but then shifted to an issue of transportation.
Our Honda had a flat tire, so I diligently opened the spare tire compartment--my plan being to replace the flat with the mini-spare and drive to town for the repair. However, step one in a plan of 14, did not go well. I am not a world champion weight lifter like Jan’s brother Wayne*, but I’m fairly strong for an old guy. However, when I took the wrench to crack the wheel nuts, they did not budge. After borrowing from Dave a more substantial tool, I was able to crack one. As we headed the golf cart down to the maintenance shop to try and find an even bigger wrench, I spotted the solution to my problem--John, the new guy looked like he wrestled grizzlies and won. Telling him of the dilemma, he quickly volunteered to help. Without tensing a blood vessel he performed the entire task, having the damaged tire in the back of Dave’s pickup truck in five minutes. A quick drive to the Fruita Coop, ten minutes to fix it, and we were back in camp where John reversed the process--it’s all in knowing the right folks!
Later in the afternoon with storm clouds in the sky, we decided to head back into Colorado Monument. In 15 minutes we were through the gate and within ten more we had our next Bighorn sighting! The dark blue skies showed the magnificence of the monument at it’s best.
*No joke, he is the world champion in his age bracket at the bench press. He beat the Russians and the rest of his challengers a few weeks ago benching 352 pounds at the World Championship.
Thursday: Janny 911
Jan decided to go for a shorter walk, so she took the Pups her way and I headed out on the big trail. For the first time I came across a flock of Magpies, flitting about as if in a tizzy. I was able to get one shot I really liked. After about 20 minutes into the walk, I felt the temperature drop about 15 degrees or so. Looking up I saw the big thunderboomers I was expecting, dominating the sky in all directions. I quickened my pace, happy that I’d packed a large trash bag to cover my camera in case it rained. I made it back to the far-end of the lake when the rains started. Luckily a shelter was near by so I got under cover, sat down, and called Janny to rescue me. Within 10 minutes we were driving back to camp.
The rest of the day was split working on business and helping Janny with the camp host chores.
I awoke to a chilly 51-degree, long-sleeve morning and headed out early to get a walk in with the Pups prior to a 7:00 a.m. call. For the first time, I took the Blue Heron Marsh trail that was just gorgeous. I saw my first coyote in the park, a large-framed critter that looked in great condition. From then on I kept the Pups on a short leash.
Back at camp I helped Janny a little, but spent most all the day working in the coach.
Saturday: Heating Up
Up till now, the super-low humidity weather had been warm but quite pleasant. Now, with friends coming to visit soon, things are heating up! Prospects are 100 degrees for the next five days—thank goodness the humidity is supposed to continue to be crazy low.
A big walk with the Kids, then back to work. A very quiet campground as most all the campers are on the lake or picnicking by it.
July 10-July 19: Camp hosting at Highline Lake State Park
July 20-July 23: Visiting our grandson Austie in Parker, CO
July 24-August 7: Camp hosting at Highline State Park with a side trip or two
August 9: Yellowstone NP and possibly Glacier NP
September 4-10: Camp with Scott and Deb in Northern Michigan?
September 11-25: Visit Kalamazoo, MI friends and participate in Ribarama
October 16 to 31: Visit Kentucky friends
November 1: Head back to Pine Island
Have questions or comments--send them in.
Next week should be loaded with pics, as we are going to Colorado National Monument a time or two.