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Posts Tagged ‘Idaho’

 

Sunflowers are just beginning to bloom at Lake Walcott -- Photo by Pat Bean

“Properly trained, a man can be dog’s best friend.” Corey Ford

Travels With Maggie

Thought I’d interrupt my past African Safari today to visit the present, which finds me at Lake Walcott State Park in southern Idaho.

I wanted to tell you that the Canada goose kids have all grown up now, sunflowers are finally blooming, and that I had a marvelous day on the lake with a couple of starving artists (so they said, but their fancy boat said otherwise), who were staying at the park between art shows, and finally to complain about my faithful companion.

Nuff said about everything but Maggie, a black cocker spaniel who thinks I’m her servant. I rescued her from a life of abuse when she was a year old and we’ve now been together for 12 years. She went from being afraid of her shadow to becoming Queen of my world.

 

And butterflies accompany Maggie and me on our walks. -- Photo by Pat Bean

For example: This past Wednesday, I went into town to do laundry, something that has to be done every two weeks if I want to wear clean underwear. Since I’m a volunteer at the park, I’m allowed to use a small park truck for the trip. And since I don’t get into town often, I treated myself to a Swiss cheese burger with grilled onions and a chocolate mile shake.

I drank the shake and ate half the burger on the drive back to the park, saving the other half of the big sandwich for dinner. Back at my RV I transported the leftover sandwich and a few other things into my RV, then went back out to bring in my clean laundry.

By the time I got back, Maggie had climbed up on my table, took the sandwich out of a paper sack, and then out of its cardboard container and was licking her chops. Not a crumb of the sanding was left.

I yelled, but she didn’t even blink. In fact the look that she gave me said: “Do you have any more.”

 

And Maggie is not the least bit repentant for eating my sandwich. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I gave her dirty looks for the rest of the day. She, simply, hopped up on to my bed, and gave me unrepentant stares. I mean take a look at that face. Does it look apologetic to you?

I think she’s more cat than dog.

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Common mullein just starting to blossom -- Photo by Pat Bean

“Oh, grey hill,
Where the grazing herd
Licks the purple blossom,
Crops the spiky weed!
Oh, stony pasture,
Where the tall mullein
Stands up so sturdy
On its little seed!”
– Edna St. Vincent Millay

Travels With Maggie

Beautiful walk this morning here at Lake Walcott, where the mullein’s tall stalks are just beginning to fill with yellow blossoms.

As the weather has turned warmer – although not into the triple digits my family and friends back in Texas have been enduring – things have become to pop out. I see something new every morning when I take my walk with Maggie.

Mullein with the park and lake in the background. -- Photo by Pat Bean

This morning was especially nice, and so I decided to take a break from my African Safari to share it with you.

I’m not sure what the wildflower below is, although I think it may belong to the onion family. Perhaps one of you wildflower experts can identify it. I hope so because I really do like to know the proper names of things.

Meanwhile I’ll be back later today with more recap of Kim and my African Safari adventures.

Who can name this plant? -- Photo by Pat Bean

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A starling chick getting its first look at the world. -- Photo by Pat Bean

“Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.” — Guillaume Apollinaire.

Travels With Maggie

I seldom get in funk, but that’s what I found myself in this past week. I’m not sure it was just my computer problems either. Thankfully Mother Nature stuck around to hold my hand and point out how precious every minute of life really is.

A pair of European starlings have been nesting in the self-pay kiosk here in the campground at Lake Walcott State Park. For weeks I’ve been watching as they disappear and reappear from a hole in the back of the small structure.

Yesterday morning I was rewarded with the end result of all the starlings’ hard work. I watched as a chick emerged from the hole for a look at the outside world. It sat on the rim of the hole looking amazed, and totally unafraid of the strange new sights.

It made me recall all the birds I saw in the Galapagos Islands that hadn’t yet, and hopefully never, been given reason to fear humans. I had a Galapagos mockingbird actually land on my shoe, and a blue-footed booby that refused to move off a trail to let me pass. I was the one who had to go around.

Later, when Maggie and I took our daily circuit around the park, Mother Nature continued to share her wonders with me.

Mother Nature is generous with her gifts here at Lake Walcott State Park. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The huge willow trees that were leafless when I first arrived in May are now bursting with lush green leaves that dip down to the ground. The frosty green Russian olive trees add texture to the park’s lively green landscape, while the flowering trees give it color.

Honking geese, giggles coming off rushing rapids on the Snake River that feeds the lake, screeching killdeer, rustling tree branches and cheery robins provide the musical background.

It’s as if Mother Nature is laughing at my funk and telling me to get over it. I heeded her advice.

 

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            “If you feel the urge, don’t be afraid to go on a wild goose chase. What do you think wild geese are for anyway? – Will Rogers

This killdeer is acting more like the plover shorebird it is, than all the others I've seen here at Lake Walcott. The many others I've seen have all been in the grass away from the water. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Travels With Maggie

            My morning stroll this morning was punctuated with killdeer along every path. Although a shorebird, the killdeer is more often than not found in grassy areas, where it builds its nest and raises its chicks. Whenever trespassers enter the nesting zone the killdeer, both male and female, will attempt to lure you away.

            They do so by walking on the ground, often holding out one wing as if broken, until you are a goodly distance away from their nest or chicks. Then they’ll fly out of harm’s way.

             A pair Maggie and I came across this morning stayed barely six feet ahead of us, screeching as they hurried along to make sure they had our attention.

These young Canada geese are looking more and more like their adult parents every day. -- Photo by Pat Bean

            I once found a nest of killdeer chicks by ignoring the adults, who hopped away in different directions, by looking where they didn’t want me to look. I didn’t stick around long watching the long-legged bits of fluff, however. The parents’ wails quickly pierced my heart, and after only a couple of minutes I left the family in peace.

            I haven’t seen any killdeer chicks here at Lake Walcott yet, but I have been watching a pair of Canada geese with two chicks. They were already past the frothy yellow fuzz stage when I arrived mid-May, and are quickly taking on a more adult appearance.

This morning I found the family just off shore, where they felt safe enough to not swim away immediately. Thankfully I hadn’t forgotten my camera.

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“Spring’s last-born darling, clear-eyed sweet, Pauses a moment with white twinkling feet, And golden locks in breezy play, Half teasing and half tender, to repeat her song of May.” –Susan Coolidge

Looking out over Lake Walcott on a cool day through tree branches that are just now beginning to green up. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Travels With Maggie

Today is the last day of May, and supposedly summer should be on the way. In fact, it was already being felt mid-April when I left my family behind in Texas, where yesterday they had temperatures in the 90s.

Here in Southern Idaho, yesterday’s temperatures were only in the 40s, but the weather gurus say it’ll be in the 60s today.

I think the birds, who have mostly been staying sheltered during the past few days of cold, wind and rain, might have heard the news as well. I was awakened by their blaring symphony outside my RV.

Barn, rough-winged, violet-green and bank swallows are making the landscape outside my window look as if it’s full of moving polka dots. Bright orange-chested robins are courting and building nests. Canada geese are already raising goslings. Western grebes are dancing on the lake. Common nighthawks are circling overhead in the evenings.

American goldfinch have already emptied my thistle bag twice. Killdeer are loudly squealing on the ground as they lead trespassers away from their nests in the grass. Starlings are going in and out of a hole in the self-pay kiosk outside my RV. Mourning doves are gobbling up the birdseed I threw on the ground. And brightly colored Bullock’s orioles are preening their puffed-out feathers.

I’m a happy birder.

It’s also been a delight the past two weeks to watch spring, which everyone says is quite late this year, come out of hiding.

A Bullock's oriole outside my RV in a cottonwood tree with his feathers all puffed up to ward off yesterday's wet coolness. -- Photo by Pat Bean

While the process happened almost overnight in Texas before I left there, the cool weather here has caused the change to take place in slow motion. It’s been a delight to be able to watch it in such detail.

Daily, I’ve seen leafless tree branches green up, beginning to hide the nests being built there by stick-transporting birds. I’ve watched as dainty lavender and yellow wildflowers have slowly peeked up through the grass, while the dandelions that came before them have shed their blossoms and are now scattering their puffy white seeds.

And now I’m going to walk Maggie and see what other wonders I’ll discover this last day of May. Life is good.

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Murphy’s Laws: If something can go wrong, it will; The chance of the bread falling with the buttered side down is directly proportional to the cost of the carpet; Technology is dominated by those who manage what they do not understand….

It's cold and rainy here at Lake Walcott this morning, but Maggie, who cares nothing about computer problems, sleeps the morning away. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Travels With Maggie

A quirky problem with my Verizon air card the first week of May suddenly blocked me from accessing the online home pages of Story Circle Network, the women’s writing support group to which I belong.

It took a couple of weeks, and over an hour on the phone with a Verizon techie, to determine it was a service provider blip. That was confirmed when the techie duplicated my air card set up and he, too, couldn’t access the Story Circle pages.

Verizon is still working on a fix, or so they say.

In the meantime, my four-year-old laptop died on me. I decided, since I had to purchase a new computer, why not just upgrade my air card at the same time. Surely that would solve the problem.

I patted myself on the back for thinking of it, then shelled out $129 for a new card because I didn’t yet qualify for an upgrade.

All the time that trouble-maker, Murphy, whom my grandmother really believed existed, was laughing at me. The upgrade card wouldn’t access the site either. Grrrr…..

Well, she did wake up from her snooze on the couch long enough to give me a dirty look after the camera flash woke her. -- Photo by Pat Bean

There was still some warm sunshine on my shoulder, however. With the help of my geeky Ogden friend, and a couple of Jack and Cokes to ease the transition, all the files on my old computer were transferred to the new one and it, at least, was working perfectly.

Of course I didn’t know then that Murphy was going to hitch a ride with me back to Lake Walcott.

While my old air card had four bars of connection to the world at the remote state park, the new one had half a bar. Not only could I just barely get connected, the connection almost immediately fizzled. The message, when things went awry, was “the remote computer is not responding.”

I suspected a Verizon tower might just be temporarily down, so I gave it 24 hours before I was back on the phone with another techie.

He tried numerous unsuccessful fixes – as I sat in front of my computer amazed at what they can do remotely these days. When nothing worked, the techie gave up and reactivated my old air card.

I immediately had four green bars of connectivity showing, which goes to show newer is not always better.

The techie said the antenna on the new card was probably a lemon, and he asked if I wanted him to send me a new one.

Nope, I said. I’ll just take a refund. As my grandmother said, when something’s not broke, don’t fix it.

Now if Murphy will just stop pestering those Verizon techies, maybe I’ll once again be able to connect to my Story Circle web sites.

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 “Compassion, in which all ethics must take root, can only attain its full breadth and depth if it embraces all living creatures and does not limit itself to mankind.” – Albert Schweitzer

Water gushing down into the Snake River during a release at the Minidoka Dam. -- Pat Bean

Travels With Maggie

The siren letting people downstream know they are letting water out of the dam here at Lake Walcott has been blaring frequently the past few days.

The lake’s high, the irrigation canals are full and the Snake River is flowing fast and furious.

I watched yesterday as the siren blew and the water gushed down from behind the dam. The white pelicans floating near where the water splashed as it cascaded down a short incline watched, too.

Occasionally I see pelicans in the lake, but sitting below the falls seems to be their favorite hang out, probably because fish like the oxygen rich spot, too. And pelicans like fish dinners.

Red-winged blackbirds build their nest in foilage growing in the shallow waters along Lake Walcott's shoreline. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The Minidoka Dam here that created Lake Walcott has been around since 1906, and a power generating plant added soon after, giving local farmers both water and electricity. Teddy Roosevelt, in 1909, created the 25,000-acre Minidoka National Wildlife Refuge around the lake, and the state park, which came much later and which is full of families, fishermen, RV-ers, tenters and boaters for the memorial weekend,, is within the refuge boundaries.

While too often someone suffers when man interferes with Mother Nature, this time it seems like it’s mostly been a win-win situation for human and wildlife species alike.

This is  all too rare these days.

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“perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all people cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” — Maya Angelou

Travels With Maggie

A western grebe floats near Lake Walcott's shore on a liquid canvas painted with reflections. -- Photo by Pat Bean

One of the reasons I love being a campground host is the people I get to meet, like Jane and Greg from Australia, who arrived here two days ahead of their paid reservation.

This charming couple with the twangy accent had rented an RV to tour western national parks, and had been chased out of Yellowstone early because of snow.

They came knocking at my RV door after park office hours to tell me their dilemma. Since the park was sparsely occupied this rainy night, I took their name and information and told them to just select a site and the details could be straightened out in the morning.

But being a nosy old broad, I had to also ask a lot of personal questions, beginning with: “Are you two Aussies?” They, thankfully, were just as nosy about me and Maggie, and eventually we agreed to get together over a drink and before-dinner snacks the next afternoon.

A bench beneath a shade tree says "Come sit a while and visit with Mother Nature." -- Photo by Pat Bean

Lake Walcott State Park here in Southern Idaho was their last hurrah before heading back to their home in Queensland. We talked about their visit to Zion National Park, my favorite place in the universe, and their fantastic reaction to the waterfalls in Yosemite, which is the one western national park that has mysteriously escaped a visit from me.

This was their first visit to America and I told them of other of this country’s wonders they should see if they came back, like Texas’ Palo Duro Canyon. They, in return, told me of places I should visit in Australia, which is still on my To-Do list.

It was a cold day, and the extra chill of the approaching night, sent us off to our respective homes on wheels all too soon. But not before we had exchanged e-mails.

The next morning, as they pulled out in the gray dawn, we waved at each other, like two ships passing in a fog. Perhaps we’ll continue our friendship, perhaps not. Only time will tell.

But I feel richer for having met them and sharing the wonders of our two countries. I can’t help but think that this kind of exchange is where world peace has to begin.

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My first sunrise for the year at Lake Walcott reminded me of lemon and blueberries. -- Photo by Pat Bean

“Living is strife and torment, disappointment and love and sacrifice, golden sunsets and black storms. I said that some time ago, and today I do not think I would add one word.” — Laurence Olivier

*Travels With Maggie

The wind blew last night, hard enough for my RV, Gypsy Lee, to rock and roll. I thought about sticking around Ogden for an extra day, but decided to drive to Idaho’s Lake Walcott State Park as planned. It was only 160 miles away after all.

Yup! Just 160 miles that took me through three dust storms and wind that almost blew me off the road before I exited Interstate 84 onto Highway 24 to Lake Walcott, with the wind continuing to taunt me the entire way.

Except for that, it was a nice drive beside the Wasatch Mountains, through farmlands, and past Snowville, just south of the Idaho border. The route then took me over Sweetzer Pass, either side of which is where the wind blew hardest, and finally over the Snake River.

Interstate 84, which follows Interstate 15 north to Tremonton before splitting, is nothing like the interstate south of Ogden, which snarled me in traffic last week on my way north. While there were occasional big semis, this four-lane highway from Ogden to Idaho was mostly a peaceful, scenic and uncrowded route.

A cheery robin outside my RV welcomed me back, too. -- Photo by Pat Bean

When I arrived at the park, I noted that while I had left Texas just as “summer” was arriving, spring hadn’t fully visited Lake Walcott. Many of the park’s grand big trees were still leafless. The lake, meanwhile, with its waves being influenced by the high winds, looked like an ocean. .

I though about about getting some photographs of the water lapping over the boat docks, but decided to rest awhile from my difficult drive first. By the time I awoke from a short nap, the winds had calmed and the lake was almost back to normal.

I was sorry I had let the opportunity pass, especially after park workers told me that the lake had been the worse they had ever seen it. In fact, the wind storm actually did some damage to one of the boat docks here.

Even so it felt good to be ba.ck. Last summer I was a campground host here for six weeks. This year I’ll be here all year. While park workers greeted my return with enthusiasm. Also extending a welcome note to my return was a spectacular sunrise and a cheery robin when I awoke to the next morning.

Life is good.

*And so ends my month long, 2,600-mile zig-zagging, sight-seeing journey from Texas to Idaho. Thanks to those who came along for the ride. But please tune in again tomorrow, the adventures are not over yet.

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Trails through Craters of the Moon National Monument take one through a dark, angry landscape. Photo by Pat Bean

 

Volcanoes are one way the earth gives birth to itself.” — Robert Gros

 

The huge lava field that spreads out across Southern Idaho’s Snake River Plain was thought to resemble the moon’s surface, hence when the area was designated a national monument in 1924 it was called Craters of the Moon.

While the name remains today, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s two-hour walk on the moon’s surface 45 years later showed it was nothing like the moon’s surface. The name stuck, however, just as Junior remains Junior to his parents even when he’s 65 years old.

As I walked across the rugged blue-black lava flow on trails that took me into a world far removed from my daily existence, I couldn’t help but compare this adventure with my recent visit to Mount St. Helens.

Yet even in this harsh landscape, life manages to exist. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The lava that covers the landscape for miles at Craters of the Moon is between 2,000 and 15,000 years old. Yet the scars it has left on the land looked younger than those caused only 30 years ago when Mount St. Helens erupted. Mother Nature has gentled the scars created by the Washington volcano with new grass, wildflowers and trees. While life certainly exists at Craters, it’s a place where the land shouts of volcanic action.

  

Less than two hours away from Lake Walcott State Park, where I was a volunteer campground host, the monument’s strange landscape had called out to me to visit. I answered but found that the dark rugged landscape agitated me. Where viewing St. Helens had been a calming experience, Craters of the Moon, with its twisting, roiling turmoil of anger still visible, reminded me too much of the world we live in today.

A sobering thought pushed itself to the forefront of my brain, telling me that both these dormant volcanoes will probably flow and blow again. As beautiful and as calming as Mother Nature can be to me, I was forced to admit she does have her destructive moods. Sadly, so do we humans.

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