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Posts Tagged ‘Lake Colorado City State Park’

 “Come Fairies, take me out of this dull world, for I would ride with you upon the wind and dance upon the mountains like a flame!” – William Butler Yeats

Mount Ogden from 25th Street in Ogden. She holds a part of my soul. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Travels With Maggie

I’m in Ogden, Utah, in the shadow of the Wasatch Mountains where I lived for a third of my life. It was a quick trip here from Lake Walcott State Park in Southern Idaho, where I’ve spent a leisurely summer volunteering as a campground host and enjoying Mother Nature’s daily gifts.

I know that when I leave Utah today this range of the great Rockies will be denied me for many months. And my heart is already feeling the loss.

Anywhere bluebonnets grow automatically goes on my favorite places list. Among them is Texas' Lake Colorado City State Park shown above. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I sold my home here, the one that got the Ogden Canyon winds each day as the mountains breathed in and out, seven years ago. I have no regrets. I’ve traveled all over the country half of each year, and spent the other half hopping between my children and grandchildren, most of whom are in Texas.

It’s been both great to spend time with loved ones, and great to travel this beautiful country of ours and take in its wonders. People often ask me what’s my favorite spot.

 It’s a question I find difficult to answer because immediately dozens of places pop into mind. I’ve found beauty in every state I’ve visited, and that now includes 47. My goal, since I’ve already visited Hawaii and Alaska, is to have visited all 50 of our states by the end of next year. 

Meanwhile, when I leave here tomorrow, I will leave a piece of my soul secreted away in the Wasatch Mountains that guard Ogden. .I trust the mountains to guard it well until I return and once again stand in their shadow. Just as I hope the bluebonnets of Texas will still remember me when I gaze upon them once again next spring.

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“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” — Jimmy Dean

 
 

Looking down canyon from the Palo Duro Canyon State Park interpretive center ... Photo by Pat Bean

 Day Seven

I took one last early morning hike and then a final drive around Lake Colorado City State Park before getting back on the road. I was rewarded with bluebonnets and a roadrunner. The bluebonnets, as always, cheered the soul while the road runner brought a smile to my face.

 It’s a long-legged bird that prefers running to flying, hence its name. It has a bad-hair-day crest that bobbles with every step. I can never watch a roadrunner without thinking of the Coyote and Roadrunner cartoon, in which the bird always outsmarts the wily coyote.

 I was still smiling when I got back on the road for the 250 -mile trip this day to Palo Duro Canyon State Park.  The smile, however, had disappeared by the time I passed Snyder and was traveling down Highway 84. It was typical West Texas landscape but with an added touch. I occasionally had to dodge blowing tumbleweeds. While the storm of the night before had passed over, it left behind high gusting winds that tormented my RV and kept me clinching the steering wheel so I wouldn’t get blown off the road or into a passing vehicle.

It didn’t let up the entire journey; not only did it make driving tense, it also keep most of the birds I would see along

Osprey on a windy day ... Photo by Mike Baird, Wikipedia

 the roadside tucked away. The exception were the turkey vultures. Like the postman, the weather never keeps these birds from their daily routine.

Finally as I approaching Palo Duro, Texas’ minature Grand Canyon, I did see another bird circling above. An osprey? Surely my eyes were playing tricks on me. Osprey eat fish and I didn’t know of any nearby lake.

At the park check-in, as always, I asked for a bird list and information on any rare or unusual birds seen recently. “Just an osprey,” the park worker replied. “He was seen eating a big trout taken from one of our streams.”

“And he ate it all,” chimed in another staff member.

 Birds never cease to amaze me.

Photos and prose copyrighted by Pat Bean. Do not use without permission.

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 “Birds sing after a storm; why shouldn’t people feel as free to delight in whatever remains to them – Rose Kennedy

Bluebonnets at Lake Colorado City State Park survive a stormy night to carpet a picnic site beside the lake. ... Photo by Pat Bean

Day Six

 

The bird seed I threw around my camp site at Lake Colorado City State Park attracted a dozen species of birds. My favorites were the curved-billed thrashers and the northern cardinals. Several pairs of these birds, most likely in a courting act, fed one another. In the case of the cardinal, because of the differences in feather color, I knew it was the male feeding the female. I couldn’t tell the sexes of the curved bill apart but I assumed it was also the male doing the feeding.

The exchange of seed between the birds reminded me of French kissing.

One bird that didn’t partake of the seeds, but came to check it out from a tree-top seat was a magnificent Bullock’s oriole. I was sorry I didn’t have any oranges to slice and hang from the tree. Such offerings are one of the oriole’s favorite treats. Finding nothing to its liking, and after singing me a song, this glowing orange, black and white bird moved on.

Bullock's oriole ... Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

When not watching the lake and the birds out my RV window, I took frequent short walks with Maggie, did some writing, and read Catherine Watson’s “Home on the Road,” all the while keeping a watch on a dark, angry sky. I expected it to lash loose its fury at any moment, but it waited until the middle of the night to unfetter its bonds.

While I love storms, and listening to rain pitter-patter on my motor home’s roof is usually a pleasant symphony, the intensity of this one had my RV dancing a wild polka. Instead of a joyful tune, it was a discordant composition in which clashing cymbals and strobe lighting took center state. . When a lightning bolt struck only 10 feet away – or so it sounded – Maggie, who normally ignores storms, abandoned my feet and curled up next to my fetal-position curled stomach. I was glad for the comforting feel of her soft fur next to body.

I hoped my birds had found safety, and assumed they had when they showed up beside standing puddles of water early the next morning to eat my seed offering. While they had merely picked at the seeds yesterday, today they were gobbling it up as fast as they could. I was glad I could help them recover energy from what had been a wild stormy night.

Lake Colorado City State Park birds: Brewer’s blackbird, red-winged blackbird, eastern bluebird, bobolink, northern cardinal, mourning dove, house finch, scissor-tailed flycatcher, common grackle, great-tailed grackle, Cooper’s hawk, red-tailed hawk, killdeer, northern mockingbird, Bullock’s oriole, eastern phoebe, roadrunner, northern shoveler, house sparrow, lark sparrow, rufuous-crowned sparrow, song sparrow, vesper sparrow, white-crowned sparrow, Eurasian starling, barn swallow, rough-winged swallow, tree swallow, curved-bill thrasher, sage thrasher, tufted titmouse, turkey vulture and Bewick’s wren

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A perfect place to end the day: Lake Colorado City State Park ... Photo by Pat Bean

A perfect place to end the day: Lake Colorado City State Park ... Photo by Pat Bean

Stand still. The trees ahead and bush beside you are not lost.” — Albert Einstein.

Day Five

 I needed to stock up on supplies, including chemicals to keep my RV holding tank smelling like honeysuckle or the close approximation, so before leaving San Angelo I needed a Wal-Mart. I looked up the nearest one on my computer mapping program and wrote down the directions. Somewhere between the park and the store, however, my missing sense of direction had me zigging instead of zagging.

My planned 10-minute side trip into town ended up taking over an hour. The up side – I always try to find one when horse pucky happens — was that I now had a more personalized feel for San Angelo.

This Central Texas city of 100,000 is dissected by the Concho River, a fact that made itself known as I crossed it several times in my efforts to get unlost. The twisting river flows between O.C. Fisher Lake to the north of town and Lake Nasworthy to the south, where I had spent the night.

Depending on the section of town in which I was lost, I could describe San Angelo as a progressive town or a decaying one, a place of manicured lawns or junky shacks, and its residents as rich or poor. Actually most of it looked pretty middle class, which gave it a distinction of being just about like any other city of its size I’ve explored. ations. The flat see-for-miles landscape was dotted with sagebrush, cactus and clunky mesquite and cedar trees. Adding color to the otherwise dull landscape were the roadside wildflowers Texas is known for: purple verbena, bluebonnets, pink primroses, and yellow blossoms too numerous (and difficult) to identify. Oil rigs, cattle, spring-plowed fields and huge windmills completed the picture. The latter was a recent addition to a landscape that was etched on my Texas memory.

The oil rigs pumping on one side and windmills turning on the other spoke of this country’s over-weight dependency on energy. I was glad to see the cleaner fuel source addition, but wondered if it would be enough. I, however, couldn’t cast stones. My RV was my glass house. My holding tank deodorizer, however, was organic and non-toxic.

 
 

Red-winged blackbird

A red-winged blackbird with shoulder epaulettes as bright as a shiny fire engine brought my attention back to nature. It stayed there until I drove into Lake Colorado City State Park, where I would spend the next two nights in a campground full of mesquite trees just coming into bloom. Both the trees and the ground beneath them was atwitter with birds. Life is good.

Photos and prose copyrighted by Pat Bean. Do not use without permission.

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