Posts Tagged ‘Lake Walcott State Park’

“The grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never dried all at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal dew and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.” – John Muir

The view from my RV, with no photographic enhancement. — Photo by Pat Bean

Lake Walcott Welcomes the Day

Reflections: A calm lake provides a second canvas for Mother Nature. — Photo by Pat Bean

I took 25 days to drive from my daughter’s home on the outskirts of Dallas, Texas, to Lake Walcott State Park in Idaho, where I’ll be spending the summer.

It’s my third year here as a volunteer campground host. I return because it’s an awesome place, where Mother Nature changes the scenery daily. I arrive in time to see the first buds of spring paint the landscape, and stay until the crisp colors of autumn paint over the green of summer.

Nowhere, however, have I ever seen more spectacular sunrises and sunsets.

Thankfully, my canine companion, Pepper, wakes me in time to see that magic hour of grayness, when all the world seems to hold its breath for a moment, in anticipation of dawn’s first light.

This morning’s explosion was especially spectacular.

Bean’s Pat: http://photonatureblog.com/ This blog helps me get a daily dose of nature’s wonders. Today it’s a butterfly that stirs my soul. Blog pick of the day by a wondering wanderer.  

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“A dog is not almost human and I know of no greater insult to the canine race than to describe it as such.” – John Holmes

Travels With Maggie

While Maggie grudgingly lets me share her over-the-cab bed at night, she considers it her personal domain during the day. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Someone let their big dog run loose in the campground here at Lake Walcott State Park this past week. That’s a big No-No.

While dogs, like my spoiled owner, Maggie, are welcome in the park, the rule is that they are to be kept on a leash at all times, and that the human be considerate and pick up their poop.

Most of the times these rules are followed, but there’s always the guy or gal who thinks rules don’t mean them.

At least once or twice a week I get to remind people of the leash regulation, and most of them nicely comply – at least when I’m in sight.

Maggie’s usually the one who ferrets the non-complying dogs out. While a loose pet might calmly remain sitting by their owner’s side when a person walks by, they can’t resist running out to sniff another dog’s butt to say hello.

Maggie will ignore any dog smaller than her, wag her tail and get happy if the dog’s her size, but growl ferociously if the dog’s bigger than her. I tell her she hasn’t got a lick of sense, but then she figures she has me to hide behind if her bluff doesn’t work.

Anyway, our park ranger was the one to catch the most recent unleashed dog, quite a big one, he told me when I relieved him at the entrance kiosk yesterday morning.

Maggie's always on a leash. She wants her pet to stay close enough to protect her from the world. -- Photo by Pat Bean

He – I’m sure quite gruffly because he’s that kind of ranger – warned the owner to put his dog on a leash, While it can’t be proved, we suspect the owner didn’t comply once the ranger was out of sight. The clues to back up our suspicions include:

I walked outside Friday morning and spotted a big pile of poop near my RV.

Something spooked the two skunks that have been hanging around the park, and they sprayed near the ranger’s house. He’s not a happy camper.

The dog owner was taking his pet to the vet yesterday morning because it came across a porcupine and lost the battle.

Too bad it wasn’t the dog owner who got punctured is all I have to say.

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 “Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.” Rabindranath Tagore


Looking eastward at the sunset over Lake Walcott, Aug. 17, 2011. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Travels With Maggie

There’s a scene in the first released episode of “Star Wars” in which Luke Skywalker is standing outside at the end of the day, staring at the sky.

You immediately know he’s not on Planet Earth because the sky is lit by two moons. That scene has long stayed with me. It had a haunting quality about it that imprinted on my catch-all brain.

The scene flashed in my mind again the first time I visited Lake Walcott in Southern Idaho a few years ago. As always, Maggie and I were taking our walk at the end of the day.

We were standing on a point overlooking the lake, her sniffing at a bush, and me staring up at a princess pink sunset with a half-moon framed between glowing clouds. It was an awesome, but not unfamiliar sight – until I realized I was looking east.

Quickly turning around, I saw a second sunset, a Halloween orange one peeking from behind cottonwood and Russian olive trees. This was the real sunset. The eastern one was a trick of the lake.


The same sunset view looking west, Aug. 17, 2011. If you look carefully you can see Gypsy Lee beneath the trees, -- Photo by Pat Bean

The calm water, acting like a mirror, had captured the sunset and then reflected the hues, now muted, up into the clouds.

Depending on the weather, the clouds and what’s hanging around in the air, the sunsets here at Lake Walcott range from a”Brahms Lullaby” to the clash of cymbals in Beethoven’s “1812 Overture.” While the eastern display is barely visible on quieter nights, it can outshine its western source on the louder nights.

I’ve seen both versions many times now since this is my second year as a summer volunteer campground host here at Lake Walcott. But they can still can take my breath away.

And they did that just two nights ago. I was standing at my favorite spot overlooking the lake when the show began. It lasted for a good 10 minutes, going from pastel to vibrant hues than fading into darkness.

I wish you had been here to see it with me.

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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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Nature's surprises aren't always as beneign as a bull snake. I gave this Brazos Bend Texas State Park alligator sleeping beside the trail I was walking a wide berth. Photo by Pat Bean

“The moments of happiness we enjoy take us by surprise. It is not that we seize them, but that they seize us.” Ashley Montaqu

Bull snake -- Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Travels With Maggie

Maggie and I, out for one of our daily walks here at Lake Walcott State Park yesterday, weren’t looking where we put our feet as we rounded a curve that took us back into the campground.

I was watching a red-winged blackbird, admiring the contrast of scarlet epaulets against black feathers, and Maggie was keeping her eye on a dog sitting beside a nearby RV.

I’m not sure what caused me to look down, but one more step would have put my foot on the top of a long snake that had evidently been sunning itself on the paved trail.

I jerked Maggie back and let out a yelp, followed by the words “a snake!” I wasn’t afraid, just surprised, and loud enough to alert nearby campers who all came rushing over to see it for themselves.

The snake, in the meantime, was slithering as fast as it could toward a scattering of rocks beside the trail. All the onlookers got to see was the end of its six-foot ropey body as it eased itself out of view.

It was a bull snake, which isn’t poisonous, and I suggested that everyone just leave it alone. I hope they did, because bull snakes eat small rodents, the kind that twice have found their way into my RV.

Up until the snake surprised us, my walk with Maggie had a sameness about it. The snake gave it the exclamation point that set it apart. While the red-winged blackbird was a joy to behold, the more rarely observed, although not as pretty, snake made the walk more memorable.

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The moment when you first wake up in the morning is the most wonderful of the twenty-four hours. No matter how weary or dreary you may feel, you possess the certainty that, during the day that lies before you, absolutely anything may happen. And the fact that it practically always doesn’t, matters not a jot.  The possibility is always there.” ~Monica Baldwin

This morning's sunrise at Lake Walcott State Park. I'm a morning person, and catching a sunrise is the best start I can give my day. -- Photo by Pat Bean





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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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 “Nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion.” – Georg Wilhelm Hegel

Gray partridge -- the pair disappeared too quickly for me to get a photo of them, so thanks to Wikipedia for this one.

Travels With Maggie

I was on the phone with my daughter in Arkansas when I saw two quail-like birds trot across the manicured lawn beside my RV.

I quickly cut the call short, and rushed over to the window for a better look. I knew if I went outside my RV they would quickly disappear. As it was they pretty much did that anyway, although not before I had a quick study.

They were short and plump, gray and brown, and sported a rusty-red face and throat design. I suspected they belonged to the quail or grouse family of birds that spend more time on the ground than in the air.

I was right, which is a clue to how far I’m come since becoming a birder 12 years ago when I couldn’t tell a gull from a tern or a swallow from an oriole.

Back then, I spent many hours thumbing through an entire bird book just to identify one species, or to tell a ruddy duck from a mallard. Today I quickly narrowed the possibilities, and with the help of my National Geographic “Field Guide to the Birds of North American, soon decided the birds were gray partridges.

Maggie and I daily stroll Lake Walcott's many paths, always finding new wonders of Mother Nature. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The guide’s range map, which let me know this partridge could be found in Southern Idaho, and the bird’s facial color,  were the deciding factors. Later, when I mentioned the sighting to a park worker, he told me gray partridges were commonly found here at Lake Walcott State Park.

I was an ecstatic birder. The gray partridge was a life bird for me, my 697th species.

Birding, as a passion, came at exactly the right time of my life. My journalism career was nearing an end, and I was planning for a traveling retirement. Chasing birds not only gave me a new interest in life, it fit in perfectly with my upcoming life as a vagabond.

While you can see robins and red-tailed hawks everywhere, in North America you can only see a Florida scrub jay in one small parcel of land in Florida, or a white-tailed hawk only in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, or an elegant trogan in Southeast Arizona.

I still have a long way to go to see all of North America’s nearly 1,000 bird species, and even farther to go to see the world’s nearly 10,000 species. But that’s OK, because there will always be birds to chase.

Learning about birds, and boy is there a lot of fascinating stuff to learn, has also been great exercise for my brain. But the most important word here is passion.

While of course there’s the male-female sex thing, it can also mean anything in life that moves us. Adding birds to my passion, along with the passions I have for family, writing, art, reading and travel has made my life richer.

If not a gray partridge, what’s your passion?

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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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