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Posts Tagged ‘Lake Walcott State Park’

“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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 “In wilderness I sense the miracle of life, and behind it our scientific accomplishments fade to trivia.” — Charles A. Lindbergh.

My morning visitor -- Photo by Pat Bean

Travels With Maggie

Midges and flies, but thankfully not blood-sucking mosquitoes, were an almost a constant human nuisance during my stay at Lake Walcott. A few even found their way into my RV, which was sad. While I’m very respectful of wildlife, even bugs and snakes, once a wild critter intrudes into my home, it usually ends up being a dead critter. A cute little field mouse discovered this when it nibbled on the tasty peanut butter I had spread on a mouse trap after I had spotted it scooting across my narrow floor.

 But bugs and mice are part of the circle of life. And if you’re a birder you have to appreciate them. These fast-breeding creatures make it possible for the existence of the slower breeding feathered flyers that amaze me. I saw this almost daily at Lake Walcott as the midges provided a tasty meal for a dawn and dusk parade of circling nighthawks flying overhead.

And while they didn’t make a personal appearance, I’m sure the great horned owls that hoo-hoo-hooed me awake each morning dined elegantly on some of the field mice I occasionally saw scampering through the sagebrush. During my

Common nighthawk -- Photo by Mark B. Bartosik

 earlier spring visit to the park, I had been honored to spot a great horned owl nest that had a couple of tiny heads poking above its jumbled wall of sticks. The park is full of huge, magnificent cottonwood trees that I knew from past sightings were favorite nesting spots of these silent flying night hunters.

 One morning I woke to find a four-legged critter poking around my campsite, one that has included human handouts as part of its menu plan. It was a raccoon, whose photo I took from my dining room table while drinking my morning coffee. While he didn’t get any tasty tidbits from me, I saw evidence of his dining habits in the wake of trashed tin garbage cans most mornings.

 When Maggie finally noticed our visitor, she barked excitedly. The raccoon appeared familiar with such nonsense. It merely stared for a moment at our RV, then slowly sauntered back into the brush behind the campground. I hoped he found something tasty out of the trash can I later picked up on my morning walk through of the campground.

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Sunset at Lake Walcott -- Photo by Pat Bean

 
 “What a joy it is to feel the soft, spring earth under my feet once more, to follow grassy roads that lead to ferny brooks where I can bathe my fingers in a cataract of rippling notes, or to clamber over a stone wall into green fields that tumble and roll in riotous gladness.” Helen Keller
 
From Twin Falls, it was just 58 miles to Lake Walcott State Park, where I would spend the next seven weeks. I arrived in the early evening and found the campground full, except for my host site, where a thoughtful park ranger had blocked it off with sawhorses to keep it vacant for my expected arrival.

Broad-tailed hummingbird

After hooking up, Maggie and I took one of the park’s paved trails down to the lake where a pair of western grebes floated gracefully on the water. I would see this same pair almost every day I was at the park. On the walk back to the RV, I watched a magnificent sunset turn the clouds a rosy pink, at times framing a full moon.

I awoke the next morning to an orange and purple sunrise and three broad-tailed hummingbirds playing king of the  mountain at the hummingbird feeder I had put out when I hooked up. The sunrise, which changed in intensity and colors to accommodate the weather, and the hummingbirds, which some days numbered up to eight, joined my cream-laced coffee and e-mail check morning ritual. 

Sunrise at Lake Walcott -- Photo by Pat Bean

By the time Maggie, who sleeps in until at least 9 a.m., woke and demanded a walk, we took it beneath fluffy white clouds floating in a robin’s egg blue sky. Western kingbirds, robins and western peewees kept us company as we walked through the campground, and then beside the lake to watch the western grebes. 

How could I do anything but look forward to my next 49 days. If home is where the heart is, I was there.

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          “The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!” — Jack Kerouac

Back on the Road

American goldfinch wearing yellow feathers to rival the sun ... Photo by Pat Bean

Lake Walcott State Park, adjacent to the Minidoka National Wildlife Refuge in southeast Idaho, is one of those nature treasures I’m always hoping to discover. While I lived a mere 150 miles away from it for over 20 years, I didn’t find it until I had started RV-ing and began scrutinizing maps.

Since it sat directly along my path on this journey, there was no way I would have passed it by without stopping – even if I hadn’t needed to do so to fill out some paperwork in anticipation of my returning to the park as a volunteer in August.

I arrived at the park in time for a hike with Maggie down to the lake, where I watched Canada geese shepherd half a dozen goslings. They trailed across the water with one parent in front leading the way and one parent in the rear making sure there were no laggards.

Across the way from the lake, where the Snake River ran free of the dam that backed up the water for the lake, white pelicans sat in a row on a line of island rocks.

Bullock’s orioles, meanwhile, clamored for my attention, their bright yellow-orange feathers

White pelican on a rock island in the middle of the Snake River ... Photo by Pat Bean

dancing among the green foliage like twinkling Christmas tree lights. But even their glory was dimmed by the American goldfinch that perched just outside my RV.

Yellow has always been one of my favorites colors, and these small birds wore such sunlight as dazzled the eyes.

Although I knew I would miss the friends I left behind in Ogden, my stop at Lake Walcott made being on the road again feel right.

Copyrighted by Pat Bean

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