Monday, September 29, 2014

Bosque del Apache Critters

Our last blog mentioned that we were near Bosque del Apache NWR, and we took the opportunity to check out some of the critters on the refuge. The first thing that we noted was how green and lush the refuge was. We were told by several folks that New Mexico was enjoying an unusually wet summer.

The first thing we saw was this pair of Raccoons fishing around in the shallow muddy water of a pond. We never saw them catch anything, but they certainly kept at it.
Raccoons looking for a snack.
There was a small flock of White Pelicans on the same pond, with a Great Blue Heron patrolling the mudflat.
White Pelicans
We also saw a few American Avocets sweeping the water with their unique upturned bills. They are already out of their colorful breeding plumage and into their more subtle winter feathers. 
American Avocets
Back at the campground we were treated to this Gambel's Quail sentry calling over and over again from the top of a fencepost. 
Gambel's Quail
About a dozen more were on the ground, but they were doing a good job of hiding. I managed to snap this one male before he disappeared into the bushes. 

Onward to the Ruidoso area!!


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Have You Ever Been To Bosque del Apache?

Seems like any time we mention we’re going to be in New Mexico someone asks if we've ever been to Bosque. 
We’ve been here several times but never as a volunteer.  Many, many, many years ago we came here during Thanksgiving to see the cranes and geese fly out.

If you've never seen it, it is well worth getting up while it’s still dark and braving the chilly weather!

We usually stop in the Visitor Center to see if we know the volunteers that are working.  We’ve worked with some of these volunteers at other refuges.  This trip, we’ll probably be in and out before the VC opens.

Since then we’ve come this direction several times.  We always stay at the Birdwatchers RV park, right down the road from the refuge.  It’s nothing special, a little run down.  But, it’s the closest RV park to the refuge and is just fine for a night or two.
We crossed into New Mexico this morning and are only going to stay at this park one night. We’re only driving about 85 miles tomorrow.  We’ll stay a few days in the Ruidoso area.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Cooling off in Arizona

We’ve been spending a few days in Heber-Overgaard, Arizona.  We’re just relaxing and visiting with friends.

We staying at a wonderful RV park called Elk Pines.  We stayed here in 2010 (see blog from May 15-21, 2010) and really enjoyed the area.  It’s also a Passport America park so the site is half off for us.

At 6627 feet elevation, it’s nice and cool.  We’re having afternoon showers.  Even had a little soft hail yesterday.

We’ve been visiting with friends Bill and Karen that we volunteered with at Inks Lake State Park (Texas) this past Winter.  They have a super cute cabin up here and we’ve spent some time playing disc golf.

Our other friends that are here are John and Karen, who were camp hosts at Rocky Mountain National Park when we were there in 2010.  You might remember the blog I posted about the beautiful sign John made for us (see blog June 21, 2011).  He also sells these wonderful (and very sharp!) knives and surprised us with these two: 

I have 3 knives that I got a couple of years ago when we met up with John and Karen and use them all the time (and, they’re made in the USA - yea!).

Mark has been doing some work while we’re here.  He bought this snazzy headset so he can talk and type at the same time: 

There are three 18-hole disc golf courses in the area and he’s played all of them (more than once):

I’m still crocheting:
We’ve been doing a little reading, in our spare time.  I have a Kindle, Mark is still old school - actual books.

And, we found our 100th geocache:
We’re leaving tomorrow for Bosque del Apache, New Mexico.  Eventually, we will get to Texas.


Friday, September 19, 2014


We’ve been traveling for 12 days and have just crossed the Arizona state line. 

The red sandstone mountains are beautiful. 

We’re staying (only one night) at a campground just down the road from Lake Powell.
Heading out tomorrow to Show Low, Arizona.  We were in Show Low in 2010 and really enjoyed the area.  We’re looking forward to visiting with friends and enjoying some cooler mountain air.

Monday, September 15, 2014


After disc-golfing our way through Idaho, we’ve crossed over into Utah.  
Mark will be playing disc golf, we might look for a couple of geocaches, and we’ll be visiting family while we’re here.

Not much to blog about (unless you would like to see pictures of lots of disc golf courses!).

When I showed the picture of Mark’s disc collection a couple of blogs ago, I forgot to mention that he won a lot of those discs in competitions.  Some of them are souvenir disc from the various competitions. 

He either won or received 15 disc just from his last competition!

He’s also started collecting the mini disc (they have the name of the course or state printed on them).  When you live most of your time in an RV, there is not a lot of space for collections!

I also finished my 29th afghan of the year: 
After Utah we’ll be heading to Arizona where we will be visiting with friends and playing more disc golf.

Friday, September 12, 2014

World Center for Birds of Prey

Teri and I have spent the last couple of day in the Boise, Idaho area. While much dryer and browner than northern Idaho is is still an interesting place to see.

One of the places that we visited was the World Center for Birds of Prey, which is the headquarters for The Peregrine Fund. They started out as an organization to save the Peregrine Falcon, but have since gone on to conserve many other species including the Aplomado Falcon and California Condor.

During the two winters that we volunteered at Laguna Atascosa NWR we saw many of the re-introduced Aplomado Falcons and knew of the Peregrine Fund's work down there, but we never had direct contact with any of their biologists.

We arrived just in time to catch their last presentation of the afternoon. Their biologist explained the history of the Peregrine Fund and showed us a male Peregrine Falcon that they used for education.

We talked with him a bit afterwards and mentioned our time down in the Valley seeing the Aplomado Falcons. That got the two of us a "secret" tour of the back areas here he showed us a recently arrived Aplomado from Laguna that had a broken leg. We also got to look at other falcons, hawks, and owls in the back. 

Once back out into the public areas we viewed an Ornate Hawk-Eagle which is a species that we've seen in the wild in Belize and Panama.

We finally headed back outside where we viewed a captive breeding pair of California Condors in a large flight cage. Faces only a mother could love!!

These folks are doing some good things, and we were pleased to make the visit. 


Monday, September 8, 2014

A Nice Surprise

We spoke to Ranger Errin about our plans to visit 3 Idaho state parks on our way out of Idaho.  She told us to let her know which parks and what day we planned on arriving and she would call ahead to get us one free night at each park! 

But wait - It gets even better.

Our first stop is at Hells Gate State Park in Lewiston, Idaho.  We walked into the Visitor Center, told them who we were.  Not only were they ready for us, they knew we wanted to stay two nights and told us they would both be free.  And, they put us in a premium site, right by the Snake River.

Now that is a nice way to treat your volunteers!

Packing Up and Hitting the Road

Our time to leave is here.  We’ve had a wonderful time this summer and are already looking forward to getting back here next year.

We took a final bike ride this morning.  There are about 44 miles of trails to ride.  We didn’t ride all of them but we put a lot of miles on the bikes this summer. 

Mark took his new quad-copter for a last flight: 

He has packed away his planes.  (Did I mention that he bought a new plane this year?  Now he’s having to find a place to store it!) 

He’s found all his disc golf discs and has stored them within easy reach since he will be playing disc golf all the way to Texas. 

I’ve crocheted my way through several tubs of yarn including all the yarn I had stored on my side of the closet, a giant tub of yarn in the storage area under the RV, and all the yarn I had hidden away under the couch.

When we ordered our RV I specified that I wanted storage under the couch, not a hide-a-bed.  This is what the couch looks like: 

This is the storage area under it.  It doesn’t look like a lot in the picture but it’s about 4’9” wide x 3’ deep.
I have completed 14 full size afghans and 1 baby afghan this summer.  I still have 5 tubs of yarn stored under the king-size bed.  I’ll be crocheting all the way home!  All theses afghans will be donated to Linus when we get back to Texas.

Here are a few of my favorites:

We’ll take 3-4 weeks to get home so stay tuned.  I’ll be blogging along the way!

The end!


Sunday, September 7, 2014

2014 Farragut Navel Training Station Reunion

Yesterday was the annual Farragut Navel Training Station Boot reunion.  This reunion is to honor the men and women who trained at Farragut during World War II.

We arrived early to help set up chairs and get ready.

We had over 200 folks show up with lots of veterans (including several of our park volunteers) along with 22 “Boots.”  (Boots: The sailors leggings where known as boots and that term was transferred to recruits).

The flags were raised and the National Anthem was sung.
It was a beautiful, moving ceremony.
17 volunteers elected to stay a little longer this summer to help out.
Inside the Museum at the Brig there are 8 sign-in books that correspond with the 8 camps that were built in 1942.  The Boots are encouraged to sign in.
There were lots of stories told and a great lunch provided by the park.


Friday, September 5, 2014

Where was your favorite volunteer assignment?

We’re often asked which assignment has been our favorite.  There really isn’t an answer to that question.  I can list things I liked and didn’t particularly like from each place we’ve volunteered.  But, I can say that this is the first time I haven’t gotten “hitch itch” when it comes time to leave.

(Hitch itch - the overwhelming urge to hook up the RV and hit the road!)

What could be better than cool temperatures, clear blue sky, bright sunshine and a gentle breeze?  That is a perfect day, in my opinion.  We’ve had a lot of those kinds of days here.

We’re starting to pack things away and have noticed the other volunteers here on “Volunteer Road” doing the same.  Several of the volunteers have already pulled out but we volunteered to work at the upcoming annual WWII Veterans Reunion this weekend.

One of our tasks this year has been to monitor the Bluebird houses.  This was something new for us and was a lot of fun.  We saw everything from eggs, hatching, 1 day old, 7 days old, 14 days old and fledging.  
 Hatching Bluebirds

My final report shows that we fledged 116 Western Bluebirds, 30 Mountain Bluebirds, 26 Tree Swallows, and 27 Mountain Chickadees. We had 18 second nestings.  According to the ranger, this has been a record year.

Our main job this year was as Interpretive Hosts.  We held programs every Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights plus additional Jr. Ranger programs Saturday and Sunday mornings. 

Mark created several Jr. Ranger programs and they were very popular.  “Bring an Insect” was a big hit.  We should have called it “Bring a Critter” because the kids brought all kinds of things for us to identify, including this awesome Leopard Slug: 
 Leopard Slug
Yellow Douglas Fir Borer

This program was a lot of fun, the kids were so excited to show what they had found (even if it was a grasshopper). 

Another program that Mark started was “Paper Airplane Contest”.  We provided everything needed for making paper airplanes then the kids all got to fly in a flying contest.  There were lots of prizes - I think everyone ended up getting some kind of prize.  Mark came up with this fun activity late in the year so we only offered it once but we had about 65 kids, and their parents, participate.  I think the Dads had a lot of fun showing off their airplane making skills!

We had a nature hike every Sunday morning.  This was probably our least popular program but those that did participate always commented on how interesting and fun it was.
Counting tree rings.

Mark’s “Design a Nature Bag and Go on a Scavenger Hunt” program was one of our most popular.  We had lots of crayons, markers, stickers, rubber stamps, pipe cleaners - everything a kid needs to personalize their own nature bag.  After they got their bag just the way they wanted it, we gave them a list of things to find to put in it such as two different size pinecones, a soft leaf, something round (someone came back with deer poop!).  The kids took this task very seriously! 
Personalizing their nature bags before heading out for the scavenger hunt.

My final report shows the following program participation (kids and adults):  School groups - 533, Jr. Ranger - 908, Nature Hikes - 114, and our evening programs brought in 2189 folks!

I should have written more blogs because there is so much to tell about our summer programs.  Oh well, that will give me something to blog about next year!