April 21, 2018 Marion, Kansas

Abandoned Kansas Farmhouse
Abandoned Kansas Farmhouse

Driving the Backroads of Kansas

I have been staying at another Army Corps of Engineers park on the shores of Marion Reservoir the last week or so. Cottonwood Point Campground is yet another great COE campground with 171 campsites spread out over many acres along the shoreline of the reservoir. The sites are mostly level backins with a few pullthroughs, most have gravel pads, picnic table under a shelter, fire pit and charcoal grill. Most have 50 amp electric  with water spigot and some sites have full hookups.

Since there is almost no one here this early in the season, I was able to grab a great pull through site at the very end of one of the four camping loops, guaranteeing me the solitude I love. This site, like most in this campground is waterside with lots of trees around the campsite. Very strong Verizon signal for my internet and this site allowed me easy access to the southern sky for my satellite TV. And for all this I have to pay all of $10.50 ( with my senior pass ) a night, pretty hard to beat that.

Cottonwood Point COE Campsite
Cottonwood Point COE Campsite

My only gripe is that yesterday I had to move from the wonderful site seen in these images to another pull through ( that proved to be every bit as nice ). The reason why ? Well, even though there are only about a dozen campers here amongst the 171 sites, this particular site has been reserved for the weekend. An all too common occurrence with campgrounds that allow reserving specific sites as opposed to reserving a guaranteed open space in the campground ( like the Texas State Park system does )

Cottonwood Point COE Campsite
Cottonwood Point COE Campsite

Notice the rapidly growing Pearl next to Sam. Weighed 2.4 pounds at her first vet visit a month ago, and now 4.4 pounds at her vet visit this week ( for the last of her puppy shots and her first rabies shot ). She remains bold and very independent, to the point of stubborn at times, but recognizes that she does have to pay attention, and respond, to my requests … at least most of the time. Continues to harass poor old Sam, but I do catch Sam actually playing with her quite often now, and even seeking her out to snuggle with once she sees that Pearl has finally shut down and fallen asleep.

Kansas Farmscape
Kansas Farmscape

The weather has been all over the map during my stay, from lows in the low 20’s to highs around 80, with rain, snow and a little bit of sun. The only constant has been the wind, blowing from all directions, but continually blowing, often up to 40 mph.

Kansas Farmscape
Kansas Farmscape

I have been driving all the back roads looking for old barns, but there are very few left standing, most farms now have metal barns, nowhere near as picturesque as the stately old wooden structures.

Abandoned Kansas Barns
Abandoned Kansas Barns

It’s not like the wooden barns didn’t once exist here, it’s just that what I see now are mainly just piles of wooden debris scattered through the woods that border the fields.

Abandoned Kansas Farm
Abandoned Kansas Farm

Once in a while I come across one that is still sort of standing, as in the images above, but these are few and far between.

Remains of a Stone Farmhouse
Remains of a Stone Farmhouse

I suppose that if a stone structure, like the one above located in the middle of a cultivated field, can’t survive here, it probably is little wonder that the old wooden structures have all disappeared.

Controlled Burn
Controlled Burn

Cheyenne Bottoms Wetlands

I made a 200 mile round trip to check out the Cheyenne Bottoms Wetlands west of here the other day after I went online and managed to reserve a spot on the last day of trips to a blind ( limited to only 6 people ) set up next to a Prairie Chicken lec to observe their mating rituals. The smoky scene above is what I encountered as I approached the wetlands. Unfortunately, there was a controlled burn in progress out on the wetlands and a lot of the area was thus inaccessible on the day I chose to visit.

Cheyenne Bottoms Birds
Cheyenne Bottoms Birds

I did manage to drive a bit of the roads in the wetlands and encountered a few birds here and there.

Avocet
Avocet

Certainly worth visiting again.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

I will be returning there with the motorhome next week and hope to get a better chance to explore the area for birds. These wetlands are located along the Central ( migratory ) Flyway and are a main refueling stop for all kinds of birdlife heading north to their breeding grounds.

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April 14, 2018 Marion, Kansas

Endless Prairie
Endless Prairie

The Strange Weather Continues

As I write this, I am staring out the motorhome window at swirling snow and swaying trees as the winds howl out of the north and the temperatures continue dropping, now at 30 degrees and supposed to continue falling to around 22 degrees tonight. Springtime in Kansas!

Endless Prairie
Endless Prairie

Yesterday, however, it was a balmy 50 degrees with the wind howling out of the south with gusts up to 45 mph. The heavy clouds with intermittent sun made for some nice opportunities to shoot prairie landscapes, though it was no simple task to keep the camera from shaking.

Abandoned Farmhouse
Abandoned Farmhouse
Abandoned Stone Farmhouse
Abandoned Stone Farmhouse
Abandoned Farmhouse
Abandoned Farmhouse

Lots of abandoned farmhouses and barns in this part of the state, though most of the wooden barns I have come across have long ago given way to the elements.

Stone Barn
Stone Barn

This barn, built in the 1880’s, with stone walls 18″ thick, most likely will be standing for quite a while yet.

Bison Herd
Bison Herd

A shot of one of the bison herds that have been reestablished in the state of Kansas, this one at the Maxwell Wildlife Refuge.

Maltese
Growing Up Fast

Pearl is growing up fast! Big enough now to really give poor old Sam fits, just harasses the living daylights out of her.

Maltese
Windblown

This shot gives you an idea of just how hard the wind is blowing out here. As with everything else, the howling winds and blowing snow do not faze Pearl in the least, outside playtime is enjoyed whatever the conditions may be.

Her bold nature almost did her in two days ago as a large, rangy bobcat sauntered into our campsite around 7AM while I was outside with the two dogs for them to do their morning business. The cat eyed Pearl, then me, then Pearl, as if trying to decide if I was enough of a deterrent to her being able to grab an expensive breakfast. Just as the cat decided to give up that idea, Pearl spotted the cat and started to run her way. Thankfully, she responded when I bellowed her name, and stopped before she got close enough for the bobcat to react. Since Pearl is about the size of a very small rabbit, I have no doubt the bobcat was eyeing her as prey. I have always been on the watch for coyotes anywhere I camp, but I have to admit, it never occurred to me that a bobcat would be this bold, especially in broad daylight. Needless to say, I am now even more vigilant than before and try to make sure that Pearl doesn’t get very far from me no matter what time of day we are outside.

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April 6, 2018 Twin Points Campground, Skiatook, Oklahoma

Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden

Spring is Here at the Tulsa Botanical Garden

( But It Only Stayed A Day )

This post is for the nice folks back in New Hampshire, still playing with snowblowers and snow plows when you should be thinking spring. I was looking for a little visual relief from the bleak gray landscape here in Oklahoma, so I decided to visit the Tulsa Botanical Garden to see if there was any color to be found hereabouts.

Productive Land
Productive Land

Along the way to Tulsa I came across this scene, some VERY productive acreage, cattle grazing under wind turbines while hydrocarbons are being pulled from below ground. A goldmine for the fortunate party that owns this land.

Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden

Tulsa Botanical Garden

Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden

With a bit of blue sky showing, I decided to drive down to the outskirts of Tulsa ( you can just see a couple downtown high-rises in the upper right corner of the image above ) to check out the spring blooms at the Tulsa Botanical Garden.

Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden

All in all, a fairly spectacular display of spring bulbs, and with temperatures barely hitting 40 degrees, I pretty much had the place to myself, ideal for photography.

Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden

Blue skies gave way to clouds and, unfortunately fairly strong winds came up, making it all but impossible to shoot flowers that were now in constant motion.

However, before the winds came up and the sun disappeared, I did manage to cover most of the garden and got some nice shots of their wonderfully designed flower beds.

Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Pansies
Pansies
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden

With temperatures forecast to drop to the low 20’s tonight, with the possibility of sleet and snow, the garden’s director told me I was lucky to get here when I did, because he assumed that the frigid conditions would take a toll on his gardens. I guess most of the country is suffering from this delayed Spring/ prolonged Winter, but here in Oklahoma, Spring was glorious, even if it did only last two days.

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April 3, 2018 Twin Points COE Campground, Oklahoma

 

Maltese
Pearl

Still Waiting Out Weather

Twin Points COE Campground

This morning I took this shot of my campsite here at Twin Points COE Campground on Skiatook Lake in Oklahoma. Don’t let the blue sky fool you, the rough weather continues, unabated. The howling wind out of the south woke me this morning, actually shaking the motorhome. Around 10 AM the wind started to turn around to the west, then the north, and this blue sky lasted about ten minutes as the wind changed. Temperatures Sunday night dropped into the 20’s, warmed to the low 40’s Monday, up to the 60’s today and predicted to dip back into the mid 20’s tonight with winds up to 35 mph. And of course, rain and possibly ice and/or snow.

Twin Points COE Campground is yet another very nice Corps of Engineers campground. Almost all the sites are located amongst the oaks, all are paved and most can handle a large rig, though a lot of them are sloped enough to make leveling your unit difficult. There is 50 amp electric at all sites and water spigots are located throughout the park. When I arrived there were only three or four others camped here and I snagged this great site on the water, though, as is way too often the case, I will have to move to another site as this one is reserved for the upcoming weekend.

Maltese
Constant Motion

Warning: Nothing but puppy shots from here on!

If you aren’t into cute little puppy shots, no need to read any farther. Though I have been making several road trips out into the surrounding country, I just haven’t yet found much of anything to shoot and the gray rainy weather has not been conducive to landscape photography.

Maltese
Pearl

Pearl is now at thirteen weeks and is growing rapidly, fortunately, also learning rapidly. Full of energy and developing her muscles with a lot of playful, exuberant exercise.

Maltese
Showoff

Constantly tormenting thirteen year old Sam running circles around her and attacking from all angles.

Maltese
Do I have to put up with this little twerp?

Sam dutifully puts up with her for the most part, but quite often looks at me to please get Pearl to leave her alone.

Maltese
Sight, Scent, Taste

Every trip outside, and there are a lot of them, about every hour and a half to encourage her house breaking habits, is an opportunity to explore as well as play.

Maltese
Takeout

She almost never comes to the door to be let back in without hauling something out the woods to take in with her.

Maltese
Diving In !

The drainage ditch along the driveway at this site is chock full of this winter’s oak leaves, about a foot deep, and this ditch has become Pearl’s favorite play station.

Maltese
Digging Down

Dives in …

Maltese
Pearl

… digs down ….

Maltese
Got One !

… and comes up with something …

Maltese
Digging In

… then repeat, repeat, repeat.

Maltese
Digging Deep
Maltese
Pearl
Maltese
Got One !
Maltese
The End Result

The end result, remember I told you the weather has been less than wonderful, a formerly white pup, needing a bath …

Maltese
The End Result

… but enjoying every minute of her time outside.

She still amazes me with her bold, shy away from nothing personality. She now has encountered several large dogs, many admiring people, hyper active kids, a pair of mallards, squirrels, heavy winds and rain, as well as cold weather, and nothing fazes her. Tail curled up ALWAYS and throwing caution to the wind, probably a little too bold for her own good. As a result, I am on constant alert trying to anticipate her next move, to make sure she doesn’t bite off more than she can chew.

She already is well aware of her name and comes when called … unless she is into something interesting, then she lifts her head to acknowledge hearing me, but then resumes pursuing whatever has her interest at that particular time. She always does eventually come back to the motorhome steps and bounds up them with ease now. Just three weeks with us and only 13 weeks old and yesterday we had our first 24 hour period with no accidents in the motorhome, not bad for a pup that age. Not saying she is housebroken yet, but she sure is getting the hang of it. Goes to the door and whines to go out when she feels the need and as long as I am paying attention, we’re OK. Quite smart, very bold, and fiercely independent. She is going to be a lot of fun to have around, but I think she is going to challenge me all along the way.

I originally planned to only stay here through Thursday and then head a bit farther north to another COE campground but the weather forecast once again calls for cold weather with possible freezing rain, so I am going to hunker down here through the weekend, still waiting for warmer springtime weather to make it’s appearance.¬†Guess I can always watch the Masters on TV, it must be springtime in Augusta.

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