October 24, Mule Deer then Travel Day

Antelope Island Sunrise
Antelope Island Sunrise

Antelope Island

Anxious to get out early and find the mule deer bucks I ran into yesterday morning, I had a little trouble setting my internal alarm and woke up way too early. So I headed back up to Buffalo Point and waited for the sun to come up.

City Lights from Antelope Island
City Lights from Antelope Island

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Morning Hunt for Mule deer Bucks

The Challenge
The Challenge

These images were taken long before the sun came up so the quality is not the best since there was so little light, but I liked some of the action they captured and they will make great painting reference photos.

Mulie Duel
Mulie Duel
Mulie Duel
Mulie Duel

While still dark I had hiked down to the edge of the sagebrush and set up my tripod with my 600mm lens attached. These photos were taken from quite a distance since I did not want to scare these guys off.

Always Alert
Always Alert

Of necessity, these guys are eternally vigilant, and they were aware of my presence, but as long as I didn’t move when their heads were up and looking my way, and I didn’t get too close, they would tolerate my efforts to get some shots.

The Boys Club
The Boys Club
The Boys Club
The Boys Club

I followed as they moved across the meadow and the sun slowly began to illuminate the scene.

The Boys Club
The Boys Club
The Boys Club
The Boys Club
On Alert
On Alert

If you don’t crowd them, they settle in and go about their daily routine, browsing, grooming,

Mulies Sparring
Mulies Sparring
Mulies Sparring
Mulies Sparring

and sparring, just testing each others strength, not really full out fighting.

Mule Deer
Mule Deer

Finally, they were bathed in full morning sunlight, and now I can get some decent shots ……

The End of a Good Thing, Here Comes Joe Point and Shoot
The End of a Good Thing, Here Comes Joe Point and Shoot

but, no such luck. They have been spotted by ” Joe Point and Shoot ” and here he comes crashing down through the sagebrush to get in ” real close ” so he can get the shot of a lifetime, shooting straight into the rising sun, of course. Well, he doesn’t get his shot because he scares them off, and needless to say, neither do I, after 2 hours of carefully stalking these beautiful, but cautious animals, they are out of here !

Sorry to cry and gripe and moan about this, but it happens all too often. You put in the time and effort to get some nice shots and some inconsiderate moron, or perhaps they are just oblivious to what others are trying to accomplish, comes along and chases off your subjects.

Bridger Bay Campsite Visitors

Morning Visitor
Morning Visitor

I get a great kick out of watching the jack rabbits come in early each morning, as I have my cup of coffee. Sometimes it is just one or two individuals, sometimes a dozen.

Coyote Pair
Coyote Pair
Coyote Pair
Coyote Pair

I’m not quite so pleased to see Ma and Pa coyote show up this close however. I imagine they are just doing their morning thing hunting for mice and voles, I doubt they could catch too many of the jack rabbits, but they always seem to show up around the time I am taking the dogs out for their morning constitutional. Sam sees them and wants to go check them out, but I have tried to explain to her that the game they would want to play with her is one she would not enjoy.

Unwelcome Campsite Visitor
Unwelcome Campsite Visitor
Unwelcome Campsite Visitor
Unwelcome Campsite Visitor

These portraits give you an idea of how close in they come, and, yes, the coyote is staring at one of the dogs, probably trying to size up the situation, thinking … one small, probably delicious little four legged morsel, and one very large two legged thing with some black three legged thing in front of him … hmmmm, wonder if it’s worth making a run at it. Any time they come around, I do get the dogs back in the motorhome, just in case.

Antelope Island to Baker, Nevada

After my morning photo shoot, I was back to camp and got everything stowed away and left Bridger Bay Campground around 10:30. Made a quick stop at WalMart on the way back out to I-15, I figured I better stock up on basics since I don’t think there is going to be a lot of opportunities to do so where I am heading.

Drove south on I-15 to I-215 south, battling the always heavy traffic on the interstates throughout the Salt lake City megalopolis. I exited I-215 and got on I-80 west and finally the traffic thinned to tolerable levels. I departed the interstate and headed south on Route 36, through several miles of traffic lights before finally hitting the open road, and no traffic, of the high desert country. Eventually, Route 36 ends and I got on another 2 lane, Route 6 west. More desert, nothing to see, but no traffic to battle, all the way to the Nevada border.

The Border Inn is right on Route 6 and I paid for two nights ( $24.42/ night including tax ) of camping in their flat, unpaved, peastone parking lot. Actually they have a decent, though not terribly attractive, campground directly adjacent to the store/restaurant/bar/casino/convenience store/gas station. Though right on the highway, the lack of night time traffic made for an uninterrupted night’s sleep here. There are full hookups with 50 Amp electric, and the sites are all side by side, close, with no privacy, but there are not a lot of campers here at this time. Verizon signal is a usable 4 bars of 3G and with no trees, satellite reception is fine. All in all, to explore the Great Basin National Park area, I would definitely stay here again.

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April 1, 2014 Traveling Day

Junction, Texas to Roswell, New Mexico

Two Toms displaying
Two Toms displaying

Moving day, but I still went out for an hour or so looking for my one last shot at turkeys in the park. These guys look like the same ones I saw in this area yesterday, at least today they appear to be displaying for others, not themselves.

Spring arrives as I leave Texas
Spring arrives as I leave Texas

Packed up and left the park on 377 back through Junction and hopped on I-10 west to Fort Stockton. Note the trees spring green colors and hints of green grass on the road out of S. Llano River State Park.

West Texas
West Texas
Wind power along I-10 in west Texas
Wind power along I-10 in west Texas

From Fort Stockton, I picked up Route 285 north to Pecos, through Carlsbad, and on to Roswell, New Mexico. From Fort Stockton to Pecos, this is a very good 2 lane road with minimal traffic ( being west Texas there is nothing very scenic here ), but about when you hit Pecos you encounter the oil field traffic and from there all the way to Loving, where the road goes to four lanes, the road gets pretty beaten up and the truck traffic is heavy.

Sun behind, dark skies ahead
Sun behind, dark skies ahead

In Roswell, and no, I haven’t seen any aliens yet, I headed east on 380 to get to the Bottomless Lakes State Park where I had made reservations for four nights to visit Bitter Lakes NWR and to hopefully complete my taxes and get caught up on blog posts from my internetless stay at S. Llano State Park. This shot was taken just before the exit to the park road.

Lea Lake CG at Bottomless Lakes State Park
Lea Lake CG at Bottomless Lakes State Park
My site at Lea Lake CG at Bottomless Lakes State Park
My site at Lea Lake CG at Bottomless Lakes State Park

Though it is a rough 7 mile narrow, winding ( did I say ROUGH ) road into the park once you leave route 380, the park itself is kind of nice though a little bare and a little run down. The gravel pull through site I had at the Lea Lake Campground was level and spacious with 30 amp electric and really high water pressure and had a very nice shaded picnic table. The other sites were a little tight and bare, but this one had enough small trees between it and the neighbors to provide adequate privacy. The campground is only a quarter full right now so it is quiet. All in all, not a bad place to spend a few nights this time of year, but I don’t think I would want to be here when it warms up and the place is full, it probably gets a little zooey. Verizon internet signal is strong here.

January 30, 2014 Moving Day

Roseate spoonbills feeding
Roseate spoonbills

Moving day  Bolivar Peninsula, Texas to Iowa, Louisiana

 

Headed up Route 87 to High Island then inland on Route 124 to Winnie where I joined up with I-10 East. Got off I-10 east at Orange, Texas exit and filled up at the Pilot truck stop right on the exit. Plenty of room on an actual RV gas island!

Called the Wingard shop down the road to see if they could help me with my satellite dish problem and turns out they can’t because their tech’s car won’t start so he won’t be in today. The owner said he thought it probably was a problem with the DirecTv box, of course, shift the blame.

Stopping and letting the dogs out at the truck stop proved to be a wise move because when I checked the tires while out with the dogs, I noticed the curbside tire on the tow dolly was completely flat. 5 minutes before, while I was filling up, it appeared fine. So, I unloaded the Toyota scissor jack and found that it wouldn’t even begin lifting the car, absolutely useless. Fortunately, I had my old small hydraulic jack in the RV and, even though it had once again leaked fluid all over the storage box, it did lift the dolly up enough so I could work it with the scissor jack to finish the change

… with the help of a young Spanish speaking trucker who was parked nearby and insisted on helping, though he spoke no English. He dove right in, so accepted the help, it was appreciated, and I figured I would give him a twenty for the 10 minutes help, so no big deal, even though I could have finished up by myself. With the job completed, I took my wallet out and grabbed a bill, but he absolutely refused to take anything, simply shook my hand, smiled, and walked away.Once in a while, my tenuous faith in humanity gets shored up a bit by the kindness of strangers.

I arrived at Cypress Bend RV Park in Iowa, LA right at noon, and when I went to check in and they had 2 packages waiting for me, my replacement lens foot from Really Right Stuff for my new camera lens ( that is on backorder from Adorama ) and a replacement LNB unit from the Winegard Satellite people. They said they were shipping out a coax cable that goes from the dish base to the LNB unit, but must have changed their diagnosis of my problem. Hope this is the problem, have to give Winegard some credit though, they responded quickly.

With a little sun popping through around 1 PM, I decided to forego the satellite dish repair and head down to Cameron NWR to take advantage of a day with sunlight. On the way, I stopped at the Lake Charles Toyota dealership to see if they can get my speed sensor ordered and installed while I am in the area. I showed their service people the documentation from Galveston Toyota showing the need for a new speed sensor to resolve my cruise control and warning lights situation. The Galveston dealer had told me it would take at least a week to get the part in ( from California he said ) and so I had to forego getting it fixed in Galveston a couple of weeks ago. Turns out there are four different speed sensors and the documentation from Galveston did not specify which one needed replacement so I had to hang around while the two dealerships got that straightened out. Here’s where I again start to lose faith… the Lake Charles dealership made me an appointment for first thing Monday morning to do the work and said that the part would be in overnight and it would come from Houston, so obviously I was getting a song and dance number in Galveston, don’t know why, unless they have an aversion to doing warranty work for people they haven’t sold to.

Cameron NWR

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

I have visited this wildlife refuge twice in the past and have had mixed results, but it always is worth a look see.

Glossy ibis
Glossy ibis

One of my favorite challenges is capturing the iridescent feathers of the Glossy ( or it could be a White-faced ) Ibis, most often appearing as a drab bronze-brown feathered bird. But if you   capture the sunlight at just the right angle you have a good chance of some seeing some amazing colors on that drab brown body.

Glossy ibis
Glossy ibis
Glossy ibis
Glossy ibis
Glossy ibis
Glossy ibis

 

Glossy ibis
Glossy ibis

 

Gadwall pair
Gadwall pair
Gadwall drake
Gadwall drake

 

 

 

 

 

I managed to add a new duck species to my photo catalog! The Gadwall is a not quite so common, nor colorful, duck that can be found here at the refuge most times.

Pintail pair
Pintail pair

I could hear shotgun blasts in the distance so I assume that might be why these pintails and most of the other birds were very skittish about my approach.

Cinnamon teal
Cinnamon teal

Seemed odd to encounter a single Cinammon Teal drake, not even any other teal nearby.

Black necked stilt
Black necked stilt

A feeding black-necked stilt.

Great blue heron
Great blue heron
Great blue heron
Great blue heron

 

 

 

 

 

There is no shortage of Great Blue Herons at the refuge.

Redtail hawk in flight
Redtail hawk in flight

 

Redtail hawk in flight
Redtail hawk in flight

And there are usually more raptors around than just this single Red-tailed Hawk I encountered today.

Moorhen on the run
Moorhen on the run

Lastly, a Common Moorhen doing what all birds today seemed inclined to do, running away!

January 22, 2014 Bolivar Peninsula, Texas

Moving day: The Ferry From Galveston Island to the Bolivar Peninsula

Galveston Island Ferry feeding the gulls
Galveston Island Ferry feeding the gulls

Yesterday, I decided to extend my stay at Galveston Island State Park by a day to avoid crossing north on the ferry on a day with 30 mph winds coming out of the north. A couple years back, I had made the mistake of doing just that and ended up with a motorhome and toad completely covered with salt. And I mean COMPLETELY covered with a white salt spray film, my little red Prius looked like an albino. This necessitated washing both vehicles when I arrived on the Bolivar Peninsula and I don’t care to have to do that again this trip, so, today, with following, gentle southerly winds, I made the uneventful crossing to the Bolivar Peninsula.

Here is  how the ferry crossing goes:

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Galveston Island Ferry waiting line
Galveston Island Ferry waiting line

 

Galveston Island Ferry two off duty ferries
Galveston Island Ferry two off duty ferries

 

Galveston Island Ferry "into the belly of the beast"
Galveston Island Ferry “into the belly of the beast”

 

Galveston Island Ferry drive to the front of the ferry
Galveston Island Ferry drive to the front of the ferry

 

Galveston Island Ferry leaving port
Galveston Island Ferry leaving port

 

Galveston Island Ferry leaving port thankfully, with a tailwind
Galveston Island Ferry leaving port thankfully, with a tailwind

 

Galveston Island Ferry passing Sea Wolf Park
Galveston Island Ferry passing Sea Wolf Park
Galveston Island Ferry under way
Galveston Island Ferry under way
Galveston Island Ferry feeding the gulls
Galveston Island Ferry feeding the gulls
Galveston Island Ferry headed to Galveston
Galveston Island Ferry headed to Galveston

 

My destination the Bolivar Peninsula
My destination, the Bolivar Peninsula

 

Galveston Island Ferry the girls enjoying the ride
Galveston Island Ferry the girls enjoying the ride

 

Galveston Island Ferry approaching Bolivar landing
Galveston Island Ferry approaching Bolivar landing

 

Galveston Island Ferry getting off
Galveston Island Ferry getting off

I had originally planned to to head on over to Grand Isle, LA. for a long stay at the state park there and was going to do the 420 mile trip in a leisurely 2 days with a stopover in Lake Charles. However, I think I will stay here, just north of Galveston until the latest cold front blows through. The Weather Channel is calling for temps in the low 20’s in Lake Charles, so I will stay here where it is still predicted to get down to 32 degrees Thursday and Friday night with freezing rain possible.