Category Archives: Cattle cows

April 13, 2017 Bodega Bay, California

California Coast

California Coast

California Coast

Monday morning I left the Mariposa Fairground and made what I thought would be a 4 hour trip to Bodega Bay on the California Coast. My 4 hour trip ended up being closer to 7 hours when I made the mistake of heading north from Mariposa on Route 49, a road I had not driven before. Well, turns out there are a few 7% grades to climb and descend, as well as about a thousand sharp switchbacks and hairpin turns along that route, and, although it was nothing my rig couldn’t handle, I seldom found myself going much over 20 mph.

And then, when I finally reached route 101 and turned north to Petaluma, I encountered some of California’s infamous commuter traffic heading north to home after a work day spent in the San Francisco area ( I’m guessing ). Four lanes of northbound traffic were squeezed down to two lanes at a point where there was an on ramp with traffic backed up forever, and this resulted in a traffic jam of about seven miles moving at stop and go speed and taking around an hour to cover the those seven miles into Petaluma where I was finally able to get off the highway and head west to the coast on uncrowded secondary roads. I have no idea how these poor folks can handle this day after day. This backup was caused strictly by traffic volume and not by any kind of construction or an accident along the way … this would be a daily occurrence!

Without a doubt, this state has got to have the most dangerous aggressive drivers I have encountered. Couple that with the deplorable condition of most of the roads in the state and horrific traffic conditions and suffice it to say, this is not a fun state to travel in. Add in the higher cost of everything out here, gas  ( where does all the gas tax money actually go since it obviously isn’t showing up in highway maintenance ), camping fees ( my spot in Bodega Bay is $34/night for a primitive site and is much less than anything else around here ),  and food ( I was going to treat myself to a fresh seafood dinner in one of the local restaurants, but checking out menus and realizing that it would be over $50 for any sort of meal, I had a sandwich at home ). But then, there is an unbelievable amount of unique and gorgeous natural features in the state, so it pretty much is a must see state. Grin and bear it, I guess.

Westshore Camping Area on Bodega Bay

Westshore Camping Area on Bodega Bay

Anyhow, I finally made it to the Westshore Camping Area in Bodega Bay around 5 PM and was able to get into a site that had three midweek days that were unreserved. All the reservable sites in the campground were reserved for the weekend, so I hoped maybe someone would move out of the two first come, first served sites before my three days were up … and lo and behold, both sites opened up the next day and I was able to claim one of them and thus can stay here through the weekend now.

Weather continues to be very wet, rain every day so far with just one 6 hour window of sun and cloudy skies when I was able to zip up Route 1 for 30 miles and get these shots.

Campground Wildflowers

Campground Wildflowers

Some spots of nice wildflowers but no poppies in bloom yet, still a couple of weeks away.

California Coast

California Coast

California Coast

California Coast

California Coast

California Coast

Probably because of the weather, but traffic on Coastal Route 1 is pretty light right now, making it a very pleasant drive.

California Coast

California Coast

California Coast

California Coast

Russian River Harbor Seals

Russian River Harbor Seals

At the mouth of the Russian River, Route 1 climbs up to hundred feet or so above the beach and you get this view of a stretch of beach where the harbor seals haul out.

Russian River Harbor Seals

Russian River Harbor Seals

Russian River Harbor Seals

Russian River Harbor Seals

Wonder what the “sleep number” is on those rocks, these guys look like they are pretty comfortable.

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon

This Peregrine falcon was perched atop a sea stack only a few feet from the edge of the highway …

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon

… keeping an eye on everything while doing his morning preening routine.

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon

I’ve never encountered one of these birds that was so unafraid of humans nearby. Of course there was no way you could get out to where it was sitting, but still quite unusual for a bird of prey to be this unconcerned with human activity so close by ( less than 100 feet ).

Hillside Grazers

Hillside Grazers

Along Route 1, you have some incredibly steep drop-offs to the cliffs and beach hundreds of feet below, with no guard rails, so most people probably don’t even notice the cattle grazing of the green hillsides on the other side of the highway. These animals have to be in some kind of shape to handle the steep grades of their pasture land.

Kruse Rhododendron State Reserve

Kruse Rhododendron State Reserve

About 30 miles north of Bodega bay is the Kruse Rhododendron State Reserve, where rhodys grow wild up to 30 feet tall under second growth redwoods. Unfortunately, I was a little early to catch the rhodys in bloom, but it must be something to see in a month or so.

Kruse Rhododendron State Reserve

Kruse Rhododendron State Reserve

The four mile drive ( single lane one way gravel road ) takes you through a dark, damp, coastal rain forest. Lots of moss and ferns to see in addition to the rhodys and redwoods.

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March 27, 2017 Sequoia National Park, California

Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park

Finally Make it to the Top!

Weather for today was forecast to be nice, even up in the mountains! I left camp in complete sunshine and warm temps and headed up into Sequoia National Park.

Redbud

Redbud

Always have to stop for the redbuds.

Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park

One minute, redbuds in bloom, next minute six foot snow banks and icy roads as I drive up and into the clouds. Again, these two shots were taken only 15 miles apart, but with a 6000′ change in elevation.

The Climb up to the Sequoia Groves on Route 198

The Climb up to the Sequoia Groves on Route 198

This small section of the road climbing to the sequoia groves is all at about a 6 – 8 % grade … and this is just a tiny portion of this serpentine road. Needless to say, this is one road that you do not take your RV on. Each twenty miles of travel on this highway probably only covers a straight-line distance of 5 or 6 miles, made necessary by the altitude gain of roughly 7000′ on this highway through the park.

Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park

Fortunately there were a few breaks in the clouds up in the sequoia groves, even saw a couple patches of blue sky. I was constantly monitoring the outside thermometer in the Prius as it hovered dangerously close to 32 degrees all the way through the groves along the highest elevations of Route 198 through the park.

Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park

Definitely a winter wonderland feeling up here today!

Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park

The crowds certainly thinned out at the higher elevations today as most folks were probably a little concerned with icy road conditions. Note the photographer’s assistant in the back of the Prius protecting my gear from marauding squirrels.

Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park

The clouds cleared as I proceeded north on Route 198 to Kings Canyon National Park …

Looking Toward Yosemite

Looking Toward Yosemite

… and began the descent on Route 180 to head home. In the image above … way out there is my next destination, Yosemite National Park, just waiting a bit for the weather to warm a little more before heading there, since they are still getting regular dumps of snow right now.

Roadside Waterfall

Roadside Waterfall

Roadside Waterfall

Roadside Waterfall

Leaving Route 180, I headed down the steep, winding grades of Route 245, where I stopped for a few shots of this nice little roadside waterfall.

Roadside Waterfall

Roadside Waterfall

Roadside Waterfall

Roadside Waterfall

Redbud Guardian

Redbud Guardian

Continuing down Route 245, I once again had to stop and shoot the redbud blooms and found this impressively massive bull guarding access to the best spot to shoot from.

Redbud

Redbud

Today I covered about 120 miles in my loop up and through the two National Parks. All the side roads up in the park are still closed by snow, so there would be much more to see if I were here in the summer, but I don’t think I would ever be able to handle the crowds. All the roads are two lane with no place to pass pretty much the whole length of the highway, so summer traffic would undoubtably be a bear. Plus there would be no redbud that time of year!

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July 15, 2016 Ridgeway State Park, Colorado

Mountain Bluebird

Mountain Bluebird

Exploring Back Roads Through the Rockies

I have spent most of the last week taking day trips out of the state park hitting many of the county roads that head up into the mountains around Ridgeway. These are all dusty gravel roads varying in condition, mostly washboarded, narrow in some places, and some bad enough to force me to turn around and backtrack, wishing I had a high clearance, 4-wheel drive vehicle. Most have yielded little more than the opportunity to travel to higher, thus cooler elevations, escaping the heat down below, few have yielded any great panoramic views, and wildlife sightings have been few and far between.

Ridgeway State Park

Ridgeway State Park

Ridgeway State Park

The image above is of my campsite in the large, crowded, campground here at Ridgeway State Park. I was fortunate that the park ranger found me a level site after the site I had reserved online was way too severely sloped to even get close to level even maxing out my hydraulic leveling system. If coming here, and this is a very nice campground, be aware that at least half the sites are unusable for larger rigs, not because of length, but because of slope.

All interior roads and sites are paved and there are water spigots located throughout the campground for filling tanks. 30 amp electric is provided at each site and some, not all, sites have a shelter. Sites are reasonably spaced and there is a pretty good Verizon signal here. The campground is full every night this time of year so reservations are necessary. I would stay here again, but would probably do so in the fall for foliage, just a little too warm for me this time of year even at an elevation of 7,000′, mid to high 80’s every day, but cooling off nicely to the 50’s at night.

Along Last Dollar Road

Along Last Dollar Road

Last Dollar Road to Telluride

Open Range

Open Range

After reading quite a bit about the Last Dollar Road, a county road up through the mountains to Telluride, off Route 145, I figured I would give it a go and see how far my Prius could make it. Surprisingly, I made it all the way, though certainly would have been turned back had there been any rain lately, the road would be way too slick and deeply rutted for a low clearance vehicle in wet conditions.

Aspen Grove

Aspen Grove

There was one weird aspen grove on the ascent, where the trees were all twisted and leaning in every direction, not the straight, erect forest you usually encounter.

Above Telluride

Above Telluride

After a loooong steady climb on the northern end of the road through meadows and forests, the road makes a long, steep, very steep descent towards Telluride. As I inched down this road, a herd of sheep was being driven out of the woods below to a large field.

Above Telluride

Above Telluride

As I watched they spread out and grazed for a short while ….

Above Telluride, Shepherd and Dogs

Above Telluride, Shepherd and Dogs

… then the shepherd and his two dogs hurried them back into the woods. Kind of fun to watch how quickly and efficiently the two dogs worked from this vantage point. When I looked at the photo above on my monitor, I noticed the shepherd had a rifle slung over his shoulder, must be for coyotes ?

Boondock Site Above Telluride

Boondock Site Above Telluride

At the bottom of the long descent, just a short distance above the spread of multi-million dollar homes and ” ranches” you encounter before coming back down to the highway just outside Telluride, I found a few folks camping on this spot ( image above ), what a great view from this popular boon docking spot, one I might consider approaching from the south end, but certainly not from the way I just came. If you look closely at the image above, you will see a local resident  using the rocks surrounding the fire pit as a vantage point to take in the great view.

Aspen Grove

Aspen Grove

The beautiful aspen groves here near the campsites are, of course, marred by carvings.

Aspen Grove

Aspen Grove

The weather during my stay here has been incredibly consistent, 85 and sunny days, cool, clear nights in the 50’s, every day. A little warm by day for my tastes, but if you drive up into the surrounding mountains, it becomes fairly comfortable. So far, the afternoon thunderstorms I was warned about, have not made an appearance.

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July 11, 2016 Ridgway, Colorado

Columbine

Columbine

Exploring Back Roads Searching for Wildflowers

The last couple of days I have been driving the dusty, washboarded back roads around Ridgway and off the Million Dollar Highway, searching for mountain meadows carpeted with wildflowers. Unfortunately, I have yet to find any.

Columbine on the Edge of the Woods

Columbine on the Edge of the Woods

Columbine is in bloom along several of these roads and I have found some small patches with several clusters of flowers, but nothing on a grand scale … yet.

Aspen Grove

Aspen Grove

Columbine

Columbine

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed this single clump growing out of the sheer face of the road cut  along the Million Dollar Highway. It was hanging on about twenty feet up the sheer vertical face of the rock cut and with no shoulder on one side of the road ( just a straight drop down about 200 feet, no room for a guard rail ), and the rock wall just three feet from the fog line on the other side, the only way I could get the shot was setting my tripod up on the road, dodging in and out of traffic.

Caught In Yet Another Cattle Drive

Caught In Yet Another Cattle Drive

Caught in Yet Another Cattle Drive

Caught In Yet Another Cattle Drive

Caught In Yet Another Cattle Drive

This is getting to be a regular occurrence for me, I believe this is the fifth cattle drive I have gotten involved with in the past couple months.

Caught In Yet Another Cattle Drive

Caught In Yet Another Cattle Drive

I’m getting to be an old hand at staring down these bovines.

A Young Cowboy

A Young Cowboy

And this is definitely the youngest cowboy I have photographed to date !

Approaching Red Mountain

Approaching Red Mountain

More Shots From Route 550 and Roads Outside Silverton

Approaching Red Mountain

Approaching Red Mountain

Along the Million Dollar Highway

Along the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

From Yankee Basin Road

From Yankee Basin Road

Outside Silverton

Outside Silverton

Outside Silverton

Outside Silverton

Outside Silverton

Outside Silverton

Outside Silverton

Outside Silverton

Caught Up in My First Sheep Drive

Sheep Drive

Sheep Drive

I ran into three large and empty livestock carriers ( tractor trailers, 18 wheelers ) parked on the side of a narrow dusty road outside of Silverton and assumed I was going to run into yet another cattle drive, but when I rounded the next corner I encountered my initial “sheep drive “.

Sheep Drive Chaos

Sheep Drive Chaos

Several hundred sheep, one sheepdog, one guard dog, three shepherds on foot and another walking with a horse. At times the sheep were bouncing all around the place and the three shepherds were running like crazy trying not to have the herd breakup.

What made it really interesting was the fact that they were driving them down the road and one side of the road was a National Forest designated camping area, full of people and tents … and many of the sheep were running through the campsites and among campers and their tents as the men and the sheepdog attempted to get them back to the flock. I felt kind of sorry for the campers because the road and all the ground in the flocks’ path was now covered with sheep droppings, and several hundred sheep leave a lot of droppings.

Sheep Drive

Sheep Drive

Eventually the flock was driven off the road and up the side of the mountain.

Sheep Drive

Driving Them Up the Mountain

And the side of this mountain was very steep, probably a 30 degree slope or more and they were being pushed straight up by the shepherds. These guys had to be in some kind of great shape for this job since this location is about at 10,000′ elevation and they were driving the flock straight up the mountainside and it was a long way to the top. How they don’t lose individuals is beyond me.

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