May 16, 2018 Interior, South Dakota

Badlands Stormy Skies
Badlands Stormy Skies

A Couple Days Exploring Badlands National Park

Badlands Morning Color
Badlands Morning Color

I continue to rack up the miles in the poor old Prius driving the roads through the park.

Badlands Colors
Badlands Colors

The sun rises very early here on the eastern edge of the Mountain Time Zone, so I am out the door by 6AM and head west through the park with the sun at my back.

Badlands Colors
Badlands Colors
Badlands Colors
Badlands Colors

The colors are constantly changing depending on time of day and weather.

Badlands Colors
Badlands Colors
Badlands Colors
Badlands Colors
Sam Exploring the Badlands
Sam Exploring the Badlands

Sam is still active enough to want to accompany me out to spots to take photos, but is left in the dust by her new companion Pearl.

Badlands Stormy Skies
Badlands Stormy Skies

Stormy skies to the west change the feel of the landscape. Daytime temperatures have been in the high 80’s but the evenings cool down fast for comfortable sleeping.

Clouds Over the Badlands
Clouds Over the Badlands

Gorgeous cumulus clouds cast shadows on the landscape

Badlands Bighorn Sheep
Badlands Bighorn Sheep

I encounter a small group of Bighorn Rams each morning …

Badlands Bighorn Sheep
Badlands Bighorn Sheep
Badlands Bighorn Sheep
Badlands Bighorn Sheep

… and again as I return back to camp in the afternoon.

Badlands Bighorn Sheep
Badlands Bighorn Sheep
Badlands Prairie Dogs
Badlands Prairie Dogs

There are numerous Prairie Dog communities throughout the park and the surrounding  cattle grazing land.

Badlands Prairie Dogs
Badlands Prairie Dogs
Badlands Prairie Dog Lookout
Badlands Prairie Dog Lookout

Some of these communities must contain hundreds if not thousands of individuals.

Badlands Prairie Dog
Badlands Prairie Dog
Badlands Prairie Dog
Badlands Prairie Dog
Burrowing Owl
Burrowing Owl

If you scan these Prairie Dog “Towns” carefully with some binoculars, often you can spot a Burrowing Owl or two.

Burrowing Owl
Burrowing Owl

Shaky images taken at a very long distance.

Bison
A Formidable Obstacle in the Road

I have encountered a few Bison bulls, but have not seen any cows and calves.

Scratching Post
Scratching Post
Bison Portrait
Bison Portrait

I had hoped to do some boon docking at the site just south of the town of Wall when I leave here Friday, but the weather is calling for some nasty weather ( possibility of large hail with violent thunderstorms ) and the road accessing those sites can get too sloppy for my rig after heavy rains, so I will continue to head west to Yellowstone and hope I can find a place to stay.

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November 22, 2017 Overton, Nevada

Poverty Flats Campsite
Poverty Flats Campsite

Finding Warmth

After a very long day of driving farther south, I arrived at my destination of Poverty Flats, just south of the small Nevada town of Overton. Poverty Flats is  located on a high desert mesa overlooking the town of Overton commanding  views of over 30 miles to the north and east. I managed to secure a spot on the “rim” of the mesa since the majority of the snowbirds don’t show up here until after the holidays. There are probably no more than thirty other campers here right now so the spacing is very nice, but that changes later in the season.

Yesterday’s drive was more than 400 miles and a lot of it was down through the megalopolis of Salt Lake City, a 60 mile stretch of horrible concrete road with unrelenting traffic. For me this was white knuckle driving for an hour and a half with heavy truck traffic and cars flying in and out of lanes. Even after getting south of Provo the volume of traffic was still unnerving. With I-15 reduced down to 2 lanes at that point, there was a never ending stream of traffic in both lanes pretty much right to Saint George and the Arizona line.

Bridger Campground Wildlife
Bridger Campground Wildlife

Wanting to avoid the rush hour traffic in Salt Lake City, I did another tour of Antelope Island very early Tuesday morning before departing. The image above was taken around 7 AM as I was having coffee. In just how many campgrounds do you suppose you would see this scene.

What the West Once Looked Like
What the West Once Looked Like

At the south end of the island, two of the females and young herds must have joined up overnight and were grazing off in the distance. There are roughly 150 bison in this composite of 6 individual images. I imagine this must be what the west looked like at one time long ago.

Porky Browsing
Porky Browsing

I noticed a dark object that looked totally out of place in a distant tree as I drove the road this morning. Curious, I walked out a distance and got this shot of a porcupine enjoying his breakfast.

Mulie Buck
Mulie Buck

Returning back to the campground, I was most fortunate to finally get some shots of one of the mulie bucks I had only been seeing at great distances during my stay here. Notice the one irregular antler, kind of odd that one would be normal and the other so different.

Mulie Buck
Mulie Buck

 

Love is in the Air
Love is in the Air

He was escorting a doe that was browsing amongst the phragmites.

Two Mulie Bucks
Sneaking Around

My vantage point was from the side of the road and a good distance away and above them. These shots were taken with a 600mm lens and a 1.4 teleconverter in very dim grey early morning light.

A second, younger, smaller buck was attracted to the scene and I got a kick out of watching him attempt to sneak around the larger buck and maybe get a shot at the ladies ( turns out there was a second Doe hidden in the reeds ).

Mulie Suitors
Standoff

I was hoping for a dramatic dual between the bucks but the size differential made the smaller guy just keep poking around the edges, turning tail and running any time the big guy took a couple steps toward him, never daring to challenge the older buck. I probably spent half an hour or more watching this little drama, and that is what I enjoy most about traveling about as I do, being a witness to these interesting wildlife interactions.

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January 19, 2017 Imperial Dam LTVA, California

Male House Finch
Male House Finch

Time Flying By in the Desert

Yesterday I renewed for another two week stay here in the desert, been here a month now and am accomplishing pretty much nothing! Reading a few books, watching the ever increasing number of finches, sparrows, and doves at my feeder, and doing a little painting.

Though there have been a few grey, cloudy days and even a little rain, the weather here just can’t be beat! Every night, for a month now, the temperature drops to around 50 degrees, then warms back up to the high 60’s or low 70’s during the day, a wonderfully moderate range that just suits me to a  ” T “. If I had to design the perfect climate for year round living ( for me, at least ), this last month would be it. Now that we are into the new year, I am aware the temps will slowly start to rise and I will eventually be forced to move on, but for now, this is just paradise for me.

Male White Crowned Sparrow
Male White Crowned Sparrow

I’ve attached a couple of small dead branches to the side of my tray feeder so I can get some closeup shots of the birds that come in to feed. This is a male White Crowned Sparrow, one of probably a dozen or more that visit each day.

Male House Finch
Male House Finch

A male House Finch. if they weren’t so numerous, they would probably be thought of as a particularly handsome and colorful bird. probably a half dozen of these guys showed up at the tray feeder when I first put it out, now there are probably more than forty at the feeder and on the ground beneath it at any one time.

Male House Finch
Male House Finch

It took a week or so for the first doves to show up, a single pair of Eurasian Collared Doves and 4 or 5 Mourning doves. Like the Finches, the Mourning dove numbers have increased daily and now there are a couple dozen feeding on the ground beneath the tray feeder.

Mockingbird Drinking
Mockingbird Drinking

Since I am in the desert, perhaps the most popular item added to the feeder tray is this old tuna can of water. I usually have to fill this at least twice a day.

Harris's Antelope Squirrel
Harris’s Antelope Squirrel
Harris's Antelope Squirrel
Harris’s Antelope Squirrel

In addition to the birds attracted to a free meal, at least four of these Harris’s Antelope Squirrels have shown up to chow down on seeds scattered on the ground. They appear to peacefully coexist with the ground feeding birds and the birds show no sign of wariness, often feeding shoulder to shoulder with these small rodents.

And finally, last week, a small covey of California Quail discovered the seed beneath the feeder. So far they have been very uncooperative photography subjects so I will hopefully post some shots of these comical little birds next post.

Tray Feeder at Sunrise Viewed from Dinette Window
Tray Feeder at Sunrise Viewed from Dinette Window

This is the view from my dinette window where I can keep an eye on the tray feeder and it is through this window that all of the above photos were shot. As I mentioned in the last post, I have found a quiet, fairly isolated spot here at the Imperial Dam LTVA and that is definitely adding to my enjoyment of this really inexpensive spot to while away the winter. In addition to the exquisite weather, this particular spot is blessedly quiet and peaceful, no noisy neighbors, no vehicle traffic, no intrusive lights … hard to believe I could find a spot where I had nothing to complain about.

Adventures in Acrylics

Brown Pelican Acrylic
Brown Pelican Acrylic

I have finally found the inspiration to attempt to resume my painting efforts. Although I had a little success selling watercolors and oils at my art gallery back in New Hampshire, I had only sold one or two small acrylic paintings. I have to admit I just found the medium difficult to handle, thus I would always fall back to doing oils and WC’s.

But with no large, well ventilated art studio now that I am full timing, oils are kind of out of the question and I really want to try and figure out how to handle these very frustrating acrylics.

Truncas Barns and Burros Acrylic
Truncas Barns and Burros Acrylic

So I thought  I might post some ( rather sorry, kind of embarrassing ) progress shots of my venture into acrylics. My reasoning being this might force me to continue working on these paintings rather than give up in frustration as I normally would … and I am getting very frustrated at this point. But if I have a small audience waiting to see a finished painting, my sense of pride will force me to continue on until I achieve some kind of satisfactory result. Hopefully, somewhere down the line, I will get to show you a couple of decent, completed, acrylic paintings.

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October 12, 2016 North Rim of the Grand Canyon

Sunrise Angel Point
Sunrise Angel Point

Another Spot Checked Off the Bucket List

Left Red Canyon Campground around 8 AM for the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, and after Just three or four hours on the road (with a stop in Kanab for groceries and gas), I arrived at the National Forest’s DeMotte CG and luckily someone was just leaving Site #4, a pull through with solar and satellite access ( no trees ). Absolutely no Verizon here and it’s a 20 mile trip to the North Rim, but the North Rim CG is reserve only and completely full, of course, and too tree covered to work for me, so DeMotte CG it is for my North Rim stay.

Sunrise, North Rim of the Grand Canyon
Sunrise, North Rim of the Grand Canyon

Up before dawn the next day and made it to the North Rim Lodge area just before sunrise.

Sunrise, North Rim of the Grand Canyon
Sunrise, North Rim of the Grand Canyon

Took a few shots from the pathway around the lodge as the sun slowly rose and gradually brought the temperature above freezing.

North Rim Lodge
North Rim Lodge
North Rim of the Grand Canyon
North Rim of the Grand Canyon
North Rim Foliage
North Rim Foliage
Angel Point Pathway
Angel Point Pathway

I then took the short trail out to Angel Point, again doing more than a little huffing and puffing on the short hills due to the elevation of close to 9,000 feet.

Kaibab Squirrel
Kaibab Squirrel

I really had hoped to get some nice shots of the unique Kaibab Squirrel, a subspecies of the Albert Squirrel, found only on the North Rim. Unfortunately, I didn’t see all that many, and the few I did encounter were very camera shy.

Kaibab Squirrel
Kaibab Squirrel

That bushy white tail is something else!

North Rim of the Grand Canyon
North Rim of the Grand Canyon
North Rim of the Grand Canyon
North Rim of the Grand Canyon

Angel’s Window

North Rim of the Grand Canyon
North Rim of the Grand Canyon

On my last day here, I took the road out to the Cape Royal vista point and walked out to the ” Angel’s Window ” overlook.

North Rim of the Grand Canyon
North Rim of the Grand Canyon
North Rim of the Grand Canyon
North Rim of the Grand Canyon

Now don’t get me wrong here, but I have never been all that overwhelmed by the Grand Canyon. I mean, yes, it is a geological wonder, but I have just never been completely awed by the vistas from either the South Rim or from the lodge area of the North Rim.

Angel's Window, North Rim of the Grand Canyon
Angel’s Window, North Rim of the Grand Canyon

From the Angel’s Window area, I have to admit that I was impressed. I spent close to two hours here, until after the sun had actually set, and it was spectacular! Here, I can see why folks are so inspired by the Grand Canyon.

Angel's Window, North Rim of the Grand Canyon
Angel’s Window, North Rim of the Grand Canyon

If the North Rim is on your bucket list, then make sure you take in sunset at the Angel’s Window, the Grand Canyon at it’s best.

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