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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November 19, 2017 Antelope Island State Park, Utah

Antelope Island Bison
Antelope Island Bison

A Couple of Cold Days on Great Salt Lake

A cold front came whipping through and night time temperatures dropped into the low 20’s here Friday. I ran into Walmart and picked up some 1″ foam to cut up and use to try and insulate my basement storage compartment that houses my water pump since my motorhome is not really set up for winter camping. Thankfully, sealing up the compartment and then leaving the basement light on all night did get me through the night without freezing up. With no hookups here at the campground, I had to leave my seldom used gas furnace running all night to help make it through the night without freezing everything solid.

No question I need to continue south, but ironically, it is still way too warm for my tastes at my next destination, the long term visitor’s BLM area outside of Yuma, AZ. Temps there are still hovering around 90 degrees.

Bison and Highrises
Bison and Highrises

This has to be one of only two places I can think of where you could get a picture like this one, a free roaming wild bison herd grazing within view of downtown high-rise office buildings in a major metropolitan area.

Unsettled Weather
Unsettled Weather

Friday and Saturday had very unsettled weather blowing through, black threatening clouds alternating with sunny blue skies.

Stormy Skies
Stormy Skies
Sun and Clouds
Sun and Clouds

 

Stormy Skies
Stormy Skies

 

Mountain Reflections
Mountain Reflections

Antelope Island Wildlife

Perfectly Camouflaged Mulie
Perfectly Camouflaged Mulie

There are several great looking mule bucks wandering around the island looking for love at this time.

Mulie Buck
Mulie Buck

These shots were taken before the sun had come up Saturday Morning.

Mulie Bucks
Mulie Bucks

 

Mulie Buck
Mulie Buck

The same buck ( notice the identifying broken antler ) encountered later in the day.

Mulie Buck
Mulie Buck

 

Mulie Buck
Mulie Buck

Another wandering buck.

Mulie Buck
Mulie Buck

And another.

Mule Deer
Mule Deer

And yet another. This shot was taken at about a quarter mile away. I have seen this guy several times but always at a great distance away. Would love to get closer to this one.

Antelope Island Coyote
Antelope Island Coyote

The island must be a paradise for it’s hoofed creatures, since I believe there are no large predators here. The coyotes may well be the only predators around, at least they are the only ones I have encountered.

Antelope Island Coyote
Antelope Island Coyote

 

Antelope Island Coyote
Antelope Island Coyote

 

Antelope Island Coyote
Antelope Island Coyote

Finally, I Find the Pronghorns

Pronghorns
Pronghorns

Friday afternoon I finally saw some of the animals the island is named after, Pronghorn Antelope. A large herd of some 30 or 40 animals slowly came grazing over a hill not far from the road down at the southern end of the island. They were no more than a few hundred feet from the road and happened to show up when some sun was shining through the clouds and so I thought I finally was going to get a great opportunity to get some nice shots.

Pronghorns on the Run
Pronghorns on the Run

With the nasty weather today there were very few other people out and about this afternoon, so I slowly pulled off to the side of the road and rolled down the window,  got my piece of foam pipe insulation out and mounted to my window glass ( transforms my window glass to a makeshift tripod for my long lenses ) and prepared to shoot.

And then, of all things, considering there was almost no vehicle traffic on the road this afternoon, what pulls up but a #$@!*! TOUR BUS ! Hits it’s brakes, stops, releases a very loud hiss, and opens it’s door for it’s passengers to get out so they could scare off the pronghorns that the bus’s noise hasn’t already spooked…. and off goes the herd and my opportunity to get some nice pronghorn shots.

Pronghorns on the Run
Pronghorns on the Run

 

Pronghorns on the Run
Pronghorns on the Run

 

Pronghorns on the Run
Pronghorns on the Run

They all crossed the road and didn’t stop running until they put a lot of distance between themselves and the bus, and, of course, me.

37 Pronghorns
37 Pronghorns

The next morning I spotted them again about a mile from the road grazing on the side of the mountain, but never got close to them again.

Antelope Island Bison
Antelope Island Bison

 

Antelope Island Bison
Antelope Island Bison

 

Antelope Island Bison
Antelope Island Bison

 

Antelope Island Bison
Antelope Island Bison

You have to get this close to fully realize just how large these bulls really are. Sitting low in my Prius as one like this approaches  can be a little intimidating as he towers over the vehicle.

I tentatively plan to leave here Monday and head a little farther south, not sure exactly where yet since it still too warm for me down around Yuma.

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November 16, 2017 Antelope Island State Park, Utah

Finally, Back on the Road!

Horse and Sam Nose to Nose
Greetings!

At long, long last, I departed Bend, Oregon after a six month stay, and drove Route 20 east to Idaho and picked up I-84 east. Normally I prefer taking secondary highways over driving the Interstates, but I knew I was heading into potentially hazardous winter weather conditions and wanted to make time heading east then south, hopefully avoiding the snow. Heavy rain hit around 4 PM, but the temperatures stayed around 40 degrees as I made it though Boise then Twin Falls. Nasty driving in the darkness with continued heavy rain and lots of big truck traffic causing near continual truck spray blackouts, but I didn’t dare pull off for the night until I could be reasonably sure I was far enough south of the approaching snow to safely spend the night.

Around nine and after over 400 miles travelled, I overnighted in one of the I-84 rest areas, getting a few hours of fitful sleep amidst the belching diesels. After not having moved in six months, this was a rough way to restart my travels and I have to admit to waking up the next morning a little worse for wear. But at least I did  beat the bad weather, for I was greeted with morning temps now around 50 degrees and the rain had tapered off to just light sprinkles and the highway was thankfully free of ice. I continued on east I-84 then picked up I-15 south to Antelope Island State Park located in the Great Salt Lake near Ogden, Utah, arriving around noon and checked in for four nights.

Antelope Island State Park, Bridger Campground
Antelope Island State Park, Bridger Campground

Antelope Island State Park

After last night among the trucks at the rest stop and six months on the busy hospital grounds in Bend, I was really looking forward to some peace and quiet without a lot of traffic and close neighbors, and that was my reasoning for picking Antelope Island for my first stop on the road south. But the absolutely deserted campground was kind of a pleasant, yet shocking surprise. Of course, with snow forecast for Friday with temperatures plummeting to the low twenties, I guess most intelligent people would be somewhere other than here.

Bridger Campground, Antelope Island S.P.
Bridger Campground, Antelope Island S.P.
Bridger Campground, Antelope Island S.P.
Bridger Campground, Antelope Island S.P.

The Bridger Campground in Antelope Island State Park is a favorite of mine and I have visited here twice before.

Bridger Campground
Bridger Campground

The 23 primitive campsites are nicely separated, most have a paved, level pull through long enough for almost any type of rig, and have a concrete patio with shelter, picnic table, fire pit, and grilling platform. There is a dump station located within the park but there is no fresh water available anywhere in the park. Included for all the sites is a great view out over the Great Salt Lake. For four nights, the charge was all of $51.

Approaching Cold Front Over Great Salt Lake
Approaching Cold Front Over Great Salt Lake

After getting set up ( and taking a short nap ), I loaded up the camera gear and headed out to look for wildlife under some very threatening skies.

Antelope Island Horses
Antelope Island Horses

Making Acquaintances

” Hey, Sam, look! I wonder if those guys could be wild horses. Not aware that the island has wild horses, but there aren’t any fences around here and it seems strange that anyone would just let their horses run wild out here. ”

Horse and Sam Nose to Nose
Greetings!

Oops, guess they aren’t wild horses after all.

Horse and Sam Nose to Nose

 

Horse and Sam Nose to Nose
Nosey

 

Horse and Sam Nose to Nose
Greetings!

Almost as soon as I stopped to take the first shot above, the two horses rather quickly approached the car, seeming very interested in the small white dog popping her head out the window and growling warnings. Sam was a little intimidated, can’t say the horse were, but still went nose to nose with both of these guys. The whole episode just cracked me up and after about five minutes of nose nuzzling, I had to all but push the horses’ noses out of the car before I could eventually take off.

Bison Bulls
Bison Bulls

Only Bison Today

I covered all the roads within the park today and only ran into bison, no deer, no pronghorns and very few birds other some crows and a few magpies.

Antelope Island Bison Herd
Antelope Island Bison Herd

This late in the year the bison have split up and are segregated by sex, the young and their mothers gathered in a couple of large herds …

Bison Bulls
Bison Bulls
Bison Bull
Bison Bull

… and the bulls scattered all about in small groups or off by themselves.

Bison Crossing Road
Road Hazard

These are just enormous beasts!

I have to say it sure does feel good to be back out doing a little photography after six months off. The animals may not have been out and about today and the lighting was terrible and the weather bleak, but it still was one of the best of days for me.

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August 18, 2017 Bend, Oregon

My Backyard or the View From My Door
My Backyard or the View From My Door

Heading to Portland and Hospital Wildlife

Just a quick post to let you know I’m still around.

Today I make the 175 mile trip to Portland for my first visit with the myeloma specialists at the Oregon Health and Science University Knight Cancer Institute Center for Hematological Malignancies Clinic. That’s a mouthful. Yesterday I started my fourth round of chemo here in Bend and my oncologist figures that with the continued good results that perhaps the process can be speeded up a bit and so the referral to OHSU and the specialists to see where, and how quickly, to go from here.

Blood work now shows that my kidney function, that was dangerously close to needing dialysis in May, has now returned to completely normal function and most other indicators show me nearing remission. Of course, that is great news, but the worst part of this, mentally, is knowing that no matter how great this rapid positive response has been, in the back, make that the front, of my mind, I know that this disease always makes a return. Quality of treatment can make that wait for the return a bit longer, but this thing always comes back. Knowing that both of my parents survived into their nineties, and that I have never been sick in my adult life, I always assumed I had another 15 or 20 good years left. Hard to adjust to hoping to survive for five or hopefully a little more years, and that only made possible with continued, and very expensive treatment and drugs. This for a person that has never taken any kind of drugs or medicine , ever.

All right, enough for the kind of post I said I didn’t ever want to write.

Hospital Wildlife

Really not much happening for me here in Bend. The hot 90’s weather has continued on unabated and some days it does get a little smoky from forest fires in the region, but not too bad. And the temps do always drop to 60 or less every night plus the humidity must be very low, because the heat just doesn’t seem that unbearable. not like down south, or even back in New Hampshire when it reached the 90’s there.

Had an interesting experience here on the hospital loop road’s camping spot Tuesday morning at 5:30 AM when I opened the motorhome door and let Sam out to go. I am now in a space with no other rigs on my passenger side, just an expanse of lush mowed grass ( that’s the reason for the strange opening photo above ), and as Sam hopped down the steps, I saw a young Mulie buck lift his head from his early morning grazing and stare at this possible nearby threat. He was no more than twenty feet from where I stood in the doorway and must have figured that ten pound Sam wasn’t anything to be terribly concerned with ( since Sam never even realized he was there ) and that I also wasn’t going to be bothering him, so he simply stood his ground and resumed grazing. Adjusting my eyes to the darkness, I then noticed that he was not alone, two other young bucks were also nibbling grass or clover within 50 or 60 feet of door.

Made some coffee and sat in my recliner gazing out the window in this same direction, as I do every morning, and I noticed yet more deer grazing through the same area, including one very impressive older buck with an antler spread of two feet or more that rose at least eighteen inches or more above his head. Unfortunately too dark to photograph or count points but definitely one of the most impressive Mule Deer bucks I have encountered at such close range. In all, this in-city bachelor herd numbered seven or eight animals and lingered around for close to half an hour under the street lamps before heading across the road, not into the surrounding apartment complexes, but into the hospital’s expansive parking lots and towards the main hospital buildings. Amazing what goes on in the early morning hours, even here in the city.

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