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.

Thank you for shopping Amazon from my site!

When you click ( on the image below) through to shop Amazon from here, I get a tiny commission, one that does not in any way impact what you pay, and all those tiny commissions eventually add up and that helps me keep this blog going !


 

 

February 22, 2015 Five Days at Buenos Aries NWR, Arizona

Grasslands of Buenos Aries NWR
Grasslands of Buenos Aries NWR

Buenos Aries National Wildlife Refuge

Wednesday morning I left Why at 9 AM and drove east on Route 86 to Three Points where I topped off the gas at the intersection of Routes 86 and 286, then drove south on 286 to the Buenos Aries NWR Visitor’s center. Spoke with the volunteers there to find an accessible spot for camping, one where I know I could turn around with my rig, and they directed me to Road # 277 off the Sasabe/Arivaca Road.

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

Buenos Aries NWR campsite
Buenos Aries NWR campsite looking east

Pulled in about 1/4 mile on that road and set up camp around 2PM, all alone out here which is both good and bad. I get a little nervous when completely isolated though I love the solitude. ( This changed a few days later when neighbors arrived and filled the next 5 spots up the road, but since the sites are hundreds of feet apart, privacy was still not an issue ) As you can see from the campsite photos, this place is a major change from sites of the past few months. Wide open spaces, no cacti, fantastic distant views, and lots of grass. Incredibly, once again, I have a very strong Verizon signal here in the middle of nowhere and there obviously is nothing here to interfere with satellite reception.

View out the windshield
View out the windshield

The wide open spaces view across the grasslands to the mountains to the west is impressive and the same goes for the view to the east. Certainly a change of pace from the “ Green Desert “ views of the past few weeks as I am now in the “ semi-desert/ grasslands “ of the NWR. From what I read this entire valley between the two north/south running mountain ranges was all clear grasslands until fire suppression measures allowed all the mesquite trees to establish themselves. Must have been something to see.

Drove the Prius back down to the refuge headquarters and did the Antelope Loop Road, but didn’t see a thing.

Sasabe/Arivaca Road

Open range
Open range

The Sasabe/Arivaca Road is posted with several ” Open Range ” signs and this gal seemed to know she had the right of way. ( Loved the white eyebrows on her ) Fortunately, and also unfortunately, this road, from the intersection with Route 85 through the town of Arivaca, is a  paved road desperately in need of repaving, so I was going slow enough to see her in time to avoid a collision. There are potholes as deep as 10″ everywhere on this stretch of road and if going anywhere near the speed limit, there are so many of them, they can’t be completely avoided. In the motorhome, I had to all but crawl through some sections of this road to avoid losing a tire.

Sasabe, Arizona

Sasabe storefront
Sasabe storefront

Since I was in the area, I drove down to Sasabe, a depressing tiny village on the border, took a few shots of the colorful, rundown buildings.

Sasabe church
Sasabe church
Sasabe doorway
Sasabe doorway

Can’t imagine what it would be like to have the misfortune to be born and raised in a place like this.

A Scouting Trip to Madera Canyon

By the end of the week, being short on supplies, I decided to do a trip up to Green valley and hit the Walmart there, a 100 mile round trip. I haven’t been near a grocery store since leaving Yuma a little over 2 weeks ago. I figured I could kill two birds with one stone and check out Madera Canyon on the way since I would like to spend some time exploring that area, supposed to be quite the place for bird photography.

There are no private campgrounds anywhere near Madera Canyon so I checked out what on Google Earth looked like possible boon docking sites on Proctor Road just at the entrance to the canyon.  I drove down Proctor Road in the Prius and found  2 ( out of 10 ) possible sites I might have been able to get into on this VERY near impassable narrow rough road. No place to turn around a rig with a toad if those 2 sites are occupied. I would definitely not risk going in here with my motorhome. I then drove up to Bog Spring Campground off the road into Madera Canyon. This is a very nice, shaded campground but with sites suitable only for small rigs, also pretty near impossible to ever find an empty site, it being very popular with the locals.

In the hour and a half I spent exploring all the roads, parking lots, and picnic areas in Madera Canyon, not only did I not see any birds, I never even heard a bird! This place is truly beautiful and, at 5000′ elevation under a dense canopy of trees, an incredible change from my desert surroundings of the past several months. But where were the birds! This spot is supposedly a world renown birding location, so I guess I am just here at the wrong time of year. The total lack of anywhere nearby to camp means i will be skipping Madera canyon and continuing on east in Arizona.

Arivaca Cienga Trail

Saturday morning I drove through Arivaca to the Arivaca Cienega Trail parking lot and walked the trail. This is supposed to be a prime birding area because it is a natural wetlands area fed by several springs. Over the course of a couple of hours and a mile and a half of easy walking, I saw a couple of white-crowned sparrows and a probable marsh wren .. that’s it. A local couple told me the water levels were way down this year and they thought this probably could explain the complete absence of birds. It did seem odd that this desert oasis should be so devoid of life, since water is so very scarce in this desert environment.

Camping in the refuge

Since I was out in the Prius, I drove past my campsite and explored a little farther down the dirt road ( #277 ) I am camped on. I am on site #41 and the next four sites heading north ( #40-#37 ) on this road are suitable for big rigs, with sufficient room to turn around. Beyond that, there are many more campsites, but the condition of the road and the campsites deteriorates. I wouldn’t venture farther in than site # 38 in a big rig. There are many campsites scattered all over the refuge, all on back roads, and most difficult to access with a big rig. If coming here I would recommend checking in at the Visitor’s Center and inquiring as to which sites might be accessible for the rig you are using.

Buenos Aries NWR sunset
Buenos Aries NWR sunset

This campsite, being situated on a rise in the valley between mountain ranges to the east and the west, was a great vantage site for desert sunsets, and there were two particularly nice ones while I was here.

Buenos Aries NWR sunset
Buenos Aries NWR sunset

The above shot was a bit of an accident as it was taken when I rested the camera on the roof of the Prius before getting the tripod out of the car. I hadn’t noticed the sunset reflections on the roof and back of the car when I was taking the shot, but thought it actually added something to the image when I was processing it later.

Buenos Aries NWR sunset
Buenos Aries NWR sunset

I really liked the more subtle colors of in the sky to the south of the actual sunset, shown in the image above.

Buenos Aries NWR sunrise
Buenos Aries NWR sunrise

And of course there also were magnificent sunrises..

Final opinion of the refuge

Sunday morning I took one more trip around the Antelope Loop Road in the refuge and once again came up empty. Overall, I would have to say I was quite disappointed in the refuge as a place to spot and photograph wildlife, but was delighted in the campsite here, a very nice place to stay and just enjoy the wide open spaces around you.

Thank you for shopping Amazon from my site!

When you click through to shop Amazon from here, I get a tiny commission, one that does not in any way impact what you pay, and all those tiny commissions eventually add up and that helps me keep this blog going !