September 5, 2019 Finally Leaving Little Rock, Arkansas

On the Road Again !

The image above shows some of the very colorful landscaping in one of the older, more established neighborhoods in Little Rock. I was pleasantly surprised by the many older neighborhoods all around the city, almost all shaded by massive live oaks and most beautifully landscaped.

Today, September 5th, I had my checkout appointment with my oncologist at UAMS and received permission (and a whole lot of medical instructions for the upcoming months) to leave Little Rock,  Arkansas, after the longest, and most grueling five months of my life. The Bone Marrow Transplant that was originally estimated to take roughly 3 months was extended in my case by a couple of unfortunate complications, but at last I am done here, at least until I have to return for next April’s checkup.

The intense chemo and extended hospital stays resulted in my feeling and getting around like an old man. Well, I guess I am an old man, just never felt like one before. Considering that I left the hospital almost two months ago using a walker and was barely able to make it up the four steps into my motorhome, I guess I can see that I am actually slowly, and I do mean slowly, regaining my strength, but I still have a long way to go. My Multiple Myeloma is not in total remission so I will be taking what they term a “maintenance” drug routine for the foreseeable future and will have to have regular blood testing done to monitor how quickly this horrible disease comes back, and unfortunately, it always does.

In the meantime I will be heading north back to New Hampshire next week with my new Chevy Equinox in tow. My weakened state and brittle bones meant I had to ditch my previous toad setup of my old reliable Prius on a tow dolly, just can’t risk pushing the tow dolly around anymore. The Equinox is one of the dwindling few new cars that can still be flat towed, four wheels down, and so far, I am really pleased with the vehicle.

I hope to get some nice New England foliage shots and indulge in some Ipswich  fried clams (at Boardman’s or The Clam Box), some Maine lobsters, and maybe even some fresh Swordfish, three favorite foods that I have gone without in the last six years out west. Hope to visit some of my old photographer friends around Lebanon and Hanover, NH, and then just may spend some time with my little sister, who generously donated almost four months of her life to act as my caregiver down here in Little Rock, putting up with the intense heat and humidity (and me), and was simply invaluable to me, especially during some of the dark days I spent in the hospital. Don’t know if I would have made it without her.

So, I will soon start doing some blog entries once again, taking photos as I used to, and eventually making it back down to Florida for the winter.

Stay tuned!

February 19, 2019 Imperial Dam LTVA, California

Mittry Lake Wildfire
Mittry Lake Wildfire

A Little Nightime Excitement and a Trip to the Picacho State Recreation Area

Mittry Lake Wildfire
Mittry Lake Wildfire

A slight smell of smoke woke me from a dead sleep the other night and I glanced out the bedroom window to the scene above. The wildfire was about 3/4 mile away at that time and the wind, fortunately was driving it towards the Imperial Dam, not towards the area I was camping. The fire smoldered for three days and the burn covered a distance of a couple miles all the way up to the road going through the Yuma proving grounds.

Imperial Dam LTVA Sunrise
Imperial Dam LTVA Sunrise

Just another desert sunrise from the campsite.

Picacho State Recreation Area
Along the Road to Picacho State Recreation Area

Picacho State Recreation Area

Picacho State Recreation Area
Along the Road to Picacho State Recreation Area

I was waiting for a day with blue skies and cumulous clouds to venture out the very washboarded 18 mile gravel road to the Colorado River and the Picacho State Recreation Area. I had those conditions when I left camp but the clouds were blown away by the time I reached the river.

Picacho State Recreation Area
Along the Road to Picacho State Recreation Area
Colorado River
Colorado River

The gravel road is dusty and washboarded, but there are no serious grades along the route and the road can pretty much be traveled by any type of rig. There is a nice primitive campground near the river, probably close to 50 level campsites with water and a dump station and when I was there only about five small camping units were present. Certainly a place to get away from it all, but I probably would not subject my motorhome to the washboarded road in.

Picacho State Recreation Area
Picacho State Recreation Area
Picacho State Recreation Area
Picacho State Recreation Area

There are a couple of nice picnic areas and boat launch ramps along the river.

February 8, 2019 Imperial Dam LTVA, California

Imperial Dam Sunrise
Imperial Dam Sunrise

Another Uneventful Week in the Desert

A couple of sunrise shots from this morning.

Sunrise Clouds
Sunrise Clouds

A Couple more Boring Desert Bird Shots

Doves
Unwanted Crowd

To think that just a few weeks back, I was wondering if I would ever get the birds to discover me out here. Unfortunately, the Mourning Doves and the Red-winged Blackbirds have come in droves, making feeding a little expensive now that I have to put out seed two and three times a day to keep the Quail and others coming in. The Doves number forty or fifty at times and the Blackbirds often as many as twenty.

Gambel's Quail
Gambel’s Quail

And I have to feed them all in order to keep the Quail coming back, now almost a continuous presence as opposed to their earlier early morning, late afternoon arrivals. The rock this guy is sitting on has holes a couple inches deep and acts as a great natural feeder.

Gambel's Quail
Gambel’s Quail

They are a lot of fun to observe and without a doubt the most skittish of all the birds that come in. They are in constant motion and always choose to run rather than fly, even when the Merlin screams in. And as I have probably mentioned before, they are always peeping, gurgling, and cooing amongst themselves as they scurry around scratching at seeds, really interesting to listen to.

As you can probably guess, I am getting a little bored here and wish there was some way I could move on to new ground as I used to do, but I am unfortunately tied to this spot for at least another month of treatment.

January 30, 2019 Imperial Dam LTVA, California

Sunrise
Sunrise

Same Old, Same Old

Sunrise Over Imperial Dam
Sunrise Over Imperial Dam

Some wonderful sunrises this week as clouds rolled in for a few days. But I am getting bored. One (of many) of the worst parts of having this rotten disease (myeloma) is having to be anchored to a nearby medical facility for my chemo treatments. Before MM, I was able to move around freely and explore the desert in the winter, as in, leave here and check out the birds in Sierra Vista or Portal, then move on to Texas if I had the notion. No more.

Sunrise Over Imperial Dam
Sunrise Over Imperial Dam

The images above were taken on two different mornings as I nursed my morning coffee.

A New Bird Deterrent Besides the Bees

Merlin
Merlin

I was out and set up to shoot some bird images this morning and about fifty Mourning Doves had descended on my feeding grounds when they all suddenly bolted and scattered in all directions. The cause of the commotion was the Merlin pictured above after he made his unsuccessful run through the feeding area. For the next hour, every time a few birds would return he would blast though again scaring everyone off. I gave up after an hour of this and took the shot above before retreating to the motorhome.

Mourning Doves
Mourning Doves

I remember wondering, about a month ago, whether I would ever get any birds in here this year. Now I have about 50 Mourning Doves, 30 or so Gambel’s Quail, and …

Red-winged Blackbirds
Red-winged Blackbirds

… a dozen or so Red-winged Blackbirds showing up every morning. My experience with the hundreds of Red-winged Blackbirds that mobbed the feeding station in Salineno, Texas, where I volunteered a few winters ago, made these guys my absolute least favorite avian visitor.

Red-winged Blackbirds
Red-winged Blackbirds
House Finches
House Finches

Have a fair number of House Finches coming in, but nowhere near the number that were here last year.

Gambel's Quail
Gambel’s Quail

And finally, the Gambel’s Quail have graduated to using the platform feeders. Up until now they fed exclusively on the ground, but this one pair has figured out that the food is more plentiful up off the ground. I get a big kick out of watching these guys scurry around and bicker among themselves, and when they are this close it is fascinating to listen to all the constant conversations they have amongst themselves.