May 10, 2018 North Platte, Nebraska

Abandoned Kansas Farm
Abandoned Kansas Farm

Poking Around Kansas and Nebraska

Old Kansas Barns

Over the past few weeks I have racked up a lot of miles in the Prius traveling the dusty back roads of Kansas and Nebraska searching for picturesque old barns and farmsteads.

Abandoned Nebraska Farmhouse
Abandoned Nebraska Farmhouse

Unfortunately, what I have discovered is that most of the old wooden barns have long since gone the way of the dodo bird. Most are just piles of rubble and all of them have been replaced with modern metal buildings, very functional, but surely lacking the aesthetics of the old wooden structures.

Abandoned Nebraska Farmhouse
Abandoned Nebraska Farmhouse

Abandoned farmhouses dot the landscape out here and I always wonder exactly what caused the owners to leave these these buildings to the elements.

Nebraska Barn
Nebraska Barn
Abandoned Nebraska Farmhouse
Abandoned Nebraska Farmhouse

I have not taken any images of the main streets of the many tiny towns you encounter along the back roads here for it is indeed a sad sight to see. The old brick or stone buildings are all vacant and most are crumbling, but the small towns probably lack the resources to demolish them. Needless to say, the general stores and small restaurants and hotels that supported these farming communities have all fallen victim to “progress”.

Red-tailed Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk

Wildlife Along the Backroads

Red-tailed Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk

Unfortunately, I have encountered very little in the way of wildlife in my recent travels …

Red-tailed Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk

… a Red-tailed Hawk or two, a few wild Turkeys and Ring-necked Pheasants strolling the remains of the harvested cornfields ( of which there are  a few acres devoted to that crop in Nebraska ) …

Nebraska Does
Nebraska Does

… and here and there I have encountered a few White-tailed deer, does only, no fawns seen yet.

Nebraska Sandhills
Nebraska Sandhills

I have driven to check out the Nebraska Sandhills, a vast expanse of sand dunes, disguised with a thin covering of grasses.

Endless Nebraska Sandhills
Endless Nebraska Sandhills

These dunes seem to go on forever and must have been something for the early westbound settlers to traverse in their wagons. You can right click on this image to get a larger version to get a better sense of the vast expanse  of the these sandhills.

Mare and Foal
Mare and Foal

One day, while traveling between North Platte and McCook, Nebraska, I saw a beautiful herd of horses grazing in a pasture along the highway. When I noticed a large number of mares with fairly new foals amongst them, I had to stop for shots.

Mare and Foal
Mare and Foal
Mare and Foal
Mare and Foal

A youngster enjoying a roll around on a gorgeous spring afternoon.

Mare and Foal
Mare and Foal

The differences in coloring of the moms and the colts was kind of interesting.

Mares and Foals
Mares and Foals

Unfortunately, the majority of the mares with young walked away when I approached the fence to take my pictures, probably to protect the youngsters from any possible threat an unknown presence such as myself might cause. Or it could have been Pearl’s few barks of alarm from the Prius when she noticed these huge beasts just outside the windows of the car.

Mares and Foals
Mares and Foals

This were absolutely gorgeous animals, as if they were brushed and carefully groomed just for these photos. If you right click on the image above ( or any image in these blog posts for that matter ), it will open a larger image in a new window, and you will see what I mean.

Nebraska Horses
Nebraska Horses

I wish I could have gotten this lone white horse to position itself right next to one of the black ones, would have been a neat shot, but I waited and waited and this was the best I could get.

I am probably headed to the badlands of southwest South Dakota next, while I await the release of winter’s grip on Yellowstone NP. Snow is still falling there as of this post and some of the roads are still closed by snow. Hoping I can get there to see some early season bear activity, assuming I can get a spot in the campground at Mammoth Hot Springs, something I have not had any luck doing the last two times I have attempted to visit Yellowstone.

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April 21, 2018 Marion, Kansas

Abandoned Kansas Farmhouse
Abandoned Kansas Farmhouse

Driving the Backroads of Kansas

I have been staying at another Army Corps of Engineers park on the shores of Marion Reservoir the last week or so. Cottonwood Point Campground is yet another great COE campground with 171 campsites spread out over many acres along the shoreline of the reservoir. The sites are mostly level backins with a few pullthroughs, most have gravel pads, picnic table under a shelter, fire pit and charcoal grill. Most have 50 amp electric  with water spigot and some sites have full hookups.

Since there is almost no one here this early in the season, I was able to grab a great pull through site at the very end of one of the four camping loops, guaranteeing me the solitude I love. This site, like most in this campground is waterside with lots of trees around the campsite. Very strong Verizon signal for my internet and this site allowed me easy access to the southern sky for my satellite TV. And for all this I have to pay all of $10.50 ( with my senior pass ) a night, pretty hard to beat that.

Cottonwood Point COE Campsite
Cottonwood Point COE Campsite

My only gripe is that yesterday I had to move from the wonderful site seen in these images to another pull through ( that proved to be every bit as nice ). The reason why ? Well, even though there are only about a dozen campers here amongst the 171 sites, this particular site has been reserved for the weekend. An all too common occurrence with campgrounds that allow reserving specific sites as opposed to reserving a guaranteed open space in the campground ( like the Texas State Park system does )

Cottonwood Point COE Campsite
Cottonwood Point COE Campsite

Notice the rapidly growing Pearl next to Sam. Weighed 2.4 pounds at her first vet visit a month ago, and now 4.4 pounds at her vet visit this week ( for the last of her puppy shots and her first rabies shot ). She remains bold and very independent, to the point of stubborn at times, but recognizes that she does have to pay attention, and respond, to my requests … at least most of the time. Continues to harass poor old Sam, but I do catch Sam actually playing with her quite often now, and even seeking her out to snuggle with once she sees that Pearl has finally shut down and fallen asleep.

Kansas Farmscape
Kansas Farmscape

The weather has been all over the map during my stay, from lows in the low 20’s to highs around 80, with rain, snow and a little bit of sun. The only constant has been the wind, blowing from all directions, but continually blowing, often up to 40 mph.

Kansas Farmscape
Kansas Farmscape

I have been driving all the back roads looking for old barns, but there are very few left standing, most farms now have metal barns, nowhere near as picturesque as the stately old wooden structures.

Abandoned Kansas Barns
Abandoned Kansas Barns

It’s not like the wooden barns didn’t once exist here, it’s just that what I see now are mainly just piles of wooden debris scattered through the woods that border the fields.

Abandoned Kansas Farm
Abandoned Kansas Farm

Once in a while I come across one that is still sort of standing, as in the images above, but these are few and far between.

Remains of a Stone Farmhouse
Remains of a Stone Farmhouse

I suppose that if a stone structure, like the one above located in the middle of a cultivated field, can’t survive here, it probably is little wonder that the old wooden structures have all disappeared.

Controlled Burn
Controlled Burn

Cheyenne Bottoms Wetlands

I made a 200 mile round trip to check out the Cheyenne Bottoms Wetlands west of here the other day after I went online and managed to reserve a spot on the last day of trips to a blind ( limited to only 6 people ) set up next to a Prairie Chicken lec to observe their mating rituals. The smoky scene above is what I encountered as I approached the wetlands. Unfortunately, there was a controlled burn in progress out on the wetlands and a lot of the area was thus inaccessible on the day I chose to visit.

Cheyenne Bottoms Birds
Cheyenne Bottoms Birds

I did manage to drive a bit of the roads in the wetlands and encountered a few birds here and there.

Avocet
Avocet

Certainly worth visiting again.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

I will be returning there with the motorhome next week and hope to get a better chance to explore the area for birds. These wetlands are located along the Central ( migratory ) Flyway and are a main refueling stop for all kinds of birdlife heading north to their breeding grounds.

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October 20, 2017 Bend, Oregon

Abandoned Farm
Abandoned Farm

Wandering Around  Central Oregon

I took a couple of trips out of Bend last week looking for foliage primarily. I have to admit that I didn’t find much on either trip but sure did put in a couple of long days and a lot of miles looking.

I returned to the Cascades and revisited Sahalie Falls and Koosah Falls, then continued west on Route 126 to Cougar Dam Road, shown as Route 19 on my Oregon atlas. Though I encountered a little bit of snow and ice on the road at the absolute highest elevations, I enjoyed this drive on the western side of the mountain, through the rain forest and alongside the south fork the McKenzie River.

From Atop Sahalie Falls
From Atop Sahalie Falls

Before heading down Route 19, I walked the short trail to the top of Sahalie Falls for a different perspective of the falls.

Sahalie Falls
Sahalie Falls

 

Sahalie Falls
Sahalie Falls

The other perspective of Sahalie Falls. I then drove the quarter mile down the road to Koosah Falls with the intention of hiking back north up to Sahalie Falls to check out some of the blue pools along that stretch of the river. Unfortunately, I never got very far on the trail, being forced to retreat and retrace my steps back to the car after going no more than a few hundred yards up the  trail. The side affects of my chemo were making themselves well known here and the weakness in my legs forced me to turn back to avoid injury. Sure hope this subsides at some point and I regain some strength in my legs or I will be forced to give up hiking and thus lose a lot of photo opportunities..

Then on west to Route 19 and eventually back east on Route 58.

Rain Forest Foliage
Rain Forest Foliage

I would recommend driving Route 19 if in the area. It is a decent two lane paved road winding down the west side of the Cascades roughly following the South Fork of the McKenzie River.

Mossy Rocks
Mossy Rocks

As you can see from the two images immediately above, this side of the mountains gets a little more rain than the eastern side near Bend, thus lush, green rain forest and lots of moss.

Abandoned Farm
Abandoned Farm
Abandoned Farm
Abandoned Farm
Abandoned Farm
Abandoned Farm

My other day trip went north and east of Bend up through Antelope and parts east of there, but produced nothing to speak of as far as scenics or wildlife are concerned. The old abandoned farm pictured above is the only thing I even got the camera out for on this very long day on the road.

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September 3, 2013 Moving day

Palisades BLM campground to Red Mountain BLM campground

SmallRV andToadMooseMoved this morning about 35 miles north from my BLM site at Palisades to the Red Mountain BLM campground on the banks of the Madison, 8 miles east of Norris on 84. I wanted to get closer to Bozeman to find a solution to my missing window, and that would be the only likely place I will find a glass shop that might be able to make the repair. Since I had no Verizon coverage whatsoever at the Palisades site, I stopped at the grocery store parking lot in Ennis and got the IMac out to get on the internet and search out glass shops in Bozeman. I found 2 shops that looked look they may be able to help.

After getting set up on Site 7 at Red Mountain, right on the banks of the Madison, but really not that attractive a campground, no “it” factor, I hopped in the car and headed to Bozeman. Easily found the Glass Doctor and spoke with a helpful young man at the front desk. He seemed to understand what I was looking for, said they could cut laminated glass with rounded corners, had it in stock, and was familiar with the type of window frame I had and set me up an appointment for Thursday at 11 AM. Looks like kind of a tight fit to get the motorhome into their lot, and they are on a very busy business highway, but he assured me they can get me in there. His estimate is around $220 which seems a fair price I can live with.

Returned to my campsite around noon but just couldn’t take the heat anymore by 2PM. Loaded the dogs in the car, turned on the AC, and set out to go explore around Pony, according to the Montana Road Map, a ghost town up in the mountains. Turns out there are a few old buildings in Pony, but it mostly is just another small backwater, rather rundown town whose best days are obviously behind it.

Abandoned Montana barn
Abandoned Montana barn
Abandoned Montana farmhouse
Abandoned Montana farmhouse

 

 

 

 

 

However, there were a couple of dirt roads leading out of town and up into the mountains to National Forest lands and campgrounds and so up I went. By the time I reached the end of the road, I had gained enough elevation to have the temperature drop from 94 degrees to 74 degrees, just what I was looking for. Although the roads looked like they should have led to some wildlife sitings, all I got for my efforts was a very dusty car and heat relief, though I did see 4 good sized piles of bear scat in the road, just no bear scat depositor.

Mule deer doe and fawn
Mule deer doe
A pair of pronghorn
A pair of pronghorn

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did see a few mule deer and a small herd of Pronghorns as I took a shortcut along a dirt road through farmland from Pony back to route 287. Got back home around 6:30 and it was still hot. This was one evening it did not seem to cool down so quickly, but a thunderstorm around 8 PM finally did the trick.

Montana farmland
Montana farmland
Montana farmland
Montana farmland
A pronghorn and his harem
A pronghorn and his harem
Camera shy pronghorns
Camera shy pronghorns