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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October 24, Mule Deer then Travel Day

Antelope Island Sunrise
Antelope Island Sunrise

Antelope Island

Anxious to get out early and find the mule deer bucks I ran into yesterday morning, I had a little trouble setting my internal alarm and woke up way too early. So I headed back up to Buffalo Point and waited for the sun to come up.

City Lights from Antelope Island
City Lights from Antelope Island

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

Morning Hunt for Mule deer Bucks

The Challenge
The Challenge

These images were taken long before the sun came up so the quality is not the best since there was so little light, but I liked some of the action they captured and they will make great painting reference photos.

Mulie Duel
Mulie Duel
Mulie Duel
Mulie Duel

While still dark I had hiked down to the edge of the sagebrush and set up my tripod with my 600mm lens attached. These photos were taken from quite a distance since I did not want to scare these guys off.

Always Alert
Always Alert

Of necessity, these guys are eternally vigilant, and they were aware of my presence, but as long as I didn’t move when their heads were up and looking my way, and I didn’t get too close, they would tolerate my efforts to get some shots.

The Boys Club
The Boys Club
The Boys Club
The Boys Club

I followed as they moved across the meadow and the sun slowly began to illuminate the scene.

The Boys Club
The Boys Club
The Boys Club
The Boys Club
On Alert
On Alert

If you don’t crowd them, they settle in and go about their daily routine, browsing, grooming,

Mulies Sparring
Mulies Sparring
Mulies Sparring
Mulies Sparring

and sparring, just testing each others strength, not really full out fighting.

Mule Deer
Mule Deer

Finally, they were bathed in full morning sunlight, and now I can get some decent shots ……

The End of a Good Thing, Here Comes Joe Point and Shoot
The End of a Good Thing, Here Comes Joe Point and Shoot

but, no such luck. They have been spotted by ” Joe Point and Shoot ” and here he comes crashing down through the sagebrush to get in ” real close ” so he can get the shot of a lifetime, shooting straight into the rising sun, of course. Well, he doesn’t get his shot because he scares them off, and needless to say, neither do I, after 2 hours of carefully stalking these beautiful, but cautious animals, they are out of here !

Sorry to cry and gripe and moan about this, but it happens all too often. You put in the time and effort to get some nice shots and some inconsiderate moron, or perhaps they are just oblivious to what others are trying to accomplish, comes along and chases off your subjects.

Bridger Bay Campsite Visitors

Morning Visitor
Morning Visitor

I get a great kick out of watching the jack rabbits come in early each morning, as I have my cup of coffee. Sometimes it is just one or two individuals, sometimes a dozen.

Coyote Pair
Coyote Pair
Coyote Pair
Coyote Pair

I’m not quite so pleased to see Ma and Pa coyote show up this close however. I imagine they are just doing their morning thing hunting for mice and voles, I doubt they could catch too many of the jack rabbits, but they always seem to show up around the time I am taking the dogs out for their morning constitutional. Sam sees them and wants to go check them out, but I have tried to explain to her that the game they would want to play with her is one she would not enjoy.

Unwelcome Campsite Visitor
Unwelcome Campsite Visitor
Unwelcome Campsite Visitor
Unwelcome Campsite Visitor

These portraits give you an idea of how close in they come, and, yes, the coyote is staring at one of the dogs, probably trying to size up the situation, thinking … one small, probably delicious little four legged morsel, and one very large two legged thing with some black three legged thing in front of him … hmmmm, wonder if it’s worth making a run at it. Any time they come around, I do get the dogs back in the motorhome, just in case.

Antelope Island to Baker, Nevada

After my morning photo shoot, I was back to camp and got everything stowed away and left Bridger Bay Campground around 10:30. Made a quick stop at WalMart on the way back out to I-15, I figured I better stock up on basics since I don’t think there is going to be a lot of opportunities to do so where I am heading.

Drove south on I-15 to I-215 south, battling the always heavy traffic on the interstates throughout the Salt lake City megalopolis. I exited I-215 and got on I-80 west and finally the traffic thinned to tolerable levels. I departed the interstate and headed south on Route 36, through several miles of traffic lights before finally hitting the open road, and no traffic, of the high desert country. Eventually, Route 36 ends and I got on another 2 lane, Route 6 west. More desert, nothing to see, but no traffic to battle, all the way to the Nevada border.

The Border Inn is right on Route 6 and I paid for two nights ( $24.42/ night including tax ) of camping in their flat, unpaved, peastone parking lot. Actually they have a decent, though not terribly attractive, campground directly adjacent to the store/restaurant/bar/casino/convenience store/gas station. Though right on the highway, the lack of night time traffic made for an uninterrupted night’s sleep here. There are full hookups with 50 Amp electric, and the sites are all side by side, close, with no privacy, but there are not a lot of campers here at this time. Verizon signal is a usable 4 bars of 3G and with no trees, satellite reception is fine. All in all, to explore the Great Basin National Park area, I would definitely stay here again.

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October 21, Antelope Island State Park, Utah

Clouds Over Great Salt Lake
Clouds Over Great Salt Lake

Bridger Bay Campground, Antelope Island

Yesterday I made the short trip down I-15 to Antelope Island State Park, only about 40 miles from my previous campsite. This morning I awoke to some very dramatic skies as the weather was having a difficult time deciding what it was it wanted to do. As the sun rose slowly through cloudy skies to the east, lightning flashed through night dark skies to the west.

Clouds Over Great Salt Lake
Clouds Over Great Salt Lake
Clouds Over Great Salt Lake
Clouds Over Great Salt Lake

By 9 AM, the decision was made, and grey, overcast, cloudy skies it was. The temps dropped from yesterday’s high 70’s to barely 60, and it even spit a few very light showers.

Campsite at Bridger Bay
Campsite at Bridger Bay

This is my new home for four days, site #26 at Bridger Bay Campground in Antelope Island State Park. The campground sits on the side of a bare hill overlooking the Great Salt Lake and has both pull through and back in sites. $15 gets you your first night here and it is $12/night for any additional nights. Sites are reservable at #$%^&# Reserve America. I imagine it gets pretty crowded and you must bake here with no shade in the summer, but right now with mild temperatures and only five other people in the campground, I have to consider this close to heavenly.

And they call this a "primitive" site
And they call this a “primitive” site

All sites are primitive, no hookups, though as you can see from the image above, “primitive” may be the wrong adjective, all sites have the same amenities you can see in the photo. The sites are level and paved and well spaced.

Bridger Bay Campground
Bridger Bay Campground
Bridger Bay Campground
Bridger Bay Campground

 

 

 

 

 

In the images above you can see my nearest neighbor behind me and the nearest empty site on the opposite side of the road from me. With no trees you have wide open views of the lake and the island to the north, as well as a lot of sky. There is intermittent Verizon signal, this morning fairly strong, and by noon absolutely non existent, and with no trees, of course, excellent satellite reception.

I am here for four days before heading on to the Great Basin National Park just over the border in Nevada. Essentially, I am just killing time while waiting for the weather to cool a bit in the desert before I head farther south. Of course, I am also looking over my shoulder to make sure I don’t linger too long in the higher elevations and get caught in an early snow storm, a delicate dance with Mother Nature. In the meantime, I will enjoy the this wonderful, unbelievably quiet spot, and work on installing more images on my website, www.mcqgallery.com, ( also accessible by clicking on “Galleries” in the navigation bar at the top of every blog page ) something I never get around to when exploring new areas out here in the west. Please feel free to check it out as there are presently hundreds of images there, although my favorite stuff, wildlife, is just now getting loaded onto the site, and with over a thousand images of birds, bears, and the like to upload, this is going to take a while.

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