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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October 23, 2014 Antelope Island, Utah

Antelope Island Sunrise
Antelope Island Sunrise

Antelope Island, a Pleasant Surprise

I am really enjoying this short stay here, more than I anticipated. Have seen a couple of very nice sunrises and sunsets, and more wildlife than I expected.

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

Sunrise and City Lights
Sunrise and City Lights

I drove up to Buffalo Point while it was still dark this morning and witnessed the sun coming up over the mountains to the east. I was the only one there and it just reinforced how peaceful and serene a location this is, just minutes from the hustle and bustle, read congestion, of the Salt Lake City megalopolis. Surely the residents of this area must treasure this convenient retreat, although fortunately for me, they aren’t treasuring it this week. However, I still will be moving on tomorrow as I really don’t enjoy playing the musical chairs routine with campsites reserved on #$%^&# Reserve America. Though the campground only has 5 sites occupied today, people do move in for the weekend and I would have to move to stay in the campground. That’s the thing with #$%^&# Reserve America, you can only have 3 or 4 people in a 100 site campground and STILL have to move every other night. I don’t know why states use them.

Mule deer bucks
Mule deer bucks

After the sun had risen enough to drown out all the bright colors, I headed down the hill and caught a glimpse of some movement in the sagebrush. Whow!  Impressive mule deer bucks were retreating to the dense sagebrush to bed down for the day after their early morning browsing. Guess where I will be tomorrow morning instead of shooting sunrise shots?

Pronghorn
Pronghorn

Ran into the Island’s namesake early this morning as he was making his way down towards a spring.

Chukar
Chukar

Also stumbled onto this chukar, an introduced species that has thrived in this type of habitat. Antelope Island has the highest density of chukars in the state. This is the first time I have been able to get a shot of one ( though not a terribly good one, once more, I need that second camera body, I keep missing shots ) and I didn’t realize how colorful they were.

Visitor's Center visitor
Visitor’s Center visitor

Ran into, almost ran over, this guy on the road up to the very nice visitor’s center here on the island. The center is one of the better, more informative ones I have walked through.

Antelope Island grey skies
Antelope Island grey skies

And of course I have to include one more bison shot, though it really was the contrast of the threatening sky and the sun washed hill that caught my eye.

Since it was still early and there were only a couple of other people around, I decided to take a stroll around the Fielding Garr Ranch buildings. I honestly have to admit that I am not much of a history buff, at least as it pertains to recreated historical buildings and such, but these original structures and their contents were quite interesting. I particularly liked the extensive collection of hand tools in the barn workshops.

Barn back wall rocks
Barn back wall rocks

But when I walked around the back side of the long, rundown, equipment barn ( if you want to call it that ), I was really intrigued by the original stone work. I doubt very much that someone in the last century, when the stones were placed, was trying to impress anyone with the colorful variety of rocks used. I imagine they were were just picked from the face of the hills and outcroppings in the pastures here. But what variety.

Barn back wall rocks
Barn back wall rocks
Barn back wall rocks
Barn back wall rocks
Barn back wall rocks
Barn back wall rocks

I read somewhere in the literature on the island that the island contains some of the oldest and newest rock on the continent. I would have to also say it holds some of the most colorful and interesting rocks I have seen in one place.

Barn back wall rocks
Barn back wall rocks
Barn back wall rocks
Barn back wall rocks
Barn back wall rocks
Barn back wall rocks
Barn back wall rocks
Barn back wall rocks

I have been playing around with Scribble Maps to try and help myself remember where I have been, and what I have seen along the way. I include a link to my map ( work still in progress ) to see if I can get any input from any of you if including this in the blog is of any interest to people.

McQuade Travels Map
McQuade Travels Map

The map has icons that describe campgrounds of various places where I may have gotten some interesting shots. The blue lines are roads traveled by the motorhome and the red are roads explored in the Prius. Road conditions are noted where appropriate, i.e.. steep grades, high clearance vehicles only, etc.

Click on the map to see the full version. I’d appreciate any feedback.

 

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October 22, 2014 Antelope Island, Utah

Great Salt Lake Sunset
Great Salt Lake Sunset

Just Enjoying the Peace and Quiet

Sunset last evening over Great Salt Lake, taken from my campsite. There are only a couple of other people here in the campground, no one within a couple hundred yards of me, and this is proving to be a very peaceful, and unbelievably quiet spot. As serene as the image above. The sun actually sets just behind the hill this time of year, but I imagine in the summer months the setting sun would be visible from the campground.

As I sat in my LazyBoy this morning, enjoying my coffee, and watching as darkness began fading into light, I could see all kinds of movement in the short grass out the front windshield. Turned out to be a “rusk” of jackrabbits ( I had to look that up, of course, at Animal Group Names ) feeding in the predawn hours, at least a dozen of them, but still too dark to bother getting the camera out. Just as it was getting light enough to consider taking a picture, they all headed up the hill, probably to seek shelter from predators that hunt by day.

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

View from the hill above Bridger bay campground
View from the hill above Bridger bay campground

That’s my motorhome in the bottom right corner of the image above, taken just past sunrise this morning.

Rafts of ducks on Great Salt lake
Rafts of ducks on Great Salt lake

There must be tens of thousands of ducks out on the lake. There are rafts of ducks like this scattered all along the shore and out into the bay on the east side of the island. I’ve seen Northern Shovelers, Redheads, Gadwalls, some Mallards, and Ring Necked ducks, as well as gazillions of coots, all far too distant to get any type of photos.

There are antelope on Antelope Island !
There are antelope on Antelope Island !

On my early morning drive out the road to the farm, I finally found some antelope here on Antelope Island. I also saw, but couldn’t react quickly enough to get an image, an enormous Mule deer buck with quite a set of antlers heading into the brush to bed down for the day.

Probably the same as what the pioneers saw
Probably the same as what the pioneers saw

This herd of over a hundred bison was feeding its way north on the island early this morning. This scene is probably not all that different from what the early pioneers could have seen here, or elsewhere across the west.

Antelope Island
Antelope Island

This island has a very peaceful feel to it with it’s own kind of simple beauty, as this shot of the mountain spine of the island glowing warmly in the early morning sun.

Resting bull
Resting bull
Licking his wounds
Licking his wounds

I ran into a small band of bulls browsing along the road and two of them decided to put on a bit of a show. I can’t call it a knock down, drag out brawl, more of a sparring match, just sizing up a competitor, perhaps for a future bout, but interesting nonetheless.

Sparring Bison
Sparring Bison
Sparring Bison
Sparring Bison
Sparring Bison
Sparring Bison
Sparring Bison
Sparring Bison
Sparring Bison
Sparring Bison

And finally, one of my favorites out here, a meadowlark greeting the early morning sun with song. I have never seen so many of these songsters in one place. Both mornings I have been here there is at least one of them outside my window on the lone tree singing away until I open the door to walk the dogs.

Meadowlark
Meadowlark

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