Sunday, April 29, 2012

San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex

We are volunteering at the San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex.  It consists of three Refuges. 

Monte Vista NWR was created in 1952 by the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission.  It is a 14,804 acre artificially created wetland.  It’s intensively managed to provide habitat for a wide variety of waterfowl and other water birds.

Alamosa NWR is 12,026 acres of upland areas, riparian corridors, wet meadows, and river oxbows.  It was established in 1962 as a haven for migratory birds and other wildlife in the San Luis Valley.

The third refuge is not open to the public.  It is the BACA NWR and was established in 2003.

We will be working at all three refuges but most of our time will be at Alamosa.

If you read a couple of posts back you will see that our Alamosa RV site is probably not going to be finished any time soon. 
We have moved over to the Monte Vista NWR.

We’re parked behind an historical house that is owned by the Refuge, but not used.

The driveway is lined on both sides with enormous cottonwood trees.

This is the view out our window.

We’re glad to have full hookups!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Around the Refuge

Guess who?
Here’s another clue:

There is a nice 3 1/2 mile auto tour here at Alamosa.  We saw lots of birds on the drive around.
There are a lot of Cinnamon Teal.

Horned Lark

Did you guess what this critter is?  There are several of them in the trees behind our RV.

This one was pretty gray!

Friday, April 27, 2012

New Bikes

We have been thinking of buying new bikes for quite a while.  The ones we have are over 20 years old and in pretty bad shape.  Out of 15 gears I could only use about 6!

We happened to go into a wonderful little mountain sports shop in Alamosa.  While trying on hiking boots and looking around we noticed that they had a very large selection of bikes.

The sales woman was very knowledgeable and found a bike that was my size (yall know I’m on the short side, right?) and spent quite a while getting everything adjusted just right for me.  I decided that I would not make a decision right then but to think about it a while. 

My, very nice, sales lady encouraged me to ‘take it for a spin in the parking lot.’  Yep, that’s all it took.  I wanted some extra things put on it like a different seat, and a wireless computer that keeps track of mileage, distance, etc.  We picked it up the next day. So, I’m the proud owner of a 2012 Specialized Myka HT Disc.

The next day, we went back to pick up my bike and, you guessed it, Mark found one that he liked.  He got the 2012 Specialized Hardrock Disc 29.  He also wanted some extra items so we waited around for his bike.

We were able to donate our old bikes to the boy scouts for a garage sale they will be having next month.

We’ve already found a few biking trails on the map and hope to try them out soon.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

"Not Quite Finished"

We have arrived at Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge.

This is the brand new RV pad that we were supposed to use.  It's "Not Quite Finished." It's just a slab.  There is no electric, water, or sewer.

This is the brand new laundry room I was going to use.  As you can see it's "Not Quite Finished."

This is a sampling of the junk I've been picking up around the RV site.  The cleanup is "Not Quite Finished."

Hummm... Do you see a pattern here?

Our first day we were told that finishing the RV pad would be the first priority.  The second day we were told that it might take a while.  The third day we were told they have another place for us and would like for us to move.

The staff here has been extremely nice.  There does seem to be a bit of disorganization.  Until everything gets worked out we’re going to go with the flow.

Stay tuned!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

This sure isn’t Texas!

Can you guess where we are?

A place where there is snow on the mountains:

Rivers so clear you can see the trout swimming on the bottom:

Cool, crisp, pine scented, fresh air.

A place where you can still make snowballs on April 21st.

Beautiful Birds:

Stellar's Jay

Mountain Bluebird

Western Bluebird

Say's Phoebe

 Have you figured it out?

We’re in beautiful Colorado.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Lighthouse Hike (Part 2)

It was getting warmer as we hiked back from the Lighthouse, and the lizards and butterflies were enjoying the sunshine. Our first find was a Texas Horned Lizard sunning itself on the trail. "Horny Toads" were pretty common when we were kids, but they are now listed as threatened in the state. Loss of habitat and the accidental introduction of Red Imported Fire Ants have caused real problems for these guys.

We came across a real show-stopper a bit further down the trail. This amazing Collared Lizard, (aka Common Collared Lizard) was sunning itself on a sandy spot alongside the trail. This was a nice male, and the males are said to be highly territorial. Our attention didn't seem to bother him at all, and he remained on his spot as we hiked on.

As the weather warmed, we did see a few butterflies, including this Dainty Sulphur and Checkered White.

All-in-all, a great morning's hike!

A Lighthouse in the Texas Panhandle ??

One of the "classic" Texas hikes is to the Lighthouse formation here in Palo Duro Canyon State Park. We've read about this hike and seen pictures for 30 years, but have never had the opportunity to do it ourselves. So today was the day! The weather here is perfect for hiking, with lows in the 40's and highs in the upper 60's.

Palo Duro Canyon was formed by the erosion of shale and sandstone, and we enjoyed seeing the many layers that had been exposed.

During the erosion process, occasional pillars of rock (called hoodoo's) are left behind.

At about the 1.8 mile mark, we got our first look at the Lighthouse formation.

At the 2.2 mile mark there was a nice viewpoint.

We went the full 3 miles, and with a final (steep) effort we found ourselves up on the mesa next to the Lighthouse!

We walked around on top a bit, and enjoyed a break with a great view of the "back" of the Lighthouse.

It was a great hike, but we still had 3 miles to get back to the truck. Check our next post for some of the critters we enjoyed on the walk down!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Texas

We’ll be spending about six days here at Palo Duro Canyon State Park.

Our site

Palo Duro Canyon State Park officially opened on July 4, 1934. The canyon is 120 miles long and 800 feet deep.

The drive from the park entry to the campground is pretty steep. Mark told me it is one mile at a 10% grade. The road goes across five low water crossings. There had been some rain here the day before we arrived and one of the crossings still had some water on it.

Palo Duro is Spanish for hard wood in reference to the Rocky Mountain juniper trees found in the canyon.

We’re camped at the bottom of the canyon looking out at the canyon walls.

This is the scene out our, very dirty, back window:

This photo was also taken out the back window:

This is the view from the front:

This is the first time we've camped at Palo Duro Canyon. It's a beautiful Park. I'll have many more pictures so keep checking.

Sunset over the canyon.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

On the Road

We busted two out of three of our traveling rules today.
Since our retirement we try to use the 2-2-2 rule when traveling that a lot of full time RV'ers use:

1. Drive 200 miles or less.
2. Be off the road by 2:00 p.m.
3. Stay at least 2 nights in the campground.

We left Abilene State Park a couple of hours later than we had planned because of the rainy weather. So, that put us into our destination campground about 4:00 p.m. And, it was a little bit farther than 200 miles.

It turned out to be a long day. We had a hard headwind that Mark fought the whole way.

These shots were taken through the windshield so there are a few bug guts but everything else is good old Texas dust!

We have made it to Palo Duro Canyon State Park. It is the second largest canyon in the United States. My new 'header' photo is a picture of the canyon.

We'll be here all week so stay tuned for more photos and info to come!