Sunday, August 26, 2012

Snow in August???

Not falling from the sky though...

This "snow" lands everywhere and makes a mess!!!

We have one more week left here at Arapaho and this is what we have been asked to do.  Finish up labeling in the maintenance shop.

Ann Timberman, project leader, said this was the priority and just when we thought we were through, more requests came in (Ann is away) from others.  Sixteen unit signs...

These actually were the easier ones to rout as you only had to change one letter.  Those smaller signs were very time consuming.  At these refuges, you don't always have the necessary work areas that make the jobs easier, but you make do with what you have.

And five signs for lakes at Hutton Lake NWR in Wyoming.

Wallace's nose was to the grindstone!  We finally worked out a system to get all this accomplished.  He could just sit and rout and I could do the rest!!!  I used the drill press to make the holes to secure the signs.

I used the Bosch Dual Bevel Mitre saw to cut the signs.  I fetched the letters and put them back when he was through with them.  I swept and swept and swept.  You get the picture...I was on my feet all day, but we are now finished.

We made 38 signs for the shop, 3 signs for the oil house, 5 signs for the lakes and 16 unit signs.  A total of 62 signs.

Now someone needs to paint all those cabinets in the shop!!!

That my friends was our work week.

Our plans after leaving here is to spend some time in Colorado Springs, staying at Cheyenne Mountains State Park, Colorado's newest state park.  That is probably where our next blog will be from.

Until next time...

Monday, August 20, 2012

What a Cutie

After our nice long day off yesterday going over to Mount Evans, we just chilled out today.  Tomorrow, it's back to work.

We were playing cards at the dining table when Wallace happened to see this little cutie scampering across the yard.  He was hunting for ground squirrels.  I quickly grabbed the camera and ran outside.

He was very approachable.  He was so intent on catching his lunch, he wasn't even bothered by me.  He went away empty handed while we were watching.  My camera was ready and aimed at the hole, but each time, nothing!!!  I felt so sorry for him, and for me for not getting a really good shot of predator with prey.  We watched for quite some time.

I have stalled long enough...wanting to enlarge it without covering up some of the info on the right of the here he is.

Long-tailed Weasel

You can see why it is named long-tailed!!!  What a delight.  Oh yes, these critters turn white in the winter this far north.  We saw our first one in south Texas at Santa Ana NWR with a rat in its mouth.  Yes, it is wonderful living on a refuge!!!

Until next time...

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Road to the Stars

At 14,130 feet, Mount Evans, the end of the road where we hiked from the parking lot to the summit and saw most of the Continental Divide in Colorado.  Our adventure to the top of the highest paved road in North America, turned out to be a wonderful experience even though a little scary at times as the last 14 miles on this paved road becomes very narrow in places and lumpy (frost heave) with parts of the asphalt giving way...with many hairpin turns while you share the road with bicyclists!!!  All drivers are very patient and yield to vehicles on those hairpin turns, thank God.

The alpine tundra, the land above the trees, is a harsh environment where this little plant, Bigroot Spring Beauty, sends its root down about 6 feet (looks like a parsnip).

Pikas do not hibernate but stay active all year.

We did not see any Bighorn Sheep, but we did see this Mountain Goat by the side of the road.

Summit Lake, at 12,830 feet, is the highest park in the mountain system with the environment mirroring the arctic.  "Permafrost, unique to the dry alpine tundra is present, along with rare plants usually found above the Arctic Circle."

This area is where Ice Age glaciers were thousands of years ago.  As the ice receded, it left this U shaped valley and Summit Lake.

Mount Goliath Research Natural Area, elevation 11,540 feet, was an interesting place to visit where we saw Bristlecone Pines that were over 1,000 years old...the oldest single living organisms on earth...where they must grow twisted for a stronger foundation against extreme winds.

Krummholz is a German word meaning "crooked wood."  Behind the center there are trails to take with little garden plots and a stone indicating which garden you are in.

The drive was like a journey to distant lands.  "Every 1,000 feet gained is equivalent to traveling 600 miles north in latitude.  In only 45 minutes, you will drive through a landscape that reflects the upper regions of North America."  

I will back up to the start of this post, at the end of the road is Crest House...what is left of it after a propane tank explosion in 1979.

This is the end of the road at the parking lot.  On the lower left side is Crest House with a clean restroom to the right where the people are lined up.  The building with the blue on top is the highest observatory in North America which was closed for repairs as a big wind storm blew the top of it off.  Bummer!!!

American Pipits were everywhere as they nest in the rockies.

We had a late lunch at Echo Lake Lodge, established in 1926.  A great place to stop after Mount Evans.  Good food, great prices and souvenirs to take home.

It was a glorious wind, not too cold and clear.  We did not experience any problems with elevation sickness.  What a wonderful time we had.  BUT, this trip is not for the faint of heart!!!

Here we are, on top of the world looking down on creation, hum, sounds like a song.  Aren't the clouds pretty?

Until next time...

Monday, August 13, 2012

Sprucin' Up

Ann Timberman, project leader here at Arapaho NWR, found out about Wallace's routing expertise, so she got together with him to find out what he needed to make a few signs around here.  It wasn't long until all the things he requested arrived.  A brand new router (it even lights up so you can see what you are routing), sign making templates, and a plastic type material (Colorcore) that comes in 4 by 8 sheets of varying thicknesses.  Now you can get it in brown and when it is routed, white letters appear.  Isn't that neat!!!  Now we don't have to paint the sheets and wait while it dries!!!

Here he is, hard at work!!!  He really enjoys doing this.  Following are a few of the signs that were requested.

You can see, we are slowly but surely helping to get the shop  cleaned up and organized.

This is Randy, maintenance foreman, painting the storage tanks that hold the diesel and gasoline for the refuge.  He has done a good job, they really look nice now.  Signs will be applied later.  

Wallace does all his routing in Randy's shop.  I told Randy we would be glad to help him clean up and organize.  I think that was the spark that started the flame as he has really gotten busy in there.  

After doing data entry in the am, I had some time left in the day to help in the shop.  This is only the beginning as more cleaning and organization will be taking place.

Until next time...

Thursday, August 9, 2012


All our good friends out there in blogger land.  

We have accepted a volunteer position with Attwater Prairie-Chicken NWR for the months of January through April 2013!!!!  We are so excited about this NEW (to us) refuge!!!!  We will be working with biologists!!!!  I can hardly wait.  It was just finalized as we had to make a decision between two offers...this is the one I WANTED.

Until next time...

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Grand Tour of Grand Lake

On Friday, our first day off this week, we were treated to a fun day with friends, Gary and Betty Rinehart.

This is taken on their front deck where the Colorado River runs parallel to their home.  What a pleasant sound, especially at night.  The river flows into Shadow Mountain Lake which flows into Grand Lake.  Grand Lake will always have full water capacity.

First on the agenda for the day was to drive over to Adams Falls, passing over the Adams Tunnel which carries water all the way from Grand Lake to the Thompson River in Estes Park.  The tunnel was built and water flowed under the Continental Divide in 1947.  It is called the Big Thompson Project.  It is a 13 mile long tunnel!!!

Gary is a whiz with computers and cameras.  He took our camera and got this shot at the falls.  He uses a Canon as well.

I like this photo of Betty.

Next was a tour of an old historic lodge that was built in 1918.  Weary travelers coming over the divide handed over $2.00 a day for room and board.  It was rebuilt in 1920, and this is what it looks like today...Grand Lake Lodge.

There are swings on the front porch where you can sit and take in the view overlooking the swimming pool out to Grand Lake.

We dragged Main Street with all the tourist shops.  We wanted to treat for lunch but they had other ideas.  Gary grilled burgers and brats with side dishes of coleslaw (with Betty's homemade dressing, yummy) and Rocky Ford cantaloupe.

We enjoyed a walk in the woods after lunch, stepping off the deck onto the path as the earlier photo by the river shows our start.  Gary was our tour guide, pointing out the sights along the way.  Betty and I enjoyed the wildflowers by the path.

It was great spending the day with them and catching up on things.  After hugs and handshakes, we called it a day.

Thanks again Gary and Betty for your hospitality.

Until next time...

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Frolicking Along The Fence

Our assignment today was to take us to Hutton Lake in Wyoming to replace boundary signs and add no hunting signs around the entire refuge boundary of 1,968 acres---elevation 7,150'.  There are 5 lakes on this refuge that provide resting and feeding areas for migrating waterfowl.

After loading up 3 ATV'S (one was already there), we headed out and arrived at our destination about 11:30 am.  Along with Kurt and Virginia, we made a plan to start at the entry of the property and split up with one couple going one way and the other couple going in the opposite direction.  We ate our sack lunch first, and were then on our way.

Notice we have all the PPE on.  Approved  helmet, long sleeved shirt, approved goggles, full fingered gloves, boots with heels, over the ankles, and long pants.  With our signs and tools evenly distributed, we are now ready and rarin' to go.

You can see why these signs need to be replaced.  Not only faded, but some idiots love to use them for target practice.  Some of the signs have not been replaced in so long, the nuts and bolts are rusted takes some muscle to get them off.

This is Rush Lake.  We tried to follow the fence line but the slope of the land was too much.  Then we decided to go through private property to get to the next sign, but that lead to a dead end anyway, so we turned around and decided to walk to the sign.  We posted that sign, and then drove around the lake to continue the fence line.  

This was started on Tuesday...on Wednesday we had a safety meeting back at headquarters, then went back to this area to finish up on Thursday.  We left the ATV'S in the shed at the lake so we were able to get an earlier start on Thursday.  We are happy to report the job was accomplished.

Until next time...