Sunday, September 23, 2012

Bugling Elk Tour

As I mentioned in the last post, we have been hearing  the bugle of the it is time to go out on the tour the Friends of the Wichita lead in September.  This refuge has a large friends group who are very active with a total of 200 members.  They do a lot for the refuge.

This is our mode of transportation...with a capacity of 35 and it was filled.  The tours are very popular!

We all gather around to get an introduction from our guide.

This is Orville, our guide talking about the elk antlers (6X6).  He is a Native American (Sioux) and very knowledgeable.  We were very glad to make his acquaintance, a very nice fellow.

This is our first stop on the route.

Orville making his call, and the elk responded.  

This was our closet observation.  I saw this one and immediately called out "elk on the right" as others joined in the fracas.  He was in one of the small ponds close to the road and you can see he was up to his haunches.  This picture was taken out of the window...ugh.

We saw a lot of elk from a distance and heard many bugling.  We also were given information about the refuge.

I will leave you with a view of Grama Lake named for a grass that grows on the refuge.  It lies within the special use area of the refuge and that is the area the tour takes.  It is an 18 mile tour, and well worth the trip.

Until next time...

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Repeat Performance

We have arrived back at Wichita Mountains NWR on the 8th of September.  We backed into our original spot in the "Volunteer Village."  All four spots have a rig parked on the pad.  We now have neighbors.

Leaving Colorado Springs, we overnighted at Wal-Mart and made it  here the next day.  Saturday, we checked in at the visitor center to pick up our keys and see some of the people we met and worked with in May.  We were given these windbreakers, and Joe set us up with this vehicle for our use.

You can go back to our blog for May to see who Joe is, and review some of the things that went on during that time.  We worked for the visitor center we will be working at headquarters under the supervision of BEA, the GIS (Geographic Information Systems) and computer whiz, to create a birding map for the refuge.  The desire of Susan, supervisor of visitor services, is to create this birding map for beginner birders.  These last few days, we have been going out to different areas on the refuge seeing what birds can be seen during the fall season.  Birding has not been a priority on this refuge...we are hoping to get it started.  There are some great birding opportunities here.

Since we will be working on government computers, we had to take the FISSA (Federal Information Systems Security Awareness) test  again (yearly).  So, Friday, we sat down for that test.  We passed it with flying colors on the first try and received our certificates.

In between those tasks, Wallace replaced the water valve on our toilet because of a leak.  After three trips to the east side of Lawton, first time they told us they had the part (NOT), the second time Wallace got the wrong part and the third trip was a winner.  He installed it Friday afternoon.  All is well.

So, we are back here for a couple of months before we head back to the Rio Grande Valley for a nice visit with the grandchildren, son, daughter-in-law and many other friends and kin.  While here we will be enjoying the bugling elk, the yipping of the coyotes and the many turkey that travel near and through our yard.

Until next time...

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Day Four...State Park

Before we go into day 4, I want to say this about Cheyenne Mountain.  As I said earlier, it is looming over us out our front door (picture in yesterday's blog).  It is the Norad Cheyenne Mountain Complex (nuclear bunker) or Norad Cave.  IT IS FASCINATING to me.  There are 15 buildings inside that mountain with 3 of them being 3 story in size.  Some of you probably already know about this because they used to let people take tours of it.  For the rest of us, google it, you too will be fascinated.

When I signed off yesterday, we hiked Blackmer Loop Trail...3.52 miles...the longest trail in the park.

There are 20 miles of trails within the 1680 acre park and we wanted to spend some time enjoying this park.  At this juncture, we have hiked halfway.

This is the famous Ponderosa Pine growing out of this boulder.  Ponderosa Pines live for many years.  We heard when the trunk is red, they are at least 80 years old.

Black-capped Chickadee

We spent some time watching this activity...flying back and forth.

Unknown lizard.  Let me know if you know.  We had a great walk with a lot of critters.

Now on to day 4...We picked up a few things at Camping World and then drove over to The Garden of the Gods.

In the photo on the right is Gateway Arch with Pike's Peak peaking through in the background.  This place is simply beautiful.

There is a parking lot where you can get out and walk around all these beautiful red mountains and ledges.

And if you want to try your hand at rock climbing, that is available too.

Our time is up here in Colorado Springs.  Tomorrow we are on the road again...heading to Wichita Mountains NWR.  I'm not ready!!!  

Want to thank Mark and Teri for a wonderful visit.

Until next time...

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Cheyenne Mountains SP

Up---up---up---Raptor's Glenn---the name should have told us what to expect!!!  Here we are at Cheyenne Mountains SP---absolutely beautiful!!!  Our dining window faces "the mountain" while the opposite side looks down on the southern end of Colorado Springs.

We got here on the second of September, so the first day was spent driving here and setting up.

Day 2 was spent with our friends, Mark and Teri.  They drove 3 hours just to visit and spend the day.  We asked them what they wanted to do while here and the response was "we just want to visit," and that is just what we did.  There was a balloon festival going on early that am.

That evening, Fort Carson put on a fireworks show.

At 10:00pm, taps are played...I love it!!!  You know what you can hear at 6:30am, you got it.  You try to spell it!!!  

At night, the lights from town are gorgeous.  I haven't had luck with night photos.

Day 3 was spent on another mountain top.  Pike's Peak.  We decided on going by way of the cog railway, the highest one in the world that reaches 14,115', with an elevation gain just over 7500'.  It takes 3 hours to reach the top and the trip is 9 miles.  It is named for Zebulon Pike who discovered it while he was out exploring land for the Louisiana Purchase in 1806.  

Taken after we cleared out at the top.  We were given 40 minutes for photos, shopping, etc.

This is the end of the line.  We are glad it stopped!!!  You can see what the track looks like.  A cog railway climbs by using a gear-like wheel, the cog, to engage the teeth in a center rail, the rack.  It climbs 25' for every 100' it moves forward.

Pike's Peak was the inspiration for the song, "America the Beautiful."

This is the tilt of the train.

The area with the dirt, flat top, is Cripple Creek.  They get a million dollars a day from that gold mine.  It has produced more gold from the earth than California and Alaska combined!!!  You also can view the Continental Divide from the train.

We did see Bighorn Sheep.

Come back for day 4.  We are ready to do a hike here in the park. 

Until next time...