The Wapiti Campground

My days have been filled with so many wonderful activities, that the desire to write after many hours of photography, biking, hiking, and just plain fun, that I haven’t felt much up to it. Today I thought I would just focus on Callie and what a good time she is having, and when I feel up to it, write about all the wildlife I have seen and the adventures I have been on. Jasper, AB, Canada is an incredible place and the people have been so helpful and friendly and the wilderness, beyond breathtaking, that it will be difficult to leave. And if Trump is reelected, I may just move here permanently.

Pipsqueak is parked toward the end of a long parking lot with two rows of RV’s placed across and next to one another. Fred and Becky are to the left of us and we both face the Miette River that roars right past in a deep ravine within a forest of fragrant pine trees. The fast-moving rapids are many shades of blue and can be heard in a whisper from our RV window. Elk, for which this campground is named after, roam through the forest and calmly stroll past tents and campers, while the bull elks bugle their mournful calls early in the morning and later at dusk. It is a really nice campground with hook-ups so we don’t have to depend on batteries and propane. My only complaint is the tepid water when taking a public shower. It never gets to anywhere near hot enough, and you have to keep pushing a button for 3 minutes, and I am being generous here, worth of flow. The restrooms though are clean and heated, which makes for a better experience when trying to dry off in the cramped stall in order to get back to the comfort of the RV. The nights have dropped into the low 30’s and snow is expected Thursday and Friday, but yesterday it actually got to a balmy 69 degrees.

Callie is asking for several walks a day and the two of us can cross over to a grassy meadow right behind the RV that has benches and big rocks for her to climb upon. She loves being up high so that she can survey her surroundings and take it all in from a different perspective and a higher vantage point. She looks up at me frequently while walking by my side on her leash and I swear she has a huge smile on her face! The sun actually came out in force both yesterday and today in between mild rainfall and many wildflowers are still in bloom. Callie loves soaking up the warmth and didn’t want to come back inside today. It won’t be long though before summer is over and fall and winter hit with a brutal force. I can already see the aspens turning golden yellow that are sprinkled in between the pines on the mountainsides.

We will be staying in Canada for one more week before heading to Washington State. We plan on driving back down the coast on our return voyage. There is still so much to cover about elk, moose, bighorn sheep, magpies, glaciers and more, but it will have to wait for another day.

Summer in the Desert

The temperature is steadily rising, but life still abounds in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. The birds that consist on a diet of reptile, seeds, and insect, flourish in the summertime. Early morning and dusk are the preferred hunting hours and most animals know to seek shade and retire during the day, people included.

I have been doing a lot of photography lately and appreciate that this form of creativity doesn’t make me too manic. Just a solid haaaaappppy! In the early morning hours, I head down to the pond and photograph dragonflies and damselflies that flit back and forth along the surface of the water. Black Says Phoebes are in hot pursuit of them and it is a free for all feeding frenzy. Great White Egrets and Great Blue Herons stalk the shoreline and wade into the water searching for frogs and fish. The pond is teeming with life in spite of the heat. Kestrel’s swoop down from the sky at dizzying speeds and grab lizards sunning themselves contentedly on rocks. It is an eat and be eaten world in the desert, survival of the fittest, and probably because of the inhospitable conditions, (many people leave in the summer and I have the place mostly to myself) I have wildlife in abundance all around me, and the opportunity to record what I see uninterrupted by the impact of humans.

Callie has had another episode of asthma attacks but I took her to the vet in Encinitas and she prescribed oral prednisone. She hates having the pills rammed down her throat and has taken to avoiding me. It is helping though and she hasn’t had a bad coughing spell in days. The secret to ramming a pill down the throat of a cat is to have a towel wrapped tightly around them in a burrito style with the head sticking out so that they don’t claw you. Coating the pill with butter helps make the pill go down easier, and it most certainly helps to have a partner in crime assist you in the process.

We will be heading back to the beach tomorrow or Thursday, and I am waiting for a surgery date for cervical stenosis. It will be a relief to have this done and I am hoping for a positive outcome.

Happy 4th of July to all of my readers. Keep your pets safe during the fireworks display. Dogs in particular panic at the sound of fireworks and many pets are lost during this holiday celebration. Putting dogs in the bathroom with the fan running is a great way to help them feel more comfortable because the white noise drowns out the sound of fireworks exploding.

Full Circle

I have finally arrived back home to my beloved Anza-Borrego Desert State Park but have moved up to Ram’s Hill Country Club. We are attempting to sell the beautiful house that I took all of the incredible sunrise photographs. Ram’s Hill has its own unique charm and as I write, I am listening to a chorus of coyotes howling and yipping off in the distance. I have a pond in the back of the house that attracts a lot of wildlife, so I am excited about the prospect of new photo opportunities.

Michael, Lara, Callie and I piled up most of our belongings into the SUV so that we could leave the RV in Encinitas and have the chance now to go back and forth to the beach and the desert. It can feel a little isolating in the desert and Callie can never run around free because of all the predators. I actually let her explore her surroundings at the beach with frequent checks from me so that she could feel a little more freedom. She loved it and stayed close to the RV.

Callie is doing very well and loved all the travel time. She has had so many experiences as a cat that it still amazes me how much she has learned about travel. She can watch the world go by as she rests on the dash, she walks with a leash along wilderness trails and will soon be put on a bike basket again to whiz along the roads and feel the wind in her fur.

A Taste for Quail

We are staying at Keough’s Hot Springs right outside Bishop on our return voyage south to Encinitas, and the Quail population is booming here. The RV is parked up against the granite and sage dappled hillside and it is home to dozens upon dozens of quail. The youngsters are old enough to take short distance flights and because it rained a couple of days ago, their food source is plentiful and they are brave enough to click and chirp their way right below Callie’s lookout window in search of a meal. The parents are a little more apprehensive and trying to round up their brood, but the going is just too good and as youngsters tend to do, they are misbehaving and having nothing to do with the usual rules and regulations. Callie can hardly contain her vision of the taste of quail on her tongue and she is making her own sounds of garbled delights and her tail is thwacking loudly against the window as she watches her next meal disappear under the camper directly below her. Too bad the window screen is preventing her from making her dream become a reality.

Lake Sabrina

Lake Sabrina is located above Bishop in the Eastern Sierras of California and has some of the most beautiful lakes that I have ever seen. We stayed at South Lake for almost a week and then moved over to Sabrina which is on the other side of the fork leading up to the campgrounds.

Lake Sabrina Campground was dry camping but the bathrooms were very clean and we had site number 16 that had a view of Bishop Creek and the snow-dusted mountains that cradled the lake. The mosquitos are bad but because we were there when a cold front had moved in and the first rain fell of the season, it wasn’t too bad for us at all. Not being right by the river helped too!

Michael hiked every day and I hung around because of an injured tailbone and I took Callie on walks and did a lot of photography. The rain came down hard several days with thunder and lightning, and the view was spectacular. White-tailed deer sauntered past our RV without a care in the world and Robins and Scrub Jays were everywhere. Callie loved it there because there were very few dogs and the fishermen were quiet and very respectful.

It only cost us $14.00 a night to stay there and it was one of the best places we have ever camped at. We have now moved over to the Keough hot springs right outside Bishop and can spend some time soaking in the mineral pools and relaxing before we have to go to Encinitas for eye surgery on the 18th. I am trying to get as much photography and writing done as possible before I am laid up. I am having a pterygium removed that has grown quite large and has now become a major surgery. I had one removed about 25 years ago and it was so traumatic, that I have held back on having the other eye done until it has now become absolutely necessary.

Nature

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This is a photographic compilation of some of my travels, not all with Callie, but with Michael for sure. He has been quite supportive all these years. He bought me a Polaroid camera when my daughter Lara was born 32 years ago, and I haven’t stopped since!

Working with my Nikon D70s

I have been so comfortable, and for so long now, with my iPhone camera, that it took quite a bit of persuasion and the offer of carrying the equipment around by my husband, for me to make the transition. I am so happy now that I did. The telephoto and macro with the wide angle make for a perfect set of lenses for most occasions. I would never have been able to photograph the Bald Eagles and Blue Heron and the flowers and landscapes have been much improved too! Thanks to my husband, I can now up my game and provide better images to go along with my stories.

The Marmot that I saw at Virginia Lake would have been a brown smudge in the distance. Check out the waterfall with the snow and search out the cheeky little guy and where he calls home. You would never have been able to spot him in the rocks. What a great place for him to live. He has all the fresh water he wants and there were abundant grasses and wildflowers all around. I think Marmots may hibernate in the winter, but I am not sure. I will have to check that out.

The Bald Eagles would have been too dark against the pine trees for anyone to see with the iPhone and the Blue Heron too, was way to wary to walk up close to me. I am very appreciative of Michael for firmly suggesting that I start using the camera again.

Washoe Lake State Park

Washoe Lake State Park is a 3,375 acre recreation area on the southeast shore of the lake in the county of Washoe in Nevada. Crescent City is less than a 15 minute drive and we stocked up on groceries before we got to the lake. It is home to magpies, coyotes, scrub jays, meadowlarks, kestrels, white pelicans, bald eagles, hawks, ospreys, flickers, quail, deer, wild horses and more.

When we pulled in late yesterday, a family of quail dashed across the road and the chicks were the size of tear drops. A family of kestrels are noisily going about the business of life next to our campsite, and the parents are frantically attending to at least one fledgling. The baby is old enough to fly short distances and is screeching its demands to be fed constantly. One parent insists the baby fly to a neighboring tree and then the other parent asks the youngster to fly back again so that it strengthens its wings. This little guy has hearty vocal chords and is not at all happy about having to work for a meal. The magpies can be seen checking out vacated campsites and are gorgeous because of the white patches on the wings. This makes them much more attractive to me than the jet black of crows, starlings and ravens. The pesky scrub jay followed Callie on our walk this morning and scolded us nervously, but also kept an eye on her until we got back to the RV.

Michael and I went on a bike ride after breakfast and adjacent to the campground, there is an equestrian area. Guests can corral their horses and park the horse trailer and RV alongside of them. You can hear them neighing back and forth to each other and when we were on our bike ride, we met two women on their quarter horses and I asked them about the free roaming horses we had seen earlier grazing on tall grasses on the top of one of the sand dunes. They informed us that they are wild and come down from the surrounding mountains in search of ample grazing and fresh water. They were gorgeous, well fed and their coats were glossy. I was able to take photographs with my iPhone from a distance and was really impressed with how healthy they looked.

We flushed out lots of jack rabbits that were the size of dogs and one coyote let us get really close for a good look at his or her, much darker and redder coat and bushy tail. Anza- Borrego Desert State Park is home to lots of coyotes, but they are much smaller, thinner, the color of sand and their tails are scrawny so they don’t get tangled up in the cactus quills. This coyote blended in well with the sage brush that flourishes here. The scent of sage by the way is intoxicating and fills the senses with the call of the wild and what the prairie must have looked and smelled like years ago.

The campground is clean and the spaces are far apart. Tall sage brush, pine trees and cottonwoods help give you a sense of privacy. The bathrooms have free use of water and the shower has a timer on it but you can press the nozzle for additional time. We got the last campsite available yesterday, but this afternoon, campers have pulled out and the place is a lot less crowded.

The lake is stocked and you can fish in the shallow waters, but consumption of your catch needs to be limited because of high levels of mercury. There were hang gliders soaring along the hills when we first arrived last night and high winds make it a popular destination site for windsurfers. There is hiking, ATV use, picnicking and boat launches too.

Callie is able to go on much longer walks at Washoe because of the wide open spaces and the dogs are kept contained. I am always a little worried about dogs in crowded campgrounds attacking her when she is on a leash. They look so appalled when they set eyes on her and it brings out a variety of reactions, not all of them friendly.

We are staying tonight and will decide whether we will hang around longer in the morning. It has been a little stressful finding campgrounds that are not full because of the 4th of July holiday coming up. We don’t want to be searching for a place to stay over the weekend and find ourselves stranded.

Callie and the Deer

Last evening when Callie and I were taking the trail up toward the waterfall that feeds Silver Lake, several Mule deer were startled by us as we rounded the bend, and in return, we were taken by surprise too. Callie actually jumped and let out a scream of fear and I had to pick her up and reassure her that the deer were probably more frightened of us and not the other way around. It was actually quite funny and when they bounded off into the sagebrush, Callie and I continued home much wiser for the experience.

Starlings swooped down on the two of us as we were meandering back and they were totally outraged that a cat was in their mist. One jet black male in his prime practically brushed past my ear as he flew at my head, making me actually duck. I hissed back at him when he landed on a nearby tree branch and he watched us intently, clucking loudly. He was making sure that we were leaving his territory because there were probably nests and young around. The nerve of that bird though!

When the deer calmed down enough to graze by the babbling Rush Creek, Callie and I made our way back home to our RV so that we could tell Michael about our exciting adventure with all these strange and new creatures. She sure is having the time of her life. I am on the constant lookout for danger though when I have her out on the leash, and so far it has been good. She actually begs to go on walks now by jumping on the table and staring at me. Once she makes eye contact, she meows loudly, and if I don’t get the hint, she flops down and shows me her tummy and continues ramping up the charm until I get up and retrieve the leash and take her for another adventure.

Turkey in the Desert

It seems almost unfathomable to me that turkeys can survive in the desert, but as harsh as it is, last spring I counted 5 turkey hens, and now there are only 2, trying to survive in the harsh desert. Still, that is pretty amazing and probably about right for any hatchlings survival. I believe they are the same turkeys that I spotted earlier and the two of them that are still alive, are sticking close together and appear to be in pretty good health. They were panting like most birds would do in the desert heat, but when they spotted me watching them, they sprang into action and trotted out into the wilderness. The five hens must have somehow traveled down from the higher elevations of our local mountains and learned to survive a very different environment than the grasslands and oak trees from where they came from. Turkeys have specified territories and maybe overcrowding was a factor and these birds sought out the wide open space of the Mohave Desert, but only as a last resort. I don’t think the desert would be their first choice of territory though.

There are a lot of insects out here, but very little grasses and green plants. They have learned to hang out at the De Anza Golf Course when they have to search out water, and that is probably the most important thing for them to learn. The grains and seeds that they would normally eat are far and few between, but maybe the sage offers sustenance. Turkeys are capable of short bursts of flight and this area has just enough trees for them to roost in and escape from predators. The first time I spotted the five sisters was over by Seley Ranch and that is where I also see a lot of coyotes and bobcats when I am out biking. These two girls seem to be pretty smart though and are fully mature. All they need now is for a tom turkey to discover them so that a family can be started and raised and a new species can call this vast desert their home.