Saturday, August 31, 2013

Allan and Julie

How many animals do you see in this picture?

How many LIVE animals do you see in this picture?  The town of Craig is plagued with deer.  When  deer first moved into town everyone was pleased.  But lately petunias and roses have  become endangered plants and Bambi is no longer so cute. BTW, I watched this deer effortlessly sail over that chain-link fence.

Nephew, Allan, arrived back from Norway and gave me a tour of his very lovely and most unusual home.  This is the front yard...

...and his front yard view.

This is his back yard and, yes, that sandstone cliff complete with little cave is part of his back yard.

But the best part is that he is standing on his roof!  And that skylight is over his living room sofa! That PVC fence is to protect the skylight until some trees grow up around it--the deer are regular visitors here too, and peek at him through the glass. The protection however is from the local kids who climb to the top of the cliff and use that skylight for target practice.

I failed to get a good picture of the front of Allan's house but take it from me--it is lovely.  The neighbors next door also have a sod roof that doubles as the dog's favorite place to guard the neighborhood.

The view from Allan's living room window is stunning.  And he assures me that the sod roof reduces his utility bills to pocket change.  There is plenty of light even though the back of the house is built into the side of the mountain.

Allan is an avid hunter and Julie, the chocolate lab, is his beautifully trained bird dog.

We spent some time at the park while Julie showed me how smart she is.  Allan has her trained to hand signals and, even though he had been gone for a month, she seemed to remember everything he expected of her.  Well, Sigh Me will roll over so I can scratch her tummy.  (Hmm, maybe it is me that is trained.)  

(I loved this sign)
*Must be 16 and younger or 64 and older or handicapped to fish.
*Fish are on West -> side of Oxbow
*Frogs are on East <- side of Oxbow
The Wyman Museum asks you to please keep the fish on the West side to protect the frogs!
The Leopard Frogs are very happy in this environment.

We stopped at this park and museum so Julie could practice retrieving birds.  This refresher was important since duck hunting season was merely weeks away.

Julie waits patiently for the hand signal to retrieve...

...and even when she did not see exactly where the fake bird was thrown she took the cue from Allan's hand signal and headed in the right direction.

Her focus was excellent, even though those little frogs were all around and would have been very tempting to chase.

And here she waits for the signal to drop the bird. Alan says she will not bite or break the flesh of the bird and she never ever loses one.  Julie is still quite young and she is Allan's fourth lab.  He has had two males and two females and prefers the females.  "They train better because they are so very sensitive and much more eager to please."  (Aren't all us females that way?)

We came to this park and museum specifically to view Allan's newest project.  Some years ago he learned that ospreys, birds that were once plentiful here, had disappeared.  He did some research on their lifestyles, built two nests on platforms, got the local phone company to donate the poles for the nests and to set them in the ground, and waited.  Two years passed before the ospreys found the platforms and now--VOILA--two complete families have taken up residence.

We could only get within 1/8 of a mile so my photo was a fuzzy blur but the owner of the park has a great hi-powered camera and he took the above photo. Now the town's people are enthralled and are visiting the nests regularly to watch the progress of the babies.  The project has been written up in the local paper and groups of birders are starting to show up.  It was especially fun to meet a few of the old, grizzled mountain men and cowboys as they came up to Allan to tell him about viewing the baby birds.  One old guy smugly informed me that ospreys are very clean and Never ever poop in their nests--only over the side.

BTW, Allan has several more platforms that are ready to go up.  Craig may well become the osprey capitol of the country.

We strolled around the museum grounds for a while....  

...met Junior, the pet elk...

Then headed for the museum.

The museum/park is one man's answer to 'how to clean out the garage without throwing anything away'. 

Like an M47 Patton Tank!

To be continued.....

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Craig 4-H Fair

When I drove into Craig, a small town located in the far northwest corner of Colorado, I was once again showing signs of 12Volt problems.  This has been an on-again off-again problem since day one and no solution had yet been found.

I came to Craig to visit with a nephew, Allan. He is the grandfather of those very lively little children, (Mary Ann, Amara Jo and Anthony) I visited with when I was in Eureka last spring.  He is also a doctor on a cruise ship, was sailing around in the Norwegian Fjords at the exact same time I reached Craig, and he would not be home for another 4 days.

But I was getting a little worried about the 12 volt battery that would not seem to get charged up when I  drove down the road.  I had decided to hang out in Craig and find an RV park so I could plug in for a change and a charge.  Maybe I had been 'off the grid' too long and a little boost of 110 would solve the problem.

But all the RV parks wanted between $35 and $40 per night.  That was out of my budget so I was feeling frustrated when I happened to drive past the Fairgrounds.  It was a 4H Fair and the back lot was full of RVs.  I quick drove through and saw that there were electric hookups provided for the RVs and there were a few electric hookups still unoccupied.

I parked near this friendly neighbor and dashed in to the office to see if they would let a 'non-4H-er' into the mix.  The very nice lady said "No problem," then quoted $40 and when she saw my sad face she seemed surprised.
"I need about 4 nights and that is too much for my budget," I moaned.
"Well, the $40 is for the time of the fair and that's 4 days.  But that's the best I can do." She said.
"You mean $40 covers all four nights!  I'll take it!"

 I couldn't believe my luck.  I had all these interesting neighbors, lots of afternoon entertainment, and a live band to serenade me each night.

It was another serendipitous adventure!

The quilt displays were impressive...

Especially when you realize these are done by young people.


I had about decided that sewing had become a lost art until I saw the quilts.

This was my favorite.

There were jars of jams, jellies and pickles.....ho hum.

But the cake decorating was very creative.  
I was surprised to see there were NO horses in the icing.

This was my favorite.

The calf roping drew a good size crowd.

Both on and off the horses.
No calves were injured in the making of these photographs...

But they sure were agitated.  

This guy was totally engrossed in the action.  Then during slower times he would look in my direction to see if I had something to eat.

I have decided that Fairgrounds will be a regular stop from now on.  One of my other neighbors told me that most fairgrounds are less than $10 per night and sometimes, during major events, parking is free.
Yup! Free's good!

This little 'Cowgirl-in-Waiting' informed me that it was okay to take her picture.

BTW, Sigh Me scored 3 on the Friskies fish game, then fell fast asleep.  

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Dinosaur National Park

In barely 30 miles, U.S. 40 out of Vernal led me to the entrance to Dinosaur National Park.   

I had plans to camp at one of their two campgrounds...

and the scenery alone was well worth the time I would stay there. 

The brilliant colors in the land were rich and very appealing to an artist's eye.  (If only I were an artist.) 

According to the Park brochure there were petroglyphs on the face of this canyon wall but I couldn't see them.  I am sure they were there--no self-respecting Indian artist would have passed up that spectacular canvas.

Green icing on a red and white layer cake.

I saw an enormous dragon with beady eyes and warts on his head resting his chin beside the highway. 

And the colors came alive as the sun sank in the west.   

I need to take more early morning and late afternoon photos.

Archaeological evidence indicates that the Fremont people were in the Dinosaur area for about 600 years but their fate is unclear.  Drought or the arrival of a new group of people may have caused the Fremont to leave or become assimilated.  Whatever the case, it's difficult to trace the Fremont in the archaeological record after about 1200 AD.

The park is full of their petroglyphs and many were right alongside the road.  (I have sworn off climbing around on cliffs for a while)

I may be wrong but doesn't that drawing above look anatomically correct?

This was like the Andy Warhol soup cans.

And this was a visiting Martian.

Wasn't there a cartoon horse named 'Sparky' or 'Sparkplug' that looked like this?

This building protects and highlights a quarry...

...that has been left exposed to show the visitors many of the bones as they lay.

This quarry yielded the remains of over 500 dinosaurs and other animals that lived during the Morrison time period.      

Most of the fossils here are from huge dinosaurs.  Large animals became trapped while smaller animals were swept away by the fast-flowing river.

There are no fossils here of lizards, fish, small dinosaurs or mammals.

And this particular mountain of bones will remain protected and intact.

Sauropods are the largest animals to ever walk on Earth.  This was the most common group of dinosaurs in this region.  Differences in their teeth show how the species specialized to eat different types of plants.

This fossilized skeleton of a young Camarasaurus (also known as a sauropod) is the most complete long-necked dinosaur ever found. 

This dinosaur was the most common predatory animal in the Morrison ecosystem.   

Allosaurus had sharp serrated teeth that lined its powerful jaws, large curved claws and powerful arm and leg muscles all of which allowed it to kill and eat smaller dinosaurs.

The next day I entered Colorado side of the park, turned north  and drove the 15 miles to the Escalante Overlook.

These trees were almost mystical in their ability to survive the harsh and punishing environment.

While standing and looking out over this landscape I met a couple from Maine, traveling for the first time in the west.

I asked them what they thought of the area and their answer was,
"We are overwhelmed by the vastness, the endless expanse when you can see for miles.  We just did not expect it."

I agree.  It is oh so very beautiful.
The next day I headed for Craig, Colorado.