Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Heber City, Green River, Capital Reef

We said 'Goodbye' to Allan, Connie and Julie and headed into Utah.

Daisy was overwhelmed by the heat and kept looking for shade whenever we stopped for a walk. (Me too) She was also, once again, mourning the loss of another new best friend, Julie.  I think Julie was probably happy to see that overly-energetic, hyper, scruffy puppy disappear over the horizon.

Heber City, just outside of Salt Lake City was higher, hence much cooler, so we stopped for a while.  We were waiting to make a connection with Gary, the son of my Santa Fe friend, Alexandra.   

Gary started hearing of my RV adventures 6 years ago and as a result, purchased his own RV.  He wanted to team up with me for his maiden voyage, so we agreed to meet in Green River, Utah.

He brought along  the very sexy Lady Doga so Daisy was happy again, but Lady thought of Daisy as an interloper and wouldn't let her get too close.

Oh, life is so cruel.

 Gary's RV was an old classic (sorry, I forgot the brand) but quite lovely and roomy and in pristine condition.  There are many, many RVs out there that were someone's dream at one time then never got used.

It was fun to do a 'companion trip' for a change, and I followed Gary as we headed toward Capitol Reef National Park.

Capitol Reef is the name of an especially rugged and spectacular group of canyons, dome formations,  arches and reefs that follow for 100 miles along the Fremont river.  

  The park was named for a line of cliffs of white Navajo sandstone with dome formations similar to the white domes on capitol buildings. 

Navajo Dome is the result of hard sandstone being sculpted by winds and scoured by water erosion.

Nature is a powerful sculptor.  The park was created through addition and removal.  Wind, water, gravity and upheaval are the tools.  

The result is a unique geologic sculpture.

Road Access did not come here until 1961 and, in 1970 the area was designated as a park to protect it.

Mormon pioneers, arrived in the 1880s, and built gravity-fed irrigation systems to deliver water to orchards.  They used horse-drawn equipment to plow fields and maintain roads.  The first tractor did not arrive in Fruita until 1940. Pioneers grew nearly all of their own food--from produce to livestock.

 There are now many orchards and we camped in an apricot orchard.   

Much to Daisy's delight the orchard was home to a family of deer.


 This is one of the original Mormon cottages.  It is now a gift shop and they sell the very best individual home made pies.  I had a rhubarb.  

Food was canned, dried or smoked and stored in cellars without artificial refrigeration, as there was no electricity until 1948.

 There are petroglyphs and pictographs throughout the park including on the face of this cliff.

(This particular one made me think of the stick drawings you see today on rear view car windows showing mom, dad, three kids and the dog.) 

There are many meanings to the markings at various places in Capitol Reef and across the Southwest.  Most occurrences of petroglyphs (carvings) and pictographs (paintings) in Capitol Reef are attributed to the Fremont Culture by Euro-American archeologists and were created between about 300 and 1300 C.E.  Some are older still.  The creators are most closely related to the Hopi and Pueblo of Zuni tribes.
The Hopi and Zuni say the markings confirm the presence of their ancestors in Capitol Reef.  Tribes associated with Capitol Reef say the markings are libraries that speak to American Indians about past events, legends, journeys and genealogy.

These cottonwood trees were here upon the arrival of Mormon pioneers in the 1880s.

In the early 1900s mailboxes were attached to the tree for mail delivery from the outside world.

Gary, this picture is for you.
This lovely young lady gave a lecture on the formations in Capitol Reef.  

I am in awe of the pioneers that settled this rugged land 150 years ago.  The enormous amount of work that went into surviving the harsh weather, scarcity of water, and the endless miles of rocks and sand was hard to imagine.  The native tribes that were already here, and probably surviving quite well on their own, were not happy to have the new neighbors either.  

Monday, July 17, 2017

Birding with Allan

Allan invited Connie and myself to join him as he checked on his 'bird boxes'.  

He has built over 200 of these boxes and has them stationed on fence posts throughout the river valley.  The boxes are mainly for mountain blue birds but other birds have taken up residence as well.

Farmer's have given the okay for Allen to install his boxes and we were checking to see if they were being well used.

 When he slipped the first nest out so we could see the eggs, I gasped.  "My parents always told me not to touch the eggs or babies because the mother bird would abandon them."

To which, Allen said, "All parents tell their kids that but it isn't true.  (They really fear baby birds being incubated in the kid's bedroom.)  The mother birds will not leave the babies, no matter what."   

He proved it by lifting this mother off her nest of babies.  As soon as he released her she was back in the box and sitting on her babies.


Allan says he has put out over two hundred boxes now and they are very popular with the blue birds....

...and the babies. 

We saw a number of different kinds of birds ...

...and it was interesting how docile they were when handled.  I was starting to believe the birds knew it was Allan and had decided he was okay.

 Just look at this featherless little baby.  Isn't it cute?

This is not the only kind of bird house that he has built.

 He has several of these around some of the local sloughs.  The tubs are for the geese who usually lay eggs on the ground, but the eggs are always at risk of being eaten by various hungry mammals.  The geese didn't need instructions but happily adopted these nesting bowls.

However,  this is Allan's proudest achievement.  Can you see the pole on the opposite side of the slough?  

 It is a nesting platform for ospreys.

And this one has several babies in the nest.  
The following is an excerpt from a book by Bob Enever, "Steamboat's Osprey Family".  Mr. Enever included this piece about Allan.

Allan Reishus is a retired MD who lives in Craig, Colorado and was the first person to erect a platform and encourage the introduction of ospreys  to the Yampa Valley. 

"Why aren't there ospreys nesting in the Valley?" was the question that came to Allan in the early 2000s.  "I had marveled at the massive nests near Silverthorne and witnessed the spectacular dives of parent ospreys.....  State biologists said it was possibly because of the lack of nesting sites.

So I gathered plans for the nests and built two.  The local electric co-op offered two used 45 foot poles.  Landowners along the river gave me permission to erect the poles.  People volunteered, ready to assist.  A local power line contractor agreed to erect the two towers at no charge. In 2009 the first platform was erected.

Two nesting seasons passed.  In the Spring of 2012, first one, then to my great joy. another osprey appeared.  That summer a single young bird was fledged.  I watched over the nest and the young bird almost daily, like a nervous new dad.  
The next year this nest and another were occupied and have been for 4 consecutive years, fledging a  total of 19 birds from those two nesting platforms."

Two more platforms were erected in 2013, one of which was occupied in 2016..  The Yampa River valley is now home to a healthy and growing population of these fantastic fish hawks.

(And from an email from him that recently arrived "...the 3 occupied osprey nests we looked at have 3, 3 and 2 young, so a very good crop this year, if all survive to fledging." )

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Fish Creek Falls and Steamboat Springs

Another day trip from Craig was to the ski area of Steamboat Springs.  

Steamboat Springs is a historical western town that has become a posh ski area, exclusive enough to rival Vail and Aspen.

Much of the old town has been saved but there are many new and extravagant homes and townhouses  everywhere.

 The flowers were sure pretty.

  Many of the new homes are second homes used for vacations only.   

 Over the years each trip I make returning to Colorado I find vastly more people, more traffic, more towns that have become fancy resorts, new ski areas and rapidly shrinking wilderness.  Those towns that have not learned to feed the monster tourist are showing signs of stress or are sadly dying.

We took a walk to Fish Creek Falls.  It was nice to see this park so near the heart of town.

The heavy winter snowfall had certainly stirred up Fish Creek. 

The aspens were thriving.  Throughout the mountains are signs of the beetle that has attacked the pines but the aspens seem to be holding their own, living despite the Kilroys who want to leave their marks everywhere.

Did someone misspell Devil?

Well, MOM was spelled right.

We could not have asked for a lovelier day


And the Falls were worth the hike.

The air felt air conditioned.

She was having the best time....

...and she didn't mind the cold water at all.

Allan has been a volunteer member of the ski patrol in the winter for a number of years now.  Living in Craig, hunting at his ranch in the fall, and skiing in Steamboat in the winter--not a bad life.