We have been doing a little birding and learning where to visit to find birds.
We have gone on a birding walk at Usary Park with a very good birder, Sandy who helped us a lot with what birds to look for and where.
When we visit Gilbert Water Ranch the birders we run in to there are very helpful with websites and birding spots too.
Here's a few of my bird photos many will be familiar to our TX birders as they are found there too.
I have tallied 74 species here in AZ so far, a couple of special birds are the gilded Flicker,White throated Swift, Red-naped Woodpecker and a leucistic Say's Phoebe. We see the Anna's and Costa's Hummingbirds, the Abert and Canyon Towhees, if we get lucky the Curved billed and Bendire's Thrashers(still looking for the Bendire's), and the Cactus and Rock Wrens. The one we want to get a closer look at and a photo of is the Ferruginous Hawk, we saw one on our bird walk, it's a beautiful bird and a lifer for us.
I watched the Lunar Eclipse Friday morning from the window of our RV.
We've gone to Mesa's Art Festival and went through the Contemporary Art Museum which had a show of bike art.
If you notice on the bottom of the collage above there is a saguaro on the ground which was caused by vandalism in the Usary Park. What a shame!!!
We've been enjoying our time with my mother and Ken has even made a couple of meals for us all.
Hard to believe Christmas is just around the corner, if I don't get another post up before then I would like to wish all my readers a Very Merry Christmas.
We are almost settled in for the winter at Saguaro RV Resort in Apache Junction. It's not a resort, it's a older park, small but clean most are year round residents, at this time there are only two of us snow birds. It has a little club house a clean little laundry, no cable or internet so I have to use Ken's dongle.
The plane crash you might have heard about on the news we could see the ball of fire from our RV and the scar it left on the mountain, a very sad accident.
We had a very nice dinner with my mother and her friends at a local restaurant, it'll be nice to spend some time this winter with her. She is doing well.
We have bought a Maricopa parks pass so we'll be doing some birding in the parks and at Gilbert Water Ranch and other spots as we learn about them. It is the one best places to find birds and photograph them. So far we have 55 species on our AZ list, one an Eastern Phoebe it is not a bird usually found here it must have gotten lost as it is a bird we have back home.
I won't be posting as often now but I would like to hear from you if you enjoy my blog.
We had a busy day Wed. as you can see by my collage. The steam engine I just happened to see the sign telling it was on display, it is doing a Centennial run for New Mexico and Arizona. It left this morning so we were out to get more photos.
Today we also went back to the Yuma Proving Ground to go through their museum, very interesting it's been in use for 33 years starting with training soldiers for WWII and testing tanks etc.
We had a gorgeous sunset this evening, thought I'd share it with you.
After a Saturday enjoying the Brawley, CA Cattle Call Parade and a Sunday drive
to the Imperial Dunes we left California Monday and stopped just across the border in Arizona in Yuma.
Today we visited Imperial National Wildlife Refuge, we didn't see much wildlife a few birds a couple of new ones to add to our trip list an Anna's hummingbird and a Bufflehead duck.
Then we visited the Yuma Territorial Prison museum, the prison was in use for 33 years it had electricity, plumbing, library and even a prison band but it was still known as the Hell Hole because of the heat.
Yuma should be known as the RV capital of the SW there is RV park after RV park if not a park a RV dealer or repair shop. There are 3 Walmarts and a beautiful shopping center and lots of restaurants. I believe there are 3 casinos all on Indian reservations and 16 golf courses and 3 National Wildlife Refuges in drive able distance. Yuma has beautiful riverside parks and wetlands, two rivers flow by the Colorado dividing AZ from CA and the Gila river so there is water for irrigation for crops citrus, and lettuce.
The Salton Sea area reminds us of the Rio Grande Valley in TX being a farm area with heavy Mexican influence yet very different because of the geo thermal activity. We found the active bubbling mud pots Weds.
The Salton Sea is shrinking and it leaves behind interesting salt covered trash to photograph.
Thursday we drove around looking for birds at the areas suggested in the Bird magazine with little luck. Today, we decided just to drive down and check out the town El Central and as we drove down we saw hundreds of cattle egrets and white faced ibis in a flooded field. We then stumbled across Sunbeam Lake County Park and RV park with lots of good birds.
We found three burrowing owls along the side of the road to Fig Lagoon. After a rest at the RV we decided to go back to Raner Lake Refuge around sunset and thousands of double crested cormorants were flying in to roost joining the hundreds of snowy egrets already there on the small islands on the lake.
I keep a daily list of the birds we see each day and they have been good here, over all we have seen around 60 species of birds here no new ones to add to our life list though.
We are staying two more days here maybe we will get a lifer yet.
We are now exploring the area around Salton Sea which is supposed to be a big birding area.
We have visited the Sonny BonoNWR and there are alot of birds there but we need to go back in the am to get better looks and photos. We did see a bobcat there, that always a good sighting.
We are staying at the Del Yermo RV Park in Caliptria, CA it's a small park but has cable and a good internet service so it's has all we need.
We have a birding magazine with an article that covers this area so we have been trying to find the areas it suggests, not so easy. Today we found Wiest Lake, Ramer Lake which was a good spot lots of night herons and Obsidian Butte another place we need to visit in the am to see the birds better.
This is an agricultural area growing sugar beets, peppers, and lots of hay for the many feed lots in the area. Mmmm good smells!! It also has Geo Thermal plants all over. So it is a strange partnership farmers, energy and wildlife refuges. In a field next to the refuge a farmer had every bird frighting device known streamers, people cutouts, fake owl and noise makers. I guess they worked there were no snow geese or sandhill cranes in his field and they were in the refuge's field across the road.
We are not enjoying the time change, we would like more light at the end of the day!!!
Oh, yes there are mosquitoes here but just in the evenings so maybe the short evenings aren't that bad.
The weather was good for Sat., the mountains had a covering of snow and the sky a beautiful blue. We walked another trail in the park, the rock formations are so interesting and fun to photograph. We took in 29 Palms Weed Show and contest, so many talented folks to come up with some really fun and beautiful weed displays.
Back at the RV we spotted a flock turkey vultures looking for a roosting spot from their migration to Mexico Ken estimated there were around 150 vultures.
Today started out with blue skies but ended with a chilly light rain.
We drove up to Pioneertown built in 1946 as movie set for movies such as Cisco Kid etc.
Now, it's a weekend spot for BBQ and music.
We then signed up for the tour to the Keys Ranch in JTNP it has a very interesting history, Disney even used it for a couple of movies. The Key family homesteaded it 1918 and lived there until Mr. Keys death in 1969. The family did many things to make it out in the desert, mining, cabin rentals and selling the canned goods Mrs. Key made from their garden and orchard. The National Park took it over in 1963 allowing Mr. Keys to stay on as caretaker until his death.
We were surprised Wed. by a cold front but we went out and took in the part of the park we hadn't seen, even did a little hike out to Barker Dam. The dam was built by a rancher who lived in what is now the NP so his cows would have reliable source of water.
Thursday we drove to Palm Springs to visit my uncle and we visited the Palm Springs Air Museum.
Today rain is in the forecast and the clouds have become dark and it's breezy and cool but so far only sprinkles. We did go to the visitor center's bird oasis. Ken really enjoys the spot as every time we go we find a new bird or two this time we had a verdin and a new bird for us a White throated Swifts I couldn't get a photo of them.
Hopefully the last two days we are here the weather gets better.
We had a nice visit in Vegas with the grandkids, and did a little sightseeing.
You think of Vegas for gambling and shows but we went birding and found a great spot just down the road from where we were staying, the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve and we spotted two new birds to add to our list. We also took in the movie The Big Year which is about birding.
We are now at Beatty RV Park just a few miles from Death Valley NP. We will be spending the next week exploring the area.
The last two days we have been exploring the area around Barstow, CA. We have gone from chilly coast to the heat of the high desert just on the edge of the Mojave Desert.
We settled in at the Barstow, Calico KOA around 2 pm Monday and had a nice lunch at Peggy Sue's 50's Diner.
Today we visited the Borax Mine visitor Center and stopped at the little Twenty Mule Team museum in Boron. In the area is the town Hinkley that was featured in the news and movie about their poisoned water which Julia Roberts starred.
Then we found the Harvey House museum in Barstow but it was closed so went to Calico the Ghost Town which is now a regional park with a fee. It was quiet as we just missed the bus tours, so not much going on but it was interesting to learn about the silver and borax
mining that made it a boom town of 1200 in 1887.
Tomorrow we head to Las Vegas for a weeks relaxation with Ken's grand kids.
The last couple of nights we've had some nice rain and it threaten to rain Weds off and on and today it did rain most of the day. We didn't stay in we head out anyway Weds we headed north to Felton and Santa Cruz and guess what is in Felton a steam train. Roaring Camp Railroad has been in oporation for years and is in Henry Cowell Redwoods SP. We didn't ride this train just took photos and then walked the trail in the park.
Then back to Santa Cruz we stopped at the mission park but the old mission was destroyed in a earthquake and today's mission is a half size replica. We had to stop at the visitor's center to get a map so we could find our way around, then we headed to the boardwalk where there's an amusement park and casino so we didn't stop kept driving along the beach road. We stop at the lighthouse which is a surfing museum and we watch as a few surfers wait for a wave. Next we stop at Natural Bridge SP, we already paid for one SP so it is good for any we stop at in that day, nice.
To our surprise this SP has a monarch preserve and some monarchs have arrived to spend the winter among the eucalyptus trees. There are several groves along the coast here where the monarchs will spend the winter, so we don't have to go to Mexico to see them. The numbers of Monarchs wintering here are much smaller but they are just the west coast butterflies.
Today we decided it was a good day to visit a museum and I'm a Steinbeck fan so I was really interested in seeing his Center in Salinas.
Next stop since the sun had come out was the San Jaun Bautista Mission in the town of the same name (our RV park's address is San Juan Bautista.) It's a beautiful mission and it was used in the movie Vertigo.
The weather is supposed to improve this weekend, that would be nice.
We are now at the Betabel RV Park just outside San Juan Bautista on Hwy 101 which is about 30 miles north of Salinas which is NW of Monterey. Salinas is known as the Salad Bowl of the US, we have never seen so many fields of lettuce, strawberries, and plants we haven't ID'd and on our drive here there were fields and fields of orchards, nuts we believe and some olives.
Today we decided to take in the world famous Monterey Bay Aquarium, expensive at $30 for me and $24 for seniors but we enjoyed it especially the jellyfish and seahorses.
After finding a penny smasher in one of the shops on Cannery Row we took a drive along Ocean View Blvd to find the Point Pinos Lighthouse.
What a wonderful drive and all long the ocean side a bike trail and of course the other side beautiful homes. We will be taking that drive again. The lighthouse is surrounded by golf courses.
I think we will be having a really good time exploring this area, so visit again to see what we find.
We've had our first really cloudy days the last couple of days since we left MO but we risked getting a little wet and took the tour of Shasta Dam. We took the first tour of the day and were the only ones on it so it was really nice, very interesting.
The Redding Turtle Bay Exploration Park had a free family day so we took advantage of it later that morning, it was well attended by families too. We had fun in the Loorikeetaviary and watching the Wildlife show then took a walk across the Sundial Bridge to the gardens.
It was partly sunny today so we went birding, saw a few nice birds but it was hard to get photos because as soon as we spotted a bird a bicyclist would come by and scare it down.
The trail systems in CA are wonderful and there seems to be alot of people who take advantage of them. There are just miles and miles of trails along the rivers, the bridge in my photo collage is one the first of it's kind in the US a green bridge that doesn't disturb the river bank.
We went downtown Redding, Ken wanted a look at their old Theatre but it was in use and we couldn't go in. In fact, we went down twice they had a church service in it the morning and a movie in the afternoon. Across the street was the Damburger shop but it was closed on Sundays so we didn't get to try their burgers instead ended up at In and Out, which is always packed.
We ended our day early, we are watching Turner Classic TV the silent movie the General and deciding what are next move will be tomorrow.
So you'll have to stop by and see where we end up.
We are now at Mountain Gate RV north of Redding, CA.
After settling in Thurs we drove into Redding to look around, what a change in temp. it was 97 in Redding Thur. I was ready to warm up from the cool damp of the coast but not that much, but their weather is going to change with a storm coming in Sunday much cooler and rain and snow in the higher elevations.
Today we visited Lassen Volcanic Nat'l Park, it's a pretty park and not busy at this time of year. We did a hike to see the mud pots and boiling lakes, we were in the company of school kids. Ken had fun photographing a American Dipper, we saw a pair of Wood Ducks but we haven't been seeing the birds we thought we see. It was a long day and we're tired tonight.
Come visit again to see what we find to do around Redding, we are here for 2 more nights.
We've visited Crater Lake Nat'l Park, it is beautiful. The lake was formed when the molted lava under the mountain flowed out through nearby volcanoes and the mountain collapsed. When we visited it was unexpectedly cold, there are still patches of snow from their record snowfall last winter. We knew it would be cooler than the valley but almost freezing so we didn't do any trails just drove the rim.
We did have some luck in coming across a flock of Red Crossbills and Pine Siskins on the rocks of the Lodge, we decided they were getting minerals from the wall. The Crossbills are a new bird for us.
We are staying at the KOA at Gold Hill a little town outside Medford, OR. We went into Medford after settling into our site Monday, we walked through the Harry and David Store. Medford is their headquarters, they have a candy factory and some orchards in the area we didn't buy anything too expensive.
Pears are gown here as well as grapes so there are several wineries in the area too.
Today we took in some of the local sights. Jacksonville down the road is one of Oregon's oldest towns, it is one of 8 towns in US that is a National Historical Site, founded when gold was discovered nearby. Unfortunately many of the shops are closed on Wednesday so we didn't stay long so off to find the waterfalls in the area. The Rogue River and it's many feeder rivers is a big recreational destination, lots of rafting in the summer.
We also took in Eagle Point's historical working grist mill.
Oregon is one of the last states that have a law that you can't pump your own gas and there is no sales tax here. I think we should have done some shopping!!!
Friday morning we got up and found a flat tire on our car, so part of the morning was spent at Les Schwab Tire Center.
We then drove through Redwood Nat'l Park.
We stopped and took Paul Bunyan's photo at Trees of Mystery a tourist attraction before looking for a herd of Roosevelt Elk. We drove to a state park where they were suppose to hang out but they were not there after paying $7 entrance fee. We found them on the way out in the Redwood Nat'l Park Visitor Center and then a couple more driving into Crescent City.
Saturday was very foggy so we hung around the RV for awhile before deciding to go back to the Trees of Mystery and visit the End of Trail Museum. It is a free museum donated by a lady who collected most of the Indian artifacts in the museum. There were so many wonderful things, head dresses, tools, etc from most of the Native Peoples of North America. We really enjoyed her collection. We then went across the street for a bite to eat, the restaurant is decorated to look like you are under the water, so when you look up at the ceiling you see duck bottoms.
We then drove to the mouth of the Smith River to look for birds, but we found Harbor Seals, even better! The town of Smith River has the distinction of being the Easter Lily Capital, the lilies gown there are sold all over the US, in fact the biggest grower of the lilies in the states.
Today after the evening of rain the skies were bluer and we went bird hunting at the Battery Lighthouse and we think we now have Snowy Plovers and Wimbrils to add to our life list.
After a quick lunch at McDonalds, we head north up hwy 101 and we cross into Oregon a new state for me. The little coastal towns are picturesque. We get to Cape Blanco Lighthouse in time for the last tour. We get to climb up to the big light and learn about the light keepers life. There were four keepers so two worked and two rested, they had a lot to do. Besides keeping the oil reservoir filled to keep the light going, they had to clean, paint, keep track of all the passing ships, and take care of the occasional visitor.
Part of highway 101 was being used for a commercial so we had a delay going up and coming back.
We still like Crescent City, it's fog and chill but maybe the little towns in Oregon are quainter???
We had a nice day to move north to Crescent City, highway 101 is very scenic up this way.
It was a little foggy when we arrived and took our little tour to the lighthouse and down Pebble Beach road but it cleared some so we retraced our drive to get the lighthouse with blue sky.
We spotted two pair of Oyster Catchers and a pair of Black Turnstones, I just had my little point and shoot so I couldn't get the turnstones.
We stopped at the visitors center and learned that when Japan had their earthquake in March a tsunami created from it hit Crescent City and damaged their little harbor. They are still working cleaning out the silt.
Our first impression of Crescent City is that we really like it, it has a beautiful coastline, homes are beautiful and it seems to be a quaint little seaside village with a Walmart. Redwood National Forest is just down the road in fact we drove thru part on our way here today. There is a promising area to find birds and the KOA is in a redwood forest and very quiet.
Come back and see if we feel the same in a few days.