Friday, June 30, 2017

Poppy Fields


And who would have thought there were fields of wild poppies growing in Utah? Not me, but as soom as we heard of this we had to go check it out. Sure enough there a few beautiful poppy fields in Mantua, Utah!!!

Of course poppies are not endemic here so we tried to do a little research to figure out where they came from, and in doing this found reference to poppy fields near Alpine and Logan UT as well. We'll have to find those next poppy season. The best info we could find about the Mantua poppies is some gals facebook page.

They might not be native, but who can complain about a field of gorgeous flowers!!!
And we are not the only ones to like the poppies! This Cactus Choreid seems to like them too!!! (Cactus Choreid (Chelinidea vittiger) ID courtesy of the kind folks at thwBug Guide

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Shoot out in the OK-Outhouse!


Sooo... more on the Pony Express Trail. Now-a-days the west desert where the pony express crosses is a mecca for RV's, ATV"s and gun toters. Kind of the redneck wilderness. Being the oasis in the desert, Simpson Springs had campground, and a pit toilet. So we took a potty stop. Imagine my surprise when I sat down to do my biz and noticed the INSIDE of the outhouse door was peppered with bullet holes. We spent a bit of time pondering why exactly that would be, who does target practice in an outhouse? My most likely scenario was that the door had been propped open and used for target practice from the parking lot. My friend was sure someone had pranked his drunk friend by ad locking him . inside and he decided to try to shoot his way out. Who knows?

Not knowing what the truth actually was was got me thinking... maybe my friends have ideas too. I decided a contest was in order, so I posted the picture of the door and invited my Facebook friends, and the folks in a Facebook creativity group I'm in, to tell me what they thought had happened in the out house.

For a prize of course. And what better prize than a Bullet Project necklace!


Of course everyone's efforts were so odd I couldn't decide on a winner, so I left the choice to a random number generator. Luck gal Sera was the winner. The stories are below. Which would you pick?
Sera:

Okay, so I'm not sure you're ready for the real story of the bullet holes, but I'm gonna tell you.

It starts, where any good story does: chili.

Yup, it was the May Fair Annual Chili Cook-off competition, and people from all around the states were dragging their Dutch ovens (the ones filled with actual, chili, rather than the ones their kids would be doing later in their beds and giggling as their little brothers suffocated in the hellacious overwhelming methane attack; that's a whole other kettle of fish), sure that they would all have the blue ribbon first place winner.

See, the May Fair Annual Chili Cook-off (MFACCO to the participants and spectators and judges alike), was The competition to kick off the summer.

The chili was the going to be graded and evaluated on 6 different criteria:
Heat (oooh yeah, spiccccceeeeaaay!) Flavour (are you bringing the heat but no taste?! CERSEI SHAME!!)
Scent (does it make you salivate or scowl?)
Ingredients used (be creative, wow the judges!)
Presentation (did you serve it in a clean boot this year?)
And finally, the After Burn (do they need to stick their head in a trough?)

The rules of the final round were simple:
No more than 10 ingredients, each chosen by another competitor, and all 10must be utilised in some way.

Three hours to perfect their new chili for the judges, and they were led, blindfolded, to their workstations.

On the countdown of 3-2-1-go! They were off, groaning and growling at their fellow competitors, as they raced around to try to make due with the chocolate syrup or egg shells or orange flavoured protein powder.

They boiled. Reduced. They ground and pulverised. They blended and tasted. And tasted. And tasted.

"10...9...8..."
The head judge yelled.
He was a burly man, strikingly magnificent in his formidable stature, as a deep baritone voice echoed through the workstations and bandstands alike without needing aid of a microphone or bullhorn.

The judges took bites, some repulsed, others mere timid links, trying desperately to hope that what the competition had created was not repugnant, but rather palatable.

The bowls, two nearly full still, one with a portion eaten from, and the last bowl for each was cleaned. One judge, forgetting their couth in the frenzy of the moment, kicked her bowl clean, unabashedly smiling to the crowd as they roared with laughter at her youthful antics.

There was no need to deliberate for the blue ribbon holder this year.

The crowd cheered as Pippers LaBells came confidently striding onto the platform beside the announcement podium, receiving her first (of many) blue ribbons for her ingenious use of butter, chocolate syrup, rosemary, red kidney beans, ghost peppers, pimento pieces, capers, peppered steak, raspberry jam, and sweet mixed pickles.

And then a noise, sounding like a scream rented the air, just as Pippers was waving for a publicity shot.

Someone had stolen the huge pot of chili she made!!! Everyone tried to race after the chili thief, but he jumped in his truck and raced away, yelling "Yippee! More chili for me!"

Sadly, the after-after burn didn't kick in until the thief fair-goer was well sufficiently away from the fairgrounds, had found a rest area to stop in hours before, and ate his fill of the chili; nearly quarter of the huge pot.

About four hours into his escape, he had his first stomach lurch.

Oh. Boy.

He pulled over, and checked his map. If he floored it, he might just make the rest area 20miles up ahead.

Pulled in, and it was closed.
Boy, howdy did yell at the clouds for that bit of unfortunate luck.

Back on the road, his stomach was betraying him something fierce, and he openly regretted stealing the mini vat of chili, let alone eating so much of it.

He saw a construction site just off the highway, near a turn off. It had what could have been the most glorious thing he'd ever seen before:a porta potty.

But his grandpappy had always said snakes and gators were waiting in the hole, so always take your gun with you.

He parked next to the door, barely able to stumble out of his truck, trying to undo his pants fast enough.

Oh sweet blessed relief. That porta potty was unlocked.

But he could hear scratching.
Maybe it was his brain, delirious and needing to just get the basic need taken care of.

Even still, he heeded the voice of is grandpappy and has his gun at the ready for any critters who might wanna bite his bum or other bits.

Safety off, he spun his body around, and barely touched his back side to the hard plastic seat when the volcano began to erupt, sweat pouring down his face in buckets.

The smell was worse than anything his older brother could have ever done when he was little.

Every time he thought he was done, a new run of hell would pour from him, and in his fear he might be soon losing an internal organ because he had never heard of anyone sitting this long, a forceful gas blast surprised him, and he pulled the trigger of his gun several times without realising what he was even doing.

He survived, and when he was fully recovered, he sent Pippers LaBells an apology note, begging her forgiveness, and telling her he had definitely learned his lesson.

Moral of the story: don't be shitty and steal.

Dawn:

He could hear it. Sckritch-scratch. Tiny claws on the metal door. He fell backward in terror, the jolt causing his finger to pull the trigger in a wild shot by the handle. Way to high. It will be low. "Steady" he moans, and tries for the tenth time to get his eyes to focus through the adrenalline, and the drink. Sckritch-scratch, flikkity, sckritch, and the first needle thin nails ghost thru the door. He fires everything he has, and can't stop dry firing as the creature flows thru the solid metal. There is nowhere left to run.

Frank:

It was a beautiful, sunny day as Buford, who was out hunting rabbits with his buddies, stepped into the restroom to relieve himself of the 12 pack he'd drunk so far. He stood there wobbling and staring into the water in the bowl and started giggling as he tried to write his name with the stream. He decided he'd finish off with a flair and he leaned a bit to get a swirl on his d and fell back, peeing on the toes of his boots and the surrounding floor. He waddled backwards to keep his pants, which were around his ankles, from getting soaked, leaned over to pull them up and smacked his forehead on the toilet bowl, sending him to the floor, and the puddle of piddle, in a daze. He sat there pondering his next move for a minute, stood and pulled up his wet pants, fastened them and reached for the door and gave it a pull. Nothing. It didn't budge. He yanked and yanked and it still didn't give an inch. He figured his buddies had to be holding it as a prank and yelled out for them to knock it off but got nothing in return but silence. He grabbed the handle again, yanking violently and it still stood steadfast. He started to panic, yelling for his buddies as he turned in circles in the tiny room. No response. He suddenly remembered that they had all headed out and he was the only one who had stayed behind to plink a few more bunnies. He desperately looked around while patting his hips in search of some sort of tool that might help him dismantle the door and there it was. His trusty 357. He'd had his baby since he saw Dirty Harry in the seventies and surely it would be the answer to all his woes. He pulled it from the holster, took a wobbly aim at the knob and pulled the trigger. The bullet missed the knob striking the door and began ricocheting around the small room until it struck Buford in the back of the head. As he fell forward, his head hit the handle, the door swung outward and he fell face first into the dirt outside. It was a beautiful sunny day...

Beth:

She closed her eyes and pressed her forehead to the cool aluminum door of the bathroom stall. Shuttering, she tried to still her sobs. Did he see her run into here? Was it safe? Covering her mouth she worked to stifle any sound.

A itch on her arm had her brushing away at it impatiently. Feeling wetness she glanced down at her hand. Blood shimmered in the faint moonlight. The road rash that ripped down her left side was oozing blood steadily. It shouldn't have surprised her so much after crawling out of the broken windshield of her flipped Jetta. If she closed her eyes she could still see the headlights of the evil black pickup roaring up behind her on the desolate road. The crumble of the car as the pickup slammed into her side and flipping her off the road. His maniacal grin as she scrambled out of the wreckage and ran to the abandoned tourist trap bathroom. [i] How did he find me? [/i]

A gunshot rang out in the night. "Jenna, you murdering bitch! There's no where to run now. It's Over." It's over. He said that years ago. How could this have happened. They were so young and so much in love. She could still remember his nervous excitement when he asked her out to prom. It was the same expression he wore when he asked her to marry him 2 years later. They were happy. Then she got pregnant. He was beyond ecstatic, and she was terrified. She told him she wasn't sure she was ready to be a mother and he brushed off her worries with indifference bordering on irritation. Hurt at his disregard for her feelings she withdrew from him slowly. Then when the second trimester tests came back the doctor told her there were worrying signs that all was not well. Soon after she started spotting.

Loosing the child was the last straw for the man who once loved her and turn sour. He turned against her saying she had gotten rid of his child because she didn't want to be with him. Or perhaps she was cheating on him and didn't want to be tied to him with a child. The accusations got wilder and more abusive till she had to flee from him out of fear. He had changed so much. If only he had given her a chance to talk. If only he had found out WHY she was afraid of the pregnancy. If only they hadn't been so young and stupid.

A shot rattled the aluminium door and Jenna jumped back from it. More shots hit but did not much but dent the metal. The fear twisted in her gut into a feeling she knew very well. She held her head up to the moonlight filtering thru the frosted glass of the skylight. Her stomach cramped and she dropped to her hands and knees as He continued to shoot at the door. Sooner or later he would make it thru. Her nails bit into her palms as she clenched her hands into fists. If only he had asked her why. She was going to tell him before they got married, but the pregnancy had happened before she was ready. Her hair tumbled down her back and over her arms and legs. He had changed so much, but he had no idea how much she changed. She didn't want this to happen. She had loved him once. She had ran from him out of fear, but not of HER life. A snarl curled over her face. She had loved him once and hadn't want to hurt HIM.

The door flung inward as he kicked it open. Holding up his gun he hesitated at the two red glowing eyes staring at him. The change of woman to wolf is hard on the fetus. Werewolf women typically miscarry in the 2nd or 3rd trimester. Jenna uncurled her claws and lept for the man she once loved and proved unworthy of her affection.

If only he had asked her why.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Giddy Up on the Pony Express Trail

Our Memorial Day adventure... we took the Pony Express Trail across central Utah and over to Nevada. Dirt roads over mountains, past wild horses, through deserts, wildlife refuges, and tiny towns so remote it is hard to imagine life there, then back over mountains into Nevada where we were able to catch the interstate for long cruise home.

Simpson Springs, a watering hole along the Pony Express Trail. This is also the valley where Utah's wild horses roam. We saw some in the distance.
,
Scenes from the desert... I imagine it is water dependent, but plant and wild life changes quite as we crossed the desert

Fish Creek Nation Wildlife Refuge... An oasis in the desert, another gem in our national wildlife refuge system!

Found on a ranch in the tiny town of Calao, Utah. No paved roads for 50 miles, a tiny one roomish looking school nearest city is 90 miles away. But, yes they have a blue giraffe!

Found this fellow as we crossed the over the north end of the Deep Creek Mountains

The Deep Creeks from the Nevada side, surprisingly green but that probably wont last long at all

Heading toward Wendover you could see the Salt Flats off in the distance

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Big Brother is watching... again.

It happened again.... The feds have been reading my blog. This time it was the Fish and Wildlife Service. Not sure that's as exciting as last time, when it was the Secretary of the Interior (or someone in her office ) who looked at my blog.

Should I be paranoid??? Bwahhhh

Or just assume it was someone who found me by looking for wildlife photos. Or maybe a bead maker friend with a fun day job, or a connection to a local friend who works for the Fish and Wildlife Service. Or just a randon click by someone websurfing at lunch.

Or, maybe, Big Brother really IS watching. LOL

Monday, June 05, 2017

Antelope Hunting

Who would have thought I'd become an antelope hunter? My Pentax is my weapon of choice, though someone suggested to me that if I am going to go shooting antelope perhaps I need a canon (pun intended). Antelope hunting started on thanksgiving last year, when we took a morning excursion out to Stansbury Island. On the way back we spotted a herd of antelope, just off of the highway west of the airport. We were quite surprised to see them so close to town, so we started taking regular treks out the frontage road to observe.

Come spring they seemed more solitary, and on the day we found just one shaggy old fellow we gave him a name- Alistair, but eventually his friends showed up.. Alvin, Art, Andy, Archy, Allen, Alice... and more. How fun is to get to visit antelope any evening?

Our new found fascination with antelope led us on bigger trek. There is a major antelope migration corridor in Wyoming, herds that migrate from south of Pinedale up to the Tetons. So many that a special animal crossing bridge was built across US hwy 191. You can read more about it here. Pinedale is about 4 hours away, but we thought it would be worth the trek. As it turned out there were no antelope at the bridge, but we saw so many antelope along the way. It was quite a great day for antelope hunting.

A few antelope facts... they are amazingly fast. We saw some near train tracks by Fossil Butte National Monument. As we watched a train came by and spooked them, and they literally out ran the train. Watching a whole herd gracefully speed over a sage dotted hillside is a breathtaking site. Despite their speed and agility, they are not good jumpers. They actually will crawl underneath a fence. We were pretty jazzed to see one do that. And a third interesting antelope fact - their closest, though distant relative, is the giraffe!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Springtime Soaking!

I took a day off from work to check out, and check off, another hot spring on my list. I've known about Meadow Hot Spring for a long time, but it's just far enough away that I had not made way down there to check it out. Plus, I'd heard it was popular on the weekends so I wanted to go a weekday. April, my hot springs partner in crime has spring break, so I took a day off and we went to explore. Being spring break it was not as quiet as we would have liked, but it was still lovely.

As the name reveals, Meadow Hot Spring is in the middle of a wide open meadow. Some might not find it as scenic as mountain springs, but the view of white capped mountains enveloped by beautiful blue skies were quite stunning. I really like the wide open spaces. Meadow has three pools of varying temperatures. We only soaked in the hottest, which also happens to be the deepest, something like 30 feet deep. It was a lovely spring day soaking temp. (Perhaps a little cool on a cold winter day?) Some brave souls from Montana were soaking in the middle pools, which I thought was the prettiest pool. A third pool was cooler, but would be a great summer swimming hole, which is probably why someone had built a deck. My understanding is these pools are on private property, so I did drop a few dollars in the donation tube, and would love to publically thank the owners (should they ever stumble across this post) for keeping this lovely spot accessible to the public!!

#22 for my Hot Spring List! How many more to go?!!! Lots!

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Off to see the Cranes

Last Sunday morning at 11 Shin said to me... "I think we have a window. If we leave now we can get to Kearney and have a day of good weather. Are you game?" We'd been watching the weather for a break in storms so we could cross Wyoming and Nebraska and have decent Sandhill Crane viewing weather. Game I was, so by noonish we were in the car heading east. Made it to North Platte on Sunday, then over to Kearney very early on Monday. Spent the day and evening finding all the birdy places, got up for the dawn bird viewing on Tuesday, then headed back home, with a small detour so I could see a little of my old Sandhills stomping grounds.

For those that aren't familiar, the Sandhill Crane migration is one of earth's major animal migrations. During March, 80% of the world's Sandhill Cranes (over 500,000 birds) enroute from the south (Mexico, New Mexico, Texas etc.) to their breeding grounds in the north (Alaska, Canada, Siberia), spend a month on a section of North Platte River fattening themselves up for the journey. At night they all converge to roost in the shallows of the river, at daybreak they fly off to forage in surrounding corn fields, then return again at night.

I'm a bit under equipped lens wise for good bird pics, but even if I had that long lens to better capture close up birds, close ups don't show the sheer number of birds in the water and in the sky. During the nightly fly-in you'd really need some sort of 360' virtual reality gear to capture the experience; birds flocking in from left, from the right, from behind, squawking in every direction. You also need audio, as the cacophony of calling cranes is an experience in itself. Even daytime corn field foraging birds were amazing, Sandhill Cranes are big 'displayers' and do a lot of 'happy dancing' so they are really fun to watch.

I know most folks don't think of Nebraska as a spring break destination, but if you're at all a nature lover, biology geek, or nerdy birdy type you should put spring in Nebraska on your bucket list!

Overcast weather had the birds flocking on the river during the day. We were told this is not typical

Flocks of birds flying in at sunset to roost for the night. Watching them fly in was amazing, there were flock in the sky in all directions, squawking up a storm as they flew in.

Cranes assembling in the shallows

Early morning take off. We were amazed by how many more birds were on the river when we returned in the morning compared to when we left the night before

Audubon Society's Rowe Sanctuary, a lovely nature center and viewing location right along the Platte River. The Crane Trust also had a wonderful and educational riverside nature center

The Gibbon observation deck

A few pictures are in my facebook album Off to see the cranes