Signing Off for a Few

Okay, Texas. We're mightily impressed with your grand canyon. Please accept my mea culpa for doubting you. We left the high winds at Caprock Canyon and journeyed into the driving rain here at Palo Duro Canyon. It didn't start raining until last night after dinner, but then it was quite a deluge. There's a lake-sized puddle in front of the RV. Fortunately, the truck isn't parked there. As I'm writing this sentence, I'm not at all sure I'm going to be able to upload any pictures. We have a very weak cell signal here and, of course, no wi-fi. So let's just see, shall we?

Well, my friends...the short answer is no. I'm not even sure I can save what I've written here. And that means I'm going to have to take a few days off from blogging. It's too painful with such a weak signal. We'll catch up in a couple of days. Next stop is Tucumcari, New Mexico, and Mountain Time. We'll be there on Monday, and I'll catch up with you then.

But, hey...happy trails...until we meet again.


Moving On

We had a pretty slow and easy day yesterday. Most mornings start with some embroidery. Now I've filled my hoop again.

It's almost all done. Just the upper right-hand corner needs stitching.

So I've hooped that up, and I'm ready to start again. This one should be finished in the next day or two.

After that, I got out for a walk with Smitty.

You have to watch your step around here. The entire park is littered with bison dung. Here's a nice little pile right next to our fire ring.

Speaking of bison...

We decided to drive into town and to do a little more sight-seeing in the park. This one was moseying across the road as we passed by.

Can you stand a few more pictures of prairie dogs?

Interestingly, they are less perturbed by passing cars than they are by walking human beings.

We've worried about this little guy who can be seen sitting in the middle of the road most of the time.

We figured out that his hole is right there in the pavement.

Now...how do you suppose...?

There's actually quite a bit of wildlife in this park. Of course, we've seen the bison and the prairie dogs. Also three large white-tailed deer walked through our campsite while Mike was out barbecuing the other night. We could barely make out their bodies in the darkness, but their white tails shown as if someone was walking by carrying a lantern. The same evening, we heard a wolf howl relatively close by, and then another one answered far off in the distance. We've also been awakened by coyotes yipping in the night.

According to park literature, there are also bobcats and a few prong-horn antelope. Small mammals include the grey fox, raccoon and jackrabbits. Also, one can see a great diversity of reptiles with 14 species of lizards, including collared lizards and over 30 species of snakes, including prairie rattlesnakes. With the warm weather, we've been careful of rattlesnakes. In addition, there are some 175 species of birds. We've seen cardinals, woodpeckers, and what I call LBJ's (little brown jobs).

So, as I was saying, we decided to drive into town for a few things. Along the way we passed by Lake Theo. The level of the lake is down, but there is a boat ramp and fishing pier here. Signs tell you to swim at your own risk. Missing are any warnings about alligators. I guess we've moved outside their territory.

We followed a sign to a "Historic Site." When we arrived, we found this enclosure that allowed us in, but kept the bison from passing through. I'm not sure if they were to stay in or out.

It's a little maze-like, and too narrow for bison.

At the historic site, we read this sign. It seems sad to think of a "bison kill site," but this was actually somewhere in the neighborhood of 10-12 thousand years ago. Back then, bison would have been killed sparingly and used completely. This wouldn't have been the bison slaughter we became all too familiar with during westward expansion of the United States.

After that we drove into the small town of Quitaqua. It's mostly boarded up old storefronts, but there was a small cafe open. We had a bite of lunch and then visited the very small grocery store just across the parking lot to pick up a few essentials.

This morning we're headed out for our next stop at Palo Duro State Park in Texas, which is just about an hour up the road. Palo Duro is known as the "Grand Canyon of Texas." When we get there, I guess we'll see what we see. Just know that we two have seen the Grand Canyon of Arizona, and so when it comes to canyons, we're not easily impressed. No offense intended, Texas. We'll have three nights at Palo Duro and then move along to New Mexico. I've spent some time mapping out the route between here and our month-long stay in Hemet, California, and there's still some fun sight-seeing to do along the way. I'll say more about that as we go.


Warm and Windy

Morning has broken here in the Texas panhandle. The sunrise was beautiful.

But let's back up to yesterday morning, shall we? When I looked out our bedroom window, this guy was perched within feet. We don't have cardinals in Oregon, and so it's been quite a treat to see these old friends. My family lived in North Carolina when I was a little girl. Our next move took us to Virginia, and then on to Hawaii, and that was the last time I saw cardinals until this trip.

Of course, I was itching to get out with my newly-charged battery and take some pictures of the prairie dogs. I dressed and went out right after breakfast, but those lazy critters were still in bed, apparently. There was not a single one visible in the prairie dog town. Okay...I was feeling defeated, but I went back to the RV to make a dessert I've had my eye on. This is a Blueberry-Pecan Streusel Pie for Two.

When it comes to turning a dessert recipe into a dessert "for two," pies are the easiest. You start with a little 6-inch pie plate, available on Amazon. Then...you take any recipe you like and cut it in half. The baking times tend to be about the same, but I always check them early. This one turned out to be really good. We had it last night with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I used a Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust, rather than a frozen one. You can find the link to the recipe right here.

Okay, and when that was out of the oven and cooling, I tried again for the prairie dogs. You might want to fasten your seat belt because I'm just about to blast you out of your chair with a cuteness overload.

It only took a matter of minutes to click off 145 photographs. I love digital photography. You probably wish I'd post all 145, don't you? I Oh, c'mon. You're just saying that to be nice.

After I'd thoroughly worn myself out on prairie dog love, we decided to take a scenic drive through the park. It was a beautiful day here...almost too hot, but we're so hungry for warm weather, we didn't complain. Not once. There was a strong wind blowing as well, and that helped to keep us cooled off.

Our hiking map showed us a shortcut to get to a natural bridge, and those are the kinds of things that get us all worked up for a bit of excitement. We're old, and so this much excitement is kind of living on the edge for us.

If you look at the map above, you'll notice a number "3," almost right in the middle. That's where the natural bridge is located. We could have driven to the parking area farther down on the map and walked that hiking trail from there, but that would have been a hike of nearly four miles. Instead, we drove around to the other side (red arrows) and parked our car on the other side. Then, our hike was only about a mile in and out (blue line). We walked a little further because we walked past the natural bridge and out to where we had better views of the wash. 

Our drive started out with some beautiful views of the scenery along the way.

Eventually we came to the far end of the Eagle Point Trail.

We noticed this collapsed "caprock" right at the beginning of the trail. It looks like a huge geode.

Also, there is a lot of prickly pear cactus growing in this park. The pink color seems to be from a lack of water, but I liked the little fuzzies growing next to its needles.

This being the "Eagle Point" trail, we figure this formation to be Eagle Point.

We didn't have to walk far before coming to the bench at the top of the image below. Mike recognized this instantly as the location of the natural bridge. We had to climb down a steep embankment to get to it, but there it was.

I had Mike sit there to give you some scale of the opening.

The trail crosses over just above. With all those boulders inside, it seemed a bad idea to try to go through it.

And who in the class can tell me the difference between a "natural bridge" and an "arch"? I see some hands up...a "natural bridge" is formed by water, while an "arch" is formed by wind. You probably already knew that, didn't you? I make it a policy never to miss an opportunity to show off what I've learned while visiting state and natural parks.

We climbed back up to the trail and looked down at the wash that forms it. This water comes from the Little Red River. There is no water in the wash just now, but we can imagine flash floods through this area when it rains.

We walked a short trail to the other side of the natural bridge. Along the way we could see that horses had traveled this way.

From the other side, we could see the opening. It's a little hard to see in this image, but it's just to the right and a little above center in the image below.

Well, don't you know our shadow selves were feeling pretty spunky about now.

From there we walked on a little way. We thought we could get a better view of the wash. It was lovely. Here's a panorama of the area.

The trail was littered with this sparkly white gypsum.

We walked back to the car and then drove to the end of the road. There, we took a short loop...maybe half a mile...where we could see this large formation looming over a wash formed by the South Prong River.

Walking on a little farther, we were right next to it. It was interesting to note the striation pattern on the red rock.

On the drive back to our campsite, we stopped to take in this view.

In the image below, I've zoomed in close so that you can see the distant "hoodoos." These are similar to the ones you'd see in Bryce Canyon National Park, but not as tall.

Also, we passed by this windmill located near Wild Horse Campground. Windmills catch my attention in the same way barns, steeples, doors, and windows do. I simply must photograph them. I had to crawl through a fence to get to this one, but I was undaunted.

Also there, we saw these paddocks. There was a primitive campground here, but one needed permission to camp, and the gate was locked (thus, the climbing through a fence). We wondered about these paddocks. This being the "Wild Horse" campground...do you suppose this is a place where wild horses are rounded up? There were no explanatory signs.

And that was kind of the end of our day. The sunrises here are prettier than the sunsets, but there was a nice one yesterday.

Day is done.

We'll do some more exploration of the park today, but at this point, I'm not sure where we'll end up.