Sunday, April 28, 2024

Grand Teton National Park, Day 1

It’s about a five-hour drive from Casper to Jackson and the plan was to go in Grand Teton National Park and hope we would see bears. After all, two years ago we had lucked out and encountered 399 and her four cubs. Crossing Towgotee Pass, we drove to Moran Junction without seeing any wildlife. Entering GTNP we encountered a traffic snarl just past Pacific Creek Road. The crowd were using their binoculars and spotting scopes, but no one was taking pictures. Parking we got out our equipment and asked what the excitement was. We were told that grizzly bear 610 a daughter of 399, and her triplets, had been feeding on an elk carcass in a stand of willows/aspen. They had almost disappeared into the willows. We did get several pictures, but they were over three hundred yards away. Not a good distance but we still had seen grizzly bears. They disappeared into the willows and so we waited.
After waiting for an hour and a half we decided to make a quick run up to another spot which sometimes held grizzlies. Most of the people had left in search of bear 399, Approaching the Oxbow Bend, we encountered another traffic jam. This time the star was an otter that was sleeping on the ice shelf.
A small area of the bend had opened and several trumpeter swans, common mergansers, sandhill cranes and pied billed grebes were also using the open water.
The otter was sleeping on an ice shelf and woke up. It cleaned itself before devouring a piece of fish it had left for a snack. Before it dove into the water several ravens quickly appeared to clean up some scraps. We did not spot any more wildlife as we drove to Leeks Marina. Ditto for a drive on Park Road past Willow Flats to Signal Mountain where the road was still closed. Returning to where the bears had been, we parked as the bears were coming out of their napping place. They were still far away but the sun was right, and we could see the sow and her three subadults. She has a dark coat of fur where as her three offspring all have blonde colored coats. Several people told us that the bears had put on a show for the past three days. We were tired and headed to Jackson to get a place to stay. At last, our long trip was over, and we had been rewarded with seeing four grizzlies! Clear skies

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Back to Wyoming

It’s a long drive from Grand Isle to Jackson, Wyoming, about 1900 miles. The plan was to drive it in five days as we can no longer jump in the car and drive eight hundred miles in one day. So the first stage was from Grand Isle to Shreveport, LA. The main attraction in Shreveport was whole deep-fried catfish! Severa years ago, we stopped there, and I had the best catfish ever, (ones I did not cook)1 Getting a room we next drove across town. The catfish was good, but it was overcooked. I still ate the three whole catfish, (drawn and headless), and it reminded me of when we would go to the Waterloo Fish Market and order whole deep fried bullheads.
The next morning, we planned a long drive to Wichita, Ks. It was about five hundred and forty miles, and it was a brutal day. This time we ate at another fast-food restaurant and the food was ok, but typical fast food, mediocre/bland. Leg three was a shorter drive from Wichita, KS to Ogallala, NE. If you ever go there be sure to stop at the Petrified Wood Museum. It’s from the collection of two brothers and is filled with western petrified wood. They also made miniature stone houses, churches and other structures from pieces of petrified wood. Some were also music boxes. As we have gone to the museum on three previous trips we did not make a fourth visit.
Day four was from Ogallala to Casper, Wyoming. Before we reached Wyoming we passed through a small town and Renita noticed a Rock Shop! Of course we had to stop! Had lots of beautiful specimens but the ones we wanted were not for sale. As we searched through the shop I found a small case of Larimar! It was rough precut slabs. The time to buy something is when you first see it. I made an offer for the case with eight small pieces, and he jumped at my offer. Darn, I offered too much. So now when we get back to our place in Star Valley I need to set aside a day to turn the precut slabs into finished pieces. Then we will hopefully wrap them in sterling silver and sell enough to make some money.
The sale made their day and his wife yelled from the living room, buy more! Passing Chumney Rock in Nebraska, We cheered when we read the welcome to Wyoming sign. By this time, we were tired of fast food and bought two tv dinners. When we were first married, we ate them as a treat and they were just as good, much better and cheaper than food. Finally on day four we left Casper and drove to Jackson. We had heard that the grizzly bears were out and so we hoped to have a repeat of 2022 when we took pictures of grizzly 399 and her four sub adults, (she released them three weeks later).

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Birding on Grand Isle, Walking around the State Park

As always, we left Grand Isle on a happy note. It’s such a wonderful place and Connie and Gary are the best! Gary took me fishing to his secret place and I caught a sixteen-inch trout. He also took me out in his boat and after I set a record for small hardheads he finally found the spot and we caught three keeper trout and a bull red, (which of course was released unharmed as it was 36 inches).
We also took pictures of the destroyed Observation Tower and Fishing pier.
Dolphins feed in the surf, and as usual there were plenty of todaloo, which is a hermit crab.
They all posed menacingly shwoing their claws.
Our luck was against us and we didn’t see any, but we did see a flock of elegant terns. Renita also got a picture of a Summer Tanager, and a local birder told us of a tree called the Toothache tree.
Its leaves deaden your mouth, just don’t put in the whole leaf! Connie told us that a bird fallout happened right after we left. Clear skies

Monday, April 15, 2024

Magnificent Frigate Bird, A Grand isle Stormbird

In the twenty years that we have been visiting Grand Isle, Louisiana, we have sometimes seen the appearance of a bird the locals call a storm/rain bird. Whenever it appears you had better batten down the hatches as a strong cold front is approaching.
Five days ago, five of the birds appeared over the pond across from the Blue House. They wheeled and soared and even looked down to see if there was food they could steal from a seagull.
The birds almost never land, (if they come down in the water their feathers are not waterproof and they drown), as they have a very difficult time taking off. They feed by stealing food from birds that have caught the fish on the ocean’s surface.
Sure enough, the Frigates foreshadowed the flooding, tornadoes, lighting, and strong winds. Clear skies

Friday, April 12, 2024

Bettys RV and arrival at Grand Isle

We left High Island and our next stop was at Bettys Rv in Abbeville, Louisiana. If you are a fulltime rver, and have never stopped at Betty’s. well you have missed it. She is immersed in Cajun Culture and knows about everything and everyone. She can direct you to whatever is happening nearby and even invites in bands to perform at her happy hours.
Now Betty had called us and invited us to stop by. We are no longer full-timers but she told us that she would like to see us and even show a sample of our jewelry. Arriving at the same time as a local band was setting up, we were even greeted by several people that remembered us from our last visit, (it had been at least seven years ago). The band started and the Happy Hour got happier as many of the guests started doing shots, (we don’t’). As the happiness flowed the band loosened up and started to forget the words to several of the songs. At one point the daughter of one of the band members told everyone that, “No more shots were wanted”, and the band settled down. My favorite song was “Hey Mama and Papa no one wants to dance with me”. It was sung in Creole/Cajun and even though I did not understand many of the words it a was beautiful rendition.
Later we said good by to Betty as we were next headed to Grand Isle, Louisiana. We try to time it right, and sometimes we are lucky enough for a fallout. Apparently, a wave of warblers had been there but had left and so we waited for the next cold front.
Connie and Gary took us to the Iris Trail, the Iris are in bloom, and we noticed that the Blackberries were ripening and that the mulberry trees were full of berries. If a fallout did occur, the birds would have plenty to eat!
The front finally passed and today the wind has shifted to the Northwest. If any flocks of birds are flying across the Gulf of Mexico, they will be exhausted from fighting the headwind, and drop out on the Grand Isle, the first land they see. Maybe tonight or tomorrow morning. Clear skies

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

High Island, April 4th, 2024

We begin our spring migration with a drive along the coast to a small town named High Island. It sits on a salt dome which formed an oil trap. The place besides the oil wells, is a birders paradise. The Houston Audubon Society has done an incredible job in maintaining the area and in constructing trails, blinds, benches, and platforms.
Arriving at the Boy Scout Woods we learned that only a few warblers were present. A black and white warbler had been spotted but we never saw it. Ever hopeful we walked the trails and watched the drips, but to no avail. I started to take pictures of flowers and a moth which speaks to the birding opportunities,,,
From there we decided to head to the Smiths Oaks and Rookery. Luckily the Rookery was full of nesting snowy egrets and roseate spoonbills. The platforms are so close to a small island that the yoi have an unfettered view of the birds behaviors. As you watch, the birds are fighting, repairing nests, posing and calling. It’s a constant din and I am always reminded that I am watching the descendants of dinosaurs.
The place takes me back to the Mesozoic and I imagined a large vocal herd of nesting dinosaurs. Instead of dinosaurs the egrets, rosettes, cormorants, and anhinguas are the star attractions. I concentrated on taking pictures of the bright pink and white rosettes and the displaying egrets. The egrets were nesting an several stood up to stretch and turn their eggs, The egrets eggs are a blue color similar to the blue color of Sleeping Beauty Turquoise.. We did spend several hours looking for a night hawk named a chuck-wills-widow but to no avail it’s a mix of brown and white feathers that gives it near perfect camouflage on the live oak trees.
After lunch we decided to drive to the Anahouc Wildlife Refuge. The word was the name given to Mexico by the Aztecs and the town nearby bills itself as the alligator capital of Texas. We did spot ten alligators, (we were told there were eighty-nine), in a small lake. Spotting a hwak like bird with pointed wings we realized it was a new bird for our life list. It was a Mississippi Kite. I could not stop the car and get a photo of the bird but it was unmistakable. We walked several of the boardwalks and drove most of the roads. It was a nice break abd way to end te day after the the High Island area. Clear skies

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Migration Time

Most of the whooping cranes have left for their northern homes and its time for us to leave for our summer places. Yesterday seventeen of our friends headed north and so we set up our lawn chairs and for a joke made a sign saying money/candy?
One of our friends Maureen stopped and handed out peppermint candies and Shelly and Kenny threw out a dollar.
It was all meant in good jest and we all look forward to meeting all of them next winter, somewhere on the Coastal bend.
Being full-timer rvers, we don’t say goodbye but instead prefer saying safe travels or our personal favorite, we will see you down the road. And of course, Clear skies