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Cactus in Bloom

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

One Mow Time...

It's no longer weeks that we'll be here, but now we're down to days.

I've been doing trail maintenance this summer and really wanted to get out there one last time before we leave.  
My Vehicle of Choice
Well used....  now in need of a thorough washing!


There are over 10 miles of trails here on the refuge 
Most are fairly easy to walk...
They offer a variety - woods, along streams, around meadows, some hilly areas...

None are paved...  all can be mowed and maintained with loppers or weed-eaters.

Most of the trails are "2 mower widths" wide.  I mow only about 7 miles of trails with this mower.  I make a pass, cutting one side, then come back to cut the opposite side.  

One of my favorite spots...
You can see a beaver dam at the middle right.

Of course I have a great view from the mower, but I often stop for a closer look...

Yesterday, when I mowed, I saw that lots of mushrooms had emerged from the forest floor...

In fact, there were lots of fungi, lichen, moss and other "woodsy" things to check out..
These trees have more than one kind of "plant" growing on them...

Until we came to Maine, I thought "Spanish Moss" grew only in the South...
I had to buy a Lichen Field Guide just to learn what does grow here.  

Another spot I have to stop and look at...
There's something about this place that draws me to it...
The Sphagnum Moss?
The Lichen?
The Spruce?
I don't know for sure....  but I always stop and check it out.

  The photo blind at Chapman Pond was overturned by vandals this summer.  So I always stop and go inside...  hoping it is still there and there is no graffiti.
Inside the blind...  looking out onto the pond.
YES!  It's still upright and clean!

I didn't see the loons today...
Didn't see the bald eagle or any ducks, either.
Saw 2 or 3 flocks of Canada Geese....
I wonder if they are on their migration route?

I didn't check the trail counter, so don't know how many "visitors" this trail got in the past couple of weeks.
But I'll bet a couple of hikers had a fun day...

I came across these "cairns" .....  
There is a rock pile right next to an overlook of the lake...
I think the top one was constructed by a girl..
And the lower one by a guy....
What do you think?

I love seeing signs that folks are enjoying the trails...
And a plus is that I seldom see litter here....  

I made it back to the headquarters office before it rained.  I didn't have time to wash the mower so I'll do that this afternoon.

I still have the "lawn" around our motorhome to mow before we leave, but my trail maintenance yesterday was the last time this year.

We are not returning here next year....
We truly love it here, but we've come 3 years in a row...
It's time to take a break and see another part of the USA.

I hope I've made trail maintenance look like the ideal job and someone out there will consider it.

That's All For Today!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Summer's Almost Gone....

The other day, on my morning drive, I came across these guys...
They stopped to check me out...

Then they wandered off into the woods.

When I downloaded my game camera memory cards I saw that they had honored me with some close-up shots during the night.
The header photo is the same pair (probably born last year and still hanging out together).  This is the first time I'd seen them all summer.

It's getting close to rut (breeding season) so critters are on the move.


I've seen this cow and calf moose in Moose Marsh several times lately...
A few years ago I used to see moose here quite often, then the marsh slowly filled up and became more of a pond than a marsh.  This summer it has been drawn down.
The moose are back!

Another cow moose I've been seeing...
Her baby is in the brush behind her...  



You can see the morning dew on the trees...
Looks almost like ice...
It won't be long before there will be frost in the mornings...

That same morning I got this shot...
After she crossed the road, she turned around to see what I was doing.

Moose aren't the only critters I see in the mornings...
Haven't seen bear lately, but see quite a few white-tail deer...
I don't know how many deer live here on the refuge, but each year we come back we see more than before.

I almost stepped on this little guy...
There are at least 2 species of frogs here, as well as toads...
I'll have to see what he is...
He's probably less than half the size he is shown in this picture.

The leaves are turning...


While most of the trees here are spruce and tamaracks, there are a lot of aspen and birch as well.  But it's the maple leaves that are starting to turn into their autumn glory.

It's been warmer than usual lately...
Folks are complaining about the high temperatures....

But when I see the leaves turn color...
and see the flocks of geese gathering in the evening 
And flying over in the mornings...

I know that summer is almost over.

We have only one more week here and we, too, will begin our fall migration....

That's All For Today!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

It's About Time.....

I'm a morning person....

If I sleep until 7am I feel like I've wasted half the day....

I got lucky....

Bill is also a morning person

(That makes life a LOT easier!)

Neither of us have ever depended on an alarm clock...

We both have some sort of internal clock that wakes us up at whatever time we need to be up.

We do have an alarm clock...  can't remember the last time we used it.  But even if we set it, we wake up a few minutes before it goes off.  

It is kind of nice to know what time it is if I wake up in the middle of the night...  
Not that the time makes a lot of difference...
Just nice to know, I guess.

I wear a wrist watch...
Even before looking at my watch I usually know what time it is within 10 minutes one way or the other...
(Notice that tiny square on the right side of the watch face?  I was told it shows the day of the month....  however I've never been able to see it to know for certain.)

Bill doesn't wear a watch...
But I don't think he's ever been late for dinner!

We have one of those clocks that always knows what time it is...  something about satellites I think...
It is battery operated so even if we don't have electricity we know what month, day, day of the week... AND moon phase it is.

We also have one of those clocks that is sort of a weather gauge...
Since it hasn't been able to figure out what time zone we've been in since June, we only use it for inside/outside temperature and for the percent of humidity.

We have to remember to bring in the outside thermometer when we move the rig...  we lost one once somewhere in New Mexico....

And that's not all!
The Microwave has a clock!
(I should have cleaned the thing a bit before the picture, huh?)

Now...
Keep in mind we live in a 27' motorhome.
Almost anywhere you sit you can see at least 2 of the clocks..
3 if you crane your neck a little.....
Not that we bother.....

I don't think either of us have ever been late for work or anything else a day in our lives...

Here at this refuge we work from 6am until 4:30pm.

Why do we have all these clocks?

Beats me!
A few years ago we were wintering in Mexico...  
Came April and we changed our clocks ahead for Daylight Savings Time.
Over a week later we headed back into the States.....
Found that Mexico didn't go on DST at the same time as the USA.
For over a week we'd been living on the "wrong" time.

Guess it didn't make any difference....

But...
Back to the beginning...
I may be a morning person, but I'm not a night person...


It doesn't matter to me at all that other folks stay up late...
I don't have to look at a clock to know when I'm tired....
Bedtime is whenever I want it to be!

That's All For Today!





Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Mostly More Moose

We moved our motorhome yesterday afternoon...  not far....  just a couple miles up the road to the new maintenance shop.  They guys had to take down the huge overhead door because the door company was coming this morning with a new type of door.  The new door will have windows, allowing some natural light in the inside of the shop.  Rather than leave it unattended with the shop wide open, we moved our rig to just outside the bay.

So, this morning when I went for my early drive, I started from a different end.  It's funny how a little thing like that puts a different perspective on things...

There was a gorgeous sunrise
It got in the 50's again last night so there is fog rising over the lake and the marsh.

Sometimes the light casts different colors and shadows...
These 2 Great Blue Herons are waiting patiently for breakfast.

Just across from them, the light was different...
Almost a golden cast to the 5 Great Blue Herons here.

There were a lot of ducks in the marsh this morning...
Mama Black Duck and her ducklings were out for a swim.

I raised my binoculars a bit...
Saw this cow and calf moose out in the marsh.
They watched me for a few minutes, then ambled off.

I headed to the photo blind, but the fog on the lake was too dense to see much.

As I was continuing my drive, I headed on to check one of my game cameras.

Rounded a curve...  and...
Another cow and calf moose were watching me.
They, too, wandered off.....

And I continued on....
Changed out the memory card on the first camera, drove to a different area to another camera
And in the nearby area was....
Another cow and calf moose.  The calf had gone on ahead of mom, so all I got was the mama moose.

I've seen only 1 bear in the last 2 or 3 weeks... and hadn't been seeing many moose.

I guess this mornings sightings made up for the dry spell.

Oh yes...  the birds I couldn't ID the other day...
Got a better look...  decided they are Lesser Yellow Legs.
If I'm wrong, please let me know....

I'm still painting....  bought a few more gallons of paint a day or so ago....  That boiler room started looking so good, we decided to paint the floor as well...
And...
Even bought paint for the outside doors!

I think I've used 10 gallons of paint so far...
Still counting (or... painting)

That's All For Today!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Food For Thought and Other Happenings

I've been reading a lot of blogs about food lately.  These are always interesting...  especially since I love to cook and I love to eat.  I checked my freezer to see what we had stashed away....

There is lamb, alligator, crayfish, bison, shrimp and octopus.  We had the bear for dinner last night and that was all we had of that.  In the veggie drawer are peppers, squash, cauliflower and carrots.  The eggplant went into the dish with the bear meat...  And there are onions, garlic and potatoes in the storage bin.  And, of course, the half dozen of avocados ripening on the window sill.  We're definitely omnivores!  Someday I'll write about the spruce grouse road kill we had for dinner......

So...  what was for breakfast today?
Ployes  (Acadian style buckwheat pancakes)
Lots of Maine (local) blueberries
Maine made Maple syrup
with
Jimmy Dean link sausages
(not everything was from Maine)

I can just see my Vegan and Vegetarian friends recoiling....
But...
Damn!  It was GOOD!

Bills' been really busy lately.  He's been on the BIG tractor with the BIG mower (15' span)
It's time to mow the Weapon Storage Area
The Upland Sandpipers are gone...
Time to get the fields mowed so they'll return next year.

The bunkers are covered with earth...  trees and various weeds grow all over them.  So it's an "up and down" mowing job.

The refuge just got a new road approved... 
Bill took the Excavator to the site this morning...
It's mind boggling how many agencies get involved in a simple project.  Because this will cross a stream, the Corps of Engineers had to approve.  Then there's the Wetlands habitat...  and the nesting habitat....  and the list goes on.
It's a wonder that anything ever gets done!
But...  it all got approved and the work will start soon.


I was out and about this morning....
Saw 3 shorebirds in the marsh...
The light was poor and I didn't have my scope...
Since lots of birds are migrating now I can't even venture a guess what I saw without getting a better look.  
By the time I got back to the marsh with my scope they had moved on.  Hopefully I'll get another look this evening.

We're quickly winding down here....  Only 2 more weeks left. 
I get really mixed feelings as time to leave draws close.
Sad to leave a place I love...
Anxious to see my family again.

Hey...  about those butt shots....
The End
The End
The End


That's All For Today!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

More of Aroostook in Maine

It's been kind of quiet lately here at Aroostook NWR.  It's been a week since I saw a bear.  I've seen a few moose, but not many. Saw this cow moose yesterday morning...
She stopped to check me out.  I waited until she crossed the road...  thought there might have been a calf with her, but there wasn't.

 I did see a porcupine this morning...  the biggest one I've ever seen....  but I didn't grab my camera in time to get a shot.

Now that the Upland Sandpiper nesting season is over Bill is spending a lot of time mowing.  There are several acres of fields in need of the bush hog and our time here is running out.

I spent several days painting the boiler room....
A few shots of the room after I painted....

And...  just in case you forgot...
 what it was like before....


I felt like a contortionist....  like I was standing on my head, reaching in between all these pipes to get the walls and ceiling painted.  I ended up using 2 different size rollers and a brush...   a LOT of using the brush!  Three gallons of paint later, I felt like I was finished.  Well, not really finished...  I have maybe a pint of paint left in a can... I'll use that to work on the places I missed after it all dries and I can see it better.  I'm not very agile and don't do well with heights...  even a step ladder gives me the shakes...  but by the time I got done I was climbing around on top of cabinets...  scrambling up and down the ladder....  a regular athlete!  Well...  not quite....  but the room looks a lot better than it did!  

I can stand being inside only so long, so would limit my painting time to a half day.  (Okay, so it took me 4 days.....  nearly 15 hours total to paint the darned thing.....  I never said I was speedy)...  I've worked the visitor center a few half days...  And the rest of the time I am outside as much as possible.

I saw this family of Pied-billed Grebes this week....
Seems kind of late in the year to be raising young.... but maybe they raise 2 broods...  or maybe she lost the first brood...  I don't know, but I always smile when I see little guys.

Speaking of "little guys"...
Look what the game camera picked up the other night...
This coyote pup came for a visit...

But it wasn't alone...
Guess the whole pack came along.
These guys look to be in pretty good shape.  
They must be finding good eats somewhere....

And...  as one subject leads to another....
The Short-eared owls have been hanging out of an evening on the roof of the building we're parked beside.  It is quite high...  maybe it's a great lookout for dinner?

I found a whole bunch of Mallard Duck feathers on the ground below  (as well as a WHOLE LOT of bird droppings).

I can't imagine a bird snagging a duck and flying to the top of that building with it in its talons!

I was hoping to find some owl pellets (think cats hacking up "hair balls" ...  well, that's gross...  just forget I mentioned it)..  but haven't found any.

We finally got a little rain here...
Not much, but the broccoli crops are looking better.

I even mowed the trails this week!

One last thing...  So glad that Chris of "Living and Boondocking in Mexico" is back doing his blog.  We've caught up with him a few times...  both in Mexico and the States....  He writes an interesting blog whether you plan to travel in Mexico or not.

That's All For Today!


Monday, August 13, 2012

Some of My Favorites... or..... Summer Re-Runs

We've spent much of our time this past weekend giving Refuge Tours.  They've been fun, and actually are one of my favorite things to do here.  Yeah, I took a few pictures, but you've all seen the bunkers, the guard shack and the 12' high fence.

Thought I'd get away from the refuge for a bit and revisit some of my favorite critters....

A few years ago, Bill & I took a trip up to Churchill, Manitoba to see the polar bears...
This Mama Bear and her Cub walked right past our tour bus.

This curious fellow decided to check us out...
Hello in there......

Of course we were told to keep our windows closed and our hands and other appendages inside the bus.  
But I managed to snap this shot from the other end of the bus...
This was a great trip....  what memories!

Another time we went on a Whale Watch...
We heard the whales before we saw them.  It was a very foggy day and visibility was limited.
But we were rewarded by this...
Seeing the "fluke" is just an outstanding sight!
This was in the Atlantic, off the coast of Newfoundland.

I'm kind of partial to the 4-legged critters...
Nothing like a trio of big horn sheep to make a person grab that camera and start shooting!

We spent hours at "Goat Lick" at Glacier Nat'l Park...
It's just amazing how sure-footed mountain goats are!
They'd be WAY up in tiny crevices....  it was just unbelievable.

I guess this could be a "Butt Shot", but I just love the expression on this one's face.

Even Mom and the kids got in on the act.  
This was one of our all-time favorite places!


Prairie Dog Villages are such a delight...
Watching them pop in and out of their burrows is fun.  I like it best when we get to see the little guys.....  more good memories!

Of course all babies are cute....
This little guy was up in this cherry tree having a snack.
He had a hard time deciding whether to keep eating or run back to Mama.  Mama won out.....
This is another Aroostook NWR shot that I took last year.

And one last photo...
Looks almost like he's posing, doesn't it?
I took this photo last year...  again, here at Aroostook.

Like all re-runs, I figure this could get old fast, so I tried to pick out a few of my favorites.  It was hard though...   bisons, elk, porcupines, wild horses, seals, dolphins, pronghorn, javelinas.....  on and on and on.....  AND... that doesn't even include the birds!

I feel truly fortunate that we have had the opportunities we've had in our travels....

I might title this "re-runs", but, to me, they are wonderful memories!

That's All For Today!