Along the Natchez Trace

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Getting Settled In......

About that little toad (tow car)....  for the first 5 years of our travels we didn't have a tow vehicle...  had our bicycles hanging off the back of our rig and rode them many, many miles.  In 2005 we bought a satellite system...  one of those big dishes and a tripod to set it on.   Guess we needed something to haul the contraption in so we started shopping around.  We had no trouble deciding that the Scion was the car for us.  Standard shift, plenty of room (Bill calls it our Storage Shed), good gas mileage and a price we would pay.  We bought it the day before Thanksgiving, 2005, in Pinellas Park, Florida.  Now our little 2006 Scion has over 100,000 (actual) miles and many more thousands that it's been towed.  It's been to Canada, Mexico and about all of the lower 48 states.  It has a lot of dings; it's missing the lower part of the rear bumper (don't ask); and while we no longer have that satellite dish with the tripod (now you can carry our WiFi system in your shirt pocket), we still use it as a storage shed...  and a wine cellar....  and a spare closet....  and a tool box...  you name it.  Funny thing...  the same day I was asked about the car, the rear wheel bearing started grinding (this was the day after we had a flat tire...  new tires, but nails don't care about that).  So yesterday it went to the shop and was fixed.  It's been a great car...  or storage shed...  or whatever.  We love it.

It's been a bit cool and quite windy down here in the Valley, but today has been nearly 80 degrees.  If the sun were shining it would be hot, but it's overcast as a front is moving in and next week probably won't be so nice.

We took advantage of the nice weather today (and of having transportation) and headed the 7 miles or so south to Santa Ana NWR.  We volunteered for 3 months there in 2002 so while a lot has changed, a lot has stayed the same.

One big change...
The "Tree House" platforms...
These are great structures rising quite high into the treetops.  One even has a suspension bridge (lower 2 photos) that stretches between 2 platforms.  The one in the upper photos is quite a climb to the top.  Kind of like those old fire towers that were used as lookouts.  Of course we had to climb up every one of them.  

The biggest draw to Santa Ana NWR is the birds.  There are birds here that you won't see any place else in the USA.  It was shortly after noon when we got there today so most self-respecting birds were settled in for their siesta.  No green jays or altamira orioles, but we did see...
this little Green Kingfisher

We didn't see any kiskadees, but this...
Couch's Kingbird
(or possibly a Tropical Kingbird...  didn't get the best look)...  and it is winter...  

And this hawk....
Juvenile White-tailed Hawk?  Peregrine Falcon?  
Size and color were difficult to make out...  too far away and bad light.
And besides that, I need re-trained on the local birds here.

But we enjoyed watching them....
As they watched us....

Of course we did put up a bird feeder outside our rig..  didn't take long to attract these guys..
Great-tailed Grackle
Oh well...  they're hungry, too.

That's All For Today!


  1. I like those little green kingfishers. Last time I was at Santa Anna I got lost trying to figure out their trails. That too was before the tree house platforms.

  2. I see both haws and peregrines on the lamp posts in the morning, scanning the meadow for things that run. Occasionally a white owl, too, but I believe it's up past its bedtime.

  3. I have a Scion also, have had it since 2004 and its got over 250,000 miles on it. I had a wheel bearing go out also, and a rear main seal, but nothing else. I have lost the rear bumper but heard it dragging, stopped, collected it and snapped it back on, minus a few plastic clips. I sleep in it now when I go camping. I placed a large board in the back, plywood, with the rear seat forward, that covers the back from the hatch to the back of the front seats, so I could haul cats to spay neuter, first off (have had 27 in there). But now I push the front passenger seat forward and extend the board into the passenger front and have a three inch thick cot mattress I take when I camp and its very comfortable and easy to sleep in the back that way. I've used it like a truck and I still get 30 plus mpg and it still runs great! I got a reverse lemon I keep thinking or maybe I'm just lucky.

  4. I've heard about that refuge and I think Jerry was there a while back. Amazing. I would love to walk those treehouse platforms!

  5. Warm weather and settling in sounds good for a while. Enjoy your time there.