Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Sunday, March 9, 2014-K- Dead Lakes Recreation Area, Wewahitchka, FL

Wow, can't believe it is March.  I don't know where the time went, but it seemed to fly by! We got here a week ago after finishing up our volunteering at the state park.  We would have completed our last project of putting a new roof on the ranger station, but we had some bad weather so that brought things to a screeching halt.  But we probably got it about 80% done.

Our time there ended on a high note when they let us take out the "mule" which is an ATV of sorts, that has a golf cart looking front and pickup truck type bed in the back.  We went on trash patrol up the beach almost to the end of the peninsula.  We had a beautiful crystal clear day and the bay was dead calm and also crystal clear.  We had a great time. Once we got away from the campground a couple miles or so, we felt like we were the only inhabitants on a tropical island!  We couldn't quite get to the end of the peninsula because we had to cross a flow of water and we didn't want to get the mule in the salt water, also the area looked like it was blocked off by the state biologist at the park, due to the nesting of Plovers.

We saw the usual assortment of birds, but the interesting thing is we saw loons out in the Gulf.  According to Ken, the host in our CG, who is quite knowledgeable about Loons habits, they winter down here and the young ones stay here for about 3 years before they head back up north.  Shortly after we got to St. Joe St.Park, I heard a loon and couldn't believe my ears.  Then Ken told me they are here for the winter.

And yes we did pick up trash-filled the back of the mule to overflowing!  Didn't find anything that would make us millionaires, but lots of shoes and coconuts and of course lots of plastic bottles. Most of it comes in during storms, a good portion of it from across the Atlantic, as the assistant park manager Danny explained to us before we left on the run. Many people take fishing poles instead of trash bags, which Mark (the park manager) informed us was okay as long as you come back with more trash than fish! It's a necessary job, but also a bit of a perk, so we we're thrilled to be able to do it once.

You can watch a video of why seniors should not drive a mule here : >)
I found some sea beans.  The one on the right is called a hamburger bean! These are seed pods that come all the way from Africa!  The smaller on is about the diameter of quarter.

Heading out on the beach with the "mule".

Palmettos on the beach.  We felt like we were on a tropical island.

 The water was crystal clear and the calmest we had seen it in a long time.

Animal tracks. Not what they were, possibly raccoons.

Fresh water pond at the northern end of the peninsula.

Just to prove we did get trash!

A picture of our campsite at Dead Lakes.

Quite a difference in the weather 60 miles north.  Quite a bit warmer, much less humidity and NO BUGS AND NO SAND!!!! Our co-volunteers, Dianne, Bill, Ken and Patti came up yesterday for a cook-out. We had a beautiful afternoon just hanging out by the fire.

We also got the news a couple days ago that we will be the hosts at KOFA wildlife refuge in SW Arizona for next winter.  Here is a couple of links, the first is on to what to do there, and the second takes you to some spectacular images posted on Google:

We will be there from late Oct. through March 2015.  We are about 20 miles south of Quartzite and about 60 miles north of Yuma.  We will be dry camping, no electricity, they supply a water tank, propane and a 4wd truck.  We will be checking on places people have camped and clean-up if necessary.  We have the option of leading short guided hikes to an area that has palm trees, we also could be monitoring old mines for bat population at night.  They supply us with night vision goggles.  They also are reintroducing pronghorns into the area that we may have a hand in helping with. There is a full time wildlife biologist with a PhD on staff, so we hope to get some good education from her on desert life there, and in general. It is still Sonoran desert, which is what surrounds the Tucson area, and our favorite of the 3 desert types we've been in over the years.

Definitely a much different gig than what we did this winter! 660,000 acres of mostly desert wilderness, and more nature driven, which will be a lot of fun and educational.

We will be here for a few more days and then head east to the National Forest of place called Camel Lakes. A nice little CG on a small pond.

Hopefully we can get the blog caught up!