Side Trip – Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Roswell, New Mexico (10/9/2019 – 10/11/2019)

Today Stretch and I spent 3 hours at the Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge https://www.fws.gov/refuge/bitter_lake/ outside of Roswell, New Mexico. It’s easy enough to find if you’re in the Roswell area. I’d say that if you’re into wildlife, habitat, ecological diversity, hiking, photography and just plain nature, I’d give this place at least half a day to explore.

There is no fee to enter the refuge and the volunteer staff at the visitor center is friendly and knowledgeable. The volunteer suggested coming in either earlier or later in the day which is when the wildlife is most active. I knew that, but I did the drive anyway.

In addition to walking and biking trails, the refuge has an eight mile driving trail (in excellent condition). The volunteer assured me that I wouldn’t feel rushed down the road by other drivers. So Stretch and I went off on our trek. There are several overlooks and trails (some easy and some longer) for observing the wildlife. I was amazed at the different habitat in such a small area. One minute you feel like you’re in the desert and then you’re in the Everglades National Park.

One of the reasons I love traveling with Stretch is he doesn’t care if I drive at 5 mph, stop, turn off the motor and listen or reverse back a few feet because I was sure I saw something move. We saw no other humans. I was the only one on the driving trail for the entire 3 hours. Heaven!!!

There were dragonflies everywhere. Each year the Refuge hosts their annual Dragonfly Festival in early September, on the first or second Saturday of this month.  I missed it by a month.
Dragonfly Trail that Stretch and I walked. If you look hard enough you’ll see the van at the top of the hill.
Common Checkered Whiptail Lizard
Common Checkered Whiptail Lizard in Stretch’s sight
As you can see, the water was so clear. I think it’s a carp. Not positive though.
Making our way back up to the campervan
Beautiful cactus.
I do believe that is a quail trying to hide from me.
Snowy Egret
Great Blue Heron

Being tourists today, Stretch and I walked down Main Street in Roswell, New Mexico. There is a beautiful memorial dedicated to the men and women from Chaves County, NM, who lost their lives in all wars and military actions. The memorial is at the entrance to the Chaves County Courthouse. We then drove over to the J. Kenneth Smith Bird Sanctuary and Nature Center.

Chaves County Courthouse, Roswell, NM
A fine looking specimen. I’m guessing a red squirrel.
The best bird blind I’ve ever seen
Inside the bird feeding area
The inside of the bird blind

If I ever have an opportunity, I will set up a bird blind.

Abilene State Park, Texas (9/27/2018 – 9/29/2019)

The drive from Houston, Texas was uninteresting until I found myself north of Austin and Leander, Texas. After that it was mostly farming land with some interesting looking small towns. The one that caught my eye was Santa Ana, Texas. Once you leave the Austin area you need to make sure you have a full tank of gas ’cause there’s nothing along those roads.

At some point I came across an area with hundreds wind generators for miles and miles, as far as the eye could see. It felt almost out of body (alien like), or just plain out of place. Here in Texas, oil, cowboys, horses, cattle drives, wind generators (?), it just felt strange, but they’re there, in their hugeness and noisiness.

Wind Generators, everywhere, for miles and miles, hundreds of them

I really enjoyed camping at Abilene State Park. The ranger was pleasant and helpful. Once I found my site, I sat and watched several campers roll in with their families for the weekend. It was quite humorous to watch one camper try to back her camper in at least 10 times (hey, she’s good, I can’t do that … yet) or the older gentleman who forgot to unhook his nice new Jeep from his trailer and watching the trailer grind and slide forward. Face plant! I walked several of the trails which are on my level (easy), comfortable and pleasant. There were no bugs (mosquitos) until just at dusk, but manageable.

Eagle Trail, Abilene State Park
Eagle Trail, Abilene State Park
Heading towards the Bird Blind
Bird Blind. Beautiful spot to sit inside to watch the birds in a sort of semi-natural state. I say semi-natural because behind the wooden fence there were feeders set up. I saw many hummers, a hawk and a red cardinal
Birdwatching – just a suggestion.
In addition to this blog, I am keeping a journal with more detail. Here is my standard breakfast of smushed banana and granola breakfast cereal. Stretch checking out the neighbors.

I took a side trip to Abilene and was somewhat disappointed. I think that I may have become dulled from having watched too many John Wayne movies or Gunsmoke, I don’t know. It just wasn’t what I expected. I wanted to see cowboys pushing herds of longhorn cattle down a dusty street. I did go through a little town that caught my interest. Buffalo Gap, Texas. Check it out and the small museum.

Next stop, Palo Duro Canyon State Park in Canyon, Texas.