February - Wurika Lake OK and Portales NM

February 17, 2017

I’m writing at lunch time, but it is an hour later for you.  Besides, I won’t be able to send this note until we have WiFi again somewhere.

We’re camped at Waurika Lake in Oklahoma.  Except here the folks thing of themselves as living in Texoma.  I never heard that term before.  Not sure how widespread an area over which it is applicable. 

I’m sampling the Sencha tea that you, Alex, gave me for Christmas.  It is very smooth but different.  I think it may grow on me. 

We jogged this morning to make Anne happy but saw a few year-birds while making two loops along the lake front and through the campground.  Killdeer and Northern Mockingbird are common and making pleasing sounds.  A pair of local fishermen arrived as we circled.  We shared greetings.  Four other campers are set up, but we have met none of our neighbors so far.  The campground is mostly prairie and bramble patch with mostly scattered trees and a few copses.  The lake is choppy as there is a breeze and hosting coots, ducks, and a few Bonaparte’s Gulls.  Our campsite has a great view of the lake on two sides of the campground peninsula.

It was cold at dawn and Anne moaned when I suggested she rise, but the temperature may reach 70 this afternoon.  That is good weather to me.  Monday may bring some rain.  Storms seem to be coming into California and continuing east one after another this winter.  Should bring a green spring.  I notice some tiny blossoms already in the grass around the camper.  Fun.

After our jog and a bird walk we came back to do some chores.  I didn’t properly set up camp last evening and accomplished that first.  I tightened the wire in the car.  We will see if that resolves the problem.  I washed the car too.  It becomes filthy when towed for a few days.  I also washed some bugs off the front of the RV.  How about that?

This afternoon we will take a drive to reconnoiter and look for a few birds.  The car needs gasoline.  I saw no point in filling the tank before towing it half way across the country.  Yes, we have come some 1,500 miles already.  Still an equal amount to San Diego, but we will make that drive over five days whereas we have only driven three days to come here. 

Strangest sight yesterday was a roadside picnic ground in Texas with faux oil well towers providing shelter to the tables.  We didn’t snap a photo.  Sorry.

February 18, 2017

Another report from the Indian Territory.  Talk about Indian givers.  The nearest town is Comanche.  We’re not far from Geronimo.  A somewhat arid land, but still to valuable to have been left as Indian territory.

A false spring her in February as over much of the East.  We’re enjoying it.  Spent today in the Wichita Mountains.  A National Wildlife Refuge there was established to restore the American Bison which had neared extinction.  A private group provided the stock if the government would provide the preserve.  It came out of Fort Sill which remains as an army compound.  The buffalo have done well and have spread back to other places. 

The Wichita Mountains are a lump of old and eroding granite within a sedimentary plain.  The hard rock made for bad agriculture and so the “mixed grass prairie” remains.  The combination of prairie, lakes, and the small mountains provides a lovely park among grazing and agricultural land not too far from the big city of Oklahoma.

I won’t tell you what birds we saw, but they were lovely.  It is still winter so many of the local specialties are on vacation in the tropics, but there are still enough to please us.  Stopped at the library on the way home so Anne could download some books from the library.  I worked more on taxes and we made a walk around the camp after supper. 

Tomorrow we visit a “playa lake” nearby after our Sunday breakfast.  On Monday we will move on to Clovis where scientists found evidence of the earliest man in America.

I write in bed at the end of a long day.  Best wishes. 

February 19, 2017

It is mid-afternoon.  We are back after a tour of Hackberry Flat WMA near Frederick OK.  This includes a large “playa lake” managed for water fowl and doves.  Though playas are often dry, it is wet in Oklahoma this winter and there is water everywhere.  Still, there was more water there and many, many ducks and other birds. 

We passed across prairie, pasture, and wheat and cotton fields on our way there.  The towns are small and many look tired.  There is money in agriculture, especially in the lovely cattle that grow here, but not much else. 

We are rising at five a.m. now to reach our destinations at dawn.  That even gave us time to prepare a Sunday breakfast.  We noticed a Unitarian church in the town of Lawton, but we didn’t go back that way today.  Instead we worshiped on the prairie.  The game lands were vacant this morning and misty.  On our first walk we found a Greater Yellowlegs, a Long-billed Dowitcher, and a couple of pair of American Avocet on a pond.  A Wilson’s Snipe flew out of the grass as we crossed a board walk.  All year-birds.  Before we tired in the afternoon we found most of the inland diving and dabbling ducks and we heard our first Marsh Wren of this year. 

The scenery today was plain.  The land here is flat and in this season all is brown except for the wheat and winter pasture.  Still, it is different than that to which we are accustomed and so of interest.

We stopped for lunch at a cemetery and returned as the day warmed into the 70s.  Now in mid-afternoon it is cooling again.  Clouds have arrived and rain is forecast tonight.  I have made ready to break camp.  Anne is quilting. 

Tomorrow we drive to Clovis NM.  That was not on the schedule, but is of interest because of the nearby Blackwater Draw archeological site.  We will stay only a couple of days before continuing on to near Truth or Consequences for our next extended stay.

February 20, 2017

I write from the town of Portales south of Clovis in New Mexico.  We are at about 4K feet elevation and at dusk the temperature plunged.  Should stay above freezing tonight and warm tomorrow. 

Our travel went well except for a 30 mph wind out of the north all day.  Rained all last night in Oklahoma and the rig and car were filthy when we arrived here.  The trip was the shortest so far and our arrival at about three o’clock was pleasant.  The only disappointment was finding that the Clovis archeological museum is moving and closed.  Bummer!

Now we’re in desert country.  Juniper and mesquite where there are trees.  Mostly there is grass and tumbleweed.  We will visit a couple of nearby wildlife refuges. On Wednesday we will do the weekly chores.  Then we will move on to Truth or Consequences.  This is to be a short stop. 

February 21, 2017

I may actually get to send an e-mail today.  Late afternoon and we are at the M&M Laundromat with “Free WiFi” in Portales proper.  Separated our colored from whites, added detergent, inserted the coins and pulled the slide, but there are no winners in this casino.

Speaking of casinos we saw several in Oklahoma.  Don’t know if they are doing Indians any good there or Indians are gambling.  I’ve never understood the charm of gambling in a casino where the dealer always wins at the end of the day.

This morning we woke before dawn to find no water from the spigot.  Oh, oh!  I heated some in a kettle and took it outside.  I poured it over the valve and was able to close it.  I disconnected the hose from the rig and let it fall to the ground.  Lots of ice.  Good news is everything worked when I put it back together this afternoon.  Then it was 23 degrees F.  Now it is about 83 degrees F.  I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced a 60 degree temperature differential before.  Tonight I will probably unhook when we go to bed.  It is good having a water tank on board in such circumstances. 

After a chilly breakfast and now shower we hit the road to visit the Gulla N.W.R. in New Mexico and the Muleshoe (I kid you not) NWR in Texas.  We found more water fowl and our first Curve-billed Thrasher and Lincoln’s Sparrow for the year.  Saw lovely short grass prairie but no Lesser Prairie Chickens.  Perhaps tomorrow at dawn.  We have been told where they call, but they normally don’t begin calling until March.  Feel like March.

Enjoyed another prairie dog town but no Burrowing Owls.  We found several wonderful Ferruginous Hawks.  This is an uncommon to rare prairie bird that we have seen only a few times  before and never in such abundance. 

Chatted with ranger Jim at Muleshoe NWR and new neighbors from Minnesota.  They are on their way to Tuscon. 

All is well.  Best to you from the Southwest. 


Ha!  I laughed that you didn't want your picture with the faux oil rigs.  I'm a little surprised that the warmed water didn't crack anything when the spigot froze.  I'm glad everything worked out well.  Your travels sound dreamy, but also maybe just a good communicator. Thanks for sharing!  Have fun!