West Wetlands Park

West Wetlands Park in Yuma, Arizona

In the City of Yuma, Arizona; are a number of first class parks and one in particular which I just love to visit, West Wetlands Park. There is a good mix of things to do for families and individuals. On the east end of the park is a fairly big pond with grass, cement benches and a sidewalk walking path. To the north they have a boat launch, washrooms as well as a sandy beach on the Colorado River. On the west side of the pond there is another set of washrooms, shady area and a first class children’s play area. The children’s play area has recently been rebuilt and just finished within the last month as someone had previously burnt it down. Further down is a large grassy area, a hummingbird garden, Army of the west statue aka the Mormon Statue and a solar garden of 24 panels. These panels produce about 3600 watts of power and provides the power for the lighting in the park (it is capable of powering about 20 homes).

We are only there in the winter, which is a good time to visit the pond area in the morning and watch the Osprey fishing.

Nearly every time we visit we see a Road RunnerGreater Roadrunner
Gambel’s quail and other bird species. A visit to the Hummingbird Garden will usually not disappoint as there are 3 or 4 resident species.

At the pond it is quite likely you will see a couple different species of Egrets.

The Egrets seem to be somewhat territorial and will entertain by chasing each other around the pond. Sometimes you will see the odd species of duck.

All of these birds are wild but have been slightly habituated which may enable you to get a little closer for a picture.

The pond is stocked with catch-able sized fish by the Arizona Fish and Game; a few of the species are catfish, bluegill, carp, and rainbow trout. It’s not unusual to see people fishing and an Egret waiting close by in the hopes the catch would be shared.

In previous years we have seen them launch balloons from the park for “Balloons across the Colorado”, in 2014 we helped out with a school program to teach the kids how to fish. Some of the local merchants donated the makings for hot dogs and bags of chips, the fish  and game donated boxes of oranges.

This year they had a major Geocaching event there, a fun run and many more events that we didn’t attend.

Like many of the birds we are now headed north for a slightly cooler summer.

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Lazer & Ruger

Lazer & Ruger
Prairie Falcon (Falco mexicanus)
Lazer

Had a wonderful opportunity because my wife Irene was talking to Gary and his wife who was in the same RV Park we are staying in. Irene was walking our dogs in the dog walk area and spied “Lazer” who is a female 4 year old Prairie Falcon (Falco mexicanus) sitting on top of a sturdy perch. Being curious Irene struck up a conservation with his wife, one thing led to another and we were invited to meet with Gary and observe and possibly take a few photos when he flew Lazer for her exercise. To say we jumped at the chance is an understatement.

Gary is a licensed Falconer who hails from Idaho and likes to fly his Falcons daily for exercise. Gary brought along a lifelong friend of his, named Chuck (aka Charlie Brown). Chuck was very good at answering our questions and filling us in when Gary was busy flying “Lazer”

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Lazer – with her Hood

“Lazer is a beautiful bird and it is easy to see her and Gary have formed a tremendous bond which must come with the level of care she must receive. During our questioning about how often she is fed etc., we found out that she is weighed everyday and fed accordingly so that she can perform her best. If she was underfed she would be weak and if she was overfed would be lazy and lethargic. After “Lazer” had eaten what Gary had given her there was a small piece of flesh sticking to her beak. Gary just reached up, wiped from the side of her beak and fed it to her with his bare fingers. If that isn’t trust I don’t know what is.

West Wetlands Park-
Gary & Lazer

Just when I didn’t think the day could get any better; I was given the opportunity to hold Lazer myself. What a treat that was, to see her so close up, feel her weight and be able to look directly into her eyes. What a marvelous creature. Irene took over camera duties while I was holding “Lazer” and she did a very good job.

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Lazer and myself, Lazer is the good looking one

 

Ruger; is a 2 year old male Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) and he didn’t fly that night. Because he was a very handsome bird, I did take a photo of him but was in a low light situation. Still quite happy about how it turned out anyways.

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Ruger

Special thanks to Gary and Chuck for such a wonderful opportunity and education, to us it was very special!

Danger in the Desert

Danger in the Desert

 

Irene and I are always looking for new places to explore while we are in South Western Arizona. We like to go out into the desert but because of how low slung our car is, we are fairly restricted to following gravel roads which are passable to it. If we had a 4 wheel drive or ATV’s there would be so much more area accessible to us.

Arizona Gold Fever-11-2

 

I had hopped out of the car to take a couple of pictures and since there was no other people in the area, allowed the dogs to come out and follow. I was taking a couple of close-ups of a Teddy Bear Cholla, (similar to the cactus in the foreground of the above photo). These from a distance look deceivingly soft and cuddly. Nothing can be further from the truth because they are made up of spine covered segments which will attach to whatever brushes up against it. Hitch hiking like this allows it to grow in new places where the segments are finally knocked off.

Teddy Bear Cholla Segment (pronounced – Choy-ya)

Teddy Bear Cholla Segment

The cactus also grows fruit which has very few seeds in it, most of the plants propagation comes from segments it drops to the ground and then takes root. If you see a stand of them on a hillside it is likely that they are all clones of the one plant.

Teddy Bear Cholla
Cylindropuntia bigelovii is native to California, Arizona, Nevada (USA) and Northwestern Mexico. This is fruit from the cactus but it can have very few seeds. Most of it’s propagation comes from segments it drops.

While taking the photos I brushed up against a segment that had dropped to the ground with my shoe and It had firmly attached itself.

Cholla Segment
This is just a small part of a segment which had dropped to the ground. I managed to remove this by pulling each individual spine out with pliers.

When I dropped down to try and knock it off I discovered our dog Sadie had done the same thing, only she tried to pull it off with her mouth. We managed to get enough of it off so we could get her into the car and when we reached the RV, pulled the rest out with pliers and tweezers. She acted like a real trooper allowing us to pull them even though it must have hurt. We are monitoring her everyday now to make sure that none were missed.

Arizona Sunset
Sunset From Kofa National Wildlife Refuge

Spot the Gecko and Mrs Hide

Spot the Gecko and Mrs Hide

Irene and I drove out into the desert to do a little exploring, we wanted to reconnoiter some possible gold panning spots and also to possibly find some old tin cans. Irene wants to bolt some together in the shape of dogs and with their rusty patina should make some very nice garden art.

On our drive we found a spot where there were a lot of old rusty cans of different sizes and condition. We picked up a bunch of them, some had been only opened with an old fashioned can opener, partially buried. We tried shaking the desert dirt out before putting them inside the car. Irene was about 20 feet away from me, I heard her shriek and turned just in time to see her dancing around on the desert, apparently she shook a Gecko out of one of the cans and it ran around over her feet before disappearing into some scrub brush.

After we returned to the RV Park from our outing, I left Irene to unload the dogs from the car and went 2 sites over. She promptly showed up and informed us there was another Gecko and this time it was in the back of the car. Virginia claimed that they used to have some in their family so she offered to go and get it out. Virginia came back, showed it around and then let it go on the edge of the green space behind us.

The following morning Irene loaded the dogs into the car so we could drive up to Quartzite for the day. Just as we were climbing into the car she spots a Gecko in between the headrest and her seat. The dogs were unconcerned about the Gecko but Irene hauled them out of there anyways. I caught it in a small bucket and let it go into the same green space, hopefully the two will find each other and have more little Geckos

Photo Courtesy of Linda Rourk
Gecko or small desert lizard between the seat and the head rest. Photo courtesy of; Linda Rourke

I just shudder to think of the pandemonium it could have cause if she hadn’t seen it and it crawled out onto her while we were driving down the road. All is well that ends well!

 

Gold Fever

Gold Fever

Panning for Gold;

At the RV Park we are staying in there are a few work campers who don’t mind sharing what they like to do during their free time and so far they have freely donated a lot of their time. Ray and Linda is one couple who enjoys going into the desert and gold panning  and they decided to share what they know. They ran a couple of panning clinics in the RV Park so that people would get the technique and feel of gold panning.

Gold Fever 13

After running the clinics they went out into the desert scouring for a good place where  we might be successful in finding some gold. The time and date was set so we  met in front of the office to make sure we all ended up in the same place.
I think that they had only expected a couple of people to show, but 14-15 were eager and ready to make the trip. fortunately there were 6 trucks to help take us through the rough area. We couldn’t leave our dogs in the RV by themselves for that length of time so we took our car and managed to park it and catch a ride when it became too rough.

Gold Fever 1

It was only a short drive from where we parked and all of us managed to squeeze into a truck. We gathered around for a quick briefing about what we should look for and told to pick our own spots. We all had brought 5 gallon buckets that we filled by screening the dirt we had dug through a screen with 1/4″ squares.We then carried the buckets over to the one central area. A bucket of desert dirt is heavier than a bucket of water.

Gold Panning kit
First time ever of going panning for gold and this is our neighbors gear.

Gold Fever 7

We then ran the dirt in our buckets through a “dry washer”, The dry washer is attached to a leaf blower and when it is started it shakes the bigger material off and blows the dust off as well. the shaking causes the heavier material (Gold and black sand) to settle in the lower parts of the washer. This operation has reduced the quantity of material about 1/2 of a gold pan full.

Panning for Gold

There were 2 totes in the back of a truck filled approximately 3/4 full of water and a healthy squirt of dish soap. The dish soap helps break the surface tension and enables the gold and black sand to sink to the bottom of the pan with a series of shaking and washing motions. Two totes are used because the water in the first one gets dirty very quickly and as soon as you have done the majority of the panning then you can switch over to the cleaner tote.Gold Fever 11

Gold Fever 2

By the time you have finished panning in the second tote all you have left will be the magnetite or black sand and gold. The gold is pretty easy to see at this point and can be picked out with tweezers.

Gold Fever 6
John showing us how to get the gold out of the pan if the tweezers had been forgotten

Fortunately everyone on this outing ended up with lots of sun and fresh air, and at least a small amount of gold.

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Irene’s gold
Debby's Nugget
Debbie’s Nugget

 

Many thanks to Ray and Linda for facilitating our first prospectors outing, and to John for helping out. We were able to do this as guests of Ray and Linda but if we want to go out on our own we would have to pay $45.00 to become club members to enable us to have access to the lands.

If this is something you feel you would like to do; I would recommend finding out what the regulations are in your area before proceeding.Gold Fever 9

Disneyland ~ Diamond Year

Disneyland ~ Diamond Year

Wondering what it would be like going to Disneyland without children; would we enjoy ourselves?

My wife and I are both in our early 60’s or at least I am, my wife is still 39 at last count. We are spending the winter in Winterhaven which is in southern California, about 2 miles away from Yuma, Arizona. On a good day it is about a 4 1/2 hr drive from Anaheim to where Disneyland is located. We made arrangements to meet Irene’s younger brother and his wife at Disneyland, they were flying down from Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada to meet us.

Wednesday, the day of our departure we left sunny skies in Yuma and after filling the motorhome up with gas and propane we headed west. First to San Diego which is a different way than we normally would have traveled. We traveled west until catching I5 and then headed north. As we were going through the mountains on the east side of San Diego we hit some really strong wind gusts. The motorhome reacted like it was a big white sail. In order to stay safe I slowed to between 40~45mph and still we were being blown around, also before reaching San Diego we were traveling through clouds and torrential rains. This slowed traffic considerably, my windshield wipers were on high and in may places we were driving through standing water. We turned on the radio and the announcer was issuing a tornado warning and warning people out of low lying places with the threat of flash flooding. Lots of very close lightning and thunder was lighting up the sky. Driving up the I5 was very slow like it normally would be in rush hour.  As we were driving up the coast the clouds cleared enough to treat us to a glorious sunset. It was quite brief and then were back into the rain again which carried on right up in to Los Angeles, where we did hit rush hour. Don’t know what time we finally reached our destination but am sure total travel time was double of what it would have been on a good day.

We reached the RV Park after hours and they had our information taped to their door, so we followed their instructions to get to our site and set up. We exercised the dogs and were just starting to relax when we heard some loud bangs that made us look out the window where we watched an incredible fireworks display from the comfort of our couch and it must have continued for a good 15 minutes. We went to bed shortly after that and fell asleep to some very heavy rain beating down on the roof.

The next morning was Thursday and the rain had subsided, we made sure we had a good breakfast, and walked to Disneyland. (they told us when we made the reservation at the RV Park that it was about 1/2 mile, I would be surprised if it was under a mile. When you go into the front entrance they check whatever you maybe carrying, my case was a camera bag. After that they have a secondary inspection similar to an airports. I had no idea and had to surrender a small pocket knife, or the other option was to walk all the way back to the RV Park and back.

Once inside we purchased our tickets; we opted for the 2 day Park Hopper tickets which were $225.00 ea. At the outset it seems pretty pricey but once you are inside, you pay nothing for anything other than food, drink and of course memorabilia. There are 2 sides to the park; Disneyland & California Adventure, the park hopper tickets allow access to both sides. Disneyland has more of the older themes like Mickey Mouse and Splash Mountain,
whereas California Adventure has newer themes like Cars ,A Bugs Life & a large roller coaster.

We met up with Irene’s Brother and Sister In Law and entered the Disneyland side, since it was a Thursday morning it wasn’t as busy, so we were able to get on quite a few rides and go through a number of shops.

In the early afternoonwe had to leave and go back to the motor home so we could exercise the dogs, it was at this time we purchased  bus tickets. We hopped on the #6 bus which we were directed to at the front gate and were dropped off at the wrong RV Park. We had to wait another 1/2 hour for the bus to return and take us back to Disneyland to catch the proper #10 bus.

By the time we had returned in the late afternoon after exercising the dogs the crowd had swollen which made for much longer line-ups with increased wait times. We still managed to wonder around the park through the shops
until the parade started which I can say it was well worth the wait. It was fun watching the faces of the crowd while the parade was on, you could see they were enjoying it immensely.

 

Day 2 was Friday and we met up again with Irene’s brother and Sister in Law, the crowds were bigger and started earlier so we didn’t get on quite as many rides in the California Adventure side. The themes on this side are a little more modern with many of them being the same as what our Grandchildren have watched and were able to recognize.

In the afternoon we again had to go back to the RV so that the dogs could be exercised, this gave us a break from the crowds and allowed us to recharge a little bit. We returned fairly late and didn’t meet up with Irene’s brother right away, but were going to meet up with them and watch the laser light show.


Little did we know that it required tickets which we didn’t have, so Irene and I wandered off and went back into the “Cars” area where there was a ride we wanted to go on but there was a 90 minute line-up. We decided to call it
an early night, hopped back onto the bus and made it back to the RV Park in time to see the fireworks that again were fabulous.

Disneyland 2016-17-2

It was great fun being there with Irene’s brother and his wife, they have been at Disneyland a few times and were able to act like tour guides, which also made it easier for us to get to best spots. To answer my earlier question; we were able to really enjoy ourselves even though we were not accompanied by children.

A few thoughts for when you do go to Disneyland;
Eat a good breakfast before going because food and drink is very expensive inside the gates, wear sturdy footwear because you will be doing tons of walking and standing all day.
Careful what you carry inside the gates, there is lots of security and they are not afraid of confiscating anything they don’t like.
Merchandise like Mouse Ears and T-Shirts are expensive and there are lots to choose from.
(Art) Shuttle Buses were $5.00/ person/ day, and in my mind worth it. If you go to an attraction ask about getting a “Fast Pass” that may enable you to return when the line-up is shorter and get on right away.
Anaheim Harbor RV Park;
Located about 3/4 mile of a mile from the entrance to Disneyland, nice clean park with all driving surfaces paved
our cost was $32.00 / night in January which is more than likely “off season”

Happy New Year

Since this will be my last post this year I'll be wishing everyone the best in 2016 and may you be blessed with perfect light! Stay safe over the holiday and we will see you again next year.
Since this will be my last post this year I’ll be wishing everyone the best in 2016 and may you be blessed with perfect light! Stay safe over the holiday and we will see you again next year.

I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year. Hope you new year is filled with joy and excitement with many adventures and good experiences.

For my wife and I bringing in this years New Year is a little different than previous years with a somewhat warmer environment.