This park is just outside Reno. We needed some exercise and to get out and walk around, so we stopped here and got some amazing fall colors! The Wilbur D. May Museum was closed for its winter hours so we didn't get to see it. I think we're headed over there again tomorrow. What I really want to see is the Nevada State Museum, but that will take at least a few hours. I went to the Nevada Museum Association's annual conference with a couple co-workers so I got to walk around the museum a little bit but I want to go back for the whole thing. There will definitely be pictures of that on here!
We got there I think at the perfect time of year! It was warm and sunny and felt like fall.
More fall colors...
Fun little interpretive trail with old mining equipment
Last year between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Dave and I came to Nevada to visit his parents and his cousins. I also got to see Lake Tahoe for the first time! It's got crystal clear water and it's high in the mountains, 7,000 feet o so, and the mountains above it go up to around 10,000 feet. The lake itself is about 1,600 feet deep! It's even got its own monster, Tahoe Tessie (haven't seen her yet).
The lake covered in fog...
I love the beach! Lots of flat sand, with a few huge ponderosa trees growing out of nowhere!
I like taking pictures of pinecones....
I've got more pictures from this year, but they are still on the camera (of course!). We went there in September, before I started work. I think we spent more time in California that first week here that we did in Nevada! I'm excited to go up in the summer and do some hiking. We even got a book on trails in the area. I can't wait to try it out!
So in my previous post I said I'd never seen a ghost, just some questionable pictures. I took some, Louise Murch took some. Here they are! By the way, the "crypt" is a storage area that was used to store bodies from mining accidents during the winter when the ground was frozen...These have pretty much been debunked by our "ghost hunter" friend Fred, but I still think they're interesting....the night we got home and saw these, I was very creeped out, but later I decided that wasn't enough "evidence" and if ghosts really do exists we're better off ignoring each other.
This was taken with my cell phone, towards the doors of the "crypt." The image I was looking at is in the lower left corner on the door.
Orbs, or dust? There is a picture of a man with an orb on the wall....Louise took this one. The "orbs" I meant are below the chairs, to the right.
This one was....interesting....also taken by Louise Murch.
Still, I don't know if I'd pay another $2 to go back in there!
This place is creepy! Whether it's haunted or not...it's definitely cold and sooooo creepy in there! Louise and I are not real believers in ghosts, or easily "creeped out," but we both admitted to each other that we were scared in there and it was totally time to leave!
Back in the day, the Old Washoe Club used to be the Millionaire's Club. The upstairs was for an elite group of the few rich people in Virginia City. They were gamblers...and there was a lot of violence at the time. Murders were so common that only two people were ever hung for committing the crime. There was a secret staircase for club members to leave and come back without being seen...or for women to come and go without being seen! One of the most common ghost stories I've read is that the ghost of a woman (in a blue dress?) stands at the top of the stairs and pushes people back down. I can't help wondering if that's why the public isn't allowed upstairs anymore! (But logic says that it's an old run-down building...and the one staircase I did get to see looked so flimsy I don't know if I would dare climb it if I had the chance!)
Ghost Adventures (TV show) has been there twice and I think they're about to air a new episode of a 3rd visit. We just re-watched the 2nd visit--I've never seen the first and don't even know if it's an episode they had on the air. Anyway, if you go into the Old Washoe Club, you have to either buy a drink or pay $2. Inside there is a whole display case dedicated to the Ghost Adventures crew. Of course, they have Zach's shirt (the cute one), some of their equipment used and pictures taken. They play GA episodes on the TV and the other screens show other investigations where they've gotten things on camera.
The Spiral Staircase is the highlight (or it was for me). Like I said it looks totally flimsy and I would be scared to climb it! ...even if there weren't someone waiting at the top to push me back down! I didn't take this picture, couldn't find the one I did take, so I just did a google image search for the Old Washoe Club Spiral Staircase.
We were walking around in the museum area and Louise kept going back into the "crypt" for more pictures--she was curious because her camera kept being weird on her....I would have preferred to go back out into the bar section and look around...I went in with her because I wouldn't have wanted to go in there alone, curiousity or not!
As we walked back through the museum into the bar area, she stopped in front of the women's restroom and grabbed my arm--hard. "Kim! Look!" I looked into the bathroom and one of the curtains pulled in front of the toilet was moving--shaking and I kept hearing whistling. I asked Louise if she heard it and she said no, but later she told me she'd been lying and heard it, but wanted me to think she didn't!
Anyway, we were both standing there, staring at the curtain....staring....staring....I said, "It's got to be a draft." The curtain stopped moving. We looked at each other, then back at the curtain, and all this time the whistling's continuing. I'm thinking, "I hope she moves the curtain, because it's not gonna be me!" She was hoping I'd do it, when suddenly the curtain jerks back and a guy, about my age, jumps out, "booo!" I'm like, "YOU JERK!" We all burst out laughing--he and his girlfriend had come in with us and we thought they left while we were in the "crypt." The woman went back to the bar and the guy came back to hide in the bathroom. He had to have been there a while, because we kept going back for pictures...and he said he was about ready to leave--he was getting really scared in there waiting for us! (The women's room is also supposed to be haunted...along with the rest of the place.)
As we were all walking out, I looked at the guy and said, "There's no way I'd ever use that bathroom!" He said, "No way! Can you imagine...."
This is one of the prettiest cemetaries I've seen! (The one in Logan is my favorite because of the view, but this is close!)
Virginia City is one of America's largest historical landmarks and is supposedly the most haunted. While I've never seen any ghosts (except for a few questionable pictures), I love Virginia City's history. It was a mining town, full of people wanting to get wealthy from the "Comstock Lode," a rich vein of some of the purest silver discovered after California's gold rush died out. There were rich people (only a few...although tons of people tried), poor people (working in the mines, making a living on $4/day), gamblers, prostitutes, servants...and there was even a "Chinatown" for Chinese immigrants working in the mines. Opium was big in those days too.
Anyway, my friend Louise Murch from Vernal visited me and we decided to visit Virginia City for a few hours, then head to Carson City to see some museums and historic sites. We only made it as far as Virginia City....and still didn't get to see everything we wanted to! There's way more there than either of us thought and of course, there's never enough time to see everything. She was on her way to California to visit her brother and called me. I only had one day off with her and she needed to get going so she decided she'll just have to come back!
Here are a few pictures from the cemetary. Of course I didn't pay close enough attention to what "sections" we were in but....you get the idea. The view and history make up for it!
This one is at the very top of the hill. The man's last name is Storey (he was an important man...unfortunately I'll have to look up his history again) and his name is now the name of Storey County and Virginia City is the county seat. This one is in the Masonic section of the cemetary. There was a Firefighters section, Chinese section, Irish, etc.
Louise Murch, exploring the grave yard. Some of these graves date back into the 1860s, when the Comstock Lode was disovered....and it also matches the time period of Fort Churchill, where I work. In school I was never a history fan, but now that I'm living in the middle of all this history I'm lovin' it!
View of the city from the cemetary. If you blow up the picture you can see St. Mary's in the Mountains, the 1st Catholic churchh in the area. I've visited the church twice and still didn't see everything I wanted to! This church, along with St. Paul's Episcopal Church, is supposed to be haunted as well....both from prior leaders of the churches. I think they're old buildings that settle and make lots of noise....but then again, I don't live there so I don't know! I've heard and read that pretty much every building in the city is haunted in some form. If it is, it's because of the violent history--mining accidents, murders, suicides...you can't read anything about VC without encountering ghost stories!
Another pretty view of the cemetary. This is the last thing we got to see, as it was getting dark and we wanted to get back for dinner! We got "home" to the Wildlife Refuge and went through our pictures...comparing "ghost" pictures from the Old Washoe Club. I'll post about that one soon...but for the most part both of our ghost pictures were debunked. Sad and relieved at the same time!
Today's my Friday (yes, I know for most people it's Tuesday)! This morning before lunch was....interesting. Interesting is much better than boring but in some situations, boring sounds great! I have four restrooms/sites to check every morning--River Access, Scout Camp, Buckland Station and the Orchard. I check Buckland Station and the Orchard first because they're close, then head out to the Carson River Ranches portion of the park. When I get better, reliable internet I will post a map and pictures.
I parked at River Acess and headed for the bathroom. By the way, these are all pit toilets/porta-potties so usually they are really easy to clean: a quick disinfection and mopping if needed. Then I empty the trash and head back for the office. Today I walked up to the restroom and there was blood all over the concrete by the door. Enough so that it made me seriously not want to open the restroom door! I opened the door and peeked in...no bodies or parts anywhere but the whole floor, toilet and walls were totally covered in blood splatters. Not horror-movie quality or anything but there was a lot of it! I stepped outside and kinda thought, "now what?" I peeked around the restroom building and looked at the bushes (but didn't walk into the sagebrush at all...) but didn't find anything.
I called my boss, Paul, on his cell phone and described what I found. He had been trying to call me on the radio because he'd forgotten there was a tour scheduled in half an hour, so he told me to lock the restroom and head over to Buckland Station to open it and turn on the video, so that's what I did. He told me he would go over later and check it out, then clean it with bleach water.
The tour went fine, they all walked through the building and watched the movie, then headed to the main entrance for the museum, Living History Talk and cannon fire. Paul told me I could load and fire the cannon so immediately I was thinking "are you sure...?" I'd seen it done twice but had never done it on my own. I did it, and got a round of applause and a high-five from Paul. That thing is LOUD!!!!!
Paul cleaned the blood while I was arranging my office and getting organized. He said he had no idea and didn't even want to guess what happened. It is hunting season so it's possible someone shot a bird and was cleaning it..cut themselves....whatever. So...let's hope my next week is exciting, but not that exciting!
I know this picture is dark (another cell phone picture), but I wanted to share because it's a cute story. These are called "courting candles." A suitor would come to the girl's family's house and visit the girl he was interested in. These candles would be lit when he arrived and when the candle burned out it was time for him to go.
Notice anything about the candles? They can be rolled up or down. If the father liked the suitor, he would roll it so more candle showed and had more time to burn, so the suitor could stay longer. If the father did not like the suitor and didn't want him hanging around, the candle wasn't very tall and would burn out sooner. "Time to go!" I forget how many minutes/inch...I'll have to read the caption close next time, but I thought it was a great trick. I wonder if the daughters had any influence on how high the father rolled the candle?
These are inside Buckland Station at Fort Churchill State Historic Park, where I will be working, starting on Monday! When I find my camera charger (it's currently packed and still in the back of Dave's truck) I will upload more pictures and have more stories!
I love thunderstorms! Especially when they keep going...the park today was surrounded by lots of individual thunderstorm cells that took turns hitting us. I am out in the entrance station, right out on the mesa top, in the middle of the action! I was treated to lots of good thunder and lightning and lots of rain--hard rain, like horizontal rain. Shortly after it stopped, I got a call from my boss letting me know the visitor center flooded (again) but they had it taken care of. She wanted to know about the condition of the entrance station...it wasn't flooded but for a while I got quite a show!
After the storm, I looked out the window...
It definitely cooled things off here! I cleaned today and it was very hot! It was a little humid too, because of the building storm so that added to the heat. Now it's calm, quiet and I am taking more pictures of the sunset!
Found this guy at Canyonlands National Park Island in the Sky District. I love them! I think it's cool that the get so big and are so brightly colored. They can also run on their hind feet, which I would LOVE to see!
I took this out the car window yesterday coming home from a L O N G car ride to Nevada and back.
The full moon along the road and pink clouds!
We started Wednesday and made it to Elko. I liked driving across Nevada--it looks a lot like Utah. I realized that Las Vegas (where I was born) is what I think of when I think of Nevada, when it's actually the opposite! Nevada is full of small towns and cities, and a LOT of farms!
The Great Basin is massive! Lots of mountain ranges and long, green valleys. We actually got a little lost, thinking we were on the Great Basin Highway when actually we were headed for a campground and hiking trail--Angel Lake.
Doesn't it look like Heaven? We thought so!! I didn't want to leave but we had to because we still had about 8 hours left to drive home.
The water was cold and clear and we could see fish swimming around down there.
The trip was fun and I will hopefully be able to post more on that soon. We did come home to a much hotter day than what we had there. Today at the park it's over 90 and I've been outside most of the day. Normally I don't complain about the heat but I'm really noticing it today! I have made sure to drink plenty of water! I have a full moon hike tonight and I'm looking forward to the sun going down!
An additional story about the drive home can be found here.
Ravens are one of the most commonly seen animals at Dead Horse Point State Park. They are incredibly smart and good at finding food, and can usually be found near people. I remember sitting at Delicate Arch one evening eating a pop tart and watching a raven hop closer and closer, hoping I would drop something for it to snatch up.
They love campgrounds! Campers who fail to put away their food before leaving for the day often come back to find it gone--one camper even reported that a raven had stolen a steak off their grill one evening. They went inside their RV to grab something and came back to an empty grill. No wonder they have a reputation for being mischievous tricksters! They have been known to break into styrofoam coolers and pop-up trailers by ripping through the mesh. To avoid a mess and "stolen" food, use hard coolers and make sure all food is stored in a safe place.
As bad as it sounds, they also get into the dumpsters at the park! The wind blows the lids open occasionally, and the ravens get in there, tearing bags apart, looking for "tasty" morsels the humans threw away. Then, we get to go out there, gloves in hand, to clean up after them before the wind makes a real mess. I came up to one such dumpster this spring and immediately thought of the movie Over the Hedge. As I walked up, ravens, chipmunks and lizards all scattered like I had interrupted a buffet.
As the morning sun heats the cliffs below the park, air currents, called thermals, begin to rise. Ravens soar up and down, playing in these thermals that take them well over 2,000 feet above the Colorado River. Steep, fast dives and barrel rolls are only a couple of the exciting aerial maneuvers ravens perform. I saw them diving this morning as I came in to work at the visitor center. Death-defying vertical dives, right over the cliff, only to fly back up and do it again!
This raven looks like it's had enough of the fun for a while and is taking a break, enjoying the view.
Today I have the late shift at work so I had an hour lunch. I ate my tomato soup and bagel, then decided to go for a short hike before I had to go sit in the entrance station for 5 hours. I chose the Basin Overlook, on the east side of the Rim Trail because it's short and there are a couple small hills along the way. I've been working hard to get more exercise lately and decided that was perfect for a long lunch break.
This is looking east toward the La Sal Mountains, named by Spanish explorers who thought the snow-covered peaks looked like piles of salt. There is salt in the area. The bright blue ponds in the distance are evaporation ponds for the Intrepid Potash Mine. There is a large salt deposit underground, which is responsible for shaping a lot of the landscape surrounding the park (more on that in another post!). Water is pumped into the salt deposit, where the salt dissolves. The salt water is then pumped out into these ponds and dyed blue. (I heard that blue absorbs more sunlight than any other color.) When the water evaporates, the salt is left behind. Then it is scraped up, refined and shipped across the country. It's potassium chloride (instead of sodium chloride, or table salt), which is a main ingredient in plant fertilizer. We use it at the park on the sidewalks in the winter as an ice melt. That is probably the most frequently asked question around: "What are those blue pools down there?" So, I use the previous explanation every single day at work!
Basin View Overlook, looking at the Colorado River. This is one of my favorite views of the river, but I don't make it out to this overlook very often anymore. I think, even when I lived at the park I only hiked out there once in a while. The Bighorn Overlook was my favorite hike then, because it started right behind the ranger houses and was easier to get to.
Just another view from the Basin View Overlook. One day when I was first working here, I hiked out to this overlook and sat for a while, trying to take it all in. After I had sat still long enough, a chipmunk came up to explore, and so did a desert spiny lizard. They poked around for a little while, getting closer and closer to each other, until they were finally close enough to look each other in the eyes! Then they each went their separate ways. It was one of the most fun overlook experiences I've had out here.
So now I am out here in the entrance station answering questions about the park and selling entrance fees. I'm also catching up on my blogs! Utah State Parks has a blog now... www.stateparks.utah.gov/blog. I am Ranger Kim (surprise!) and I'm one of the contributors.
One of my absolute favorite things found here in the desert are potholes and the creatures living in them! Forgive me if I've already posted about these (I don't remember)--I don't know why I wouldn't have because I think they are fascinating! Potholes are depressions in the slickrock, and can be tiny to the size of bathtubs, hot tubs or tanks!
Here I am acting like I'm in a hot tub....
Deep potholes can hold rainwater for more than a month! These are an important water source for mule deer, desert bighorn sheep and many other animals.
Aquatic animals and insects even take advantage of this water source, including a couple species of amphibian (spadefoot toad and red-spotted toad), fairy shrimp, clam shrimp, tadpole shrimp and a variety of aquatic insects. When potholes are dry they don't look like much, but once it rains, eggs start hatching! The one I'm "sitting" in, but not touching, will be full of life when it is full of water. This one is up on the mesa top, close to Spring Canyon Point above the Green River.
Animals that have dried up, laying in wait, rehydrate and continue their lives. Some insect larvae can lose up to 80% of the water in their bodies!
Tadpole shrimp photo taken by a co-worker. I think they look like tiny horseshoe crabs.
Picture of a real horseshoe crab. We don't have those here but I'd like to see one someday!
Spadefoot toad, taken by Crystal, a co-worker. I've seen their tadpoles, but not the actual toad in real life, only pictures. I'm jealous!
It's fun to see and hear amphibians on the mesa top, because it seems like that's the last place they should be found! There are no permanent water sources, but these amphibians mature quickly (in less than two weeks) and are then able to leave the water source. Spadefoot toads mature from tadpole to toad, then bury themselves in the mud, waiting for the next rainstorm. Then they come up to the surface, mate, lay their eggs in potholes and the whole process starts over.
I took groups of 3rd graders to the potholes here in the park. It was fun, but hard for them to remember to not step in or touch the potholes. This year they were all dry, but other years they actually got to see the tadpole and fairy shrimp swimming around.
Utah State Parks now has its own blog. You can click here to see it! I am a contributor once in a while--I try to do it often but that doesn't always happen! I like it because it highlights some of the coolest parts of our state parks and also gives you fishing/boating conditions, snow conditions and special events going on in the state parks of Utah!
Red Fleet has always been my favorite. When I find my pictures I will have to add these to my blog! We always had birthday parties at Red Fleet and had many camping trips at Steinaker with my dad before he died in 1996.
I worked at the Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum (the Field House) for three summers as a seasonal. I also volunteered there as part of a work-study program in high school. My aunt Linda worked at the information center that was attached so I "hung out" there even when I wasn't working.
I decided to start a new blog for things like everyday stories and things not strictly nature-related. Click here to check it out! So far it's only got one post and I'm going to do my best to keep them both up...and not double up on anything! Also anything Dave-related (except for hikes) will go there! I know I've been bad about posting on Dave!
Instead of just writing about the walk I took last night, I decided to write a couple (or three) haikus, inspired by a fellow naturalist and blogger (Patricia Lichen)! I was at work in the entrance station with my notebook so this is what I came up with:
Heat waves shimmering,
Animals still and quiet:
The sun is setting,
Light falling on swarms of bugs;
A light breeze begins.
I walk the creek;
A startled skunk lifts her tail
and I hold my breath!
I also came up wtih: Even a swarm of bugs can be pretty in the right light! I wish I had my camera...I'm walking again tonight so I'll try to remember it!
Lately I pretty much only work shifts--either cleaning, in the visitor center or collecting fees in the entrance station...so instead of "quietly going insane" (Edward Abbey), I thought I'd write about the shifts (and everything else!). Tonight I do have a sunset hike so I can write about that later. I actually forgot about the program later so I will work an extra 2 hours that I can take off tomorrow.
The C shift starts at 8:30 a.m. I drop off my lunch and everything at the visitor center, then grab the money box and head out to the entrance station. I will be out here until 12:30 p.m. when it's time for lunch. (I brought cans of soup...) After that I will work until 6 p.m. in the visitor center. We have a large gift shop, museum and art gallery. At 6, I will close everything up: lock doors, take down the flags and count the money. Then I will clean the visitor center restrooms. Normally after that it's 7 p.m. and time to go home, but tonight I will be here until 9 p.m.-ish.
The sunset hike starts at the main Point overlook and we will hike about a mile round-trip around the part of the mesa where the horses were trapped, giving the park it's name--Dead Horse Point. I carry a bag full of animal fur and skulls so I can talk about the animals that live here in the park. A lot of them are nocturnal because of the desert's heat and drought so that's what I focus on, mostly because visitors come in asking why they aren't seeing any wildlife. I think tonight I will be talking a lot about these little gnats that keep hanging around. The don't bite me much but visitors come in with welts all over their arms and legs! They are similar to mosquitoes--the females bite for blood that they will use to produce eggs.
Today wasn't a "typical" day at work but then, we don't have many typical days here ever. Our schedule is divided into shifts so that everything is covered, with an "admin" shift to do paperwork, pay bills, and anything else that needs taking care of. I thought it might be interesting to write about each shift as I am on them during the day. Today I am on the "B" shift. The shift names are pretty much arbitrary...it could be called the Z shift and I'd still be doing the same thing (I think...).
I would have left Moab around 10:20 a.m. to be at the park by 11 a.m. but I needed to stop by our region office to pick up some merchandise that had been delivered there--T-shirts and cards designed just for the park by a local artist, who happens to live around the corner from me.
Once I got everything picked up and ready to go, I stopped for "breakfast" at Wendy's (not the healthiest choice but I had run other errands and skipped a real breakfast). I got to the park after a 45 minute drive up Highways 191 and 313. I unloaded the boxes and a bag of my interpretive materials for a program I had given in May at Arches...finally returned it to the Dead Horse Point. Then I got down to my regular shift, which today is cleaning and collecting fees at the entrance station until 9 p.m., counting money and checking the park by 10 p.m.
I gathered my rubber gloves for cleaning and leather gloves for picking up trash and headed up to the Point to clean the restrooms. (I knew I wouldn't have everything finished by 12:30 p.m. when I was to cover lunch at the visitor center) Normally I clean both the men's and women's restrooms at the same time but I found that when it's busy it works best to clean one at a time. I cleaned the women's first, which went by pretty quickly. The men's....was a different story.
I won't go into detail because that's just gross, but cleaning the men's restroom was a little more complicated today than other days. I was about to go in and start cleaning but a group went in and I had to wait outside. One by one they came out and right away I could tell something was wrong. One man said as he passed me, "That's really gross, what someone dropped in that urinal." What?? Then more people came out..."Some people..." muttered under another's breath. Finally a German man came out, the last, and said "I'm sorry for you. Someone misunderstood the function of the urinal." Oooooh noooooo.......so I went into the cleaning closet and gathered up some cardboard, just in case. It was pretty bad, but thankfully, not as bad as it could have been and the rest of the cleaning went smoothly.
I covered lunch at the visitor center, then headed back out to finish cleaning. Our water is trucked into the park--because there isn't any on the mesa top--so we have to check water levels every day. There are four tanks in the park. The entrance station tank holds 1,000; the group site tank holds 2,000 gallons; the main tank for the visitor center, campground and ranger residences holds 20,000 gallons and the tank at the Point holds 6,000 gallons. I checked the water--all good--and headed back to the Point to empty garbages and pick up litter.
After finishing the Point, I headed to the group site. It's small and there are only two bathroom stalls to clean so it went quickly. From there I headed to the campground and cleaned the restrooms. I didn't have time to clean grills or do much sweeping but I got the important parts.
After lunch I headed out to the entrance station. This new one was built a couple years ago and it's really pretty nice. There is a restroom with a flushing toilet, drinking water and shaded windows to keep out most of the sun. My window for incoming traffic faces west, so I have to have my sunscreen, glasses and hat on all afternoon. At around 9 p.m. I start closing up and counting money, then I secure the money at the visitor center and do the late check.
During the late check we check bathrooms to make sure there are no big messes and that there is no water left running. If the water runs all night, the tank runs out of water and we are in trouble! We also drive through the campground to make sure no one has a wood fire, which is not allowed, check the restrooms for messes and running water, and make sure people are observing the quiet time, which is 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.
After that I will head home, down the dark highway into Moab. The drive isn't really bad, most of the time. Most of the year there isn't much traffic and the scenery is pretty. One of the ABSOLUTE BEST sunrises I've ever seen was on my way to work one morning. I wish I had been able to take a picture, but I don't think that would have captured it. Sometimes I get to see kit fox, mule deer, bats, owls, poor-wills, porcupine or coyotes. I swear I saw a skunk crossing the road up here one evening but I could have been wrong--maybe it was a porcupine? Anyway some evening I will take pictures of the drive home and post them here.
While I was at home sick, a co-worker, Mike, changed our desktop wallpaper into a unicorn with a rainbow. Apparently they were joking around about it, then Mike made the comment, "Kim should do a program about unicorns and rainbows!" I heard all this yesterday, so during my break, I sat down at the computer and came up with a program outline, complete with theme, goal and objectives. Even a conclusion! So....I thought I would share that here, in case anyone is interested in an interpretive program (slide show?) about Unicorns and Rainbows...specifically, the Desert Unicorn...
Title: The Desert Unicorn (Unicornus albofurgoldhornii)
Theme: Unicorns can only be found on the Colorado Plateau during afternoon thunderstorms that produce rainbows.
Goal: To introduce and describe the rare Desert Unicorn.
Visitors will be able to describe a Desert Unicorn
Visitors will understand where, when and who will be able to view a Desert Unicorn
Props: pictures of the Desert Unicorn, its natural habitat and food that it eats; fossilized horn fragments, fur samples.
Welcome to Dead Horse Point State Park!
Who I am
Introduction to the Desert Unicorn:
Unicorns have been reported in historical writings since the time of Ancient Greece.
Unicorns (other species) have been seen worldwide.
The Desert Unicorn is a unique species, only visible during summer afternoon thunderstorms that produce thunder, lightning and rainbows.
Legend has it that Unicorn horns have medicinal properties, but this has been proven to be false.
Leonardo da Vinci wrote about Unicorns, specifically, how to trap one.
Similar animals include the Narwhal, Oryx and Eland.
Desert Unicorns are endemic to the Colorado Plateau.
Relevance of Rainbows:
Desert Unicorns cannot handle the extreme heat of the desert during summer. The coolness of an afternoon thunderstorm creates perfect conditions for their arrival to the desert.
Thunderstorms provide valuable drinking water to most animals living on the Colorado Plateau, including the Desert Unicorn.
Desert Unicorn use rainbows as camouflage—their predators include but are not limited to: humans, mountain lion, coyote, black bear and mule deer. Gnats, or no-see-ums love to prey on Desert Unicorn blood.
Desert Unicorns are rare, unique creatures that call the Colorado Plateau home. Very few lucky visitors will ever see one in their lifetimes.
Unicorns are common throughout history, but remain shrouded in myth and legend.
Desert Unicorns are similar to more commonly seen desert animals. They need water, shelter from the sun and love to keep them alive.
Thunderstorm over the La Sal Mountains (my view from the entrance station!)
I love thunderstorms! I don't like being out in them...sometimes at work I'm afraid to get out of the vehicle to walk across the parking lot, so I end up running. People scare me--they like to go up to the Point overlook to watch the storms. Not the best place to be if you don't want to be stuck by lightning! I think there is a actually a USU scholarship in the name of someone who died from a lightning strike at Dead Horse Point.
Out in the park's entrance station it gets a little scary sometimes too. A past seasonal swore he saw the ball on top of the flagpole get struck by lightning--I believe him! I did notice some black smudges up there...haha.
We don't get a lot of precipitation--most of it comes during summer thunderstorms where we get flash floods and waterfalls all over the place. I've only been able to be out during a few of the waterfall-storms but they are pretty cool. If I get lucky enough this summer I'll take some pictures :)
It steals your hat, makes electricity and can tear down buildings. What is it? Wind, of course! ....and we've been getting a lot of it in Utah recently. I was curious about where it comes from so I looked up some information and decided to share it here!
Air molecules are moving constantly and are always bumping into each other. The more air molecules there are in a certain area, the higher the air pressure. Air pressure is just the amount of force (or weight of the air) that is hitting any given area at a certain time. Changes in air pressure over horizontal distances causes air molecules to rush from areas of high pressure to areas of low pressure.
In other words, as the sun heats the air, it rises. Cooler air rushes in to fill in the space, making wind.
I was interested in looking up the wind because we've been having a LOT of it here! Yesterday at the park we had 60 mph gusts and steady wind all day of about 30 mph. The sky was brown with all the red/brown dust in the air. The last time I saw it that bad, when it rained everything was covered in mud. I sent my after school club kids home early so they wouldn't be caught in the storm! My roommate was riding her bike home at the time and came home splattered in red mud.
I like wind sometimes--like when I'm working or at home but I don't like hiking in it. Yesterday I had sunscreen on so that meant I was covered in sand by the time I got home. Also it's no fun setting up your tent in the wind...our group site campers left early because the wind destroyed their tents! That brings up another memory (sorry!)....last year I was asked to do some overtime at the park, so I had planned to just camp on top of the mesa at the Long Canyon road--I was supposed to work until midnight and didn't want to drive all the way into town and back. It was really windy when I was setting up my tent but I loaded it with pillow and sleeping bag. I decided it was time to call it off when I had to go get it out of a tree!
I haven't posted much lately...work got busy fast and I'm been getting out as much as possible on days off--trying to get some exercise and work off my winter weight...Dave bought us an exercise bike so even when it's really cold or really hot we can get our workout without a trip to the gym.
I am finally getting into a Master's program and USU Moab offers a Recreation Resource Management degree. I am going to a week-long field school from May 16-21 and have to give a presentation. I picked "The role of environmental interpretation in recreation resource management." Hopefully it'll go over well. The minimum talking time for grad students in this class is an hour. With the outline I came up with, it could last 3-4 hours...but I don't really want to take up the entire afternoon. It should be a fun class though. It's got LOTS of reading (even including Edward Abbey), an afternoon in Arches, the River Portal, Mill Creek...and an overnight camping trip down towards the Needles District of Canyonlands.
Another part of the Master's program is a project. Somehow this just happened and I fell into the middle of it, but Dead Horse Point State Park is now setting up a partnership with the Moab Charter School. I'm working on the schedule of events right now so I can meet with them on Wednesday. They want to move from an artistic program to more of an environmental education program. Anyway I can get credit for working with them. Now, all I need to do is take the GRE (oops) and officially get accepted to the college so I can continue. I'm thinking it should be a great program.
...Learning to measure use impacts. water quality sampling, surveying and a ton of other stuff...
Plus it's taking place here, which is a bonus. I'm taking the week off work and getting 3 graduate credits for it. I'll take pictures and post after that week is over!
After a day of exploring by truck, we (I) decided to do some hikes. (I was really tired of Dave's suspension bouncing me around aaaaalllll day loooong) Dave's done a few hikes in Arches, but we (I) decided he needed to see more. He hadn't been to the Windows, my favorite, or Park Avenue, so that's what we focused on. Park Avenue is one of my favorite hikes because it's usually not crowded and it's a quick two-mile hike to get in on the way home from work or in a free morning.
View of rock formations along Park Avenue. Named for New York's Park Avenue, the canyon walls are huge, tall rock fins of Entrada Sandstone lining a narrow wash. (Entrada is the arch-forming sandstone in Arches, which is home to over 2,000 named arches)
Dark red fins in front of a clear blue sky.
Nefertiti Rock--looks like an Egyptian Queen. What I want to know, is "how did this happen?!"
Park Avenue is impressive enough looking up at those huge rock formations, but when you look closer at some of the smaller wonders, it's too much to take in all at once! This Newberry's Twinpod caught my eye in a sandy area of the wash. What usually happens is this: Dave looks at the rock formations and knows in what environment it was deposited and its time period. I look at the ground for tracks and scat, flowers and other cool little things.....
......like this! Crossbedded sandstone making fun patterns on the floor of the wash. Dave walked right over it, so I called him back to "look at the ground."
I've got pictures of some very "cute" tracks in the sandy places of this wash, but I'll save those for another post. Happy hiking!
I received a text from my friend Wendy on Thursday asking if I wanted to do a quick Earth Day clean-up along Mill Creek in the center of town. We did one last year and found lots of garbage and recyclable materials, so I decided it would be a good idea to get back out there--plus it's great exercise and the weather had been super nice.
A walking/biking path follows Mill Creek through the city of Moab. It's peaceful and quiet and we heard a lot of birds singing as we cleaned. I use the Mill Creek path to walk across town--it avoids the busy streets and passes under Main Street. It's the easiest (maybe not the fastest) way to get to the store and even across town. The part we cleaned was right next to/under Main Street and below Woody's Tavern. ...Not against the bar...except when people throw beer glasses and garbage over the fence and into the creek. Most of what we picked up was broken glasses, beer bottles and food containers (ew).
Sara and her display about Moab Solutions. She makes portable exhibits out of recyclable materials. One can be seen at the Wabi Sabi Thriftique in town and she takes them with her when she gives presentations or holds events.
The group of us. Me, Wendy, Dean, Sara, Carole and Breezy. We all felt a little grungy after wading in the creek and mud, going after garbage and recyclables but it was worth it!