Thursday, March 20, 2008

climbing mountains

We are in Canyon, Texas and just got finished hanging in the indoor pool and hot tub, and pigging out on pizza. Yum! The kids are watching some ridiculous reality TV show about child TV stars. At one point Savie wanted to be famous, wanted to be on TV, and I was like you know what? No. Way. Not gonna happen. I said, you can act in theatre in school, but I have never seen anything good coming out of child stars. I digress...

This morning, we got up early and went out to check live traps with West Texas A&M University grad student Naima Montacer and Professor Ray Matlack in Palo Duro Canyon State Park. We checked traps in 4 different habitat types - riparian (by the "Prairie Dog Town Fork" of the Red River), escarpment (rock face), mixed-brush-woodland, and mesquite savannah. Escarpment is the only habitat they've ever caught ringtails, but she's studying "mesocarnivores" in general which also includes things like foxes and raccoons. Naima baits the traps with sardines and apples and honey. Unfortunately we didn't catch any ringtails...but we did catch a raccoon which Savannah got to hold (it was anesthetized). Hopefully we will catch one or more tomorrow because they're pulling the traps and that is our last chance!!

After lunch at a Thai place with everyone, the kids and I went first to look at a prairie dog town on the side of the highway then back to the park to explore. I have fond memories of going to this huge prairie dog town outside of Lubbock when I was about my kids' age. My cousin, aunt & uncle lived in Lubbock while my cousin and I were growing up (we're the same age), and we used to go there for holidays. The kids had fun watching the prairie dogs running around, ducking their heads in their burrows, and wiggling their little tails about. There were lots of tumbleweeds rolling across the plain on this very windy windy day.

Back at Palo Duro Canyon, we climbed and bouldered our way up on this cliffside and it was really cool! When we were down at the bottom of the roadside we saw some people waaaay up on top of this cliff and it looked like a million miles up and I thought no way would we make it. But we did! Sam wanted to keep going even further but Savannah was done... we climbed through these cave-like things in the rock. It was just cool. Then we stopped by Wally World and picked up some bathing suits (remember, our luggage is lost... though apparently it was delivered to our friends' house today in CO! Small miracles!). We also picked up some candy... and had dessert before dinner :0)

I took these photos with my cell phone because one of the victims of my lost luggage is my camera... I always pack it in my carry on, but this one time I packed my battery charger in my luggage!! And so the battery is about to die... Hopefully I have enough juice to snap a couple shots of the ringtail we WILL see tomorrow!!! (God willing!!)


Norris in Italy said...

Glad the kids are being good sports! Are you going to the bottom of Palo Duro Canyon? I was there in late May 1999 and it was carpeted in flowers, but unfortunately swarming with gnats and other things that flew into our mouths!


We didn't make it to the bottom of the canyon exactly but we did trek around to several different sites, and hmm we did go to a river/creek that may have been toward the bottom. I'll haveto ask the biologists where we were exactly since we went to 4 different habitats and several different trap locations. Apparently last year they had a lot of rain and much was in bloom but this year has been dry so far. That could change in spring though!