Javelina on Parade

Javelina Cave Creek Canyon Portal, AZ

Javelina Cave Creek Canyon Portal, AZ

The wildlife here in the Portal AZ / Rodeo, NM area continues to amaze me. I am back at Rusty’s RV Ranch in Rodeo, NM after spending a month in Ashland, MA celebrating the holidays with my family. Dexter and I left the Wild Thing camper here at Rusty’s RV Ranch and flew home to celebrate Christmas and New Year. Dexter is now a seasoned air traveler and was perfectly content to be on the airplane snuggled in his carrier at my feet. While we were away, this area received several days of heavy snowfall…4-6”! This happens only every 5 or so years here and it was quite an event! My friends here sent me photos as I sat in Ashland, MA with no snow and mild mid-40F tems! Crazy weather patterns right?

I’m so very glad I winterized the camper before I left by draining all the water lines and tanks and filled them with RV antifreeze just in case. I thought I was being overcautious but with temps that dropped to 11 while I was gone it was a good call!

I’m spending the wintering here in Southern New Mexico having arrived in September and I will remain here until at least April of this year. After a full year of exploring the USA from coast to coast in Wild Thing, I was ready to settle in for a few months and this area really captured my imagination last year. I spent one night here last January and was so intrigued that I returned for a month stay last February. As I continued my travels, I saw many interesting and beautiful places, but this area remained top on my list. I didn’t expect to find myself so drawn to one area quite this quickly but I’m learning to listen to the whispers of Spirit and follow her lead, so when it was time to rest a bit off the road, I returned. The landscape here is amazing. High desert with mountain views in every direction and Cave Creek Canyon at my doorstep. The people have a strong sense of community, are interesting and are so welcoming to newcomers like myself. The wildlife here is incredibly diverse and so easily accessible. I't’s also a certified dark sky community so viewing (and photographing) the night sky here is breathtaking.

I have been feeding the birds with feeders set up around my camper and had quite a following before I left for the holidays. The birds have been slowly returning since I’ve come back and started putting the food out again. Among them yesterday were the elusive and lovely Scaled Quail. They were regular visitors this fall but this was the first re-appearance this year of these unique beauties. Later in the day I took a drive up to Cave Creek Canyon and on the way spotted a roadrunner, two deer, a red-tailed hawk, a coyote, and these interesting and quirky Javelina aka Peccary. These guys look like a hairy pig, but they are not a pig at all and are actually more closely related to the Hippopotamus family! You can read all about them here on Wikipedia and here on Ungulates of the World.

I hope you enjoy this bit of video I was able to capture of these unique animals along Portal Road.

Spectacular Evening Clouds

What a beautiful end to a lovely day here in the high desert In the east, the Peloncillo mountains offered a dramatic display. valley just outside Rodeo, New Mexico. I was mesmerised by the cloud formations crowning the mountain ranges at sunset this evening. To the west, the Chiricahua mountain range was topped with a dramatic fan of clouds. Which appeals more to you, the black and white photo of the Chiricahuas or the color one of the Peloncillos?

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On the Road Again, Leasburg Dam State Park Overnight

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I was up early this morning and was on the road at 7:45 a.m. I had hitched up the trailer to the truck last night, so all that was left to do this morning was tl pull the wheel chocks, unplug and stow the power cord, and connect the power line to the truck. It seemed good to get back on the road again. My feet were itching to go after sitting still for an entire month!

I drove a little over 300 miles today and arrived at Leasburg Dam State Park in Radium Springs, New Mexico just north of Las Cruces by mid-afternoon. I took it easy driving and stopped frequently to walk and stretch my back. It was pretty tight and sore but not terribly painful so I was able to manage just fine. I also changed time zones advancing an hour so I'm back on Central time.

I have a lovely pull through camp site with a gorgeous view of the desert on my passenger side and out the front of my camper. On the driver side I have a neighbor across a wide road and behind me I have a quiet neighbor that's about 75 feet away. I love this park! It's peaceful and quiet with beautiful scenery and lots of wildlife.

Spring has come to the desert and I noticed a big difference in the landscape as I drove along today there were vast fields of yellow that I couldn't identify but managed to snap a quick picture out the window using voice command. The landscape is becoming green as both cactus, trees, grass, and flowering bushes put forth their leaves and flowers. I passed large cultivated fields of onions, which I could identify , and other vast green fields of crops which I could not identify as I whizzed by. The trees in the large pecan groves near Las Cruces are beginning to sprout their green leaves. Everywhere I look the landscape is coming to life.

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Dexter and I took a short walk after we arrived at the park and enjoyed seeing these beautiful Claret Cup Hedgehog Cactus blooming all around the desert floor. The Desert Willow is also beginning to sprout yellow flowers and the soap tree Yucca have huge white flowering heads.

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It was still pretty warm and the sun was high so Dexter and I took a little rest. I stretched my back using a hard styrofoam roller ( AKA the torture device), and felt the muscles loosen up and let go. I finished reading the book The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery and what a treasure of a book it is. This is one that I will definitely read more than once. It was interesting, full of heart, and offered offered fascinating insights into these amazing creatures. I can't wait to revisit the New England Aquarium when I'm back in Boston and see the octopus again in person! Now I'm trying to decide which book I'll start next. I have three more waiting in the wings that I purchased at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum: The Hummingbird's Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea, The Anthropology of Turquoise by Ellen Meloy, and Eating Stone also by Ellen Meloy. I'll keep you posted!

I went for another walk late in the afternoon and enjoyed quite a nature show! I saw a beautiful Road Runner with a large branch in his (or her) mouth who must have been scurrying off to build a nest. I also saw a nice Jack Rabbit loping along but wasn't able to get a picture of either of these creatures. I did however manage to capture a few shots of this little fellow who is perched at the very tippy top of a small tree. He is a species of hummingbird I have not encountered before called the Black-chinned Hummingbird. Quite a handsome fellow!

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Next I caught sight of some cottontails out for an early supper. They gave me a curious gaze, and then scampered off into the underbrush.

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On my way to the river I spotted this Wild Herps Lizard, a White- Winged Dove, and a Yellow-rumped Warbler.

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Far overhead, as I hiked along, I saw at least 10 different flocks of geese or, more likely, sandhill cranes, flying in loose "v" formations heading north. Their migration reminded me of all the travel trailers I saw leaving the campground heading north back to their homes in Minnesota and Oregon and Washington in the past week. Once April arrived, all the snowbirds began to fly home!

I found the river flowing swiftly and filling its banks. Water was spilling over the Leasburg Dam, and the mighty Rio Grande was cutting a beautiful path through the desert floor. Water, especially running water, is such a magnificent sight in the desert. I enjoyed another glorious sunset here at the park. I hope to have a restful night and then will head north myself tomorrow, bound for Santa Fe.

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