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Itinerary Drop
Written By: Oc Fotoguy
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Itinerary Drop
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Itinerary Drop

    After my long blitz drive through Texas to keep from encountering the monsoon-like storms, I overnighted at megamart in Deming, N.M., dined on scrumptious chili rellenos and arrived in Arivaca, Ariz., the home of free range cattle and people, the next day.  The little town made up of a bar, a chuck wagon carryout, post office, grocery store, library, and a cluster of little houses, shacks and trailers, where the hippies came in the 1970s and stayed, is on the north edge of Buenos Aires National WildLife Refuge.  The Refuge sits high above the desert and includes rolling hills of grassland across a vast plain with Baboquivari Peak in the distance with prong horns, havelina, lizards and little other wildlife.  I parked overnight at the library and walked the Cienega Nature Trail, which is part of the Refuge several times.  My best sitings were a  Pyrrhulloxia  and several Vermillion FlyCatchers.  Then it was on west and I ended up in Cibola after stopping to watch some of the NCAA Basketball March Madness in Yuma, Ariz.
    A couple years ago I was going to drop this place from my “itinerary” (as if I had one!).  I was here, I wasn’t seeing anything, I was chilly, and it was boring.  The first time I stumbled in here after seeing a sign on the interstate US 10, I thought it had the potential for a Big Cypress (EverGlades) west.  There’s a marsh in the middle of a desert surrounded by mountains, that has to dictate a diversity of wildlife and plants, but I never was impressed in several previous visits and degraded it to an overnight stop.  This time as I pulled into Cibola NWR, which is surrounded by Bureau of Land Management territory, where there’s no restrictions for camping, on an 85-degree sun-shiny blue-skied day, I thought let’s give it a shot.
    I crossed the Colorado River on a wash-boardy dirt road and headed towards the refuge.  Once in, I see the lush green marsh had much more water than any other time I’ve been here.  My eyes searched the landscape as I drove, and then I saw a long multicolored something.  I was too close to stop when I saw it, so I “straddled” it with the wheels and came to a stop.  I got out to check it out and it moved!  I turned and went for my cameras.  It was still in the middle of the dirt road when I returned.   It was enjoying the sunshine.  I’d never seen anything like it.  It was a snake with a diamond and geometric design that changed colors from it’s head to tail.  I took a bunch of photos, then got a long stick and poked at it, hoping it would coil or something.  It didn’t but started heading for the under growth along the road.  Wow, what a sighting and I’ve only been here a few minutes.
    I drove to the south end of the marsh, where I knew there was a road that followed the edge of the lake that was amongst the marsh.  I took it and parked about a mile in.  I made some breakfast, whole grains with Florida strawberries, and ate it sitting in the driver’s seat, so I could get a good view of whatever showed itself.  I didn’t see anything of interest, so when I was done eating, I gathered up my camera equipment, so I could have it ready as I walked.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw a dark cloud moving towards me from the north.  I turned to look to see what it was.  It was a couple hundred glossy ibis.  Here I knew I wanted photos of inflight birds against the backdrop of the mountains.  I got what I wanted.  The flock landed and I headed towards them for more photos.  Then I heard something splashing in the water.  I looked and I saw dozens of colorful orange & green fins appearing and disappearing in the water.  I knew the water was not more than a foot deep.  Occasionally I saw one of the fish’s bodies and they were way too big for this shallow water.  Crazy, but they were there.  Maybe they were carp or catfish.  I tried to get a photo of one of the fish as it surfaced, a lot like trying to get a photo of a jumping dolphin in Ocean City.  It takes a lot of luck.  I shot lots of photos, but the head was always under the water, so I’ll continue to wonder what the mystery fish were.  (Yeah, I’ve got lucky and got a dolphin).  I was hoping to be able to see the spines (“whiskers”) of a catfish.
    During the next couple of days I watched for someone trying to catch them, but never saw a fisherman.  I pulled myself away and looked where the glossy ibis had been.  They were gone, but a snowy egret was in position in front of the distant remains of the Hart Mine with the mountains beyond.  I’ll take that.  As I walked back to my nest, a duck and a blue heron flew by the mountain peaks to the west.  Last time here Mother Nature didn’t show me anything like this and I just got here!
    In a place like this time is irrelevant and has little meaning to me.  I rarely see another person.  I get up when it’s light and go into my nest when it’s too dark to be outside (I sure don’t want to step on a snake!!!).  Cibola is on the east bank of the Colorado River in Arizona, which is in the Mountain Time Zone.  They don’t do Day Light Savings time in this state.  The other side of the River is California, where it’s Pacific Time and they do Day Light Savings time.  Radio stations give the time, but don’t say where they’re broadcasting from and my cell phone shows a time, but where is the tower?  I could figure it out I guess, but I really don’t care, I’m just here to be warm and enjoy what Mother Nature will show me.  On the down slide and lovin’ it.  Ask me about a free photo.
Bob R  o.c.FotoGuy
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