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Desert Oasis
Written By: OC Fotoguy
*Click images below to view larger versions.
Desert Oasis
Desert Oasis
Desert Oasis
Desert Oasis
Desert Oasis
Desert Oasis
 
I finally found a radio station; they only speak Mexican, that won’t help me get a weather forecast. Here there are few modern conveniences; no electric service here or internet. I can do without those.  It’s good to have a break from all that technology, but no radio stations, that’s a little much. This time I decided to give this place what it deserves and stay a couple weeks or so. One of my first requirements of each day is discarding what I put in my body that it didn’t need yesterday. Here at Cibola NWR (www.fws.gov/southwest/refuges/CibolaNWR), on the Az/Ca line, it has to be done cat style and the desert is a great big sand box! My feet don’t dig like a cat’s though, so a shovel works. I wasn’t sure I’d be comfortable with that, but I’ve been here four days and I’ve adapted. It’s either that or drive several miles to the refuge office.  With the price of gas, the shovel works.  I’ll save my $$$ for ACBs and the buffets in Vegas, plus I won’t run short of gas. I had enough of that in Texas, when I got blown out of gas.
As I said/written and experienced before, weather is the major factor to where I meander and how long I stay in my Adventures. It seems like in another life, but only a couple weeks ago when I was going to see Jim Long perform at CJs in Marco Island, a monsoon hit, so I went to Ft. Myers Beach and the temperature plunged to the low 40s, so I spent the day driving and overnighted in my nest in Siesta Key. Siesta Key has a huge free parking lot near the beach, the village has lots of bars and restaurants, and it’s an easy walk from that lot. It got warm again there, so I stayed a while. I’d pretty much accepted driving through Texas and New Mexico to here, since it was cold in those places last February and March. I wanted to be here for weeks, then do April and May in British Columbia, and be back in O.C. before the Air Show, our World Class Event.  As I drove through Louisiana memories of the spoonbills near Mae’s Beach on the Creole Trail, which is a rare sighting for anyone, and the muffalito at Novrozsky’s in Sulphur changed my course, although I was still heading west.  There were no spoonbills, but I was treated to a peaceful walk along the Gulf of Mexico’s beach, a gorgeous sunset, then a nice sunrise. Then I aimed the truck west towards Houston with a goal of getting to the west side of San Antonio, so I’d avoid its Monday morning rush hour. I overnighted at a megamart in Boerning; I could’ve renamed that place Boring!
The next morning I gassed up and headed west.  Little did I know that driving into the 30-40mph wind with gusts to 50mph would cut my gas mileage in half, and I’d run out!  A caring diligent AAA guy gave me gas twice, I made it to Ft. Stockton.  I knew this town was devoid of good restaurants from previous trips through. I found a new megamart and a bar/restaurant next door to it and the out of gas episode had spent me, so I ate at the bar. There were more 300-400 pound Bubbas feasting on chicken fried steak, and other Bubba food, than I’d ever seen at one place! Next morning I drove to Deming, a mecca of good restaurants and a brew pub, on a chilly windless day. The next morning was chilly too, so I said, Cibola here I come ... and here I am in the Refuge with the Trego Mts., large eerie beautiful oasis, Hart Mine wetland, the Colorado River, Lake Cibola, and lots of surrounding desert.
This is a good place to let my activity rate slow down to a snail’s pace and the time, day and date fade into oblivion along with reason to care. There are no other campers in site, no designated camp sites, miles and miles of surrounding Bureau of Land Management natural space. My mind keeps comparing here to Big Cypress National Preserve (www.nps.gov/bicy/) on the west side of the EverGlades. There it is lush and green teaming with wildlife, both animals and plants including panthers, bears, bromeliads and more. Here in the wetlands the saw grass looks like the everglades and there are herons and egrets like there, but it’s surrounded by desert, so all those arid environment critters are here, too. Of course those are not numerous. In my first days here this year, Mother Nature hasn’t shown me anything spectacular, yet, but I’ve seen bobcat tracks, heard coyote pups yapping and burros heehawing and know the spectacular will appear. In previous visits I’ve seen a big horned owl, burros, lizards, eagles, water birds and a lot more. Tonight I may scout around my nest (slide-in camper on a pickup truck) to see what’s moving at dusk.
Today I made fish soup for my evening meal and as I sit here in the 80-degree sun with a stiff breeze blowing (too hard to ride my bike into) it’s steeping.  Shrimp and fish (mostly varieties of snapper), which I froze while I was in Florida, will be frequent menu ingredients for me here in the desert. I’ve already had conch tacos, which were delicious. I stewed puppy drum fish, then boiled a bunch of diced potatoes, the major ingredient. When they were soft I added diced tomatoes, green pepper, and onion with juice left over from the conch, plus I put some fiesta cheese blend in the soup. I always put a goodly portion of black pepper in too. It’ll go good with taco chips. Now it’s nap time, so I can stay up and see what critters will appear.
I only slept 20 minutes, not long enough, but I’m awake, so I go for a walk before sunset to kill an hour. I wonder if I’m going to get any color in the sky. What nature shows me is nothing special just a woodpecker and a king fisher. Then I see a flock of dark colored birds fly into the wetland. Again it’s kind of ‘so what.’ It entices my curiosity, though, so I put my binoculars on them. Wait a minute ... they have long curved beaks and are wading birds, not ducks or swimmers. My sunset interest is replaced by my wonderment of what they are. Not egrets or herons, they have short bills. Maybe they’re Curlews or Wimbrels, but the light just shows them as dark colored waders with a probing bill.  Maybe something migrating through that I’ve never seen before. No matter; it’s a mystery for tomorrow. Hopefully a birding expert will be here, but now my fish chowder waits. It’s luscious; I’ll be making that again!  Will I go back out? It’s very dark, the moon will rise after midnight, and I have no interest in stepping on a snake, but there’s no pythons here, but there’s rattle snakes and side winders. 
Bob R  o.c.FotoGuy
more photos @ www.picasaweb.google.com/o.c.fotoguy2009
& facebook.com/OCfotoguy
PHOTOSAsYouWantThem.biz, articles @ Coconuttimes.com 
 
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