Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Some Eye Candy From New Mexico

Break in the Travel Log

I have not been writing the travel log in "real time", i.e. Sunday was the fourth day of the trip, not the second. This is because I had several days without Internet connection.

Yesterday (Monday) was our first real day of field work. I know realize that I will not be able to keep up the travel log with the degree of detail that I want. So, I will resume it when and if I have time. Otherwise, it may have to wait until I return home.

Monday, July 16, 2007

New Mexico Travel Log - Day 2

I began the second day of my trip by photographing sunflowers in the early morning light. We had spent the night with our friend B.K. in the Comanche National Grassland. The morning light was beautiful and I was able to get some nice photos. Since I worked on sunflowers for my Ph.D. dissertation, I am always interesting in taking pictures of them.

Our goal for the second day was to head up to Rourke Ranch, on the Comanche Grasslands to help B.K. collect plants. The Ranch was located near the Purgatoire River within a nice canyon. Driving out there was really interesting. For most of the way you are driving through shortgrass prairie and rangeland. And it is fairly flat (though not completely). You see lots of grasses, several hundred cows, and some cholla cactus. But then the landscape starts to change. It becomes hilly and the hills are dotted with juniper trees. Getting down to the ranch there were some pretty rough roads. But it was totally worth it.

Of course there were some stumbling blocks along the way out there.

We had a full size spare, and Q had changed the tires on this vehicle before, so it was not that big of a deal. Though I did learn that the spare is not in the back of the truck, but rather underneath it. I had no idea. One good thing about the flat, was that we got to see this guy up close. This lubber grasshopper was about 4 inches long.

Here is the view from the ranch. It is pretty amazing to think that this hilly and woody area exists in the middle of the shortgrass prairie.

We stayed the night in a research building on the property. I really loved the posts carrying in the electrical wires to the house.

Once we got settled in, we went for a hike and plant collecting trip. There were a lot of interesting plants. Close to the river, in the flatter areas, there was mostly brome grass and other weedy plants. In the picture below the tan is all brome grass mixed with some weeds. Not much fun to walk through.

But we soon climbed up one of the slopes and found all sorts of wonderful plants.

My favorite was Dalea aurea, the golden prairie clover.

We also waded through the river, but I seem to have deleted all of the pictures that I have of that part of the trip. Which is too bad, as I had some really cool pictures of a milkweed just completely covered with yellow aphids. Wading through the river was fabulous. I really like getting in the water and the mud.

We ended the day hanging out and eating frozen pizza, chips and salsa, and the best Rainer Cherries I have ever eaten.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

New Mexico Travel Log Day 1

For the next two weeks I am on a Botany Expedition to the Gila River in New Mexico. I will be sharing my travel log with you, hopefully on a nearly daily basis.

On the first day, we (myself, Gi, and Q), left Lawrence, KS to head west. Our destination was the Comanche National Grasslands in southeastern Colorado, where our friend B.K. is working on her Master's degree. The first day was filled with driving. And we did not really stop much on the way. One stop that did surprise me was Salina, KS. I had never been there before, but the town is really nice. A cute little downtown with really neat looking shops. Including a yarn shop, but I did not take the time to go in. We ate lunch at a nice restaurant called Capers. I highly recommend their brownies.

There were a few interesting points of interest that I did get photos of.

Wind Farms
They look really alien and futuristic. Seeing them in person, I can understand the concern of windfarms killing off migratory birds. The windmills are massive and placed closely together. It is an impressive sight, the photo does not do them justice.

Cheyenne Bottoms
One of the largest wetlands in KS, and very important for migratory birds. I have never been there before, but know people who have worked out there. Recent floods in Kansas has left the Bottoms overflowing. The water was nearly to the road. The amount of water was impressive.

Pelicans at the Bottoms.

At about 7:00 pm we arrived in Springfield, CO and met up with B. K. We had a lovely dinner on the patio of a burrito place. All in all, a good first day.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Back from travels

I am home for a few days from a Chicago wedding and field work in Nebraska. I was hoping to have better internet access at each location. I have finished the green socks. I had plenty of yarn - yeah!!!. But no pictures today. Now I am worrying about having enough of my handspun yarn!

I have made some progress on my swimming pool socks, but the fabric does not feel as soft as I would like and I may start over with larger needles.

Other than that, we are packing away and getting ready to move.