Today we went to the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area. Over 800 pairs of raptors nest in the area in spring and early summer. It was set aside as a conservation area because of the high density of birds of prey nesting there. We saw several immature hawks on electric poles. We probably saw about 7 of them with one hawk to a pole. There are very few trees in the area, so it is probably the best place to perch while waiting for mom and dad to provide lunch.
We saw numerous Raven nests on electric poles. The young are very large in the nests, so they are probably going to fledge soon.
I saw some birds of prey over the cliffs by the Snake River, but I was not able to identify them. I don’t do well identifying birds of prey.
Since we were there in the heat of mid-day, there was not much bird activity. We saw lots of Piute Ground Squirrels. I suspect they are a major menu item for the birds of prey. Apparently, the birds are attracted to nesting along the Snake River because they use the cliffs for nest sites and there is abundant prey in the desert.
I didn’t realize until our visit that in the past, there was a little mishap between the Snake River and a volcano. The volcano spewed its guts and filled up the Snake River canyon. The Snake River had to find a new path and significantly altered its course. I learn so much by visiting all these areas!
We headed into Oregon and set up camp. I immediately went to wash some clothes and while sitting outside waiting for the clothes to wash and dry, I was entertained by a Robin(s). There was a small sprinkler set up in the grass and it may have contributed to the Robin’s success in obtaining worms. I never realized how much trouble a Robin can have pulling a reluctant worm out of the ground. I also didn’t realize they break the worm up in pieces before carrying off to its nestlings as many pieces as will fit in its beak.
We went out to scope the town after dinner. Upon our return, we saw several people looking up into a big tree in the campground with binoculars and cameras. Of course, we joined them and were rewarded with the sighting of a barn owl.
Yesterday, we left Nevada and arrived in Idaho. After setting up camp we went to the Snake River and took in the scenery. I didn’t realize how much I missed seeing water until we got to Shoshone Falls at the Snake River. Although the surrounding area is high desert, the water was a pleasure to see. There is a lot of irrigation in this area, so there are crops and grass. This is the first time we have had grass in our campsite for awhile.
We saw this beautiful golf course by the river and I wanted to play! I also wanted to paddle board. The river looks lazy enough for my skill level to paddle board.
But, instead of paddle boarding today (which I seriously considered), we went to the Sawtooth Recreation Area instead. On the way to the area, we had to cross the Snake River over the Perrine Bridge and saw these guys jumping off the bridge. Another thing that looked like fun!
The Sawtooth National Recreation Area is nestled up next to the Sawtooth Wilderness. We wanted to scope the area for a possible future trip. We fell in love and we are putting it toward the top of the list for a longer stay on a return trip. There is a lot to do there and lots of camping possibilities. We found several lakes that looked very inviting for paddle boarding.
We went on a walk and the scenery was stunning. Dart was in heaven. He hasn’t been thrilled on our walks lately, so I have been worried that something might be wrong with him. I know he isn’t crazy about the heat, but he was happy to go on all those hikes last year when we ventured across the northern states. It was around 72 degrees today and there was no shade on the hike. That isn’t significantly different than one of the hikes we took in New Mexico, but today he was happy. We were able to let him off the leash (which is permitted in some areas) and he was extremely joyful. At one point, his tongue was nearly hanging to the ground but he was clearly still happy. I don’t know whether he liked being off the leash or liked the northern environment. The sun is not as direct overhead, which could make a difference. I am no longer worried about him. He is healthy and fine. I guess he prefers to be in northern states, so transplanting him to Florida for his home base probably doesn’t sit well with him.
On the way back, we stopped in Ketchum at a brew pub and sat outside to eat and have a beer. I got a double burger and gave Dart one of my hamburger patties. The weather was perfect and the view was amazing. The food and drink were pretty good. What’s not to like about that?
The other night, we went out into the middle of the basin where there are almost no lights in order to look at the sky. It was amazing.
Yesterday, we spent time exploring Ely (pronounced E-lee), Nevada. We started off with some great coffee drinks from the Flower Basket Espresso Depot. Then, we briefly visited the Nevada Northern Railway National Historic Landmark. This is a great location for railroad buffs. It is an operating historic railroad. It is a 56 acre site with over 70 original buildings and structures. There are a variety of steam and diesel train rides available. The steam rides are only available on certain days, so we may have to come back this way later this summer because Regis wants to take a steam ride. There is also an option to ride with the engineer in the locomotive’s cab.
We walked through the downtown area of Ely. There are a variety of murals painted on buildings and I’m showing a few favorites here. There are lots more to see.
We saw some interesting thrift stores with some unusual antiques. We know that there is more to do and other art and historical locations. After all, this was once an important stop on the loneliest road in America. That would be Route 50. Route 50 originally ran from Sacramento, California to Ocean City, Maryland. I did not realize the history of this road when I grew up in a town next to it in Maryland. Along the Route 50 stretch in Nevada, towns are few and far between.
It is amazing how prevalent aliens are in the American Southwest!
We stayed in the Ely KOA while here. It is a great location. The campground is very nice and well maintained. There are ATV trails accessible directly from the campground. Amazingly, it is open all winter. When we are back this way, we will definitely stay here again.
And a cool park it is. Great Basin National Park is probably considered to be in the middle of nowhere and that adds to its appeal. It is a beautiful park with stunning vistas, caves, bristlecone pines, and great night skies.
There are two great hikes I would like to do in the future. There is a nice hike to the summit of Wheeler Peak that is appealing (except trying to get oxygen at this elevation may be a struggle for me) because the view is likely awesome. There is not much pollution here, so you can see a long, long way (reportedly on an average day one can see more than a 100 miles). I would also like to do the hike to the Bristlecone Cove. Some of the Bristlecone Pines are nearly 5,000 years old. That is astonishing.
There are also some caves here with unique features. I will add that to a future visit. We are willing to leave Dart in the motor home for several hours if we are close by, but we are too far away to do a cave tour and will not leave him in the car. No problem! We will add to the “to do” list. There is lots we can do with him.
Additionally, the night skies here are reportedly amazing. Enough so, that they are building an observatory in the Park. This will be the first observatory in a National Park.
We are in Nevada in the basin and range country. It is beautiful. It shouldn’t be too hard to figure out where Dart is.
On the way to the park today, we had the option of going a direct route on a dirt road over the mountain or on a paved road around it. Regis got to decide. I would have bet my whole life’s savings on his response. He chose the direct route. He said if we were going to take the other route, we could have got a Smart Car instead of a Jeep.
We disturbed a small herd of elk who thought they had the mountain to themselves. It was an interesting ride. We didn’t see anyone along the way.
On the way back from the park, we had the opportunity enjoy some Nevada fence art. Here are a few favorites. Notice we had another alien encounter! He didn’t have good wifi access either, But he did have a coffee maker and a kick ass boom box!
Not far from our campground, we went to visit some ovens that were used to make charcoal in the mining days. We had lunch there and went on a short hike.
On the way back, we saw this Pronghorn. She appeared to be alone, so I wonder if she had a little one tucked away somewhere. When looking at this picture, I realized she has very skinny legs.