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Oklahoma Adventure

The Drive Out

What a delightful day the Lord gave us! I was wide awake a little after three, so decided to go ahead and get started, and ended up leaving around 5:30 or so, which made it fun looking directly into the sun at times, but we made it! But the wind: holy socks! I was afraid for those trucks going over the pass!

Decided to stop at Fig Lagoon since we got there a little after seven, and even though that was in the sun, too (I just feel more comfortable going to the overlook), there were several nice birds to add to the trip list, including Burrowing Owl on the way out! Was happy to pick up the Verdin as I doubt we’ll get that again. I was sweating a little, though: had a decadent breakfast at the Burger King in Yuma as usual, but that gas gauge was getting real low by the time we got to Gila Bend! But I checked my mileage, and we’re still getting 22 miles to the gallon, and with a 16.8 gallon tank, we should be able to go at least 350 miles without pooping out! So I figure the gauge is becoming inaccurate (as Jay’s did, so I’m not surprised). But I still may adjust my breaks accordingly, just to give myself psychological peace of mind and stop at 90, 180, and 260. We evidently followed a big motorcycle club all the way from Gila Bend as well, because when I pulled off for a potty stop at that little town before Tucson, there they were!

Unfortunately the road to Saguaro NP was closed, so I opted out of the hike and went straight to Willcox and Twin Lakes, where the wind was still so fierce that I didn’t dare get out of the car, and there were even whitecaps on the lake (or in this case, "greencaps" L)! There were tons of Shovelers and several American Wigeon, with a few knockout Cinnamon Teal as well, and a token Green-winged Teal and a pair of Ring-necked Ducks. Also had a breeding-plumaged Eared Grebe and some Avocets, plus a Vesper Sparrow that actually sat on the wire on the way out!

It was another gorgeous day the next day, and fun in the sense that we covered new territory! At Las Cruces we headed north, and went through lots of sagebrush habitat, but it gradually turned into pinyon (no jays, though) before becoming sagebrush again. We went right by White Sands National Monument, so decided to take our exercise walk there, and get exercise we did! That one loop trail (that they said would take an hour; only took me 30 minutes) took you right up the side of one of the dunes (in fact, it was called the Big Dune Trail) and around; it was really something! There was some vegetation around, but aside from the one that got away (something that looked like a small thrasher fled the side of the road, but it could have been a Cactus Wren, too), only picked up a Say’s Phoebe flopping around in the distance. The beautiful Sacramento Mountains in the distance had snow on them, and as we passed them on the west, you really got a great look! A potty stop along a dirt road added Horned Lark and shrike; I just wish I had known there was a forest road just down the main highway to go in! A Curve-billed Thrasher and Spotted Towhee flew across the road in here, and earlier a Roadrunner actually flew across the road as well! It was interesting that for a good stretch of highway 54 the speed limit was 55 (and the road was straight and wide open), but yet further north it was 65! Go figure…

     

                Big Dune Trail at White Sands National Monument                            The Big Dune

        

Scenes from on top of the dune...

    

                Sacramento Mountains in the background                               Looking down at the parking area

                                                                                                                                    (Jip's on the right)

Had a nice salad at a diner the check-in lady in Clayton recommended (guess it’s considered the best place in town, but it’s definitely a little sleepy-town place!), and crashed.