Sunday, January 25, 2015

Playing with Ice

It seems so crazy for it to be the middle of January and we've had weeks of good weather, sometimes in the 50s during the day. Nevertheless, we do have some small patches of ice left, like in the swimming hole. 

Desert Girl and I went and checked out the ice the other day, noting how the darker leaves had melted deep into the ice--and if they had holes in them, little ice protrusions stuck out of the leaf.

So I proposed an experiment. How about we made our own designs on the ice and come back in a couple days and see what happened? Desert Girl agreed and worked on spelling her name.

Well, the wind blew a little, so we didn't get perfect results, but we did find some letters and semi-letters in the ice.

The mud we put on the ice turned out even better, melting about an inch down.

I let Desert Girl take some photos. She likes to do that a lot.

Another favorite activity is breaking ice.  

Or throwing huge chunks of ice onto other ice or into water so you can get splashed with ice cold water. Who says we don't know how to have fun out in the country? Ha, ha

While the kids kicked and threw and splashed, I took photos. Ice is fascinating.

Enjoy each season to its fullest!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Random Photos

 I was going through my January photos and found a few I'd like to share. I went out to the Baker Archeological Site to try and get a photo of the full moon setting, but it turned out to be cloudy. That meant it was a gorgeous sunrise!

One day I saw a beautiful red-tailed hawk on a pole. I've seen lots of them, rough-legged hawks, immature bald eagles, and golden eagles this winter.

We had a couple mornings with inversions. It was really neat driving up the mountain and exiting the cold air layer and breaking out of the clouds. From higher up, it looked like giant white lakes had invaded the valleys.

I had Desert Girl check out a bird with binoculars. Do you think she saw anything?

Monday, January 19, 2015

1882 Winchester Rifle Discovered in Great Basin National Park

Back in November, the archeologist for Great Basin National Park, Eva Jensen, made an amazing discovery: she spotted an old rifle set against a juniper tree. She was able to read the serial number, which allowed her and her colleagues to find out that the rifle was made in 1882 by the Winchester Corporation.

Last week, this information and some photos were put on the park's Facebook page, and it went viral. It was interesting to see how the news spread so quickly to major newspapers and networks. It didn't even stay in the U.S., I had it come up on BBC News feed, and as you can see on the list below, the Irish Independent deemed it worthy to include.

The park's Facebook page gained 3,000 likes in a week, and hundreds of people speculated on how the rifle had come to be left there. We may never know, but it sure is fun to think about.

  1. 1882 Winchester rifle found in remote area of Nevada national park

    The Seattle Times-15 hours ago
    The Winchester rifle manufactured in 1882 was found leaning against a juniper tree on a rocky outcrop in Great Basin National Park during an ...
    Prized 1882 rifle blended into tree
    Irish Independent-13 hours ago
  2. Researchers puzzled by discovery of 1882 Winchester rifle in ...

    WXYZ-13 hours ago
    RENO, Nev. (AP) - Researchers are trying to crack the mystery surrounding the discovery of a weathered, rusted Winchester rifle in the ...
  3. Abandoned 1882 rifle sparks archaeological quest in Nevada

    Los Angeles Times-Jan 17, 2015
    There it was, abandoned for the ages, propped up against a juniper tree in far-eastern Nevada's Snake Mountains, a Winchester Model 1873 ...
  4. Researchers Puzzled by 1882 Winchester Rifle Found in Nevada ... hours ago
    This image provided by the Great Basin National Park shows a Winchester Model 1873 rifle found in Nevada. The gun made in 1882 was found ...
  5. 1882 Winchester rifle found in Great Basin National Park 15, 2015
    1882 Winchester rifle found in Great Basin National Park ... The rifle was found and recovered by park archaeologists in November, according ...
  6. Winchester rifle made in 1882 found propped up against tree

    KVAL-Jan 16, 2015
    Winchester rifle made in 1882 found propped up against tree. By News ... Great Basin National Park workers found a 132-year-old Winchester ...
  7. Discovery of Winchester rifle from 1882 puzzles experts

    The Columbian-12 hours ago
    Winchester rifle made in 1882 was found in November propped against a juniper tree in Great Basin National Park, Nev., during an ...
  8. Researchers puzzled by discovery of 1882 Winchester rifle in Terrific ...

    USA DAILY NEWS-12 hours ago
    National Park Service This image shows a Winchester Model 1873 rifle located in Nevada. The gun produced in 1882 was found propped ...
  9. Winchester 1882 Rifle Discovered

    Montana Standard-Jan 16, 2015
    We provide this community forum for readers to exchange ideas and opinions on the news of the day. Passionate views, pointed criticism and ...
  10. 132-Year-Old Winchester Rifle Found At Great Basin National Park

    National Parks Traveler-Jan 13, 2015
    Winchester Model 1873 rifles hold a prominent place in Western ... price to $25 in 1882 and were accessible and popular as “everyman's” rifle.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Home Basketball Game is Only an Hour Away

 A couple weeks ago we went to the home basketball game. That meant driving an hour on dirt roads to the West Desert high school, which must be one of the most remote schools in the country. It only has about nine students in grades 7-12. Because that doesn't give them many players for sports, they teamed up with their nearest rivals, EskDale, located an hour away. Somehow they've been able to make this split school team work well, having won several games.

West Desert has a regulation-size gym, and we eagerly shared the bleachers with family and friends, some who had driven an equal or longer distance from the other direction.

This was the first basketball game for Desert Girl and Desert Boy. They were interested for awhile.

 There was really good attendance, as you can see by the nearly full bleachers.

It didn't take long for Desert Girl to want to go play.

Meanwhile, I was having some fun trying to capture action shots as the Hawks and Eagles played.

The Hawks won the game. Then we went into the cafeteria and enjoyed a $5 dinner put on by the PTO. It was tasty, and much appreciated, since we then had an hour drive home.
The Deseret News had a long article recently about the West Desert basketball team that is a great read and helps explain some of the adaptations to living in a remote place.

Friday, January 16, 2015

A Tribute to Sheep (and the Sheepherders' Gathering Schedule)

Here's one of the traffic jams around here. These are the kind of traffic jams where you might get out and take a photo.

If you've been following my blog for long or read my book Great Basin National Park: A Guide to the Park and Surrounding Area, you know that sheep come to this area every winter. And we're not talking just a few sheep, we're talking thousands, actually tens of thousands of sheep.

Back in November I saw them eating leftovers off the fields.

Most of them were too concerned about eating to look at me, except for one.

The sheepdogs watching these sheep came over to see what I was doing, but when they saw I was just sitting on the ground taking photos and not approaching their sheep, they just laid down and hung out.

It can be a lonely life as a sheepherder, living in a small camp and following the sheep around to very isolated areas. So over a decade ago, Denys Koyle got the idea of having a Sheepherder's Gathering at the Border Inn to celebrate this vanishing way of life.

It's a fascinating gathering, and it starts today. Here's the schedule:
January 16th
5:00 pm Industry Appreciation Dinner
7:00 pm Open Mike Program with Emcee Hank Vogler 
January 17th
6:30-10:00 am Sourdough Pancake & Breakfast Buffet with Dave Okelberry
10:00 am Screening of "Operation Haylift" starring Ann Rutherford
2:30 pm Mary Kaye Knaphus in concert
5:00 pm Basque Dinner ($25/person)
7:30 Sheepherders Ball with the Silver Sage Family Band
For reservations, please call Denys or Gary 775 234-7300
See you there!

Unfortunately it looks like I've gotten sick, so I'm not sure if I'll be able to make any of it. I'm bummed, because the music and food are outstanding, and it's so interesting talking to people who are sheep experts and hearing about their way of life.
Here are links to past Sheepherders' Gatherings:

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Backyard Bird Challenge Check-In

Have you been seeing many birds in your backyard?

Our Backyard Bird Challenge is going well. We've been a lot more diligent lately about looking and have come up with a nice list--twelve so far! Only thirty eight to go. We're keeping a tally in the sidebar to the right. We haven't seen anything strange or exotic, but that's okay. And we're really trying to watch bird behavior of the birds we see over and over again. I've seen a few extra that we don't have on the list, as I really want the kids to see them before we add them.

An easy one to identify was the Great Horned Owl. The one in the photo above posed so nicely for a photo. Then it took off and flew across the yard. The chickens screamed (they had had a scare a couple weeks previously from a Great Horned Owl that we witnessed). I ran over, but saw the owl continue into the next yard. The rooster pecked at the ground, seemingly unconcerned, and one of the hens wandered. I didn't see the other hen, but didn't think much of it.

Until later, when my husband told me that he and Desert Boy had been out looking for a hen, as when Desert Boy closed the chicken coop, there was only the rooster and one hen.

I started wondering if the owl had killed the chicken, but hadn't flown off with it. And it was all my fault, because I had made the owl fly because I had gotten too close to take a photo. Of course, I didn't know what had really happened. Maybe skunks were back in the area. And there's been a mountain lion sighting not far from our house, so perhaps the lion had gotten a chicken (although our dog Henry hasn't been barking a lot, so that didn't seem too likely).

Losing any pets is not fun, and I was feeling a little verklempt. As we got ready to go this morning, I opened the garage door, and the hen ran out! What a great way to feel better! I sure do like a happy ending to the story.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Adventure Walk with a Problem-Solving Obstacle

 One afternoon while it was still cold, we had a bunch of kids over one afternoon and decided to go for an adventure walk. We first headed over to the creek, where the water had spilled over the banks to make a nice ice-skating rink. It was a lot of fun.

And also very slippery!

Next we headed to the sand pile, where the kids quickly clambered to the top and then jumped off.

We still had more fun to come, but it required a bit of a hike.

We eventually got there: the kids had to cross the creek, but could use the two concrete structures. Their challenge was to do it safely without getting wet.

One of the boards that had been a bridge had fallen into the creek and gotten stuck. Evan and Desert Boy were able to negotiate it, but the other two boys didn't want to do it. Desert Girl decided to go for it with help. But they still had a dilemma: two boys needed to get across, because they wouldn't be successful unless the whole team made it.

It took them a little thinking, but eventually they figured out a way.

They moved the bridge that still existed.

It took some delicate moving.

Once they all made it across, they extended the bridge back across the other section.

And they all made it! We were at the creek for over half an hour at this obstacle, and I think it made an impression on them. I wouldn't tell them how to do it, but told them they could figure it out. Kids often like a little challenge in their lives!

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