When you think of the state of Oklahoma, you might envision one of a very short list of things:
(1) The strange political nature of some of the area’s politicians
(2) Wheat and cattle, flowing over a flatly monotonous expanse
Oklahoma may have both of these things in excess, but it is also a land of surprising diversity. In it is contained a part of the wet and scenic Ozark Plateau, the Arbuckle and Wichita Mountains, the expansive and refractile salt flats in the north, the wet and sticky southeastern swamps, the deciduous forests of the east, and, of course, the plains regions. In the panhandle are plains and desert leading to the highest point in the state: Black Mesa, which stands at almost 5,000 feet elevation on the Oklahoma-New Mexico-Colorado border.
Ok, I’ll admit, there are some things that I wish weren’t really…well, quite so close to home. In the midwest, there are several species that are known to carry rabies, and in our area, skunks top the list. The three counties we have lived in since moving to this state top the list of rabies cases every year, which gives me even more of a pause when I see these critters.
You know, visiting my parents when I get a free afternoon (which has happened exactly twice in the last month. Yay!) is a wonderful thing. The Other Half and I get to see them both, and they have more of an excuse to get outside.
It just so happened that this year, I got to see my sister and her Other Half for the first time since they moved into the real world almost three years ago. It was great getting to see them, and it was also great convincing them to go out looking for loons with us. It took us showing them proof that loons do in fact exist at Lake Hefner to get them to come out, though.
The second part of our Fourth of July adventure continued our trek into the southern regions of Oklahoma. I had been to the area before but had never had the time to explore Robbers Cave, a place so named because of the numerous outlaws who took to hiding there (including Belle Starr, Jesse James, and the Dalton Gang, among others).
For us, the hike was a trek up the old, steep Civilian Conservation Corps trail, with frequent looks back to make sure the thunder we were hearing wasn’t anywhere near us.
Unfortunately, despite what the ranger at the nature center said about the weather (that the thunderstorm was totally going to go around us and we wouldn’t see any rain), we realized we should have listened to the meteorologists on the matter. Instead of just heading home, we waited for a break in the rain before going down the Rough Canyon Trail, where we discovered that the dog was definitely not afraid of a good thunderstorm (or a good hike, for that matter). Because of the continuing rain, we opted for a shorter hike; we also didn’t see any other hikers in the area (probably because they were smarter than we were).
Even though the wet hike made for very little luck at finding wildlife, we still managed to find a few reptiles out enjoying the moisture with us. And let’s be honest, there isn’t anything more fun than dancing in the rain on the Fourth of July.
I got mad and turned the Other Half into a toad (Just kidding!)
Three-toed box turtle who was trucking down the trail until he saw us.
The actual cave was a bit disappointing…
A feeding area for flathead catfish near the boathouse
This summer, we decided to try something new with the dog: escape the 4th of July fireworks. You see, Eli has a potent fear of fireworks, gunshots, and fire alarms. Why, we’re not entirely sure, and attempting to behaviorally desensitize him has only made it worse. Our plan was simple: Drive down to the eastern corner of the state, find a wildlife refuge or state park that wasn’t having a big to-do, and commence exploring any trails with the pup.
I know, I haven’t posted recently. Yet again, I find myself turning into a blog flake. But I have a good reason: I’m taking my national board examination in a month, and I have been cramming the last 3.5 years of my education into a few short months. I know, I know, this isn’t a platform for vet stories, but it’s the biggest thing on my mind right now.
Anyway, back in August, the local birding community hit on something big: a south polar skua.