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.
We wake up at 5:45am, a welcome respite from the last few early starts we have had. At 6:15 every morning, there is a guided morning walk around the lodge driveway, where many birds can be seen. Several pairs of masked trogons and turquoise jays flit around the signposts, gates, and woven lamps to capture the few moths who are too slow to move out of their havens with the sunrise.
When we wake up, it is once again at 5:30am. This morning, it is again raining fiercely. Droplets filter through the dense vegetation in a steady gallop. We eat breakfast, waiting for a break in the rain, and decide to go out in the canoe anyway. We will lose the whole morning if we stay tight hoping for the rain to stop.
We see several new birds, including the white-chinned jacamar and plumbeous antbird, as well as the single large black caiman which lives among the spectacled caiman of Lake Pilchicocha. These are the last pictures I get with my trusty little camera which has been with me for the last 4 years. While we are photographing in the canoe, the camera drops to the floor, and, with a loud crack!, it is no more.
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.