Semper Fidelis - Semper Discentes

Archive for August, 2013|Monthly archive page

A Distribution of Wyoming Odonates

In Odonata on August 28, 2013 at 3:46 pm

We are finally over the hubbub of our move from the Missouri Ozarks to Lander, Wyoming.  As of August 1, 2013, we are Official Wyomingites.  I’ve even managed to put a couple hundred miles on the old Jeep, scouting out promising sites, and swinging my trusty net to capture new and different dragonflies and damselflies–many species that I never encountered in Missouri.  Using all the sources available to me, plus new records that I’ve been able to document, I’ve tried to present a clear picture of the dragonflies and damselflies one might expect to encounter here in the Cowboy State.

A link to the report is given below. Feel free to use the information in any non-commercial manner you wish. Enjoy. Data is complete through August 28,, 2013.  The report will be updated regularly.

Wyoming Odonate Distribution

 

 

Susan, Getting High in the Mountains

In Expeditions on August 13, 2013 at 9:44 am

As I get older, I find there are fewer and fewer things that I’m really afraid of (Note to purists: “things of which I am really afraid”).

That being said, I’m STILL terrified of heights.  I have dreams about being in high, exposed places, with no way to get down.  I can handle elevators, airplanes, and tall buildings, but can’t climb a tree much over about ten feet before I get REALLY squirrelly.

On our first full weekend in Wyoming, I took Amanda and Susan on a 15-mile drive out into the Wind River Range of the Rockies, just outside our new hometown of Lander.  Drove through the Sinks Canyon State Park, then up a winding switchback to Worthen Meadow Lake, at about 8800′.  Beautiful.

Susan at Worthen Meadow Reservoir.

Susan at Worthen Meadow Reservoir.

Let her wade around in the water a bit, which wasn’t nearly as cold as you might expect, then headed farther uphill to Fiddler Lake, where I’d hoped (to no avail) to find some dragonflies at the 9500′ altitude.

As we returned from Fiddler, we passed some neat, somewhat rounded rock formations, which I believe are the remnants of old magma cores which have been eroded over the eons.  (Thanks, Dr. Glawe, my introductory geology professor at Northeast Louisiana!).  Susan, clad only in “flipflops” decided she wanted to try to climb them.  My motto, insofar as kids are concerned, is, “Do whatever you think you’re big enough to do,” so up she went.  After a few false starts, she found the logical path upward, and posed before a really cool rock that was shaped somewhat like a mushroom, or perhaps a nuclear detonation cloud.

At the mushroom rock.

At the mushroom rock.

She wasn’t finished yet.  She soon disappeared around the back of the rock.  After five minutes (I sure wasn’t gonna climb up there and find her), she reappeared, standing proudly at the highest point of the formation, which I’d estimate was about 100′ above our vantage point down on the road.  Bear in mind, the climb was NOT particularly difficult, basically a strenuous walk uphill, with a few places where she had to scramble upward, over obstructions.

The view from below.

The view from below.  Susan is the speck at the top.

A closer view of the "summit".

A closer, albeit blurry, view of the “summit”.

After she returned to the Jeep, I figured that, if she was gonna be racing up and down rocks in the Rockies, she should at least learn how to do it properly.  Looked around the town, which is FULL of outdoor outfitters, training facilities, and equipment purveyors (In addition to being the international headquarters of “NOLS”, the National Outdoor Leadership School).  Found a fitness center with a pretty extensive “climbing wall”.

Amanda had to go to work on Monday, while Susan got to enjoy ten more days of summer freedom.  Took her to the climbing center, and paid $8 for an “all-day” climbing pass and $5 to rent climbing shoes.  The lady took her through the safety procedures, then turned her loose on the wall.

DSCF3640DSCF3641DSCF3642

She’s not Sir Edmund Hillary yet, but she’s doing great.  Talked to the pastor’s wife at church (she’s a climber), and she says she’s got a pair of climbing shoes she’s outgrown, her foot’s only SLIGHTLY larger than Susan’s, and she’ll be glad to let Susan have them.

I’m pretty proud of my ten-year-old daughter.

Learning to Talk All Over Again

In Uncategorized on August 12, 2013 at 9:37 am

Wyoming flagOkay.  I’ve been a Wyomingite for over ten days now.  Got my Wyoming license plates, drivers license, voter registration card, and library card.  Opened a bank account.  Joined a health club.  Found a church.  From the balconies of our apartment (Elevation: 5600′), I can see the Wind River Range of the Rockies, only about ten miles from town (Elevation: up to 13,000+’).

Look, look, look.  Lookin' out my back...WINDOW.

Look, look, look. Lookin’ out my back…WINDOW.

I’m originally from Louisiana, so I’m used to folks in less-civilized areas saying that I “talk funny”.  Son, if you want to hear some “funny talking”, you need to come to WYOMING.  These are real friendly folks, but, every time I open my mouth, somebody has to correct my pronunciation.

The beautiful little Popo Agie River runs through the heart of my new hometown of Lander.  As the lady at the Wyoming Game and Fish office told me, “It’s ‘puh-PO-juh’, like I told ya’.”

Dubois ain’t “du-BWAH”, but “du-BOYS”.  “Ethany” is “EE-thany”.  I’d thought I was doing well by saying “wuh-SHAH-key”, but “Washakie” is really “WASH-uh-kee”.

Jeez, I even had trouble with the name of a lady I met at church.  “Annah” isn’t “ANN-uh”, but “AH-nuh”.

This is a great little town.  I’ll bet that at LEAST 80% of the people we’ve met have said, “Welcome to Lander”.  Wore my cowboy boots to church.  Just about finished with a 600-page “History of Wyoming”.  It’s good to be here.

Welcome to Wyoming.

My First Entomological Expeditions in the Rockies

In Expeditions, Odonata on August 8, 2013 at 3:01 pm

Almost all the hubbub of moving, hauling, and unpacking is over, so I decided to sally forth on Tuesday and Wednesday, to see if I could locate any odonates here in Fremont County, Wyoming.  Almost ALL of the species I’m likely to encounter here are different than the ones I (more-or-less) had learned back in the Missouri Ozarks, so I’m starting all over again, with even WORSE taxonomic skills than before.

I drove south out of Lander, out toward the Sinks Canyon State Park, about six miles out of town.

This is what I get to look at, about five miles from my home.

This is what I get to look at, about five miles from my home.

The ubiquitous Popo Agie River, where I’d hoped to find lots of odonates, was pretty much a bust, as the water is very swift, full of large rocks, and has very little shoreside vegetation.

The  "rise" of the Popo Agie, Sinks Canyon State Park.

The “rise” of the Popo Agie, Sinks Canyon State Park.

After hitting a couple of sites n the river, I happened upon Central Wyoming College’s field station, just off the highway.  The Popo Agie runs through the station, but there is also a sweet little “seep” creek running through tall grasses on the property.  After swinging the net for a few minutes, I managed to capture two species of meadowhawks there, Sympetrum obtrusum (White-faced meadowhawk) and Sympetrum pallipes (Striped meadowhawk), both of which I believe are county records for Fremont County.

S. pallipes

S. pallipes

S. obtrusum

S. obtrusum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I then hit a small creek crossing the highway, about halfway back to town and there found several specimens of the damselfly Ischnura perparva (Western forktail), as well as another meadowhawk Sympetrum semicinctum (Banded meadowhawk) in a nearby hayfield.  All the bugs were found at 5400-5600′ altitude, awfully high for this Louisiana-born geezer.

Ishnura perparva

Ishnura perparva

Sympetrum semicinctum

Sympetrum semicinctum

The following day, I decided to range further afield, passing by the previous day’s collection sites, heading higher into the beautiful Wind River Range of the Rocky Mountains.

Climbing higher into the Winds, still only about ten miles from home.

Climbing higher into the Winds, still only about ten miles from home.

DSCF3615

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inside the Shoshone National Forest, I found a lake, Worthen Meadow Reservoir,  In a small arm of the beautiful lake, kinda semi-marshy, with some pondside vegetation, I managed to grab four beautiful male Lake darners (Aeschna eremita), at 8871 feet above sea level, by far the highest altitude I’d EVER attained.

Aeshna eremita (male)

Aeshna eremita (male)

Same bug, dorsal view.

Same bug, dorsal view.

 

 

Isn’t that a FINE looking fellow?

 

 

On the way home, stopped back at the field station and grabbed a couple more of the previous day’s meadowhawks.  Later in the day, I grabbed Amanda and Susan, taking them back out into the field and up into the Winds, where I showed them Worthen Meadow Lake, and we explored another lake, Fiddler Lake, which lies at some 9400′ altitude.  Felt like I needed a couple of Sherpas and some supplemental oxygen.  Our apartment is at about 5500′ and I’ve not noticed any headaches or ailments in my first days as a Wyomingite, although I DO tend to get sleepy about ten o’clock in the morning.  Very dry, too.  I’ve lived my entire life in humid climates, and this is a BIG change.

As always, all my odonate specimens have been posted to Odonata Central (www.odonatacentral.org), and I’m grateful to Jim Johnson, one of the northwest’s premier “bug guys” for confirming the identity of the species.  I got about 75% of them right on the first try, which is GREAT for me.  Bob DuBois’s Dragonflies and Damselflies of the Rocky Mountains and Dennis Paulson’s indispensible Dragonflies and Damselflies of the West are gonna get a BIG workout here.

Come see us.

We’re HERE!

In Expeditions, Uncategorized on August 4, 2013 at 5:22 pm

It’s been a wild and wooly week for the clan.

After arranging with a LOCAL truck rental place for the availability of their LARGEST truck on Monday morning, (in order to protect the privacy of the company, and avoid litigation, let’s call the outfit “You Haul”), we got a phone call over the weekend telling us we’d have to drive to a small town FIFTY miles away to get the $*#($# thing.  Okay.

Got up at 6:30 Monday morning, drove to the rental place and picked up the truck.  Drove back home and managed to get it down the driveway without wrecking anything or backing into the house.  Wife had hired three PROFESSIONAL packers to put the entire contents of our 3,000 square foot home into the truck.  They did a SUPER job, and didn’t leave many, if any, empty spaces in the 26′ truck.

Got finished about 4:30, hooked up the “tow dolly” to the truck, loaded the Jeep onto it, and ready to go.  We’d planned to spend the night in a local motel before embarking on the 1,200-mile Missouri-to-Wyoming trip on Tuesday morning.  I, however, was antsy to get started, so I cleared out a small spot on the seat of the truck for Dobby, The Best Dog in the World, and we started north, figuring to stop whenever we got tired.  Amanda and Susan set out in the Ford Escape.  Those sissies only made it about 250 miles, and stopped at a posh hotel in Kansas City.  Dobby and I, with our training as Marine Corps killer/typists, however, pressed on.

As I’d picked up the truck with only about a half-tank of gas, the fuel gauge was getting into the red, just north of Springfield.  Really hurt my feelings to find that it costs about $200 for each fillup.  Fortunately, my wealthy wife had given me a bunch of money for expenses.  Up into Iowa, then over the Missouri River (again) into Nebraska.  I was feeling good, but the air conditioning was a bit cool on the Dobster, so I pulled out a blanket for her to snuggle into.

Through Lincoln, and headed west on I-80.  Still feeling good, but it was getting late into the night.  Drove on a bit further, and decided to pull into an interstate rest area and spend the night in the truck.  First one was FULL of big trucks, with absolutely nowhere to park.  Forty miles later, ditto for the second one.  At 1:30 AM, still feeling okay, found a slot in the third one, just east of Kearney, Nebraska.  Pulled out the old WWII surplus sleeping bag for a pad, went into the rest stop to brush teeth and take care of essentials, then pulled the blanket over dog and geezer, and hit the sack.

Woke at 6:30 and hit the road.  Six hundred miles down, six hundred to go.  By about 4:00, we pulled in to Lander, Wyoming.  Pulled into what I THOUGHT was the rental agency, hoping to leave the locked truck there, take the Jeep off the dolly, and return the dolly.  Waited around for forty-five minutes, and nobody showed up at the place, which was unlocked and wide open.  Drove the huge truck and attached Jeep back to the motel, only managing to sorta nudge ONE tree and a signpost, VERY slightly.

Since the motel hadn’t expected us until the FOLLOWING day (Amanda and Susan didn’t make it any farther than Ogalalla, Nebraska, on Day Two), I had to take the only room they had, which smelled very much as if it had hosted a Marlboro convention.  Went to sleep.  Dob woke me at 6:30 the next morning, needing to “do her business”.  Dressed in my “sleeping shorts” and a t-shirt, I took her outside.  Business completed, returned to the room, where I inserted my “key card”, which immediately caused a red light on the door lock to illuminate, and STAY illuminated.  Could not get in.  Desk clerk could not get in.  Desk clerk could not contact any maintenance personnel.  Had to sit in the small lobby, holding Dobby in my lap, because she wanted to leap into the arms of every stranger who entered for breakfast.  Over an hour later, a maintenance guy was located, and managed to get me into the room, but would not be able to fix the lock until later in the morning.  If I left, I couldn’t get back in.

Went back to the rental place, which was actually about a half-mile farther down the road from the place where I’d previously waited.  The attendant most probably was actually a zombie.  He looked at me rather vacantly, did not respond to verbal questions, but managed to fill out the paperwork for me to return the “tow dolly”.  At that point, with the Jeep still FIRMLY lashed to the apparatus, I asked him if he could reattach the driveshaft, which the rental guys in Missouri had quickly removed prior to towing the vehicle.  “Uh, I might could figure it out.”  Never mind.  I, mechanical doofus that I am, crawled under there and could quickly see how the thing was supposed to re-attach, but was unable to QUITE get it right.  Crawled back out.

“Now we just need to get the Jeep off the dolly, and I’ll be gone.”  Since the thing has 4-wheel drive, I figured I’d just drop it down into 4WD, so that the FRONT wheels would pull it, and drive down the street to a mechanic.  The zombie did not respond.  At that point, another customer arrived, and the zombie immediately abandoned me, going inside to fill out a VERY complicated rental agreement with the new guy, taking well over an hour.  I approached him several times, asking for just TWO minutes of his time to help loosen a tie-chain that had tightened during the trip.  He, however, had been struck both mute and dumb.  After an additional half-hour of prying and banging, I got the Jeep off, disconnected the dolly, and drove away.

Amanda and Susan arrived that night, we moved into a smokeless room, ate a nice meal, and prepared to meet with the landlady she’d been speaking with for about a month.  The rental property (our house-and-twenty-acres in Missouri is unsold, and I’m continuing to make mortgage, insurance and tax payments on it) was a duplex, and the neighborhood was sedate.  The owner agreed to meet us there, aware that we had Dobby, a seven-year-old Boston terrier, and Little Cat, a VERY mellow, declawed cat.  She gave us the keys and the garage door opener, and told us to drop by in the morning to complete the paperwork.  Back to the motel.

Two hours later.  Knock on the door of the motel, and there’s the landlady, who’d tracked us down.  “I changed my mind.  You seem like nice folks, but I don’t want to rent to people who have a cat.”  Returned the keys and door opener.

Next morning, hit the streets, looking for a place to live.  After a few hours (not a lot of rental choices here), we settled on a 1,000 square foot apartment ON THE THIRD FLOOR.  Since we had 3,000 square feet of possessions to put into a 1,000 square foot space, we rented a storage building.  I managed to get about 1/3 of the truck unloaded until I hit a wall of BIG, HEAVY stuff (fold-out sleeper sofa, buffet, tall chests, etc.)  Retired to the balcony of the apartment to drink MANY adult beverages.  I’d assumed that all Wyomingites (I had to ask the lady at the bank–I thought they were called Wyomagonians, or some such!) would be Coors drinkers, and, wanting to blend in with the locals, bought a twelve-pack of the beverage.  Must be an acquired taste.  Finished half of one, poured the rest down the drain, went back to the store for Anheuser-Busch products.  Resumed drinking.

View from our bedroom balcony.

View from our bedroom balcony.

Same balcony, different view.  The Wind River Range of the Rocky Mountains.

Same balcony, different view. The Wind River Range of the Rocky Mountains.

The next morning, we couldn’t do much until the three college guys we’d hired showed up at 4:30.  I drove around town.  Opened a bank account.  Joined an exercise club.  Got a library card and my Wyoming Jeep plates.  Registered to vote.  Guys showed up on time, and took about two hours to get ALL the heavy stuff upstairs.  I didn’t help very much, as my nearly-62-year-old back was SCREAMING.  Amanda paid each of them a hundred bucks for the two hours’ work, and they were worth THRICE that much!  Took the truck back, and let AMANDA deal with the zombie.  She’d thought I was exaggerating, but knows better now.

Went out this morning and sat through TWO church services, and am pretty sure I know which one we want to attend.  Boxes everywhere, but we’ve finally gotten MOST of the stuff sorted and put away.  I went through four full boxes of bug-and-science books, managed to get rid of a very few, and was able to put some into storage, only keeping out about 50 or 100 that I REALLY need.  Redesigned my home-made “business cards”.

ScanItem.bmp

Soon, I’ll be able to get out with the dragonfly net, and see what Wyoming has to offer.  There’s a lot of “virgin bug territory” around our Popo Agie River (I asked the lady at the Game & Fish office how to pronounce it.  She said, “Puh-PO-juh, like I tol’ja.”) and in the Wind River Range of the Rockies, just west of town.  Something tells me the “bugging season” is gonna be a LOT shorter here than it was in the Ozarks.  Got some maps from BLM (Bureau of Land Management), and will go out tomorrow.

Just down the road.  The Popo Agie River at the "rise".  Sinks Canyon State Park.

Just down the road. The Popo Agie River at the “rise”. Sinks Canyon State Park.

This looks like a great town.  Lots of nice shops and cafes, and a lot of really FIT-looking folks on bikes and just walking about.  I’ve picked up a bunch of books on local history, using my new library card.  Still gotta get my Wyoming drivers license, but the office is only open on Tuesday and Wednesday.  I’ll keep you posted.

Y’all come see us.

DSCF3584