My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Virtual Walk to Work

I live in the bunkhouse, on a street with two more houses.  I'm very safe because our Law Enforcement Officer  lives next door and our Assistant Project Manager lives in the second house down. A third house is on the intersecting road and the barn and maintenance area is beyond that house. The Visitor Center is up and over the hill so our area is not visible from the main road.

Last Tuesday, I was in a hurry and decided to go up and over the hill.  There is a little canal that runs behind our house and off the refuge and is used for irrigation in the area. Behind the next house over is a little footbridge to cross it.   Here are pictures I saw along the short, but steep route.

This is the little canal behind my house where I start my walk

I walk past a Macintosh apple tree and this lilac bush 
Through a gap in the vegetation behind the houses, I can see the house and  barn on a cross street

This is the long view from just before the bridge, over the roof of the 2nd house  from me
In fifty yards or so, I reach the foot bridge

Then it's time to start my climb

I think I'll make it to the top when I see mountains behind this hill

Soon I can see part of the auto tour area

And to the right, our visitor  center which is nestled into the next hill. 

 When I have more time, I can walk along the canal until it crosses under the road, and then walk the last quarter or mile or so up the road. Or I can walk the roads all the way or even detour through the nature trails. So I can get to work in ten minutes or take over an hour, especially if I have my camera and/or binoculars with me. It took me 1.5 hours to come home on Monday because I started chasing bees and butterflies. It's a bad day when I have to take my car because I need to haul some stuff  to or from the bunkhouse. Then the trip is over too soon and I don't get to enjoy the views and the wildlife. One day, as I was walking along the canal on a little ridge, I looked down to see a young white-tailed buck with velvet horn knobs looking back at me.  I was carrying my white hat and swinging it, but even that didn't disturb him and he just kept lying there and looking at me.  M camera was backed in my backpack and was afraid to disturb him so didn't get his pictures.  But I expect he may use that area regularly so  I'll go check back for him.

I'm editing this blog on Tuesday night.  I'm just back from my 2nd day of getting to close the Auto Tour route. Yesterday, I  took another volunteer, Kyle,  with me.  We have to close the lower gate to the auto tour, go around the tour to push anyone out that is staying too long.  Then, after 9:30 P.M., when the front gate closes, we have to reopen the interior gate to the Auto Tour, so people can start enjoying it at 6:30 A.M.  Of course, we can do this as slowly as we want and we get to look for the bison, antelope, mule deer, white-tailed deer, and elk, coyotes, and black bear. Yesterday we have great views of close by bison, as well as some beautiful clouds over the Mission Mountains range. Tonight we had several storms earlier, but it cleared up and I saw my first bear.  AND he was climbing a hill that was completely empty except for one tree.  It would have been a tremendous picture, IF my battery had been charged.  Either I mixed up the batteries or the camera somehow got turned on.

Our final volunteer, Kyle, arrived Sunday to join me and the other volunteer, Will.  Both are young guys from   Florida who work for a group that contracts out young people to various agencies. The fourth housemate is law officer in training. He will only be here a few more days. But I'm enjoying working with the guys.  And they have to act like they enjoy me since I have the only car.

Bison among the arrowleaf balsomroot blooms

Sunset light on clouds over Mission Mountains