New Lives in Familiar Waters: Releasing Razorback Chubs at James M. Robb Fruita State Park

Getting ready for a morning walk last week, I reached for my camera. Changed my mind. Same old route. I already had too many shots of the river, lakes, and cliffs.

Well…

Okay, you’re ahead of me.

As usual, my husband and I drove out  James M. Robb Colorado River State Park. We headed to the boat launch ramp. It’s fun to watch rafters inflate their craft, then load them with coolers, tents, kids, and dogs for a canyon float down to Loma or farther to Westwater, Utah.

Today there were no rafters. Instead, as we watched, a white truck carrying a rectangular tank backed toward the murky water. One of three men in wildlife management uniforms attached a large pipe to the back of the tank.

fish-and-wildlife-truck

“Are they putting fish into the RIVER?” That was my husband saying aloud what I was thinking. We’d seen similar crews stock lakes before, never the Colorado River. It didn’t seem to make sense.

chub-release.jpg

That was just what the guys were doing though. In no time, a stream of fish-speckled water arched out the tank into the river.

DSCN0548.jpg

Through a shouted conversation, I learned this was a restoration effort. The fish were razorback chubs (suckers). Native to the Colorado, these once-common critters measure up to three feet long. They can live for decades.

DSCN0544.jpg

This batch had been raised at a hatchery near Horsethief Canyon on the other side of the river. The “little guys” were about a year and a half old. Though several studies are underway to find out how many chubs make it to adulthood, nobody’s sure yet.

Luckily, my husband had his camera. I learned a lesson. Nothing is common or usual. You never know what you’ll see.

For us, it was a batch of now-rare native fish starting new lives in familiar waters.

(Photos by Alden A. Armstrong copyright September 23, 2019,  Used by permission.)

 

Desert Bighorn Sheep

Desert Bighorn Sheep

Yesterday on the way home from lunch, we spotted some things that looked like rocks amid the sage, junipers, and pinon at the base of the Monument’s cliffs just off South Broadway between Fruita and Grand Junction (western Colorado). I pulled off the road, and, sure enough, the bighorns were there. It wasn’t this bunch. It was a group of bachelor rams snoozing in the early spring sun.You never know what you will see! Even a drive across town can be an adventure.

Twists and Turns

Image

Yesterday, we drove up the road to the Grand Mesa again. Every day more of the aspens on the mountain are turning gold. This time, instead of driving up to Mesa Lakes, we turned left on the road to Colbran.

The two-lane highway follows Plateau Creek through a green ranching valley dotted with barns and farmhouses.

We have driven that way many times before at this time of year. Ranchers are loading bales of hay into trucks and fluorescent orange signs welcoming hunters are everywhere.

The foliage on the trees has not changed yet, but the leaves have lost the deep green of late summer. They have become almost translucent in the lower sunlight.

The air is still warm, but there is a bite in it that warns all the wild creatures to prepare for less plentiful times. 

Just as the road twists through the entrenched meanders of the stream canyon, lived experience follows paths set by the twists and turns of the seasons, the demands and privileges of age, and all of the other amazing patterns laid out by nature.

These patterns are not a curse or a prison. They allow us to understand (stand under) our fellow living beings, and maybe even water that has recycled since before the dinosaurs or layered cliffs that are not as entrenched as they seem.

Buddies

Image

There are several kinds of adventures.

  • solitary adventures
  • adventures shared with a stranger or a few strangers
  • adventures shared with an acquaintance or a few friends
  • adventures shared with a close friend
  • adventures shared with family members
  • adventures shared with a life partner

Each adventure is flavored by companionship, just as a soup or sauce is changed by spices added. The basic character of the journey remains the same, but different details come to the fore.

When my husband and I went up to the Grand Mesa on Friday, the trip was different than it would have been with my former walking partner, or with only my own company. My husband loves to stop and watch the birds, butterflies, bees, and, in this case, chimunks. Not everyone does.

Our conversation is different, too. Often, we don’t talk at all. We don’t have to. Like the little friends in the picture, we are out together devouring the beauty of the day, taking pictures, and hording memories.

That day, we had so many.

  • a long walk through golden woods
  • a fantastic hamburger and home fries at Mesa Lakes Lodge and Resort
  • butterflies and chipmunks
  • glittering diamonds on the lakes
  • stillness

But, most of all, just being together sharing another special experience.

Autumn on the Grand Mesa

Image

Yesterday was clear and bright in western Colorado.

After feasting on fresh pastry and hot coffee at Slice of Life Bakery in Palisade, Colorado http://www.yelp.com/biz/slice-o-life-bakery-palisade, my husband and I drove through the serpentine canyon that leads off Interstate 70 to the top of Grand Mesa, often called the largest flat-topped mountain in the world. http://www.milebymile.com/main/highway-2730.html

We passed the little town of Mesa and the green ranches where horses and cattle graze. http://www.colorado.com/cities-and-towns/mesa

We continued up past Powderhorn, http://www.powderhorn.com/ our local ski resort, which, under new management, is developing new summer activities such as mountain biking and hiking. As the fall colors deepen, the lifts may run on weekends to take visitors through the vibrant woods.

The lower slopes were still green, so we drove on up to Mesa Lakes and parked by Jumbo Reservoir. http://www.coloradodirectory.com/grandmesaarea/

Around the lakes in this group, the aspens had just turned gold. They shimmered against a sky so blue it did not seem real.

Every year, this show is as fresh and amazing as the first time we saw it more than a dozen years ago. http://activerain.com/blogsview/1866534/color-sunday-is-next-weekend-on-grand-mesa-delta-county-colorad-

It’s even more special because we know it will not last. As I write this, those leaves are starting to fall, leaving bare white limbs against the dark firs, spruces, and pines.

Lower down the hill, other trees are starting to change. It’s magic. Wherever you are, there’s magic today.

Don’t miss it.

Liliuokalani Park in Hilo

Today, I was delighted to be back in touch with a dear friend. A few years ago, she moved from western Colorado to Hawaii’s Big Island. http://www.gohawaii.com/big-island

With this blog in mind, I asked her about favorite places. She named many, including Volcanoes National Park, http://www.nps.gov/havo/index.htm where, last year, she roasted a hot dog over a volcanic vent.

Liliuokalani Park in Hilo is special for her in a quieter and more ongoing way. It is a beautiful park with Japanese gardens. She walks there almost every day, and I understand why.

I haven’t been to Hawaii, yet, but, when we were living in Los Angeles, I enjoyed the Japanese garden at the Huntington Library in Pasadena. http://www.huntington.org/huntingtonlibrary.aspx?id=512

We loved to visit in the spring when the cactus in the desert garden were blooming. It was fun to see copies of  William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience,http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Songs_of_Innocence_and_of_Experience  along with letters in the handwriting of countless great authors in the Library. http://www.huntington.org/huntingtonlibrary.aspx?id=544&linkidentifier=id&itemid=544 The American Art Gallery with its Hopper and Cassatt canvases was also a favorite stop.http://www.huntington.org/huntingtonlibrary.aspx?id=196&linkidentifier=id&itemid=196

My husband, daughter, and I often visited the tea garden at Descanso Gardens in La Canada. http://lacanadaflintridge.patch.com/articles/descanso-gardens-secret-summer-hot-spot

In fact, my daughter and I walked through those gardens almost every day after I picked her up from high school. We walked when the roses were blooming, and through oak-shaded groves of camellias.

We talked about everything and nothing. Sometimes, we didn’t talk at all. When she was studying for her part in Othello, http://shakespeare.mit.edu/othello/full.html she discussed the character and practiced her lines. I learned more from her insights than I had in any college class. Now, thinking about it all these years later, I am back there again.

Our garden here in Grand Junction has no Japanese tea house, though it does have a delightful fairy tale castle for children. The Western Colorado Botanical Garden celebrates plants that flourish in our high desert climate. http://www.plantmaps.com/interactive-colorado-usda-plant-zone-hardiness-map.php It includes an herb garden, a cactus garden, and a sculpture garden celebrating local history. My husband and I like to photograph the frogs in their pond.  http://www.wcbotanic.org/ In the winter, their warm indoor tropical garden is a pleasant break from the snow.

Public gardens are special places. If a city were a day, then a garden would be a time set aside for meditation.

Dakotagraph: Ready for the Buffalo Roundup

My former walking partner now lives in South Dakota.

She let me know about this Wild West adventure about to take place near her.

Dakotagraph: Ready for the Buffalo Roundup.

The last time I saw a buffalo was on a trip with a friend to Yellowstone. It was grazing not far from the Old Faithful Inn.

http://gonw.about.com/od/wyomingpictures/ig/Old-Faithful-Photo-Gallery/Herd-of-Buffalo-.htm

Later that summer the same buffalo gored an unwary photographer.

Wild animals must be treated with great respect. Long lenses or remote cameras are highly recommended.

Silver Star Mountain: disoriented but dazzled « hikingnorthwest

Share a hiking adventure to the top of  Silver Star Mountain in the following blog:

Silver Star Mountain: disoriented but dazzled « hikingnorthwest.

For my part, I love the Pacific Northwest.

My poetry publisher, Bellowing Ark, is based in Shoreline, Washington. I visited Robert Ward and his wife Paula Milligan when they were in Seattle. http://www.bellowingark.org/productcart/pc/home.asp

One day I walked down past docks to Gas Works Park.

http://www.seattle.gov/parks/park_detail.asp?id=293

From the point, I watched seaplanes take off and land downtown.

http://www.seattleseaplanes.com/

Almost silently, rowing crews slipped by. http://lakewashingtonrowing.com/

Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures.

I dropped that roll of film down a storm drain near the Farmer’s Market.

http://www.pikeplacemarket.org/

Sometimes, the pictures you never forget are the ones you didn’t take (or the ones you lost.)

Dawn always comes too soon demotivational poster from Zazzle.com

A recent adventure involved a very short drive early in the morning.

At the end of August, there was a blue moon, the second full moon of the month.

My husband and I drove to the foot of the Colorado National Monument about a mile from our house in Grand Junction at 6:30. A late monsoonal storm was moving through the area, filling the sky with heaps of broken cloud.

As the huge moon set over sandstone cliffs to our left, a red sun rose over the Grand Mesa on the opposite side of the valley.

Standing there beside our little Honda in the pale light, we could feel the turning of the Earth.

The link below leads to a photograph of that amazing dawn.

Dawn always comes too soon demotivational poster from Zazzle.com.