I prefer winter and Fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show. ~Andrew Wyeth

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Animal Ark in the Desert

First day in the Plaza Resort hotel, on the eighteenth floor, over looking the Truckee River.
That's our room on the top floor, on the left. I took this picture from the river walk.

This is the view from the 18th floor, looking south.
My son and I ate breakfast and headed north to the Animal Ark. This is a wildlife sancturary that shelters animals who do not have the skills to survive in the wild.
Animal Ark keeps several types of North American predators ,as well as a few exotic species. Most of the animals are considered "disadvantaged", meaning they may be orphaned, permanently disabled, or they may be confiscated or unwanted exotoc pets. In many cases, the animals would have been euthanized if a home at Animal Ark had not been found.
We drove north on highway 395 to Red Rock Rd and then east for about 11 miles into the desert to Deerlodge Rd.
We saw the sign.
I had been here once before. The Prospector and I came one day a few years ago, when we were mostly the only ones there. This time, there were lots of people and two bus loads of school children... and more animals.
The hills were covered with wildflowers.
And, in the distance I saw a "dome" house. Haven't seen one in a while.
This is the desert. It's quiet, beautiful in its own way and really what you would call "the wide open spaces".
I'm falling in love with this land. It's stark and wild. I would love to live through a winter here.
We paid our fee and started walking. It was rather warm.
 The first animal was a beautiful Asian tiger. His name is Shere Khan.
 He didn't like all the commotion...
So he walked away and sat down under a tree in the back of the compound.

Next were the Mountain Lions, who weren't any more excited about seeing us than the tiger.
This one gave us a couple of good shots and then...
"You can go now."
We looked for the other one and finally found it lying in the rocks under an old log.
He never opened his eyes. She lifted herself up with a huge paw, turned over on her back...
 And went back to sleep.
It was just too warm for entertaining the humans.
You can read about Milagro and Daniel here:
http://www.animalark.org/animals_felines-mountain-lion.html
 
The display at this observation platform had the skeletons of four different cats including a sabre tooth cat and I finally used the reflection of the glass (which was annoying for this photographer) to an advantage and took a photo of MYSELF AS A SABRA TOOTH CAT.
That's my son, on the left, with a little bobcat in his heart. I love the little scull.  Sometimes you have to go with the reflection and have some fun with it. Getting good shots through a window is very difficult because of the reflection, especially on a sunny day. I finally had Matt stand behind me on some shots so he could block the sun and the glare. It worked for the most part.  I thought this photo was fun. This is not the inner cat inside of me. I was a dog in my former life.

We saw a crazy badger who never stopped pacing around her compound. Her name is Beatrix.
I mean this little girl just ran, in circles, the whole time we were there. This is her story. This photo was caught with a fast camera speed. She was jumping from her house to the ground and I finally caught her clearly as she zoomed by.
Then we saw a raccoon, called Ringo,
Who was more interested in what was outside his fence than what was inside. He kept reaching through the fence and scratching the dirt for something. No one was around to ask. Bugs maybe?

Kaleb, a Canadian Lynx, was very interesting. A beautiful, dignified animal that never opened his eyes for us. I loved his profile.
He was in the zone and enjoying the warm weather.
There was something very ZEN about this animal.



The bobcats were both under a tree.They are Whiston and Piper. The came from private ownership which is never a good thing with wild animals.
One of them only lifted its head once and then went back to sleep. The other one ( top right) never stopped looking in one direction. He must have seen something beyond the fence. He never moved a muscle.

Then we came to the Black Bear's compound. They told us she had just eating and she was getting a little exercise. Well, this was fun to watch. She was playing tether ball, all by herself.
This is Gracie (a.k.a.- Booboo) She was having a good time... hitting the ball, grabbing it and swinging it around.
She could really snag that ball with those claws. No problem at all. 
 At some point she got tired playing in the heat and off she went...
to lie in the shade and rest from her activities. She was cute. She had a sweet face. But still... those are BIG claws.
I wouldn't want to win a game of Tether Ball with her and have her take offence.
We left BooBoo and moved on to a Barn Owl, which was back in a dark corner and I couldn't get a good photo through the enclosure.
But, the Desert Tortoise was out and about. His name is Peabody.
He was moving slowly from one place to another, as tortoises do. 
They are so prehistoric and interesting.

We saw a Jaguar that was moving around quite a bit but he was behind two fences and I didn't get very good shots of him. This was the best one.

I lifted my camera over the top of the first fence and hoped for the best. This is a most beautiful animal.
El Santo was donated to Animal Ark by Project Survival’s Cat Haven to help raise awareness of the plight of the jaguar. Originally, Santo was intended for another facility but they could not take him, so another home was sought. Project Survival is a non-profit organization that exists to support wild cat awareness, research, and conservation. The jaguar is the largest cat of the Americas.

TheCheetahs were nowhere to be seen and then someone said "Look!". They were down underneath the glass right below us. There, not a foot or two from us on the other side of the window, two of them were resting together. This was as close as I could get the camera to the window.
Please read about the Cheetahs, Zula and Shaka, here:
http://www.animalark.org/animals_felines-cheetah.html

There was a Great Horned Owl and some birds that didn't get their photos taken because one of the docents came by in her little wagon and said that the White Tiger was going to be fed and would we like a ride back to the tiger compound to see the event. We said "Yes!" and climbed aboard.

The keeper brought the food out into the main compound and set it up on a platform. A bird tried to snag a bite before the Tiger was released. He did get a piece of ground beef, but flew away quickly.

Kahn is a White Bengal Tiger. (Please read his story here:
http://www.animalark.org/animals_felines-white-tiger.html )
This is the most beautiful and powerful animal I have ever seen. I was overwhelmed.

Kahn loped out there on his massive paws and looked like a cat on a mission.

 He obviously knew the routine. He didn't stop to look in any direction other than that platform and the metal bowl on top of it.
He made one huge jump up and landed next to the bowl.




Got his balance.



And started eating.



The bird wasn't even waiting on the sidelines for leftovers. It was gone.



It was so interesting to watch this Tiger eat the chicken. Those powerful jaws were made for eating raw meat.



That chicken was devoured within a few minutes and then he went back to the bowl for dessert, finishing off the beef.

This animal was the most amazing of all. His majestic stature, his regal attitude and the chance to see such an awesome animal was truly the highlight of the day. I mean, how often do you see a White Bengal Tiger in the American West? Yes... I was walking on air.
The woman next to me said "Oh, I wish I could just go in there and touch that animal." We all laughed and so did she, but I kind of understood what she meant. 

We walked back to the gift shop where I bought a baseball hat with the Animal Art Logo on it and a couple of things for the Beans (my grandchildren).
We drove back out to the main road and I got a better photo of that "dome" home.
What a cool place to live.

We drove back to the highway and south to Reno. Clouds were moving in.
We had lunch and stopped at Sheel's, a sporting goods store, that has a Farris wheel INSIDE the store. It's an amazing place. You can spend hours there. I bought a pair of Keen open sandal type shoes that are good walking shoes with lots of support. Not only were they on sale but I got 20% off of the sale price. Now that's a deal.
Then we went back to the hotel, took a nap, cleaned up and walked to dinner.
A place called Campo's on the River Walk. Wonderful food. All local and organic.
The River was beautiful. There were lots of people walking around.
It was windy, but very mild. A very pleasant evening.
We decided to do some gambling. We didn't do very well. You have to cut your losses and leave when you're not winning. It was Tuesday night and my luck was not about winning jackpots... so I got kind of cranky. When I start talking to the machines, it's time to go home. I found my son and said I wanted to go back to the hotel. He wasn't doing that well either, but he asked me to play the pennies machines for a while. That didn't work either. So we finally left.
As we walked back, I took a picture of the famous Reno Arch.
 I loved seeing this gaudy, and sometimes seedy, town at night. It still has an element of excitement for me that it did when I was a child.
I needed to get some sleep because Wednesday we planned on driving over Mt. Rose to Lake Tahoe.












Friday, May 17, 2013

On the Road Again

I think that I could (given the right travel vehicle) be on the road for the rest of my life. This is something that I should have known when I was in my 20's. I love to pack up and drive somewhere, anywhere, as long as I kind of have a destination in mind. This is getting easier each time I go somewhere.
On Monday I drove to Reno over the Sierra Nevada Mountains and met my oldest son, who had taken a bus from Oakland. I drove a rental car because my Rav4 was in the car repair place for something that I'm not going to even tell you about for fear of being called an old lady (which I am) and having to admit  that I did something to my car that was a ridiculously miscalculated maneuver and just dumb. I will tell you later... maybe.
So... on Monday, I drove over highway 88, in a rented Chevy Equinox, through the Carson Pass area and into Nevada.

This is the Carson Spur...

 ...an area that still gives me pause for reflection every time that I drive through it. The "spur" is an area at the top of the Carson Pass that is prone to avalanches. No snow right now, but I still hold my breath every time. I drive quickly over the summit, hoping... no PRAYING, for stability and no big earthquakes or rock slides, while I'm driving on the edge of a road that someone had the gumption to build around all of this unstable rock.
 These massive rock formations are powerful reminders of how the earth keeps changing.
Most of the rock looks like it is Igneous and was poured out of  prehistoric volcanoes into the valley below.
Looking north across the Desolation Wilderness area, as I stood on the edge of the highway, I was reminded of the the first pioneers that came through here.
The 1844 the Fremont Expedition turned south from northern Nevada. When they set up camp in Nevada's Carson Valley on January 31, 1844, their guide, Kit Carson, told them to detour because of bad winter conditions. Local Indians told them of a route through the mountains, but warned them not to go up there if it was snowing. Frémont ignored the advice and directed the group westward. The Indians were right and the party was unable to find food or game. They ended up eating their horses. It was an awful mistake.

I, on the other hand, had a car with a full tank of gas, a paved road, some food and water and good directions. So what was I worried about?
Only the strong wind and a branches falling from the towering trees where I parked.... but that was about it.
I found some interesting geological info on this area.
Fluvial deposits (Miocene) –
Well-stratified, clast-supported deposits composed of
mafic to intermediate volcanic clasts in the Caples Lake and Carson Pass
quadrangles includes inter stratified coarse-grained fluvia land volcanic debris flow deposits
 at Castle Point in the Caples Lake. Quadrangle and volcanic lithic sandstones
and cobble conglomerate-breccia at Elephants Back in the Carson Pass quadrangle. 
Thank you to:  http://www.quake.ca.gov/gmaps/rgm/tahoe/legend/tahoe_pamphlet.pd \
 
If you understood any of that information, please call or email me and explain it to me. I only know that this area is beautiful and very, very old. I know that what is called Round Top Mountain is an old extinct volcano that started the mountainous flows that formed most of the area's rock existing today.I wish I had studied Geology when I was in college. I probably would have finished my schooling if I had. It's fascinating.
This is Caples Lake.
and this is the beauty of the Sierras as you drive into Nevada. That's not a meteor crashing to earth. It's a plane contrail above the clouds.

I stopped too many times and finally remembered that I was suppose to be going to Reno and had to met my son there at about 4:30. Time to put the car in "drive" and stop the sightseeing. I drove on into Nevada, through Gardnerville, Minden, Carson City and then down into the old, original "casino part" of town in Reno. 
My son had arrived and was waiting for me. We checked in, both took a short nap, cleaned up and went to dinner at the Cal Neva casino. 
This is tradition for our family. We always have to eat one dinner at the Top Deck restaurant. It's open all night, it's inexpensive and I actually saved my mother in law's life there one time. She choked on a piece of meat, while eating dinner, a few years ago and I used the Heimlich method to dislodge the meat from her windpipe. Everyone was impressed, and when the managers, staff, bigwigs of Cal Neva and the people around us finally realized what happen... It was over. That ol' Heimlich really works. That meat just flew out of her and landed on the table. Amazing! I had just taken a class in CPR for the school I was working at and I just knew what to do. I didn't hesitate. 
This is a photo of her two years ago when we celebrated her birthday.
 My mother in law was suppose to come with us last week but, on Mother's Day, she fell and hurt herself badly. Her daughter told my son and I to go anyway... the reservations were made and we needed to use them. This was hard because we have always gone with Grandma. She loves to gamble and the "time share" that we stay in belongs to her. My son and I were very lucky to be able to spend a few days together in this lovely Plaza Resort Hotel and carry on the tradition. 
As of today, she is still recovering from this painful fall and has seven stitches in her leg. She also has three hairline fractures and is in a lot of pain. She is 92 and has always been in good health but this fall has taken its toll. I talked to her while I was up there and she said that she just hurts. My mother in law never complains about anything, so I know when she tells me that she hurts, she really HURTS.
The Prospector and I are going to see her on Sunday. 
As for Reno... My son and I walked down to the Cal Neva Casino on Monday night.
It was a short walk down Second St. to the restaurant. I had Salmon. Matt had Lamb, I think ( I was pretty tired)... and we split a bread pudding with warm whiskey sauce on top. 
We clicked our cokes to Grandma.
We did a little gambling without much luck.
And then we decided that it was time to go back to the hotel, stop giving our money to the one armed bandits and go to bed.
On Tuesday we went to the Animal Ark, in north Reno. Wait until you see the feeding of the White Tiger and all the other rescue animals that live in this care facility for wild animals. I will tell you more about this wonderful place in my next post.
"Don't play with the kitty."
Thanks Grandma!! We missed you.
See you Sunday.
 (Thank you Carol and Amber (her daughter and grand daughter) for always being there with Grandma. I don't know what we would do without you. )