Friday, October 31, 2014

Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge

It is 230,000 acres (No, that is not a typo!) of Incredible and we have the privilege of living here all winter.

We also get to live here (photo above) due to the fact that our rig doesn’t have a shower and we’ll most likely be getting quite grubby on a regular basis.

We have to say that we have grown a little disheartened with the recreational side of volunteering.  It is becoming more and more obvious to us that catering toward human traffic and ‘recreational pursuits’ is having an increasingly negative impact on wildlife and the environment.  Since we were not interested in stopping our volunteer activities it only seemed fitting that we make a move to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service side of things.  It has been about three weeks and so far we can say without a doubt that it was a good shift for us at this point in time.


Sevilleta is unique and is set apart from other national wildlife refuges across the country in that its mission is to preserve and enhance the integrity and natural character of the ecosystems of the refuge.  In basic terms: close to 90% of the refuge property is off limits to the public.  This is not your typical visitor-oriented refuge.  Sevilleta is also the only National Wildlife Refuge with a LTER (Long Term Ecological Research) facility on site.  Additionally, this refuge is host to a prairie dog reintroduction program, houses a remote breeding facility for the endangered Mexican Gray Wolf and has created a special habitat to focus on increasing the numbers of the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher (a state and federally-listed endangered subspecies of the willow flycatcher).

                               This is not the willow flycatcher.

Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge is unique in that four major biomes intersect within its boundaries: the Colorado Plateau Shrub Steppe, the Great Plains Short Grass Prairie, the Chihuahuan Desert, and the Pinyon-Juniper Woodland.  The Rio Grande also cuts its way through the refuge providing an oasis for a wide variety of native species and some not so native (but very cool) species such as Oryx and Barbary Sheep.

There’s more - oh, so much more!  But we are exhausted.  In a good way.  We have gone, done and learned so much more in the last three weeks than we have in a very long while and it has us nearly comatose by the end of the day.  The photos are piling up by the hundreds and we will start putting them out there as frequently as we can.

                             Meanwhile, chew on our sunset from a few nights ago.

                      A sliver of a moon can be seen in the upper left hand corner.


“Once I saw a chimpanzee gaze at a particularly beautiful sunset for a full 15 minutes, watching the changing colors [and then] retire to the forest without picking a pawpaw for supper.” - Adriaan Kortlandt

Monday, October 27, 2014

Annie. Our Girl. She does not like being ignored.

While visiting our friends in Wyoming Nicole finally put a new ignition switch in Annie.  She then promptly thanked us by escalating her previously extremely random No-Start issue.

So, once we had settled in to our new digs Nicole began digging into Annie in a way that has long been deserved.

      As with all good automotive experiences, it all started with a spark!
                    Pink is pretty but it isn’t really what you want.

Testing of individual parts (like the dual pick-up dizzy)  revealed them all to be ‘o.k.’
                                           That left the wiring...

And lots of deciphering of diagrams like this which Nicole could
not have done without Ram4ever (he rocks)!

Wiring 1
                               Oh, look at all of the pretty colors.
Time to inspect, trace, check continuity, resistance and look for problem areas.

         Believe it or not, this is standard issue and not as bad as it looks.

       This, on the other hand, had seen better days.

                              Now we’re talking.

                              More sparks.  Because they’re cool!
                              O.K. fine they also provide answers.

      For a while we thought the ECU was the root of all that was No-Start.

  Some of our relays had corrosion on their terminals.  Corrosion = bad flow.

Others began performing questionably on testing and begged to be opened up.

                   There were more sparks because... just because.
It’s been three long weeks... do we really need a reason?  Fine.  It’s fun to spark!

Wiring 2
It was time to get some of that wiring gathered up, wrapped up and stowed away.

Loads of cleaning up, re-grounding, inspections and diagnostics later... Annie was
now consistently providing a No-Start condition.  Um... it was supposed to get better.

                                          The time had come.
The 50-way bulkhead disconnect and fusible links could not be ignored any longer.

                            Oh yeah!  Those are all labeled, right?!

                  Corrosion in the ‘battery’ row of our 50-way adapter.

Preference is to replace these wires since it is traveling but for now they got cleaned.

A few more days of continuity, resistance and OHM’ing later and other than some corrosion nothing had truly revealed itself to be the culprit.  So, there was only one thing left to do.  It was time to put our girl back together and cross our eyes, fingers and toes.

                                    VROOM! VROOM! VROOM!
                                         THAT’S OUR GIRL.

Certainly, this tale is not over.  Our Annie is 26 years old and most of what we’ve found and replaced so far has been original.  There will be problems.  There will be inconsistencies.  There will be questionable behavior.  But she has served us wonderfully in our adventures and thus we allow her these quirks.  For now, she’s got a little more get up in her go and we’ve got our girl back.  At least until the next time she puts her foot down to remind us that she likes a little ‘Annie centered’ attention now and then.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Shew! Who knew?!

Getting back in the swing of things (the sort of things we don’t do all of the time) can really wear a girl out.  More on that later (like in another post).  For now, we’ll just get you semi caught up because we are too tired to do anything else.

When we last left you we had spent the day and night at Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico.  We then took the scenic drive along Hwy 64 through Cimarron Canyon State Park...


                                   These thistle-like-thingies

                                            were blooming...

                into cute little cactus-like flowers.

                We also saw tiny flowers in the sun,

                                   Stellar Jays in the shadows

                            and somewhat ‘regular’ looking things

                            that possessed an ‘inner’ radiant beauty.

   It was a nice place that we shall return to... sometime.

There are a lot of beautiful things to see and we don’t like to hurry.  We had an itch though that was just begging to be scratched.  We’ll call it the excited curiosity of getting settled in and exploring a new place.  So, we flew past beautiful scenery like Eagle Nest Lake and the Taos Ski Valley.

                          (See the lake there in the left hand corner of the picture?)

                                  (Yeah, yeah, it’s pretty, now keep driving!)

                              We joined up with the Rio Grande

then flew through Santa Fe and only stopped in Albuquerque out of dire need to explore particular shopping options not typically available to us in our back-roads travels.

                                   Eventually, we landed at....

                                our new ‘home’ for the next four to five months.
                                              (That’s our backyard in photo)

Needless to say, we are way behind.  We’ve actually been here for nearly two weeks already and have just been so busy that we don’t seem to get to posting very often.  Eventually, we will catch you up on the details and the photos and (if all plays out as we hope) many nice  experiences too!  Hang in there.  We will be back!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

We’re here, Not there, But also Maxwell NWR

The week we spent with friends at Curt Gowdy State Park in Wyoming was wonderful.  It was also the end to Wyoming adventures for us this time around.  Time to hit the road again.  In all of our travels to and fro Colorado has not yet resonated with us.  So, we were steadfast in our travels through it, hit the highway out of Cheyenne and a few hours later were pleased as punch when we crossed into the Tierra del Encanto.  New Mexico has not only talked to us, it has called to us from afar and sent email.  Thus, once again, we are answering.

                  Even on dark and ominous days New Mexico’s beauty is clear to us.

        As we entered Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge the sun was starting to break out.

                        Raptors were everywhere.

                                    Hunting or just hanging out.

Smaller birds were present in numbers replacing fallen leaves.  We’d catch them spying on us as we took in the beautiful scenery.

                                           Gambel's White-Crowned Sparrow

                                                        Beautiful Scenery

                  Mule Deer to the left... Sandhill Cranes to the right.

                                Let’s play ‘Find The Mule Deer’!


We had a sweet little primitive spot and the place all to ourselves.  Although a
three night stay is permitted we stayed only one as the weather was due to
chill quite a bit. 

We were also getting close enough to our winter destination that containing
the urge to Keep on Truckin’ was growing ever more difficult.

Still, we couldn’t deny that this was a special place and we saw more critter activity here than we have at any refuge in a good while.  We saw a lot of things.











                  Time to look ahead, move on and see what’s next.