Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Up One Of The Back Roads...

Today I took the kid to play in the park for a bit. I left some origami spirals about...

...and N. tried out the recently revamped playground, sadly the town has removed the cool old steel playground equipment and replaced it with boring stuff, the most exciting of which were the swings. The park DOES have a cool old weathered elm tree stump left behind, which is patterned and laced with areas eaten by bugs, likely elm beetles.

It reminds me of an overhead shot of a riverbed.

After that we went for a drive up into one of the little upper valleys.

What looks like the victim of a lightning strike many moons ago...

The Sierras have a lot of open range land, so the painted-on cattle guards are pretty common--they fool the cows into thinking they are the real McCoy, and they won't cross them. Every so often you'll run across a real steel cattle guard, however--usually on dirt roads like this where they can't paint one.  Cattle guards work because the cows don't like stepping on them and getting their hooves caught in the grate--so they quickly learn to avoid them and won't cross one.  It's a neat way of keeping your cattle contained without having to have a gate across the road!

We see lots of deer tracks and a few from rabbits. A small pond off the road is obviously home to several hundred noisy frogs, all chirping away. Tons of birds about, black and white Magpies looking fat and sleek, and Eastern Meadowlarks.

This little Bluebird posed nicely!

As did this Meadowlark.

Then suddenly, the birds fell silent and disappeared, thanks to this little guy, who flashed rusty-red across the fields.

An old livestock loading gate.

After a while we head back down the road towards the main valley, stopping at the head of the small creek that flows through there. As I get out of the car, I hear my daughter say, "Look at this snake, mom!"
We are in rattlesnake country.
Calmly as I could, I call to her NOT to touch it or go near it, and go around the end of the car to her side. Here's what she found...

A cool little Garter snake, who was hanging out above the stream no doubt waiting for one of those juicy frogs to happen by. We admire him for a bit, he stares calmly back at us, then we go home for the day.

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