Side Trip – Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Roswell, New Mexico (10/9/2019 – 10/11/2019)

Today Stretch and I spent 3 hours at the Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge outside of Roswell, New Mexico. It’s easy enough to find if you’re in the Roswell area. I’d say that if you’re into wildlife, habitat, ecological diversity, hiking, photography and just plain nature, I’d give this place at least half a day to explore.

There is no fee to enter the refuge and the volunteer staff at the visitor center is friendly and knowledgeable. The volunteer suggested coming in either earlier or later in the day which is when the wildlife is most active. I knew that, but I did the drive anyway.

In addition to walking and biking trails, the refuge has an eight mile driving trail (in excellent condition). The volunteer assured me that I wouldn’t feel rushed down the road by other drivers. So Stretch and I went off on our trek. There are several overlooks and trails (some easy and some longer) for observing the wildlife. I was amazed at the different habitat in such a small area. One minute you feel like you’re in the desert and then you’re in the Everglades National Park.

One of the reasons I love traveling with Stretch is he doesn’t care if I drive at 5 mph, stop, turn off the motor and listen or reverse back a few feet because I was sure I saw something move. We saw no other humans. I was the only one on the driving trail for the entire 3 hours. Heaven!!!

There were dragonflies everywhere. Each year the Refuge hosts their annual Dragonfly Festival in early September, on the first or second Saturday of this month.  I missed it by a month.
Dragonfly Trail that Stretch and I walked. If you look hard enough you’ll see the van at the top of the hill.
Common Checkered Whiptail Lizard
Common Checkered Whiptail Lizard in Stretch’s sight
As you can see, the water was so clear. I think it’s a carp. Not positive though.
Making our way back up to the campervan
Beautiful cactus.
I do believe that is a quail trying to hide from me.
Snowy Egret
Great Blue Heron

Being tourists today, Stretch and I walked down Main Street in Roswell, New Mexico. There is a beautiful memorial dedicated to the men and women from Chaves County, NM, who lost their lives in all wars and military actions. The memorial is at the entrance to the Chaves County Courthouse. We then drove over to the J. Kenneth Smith Bird Sanctuary and Nature Center.

Chaves County Courthouse, Roswell, NM
A fine looking specimen. I’m guessing a red squirrel.
The best bird blind I’ve ever seen
Inside the bird feeding area
The inside of the bird blind

If I ever have an opportunity, I will set up a bird blind.

Sea Rim State Park, Texas (April, 2019)

After visiting with Patrick, Kara and Duncan in Houston in late April, I made my way down to Port Arthur heading to Sabine Pass and then Sea Rim State Park. Everything I had read about Sea Rim was that it was a small park but most importantly, I should expect mosquitos. I felt prepared as I had bought some screening along with some magnets and just in case, I brought along some duct tape, for good measure. I was not terribly impressed with Port Arthur, in fact if I never go back there it would be too soon, but I had been warned. I drove through to Sabine Pass, which was kind of cute, reminded me of Belize a bit. I made a right turn at the only traffic light and headed down to Sea Rim. By the way, whenever I saw historical markers I would stop and read. More on that later.

I loved Sea Rim instantly. There are only 15 campsites and you can dry camp on the beach. There were only a few campers in the camping area. There was a nice breeze blowing off the Gulf and I got a really great eyebrow camping spot next to the marsh with a clear view to the Gulf.

I was only going to stay a couple of nights. I checked in and Stretch and I began to set up for the night. I cut my screening, but them set up in case I was barraged with mosquitos early. The only comfort station is a vault toilet (sort of like an outhouse). I had never encountered a vault toilet before so this was new to me. There are no inside showers with hot or cold running water. My site had electricity and water. There is a shower on the dune boardwalk which takes you to the beach, so if you want a cold shower, that will do.

The view from my campsite #12
This big boy was hanging out pretty close. I had to keep an eye on Stretch.
Not a fan of Texas beaches, but it sure was relaxing.
Willet Watching
Mrs. Kildeer trying to protect her eggs.
Her eggs
This boy would sit next to the van and just be so noisy. Loved watching them.
So beautiful when they all lift off together.
Black-necked Stilts

As it turned out, there was a great gulf breeze and I never had to worry about mosquitos. I kept my screens on at night, cracked my windows about 8 inches and slept like a baby. I even spent one more night and would have stayed longer except they were all full for the rest of the weekend.

On the way out I took a drive through Sabine Pass I discovered the Sabine Pass Battleground State Historic Site which honors the Civil War battlefield where Confederate soldiers stopped Union forces from entering Texas in 1863. It is a beautiful setting along the Sabine River and they have quite a large site to explore and lots of information. As I was walking through and reading all the information I kept thinking, I wonder if school children are brought here on field trips. What a great spot to learn some history.