Posts Tagged With: coyote

An Early Morning Walk In The Desert…

I’m currently parked at Slab City, an old deserted military base deep in the deserts of Southeastern California. I’ve been here numerous times and have written many Blog entries about Slab City. If you want to see some of them…look in the past years archives in December. For a general understanding of Slab City…just enter those two words in your Internet Search Box and you’ll find several sites describing this most unusual place. I’m here to upgrade our solar system on the motorhome, for which I have an 8:30 AM appointment this morning.

While here I’m parked directly in front of my friend Leo’s motorhome. I thought you might enjoy to see some of the photos during our about 45 minute walk yesterday morning. As always, you may click on the photos to see them in an enlarged view and then click on them once again to see an even larger view.

About one-half hour before sunrise I stuck my head out of the driver’s side motorhome window and took this photo of Leo’s front yard under a full moon…

We left right at sunrise  and shortly thereafter cast long early morning shadows upon the desert floor…

Two of the motorhomes in the distance are ours…

Leo’s is center left and mine is center right in this zoom shot…

A graded road makes for easier walking…

Leo’s Doberman Deja’ can be seen in this photo of a gaily painted deserted military base water tank…

The Slabs has quite a nice pet cemetery…

A close-up of one of the graves…

Oh, I almost forgot to show you last night’s sunset…

And a few minutes later…

It’s really peaceful and quiet here miles away from any city. During the night one can only occasionally hear the long mournful sound of a diesel train passing about three miles away…and the beautiful sounds of the coyotes howling at the Moon!

And speaking of the Moon…how about a full Moon rising photo…

Now…that’s something to howl about!!!

It’s a lousy job…but someone’s got to do it!  🙂

All original material Copyright – Jim Jaillet 2012
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Growing up in the country gave me a deep appreciation for the critters we share the planet with. On our trip, I can’t say we viewed a lot of wildlife, but we did run into these gorgeous pelicans in Venice, LA.

Our campsite was visited by this group of javelinas at Big Bend National Park in Texas.

Also this handsome coyote, fearless in bright daylight.

In Louisiana’s Bayou Signette State Pk. a busy armadillo regularly passed through the campsites.

At Jean LaFitte National Park, this beautiful fat squirrel.

This picture was also from Jean LaFitte. Its always a thrill to see wildlife. (More on this tomorrow.)

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The narrow canyon above is just past the Devils Spine and is the gateway to the Rocky Mountain Crossing on Highway 34.
From Evans, Colorado to Steamboat Springs on Highway 34 and 36 West is a reasonable day’s drive. I drove about 13 miles and I could see Jim was getting nervous so I pulled over short of Estes Park, another 22 miles up the road.  Jim reasoned that the highest road in America, at 12,183 foot elevation,  was not the place for a beginner. And, he was right. I drove the last hour to give him some rest. We stopped short of our goal, both of us tired, at the small town of Kremmling, Colorado.

Estes Park is a tourist destination, a skiing mecca in winter, it attracts backpackers,  mountain stream anglers and bikers. Many rustic and fancy cabins entice people to get-away to the fresh air and fragrant woods. It sits on the edge of the Eastern entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park.

We have a destination with ‘miles to go before we sleep’ so most of my pictures were taken from the motor home window. This rock formation was beautiful whether the pictures give it credit or not.

The pines have suffered from bark beetle infestation. In fact the park campground on the western slope is completely treeless because all of the trees died and had to be removed. Here you see the many dying, still standing trees. The grey ones are completely dead, the brown ones are on the way.

As you climb higher, the trees become smaller, stunted. In the visitor center it showed trees 100 years old bent and twisted by winds; small from barely sufficient nutrition. They were only two feet tall.

Suddenly you realize you are above tree level, looking down into moonscape canyons. The narrow roads and twists and turns made for some tense driving with a motor home pulling a 4,000 pound “toad”.

This vertical cut right through the rock gave our motors passage and has a beauty of its own.

The park is one of two places in the U.S. that has tuffa.

The road just traveled high on the right. The road we will travel in the center, without the twists as we seem to sit on top of the world.

Now we encounter pockets of snow that do not melt during the summer. We learned from the visitors center those pockets are filled with pure ice and are therefore  mini-glaciers.

Valleys like this, full of color and beauty provide forage and water for wildlife. Antelope, a smaller growing moose than the Canadian and Alaskan herds, deer, weasels, fox, big horned sheep, marmots, chickerees, and other small animals and birds make their home here. Plenty of signs show where to view antelope, but we didn’t see any wildlife as we drove by.

This spot marks the Continental Divide where river water now flows toward the west. It is significant, but, not that you could tell from this spot.

On the way down the Western slope, we had several miles of gravel road and roadwork. Signs promised no wait would exceed 60 minutes.

And, none did. But we sat in this parking lot and another for a lengthy time; enough time to turn off the engine and get out and walk around. Thus, I got pictures of some flora and fauna from the roadside woods. No one seemed upset. The air was fresh, the place restful and beautiful. But, at one point we were so close to a huge paving machine we slid by it within a few inches. I had my head out the window as we crawled by with my window beads clinging to my face, laughing all the way.

Don’t know what these plants are called.

The aspens are just turning color.

Its a beautiful drive. As usual, I took many pictures. If you would like to see them, click the link:

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We rode through 150 miles of repetitive Texas, with
three small desert towns, Marfa, Presidio and Lajitas. There was nothing between them but an occasional falling down shack and cactus. In that last stretch, we saw naught but an unmanned satellite blimp, tethered to a building watching for illegals. I was tempted to get up on a tall cactus and pirouette just to change their scene.
Here people are rich in solitude. And tough. You had to be tough to survive. Many didn’t.
From the park entrance it was yet another 35 to the Cottonwood Campground nearest the great Elena Canyon scoured by millions of years of the mighty Rio Grande, pushing its way south through the cracks in the fortress known as the Chisos Mountains.

Its winter here and our first day was 83 degrees, most likely unusual weather. We watched the javalinas play, and did some bird watching. Many northern birds winter here. It seemed out of place to see cardinals, their red feathers flashing, in the dry river rushes.

This coyote was unafraid of humans.
The following day, cooler at 67, we hiked the Elena Canyon to a point where no passage was possible.

The sheer, 1500 foot walls, stretch on either side of this gap for miles between the U.S. side and Mexico.
Our hike began up this switchback cemented path that quickly changed to natural rock at about the half way mark.
We stopped to rest and I had to wiggle my toes in the great Rio Grande.

This vast park, contains 800,000 acres and stretches over two time zones. Sheer river canyons, rushing wild rivers, breathtaking mountain vistas, sculpted mesas and desert lowlands comprise this unique wilderness that borders Mexico.

We also hiked to a special place on the river bank to look at the Mexican town of Santa Elena, across from us. From his last visit in 1997, Jim remembered this friendly border crossing, where no customs or immigration services were necessary. You hiked to the bank and for a couple of dollars a Mexican with a row boat would take you to Santa Elena where you could have lunch, or frequent a cantina for a couple hours of drinks and music, then be rowed back to the park. That charming experience was forever lost after 911.

We drove East out of the park for more views, but it really begs a week, at minimum, to appreciate what this special park has to offer.

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