Pelicans in Oklahoma? Sure….and the Easter Bunny is going to load the Fireball up with Reese’s Peanut Butter eggs this weekend. Right.
But, here we are, camped on the Salt Fork of the Arkansas River in Great Salt Plains State Park (OK), and we have white pelicans floating alongside our campsite. And, there’s an enormous lake which has about 1/2 the salinity of the ocean just a few hundred yards away. This is not the Oklahoma we expected to see.Our own private dam….and a beautiful campsite (see us on the left about 1/2 way down on the left?) complete with water and electric for $18/night.I really can’t believe I’m in Oklahoma (until someone wants to talk politics). It’s beautiful and peaceful. We’re right alongside the edge of the Salt Plains National Wildlife Preserve, so I cycled over there to take in the sights and see the Visitor Center.This is on a major north/south migratory path for many bird species, but there was a lot of room at the inn today, as there weren’t many birds in sight. I rode along the gravel roads and hiked the Nature Trail and saw a few egrets, Great Blue Herons, many other wading birds that I couldn’t identify, mallards galore, one bluebird, a pair of cardinals, and a bunch of cormorants. Lots of other small birds which I couldn’t see well enough to identify.
Persistant knocking on the door of the Visitor Center persuaded the Ranger inside to open up and let me see the exhibits inside. He answered all my lame questions, and offered up the following tidbit. On a single day, there were 130,000 Sandhill Cranes and 120,000 Canadian Geese here last fall. Can you imagine seeing that through these birder blinds?Such a sight (and such a ruckus) is beyond my comprehension.
It’s a quiet place, and we were happy to be here. John rode off in search of digging selenite crystals, which take on a unique formation in this area. However, the digging area was both farther away than he was willing to cycle (about 40 miles round trip – tough on his CX bike) and it required more/better tools than we had. Next year.
Windy, cool, cloudy, and a bit of rain for the day, but we are happy to be out in the boonies. I’d love to be here during fall migration when there are hundreds of thousands of pelicans (the Ranger told me that the ones by our campsite have probably decided not to make their return trip to Oregon, and will stay for the season), plus Whooping Cranes (up to about 300 from near extinction of a population of 18), and dozens of other species.
Things are on the upswing, after disappointment in Dodge City. We’re on our way tomorrow to the Chickasaw National Wildlife Refuge in OK for a few days, so (hopefully) more of the same peacefulness will stretch into the weekend.