120 miles southwest of Amarillo, by car, is the Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge. It is located in the central flyway for migratory birds. For approximately six months out of the year the refuge is the wintering home of sandhill cranes. Muleshoe NWR, founded in 1935, happens to be the oldest national wildlife refuge in Texas.
Working out the wrinkles
As I assumed, there would be lots of kinks to work out with my car to camper conversion once I hit the road. After my blitzkrieg drive from Massachusetts, I was pretty tired. On top of that, it was in the low thirties, and the wind was gusting. I really didn’t want to get involved with to much at that point. My first priority was the solar panel set up. The only problem with that was the tangled cabling which took a bit of time to get untangled. Once that was done, the solar setup worked like a charm. The next issue; bringing too much stuff, and that is all about arranging and rearranging in order for me to have somewhere to sleep. I feel that this is going to be an ongoing issue for a while.
Even when it was time to eat, I went the quick route. Dinner consisted of dehydrated beef stew and water. Dehydrated foods have come a long way. I do intend to review the products I will be using along the way, but for now, I’ll just say everything worked as expected.
The Sound Of Silence
The only sound is the wind, and even now that has begun to fade in the late afternoon. A harrier will occasionally fly by and hover looking for prey. The 6,440 acre short grass prairie is dotted with sage, yuccas, cactus and scattered mesquite.
There is no cell phone signal, no electricity, and no water. It has been several hours since I arrived here at Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge, and the only other person I have seen was a park ranger some time ago. It is truly a peaceful setting.
At dusk I go for a quick hike around the area before settling in for the night. I was fortunate to stumble across a great horned owl. He would be hanging around the following morning as well.
It was a spectacular clear night. A night perfect for stargazing if you wanted to be outside in 17ºF. I had no problem staying warm in sleeping bag in my “mini-camper.”
Seeing the Sandhills
The following morning it was still frigid out, but I managed to have some tea with my owl friend before heading to see hundreds of sandhill cranes.
As mentioned earlier, this is one of the wintering sites for sandhills along the central migratory flyway. They reside in the saline lakes that are scattered around the refuge. These lakes were pretty dried up and in winters where there is sufficient water supply there will be an additional abundance of water fowl there as well.
It was a short drive from my campsite to the saline lake where all the cranes were resting. On the way there, there was a pull off to view prairie dogs. They were either asleep or to cold to come out of their burrows to welcome me. However, no shortage of cranes.
And on to Roswell
After spending the morning watching and listening to the sandhill cranes of Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge it was off to Roswell New Mexico to see what close encounters of any kind I might find. Peace