Eagles, osprey, hawks, wild turkeys, water foul, canadian geese, snow geese, deer, rabbits, dinosaur tracks, and a very friendly park ranger greeted us at Clayton Lake State Park in Clayton, New Mexico.
Clayton Lake serves as a wintering area for waterfowl. The lake also contains rainbow trout, walleye, channel catfish, and bass. All these food sources draw birds of prey. Everyday Sue and I would sit in our chairs behind Shiny, which overlooked the lake, and watch eagles soar above their hunting grounds and osprey dive bomb the waters of the lake.
Canadian geese landed on the lake for the night and rose all together in the morning with cacophony of sound. Rabbits ran from hiding place to hiding place, never staying in the open for more than a second or two.
Deer foraged throughout the campground as if they owned the place. Maybe they do.
Television is no match for the show we witnessed here. By the way, we don’t watch TV. Shiny came with two televisions. One we removed and then installed a folding wall table for Sue to write/paint on every morning. The remaining TV we use as a digital towel rack.
Sue took a water color course this summer from Tuftonboro, NH resident, Jan Croteau and since then has been painting with water colors every morning often drawing inspiration from photos she has taken. We both agree it’s not fine art but she has fun doing it!
Clayton lake was formed in the 1970’s after an earth dam was constructed across Seneca Creek. The excavation for the dam plus a 1982 flood that washed away a layer of silt uncovered a treasure trove of dinosaur tracks.
Dinosaurs walked erect and generally did not drag their tails. Here at the Clayton lake site it is surmised that one slipped and lowered it’s tail to keep its balance. So there is also a rare tail imprint here. Unfortunately the pictures I took of the tail tracks did not come out well.
The mud cracks here at Clayton lake formed 100 million years ago as the ancient ocean, that existed then, dried up. I love this stuff!
Sue has an extraordinary eye for capturing the elegance of the moment. She sees beauty in the simplest everyday scenes that I just don’t comprehend until they are pointed out to me.
If you are in the area pay this extraordinary state park a visit!
I have been procrastinating on writing this post for about four months. I am a good procrastinator especially when my expectations for doing a really good job are high. Then, I somehow shut myself down and lock up. That’s when I have to remember one of the many lessons I learned from my Dad, Richard E. O’Shaughnessy. Dad always said, “any job worth doing is worth doing well.” And, he lived that. He seemed to give himself to the work whether it was teaching eighth graders about Earth Science, blacksmithing, or raising seven kids with my Mom. The key was to just do the work, even if you didn’t feel like it in the beginning. Just get going.
The flip side of this message was his, “let’s go for it!” attitude about life. He had a belief that things would work out and this was the source of great comfort to me when I was growing up. In a lot of ways, it was Dad’s and Mom’s approach to life that gave me the gumption to say, “Yes! Let’s do it!” when Larry suggested we sell the house and live in Shiny.
My Dad passed away at home on December 5, 2020. He leaves a big hole in my life but bigger than that is his legacy of doing what you can, using your gifts, helping others, and having fun along the way. So, I dedicate this 100th edition to my Dad.
We started writing this blog in October, 2017. We were dreaming about hitting the road. We had bought Shiny 6 months earlier. Our daughter and son in law would be house sitting and we were just waiting for Larry to mend from surgery on his knee. Even though we had campers for years, this would be our first foray into living full time on the road. So, we were green horns in a lot of ways. We are happy to report that we love being on the road and hope to continue as long as we want to.
Shiny has taught us a lot. We call the lessons, ‘Shiny Time’. Pretty much the lessons are about slowing down and trusting that things will work out. We’ve had lots of practice and I am a lot more open to ideas when Larry says, ‘Shiny time. Shiny time’, instead of, ‘Settle down, for Pete’s sake!’ I guess Shiny time has become our mantra, our reminder that if you want life to be different, then you need to do things differently, respond differently. We have reluctantly learned a lot about Shiny Time thanks to COVID-19. Many of the places at which we usually stay like state and national parks, have been closed. We have been concerned that we might unwittingly carry the virus from state to state and would place innocent people in harm’s way.
We could have easily turned this adventure into a lot of work if we had wanted to. Some how we have managed to slow the heck down and to just be amazed at the beauty of this country. The other great benefit of slowing down is being able to meet and to get to know some really cool folks
Shiny Time appreciation comes in handy when things get sketchy. We also find that the unexpected makes for a really good story. Most of the time I am too irritated to take a picture but I have caught a few. There was the time I learned about how to store plate ware while in transit.
Then, there was the time when it was about 30 degrees and icy at Edgar Evins State Park in Tennessee. We thought it would be warm in the south! Anyway, Larry thinks it’s safe to head down the ice covered road pulling Shiny. I’m not so sure. We make it out safely but, yikes!
We have had our share of wild weather and actually enjoy hunkering down in Shiny during a big rain storm. We’ve learned that heading north does not necessarily make things cooler as we discovered in the Dakotas. On the other hand, higher altitudes can bring relief during a hot summer.
We have been trying to think of our favorite places we’ve been and we’ve decided that there are a lot of things to consider such as the feel of the air, the number of people there, the night sky, and perhaps that thing that I have no words for – some sort of vibration, a story, the presence of ones who have come before us. The poet, David Whyte would call it the ‘genius of the place’. Feel free to click on the green links to get to an earlier post on the location with more details and photos.
We had a hard time narrowing down our contestants because we have seen so many beautiful places. After much debate, we have decided that Canyon de Chellyis our favorite so far. The landscape was stunning and location was remote. There were few people. It was steeped in history and we had the honor of being shown the area by our guide, Howard. Canyon de Chelly is Larry’s #1 favorite.
Organ Pipe National National Monument is another favorite. We were there in March and the Spring flowers had just blossomed in the nearby mountains. There were lots of good hikes and we met some great folks. We got a closer look as issues around illegal immigration and the hazards the immigrants face.
Next on our list of Favorites is Tall Grass Prairie National Preserve in Chase County, Kansas. I had always wanted to see the prairie and to imagine what it was like when, for thousands of miles, that’s all there was. We enjoyed the wide open spaces, the really big sky and the sense that the landscape had been touched little by mankind (thanks to the flint in the ground that made it unfit for farming).
White Water Draw Wildlife Area in McNeal, Arizona was a birder’s dream especially because we were so new to many of the birds of the Southwest. I will always remember the sight and sound of hundreds of Sandhill Cranes flying up into the sky at dawn.
Goose Necks Canyon State Park in Mexican Hat, Utah was some kind of crazy raw energy! You could walk up to the edge of a 1,000 foot cliff down to the San Juan River. We never got that close because the winds were blowing steadily at 40-50 miles per hour. We were in a very remote area with few folks around.
We had Clayton Lake State Parkin Clayton, New Mexico all to ourselves except for the bald eagles, osprey, deer, ducks, wild turkeys, snow geese and rabbits. Oh, and the fossilized dinosaur tracks were pretty cool too! We spent a lot of time sitting and watching.
Chiricahua National Monument in Wilcox, Arizona was definitely my (Susie’s) favorite. It was (you guessed it) remote. The rock formations were provocative and astounding. And, that thing that I don’t have a word for…the energy of the place was old and grounding and rich. It felt like a home coming.
Our last stop before COVID arrived was in Lone Pine, California. It was March and we thought since we were in California, it would be warm! Haha! There’s that little matter of the altitude. The mountains, streams and sheer wildness of the winds and snow made it a great place to be.
Last but not least is Swan Creek Recreation Area in Selby, South Dakota. Swan Creek is off of the Missouri River and it is, yes, remote. The hikes on the hills were lovely. The winds were wild. We had visions of the Lewis and Clark Expedition that had passed nearby over two hundred years ago.
So, that winds up this edition of Streamin’ in Shiny. Every day we feel so lucky to be able to write this post and to have these adventures. It remains hard to be away from loved ones but that seems to make me love and appreciate them all the more. Best wishes to each of you. Hopefully we will see you around the bend.