Saturday, November 18, 2017

When the Weather Turns Cold . . .

We had some cool and windy weather while we were camping at Palo Duro Canyon, but we still got out to do some hiking. One afternoon we hiked the Rock Garden Trail, named for the huge boulders littering the bottom of the canyon in this area.

There are plenty of those boulders along the trail, just waiting for someone to scramble to the top for views as we climbed higher.

After a couple miles, we got to the top of the canyon wall, where we could see all around us. We don't have sunshine today, and jackets were greatly appreciated with the winds at the top. The trail continues along this rim for miles, and the only way to get here is up the Rock Garden Trail.

As we hiked along the rim, we saw some movement on the canyon wall below us. Are those big horn sheep?

Once we got a better look, we realized that these were not the big horn sheep we had seen in other parks this year. They are larger, with impressive shaggy hair hanging from their throats and front legs. These are aoudad, a north African sheep. A small herd was shipped to Texas in the 1950's and it is estimated that more than 25,000 now live in the United States.

We feel lucky to see these two big guys, as they blend in well with their surroundings. It was fun to watch them make their way across the steep canyon walls. It's hard to spot them in the picture below, as they are making their way across the rocky top of the canyon rim.

On these windy days, we also spent some time relaxing inside the motor home. Denisa got out our line dance music and got some exercise dancing inside. The picture also represents other rainy-day entertainment. You can see Denisa's piano on the far left of the picture, and Mark's entertainment is that old western movie playing on the television. We were shocked to find we had a reasonable over-the-air TV signal down in the canyon.

On another day, we headed to the nearby town of Canyon, Texas. Mark has been shopping for new tires for our car, and we had them installed in Canyon. Between the miles we drive and tow the car, we are finding that tires wear out fast. 

We were looking for a good indoor activity for a cold day, so we headed to the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum in Canyon. This is touted as the largest history museum in Texas, and we're pretty sure it would take several days to see everything. A large section on the oil and gas history of the Texas Panhandle includes a full-size drilling platform.

A large room explains the advent of the windmill. It was a perfect instrument to use the prevalent wind to bring water to this desert landscape.

There were rooms of dinosaur skeletons and Indian artifacts. We have been impressed with the immense size of the bison we have seen on several occasions this year. But the bison head on the far left looks small when compared to the skulls of its relatives that used to roam this Texas panhandle.

It looks like Denisa has sprouted horns, but she is really there to show just how big the Bison Latifrons was.

We've had some temperatures in the upper 20's at night, so we are running our gas heater to keep our water pipes from freezing. With day time temperatures in the 50's, fall is reminding us why we are usually heading south about now. But we see a trend of warmer temperatures coming, and we have one more hike planned in the canyon before we leave.

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