Three months! It almost seems impossible that this amount of time has passed here at the Gila! We have settled into the monsoon season which seems to have started on about June 29. I believe we have only been able to keep the cliff dwellings open only 4 of the past 26 afternoons. All other days we have had lightning close enough to shut down. (Insert lots of visitor grumbling here.)
The bookstore manager, Randall, was telling me today that the monsoons will start producing more rain and the rain will begin to move from afternoon to after dark. This has sure been true the past couple of days. It makes for good sleeping weather – thunder and the intense drumming of rain on our little roof lull Zuni and me to sleep. The morning temperatures are in the high fifties or low sixties, and thick fog rises up from the low areas between the mountains. One morning all the mountains were enveloped in fog. But by 10:00 a.m. daily the skies are vibrant blue with a few puffy white clouds. The temperatures start zooming up to 85 or more and air conditioners whir to life. But by noon thunderheads billow up, black walls of storm press in from all sides, the temperature drop to 70 and the whole cycle starts all over again!
Where previously the hills were all brown tinder, everything now is green and lush. We even have tiny mosquitoes accompanying the flies! With apologies to Mother Nature I bought flying insect killer at Walmart to protect myself so I could sit outside in my lounger and enjoy the weather a bit.
I love the drive through the mountains to and from Silver City. There are always a few deer grazing roadside, the occasional turkey strutting across the road and of course the surprise bobcat chasing a potential meal of robin. This Monday I saw a mother and dad Montezuma quail with 8-10 babies crossing the mountain road. The male quail are very distinctive – I liken his markings to a 4 year old who has discovered mommy’s eye make up! So far in my travels I have seen California or Gambel’s quail, scaled quail (in Big Bend) and now Montezuma. Since they are normally very fast moving and I cannot activate my camera fast enough, I’ve nabbed some photos from the internet:
Scaled Quail – like I saw on the Black Gap Road in Big Bend:
Gambel’s Quail – seen several times in my travels:
Today I was carefully removing some things from storage under the RV. One always should be wary of scorpions, spiders and snakes in this environment. Wood piles, under rocks and ground level storage areas – like under the RV – are prime habitat for the critters. Low and behold I encountered what I thought was a 3-4” long scorpion! It lacked the curly tail of a scorpion and had more prominent stick-like legs. It moved real fast and I could not find it again after I got my camera. The full-time residents tell me it is a “vinegaroon”. Non-poisonous. It comes out this time of year and loves to eat other bugs:
I almost forgot that Zuni’s dog-friend, Spike, and his mom, Chris, came over to visit last night. The “kids” enjoyed tearing up a squeaky chew-toy:
It is 8:30 p.m. and the thunderstorms are really cranking up now. It is time to get ready for work tomorrow. I’ve got the tour so Petey the packrat and I have got to brush up on our presentation skills! Good night! Here is a picture of the storm moving in before it started to dump on us a few minutes ago: