Sunday, July 06, 2008

White River Wildlife Area

John has always wanted to live on a ranch. He grew up in Castle Rock, Colorado, a small town south of Denver that then had about 350 residents. Many of his friends lived on ranches. This year we are spending July and August volunteering at the White River Wildlife Area in Central Oregon and expect we will really like it here. We feel like we are living on our own ranch. There is a field just outside the fence in front of our site where a local rancher grazes his cattle. We can hear them mooing and watch the calves cavorting. The wildlife manager, Josh, and family are the only other people living on the 29,760 acres Oregon owns here. Their house is nearly one-half mile away.

After two months at the hatchery where there was constantly running water, as well as US Highway 30 very close, we spent five nights at a lovely RV park in White Salmon, WA, near Hood River, OR. The only downside to that spot was the very busy railroad track. Now we are living in incredible peace and quiet with a view of Mt. Hood out the front door.

And did I mention, it's warm and dry here? No more rain forest. We passed the invisible north-south line than runs somewhere between Hood River and The Dalles where you move from the rainy western part of Oregon into the desert eastern high plains.

We have three hummingbird feeders out in addition to the birdseed feeder which was provided by the wildlife area. We are enjoying watching American Goldfinch at the feeder and several hummers fighting and drinking.

When we arrived on Thursday we were very fortunate to turn a corner just behind a pickup with an ATV in the bed. When we stopped to look at our directions, the truck driver stopped and backed up. I got out and asked him, "Do we look like we're lost? We're looking for the White River Wildlife Area." He said, "Follow me." After following him for maybe 2 miles we were at the volunteer host sites. The driver hopped out, said, "Hi, I'm Ed." We introduced ourselves and thanked him profusely for helping.

A few minutes later Aimee, the volunteer coordinator and assistant manager, drove up to welcome us. She said we should come down to the office after we were settled.

In addition to the orientation materials Aimee gave us and a tour of the headquarters area, she outfitted us with work shirts, a hat, work gloves and a windbreaker. Some places we volunteer give us nothing but a hat. Other locations, like here and Hot Springs National Park, outfit us completely.

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