High Plains Driftin'-2011
Aug 17, 2011Public
Photo: We start the first leg of the trip on Sunday with a stop to check on one of our Famous Trees, the "Fleming Oak" in Comanche.
Photo: This tree was saved in 1911 by "Uncle Mart" Fleming, who had camped under the tree when he first arrived in Texas in 1854, and refused to let the tree be cut down in the name of "progress."
Photo: It's now suffering through one of the driest years in the last 100 years, but shows a new flush of leaves here.
Photo: The Shackelford County courthouse in Albany.... Texas, that is!
Photo: We had several big trees to check on, including this #2 Afghan pine (Pinus eldarica) near Knox City, located at the NRCS Plant Materials Center and planted in 1986.
Photo: Just to show how easy it is to grow a champion tree, here is the same Afghan pine in 1988 shortly after being planted.... Just add water and time (25 years) and you, too, can have a state champion tree!
Photo: Next we measured the current state champ white mulberry (Morus alba), shown here beside owner, Renella Watson.
Photo: Up the road in Seymour, another sizeable white mulberry, which hadn't been measured since 1976. Unfortunately, a recent "topping" caused its measurements to actually shrink after 35 years.
Photo: A glimpse of rain clouds west of Childress, a sight not often seen this summer -- just about anywhere in Texas!
Photo: One of many dust devils (left shoulder) we spotted along the way.
Photo: Enough rain to spot the windshield, but a welcome sight, nonetheless....
Photo: ...and even a rainbow to mark its passing!
Photo: More clouds at sunset between Amarillo and Canyon.
Photo: Monday morning brought us to Palo Duro Canyon State Park to search for a few new state champions. Some authors have described stands of 100-foot tall Rocky Mountain junipers (RMJ's) in the 120-mile long canyon.
Photo: Park Manager Mark Hassell volunteered to show us some of the more remote areas of the park, places that might harbor the big RMJ's (Juniperus scopulorum) we've heard about.
Photo: Down in the floor of the canyon, which runs along the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River.
Photo: A young buck mule deer.
Photo: At one of the picnic areas along the river, Mark showed us this large RMJ.... Could it be a new champ?
Photo: This juniper is distinguished by its small, blue cones with a whitish "bloom," leaves that resemble eastern redcedar and a tall, straight trunk with shredding bark.
Photo: One of our many views of the farms on the caprock. Now we're headed to another hidden canyon in the park.
Photo: First, a quick stop to check out the local real estate.... Texas Parks & Wildlife owns this restored ranch house, named the Fortress Cliffs Ranch, but for budgetary reasons has put it on the market along with much of their caprock acreage within 1,500 feet of the canyon edge.
Photo: Gretchen looks right at home.... "Come on in and let's have a look-see!"
Photo: "Here's the updated kitchen...."
Photo: "...and the fabulous view from just one of several living areas. Perfect for entertaining!"