New Year's Eve in the Wichitas
December 31, 2005 - January 1, 2006

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We rang in the new year with our good friends the Callantines in one of Eric's favorite locations - the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge.  We got cabins in the nearby town of Medicine Park and spent two days hiking in the beautiful weather and enjoying the great company.

We saw an amazing amount of wildlife - pretty much every animal that lives in the park I think!  We saw wild boar, elk, buffalo, deer, prairie dogs, raccoons, wild turkeys, rabbits, and here's the kicker - a porcupine!  I've never seen one of those in person in my life.  What a treat.


We started our festivities with a great hamburger cookout.  

 Some of the pretty scenery.


This doesn't show up well in the picture but it's neat to see in person.  
It's a swath cut by a tornado.  These oaks are twisted into pieces with big limbs snapped off like twigs.


Here we are on our first hike into The Narrows



Nice, huh??  

Eric, trying to share his love of rock climbing I just got a new car the night before the trip.  Here I am as a proud passenger.

 Me & K, posing in order to steal a few minutes of rest.

 Eric, in his element on top of a tall rock.

 Our guide - waiting for us to catch up (again!)

 Looking over a very sheer 150 foot cliff.  It was a little intimidating.
I wasn't so much into looking down as
 looking around.  (It wasn't as scary!)
 Eric, showing off his awesome flexibility  The rocks there are covered in very colorful lichen and moss

We went driving around after our hike.  Here we see some Elk on the hill.
There were also two buffalo in the foreground but they were too dark to see
so I cut them out of the shot.

Here's a shot of a close encounter we had with a big buck 


Another shot of the same deer, a little closer this time
Here are the poor, undernourished Prairie Dogs.  I wonder if they 
ever have to call Roto-Rooter to get them unstuck from their holes!
Me & K, enjoying the Prairie Dogs.

(That's my new car behind K - the red Hyundai Santa Fe.)


Eric took us to another place for a short walk to a nice place to watch the sunset.
The sunset was nice enough to oblige us by being gorgeous.

  We joked that we saw every animal possible that
  day except a wild turkey.  A short while later these
  turkeys were spotted roosting in the trees.  

  Sorry the picture is so dark, but hopefully you can see
  their silhouettes. 



We were kindly invited to the town's Finlandic New Year's Eve celebration.  
We were all dying to see what a Finlandic New Year's party would look like, but after all that hiking we were just too lazy to go.


 Medicine Park - our cabins on the left (Wichita Mtn Lodge), and the nice little park which surrounds the creek runing through the center of town.


Here we are, blocking the    
gate at Lake Elmer Thomas . 

 Looking out at the lake...

 We had to take a break to let Eric
 blow off some rock-climbing steam.


 On the second day we hiked to "Crab Eyes"
There was a buffalo in the middle of the trail at the trail head.  
We had to hike around because he wasn't in the mood to move out of the way.


 Here he is up close (as close as I wanted to be!) He's scratching on the sign.

 Crab Eyes as seen from far below and at an angle.



 Now we're closer Stopping for another round of letting Eric climb
On our way out, this elk took a proprietorial view of the trail
He took this one as well.  I tell you, the quality of pictures
on my site has improved since hanging with the Callantines.
Here are us girls again, all smiles on the warm day.
Here's Jackson, one of the Callantine's dogs taking a rest. Eric calls him "Big Red"    Those clouds are amazing.

Here's the coolest animal we saw on the whole trip - 
a porcupine.  Sorry, we couldn't get a good picture
for all the leaves.  He climbed that tree in front of us.

He had buck teeth just like a beaver and moved very
slowly.  He was afraid of us so we didn't stay long.


On our way out it got so windy that the sky turned brown from dust.



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