Tuesday, October 11, 2011

39th State: Colorado - Jackson Lake (Oct. 11, 2011)

(Happy 20th Birthday to my beautiful granddaughter, Tori Bailey.)

Near Orchard, CO
Today is my first granddaughter’s 20th birthday, no more a teenager.
Tori and my son (her Dad) in Paris – September 2011.
Happy Birthday, Tori, this State Paddle is for you.
Sometimes a day starts out rotten and you think there is no way it will turn around, but today it did.  I had one of the most rewarding kayaking paddles yet.  Only 9 states of the lower 48 left to paddle.  Wow, I’ve done 39 states.
I had wanted to kayak North Sterling Park Reservoir but it was closed to boating.  I called to make sure it also meant kayaks, not just motorized boats.  All boats, in fact the Park was closed.  They suggested I try Jackson Lake near Orchard, CO.  Well, Sterling was dark, drizzly and windy… it looked like in the direction of Jackson, there was a blue hole in the sky and there was.
Once known primarily for the hunting around it’s banks, Jackson Lake State Park has become one of Colorado’s finest outdoor recreation and water sports sites.  The area is known for its shoreline camping and its large, warm-water reservoir with sandy bottom and beaches.  For fun in the sun and unlimited recreational opportunities, Jackson Lake is the place.  From Colorado State Parks brochure.  www.parks.state.co.us
… 2,700 surface-acre reservoir and the park of a total of 440 acres
… 260 campsites near or on the water, with showers, toilets, laundry, electric hookups and drinking water – can you imagine the craziness of all that in season?
… Shoreline Marina provides food and drink, boat rentals, boat storage, gas and boating, fishing and camping supplies.
… lake has trout, walleye, catfish, perch, crapple and wipers (whatever that is?)  (and one of those was jumping crazy)
… winter months… camping, wildlife observation, photography, ice fishing and ice skating
This is a very nice place off season… and so quiet and serene.  I loved it.
These large birds greeted me at the entrance, but what are they?  Cost $7 for daily.
Yes, I’m in my glory… and I love it like this.  Calm, partly cloudy, and NO people.  It just doesn’t get any better than this.  There was one boat trailer in the parking lot but he must have been at the Dam end of the lake as I never saw him until I headed in.
I saw many very large fish jump straight up out of the water… about a foot or more, but darned if I could catch it with the camera.  No matter which way I was looking the fish would be on the opposite side of me.  These were as close as I could get… and they were really big fish.
You’ll find beauty everywhere… you just have to be open to it.  Last good shot I got like the above was when I paddled Port Angeles Harbor, WA with GG.
Then I spotted this ol’ feller (Great Blue Heron?) and began trying to get the best shot of him that I could, when large shadows came across my boat.  What the heck?  Something was above me???  I turned the camera UP and began aimlessly clicking. Good thing I had the camera running, or I wouldn’t have caught these.
This might be the best photo of the day.  So I followed the Pelicans.  A whole flock was coming in for a landing or rest on their migration I would suspect.  You just enjoy the following photos of them… hopefully as much as I enjoyed the afternoon watching the Pelicans.  Boy, Tori, I wish you could have been here with me today.



The crane and I were both watching them all come in.
IMGA0951 IMGA0957

And then this old guy made a spectacular landing right beside my kayak… of course, the camera was off.  I’m thinking he was an old geezer who just has more fun watching another old geezer watch the youngling's in the flock, then being a part of the flock himself… just like ME!  Very interesting.  At least he thought I was interesting, or maybe he just thought I had food.  I wish I could have caught his landing… it was awesome.
And they just kept coming in.

Once in a while a few would take flight and buzz the flock… like they were showing off to get attention… maybe they were young males doing just that.  As I was leaving the very quiet lake, they had spread out along the shoreline where I was when they first came in… and suddenly I heard this noise that sound like the roar of a semi-truck in the near distance.  But, it was a whole group of the pelicans taking flight at a low level and feet hitting the water as they buzzed about in a tight circle… and the feet and wings made this low rumbling sound.  Never heard anything like it before.  My camera battery was dead so I could not get that shot… but it was breathtaking.
Misc. other photos…
A Rock?   Looks like a Buoy to me.
Looks to me like it was time to head in with that cloud coming in over my head.  Crazy thing… the cloud was going West, but the winds were coming from the West.  What the heck?
Now for a drive around the park.  Then time to leave, thinking, I can’t top this… there’s nothing else to see.  HA!
As I’m leaving the park, I see something cross the road ahead.  Quick, scramble in the back and find the camera I just plugged in to recharge.  What is it?  Then pulling closer…
… and closer, a flock of wild turkeys…  WOW and GEE WHIZ!  How can the day end any better?   Wait…  something else crossing the road.  A stray wild turkey, odd for one to get separated from the flock???
Darn… it just got better, a male pheasant.  These birds (the turkeys and the pheasant) were within feet of each other.  Amazing.
Enjoyed the last little bit of the area before hitting the highway.  On the right, don’t you just love those cloud formations.  Black spots in the sky are blackbirds, landing in the corn field.
On the distant horizon are the Rocky Mountains… and Denver. I always love this view… when you first see the Rockies.  I feel more at home with mountains in view than anywhere else on earth.
Whoops… sun in my eyes and still fighting the eye infection,  I have missed the turnoff to avoid downtown Denver, ugghhh, and there it is.  Here I thought the day couldn’t get better… and now it just got worse for me.  After one of the most quiet and serene days I’ve had in awhile… I’m heading into downtown Denver.
Then mother nature sends a full moon out from behind the clouds as if to reassure me I could get through this challenge (Denver) and come out the other end o.k.  But, oh my gosh, how do people live like this?  Do they know what they are missing out there?  And what’s all that talk about no funds being used for our “infrastructure?”  That’s all I’ve see all the way through SD, NE, and CO.  Road construction, must be millions of dollars worth as it just went on and on for miles.
But then there it was again, hiding behind the trees, as if to say, “Don’t worry, Swankie, I’ll still be around when you get out of that mess down there.  You can do it.  It will be O.K.“
So sometimes the day starts off rotten and even ends that way, but the middle was grand.  I was very tired by the time I got through Denver, but drove until about 8:30pm… just to get clear of the craziness know as a civilization… the CITY.  I was glad this day was over and will only remember the GRAND part of the day… nature and the birds.


  1. I think I'm going to take up kayaking. It was beautiful. I keep saying I am going to get one of the nice inflatables, sea eagle.

  2. Check my online store... just got it up today... there is an inflatable there like the one Judith of NC got.
    If you buy anything from Amazon through my store, I make a little money off the sale.



Who is Swankie?

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Anywhere, USA, Full-Time USA traveler, United States
In 2006, I was shopping for a wheelchair. By 2007, I had new knees, better health and by 2008 a kayak. In Aug 2013, I kayaked my 49th state, Alaska, at the Holgate Glacier and in May 2014, I kayaked Hawaii, my 50th state, to celebrate my 70th Birthday and the finale to the wonderful adventure of Kayaking America? Next up... Solo Hiking the Arizona Trail, 820 miles? Maybe. Still healing from shoulder and trying to decide.