Camping in Palo Duro was lovely.  We were fortunate that there had been a lot of rain, so the wildflowers were blooming extensively and the colors of the landscape were enhanced.  The rains also provided cool weather, so the humans wore extra clothing and the Newfs were comfortable.  Parts of the campground were closed because of the heavy rains that had occurred prior to our arrival.  The red mud was covering the roads, and the campgrounds required significant clean-up.  Most of the park was still accessible.   The rain seemed to bring delight to many, and the reporters had a buzz topic, although the flooding in the canyons sounded worse when they reported than it did first-hand.  A woman and two children were playing in a stream filled with red muddy water, celebrating what appeared to be an unusual bounty.

Wildlife are not supposed to be fed at the parks, but the creatures who lived at this area were clearly rewarded for their presence.  Turkeys strode through the middle of camp, deer grazed along the campsites and a coyote walked through at mid-day.  Some of the turkeys, birds that are typically very cautious about the presence of people in the “real” wild, were almost insistent about being fed.  The toms were calling, strutting and displaying their featherage with pride.  The hens were clucking and moving through with some curiosity around the campers.  Jade and Banner were beyond themselves with excitement about these creatures being so close.  Greg was walking Jade when a coyote appeared, and she was “swept off her feet” with excitement, as Greg nearly was by her reaction.

We were pleasantly surprised that there was not a tick problem.  The dogs had baths with tea tree shampoo before leaving, which lasts for a few days.  The last day we were there, Banner (our tick magnet) picked up one tick.

The trails were nice.  We chose as our first trail one that was rated “difficult”, but it was lovely and not that difficult.  We only walked a mile, about half-way, then turned back.  There are many trails to choose from, with distance clearly marked, for planning, with lovely views and with nature up-close and personal.  With the cooler weather, we didn’t see any reptiles on the trail we chose that day.  We saw a racer near the entrance to the park on the first day, while it was warm, and from reading the stories of others, rattlesnakes are commonly seen.  Around the camp site and along the trails, there were lizards, bugs, birds, furred creatures and many varieties of plants.  One odd large beetle walked with its rear up and its nose to the ground across a road.  We were fortunate that we didn’t encounter any porcupines.

There was a lovely orange bird near the camp that would chatter, then skitter frome one tree to another.  We didn’t get to see it well; it may have been a variety of tanager.  There were many talkative birds around the campsites.

The camp sites were lovely, each with its own trails.  Water and electricity were available at most sites.  People were camping in tents, trailers and motorized RVs.  This is clearly a popular camping weekend for the park.  (pre-Memorial Day)

For one morning, the Newfs napped while the humans took a short horseback tour.  Nature is always best viewed from horseback, in my opinion.  And one of the days was dedicated to a trip to Amarillo, of course to visit the Quarter Horse Museum (again).  I want a barn floor with the kind of artwork in the main floor, where lineages are traced with the tile artwork!

We drove around the park several times during our stay to admire the landscape, with the Newfs.  There are many caves throughout the park.  We stopped to climb up to one large cave while the Newfs waited below and watched through the windows.

Our next destination was Albuquerque.  We were in Albuquerque for a family visit.  Our first stop was at The Furry Tail, for do-it-yourself Newf baths before our arrival.  The two gentlemen who ran this facility were taken with the Newfs and were very gracious about letting us give speed-baths at 1.5 hours before closing.

We spent one day in Santa Fe during that stay, but since it was warm on that day and there were 15 people in our group, with a lot of walking ahead, we left the Newfs in air conditioning.  There are many interesting places to visit in Santa Fe, but this required about 5 hours on foot, with few opportunities to sit down for a break.  There were shops with dinosaur fossils, one with a large intact hairy mammoth bone, another with a restored scapula of a dinosaur, and many jewelry and art shops.  There was an art exhibit that day on the plaza.  But, more than the sum total of all of the shops, there were restaurants.  We started at Tomasita’s before it was open (fortunately) and meandered through the city and back around to the train stop.

The Newfs enjoyed some strolls through the sand while we were in Albuquerque, and they went with us on errands.  They enjoy scenery-watching and people-watching from inside the vehicle, and they have increased enjoyment from seeing new sights just as we do.  (This is easily gauged from their reactions to their surroundings.)  The weather was cool while we were in Albuquerque, so when they weren’t with us, they stayed outside in the shade in the large heavy-duty exercise pen made from cattle panels.  This was premium time for them, as they love being outside when the temperature and humidity permit.  At home, it was too warm and humid for them to be outside for long.

The food was good and the trip was enjoyable for all.  Palo Duro is high on our list for a return trip in the spring.  I wonder if I’ll get to ride Guinness again.

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