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The Thundering Herd- October 2018

It’s one of my favorite times of the year.  Fall is here!  Temperatures are cooler, there’s more rain in the forecast, and I can be sitting here typing up this blog with a hot cup of tea.  Also gazing out at the lavishness of purple Gayfeather (Liatris punctata), there is an abundance of monarch butterfly flittering from plant to plant this year even though we are on the edge of their migration route.  The park has received several more inches of rain since our last blog and I’m happy to say that Lake Theo is definitely benefitting from it.

Last month was again a whirlwind of activity getting ready for Bison Fest.  And once again, Bison Fest did not disappoint!  Over 800 folks turned up for the event with over 50 vendors all in the quaint, small town of Quitaque.  Tracy Byrd, Wade Bowen, and the many other entertainers did a phenomenal job.  I’d venture to say that Tracy Byrd’s voice is still as good as the first time I ever heard one of his songs!  I don’t know about you guys and gals, but there is just something so special to me to see a large crowd gathered in such a small town.  There is still that small town feel and the street dance during the festival is definitely something to partake in if you’ve never been.  What a fun time and an awesome benefit to the Texas State Bison Herd Restoration Project.  A huge thank you to the Caprock Partners Foundation, the many volunteers who helped to make it possible, and the many other supporting businesses and individuals!

Here’s a look at what to look forward to at the park this month!

What to See & Do This Month:

Join the Texas Parks and Wildlife Pollinator BioBlitz!  Participate in this statewide effort to identify and observe pollinators beginning October 5 through October 21st.  You can help increase awareness about the importance of our pollinators from the butterfly, bee, and even bat.  Post pictures on social media with the hashtag #TXPollinators.  Participate in some citizen science for pollinators by posting a picture of a pollinator onto iNaturalist under the 2018 Texas Pollinator Bioblitz.  This is also a great way to receive help identifying the species of pollinators you capture…  With your camera of course!

Ranger Recommendation:

Speaking of cameras, get those cameras ready and join us for some Fall foliage tours!  As soon as we start seeing those beautiful orange and gold leaves of the cottonwood and western soapberry along the Trailway, we’ll be offering tours each Friday evening to see them.  Stay tuned for event announcements!  Fall Foliage tours only happen in a short span of time each year and space is limited.  Reservations will be required so don’t miss your chance to partake!

Programs & Events:

October 6:

  • Canyon Walk & Talk, 9:00 a.m., Meet at the South Prong Parking Lot
  • Goin’ Batty, 2:00 p.m., Visitor’s Center Pavilion, *Program is designed for children 12 and under*
  • The Dirt Storm Drifters Band, 7:30 p.m., Visitor’s Center Pavilion, *FREE with paid park entrance fee*

October 7:

  • Caprock Van Tour, 2:00 p.m., Reservations Required, *Call the park at (806)455-1492
  • Paleos of the Panhandle, 7:45 p.m., Interpretive Amphitheater

October 12:  Just guessing here, but this is when we generally start seeing some fall foliage along the Trailway.  (Please check back at a later date to ensure that the tour is indeed available)

  • Fall Foliage Tour, 5:00 p.m., Reservations Required, *Call the park at (806)455-1492*, $10 per seat. (TBA)

October 13:

  • Little Habitat on the Prairie Hike, 9:00 a.m., Meet at the Honey Flat Restrooms
  • Music Under the Stars (live music from local musicians Cecil White and John Walker), 7:00 p.m., Visitor’s Center Pavilion

October 19:  Just guessing here, but this is when we generally see some fall foliage along the Trailway.  (Please check back at a later date to ensure that the tour is indeed available)

  • Fall Foliage Tour, 5:00 p.m., Reservations Required, *Call the park at (806)455-1492*, $10 per seat. (TBA)

October 26:  Just guessing here, but this is when we generally see some fall foliage along the Trailway.  (Please check back at a later date to ensure that the tour is indeed available)

  • Fall Foliage Tour, 5:00 p.m., Reservations Required, *Call the park at (806)455-1492*, $10 per seat. (TBA)

October 27:

  • Canyon Walk & Talk, 10:00 a.m., Meet at the South Prong Parking Lot

Quote of the Month:

“Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of man’s desire to understand.”  ~Neil Armstrong

Interpreter’s Corner:

Have you ever pondered the reason for some of the more fanciful stories told by different cultures or even the fairytales we were always told growing up?  How about today’s reasoning behind different holidays like Halloween?  Recently, we stumbled upon the unclear image of an unknown animal on our game camera in the park.  Each of us studied the image trying to find pieces of evidence in the photo for known animals that live in the park.  But, each of us had reasonings to think otherwise about each possibility.  What’s amazing about this picture is not that we can’t all agree on what the animal in question is.  What is truly amazing is that this picture has spurred on a new sense of wonder about our park for all of our staff.  I guess mysteries have a way of doing that to even the most seasoned employees who know each and every rock crevice, every bush, and in a general sense, every critter!  We posted this picture on our park Facebook page and received an immense amount of opinions on what the animal could be.  It seems as though our mystery animal has spurred on a new sense of wonder for our Facebook supporters as well!  I think that’s what different holidays and stories all share.  Even though we learned at an older age that many of these stories weren’t exactly true, I think the real reason behind them was quite effective.  We all came away with a sense of wonder.  We now all have a renewed sense of wonder when we drive into the gates of Caprock Canyons State Park all thanks to one picture.  It has helped us reconnect ourselves with nature within the park.  What will your renewal of wonder be?

Le’Ann