What We’re Doing Santa Ana NWR (and a commentary)

06 Mar

Bits and Pieces.  On Sundays, Arlyne and I work in the little fee booth at the entrance to the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge. When we sit in the booth, we’re the first people that visitors encounter when they come to the Refuge. Even at this little outpost (volunteers call it the isolation booth or solitary confinement), we have adventures. We talk to local residents, Canadians, Winter Texans, various foreigners, and people who are lost. Some people, especially locals, think the Refuge is a zoo and when they’re disappointed, they want their money back. Some of them say “I just got an important call and I have to go back home. Can I get a refund?” Some visitors are irate, for various reasons: $5 per car is way too much, there weren’t any animals, they thought they could drive through the Refuge, they thought they could ride bikes through the Refuge, they heard there were snakes, they couldn’t see the Rio Grande river from the Visitor Center, etc.  Of course, most people who come here have a great time.

We talk to lots of Highway Patrol, Border Patrol and State Police. They get in free. Arlyne knows most of them now. With the build-up of enforcement here at the border, we’ve noticed up to 8 vehicles in less than two miles on the highway running in front of the Refuge.  Now that’s a lot, folks.

Arlyne and I are going to “audit” one of the educational programs that two other volunteers present to local schools and other groups. Arlyne has experience in front of groups and I do too. We may shift over and do some of these programs once in a while. They call these programs Environmental Education or EE. Kids, usually from middle school, learn about wild birds, including feathers, feet, bills, habitats, nests, sounds and so forth. This could be fun.

Commentary (on what’s right in front of us).

(Military) Selective Service. I was standing in line at the Post Office when I noticed a Government brochure about the Selective Service System (the draft, remember that?). Who actually reads these things? I gave it a try. The headlines read:

“Do the Right Thing” and “It’s Quick, It’s Easy, It’s the Law”.  Well, OK fine, but I kept reading. One of the sections asked:

“Who Must Register?” Answer: “Male U.S. citizens and immigrants, documented and undocumented, residing in the U.S.….. age 18 through 25.” Wow! I didn’t know undocumented immigrants had to register! Another section asked:

“What happens if I don’t register?” (I’ll paraphrase here): It’s a felony. Those convicted of this crime may be fined $250,000 and be imprisoned for up to five years. In addition, no student financial aid, no government employment, no job training and no U.S. citizenship (ever, apparently). Wow! I’m sitting here visualizing a millennial or an illegal immigrant being fined $250,000 and/or put in jail. Come on, seriously, that’s never happened and never will. Easily 99% of the people in this country, legal or not, could never hope to come up with that much money. If a real draft was ever instituted again, ten million millennials and five million illegal immigrants would leave the country.

What else? You must report any address changes to the Selective Service. Good luck. That’s not going to happen either.

Finally..… The Privacy Act Statement is actually the funniest part. The information a young man must provide to the Selective Service is also made available to the following:

  1. Department of Justice
  2. Department of State
  3. S. Citizenship and Immigration Service
  4. Department of Defense
  5. U.S. Coast Guard
  6. Department of Labor
  7. Department of Education
  8. Office of Personnel Management
  9. U.S. Postal Service
  10. Department of Health and Human Services
  11. State and Local Governments
  12. Bureau of Census
  13. Alternative Service Employers
  14. And finally………the general public! (It really says this!)

Privacy Act? What privacy? State Governments? The general public? My estimate of the number of people who can read the young man’s information (including his address and social security number) is 200 million people! What privacy? I’m not saying the Selective Service Act isn’t necessary when needed, but why put in stuff that won’t ever be implemented? Is it just to scare people? Probably.

In the Motorhome and around the Neighborhood. Arlyne makes wonderful meals for us in our little motorhome. Great chili con carne, butternut squash soup and spaghetti with pesto and mushrooms, for example. I try to make different things for breakfast and I sometnice loaf from the ovenimes bake stuff. I’ve baked my usual honey oatmeal bread and I just made rosemary bread like the Macaroni Grill does. It was very good. I made an apple cobbler last week that was quite a success. I just made snickerdoodle cookies tonight.

We just got our six brand new Michelin tires installed at no charge per the recall. I guess you could say we “fell into this”. I’m just glad the blowout we had on our way here wasn’t a front tire.

I’ve set 7 or 8 mouse/rat traps around and inside the motorhome. My neighbor found one trap nearly 100 feet away. I think a raccoon ate the peanut butter. No rodents yet.

I saw a big tractor/skiploader on my way through the maintenance area. I asked the guy next to it “Is this bring your tractor to work day?” Another machine with big tires looks like a moon rover. He said they called it a “roll-a-don”. It goes on land and through water.

Bring your tractor to work day.....

Bring your tractor to work day…..


ruby-crowned kinglet-blog


curve-billed thrasher-blog





roll-o don

roll-o don

Several days ago, the Refuge put on Winter Texan Appreciation Day. We had free entry, refreshments and reduced tram fare. Lots of folks showed up and even non-winter Texans got the free stuff. We have a good time when everybody else has a good time.

Winter Texan Appreciation Day

Winter Texan Appreciation Day









We saw a lot of smoke about a mile down the road as we were driving to deal with our tire replacement. It apparently was a controlled burn of a sugar cane field. There were huge flames and lots of smoke. A worker was driving slowly along the edge of the field with a loudspeaker, saying “peligro, peligro! (danger, danger). We stopped briefly next to the field but it was too hot to stay there. We snapped a quick picture. Nearby, broccoli, cauliflower and kale crops were being harvested.

coming up on fire blazing sugar cane fieldGolf. I haven’t played for four months but I played last Friday and shot an unusual 89. I shot a 50 (gasp!) on the front nine and a 39 (gasp!) on the back nine. I can’t explain that. I played with two retirees, one of them a woman who gave me her phone number. I told Arlyne about that.

Birding. We still go out to see birds when we can. We recently went to Edinburgh Wetlands to check it out. Fortunately, we ran into an interesting birder who we shadowed. He was better than us and able to identify some little birds that flitted through the trees and brush. We picked up a new bird as well several days ago. A huge crowd formed at Estero Llano State Park for several days to see two rarities; the gray-crowned yellowthroat and the white-throated thrush. These birds show up in the U.S. only very rarely. We went to the park just after the big birder surges and managed to see the yellowthroat. Arlyne got a 10% picture that I’m not going to include. I got a 5% picture. It was just too quick.  It’s been rainy, cold and overcast for the last couple of weeks, not great for photography. We do have a few pictures though.

golden-fronted woodpecker-1 mockingbird-2 ruby-crowned kinglet-blog









Have a fantastic day,

The Drapers, Bob and Arlyne


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Posted by on March 6, 2015 in Bird Lover


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