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American pronghorn antelope
I saw hundreds of pronghorn antelope on this road trip. Most in Nevada and Wyoming. These "built for purpose" animals have long fascinated me. If you know their basics, you should skip the next paragraphs of narrative:
Pronghorn Antelope [Antilcapra americana] are not true antelope but as we call American bison, by the mistaken name of buffalo, the pronghorn handle is with us.
They can't jump, though they look like they could and should be able to. When they come to a fence they either crawl through it or under it at astonishingly high speeds at time.
I watched four male pronghorn in Wyoming do this, one after the other, and got a few photos of that, which I will post when I get to the Wyoming section of this road trip photo stream.
Pronghorn antelope have horns, not antlers. Males always have them, females sometimes. They do shed the outer layer of their horn, but never the entire horn itsel.
Antlers are shed and regrown every year. Moose, elk, and deer have antlers. Bighorn Sheep, mountain goat, and pronghorn antelope...have horns.
Male pronghorns have a black crescent marking at the back of their lower jaw, while females do not.
They are custom built for speed and endurance and can run over 40 mph for long distances, easily outrunning any natural predator, when healthy.
They are extremely curious and will approach anything that captures their attention. Again, in Wyoming I was photographing a small herd, when two of the females, started walking intently and with purpose, directly to my red pickup truck, which is what I think caught their fancy.
Day two of my 8 day road trip provided some fun driving and extreme contrasts. The first night I had camped in the back of my pickup truck at close to 6,000 feet at Wildhorse Crossing campground, south of Mountain City, Nevada. I woke up with the entire truck encapsulated with a sheet of ice the next morning.
As I drove south from my camp at Wildhorse Crossing I had the heater of my old pickup truck on “high”. I crossed over from Elko to Wells, Nevada to drive one of my favorite routes north/south, through Nevada: Highway 93. Whenever I can I take this route over the interstate route through Salt Lake City.
NOTE: the fact that this route passes through “Jackpot, Nevada” and the penny slot machines at Cactus Pete’s, has special appeal to my wife, and is a must short stop, when traveling with her. Jackpot is on the Idaho/Nevada border so joined highway 93 well south of Jackpot at….Wells, Nevada.
My route down highway 93 from Wells to Panaca, Nevada travels a high desert valley with little traffic. It is easy to pull over along the highway whenever a landscape or pronghorn antelope, demand a photo op.
Once at Panaca, I would turn off highway 93 and take Nevada highway 319 over into Utah and then a seldom driven Utah highway 120 over to Enterprise, Utah. Along the way I would see some of the latest and finest U.S. fighter planes, making low level runs through the sage covered hills of Bull Valley (the fighters were probably from Area 52 in Nevada - HA!).
After a HUGE hamburger, onion rings, and vanilla shake (Yes I know, I tend to be “bad” when eating on a long road trip), at Enterprise, Utah - - I turned south on Utah highway 18 to make my way to Veyo and ultimately Snow Canyon State Park near St. George, Utah.
When you travel down highway 18 south from Enterprise to Veyo, you pass the location one of U.S. history’s sad chapters and to my way of thinking sad commentary on contemporary “Utah”. It is the site of the Mountain Meadow Massacre. I won’t get into the story but if you want a balanced description of what happened here read the bestseller by Jon Krakauer titled “Under the Banner of Heaven”.
I have visited the site twice and grimaced at the defaced plaques marking the site. Seems some folks want to deny what happened in the past. Utah maps will not show “Mountain Meadows Massacre”. If you find a sign at all it has the gentler “Mountain Meadows” label. If you read the big metal plaque at Navajo Bridge on the Utah side of the Colorado River, you will think that John D. Lee was a “great guy and pioneer”, who developed and ran “Lee’s Ferry” across the Colorado. You won’t see anything on the plaque about his involvement in the Mountain Meadow Massacre.
So with all of that in mind, I glanced over at the Mountain Meadow massacre site, as I drive south on highway 18, but didn’t bother to stop. There were better things to see and think about.
I had never visited Snow Canyon State Park. In fact, I didn’t even know it existed though I have visited nearby Zion National Park, many times over the years. It is a gem. There is no other way to describe it and a wonderful place to camp and hike, which I did. I also didn’t know that some of my favorite movies had filmed segments within the park: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Jeremiah Johnson, to name two.
If you stay at the campground at Snow Canyon, be sure to stop in the visitor’s center
Sgt. 1st Class Julian Romo, a platoon sergeant assigned to the 2nd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division’s A Battery, 2nd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, watches a target through binoculars during an air-ground integration training exercise on a range in Fallujah, Iraq, Sept. 24. During the exercise, forward observers assigned to the 2/82’s C Co., 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, and truck drivers from the battalion’s Forward Support Company, E Co., 407th Brigade Support Battalion, directed Apache helicopters to fire on an objective. This training familiarized the drivers with talking to the aircraft in case they have to call for fire to protect themselves on one of their many logistical convoys in the Anbar Province. Romo is a native of Los Angeles, Calif. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Kissta M. Feldner, 2/82 PAO.)
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