7/28 Rio Grande

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Percha Dam State Park

Today was a wonderful day for relaxation. Good thing too, because I wasn’t feeling so well…I took a shower in the morning, and then I ate a few pancakes with some mini bananas for breakfast.  After breakfast, we were told to find a secluded place where we could focus and really immerse ourselves in the nature around us.  We were assigned to do a large drawing with charcoal and to get really loose with it, drawing some aspect of the environment that attracted us.  Other than that, the time was our own to make observations and practice whatever kind of art we wanted.  I was excited and looked forward to exploring/seeing what kind of art I would be inspired to create.  I chose a lovely spot where I could listen to the river, be surrounded by trees, and be near patches of shade and sunlight while I sketched, drew, and painted.  Time seemed to disappear, and it’s moments like that that I live for.

All too soon, we had to meet back at camp for lunch.  I was the last to make it back because I wanted to finish my watercolor painting.  When I made it back, everybody was excited about the rattlesnake they found, which looked pretty angry that it had been captured and was trapped inside a critter keeper container for us to look at.  It was really cool – the first rattlesnake I’ve ever seen up close and from the wild!  We got to watch it eat a dead lizard we placed inside the tank with it too. 😀  It was kind of freaky at the same time though, considering they had found the snake literally right next to our campsite.  So we all decided to play it safe and stick around camp for the rest of the day; no more going out on our own.

We ate grilled cheese with avocados (which was pretty interesting), white cheddar popcorn, apples, and bananas for lunch.  After lunch, we worked on trading cards, sketched, and made our cyanotype prints.  We made the cyanotypes using special UV-sensitive paper; we’d place found objects that had cool silhouettes onto the paper, and then let it sit in the sun for about 5 minutes, or at least until the paper had turned from a dark blue to a bleached white color.  Then the paper was placed in water to rinse off chemicals, set to dry, and we were left with our prints!  Mine came out much better than the last time I tried the activity when I was back in Puerto Rico for the Island Life trip, so I was pretty happy about that.

Before it was too dark, we had our final critique and reflections on the trip together.  I loved seeing what everyone had made throughout our adventures, and I enjoyed sharing what I made too.  Saul and Stephanie also talked to us about why they started the program in the first place (about 3 and 1/2 years ago).  I think it’s really cool that they made this program so they can share their passions for herpetology/research, native wildlife, and artmaking.  Each location we visit means so much to them because of research Saul had conducted in the locations or for family memories, and they enjoy sharing/teaching about the wildlife, the research they’d done together, and the art that can be inspired by visiting the locations.  They also talked about how they are planning on doing an India Life program in the future, and they described the diurnal/nocturnal gecko murals they made in Cambridge, MA this past summer in May 2016.  I absolutely love the mural idea – the diurnal/nocturnal gecko murals advertise Saul’s research on the gecko species he’s studied, and they are the first in a series of murals they hope to make that advertise scientific research/discoveries made within the Cambridge and Boston community.  I think it’s really inspirational, and it’s a wonderful way to communicate with the public about science through art and collaboration between scientists and artists. I wonder if there is a way I can help out with this…definitely need to talk to them about helping out! 😀

I loved the dinner we had that night too.  Best for last – tilapia fish with rice/cilantro, avocado, and limes!  And for dessert, smores and stories by the campfire.  A great way to end a wonderful day. ^_^

Notes, Observations of life and habitat

Animal species

  • Tree lizards
  • Western Diamondback Rattlesnake
  • Asipidoscelis tigris – Checkered Whiptail Lizards
  • Juvenile whiptail lizard – very blue tail, thought it was a skink at first
  • Black and blue swallowtail
  • Black and yellow swallowtail
  • Hawk
  • Tent caterpillars
  • snarling animals near our tents at night O_O

Plant species (Percha Dam State Park)

  • Screwbean mesquite tree
  • Cottonwood trees