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TUESDAY - Fifty-one weeks ago we were at the highest point in Alabama (elevation 2411 feet) inside of Cheaha State Park. That's where we were invaded by ladybugs after a light overnight dusting of snow. Today we are 400 miles west and 50 miles further north at an elevation of just 165 feet and we've been invaded again.

Our research last year informed us the ladybugs were attracted to THE POD and ROVER because of their ability to retain the warmth from the sun better than the underside of the leaves in the trees where they are supposed to be. Each of the last four days we've seen high 30°F's overnight with mid 60°F's during the day. We guess that's why they have suddenly swarmed the exterior of THE POD and invaded the interior every chance they get.

The forecast for the next few days is for overnight freezing and daytime highs near 50°F. We can only imagine what that will do for the ladybug population on our campsite. Only time will tell!

WEDNESDAY - Just offshore from our campsite is this submerged tree stump. Can you see it just above the center of the photo? Just to the right, outside of the frame of this photo, are park's boat ramp facilities. So the location of this stump couldn't be in a worse location for the safety of the boaters. They are always rushing to get to their favorite fishing holes early in the morning.

Ahoy Captain! Water hazard dead ahead!

During most of the daylight hours this stump doesn't look like that. If fact, the park here has come up with an ingenious way to warn the boaters about the location of this stump. Every day, from very early in the morning, until late in the afternoon, they post a sentry on top of the stump. After having been here for over a week now my guess would be that 90% of the daylight hours there is someone on duty. Here is a picture we caught at 6:00AM and another around noon.

Someone has to take first watch every day!

The afternoon shift must be prime duty because shift changes occur often.

Don't worry, it's not one sentry on duty for the whole day. There are irregular shift changes that occur all day long. They're not very graceful, but they are effective. Here's how it works!

The sentry on duty is paying close attention for any activity at the boat ramp, as it should. With their back turned to the lake another sentry will swiftly and silently glide down until within a few feet of the stump and then slam on the brakes by pulling up quickly and noisily flapping their wings. This action tells the sentry it time to vacant the stump and let the next sentry begin their shift. Of course while on duty any tiny fish that swim by are instantly gobbled up as a much deserved snack.

A mix of various bird species to be found on the lake.

It's funny how only the egrets here act as sentries. The anhinga's talent appears to be swimming and diving. While the white pelicans just look to clumsy to balance on such a small perch for any length of time. I also noticed a difference between the brown pelicans found all over South Florida and these White Pelicans here, it's the way they feed.

The brown pelicans seem to glide very fast and silently over the water and then dive bomb their prey with a sneak attack. The white pelican just swim around all day in a very loose group, or even singularly, scouting for a school of fish. When a school is located and the lucky bird starts dunking their head underwater it draws the attention of every other pelican around. Within seconds there will be a hundred pelicans shoulder to shoulder in a feeding frenzy until the school is smart enough to split up. The pelicans at the rear of the chase will constantly leap frog to the front of the pack where the fish are. After the meal the pelicans clean themselves up and start on the hunt again, all this without even getting their backs wet.

A mix of various bird species to be found on the lake.

SUNDAY - We are enjoying our last evening here in southeast Arkansas and plan on leaving earlier than usual tomorrow morning. The weather forecast is the main consideration for this early start, with rain starting in the early afternoon and freezing temperatures for the next three evenings we want to be set up on the new campsite before noon.

It's located in northeastern Louisiana, about 140 miles south from here, so we need to be on the road no later than 8:30AM. Why so early? First off we need to stop at the dump station and empty our holding tanks, that takes about 20 minutes. Next we have to travel about 10 miles north of campground to get to the nearest road that heads south from here.

There are three major waterways, with few bridges, blocking any attempt to head south from this campground. The White, the Arkansas and the Mississippi River all merge just south of here in a huge low lying area that floods frequently. The entire region is a state owned Wildlife Management Area so there are no homes, businesses or roads located inside the boundaries.

Once we make it 40 miles down the road to the town of Dumas, the location where we did laundry, got gas and groceries last week, we have a straight shot south on a major roadway that will make traveling a breeze.

On another note, we ran our furnace at 65°F one night this week, when temperatures were below freezing, and used 25% of one of our two 30lb. propane tanks. If my math is correct, that means we only have enough propane to survive another 7 nights before running out. With only three more nights forecast for freezing in the near future, it will give us time to refill both bottles before the next cold front comes through.

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