Along the Natchez Trace

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Soda Pop Trail

In 2004, daughter Celeste introduced us to the fun of geocaching.  Shortly after that, we bought a GPS and scored our first find in February, 2005.  This is a game that anyone can participate in at any time of day no matter where you're at.  There's no competition (unless you want it to be) and the hidden caches range from being wheelchair accessible to possibly requiring a boat, climbing gear, and nerves of steel.  They can be as small as your little fingernail or as large as a washtub.  There are over a million caches hidden all over the world so if you're interested, you are pretty likely to find one nearby.  

So far Bill & I have found over 2,000 caches, which is a low number for many people that I know.  We've found caches in 49 states (still have Hawaii to go) and if I remember correctly, in 16 countries.  

We finished up that gate-guarding job recently and headed back to the Granbury, Texas area while Bill's broken ankle heals.  There are rules and regulations to the geocaching game and one rule is that each cache must be at least 1/10 a mile from any other.  In the past few years there have been "Geocache Trails" established....  a whole series of caches, usually very similar to each other, that are hidden along a stretch of road.  These could be kind of boring and you wouldn't want to do one very often.   There are several of these "trails" in this area, and a few weeks ago a geocacher put out the Soda Pop Trail.

 Starting at the lower right corner, each of those little green blocks shows where a cache is hidden.  This trail has a total of 30 sites.  Usually these kinds of trails are located on low-traffic roads with enough room to pull over safely.  I didn't check the mileage of the total trail but would estimate it to be not much more than 8 miles.

We started out with me driving and Bill "manning" the GPS coordinates.  After a couple of stops we switched off...  Bill could drive the car, even with the boot, as we probably traveled less than 5mph most of the time with a complete stop about every quarter mile or less.  It was one of those Farm Roads that Texas has so many of...  and it had recently been oiled (or tarred) with fresh gravel added.  Temps have been in the high 90's - low 100's here and there's been no rain.  Hot, Dry, Dusty!  By the time we finished I was covered in grey grit and dust.
I believe the cache owner had stated that the bottles that held the log were made from recycled soda pop bottles.  The good thing was that they were all alike....  about 6" long, all grey with a black cap.
After a couple of finds I started calling it the "Poison Ivy Trail".  Texas grows a lot of things really big, and poison ivy is one of them!

It took us nearly 3 hours to look for these 30 caches....  we found 28 of them.  #14 was a "Did Not Find"....  try as I might, I couldn't find it.  #28 was the other "DNF"....  not only did I not find the cache, I got tangled up in a thicket of greenbriar ....  my legs look like I had a fight with a chainsaw - and lost.  

I hate to give up....  but sometimes you just have to.
However, I had my mind set on finding 30 caches in one day (I think the most we'd found previously had been 24, and that was at an all-day event)...  so, on our way back to the main highway, we checked to see if there were any others in the vicinity.

There was an earthcache nearby!
Those you don't find a container with a log, instead there is usually some kind of geological formation and there will be questions you have to figure out and send the answers to the cache owner in order to be eligible to post it as a find.

Often you have to submit a photo of yourself holding your GPS at the site.

This site is a (waterless) waterfall....  a natural formation created by water flowing over this limestone base.  We had to estimate the amount of drop (about 30') and the length across of the formation (150'-200').
Many State and National Parks do not allow a cache to be physically hidden on the land so Earthcaches are a great way to educate and still have some fun.

We found one other cache before we headed home which brought our total to 30 for the day.  It took us about 4 hours for the whole outing, but then it took me at least an hour just to log all those in to the geocache website when we got back.  

I know the cicadas are really noisy in many parts of the country this year.  In Ohio we've called them locusts, and boy! could they drive you nuts!   Well, we did hear some out there along that road, but were just amazed at the number of grasshoppers that were hanging on fence posts, fencing, and anything else!

Y'all probably know about the seagulls eating the crickets in Utah...  well, looks like they could use some of those seagulls out here in Texas!  These guys were huge!  There were dozens on a bush that was about 3' high...  I don't even know what the bush was as there was NO foliage on it whatsoever...  just bare stems and plenty of grasshoppers.  

It was fun to get out and drive some roads we'd never been on.  Yeah, there was dust and it was hot...  but, hey, it's not everyday that we have this kind of adventure.

That's All For Today!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

On The Mend....

Before I get into the nitty-gritty, let me welcome a couple of new readers...  Mary-Pat and Jody.  I always appreciate all you folks and love your comments.  Thanks so much!

Things are going as well as can be expected...
The good thing is, the broken bone in Bill's ankle does not require a plaster (or whatever they make them from these days) cast.  He wears this boot and uses our Leki walking stick when he wants to go outside.
While Bill very seldom wears shorts, they have become the attire of the day.
He's getting a bit of a tan in places that never see the sun.
And, nope, nothing risque either....  but his knees are getting some color.  Because of the boot he sure is getting some strange patterns on his skin.

On Sunday I guess I stood on an ant hill while filling my bird feeders.  While they weren't fire ants, the ants that got under the straps of my sandals bit me several time.  I'm kinda allergic to insect bites, and even though I got rid of those ants really quick, the damage was done.  My foot swelled up, blisters formed and my foot itched like crazy until yesterday.

So...  what happens then?  I was shifting some potted plants around and apparently one of them had either ants or another biting insect on it.
Yep!  My hand swelled up....
It only has 3 blisters, but they itch like the devil!
Kinda makes me laugh, though.... maybe this is one way to get rid of wrinkles?
All those ugly veins and wrinkles are just about gone in my left hand...  now... what about all those age spots?  Oh well...  I never said I'd grow old gracefully...  but I sure have fun anyway!

So...  that takes care of me and Bill and our maladies....

Yesterday we took the motorhome to the Ford dealership in Stephenville for its "doctor" appointment.
We have 154,000 miles on our rig and have never had the plugs changed.  Just lately Bill could feel it "missing" as he's driving down the highway.
Decided to get a tune-up.  Last week we checked with the Ford place in Granbury.  Well...  bring it in and leave it...  they'd get to it in 3 or 4 days.  Excuse me.... we live in our motorhome.  Well, come in early... at 7am.... and they'd get to it when they could.  Also, Bill should go across the building to the parts department to see if they had the right plugs.  Oh come'on....  we're the customers and Bill is hobbling around in his boot.  Seemed to us that the service dept could make a quick call (heck, they could almost yell over) to the parts and check.  The final decision to go somewhere else was made when they said that Bill could not stay in the rig while it was being worked on.  
Since this is our home and everything we have is in it, Bill always stays in the rig during the kinds of work that require the service folks be inside.  Even when we get new tires and things like that, he stays with, if not in, the rig.

Anyway, we left the Granbury Ford dealership and checked with the Ford in Stephenville.  Each city is about 20 miles from where we're at...  just different directions.
No problem...  just bring the rig in...  they'll do the tune-up.
It's a 2001 Ford V-10, and is the model that takes special tools to change the plugs.  Kind of a specialized procedure.
This photo is taken from inside...  they have to take the console out, and then take the panel from below the dash just to get to the components.  (And... I took this while inside the rig while the work was being done.)

Bill had them put in a new fuel filter, but the air filter only needed cleaning.
Altogether the whole thing took just under 4 hours (including the test drive when it was done).  The mechanic was friendly, polite and quite efficient.  
They had quoted a price of $400 when we made the appointment.  The total cost was $368.00
If we ever have any other problems while here at our daughter's, this is definitely the place we'll be heading.
So...  I think we're all on the mend and doing better now.

And...  just because I like this photo, I'm adding it to the end of this post...
This male Painted bunting is trying his darnedest to get some seed through the clear plastic side of the feeder....

I sure have a good time watching the birds no matter where I am or what they're doing!

That's All For Today!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sunday Morning Oddities....

Our motorhome is located about 5 miles from the closest town...  up the lane of a dead-end road.  We're not in sight of the road at all and the only house we see from our rig is our daughter's house.  Might sound boring to some, but there's never a dull moment here. She has deer feeders, bird feeders and water troughs available year-round.  It's always a pleasure when we visit her as the wildlife here is in abundance.

Today was different...  yeah... we had the usual birds...
 Bewick's wren...

House Finch

Caroline Chickadee

Even caught a view of this turkey...
 Seems to be a lone hen hanging out these days...  we see her often.

Then...  we noticed we weren't the only one's watching the wildlife this morning...
There were some deer having their breakfast underneath the automatic feeder.  Frankenstein, our granddaughters cat...  better known as Frankie...  was stalking the deer that shows in the background...

 He's slowly sneaking up on that big doe...  hugging close to the ground...  taking his time for the attack.  But Frankie didn't notice that a big buck had seen him and got curious.  The buck started stalking Frankie.  

By the time Frankie saw the buck he must have figured it was too late to run, so he hunkered as flat to the ground as he could get...  even flattened his ears to make himself look smaller...

The buck got close enough to give Frankie a few very close-up sniffs...  decided he wasn't worth messing with and turned around and walked away.  Frankie, being a true cat through and through, acted like nothing had happened and walked quite nonchalantly back towards our rig.  He must have decided that doe wasn't worth pursuing after all.  

Hardly finished that scene and saw this doe munching down on Celeste's newly planted grass.
Wait a minute...  there's a bird sitting on her back!
 That's an Eastern Phoebe using the doe's rump as a launching pad for his flights.
We've seen cattle egrets perched on the backs of cows but this was the first time we've seen a sight like this.

Guess we were lucky enough to see the morning drama with a new experience thrown in for good measure.

What a great way to start the day!

That's All For Today!

Friday, June 21, 2013

And... The Rest of The Story....

My last blog I wrote about my quest for the Painted Bunting...  an unbelievably colorful bird that I was in search of for several years before finally seeing.  I kind of added some background stuff about how I got into birding.

As I wrote, my Mom had bird feeders and had her favorite birds.  She loved the mockingbird for it's song, and the bluebird, because it signified happiness...  but her favorite was the little wren.  So drab and unassuming...  always busy with making a home for it's young...  I think she kind of related to her "Jenny Wren".

But she also was a reader....  the book mobile came to our neighborhood when I was really young and we lived in the country... later we lived just a few blocks from the library.  So, not only did we have access to whatever "borrowed" book we wanted, we had all kinds of books in our home.

One book my mom bought was things to make from "nature".  I made terrariums from those huge pickle jars...  I collected rocks, bird egg shells...  any and everything.  I came home with my pockets full and my mind full of questions....

I took my first biology class in 9th grade...  really excited about learning about it all.  But, as it happened, a classmate told our teacher that I was spreading rumors about her.... which was untrue.  My biology and English teachers lived next door to each other and were very close friends....  I never got above a C in either class all year.  As much as I loved biology I never took another class until I was in college.

Move forward a few years....  married...  2 kids...  stay at home mom.

My sister gave me a book....
Yep!  The very book Cynthia gave me in the early 1960's
My introduction to the world of nature writing.....

I read Thoreau...  John Burroughs, John Muir...  read about Luther Burbank...  found books about living off the land...  bought all kinds of field guides....  I could go on and on and on and on.....  This genre was fairly new on the bookshelves back then, but I managed to find all manner of reading material.  Until we had a water leak in our storage area, I still had these until a year or so ago...  I haven't had the heart to see what's still there.

Yeah... I bought and read the rest of the books in Edwin Way Teale's series...
(They may be 50 years old...  but they are still among my favorites...  if you look real close you'll see that they cost $2.25 each).  I have several other of his books and treasure them all.

I even wrote to this author (and got a hand written answer!) telling him how much I enjoyed his writing.

I read a lot of blogs....  many of them about birds, nature, and the like.  I have no idea how those writers got interested in birds.... whether it's been a life-long interest, or a new love affair....

But I love carrying around Cynthia's gift to me all those years ago.  I re-read parts of it now and then....  who knew, way back in the 1960's that I'd be travelling many of those same routes... seeing some of the same sights and hearing the same bird songs that I read about 50 years ago?

Frankenstein....  my fellow "bird-watcher" here at Celeste's.

That's All For Today!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

My Quest for the Painted Bunting

I was born and raised in southeastern Ohio.  While I became interested in nature and all of the outdoors fairly early I was a teenager before I became a "birder".  Even back then I was more of a "bird watcher" than a "real" birder.  I knew all the usual species that came to our feeders (my mom had bird feeders out in strategic spots, as well as a bird bath and suet and stuff like that), but I didn't go out of my way to see anything that wasn't pretty much in plain sight.
Female Painted Bunting

I quit college on my 18th birthday...  got a job...  got married when I was 19 and a year later my son was born.  I lived in the country...  didn't work outside the home....  we had only 1 vehicle and the husband used it for work.  A little over a year later, my daughter was born.  Still a stay-at-home mom...  still in the country...  still no car.  What's a woman to do?  Well...  hang up bird feeders of course!  Entertainment!!!!

I had the Peterson's Field Guide by then...  (my kids had the little Golden Book of Birds as one of their very first books)....  and while the "usual" birds were the cardinals, chickadees, titmice, etc., every now and then we'd get something unusual.  The first winter that Evening Grosbeaks came to our feeder will always be in my memory...  my son, who was maybe 6 years old then, came to me with huge eyes...  a mutant goldfinch was at the feeder!  And another time a flock of American Avocets must have gotten blown off course and ended up at the nearby lake.  Boy!  Did they ever draw the crowds!
Male Painted Bunting

When I was 30 I headed back to college....  got in the Recreation and Wildlife program ..... finally took the entomology, biology, fish science...  AND...  ornithology classes that I wanted.  A week-long field trip to the mountain of West Virginia was such an eye-opener!  Hey... there's a lot more stuff out there than what's in my little corner of the world!  I saw my first Rose-breasted grosbeak (as well as my first sundews and a heck of a lot of other stuff).  

 Isn't he gorgeous!

Life has a way of changing mid-stream....  that marriage ended....  I was on my own for a while then met Bill.  I moved up on the Ridge...  and Wow!   Did we ever have the bird feeders there!  Still had the Peterson's Field Guide...  still the birds of southeast Ohio...  BUT...  I'd look at the drawings of the birds...  where they would most likely to be seen.... what time of year...  all that stuff.  I got to thinking of what was out there and what all we might see.

This really didn't have THAT much to do with what happened eventually, but...  maybe it did.  That harlequin duck in Alaska...  the sandhill cranes in New Mexico...  and... HEY!  look at that PAINTED BUNTING!!! Nothing has colors like that...  no way!  I've GOT to see that!!!!

The first time we were in the range of this bird we were volunteering at Cameron Prairie NWR in Louisiana in 2005.  A couple of women came into the visitor center and said they'd spotted one underneath the Intercoastal Waterway Bridge.  Didn't take me 5 minutes to close the place and head down that way.  Nope...  never did see the danged thing...

Look at the red ring around his eye...  look at the colors on his back!
Not being a flashy dresser myself I think of him as a real "dandy"... 
Bet he breaks hearts wherever he flits....  (or is that flirts?)

On a later trip to Mexico, we stopped overnight in a tiny place, Celestina, and I saw a whole flock of little green birds.  Didn't know it at the time, but in retrospect, I believe they were female Painted buntings.

It was a year or so later that we were in San Blas, Mexico....  saw all kinds of "new" birds that trip.  But we were in a campground...  right on the sea...  and wouldn't you know?  
Painted Buntings!  My dream bird!  The bird I've been wanting to capture (in a photo) for years now!  I took a bunch of pictures, but none especially noteworthy.

A couple of years later our daughter told us that while we were having a good time in the Mediterranean she had Painted buntings everyday at her feeders in Texas.  We got back after they had moved on. 
Just my luck!

So ......  our gate-guarding job a few weeks ago...  I was thrilled to see painted buntings.  I got some decent photos, but not as close as I wanted....

We've been at Celeste's for a few days... already have several feeders up.  (She has a ton of feeders up but ours are close to our motorhome)...

And...  YES!  Just a few feet outside our windows...  
Painted Buntings!

We've adjusted shades.... I've cleaned windows....  hey... whatever it takes...  I'm gonna get some good shots of this bird!  
Afterall...  how many people get to actually realize their dream?

That's All For Today!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Plans? Not yet....

There hasn't been much rain in this area (about 50 miles southwest of Ft Worth), but the land is anything but barren.  It may not be enough to support herds of cattle, but it's always amazing to me how the wildflowers thrive.
Guess this just confirms that things adapt to their environment...  and that native plants are just that... native to their habitat.  

Some of the wildflowers in bloom now....

The sprinkler is hard at work in areas of Celeste's lawn.  She's not trying to make the whole place green, but would sure like a small area that she can make into a flower garden.  I'll have to take some photos of her little oasis...  she's been planting perennials and each year it just looks better and better.

The birds loved the area where the sprinkler was spraying water.  A whole family of cardinals enjoyed it for at least an hour...  bathing, preening and just savoring the water.
And this butterfly hung out for quite a while...
A Giant Swallowtail
He kept fluttering his wings which made getting a good photo of him almost impossible.  But the field markings are distinct  despite his movements.

Celeste has a couple of deer feeders set up.  They automatically dispense corn at set times.  There is a large herd of white-tailed deer here, and at times, a dozen or more can be seen at the feeders.  The does are bringing their fawns to the feeders and they are a delight to watch...  especially when they get frisky and play while mom is having breakfast.
In the lower, middle photo, that little guy got too close to a doe that wasn't his mom.  She moved him on pretty fast!

Now... about those plans...
Bill has a "boot" on order that should get here tomorrow.  He's been doing okay hobbling around, but something more stable will be better - kind of give him limits of what he can/can't do.
We had already planned to stay here at Celeste's for at least a week before heading to NM for a family visit.  It will be easier to decide what to do next week after he's used that boot for a while.

We've been retired 17 years now...  been living on the road for over 12 years....  so we're used to being flexible and kind of live the "go with the flow" kind of life.  And the neat thing is...  no matter where you are - whether it's YOUR plans or not - there's always something interesting to see and do.
Hey... what's out there in this big world anyway?

Guess it's time to learn more about the wildflowers that bloom in Texas in June!

That's All For Today!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones...

Well, in this case, not my bones....  but Bills.  When his foot slid a little on that stone the other day, that sprain he suffered the other day turned out to be....
A broken bone in his ankle...

Bill drove the 456 miles from Alamo, Tx up to Celeste's place near Glen Rose, Tx.  We stayed in an RV park near San Antonio one night and that had pull-through sites so we didn't even have to un-hook.  Driving wasn't a problem, but he couldn't put weight on that foot at all and the swelling hadn't gone down even with ice packs.   We got to Celeste's around 2pm yesterday and by 2:30 were on our way to the urgent care center in Granbury.

After 2 hours (some wait... a few minutes with the doctor...  and x-rays) the doctor said that while he wasn't a radiologist he could tell that Bill had a fracture ....  the very tip of the fibula was broken off.  This kind of fracture doesn't require a cast, but Bill should be wearing a walking cast (one of those boot-like contraptions).  There was no place in the area to get one at 5pm on Friday afternoon, but he'll get one on Monday.  

Right now he's got an ankle stabilizer strapped on and is using my Lek walking stick to hobble around.  It'll just take a few weeks (or months?) to heal and he'll be good as new.  Funny thing was...  when the doctor looked at the x-rays, he noticed some bone chips that had been there a while.  Bill broke the same ankle about 25 years ago...  guess old injuries have a way of showing up again later.

All should be fine...  with a little time and patience.....  meanwhile Bill gets to have a new adventure...  driving one of those motorized carts around in Wal-Mart.

That's All For Today!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

On Our Way North.... again..

It didn't take us long to get everything done in the Valley that we headed down there to do.  One morning in Nuevo Progresso, Mexico, one morning sort of west of McAllen...  there's a Barnes and Noble there and Bill & I both needed our bookstore fix.  While we both use our Kindles for novels, Bill hits the genealogy section of the magazines and I browse the travel essays.  

We stopped at a Mexican restaurant for lunch... Poncho's....  authentic enough that I was saying "gracias" and "muy bien".....  and enough food that we had leftovers for dinner that evening.

Bill's fish tacos.  I had chile rellenos...  but they were filled with ground beef, not cheese, so weren't my favorite.  Sure didn't stop me from eating them, though.

We knew Camping World had closed, but haven't been real impressed with that store anyway, so headed to Donna, to the Ron Hoover RV store.  Finally replaced the slider to our screen door. 

 We also were able to buy a sheet of filter stuff to replace the stuff in our AC.  You can buy the whole system... for $8.99 each (we need 2), but being "do-it-yourself"ers, we just bought the sheet and cut it to size.

Finally up to the AT&T store.  Might as well have skipped this stop as they are still as user "unfriendly" as ever.  We pay (average) $80 a month for our phone usage.  That includes our "home" phone that we've had for at least 15 years.  It's a cell phone, but it's the only number we use.  We also have another phone... I call it my "Wal-Mart" phone because about the only time I use it is to find out where the heck Bill is in Wal-Mart.  I don't even know the phone number.  We lose lots of minutes every month because neither of us are phone users.  We talk to our kids and make whatever "business" calls we have to make.  But most of our communication is done on the internet these days...  banking, credit card stuff, etc.  And darn little of that.  We're out of the USA for a month or more every year and AT&T doesn't have a "vacation plan".  So...  we've been looking for a different plan... or it looks like, a different carrier.

So much for that....

A couple of stops at the H.E.B.  My favorite grocery store!  My introduction to the H.E.B. was when we were volunteering at Santa Ana NWR in 2002.  I love grocery shopping anyway, so that was a real treat.  And has been ever since!  I could do a whole blog about the ethnic foods etc...  maybe will at another time.

Okay...  we pay for our stay at Alamo Rose...  do some final trading of books at their library...  I head home.  Shortly after, Bill comes hobbling in...

Somehow he twisted his ankle leaving the building...  he's in pain.  Not only that, his ankle is starting to swell.  We sit around with a bottle of white wine deciding what to do as we'd planned on leaving in the morning.

Today...  morning.  Bill's ankle is about the size of the bottom of a bowling pin.  He can't put any weight on it.  Not good....  We have breakfast...  he says that if he can hook up we can leave.  I volunteer to hook up.  Ha!  I think that his ankle makes an instant, if not temporary, recovery.  I have never hooked up our rig.  In fact, I haven't driven our rig since that little incident in San Antonio in 2004.......  (don't ask...  panic attacks aren't discussed here).....  

We get hooked up.  We head out.... The rig has cruise control and it's a straight shot up Rt 281 and I37 to San Antonio and north.  I ask Bill if he can use the gas...  Yeah, sure.  A few minutes later, I ask him if he can depress the brake.  Hey... I like to cover all bases.  He says he's fine.  It's putting his 180 pounds of weight on it that hurts.

At 8am we're on the road.  It's easy peasy ....  we make 2 or 3 stops along the way...  yeah, one of them is for Border Patrol to see if we're toting any illegals with us....

Nope...  nor do we have any drugs....  let's keep movin' on...

We arrive at Brauning Lake RV park, about 10 miles out of San Antonio at 2pm.  It's a pull-through site.  Bill hooks us up... comes inside...  and all hell breaks loose outside ... thunder, lightning, and a hellish rainstorm.  We made it just in time.  Even our outdoor thermometer, which we forgot to bring inside, is still in place.  Pretty remarkable since it rode 225 miles on a little ledge next to the LP gauges.

We'll stay here tonight and head on north tomorrow.  What are our plans?  Well....  it's back to Celeste's up at Glen Rose for a week or so.  I have another doctor appt, Bill wants to work on Celeste's outdoor water system...  some stuff like that.  And then...  we'll head over to New Mexico to visit Bill's sister in Farmington.  We plan to stop at Sevilleta NWR to visit along the way.  No real plans...  just some things we haven't done for a while.

Guess we're just taking it easy for a while.  Seems kind of odd not to have a specific plan in mind...  but maybe it's time for a little R&R.

That's All For Today!

Monday, June 10, 2013

On The Border

First off...  here's wishing my brother a big "Happy Birthday".  He's the best brother a girl could have and while we don't see each other often these days, I know he's always there for me.  What a great "growing up" we had...  those memories bring a big smile every time I think of him.  So... Happy 74th, Larry!

Bill and I are no longer "guarders of the gate"...   
Yesterday morning we got our rig ready to go...
 All's ready except hooking up the Scion...

Shortly after 9am our replacement arrived...
 That huge rig will take up a lot more space then our Lazy Daze....  
We turned over our safety vests, our paperwork, and our name tags.
We worked a total of 8 weeks...  checked off one more item on our bucket list, and headed south.
I know not everyone wants to be a gate guard, but we did....  and enjoyed it far more than we expected to.

We drove down Rt 83 to Laredo...  
 We never did figure out why the center line is divided.  Of course we made jokes about it being the bicycle lane...  yeah, right!  Can you imagine riding a bike with those huge trucks whizzing by you on both sides.  Got on I35 for a short distance...  then back on Rt 83, from Laredo to McAllen.  Our destination was Alamo, Texas, where we'll stay at the Alamo Rose RV Park for a few days.

Rt 83 runs parallel to the Rio Grande River...  which is, of course, the boundary between the USA and Mexico...  
 That controversial fence is visible at times......  

We arrived at the RV park last evening and quickly got settled into a site.  The park that holds 500 rigs now has about 40 occupants.  Our arrival was quickly noticed. Although the office was closed until today, we were told to pull into any site we wanted.  In fact, the person (maintenance?) even found us a relatively shady spot.  We've stayed here several times in the past so are familiar with all the facilities. 

We came here for several reasons...  it's been a year since I had my teeth cleaned and I felt long overdue.  A trip across the border into Nuevo Progresso was at the top of today's agenda..
 The Rio Grande looks really lush and beautiful here.  I'll have to say that most times we're in this area it appears more muddy and not so pretty.

We park ($2.00... all day) on the US side and walk across the International Bridge...  midway is this sign...
 Bill's smack dab in the middle....  half in each country.
I think the last time we crossed it cost 25c to get through the turn-stile.  The cost has gone up... now it's 50c 
Ahhhhh....  prices go up everywhere!

The first thing you see after crossing the bridge and entering the city is this...
 I love the monuments and statues that we see so much of in other countries.  Am I not looking or is this something the US doesn't do as much of?

Well, the "Winter Texans" have all returned to the US or Canada by now, so the main street isn't nearly as crowded.
 The vendors are still set up and wanting your business.  The streets did get quite a bit busier before we left a couple hours later, but still, these folks must have to make their money during the winter months - just not many tourists when it gets hot.

I found the dentist office where I usually go...  got a thorough cleaning for $25.  Guess I'm good to go for another 6 months... or maybe longer.

Of course we had to have lunch at one of our favorite restaurants...
 Bill had "camerones veracruz"...  and I had bacon wrapped shrimp....  Yummy!
This was the first time we've eaten out since early April, so it was a real treat.

We headed over to Jessica's Farmacia after lunch.  I use (over the counter) Zyrtec to help control my allergies, and can buy it so much cheaper in Mexico.  The cost for a bottle of 100 tablets is $20.  I could buy my prescription drugs there as well, but am fortunate in that our drug plan is comparable.

The wind started blowing and a few sprinkles hit us as we headed back across the border.
Interesting...  it only costs 25c to go through the turn-stile to return to the US....
Although we had our passports with us, that young couple in this photo don't have passports and had their birth certificates with them.  They had been here to have dental work done...  the guy had 2 teeth extracted, and had them replaced with either implants or caps (I'm not sure)... but I couldn't tell his "new" teeth from his own.  He said it cost $400 for the work.

We headed back to Alamo...  made a stop at Santa Ana NWR along the way.
You can sure tell it's off season for everything!  We saw one white-wing dove...  we did hear the kiskadees calling, but didn't have our binoculars with us.

Tomorrow we'll head for a Barnes and Noble, as well as one of the RV supply stores here.  Neither of us are big shoppers, but every now and then a person just has to get caught up on stuff.  A few days and we'll be ready to hit the road again.

That's All For Today!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Bird #60... and... Bye, Bye Birdie

It was cloudy when I got up this morning and kept getting darker as I drove into Carrizo Springs to run some errands.  I got home just after noon.  I'd hardly got back in the door when the rains hit...  and the wind...  and lots of thunder and lightning.  My kind of storm!  

After I got the laundry and groceries put away it was the perfect day to lay on the couch and read.   All that was lacking was having a kitty curled up by my side.  KC, our last cat, died 3 days before we started our travels...  way back in 2001.  

Anyway, the rains came down really hard at times.... and we sure need the rain here in Texas.
This is a photo of a tanker truck leaving the site yesterday...
 Yeah....  that's dust
And that's our motorhome and tow vehicle on the left.  Since we have been using the AC nearly every day lately the rig has been closed up so we have been spared a lot of the dust and grit that those big trucks stir up.

And the rain also cooled things down a bit...  yesterday a tanker pulled into our site by mistake.  He had to back to get out onto the road...  The asphalt was so hot...
 He left huge ruts in the road...  
I was popping tar bubbles when I walked out to take this picture.
(Did you ever do that as a kid?  Pop tar bubbles with your bare feet?  The water that squirted out always felt cool....  Heck, maybe you still do it as an adult...  I might one of these days)

This isn't the newest bird, but I finally got a shot of the Yellow Breasted Chat
 He's got his mouth open, so his head looks kind of distorted...
He's one noisy bird!  But I love hearing his raucous chatter.

Nope... this isn't the newest bird either...
 A front view of the Painted Bunting...
By far the most colorful bird I've ever seen in the USA
There are lots of them here, but I've had a time getting a decent photo.

And now...  Ta Da!  Bird # 60
Blue Grosbeak
You can barely see the chestnut top of his wing.
At first glance I thought he was an Indigo Bunting (remember, I'm a Buckeye... that's what we have there), and I never heard his song, but my trusty binoculars set me straight pretty quick.

Seeing him this evening brought our total "positive" sightings to 60 birds during our stay here.  Birds are still migrating, so I'm sure there'll be more passing through.

But it's time for us to migrate as well.  Sunday we'll pack up and head further south.  Right now we're thinking we'll head down to Falcon Dam for a day, then on down to Alamo, TX.  Alamo is just a few miles from New Progresso, Mexico - time to get my teeth cleaned and buy some cheap drugs.  Okay, the only drugs I'll buy are perfectly legal...  only far less expensive than in the US.  We'll probably visit Santa Ana NWR - we volunteered there in 2002.  I must have seen at least a dozen "life" birds during that stay.

So tomorrow we'll start putting things away.  We've been here 8 weeks and it always surprises me how much we make ourselves at home when we're at a place that long.  Not sure when I'll be able to post next.

That's All For Today!