Friday, February 29, 2008

Port aransas

Happy February 29th. Don’t get to say that often.

Tom and Kathy showed us a new solitaire game. Of course it’s not really new, but new to us. Spider Solitaire. It’s probably on every computer.

I’m pleased to report that the first level can be solved in less than 100 moves.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Port aransas

Now that we’re past the cold forty degree weather at night, we can spread a few flowers around.

Port aransas

Nothing like the aroma of a cup of freshly brewed coffee to wake a person up in the morning.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Backyard bird count update

They have received over 80,000 checklists so far. Pretty good data gathering effort; use the internet to enlist the entire country.

Louisville property update

Showings this month: seven.

Offers: zero.

Sunday, February 24, 2008


We go birding all day and end up with a bird list of 90 birds. That’s pretty good, but better birders go out for the same length of time here and see and identify more birds. Our friend Jon, for example; here is a recent bird list from him. Now bear in mind that he is a trained professional; a birding guide, but 159 birds in one day? That is amazing.

> Location: Corpus Christi, Nueces County, TX, US
> Observation date: 2/17/08
> Notes: Corpus Area- ALL DAY
> Number of species: 159
> Black-bellied Whistling-Duck 15
> Greater White-fronted Goose 120
> Snow Goose 90
> Ross's Goose 2
> Gadwall 20
> American Wigeon 12
> Mallard 1
> Mottled Duck 8
> Blue-winged Teal 35
> Northern Shoveler 40
> Northern Pintail 20
> Green-winged Teal 10
> Redhead 900
> Ring-necked Duck 25
> Lesser Scaup 5
> Bufflehead 5
> Common Goldeneye 1
> Hooded Merganser 9
> Red-breasted Merganser 2
> Ruddy Duck 6
> Common Loon 1
> Least Grebe 1
> Pied-billed Grebe 5
> Eared Grebe 6
> Northern Gannet 1
> American White Pelican 120
> Brown Pelican 45
> Neotropic Cormorant 12
> Double-crested Cormorant 75
> Anhinga 3
> Great Blue Heron 15
> Great Egret 12
> Snowy Egret 15
> Little Blue Heron 2
> Tricolored Heron 5
> Reddish Egret 8
> Cattle Egret 5
> Black-crowned Night-Heron 4
> Yellow-crowned Night-Heron 1
> White Ibis 20
> White-faced Ibis 1
> Roseate Spoonbill 22
> Black Vulture 10
> Turkey Vulture 40
> Osprey 5
> Northern Harrier 4
> Sharp-shinned Hawk 2
> Cooper's Hawk 2
> Harris's Hawk 1
> Red-shouldered Hawk 3
> White-tailed Hawk 1
> Red-tailed Hawk 7
> Ferruginous Hawk 1
> Crested Caracara 4
> American Kestrel 12
> Peregrine Falcon 2
> Clapper Rail 3
> Sora 1
> Common Moorhen 1
> American Coot 225
> Sandhill Crane 27
> Black-bellied Plover 15
> Snowy Plover 2
> Semipalmated Plover 10
> Piping Plover 1
> Killdeer 15
> American Oystercatcher 2
> Black-necked Stilt 30
> American Avocet 35
> Spotted Sandpiper 1
> Greater Yellowlegs 12
> Willet 16
> Lesser Yellowlegs 2
> Long-billed Curlew 6
> Marbled Godwit 3
> Ruddy Turnstone 8
> Sanderling 35
> Western Sandpiper 100
> Least Sandpiper 75
> Dunlin 90
> Stilt Sandpiper 3
> Short-billed Dowitcher 25
> Long-billed Dowitcher 125
> Wilson's Snipe 1
> Laughing Gull 225
> Ring-billed Gull 25
> Herring Gull 8
> Gull-billed Tern 6
> Caspian Tern 25
> Forster's Tern 45
> Royal Tern 30
> Sandwich Tern 1
> Rock Pigeon 40
> Eurasian Collared-Dove 15
> White-winged Dove 35
> Mourning Dove 45
> Inca Dove 10
> Common Ground-Dove 25
> Greater Roadrunner 1
> Great Horned Owl 1
> Barred Owl 1
> Common Pauraque 7
> Ruby-throated Hummingbird 1
> Belted Kingfisher 2
> Golden-fronted Woodpecker 14
> Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 1
> Ladder-backed Woodpecker 1
> Eastern Wood-Pewee 1
> Eastern Phoebe 20
> Vermilion Flycatcher 3
> Great Kiskadee 12
> Couch's Kingbird 7
> Loggerhead Shrike 5
> White-eyed Vireo 3
> Blue-headed Vireo 2
> Green Jay 7
> Horned Lark 9
> Purple Martin 5
> Cave Swallow 5
> Barn Swallow 1
> Black-crested Titmouse 2
> Carolina Wren 3
> House Wren 1
> Sedge Wren 1
> Marsh Wren 1
> Ruby-crowned Kinglet 5
> Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 3
> Eastern Bluebird 10
> Clay-colored Robin 1
> Northern Mockingbird 15
> Long-billed Thrasher 3
> European Starling 25
> American Pipit 10
> Sprague's Pipit 3
> Orange-crowned Warbler 15
> Yellow-rumped Warbler 22
> Black-throated Green Warbler 1
> Pine Warbler 3
> Common Yellowthroat 5
> Wilson's Warbler 1
> Olive Sparrow 1
> Chipping Sparrow 65
> Field Sparrow 2
> Vesper Sparrow 6
> Lark Sparrow 25
> Savannah Sparrow 115
> Grasshopper Sparrow 1
> Le Conte's Sparrow 1
> Lincoln's Sparrow 12
> Swamp Sparrow 1
> Northern Cardinal 25
> Pyrrhuloxia 9
> Red-winged Blackbird 200
> Eastern Meadowlark 35
> Western Meadowlark 7
> Great-tailed Grackle 325
> Brown-headed Cowbird 10
> American Goldfinch 6
> House Sparrow 35
> This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(

Need to know the score, the latest news, or you need your Hotmail®-get your "fix". Check it out.

Friday, February 22, 2008


All our lives we pay medical insurance. It seems like so much more money going out than we ever see in claims. Today the balance shifted a little. First bill from the heart hospital: $80,000. Our share $800. Yeaaa medical insurance.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Life on the road

Day four. Help arrives.

The part came in. The repair guy installed it. We have electrons. Our electrical house is back in order.

This has not been a convenient time to be out of electricity; we’re at work. We’ve compensated, though. We’ve had an extension cord strung in through the dining room window from the utility post outside. The cord gets moved from room to room. First it runs the fan in the bedroom at night. Then it runs the coffee maker in the morning. Then it moves to the computer station all day for me to work. It works. The job is on schedule. It will finish up Friday.

But now; now we’re back on shore power. A $25 part (plus $35 shipping to get it to us as fast as possible). We can run everything else at once again. We get to plug everything in to the proper outlets. We get to put away the extension cord.

Life is good. Life on the road.

Our pond

On a foggy day.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Life on the road

Flameout (without the flames). Total power outage.

Sitting around Monday evening, big clunk, all the lights go out. Looked out the window to see how much of the park was dark and we were the only part. Went outside and flipped the 50 amp breaker; no difference. Still dark. Crawled inside the slide drawer cabinet underneath the coach to reset the inverter; that helped. Lights came back on. Checked the electrical status display. The shore power is on, but no amps are flowing. Doesn’t look like it’s a problem at the outside source, but just to check, I tagged down from our 50 amp plug to a 30 amp plug and connected it to the 30 amp socket at our electrical box. No difference. New problem. When I opened the outside cabinet where the electrical cord connects, there was that dreaded burnt electrical smell.

Checked the power a different way. Started the generator. Watched the electrical status. No change. No connection to the power source whether it is shore power or generator.

We have battery power, but no way to recharge the batteries when they run out, so we’re being very careful with the electrons we have left. We had a dark night Monday night. Tuesday, the mobile repair guy found the fried connector in the electrical cord cabinet. Ordered the part. Replaced the bank of house batteries. We knew that was coming; the batteries are two and a half years old. One was leaking.

New batteries but still no way to recharge them, so another dark night. Wednesday. The part will be delivered tomorrow. Repair guy hooked up a battery charger for us today so we can use the juice tonight. Tomorrow. We’ll see.

Life on the road.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Backyard bird count

This was fun. Thanks to Rock for the heads-up. Monday evening's count; the
last day of the backyard bird count for the year:

Number of Species: 34
All Reported: yes
Gadwall - 20
American Wigeon - 50
Blue-winged Teal - 50
Northern Shoveler - 40
Ring-necked Duck - 3
Pied-billed Grebe - 2
Brown Pelican - 15
Double-crested Cormorant - 1
Great Blue Heron - 1
Great Egret - 2
Snowy Egret - 1
Tricolored Heron - 1
Black-crowned Night-Heron - 5
Turkey Vulture - 1
Osprey - 1
Northern Harrier - 1
American Kestrel - 1
American Coot - 200
Killdeer - 1
Willet - 1
Lesser Yellowlegs - 1
Ruddy Turnstone - 8
Sanderling - 150
Laughing Gull - 1,000
Ring-billed Gull - 10
Herring Gull - 2
Royal Tern - 3
Eurasian Collared-Dove - 2
Belted Kingfisher - 1
Eastern Phoebe - 2
Northern Mockingbird - 2
European Starling - 20
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 3
Great-tailed Grackle - 15

Monday, February 18, 2008

The kleenex box

In case anyone was wondering, in order of age:

33 is brother bill (currently in his Lazy Daze motorhome in the California desert)

35 tom (my current next door neighbor in the Phaeton)

37 david (currently in North Carolina, fresh from the Bay Area in California)

31 steve (currently right here)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Backyard bird count

This is the first part of our day.

Redhead - 50
Ring-necked Duck - 1
Lesser Scaup - 1
Common Loon - 4
Pied-billed Grebe - 3
American White Pelican - 15
Brown Pelican - 2
Neotropic Cormorant - 70
Double-crested Cormorant - 2
Great Blue Heron - 1
Great Egret - 2
Snowy Egret - 1
White Ibis - 7
Black Vulture - 1
Turkey Vulture - 6
Osprey - 1
Northern Harrier - 2
American Kestrel - 1
American Coot - 50
American Oystercatcher - 2
Willet - 1
Laughing Gull - 40
Bonaparte's Gull - 1
Ring-billed Gull - 2
Forster's Tern - 6
Rock Pigeon - 15
Belted Kingfisher - 1
Northern Mockingbird - 1
Savannah Sparrow - 6

Sunday's lunchtime bird count.

We’re not the only ones with weekend birdcounts:

Sent: Sunday, February 17, 2008 11:45 AM
Subject: sunday's lunchtime bird count.

Sunday's lunchtime bird count:

2 American shorthairs
1 Siamese
1 Himalayan
1/2 sparrow

Backyard bird count

And for the second half of the day, we were at and in the vicinity of the
wildlife refuge. Tom and Kathy helped us spot all the woodpeckers. We saw
the whooping cranes, but just barely. They were so far away we couldn't
really tell what they were, but the ranger confirmed the sighting for us.

salt water
Number of Species: 30
All Reported: yes
Blue-winged Teal - 3
Redhead - 200
Ring-necked Duck - 3
Pied-billed Grebe - 4
Great Egret - 2
Snowy Egret - 1
Black Vulture - 2
Turkey Vulture - 18
Osprey - 1
Ferruginous Hawk - 1
Crested Caracara - 1
Common Moorhen - 1
American Coot - 200
Whooping Crane - 3
Mourning Dove - 1
Barred Owl - 1
Red-headed Woodpecker - 1 Confirmed
Golden-fronted Woodpecker - 2
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker - 1
Eastern Phoebe - 2
Vermilion Flycatcher - 1
American Crow - 1
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher - 1
Eastern Bluebird - 1
Orange-crowned Warbler - 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 2
Northern Cardinal - 3
Red-winged Blackbird - 25
Eastern Meadowlark - 4
Brewer's Blackbird - 30

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Backyard bird count

Saturday's bird count.
salt water
Number of Species: 49
All Reported: yes
Blue-winged Teal - 75
Northern Shoveler - 50
Green-winged Teal - 25
Ring-necked Duck - 2
Lesser Scaup - 1
Eared Grebe - 15
American White Pelican - 10
Brown Pelican - 13
Double-crested Cormorant - 25
Great Blue Heron - 1
Great Egret - 1
Snowy Egret - 6
Tricolored Heron - 1
White Ibis - 7
White-faced Ibis - 1
Roseate Spoonbill - 16
Turkey Vulture - 3
Osprey - 1
White-tailed Hawk - 1
American Kestrel - 1
Common Moorhen - 1
American Coot - 6
Killdeer - 20
Black-necked Stilt - 50
American Avocet - 100
Greater Yellowlegs - 1
Willet - 30
Long-billed Curlew - 1
Ruddy Turnstone - 20
Sanderling - 75
Least Sandpiper - 100
Laughing Gull - 200
Ring-billed Gull - 50
Herring Gull - 8
Forster's Tern - 12
Royal Tern - 35
Black Skimmer - 36
Rock Pigeon - 5
Eurasian Collared-Dove - 1
Belted Kingfisher - 1
Loggerhead Shrike - 1
Horned Lark - 15
Northern Mockingbird - 1
European Starling - 40
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 3
Savannah Sparrow - 1
Grasshopper Sparrow - 1
Red-winged Blackbird - 2
Great-tailed Grackle - 12

Backyard bird count

Friday's lunchtime bird count.

Number of Species: 15
All Reported: yes
Ring-necked Duck - 1
Lesser Scaup - 2
Brown Pelican - 8
Double-crested Cormorant - 1
Great Egret - 1
American Kestrel - 1
American Coot - 2
Killdeer - 4
Laughing Gull - 25
Ring-billed Gull - 10
Herring Gull - 3
Royal Tern - 1
Belted Kingfisher - 1
Savannah Sparrow - 5
Great-tailed Grackle - 6


We recharged all four of the batteries in question and now they all measure “good”. We’re not that easily fooled, though, so the suspects have been placed in isolation. They’ll have to wait there a few weeks then demonstrate that they can behave appropriately before reintroduction into the general population.

The kleenex box

You may recognize this; Mom’s Kleenex holder; pictures of each of us as little kids. Of course, it’s easy for us to put names together with kid faces, we were there. It’s more entertaining to present the puzzle to grandkids and get them to make their guesses (once we get them to stop giggling about them).

Friday, February 15, 2008

Port aransas

The Great Backyard Bird Count. Four days; starting today. It’s as easy as going outside for a few minutes, note the birds you see, and send it in. The entire country mobilized for a long weekend to provide data on bird populations. Anyone can do it. I worked all day today, but we took a walk at lunch and sent in a report for the birds we saw. Number of species: 15. Tomorrow is supposed to be stormy, but we’re planning on going to a wildlife refuge on Sunday. We’ll keep track of the birds we see there and send it in.

Check it out.

Thursday, February 14, 2008



I bought a $15 9-range battery tester from Radio Shack. I tested all the rechargeable batteries not currently in use and found four bad AAs. The battery charger holds four at a time. Perfect. I’ll charge them overnight. Anybody doesn’t cut it after that; they’re gone.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The big tree

Still thinking about the thousand year old tree. That tree was five hundred years old when Columbus stumbled into America. Twenty-five generations. It’s like it was always there already, and now it’s been there for another five hundred years after that. What was even here a thousand years ago? Home to the Karankawa Indians. A small but thriving population. The first Europeans (Spaniards) landed here in the fifteen hundreds. Human populations came and went. The tree was just always there.

How many hurricanes didn’t blow the tree down? How many fires missed it? I wonder how many big old trees had already been there for five hundred years when this one sprouted and now the trees that were old then are gone.

Our pond

Lesser scaup.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Lamar Peninsula

The Big Tree; a thousand-year old coastal oak.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Drive home

Another snow report from Colorado.

From: Casey Lynch []
Sent: Saturday, February 09, 2008 9:58 AM

Taylor Roth crew,

I want to share my drive home from Vail last week. I stayed a week in the field in Edwards, Colorado doing audit field work for The Heuga Center. Last Saturday morning I left Edwards and skied Vail for the first time (12” of fresh powder was wonderful). I was able to ski “Milt’s face” which was named after a friend of mine. I drove to Crested Butte on Saturday afternoon to stay with friends and visit my daughter who attends Western State College in Gunnison. (3 mountain passes, Vail, Fremont and Monarch) It was a beautiful drive and only one pass was really slick.

I skied Crested Butte on Sunday morning and started home at noon. This is normally a 4 hour drive. I made it to Ridgeway with no problem. I checked the highway road report and found out Red Mountain, Cole Bank and Molas Passes were all closed. Lizard Head pass was closed. I thought this might be the case when I started out so I was ready for a long drive. The next option was to take a back road through Norwood and almost to Utah. This turned into quite an adventure. The wind was blowing and it was snowing, I was driving down the middle of the road at 20 MPH and no body else was on the road. I pulled into Dove Creek and had to make my way around orange cones in the highway.

I pulled into the Dove Creek Superette (grocery Store) to get gas and a road report. The Sheriff had closed the highway in both directions and the highway would not open till the following afternoon. About 200 people were in Dove Creek, no motel rooms were available. 50 big trucks were parked all over the place around the Grocery Store. I have a sleeping bag and a pad in the car so I was in better shape than a lot of people.

I managed to find the Super bowl on the radio and grab some snacks. I was listening to the game when a couple of guys from Mexico knocked on my car window and wanted to charge their cell phone. I said sure and the guys gave me a couple of Tecate beers. These guys couldn’t speak a lot of English and my Spanish is pretty poor. These guys were talking on the cell phone and the game was fading in and out on a weak radio station. I kept changing stations trying to get better reception and asking the guys to talk quietly. It was a great game and one of the most interesting Super Bowl parties I have ever attended. I did manage to get the message to them that New York had won the Super Bowl.

The highway opened after the game and 2 and a half hours later after driving in a blinding snow storm I was home. I did get stuck in my drive way but I was able to plow 2 feet of snow with the car and finally get stuck where I usually park.

We had received 3 and ½ feet of snow here in Durango. Michael and I started shoveling at 8:00 AM. We shoveled for six hours here at the house and managed to clear off the garage pad, the roof and the travel trailer. Michael then went over to my sister’s house (Mo) and shoveled her roof. Michael met me at his Grandma’s house at 6:00PM and shoveled her roof. WOW what a storm. The attached photo was taken Thursday after the snow had settled. You can see my son Michael and my travel trailer in the background.

180% of normal snow pack is going to make next rafting season an adventure. I am excited and a little nervous.

I still would much rather live in Durango than in Southern California where I drove through the fires last fall. Now I am hoping for a calm not stressful tax season.


Casey D. Lynch CPA

Taylor, Roth and Company, PLLC

800 Grant Street, Suite 310

Denver, Co. 80203-2944

866-330-8109 (Denver office)

Cell 970-749-1388

Fax 303-830-8127 (Denver)

Fax 970-692-8293 (Casey)


We have a huge stash of rechargeable AA and AAA batteries for all the small appliances and remote controls. We’ve been using them for years. Problem is: rechargeable batteries have a limited life. Problem is: we can’t tell the batteries apart. We don’t know which ones we’ve been using for years and which ones we added to the pool a month ago.

The batteries tend to get used in twos, threes and fours. If we drop four recharged batteries in an appliance and it goes dark too fast, which battery do we blame?

Weekend bird reports

Goose Island State Park (and vicinity)

Blue winged teal (many)

Northern pintail (many)

Redhead (hundreds)

Common goldeneye (6)

Eared grebe (1)

American white pelican (25)

Brown pelican (20)

Double crested cormorant (many)

Great blue heron (many)

Snowy egret (4)

Little blue heron (6. one white)

Tri colored heron (3)

White faced ibis (6)

Black vulture (5)

Turkey vulture (30)

American coot (many)

Black bellied plover (2)

Killdeer (6)

American oystercatcher (2. flyover)

Willet (1)

Spotted sandpiper (1)

Long billed curlew (1)

Ruddy turnstone (4)

Laughing gull (many)

Ring billed gull (many)

Forster’s tern (3)

Rock pigeon (15)

Inca dove (3)

Loggerhead shrike (5)

Northern mockingbird (3)

European starling (8)

Orange crowned warbler (several)

Yellow rumped warbler (many)

Savannah sparrow (1)

Red winged blackbird (many)

Great tailed grackle (many)

Goliad State Park

Black vulture (several)

Turkey vulture (several)

White tailed hawk (1. at the ferry landing in Aransas pass)

Red tailed hawk (1)

Crested caracara (2. flyover)

Killdeer (many)

Inca dove (six)

Barred owl (1. heard only)

Eastern phoebe (several)

Carolina chickadee (several)

Black crested titmouse (1)

Ruby crowned kinglet (several)

Northern mockingbird (several)

American pipit (25)

Cedar waxwing (1)

Yellow rumped warbler (many)

Savannah sparrow (1)

Northern cardinal (many)

Red winged blackbird (25)

Eastern meadowlark (1)

American goldfinch (6)

Our pond

Ringneck duck (2)

Lesser scaup (1)

Northern shoveler (5)

American coot (2)

Great egret (1)

Friday, February 8, 2008


When the kids were here, they got to pet a baby alligator.

Our pond

Evening visitor.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


The micro helicopters are great amusement indoors, but of course there is another level altogether. Check out the Hurricane 550 flight video.

Monday, February 4, 2008


I’m suffering from a new ailment.


Tony got micro helicopters for Christmas: indoor helicopters. They got plenty of air time in their rental motorhome, but the biggest indoor space to fly them in was our living room. Our motorhome front room might be larger than theirs, but it still has its share of counters, couches, and chairs. Good thing the little plastic rotor blades don’t do damage or our furniture (and grandchildren) would be shredded.

Here is a link to a clip of what it looks like when a guy who knows what he’s doing flies one. That’s not exactly how it looks when we fly them. Our efforts resulted in about a hundred more crashes than his.

But now, Christmas is over. The kids and grandkids are gone; and so are the helicopters. Can’t drag the kids back here every week for a fix. Maybe we should do something about the helicopter deficit though.

I’m definitely suffering from Helicopter Deficit Disorder.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Coastal birding challenge

A good day birding. Twenty-four hours. A dozen teams participated. Judy and I, “Team Nomads”, picked twelve sites to visit. Drove about 150 miles to cover them all.

Final tally, 89 birds (attached). We had some other birds stashed, but we couldn’t find the common ground doves or the green kingfisher when it counted.

We came in third. The winner for most birds had 105. Our best birds: anhinga, bonaparte’s gull, and horned larks. We won prizes.

Home in time for kickoff.

Saturday, February 2, 2008


Tonight begins the inaugural Annual Coastal Birding Challenge. It runs for 24 hours; from 5pm Saturday to 5pm Sunday. The challenge is for teams of two to go see as many kinds of birds as possible within a limited area (six counties). Tonight in the hour between 5pm and dark, we got thirty birds.

Tomorrow; off dark and early for pollywog ponds and beyond.

Port aransas

Brother Tom and Kathy arrived about a week ago in their beautiful new coach for a few day stay. They decided they like it here too, like we do, so signed up for a longer visit. Here we are; side-by-side.