Monday, May 31, 2010


On to Karchner Caverns State Park. A hot desert Park, but we’ve got some altitude; about 4,000 feet, so it’s in the low 90s instead of triple digits. It cools off at night. Verizon cellphone and internet works here. It’s birdy. Life is good.

Time-zone issues. We’re still in the same time-zone as yesterday, but Arizona doesn’t recognize daylight savings time, so we fell back another hour. Two hours in two days. Can’t stay up past nine. Slept in as long as we could. Up at 5:45.

Our view:

Sunday, May 30, 2010



Left Texas.  We made it to Las Cruces, New Mexico in Interstate 10.  Good internet and cellphone.  Starting to get caught up.


New Mexico bird list:


Gambel's Quail


White-winged Dove


Mourning Dove


Inca Dove


Western Kingbird


Curve-billed Thrasher




House Finch


Not much of a list, but it’s always fun to get quail.  We never get tired of quail.


Now we’re in Mountain Daylight time.



Saturday, May 29, 2010


Still at Fort Davis. Had some internet success. Got the audit software downloaded and configured correctly. I can work again.

Watching for the elusive Montezuma Quail. It really is elusive. We’ve been looking for it every chance we got for the last five years!

Got it this evening. Montezuma Quail. Life bird!

Watched an Elf Owl leave its nest last night and tonight at dusk, then listened to it call in the dark.


Travel day. We moved north to Fort Davis State Park. Still no cellphone or internet, but we discovered if we drove to the top of the overlook, we could send and receive. Here is my hilltop office.

Friday, May 28, 2010


Still at the Rio Grande campground; a triple digit furnace. Forays out into the Chisos Mountain Basin at 5,000 feet to hike. Cooler there. Only about 85. Today, the Laguna Meadows and Colima Trail for the Colima Warbler. Judy got a giant blister yesterday, so she stayed back with Annie and Eddie while Jeff, Carol and I went.

Another demanding hike. We didn’t mean to do a loop, just an out and back; get the warbler at Laguna Meadows and return. A 3 ½ mile grind to Laguna Meadows. No bird. We continued on to the Colima Trail. How could a person not get a Colima Warbler on a trail named after the bird? No bird. We did hear him three different times but couldn’t get eyeballs on him. By then we were well over halfway around the loop, so no out-and-back hike. We continued on over the Pinnacles Trail. Still no bird. We headed down.

The whole hike was wonderfully scenic. We gave the bird every opportunity, but he just didn’t take advantage of the situation and make an appearance. When we got home, I put him down on our life-list as a “heard only”. We’ll come back again some day and try to get an actual sighting.


I got the Google Map updated for our 2010 trip:

The reason for any birder to visit Big Bend National Park is to see the Colima Warbler. It’ here in the summer, and only here. If you want the Colima Warbler on your North American Life-list, you’re coming here.

A Colima Warbler isn’t a drive-by sighting though. You have to hike a demanding trail at altitude in the heat to get it. We did a shorter hike today to check things out. Lost Mine trail, a 5 mile round trip with 1,200 feet elevation gain. Highest elevation about 6,500 feet. Judy’s knee is all better. She has full movement of her shoulder again, so off we went.

Jeff and Carol

Tomorrow, the Laguna Meadows and Colima Trails. A longer round-trip.

Monday, May 24, 2010


Big Bend. Last night’s weather never hit. We watched severe weather all around, but it just seemed to circle us. All we got was wind.

We headed off this morning for Big Bend. We’ve been driving back and forth past the turn-off to Big Bend for 30 years. Finally, we did it. It isn’t the best time of year to be in Big Bend. It’s pretty hot here now. But we’re here.

Now my audit software doesn’t work and we won’t have any cellphone service, so I’ll probably give up trying to work while I’m here and just take a couple days completely off. I put a message on the cellphone and an auto-response on email saying we’ll be off the grid for a couple days. We’ll reestablish contact soon. (Turns out we do have sporadic email.)

It wasn’t hard to find a place to camp. The national park campground is a parking lot campground, and it was basically empty, but there are full hookups. We’re not here for the campground anyway. We’re here for the access it gives us to all the stuff around it.
Right off the bat while we were still hooking up, we got the Common Blackhawk circling above us. Life bird!

Here is what the campground looks like at 108 degrees.

Sunday, May 23, 2010




Fort Stockton.  I got some work stuff sorted out.  (I also scrambled my audit software by trying to upgrade it and will need tech support during the workweek to get that sorted out.)  Judy got us all reprovisioned for a few more days on the road.  We’re going to head off through Big Bend National Park as we continue our way west.  We’ll probably have spotty cellphone and internet coverage for a few more days.


Desert type birds here.  Ash-throated Flycatcher, Black-throated Sparrow, Cactus Wren, Curve-billed Thrasher, Pyrrhuloxia, Western Kingbird, White-crowned Sparrow, White-winged Dove.


Tonight’s entertainment in Fort Stockton is the severe weather warning.  Thunderstorms, high wind, damaging hail, and tornadoes.  There is a tornado on the ground 27 miles southwest of Fort Stockton.  We’re on the east edge of Fort Stockton.  We picked up everything outside and put it away.  We took down the bird feeders.  We pulled in the slides.  We’re as ready as we can be to ride it out.


Life on the road.



Friday, May 21, 2010

Fort Stockton

Internet civilization. Great speed on the Verizon air card. Email and the world wide web as well! All the civilization we need.

We’ll stay here for a couple nights and make sure we’ve done everything we need with the internet to get us through the next few days. We’re headed off the map again on Sunday.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


A better day today. I couldn’t do anything on the internet, but I could send and receive emails. I got caught up with correspondence anyway. If I couldn’t actually get the work done, I could at least explain why.

Cool morning. Warm day. We’re supposed to be able to get the Golden-cheeked Warbler here, but we took a walk today and didn’t get him. We did get to count 39 birds, though, including the Black-capped Vireo, Black-throated Sparrow, Green Kingfisher, Northern Bobwhite, Painted Bunting, Summer Tanager, Vermilion Flycatcher, Wild Turkey, Yellow-billed Cuckoo and Chuck-wills-widow.

Here is our camp.

Tomorrow, Fort Stockton.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010



The Ranger Station at Lost Maples wasn’t much for internet service.  We moved on.  We’re another 60 miles west.  South Llano River State Park.  We’re near the town of Junction, Texas, but haven’t quite reached internet civilization yet.


For all those years we had our own internet dish on the roof of the motorhome, but it broke and it would be really expensive to replace it.  We don’t need the internet dish at all as long as we’re around big cities.  This has been a test of how well we get along without the internet dish on the roof when we travel.


Love the traveling, but so far, from a connectivity perspective, it’s not going well.





Still at Lost Maples.  I’ve worked on everything I downloaded before we left on this trip.  I’ve answered every email I can.  Now I need internet again.  I need fresh stuff to work on.


Took a morning walk and got the black-capped Vireo.  Didn’t get the Golden-cheeked Warbler.  We might be able to get internet at the Ranger Station.  If you get this on Tuesday, we did.



Monday, May 17, 2010


Went a little farther, but not much; another 175 miles. Lost Maples State Park west of San Antonio. One of our favorite places. Winding back roads all the way. No internet service. I’ll put everything in the outbox so it can go as soon as we stumble across internet service again.

A hot afternoon and a cool stream.

Eddie and Annie swam to Survivor Island.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


On the road. We didn’t go far, Choke Canyon State Park, about a hundred miles. No internet service so I can’t update the trip map yet.

Saw some cool birds: Verdin, Bullocks Oriole, Bewick’s Wren, Olive Sparrow, Yellow-billed Cuckoo. Heard a Pauraque tonight.

Here is our campsite.

That’s Jeff and Carol’s fifth wheel trailer in the next site. We’re caravanning for the first part of the trip, then they’ll peel off and head back to the beach while we continue on to Nevada.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

In Colorado

Heat builds during the day, moisture collects, and thunderstorms blow up in the afternoon. Here on the gulf, there is always plenty of heat and moisture around. Thunderstorms can happen at any time. A giant one happened this morning. Here is what the satellite image looked like just after the weather band passed over us from the west and headed offshore.

An inch and a half of rain. It happened pretty fast and we had nice weather the rest of the day.

Meanwhile, on the beach:

Red Knot.

Spotted Eagle Ray.

He was not having a good day.

We finished up with a Life Bird at the Birding Center. Black Rail. We weren’t even looking for a Black Rail, but Jon called and told us it was there. We didn’t actually see it. You don’t get to see Black Rails. You just get to hear them. If you actually got to see one, that would be like an Uber-bird.

We heard several of them.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The bad news is.

Our refrigerator died. It’s five years old and as the weather warms, so does the internal temperature. It wants to stay in the forties. That doesn’t keep food well.

The good news is that Wes and his crew could come right to our site, take out a window, and pass the old refrigerator out, the new refrigerator in, and put everything back together!

The window the 250 pound refrigerator is going to go out.

Going out.

The new one going in.

Put the window back in place.

And, two hours later, done.

Now our refrigerator temperature is back in the 30s.

Tires and refrigerator. We’re ready to roll. We’re leaving on our Summer Trip on Sunday. First we head west to a conference in Las Vegas in June. Then for Colorado and a family reunion in July. After that….

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Baby Coot

Remember the baby coot?

He’s an adolescent now. He’s getting more presentable.

He still doesn’t look like mom or dad yet, though.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The bad news is..

We had to buy tires for the motorhome. The good news is that we found a truck tire store that would come to us and change out the tires right at our site!

65,000 miles on the tires. The rubber was still good, but the tread was getting low, so it seemed like a good idea to change them now, before we start our summer traveling.

Two trucks. Two guys. Two small jacks (with power assists).

Jesse and Pedro. They were good. They knew what they were doing and did it.

Two hours later, they were done and gone.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Monday, May 10, 2010

Still sleeping sitting up


Judy is the wandering sleeper.  Sometimes she starts out in our own bed, but I never know where I’ll find her in the morning.  The shoulder is healing just fine, but it aches.  The body wants to lie down to sleep, but the least uncomfortable position is still sitting up in a recliner.  It will be that way for a while.



Sunday, May 9, 2010

Blackburnian Warbler

Another worn out Warbler. 600 miles across the Gulf. She was so tired and hungry, she didn’t care who was watching or how close they got.

She stayed a day then was gone.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A day-trip to Goliad

A two hour drive. Black-eyed Susans in bloom along the way.

A few other wildflowers.

An adult male Cape May Warbler in a Coral Bean tree back at the Birding Center in Port Aransas.

White-rumped Sandpipers.

Today would have been Dad’s 100th birthday.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Happy Anniversary to us.


Forty-four years already!


When we were kids, Judy and I used to talk about “When we get old enough to get married.”  I think what happened is that we fell in love at just the right age; when we were most susceptible.  It left a mark.  We imprinted on each other.



Thursday, May 6, 2010

Cactus flower

The potted cactus, preparing to bloom. Two little flower stalks.

In one great burst

Two perfect white flowers

But cactus flowers are fleeting. One day later, they’re goners.

The cactus has gone quiet again until next year.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Thailand Canal Boats

So we brothers are exchanging these emails about the canal boats brother Bill saw in Thailand

and how some of them are powered by old automobile engines.

We speculate that might be where old car engines go to live out the remainder of their useful lives; puttering up and down canals. It occurs to me that a similar thing happens here in the States. Just because cars are done for in the U.S. doesn't mean they're totally done. Any drive south from here to The Valley passes caravans of ratty cars towing even rattier cars down to Mexico; cars purchased at auto auctions for practically nothing. Less expensive labor, and probably less stringent environmental regulations, translates to lots of life left in a car that we consider all used up. From Mexico, all you need are a few tow bars, a few drivers, a ride across the border, and you're in business.

Seems like a good idea. This might not be the right political climate for encouraging Mexicans to come across the border to get our stuff, but it’s stuff we didn’t really want any more anyway, so why not? Come to think of it, that has to help our economy too. If there is an increased demand for junker cars, that increased demand will make the price of our junker cars go up, even if ever so slightly. We’ll make more money.

Wait a minute. An increase in the price of junker cars might be bad for wrecking yards that buy them and part them out. That might be bad for our economy.

Yabbut, it has to be better for our environment to have those old cars carried down south and re-used there instead of clogging up our landfills.

But what about the steel we could have melted down? That makes steel a scarcer commodity and drives up the price. With less steel to recycle, we increase the demand for new steel which might be bad for the environment!

Wait! What was that??? Did a butterfly just flap its wings in China? Is someone throwing pebbles in the pond again?