Tuesday, January 31, 2017



Barb and Henry from Sandpipers arrived this afternoon.  They came out to camp for a few days too.  Now not only do we have this nice state park, we have friends here too.  It just keeps getting better!


We signed up for another night.






Monday, January 30, 2017

Maybe not


Still at Falcon.


2017 January trip


It’s going to get a little warmer and nicer each day for the rest of the week.  Wi-Fi from our Verizon jetpack was weak last night, the trip report didn’t go out until this morning, but it has been fine all day today to work, so we’ve got everything we need here.


Popped over to Salineno to sit at the feeders at the DeWind’s yard.  The usual suspects were there.



Saw some bird backs.




Some bird fronts too.



No hurry to leave.  The birds are just starting to get used to us and the feeders in the yard.


We signed up for another night.



Falcon State Park


165 miles on back highways.


2017 January trip


Nice campsite.




The javelina thinks so too.





Warmer weather now.  It was cool and rainy again in San Antonio.  Last night at Choke Canyon, it got down to the high thirties.  Only scheduled for fifty degrees for a low here tonight; it feels better already.  It was warm enough to sit outside in the yard comfortably this afternoon.  It should be high seventies tomorrow; but tomorrow we go home.


Or maybe not.


Saturday, January 28, 2017

Choke Creek Canyon State Park


This is nice.




It’s one of our regular stops.


2017 January trip







Grandson Alex is in Los Angeles at a meet this weekend.  He took first place on Floor and Pommel.  Fourth overall.  The team took second.


Tomorrow.  Maybe we won’t go home.  Maybe we’ll go to Falcon State Park for a night.


Friday, January 27, 2017

Bean Jar Deficit

Best response:


Brian filled our jar with rabbits. It will never be empty!


Meanwhile…  We’re back in San Antonio.  The bus has a new bank of batteries.  We’re good to go.  Walked at Medina River Natural Area this evening.


Stopped at Green Lake RV Park for the night.


2017 January trip


We kept a day-list for roadkill on the drive up:





Gray fox

Crested Caracara (that’s a bird)

Truck tire treads


Cooper’s Hawk (that’s another bird)

Unidentified smear


Tomorrow, we’ll probably drive a little south and stop at Choke Creek Canyon State Park for the night.


Thursday, January 26, 2017



It’s just good to have friends.





Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A visit to brother Tom's house



He’s got the adjacent lot too, to put the garage on.


The preparation for the slab is interesting.  Like he said, the footings around the edges are 30” deep and the crossbeams are 24” deep.  That’s going to be a lot of cement!

It’s a nice clean digging job.  We don’t seem to use backhoes much here in South Texas; it’s all shovel work.


All this rebar is going in that slab as well.


This might be the sturdiest slab ever built!


Tuesday, January 24, 2017



(I mean it.  You may want to change channels now before you can read enough to agree with me that this might be too much information; more than you needed to know.)


Judy’s mom, the Keeper and Dispenser of folk knowledge, offered several important pieces of advice to Judy right before we got married.  Over the years Judy and I have discussed her advice; understanding some of it, disregarding some of it, and some of it we still haven’t figured out.  One wisdom she thought important enough to pass on, we have since discovered actually has a name in folklore; the Bean Jar Theory of Married Sex.


It goes like this:  Put a bean (or dime or penny) in a jar every time you have sex during your first year of marriage. Then take one out every time you have sex after the first year. You'll never empty the jar.


This bit of folklore did not turn out to be true in our case.  We’ve been running a serious bean jar deficit ever since 1969.  J


I know.  TMI.


Monday, January 23, 2017

Judy is so good


I took her on some unpaved roads out in agricultural land Sunday to go look for a mountain bluebird that has been reported there.  Sometimes when we get out on dirt roads she gets a little antsy about getting stuck.  I drive on dirt roads all the time with no trouble, but sometimes when I’m driving with Judy I turn around way before we really need to so Judy won’t be uncomfortable.


So, we turn left onto the unpaved road and we can see it has rained recently.  The road isn’t too wet to drive on; just a few puddles that are easy to drive around or even drive through.  Judy was so good, she didn’t say a word.  She might have gripped the armrest a little tighter, but no complaints.  The road was a piece of cake.  It was at least five minutes, maybe even ten minutes into the unpaved road drive before I suddenly stopped the car, realizing we were screwed; totally stuck.  It was subtle, but it was real.


The smooth flat road was suddenly slippery as ice.  The mud was only a few inches deep, but it was clay and we’d strayed into a soft wet patch.  If the road hadn’t been flat, we’d have slid right off the side.  So there we were about three car-lengths in, in a straight line.  I put the car in reverse.  The wheels spun, but the car went nowhere.  I shut it off.  We weren’t in any danger of sinking deeper, we just couldn’t move.  We got out and assessed the situation, getting taller with every step as the sticky clay mud stuck to our shoes.


There was no help at hand.  If we were in the Jeep, we could have shifted to four-wheel drive, put it in reverse, backed out, and headed home.  No such luck.  Front-wheel drive minivan.  We had a clear path out in reverse, but no traction to get us started in that direction.  We needed purchase for the front wheels.


Nothing dry on the ground.  No sticks.  No leaves.  No dry dirt.  No sand.  No bits of driftwood or flotsam we could throw under the wheels.  We continued to get taller as we cast about, searching for a solution.  Suddenly inspiration struck.  Grocery bags.  Cloth grocery bags in the back of the minivan.  We scooped out the mud as best we could from behind the front wheels where it had built up when we tried to go backwards.  I stuffed a grocery bag behind each.  I used one of Judy’s hiking sticks to jam the bags in a little further so the wheels spinning in reverse would catch them.  Judy pushed from the front.  I finessed the throttle.  We moved an inch then stopped.


The bags that had helped us move were now jammed up under the wheels and preventing us from making it any farther.  But we had moved an inch.  There was hope!  Back into the mud to get the grocery bags pulled out as much as possible and aligned behind the front wheels again.  Another effort; Judy pushing, me at the wheel.  We moved again and kept moving.  Now my challenge was to keep the car moving, while Judy was pushing, but not moving so much that I outran Judy and dropped her on her face in the mud.


Mission accomplished.  We backed all the way out of the mud, and a little bit further, just to be sure.  We couldn’t really clean the mud off ourselves, there wasn’t anything left inside the car to clean with, and nothing to scrape against on the side of the road, so we piled our muddy selves back in and left.  We drove to a quarter car wash in Mercedes.  First we blew the mud off our shoes with the car wash wand so we could see them again, then washed off the car as best we could.  We and the car were much better when we left.  The car wash bay was a mess.


We went on to Estero Llano Grande State Park and walked off more of the mud as it dried, then spent the rest of the afternoon congratulating ourselves on getting out of a tough situation (rather than beating one of us up for getting us into it in the first place).


Like I said.  Judy is so good.



Sunday, January 22, 2017

Pleasant memories


We see this tree at Estero Llano Grande State Park.


It’s in the tropical section; the part of the park with exotic plantings.  Not all the vegetation here is native to South Texas.  I recognize this kind of tree from our youth at Carroll Park.  It was in the yard on the other side of the driveway opposite the upstairs balcony.


It has these leaves that aren’t really shaped like leaves.


In our younger years, we might have referred to these leaves on the ground as “worms”.


This kind of tree is called a Star Pine.  It is endemic to a small island in the South Pacific, but has come to be used as an ornamental tree in the southern U.S. and other subtropical regions of the globe.


I always liked that tree.


Saturday, January 21, 2017



We drove home in the car.


2017 January trip


The map’s a little messy.  Now we’re just driving back and forth across routes we’ve already been.  We considered going back to Port Aransas for a Jaeger (that’s a bird) at the jetty, but we were just there.  We considered driving south to Laredo for an Amazon Kingfisher (that’s another bird), but the Rio Grande is fast and muddy there right now, so the bird isn’t reliable.  We decided to just go home.  Weather was cool and rainy most of the time we were up north.  We drove home to 90 degrees.  Pretty comfy weather for January.


Tomorrow, a quiet day.  We’ll stay home and watch football most of it.  All our teams are out of contention now, so


Go Football!



Friday, January 20, 2017

Port Aransas Birding Center


From yesterday.


Tri-colored heron.


Great egret.


Green heron.


Gator in the sunset.





We’ve moved on; back to San Antonio.


2017 January trip



Our coach batteries are 4 years old and that’s all one can expect out of a standard battery pack (four batteries).  We decided to get them changed out for some higher-tech batteries that last longer.  They can’t get the work done before the weekend, so here we are, parked in our favorite spot in their yard for the night.


Tomorrow, we leave the coach here and drive home in the car.  They can take their time to work on it.  We’ll come back next weekend to pick it up.


Thursday, January 19, 2017



For January, a Big Day.  Jon and me.  There are only winter birds here, no migrants, so the total can’t be really big.  We projected 155 birds for the day.  We got 168!  A new record for us.  (Although we’ve never done a January Big Day before, so anything we did would be a new record.)  J


Wednesday, January 18, 2017



An easy ride down to Mustang Island State Park.


2017 January trip



Fish, shrimp, and chips at Snoops.


An early start tomorrow.  2am.  A January Big Day!


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Continuing thought on the suspension work


Who to believe?


The shop in the Valley thought the motorhome needed a lot of work.  The shop in San Antonio said not so much.  I didn’t get a sense that the guy in the Valley was running a scam.  He wouldn’t have benefitted much from an expensive repair.  Most of the money would have gone for parts that are hard/impossible to get.


On a level of which option would cost more or less, I choose to believe the one that only costs $90.  On another level though, I actually am left wondering how/why two shops could look at the exact same evidence and come up with opposite diagnoses.


Another day


The refrigerator is repaired.


It was no small task.  The whole heavy thing had to come out of its place in the wall, lie face-down on the floor, and get an organ transplant from the rear.  An all-day procedure, but the fridge is restored to its proper place this afternoon and all vital signs are strong.


We’re adding points to the map, but they’re just dots all around San Antonio we’ve gone, to stay out of the way while repairs get done.


2017 January trip


One more night of hospitality at Casa Texas RV Supply.  These refrigerators take a long time to get to temperature.  They want to check the patient one more time tomorrow morning before releasing us.  They’re so nice, I told Tony, the Service Manager, that next time we’re in town, we’re not even calling KOA, we’re just driving straight here.


Tomorrow, Corpus Christi and Mustang Island State Park.


Monday, January 16, 2017

Who you going to believe?


A year ago the suspension shop in the Valley told us the bushings on the suspension arms on our motorhome were too worn for them to do an alignment; we’d have to get new arms installed.  It was going to be an expensive job; $10,000.  We decided to wait and consider our alternatives.  We waited quite a while.


We came to San Antonio for a second opinion.  Southwest Brake and Alignment said the suspension arms were just fine, aligned the front end, and charged us $79.


So, two different shops, two different opinions.  Who you going to believe?



We’ve moved on to Texas RV Supply.


They’re checking out the refrigerator for us.  The part they need will come in tomorrow, so they’re putting us up for the night.

Room for the slides and 50 amp service!


We have to vacate the rig while they work on it.  We took a walk at the arboretum.





2017 January trip



Sunday, January 15, 2017

Loving this life on the road


In our “new” coach.


2017 January trip


Today was a birding day.  Three different locations.  This is Landa Park in New Braunfels.  (Named after a town in Germany by a Prince who emigrated here in the mid-eighteen hundreds specifically to establish a new community.)

Henry got to go with us and chase squirrels in the park (while on his leash).  He got petted a lot.


We added eleven year-birds.  Here are four of them.





Heavy rain and flood warnings, but it only sprinkled on us off-and-on all day.  With highs in the seventies, that’s not a problem at all.


Tomorrow’s weather forecast, more of the same.