Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Change in plans 1a



Monday.  Got on the road early to head through El Paso on our way to Las Cruces.  Going to have a short travel day and check in on work and do some laundry.  Funny thing; you know how when you’re driving down the interstate and you get to a town, the speed limit always goes down?  If the speed limit is 65, it will generally slow to 60 or 55 until you get out of town.  Well, driving through Van Horn on the interstate, the speed limit is 80!  Of course we only drive 65 regardless.  The first thing that happens driving west from Van Horn is we’re now in the same time zone as our children.


Called up the weather forecast and saw high wind warnings, 60mph gusts at Las Cruces expected on Tuesday.  Another change in plans.  Decided it would be better to cover more miles on Monday and hunker down on Tuesday.  Called Rusty’s RV Ranch just outside Rodeo, New Mexico and she said she had room for us a day early, so that was our new plan.  West on Interstate 10.  A stop for lunch and provisioning at Deming.  Continuing West on Interstate 10, we got within 15 miles of our exit (30 miles from our destination) when suddenly all traffic was diverted off the freeway.  No explanation, must have been an accident or something, but the alternate route was well marked, with police moving everyone along at every intersection, and blocking any wrong turns.  Where we live in the Valley, it’s not unusual to get shunted off the freeway and right back on at the next ramp.


The alternate route headed off the wrong direction, not a good sign, back to the east from whence we came.  Then it turned north.  Then it just went on.  And on.  And on.  With all of the truck, RV, and car traffic that would have been on the freeway if it could.  North-west.  The wrong direction for us.  Judy called the highway patrol.  There was a dangerous dust storm, zero visibility, on the interstate ahead of us at San Simon, Arizona, so they closed it, and sent us on a Hundred Fifteen Mile detour!


We followed the scenic 2 lane highway 70 from Lordsburg, to Duncan, Solomon, and Safford.  We finally got to turn south, back toward the freeway, on Highway 191.  By then though, it was getting late, and almost a little bit cranky.  The interstate was still closed, so even when we got back to it, we wouldn’t be able to go east to New Mexico where we were supposed to be.  Another nother change in plans.  Judy saved the day when we saw the sign for a State Park we’ve never been to and called them just before we got to the turn.  They had room for us!  We made the turn and set up for the night in a delightful little park with a lake.


2017 Arizona Trip Map


We’re sheltered here in the foothills.  A very calm comfortable evening.


Saw a whole bunch of Common Mergansers.


Tomorrow, assuming the interstate is back open, we only have another 95 miles to go to get back to where we meant to be tonight.


Change in plans


Sunday.  Travel day.  Our first interstate day.  Straight down the road 260 miles past Sonora, Ozona, Fort Stockton and Balmorhea.  We meant to spend the night at Balmorhea State Park, the place with the giant freshwater spring fed pool.  (The spring is giant, and so is the pool.) 


But the State Park is full today; no room for us, so we drove on to the Van Horn KOA, another 68 miles.






2017 Arizona Trip Map


Suddenly we’re at 4,000 feet elevation, with a desert humidity of 11%!


We have experienced a lot already this trip.  We’ve been hot, we’ve been cold, we’ve been dry, and now we’re high!


Good cell and internet.  The first day we’ve been back in touch.  We can catch up on trip reports and everything else.


Saw two violet-green swallows.


Monday, February 27, 2017

Saturday, MOTS


More of the same.



There is a lot to like about Llano.  More walking trails than a person can hike in a few days.  Four different bird blinds.  Some of the birds are the same in every blind, like black-throated sparrows, they’re everywhere, but each blind is in slightly different habitat, and so attracts a few different birds.  We have to visit each blind every visit; some more than once.


Texas Hill Country scenery.



Some of it is even for sale.


Here is the listing.




It’s got some nice photos of the property.


Saw Pine Siskins and Spotted Towhees.


Day Friday


How many cities did we drive through today?  We turned left out of Lost Maples, drove a scenic road.  Turned left at a highway intersection, turned right at the next highway intersection, and turned left when we hit the interstate.  We drove 75 miles, and the first city we encountered was Junction.  Junction, Texas.  Our stop for the night.  South Llano River State Park.


2017 Arizona Trip Map



We spent some time looking for WiFi in town.  Found a connection at the McDonalds, but that only worked for the computer.  That’s a big deal, getting to catch up on email, but we want data on the telephone too, and that didn’t work.  Not that life totally sucks without internet.


It was so cold here this morning there was frost!  We’ll spend the weekend here anyway.  J


Saw Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jays and Dark-eyed Juncos.



Sunday, February 26, 2017



No Verizon.  The Camp Wi-Fi works for the news.  We don’t really need the news.  It doesn’t work for email.


Not only does lack of Wi-Fi and cell service matter for work and email, now it matters for birding too.  It never did before, but now we have digital tools.  With the eBird app, we can make contemporaneous entries on our phone to record what birds we’re seeing right as we’re seeing them.  If we’re not sure what bird we’re looking at, or what birds we should expect to see, we have diagnostic tools right at our fingertips when we have Wi-Fi or cell service; and we have Wi-Fi and cell service practically everywhere we go.  Something we never had for all our lives, and now constant contact matters more and more every year.  We have Alexa at home; the Amazon Echo, home helper.  Every question or request has to start with “Alexa” to alert the machine to pay attention to what’s coming next.  Want to guess how many times Alexa’s name has been called out already this trip?



Saw Rufous-crowned sparrows.



Day 2


A short day to Lost Maples Wildlife State Natural Area. Through Tildon, Pearsall, Sabinal for lunch, Utopia, and Vanderpool.  Utopia has a general store.


2017 Arizona Trip Map


We don’t come here often, because it’s not really on the way to anywhere.  No easy access from interstates.  That’s probably what keeps it so quiet and nice.


Wi-Fi at the entrance station.  Maybe I can hook up there to send and receive.


It’s hot here.  91 degrees for a high.


Two nights here, then we’ll move along.


Saw a Hutton’s Vireo.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

We're leaving


…on a jet …..  bus.


On the road again.  It’s a slow boat to Phoenix; we’re going to take weeks to get there.

North through Falfurrias, fuel in Premont, on past Alice, George West, and Three Rivers.  We’re at Choke Canyon State Park (again).


2017 Arizona Trip Map



Working our way along back roads; we won’t see any freeways for days.  We don’t know how much internet we’re going to get before we get back to a more civilized path.  Good reception here at Choke, but don’t know about the next two stops: Lost Maples and South Llano River.  Stay tuned, but don’t worry if we go dark for a couple days.


The best advice we’ve receive on the scope/rifle invention is that we should be careful where we show it.  If a Border Patrol agent comes around a bend in the trail and sees us aiming it in his direction, there could be a problem.  Perhaps we should rethink our invention.


Monday, February 20, 2017

I just had an idea


Scopes are great; much more powerful than binoculars, but they’re cumbersome on a tripod; not terrible, but if I’m going to walk in a mile or two to look at something, I generally choose not to lug the scope.


How about we put a scope on a rifle stock?  It would have three points to steady it; two hand-holds and a shoulder.  It would be steadier still if one could rest an elbow or two on something.  It wouldn’t be as steady as a tripod by any means; no way could a person hold it firm enough for 60 power, but it might be useful on its lowest power, 20X, and that’s a lot more magnification than 8X binoculars.  With a strap on it, it could be slung across a shoulder and carried for miles.  I know from prior experience that it’s possible to march many miles with a rifle slung across a shoulder.


Now we just need a name for it.  Click and release rifle?  Assault scope?


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Fresh fish for breakfast


An osprey flew overhead, across the river, and landed.


He was carrying a load, so I put the telephoto lens on him


Yup.  Fresh fish for breakfast.  A Big breakfast.


Friday, February 17, 2017

Love the little birds


Black-crested titmouse.







Bewick’s wren.




Thursday, February 16, 2017



I offered to look at a smart car with my wife.


She refuses to ride in anything she could pick up and throw!



Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Sometimes I create my own stress

My flaw is impatience.


Standing in line is my nemesis.


I understand that sometimes you have to wait your turn.  I get that.  Waiting in lines that don’t need to be like they are though, make me crazy.  As a business person, I’ve always felt that being on time was a professional courtesy and a sign of respect.  If someone is five or ten minutes late to a meeting, they’ve already lost me.  If the doctor can’t see me until 11:00, don’t make my appointment for 10:00.  Make it for 11:00.  I’ll be on time!


Waiting in a medical office just makes me crazy.  I know what the process is here; they stack up the waiting room with people, then call back a constant stream of patients as they’re ready for them.  It’s the most efficient way for the doctor.  I’m good for the first fifteen or twenty minutes of waiting, but by half an hour into it, I’m feeling offended and disrespected.  I get all up in my head, and by 45 minutes I’m furious and storm out.


So far as I can tell, that doesn’t accomplish anything positive.  I’m still left with the condition that drew me there in the first place.  Now I (we) have to try again with same doctor, or change doctors and start all over.


It’s not the smartest thing I do.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentines Day


Candlelight.  Champagne.  Soft music.  Shrimp Cocktail.  Grilled filet and lobster.


I’m a lucky guy.



Monday, February 13, 2017



Still loves that little box in the window that is too small for him.



The weather is warm.  Work is good (nice and busy).  Judy and I are well.


Sunday, February 12, 2017

A Reddish egret


When he’s calm.


When he’s aroused.





Friday, February 10, 2017

In South Texas





It’s how we roll.





Thursday, February 9, 2017

Alone on the salt flats



Birds in the distance.


That black vulture.




Directly overhead.


I know he’s looking at me.


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

A sure sign of spring



Our local huisachillo.  (weesah Chee yoh)  A kind of acacia.


They’ve been blooming since the end of January.


Happy springtime!


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Common pauraque



Usually when I send out pauraque pictures I’m describing where the tail is, but it’s obscured.  Here is a shot with the tail out in the open.



And here is a head-on shot I don’t usually get.




Monday, February 6, 2017

I was just thinking


Mirrors reverse everything.  When I look in a mirror and raise my right hand, it looks like I’m raising my left.  That leaves me with a question:  Why does the mirror only reverse left to right and not top to bottom too?


If I lie on my side in front of a mirror and raise my right arm, it still looks like I’m raising my left, so why when I’m standing up, do I still see my head at the top, and not my toes?



Sunday, February 5, 2017

I'm so glad


I’m so glad we didn’t have anything invested in this Super Bowl; it didn’t really matter to us who won.  Wow, what a game, but it had to be agonizing for fans of either team.


Life is so much simpler when your favorite team is *not* in the Super Bowl.



Saturday, February 4, 2017

We got applauded today


It was the simplest little thing.


We left the Taco Bell, walked across the parking lot and got in the car.  As I was walking around to my side of the car, I heard this sound.  A woman in the passenger seat of a car waiting at the stoplight on the corner had rolled down her window and was clapping.  Something about us delighted her. Maybe it was that we were holding hands on the way to the car.  Maybe it was that I opened the car door for Judy.


I waved back and she gave me a thumbs up.  Judy waved back and the onlooker gave her a thumbs up as they were driving on.  It left us happy that she was so happy.


A serendipitous moment; we contributing a moment of joy to her day, and she to ours.


Friday, February 3, 2017

An orange-crowned warbler


Enjoying nature’s most perfect food.






Time to go home.


2017 January trip


We ran out of dog food.


We’re back to Sandpipers.