Wednesday, February 28, 2018

We've almost rejoined our plan


Another morning at Lake Casablanca


We headed back to the truck repair shop.  By the time the repair was completed, we were a little late getting out of there; we didn’t get out until afternoon.  We couldn’t make it to our planned stop in Seminole Canyon before dark, so we stopped at Broke Mill RV Park in Del Rio instead.



2018 Arizona Trip Map


The weather is still very warm; it was 90 today.


Working our way along the southern border, the county map is looking better every day.



Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Life on the road


We had a plan.  But plans change.  That’s the deal with traveling all these miles; not every one of them is trouble-free.  Instead of driving to our next stop today, we spent the day at French Ellison truck repair.



On the way to Lake Casa Blanca yesterday, the bus started running rough, but then it cleared up.  Instead of just driving on, we decided to stop at a repair shop, let them connect a computer to our coach, and read any error messages.  They did that and found one.  They got a hit on the boost sensor; it’s starting to fail and needs to be replaced.  No problem.  Except the part isn’t here in Laredo.  It won’t get here until tomorrow.  So back to Lake Casa Blanca State Park for another night.


Now this was the day we were supposed to travel though all those counties we need for our map, spot some birds, and end up in Crystal Springs for the night.  Well, there was still some daylight left when we found out we couldn’t get fixed until tomorrow, so we piled in the car and drove through those counties we need and recorded our sightings.


Now our Texas county map looks like this:



Less empty spots.


And back at the state park, listening to the night birds calling, our camp looks like this.


Monday, February 26, 2018

On the road again


Headed for Arizona.


We made our usual stop at the Falfurrias Rest Area for lunch.



This is a center median rest stop; it serves traffic going both directions.  It’s a good example of leaving the vegetation in the median intact; it’s got an oak forest to walk through.


Continuing west for Laredo and Lake Casa Blanca State Park.




Arizona Trip Map


No progress on the Texas County Map yet though.



Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Challenge


Ebird, the birding software we use, put up a digital map with stick-on states.  We get credit for a state by entering the birds we’ve seen there.


The darker the color, the more birds we have sighted in each state.  We’ve done well, getting birds in every state, including Hawaii, except Alaska.  The problem with this map is that you can click on each state to see how you’re doing with counties in that state.


We’re doing well with counties in Arizona


We’ve recorded birds in every one of them.  (It helps that there aren’t very many counties in Arizona.)


We’ve got a good start on New Mexico.


And Colorado.

Those are both do-able.


But Texas.


Texas is a challenge.  There are 254 counties in Texas.



Saturday, February 24, 2018

A lone yucca


Out on a brushy trail.


A lone yucca.


Here in the Valley and the desert southwest, they’re called Spanish Dagger.


They’re a lot different from the yucca in Colorado, or the branching yucca Joshua trees in California.


Friday, February 23, 2018

Birds at the water feature


At the National Butterfly Center.


We’ve got red-winged blackbirds, a northern cardinal, and a starling.


And a house sparrow in the foreground.



And a clay-colored thrush.  It’s like a robin, but all brown.




The clay-colored thrush is especially cool because there aren’t many places in the U.S. it can be seen.  The range map looks like this:



Thursday, February 22, 2018

This time feels different


After the massacre of elementary school children at Newtown, the country asked for change.  Nothing happened.


After the massacre of music festival attendees in Las Vegas, the country asked for change.  Nothing happened.


But after the massacre of high school staff and children in Florida, it feels different.  The children who were attacked are not preschoolers.  They’re old enough to speak for themselves.  They are eloquent, informed, and they’re outraged.  They are not asking for change, they’re demanding it.  No more open season on school children with military assault weapons.  They are demanding change directly from the politicians who have been unable to deliver.  They are saying if you’re not with us you’re against us, and if you don’t choose to protect us, shame on you.  We’ll vote you out and vote in someone who will. 


This local movement in Florida almost instantly went national.  Eleven thousand young people turn eighteen every day in the U.S.  That’s four million new voters every year.  If this really is a national movement; if this continues to resonate with all young people; they have the power to make this work; to make something happen that the “adults” have been unable to do; stop the carnage.


I respect and admire these Florida high school students/shooting survivors who are speaking out.  I embrace their mission to ban mass murders of school children.


This time feels different.


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

I never look at butterflies


Really.  I spend enough time with other stuff.  I don’t need another compulsion.


I hardly even noticed this black swallowtail.






Tuesday, February 20, 2018

My wife woke up with a screw loose




And what’s more, she noticed it before I did!


She’s been working with a dentist on an implant since last November.  He removed a faulty tooth and imbedded a post in her jawbone in the empty spot.  We had to leave that alone for three months for everything to heal and the swelling to go down.  Mid-month this month, we went back, and they took impressions to use to construct the cap that will fit on the post.


We’re scheduled to go again this Friday for the final visit to get the cap put on.  This morning when she got up though, she noticed that the post in the empty spot had come loose; it had unscrewed enough that we had to go right to the dentist to get it tightened back up before it fell all the way out.


The mission was a success.  It took about a minute to put it right again.  No more screw loose!  Not from the dental implant anyway.  (Oops.  Did I just say that out loud?)


Monday, February 19, 2018

Roaming the back roads


Searching for white-fronted geese, I come across a field of sandhill cranes.


A thousand cranes, maybe more.



And some red-winged blackbirds.



And a white-tailed kite.



Sunday, February 18, 2018

We noticed something interesting last week


We took a drive to San Ignacio and went to a birding location there.




We walked some trails that ultimately led to the edge of the Rio Grande River.  There were signs of border patrol in the neighborhood.  Makes sense.  Then we came across this plowed strip next to the river.  It was so soft it didn’t make sense for it to be a walking trail.  I speculated that it might be a path for the Border Patrol on their four-wheelers.  They often patrol the border that way.


But then we noticed that there weren’t any four-wheeler tracks in it, just tractor tracks and our own footprints.


Oh.  Wait a minute.  That plowed line isn’t to drive on; it’s an indicator.  If they smooth over our footprints this afternoon, the next morning they’ll be able to tell if anyone crossed the river during the night!  Now there’s a simple useful tool.  They can at least have a count.


Saturday, February 17, 2018

Cattle egrets


They’re always around somewhere, but sometimes they can be hard to find.


And sometimes all you need to do is look at the local truck stop!