Friday, November 21, 2014

A quick trip

From about October to the end of the year, any traveling around in the state is fun and usually colorful if not filled with migrating birds, animals getting ready for winter (either rutting or feeding) and trees in colorful display.

Even this far into fall there are beautiful landscapes to be had:

The Southern Plains in the fall plants a crop of winter wheat which this time of year is usually a green velvet fuzz on the ground.

Traveling down the road, it's impossible to miss the contrast between the green velvet fuzz and the harvested corn, sorghum crops fields.  The light yellow in contrast with the deep green makes a gorgeous contrast.

And there's nothing prettier than the frost on the crop early late fall/early winter morning.  This provides not only a second crop for the farmers but also cattle can be run on these fields which goes a long way toward sustaining a winter herd of stock. 

But that's not the only thing out in the fields.  After a crop is harvested, there are the inevitable grain left on the field.  There is no way to  gather all the grain, and certain animals know that and are there to aid in the gathering of that grain.
In the morning sun, the beautiful colors of pheasants are gorgeous, as they are roosting in a tree next to a recently harvest field.

They are naturally skittish and as I walked closer and closer, they all began to fly away.
They are just as beautiful in flight as they are in the sun!   We continued to see a lot of them in the field, but never as beautifully displayed as here.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Celebrating Birthday

Well, this was a fine birthday for me - started with a nice sleep in and then a ride into town to get a few essentials at the grocery store, but what should appear outside, but a guy roasting chilies!!!  Way too cool, as I had been told that chili season was over.  So went inside to pester the employees and they were all very helpful and nice and walked out with 8 bags of hot freshly roasted is chili hoarding season!!!

This is the view out our rear window every day - I know it's a tough job...yada, yada, yada!  The trees at the top of the mountains are just changing (aspens) and they are going to be glorious while we're here.

Here's another shot close up - they turn yellow gold then red!

Another view with the chamisa in the foreground - this is a painting begging to be done!

It's like the chamisa is color-coordinated with the aspens in the mountains - and of course the opposite of gold and orange!

Just before sunset we trekked over to the Rio Grand Gorge bridge and Siggy came along for a's a man and his dog!

And sunset on the gorge bridge didn't disappoint (I'm feeling another painting!)

This is a wider view - the colors just keep getting richer and deeper the further the sun goes down.

From the other side of the sky - I promise these colors aren't fake.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Back out on the road

There is serious color during the fall in northern New Mexico, and we even talked some friends into joining us.

Not only are the trees glowing.....

But so are the skies:

The trees are just starting their show, so while we're here, we expect them to only get better.

 This isn't only a photographic journey, but I do hope to get some painting done!
I have lots of natural color to work with here!

A Little Catching UP

Walt's done a bit of traveling but for business, but took his camera to shoot some magnificent shots of the state bird.
Such beautiful shots, that I didn't know our state bird had so much color under those wings!!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Big Bend, Rio Grand Village, Chisos Basin

These are two hot areas in Big Bend, and both have completely different ecosystems.

Chisos Basin is a high flat area (flat is relative here), in a rise above the Chihuahuan Desert.  So it's dry, bu then it's high, so has a little different plant life than you would normally find.  As a matter of fact, some you don't find anywhere else except in the Chisos Basin.

The main hike is the Window which is really rather unusual, as you are surrounded by high peaks, except for a certain part - a Window into the world outside.  I sorta felt like I was in Shangra La, but didn't have to go through a blizzard to get there!

So imagine mountains all around except for this little "Window" and you have a good picture of the Chisos Basin and the charm of the area.

Well that and there was a mountain lion  the night before right behind the basin store....rats, why weren't we there last night!!!

Further down the road is the Rio Grande Village close to - yep, you guessed it - - the Rio Grande.

BTW, there's a $5,000 fine if you cross the river. I have no intentions of doing anything like that cause my little dog, Siggy, doesn't have papers!!!

But because we're close to the water....and trees - apparently there was a ranch here early on where they dug ditches to flood irrigate the area - there are birds and I mean lots of 'em.


Yep - my first Vermillion Flycatcher.....and what does he do?

 Right before our eyes he swoops down and catches a little brunch snack and looks at us....."Can you do this?!" 
 On the ground is something I wouldn't think I would see here - a flicker.

In the tree above was another.  Lots of cottonwoods in the area as you are so close to the river that provides the moisture needed to sustain this wooded area. 

 Indigenous to this area is the Cactus Wren.

Also are these beautiful sparrows - White-crowned Sparrow.   This bird has a beautiful song too.

Big Bend has some very unusual climates - desert, mountains and riparian - all different and unusual - very interesting to visit.

Davis Mountains State Park Review

This rv park is in the state park, and most state and national park sites are usually primitive or no hook-ups, which means you are pretty much self-contained.  They will often have a toilet and sometimes a shower, but to find an rv park inside a park with full services is a treat.  And that's exactly what we had - and probably a little better than we thought.

 This isn't a picture of the campground.  It's a picture on the road to the McDonald (and yes, we went, and yes it was a gas - not nebular fortunately!!!!)  But this does show the topography of the area.  It is mountainous desert and I say that because it is dusty and dry there, but this is normal for them.

We stayed at site #4 which happens to be the site of an elf owl's nest.  The thing is that often they will come back to those nests, and this owl has done that in the past, but this doesn't always happen - just saying that if you have a choice of sites, this can be a great one.

The sites are not level.  As a matter of fact most of the time the sewer hookups are higher than where the hookups are on RVs - that includes the large motorhomes as well as the simple as pop-ups.  We were lucky that our RV hookup was just a smidgen higher than the sewer site hookup.

That and the no cell and iffy-internet, (you can go to the top of Skyline Drive or into Ft. Davis to get a great cell signal - 4G), the park is really a great place to stay if you're in the area.

There are also critters running through the campground.  I asked if I could put up my birdfeeder on my back window, and they asked not to do that as it draws in the javelinas who draw in the mountain lions.  Now, there's one side of me as the photographer who would just salivate at that but then there's the kids and little dogs and just the general mayhem that would ensue with a mountain lion running amok in the campground.  So the better side of me did not put up the feeder!!!  And without the feeder the peccaries show up anyway!

What to do in Davis Mountains?  Well, if you ask me, you could go to the McDonald Observatory  - even twice.  This is the layout of the ampitheather part (during the day) and picture of the three "big" scopes they use for the star parties.  Be sure and make reservations early so you can get a spot, and they have a pre-event, twilight event, which is just as much fun. 

These folks (yes, it is the UT campus), going way beyond the norm to make sure that every person has a very enlightening and entertaining experience. It's really a lot of fun, and if you're anywhere in the neighborhood, I highly recommend it - even for novices.....especially for novices.  I wouldn't try and take kids who are too young as at the earliest the program is over is about 10pm.  But this program is geared for kids as much as for adults.

The Nature Conservancy also has an area that is not normally open, but was while we were there.  We made a round around Madera Canyon, but some of the roads were so rough that even the truck couldn't make it.  The runners are so low that going over some bumps and pot holes (if you want to call these pot holes in a dirt/gravel road), would not only cause damage, but the truck could get stuck and hung up on the high point where the wheels couldn't gain traction or even touch the dirt road, and then you're trekking back to the hiking trail head and then headquarters and possibly further to get a cell signal to get a tow truck to pull you out, and it just puts a real damper on the vacation.   So we turned around and came back.
On the way back we caught some wild turkeys and a javelina carcass that no one knew how it died, but could be any number of ways. 

We even stayed a couple of extra days at Davis Mountains and enjoyed our stay there.

On to Big Bend next 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Big Bend - First Day

We hit Big Bend yesterday and just for a look see we traveled for a quickie into the park.    Bad idea - that lead to a 3-hour tour (only not the same ending as Gilligan's Island!)  It was beautiful and we stopped by many places that I had wanted - I mean we were just passing know how that goes!!!

This is one of the most photographed vistas in the park, and unfortunately, the photo doesn't do the vista justice.  But Walt tries and tries well.

The surrounding area is really quite odd.  Big Bend is made up of a mountainous area that rises above the Chihauhaun desert which makes this a desert mountainous area, which means high, but little moisture.  Put in the middle of this a river adding another ecosystem - riparian, and this makes for a very interesting group of flora and one section you will have beautifully and often exotic blooming cactus while in another part you will have gorgeous butterflies

Switching back to the riparian ecosystem, this beautiful fern type evergreen with gorgeous delicate blossoms.  All the photos are huge so click on them to see the detail in Walt's photography.

Another cactus - back to the desert, and this is an ocotillo that looks like a bunch of thorny branches - just a stick type bush, then at the top of each stick are the gorgeous orange-red blossoms.  Again click on the photo to see the close up behind the beautiful blue desert sky.

 As Claire likes to say, "It's a painting!!!" And it is - all I have to do is paint it!  Some "vintage" buildings next to Cerro Castellan or Castellan Peak which is a super example of the volcanic, ash and following build up of sediment.  It's really colorful as you can tell with the vintage structure in the foreground.

 One of the showiest flora in the desert is the prickly pear which is normally just a purple-ish disc cactus, till spring and then out comes these glorious blossoms, and in some spots (further south) the plant is covered in blossoms as the desert is a hard environment the plant has a short time to pollinate and get its business done.  Amazingly we saw several stacks of what looked like bee hives along side the road, which makes us wonder if, as spring progresses slowly north, the apiarists follow the spring north keeping their bees busy as....(can you hear it coming)...bees!!!

 But the other great thing is that these bees serve a great purpose for these flowers that have an all too short lifetime, and they really do help them and the ecosystem of the desert.

Another popular scene from Big Bend - Mule Ears - and it looks exactly like that!