These little White Breasted Nuthatches are a treat to watch, they are busy, very busy, and they chat a lot to themselves, starting to sound familiar now, well, at least about the chatting to oneself;) they clammer all over the tree trunks, right side up, upside down and every other position in between:) Good for a smile:)
Midweek the sun finally came out in the afternoon and everything seemed right with the world, you just had to avoid reading any news, anywhere:)
We were tasked with filling the water tank on Myrtle, our trailer. Our old pump, the energizer bunny pump, a wee little thing we picked up at Canadian Tire many years ago to transfer water from a 55 gallon barrel to the trailer tank was put to the task. “Operation fill trailer water tank!” This wonderful little pump has traveled the continent with us and manages to keep going and going…slowly, very slowly it filled our water tank of 80 gallons…from the edge of the lake→all the way up here! 230 feet of hose and 20′ of lift! Wow! That is quite the little pump! As the temperatures are still going below freezing we can’t hook up the un-insulated cottage water yet! A new submersible water pump arrived via Purolater later in the day, I was not sure the little pump that could would continue to be the little pump that can and the luxury of water is something we don’t want to do without! ah, the joys of cottage living and lake water! so, like Baja, we have a plan A pump, and a plan B pump! Not a habit we are ever going to get away from I think!
We had a special delivery of food from friends, dropped off at a distance. A lifesaver, fresh fruit, eggs, ( I love eggs!) chips (salt and vinegar, how did they know?) beer and fixings for cat food. We make our own cat food, might explain the giant size of our feline companions;) ha! Thank you Joanne and Trevor! And a wine delivery, and more beer, never hurts, it could be used as an antiseptic right? 😉 Thank you Regan and Sheila:) All with good social distancing and lots of hand washing:) whew…one really has to think constantly about what to touch, how to touch and where to touch, as well as WHO to touch! ha! Settle down Mike!
We’ve watched the ice recede, then come back with nights below freezing but today, the wind is howling and suddenly, it is gone, all pushed down the lake to the South. Small lake icebergs are floating past in the stiff Northerly wind, all piling up at the end, sorry Judy! I hope your end of the lake doesn’t look like Antarctica! I sat and watched the sunset last night, the concrete was a very cold seat but the beauty was a balm to our troubling times:)
Have I mentioned just how happy the traveling Mewberries are? They are ecstatic, not only do they not have to share us with ANYBODY, they get to go out for long walks, Groot gets to run free and there is a tremendous amount of flying up and down trees and gallivanting in the bunkie, racing up and down and general mischief making! How happy they are!
Nights are pretty quiet after all this commotion! The furball kids fall asleep pretty quickly except for Rocket who seems to get a 2nd wind, much to the consternation of his older sister, resulting in a lot of hissing and “can you just piss off”…hahahaha!
Waiting for warmer days myself. I did some raking and cleaning, my oregano and lemon thyme have survived the winter:) Happy face! Today the wind is howling and although it is sunny, and we got to see three bald eagles, a parent and two juveniles. The lake berg (a new word: ice lake shelf/floe, not FLOW I just discovered! ha!) that was on the lake this morning where the bald eagles were resting, is going, going, gone! Wowza! That happened fast!
This afternoon, quarantine day 8 is sunny, windy and cold but bye bye ice! Temperature are going to be above zero tonight and by the weekend it will be balmy, for us, for this time of year! Saludos amigos! Only 6 days to go of quarantine! Stay tuned for replacing the water pump “IN” the trailer, things happen in threes, what could be next!…I don’t want to know! hahaha! The Purolator guy knows exactly where we live now:)
Birthday breakfast was in order for my better half, servant Mike to the traveling, I mean, sedentary Mewberries…I wanted to make Eggs Benedict, for Mike as well as myself, this goes both ways these delicious things but lo and behold, no English Muffins in the pantry so off to an amazing book my cousin Bronle gave us about both the history of these baked goods and the recipes over the ages…hilarious and yum!
Something about quarantine brings out the food cravings, you want what you can’t have;) Not sure what he gets for his birthday dinner but for desert-Creme Caramel of course:) The clouds and rain and even a few thunder claps that shook the trailer bring out that comfort food hankering:)
Still some juggling going on with our water system, not yet in place. Our older pump is getting tired so ordered a new pump through Canadian Tire but has not arrived yet, we did get our mailbox back up when no one was around in case it arrives via delivery slip. A series of hoses should get water to the trailer, if not we can pack it in buckets, not the preferred way;)
The mists and fog moved in later in the afternoon, it created a beautiful landscape of appearing and disappearing shorelines. Little by little the ice is fading away, every day there is a bit more water in the bays:) Just waiting for the sun now:) It won’t be long! We are so lucky to have each other in these strange and uncertain times. Our wonderful traveling Mewberries are a constant source of amusement and we have had so many kind offers from friends for anything we need. For now, I am trying to avoid the news and search for hope in our shared humanity and our relationship with this amazing planet. Saludos amigos!
The beeps and warnings are still ringing on our phone, sometimes twice a day, English and French, mandatory quarantine for all those returning from ANYWHERE that is not Canada…how hard is that? Jezzus murphy! Are you stupid you returning Canadians? They must be having a huge problem to have these warnings every day….we know of a few not following the rules, incredibly sad and stupid from people who should know better. Ah, humanity:(
The Canada Customs was polite and to the point, explaining himself clearly, expressing the importance of complete self quarantine for 14 days. After looking at passports, registrations and cats papers we were on our way in less than 5 minutes, it seemed to last forever;)…and just like that, home territory. We waved towards the horses as we passed Plum Hollow!
We did make one stop after the Western Village RV Park in Carlisle, PA. The closest RV park we could find, open, to the border. Sandy is the front lady at Shady Rest Campground in Uniondale, Pennsylvania. She is a delight and gets A+ in distancing and helpfulness. We stopped here on our way South last Fall. Busiest Spring they have ever had she exclaimed from more than 6′ away! All Canadians, fancy that;)
The road into the cottage was clear with a few patches of snow in the shade and a bump where the snow plow had left a pile. Mike powered over it backwards and we wound our way back onto our gravel pad. It was a bit soft but he did as best he could as the ground is still so wet. He gets an A+, not only for the amazing backing ability all the way down Slack Way but for the 5,553 kilometers of driving! Thanks sweetie! You rock!…and here we are…we were unhitched and plugged in, power on in the cottage and bunkie before the first big raindrops began to Fall…perfick…;)
The next morning the sun was shining-the cats were so keen to go out they were lined up at the door after watching the squirrels and birds since light;)
The traveling Mewberries (perhaps renamed the sedentary Mewberries for now;) knew exactly where they were, the tails were trilling and the meows were meowing! Gamora ran straight for the bunkie door after exploring outside! Let me IN! and she climbed up into the rafters and ran back and forth, her favourite game. Groot stalked a few squirrels and Rocket just had a bewildered happy look and couldn’t decide where to go, or what to sniff. Fabulous quarantine companions! Beezil fell fast asleep…the old man needed rest. It was a hard trip on him, glad he didn’t come home in the freezer;) really, that was the option!
We are stocked up on staples from way back, wanting to avoid as much contact with anyone in the US and we’ve had many lovely offers of food deliveries from friends. We have an app we can order food online at the local supermarket so I think we will be fine, and get a bit inventive with what we do have;) The bird feeders are up and the locals are back. A group of three Turkey vultures scared the cats, big tails, especially Rocket. We’ll keep an eye out for Asgard, our Raven as well. I can hear the geese returning and a fabulous flock of Tundra Swans flew over us this morning!
Mike saw a beautiful fat Otter on the edge of the lake who dove in and went under the ice. We’ll keep an eye out for the minks that we saw hanging out under the cottage in the Fall. It is quiet here, not much human activity, so lovely. We will watch the ice melt in the next few weeks, where it was open yesterday, it froze completely last night with the temperatures falling to -4 Celsius (26° Flintstone scale). The trailer was warm and cozy all night with minimal heat, we are thinking the new roof and the resealing of all the air conditioners and hatches has made a huge difference. I did drag myself out of bed at sunrise, it was spectacular coming through the trees but I didn’t last long outside in my bathrobe;) soon though, it will change. We’ll keep you posted on the locals and keeping the kids amused for the next little while. Fingers crossed we don’t develop sore throats or fevers…every cough makes us jump a bit but I’ve had my stress cough for months, it’s a family genetic thing I think, and life goes on. Saludos amigos, stay warm and healthy and we’ll keep you posted when the sun comes back out, we’re headed for a weekend of heavy rain! Hasta la vista from quarantine;)
Part of the journey. The old cat requires a lot of TLC. Fed every three hours or he gets sick, so yes, clean up that vomit, better to get up and feed him. Damn, like little kids, as we get old we simply revert. But that look of adoration, when he pushes on my face, ( yes, sometimes covered in his last meal I hadn’t had the chance to clean off)…sigh…melts my heart and the care continues. We’ve had friends say “Why don’t you just put him down?” Would you do that to an old relative, or child? He’s not in pain, he jumped over my head on the bed yesterday, the CBD seems to be helping with his mobility…Beezil, 20 years old and almost 5 months old…wow…he blows my mind where a persistent stance on life can take you. I bow in your honor, and yes, I’m going to get you some more food, warmed, just right, just how you like it…We are cat slaves, I wouldn’t have it any other way;)
I just want for him to make it back to Canada, He lost an eye tooth this last week, I keep telling him two more jumps, and we all can rest, will rest, 14 day quarantine for us and all our friends sake, and we have built in entertainment…cats! It has been a long drive, not the one we expected. No birthday dinner for Mike in New Orleans, distancing ourselves from people who seem to not have a care in the world, oblivious to what is going on around them…shocking, and appallingly selfish. I think that is part of this country’s psyche sadly. We have started rating places on how they react.
Four hours later from Paul B. Johnson State Park we arrived at the check in for Oak Mountain State Park-A+-distancing, gloves staff get a big virtual high five, campers do not…socializing, campfires, idiots…D- to boot, our spot was so uneven our door side tires were 6″ off the ground and there were other spots open, we also had to pay for two nights, as it was the weekend, we left in the morning…Cats were sad, they love the forest, time to move on!
We were treated to a glorious afternoon of sun and even some in the morning, warms the soul:) The wildflowers are harder to find the further we move North. It is heartening to know they will eventually arrive! The trees here were just starting to leaf out and a few blooms could be seen. The spiderweb was amazing!
The next jump was well over 4 hours and thirty minutes, almost 300 miles to the other side of Knoxville, Sevierville, Tennessee. We stopped here on the way down and knew it was a quiet stop and another A+ for social distancing. The lady in the office pointed to the window where our site map and receipt were taped outside…no human interaction! Jesus was looking out for them from the roof;) It rained hard overnight and we discovered ourselves in a pool of water in the morning, no morning cat walking…
We had one more 4 plus hour drive to get us into Virginia. The KOA off the I 81 was another previous stop we knew so we had a night booked there. By now the names were starting to run together and the scratched off names on the calendar had left no room for the new stops…so many changes 0_0….at least the sun had come out!
The Natural Bridge KOA got a flunking grade D- for check in. No gloves, no distance, sign here, I held my breath, (I bring my own pen always)…I did manage to buy a roll of quarters and used all three machines to get the last few weeks laundry done, all by myself:) Here not much blooming either and no leaves on any of the trees. It was a lovely warm afternoon. Our next door neighbour engaged Mike in conversation from a distance, outside smoking his cigarette, complaining that “Dollyville” was closed and what were they going to do….go back to Ohio buddy!
There wasn’t a leaf on a tree but the Woodpeckers were very busy. You could hear them from far pecking at trees. What beautiful creatures they are! Saw a Hairy Woodpecker but he evaded me and the camera:) There were a number of distracting and tasty looking squirrels as well Rocket mentioned;)
The next jump…much shorter into Pennsylvania. I was starting to get stupid, OK, left myself open for that..stupider;) ha! Just tired. When my dyslexia kicks in Mike knows I’m running on empty;) “Do you want the heat seater turned on in the truck?” and other famous sayings;) Flip flopping all those words around:)
Western Village RV Park got great grades for social distancing-no one was there, or they were locked behind the door I later discovered. A half dozen maps and names were taped to the outside wall. A+. Funny how many Quebec and Ontario plates we saw blowing past us on the freeway…in a hurry and all headed North:) I did have to call the office to pick up a package, which they put on top of the ice machine for me to pick up after I’d inquired if it was there:) Dusty and Maya’s and their barn mates vaccines:) Nothing really picture worthy here. In the final days here of a long needed rest and at least 14 day quarantine. Gray skies and leafless trees, drizzle and wind…almost there I keep telling Mike, almost there. We’ll let you know tomorrow! Saludos amigos and stay safe and distant! Looking forward to this….
Only the turtles were practicing “social distancing” here…all I said was “Hi turtles!” and they instantly disappeared! Smart turtles!
It seems you can’t come to a state park here without a lot of toys. Mostly fancy golf carts with chrome rims that you spend hours driving around, be it a group of teenagers, old folks, or somewhere in between, social distancing has not dawned on these people…0_0…at least some kids were riding bikes!
We didn’t actually get to Mississippi right from Texas. We spent a night in Lafayette, ah, images of “True Blood” there, at a KOA pretty much right on the I 10. Luckily they shuffled us to the back by the lake, you could still see the I 10, and count the cars and trucks going by, perhaps we should have stayed to the front. The trailer beside us had an outdoor pen with 4, extremely small barky dogs, the kind I would like to strangle. I love dogs, but these 4 would bark if I moved in OUR trailer, let alone try to go outside…ah, if only they would give me the powers of “Q”…one day, that is all I ask, many dogs would become barkless…how I loved our Basenji. People are assholes as well. Why leave them outside, where people like me want to strangle them…you can tell we are getting tired can’t you:) well, have a nice day ya’all….so you can tell the KOA was a memorable spot;) the pen is mightier than the sword:) one word…Google reviews;)..anyway, back to Mi-ssi-ssi-pp-i (my first guitar songbook was Bobby Gentry’s Ode to Billy Joe so I have a lot of her songs stuck in my head;)…Paul B Johnson State Park as 221 miles, 3 hours and 21 minutes from there. Finally heading North! Yeah!
It is a bit of a windy road but nothing drastic to get into this park, past a water overflow area and a few cabins and pull through sites until we got to loop B. No one ever came to check us out the two days we were there, no one was at the booth to check in…social distancing…Good!
Too bad most of the folks here were just going about their park visit as if nothing was happening. We kept our distance:) ah, to not have a care in the world….maybe they were counting on God. Lot’s of evidence of that here, proclaimed on the front of RV’s, in the RV windows, and on their sterns, is that what you call an RV back or end? Also no alcohol or open carry, on the beaches;) Good ideas in pairs!
Our first day here was lovely, no neighbours except a quiet elderly Ohio couple until a toy hauler moved in with two large dogs on 30′ leashes tied to trees outside that barked whenever you moved…sigh, I am cursed by barking dogs this trip. Usually in parks we don’t have too much of that, not here:(
At least there were also a lovely spattering of wildflowers under the pines and along the lake! Haven’t been able to ID many but I’ll keep looking online!
I really couldn’t get much history or information on the park online, other than it is close to several football, or baseball fields, and an Army camp/base…that’s exciting stuff:) ha! A walk around the shoreline revealed some interesting plants and a few lovely bugs!
On the freeway and highway on the road in the Wisterias blooming are amazing. They climb hundreds of feet into the trees, a splash of colour against the pale grey branches and trunks that have not leafed out. I tried to grow one in Baja but the cows kept eating it! There was a spectacular bloom along the road. Stunning!
There is so much beauty around us. At times recently hard to concentrate on it with the incredibly alarming news coming from all corners of the world, yet here, nature goes on being nature, nonplussed by our pandemic. We have tried to limit our exposure to people and places not practicing safe distance and cleanliness. Gloves on, hand washing, wiping everything down. We hope that is enough to protect us but I can’t help but feel in the South there is going to be a horrible explosion of this virus after watching the nonchalant manner people are responding to it. It is very distressing. We made a decision to pick up the pace to head North and back to Canada. Sat down, new game plan each stop. Taking into account the 20 year old cat and how tiring driving a big rig can be.
A few minutes of squirrel watching was good for the soul:) The cats agreed:) After the toy hauler and large tethered barking dogs appeared they said they were ready to go, “Park bad, too many big dogs” the traveling Mewberries all chimed in;) I agreed! Next stop…Alabama, not sweet home, but Alabama none the less;) Stay tuned!
272 miles from South Llano State park to the North of San Antonio then East to another park. Cities..sigh, really bad roads and miles and miles of construction, people who can’t merge and really bad signage. Only got tuned around once, a trucker behind us as well! We sighed a huge sigh a relief as we left San Antonio behind on our way to Stephen F. Austin State Park. I thought I’d made a reservation but the internet was so bad at South Llano we could barely connect, it must have timed out, no Verizon, T-Mobile or ATT, except at the rangers office and we were not willing to hang out with the happy Texas crowds there. When we arrived the chipper, but tired ranger (third shift filling in for absent workers she said) had one spot left #32. We’ll take it. She warned us she had moved someone out because of the construction noise, building new restrooms she commented, not a problem, it’s almost time to quit! Perhaps the 6 million dollar man would take care of things, it was his park right? 😉 Ha!
As we arrived into the pull through spot #32 and started to set up, the beauty, then the wave of heat and humidity that hits you when you open the door…ugh! We have at this stop left the SW behind. I did not inherit my mother’s non sweating genetics, she must have deep South (and the family does) blood, instead, I got my fathers ability to break out in a sweat at anything over 15% humidity. Rivulets of sweat at the slightest exertion. Mike wonders why these are NOT my favorite stops;) ha! There was construction going on, the entirely Mexican group of concrete guys were happily finishing their job on the new bathroom floors, “guey” this and “guey” that:) I’m always happy when I hear Spanish:)
I think I’ll try to include maps of these State Parks in the future:) Another named park, who is this Stephen F. Austin, and no, not related to Lee Majors;) According to the park website: “The park is on the Brazos River, near an old ferry crossing. It is part of the Commercio Plaza de San Felipe. San Felipe was the seat of government of the Anglo-American colonies in Texas.
Stephen F. Austin, the “Father of Texas,” brought the first 297 families here to colonize Texas under a contract with the Mexican government. From 1824 to 1836, San Felipe de Austin was the capital of the American colonies in Texas. It was also the social, economic and political center.
Austin and other famous early Texans lived in San Felipe. It was the home of Texas’ first Anglo newspaper (the “Texas Gazette,” founded in 1829) and a Texas postal system. The Texas Rangers formed here, as well. Stephen F. Austin began colonizing Anglo-Americans in Texas in difficult conditions.
Due to his work, about 5,000 people obtained around 1,540 land grant titles. Austin’s original colony was the first, most famous, and most successful of the empresario grants from Mexico. Austin worked tirelessly to make his colony a success. When Texans grew dissatisfied with Mexican rule, he used his talents to fight for independence.
Stephen F. Austin wrote in July 1836: “The prosperity of Texas has been the object of my labors, the idol of my existence, it has assumed the character of a religion, for the guidance of my thoughts and actions, for fifteen years.” Betcha he wasn’t popular with the Mexicans;)
Stephen F. Austin State Park protects 473 acres of wetland and hardwood forest. It is not a large park but beautiful, and humid. I walked the Barred Owl trail, looking for Barred Owls of course but just dozens of elusive Cardinals and a plethora of wildflowers that I had no idea what they were:) I did look most of them up! This website is perfect: Texas Wildflowers.
After the last few jumps stretching the legs was a necessity but that humidity…yikes! The wildflowers were beautiful. The bracket fungus on the trees was amazing, especially the yellow clump.
The cats I must say thought it was a perfect spot. The next morning with the new bathroom floor poured there was no construction noise at all and the cats had a frolic in the grass and a great time watching the incredibly fat squirrels. I tried to tempt the cardinals in but they were having nothing of it! The Eastern Fox Squirrels were quite happy to help themselves. Do you know that squirrel hunting ranks third in popularity among hunters in East Texas? Squirrel stew? Squirrel nuggets? I’m not kidding here, check out the recipe, squirrel stew with paprika and greens…There is an entire paper written about them and their loss of habitat: Fox Squirrel Management of east Texas….who knew? Especially about the stew….
The look we got when we were packing up to leave was sad…Four very long kitten faces. Especially after I told them about the squirrel stew possibilities;) One more jump we told them, then we stop for a day or more in Mississippi! That would make 5 jumps in a row of 250 miles or more…time for a break! Stay tuned as we make it out of Texas into Louisiana (third most cases of corona virus, not that I’m counting…0_0) and Mi-ssi-ssi-pp-i!
The morning came and no tornadoes, just a steady drizzle. We got to experience our first virus Armageddon buying as we stopped by a local grocery store in Carlsbad at 9 am to find the parking lot packed, pickup trucks circling like hungry wolves looking for a spot to pull into. Tempers seemed normal, no one wildly raging, politeness ensued which was a relief, wasn’t quite sure what it would be like in the store. No toilet paper or paper towels…what is wrong with people? We tried to keep our distance, 6 feet, and get a few necessities, cat chicken mostly. The younger traveling Mewberries can eat anything but the old guy needs his raw chicken, we grind it up ourselves and felt lucky to find some, oh, and wine, I think I will needs lots of wine in the upcoming weeks;) Couldn’t wait to get back to the trailer…sigh…things are changing rapidly. We looked over our state park schedule and started thinning it out. The emails of park closures were coming in so time to pick up the pace!
We took the traveling Mewberries for a quick walk before our departure. Rocket flushed out a few of these beautiful quail and I ran back in the drizzle for my camera. They are gorgeous! Scaled Quail. a first for me I think! Funny how all quail sound and fly alike:) Rocket was then nearly attacked by a large dog in a space in front of us, asswipe just let his dog out, no leash, it chased a jogger yesterday…grrrr….I called the office and had a rant, “Oh yes, we know him, not the first time” they said…Mike said not to rattle the cage, this is America, land of guns. I was pissed off…hell hath no furry like a mad woman;) It was the “oh yeah, we’ll talk to him again” that really ended up pissing me off more. Boot his ass out! but no, these oil workers are their bread and butter at this park. Time to get the hell out, little did we realize the sad and ominous scenes that lay heading South on the 285.
Flare stack after flare stack on each side of a muddy dirty road where a constant battle of 18 wheelers vied for the passing lanes every few miles. It felt like a scene out of Mad Max. The road looked like it was in a constant state of repair. Our windshield wipers were on not for the drizzle but the mud being flung up on us with each passing tanker or container truck. Endless rows of bleak dirt RV parks and temporary housing lined the roads for the oil workers in the area. Made the KOA seem like the Ritz Carlton! Just before Pecos at the 302 the trucks all seemed to disappear going East but the bad road did not. It felt like the Baja swerve and miss the pot holes or lose a tire type of road. Well, we won’t be back on this one again! Yikes! Even the cats looked at us wild eyed…”What the hell was that, we’re not camping here are we look!” Hey, I learned the first rodeo was held in Pecos (according to them), that was not worth the drive;)
We stopped at the Fort Stockton RV Park just North of the 10 for the night. We unhitched and headed back to town to diesel up for the next day and to check something. At the grocery store the panic buying was hardly evident. Yes to the no toilet paper or paper towels but the other shelves were fully stocked. Texans are tough, too big and bad for viruses….0_0…very very bad Indie, very, very bad. The lackadaisical approach most were taking was a bit horrifying. We stocked up on more chicken for the cats, wine (could be used as a disinfectant no? in my stomach;) and tried to keep at least 6 feet away from these foolish souls! The rain clouds opened while I was in shopping and a deluge of water came from the sky. The town streets turned into rivers as we made our way back to the RV park soaked. We were rewarded with a beautiful rainbow, and enough water to clean off the back window so we could see out!
In the morning we headed East on the interstate bound for South Llano River State park 218 miles away. Located about 6 miles South of Junction, Texas it was a place we had bookmarked, or I had. It had mentioned birders…well, if you like Cardinals, this is the place for you. Maybe its just the hill country but there were dozens, everywhere! The bird blinds were closed due to the Corona Virus but I could still peek over the fence for a few familiar guys:) The Cardinals were fighting their window reflections at the trailer:)
A bit of Park History from the park page: Walter White Buck, Jr. moved to this area with his family in 1910 when he was 18 years old. They lived in the house that is now park headquarters, and the younger Buck took over the family ranch after his father died. Buck felt strongly about conserving the land. After his father died, he reduced his 1,000 head of sheep, goats and cattle by nearly half. Eventually, he ran only 125 head of cattle, which he later sold. Caring for the land and not overgrazing his livestock allowed him to survive a five-year drought in the 1950s.
In two of the best years, Buck harvested 75,000 pounds of pecans. He enjoyed caring for the pecan trees, which included both native and cultivated varieties. (that explains what the trees are and why the squirrels are so fat;)ha!)
A bachelor all his life, Buck used to say that this land was his one great love. He donated his whole property to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in 1977 for wildlife conservation or park purposes. The park opened in 1990.
South Llano River State Park expanded from about 600 acres to 2,600 acres in 2011, when the Walter Buck Wildlife Management Area became part of the state park. This backcountry area offers hiking, mountain biking, and primitive camping.
The park is home to one of the largest turkey roosts in Central Texas. Turkeys roost from Oct. 1 through March 31. The day use area is only open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. during these months, so that humans don’t disturb the roosting turkeys. I did not see a single turkey:) but we only did one hike past the river:) I can see why the campground is a LONG way from the Llano River. Evidence of severe flooding is everywhere, including the town of Junction where a major bridge was mostly swept away…
The news from everyone had us stop and rethink about moving our booties along a bit faster back to Canada. Word of possible border closing (to tourists, not us Canucks) was hinted at so we went to the office and canceled our next two nights and decided to head East as quickly as the old cat would let us:) We also were receiving cancellations from Louisiana at our park stay South of New Orleans. Turns out they are turning it into an isolation center for the virus the Reserve America operator told me…time to high tail it out we decided! We were feeling a little stressed….the sight of several Nine-banded armadillos just at dark sure gave us a smile. So cute! No shots, too dark but they were burrowing around in the grass looking for grubs and waddled off when we went out to look at them. Texas speed bumps someone said they called them:( The idiots outside with their smoking campfires in 85° heat should have been the speed bumps instead, what is wrong with people?
Groot, Gamora and Rocket looked a bit crestfallen as we prepped to leave. This is a traveling Mewberries approved park. With grass, and trees and paths and lots and lots of BIRDS! It is also a Dark Sky Park which is wonderful. No lights anywhere!
But there won’t be any socializing with the telescopes for now, just social distancing:) We were surprised to see so many people’s cavalier attitude towards the news again here….stay tuned for bit more of Texas before we get to head North! Saludos amigos-I’ll be socializing with the birds and wildflowers only for now!
It’s not too far a drive from Rockhound State Park in New Mexico to Oliver Lee Memorial State Park, 132 miles, two hours and a bit from the I 10 to the base of the Sacramento Mountains via the 70. Past the White Sands Missile Range, we have our area 51 parking permit we should be OK;) and past White Sands National Monument. It wasn’t the nicest day, clouds, rain and an occasional sun shower. We couldn’t secure a reservation at the park, but decided to go anyway, there might be something. The park is South of Alamogordo by about 8 miles. We circled around the two loops once we got there, everything with electric and water was gone, there are only 15 of those but found site 19, one of the 23 budget sites (as I call them, just dirt, nothing else) and squeezed Myrtle in for the night, or two we thought, depending on the weather.
Cats had a great walk in the drizzle, lots to sniff, more pokey stuff they said, these darn desert landscapes:) After we had the generator set up we sat deciding what we were going to do, go for a walk (in the rain), go diesel up, nap(?) when a knock came at the door from a nice lady saying she was the park manager, and they were closing down as of 2 pm the following day due to the corona virus fears…sigh…really? We later found out the parks are open for day use, but not camping. So bunches of people walking the paths are less of a contamination than solitary campers, like us;) no arguing, just threw a monkey wrench into my carefully laid out State Parks plans across Texas and Louisiana….
What to do, what to do. So, I recoiled at the idea of any of the RV parks in Alamogordo, read the reviews…not the best. Got online and started to replan what we had already decided on, what we had to cancel, who to call…Weather was not going to co-operate so we decided, “F@#k this, lets get the hell out of Dodge”:) Hiking here in severe thunderstorms wasn’t what we had in mind, so this park, as well as White Sands National Monument will have to wait for exploration other than a few shots of wildflowers for another day!
We were told we had until 2 pm the next day to leave so we took advantage of that to wait out some of the thunderstorms by going to town to diesel up, get some breakfast and a quick bit of shopping (no super hysteria here yet, but very busy for early morning!) On a sad note, one of the park pair hosts was circling in their golf cart (this pair should have been walking!) checking to see when folks were leaving, I said “Yeah, yeah! We’ll be on our way soon!” Not to worry he commented, we’re not throwing you out!… and somehow he started on how good it was they were closing, did you know there were people from ENGLAND! and Germany camped here!!! Lepers they must be…we couldn’t keep our mouths shut. When I hear xenophobic comments from assholes like this it just makes my blood boil. Mike had spoken to the Germans, they’d been in the US and Canada for half a year! I feel sorry for the Europeans now, Mexicans are getting a break, but the racism is strong here in this country and very very sad. He left in a huff after we told him no one was immune, and no one would be safe, even in a small town and that the orange vomit was a disaster:)
So after hooking up we were heading to Carlsbad, New Mexico to get East and South. The 85 wasn’t a road we have ever driven so thought, why not:) Mike was a bit worried about the elevation change from Alamogordo to Cloudcroft. The park is at 4400′, Cloudcroft is 8675’…it pine time! We read the road reviews and said, “Vamanos!”
It was steady climb up, no switch backs or drop offs, poor Hagrid had to really work but it was steady. Lovely small villages among the pines, a ski run, no snow except in the shade and then a high mountain plateau following the 82 as it gradually descended towards the 385. The landscape was quite beautiful, but sparse. Heavily eroded arroyos followed the road down show casing some wicked weather in the past until we were on a high plain, all the way to Artesia, then South to guess what…Happy Valley, the KOA North of Carlsbad. We had to kill a few days due to our other reservations in Texas. As we checked in, “tornado warning” said the guy at the desk, “batten down!” A few days couldn’t hurt here;)
But that, will be another story;) Thankfully the tornado watch was dropped, the sun came out for one little moment and we got a quiet nights sleep! Saludos amigos, stay tuned for the craziness that is America!
Our first sunset, and only one with this much sun at Rockhound State Park. We just wanted quiet after three months of cities. San Diego, Tucson and Ensenada. The sound of traffic, and military aircraft had become pretty tiring, we longed for peace, and we got it, almost;) At an elevation of 4230′ this small, 29 site, park we had heard could be hard to find a spot at. We cruised in, “Campground Full” read the sign, but we have learned that camp personnel often leave it up, when there are spots, and we were around noon so kept our fingers crossed. We circled around, nothing…but the camp host came trotting out and said “Hey, I have a three sites in the group camping area with water and electric if you want one of those!” BINGO! He drove us back to the group area and we backed up onto a large concrete pad beside the pavilions for groups and settled in. Connie, the camp host was a warm, friendly character and you could tell he liked his job and was good at it. Before the day was done he had two others backed in beside us, fairly close, but hey, we had a spot!
All around us poppies were blooming, birds were chirping. We had the sad misfortune to have a trailer with two loud and obnoxious small boys in it that scared the crap out of the traveling Mewberries, they know danger when they see it, but we were careful when we took them out to explore:) The kind of kids that throw rocks, at out truck, yup, that didn’t go over well, and were generally just small louts…sigh…humans….
This is a small park, 1100 acres, located 7 miles southeast of Deming. It is named for the abundance of minerals in the area, and visitors can search for quartz crystals, geodes, jasper, perlite, and many other minerals, and take them! By the bucket I could see, but I think there is a 15 lb limit per person. OK, I only filled my pockets a few times;) Here is a link to a geological tour of the park! It was the flowers and several new species of birds that caught my eye!
The thunder egg trail is a .6 mile hike up above the campground and back to it in a semi circle. Here butterflies were flitting, Clouded Sulphurs and Cabbage Whites, and Pipevine Swallowtail I think. I only captured a photo of one, and am not even sure what it is! Birds sang from the bushes. A Canyon Towhee was really belting out a song looking for love;)
The washes were full of poppies and patches higher on the hill stood out as yellow splashes! I had put my bird and hummingbird feeder out after I saw a female Costa’s looking at the red parts of our ladder. Sadly I didn’t see her come back. Several Say’s Phoebes were building nests in the pavilion overhangs and bird song could be heard all around. Delightful! I sat my chair up and just watched and listened to the sounds from the bushes and prickly bits (Cats words) surrounding us. Phoebes, Doves, Black Throated Sparrows and a Pyrrhuloxia stopped by.
Another trail leads from the campground to the visitor center at the entrance. The night before I’d seen a mule deer at the top of the hill so decided to wander down that path for a look. A lizard was sunbathing and a whole other trove of wildflowers lined the path! Indigo Bush, Rattlesnake Weed, all kinds of new names and flowers for me!
Along the path to the visitor center a cheeky Cactus Wren was building her nest. I sat on a rock and watched her until she said enough was enough and went off to sing from another rock. The visitor center is worth a stop in. Local history and artifacts as well as rocks and gem stones, geodes and other fancy bits of earth:)
The new examples of wildflowers were fabulous. I am so used to my 5000′ elevation Baja flowers so many of these were different. Some were familiar but many, just beautiful examples of Mother Nature, all along a half mile trail! I posted some on inaturalist to try to get some id’s as I was quite stumped, even after gazing at hundreds of photos…eyes glassing over! Whew! There are so many!!!
We made a trip into Deming on our last day to diesel up and a trip to the grocery store, it was delightfully Mexican in nature:) No panic buying apparent…yet…it was a friendly grocery store, funny, you can tell when staff are happy:) Peppers Grocery store, made me feel right at home, make sure you stop by here for supplies!
Our three days and nights here was just what we needed to unwind. It was a delightful stop. Not as majestic as City of Rocks but the little Florida Mountains to the South were pretty spectacular. They are a day use area and we ran out of time:(…next stop, on our way back in the Fall!
Stay tuned amigos, we have another New Mexico State Park to explore before we get evicted;)
These Greater Road Runners are the quintessential South West birds, I’m not sure if there is a lesser Road Runner;) I always feel Wiley E. Coyote got the bum rap. These birds are fast, efficient eating machines. They hunt everything! From lizards and snakes, to baby and larger birds, they love to eat;) When they trot through an area, birds and everything smaller than them scatter!
I headed over to the RV office on Saturday morning hoping to capture the Cooper‘s Hawk pair nesting there as I’d seen the couple out on the branches for the first time as we drove back. Normally it is the male putting up a squawk at the passing Harris Hawks. This morning the two were out on the branches for all to see.
The size difference between the male, being the smaller one as in many raptors, and the female was quite noticeable. What a beautiful pair! The Ground squirrel was less amused;) The small amount of rain has brought an interesting variety of wildflowers to the desert behind the RV park. If you step off the trails, watch the cholla cactus, and keep your eyes peeled to the ground for an assortment of tiny wildflowers. Like back at the ranch they are small, but beautiful, often no bigger than a penny.
I hiked out on a cloudy stormy Sunday to see the Great Horned Owl’s nest back on the trails. She is nestled in a large saguaro overlooking one of the many walking/biking paths, oblivious to the humans passing underneath her:) Her ear tufts were blowing in the wind as I circled the nest from afar, trying to avoid the spiny things;) The desert is so beautiful in this stormy light. Some people see barren areas, but there is life teeming all around!
As I walked the mile or more back I chanced to see the American Kestrel I’d seen the week earlier, but this time with it’s significant other;) These small birds of prey are some of the most beautiful I know of. Between the grays and soft brown tones, the spots and stripes they are gorgeous! Mr. Kestrel had arrived home with some supper, a bird’s leg, Mrs Kestrel didn’t look impressed and he went off to chew on it alone;)
It was a joy to stand in the shade of a mesquite tree and watch them interact. So much life out here even though it sounds so still at times, nary a peep or a squawk from anything, until a pair of Gambel’s Quail ran past me without blinking an eye. The Gila Woodpeckers are unmistakable with their call echoing across the desert. I found a female cleaning out a saguaro hole, looks like she has moved in:)
I’ve added links under all the bird names to The Cornell Lab” All About Birds.” I find their site easy to navigate with wonderful photos for ID and exceptional descriptions and even calls and songs. I often come up blank at new birds and ask friends online in the Facebook Birding Arizona and the SW group. Such a keen, knowledgeable group of very nice people! Everyone asks if I am a birder, no, not really, I just love to photograph everything:) I appreciate the life around me, however small it is, from a spider to a stunning sunset, we are surrounded by beauty, we just have to look;)
I missed a visit to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, just couldn’t fit it in but I did run across several beautiful little hummingbirds at the RV Park. A lovely Anna’s guarded a bush close to the trailer. A nest had been seen close by but it seems a Road Runner may have helped himself to a snack there:(…all part of life.
So that is what surrounds us here, lots of feathers and spines:) This part of the country has a dazzling variety of birds and plants at any given time. From the desert to the nearby mountains scenery can change so quickly, and habitats as well. I always look forward to our meanderings through this part of the world, and hope to be back but for now, saludos amigos and stay tuned-we’re headed to Nuevo Mexico;)
The cats looked at us oddly, bundling them up and into the truck, late afternoon, this was not the usual leaving time!…and then…no trailer, all our things! “Are we going to the vet? are they giving us away?” they have all our stuff with them! “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!” Gamora was saying, drooling, stressing. Oh Dear…how set in our ways we are! Twenty minutes later we arrived at our three night rental and the cats were flying from one end of the house to the other as we unloaded a truck full of cat blankets, cat toys, cat scratching posts, and various other bits of the traveling Mewberries paraphernalia;) man they have a lot of stuff! We had one small suitcase….
I forget how set they are in their ways. It’s like having a stable full of thoroughbreds, horse people will get this, they don’t like ANY form of change. Feed me at the same time, in the same sequence, or I will kick the crap out of the stall…simple…rules humans need to obey;) After twenty minutes they were all asleep on their blanket. We were worried about the 20 year old Beezil, he took it in stride, one trip to the kitty litter, water bowl and sunbeam and all was good with the world;)
Last RV repair we sat in a stuffy pet smelly (Cats said it was definitely dog smell;) Ha!) hotel room for 4 days, it was awful! Nowhere to walk the cats, no kitchen. We like to cook and eating out for that long would kill me and we love the quiet. This place had it all! Very isolated from neighbours, a hot tub to soak in and look at the stars, a full kitchen:) Perfect. The Insurance adjuster blanched at the price but I asked her if she could find me a hotel that would take us and all the cats with a kitchen we would go there….she sent a check instead;)* We do have a generous travel/accommodation amount as well. Something full-timers need to look at. If your rig is seriously damaged and repairs could take a month, make sure you are covered. For $60 more a year you have peace of mind!
After being an Airbnb host for two years I can honestly say we left the house cleaner than we found it when we checked out Saturday morning to head home to Myrtle. The cats had cleared all the dust bunnies off the tops shelves and kitchen cabinets;)
We received the call Friday from Carl’s RV Repair that is was ready to go. They did a wonderful job, the roof was sparkling! The branch that we encountered in Del Rio, Texas in November last year was a thing of the past now! No more duct taped skylights and bits of tape covering the roof where there were membrane tears! They also replaced the old TV antenna with a WiFi booster, replaced the broken skylight over the bathroom with a clearer brighter one and polished the scratches out of the smaller hatches! Desert trails said they would find a spot for us to leave it over night so we picked up our lovely home with it’s sparkling white new roof and drove her back to Desert Trails RV. We had a storage space for the night $4, then for two nights a spot near the back to do our shopping for our trek East into New Mexico:) These folks do their best to accommodate people when they can, always friendly and kind. A recommended spot if you need to stop in Tucson.
It was so nice to be in an adobe house again, even for a few days. They have a feel to them that is hard to describe. I think the traveling Mewberries were a bit depressed to leave that somewhat larger space behind but we’ll see what the future brings! Saludos amigos, we’re not quite out of Arizona yet! Some more birds and a visit to the Great Horned Owl nest before we bid farewell to Arizona:)
*Adding a foot note for fulltime RVer’s out there. If your rig is damaged, or in an accident double check what you are covered for hotel/rentals while your rolling home is being repaired. Last Spring we ended up paying out of pocket after our $1200 limit was used up. Our rig was in the shop for a week, that doesn’t buy you much in the way of hotels in California other than a few with bedbugs;) For a few extra dollars a month you can up that limit to $7500 and have some peace of mind, especially if it takes a month when there is something serious!