Saturday, November 24, 2012

New Braunfels, Texas and Jacksonville, North Carolina

19th November (Monday)
Learned this morning of the passing of a good friend and neighbor, Lawrence Harriman. A sad day for us. Lawrence and his wife, Marlene, live under the same roof as us in our villa. Although we have only known them only for the 5 years we have lived here, we valued Lawrence as a very good friend. Our thoughts today are for you and your family, Marlene.


Second concerning message of the day, Denice's Uncle Gene passed away today in Mesa, AZ. He has been suffering from cancer for a while, and as it always seems to happen, the disease won out.

Third message of the day: Denices Aunt in Crawford, NE has been admitted to the Veterans Hospital in Hot Springs, ND. She is diabetic and has bad sores on her legs, and now they have migrated to her buttocks. One is very deep and is septic and may turn to Gangerine. Outlook is not good.

So as they say things happen in threes, and we have had our three for the day ----

Pack our suitcases and all the rest of the pariphanalia for the next 10 days, while we are in North Carolina, and then home
20th November (Tuesday) Up at 4:30AM to be able to get to San Antonio to check in to Delta by 6:30AM

Loren takes us to catch a flight to Atlanta. 757 Plane leaves at 8:00AM - Arrive 11:15AM (Eastern Time Zone) Quickly catch underground tram from Concourse "A" to "D". Catch smaller plane to Jacksonville, NC. Arrive at 2:00PM. Laurie pickes up and delivers us to her home. Chat the afternoon away, then Laurie has roast Beef for dinner, Delicious
21st November (Wednesday) Laurie went to work this morning so we, and Hettie are on our own for the day. Laurie is a realtor here in Jacksonville. We did talk about the house values here and after I told her an average house in Alberta near us is selling for about $350,000 to $400,000, she was astounded and said that here the same house would likely be about $160,000. We went down town Jacksonville to do a little pre-black Friday shopping. Hettie since she lived here for 5 years was our guide, but she said "turn left", when she should have said, "turn right", so we were lost for a while. We had her car and no GPS, but we were able to find a map of the city and after turning around, were finally able to find our way down town. Did a little shopping at Walmart, Sam's Club, and Best Buy. Found people already camped in tents out front of the store, so we decided then and there that we would not be going down to fight the crowds, just to save $100 bucks.
22nd November (Thursday) Thanksgiving in North Carolina. We decided to go to Golden Corral for turkey dinner instead of cooking the turkey. But when we got there at 2:00PM, the lineup was away outside and around the corner, and it appeared it was going to be well over an hour before we got in, so we elected to go elsewhere. Very few restaurants were open, but we found one called _________ and had a delicious meal there, although not turkey. On way home stopped at Walmart for a few things, and I went to look at the electronics and ended up buying an Asus Tablet. Now a big learning curve as they are a lot different than a computer.

Needed to call both Mastercard and Visa to advise we were in North Carolina. Both had restricted since I had used them here without advising them were were here
23rd November ( Friday) Black Friday, but we stayed home as we were not interested in fighting the crowds.

Lari and Hettie drove to Wilmington Airport to pick up Lari's kids, Blake and Kyra, who had been in Houston at their Dad's wedding.

Were at home most of the day until Lari got home from picking up the kids, and then she took us to the ocean to ________ see the Christmas decorated flotilla after dark. It was very cold (45 degrees maybe) so we did not stay too long. We left as soon as the boats had passed. On way home stopped at a friend of Lari's for a cocktail. Then home for a turkey sandwich.
 24th November (Saturday) Lari took us uptown to Enterprise to rent a car for the next 5 days while we are here. Were given a Dodge mini Van, Very nice unit. We, Denice and I drove down South to Topsail Beach and then on tp Surf City. Very nice beaches, with minimal people. Returned home to Lari's by 4:00PM.

And Yet Another Week at Bentson Palms - and the Move on

12th November (Monday)
Had planned on going to Laguna Atasocsa National Wildlife Refuge near South Padre Island but north- east along the Laguna Madre coast line, but on waking up this morning found we were in strong winds. A quick perusal of the weather web indicated that winds in the area would be in the 30MPH range for most of the day. Cancel those plans!!  I guess another rest day here. Maybe tomorrow.
13th November (Tuesday)
Nothing worth writing about today
14th November (Wednesday)
Went to Laguana Atasocsa today. It is 20 miles past Harlingen and on Laguana Madre. Saw lots of birds again. Thousands of Ducks. A duck is a duck is a duck is a duck!!  Not sure what kind they were. Some Spoonbills, Hawkes, and little birds
15 November (Thursday)
Mostly rested today. Went to Butterfly Center but no butterflies. They don't flutter when the sun doesn't shine and today was overcast. Drizzle in evening turning to sprinkles
16th November (Friday)
Packing up today. Getting ready for the exodus tomorrow to New Braunfels

Out to the Riverside Club for Dinner tonight.nice rebels about cooking today
After at home went to visit Vincent and Nita Dykeman from Bend Oregon at their motorhome
17th November (Saturday)
Left Mission by 8:00AM this morning - about 300 miles to New Braunfels - arrived just before 3:00PM


Driveway into Loren and Theresa's house has grown in the last year and was more difficult to negotiate than before. In fact backing into the RV pad I did hit a branch on a tree and bent a couple of supports for the railing on top of ELTORO . Will get new ones at Campers World tomorrow - also need a new hot water tank cover. Seems, somehow we lost it on the way up. Not sure how it could have come loose, but it was not here when we arrived

Just got all set up and then Loren, Hettie, and Theresa wanted to take us to Golden Corral for dinner - very good, but ate away too much. Then about 7:00PM headed to San Antonio to Theresa's University to witness the "Lighting the Way" show where they have a one hour program and then conclude with fireworks and turn on all the Xmas lights on thousands of decorated trees - We use coniferous trees at home, but here they decorate live oaks. It was a good show and the Christmas lights were very impressive. 18th November (Sunday) Over to Campers world for my parts today, but only the store was open and the parts I neededwere in the parts and service department so will have to return tomorrow

And Another Week at Bentson Palms Resort

5th November (Monday)
Rest day today. Met a few of our neighbors. Ron and Darleen, over behind us. Ron has a larnyx $#@%^*(*&%$ or what ever that is called, from throat cancer, but has a voice digitizer that works very well. His voice is a little scratchy but quite clear, He  and Darleen are retired Border patrol Guards. They have worked both the North and South US Borders. A new 5th wheel pulled in right behind us this afternoon and their names are( Have to find that out)  Then another one has Wayne and Jane. John and Marsha are in a motorhome 2 sites from us. Then near the office is a couple, Greg and Gayle, from Ontario. They are volunteer Camp Hosts. Vince and Nita are a ways away from us but are birders, so there is lots to talk about there, Dave and Mary, from Ottawa are also birders.
6th November (Tuesday)
Wandered over early this morning to the Park for a guided bird watching tour. Not a lot of birds though. Just mostly ones we have seen before, so no great surprises. Took a couple of hours, but by then the temperature had risen enough that our air conditioning was a welcome relief when we arrived back home.


US election over - Yeh OBAMA!!! 7th November (Wednesday) Up this morning, had slice of toast for breakfast and then off birding to Estero Llano in Weslaco again. We were there just a week ago, but is always an interesting bird place to go. Lots of wetlands with waterfowl. Went on a bird watching tour with a guide who pointed out the many species that we saw. And we saw lots. About 72 according to him. Wouldn't even attempt to rename them as a lot of them, most of them, had little interest for me, but Denice enjoyed them all. A lot were water fowl and just looked like a "Bunch of Ducks" to me. Probably the one bird that interested me most was the Anhinga, or snake bird. When they swim, just their head and neck is above the water, looking very much like a snake swimming with its head out of the water.

Surprisingly, nobody talking about the US election. I think thet are just happy it over and now can get down to moving forward 8th November (Thursday) Rest day - Over to HEB for some groceries and to Home Depot for Bird food 9th November (Friday) Yep, thats it. We read, we stitched, we ate, we computed - Download Family Tree on computers and got the new version working after calling their help line
Thats all!!
10th November (Saturday) Windy and hot today so just spent the day at home again. I  did make a couple of trips up town. Needed a couple of things so went looking for Campers World, but when arrived there found it had been discontinued 11th November (Sunday) Another windy day, so just rested again. Thats what retirement is all about isn't it?? Did make a small trip down along the Rio Grande levee to see if there were any birds to see, but due to the wind, there were few. Watched for a while the border petrol helicopter circling a spaecific area of sugar cane that was being harvested. Obviously there was an illegal alien hiding within the jungle of sugar cane. One of there vehicles sped past us, likely to apprehend the fugitive, give him a slap on the wrist and deliver him back to the Mexican border. I guess some are dealt with more throughly wih finger prints and a short stay in detention, before being sent home. Most of these guys just want to get into the US for work, I believe. Likely very few are actually drug carriers. I'm not sure why they just do not cross the border with a passport, and then just fail to return home. Don't know how they keep track of them. We see hundreds, if not thousands, of Mexicans crossing over here to shop each day. and once here they look exactly like at least 75% of the other Texans in the area.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Another Week at Bentson Palms Resort

29th October (Monday)
McAllen Glass called to let me know my glass saw was in. Went over and picked it up, back by noon for lunch. Another nice day so just rested, read, and watched the birds at our feeders.

30th October (Tuesday)
Up this morning, had breakfast and the off birding to Estero Llano in Weslaco. We have been there several times before but is always an intersting bird place to go. Lots of wetlands with waterfowl, Shrubbery for hummers and butterflies, and a Alligator pond with a 14 footer. Also, a bird I have never seen before. I walked right by it, but bright eyes Denice spotted it in the bush debris scattered on the ground. It is a pauraque. It is a night jar, a bird that feed at night.


Wikipedia Description:
This medium-sized nightjar is 8.7-11 in (22–28 cm) long and has two colour morphs, the plumage being variegated greyish-brown or rufous-brown. It is long-tailed and has broad rounded wings. The buff 'eyering' and 'facial stripe' contrast with the reddish sides of the face.
The adult male Pauraque has a white band near the wing tips, and the outer tail feathers are mainly white. The female's wing band is narrower and the white in the outer tail is more restricted. There are seven subspecies of the Pauraque, differing in size and greyness.
The male Pauraque's song is very variable, but includes a whistled weeeow wheeooo, ("who-r-you"), soft puk puk and a whip given in the courtship flight as he flutters around the female. Her call is a rapid succession of whip sounds.
They blend into their surroundings and if you are not real observant, will never see them. I have to tell on Denice. She had been here before with a real "Birder" and had it pointed out to her, but that was 6 months ago. Way to go Denice!!

31st October (Bewitching Day)
Rest day -- Its hot!!

What did we do today - in a word "Nothing"
Fed birds, watched birds, and ate - didn't lose any weight today!!
No Witches or Gobblins tonight

1st November (Thursday)
Early Morning (9:00AM) walk this morning over to Bentsen State  park to see the birds. Caught a shuttle up to our preferred blind. The operator of the shuttle was a very knowledgeable park guide, Roy, who stopped along the way to point out interesting things and sites in the park. When we arrived at the blind there were no birds, but soon they started to appear. Roy had explained that the feeding of the birds had not started but would very soon. He says the bird feeding program has been cut back, but the feeding is actually only for the birders, not the birds themselves as they can look after themselves without a problem.

We spent an hour there before trudging back home to ELTORO. Along the way we stopped to take a few pictures of the little Screech Owl as he sits in his favourite perch in a big Mesquite tree. It is amazing how a bird can camoflage himself so well into his surroundings. At 10 ft away I was completely unable to make him out even though I knew ezactly where he was. I took a photo of the area in question, then zoomed in on it and lo and behold there he was staring back at me. I'll include the original picture and you see if you can see him.

2nd November (Friday)
Took Denice over to McAllen this morning to Alure Nails to get her a manicure/pedicure at 10:AM. In two hours she came out stating, "I am beautiful again." I dutifully replied, " You always are beautiful!? Got to make a few Browny points once in a while.


Well, made a committment today as to what the next year is going to look like vacation wise. Reserved oursite here in Bentson Palms Resort for one year. They have a program called 6+6 that is you rent the site for 6 months at the regular rate and then the next 6 months is free. The site is prtetty well yours to do as you please. Trim trees, plant flowers or what ever. You can come and go as you please and they will not rent it out to anyone else. So you can leave for a week or a month, and it will be open for you when you return. All sites were prettywell taken so the site of our preference (Site 518) was not available until March 15th, so we reserved it for 1 year from that date. We will camp around the gulf area when we return in January until March 15th, then get ourselves set up here again for a month or so, then store ELTORO here in our spot for the summer and just drive the jeep home. Then we will return in October again.  
3rd November (Saturday) Sixty mile drive back to Salineno to one of last springs favourite bird watching places, only to find it had not opened for the season yet, even though the brochures stated it would be opening on the first of November. Must remember that everything runs on Mexican time down here, so it will likely open some time in the next couple of weeks. On the way back stopped at another site in Roma Bluffs. Seemed nobody around. I tried the door and it seemed locked, but then I saw a sign stating "Heavy Door, Pull Hard'" so I tried again and it did open. Inside was a lady who I guess was just lonley, and she talked, and talked, and talked. She showed us their butterfly and bird gardens, and even gave us some feed for the birds. Took us an hour to get away from there. Stopped in Roma for some Chesters Chicken as it was now dinner time. On down the road toward Mission, a car passed and threw a rock at us, a nice little star dimple. On the way up we had noticed a windshield repair guy along the road so we kept looking for him on the way home. Didn't find him, but did find his brother. Repaired the crack for $15 - Good job too.
4th November (Sunday)
Forgot about time change this morning so were up and around by 5:00AM - went for a walk around the park, had breakfast, and were ready for the day by 7:30AM, So what are we going to day - Let's go to South Padre - settled, and we are on the way by 8:00AM. Its a 90 mile jaunt, so arrived about 10. Immediately went to the World Birding Center and did the board walk there. It was hot (85 °F) but some clouds, so not too bad. Finished up there and went to Schlitterbahn for all you can eat shrimp, As always, GREAT!! After lunch drove up the Island to beach access #5 and drove out on to the sandy beach. Being Sunday, there seemed like a million people and kids romping in the waves, but after negotiating through them for a mile or so they started to thin out. After a couple of miles we found what we were looking for, a lonely stretch of beach all to ourselves!  Now it was our turn to enjoy the surf for an hour or so, but all good things must come to an end, and it was time to head back to our Texas winter home in Mission. Arrived there near dark.  A GOOD DAY!!!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Our First Week in Our Preferred RV Park

22nd October (Monday)
Laundry Day

Met a couple of our neighbors from Nova Scotia - Bessie and _ _ _ _ _ _ Nickerson. Chatted quite awhile. Seemed like a nice couple. Damn, I hate it when I can't remember a persons name that I just met!!!!  (Oct 31st update - Now I see them almost every night at the hot tub and I just keep hoping that I will pick up on his name - I may just have to bite the bullet and confess I have forgot his name)
  23rd October (Tuesday)
Nothing new to report - R&R only
Set up Denice's New Stitching Craft Stand, Water the lawn, Feed the birds.
Hot tub in the evening - Usually by myself but tonight accompanied by a couple (Rose Mary and Don) that are wagon masters for the Discovery Rally happening here until Sunday.

24th October (Wednesday)
Today ELTORO gets a bath. The "Next Step" crew comes at 8:00AM and washes and waxes the motorhome.

Seems like a good job as he uses Reverse Osmoses Soft water that he has de-ionized. Supposed to leave no water marks. We'll see. Turned out very good. The two guys worked on the job from 8:00AM until nearly 1:00PM.

25th October (Thursday)
Went over to McAllen today to McAllen Glass and ordered a glass saw so I can do better job of cutting and shaping my glass. Have to get back to that hobby soon!!

26th October (Friday)
Walked the Bentsen state park birding trail this morning. Not a lot of birds as they do not start feeding the birds until Nov - 4 days from now. 

Camouflaged Screech Owl

3 birds - a Scissortail Flycatcher, a Mockingbird, and a Kingbird

Kingbird

We still had a good walk and at the hawk observation tower met a very interesting man. He is a hawk counting volunteer, and he told us a lot of things about hawks that we sure never knew before. Namley, there are only 4 classifications of hawks. I'm not sure that I understand the classifications, but all varieties fall under these clasifications. You can tell some of the varieities by the way they fly. They all search for thermals and when they find them they continually circle following the thermal higher and higher. Vultures and broad winged hawks tend to make very broad circles, but the Swenson hawks make tighter circles. Hawkes nver fly over broad expanses of water. The reason being there are no thermals over water. Thermals are caused by dark patches of ground, so the tend to avoid water, and also hawkes can find no food over water. The counter guy had seen and recorded something like 150 hawks that day. He explained that all hawks migrate south . Some from as far north as Alaska, and travel all the way to Argentina. Many many volunteers take the time to count and record numbers of them flying by. As they won't fly over water, Central America (Panama) is a choke point like a funnel, so great numbers are counted there.

27th October (Saturday)
Away today to Harlingen to Denice's stitching store. I allowed her two hours in the store while I wandered around through some Thrift stores, but she said, "Oh, I won't need near that long"  Well I was back in about an hour and 15 minutes, and still had to wait an additional 45 minutes. Do I know her or what!!!  She still has not told me what she bought, or how much she spent. Probably will never know!  On the way home stopped in McAllen at "the Olive Garden" for a late lunch. Was very good as it always is. Then home. Today was a much cooler day with the high only being about 65 °F. A cold front is moving through for a day or two.

28th October (Sunday)



Just a bird


 
Camouflaged Screech Owl

Soon to be Texas Steak

Camouflaged Paraque

Close up of his head

He is Watching!!!

Lizard on the Wall

Ultamira Oriole

When I see this I see Bowls
SKYPE day -Kids all good - share Christmas draw names - Only one adult gift to MAKE this year. Of course the little ones do not participate in this game. They get gifts from everyone!! Thats what Christmas is all about for kids!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

And Now We Are South

15th October
Down the road again. We jogged off highway 83 yesterday for about 20 miles, over to the Olde Towne Cotton Gin RV Park at Goodlett, becaause we had been there before and liked it. So today we continued on east for another 19 miles and then followed highway 6 south to join back ontp 83, 20 miles prior to Abelene. Then on 83 the remainder of the trip to Junction. We are now in Texas Hill Country so it is much nicer than the flat country we have been travelling in for the last week or so. Arrived at the Rv park about 3:00PM and got hooked up. Must have been a dry summer here as the river that runs by the park is completely dry!! We have decided we are going to fly with Denice's cousin Hettie, to her daughters place in Jacksonville, North Carolina for the US Thanksgiving on the 22nd of November, then a week later fly home from there to Calgary about the 28th of the month. I spent at least an hour sorting out and paying for our flight from San Antonio to Jacksonville. What a smozzle!!! They just don't make it easy!!


Also reserved on line a site in Mission for a month at Bentson RV Village Resort. We have never satyed there before, but it is only a mile or so from Chimney RV Park that we stayed in last year. Just thought we would try a different park this year. Booked a "Super Site" for about $18.33 per night. Not too bad! It is within walking distance to one of Denice's favourite birding places, Bentsen State Park.
16th October
Woke up to light rain this morning, but it is only slightly drizzling, and since we have reservations down in Mission for tomorrow night decided we should be on our way. This section is the most photogenic of the whole trip as it is through the Texas Hill Country. But since it is fall there is not a lot of color, few flowers, and the trees are still green, but it was still very nice. It was light rain almost the entire way, but only required the occasional swipe of the wipers, and the highway never did get wet. Once south of the hills around Carrizo Springs and Chrystal River there is an area of high oil activity. Last spring when we went through the area there were only a couple of RV Parks, and they were bare bones, but this time we must have past at least a dozen parks, almost all full of workers trailers and 5th wheels. They are still mostly bare bones as all have just sprung up in the scrub forests there, but would certainly suffice for an overnighter if required. We had planned to go to Vaquero RV Park nearer Loredo as we have done for the last several years that we have travelled this road. We wondered if they would have room for us, given the oil activity in the area, but when we arrived they were accomadating as always, and had a site. Not sure why we like to stop there as it is also bare bones and is not that cheap at $35, but it is in the right location. We have watched it grow over the years, and every time we do see some improvements. Still no WIFI. When I asked the lady owner said they want $8,000 per month to intall it for the entire park. Seems incredibly high!! Hard to believe it would cost that much. Maybe another supplier???


While wandering around the park, I talked to one of the girls (maybe daughter of the owner) there and she was doing stained glass pictures so she got my interest right away. We had a long conversation and she showed me some of her work and equipment. Very Nice. She does mostly large ones about 2 x 3 feet. Here is a sample of one she is presently working on.  
17th October

Morning Sunrise
Short driving day today as it is only 180 miles to our Mission RV Park. The trip was mostly uneventful. Loredo is a little tricky at times to negotiate through, especially a new mega interchange that seems to be a little short of signage.

However we made it through with no difficulty other than Denice thought we were going to run over a little charger at one point. Then there was the 50 miles of construction along Falcon Lake with all traffic squeezed into two very narrow lanes while the other lanes are being built. Arrived at Bentson Palm Village RV Park at 12:15PM. Nobody home!!  Message to call Juanita on her cell, which I did and left a message. Waited and waited. Finally a cleaning lady came by and we were able to contact Juanita. She was at a Chamber of Commerce meeting and would be back at 3:00. In the mean time she told me to just park anywhere of our choice until she returned. We needed to get plugged in as it is near 100 degrees and we need air conditioning!! She did arrive at 3, but before she returned we had a chance to drive around and get the lay of the land, so to speak. We tentatively chose number 518 as the site we would like to have. At this time of the year there is not many here, so there are lots of empty spaces.

Nice Layout - Not sure if you can pick out 518, but it is in the  third circle from the left, and at the bottom of that circle.
 When I met at the office with Juanita and Guy, she checked to make sure 518 was open for the month and it was, so we were now happy and moved on down there and set up. It is now 9:30PM and still 85° F.

18th October
Spent the day getting set up and orientated. Over to HEB and buy required groceries

19th October
Now that we are settled in, of course my little garmin wants to clean ELTORO, stem to stern. So that was the project for the day. Need I say more!!  Did take time to set up an array of bird feeders though, but so far little interest from the birds even though lots are around, but we have noticed this before that it takes a day or so for them to find the food. The only ones that are around so far are the hummingbirds. And they are certainly here at our two feeders.

20th October
So today the birds did come, but mostly green jays


Went down to the Butterfly Center - millions of them there!! All kinds and colors, but to me, "Just Butterflies!"


Fron Denice's camera
And birds too

Birds at our Feeders
More Birds
   21st October
Just R&R


A short drive along the levee by the Rio Grande and then through the Anzalduas Park.  
Then again to HEB for some groceries we forgot the other day, Then home. More R&R!!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

And Still Farther South

8th October
Drive - not much else to report - Just down the road across South Dakota and into Nebraska. Just across the borderis a nice RV park about 6 miles prior to Valentine Nebraska. We stayed at it last year. It is pretty well out in the country, but does have all the amenities, even good WIFI We did stop briefly in Fort Pierre, at the Casey Tibbs memorial, as we do have a sort of connection to him.

Casey and the Bronc

Again!

In His Memory
 Denice's cousins' husband, Disco, is Casey's great nephew.  Also coming through Pierre we had a chance to check the heigth of ELTORO. There was a truck route around the city, but we wanted to see the sites, so we decided to drive through. On route there is a railroad underpass with a sign indicating 11 feet 3 inches clearance. There was a flashing light indicating over heigth and splash marks all over the bridge rail. Denice says, " Can we make it"? We went through last fall so I guess we must be able and we are already there ----  The antennaes make contact, but there is no load crashes, so I guess we are under 11 feet 3 inches, but I don't think I will try that again. Signs are not always exact!!  Then on south on 83 to highway 90, west for 20 miles to Murdo, then south again on 83. Coming across South Dakota on Highway  83, we noticed that it is a dedicated heavy haul route. We saw lots of heavy oilfield trucks, mostly hauling 400 bbl oil tanks and we presume they are headed to Williston North Dakota and the oil boom going on there now.


And a backup of traffic behind it!!!
  We must have met 20 to 30 of them, each hauling two tanks. This would likely be the shortest distance between where ever the tanks are made, north across South Dakota to Highway 90, then west to Rapid City and on to Sturgis and then north on 85 to Williston.  That was about all the excitement for the day. This was South Dakota!!!!
9th October
Laid around this morning at the RV Park here in Valentine, as it was quite windy and cool, but after lunch took a drive out through the sand hills and the Ogalalla aquifer area where Enbridge wishes to build the pipeline to Texas. Not sure how close we were to the actual pipeline route, but in the general area. Easy to see the opposition to this area as it is home to a myriad of birds.

Google Map of area south of Valentine in the Sand Hills
 We were a little too early in the fall to see many of the migratory foul, and being a windy day, many of the smaller birds were hidden in the grass. But we were still able to see many different ones, and even quite a few wild turkeys. Also white pelicans, Canada geese, a few swans, and lots of kinds of ducks.


A wood Pecker

White Pelicans

Tornado Shelter

Thanksgiving Dinner

Fire Lookout built by the CCS a long time ago


A Sparrow  ------------- (I think)



Brick work in Valentine

More
And a sunset
Returned to ELTORO for supper.

10th October
Just a good day of driving again. Left the RV Park at Valentine at 8:30AM and headed south on 83 once more. Went through the Nebraska sand hill again and continued on to Kansas.


Conveying harvested corn into a pile

Now there is a pile of corn!!

Will make lots of corn flakes
This area is definitely a farming area with lots of corn, sunflowers, and millett still to be harvested.


Sunflowers

Sunflowers

Millett

More Millett
Stopped for the night in Oakley, Kansas at High Plains RV Park.


As the sign says
  It was quite windy so we were ready for  rest. ELTORO is noticeably pushed during high winds, espacially if they are broadside, and this makes my co-pilot fairly nervious. And besides, we are retired and in now real hurry to get anywhere. Just as long as it is warm and there are no snow drifts!!
11th October
Short Day today - only 150 miles from Oakley, Kansas to Liberal, Kansas. All flat land with little of real interest and worthy of blogging about. Checked into Western RV Park near noon and got settled in.


Denice on her walkabout on the Parks exercise track
 Then went to Walmart for some groceries. The Lady that owns the RV park came over this evening to collect her $25 fee for the night, and since she is a Farmers wife who owns a large spread and indeed the land where the RV Park is situated, I asked her what the crop was that is growing along the Park. This is the same one that we have been seeing for the last few hundred miles, and we have been calling it millett, but she enlightened us and said it is milo, or sorgum.


Just a item off the Internet


Close up of Milo
 They apparantly grow lots of it, so she should know. She says it is primarly for pig feed, and the stocks for cattle feed. Cows cannot eat the grain as it causes them to bloat and may even cause death.  An even greater use nowadays is for ethanol, as it is better than corn for that use. Now go back a day on my Blog and change those pictures I called Millett to Milo. Well, how was I supposed to know!!  I was from a farm, but we never grew any of these crops, only wheat, barley, and oats.

12th October
Just stopped and smelled the roses today. Had some plans to go 60 miles to Texhoma to where a Great-Aunt of Denice's is buried, but somehow that just fizzled and we just read and rested. The only real thing of interest was a million blackbirds performing aereal ballet. We believe this behavior is called murmuration Here is a desciption of that performance:
A behavior is an amazing phenomenon of coordinated movements involving masses of birds that is breathtaking to see. It’s called murmuration and can involve thousands of birds. The purple martins put on a spectacular show in Richmond every year but the blackbirds dazzle us with their aerial ballets just about everywhere. The masses seem to collaborate as they dip and dive and rise and divide in unison. There is no leader. How do they do this? Are there any rules? No one really knows but it’s awe-inspiring to watch.

To get an idea of the beauty of murmuration, check out this video of two young people, Sophie Windsor Clive and Liberty Smith, who paddled their canoes in wet, winter weather and caught all the wonderful cloud action of starlings on film. Spectacular! (Double click on this link to view the video)
http://vimeo.com/31158841
The ones we saw were a mile away but with our high zoom cameras we were able to record some of those maneuvers.
video

We had heard before of them doing this, in fact watched a video from the UK of a lady recording an event, but this was a first for us. We first noticed them in what looked like a black cloud leaving the ground, but then it looped and twirled in various directions before returning to the ground. Since they were more than a mile away we decided to take a closer look.



A bunch of Blackbirds - Is that called a "Murder"? or is that only for crows??


Check out every available spot is occupied by a bird

 When we got near on a gravel road, we could see a big black line across the road. Closer inspection showed thousands of black birds sitting there. We drove closer and they would get up and fly, but soon returned to the road again. We weren't able to get any good shots of their ballet performance, but did get some of them flying about.  As this was late in the day we headed to Applebee's for dinner, and then home to ELTORO.

13th October
Son Ross's Birthday today. My goodness 45 years old!! How old does that make us??

We kind of procrastinated this morning. Hummed and hawed about moving on or just spending another day in Liberal. Checked forcast for on down the road and tomorrow appeared better than today. Less wind, today was up tp 25mph and that does buffet ELTORO quite a bit, so we kind of decided to wait it out for another day. But Lo and Behold after about 9:00AM it seemed very nice so on the spur of the moment decided to get going. On the road by 9:30. We did hit some wind and by the time we got to Childress on 83 it must have bee the 25mph, but there we turned east for 20 miles to an RV Park that we have been in before at Goodlett, called the Olde Town Cotton Gin. Checked in there by 2:00PM. They were quite fulll as a big power line is being build across the state near here, and most of the spots are taken by the workers and their families, but we were able to get one. It was now time for tea. When I checked in the clerk/owner advised a possibilty of strong winds and maybe even hail late this afternoon. Sure hope not!! Oh, by the evening it had never materialized. Just strong winds. Along the way today  we saw lots of cotton growing in various stages, and of course this intrigued me so I had to google it once we were parked, and here is what I came up with if you are interested:

Denice'
Denice's picture of growing cotton

How Cotton is Grown
After cotton has been harvested, producers who use conventional tillage practices cut down and chop the cotton stalks. The next step is to turn the remaining residue underneath the soil surface. Producers who practice a style of farming called conservation tillage often choose to leave their stalks standing and leave the plant residue on the surface of the soil.

In the spring, farmers prepare for planting in several ways. Producers who plant using no-till or conservation tillage methods, use special equipment designed to plant the seed through the litter that covers the soil surface. Producers who employ conventional tillage practices, plow or “list” the land into rows forming firm seed-beds for planting. Producers in south Texas plant cotton as early as February. In Missouri and other northern parts of the Cotton Belt, they plant as late as June.
Seeding is done with mechanical planters which cover as many as 10 to 24 rows at a time. The planter opens a small trench or furrow in each row, drops in the right amount of seed, covers them and packs the earth on top of them. The seed is planted at uniform intervals in either small clumps (“hill-dropped”) or singularly (“drilled”). Machines called cultivators are used to uproot weeds and grass, which compete with the cotton plant for soil nutrients, sunlight and water.
About two months after planting, flower buds called squares appear on the cotton plants. In another three weeks, the blossoms open. Their petals change from creamy white to yellow, then pink and finally, dark red. After three days, they wither and fall, leaving green pods which are called cotton bolls.
Inside the boll, which is shaped like a tiny football, moist fibers grow and push out from the newly formed seeds. As the boll ripens, it turns brown. The fibers continue to expand under the warm sun. Finally, they split the boll apart and the fluffy cotton bursts forth. It looks like white cotton candy.
Since hand labor is no longer used in the U.S. to harvest cotton, the crop is harvested by machines, either a picker or a stripper. Cotton picking machines have spindles that pick (twist) the seed cotton from the burrs that are attached to plants’ stems. Doffers then remove the seed cotton from the spindles and knock the seed cotton into the conveying system.
Conventional cotton stripping machines use rollers equipped with alternating bats and brushes to knock the open bolls from the plants into a conveyor.
A second kind of stripper harvester uses a broadcast attachment that looks similar to a grain header on a combine. All harvesting systems use air to convey and elevate the seed cotton into a storage bin referred to as a basket. Once the basket is full, the stored seed cotton is dumped into a boll buggy, trailer or module builder.

Now both you and I know how cotton is grown.  Maybe I will later show how it is ginned as shown on Wikipedia.
14th October
Sunday, a day of rest. Need to go to church anyway. Ours is the Mother Nature Church.