Monday, October 30, 2017

New Mexico & Arizona

We reached New Mexico the other day and stayed overnight at another nice rest area.  We've been impressed with the cleanliness and atmosphere of these areas since central Texas!

Chaparral in New Mexico.

Beautiful grassland!

Roadrunner!  Large metal sculpture.

Lots of rock!

Picnic area.

Happy travelers!

Arrival in Arizona!

We love Arizona for many reasons, primarily because one of my sisters lives here. But birding and nature trails and the beauty of the scenery means a lot too. 

Right over the AZ border we settled in at the first rest stop.  Love the signage that warns of scorpions and snakes!

Rest stop surroundings.

As we continued on I 10, there was much to see in rock formations.

From a distance you can see the dust in the distance.  There are many highway signs warning about dust storms and what you should do: get off the road, turn your lights off, and foot off the brake.  We are assuming that the reason for no lights has to do with the avoidance of an accident.  If a car behind you sees lights, the driver might mistake it for a moving vehicle that they can follow.  Then the real possibility of a crash exists.

We headed into Tucson where my sister lives and before visiting Harriet, we stopped at a beautiful park called Agua Calientes.  We walked for a bit with Nevelle, but after about 5 minutes he began plopping down where ever he wanted, so we didn't make much headway!

Lots of cacti and palms.

Michael and Nevelle.

Nevelle decides it's time to rest!

Really large palms!

Prickly pear cactus.

We will be in AZ for a month or so, not only visiting with Harriet, but birding around the state.  For now, our visit has just begun and we're excited.  Will continue to share with you!

Texas to New Mexico

We are getting spoiled by this weather!  Sunny and breezy with temps in the 70's and chilly nights in the 40's.  No humidity, just nice and dry.  Autumn in central and western Texas can't be beat!  

We have stayed in Kerrville at a Cracker Barrel, and Comfort (twice) and Sheffield rest stops for each night.  The Comfort rest stop on west bound I10 was noisy and crowded, but the east bound side was much quieter as it was larger and we were set back a decent distance.  Sheffield had a smaller rest stop and was close to the interstate so it was pretty noisy.  Nonetheless, we have been so happy about these free camping rest stops with free dump sites and water.  They're well maintained and surrounded by pretty scenery.  We do free camp as often as possible as a way to save money, but it all depends on where we visit and how long we will be at the location.  If our stay will be longer, we will choose a campground with hook-ups.

On the 24th, we decided to pick a Kerrville nature center to visit called Riverside Nature Center after a quick scoot around the town.

The nature center was really nice with a visitor center, some exhibits and a small shop.  We walked a trail through the botanical garden and were surprised about how many plants are still in bloom!

Soldier butterfly.

When we saw the bat specimen below, we remembered that several nights ago at a Walmart in Fredericksburg, we were really surprised to see hundreds of bats flying back and forth in what's called murmuration (around one of the big parking lot lights).  Murmuration usually refers to a flock of starlings that fly as if one bird instead of hundreds or even thousands of birds.  In this case bats were flying back and forth in a way that looked choreographed!  Flying one way as a group, the cloud appears and then it disappears as they fly the other way.  At the beach, tiny shorebirds are often seen flying in murmuration.

The volunteer at the nature center called them part of the "tunnel" bats, referring to a bat colony located at a nearby state park called Lost Tunnel.  There an abandoned railroad tunnel is home to up to three million Mexican free-tailed bats!!

Mexican free-tailed bat specimen.

On Wednesday, we drove from Kerrville to the Sheffield rest stop and watched the rolling green landscape change from hill country to flatter chaparral with mesas and buttes.

Hill Country.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Rolling On!

After I posted the last blog entry, I realized I forgot to tell you about a really nice experience we had at the rest area!  Nearby was a very pretty Lutheran Church:

We were inside the trailer when there was a knock at the door.  We expected it would be someone interested in the Rpod trailer, but instead a lady stood at the door with a tray containing two hot meals and dessert!  She mentioned she was from the Lutheran church and they had just had a luncheon and she wanted to share the homemade leftovers with us!  While Michael enjoyed his meatloaf and mine, we both enjoyed terrific mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables.  Dessert was delicious bread pudding.  We couldn't thank her enough for her generosity.  This reminded us of "Trail Angels", those people who reach out to hikers on the Appalachian Trail with food, water, and other necessities.

To complete the story of our Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park visit, on Friday, the 20th, we found ourselves in the town of Stonewall, known as the LBJ Ranch district of the park.  This area offers a driving tour of the LBJ ranch with many properties associated with President Johnson's life.  Some sites we saw included the one-room Junction School that LBJ attended at age four, the reconstructed LBJ birthplace, the Johnson family cemetery with generations of Johnsons buried here, including the President and Lady Bird (Clair) Johnson.  There's also the home of LBJ's grandfather and the Show Barn where the staff manage the ranch and care for the registered Hereford cattle, descended from LBJ's original herd.  The Texas White House is here too, accessible only by guided tour which we did not do.  (Always save something for the next time!).  And there is a Lockheed Jetstar, one of five used at the ranch.  Because of its small size, President Johnson referred to this jet as "Air Force One-Half."

The quote on this sign also greeted visitors to the Texas White House.

The Junction one-room school house.

The reconstructed birthplace of the President.

Part of the Johnson Family cemetery.

The President and First Lady graves.

LBJ's grandfather's home.

Some of the beauty on our way to the LBJ ranch:

The LBJ ranch:

Calves from this season's calving.


The visit to both park districts was well worth it!

Here's what a cat does after a long day of touring!

Sunday, the 22nd, has us at another great rest area in Comfort, offering free dumping of our waste tanks and potable water, plus a free overnight stay in a park-like setting:

Monday, the 23rd we are headed to Kerrville for the day!  Meanwhile, we are enjoying a bright sunny day with temps in the 70's and a brisk, yes brisk, breeze that has us in fleece!  But what a pleasure after the hot and humid temps we had in east Texas!

See you soon!