"Of all the paths you take in life make sure a few of them are dirt" US Forest Sevice

Friday, March 31, 2017

"Riders on the Storm"

What a song to awaken to in the middle of the night. The trailer was shaking in the wind. The rain and hail were so loud we could hardly hear me singing the Doors song. When the lightening flashed repeatedly, we saw a witch on a bike fly by. We love seeing new places but Oz is not high on the list. The witches we can deal with but those monkeys creep me out. We were thankful when the storm passed and we had not achieved liftoff. We wondered a couple of times where we might land.
Three trees fell in the campground and the state park staff were out removing them at 7:30 the next morning. Two just missed RVs and one side swiped a truck.
 It was a beautiful morning in South Llano River State Park when we woke the morning after the storm. The birds were singing away as the sun came up. I am not sue how they didn't get blown to Mexico.
This park is a major draw for Birders with 30 bird blinds. There were a couple we would go to and bird watch everyday. 

This is one serious birder. I wasn't sure if the camera could double as a noisy person basher.

This blind was set up with 8 seats and windows to view the birds in the water. They had books and field guides to figure out what we were looking out.
Are you looking at me?

There are many miles of trails for hiking or biking. We pulled out the bikes and thought we were headed out on easy/moderate trails.

We had climbed 2/3 of the way up this hill (we are in Texas Hill Country) before I decided it was time for photos. Actually, that is my way of saying " I need a rest". Mike suggested I change the camera speed so he wouldn't be a blur as I got this pictures. I just said "You betcha".

The next photo was not a rest stop but more of a mud spa stop. I am glad there was some grass to land in and not cactus. I was pretty muddy but it could have been worse.

Mike asked if I wanted to go back to the trailer and clean up. I passed. We had water to clean my glasses and hands.  I was just going to sweat anyway. He pulled my bike out and we continued to look for turkeys but only heard one.
This area was closed between 3pm and 10am so we wouldn't scare off the birds.

Sections of the old farm that existed before it became a state park.

We dropped off a tractable bug in a geocache.

Buck's Lake had plenty of turtles.

The campers were so friendly in this campground. The morning after the storm people were checking on each other.
Hopefully, Austin, TX will not show us any "Shake, Rattle and Roll".

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Balmorhea (bal-more-ray) State Park

Western Texas can get boring while driving across the flat land. In the past we have blasted through Texas just trying to get through it to get somewhere else. This time, we had plenty of time and a Texas State Park pass and decided to make it worth the purchase. Balmorhea seemed a good place to stop since it was about the right number of miles that we like to travel. We had read on Pam Oh the Places They Go that highway 285 was in bad repair and not a good choice with all of the big trucks. We took highway 54 to I 10 and were thankful for that choice, very little traffic and a nice straight highway. This gave us plenty of time to imagine how life must have been for the Apaches living here years ago.
Balmorhea is a long ways from anywhere. We found a nice little Mexican restaurant with some good food as we drove though the town of 479 people. We sat and listened to the locals discussing the oil fields they work in and the pump capacity for water and oil. They sounded pretty knowledgeable discussing pressures etc.
The state park is not very big at 45 acres but has the San Solomon Spring with year round groundwater. In the 1930s the CCC made a swimming pool which blocked the water flow to the marshlands. This was causing harm to endangered animals and fish until the marsh flow was restored. Now it is home to several endangered animals.

Red eared slider

Strange looking soft tailed turtle

The pool was natural with catfish and puffer fish in it. People would bring their snorkel equipment with them and snorkel in the pool.

After the situations Mike has suffered with his accident and other things, I decided I needed to step up and learn the ins and outs of this rig of ours. I backed the trailer into the site just fine. It wasn't even angled which made me proud. I had to figure out a way to get the plug into the surge protector since it took a bit more strength but I got it together. I did let him bat the wasps away. Now I have done everything except the black tank tube but hopefully, that won't happen. If it does, I will figure it out.
Once again, we were in a very dark place at night. People were pulling out their huge telescopes. Then we sat back and looked at the Milky Way and satellites passing through the sky. There is so much to learn about. As the old saying goes, "The more I learn, the less I know." This is a strange but interesting life.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Amazing Carlsbad Caverns

Driving through El Paso can be trying at best for us. This time, the 395 bypass was open and we flew right by along the north of the town. We arrived a day earlier than we had reservations in Carlsbad but they put us in a tent area with water for the night. Saturday on Spring Break takes some planning.
The Natural Entrance route is a self-guided tour available to visitors with plenty of time. This 1.25-mile tour follows the traditional explorer’s route, entering the cavern through the large historic natural entrance. The Natural Entrance route descends more than 750 feet into the earth following steep and narrow trails.
We opted for the audio tour and enjoyed the stories as we passed though the cave. It seemed that the decent would never end. The story of the cave's discovery was when Jim White saw what he thought was smoke from the side of the mountain. When he climbed up closer, he realized it was bats coming from the cave. That's a lot of Mexican bats.
Carlsbad Caverns is a place we have wanted to visit for quite a while but never seemed to be on our way. This time we made more of an effort and were glad we did.

Fortunately, the elevators were working. After several hours in the cave, I preferred the easy way our instead of the hike back up unlike Raven and Chickadee who toured the cave when the elevator was down for maintenance.

 The land that forms Carlsbad Caverns was once part of an ancient underwater reef called Capitan Reef. Marine fossils have been found in the rock.
  In the 1880s, people didn’t go into the caves to admire them. Instead, they were there to mine for bat poop! Apparently, guano is a powerful fertilizer.
 Before 1925, guests who visited the park were lowered into the caves in a big guano bucket.

It was difficult getting good pictures but it was quite a sight.


This ladder was used by the National Geographic team that originally explored the cave. I hope it was in better shape then.

The basic tour through the Cavern was one-mile through the largest room in the cave, the Big Room. Taking approximately 1.5 hours, this circular route passes many large and famous features including Bottomless Pit, Giant Dome, Rock of Ages, and Painted Grotto. It was more beautiful around each corner.

This was a very good stop for us. On to Texas...