Thursday, January 23, 2014

Since we 'got on' Facebook I have a hard time keeping track of whether I showed a picture on the Blog or Facebook or both or not at all.
And so I forgot to show this beautiful picture James shot a while ago from the sunrise. Isn't it gorgeous?!

I've also collected quite a few pictures of just 'ordinary' places around the Resort that haven't found a place here yet, so I'll just fit them into this blog today.
This flag is visible from almost anywhere around here, quite handy when I need to find my bearings on my daily short hikes, where I tend to go 'off road' a lot since there are only so many trails to follow.

I can also see it out of my window in the RV which makes it a handy wind gauge.

After following the Highway coming from Terlingua this is how you come upon Lajitas (population 75, by the way). 
The buildings on the left are from the Resort and just behind this rocky hill is the RV Park.
The name Lajitas is Spanish for "little flat rocks" and refers to the Boquillas flagstone of the area.


The stone isn't very hard and chips away naturally from the hills all around here.
Everybody makes good use of this flagstone, they're using it to build all kinds of structures although it's a little too soft to last forever.

This old cemetery is at the corner of the road that brings you to the RV Park.


It's still in use and as you can see the dead are even buried under the flagstones!

Now here's for a crazy story; for many years, starting with the 1980 election, the mayor of Lajitas was Clay Henry III, a "Lone Star-lager-loving beer-drinking" goat.
(Lajitas is an unincorporated town where the office of mayor is purely a ceremonial position.). 

(Taxidermied) Clay Henry I at the Terlingua Starlight Theater

After 2 (or 3, or 4?) replacements of the original Clay Henry, who was murdered by his own son, Clay Henry II, in 1992 during a drunken dispute over a dame, and his successor, Clay Henry III who steered away from mayor duties to take on a more mascot role and helping to boost tourism by allowing tourists to feed him beer, the stable where the mayor lived is now closed and the goat no longer resides there.

Word has it that the goat was removed after PETA stepped in, and I think rightfully so, because really, feeding an animal alcohol I think has stopped being funny a long time ago. 
At least, in my book it has.

But what do you think? Some locals have decided it might give the resort a much needed boost in tourism if they'd bring the goat back!
So a search was done and a pregnant nanny goat from the line of the Henry's was found.
After a new stable and corral was build next to the grocery store, Lucy recently moved in and on the 30th of December 2 little male kids were born.

Meet Clay and Claymore!

One of these youngsters is going to be the new mayor, you can pick up a ballot at the grocery store and cast your vote right now.
There will be no beer allowed to be fed to the new mayor but I wonder how they are going to make sure that doesn't happen?
I'm sure a lot of people will think it's 'fun'! We'll see how it'll work out.

Anywho, here's some more pictures from 'around town'. 
At the edge of town, on a hill overlooking the village, there's this little adobe catholic church. 


And behind the trading post/golf shop you'll find this rather pretty pond.

Even more visible than the flag of course is the Lajitas Mesa as always in the distance.

There's a lot of different ducks wintering here and I'm going back there sometime soon to try to get some close-ups to identify which ones they are.

Hopefully I'll have a better chance to do so now I finally got me a new camera! Yahoo!
For a while I've been researching the web and watching the ones selling on Ebay and I managed to snatch up this beautiful Nikon Coolpix P510 for a great price!

It has a 42x optical zoom lens!

The P510 is a compact, DSLR-sized ultra zoom that provides the greatest zoom ratio of any camera currently available - 24 to 1000mm (equivalent). A digital camera with a zoom lens that can go from true wide-angle to super telephoto!

I think this camera comes close to the magical "one lens covers it all" zoom that camera and lens manufacturers have been trying to create since the introduction of the world's first zoom lens.

I'm still playing with and getting used to it but so far I like it very much!
Just look at this nice shot of a female Ring Necked Duck:

Friday, January 17, 2014

The walls of the Santa Elena Canyon reach over 1000 feet high and are visible from miles away.

We do a lot of hiking here. It's hard not to being where we are, smack in the middle between these two beautiful Parks.
These pictures are from our day trip along the Old Maverick Road following the Ross Maxwell scenic Drive in the National Park to visit the magnificent Santa Elena canyon.

The Old Maverick Road is a well graded dirt road, passable only in dry conditions, taking you to to south west corner of the Park where the canyon is located.


The 1.7 mile medium difficulty trail into Santa Elena Canyon is one of the more popular hikes.
You have to cross a small creek, which at times can mean getting your feet wet. It was a hop across when we were there, but during the rainy season it can be too deep and swift to make a safe crossing.

Santa Elena Canyon is composed of a hard form of limestone and it is very deep (about 1500 feet) but not very wide (as little as 30 feet in some places).

There are a few Peregrine Falcons known to nest here, and in about a month they will actually close off certain areas of the Park for the breeding season so to not disturb the birds. 
I kept an eye out for them but they didn't show themselves :-(

The trail climbs a series of concrete stairs, which is the section that I believe gives the trail the medium difficulty rating. 


From the top of the stairs you follow a switch back trail to the bottom of the canyon and parallel to the Rio Grande River until you hit an area where the river comes to the canyon walls, so that you can no longer continue on.

This is one of the narrowest places in the seven mile long limestone Santa Elena Canyon. The canyon is quite striking with 1,500 foot sheer vertical walls rising above you and the deep silence made us feel we were standing in a big cathedral.
It's in the shadows most of the day and usually pleasantly cool but on a cold day as today we were practically freezing our butts off down there!

Santa Elena Canyon is shared by the US and Mexico. With modern equipment and boats (and proper planning) you can traverse the canyon safely; but in older times this passage was dangerous.
Crossing the river here will get you arrested nowadays though!

We brought some lunch and picked a nice spot to sit down for a while and enjoy the view.

From the Canyon the dirt road changes into a nice paved one while you follow the river towards the visitor center in Castolon, where we stopped for a short visit.
The center is housed in the barracks of an old outpost and the area in front of it is the old parade ground but there's not much of interest here other than some interpretive signs that talk about those early days when the first settlers had to fight off the Indians and Mexicans in the area.

A little further down the road we took a short hike to the viewing platform that overlooks Tuff Canyon.

There are many washes in the desert of Big Bend National Park, but perhaps none so dramatic as Tuff Canyon. It was carved by Blue Creek, which originates in the Chisos Mountains. The rock that comprises the canyon is volcanic tuff, formed when a volcanic explosion blew tons of ash into the air, which eventually hardened as it was compressed by overlying layers of rock.

You can hike to the bottom and out through the other site but we didn't think it would add much more to what we could see from here so we took the lazy way out and went back to the car to continue our drive.

About 2 miles down the road from the Tuff Canyon is the turn out and parking lot for the Mule Ears Springs Trail head.
Again, we just admired the gorgeous elevated views from here from the 'Mule Ears Peaks' in the distance and the desert floor below us.

There's a few more 'scenic spots' along this road that we will save for next time. We might even hike some trails!

We've had some interesting neighbors during the previous week! 
A group of Casita owners decided to have their yearly 'get-together' in Lajitas this year.
Maybe it was picked for being able to name this year's retreat ..... you got it ...  'Casitas in Lajitas'!

With their 17 feet they looked like dwarfs next to our 39! We were asked if we were the rose in the thorn patch or the thorn in the rose patch!? Ha!

You're as big as you think you are ....

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A very Happy New Year to y'all and may 2014 be a great one!

We never make it until midnight but we celebrated the next morning with 'oliebollen' a dutch treat for the Old/New Year. 
Traditionally you start baking these on the morning of the 31st and just keep baking and eating them way into the 1st until you don't want to see another one for a whole year, but we only made one batch on New Year's Day.

For some reason they came out better than ever this year!

Somewhere during the holidays we took another trip into the National Park. 
This time we drove over the (Chisos) mountains and into what they call the the Chisos Basin.

A scenic, winding road rises over two thousand feet above the desert floor.

And down again into the erosion-formed basin area.

Within the Chiso Basin is a visitor center, campground, a lodge with a restaurant and store and miles of hiking trails.

After the very short, but pretty, 'Window View Trail',

 ... we decided to hike the (also short) 2 mile Chisos Basin 'Loop Trail'.


We liked the (moderate) hike that winds you around the basin in about an hour and gives nice views of the surrounding mountain peaks.

After a short lunch break we drove back up the Basin Road to the same Pass where we had come over this morning and where the trail head for the Lost Mine Trail is located.


We didn't hike the whole trail (4.8 mile) but went up about a mile where you have a great view to the southeast.

Although we are in (Mtn) Lion and Bear country we didn't see any. I'm never quite sure if I should be happy about that because I'd really love to see them but preferably from a distance, thank you very much!


Nothing much is flowering at the moment, especially not at these higher elevations, but there's always something pretty to find if you take the time to look around you:

James has been putzing around the RV a little. 
He laid some flagstones, which you can find around here 'in the wild' almost everywhere you look, to widen the path up to the front door. 
When it rains it drains towards this area and turns it into mud which you than proceed to track into the RV. Not nice. 
So, ... problem solved.

While he was at it, and with a lot of stones left over, he also built us a nice fire pit!

And since we've got a nice, large open area next to us, we paced out an area and put stakes down for playing/throwing horseshoes.


After this we build a nice fire and grilled some hot dogs and I took some great pictures of that but cowboy James managed to delete all of those from the camera before I downloaded them!
Ugghh! Sometimes ......!