Friday, October 31, 2014

Early morning trail ride ..
The week started out pretty quiet, not much going on but for the annual Terlingua Green Scene Festival.
It's a family-friendly festival in Terlingua's Ghost Town, celebrating and promoting sustainable living in the Chihuahuan Desert. 

It's proceeds were going to the Terlingua Community Garden to fund four 3,000 gallon rainwater tanks, a must for gardening here in the desert.

Like-minded guests and community members came together to promote sustainability through education, demonstrations, art, and music!                                                                                                               

There even was a parade ...

Than early this week the campground filled up with a large group of Blue Bird Wanderlodge motorhomes for one of their Fall Rallies.

The Wanderlodge is a high end brand of Class A motorhome recreational vehicles that was built by the Blue Bird Body Company (now Blue Bird Corporation) in Fort Valley, Georgia, from about 1963 until 2009.

I've since learned from several very nice and proud members of this particular group that it was sold around the world to celebrities, dignitaries, and even heads of state. Notable owners include the former President of the United States, Jimmy Carter, country music superstar Johnny Cash, and King Hussein of Jordan, among others.


Features of the Wanderlodge that were unique when introduced in the sixties included a built-in safe, redundant heating and hot water systems that used electricity, engine heat or diesel, and fuel tanks offering range in excess of 1,000 kilometers (620 mi).

And than last Wednesday was the kick-off of the annual CASI International Chili Cook-Off.
The Chili Appreciation Society International (CASI) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization raising money for charity (over $1,000,000 last year alone) for charity, promoting American red chili.

Each year CASI sanctions over 500 chili cook-offs internationally as qualifying events for the Terlingua International Chili Championship, TICC. This ultimate chili cook-off is held the first Saturday of November as part of a week long festival taking place at the society’s grounds, Rancho CASI de los Chisos, near Terlingua, Texas.


It's a Texas tradition of epic proportion - complete with an annual proclamation from the Governor declaring "Chili Appreciation Society International Day" in Texas! 

There are hundreds of RVs and tents set up in little villages across the desert for days before the contests start.
Everyone seems to be having a good time, there is plenty of beer to go around but we've heard it can get pretty rowdy in the afternoon.
Lots of crazy hats and a few outrageous costumes. In the area known as Krazy Flats you will even start to see a fair bit of skin as the day goes on!


If you don't need to be on the roads around this week you're advised to stay off them since drinking and driving seems to be somewhat of a problem every year.

Let's just say, without wanting to sound too snobby, and it sure is to be very colorful and so on, but this is not really our crowd unfortunately, and since there's also no actual chili tasting going on for the public (how weird is that?) we've decided to skip the event.


We do get to have some of the fun though since the grounds over there only provide primitive sites and (porta-potty) toilets, so some of the nearby hotels and campgrounds, including us, allow visitors to shower for a $5 fee.
We're even running a shuttle van to and from the grounds.          

Needless to say, you're much better off using your own bathroom for the time being since there are big waiting lines for the campground's and they're starting to look a little 'used'.
OK, that's about it for now. In about an hour I'm off to the hotel to watch the Trick-'n-Treating and Costume Contest the Resort is putting on. Pictures in the next post!

Just for fun, here's a another shot from our local Roadrunner:

And a late butterfly:

Saturday, October 25, 2014


Wow, Halloween is just around the corner, can you believe it? 
Nature here is trying it's best to get into the mood (and worked with the little she got) by coloring these Leather Stem / Rubber Bushes (Jatropha dioca), a pretty orange!

..... and for a splash of  yellow!

Back-lit grasses are always pretty!

Not much else is going on here. Since we're not doing any traveling this Fall I've started to at least 'travel on paper' by looking for contenders for our next Spring destination.
We're thinking South Dakota, especially the Black Hills. It's a very touristy area with lots of campgrounds and golf courses so lots of possibilities! 

We'd like to stay out of the busiest areas like Keystone or Rapid City, so I'm thinking of Custer or Hill City instead,  maybe Spearfish or Lead. Anybody has some advice?
Of course a lot depends on where the jobs are. We'll see.

In the meantime here's a few nice close-ups of the 'bug' life around here!

           A gorgeous Flame Skimmer or Firecracker Skimmer (Libellula saturata).

Cloudless Sulfur butterfly


And a Chilocorus stigma,commonly known as the twice-stabbed lady bug/beetle. How's that for a name? Twice stabbed .....

There has been a colony of bats living under the eves of the restaurant and bar roof-overhang for the longest time now. Of course they're harmless themselves but their droppings do make a mess on the tables and patio so finally management decided they had to go.
(too many complaints of 'something in my soup' I guess)

I borrowed this picture from Wikipedia
They're Mexican or Brazilian free-tailed bats, very common in Texas and even the official 'state bat'. When the bug (mosquito) population plummets in the winter they usually migrate to caves in Mexico.
The tail of these bats stretches further than the hind leg membrane, hence they are named "free-tailed" bats. They're the "jets" of the bat world being very fast flyers.

After consulting with the Rangers at the Barton Warnock Visitor Center next door it has been decided to try to entice them to move into these very nice and modern bat-apartments.


They put up 3 of them, I hope it'll work!

Next up also isn't a bug but a bug-eater:

Can you see me now?
(Black-throated Sparrow)

And here's a 'bug' that has me stomped. No clue what spider makes this interesting cone shaped 'hide-away' in it's web. 
And although I HATE spiders with a vengeance and you can reduce me to an incoherent blubbering mass if you ever stick one in my face,  I thought this one's at least fascinating.

See the 'nest' in the middle of the pic?

I googled around some and finally the people at came up thinking it's the nest of a Coneweb Spider aka Desert-shrub Spider in the family Diguetidae. 

They decorate their inverted-thimble nests with the husks of their prey, like pirates!

That's the spider in the bottom pic. It's really not that large, I enlarged the picture. 
Still too big for my comfort-zone though, I used all 42x zoom my camera is capable off!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Off to the first tee for an 8 o'clock tee time. What a gorgeous  morning!

It's been a beautiful week here in Lajitas. The nights are cool, down to 51 degrees this morning (!), the mornings crisp and the days a little bit less warm than before, into the low 80s.
James has been golfing every day, I'm still having hip problems so I'm taking some time off. Again. First it's my shoulder, now it's my hip. I'm falling apart, and I don't like it!
On top of that I'm just itchy, a bad case of 'hitch-itch', I'd say. Everybody on the blogs is moving to new winter digs and we're not. We're already there. I'm not happy.


Oh well, get over it, you say. And you're right. So lets take a walk into the desert shall we, it always helps to get me in a better mood!
It's still as beautiful as ever here, so there! Let's focus on that.

Like these pretty Fall flowers and the way the low morning sun lights up all the different grasses:


About a gazillion caterpillars of the 'hummingbird moths' (White-lined sphinx moth) that I showed in a previous post, have hatched from the 200 or so tiny eggs each moth produces.
They're hairless but have a "(t)horn" at the posterior end.


'When resting, the larva usually holds its legs off the surface and tucks its head underneath, which, resembling the Egyptian Sphinx, gives rise to the name 'sphinx moth'. ..... Right.

They have been dining from their host plants until they reach their full size (and at the same time their brightest green color) climbed down in the soil and soon will make their cocoon and become pupae.
Earlier in the season the moths would have hatched in a few weeks but in the Fall they won't come out until the following spring. 
Pretty clever if you ask me.


This is what they'll turn into

Like I've said before I love watching the 'buzzards'. They're so incredibly gracious in the air and so clumsy on the ground. They love sunning themselves in the morning:


These two really cracked me up! I can't help but thinking he's flashing himself!

Waaaaah !

The skies have been so blue the last couple of days. Not a cloud to be seen. This pink Coral Vine growing over a pergola at the resort made such a splashing contrast I had to take a picture of it!

               So pretty, I'm starting to feel pretty good again!

And than there's all the dragonflies,  just look at this beauty:

As far as I found out this is a male Red-mantled Saddlebag

And big swarms of damselflies:

OK. Of course you want to know. How to tell the difference between damsels and dragons?
"Tell me, tell me!!"

Well, dragonflies hold their wings out horizontally and most damselflies position the wings vertically when at rest. 
The bodies of damselflies also tend to be more slender than those of dragonflies, and dragon's heads seem to be 'all eye' where as the damsels have smaller, more defined but bulging, eyes to the side.

There you have it, and aren't you glad you asked? ;-)

Common Blue Damsel flies

Going on all these walks makes hungry! Time to make an all time favorite; oatmeal chocolate (extra dark) chips cookies (with walnuts).

(I always have to laugh when people complain about lack of counter space. Try baking in an RV!)

I can bake only about 12 cookies on the smaller cookie sheets for my combination convection oven/microwave so I just freeze the rest of the dough and bake fresh cookies when needed.

Which is often. Especially when you have hitch-itch :-)