Friday, November 28, 2014

Instead of going to Alpine for our monthly grocery shopping we decided to give Presidio one more try instead (since we weren't to impressed last time) and boy, were we lucky to do so!
Because if we hadn't, we wouldn't have run into this beautiful bobcat!
Since the road winds like crazy and goes up and down like a roller coaster you have to slow down quite often and it was during such a moment that James saw 'something' moving out of the corner of his eye .....

We quickly stopped the truck and after a little wait he came back out from the reeds he'd fled in when he heard our noisy monster of a truck.
Apparently he got lucky hunting since he was carrying a vole or ground squirrel back to his den.


After he disappeared and we looked up over the slight rise of the road ahead we suddenly saw two more come running right towards us!
They looked much smaller and by the way they were acting, bouncing playfully into each other, my guess is that what we had seen was a female and these were her babies!

Unfortunately they saw us at the same moment and quickly disappeared in the reeds, so the pictures are blurry, but I show them anyhow (as proof, you know, that we didn't make this up) :-)

What a thrilling encounter!! So cool!!

Maybe after such an encounter nothing will measure up but unfortunately, however much we tried, we cannot come up with much good to say about Presidio.
One of the best things about it is this sign which is actually quite quaint.

But other than that it's about the worst town imaginable. There's really not one nice street, corner or building to take a picture of.


It is right at the border and isn't a big city by any means.  Just a few thousand people live here, which is about one-fourth of the number that live across the border in Ojinaga, Chihuahua.
(Which we've heard is equally ugly and not worth visiting, not even for cheap medical/dental treatments).

It's downtown district is a few blocks long, but aside from the Family Dollar and Dollar General stores (and maybe a few fast food or gas station franchises further out from downtown), it feels quite foreign. 

There are quite a few "department stores", with names you've probably never heard before, like Miguel Nieto.  Some appear to still be in business, but others look like they shut down a while ago.
In fact the whole town feels like you're in Mexico already without ever crossing the border at all. 

The one decent restaurant (of two in total), El Patio, serves Mexican food (no surprise here) and we were hoping for something good and authentic since it was packed with locals. 
Unfortunately, although the food looked good, we were rather disappointed, it was OK but rather tasteless.
No, the best thing about Presidio is that it marks the beginning/end of the extraordinary scenic highway that runs alongside the Rio Grande and after getting our groceries we quickly went back on it to enjoy this beautiful drive in reverse.

Just past the 'Big Hill', which I blogged about before, you pass a rest stop with three tall tepees (just visible in the picture below at the bottom right):


And what do we see popping out of one of them but a pair of Javelina!

Although we've seen some glimpses and a few as roadkill we've never had the chance to watch them for a while and get some decent pictures but here they were!
Javelina (Tayassu tajacu) also known as collared peccary, are medium-sized animals, originating from South America, that look similar to a wild boar.

What a great day this boring shopping trip turned out to be!

Not much else has been happening this week, except for Thanksgiving off course, which we celebrated in the traditional way. 
As usual, we watched the Macy's Parade and the Eukenuba Dog show (won by Nathan, the Bloodhound!).

And off course there was a lot of food; grand slam for breakfast, a turkey lunch from the employee restaurant, deviled eggs (curry, per James' request) and pumpkin cheesecake made by yours truly and an 8pm Thanksgiving dinner at the Candellila restaurant, compliments of the resort, for all employees and family.

And now the Christmas Season has (un)officially begun (varies wherever you are, I guess) ! Love it! Yeah!!!! 
Can't wait to start decorating!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

While it's nothing to speak about in comparison to most parts of the US, where people are digging themselves out of several feet of snow, 
but we've actually had our first frost of the season! 
Still, for November, and in this neck of the woods, that's very early too!

Fortunately,  my little friend the (vermilion) flycatcher is hanging in there. I never get tired watching him dash off and on from his perch right outside the window behind my laptop.
It's Mexcan name is brasita de fuego, meaning "little coal of fire". So appropriate!
Another 'fun' fact: it was first described in 1783 by Pieter Boddaert, a Dutch physician and naturalist. Ha!

And I don't know what's with all the butterflies, but they're everywhere!
Maybe it's because the recent rain has coached various wildflowers (amongst which some caterpillar food plants) into a second bloom?  
Don't they know it's freezing cold!?

Variegated Fritillary, Monarch, ? and Southern Dogface

Just outside my door I even found this huge moth. 
It's a Black Witch moth and I should be glad I found it outside and not in the house since this moth is called the mariposa de la muerte (butterfly of death) in Mexico and if it comes into your house while someone is sick that person will die, although the Texans believe it needs to visit all four corners of the house in order for that to happen. Phew!

In other parts of Mexico if one flies over someones head the person will lose their hair (!) and in Hawaii, if a loved one has just died, the moth is an embodiment of the person's soul returning to say goodbye.
Personally, I prefer the beliefs of parts of the Bahamas, where folklore calls them Moneybats, and tells that they bring prosperity! Got to get me some lottery tickets!

And here's proof that you shouldn't take 'selfies' since they always come out horrible!

The occasion was a nice one though. We were enjoying a (comped) meal at the resorts restaurant in exchange for James newest job addition, being MOD (manager on duty) for one night per weekend on a rotating schedule with other managers.
Instead of being paid we can (both) order anything we like, which is quite a thrill if you'd know the prices!

While I was looking for ducks at the pond behind the golf course one chilly morning, I noticed this fella sticking his head up and clambering onto the pole to warm himself in morning sun.

Such ancient creatures, turtles, fossils show for instance that this (painted) turtle existed 15 million years ago!


I'm pretty sure it's a Western Painted Turtle although I'm a little confused by the red pattern of stripes on the top shell. I know it's bottom shell is colored but the top?

I'm actually expanding my walking territory a little in order to get a bit more exercise. I'm just sitting too much (reading, blogging, spinning/knitting) and now with Sadie gone, there's less incentive to go out unless I really have to.
I'm noticing that I get a lot stiffer though, and out of shape, and it will probably help my (still) sore hip to keep on moving too.
In a way, the blog helps also, since I 'need' pictures to go with the stories. It's sort of writing a weekly column for which I have a deadline so I better get out and make me some!

So, although you'd probably never know since these mountains all look alike, these pictures show a slightly different view than from where I normally walk, with a peek of the golf course and towards Mexico in the background.

And I know it is way to early, but this cold snap made me want to bake something gingerbread-ish, so I baked some 'men' and a frosted gingerbread cake. I'll call it a test-run!

Somebody made the hot chocolate?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Anna's Hummingbird
After a lot of rain, and I mean ... a LOT ... that turned the desert, as usual, into yucky sticky clay, we're now in the middle of this nationwide arctic cold spell.
We woke up to 34 degrees this morning, well, not inside of course, and gusty winds. It is COLD!!

I hope this hummingbird I shot a couple of days ago has found some shelter somewhere. I was quite surprised how this picture came out with that soft green and reddish light.

There must have been a leaf and/or blossom in the foreground, or something like that, but I just love it! 

All the moisture in the air caused an unusual foggy morning a couple of days ago.
All spiderwebs were nicely outlined due to the heavy dew:



This swampy meadow turned out to be completely covered in spiderwebs!

And the bell tower of the resort loomed up rather spooky out of the fog:

The mesa behind us was off and on completely invisible and than re-appeared again:



Just like last year, the fall rains have brought out the male tarantulas in their quest to find a mate. During this time these nocturnal animals
disregard their own safety, leave their burrows and wander during daylight hours.
They're very visible crossing the fairways on the golf course.

See him? In the lower right corner ...

Like in other spiders, the female tarantula is likely to eat the male after mating so it's probably good the female will lay about 2000! eggs, although most of the offspring will be eaten by predators.
And if he survives he will only live for about 5-10 years where she can live to be 30!
If I didn't hate spiders so much this would almost make them seem interesting, don't they? (.. nah..)

On another 'interesting' note, the Lajitas resort now offers (twice a week) charter jet service flights, besides the private planes that can fly in already:

So now you can now book a complete all-in 'package', hotel, golf and flight, through the big travel sites like Expedia.

(It's easy to be 'International' when you are practically located on the border of course :-)

Word has gone out to all Country clubs, who are one of our most important target groups, and apparently there's a big demand for this service since we're booked solid for the coming weeks.


I tell you, this doesn't come cheap! It just amazes me how many people apparently still can afford something like this ..... times are tough ... for some more than for others ...

Fortunately, sunsets are (still) priceless: