Wednesday, March 25, 2015

This pretty 'RAIN'bow appeared after some very heavy thunderstorms came through the area, as if nature wanted to 'make up' for it's violent weather.
There were flash-flood warnings everywhere and I seriously started to doubt our choice to buy an RV instead of a boat!

                          Boy, did it rain!

Of course the plants are not complaining and flowers keep popping up everywhere, like these Prickly Poppies:

And the first cacti!

Echinocereus chloranthus or brown/red flowered cactus

Desert stars
A little while ago I had started the application for my Green Card renewal and received a letter that I needed to have my 'biometrics' taken. Since my last renewal, 10 years ago, the USCIS has set different requirements, so now everybody needs to be (electronically) fingerprinted.
Not such a big deal, but since we have our (mail) 'address' in Livingston, they had set up an appointment at a Houston field office. Yikes!
It took a lot of explaining and e-mailing (you know, government ....) but finally I managed to have it moved to the office closest to us, in .... El Paso. That's still 5,5 hours!

Bluebonnets lining the roads on the way to El Paso
We decided to make a little trip out of it and stay overnight in El Paso. I had an 8 o'clock appointment so I booked a hotel less than 5 minutes away. 
One thing about El Paso, it's not much of a city, but the hotels are very cheap. I got one for $50 which included Texas shaped waffles for breakfast!

While in 'civilization' we went on a shopping spree. 
We'd recently weeded out all of our too old/ill fitted/never-worn/wrong-color/wrong size and 'what-was-I-thinking' clothes and had made a list of things to replace or add to what was left.
It was fun, but after a couple of hours we were exhausted! Nothing like that slow going shopping pace to wear you out, and kill your back in the meantime!


We'd promised ourselves some Sushi, our favorite choice for dinner, very hard to get in the middle of the (Texan) dessert, but fortunately readily available here.
We always share a sample platter, with a large Sapporo to wash it all down. As they say in Holland; 'fish need to swim!' Yum!
The next morning everything went surprisingly smooth at the immigration office, we were in and out in about 45 minutes! In addition to the fingerprints, I had my mug-shot taken and had to sign my life away on one of those electronic screens that never come out looking like anything.
I sure wish they would open a few more of these offices, I mean, 5,5 hours for a 30 minute procedure!

Since we drove through Presidio on the way up, we decided to return via Fort Davis and Alpine and pick up our monthly groceries. The last ones before we leave!Yahoo!
I had hoped for some signs (and pictures) of wildlife but we didn't see anything until just south of Alpine when I noticed 'something' moving in the distance:

It turned out to be a small herd of Barbary Sheep or Aoudad.
These sheep are not native to Texas but were introduced in Texas in the late 1940s after World War II, when soldiers who had been stationed on the Barbary Coast of northern Africa recognized their potential as a game species and had some shipped to ranches in Texas.

Like the Oryx, Nilgai antelope, and Axis and Fallow deer they're collectively known as 'exotics', and very popular amongst hunters.

They're found in arid mountainous areas and are able to obtain all their moisture from food, but if liquid water is available, they drink  and wallow in it.

Notoriously skittish and elusive they surprised me by being comfortable enough to allow us to watch them for a while and take some pictures (from a fair distance of course).

He doesn't know how lucky he is that I'm not a hunter!
Cool beans, as Judy would say!

Other than getting hit by a serious downpour driving through the Davis Mountains the ride was otherwise uneventful and we were home in time for happy hour! Happy but tired ....

OK, no blog without a bird of course, so here's a shot of a very vociferous Gambel's Quail, we encountered during one of our coffee breaks.
It must be mating time, because he was answered by a rival somewhere in the distance, and got quite riled and puffed up by it!

Gambel's Quail
Last, but not least, a picture of the delicious butterscotch-oatmeal cookies I had baked to take with us on the trip.
Right, ..... the ones that I forgot to pack! :-(

...... sigh...

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Hills are alive ♫  ... with the sound of music ...!
Spring music, that is. Which in a way is nice, as you can see, all those spring flowers, just happily flowering away ...
But unfortunately there's other music too, 'spring-break' music to be precise! 
The Park is quite full and we have neighbors with kids (eeks) on both sides but all in all it's not too bad I must say. We're not having any rowdy teenagers (so far, let's quickly knock on wood) and most families are actually of the nice and nature loving kind.

Talking about nature, as I said, there's lots of pretty wildflowers:

Texas Bluebonnets everywhere (or Lupines if you will), I even spotted some rare white and pink ones.

The pond still has ducks coming through, amongst which again some 'firsts' for me in the form of a small flock of Green-winged Teals:


'Common', but quite elegant in their pearly grey and that raquish green eye stripe ...

They're dabblers, which means they feed by tipping down in search for their food sifting through surface water.  
Always a rather comical sight when they're all 'dabbling' away ...

This a Northern Shoveler, with his distinct, odd looking, spatulate bill, also a dabbler:

I know, this blog is going to the birds, but I really haven't much else to talk about these days so I'm also going to throw in this Northern Flicker I saw around the pro-shop:

This is the male, showing off his yellow underside which defines him as a Yellow-shafted or eastern/boreal bird in difference to the 'Red-shafted' western or Mexican birds.

Other than taking pictures of my feathered friends I keep myself busy planning our trip North to the Black Hills of South Dakota. 
We're thinking of leaving somewhere around the 15th of April so I'm checking out places to stay and I'm waiting for some maps and info from the tourist boards of Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska for the sightseeing part of the trip.

James is working on getting both the RV and truck in perfect traveling condition by making some repairs and replacing worn out parts.

I think this water heater heating-element was on it's last legs!

He's trying to get in as much golf as he can because our free golf situation will end soon and this summer we'll end up paying for it again!

And although the cacti are still not flowering the flowering stems of the Yuccas are popping up everywhere:

Internet has been very, very ... very ... very ... slooow sice the park filled up so I don't know when I'll be able to get this uploaded.
It might be quite old news before it does ....