I spent the past weekend camping at Roper Lake, a beautiful state park in the southeastern part of Arizona. The weather was wonderful, sunny and warm – very different from some of the more recent trips I’ve been on.
I was amazed by all the different birds residing there; a flock of yellow-headed blackbirds, redwing blackbirds, cardinals, vermillion flycatchers, black ducks, doves, and others that I didn’t see or couldn’t identify. One evening I walked over to the lake and recorded these wonderful creatures as they began to settle for the evening.The only sound I didn’t capture was the deep “ribbits” of the bullfrogs. They sang all night!
I wanted to share the video here, but the file type is not allowed on WordPress…(unless I upgrade to a paid version.)
But here are some photos I took on the way home. I absolutely love the ocotillos when they are in bloom, and now is the season! I should create a journal of “photos through a dirty windshield”, which is what these were taken through. It seems I take a LOT of photos from the passenger seat!
Note: Bird photo by Phil Myers – photo taken at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Oregon
Back in October I sent in the required information for participating in the Heart of Texas Recumbent Tricycle Rally in Austin, TX at the end of February 2015, an event sponsored by Austin’s East Street Recumbents. I had great anticipation of a wonderful time riding my recumbent trike and meeting other trike riders.
I’ve had the good fortune to find a great friend and travel companion who also has a recumbent trike. He and I headed to Austin earlier this week, and after two full days of driving we arrived in the Austin area with 35 degree weather that has lasted until today. No sun, drizzle, wind and icy streets – Blech!!! And therefore no riding to speak of.
On Friday, after registering we ventured to the Veloway Park in Austin to ride the 3.13 circuit in these weather conditions. Once around the path was all that I was interested in doing, mostly because I’d come so far to ride, I just HAD to. In Tucson I ride in a group that rides together on Saturdays, led by a fellow who won’t lead a ride unless the temperature is greater than, or equal to 59 degrees. I like his style!
The rally continued on Saturday with some class time, learning about tricycle maintenance and repairs, followed by picture-taking of the group and individuals, some lunch, and a raffle (I bought $20 worth of tickets, but was unrewarded for that, except for the charity my contribution went to.) My friend won heel straps for his feet to keep them on the trike pedals. Some folks had their photos taken in this side-by-side recumbent, “Red Bull”, complete with steer-head hats. Clever and funny – we didn’t do that!
Rides that had been planned for today were re-scheduled for yesterday; however, the weather was not conducive to a safe ride, so they were cancelled. Not wishing to socialize the rest of the day, we left. Today, the trike rodeo that was planned for yesterday will take place, in hopefully better weather. We will not be participating, and will leave the area to visit some folks east of Austin for a few days before heading back to Tucson.
So much for lemons…
Now comes the lemonade part.
My friend likes to visit unusual places and some of them are found from the TV show, “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives”. One such place is the Counter Café near downtown Austin, a very small breakfast and lunch restaurant with a counter and a wall for several small tables for two. It was packed. I had a grilled pimiento cheese sandwich and my friend had scrambled with crab cakes. Yum on both accounts! We spoke with the restaurant owner, Nick, who was born and raised in Tucson and who attended the University of Arizona. He was at hand when Guy Fierri, the show’s host, did a taste test of the café’s kitchen. We hope to return in a few months. (http://countercafe.com/)
As we were leaving the very tight parking area for the restaurant we discovered a retaining wall for one of the nearby residences. It was a very eclectic and humorous offering, as you can see in these photos. A nice surprise!
We also have been parked in a camping spot at McKinney Falls State Park, about 12 miles from the rally site. It’s a beautiful state park, with large trees and well-managed sites. Today we walked to the Upper Falls and the Lower Falls. I took several photos, and found a surprise in one of them! See below.
Tomorrow we head farther east to visit some of my friend’s family and maybe find some warmer weather. We’ll be back in Tucson by week’s end.
Well, since yesterday I’ve learned to add another feature to the appearance of this blog – The Gallery that I titled “From the Road”.
As many of my posts are related to traveling I decided to create photo features of some of the places I’ve been.
The current collage is from the Gone With the Wind museum in Cleburne, Texas. You can read more about it here. The museum houses the collection of a Gone With the Wind “fanatic”, who I’m certain is not the only one!
It is well past midnight as I write this. I’ve been experimenting with various themes available at WordPress for presenting this blog to friends, family and the general public. For now I’ve settled on this new look. I don’t know how long it will be before I decide to change it again. The previous theme seemed ‘dated’ somehow, and I am observing that my posts might be more interesting, or eye-catching if placed onto a different framework.
For those of you who follow my posts, I welcome your thoughts about this new arrangement.
For the holidays I traveled with my friend to visit his family in Texas and to spend some time investigating interesting places. We left Tucson on December 13 and during most of the three weeks we were gone we were under cloud cover, rain, snow, cold, wet, uncomfortable weather. We carried a small portable electric heater so most of the time we used it when we had electricity. Last night however, we were stopped in our tracks on the highway by the worsening weather, and were forced to dry camp.
We left Fredericksburg, TX in the cold and wet, with freezing rain. As the day progressed the weather got worse. We were stuck on the highway for nearly an hour and a half waiting for an accident that we couldn’t see to be cleared. As we traveled we saw many tractor-trailers overturned, and a few cars that had slid off the road.
By the time we stopped around 5:00 p.m. a few miles west of Ft. Stockton it was clear that we had to pull off. We found a safe place off an exit to ‘nowhere’ and parked. It being New Year’s Day I quickly prepared the black-eyed peas and rice traditional dinner, turned on the small portable propane heater and we got into bed with multiple layers of sleeping bags and blankets.
When I looked out the window this morning I saw that we’d gotten some snow and there were many tractor-trailers and cars parked on the shoulders of the road and around the exit where we were. Another RV was parked next to us.
We were expecting to have a nice bowl of hot oatmeal for breakfast; however, it seems that there is a leak in the trailer propane system, so we were out of propane. And we also had to hold our breath that we had enough gas to get to Van Horn, TX – luckily we did!
As the day progressed, and the miles passed the weather conditions changed frequently. From snow to freezing rain, to clear to fog, to windy, to not windy, to more snow, or rain, to sunshine, to snow again. It was a very chaotic weather pattern.
I made a video of the snow showers in Arizona; however, I wasn’t able to insert it in this post. Will learn more about that later!
We arrived home in Tucson about 5:30 p.m. and unloaded our stuff. It was a long day, but we arrived safely, with a story to tell!
Every first weekend in December, for 44 years, Tumacacori National Historical Park has presented two days of the Fiesta de Tumacacori. It’s a time when the community celebrates the cultural history and diversity in the Pima Alteria of southern Arizona and Sonora, Mexico.
For the past four years I have been a volunteer at this event. This past weekend I gave two days to assist, and I had a great time. In the past I’ve photographed the dancers, musicians, and awesome views of the Santa Rita Mountains.
This year as a greeter and representative at the Tumacacori National Park Service booth I had the pleasure of presenting a new focus for the Discovery Center. The Discovery Center is a section of the fairgrounds filled with booths of hands-on activities, from writing with a quill pen to inspecting chain mail to making adobe bricks.
This year, those who visited the Discovery Center booths could receive rewards for collecting stamps on the printed programs they received when entering the fairgrounds. On returning to the NPS booth they could choose their reward based on the number of stamps they collected. The rewards were a book for five stamps, up to nine, and a metal Tumacacori water bottle for 10 or more. The smiles and giddiness of the children, and even the adults who participated were wonderful. The most selected items were the Tumacacori cook book with recipes by staff and volunteers, and the water bottles. I think it was a very successful new program for the Fiesta.
I also enjoyed talking with the members of the U.S. Border Patrol who brought a couple of horses from their horse patrol unit. These are fabulous horses that are trained to track and detain persons illegally entering the U. S. over rugged terrain. They are also trained to be around people. I took these photos of a little boy reaching out to touch them.
This brown horse is a mustang-draft horse, a very unique breed. He is very large and requires a large rider. Currently he is backup horse and not on regular duty.
Another activity for children is the piñata. Twice daily children could try their luck. This is one of the piñatas they opened.
For two days there was cultural food and music and dancing and demonstrations of traditional crafts such as Tohono O’odham basket weaving, making cornhusk flowers, and making leather and horsehair rope. And on Sunday there was a traditional processional and mass at the Mission of Tumacacori church.
For more information about Tumacacori National Historical Park, the horses of the U. S. Border Patrol, and the Tohono O’odham people you can visit these sites.
Toward the end of last week my friend and I headed to Terlingua, Texas, a small western Texas town in the region of Big Bend National Park to experience the Terlingua Chili Cookoff. When we arrived we were surprised to learn that Terlingua was actually the site of two venues of chili cookoffs, one connected with the Chili Appreciation Society International (CASI), and one known as the Original Terlingua International Championship Chili CookOff (OTICCC). The latter is the one we decided to attend from Thursday through Sunday, based on the admission price – $25/person versus $40/person. As it turned out we chose the venue that we had learned of when we visited Tolbert’s Restaurant in Grapevine, TX this past August. What newbies we are!
As noted on its web site, “The OTICCC is a 501(c)(3) Corporation. The purpose of our Charter is to raise Money for Charity through the Love, Appreciation and Promotion of Chili!” The charity associated with this effort is the ALS Association.
Borrowing from the Big Bend Now web site, “(The cookoff) was founded in 1967 by Frank X. Tolbert, a Dallas journalist and author of the chili book “A Bowl of Red,” Carroll Shelby automotive genius and innovator, and others. The first cook-off featured Wick Fowler, chili expert and Texas journalist, cooking against H. Allan Smith, a New York reporter. Wick Fowler died of ALS a few years afterwards. He is the motivation behind these efforts.”
Tents and RVs of all descriptions, untethered to any hookups, dotted the dusty hills, along with privately rented privies. And plenty of hopeful cooks pulled out their tents, tables, cookers and ingredients to stir up batches of their delicious specialties.
The competition included not only the celebration of chili, but also beans (pintos and black-eye peas mostly), salsa, chicken, ribs, brisket, and margaritas. Finalists received their trophies in an extended and suspenseful presentation on Sunday, and winners of various raffles were announced.
A big feature of the event is showmanship, and in the effort to raise awareness and funds for the ALS Association one group found a unique way to do so. Within the cooking team of “Pants on the Ground” several members began growing goatees. They called themselves Thirsty Ol’ Goats, and for about six months while competing in other chili events they let their chin hair grow. On Friday they auctioned off Thirsty Ol’ Goat aprons, and whoever won an apron also won the honor of cutting off a Thirsty Ol’ Goat’s beard.
Following submission of the final entries by chili competitors at high noon on Saturday, the apron winners met at the Thirsty Ol’ Goats’ “Barber Shop” to shave their ‘goat’. Now, these opportunities don’t come cheaply! One apron went for $2300! And then there was the counter bid to keep one of the Thirsty Ol’ Goats from getting shaved. The counter bid was final at $1700, in addition to the apron winner’s bid (which happened to be from the Thirsty Ol’ Goat’s wife who really wanted that goatee to come off!)
As things progressed, we had the bearded lady who attached a goatee to her chin and then had it trimmed. She wore it until the end of the event. And the Thirsty Ol’ Goat who had to keep his goatee had his head shaved – by his wife. Another participant also got his head shaved – I only saw it with the ‘Mohawk’ cut, and I don’t know if he went totally shaved.
So, all in the name of Fun, and with the spirit of charity, the OTICCC raised approximately $35,000-$40,000 (maybe more) to benefit the ALS Association.
Other venues at this event offered Bear Whiz (I think it was apple cider), and a chili history museum. My friend and I even had the opportunity to judge the black-eye pea entries – 14 in all at our table. We are now doing research into how we can enter these contests ourselves – Yikes!