Category Archives: camping

Birdland at Roper Lake, Arizona

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.

Yellow headed blackbirdI 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!

Ocotillos in bloom cropped 2Ocotillos in bloom croppedBenson Dirty Windshield2

Note: Bird photo by Phil Myers –   photo taken at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Oregon

HOT Rally–A Cold Affair

small_imageBack 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 Easy 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.

021On 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!

002CroppedRides 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 eggs 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 restaurant’s very tight parking area 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!

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counter_logoflatblack-01We 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.

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Looking more closely into the hole…028cropped

Weathering the New Year

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.

Road conditionWe 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.

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Truck 7By 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.

Luckenbach, Fredericksburg, Highway 002

Luckenbach, Fredericksburg, Highway 003

Luckenbach, Fredericksburg, Highway 004

Luckenbach, Fredericksburg, Highway 006We 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.

Luckenbach, Fredericksburg, Highway 019

Luckenbach, Fredericksburg, Highway 020

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Luckenbach, Fredericksburg, Highway 026

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Luckenbach, Fredericksburg, Highway 055 croppedI 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!

The Moon, The Moon…

…the big round moon.  Two eyes, a nose, and a mouth.

This is a little jingle to say when you are playing with children, to see if they can do what you do.  As you repeat it you draw the circle, add the eyes, nose and mouth, and then clear your throat.  Over and over the other will try to repeat, and miss the clearing of the throat many times – until they finally get it.

I thought of this the other night at the full moon.  That night I inflated the air mattress I’ve used for camping, and pulled it out onto the edge of my small patio, put a sheet over it, and lay out there, under the open sky, and watched the moon rise.

The air was cool, eventually requiring a blanket.  I slept there all night, awaking a couple of times to see that in the earth’s movement, the moon was in a different place.  And I peacefully drifted off to sleep each time.

Knowing that my yard was enclosed, out of the view of the neighbors, and that there were no critters to scamper about causing consternation, I was feeling very secure ‘camping’ outside my sliding doors!  I think I will do it again sometime soon.

Note:  The photo is from the night before, when there were a few clouds to give the moon a very mysterious look.

 

It Could Have Been Worse!

Wow!  As anyone in southwestern New Mexico knows, the winds were something else yesterday!  Where I am the gusts approached 70 miles per hour.  I think it’s a very good thing that I wasn’t exactly positioned for solar, with the panel facing south.  That would have put me broadside to the wind.  As it was, I had a ‘side-swiping’ wind on the front corner.

As you can see, the wind tried to unfurl the awning.  And it blew the blocks right out from under one of the stabilizers.  I hunkered down all day, staying inside.  Luckily the sun was shining so I could be online.  Actually, the wind was so intense that I couldn’t even open the door to get out.  I was able to crack the door open enough, though, to see what was happening to the awning.

The  trailer rocked and rolled pretty wildly, and the sound of the awning being buffeted made it feel worse than it actually was.  The winds today are supposed to be less intense; however, they began blowing early this morning.  I guess I need to wait until it’s much quieter, and if I can locate some help, I’ll rewind the awning before pulling out over the weekend.  I can do it myself, but it takes me longer than if two people do it.

Are the Aliens from the Bottomless Lakes?

Greetings from the library in Roswell, New Mexico! Although the cell phone does seem to work at the Bottomless Lakes State Park, the Internet doesn’t! I’m using the library wi-fi for as long as I can today to catch up…

I arrived at the park last Wednesday for the LoW campout. While the ‘leader’ left on Sunday the rest of us (three) have stayed on. One is leaving today, and one is leaving tomorrow. I’m signing up for another week before deciding where to go next.

I went to the Roswell UFO Museum last week and enjoyed a great movie presentation about the flying saucer, with aliens aboard, that crashed about an hour from here. Apparently there was a lot of confusion and government cover-ups related to the crash. Roswell has capitalized on this event from 1947. Everything has UFOs and alien creatures drawn, painted, sculpted on it; even the local McDonald’s building design is suggestive of a flying saucer, and when it is lit up at night it is reminiscent of the photos we’ve all seen of UFOs. And the Roswell Walmart has also joined in with UFO/alien graphics on its facade. Some of the street lights along Main St. have alien ‘eyes’ painted on them!

A friend of mine in Virginia told me he once saw space ships ‘fly’ into the side of a mountain on his parents’ farm. So that makes me think about maybe the Roswell aliens hide out in the Bottomless Lakes! Just kidding…The lakes are interesting because they have been formed from gypsum and rock; the largest lake was formed when a cavern dome collapsed, and became a sink hole. (I may not have the exact scientific explanation, but it’s close…) These formations are like some others that are found in Italy and Mexico.

Another one of the LoW bunch who was already in the park when the rest of us arrived had an accident on her scooter – she ran a red light (not intentionally) and in order to prevent a collision with the auto in the intersection at the time, laid the bike down – on her knee and leg. She was in the hospital the day before we arrived, and is still there, expecting a very long rehabilitation. Her motor home is still in the park, awaiting her instructions…I will be visiting her later today.

The other day I went out on the large lake in a paddle boat – my first experience. Lots of fun. There are very interesting flat and dome-shaped turtles who come to the rocks at the water’s edge to sun themselves. There’s also a nice, sandy beach. Lots of birds here, too. It rained all of the holiday weekend, with the sun coming out the most on Monday. Since then, it’s been sunny with storm-like winds in the afternoon – lots of virga, but no rain. It’s been warm enough to run the AC, too.

I’m considering going for a few days to a place not far from here – a BLM campground called the Valley of Fires – they have hook-ups there, and as long as it’s hot, I plan to use the electric for the AC. Then I’ll head to another one of the state parks. I’m planning my stays at the different parks to get into whatever park with enough lead time to already have a space for July 4th and Labor Day weekends, as there is a 21-day limit. I’ve been getting a lot of helpful information from the LoWs I’ve been with – all women, I might add, and older than I am, too.

I guess that just about sums up the last couple of weeks. Don’t know when I’ll make the next installment. I still need to write about my camping trip in the Gila Wilderness – LOTs to say about that!!!