Sunday, December 18, 2011

Hitchhiker Owners Meeting

Our first meeting of the season was held here last week with several of our Hitchhiker 5th wheel owners.  My favorite pizza!!!  There's Wallace at the back of the line.

It is a time for fellowship, food, and exchange of info.  The group was small, but the January meeting should be bigger since that is the time more of our winter Texans arrive.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas Party at the Refuge

I bet you recognize a lot of these people.  We had our party on the 15th.  The ham and turkey were provided while the rest was potluck.  We had good attendance and some laughs as the gift exchange took place.  Some were wondering who would end up with the LOUD bicycle shorts that has been making the rounds ever since Wallace ended up with them several years ago, and he ended up with them again at our volunteer party at the close of the season last year.  He has plans for them!!!  I wonder who will get them this year?  He will award them at the end of this season.

Here is Imer, carving up the ham.  He is our supervisor with biology.  I also work under Mitchell's supervision doing the salt lakes survey.

This is what my plate looked like minus the dessert.  It was really delicious.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

News from Santa Ana and LRGV NWR

Because of the drought, we are short on water at various places this season.  We know that the salt lakes can dry up at times and they have...even the fresh water areas are scant on water for the wildlife.  However, when we went out to La Sal del Ray before sunrise, we got a thousand Snow Geese with a few Sandhill Cranes that came in to roost for the night.  We went the evening before to see what was coming in to roost.  We counted 6000 sandhills as they flew right over us...where are they roosting now???  As we were busy watching the sandhills, the geese landed on the opposite side of the lake without being detected until I decided to scan before we left.  Not knowing for sure what they were as it was dark by this time, we decided to come back early before they left for the day to count them and make sure they were geese.  Upon our arrival, we saw these nilgai at the watering hole.

There were 5 of them but I cropped the picture.  Notice the beautiful colored ears and ankles.  I got off several shots before they took off.  Because of lack of water, no Eared Grebes.  There are just a few Snowy Plovers, and our Peregrine Falcon is back!!

Santa Ana (Willow) has been exceptional this season.  Last year we were flooded.  Pintail and Cattail Lakes are drawn down to get rid of the Alligator Gar that are present.  With the river pump being worked on, and getting rid of the gar, those two areas I survey have very little water.  I did discover two Mountain Bluebirds out at Cattail Lake.

We have Redheads, Canvasbacks, Bufflehead, and an Eared Grebe at Willow.  Very unusual.

Here are the Mountain Bluebirds, I hope they hang around for the CBC.

I'm standing in the middle of La Sal del Ray.  A first for me.

I am not surveying El Morillo for a while.  El Ranchito and La Gloria have tons of waterfowl and shorebirds AND VEGETATION making it frustrating with poor count.

There are tons of Ruddy Ducks.  Some have sighted the Masked Duck...I have not.  All mine have been ruddies so far but I keep looking.

An extra work day...we went out with our favorite biologist!!!

This season, I will be surveying Santa Ana every other week freeing up time for other things.  Jennifer talked with me yesterday to set up volunteer tours once again.
They will be offered twice a month starting January 11th.

Once Wallace's partner arrives, he will be doing other things for Imer.  In the meantime, he gets to accompany me.

We are now getting some rain.  Hopefully the salt lakes will have water and things will be restored.

See some of you soon!!!

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Final Touch

We finally came to a decision on what chairs we wanted.  Lazy Boy wall huggers in leather.  It was a tough decision as Carolyn really wanted a rocker but with all the movement while going down the road...that was nixed.  Now you know what it looks like inside.  We put the final touch into our Hitchhiker.

This Red-tailed Hawk kept circling giving Carolyn the opportunity to get a decent picture.

Our south Texas speciality bird.  The Green Kingfisher perched over Cattail Lake for this photo.

Work has been a little slow on the refuge so far this season.  Only a few of our lakes and marshes have water.  Willow 3 is teeming with waterfowl and a good variety.  We have had a Canvasback, Redheads, and a little Eared Grebe, all three are unusual here.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Settled at Santa Ana NWR

While we were gone over the summer, the folks here decided our request for a gate closer to the Military Highway was a good idea.  They installed one, and in the process went through our site to hook it up to a power outlet which helped make the area nicer (in my opinion).  As most of you know...I hate guinea grass and pull it every year we are back!!!  Kim and crew sprayed it last season, but it is hardy and keeps coming back.

As you can see, we have already been cleaning it up...raking, leveling, and removing debris.  Now I will have to sweet talk Bob into letting me plant some native plants.

One of the critters out our window is the Fox Squirrel.  It is not wanted here as it is non native.  We did enjoy watching it store ebony seeds by burying them in the ground.

We got a little rain since we've been here...enough to create some pools of water on our patio.  We were sitting at the dining room table and just happened to see this Texas Tortoise (a threatened species) getting a drink of some very fresh rain water.  Now, how many of you have seen that sight?  We felt very fortunate.

Now ain't she special????  I always thought they got their water from prickly pear cactus.  She stayed there drinking slowly (as they do everything slowly) for a good 5 minutes.  I might get involved in research of these wonderful I really want to put myself out there with ticks and chiggers and rattlesnakes...OH MY????

I will leave you with this...The Great Kisskadee.  I guess I could have photoshopped it and taken the leaf out but I DON'T do those kind of things.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

We Have Arrived

As Wallace was trying to park here at the refuge, he pulled under a TREE!!  Our brand new rig has a bandaid now.  I was finally able to get him stopped.  Thank God, it could have been worse.  We were both sick about it.

Wallace has also been trying for 3 days to get our tv working.  It worked fine while we were in Kansas????  We are looking for a storage unit to store stuff that doesn't fit.  We deleted the two recliners to buy our own...thank goodness, because that is where our stuff was placed on our way here.  Now, we are looking for the recliners we want and that will fit!!  We are almost moved in.

Some of the boxes have already been moved.  This is just a sample of leftovers.  We now have a storage unit and now can get our chairs.  The tv is now working.

The afternoon when we arrived, I went to the school to pick up Lindsey.  She was so surprised and we were so happy to see each other!!  Joaquin warmed up to me real fast even though its been 7 months since we have seen each other.  Lindsey has lost her two bottm teeth.  Grandchildren are so special!!!

We went to our favorite Mexican food restaurant for lunch...Taco Ole in Mission.  The best Mexican food in the world.  We have been hitting all our favorite places since we got here.

Okay, here are the pictures you have requested.  Your virtual tour.

Come on back tomorrow for more of the tour as it is going so slow I don't have time to wait on it now.

Friday, November 4, 2011

I Always Wanted to Spend the Night in Paris....

Paris, Texas that is...our first night on the road driving south in our new rig was spent here in the Wal-Mart parking lot, 300 miles south of Chanute, Kansas.  We were serenaded by grackles during the evening...a sound we haven't heard in a while.

Even our red roads in Texas are better than most interstates in other states!!!  Tulsa, Ok....forget it, chuck hole city.  We were glad to be on our good Texas roads.

Red-tailed Hawks have kept us entertained while driving.  I don't remember seeing so many before.  Their numbers are not dwindling.  Every overpass has its own group of pigeons.

The only fall colored trees here are Chinese Tallow, a non-native problem tree.  We left all the beautiful maples up north.

Once we hit highway 77, we felt we were home.  We drove from Paris, Texas to Victoria, Texas where we stayed in the Wal-Mart parking lot along with 9 other rigs.  This is where we have our first WHATABURGER!!!!  YEAH.  It was delicious!!!

Now we start seeing Caracaras, Harris' Hawks and other South Texas specialities....We are Home at Santa Ana.

I will try to post pictures of our rig tomorrow as some of you are asking to see inside.  We are still trying to get moved in and settled.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Detour, There's a Muddy Road Ahead....

We had been discussing whether it was time to get a new rig for the past two years, but I really like the floor plan we is the perfect ONE.  We never had a problem...everything fit and had a place, even the bread!!!  I hate to give it up.  We were even toying with the idea of a motorhome.  Being that we have had such good luck with NuWa (nine years with MANY miles on it), we decided that's what we would go back to. 

So, we took a detour from Arkansas to Kansas to the factory in Chanute where you can buy directly from them now.  Chanute has a city park where you can stay free for the first 48 hours and then it is $10.00 a night for a max of ten days.  There is electricity and water with a dump near by.  We parked and headed over to see what they have on hand.  One of them had its thumb stuck out for a ride to Texas (Hitchhiker).

We signed the papers on October 25, 2011!!!  We are the proud owners of a 2012 Hitchhiker Discover America 300 FKTG.  We moved from a 34' to a 30'...uh oh.

While we were there, Virginia and Kurt Neville were there having their's repaired from a bad tire.  It was good to see a familiar face and visit with them during their brief stay.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas

I have tried and tried to transfer the pictures to no avail.  So I will just be writing about what we have done and where we are to date.

We visited the park some years ago but decided to visit again while we are here.

The Visitor Center is located in Fordyce Bathhouse on Bathhouse Row right in the middle of the busy downtown area.  It is a beautiful building where we took the self-guided tour.  In the men's bath, there is a beautiful stained glass ceiling in the middle of the room over a nice statue of DeSoto and Pocahontas.  Sorry no picture to share.

There are nine bathhouses on the "row" with only two that are active...The Quapaw and The Buckstaff.

Hot Springs Mountain Drive is a narrow, windy road that we took to the top with a beautiful view of the town.  We took the elevator to the top of the 216 foot observation tower.  It happened to be a very windy day and we felt a sway of 3 inches and let me tell you, it was a swayin'.

We had our first taste of Mexican food at Jose's which came highly was okay.  Then we found a barbeque place for sliced BEEF brisket.  It sure wasn't like our good ole south Texas barbeque!!!

While at the park for three days, we started talking about a new rv again.  Should we, shouldn't we.  We had a week left before we needed to be at Santa Ana, so we tossed a coin again.  Chanute, Kansas or go south?

Come back later for the answer.....

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Taking Care of Business

The reason we stopped here in Arkansas for a few days is to check on our property in Hot Springs Village.  While we were gone this summer, we got a letter letting us know there was a tornado that went through there causing some damage with downed trees and we needed to clean up the lot.  It was a form letter and all lot owners got the letter, so since we were headed this way, we could stop by and take a look.

It is a gated community and this is the entry.

With this water feature to one side.                    

This is the way the roads look inside with a lot of ups and downs.  A few leaf colors.

Here is our property.  #4 Jubileo in Saline County near Balboa Lake.  We were lucky in that there was no downed trees or damage to clear.  Not so across the street.  It has been 7 years since we visited.  I don't know if we will ever build here but it is nice.  It is a nice community with many amenities.

We have a neighbor!!!  A new home on our street.  We did not get to meet them as nobody was home.

Time to get out and about.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Continuation, And Then on the Road Again

A Green Heron.

A female Eastern Towhee.

How about a Gray Squirrel munching on acorns.

These cute critters were seen as we walked about the park.

We spent 7 days at Defeated Creek Campground on Cordell Hull Lake, an Army Corps of Engineers Park.

It took us awhile to figure out this crop...tobacco!!

Then we saw this barn with these clusters of things hanging upside down.  It was tobacco.  We had never seen this before.  The barn was full of it.

How about a mansion on a hilltop.

Follow along now as we leave Defeated Creek October 16th.

We are now crossing the Tennessee River putting us more than halfway across the state on I 40.

Now we are crossing the mighty Mississip'.  I was so busy taking this sign that the picture of the river was blurry.  Hey Teri...I take these kind of pictures too.

The night of the 16th we are spending  in a Wal-Mart parking lot in Forrest City, Arkansas.  Easy to get in and out of being that it is in a small town.  As you can see, we were the only camper there.  I always check to make sure it is okay with the store before we do this.  A very nice night.

Now it is the 17th and we are camped at Lake Catherine State Park near Hot Springs, Arkansas.

This is our site where we have full hook ups.  We will be here for three days and will have more about this area tomorrow.  See ya then.