Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Out Our Window - Colorado Edition

We've made our way to Colorado and are staying at Lathrop State Park near Walsenburg, CO.  Elevation here is 6500 feet, and we can see snow-capped mountains all around us.

This is the view out our back window:

Walking a few steps back gives a wider view of the lakes in the park and the mountains beyond.

A closer look at the Spanish Peaks.  The tallest is 13,626 feet.

As soon as we arrived a male Broad-tailed Hummingbird began "trilling" around the trailer. So we put out a feeder and he immediately took up residence.

And a local Cottontail Rabbit stopped just below a window to check out the new neighbors.

The forecast here calls for a 70% chance of snow tomorrow with a low of 23 degrees.  We're sure not in Texas anymore. Stay tuned for some snow pictures!!


Friday, April 26, 2013

Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum

While we’re staying at Palo Duro Canyon State Park we took a trip into the city of Canyon.

The Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum is Texas’ largest history museum.
We visited this museum last year and were glad to see several new exhibits.

There is a very interesting old west Pioneer Town.
General Store
 Old Town Newspaper Office
We got to play around with the typesetting letters.

I tend to be most interested in the hand crafts.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Geocaching Abilene State Park

We woke to a cold (34 degree) but clear morning, and decided to do some exploring here in the park. While paying for an additional night I saw a "Geocaching" notebook in the park office and we decided to see how many of the parks 17 caches we could find.

We started out across the road at Lake Abilene. The lake is behind a locked gate, which requires a combination from the State Park to open.  Once we handled that little detail we were in there all by ourselves!  The lake is low, like most lakes in this part of the world, and very red which is the color of all of the surrounding soils.  They have a boat ramp and a fishing pier, neither of which are anywhere near water right now!!
Lake Abilene - First you have to get in!
Lake Abilene - Low and red colored...
We found all four geocaches at the lake, including one that was a short distance up a tree.  I haven't climbed a tree in several years, but little did I know this wouldn't be the only tree climbing I did today!
Up a tree to find a Geocache
The Mighty Conqueror!!
We returned to the main part of the park and started looking for the five geocaches nearest the trailer. We found all five of these as well.  We don't usually find every cache we look for, so we were surprised at our luck so far.  Part of the fun is finding these well-camouflaged containers. They are in public areas and the idea is to hide them from folks who are just passing by.  You have to know they are there to find them.  Teri and I are about 50/50 on who spots the containers.
Teri finding a Geocache
This one was called "Squirrel Condo" as was hidden in a hole
We went out again in the afternoon to find the remaining caches, and sure enough we did miss one. The description indicated that it was up in a tree, and it was called "Three Steps Up".  Reading past comments we found that folks were having trouble spotting this one, and we did too. I climbed about as far up into this big oak tree as I wanted to and spent several minutes looking around, but no luck.  I guess we needed to leave one for next time.
Up a tree without a Geocache... 
We do have a "Night Geocache" that we'll look for after dark.  We'll use flashlights to follow a line of reflective dots to the cache.  Hope we locate it!


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

On the Road Again...

We left Medina Monday on the way north to Colorado.  We enjoyed a strong south wind all of the way to Abilene State Park.  We have decided to stay here for a few nights and wait out a strong cold front that brought howling north winds with it last night.  It was 75 when we went to bed and 45 when we got up this morning!! We expect 34 degrees in the morning.

We have a beautiful campsite underneath some Pecan trees.  The pecans falling from the trees make it seem like we're in the midst of a hail storm at times.

There is a simple bird blind here in the park, and we've also had a few visitors at our site.  The broken pecans on the ground and a bit of seed that we've put out have attracted many birds.

Black-chinned Hummingbird
Chipping Sparrow

Inca Dove
Northern Cardinal
White-winged Dove
Where there is bird food there are squirrels, and this park is no exception.  This fellow got a little thirsty and was using the water feature to get a drink.

Next stop, Palo Duro Canyon...


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Planning the Future - Part 3

Garner State Park is the busiest park in Texas.  There are over 500 camp sites.  The Frio River runs through the middle of the park.  This area is absolutely beautiful!  We took a hike while we were here.

They weren't kidding, this hike was straight up!! (and straight down on the other side)
 The views from the top were worth the hike.
 The beautiful, clear, Frio River runs through the park.

We’ll be leaving soon for Colorado.  I don’t know if we will be visiting any more parks before then. 

 We’ve got lots of things planned for the next several months.  Stay tuned to find out which parks we have chosen to volunteer at.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Planning the Future - Part 2

We headed out to Enchanted Rock State Natural Area.  

 The "Rock" is 640 acres and 425' tall, pink granite.

We met with the volunteer coordinator (who is also the law enforcement officer).  She was kind enough to take us out to the volunteer area.  This park has three RV pads for volunteers.  There are no public RV sites, only primitive camping/backpacking is allowed.   This park also allows technical rock climbing.  We’ve been to this park many times and have camped here also.  We think this would be a fun park to volunteer at.

Since we were here on a week day, the park wasn’t very crowded.  There were lots of wildflowers blooming and lots of critters to take pictures of. 
Texas Bluebonnet 
Bladderpod ssp 
Bordered Patch 
Gray Hairstreak 
Texas Earless Lizard

Tomorrow: Garner State Park

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Planning the future - Part 1

While we’ve been home the last couple of weeks we have visited several state parks in the area for possible future volunteer adventures.  For now we want to be in Texas during the winter months.  We’ve spent three winters in South Texas (Santa Ana 1 year, Laguna Atascosa 2 years).  This coming year we want something a little different.

There are many, many, many state parks in the Texas Hill Country!  Mark and I both grew up in Austin and have visited these parks several times, some of them even before they were designated a state park.

I always thought it was strange to meet a volunteer in an area and find out they lived close to the area they were volunteering at.  Now, I understand it completely.  We bought our little place in Medina in the Hill Country and love it.  So, why not volunteer close to a place that you absolutely love? 

We don’t need or ask for much from our volunteer assignments but there are a few essentials.  Cell phone coverage and internet are must haves.  Not having to drive over an hour to go to the grocery store is a bonus but not a deal breaker.

Our first stop was Inks Lake State Park.  Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures of this beautiful park.  The pictures below are off the internet.
 Inks Lake SP is the second busiest park in the Texas Parks and Wildlife system.  We stopped in to say to Hi to the volunteer coordinator.  We knew him from when he was working at LBJ state park the same time we were volunteers there.  We thought we would just drop in for a minute but he loaded us up in his truck and drove us all over the park. 

There are lots of things to do here.  Camping, backpacking, hiking, swimming, boating, water skiing, scuba diving, fishing.  The lake stays at a constant level so the drought does not affect it.  There are tours and guided activities, nature walks, geology hikes, canoe tours to the Devil’s Waterhole.  The park has paddle boats, canoes, and 1-2 person kayaks.  There are about 350 RV/tent sites and 22 rental cabins.  There is also a huge volunteer program here with 22 RV pads, a very active Friends group and the local Master Naturalist group. 
Cabins for rent

Devil's Sinkhole swimming area

Tomorrow:  Enchanted Rock State Natural Area.

Friday, April 12, 2013

3 More Afghans Donated

Here are a few more afghans that I finished while we were at Laguna.  I have left them with my mother-in-law for her to donate at her next Linus meeting.

 Sweet Dreams
 Basket weave
 Basket weave - closeup
 Bavarian Wheel
Bavarian Wheel - closeup

I've got three very large tubs of yarn loaded up in the RV and ready for our next trip!