Thursday, December 11, 2014

Our Visit to the San Antonio Zoo

Photos are clickable.
On Tuesday, we visited the San Antonio Zoo. I had not been here for several decades so it was great to see it again. I don't visit many zoos but I must say this one is first class.

The zoo is well planned and taken care of. Each exhibit has information about what zoos are doing to help recover the endangered species or to keep it a healthy species from becoming endangered.

The enclosures were kept clean and because the weather was nice this day, the animals were up and out ready for attention.

Workers were friendly and took time to share information about the animals we were interested in. One volunteer told us about the impressive cafeteria for the animals that goes to extremes to prepare food that is specific for each species.

There is one thing missing from these photos during our visit that usually you would see: crowds! We practically had the whole place to ourselves because we went on a day where there were few school groups and during December, many folks don't think of going to the zoo, but for us, it was a great time.

Our mother is almost 91 and so it was especially great that she is still well enough to enjoy family trips and activities. Seeing her expressions on some of the animal exhibits seemed almost childlike in her happiness to see them. It is interesting how life unfolds and gives us surprises, some bad but many good ones. I think some of you know what I mean.

We had a great time on a nice December day.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Supper at the Iron Cactus & a Boat Ride Down the San Antonio Riverwalk

My brother and his wife invited the rest of the family to San Antonio for a getaway visit. We drove the 3 hour trip on a Sunday afternoon when traffic was light. I don't think traffic is ever light in San Antonio but we made it just fine.

Sister & Sister-in-law
They drove us downtown and treated all of us for a wonderful supper outdoors along the San Antonio Riverwalk at the Iron Cactus. The weather was superb and we had a great time visiting and seeing folks getting ready for Christmas. You can click on the photos to get a larger image.

The Iron Cactus on the Riverwalk

Most of us together.

Lights on the river ride.

Mom has special seating for handicapped.

The Riverwalk had been decorated for the Christmas season and it was all lit up in great fashion. Even for a Sunday evening, the area was full of people and everyone helping each other have a good time. After supper, we had a 35 minute ride on a riverboat that took us through the river as it meanders downtown. The bridges and lights and all the other attractions really made it a great time. My mother uses a walker and so they had a special place for her and took care of her really well. Our guide was incredible and really made sure everyone was safe and had a good time. He had lots of information about the area, too.
A river runs through it.

These are wonderful times for our family and we sure had a great time in San Antonio. Everyone is healthy and so that is really something to be thankful for.

The next day, we visited the San Antonio Zoo, which I will post about next time.

For those of you who follow John's daily blog, The Field Lab, he was involved in an ATV accident Saturday and was flown to a Midland, TX, hospital for recovery. Get well, soon, John!

As a former National Park Service employee from long, long ago, I enjoyed reading The Morning Report, a daily newsletter updating current activities in the National Park Service. It is also available online and I enjoy reading it to see what is going on. It is on the sidebar to the left of this article or you can click here to see today's entry.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Return to Lost Maples

Recently, I have finally felt stronger and well enough to take a camping trip. After having had 3 surgeries since summer, I was really eager to see some nature and it was good medicine for me.

I always enjoy South Llano River State Park, near Junction, Texas. It is a great little park with a full time spring-fed river that never disappoints. The park was practically empty with only about 4 other campers there in a campground that has over 50 sites, so it was a quiet and enjoyable experience.

Entrance to South Llano River State Park

On Tuesday, my plan was to drive down to Vanderpool and return to Lost Maples State Natural Area. I had visited the park last December but had always been told to see it during the fall because the colors were spectacular.

It was about a 5 mile hike and I took it slow and did very well. There was water flowing in the streams and a few hikers were also enjoying the sunny day. I was told the colors were muted at this point in the season but they did not disappoint me. The trees could have been bare and I would not have cared because I enjoyed just being out.

After 5 nights camping at the state park, it was time to return home but on the return trip I had yet another blown-out tire; my 3rd in the last year and a half. So, for tire counseling, I turned to an old sage of RV experience (and I mean that expression respectfully to Barney), OFM, as most you know as he blogs daily and is full of helpful information and entertainment. With over 100,000 miles on his travel trailer, Barney certainly knows his tires and he directed me to the right information. Thanks, Barney!

It is a great time to get out and go camping in your camper or travel trailer or motorhome. Even in tents. Texas has warm days and cool nights, many of which never gets down to freezing temperatures and so I intend to take advantage of this really nice time of year to get out and enjoy nature.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Walnut Canyon, New Mexico

My mind is on Walnut Canyon this morning and a recent trip there I made on an early summer evening when the sunlight was just beginning to cover up the desert mountains of southeast New Mexico. This road leads visitors up through Walnut Canyon to the visitor center and entrance to Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

From this roadside perspective, I could see and hear the sights and sounds of the canyon going to sleep. I wished I had a time lapse camera to photograph the changes in the canyon. The evening was still and the arid air was perfect for taking in a relaxing view of the canyons below me.

The reason my mind came back today, three months after my visit there, was that the local news about the southwest getting lots of rain lately and canyons were flooding there, including Walnut Canyon. They are getting hit again with even more beneficial rains coming from the tropical systems in Mexico.

So, the dry canyon I viewed on my recent trip were flowing today instead of dry. The animals and plants are enjoying a good drink. Sometimes the government closes the canyon and Carlsbad Caverns for safety reasons. They always enjoy a good administrative closure when they can.

I have seen this canyon and other canyons in the area (McKittrick Canyon, Pine Canyon) roaring with incredible force and power and it is always great to see huge boulders tumbling and rolling down the gorges where a few hours before you could never imaging such a thing happening.

Back in June, though, there wasn't even a hint of rains so, after my starlight serenade began with crickets and other night sounds on the roadside park, it was time to go home to my little camper down the canyon.

The Chihuhuan Desert should really come alive next spring if these rains keep their promise.