"In every walk with nature one receives more than he seeks."
John Muir

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Colorful Colorado

By the time we turned off the engine on the first day
the odometer read 810 miles
and we had reached Pueblo, Colorado.
We'd also gained an hour of daylight, crossing the first of 3 time zones.

I chose this particular license plate for the accompanying bumper sticker.
In a galaxy far, far away we enjoyed a great evening with friends at the
Dog Team Tavern in Vermont. Small world.

Colorado is a beautiful state as the welcome sign reminded us:
"Welcome to Colorful Colorado".
That is the actual translation of the Spanish word "colorado".

Shortly after entering the state, we met up with the southern edge of the
Rocky Mountains, new friends we would share the road with for thousands of miles
in the next few days and eventually cross in northern British Columbia.
The heights we climbed in Southern Colorado were rather dizzying after all the hours of flatness.

If you care about reading a bit of history of this spot,
just double click on this picture and it will enlarge for you.

Here is a shot of the GPS screen on one such climb before we even reached
the summit of over 8,000 feet.
Our GPS provided us with lots of interesting info along our journey--far more than just the directions "Follow highlighted route" and "Recalculating"...
We chose the eagle to represent our car and she flew steadily for all of the miles we covered, flapping her wings rhythmically with her shadow following below.

The Colorado air felt fresher and cooler and the pungent fragrance of pines made us giddy.
The tall trees and mountains created lengthening shadows and color shading.
Shoeless stopped panting and we smiled a bit more, despite our road weariness.
Time in the sauna and hot tub and a clean, comfortable motel room
made for a wonderful ending to day 1 of our Northern Journey.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Texas in Our Rear View Mirror

I was starting to believe it may never happen,
but we eventually did cross a border and drive into New Mexico.

Thank goodness the terrain also changed and we saw elevations and variety
on the miles upon miles of horizon.
There were scattered volcanic mountains, some reaching almost 7,000 feet.

Mesas and rocky outcroppings confirmed that we had left flat Texas behind.
We read about the Santa Fe Trail and Spanish American War facts at rest areas.

We met some friendly New Mexican cowboys-- the modern kind who transport their cattle in trailers such as these rather than herds rounded up to the tune of "Git along little dogies!"

There are still reservations and Native Americans living in New Mexico.
Shoeless Joe and I found this rest area along the way and Jack kindly slowed down enough for us to hop back into the car before it returned to the highway.
Onward we go! As Robert Frost penned in a favorite poem of mine,
we have "miles to go before I sleep..."

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Grass is Always Greener on the Other Side.

The drought in Texas was very evident in the western part of the state.
The farm fields looked mostly like this.
Poor, hot and discouraged farmers.

But the wonder of modern irrigation has changed the shape and color of many of
these dry, parched lands.

Long, wheeled irrigators draw liquid gold from the source down deep in the earth
and stretch the hoses for many lengths, soaking the seedlings so they can grow into mature plants. The lush green color was refreshing to took at as the air temp was over 100 degrees.

What a difference moisture makes! The distinct lines drawn where the bright green of the irrigated soil meets the brown of the dry ground are shockingly defined. I recall seeing large green circles sitting amidst brown and tan patches while flying over the western states years ago. I never really understood how those perfect geometric shapes came to be. Now I saw it in action as if an artist swiped with a green-tipped brush.

Thanks to the wonder of irrigation techniques, the farmers in this arid, rainless land are still able to produce crops and stay in business. The massive size of this grain storage unit cried out for a photo op. AgriProducers Grain Coop. To gain perspective on its size, note the train cars and tractor-trailer at its base.
Much of our country is suffering with flooding and the imbalance of the Texas
drought is a puzzle and hardship.
Maybe that's why we saw a touch of a bad attitude on the bumper sticker of a truck in Santa Ana, Texas. It read: "Keep honking. I'm reloading."

Monday, June 20, 2011

And we're off..................

Car's packed, house locked and shuttered (metaphorically),
and we set the gears on Drive.
Good-bye Texas.
This little family of three is on our way, compass set to N/NW.
Come and join us as we blog our way to the "Last Frontier"
(and I don't mean outer space).

Being a seasoned blogger now (it has been a whole year),
I wanted to focus on taking pictures of one unique thing during the long trip.
I got this clever idea of photographing water towers.
(They are the ONE thing that rises above the very, very, very flat horizon of West Texas.)

All too soon I realized that this idea was anything BUT clever as they all
looked pretty much alike except for the amount of rust they wore.
So, there are my 2 (count 'em) pictures of water towers.
Enough of that. Boring as the landscape, I must admit.

Texas is experiencing a terrific drought and we grew uneasy to notice random patches of smoke and clusters of flames along the shoulder of the 2-lane road. Yes, these were grass fires that had suddenly erupted and were burning steadily.

What could cause these? A carelessly tossed cigarette butt?
We saw a man jump out of his truck and use his small fire extinguisher in a frantic effort to extinguish the fire. How easily these few flames could spread with the constant wind.
We learned later that night about the out-of-control fires in Arizona.
Pretty frightening.

The miles and hours passed and I began to think we would never EVER leave Texas.
I searched for interesting images out my window but mostly I saw Texas doing the lion's share
of solving the energy crisis with images of this:

In the world of "NO SMOKING" signs,
this business actually welcomes them.
********Can you believe how desperate I was to take pictures?*********
Stick with me, it'll get better in days to come, I promise.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Flush Out World Hunger

The other day we were surprised to see this lawn ornament
sitting in our driveway.

The Youth Group at our church was raising funds to provide food in Malawi, Africa, through World Vision International. They charged a fee to place these colorful toilets in yards. The teens also participated in a 30-hour famine to feel their own hunger pangs while making money for Africa.

Inside the painted potty was the name of our "friends"
that had paid to send it our way.
We, in turn, had to make a donation to get it removed...
to another yard, of course. (Share the joy and all that!)
The note read, "Think of the expression on the face of your friends when they look out their front door and see one of these beautiful potties in their yard! Wow, what a gift of love!"
Cool fundraiser, huh?
Many neighbors slowed when driving by our house and some wondered if they were supposed to place a donation under the lid. We promised everyone that it would soon be gone.
In all seriousness:
**Hunger kills another child every 10 seconds. (nearly 8,000/day)
**More than 1 billion people go hungry every day. (1 in every 6 on the planet)
**1.4 billion people earn $1.25 or less per day.
**Hunger hurts children, making them sicker and starving their brains.
**We can stop hunger in its tracks, even if it means tastelessly decorating our yards..

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Newest Baby on the Block

This post is just to add a bit of detail to the past one about the nervous mother
keeping a sharp eye on sleepy Shoeless Joe.
She decided it was time to introduce us to her sweet, new baby.

This afternoon I was passing a window when I saw, much to my delight,
Mama and her new little fawn. She was licking the baby from nose to tail--
so vigorously at times that the baby tottered almost over.
She wanted her baby to look her best when she took her "in public".

She walked slowly through our yard, always on the alert,
but graciously paused to let me run and get the camera while her fawn nursed.
Baby looks around to see what Mama is staring at.
Such gentle and vulnerable creatures whose survival is tenuous.

The little one watched her mother eating the grass and tried to mimic the action,
probably wondering what was so interesting down there.
Look at the darling legs that are too long for her body!
She was quite unsteady on these new legs but Mama was always near to assist.

At about the same time I noted the rabbit that has been hanging around
our same yard. He hopped into the neighbor's back yard and approached this
stone bathtub.

How I smiled to see him lean over and drink...and drink...and drink.
Quite the thirsty little fellow in this Texas heat!
(I adore these silent, shy friends of ours.)
God has blessed me in a powerful way that I should live in a very populated
development yet have such a generous bit of wild nature out my back door.
With the deer, rabbits, birds, frogs, coyotes, owls, lizards, foxes and armadillos,
I receive great joy and happiness.
I hope, through this little blog, that you did, too!

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Stand-Off

Our quiet and mellow spaniel, Shoeless Joe, hangs around in the yard most
of his days. He finds shade whenever possible. He does a bit of roaming to
visit the neighbors who often feed him yummy treats.
His roaming is casual and nonchalant, with sniffing and easy wanderings.

This morning we watched a super-alert doe stepping nervously around our backyard.
We realized she was eyeballing our Shoeless who, in turn, seemed oblivious to her presence. She followed his every movement warily.
We are crazy about the deer that live in close proximity to us and don't care if they eat our flowers or drink the birdbath dry. They are pretty and shy--usually.

There is one season when these does become aggressive and that is now.
Late spring is the time when the new babies are born.
These mothers leave their newborn fawns in the cover of trees and bushes
and then step away to protect them.
(Do you recall the movie "Bambi" when he was born in a thicket?
One of my all-time favorites!)

Apparently Shoeless was too close for comfort for this Mama.
She showed her displeasure by stepping closer and closer to our threatening little dog,
stomping a warning with her delicate front leg on the ground and lowering her head.
He didn't move a muscle as he has been taught not to chase the deer even though he wants to. However, just whispering the words, "Go get her!" would have sent him flying!
He has no desire to catch anything, just get things moving.
His genes were bred for flushing birds.
It took great restraint for him to lie so still as she approached him.
But, he finally had enough of her attitude and turned to face her directly.
The stand-off stare was on!
After a minute or two Mama backed off, turned and carefully retreated into the trees.
Shoeless stretched out in the same spot and fell asleep.

A short while later we were thrilled to see the reason for all the fuss.
This tiny, spotted fawn tottered next to her mother, a bit wobbly and hardly visible above the long grasses. Mama licked her and kissed her and all was well.
The black and white threat had passed and the proud Mama relaxed for the moment.
I ponder one thing...how does a mother deer communicate with the baby to never leave the safety of the thicket while she is out foraging and guarding?
They don't talk like Bambi's mother did to him. Once out into the open, these babies stay right there next to mama's side.
We human mothers could stand to learn the trick when our little ones are out in public!