Good to Be Home

One good thing about having to drive an additional hour to Pecos, TX because there was no water in the entire town on Van Horn, our drive home was easy. Wow, Pecos is a one-industry place. That industry is oil. We knew that, but it was impressive to see so many wells, tanks, and pipelines.

Where there was no oil the scenery was negligible. This might have been the least interesting desert we crossed.

Look, a bush!

Even the hotel, which I liked because it featured many elephant statues, a Buddha holding a US flag, and many Mexican cactus statues, had pretty dull birds. Grackles and doves! I did find a couple of new plants, so I was pleased.

I’m about done with the blanket I’m making. Crochet gives me exercise points on my watch, so I appear very fit. It helped pass the time, but I was also glad when more mountains showed up.

Before heading home, I gave Kathleen the Native American pottery bear I bought her in Arizona. It’s my favorite kind that’s fired with horse mane and tail hairs to make the decorations. It’s a Mama Bear to look over her and protect her from negativity and unkind people. It will work!

Mama Bear

I have a large one of these somewhere that’s not unpacked yet.

We finally got home and I was so glad to see everyone! The ranch is fine and all animals and people are, too. I got to visit the chickens and hug all the horses.

Where were you?

Everyone looks darned good. Fiona especially looks fine. I think her recent worming helped. they got hay from my son, which I appreciate and do did they. It didn’t rain much.

I’m so sleek.

Drew and Apache both were happy to get fly spray. Ahh.

Back to work and heat tomorrow. Keep sending our family healing thoughts!

Let’s Hike and Drive

Our last day in California we didn’t have any plans so I decided to take a hike on my last day of pleasant temperatures. I found parts of the resort I hadn’t seen before and then a trail head! Off I went.

View of resort from trail.

Carlsbad has a large network of trails that I wish I’d found earlier. I chose to go downhill the whole way, which was fun. I didn’t see any new plants or animals, but it was peaceful and scenic.

The trail took me through a golf course and had a cool tunnel. I had fun. Suna fun.

When the trail ended, I walked down the road, which skirted other trails. There I saw many holes.

Holes!

I thought to myself that it looked like where ground squirrels might live. I was right! So I saw them scampering around and going into the holes. Photos are from a long way away, so blurry

I looked up the California ground squirrel and learned that each one has its own hole. This made me realize there are a LOT of squirrels in that wilderness. I bet they really annoy nearby homeowners with their irrigated manicured lawns.

The real highlight of Thursday was that I spent all afternoon by the pool just relaxing. I had the hot tub all to myself and enjoyed it until I moved to a big round couch and crocheted on my blanket and watched some teens having fun in the pool. It was so nice to have no agenda, no chores, and no work to do. I’ll cherish those hours, even though I’ll be happy to be back into my ranch routine.

Blanket progress. Sure is random.

We headed out yesterday morning and took a different route to our first destination. I enjoyed seeing Palm Springs and other desert towns from I-20. There are so many windmills and solar farms out there! Nice to see.

Electricity for Palm Springs

There was lots of very barren desert with some oases in between. I was happy to get back to the mountains so I could take more pictures of rocks. I just think that area is gorgeous.

We got to Globe, Arizona, where we stayed at a very cute family-owned Best Western. It had great landscaping and friendly owners.

Sunset with rain. View from our room!

The room had too much scent in it for Lee, but we had a good night followed by a home-cooked breakfast! We had great conversation with the cook and an elderly couple who were fascinating. We talked about horses, spiders and other poisonous things, and travel. A great start to the day! Enjoy a few more photos of Globe, whose main industry is copper mining.

Thanks for all your kind words about Kathleen yesterday. She’s hanging in there, though the toxin has affected her bladder! Keep the good vibes coming!

Another Lagoon, More Learning

Yesterday’s daily expedition in the Carlsbad, California area was to the Buena Vista Audubon Society’s nature center in Oceanside. It’s on the Buena Vista lagoon, which is a former saltwater marsh that was dammed 50 years ago to create a freshwater pond. One of the things we learned at our visit is that the nature center folks and friends are about to open it back up to its original state.

Quiet in the middle of urban beach world

The center is surrounded by plantings of native vegetation, which attract lots and lots of birds. We saw California towhees, brown-headed cowbirds, hummingbirds that were too distant to identify, and something green (kept hiding).

Shy towhee

We also saw many butterflies. There were many monarchs and fiery skippers, plus whites and some other skippers.

Hooray for monarchs. My fiery skipper images are too blurry to share.

I have to say the highlights of the wildlife were this gorgeous lizard, an ornate tree lizard, and one resident we only heard, an American bullfrog. It had a lot to say, that’s for sure, and was so loud! Ours don’t make that much noise.

She posed for me. Look how well the colors blend in with wood.

The docent we spoke with was full of information. She said the lagoon will no longer be crammed with cattails once the salt water comes in, which will be welcome to observers. The center itself was just beautiful and obviously well loved by society members. They also had prepared beautiful maps of the trail with important plants labeled, and a really good guide to the plants for young people that encouraged them to interact with some of the more interesting specimens like the lemonade berries and the rushes. I learned from the brochure, too, about how pickleweed traps salt in little growths and then drops off the stored stuff in little red segments.

I also learned a bit more about that alkali water. It comes from an aquifer under Carlsbad and is full of calcium. Now I want to try some!

They cut down some cattails to provide a view.

After we left, we drove by Oceanside beach and watched some surfers. It was a beautiful day at the beach, which meant not much parking. We took a wrong turn and ended up at the entrance to Camp Pendleton, where my dear friend Mike spent many years. He shared some stories with me and told me all about the cool Osprey planes I saw practicing landings and takeoffs as we drove past the base. That made our wrong turn worth it. I’d never seen an Osprey (the plane, not the bird) in person.

We ended the expedition with another piece of culinary luck. We found a real taco stand hiding in the same shopping center where I bought my yarn (though I didn’t realize it at the time, since we approached from the other direction). I got to eat real fish tacos, and Lee had a most impressive burrito. We were the only Anglo customers the whole time we were there, and we could watch the cook make everything from scratch. Now, that’s some Cal-Mex cuisine! I’m doing pretty well at choosing random restaurants on this trip!

So fresh, even the taco.
Hilton humor

One more piece of humor for any of you who aren’t on Facebook with me. This sign has been on the door of our condo since we arrived, but I’d only read “no smoking” and the fine until yesterday. I got such a good laugh out of it that I had to share it with a family member, who shared it with all the nurses who came to her room. I cheered up an entire hospital!

Otherwise, I’m continuing to rest a lot, crochet away, sit in the quiet hot tub area, and work on my mental health. It’s going well.

Hermits Visit a Zoo

Both my spouse and I like animals. I like plants. The San Diego Zoo has lots of each. It also has crowds, though, and neither of us likes crowds. Especially with good ole COVID getting worse again. But we were nearby, and that’s one of the best zoos on earth, so we went.

This guy reminded me of Lee. Plopped down and immediately started snoozing.

We survived the line for the bus tour, and after that it wasn’t too crowded. So we lived, though it wore Lee out.

Some animals were easy to see from the bus.

Lee truly endeared himself to me when he suggested we try to hit all the aviaries. That was good with me. I liked them, because they all have plants common in the areas where the birds are from. And bird spotting is so fun!

My favorite was this fancy pheasant of some sort who really wanted to get a fish!

We got to see birds eating, nesting, and building nests. Some were really entertaining.

Mr. Pigeon here did a mating display, including really impressive vocalizations.

I probably would have been fine just looking at birds and plants. Here are just a few of the dozens of interesting birds we saw. Forgive me for not knowing what they all are. There were so many! I never realized how many kinds of doves there are!

I did look at some animals. I managed to see all the apes and most bears. I didn’t get photos but got a great look at a huge anteater. Those are some interesting animals! I was too busy looking to take many photos, but here are a few.

I guess that was our big tourist activity of the trip. We are really concentrating on spending quiet time together with as little stress as possible, given the unending health challenges of the folks at home. They tell us to stay here, so we have done so! We even manage to look happy.

The Wild among the Fancy

Here where I’m mostly walking and meditating, there is a theme park next door. That means many exotic plants that, of course, thrive in the Southern California coastal climate.

These agapanthus are everywhere.

I took a long walk yesterday and managed to find some native flora and fauna. Perhaps the radish and fennel escaped from nearby farms.

I had to photograph some of the exotics. Not shown are eucalyptus, melaleuca, palms, pines, and other trees. Lots and lots of the cultivated plants here are from Australia. There are of course pines native to here. Maybe I’ll see some. Today I hope to drag myself out to see some nature.

Hope to feel better soon!

You can see the ocean from our room, sorta. Barren earth is either a retention pond project or future view-eliminating new construction.

Traveling and Sizzling

Been traveling. Yesterday we took back roads through a very hot but beautiful Arizona day. We passed through many tribal lands, including Apache. Eventually we hit the ocean and stopped driving. The solitude washed over me like yesterday’s desert rain and the heat burned through my concerns. I was left empty in a good way.

Desert rain from Thursday in New Mexico.

Here are some mountains, rocks, cactus, and vastness from our trip from western New Mexico to just north of San Diego. Lee loved the back roads. Me too. Who cares if it was 114°? Where we are now it’s perfect. Just like they advertise California to be.

Where we stopped for gas. Gas is $6 per gallon where we are now. Not perfect.

Just Breathe. It Works.

Today could have been kind of frustrating if I were hell-bent on getting what I wanted to do done. But I took the attitude that I’d just do what I could and be satisfied.

My “office”

I had to check out at 10 am, which left me fancy free until a 6 pm flight. I was fine with that, and headed over to the “business” area of the condo place, where I’d never been. It’s also where the kid area and very fancy gym were.

Kid area

That would have been fine, except it was not great for internet connections. My personal hotspot was lukewarm at best, making my Friday friend chat iffy, and my work quite un-fun. I did get a lot done until some employee decided to teach one of the many local homeless people how to check email. ThT was kind of him, but loud.

I decided to go ahead and try my luck at the airport. Of course there was no shuttle, and when the taxi arrived, neither the bellmen nor the taxi driver wanted to open the door for me and my heavy bags and my turtles. Finally, the cab guy shoved my things in. When I went to get my knitting bag to sit with me, I slammed my knee into some hard object under the scuzzy seat cover, getting a bruise and a rip in my favorite non-ripped jeans.

Everyone on Facebook has informed me that ripped jeans are fashionable again. I never knew they weren’t. And I own some.

But, I took a deep breath and enjoyed the ride to the pretty airport. Since I was so early I enjoyed a really tasty veggie quesadilla at the Nacho Hippo restaurant. Honestly yummy and full of roasted things I like.

I then found a nice table with the right plugs, and tried to do some work to help a colleague. The internet continued to frustrate by going in and out and the software I was documenting was most snail-esque. I breathed a lot and only muttered a few curses.

When I couldn’t upload or find the URL for the PDF I’d tried to upload, it occurred to me that I’d already worked 6 hours and things would work way better at home tomorrow. I gave up and set to knitting and people watching. The border on my blanket is looking lovely. It’s simple but effective.

Nice gradient

The people watching showed me I have completely missed out on a fashion trend. It’s some kind of jumpsuit or romper or something. It is skin-tight, like what a DC superhero would have worn in my prime comic-reading years.

Some are skin-tone, ranging from beige to dark brown. Others have wild patterns in them. All show, um, everything about the wearer, including raised scars, cellulite, etc. I find it incredibly unpleasant yet I keep looking at them.

She volunteered to wear this in an ad so I feel ok sharing. I didn’t take pictures of people in the airport.

Kudos to the folks who embrace the look at all sizes. I did note it was mostly popular with those who appeared to be under 30, and is often accessorized with Crocs. It makes my frayed jeans seem tame and old.

I was glad to get on the plane where I could see how my new phone camera does looking out plane windows. I got views of water and Charlotte, NC.

There were more of those outfits in that airport, along with the tannest and fittest whites woman I ever saw. I think she might have been a professional body builder. Still, I’d have preferred to not see every detail of her in her tights and cropped top. I’m getting old, folks.

Plane is leaving. I’ll upload and say bye to the eastern US. And breathe for a while.

Work Is Worky

I like my job a lot. I’m really lucky to be doing what I enjoy for great folks. But whew, sometimes I need to take a break. My eyes are throbbing from looking at my tiny laptop screen and trying to write software instructions for hours and hours.

Necessary beverage

I finally stopped writing at 5:45 and had a sandwich and large beverage at the sports bar where there were no small screens. That helped a lot. I’ll be glad to have my large screen next week! And my dogs! And the horses! And the family! I keep dreaming about horses. Weird dreams where they do odd things but I’m fine with it.

I’ll miss the hazy shoreline.

I also know it’s time to go, because loud people showed up next door, for the first time in two weeks! I’m glad I have an online horse meeting tonight. That will drown them out

My goodness, actual vehicles in the water.

Tomorrow I have to work more, somehow, after checkout. And ship those turtles home. I’m sure I can do it. Then yay, I can go home.

I’m too tired to write. So, bye-bye stats! I’m gonna knit the border on this fine blanket.

Just needs borders

An Artist I’m Not

After spilling my guts about no longer feeling free yesterday (and receiving some wonderful support and feedback), I was grateful to have something to do last night to take my mind off The State of the World. It involved “art” in a loose sense.

From a distance it appears I did art.

I’d arranged with Sarah the Bartender to go try our hand at Painting with a Twist, because I’d never been invited to go when I lived in Austin and never thought to arrange to go myself.

You can bring wine.

Sara’s girlfriend Kara came along with us as we endeavored to create paintings of turtles. With minimal instruction from Kayla, the teacher, who focused most on making a taco with your paper towel after cleaning brushes, we had a lot of fun.

Ready for the fun

I learned back roads to get places, too. At least they were impressed I knew where some stuff was. Mostly I listened to them be cute young adults my kids’ age.

Cheers-ing

I enjoyed painting, but was way better at the background than the actual turtles. We got to draw freehand, so it was an advanced class, I guess. It’s fun mixing colors.

Obviously freehand. One of us Drew the turtles going the wrong way and insisted on giving them tails. Me.

The time and wine flowed quickly. Thus my turtles could use some work. But it was sure fun. Maybe I can do this again, like putt putt! I won’t do it here, because the place is closing. But apparently the fancy Lowe’s grocery store with a bar in it will soon host wine nights. Kayla is going there, she hopes.

Now I just have to get the thing home. Hmm.

These were growing wild on yesterday’s walk.

Yesterday I also met with Tom the super sales guy to learn how to set up to rent out one of our timeshare weeks on Vrbo or some such stuff. If he’s telling the truth, that would pay my maintenance fees. I feel like such a capitalist elite, even if I am a second-class piece of chattel to so many.

Yes I have sunscreen.

Finally. Nature Cruise.

I stopped work at noon today, because I had triumphantly solved problems and published a new video upgrade. It was time to head back to the Waccamaw River cruise I went on last year.

So beautiful to me.

We had as much fun as last time. I got to take pictures of lots of plants and beautiful flowers, like spider lilies, swamp roses, and pickerel weed.

I found some insects, and many water plants trees.

But the best things were passing by many osprey nests and seeing the mothers and babies together. We saw males chasing each other, too. What a fun time of year to take the cruise.

Of course they were looking for alligators. It’s fun to see wild ones. We found three nice sized ones. One jumped in the water for us, and one gave a swimming demo. They are beautiful ancient beasts.

You might enjoy watching one of them swim.

Living the river life.

Mostly, though, I just looked at cypress and Tupelo trees and appreciated being away from people. It’s memories of times like this that keep me going.

We had a nice dinner at Murrell’s Inlet again. I enjoyed the view of birds and Goat Island. I sure love a good marsh.

And back at the beach? More birds, though perhaps not the fanciest.

I tell you what. Water is soothing and never the same from one day to the next. Of course, where you live is the same. Just keep observing. It’s a fine hobby.

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