Today I got up early. I’m getting good at early weekend mornings. I met some of the Master Naturalist chapter in downtown Cameron and we carpooled off to a genuine field trip, like in the old days! We went to the Balcones Canyonland National Wildlife refuge. It’s a place I’ve driven by many times but never stopped at before. So glad we went there!
It’s there to protect the endangered golden cheeked warbler (who is out of town right now). It’s huge, which is good because suburbs are creeping toward it rapidly. There’s not gonna be much nature within a big radius of Austin soon.
We had lots of fun on a good walk with Chris Harper, an old friend of our chapter, who now works at the refuge. We learned lots about the flora and fauna of the area, which is like where I used to live in Brushy Creek.
I enjoyed finding new plants, even though most were past their prime. Still, there’s much beauty in a Hill Country autumn. Here is just a sampling of what we saw. It’s such a beautiful place, with a creek, meadows, and limestone hills.
I also took a lot of pictures of plants of course. I just love the unusual plants that grow in this area. The karst and limestone make for interesting flowers, not just Ashe juniper that you usually see.
Anyway, it was fun guessing what the dried up flowers were when in full bloom. The liatris, a vivid purple in bloom, is now pale and whiteish. It’s still pretty.
You don’t need to reading me analyzing each plant. But here are some.
See. I didn’t even label them all! But I enjoyed it. If you want to know you can always go to iNaturalist and search for sunasak.
To be honest, I’m in pain. From somehow wrenching my diaphragm muscle yesterday slipping on horse poop while running after the doofuses yesterday. So. Time to rest.
I ended up spending the entire day yesterday with my patient friend, Cathy. I crammed a week’s worth of fun into that one day! I also crammed more than a week’s worth of exercise points in, but I feel absolutely fine in the leg department today, so my hiking boots must have done their job.
We left off in yesterday’s post after lunch. We went to check out the outlet mall, because Cathy hinted that it doesn’t suck. And that’s right, it doesn’t. The first place we went was not an outlet store, but a little jewel of a co-op gallery of art by local artisans. There was beautiful mosaic art and a lot of photographs, some by a photographer Cathy really likes.
Imagine her happiness to find out that Stephen Johnson was working in the store that day! She found out he lives in her neighborhood, and they shared stories of seeing moose and other wildlife nearby. I enjoyed his stories very much and got some images of his photos. This is my favorite, partly because of the story of the pregnant cow moose, who he sees every year with her babies.
That was fun, as was finding a few items at the Columbia outlet that may help me ride Apache more in the winter. I got a head covering thing that would fit under my helmet, and a warm reflective shirt. We’ll see!
Then we adventured out to find some cool green hiking boots Cathy wanted to get from Facebook Marketplace. She loves Facebook marketplace. I have to say they are pretty darned cool boots.
After heading back to my house to change and get my knitting, we went back to Cathy’s. I feel bad for how many times I caused her to drive back and forth from Dillon to Breckenridge! She baked some brownies and I knitted, then we went for a sunset walk, which she does most days. You know, I hadn’t walked enough yet. Cathy needed to, because as she admits, she is a jock.
It got colder and colder as we walked, but it was fine. We got to see some clouds and sun and mountains, which made it worth it. And, oh yes, I got to look at all the houses in the neighborhood, which are rustic and have interesting garage doors and other exterior details. Of course, I peeked inside when I could, too. There were some fine light fixtures.
When we got back, there was a special treat! Cathy’s friend, Sarah, had invited us to have a girls’ night fajita dinner. I was happy, because I’d enjoyed talking to her earlier, plus I would get to meet two more women. So, off we went.
Everyone had fun getting to know each other and eating. Sara’s new neighbor across the street was really subtle in her humor, so I enjoyed her a lot. And the other guest is an artist and was making a beautiful butterfly installation for the place where she works in Breck.
It turns out Sarah teaches Pysanky eggs at the art center, so I got to see some of them. I would love to learn that technique to do with some of my eggs. Thank goodness Cathy took a picture, to prove there were people at dinner.
In addition to meeting so many fascinating women today, I believe I had my biggest exercise day since back when I’d hike with my older son on holidays. I still can’t believe I feel so good…well, other than my digestion telling me I ate too much rich food. Today may be a recovery day, though I intend to get in the right amount of walking in (after football).
My exercise goal is 30 minutes, and I have a hard time getting it at home. Not here. Thanks, altitude!
I was sitting in my condo, knitting on my sad baby blanket and watching a very depressing football game. It occurred to me that I could do something fun instead. So, I set off for “a little walk” around the neighborhood, to go down the road I hadn’t been down yet. It was pleasant outside, so I just wore a t-shirt and light jacket thing. That would be fine, I figured. And I wore my normal shoes.
I did pretty well for a while, walking like a person going for a little stroll. I even went and sat on a ski life chair, to pretend I was skiing.
But, of course, I saw a trail. It said to look out for moose, and I said to myself, I’d like to go find a moose. And yes, I know they are big and scary. But, off I went. It started off a nice, dry trail, so it was fine.
Then, I turned and it was muddy and a little icy. I believe I was on the ski slope. In any case, I eventually found my way to another trail and another, and had a wonderful time looking at trees and mountains.
I followed some woman who went right when I probably would have gone left and headed back, and I’m glad I did! There were lots of wooded areas where I looked as hard as I could for moose, but just saw a crow.
Then, I was absolutely delighted to see that I had stumbled on the trail to the “lake” I’d seen on the map, which turns out to be a beautiful reservoir with a nature center around it. It was crystal clear where there was no ice, and I was happy to realize there was a trail going all the way around it.
It had gotten a bit cold given my inappropriate choices of clothing, but I figured if a woman in a wheelchair could make it around the trail, a slightly chilly woman could do it, too.
I was rewarded with some fine views of this one mountain I kept taking pictures of, the runoff from the reservoir, and views into the woods (where there were absolutely no moose). There were just a few people there with me, so it was almost like I had the place to myself.
Actually, there is a remarkable lack of any wildlife here. I am so used to seeing so many animals, insects, and such, that just seeing a couple of birds has seemed weird to me.
I found my way back down by locating an actual road that went by giant fancy houses. And that’s where I finally found my moose!
Its antlers even moved in the breeze. That was a fine moose. Down the road just a bit was a house with other statues, including this beautiful one, which I think is their mailbox. I just love the look on the cowboy’s face, along with his faithful cowdog or wolf.
I enjoyed the walk back, since the GPS took me through some little shortcut trails. Right after I turned onto the Primrose Trail to our building, I saw something on the ground. Holy shit, literally. It was moose shit. I looked it up.
So, yeah, I walked over 5 miles only to find the dang moose have been right on my road. I’ve sure enjoyed the funny things that are happening on my vacation. Thankfully, tomorrow I’ll have friends to hang around with, and Tuesday, too!
Maybe, if I’m around people, they will tell me that I should dress appropriately, carry my sticks, and wear boots when I go out, no matter how short of a walk I plan to take. This is my kind of solo vacation, one with plenty of alone time, but also with random friends from all parts of my life showing up every so often.
Today was quite a workday, so I decided to go for a nice walk when I was done. The sun was shining, and the snow all melted, so I broke out the new hiking boots and off I went.
I had planned to just walk along the road leading uphill, but I saw a sign saying there was a stable a mile thataway. I thought that would be fun to check out.
Unfortunately, there were no further signs, no roads, and no hints about where to go, so I just followed a muddy road heading up. It turned out to be the access road for the skiing on Peak 10 (that’s the names of mountains here, numbers) and the really, really big resort down the road. It’s as big as a town.
I decided that, since someone ahead of me had climbed the hill I saw, so could I. So, up and up I went. The trail was actually a ski slope, as I discerned from the snow-making machines I saw everywhere. I had a good time tromping through the snow, until I hit the deep parts that were higher than my shoes. I didn’t have on good tucked-in pants, so snow got in my boots.
But, panting as only a Texan in the Rockies can, I kept going. The scenery was pleasant and stopping to pant let me look at it. I kept going up about halfway, and then I saw this sign. I liked that sign. I’d climbed enough of Peak 10.
So I turned around, just like Stevie Nicks, and headed down that trail. I was rewarded with a new bird I’d never seen before. It is apparently a Canada Jay. It was pretty and flew around a lot so I could see it well. What a treat!
I continued down the little trail and saw wildlife tracks everywhere. I saw rabbit tracks in more than one place, deer tracks of some kind, and what I am pretty sure were coyote tracks (no human tracks going beside them, and they were later joined by another canine). I don’t think it was a wolf, because the tracks weren’t very big.
I enjoyed looking at a little mountain stream, which was primarily snow runoff, but sounded pretty. As the trail ended, I tromped through a snowy area that must be gorgeous in the summer, because it was full of native grasses and wildflowers. By the time all that tromping was over, my feet were soaked, but I was quite happy.
I also spotted a disc golf course I might try going down later.
As I made my way back, I went into the Beaver Creek Resort, which was dismal and sad as far as I can tell, but I guess it’s not “the season” yet, so no one is there but a few workers. There were a lot of areas under repairs. Maybe it’s on hard times since the pandemic.
Back at the Lodge (which still features the screaming child and its door-slamming relatives), I plan to enjoy a nice delivery dinner followed by knitting and a bath in the jacuzzi. That will get me all energized for tomorrow. My shoes and socks are drying and will be ready for more fun tomorrow.
I know I do weird things on a “vacation,” but I like just doing one thing a day and really enjoying it, rather than rushing to do a lot. And it’s been quite nice working here. No complaints, other than it rained all day at the ranch, so no pool work got done. Rain is good, of course.
Every time I get shaky today, I am thinking of peace, over and over.
It’s helping! I’m also keeping busy with work. Thank goodness I have something complicated to think about and people to brainstorm with.
I also took a walk today, and that helped me with the peace. I tried to find the nearest hiking trail, but could not find the start, so I wandered up the golf cart path through the golf course at the next resort. That was a bit of a huff and puff, but I was rewarded with at last being able to look at mountains, trees, and such with no condos in view. Hooray.
I found the trail when I got to the end of the golf course, and decided to follow it back down. It was so pretty, and I got to see more birds and a very annoyed squirrel. And lots of pretty Utah rocks. The path is narrow, so you have to jump off when cyclists show up. Luckily I just had to deal with one.
The only thing that disturbed my peace was when I was almost to the bottom of the trail, and things got muddy and slippery, due to snow melting. Then the path totally disappeared under a pile of snow (manufactured, I am sure). There were no cyclist paths or shoeprints to tell me where to go, so I guessed. I ended up having a lot of fun sliding and stomping in snow. If someone was watching, I’m sure I put on a good show, but it was just what I needed, some goofy time spent right there, in the moment. Goal achieved!
And by noon, I’d met my goals for exercise and movement, so my watch is happy. I’m back to doing meetings requiring concentration for another few hours, then I shall read a book that requires concentration. No, I’m not even turning on my preferred news outlet until later today.
One more thing, I want to thank all my friends and readers outside the US for the support you’ve been giving during this hard time in the US. It helps with our collective anxiety. Please, all of you our there, keep all of us in the USA in your thoughts, and if you pray, pray for peace.