Cave Dwellings: February 2009
Cave Dwellings

Buckhorn Creek, Lake O' The Pines, Jefferson, TX

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Back To The "Coastal Bend"

We made it yesterday afternoon at our new home, Goose Island State Park, Fulton TX. It was a good trip...I love it when we go through Corpus and over the bay look down on the USS Lexington, which is docked on the bay and made into a museum since she was decommissioned.I should mention they call this area the Coastal Bend...if you look at Texas in an Atlas it is self explanatory
We managed to find a spot we could put this big rig in....Sometimes it is a real challenge and it ALWAYS is here in the Live Oak Trees at this park...Here are a couple photos to illustrate just how close we are to the trees...

This next one is a view from the roadway of our campsite...
I have to tell you about this next photo..We notice about 5 days ago that we had a spiderweb (yes, I know ...ANOTHER SPIDERWEB PHOTO???)..that was on the window over our dining table..on the outside, of course. When I hosed off the camper, it stuck like glue to the window, so I decided to see how long it could hang on. Well, it rode on the window all the way from Falcon Lake to Goose Island..and it was still here when we parked our rig. This morning I decided I HAD to wash our windows. They were really dirty from our drive..but before I could "Windex" away our web, I just had to take a picture...and, of course, I want to share it....right after I took this photo I demolished it with my paper towel...sad...I think the spider flew off somewhere around Alice, Texas..
Our weather here is beautiful, 75 degrees and sunny. We took our walk this morning and ran into some people we met a couple years ago..they were camped out on the bay. After a good reunion with them, we came back to our "house" and had our coffee outside....
That would be my "driver"...using the cooler as a table..
About noon, I decided to see if I could find a hole in the trees to sit in the sun and read...and that was a real challenge. I would find a tiny spot of sunshine and follow it around the camper as it moved every 20 minutes or so...Dennis never knew where to find me...which isn't all bad..While we were outside, a park ranger came by, stopped right in front of our camper and got out...I was trying to think of what possible violation he could stick us with when he walked up and said,"We have a a complaint about the noise coming from this campsite." Den and I looked at each other, both thinking that we hadn't even had our I-Tunes on yet..when he laughed and said, "Just kidding,..we have a new firepit for your site."...Very funny..Just wait until I DO play my I-Tunes..and crank up Aerosmith..JUST WAIT, MR. FUNNY RANGER RICK!!. At any rate here is the ranger and Dennis......notice Den and Ranger Rick watching as the young kid is busting his ass installing the firepit..
Well, it's shower time for me...and cocktail hour to follow...I will blog more from Goose Island later....

Friday, February 20, 2009

Good-Bye Falcon Lake

This will be my last post from Falcon Lake State Park...I promise. We leave Tuesday morning and drive up to Fulton, TX, North of Corpus..on the Compano stay at Goose Island State Park for 2 weeks. We love this place and were there last year..For those of you that read my blog last year, Goose Island was the place where we stayed on the water and Chris and Sandi came to see us. This year we are going to set up camp in the Live Oak trees, not on the bay. That salt water is just too hard on our rig.
I took a bike ride a day or two ago and went to the butterfly garden. Yes, they have planted a butterfly garden up just in front of the Rec Hall. There were quite a few of them on the flowers, but they were all the same one or two kinds...Here is a photo I took..

I have no idea what kind, but I do know it isn't a Monarch.
More flowers are popping our down here. Here are some right in our "backyard" pretty...We also have some new ant hills that popped out in the last few days..Here are what I call the "red-headed" ants...and the DO have red heads..They are really nasty and I stay far away from them..
I took a photo looking down the road that goes around the campground...All those yellow flowers are Black Brush...
They were only bare little bushes when we pulled in here Jan 4th..what a difference!!
You may remember me talking about Harald (originally from Germany) and Judy from is Harald hanging out the window of their motorhomeThey are both great people...You may hear about them in our blog later because they will be at Goliad State Park one of the same weeks we are...
Here is a tree in our campsite that just popped out with these "willowy" leaves recently
...I love this tree, wish I knew what kind it is...Harald would know...he knows every tree, flower, butterfly and bird in this park. Speaking of Harald and Judy, when they visited us the other day they were a wealth of information..Apparently last Tuesday, the US government closed, yes I did say CLOSED, the borders at Reynosa and Matamoros..Apparently there was a gunfight in Reynosa between the military and the drug cartels, and 10 people were killed. This definitely makes crossing into Mexico less attractive. Also, Harald said that they issued a warning to all U.S. citizens to stay out of Mexican border towns...I was a little skeptical so I researched it on the "Valley" online newspapers, and they were right on..One of the Mexican newspapers online even had a video taken of a Mexican reporter..I couldn't understand a word he was saying, but he was lying on his stomach in the middle of the road, reporting "live"..and I DEFINITELY understood the sound of machine gun fire going on over his head...It looked like he was reporting from Iraq..but this, my friends, was just across our U.S. border!! Even up here at the park they are having more trouble with illegals sneaking in, stealing...all that good kind of stuff. I hate to see it...we like this place, but it, also, is becoming less attractive. This drug war is very real..and they bring the drugs in from Columbia, through Mexico, Texas, Arizona, Calif. and right on to all our states. I hate to leave the weather and "springtime" blooms, but I feel just a tad too close to the border and am ready to head North. I do remember that the route we take ALWAYS has a border patrol checkpoint. Here, everyone has to pull over, and they ask questions of everyone in the vehicle...your citizenship,why you are in Texas, how long you will be here..etc.. and while you are busy answering the questions, another border patrol has the drug sniffing dog going all around your vehicle and RV.....enough said.
I would like this last blog from Falcon Lake to end on a POSITIVE about this park...the beautiful flora and fauna we see every day and take it for granted..Here is yet another of the latest new blooms in our "yard". We leave Tuesday morning for Fulton TX, Goose Island State Park...and civilization plus the town's 30th annual OYSTERFEST!!!!! Now HERE is going to be something fun to blog about!! We are going offline Monday nite till Tuesday nite, and I probably won't blog till Thursday...Later

Monday, February 16, 2009


I can tell you that we have never been here in Falcon Lake State Park this late into February...and it is their spring now..The desert we drove into when we got here is taking on a whole new look...I am going to post some of the neat blooms that are popping up..This first one is a tree which has suddenly turned orange.....and here is something they call Black Brush..."why black?", you ask...I have NO idea, but it is everywhere down here....Here is a desert flower I'm not sure what they call, but there is one..and only one, so far, in our campsite...
This park has 4 miles of walking trails throughout the brush and we took one of them a few days ago...You can see the blooming Yucca ahead along the trail, not the tall one in shorts, the pretty one on the left.....(there is no mistaking Den's beautiful "bowed" legs...)

On our walk we came across this bush with little rose colored berries...As you can see, my tour guide had absolutely NO idea what it was!..and yet another few flowers popped up right next to our picnic table shelter.. Here are two butterflies trying to sit on our little red blossom at the same time!
Yesterday was really foggy here. When we took our walk we saw thousands of spider webs that were adorned with "diamond" misty drops of moisture (as was my hair)..As soon as we got back from our walk I grabbed the camera, jumped on my bike, and rode off to see if I could capture any in a photo before the wind came up and they all "disappeared" you can see, it was worth the trip..
I got a bonus with this next web...the homeowner....and yet another photo..
I added this photo I took that same morning to illustrate how foggy and misty it was..
This particular campsite is the one that had the boat stolen...the "empty" spot in front of their camper is where their boat use to be...This couple is still here...they lost all fish poles, 12 tackle boxes, life jackets..not to mention their boat, and still have heard no news on it's whereabouts..and probably never will...
Well,this has been a blog of photos, so it seems. We are actually having an all day drizzle today..our first real rain since we left home in November. Next Tuesday, the 24th, we will leave here(big sigh of relief, I'm sure, to those of you who are sick of bird and flower photos). We go to Goose Island State Park at Rockport, just North of Corpus Christi. We will be there until 10th of March..just in time to experience "Oysterfest" on the ocean...I can't wait.
I have one more photo to share..If you are sick of flora and fauna, just quit reading right now...For anyone still with me, here is a nest of a Cactus Wren..Ahhh, yes....tis Spring in the desert!!!!.....

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Another Reality Check

Well,just when you think you have had real get even more! The weather had been really windy last Friday and could hardly walk without dust and grit in your eyes and teeth, so not alot of people were out. We hadn't been to the Rec Hall since Thursday morning before, so we were a bit out of touch,so to speak, when our friend, Harald, came to visit yesterday morning (Tuesday). He mentioned casually about this couple a few campsites from us who had their boat stolen last Thursday night...WHAT????? Den and I both said it at the same time.
Harald said,"What, you haven't heard??"..Hell no,.. we do our walk and live in our own little "world of birds and sunshine in our "backyard". We did, however, notice a much escalated presence of Border Patrol in the park this last weekend. They were everywhere..even on walking patrol...but hey, we ARE on the border. Harald then filled us in...Let me preface this with saying that every Thursday nite they have "music nite" at the Rec Hall. If you like to sing, play an instrument or just want to listen, you can go up at 6PM and join in or watch..Obviously Den and I have nothing to offer in the way of music, so we stay here with our evening cocktail and sit outside, prefering to listen to our I-Tunes.. Anyway, apparently SOMEBODYknew the weekly routine and exactly what couples went to "music nite", because one of the musical couples had their boat stolen right out of their campsite on said nite (did I just sound like a cop??) Someone with a pick up truck proceeded to back up to their boat, hook on, and drive it away in broad daylite...presumeably across the bridge into Mexico. Now THAT is excitement...and a little scary.
Den was remembering exactly what we were doing on that evening and we DO remember sitting by our campfire about 6:30PM and hearing a truck apparently pulling a boat (you can tell by the sound) roaring up the road just across the brush and trees from our camper. Den even commented .."Gees (not his exact word), somebody is really flying up that road!!"..Do ya think this could have been our thieving crooks??? we do...It takes a lot of balls to steal someone's boat right out of his campsite in broad daylight....and no one saw them!! Everyone around their campsite was at the "music night" with the exception of one lady..and wouldn't you know that she is deaf??. They are pretty sure it was someone who zoomed right across the bridge just down the road and right across the border into Mexico...good bye boat..and all the fishing poles, motor, life jackets, tackle, etc. etc...Did I mention that the couple this happened to was from Illinois, and we have seen them down here every winter...enough said. However, I didn't sleep real good last night. I kept hearing bird sounds, and my brain told me it was illegals giving signals so they could steal my Schwinn..Dennis just laughs at me...go figure.
Here are a few photos we took lately here...Here I am at morning coffee......and Dennis is gearing up for another "hectic" day....
This next one I took as "evidence"...of some animal in our campsite at night...I first thought raccoon, but Den, the great tracker, says some kind of cat..There were footprints on our little table one night and on our truck recently. Keep in mind there are no "pet cats" running wild down here..what do you think, Tonto????Not a great photo, I must say, but a mystery, none the less.
We have a guy right next to us, name of Don, who first came to Falcon State Park in 1965.. No one knows his exact age, but he is not spring chicken..He drives a van, which he also sleeps in,(and it is not a conversion van!) He then sets up a camoflage tent to set up a tripod camera sticking out the other he can sneak up on the birds..I don't think he has a wife..I wonder why.... Here is Don's little "camera" tent.....see his tent on the right?? He pulls a trailer(far right), with all of his "stuff" and he knows EVERYTHING about the birds...also he takes some terrific photos and is really nice to visit with....I just hope he keeps close tabs on his trailer...
And, last but not least, our little friends the Altimira Orioles, who are very vain...they see themselves in the back window of the truck across from us.... Of course, I have to have one more bird photo..Here are 3 colorful birds in the tree just out our back window..a Green Jay in our feeder on the left, a Black Hooded Oriole at our oranges in the middle, and a Northern Cardinal on the right...what a treat and rainbow of birds!!!I couldn't get too close cause I wouldn't get them all in...that's why you have to look close to see them...
Well, enough of the birds for now...We will leave here on Feb 24th and head up toward Corpus Christi to Goose Island State Park for 2 you won't have to put up with too many more bird pictures from here...Tomorrow is our grocery day, which is exciting cause I get to put on lipstick and blush and "go to town"...I will blog more later...maybe we will get more doesn't take much down here....

Friday, February 6, 2009

A Little Excitement

A couple days ago we had some excitement here at Falcon Lake..First of all, when Den and I took our morning walk we realized it was REALLY windy..and had never seen the lake with so many whitecaps..I happened to have my camera with me (really, it is permanently attached around my neck) so I took a picture.. I made the comment to Den that only a fool would be out on the lake fishing that morning..As the morning progressed the wind really became an issue. I mean, it was blowing really hard. Anyway, as we sat down to lunch we heard the unmistakable sound of a helicopter and could see it out our window. It was circling around over by the boat launch, then it would go out into the lake, then back to the boat launch. Of course, I seized the moment and took a photo from our camper with the zoom lens... So now our interest was peaked, helped along by the sound of sirens. I am an old "follow the fire engine" person..and Dennis is an old dalmation, so we jumped on our bikes and rode down to the boat launch.. At first we thought maybe some illegals were trying to cross the lake and their boat dumped..That did happen a few weeks ago and the border patrol saved them. But, as we soon found out, this was not the case..
There were several Border Patrol vehicles and a boat was pulled up by the launch..We stood around until a few more people showed up and someone found out what had happened..
Apparently one of the Border Patrol Zodiac boats was patroling on the lake,which they do regularly, and it capsized...dumping the 2 border patrol officers into the lake. One of them got pretty bloodied up when the boat dumped on them, hence the ambulance..The other was OK, just a little shaken up. Here is a photo of the kind of boat that dumped, but this isn't the exact one...
Now that we found out the "scoop", we pedaled back, against the wind I might add, and finished our lunch..We don't get too much in the way of excitement here, as you can see.
I know I said I would try not to publish many more bird photos, but I love this one.. For the last few mornings this pair of Orioles wake us up just as the sun rises by pecking at our back window..We can hear them from the bedroom and after we raise our back shade this is what greets us..Orioles travel in pairs and, as usual, the most brilliant one is the male.(By brilliant I certainly did not mean "smart".)
Also, allow me one more bird photo....This is my friend Mr. Roadrunner, who walks through our camping spot with regularity..This morning I was sitting outside with my coffee and he chose to join me...He gets really close, and when I talk to him, he cocks his head and listens..more than I get from Dennis..I look forward to his daily visits..Allow me one more, pleeeeeease... he is with his butt to the wind...or is he shooting me the "moon"?..I don't care I still love him!! As you can see, our life is GREAT!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Two Gringos Turned Loose in Mexico

Well, we did our little "tour" across the border to Nuevo Progreso, Mexico. We left the camper about 8:30AM and headed South into the "valley". It is about an hour and 1/2 to get to the US town of Progresso, and drive about 3 miles South to the International bridge. The route we take is State Rt. 83 which is 4 lanes all the way, making the drive a breeze. We go through Mission, Pharr, Donna, Alamo and McAllen, which is the heart of "Winter Texan" world. These towns have a gazillion (not sure if that is a word, but you get my drift)RV resorts...NOT campgrounds, mind you, but RV resorts...BIIIIIIIIG difference. An RV resort most always has curbed streets, streetlights, bingo halls, dances, swimming pools, movie stars..oops, that was Beverly Hills, right? At any rate, it is a little town of RVs where you see a heck of a lot of people riding around the streets in golf carts. This is the land of premium RVing, definitely NOT camping..different strokes for different folks, and all that jazz.
We got to the International Bridge about 10:15 and parked in the large gravel parking lot..parking is only $2.00 for the day..You pay much more in Chicago and don't come home with near the bargains!
This is where I get very paranoid about losing my passport. I had it clutched tightly in my purse, which I intend to KEEP clutching while across the border. Den had a better idea (he and GE)..he took my passport and put it in his front shirt pocket with his and buttoned them both in..Now I do feel better. They gotta rip off his shirt to get, it couldn't be that bad, no one would want his stylish Bubba T shirt.
The pedestrian traffic is herded across the busy road to the other side where you can walk across the walk across on the rt side of the bridge and come back to the US on the left side..Crossing involves watching for a break in the traffic to scurry across. Once across the road we both decide to use the restrooms on the US side for one final chance at reasonably clean johns...I did say "reasonably". I made one final check that my camera was securely around my neck and adjusted the strap on my purse as tight as I could and we headed with the crowd toward the turnstyles..Did I mention it costs each person 25 cents to cross the bridge into Mexico? You put your quarter in the turnstyle and away you go!! Kinda like Menards without the quarter.
Once across, I noticed a definite presence of the Mexican military. They had piled sandbags up at certain areas and stood very vigilantly in their camoflage, holding their machine guns...and not smiling one bit..I did not even consider taking a photo of one of those guys..They really didn't look like they would appreciate it and I didn't want my camera confiscated by one of them. They really mean business and I was going to have to behave sense of humor about any of them, so I know they wouldn't understand my warped sense of humor.
Well, here we Nuevo Progreso..a narrow Main Street crowded with Pharmacias, Dentists, street vendors of every kind, from sunglasses and DVD's to silver jewelry and wind chimes..You name it and they were selling it. See photo..
There were a plethera of souvenier that I mean a store that you could buy clothes, jewelry, liquor, candy, pottery, sombreros, pewter crucifixes, on and on and on...AND usually there was a bar and restaurant upstairs on the second story. Or , sometimes, there was a bar right there, with stools and you could drink while you shopped...a little trick WalMart might think about.
We wandered up and down the street. I took a photo of a "balloon man"..(or a man trying to be a balloon man)..and here he is....scary..
There were street vendors selling tacos, tortillas, and various foods right on the corners..then there were romantic little streetside tables to sit and eat...I jest, as you can see.

You may want to wash your hands AFTER you eat.We made a decision not to eat over here. I didn't want a bad stomach for any reason. We DID, however, decide to trust the drinking end of it. We wandered in yet another store and saw a sign for the bar with an arrow pointing up the stairs and...away we went to see about a cocktail.
At the top of the steps was a goofy looking plaster Vaquero on one side
and another goofy little plaster waiter in an alcove on the other side..
There is another goofy guy in the photo..Hey wait, I think I know that guy..AND..why the girlie poster in the background??? In between the two was a huge wooden double door, which said "BAR" windows, no little peeks..OK, in we go!!
It was dimly lit and we were pleasantly surprised to find Gringos like us in there, which is a good sign..SAFE. We sat down and I ordered a Marquerita on the rocks and Den got a bottle of Corona, served witha bowl of fresh limes slices...and also some hot peanuts. The peanuts, as I discovered, had some dried little peppers in with them. It was so dimly lit I couldn't see them till I felt them! Dennis got brave and ate one..He didn't die or have smoke coming out his ears, so I guess they were OK..I decided not to try. I took a picture of the bar without my flash..I didn't want to draw attention to myself and act like a TOTAL geeky Americano tourist!!
They had a big screen TV and music was playing..we were having fun now, sooooo.. we had one more drink before we left..All in all, we had 2 Margueritas and 2 Coronas for $ a $2.00 tip..not bad!
I was on a mission to get some Kahlua before we crossed back, and also some pure vanilla for a few ladies back home...The bottles of Kahlua were $7.75 each (CHEAP!) and the small bottles of vanilla were $1.00 each...such a deal..Dennis also found a beautiful leather belt.He saw it on the street at a vendor's booth for $13.00, but we know never to pay what they ask, so Den got him down to $9.00 and he wouldn't budge from there. Den wanted to pay $7.00 for it , but he still wouldn't sell it for that, so Dennis, being a hard ass, walked away. Den found me just down a few yards eyeballing the silver. Just as we were turning to walk further down the sidewalk, the little guy from the belt booth came running after Den, belt in hand, and said "Mr...hey Mr....$8.00!! I take $8.00". So, Den gave him $8.00 with a satisfied grin..
I need to mention that tons of Winter Texans, of which, I guess, we are..come to Texas to cross to Mexico for dental work..and here is the reason why.. I know many people who have had work done in Mexico are are very satisfied..I DO find it hard to understand why they choose the names for their dental offices, though...for instance, The Purple Tooth..I just don't get it.
Here are a few more photos we took in Nuevo Progreso..Here is a horse and cart going down the street...
We were feeling pretty good about our bargains and now it was 1:30PM and getting busy. We decided it was time to go back across...and here is a photo of the traffic backed up waiting to go across the bridge from the US into Mexico...
We paid our 30 cents at the turnstyles and got in line for customs. I was relieved to have my passport back in my hands..can you imagine having it stolen in Mexico and trying to explain that to the American consulate on the phone?? We declared our booze, vanilla and one very fine belt, then got in another line to pay Texas liquor taxes..Oh, yeah...Texas gets their fair share, too. We paid $1.25 for each bottle of Kahlua, which still makes it a ton cheaper than in the US at $9.00 a bottle..
We climbed back in the truck and headed back to Rt. 83..On the way we found a Valero station that was selling diesel for $2.05 a gallon...Whoa..yet another great bargain!! We had a great time in Mexico, but did notice the military presence. They are having a huge problem with the border towns and the drug cartels shooting it out with the Border Patrol and Mexican police..In fact they have a tourist warning for the border towns of Tiajuana, Chujhuaua, Reyenosa, Metamoras...but NOT Nuevo Progreso..yet!!
We had intentions of stopping in Mission to check out the Vaquero cook off... and we did go into town and try to find it, but the traffic was horrible and they were getting ready for the big Citrus parade, so we shot off onto a side street and headed back West to the peace and quiet of Falcon Lake..Since we hadn't eaten (chose NOT to eat in Mexico) we picked up some Church's chicken and drueled at the smell of it all the way back. We got back about 4:45 PM, just in time for a campfire and ....cocktail hour...(the chicken will be warmed up later)...It was a fun, yet somewhat eye opening day in Nuevo Progreso....With some memorable moments and great bargains..
I will try to find something other than birds and cactus to photo and blog, but, hey,down here "it is what it is", and that's what it is..Later