Friday, November 9, 2012

Our Airstream Takes A Ferry Ride

The repairs by Colin Hyde to our Airstream are finished.  It took nearly eight months from the mishap but once we got started, the work looks great.  Here are a couple of final photos.

The interior back in place

The two end panels all fixed and the awning and trim reinstalled.
Today, I went over and picked up the 'Stream and brought it back across Lake Champlain.  It was a beautiful day and and easy trip -- excepting the fact that the electric jack seems to have died.  Just another project to tackle before snow.
The truck and Airstream riding the ferry homeward.

A calm day on Lake Champlain, looking back toward the Adirondacks

The sister ferry passing us on its way to New York
So now the trick is to work on the interior and get the walls polished so that I can install the beds and cabinets.  We are thinking of using it for our Thanksgiving trip -- if it's ready by then.  

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Airstream Repair Photos

As I posted a couple of weeks ago, I dropped off the Airstream at Colin Hyde's repair facility in Plattsburgh, NY.  The other day, I got a bunch of photos showing the progress on the replacement of the panels.  They have to remove both the inside and outside panels to be able to rivet so that the rivet heads are proper.  Looks like good progress.
The top panel is gone and the lower one is being removed.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Airstream Has An Appointment

After months of waiting, I got an email yesterday saying that I could bring the Airstream over to Plattsburgh, NY next Tuesday for the "facial" it needs to repair the dents I put in it last winter.  I just winterized it -- which is good since it below freezing this morning, and it should be all set to move.  

I'll wind my way through Montpelier and head up I-89 to the Champlain Islands and take the ferry across to New York state.  I have no expectations that this work will be a quick deal -- not sure when Colin Hyde and his gang will get to it -- but it is good to finally get it on the way.  I think I'll keep this blog active to cover the results of the repairs but still invite you to visit my other blog, Vermont Birder, at and sign up through the rss feed or email signup.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Vermont Airstreamers is taking a sabbatical

Since we have decided not to travel to the Southwest this winter and since the Airstream is sort of laid up due to the damage to the back, I am putting this blog on hold for a while.  I invite you to visit my other blog, Vermont Birder, at  I hope you'll consider subscribing through the rss feed or through email signup.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Airstream Turns 80

The Airstream recreational vehicle, all curves and chrome, was originally designed to evoke the open road and the aviation age. Hawley Bowlus, the man who created the brand's toaster-over-in-a-wind-tunnel look was also the chief designer of Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis. His America was all about going places and the Airstream was intended to be both a way to get there and a way to stay.
Over the years, the vehicles have gone from being associated with innovation to being of a piece with thrift store Americana -- what Instagram is to cameras, Airstream is to vehicles -- yet, in 1932 when company founder Wally Byam was just moving beyond tinkering in his back yard, he was engaging with a very modern notion: Mobility is the ultimate luxury.
The irony, of course, is that a company catering to Americans' travel yen has itself been nothing if not stationary. The popular vehicles are still manufactured in Jackson Center, Ohio and their names still betray these roots. Buyers can choose between Sport, Flying Cloud and Classic Limited models. There is also an International, but that seems almost antithetical to the whole endeavor.
Despite its proud middle-American sensibility and heritage, Airstreams have always been more than middle class kitsch. They helped ferry generations of children and parents to beaches and wild places. They may not have conquered the West, but they certainly made it more accessible, allowing the denizens of America's growing suburbs to get back into the outdoors. If Airstreams now look tiny next to the rolling mansions being offered by recreational vehicle manufacturers, there is a reason: They were designed to help us get away, not to help us schlep everything along with us.
Eighty years later, an Airstream in the driveway still means one foot out the door, an American stance if ever there was one.
Many thanks to Reminisce Magazine for providing a background on Airstream History.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Who Put Those Dents In Back?

I have not blogged about my encounter with a Texas tree, which must have moved behind me as I backed up, but to make a long story short, I was in a hurry to get going from Falcon State Park. We had emptied tanks and the layout forces you to turn around to leave the park. I thought we were clear and as I backed up (not having asked Mary to help) I heard sort of a crack of a branch. Just thought it was brush I'd backed over so I pulled ahead, backed up and heard it again. And off we went toward Corpus Christi.

After an hour or two, we stopped for fuel and as I approached the trailer from the rear, this is what I saw.

 It didn't make my day. I was sure there were no trees back there, they must have moved!

We had an insurance person take a look at it before we came home but now it is time to deal with the dents.  So, the other day, I hooked up the Airstream and we drove over to see one of the experts in Airstream restoration, Colin Hyde.

Colin, well-known for his renovation work, is located across Lake Champlain, about two hours away.  The day didn't start well -- I again had trouble with the electronic jack that raises the front of the trailer.  I tinkered with that and soon we were heading toward Burlington on I-89.  It made us think of the last time we had done that -- just four months ago, when the weather was similar with low clouds and spitting precipitation, but the temperature was about 30 degrees colder.

Getting to Plattsburgh involves either driving up to Rouses Point and way back down the Northway, or taking the ferry.  I'd never used the Grand Isle ferry with the trailer but it was a piece of cake.  Colin's operation was just down the road and soon, he was looking things over.

The problem with having an expert look at your used trailer is that he sees everything -- the problems with the floor, the inoperative break-away switch, the leaky vent -- I came home with quite a laundry list.  Don't get me wrong, it's great to have sharp eyes helping and Colin is very good at separating "nice-to-do" items from critical ones.

Colin's business is booming and I'm going to try to shoe-horn our project into his busy work schedule.  We brought the trailer back and while he is ordering parts and scheduling the work, I'll take a stab a disassembling some of the cabinetry and other items needing to be removed before his work begins.  It' going to be a hassle but who can I blame but myself.  Trust me, I'm much more cautious with my backing up and now always ask Mary to help me out.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Critters We Left Behind

Having been back in Vermont for over a week, I've been thinking about some of the critters we encountered on our Southwestern trips.  While we have a wood fire going and snow pellets in the air here, it also is nice to take walks with the dog and not worry about poisonous or dangerous things.

We first encountered potential trouble in Louisiana when I was out on some trails hiking with the dog and saw this sign. It sort of got my attention but it was early spring and I figured that probably snakes were still staying warm underground or wherever.  Of course, it was a warm day for January and as I poked through some brush off trail, I was startled to see this cottonmouth coiled up on an old stump.  It had one of these, "And who might you be?" looks if snakes can have expressions.  Penny was off leash and sniffing here and there but I grabbed her before she found our friend.

After taking a couple of iPhone pictures, I made a quiet retreat and stayed on the trail the rest of the walk.

This state park, Lake Fausse Pointe, also gave us our first real exposure to mosquitoes.  Southern mosquitoes are big and nasty and it's not fair to have them around in January.  Mary seems to attract them and we had several bouts later in Texas.  They seem to find any small opening in the Airstream and with a white ceiling, give us a pre-bedtime ritual of swatting them.

Of course, you never know where you'll run into alligators.  It didn't raise our confidence level when one park ranger told Mary, "Ma'am, don't worry about them -- they only go after the old and the slow." Well ....   I tend to worry more about the dog hassling them and keep her on leash in alligator country.  Some of these get pretty big -- here's one we saw at a Louisiana refuge.

We have a few black bears here in Vermont but they are hardly ever about - I've only seen three or four in our woods in ten years of outings.  On the other hand, in Texas I've heard and seen coyotes frequently and also seen many wild pigs and javelinas.  Here's a coyote that crossed right in front of us at a campground at Big Bend.

Javelinas love to browse at feeding stations at Falcon State Park.  They seem skitterish but when they have young ones with them, they reportedly can get ornery.  We just give them a wide birth at any time.

And the worst critters we encountered this trip came at the end when both Penny and I hit infestations of ticks.  Now, we worry some about ticks in New England and Penny is on meds for fleas and ticks but we were out in the brushy woods at Village Creek State Park, north of Beaumont, Texas, and just got whacked.  I was wearing shorts and both of us were covered.  These suckers were hard to remove and we kept finding them.  We moved on to Mississippi and like an idiot, I went out again and apparently brushed by vegetation with more of them and we spent another evening searching and removing them.

I had bought some tick medicine from a vet in Texas.  I normally use Frontline on Penny but she carried something else, saying that it was just as good.  Well, these ticks just laughed at the generic substitute.  Our friends Jason and Kevin picked up some Frontline for Penny and we dosed her in Mississippi and it did the trick.  I just wore long pants and tucked in socks and stayed out of tick areas.  Neither of us seems to have developed any issues from our encounters.

And lastly, while we were at Falcon, a neighbor told me about a scorpion that some folks found dead in the women's bathroom.  He then showed me a live scorpion that he caught underneath a rock down by Falcon Lake.  He was going to bring it to his grandson who reportedly was excited to get it.

The thought of capturing a scorpion to bring back to one of our grandkids never crossed my mind.  I have a good relationship with my daughter and daughters-in-law and want to keep it that way.  We left all the critters behind us.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Paddling in Mississippi

I took the kayak out this morning for a little exercise/birding here at Natchez State Park. There's an impoundment that's about the size of Wrightsville Reservoir where I'll paddle this Spring and I saw many of the same bird species (Osprey, Belted Kingfisher, Wood Ducks, Common Yellowthroats, etc.) I'll see in Vermont this summer. But that's where the similarities end.

A Great Egret fished nearby and dozens of Black Vultures wandered around waiting for thermals. The water was greenish and tepid, and several big bass boats were already tucked into coves.

It is Turkey season here but I'm not used to warning signs where I paddle.

As I lugged the kayak down to the water, a good ol' boy setting out in his shiny rig said with his barely-understandable Southern drawl, "you might not want to go up the cricks - I've seen a bunch of 'gators in them. One of them was as long as that boat of yours!"

I thanked him for his advice, noting that we don't see many alligators in Vermont.

As I paddled, I wondered if he, having seen the license plates, was putting me on but I think not. It's funny how floating logs and cypress knees can look like gators. I did see a great-looking "crick," sort of like the inlet at Wrightsville, as was tempted to follow a gaggle of beautiful Wood Ducks up it. But, discretion won over and I cruised back up the center of the lake, enjoying the workout and keeping my heart rate normal.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Planning Our Return to the Donut Shop

Well, even though migrating birds are starting to show up, it is time to think about our return home. We've had a couple of objectives: celebrating Easter with our Mississippi friends and seeing Rich, Lydda, and grandson Bronson in Ohio. I want to take our time and check out the birds that are migrating with us.
So we will say goodbye to Goose Island this weekend. I like to go through Houston on a weekend so we'll do that Sunday stopping at Viilage Creek SP north of Beaumont. It's a small park with some nice trails and a river where we may be able to kayak. ( It was too high on the way through in January.)
Then to another park we've enjoyed, Natchez, for a few days. We stay at Clarko in Quitman, MS while visiting our friends in Laurel.
Two years ago, we stumbled on a coffee/donut shop outside Alexandria, LA while heading home. It was a beautiful morning and we ate outside in the springtime air just enjoying the moment. It was one of those "remember that place we had donuts?" that we mentioned when recalling our first trip.
Then last year, on a different route home, things suddenly looked familiar and I said to Mary, "I think our donut place is up ahead." Well, we drove and drove and I was starting to think I was wrong ( for the first time all trip) when sure enough, up ahead was the place. The tables were gone and a new building next door but the people were friendly and the coffee and goodies as we remembered. And it was another nice day to sit outside a while.
Well, in planning this trip, I realized that the shop, if still in business, is right on the route from Natchez to Clarko.
We'll head north the Monday after Easter, probably stopping in Alabama and Kentucky for a few days, arriving in Xenia on Thursday. We'll park beside the house for a few days and then, Monday the 16th head east toward Vermont, arriving Tuesday night if all goes well.
So, I roughed out the segments and made the mistake of adding up the mileage, saying to Mary, "Do you know that it's 2216 miles home the way we've planned?" it's a good thing we want to see friends and family -otherwise she'd be tempted to fly to Dayton, then Albany.
But then, she'd miss the donut stop.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Great Day in Texas

Mary and I loaded up Penny and left early for some back road birding north of Rockport. We started tallying gulls and "telephone line" birds and soon were on a Farm-to-Market road heading toward the hamlet of Bayside. These "farm roads" in Texas are usually narrow with a speed limit of 70 and lots of white pickup trucks in a hurry. Not too conducive to birding although usually there is a wide shoulder (or ditch.)

We pulled off on a little narrow road alongside Copano Bay called Egery Flat aka Mosquito Alley and were immediately confronted with a small mudflat/pond with hundreds of shorebirds. As we tried to sort through Dowitchers, Dunlins, Willets some Black-legged Stilts, and lots of sandpipers, I was wishing that I had an expert along. Just ahead, we saw and photographed a Reddish Egret - a white morph in breeding plumage - which turned out to be a new bird for each of us. It is neat to watch them fish, stirring up the water with their feet and then grabbing stuff they've scared.

The American Golden Plovers were in his pasture

As the road turned to dirt, we saw several birds flush out of the grass and settle. I knew right away that they were one of the species we were after - and it turned out that they were American Golden Plovers, passing through on their way north. I got out my scope and we got some good looks, an so-so photos. As I watched, a steer (seen above) watched us and started plodding our way. Time to move on.
American Golden Plover

It was a pretty spring day with no one around on this straight back road so we let the dog go and walked for a while. The temperature was about 80 with a light breeze and blue skies with sparrows and meadowlarks rising from the fields. Of course, the mosquitoes found Mary.

We passed another flock of plovers and then, just as we were nearly done with the loop, Mary spotted more birds. We pulled over, looked at them through the binos, and took some photos. About then, a deputy sherriff pulled alongside asking "Everything ok?" I guess the red Vermont truck with kayak on top looked pretty unthreatening and he was off. (I learned later that the birds were migrating Upland Sandpipers, another new one for us.
Upland Sandpiper

One of the purposes of the outing was to check out a local eating place which friends had raved about. Crofutt's Sandwich Shop & Bakery calls itself "An Oasis in a Junk Food Desert" and it is. Plain looking and frequented by local oil and ranch workers, it has been running for 33 years. We had the Shrimp Po-Boy and they were great. I had to eat mine next to the truck since Penny had an anxiety meltdown and started pulling the rubber stripping from the door .. again. Washed down with iced tea, with a couple of decadent cookies for later, it was quite a feast.

We returned in time for a short nap and then Penny and I drove to the vet for a last checkup. Her leg is nearly there and after a quick check, the doc said goodbye giving her a few treats for the road.

While our more ardent birder acquaintances go out for all day, we found that a few hours, some fresh air, some good food, and a nap is our preference.

We have managed to see 201 different species this trip so far with about 25 new ones for me. Now to follow some them as they migrate northward.

Friday, March 23, 2012

A Big Day

Mary went on a bird walk this morning and came back with a long list of birds -- several which I had not seen.  It was my day to watch the dog since she (the dog) gets anxious when separated for any lengthy period.

After lunch, we decided to go for a drive and look for birds so we left for Refugio, a small town about 35 miles away.  Birding at 70 mph on a narrow highway is a challenge but we were seeing hawks (Redtails, Kestrels, perhaps a Rough-legged) when I blasted by a Scissor-tail Flycatcher sitting on a fence.  This was one of the birds we were after.

No one was behind me so I slowed, turned around on the narrow highway, and of course the bird spooked as soon as we approached.  It flew, gracefully, up and then dropped down to a spot further up the fence.  We got some good looks.

We saw several more, slowing each time, and then birded a local park up in Refugio with no success.  Returning, we saw two flycatchers sitting close to one another and slowing the truck, got some photos.  They were very patient and chirping away at us and we left them undisturbed.  Fortunately, the road is little traveled even though those that do use it cruise at 70-80.  
Scissors-tailed Flycatcher, Refugio County, TX

It was a two mile detour to check out a spot on Highway 35 where folks have seen a burrowing owl.  I’ve been by there two or three times with no luck but we decided, in spite of the heavy traffic, to give it a try.  The spot is a large drainage culvert exactly two miles from an intersection so as we approached, I could see the culvert.  We pulled to the side and checked it with binos.  There was a small owl-looking lump on top (She comes up through a crack in the pipe.)  so once traffic cleared, we crawled ahead and shot a couple of photos of her looking at us.  We then left her undisturbed. 

Burrowing Owl alongside Highway 35, Aransas County, TX

It’s interesting -- hundreds of trucks, RV’s, and cars go past that culvert each day, oblivious to the unusual bird watching them.  Of course, she’s tiny and blends into the scenery.  It was a great find -- I never expected to catch her out of her haven.

Returning to Goose Island State Park, I took the Vizsla for a walk and decided to check the feeding station near our site.  Not much activity in the late afternoon but I sat down and right away, a Hooded Warbler -- a handsome male -- began using the bird bath.  Mary had seen the warbler earlier in the day and it was one I was looking for.  Of course, my camera was back at camp but I got a wonderful look at the bird -- and my third life bird of the afternoon.  

We are here in Texas later than normal for us and we are starting to get some early migrants.  Hopefully, a few more will show up in the next week.  Then, some of them, we’ll get to see again in New England later on this Spring.  But not these three.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Adios, Falcon State Park

We leave windy, arid Falcon State Park in the morning after two weeks of nearly-constant wind and temperatures in the mid-to-high eighties. All in all, it has been a nice stay here and a chance to see some friends and make a few new ones. This is a unique state park: there is an active community here many of whom have been coming here for years and in many cases, decades. There is a rather active social calendar around the recreation center and while that’s not our cup of tea, we do drop in periodically to say hello and pick up a book.

Sunset over Falcon Lake

We said goodbye this morning two our Oklahoma friends, Bud (87) and Charlotte (85) who we first met three years ago. Bud, a former trucker and mechanic, helped me with some big problems with the Airstream - and this time helped me (well, he did most of it) fix a faulty switch on a motor that raises the trailer tongue. Last night, we went over at dusk to talk and in the warm Texas evening, a number of couples came by to say goodbye. It was very poignant since with their age, you never know if they’ll be back. They are traveling home with some Vermont honey from our bees - and our hopes to see them again.

Being right on the Mexican border, there are some challenges. First of all, a Mexican phone company, TELCEL, grabs your signal much of the time and phones therefore are pretty unreliable. The radio stations are nearly all Spanish language and the few in English seem to be right-wing talk shows. It’s fifteen miles for decent wifi and 35 miles for decent groceries. Don’t even look for skim milk in a thirty mile radius; Chips and beer and fishing gear, yes.

And yet, this place grows on you. We are on the western edge of the Central Time Zone so it doesn’t get light until nearly 8 AM. Early morning walks with the dog are cool and filled with bird songs. Roadrunners and rabbits tease the Vizsla with their run, wait, run movements. Double-crested Cormorants fly over in large formations, heading for a day of fishing. Likewise, White Pelicans cruise out to Lake Falcon as we walk along. The breeze is almost always constant and picks up big time during the day.

Roadrunners drive our Vizsla nuts
Spring flowers have been popping everywhere and some of the ugliest plants have the prettiest flowers. Butterflies are everywhere but the wind makes it a challenge. Red Admirals come reliably to the orange halves we stick on trees.
Flower of a Thistle Plant

Prickly Pear Flowers

I had a chance to do some kayaking here although the wind kept the boat on the truck most days. The first morning I launched, a little Eared Grebe surface right in front of the kayak, dove and came back up alongside. I got pretty close to egrets, and Osprey, and other water birds. They seemed to not be afraid of the quiet boat -- particularly with many bass boats roaring by.

We can’t get away from the drug war. Border Patrol vehicles cruise the park and and are common along the highways. A tethered observation ballon often flies to the north of here -- sort of an ominous sight in a clear blue sky. But there have been no issues for several years here -- even though Mexican drug activity goes on in Roma and Rio Grande City.

But as the Winter Texans like us leave, it’s hard to imagine living here. We’ve had a taste of the temperatures and the constant wind and one can see why siestas are popular. It’s deadly in mid-day. The decrepit homes, mongrel dogs, and trash get to you after a while.

But what a place for birds. I picked up nine new life birds and both Mary and I saw a wonderful array of Texas birds. Just on our little camp road we have Scaled Quail, Northern Bobwhites, Inca Doves, Northern Mockingbirds, Orange-crowned Warblers, Long-billed and Curved-bill Thrashers, Olive Sparrows, Chipping Sparrows, White-Crowned Sparrows, and the ubiquitous Turkey Vultures, Northern Cardinals, and Red-winged Blackbirds.

So, we are trading wind for mosquitoes and returning to another favorite place, Goose Island State Park where Penny has a vet appointment to check her progress and remove the last two stitches. It will be nice to kiss TELCEL goodbye. Never thought AT&T would look so good.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Birds of Falcon State Park

While the Texas drought has cut back the number of birds, there is still a wide variety here and down at Salineno. Here are some photos I've taken in the last week.
Altimira Oriole

Long-billed Thrasher across the street sounding like a Northern Mockingbird

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Great Kiskadee

Green Jays are hard to beat for color and personality

Hooded Oriole

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Hot & Dusty

We have been at one of our favorite parks -Falcon State Park - which sits on Falcon Lake, perhaps the best bass fishing lake in the U.S. each morning, dozens of trucks hauling big bass rigs come rolling in with their sun-burned anglers ready for another day. This weekend, the Bassmasters tournament is here and the big names and big money will also.

Today we drove north to Zapata to look for a special bird - a White-collared Seedeater - which I got a look at - and traversed some really rough country. Hot, flat, dry, with nothing but a few horses or scrub cows here and there. This part of Texas makes us often wonder: How did the first settlers (or the natives) make it? The temperatures in early March about 90 with a stiff wind and a drought that has lasted over a year.
The evenings are spectacular with the recent full moon and the close approach of Mars. Coyotes yip and howl each night and the Common Pauraques send forth their unique call.

We awake to Northern Cardinals and the western cousins, Pyrrhuloxias, singing away and Northern Mockingbirds run through their whole routine as I walk by with Penny.

The recent rains, while doing nothing to break the drought, have greened up things a bit and many spring flowers are starting to pop. Likewise, a number of butterflies have emerged but good luck identifying them in 30 mph winds. One of the most common species is Red Admiral.

The dry air certainly clears our New England sinuses. No sniffles for weeks. It's about the only place I've been where rest room hand driers actally work - no more wiping the moisture off on trousers.
Penny's operation wound is healing slowly. Our bandaging has gone from Keystone Cops with warm water spraying everywhere and lots of swearing to a rather restrained procedure. Still gave a couple of stitches to get removed.
We have a weather system coming in which will move temps from today's 90 degrees to 60 tomorrow. We are looking forward to it.
Vermont had 60's yesterday but I suspect that there are a few surprises yet back home. We are missing friends and family but going to wait until we are sure we don't get caught in snow like last year.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Trash Talk

One of the big disappointments about Texas birding is the amount of trash you encounter along roadways - about anywhere. Many times I've spotted a Crested Caracara up ahead to find it's only one more Walmart plastic bag tangled on a fence post. Of course, with no recycling, no returnable deposit, and a "toss it out the window" mentality, what can you expect?
Recycling is about non-existent throughout the South. It hurts to crush plastic milk cartons and toss them with the cardboard, cans, and other recyclables. State parks are pretty lame, with only aluminum cans collected. Since we drink no soda or beer from cans, well you get the picture.
The other day I drove over to a large wildlife management area for some birding. It is used for grazing as well and some of the residents didn't seem too impressed by the Vermont plates and kayak on the red truck.

It was a foggy morning and on the way on the access road, I saw a life bird - a White-tailed Kite perched in a dead tree. I took a photo through my scope which was pretty fuzzy but ok for documentation.

Once I left the truck and began birding alongside the Guadeloupe River, I was shocked by the debris. Some was from recent high water but much was crap left by hunters and fishermen. Beer cans galore, fishing line in trees, it was really depressing. But some great birds helped make up for it. Red-bellied woodpeckers made a racket while dozens of yellow-rumps did their flycatchers act.
The highlight was a big bird that flew off and perched in a tree up ahead. Thankful that I didn't have the dog with me, I got right underneath a Great Horned Owl who watched me through the branches but stayed perched as I photographed it and then quietly moved on.

It was a good birding outing but I could not help but contrast it with my trips to new England WMA's. Sure, you'll always run into idiots who litter, but in Texas, it seems to be genetically imprinted. .

We certainly haven't been impressed by recycling efforts in Tennessee, Missssippi, Louisiana, or Texas. We'll be hauling a lot of stuff home but can't start collecting quite yet. Mary and I are far from alone at our disgust for the situation - many from Canada and the upper mid-West share our opinion - as I'm sure do many Texans

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Penny's Operation

I dropped Penny off this morning for the operation to remove the lump from her hind leg. Going there, I mentioned to Mary as we traversed a school zone in busy Rockport, "Boy, these sneak up on you - and people really adhere to the speed limit - must be tough enforcement."
I dropped Mary at the Laundromat and returned to leave off Penny when, "Oh, crap, the school zone" and I hit the brakes just as I saw the two cop cars moving. I pulled over, had my paperwork out, and as the young officer came up, Penny greeted him with a lick. After a long wait as he ran the computer check, he came back with a written warning. So, the day started out ok after all.
We got a call at lunch from the vet's office saying that Penny was resting fine and I could pick her up at four, which I did. After lifting the groggy 55 pound Vizsla into the truck, we traveled back to Goose Island where I carried her into the trailer.

The biopsy will take a week or so but we'll see the vet Saturday to change the bandage and check things out. Stitches come out in two weeks and right now, we don't have a slot here after next week. Weekends fill up and all reservations are taken but we'll figure out something.
Penny is sleeping beside me on the couch as I write and is quite tuckered out. The trick will be as she heals because she can walk but can't run for two weeks. We are glad to have her home.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Shooting Birds

One of the many photographic challenges, particularly when you have a Vizsla on leash in one hand, binoculars in the other, and a camera hanging from your neck, is to get a decent shot of flying birds. Here at Goose Island State Park, it's sometimes easier since the vistas open up and many of the birds are larger and easier to find in the view finder. If there's a stiff wind and you can catch them fighting it, they slow down for you.
So, with Penny "helping," I have been shooting some of the birds we see on our outings, with varying success. It's very much a work in progress and a $5k telephoto lens would help - but that's not going to happen.

As a pilot, I like Brown Pelicans as much as any bird. Wonderful fliers, big targets, and they always look like they are having fun.

Not a good shot of a Northern Harrier but it does show the white body marking that, along with their low-flying hunting, makes them easy to ID.

An Osprey who got away while I grabbed for the camera

A couple of Roseate Spoonbills we saw yesterday. Their breeding plumage will start soon but they pretty neat right now.

The ubiquitous Turkey Vulture with its pronounced dihedral. They are everywhere in Texas.

White Ibis with the black wingtips - hard to miss.

So, tomorrow the sun should be out with better lighting possibilities. We'll see how it goes - good thing it's easy to trash digital prints. Practice does help.