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.

No comments: