Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Number 41: Port Isabel Lighthouse

Port Isabel Lighthouse State Historic Site in Port Isabel was not at all what I expected.

One of only 5 remaining Texas Lighthouses
I thought it would be on the coast with a large open park area surrounding it.  Maybe some oleander and palm trees.

The Smallest State Park at .9 acres.
Not at all the case.  After climbing a series of 3 ladders,

The only lighthouse that allows admission to the public.
including a real wooden ladder,

ascending the 75 steps to the top,

you can see you are not on the coast, nor surrounded by park.  You are smack dab in the middle of town.

You can, however, see all the way to Padre Island (the spring break capital of Texas) from the top.

Padre Island is 2.37 miles across the Laguna Madre over the Queen Isabella Causeway
The streets around the lighthouse are very touristy with shops and restaurant, but did offer up this wonderful bronze statue.

And I had to get a picture of this flowering cacti that was growing in the parking lot.  Is it just me or do the flowers look like bunches of bananas?

We couldn't drive all the way without at least checking out the beach on Padre Island.  It was a very windy day and the red flags were flying, but Breck loves a good beach.

I, however, am partial to trees, city benches, and shade.

But now I have a new goal when we are finished visiting all the state parks; visiting the remaining 4 lighthouses in Texas.  One down.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Number 40: Resaca de la Palma State Park

I don't have many pictures of this park, though it was one of our favorites on our trip to south Texas Easter weekend.

Like the other birding parks we visited, this park does not allow vehicles past the visitor's center.  We took a tram to the back of the park and began our hike there.

There are 8 miles of trails in the park and we got lucky with our pick.  Sure, we saw birds like this Great Kiskadee, but it just got better.

Rounding a corner we spotted this wonderful creature in the distance.  A beautiful bobcat sitting in the middle of the trail.

I am not even sure he knew we were there as he wandered the trail, eyeing the tall grass for lunch.

Even once he did spot us, he slowly turned and headed the other direction unhurried by our presence.

We could have left the park happy and satisfied right then.  What an amazing experience.  In fact, my motivation for taking pictures dropped off at this point knowing I couldn't top it.  I did, however, take a few pictures of the cactus that was in full bloom.

On our way out we spotted one more little creature that was a real treat.  A Laredo Striped Whiptail Lizard was sunning in the road.  He may just seem like just another lizard, but this guy is only found along the Rio Grande River in far southTexas.

Beautiful day.  Beautiful park.  One more to check off our list.

Monday, April 28, 2014

My Spring Garden

My posts are going to be a bit all over the place for awhile.  I still need to catch you up on 2 park trips and some home improvements, but today it's the garden.  Looking at it as a whole it may not seem that there is a whole lot going on.

But look closer and you will see our 14 pea plants have sprouted along the fence line.

The Grape and Sweet 100's have blossoms and their first tomatoes.  The Roma tomatoes took a hit in the late long freeze we had and are lagging behind.

The onions have had a real burst of top growth.  Soon their tops will fall over and I will know they are ready for harvest.

Things that grow under the soil are hard for me.  I like to see what is happening and the control freak in me just can't settle in to wait and see.  But this guy is giving me a glimpse to let me know I have at least 1 viable onion.

And, folks, that is the celery I planted 10 months ago from the left over end of store bought (Celery From Celery).  Crazy.

Zucchini, Crook Neck Squash, and Cauliflower are doing well.

The cucumber I planted on the far end of the fence are . . . okay.  They also took a hit in our freeze.  I am hoping with the warmer weather and sunshine they will come back strong.  Each has blossoms, but I am considering pinching them back until the stems and leaves show improvement.

Then there are lettuce and Brussel Sprout plants.  You may notice, if you look closely, that the Brussel Sprout leaves are riddled with holes.

With closer inspection it is easy to see what is going on here.

That, friends, is a Cabbage Looper making a meal of my sweeties.

And this sack on one of the leaves is the Looper in its larva stage changing into a moth.  Look really close and you can see the moth inside head down.

Not what I wanted to find, but as far as pests go it could be a lot worse.

So there is my garden update.  Hopefully we can continue to get some good rain here and there to keep everything happy and growing.  Of course I'll let you know how things are going.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Bluebonnet Season is Coming to a Close

It's that time of year when the bluebonnets have passed their prime and the blossoms are few and far between.

However, I don't dare mow until the seed pods, left behind to ensure next years flowers, have dried and popped.  These pods are still on the green side and will need another week.  Note the Barred Owl feathers.  Our local bobcat is probably to blame.

Photo courtesy of Jayne Jahnke
Until then, my front yard is a disaster with only a few Indian Paintbrush to give it color.

I am actually quite pleased about the paintbrush.  Last year I had just one lone flower (Indian Paintbrush of My Own).  Lucky for me it went to seed and I now have a growing patch of the beauties.

I did harvest some of the pods that were ready and just need a little more time to dry before I shuck them.

I did this last year and had great success (Bluebonnet Seed Harvest).  I may try to gather some of the Indian Paintbrush too, though nature seems to be doing a great job with that.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Number 39: Falcon State Park

I am always amazed at how different the state parks are from each other.  Even though the 5 parks we visited Easter weekend were very close together, they had their own unique characteristics.  And Falcon State Park had something that a lot people wanted (as evident by the long line of cars waiting to get in);  a lake.

But the water is not what we were interested in this day.  The three mile hike was calling our name.

Texas Sage
The flora and fauna were so interesting along the trail.  I have no idea what this was, but it sure was beautiful.

The hike was an easy one; mostly flat and sandy.

The Border Paloverde trees were stunning.  The official color of Texas should be yellow.  Yes,  we have blue bonnets, but most of our other blooms are yellow.

Shells?  This I can't really explain.  Though Texas was covered in ocean 100 million years ago, this shell was not that old.

Maybe my favorite photo of the day was of some wild thistle.  Check out this little beetle and tell me he doesn't look like he is dancing to you.

The thistle was calling to the butterflies as well.

The cactus was in full bloom.  Could this be the Yellow Rose of Texas?

And this picture is of a javelina.  Well.  It should have been a picture of a javelina, but my camera refused to take a picture no matter how many times I mashed down on the button..  I can't explain it, but it happened more than once.  Too bad.  I would love to have shown you a picture of the small pig as it ran just feet in front of us crashing through the Wild Olive trees.

I had the same problem again trying to get a picture of this rabbit.  Luckily, he froze in place hoping I wouldn't see him, giving me the chance to turn my camera off then on again to get the shot.

No birds.  They were around, but we really were just in it for the hike.  Besides, there were many other opportunities to see birds on our trip.