2019, Travel/Vacation

The Wichita Mountains In April 2019 (Part I)

Yesterday, Kevin, Katelynn, Sara, Luis and I visited the Wichita Mountain National Wildlife Refuge again. The girls have a four-day weekend. And Kevin took the day off. What’s better than go on a hike on a beautiful Good Friday?! This time, we entered the park from the eastern entrance by Medicine Park. Because first we wanted to go up to Mt. Scott. But for some reason, it was closed for entering by car. We didn’t want to take the long hike up to the peak of the mountain. So we decided to move on and hike another trail. But first, we went to the Holy City. Katelynn and Sara went inside the church, before I went behind the buildings with them. Kevin stayed with Luis in the grassy area by the parking lot. Luis can get a bit excited around people. And we didn’t want to take any chances. Before getting back to Road 115, there is a field where the Prairie Dogs call this place their home. It is fun to watch them, when they bark signals to each other. They seem fine being out and about, when visitors of the park just drive by. But once, we crossed the white line, they became territorial, ran back into their burrows.

Last time we were at the refuge, we went to the Jed Johnson Lake Dam. This time, we wanted to hike and chose to go up to the tower. Katelynn, Sara and I decided to cross the little creek and walked up a “shortcut” along the lake, while Kevin and Luis went the regular trail along the creek. But therefore our trail was a little bit more rugged and some steep boulders needed to be climbed, before we made it to the tower. Kevin just walked the easier, but longer way. Luis could walk, lie in the shade or water for a bit, before he trotted behind Kevin again. Our pup is such a couch potato. 😀

Standing next to the Jed Johnson Tower, we had a nice view over the lake. In the distance, Mount Scott could easily be made out as the highest peak in the Wichita Mountain chain. There are also several stories roaming the internet about the Jed Johnson Tower and the lake being haunted. Honestly, if there is a ghost, it is definitely not ill intended. I felt no bad presents going up and around the tower at all. But I sure was drawn to it. After walking around the tower and let Luis rest in the shade for a little bit, we took the same way back which Kevin hiked up with the dog. It was an easier way down to get back to the car.

Coming from Jed Johnson Lake, we also took a short trip to Rush Lake. Since we had quite a bit of rain the last few days, the lakes are full. The water of Rush Lake is currently going over the spillway and the below creek leads into the Jed Johnson Lake.

… to be continued …

2019, In The Garden

Succulent Droplets

The weather is just meh and blah, today.  This morning, we had thunder storms and hail coming through North Texas. The wind is cooling everything down. And this evening it rains again. But this did not preventing me from going out in the greenhouse and check on my plants. The moisture left quite a few droplets on the succulents as can be seen in the photos.

2018, Travel/Vacation

Travel Journal, Day 1: From Texas To New Mexico

June 16, 2018

Man, I was in a crappy mood when we packed the car and left for Utah on Saturday morning. I slept only four hours the night prior. And I didn’t feel good. But this was not stopping us from going on vacation. I took a two-hour nap in the car, while Kevin was driving towards Amarillo. Several miles after Wichita Falls, I woke up and felt refreshed. I’ve noticed, Sara was taking a nap as well. It’s not usual for her. But she must have been pooped as well. At the Quanah County Safety Rest Area, we took a break to have lunch. Walking along the pond was a nice break from sitting in the car, before we were moving on.

In Amarillo, Kevin said something about the Cadillac Ranch. I did a little research, and found out that the ranch is west of Amarillo. Usually, we drive through Amarillo at night. So, we’ve never seen it from the Interstate. This time, we decided to make a stop. After Kevin refilled the van tank, we parked on the side of the service road. It took a short walk and we were standing in front of ten half sunken in Cadillacs. I handed Katelynn and Sara each a spray can, which were just laying around on the ground. The girls left their marks at the cars. Sara was not happy, she had spray paint on her fingers. I said: “Girl, it’s a vacation trophy along the way. I’ve got spray paint on my fingers, too.” Katelynn showed her fingers and agreed: “See, we all got trophies from our first sight along the road.” Sara lightened up and smiled: “Yeah, I guess I’ve got a trophy.”

Getting to the Texas/New Mexico border, we got into some rain. The temperatures dropped from 89ºF (31ºC) to 65ºF (18ºC) while the thunderstorm came through. It was very refreshing, after the heat and humidity in Dallas.

At the Pajarito Rest Area in New Mexico, we ate dinner. We always bring food on the road to save some $$. The girls enjoy a good old “Road Sandwich made by Momma with L-O-V-E”, some fruits and apple juice. Snacks are important, too. That keeps our girls happy and Kevin’s wallet gets a break. The sun was out, and the kids could walk around  for a little bit. Our goal was to make it to Farmington in New Mexico that night.

When we approached Albuquerque, it looked like we are driving into another storm. And sure enough, as soon as we got over that hill it looked as we are driving towards a raging volcano. Driving through the city, the sky unleashed it’s “beast”. Getting down the hill, the wind was so gusty, it shook the whole van, while we dried to make it to the get to the other side of town. Once we were on the west side of Albuquerque, the sun came out and we saw a beautiful double rainbow. We were surprised, how vivid the colors came out and how long it lasted. It looked stunning.

On Highway 550, we were on our last stretch for the day. There was another, much lighter rain storm, before we arrived in Farmington. I could not wait getting out of the car and rest for the night. It was a long day. But we’ve reached our goal. And we weren’t to far from the Four Corners Monument, which we would see the following day.

… to be continued …

2018, Travel/Vacation

Travel Journal, Day 2: From Texas To California

December 25, 2017

It is Christmas. Santa must have made another visit and re-filled the stockings with toys, games and a few walnuts. The girls were excited, that Santa came for a second time. After we had breakfast at the motel, we packed up the car and drove into New Mexico. It was quiet and cool in the desert. Some people took a break and a nap at the rest area. They also must be on a long journey to meet family on this special day.  I used the chance to photograph yucca palms, prickly pear cacti and the San Andres Mountains, before we moved on. The Sun just started to rise on this beautiful Christmas morning. After Las Cruces, we went from Interstate 10 to Interstate 8. The night before, Kevin and I decided to go to the beach in San Diego.

When we arrived in Arizona, we took a short break to stretch out. Katelynn and Sara walked around and checked out some stones. Kevin got some snacks and drinks ready for the road later. And I did a little photo walk around the rest area. While we were driving through the Arizona desert, we wanted to look at the big Saguaro cacti. They are famous for this area, and seen in a lot of the old Western movies. Some of them looked like they were ready to fall over. They had a lot of holes from birds and other critters living in them and try to find shelter from the torching Summer sun. Other Saguaro cacti looked perfect and untouched. Getting a closer look, I had to pass some snake holes and lots of ants. Before I went back to the car, I shook my pants and checked for ants. These little buggers were sneaky, climbing up my legs. But I rather deal with them, than these annoying fire ants, we have in Texas.

In California, we’ve noticed that Sara entered her 30th US-state. That’s a lot of states for a 8-year, young lady like Sara. Yep, she’s been around in the US, quite a bit. We passed the Imperial Sand Dunes. Several people used the opportunity to get out with their dune buggies and ride these dunes on this nice, sunny holiday. I was jealous, a little bit. Because it looked like a lot of fun. The elevation became higher and higher, when we drove through the Rockies. Lots of wind turbines were out in the fields. Kevin mentioned, he like the Texas turbines better. They are taller, but optical it seems their blades seem to be bigger. I don’t know, if they are bigger or if it is due to their height, They just seem to be much larger. And I found out, where the Rocky Mountains derived their name from: They are nothing other than rocks, boulders, and coarse gravel in that particular area. =D But together they look very beautiful in the Californian sunset.

In the early evening, we arrived in San Diego. Kevin got a condo right at the beach for the night. I could not ask for more. While waiting for him to get us signed in, I rolled down the car window to listen to the rolling waves of the Pacific ocean. I couldn’t see it, because it was dark. But the sound was so soothing after a long ride through the desert all day.

… to be continued …

2017, In The Garden

My First Succulents

I remember when I was little, my paternal grandmother used to love cacti. And she also had them for years. Every year, she re-potted some of them. And therefore, she had her fingers bricked by a gazillion of the stingers. But she didn’t care, because she loved these plants so much. I like them too, but not that much. I love the beauty and sight of cacti. And I love the fact, that these plants can live without water for months. Their blossoms look so beautiful.

So, to make this story short: I went to the local nursery to get a small Juniper and a Pine tree for the Christmas season. While I made my choices on these trees, I stumbled across a shelf with succulents. The ones with the ceramic pile of books caught my interest. And I decided to take one home. It contains an Aloe Vera, a Jade, a Lety’s Sedeveria, a Portylacaria Afra, and a Wax Agave. The girls are fascinated, and keep asking: “Are these real plants?” After I explained a few facts about succulents to the girls, they just keep looking at these small plants. Let’s see, how we will do in a few months. 😉

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Aloe Vera, Jade, Lety’s Sedeveria, Portylacaria Afra, and Wax Agave