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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Road Trip, Day 3 (Pt. 1); Carlsbad, NM

May 10th we woke early and went to Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park.

I agree wholeheartedly with Sierra Club founder John Muir.

We were fortunate to take our trip when the desert was in bloom. Here are some of the plants that we saw...

Apache plume. Thanks to Turtlerangler for the ID!

These water lilies (the only plants I can positively ID for you here,) were in a man-made pond up by the visitor's center.

Bougainvillea. Thanks to Angie for the ID!

Desert willow flower. Thanks to Turtlerangler for the ID!

Next post; Birds at Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Road Trip, Day 1 and 2; Glen Rose, TX (Updated)

We headed out on our road trip around 1am on Sunday, May 8th. Our first stop was Glen Rose, TX, where Charles wanted to go to Dinosaur Valley State Park. Home to some of the best-preserved dinosaur tracks in the world, they're fossilized in the bed of a river that runs through the park. Unfortunately I don't have photos to share, since I'd deleted them from the memory card after downloading them to my laptop, which died the very next day (go figure.) I'm going to bring the laptop to a techie friend to see what he can do.

Update, Jul. 12, 2011; My laptop's a goner, but my friend got my photos back. Here are a few;

Apatosaurus and tyrannosaurus models.

Dinosaur tracks (left by the hunter, Acrocanthosaurus.) The prey dinosaur's tracks are just kind of circular, so I didn't include them here. They were made by Paluxysaurus (named in '07 after the river in which these tracks lie. Also now the official dinosaur of Texas.)

In Glen Rose, we stayed at an Americas Best Value Inn, which was nice enough. The man at the desk was professional, but never quite warm or friendly. I wondered if the company motto was; "Americas Best Value Inn. Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out."

Before hitting the road to Carlsbad, NM on May 9th, we wandered a bit and stopped by Big Rocks Park, which we'd accidentally discovered not far from our hotel the previous day.

The rocks here are, indeed, big and some had strange pits in them. It was fun wandering around here. At one point we thought we caught a glimpse of a big cat, but in retrospect I think it was just a really large, domesticated one.

My first sighting of a green heron. There was also some kind of sandpiper.

Somehow I'd gotten my polarizing filter stuck on my camera lens at the park. Neither of us could get it off, so we went to a local hardware store to look for a tool to aid the process, but an employee there was able to get the filter off with no problem. Evidently Ace really is the place with the helpful hardware folks...thankfully!

Not far from our hotel we also came upon this quaint, dilapidated building. I have no idea what it once was, but it was cool all the same.

Part of what made it cool (and appropriate to the ruined setting,) about a dozen black vultures were in the trees nearby.

We also went by Dinosaur World. Although we didn't go in, I had to get a picture of one of the statues outside.

We'd bought a GPS to help navigate, which gave us questionable or downright bad directions from time to time (fortunately I also brought directions from Google Maps and a road atlas of N. America.) Leaving the Americas Best Value Inn (not letting the door hit me in the ass on the way out,) despite knowing we had to go left, I followed the GPS's direction to make a right. It then told us, "In 400 yards, make a u-turn." Stupid GPS!

Much of the rest of the day was spent driving across Texas, heading to our next destination; Carlsbad, NM. We checked into a hotel (where my laptop died,) then had dinner at a Chinese restaurant that boasted the "best Mexican food" on a large banner outside. I should have taken a hint from that. Although my food was alright, Charles really didn't enjoy his meal & if the place had an atmosphere, it was "suicidal." Things only got better from there, fortunately, so stay tuned!

Next stop; Carlsbad, NM.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Now for the truth...

Despite my mention (in the last post,) that I was taking a week off, a few of my last entries were actually pre-posted. Charles & I had been gone on a road trip through the American Southwest, hitting many of the major (and some minor) sites, for example;

Sorry for the deception, but I didn't want to announce to cyberspace that our house would be empty for over a week. It's taken me 3 days since our return to sort and edit my 2000+ photos and my mouse arm is killing me. Stay tuned for the stories and images from our epic trip!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Hollywood in Abita Springs

Many movies and TV shows are filmed in and around the New Orleans area, including Treme, Steven Segal; Lawman, Red, The Skeleton Key and (of course,) Interview with the Vampire. The ineptitude of the New Orleans Police Dept. is often shown on Bait Car (the police often lose the bait car & the thieves get away.)
Closer to home, the St. Tammany Police Dept. have been on the TV show, Speeders (fortunately I have not been on the show, since I don't speed.) Scenes from Green Lantern were filmed not far from where I vend at the outdoor art market in Madisonville, LA.

However, the very-small-town quaintness of Abita Springs (pop. 2800, where Charles and I live,) is also often the site of Hollywood shoots. Driving into work a couple of weeks ago I passed by filming at a local gas station (although I've been unable--yet--to determine what's being shot.) Back in March, scenes were filmed for the impending film, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Last summer Zac Efron was in town, filming scenes for The Lucky One, based on the book by Nicholas Sparks (and also impending.) The year before that, William Hurt was here, filming The Yellow Handkerchief. This movie is now available on DVD & is supposed to be quite good. Although I haven't had time to watch it yet, I did preview the beginning of the movie. In the background I saw my workplace and Mama D's Pizza (which makes the best garlic bread with cheese you'll ever taste!)

"LA" isn't always Los Angeles. Sometimes it's Louisiana. ;)

News article about "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" in Abita Springs
News article about "The Lucky One" in Abita Springs

I'm going to take a week's break from blogging. Stay tuned--I'll be back soon!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Northlake with an Eagle Eye, Pt. II

More photos from our recent walk at Northlake Nature Center.

One of the many, MANY turtles in the area.

Out in the back 40 we encountered 4 white-tailed deer. They were moving too quickly for me to get any really decent shots of them, but the experience was really cool!

Charles spotted this snakeskin on the side of this log. We took it home with us, where I measured it. It's about 4 1/2" long.

Sulphur-winged grasshopper.

I saw this male downy woodpecker in the same area where I saw one a few weeks ago. As such, I'm assuming it's the same one and that it's probably nesting somewhere nearby.

A young American alligator, probably about a year and a half old.

A red iris. I've never seen them this color before.

Despite Charles' protestations that he's actually a decrepit, old man with failing eyesight and hearing, without him I would have missed most of what I've shared in these last 2 posts (except for the turtles, of course. They're too prolific at Northlake to miss.) As with everything else, life's just better when Charles is around, "decrepit" or not!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Northlake with an Eagle Eye, Pt. I and More

Charles and I went back to Northlake Nature Center a couple of weekends ago. My hikes are always much better and more fruitful with my eagle-eyed husband.

6-spotted tiger beetle.

Some kind of snake.

4 Eastern lubber grasshopper nymphs. There were many more in the immediate area. These little nymphs will grow up to be large (about 3" long,) and colorful.

Little wood satyr butterfly.

Bronze frog.

Bumblebee on some kind of wild pea plant.

Stay tuned for more discoveries in Pt. II!

In art news, my Sun through Live Oaks photo is Nature Photo of the Week over on The Nature Conservancy's blog.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


After a swarm of termites chased me out of Northlake Nature Center (see previous post,) I went to Fontainebleau State Park, just a couple of miles up the road.


Bonaparte's gull.

A strange, orange plant I haven't been able to ID yet (drop me a comment if you can help!) It's not part of the green plant, fyi.

One of many red-headed woodpeckers.

Some kind of oxalis flowers.

Heading back to the car, I heard a loud buzzing noise near a tree. I looked up to see dozens of bees swarming a live oak. Being deathly allergic, I beat a hasty retreat (and took some photos from a safe distance with my 300mm zoom.)
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