Thursday, August 19, 2010

Way Out West

August, the perfect time to get outta Dodge...and head for the hills...or rather the mountains, the Davis Mountains and Big Bend. Hubby and I participated in this year's Texas Hummingbird Roundup and took in some much needed adventure. I'll spare you the entire itinerary and just say that before the Roundup, we went to Balmorhea, hiked in the Chiuahuan Desert at the Research Center and laid out under the stars to see the Perseid Meteor Shower, whilst drinking some Hoptober and enjoying our friend and fellow CAMNer, Bill.

Female Black Chinned Hummingbird in the cage. Christmas Mountains

Female Black Chinned Hummingbird

Male Lucifer Hummingbird

Flowering Huisache

Christmas Mountains

The roundup took place in and around the Davis Mountain Resort, on 3 private properties including the above Christmas Mountains and our final destination was a hike to the bottom of the Chisos Basin at Big Bend.

Tuna, the fruit of the Prickly Pear was abundant.

All over the Chiuahuan Desert cacti were in bloom, like this Century Plant on the hike down the basin. This is another favorite of hummingbirds and bats.

Nicotiana in bloom, the preferred food of the Blue Throated Hummingbird

Ocotillo outside of Big Bend.

The beautiful Texas Madrone tree, in all our hiking we only saw 3 in the mountains, but we saw a few at Sul Ross that had been planted in honor of Deans.

Emory Peak, Big Bend.

One of many blooming mallows.

The trail behind Indian Lodge in the Davis Mountains State Park, it's a relatively easy hike.

The clearing after a brief storm outside Alpine, Texas.

Well, I went through the pink flowers in the "Wildflowers of Texas" book and didn't find this beauty, I'd love an ID.

Indian Lodge trail.

The Indian Lodge from the trail.
The Indian Lodge was built by the CCC, a troop relocated from Bastrop. They made the bricks, built the lodge and also made a lot of the original furniture which still remains. I think it's one of the nicest of the CCC lodges I've been to, and I always try to stay at them whenever possible. However, the bed was lousy, the shower had no pressure and there was no complimentary coffee. The restaurante left us unimpressed, but I must say it was reverently quiet. We ventured into Ft. Davis and found a wonderful Mexican Restaurant, BYOB across from a liquor store and a darling natural food market that resembled a manageable WholeFoods/Central Market in a SunHarvest size, it's attached to Stone Village Tourist Camp, where we stayed for 3 nights and it was wonderful! Organic gourmet coffee free to the guests, pool and they had hummingbird feeders that were packed!
Top of the trail.

Milk Thistle

I love the rock piles created by hikers over the years...this one was huge and had wildflowers growing through the cracks and around the base.

More view from the hike, which took us about 2 hours. We saw javelina, jackrabbit, roadrunner and a bunch of butterflies and other birds, and the cacti were all blooming like this Spanish Daggar.
One of many, many DYF's (damn yellow flower) on the trail.

The clarity of the puddle and the single butterfly wing in it was poetic.

Though I've heard about the dung beetle, I'd never seen them in action. We stopped and watched these two roll this perfectly round ball of dung a few feet...they were amazingly quick.

This jackrabbit didn't seem to mind us watching him snack on tuna.

It was really wonderful to see wild Esperanza! This is taken from the top of the hiking trail off Skyline Drive, overlooking the town of Fort Davis.

Our favorite resting spot on the hike, we went back later that evening to just sit and take in the beauty and silence.

These barn swallow nests were everywhere we went! I totally admire the building style.

Watching Mama Barn Swallow go in and out feeding her kiddos!

Well, this was the last hike we took and we were the first ones on it that morning...made me feel guilty walking through all those spider webs. This hike is rather hard to find as it's tucked behind a picnic rest area about 10 miles from the McDonald Observatory off the road completely. Well worth the time it took to find it.

I wish I knew what this Dr. Seussian thing was! Not knowing her name didn't stop us from admiring her blowing in the wind! Thanks to Lee and Christine, who live way out west...for the's an Apache Plum!

My favorite rock pile on the Madera Canyon trail.

Not the largest grass hopper we saw, but he was very balanced and strong, the wind was blowing and he just went about his business swaying with the DYF.

This is the last view I'm going to leave you with, it's the last place we sat down for a rest on the hike. The trip was magical, the hikes were invigorating and gorgeous and I think West Texas will go on the calendar for next August as well. It was expandingly beautiful and cool in the evenings and though hot during the afternoons, it was not as hot as Austin! I hope you enjoyed the photos from our only escape from town this summer!
Happy Gardening

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

North Austin Funk...Numero Dos

I don't remember the dimensions of "The Wall" but the message is clear. Jean Graham is the Brentwood artist who had the idea and it was a long process. The wall runs along Woodrow Ave behind the neighborhood MiniMax (located in Crestview) one of the coolest places in the 'hood. The first meeting of minds happened at El Mercado years ago, Linda Anderson, the wonderful art teacher at Brentwood Elementary School, myself and Jean made the first sample pieces that sold the idea to the hood. It's a massive piece of historical art.

Hedrich Michaelson is a dedicated gardener with a beautiful yard and her husband Phil, a great sense of wonder. They have toys tucked in here and around the veggies and native flowers in their xeriscaped front yard. It's always fun to walk by and see what's new.
My friend Ellen's house is on the market (check it out here) one of the coolest, biggest houses in Crestview...but you can still see the shadow of an artist if you're paying attention to detail. She threatened to "shoot my ass" if she found me in her yard...hehe. I love the turquoise balls on the Redbud tree out front. Hi Ellen, ya missed!

Charming gas lamps painted by children, or someone with a childlike perspective. (Note to self: repaint your pathetic lamp!)

I had to hang over the fence to capture the wonderful metal art below.

Wabi-Sabi and I have been walking the 'hood all summer and I'm only showing a few of Michele's playful charms with permission of course!

Every time I try to write something, some bone-head has stolen the Sharpie!

Pan, the goat-god with breasties, sits beneath the Oak tree out front, playing an invisible flute. The story is a good one as to how she acquired it...but not's a delightful, melancholic, blast from the past, on its own.
In order to present our neighborhood in full spectrum, I'd need a turret entry, a color entry, a this isn't art but trash entry and many more...There's a lot of new construction and many houses on the market. I think some may still consider this part of town "transitional" but then again, what isn't? Featuring my 'hood is hopefully a great way to draw artists to this part of town...we have a plethora of creatives, but I'm always open to meeting more cool's all part of the dream. Stay cool and...
Bloom Where You're Planted, if you're not planted...transplant yourself here.
Happy Gardening!