Monte, Keeto, and I headed for the lake today to beat the heat. Soooo nice.
Monte, Keeto, and I headed for the lake today to beat the heat. Soooo nice.
As if I don’t have enough stuff in the backyard already, I went out today in search of a few more things. Planter, check. Bird bath, check. New whirligig thingie, check. 🙂
The first batch this year from the garden. So pretty!
We had a great weekend on the lake! We are now back home and I am wiped out. I think it’s the heat, the sun, the fun that takes it out of me. This was the first raft-up of the year. I clearly need to get my party muscles in shape.
There was little to no wind today. We motored over to Cow Creek to give Michael and Amber a glimpse at one of our favorite spots on the lake.
Then we turned back downriver towards our marina. We passed the racers. It was going to be a very long day for them with these light winds.
The annual Turnback Canyon Regatta is this weekend; a two day race up to around mile marker 30 and back. We’re not racing. In fact we motor sailed a couple of the legs yesterday since the wind was on our nose. But it’s a fun way to spend a weekend on the lake.
We got anchored in time to watch the bigger sloops finish day 1.
Amber and Michael brought tasty nibblies.
We grilled dinner on the boat and listened to Asleep at the Wheel play on-shore as we watched the sun set.
A good day.
Wow. I said I’d sleep in today and I did. Got over 9 hours of sleep, which is AWESOME.
I still got out of the house by about 9:30AM, and spent 6 more hours or so exploring Pisa. It is beautiful, easy to navigate, and has a much calmer vibe than Florence.
The weather has been perfect the week I’ve been here. Sunny. Highs in 70s and 80s. I’m feeling very lucky.
I visited the tower of Pisa, its cathedral and baptistery, as well as the Camposanto building there; the botanical garden; and walked up and down the river and back and forth through town several times.
The Torre and Catedrale…
The adjacent Camposanto Monumentale…
The cityscape along the Arno…
The Botanical Gardens, dating back to 1544, commissioned by the Medici Family.
I packed up and headed to the airport for my flight to London. It’ll be late when I arrive. So no sightseeing planned before my early flight home.
Good night. It’s been fun!
Irene is headed to Portugal today. We said goodbye at the train station.
I left Firenze S.M.N. train station this morning headed for Cinque Terra today. Monte and I spent several days there on our honeymoon. It was beautiful. I just have to pop over since I’m in the neighborhood.
Wow it is packed there in April/May! And that’s not even high season. So, several thousand of my friends and I huddled together in the local train between the cities, and squished through city streets together. But it was worth it for me. I simply love the views.
I checked my backpack at the station in La Spezia and waited for almost an hour in line to buy a CinqueTerra card – which gives admission to the park and the local trains running both ways between the five towns.
Once I was there I spent five hours or so visiting 4 of the 5 towns. And I hiked a bit of the trails. I enjoyed going down to the water the most.
I took the train back to Pisa, checked into my airbnb there to drop off my pack, and then headed back out to catch some of the sights in Pisa before it got dark.
So much beautiful scenery, everywhere you look. This was some nursery the train passed by.
And my train to Pisa stopped at Carrara; as in Carrara marble. These mountains are essentially the quarries for this coveted stone. That’s not snow on the mountains, it’s stone dust and cut stone.
I’m now Back in Pisa for the night. I found this 1989 Keith Haring mural, Tuttomondo, on the side of a church near the Pisa Centrale train station. Nice surprise.
I’m going to sleep in tomorrow! Goodnight.
On my way to the coast on Friday, I made a side trip back to High Island, and was treated to another fun day of birding through their woods. I also made a stop at Bolivar Flats – a beach on the gulf coast. I am woefully lacking knowledge of shorebirds, but am trying to learn. Afterwards, I took the Bolivar-Galveston car ferry to Galveston Island and then drove on up to Kemah to meet the ladies. Some sights..
A pair of red-bellied woodpeckers have consistently made appearances at my feeders for at least two years. The male has chosen a tree in the front yard to make a hollow for their nest. I will be keeping an eye on them!
There were good winds today, pretty steady at 20 knots, so we headed to the lake. We washed a thick layer of pollen off the boat and then we were good to go. We sailed for a couple hours and then picked up Michael and Amber for more sailing and then enjoyed sunset back in the slip.
A good day…
I finished our tax return today, with 2 days to spare!
Now I’m finally getting the opportunity to look back through the notebook that I took with me on a birding trip last weekend. I enjoyed two wonderful days on High Island on the Texas Gulf coast. A cold front was predicted to sweep through southeast Texas last Saturday morning, and I got up early so that I could get to the coast about the same time the Norther did. The hope was that the cold air and strong northerlies would persuade the wave of birds migrating north from Central and South America to land in the woods on High Island for cover, rest, and stay there for a day or so. I left Austin at 3:30AM, drove through the advancing cold front and made it to Boy Scout Woods bird sanctuary right after sunrise.
It was drizzly, not pouring rain, but because of that, I didn’t take my camera out all day on Saturday. But WOW was I treated to a diverse collection of birds. It turns out that the front stalled a bit and took its time getting to the coast. But it eventually did. And though it wasn’t a fallout of colossal proportions, the birds were happy to stop for a break and birding was fantastic, giving me the opportunity to see nearly 100 different species, many of them lifers for me.
We southeastern and central Texas residents are incredibly fortunate to live right on the superhighway that is the twice-a-year-traveled pan-American bird migration path. So, let me share with you a bit of my experience. High Island is a small coastal island on the Gulf of Mexico, southeast of Houston; and it is unique in that it sits on a salt dome foundation, rising over 30′ above sea level, providing a habitat in which shrubs and forests thrive where they are not usually encountered until well inland. The beach along Bolivar Peninsular and the trees in the sanctuaries on High Island are often the first thing migrating birds see after completing their 600 mile (and 15-24 hour) non-stop flight across the Gulf of Mexico.
My trip to High Island was quickly-planned, but I had an amazing experience. First of all, High Island is home to a number of lovely birding sanctuaries/locations that are beautifully owned and managed by the Houston Audubon Society and/or the Texas Ornithological Society. On my trip I visited Boy Scout Woods, Bolivar Flats, Smith Oaks woods & rookery, and Hooks Woods. And since I was in the neighborhood, I spent time at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge on my northwest trek back to Austin.
The Houston Audubon Society charges admission of $8/daily visit to their sanctuaries. Or you can buy a (lovely) patch for $30 which is good for admission to all their High Island sanctuaries for the entire year. I opted for the patch. Because I WILL be back.
Around lunchtime on Saturday I got mighty hungry. So you can imagine how pleased I was to see a sign outside the Boy Scout Woods entrance advertising the local St. Matthews United Methodist church BBQ lunch. Every Saturday during Spring migration. $12 a plate. Delicious. Also, I simply must encourage you to make sure you take advantage of the FREE, 3-times a day each Saturday during Spring Migration guided walks hosted by the fantastic group Tropical Birding. Tropical Birding have been partners of Houston Audubon Society for many years. Three expert guides walked us around the island with sharp eyes, ears, and spotting scopes, making it easy to see the birds that are usually so invisible. I spent at least 8 hours with these guys and enjoyed every minute of it.
I didn’t have a plan to stay on the coast overnight, but I knew I would. It was very easy to find an inexpensive place to stay in Winnie, Texas, just 20 miles north of High Island, right off I-10.
I did eventually get my camera out on Sunday, which was quite chilly, but at least it wasn’t raining. I may post a picture or two from that set of photos in the future. But, for now, if you are even mildly interested in birding, you must get down there soon!
On February 20th, we noticed a pair of Carolina wrens making a nest in a planter we have on the patio out back. For the last week or two we have watched them bringing insects all day long, and could hear the babies’ chirps. Today they fledged! I saw the first one jump out. Then called Monte to the window. We watched the second one jump out, and then he reminded me I might want to get a picture or two. 🙂
The last three…
And then there were two…
And then there was one…
And then there were none! Such cuties.
Yay! Now I can finally trim that plant and water it.
With no commitments until Easter dinner with Julie later in the day, we headed out to visit Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. It is a beautiful place to see in the spring, full of gardens teeming with wildflowers, and several miles of lovely trails to explore.
I don’t think the wildflowers have peaked yet in south Austin, based on what we saw here, so there’s still time to get out there and see them!
There is a great-horned owl family roosting in a wall ledge just inside the entrance. There are two owlets, but they are not sticking their heads up in this shot.