Wednesday morning I set my alarm for 4:30 am, got up, and looked out the window; overcast skies and foggy. I told myself that it was unlikely I’d get a shot of the first-in-150years-super-full-blue-blood moon. I went back to bed without taking a step outside.
So, I don’t have a photo of that. This, however, was taken yesterday morning while I was freezing and hiking around the woods. The moon is pretty, most days.
Yesterday, before the sun came up, and with a 16 foot long bag of pole-vault poles strapped to the roof of my car, I took Irene and Jeremy to the airport for their flights home. I could have begun my 6 hour drive home right then. But I had one more thing I really wanted to do in Lubbock before I left — to find a burrowing owl. I had to wait for the 7:30AM sunrise to do it. So, I went to Starbucks to kill some time, and then scoped out a couple parks.
After sunrise I spent about 90 minutes surveying several locations where ebird.org had reported sightings this month. But no luck. I was bummed, but I couldn’t stay here all day. So I punched in my home address on google maps and was about to head home. And then I thought I’d buzz through Mackenzie Park on my way out of town. I spent about 15 minutes there, when I turned around to leave. Out of the corner of my eye I saw something, and (drumroll, please), there he was! A little burrowing owl sunning himself on his burrow mound. AND he stood there long enough for me to take a picture. It’s not great; the sun was in my face; but I got it! 🙂
We found a restaurant rated as one of the top restaurants in Lubbock by tripadvisor.com: Cocina de La Sirena. And it was indeed fabulous. Great drinks. Nice wines. Gluten-free options. Tapas-style appies. Happy hour from 4-6pm, even on Saturday.
Check them out here.
Day 1 of the track meet today. Texas Tech has a brand new, state of the art indoor track and field facility. This 12′ tall metal sculpture is called ‘Run’ and stands outside the entrance.
My friend, Irene, called me up over the weekend to ask me to meet her in Lubbock today. Her son is competing in a track meet and she’s flying in to watch him. I said yes. It’s about 350 miles northwest of Austin. So I hit the road this morning. Here’s some of the sights I took in today.
At some point I was surrounded by giant wind turbines as far as the eye could see. This picture captures the old with the new, all planted in the middle of a freshly harvested cotton field.
There are prairie dogs everywhere in Lubbock! (And meadowlarks, too)
It turns out one of the best places to go birding in Lubbock is the cemetery. So I had to check it out. And sure enough, I saw many. Buddy Holley was from Lubbock, and is buried here. I stopped by to pay my respects.
Yesterday we helped Julie move into her new apartment. Then she joined us for dinner. I shouldn’t have, but I made a very decadent pasta dish, and we pigged out while watching The Princess Bride (for probably the tenth time). If you are craving a high-calorie, savory, down-home, soul-food kind of pasta dish. This is the one for you.
Sausage & Basil Baked Pasta
- 1 small sweet onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 oz dry penne or ziti pasta (makes about 3 cups cooked)
- 1 lb fresh mild italian ground sausage
- 24 oz jar of tomato & basil sauce
- 2 eggs
- 15 oz carton of ricotta cheese
- 2 c shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 c shredded parmesan cheese
- 1/4 c fresh basil, chopped
Boil pasta per package directions, drain and set aside.
In medium saucepan, cook & crumble italian sausage. Drain off fat. Return skillet to heat and add onion & garlic to sausage. Saute until onion is soft. Add tomato sauce, heat through and set aside.
In large bowl, combine ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, eggs, and half of the mozzarella. Fold in the cooked pasta to combine well with cheese mixture.
Into a 13×19 pan, add half of the pasta & cheese mixture, spread evenly. Add half the sausage & tomato sauce mixture. Layer again with remaining cheese and sauce.
Cover and bake in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, until bubbly.
Remove cover, add remaining mozzarella cheese and place back in oven for 5-10 minutes, until cheese is melted.
Sprinkle with chopped basil and serve. Makes enough to feed an army.
Tonight we went to dinner with Mike and Amber at the Pour House. A fun evening. And we ordered a colorful variety of draft beers. Monte seems to be a bit ahead of us before the toast, though. Cheers!
This morning my friend, Joe, set off as a crew member on a 46′ sailboat to help move her from Key West, Florida to Kemah, Texas. The boat has Garmin navigational equipment on-board, which means people can follow their progress via a garmin web portal. So I’m watching. And I’m wishing them fair winds and an uneventful crossing. Their current position is down by the blue arrow just off of Key West. The trip will be about 800 nautical miles, and I’d guess that depending on their average speed, it will take them 5-7 days.
I am also watching the weather (wind speed, wave height, temps, etc) through a website called windy.com. The pinkish color below represents the current wave activity (10-20 foot seas) trailing the tail end of the cold front that moved through the southeast US this week. It looks like they timed their departure to just skirt north of that nasty stuff. I hope they see only blue or turquoise (6 foot seas or less) out there for the next 7 days or so.
I’ve also recently started using an open source chart plotter navigation program called OpenCPN. I’ve installed it on my Macbook, and have uploaded charts for the Gulf of Mexico. There are many obstructions and hazards out there; lit and unlit; above and below sea level; as well as a significant level of ship traffic.
Godspeed to Joe and all mariners out there.
My latest package delivery from Amazon, via UPS Ground; as found on my porch. I wonder if they thought I’d notice? Incredibly, the contents were unharmed and complete.
Apologies for all the bird pictures of late. But I’ve had a lot of birding moments since the new year began, so they dominate my thoughts.
This one was sweet. I visited Pedernales Falls State Park today, which has a wonderful pair of bird blinds. While I was inside one of the bird blinds, a little ruby-crowned kinglet hit the roof and fell inside the bird blind. He was stunned, and stuck in a narrow opening in the wall. I picked him up and set him on the floor. He eventually got his wits about him again and flew off.
It is rare that I can even lay eyes on these guys long enough to identify them. So I enjoyed getting an up close look at this little one. I had my telephoto lens on my Olympus, so I had to take this macro shot with my iphone. So tiny!
American Kestrel. Commons Ford Park in Austin. Sometimes this is the best shot you can get.
One last photo of the Christmas tree before I take down all the lights and decorations. Oh, have I mentioned that I love tulips?
A friend of mine from high school, Pilar, was in town for business this week. She stayed over an extra night and we got to have dinner together and catch each other up on several decades of our lives.
I loved it. Reconnecting with an old friend was a great way to start off the new year.
I also loved the flan that Monte made for dessert. Mmmmmmm delicious!
I got a few up close shots of a wood duck yesterday. What a colorful creature.