Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve.

Today I went birding with my friend, Doray, to Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve.   I’m a novice.  I was able to get a lot of amazing photos of tree branches.  :)   If I ever get an amazing photo of a bird, I may share here.  But for now, I won’t bore you with it.   We did see several kinds of birdies, so I’m calling it a success.

Here are two non-bird shots from the morning:

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Knocked one off the bucket list.

Over the weekend I took a roadtrip with 4 girlfriends to Big Bend National Park in far southwest Texas.   I’ve lived in Texas over 20 years and have never made it out there.   And it was long overdue.   It is all that they say it is.   Big, beautiful, rugged, inspiring, with mountain, desert and river views to die for.

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We made it!

Six and a half hours by car from Austin, we made it to Ft. Davis by about 7pm Friday night.  We had reservations to attend one of the evening Star Parties held 3 times a week at the University of Texas McDonald Observatory, and made it with a little time to spare.   The skies were dark and the stars were out.   The Milky Way was amazing.   The stars and constellations visible to the naked eye were too many to count.  Through the telescopes they had placed for visitors, I saw Saturn, the Andromeda Galaxy, M11 star cluster, and the 2 star clusters in the Perseus constellation.   If you’re going to make the trip all the way out to Big Bend, you really should combine it with a trip to the observatory.   Get tickets ahead of time online.   They sell out frequently and have to turn people away.

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McDonald Observatory giant telescopes on the hill – viewed from where we stayed outside of Fort Davis

Saturday morning we drove to Big Bend and hiked inside of Big Bend National Park.   Saturday afternoon we did the Window Trail – to experience the Chisos Mountains part of Big Bend.   Four hours round trip, a moderately challenging hike, with breathtaking scenery all along the way.

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The Window in the Chisos Mountains from the beginning of the Window Trail.

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The Window view at the pour-off at the end of the trail. Watch your step!

We started Sunday at Santa Elena Canyon at dawn – to experience the Rio Grand river part of Big Bend.  It was about an easy 2 hour hike roundtrip – though we had to bushwack a bit to get onto the trail.  The Rio Grande has sliced a 1500′ deep canyon through the mountain there.  At sunrise, the face of the sheer mountain walls glow in the brightening sunlight.

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The Santa Elena Canyon trail, looking northeast with the sun rising over the Rio Grande.

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About a mile and a half into the Santa Elena Canyon trail along the Rio Grande.

Sunday afternoon we hiked the Mule Ears Springs trail – to experience the Chihuahuan Desert part of Big Bend.   A 3 hour hike, moderate difficulty, mainly due to the rough terrain and 90+ degree temperatures.  Packing water with you is a must!

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Mule Ears, in the distance on the left, from the Mule Ears Springs trail.

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From the Mule Ears Springs trail, looking back south to Santa Elena Canyon in the distance.

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Chihuahuan Desert scape, looking north to the mountains from the south side of the park.

Another very awesome trip.  We hiked our butts off.

Super hunter’s moon 2016.

I enjoyed playing with my big-girl-camera while photographing the moon last night.  The first one was right after it rose above the horizon, and the second was shot a while (and many frames) later.  I was especially pleased that I got a good shot or two given that I took them from the boat.  It’s a magical time for a moon dance….

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A new game.

During my last visit to Seattle, my sister taught me a new game called Ten Thousand.  It’s played with six dice, and a pencil/paper to keep score.   Two or more people can play.

We’ve played it on the boat the last few times we’ve gone out… and have only lost one die in the lake, so far.   I’ve been repurposing them from other games as I go. 🙂

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I’ve been told the game is similar to Farkle, but I am not familiar with that game to say if that is true.   Here are the rules we use for our version of  Ten Thousand:

Order of play: Each player rolls 1 die to determine order of play, highest one goes first, turns proceed clockwise around the table, as follows…

The general idea:  To begin, all players start off with a score of  zero on the board.  Each player’s turn is made up of one or more rolls.  A player must roll the dice to accumulate points on each turn, according to the scoring combinations outlined below.  She can keep rolling as long as she rolls a scoring combination, but she risks losing all points on a turn if she busts (i.e., rolls without a scoring combination).   Each player must first accumulate 1000 points or more on a turn to get “on the board” and to begin recording a score.   If player n cannot reach 1000 points or more on her first turn, no points are recorded for that turn, and play passes to the next player.  Player n must then try to get on the board on each of her subsequent turns.  Once player n is on the board, she can stop at any number of points to end her turn, and those points are added to her score on the board.   If a player busts on any turn, no points are recorded for that turn.  Standard play ends when one player’s score on the board reaches 10000 or more.  At which point each remaining player takes one more turn to see if she can beat it.  The player with the highest score after that final round is the winner.

Method of scoring:  To start a turn, a player rolls all the dice.  To keep rolling, she must roll something that matches one of the scoring combinations.  She must then set aside at least one of the scoring combinations as ‘counter(s)’ on each roll that will count towards the point total of that turn.  She then rolls the remaining (non-counter) dice to continue her turn.   If all 6 of the dice are ‘counters’ a given turn, player must roll all 6 dice again, to continue adding to her total points for that turn.   Once a player is ‘on the board,’ she can decide to end her turn with any number of points and add them to her total on the board.   However, if a player rolls resulting in no scoring combination for that roll, that player ‘busts,’ her turn is over, and no score is recorded on the board for her on that turn.  Play then passes to the next player.

Scoring combinations (* note that ⚀’s are special):

On any roll:

⚄ = 50
⚀ = 100*

In a single roll:

3 of a kind equals that face value in hundreds (e.g., 3 ⚄ = 500).
3 ⚀ = 1000 *

6 of a kind equals that face value in thousand  (e.g., 6 ⚁ = 2000)
6 ⚀= 10,000*

A run = 1500 (i.e., ⚀⚁⚂⚄⚃⚅ )

Three sets of pairs = 1500  (e.g., ⚀⚀ ⚃⚃ ⚄⚄…. or even ⚂⚂ ⚂⚂ ⚅⚅, etc).

I hope that made sense.  Now find 6 dice and give it a try!

Scenes from the weekend.

We rafted up with Marty & Sue in Bee Creek over the weekend.  No wind, but we had beautiful weather.

We were treated to an exceptionally stunning sunset Saturday evening.  This photo is not edited; the colors really were that amazing.

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And in the morning we were surrounded by hazy fog rising off the warmer-than-air lake water.

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Twas beautiful, indeed.

Late bloomer.

I planted a 2-gallon sized Pride of Barbados shrub yesterday.   It’s a bit late in the season, but I’m hoping that planting it now will give it a good month or so to acclimate to its new home before the cold weather hits.  That should make for a good winter’s nap before spring.  We’ll see.  If this one doesn’t pan out, Monte’s starting a few from seed.

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