EP.

A week ago, Monte, Susanne and I headed out from Austin, on a road trip to Estes Park, Colorado, to join in Dan and Erin’s wedding celebration.  We left at 4AM CDT, and pulled in to our destination at about 7PM MDT.   It was a long day of driving, but getting there made it all worth it.  I’ve never been to Estes Park before, but it is BEAUTIFUL!   It lies at an entrance to the Rocky Mountain National Park, surrounded by mountain peaks and streams, and is teeming with wildlife.  The town offers nice restaurants, breweries, music, festivals and all sorts of activities to tire you out.

We wore out our hugging muscles, but a good time was had by all.  After several days of visiting and sight seeing, we said our goodbyes and dropped Susanne off at Denver International Airport and then continued to made our way home.  We stopped overnight in Amarillo and then popped into Lubbock the next day to look for burrowing owls and to tour a winery, in the heart of Texas wine country’s vineyards.

A view of Lake Estes with the town of Estes Park and the Rocky Mountains in the background…

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We drove up into Rocky Mountain National Park, but the Trail Ridge Road was closed at Rainbow Curve, so we had to turn around at about 10,800′. We couldn’t do the complete drive across the Continental Divide.  But, the views were spectacular.  We got snowed on, and took way too many pictures.  I saw several lifer birds, a heard of elk, a bunny, and a varmit or two.

A picture of a snow flurry passing down a canyon near the Fall River entrance…OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Leaving Amarillo in the morning, we drove along historic Route 66 and made a stop at Cadillac Ranch. I wish I could have seen this back in its hey-day.  Now the cars are covered with ever-changing spray paint grafitti.   Sadly, you can see all the trash left on the ground by the “artists.”   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We stopped in Lubbock for lunch, and a tasting at McPherson Cellars Winery.  We also successfully tracked down some burrowing owls.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I enjoy road trips.  I enjoy seeing family.  When they can be combined, it’s all the more special.

Home again, home again.

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!   🙂

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Delicious.

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.

The Hub City.

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.