Long distance.

My sister, Fran, sent this Christmas ornament. I love it!

Advertisements

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

Another very awesome trip.  We hiked our butts off.

Gulf or bust.

I’m taking a vacation day today so that we can make a long weekend of it and take a road trip.   We headed south to the coast.

We stopped in Lockhart for lunch, skipping the amazing barbeque on this trip and ate at a lovely cafe on the town square called T&C Cafe – delicious sandwiches – right across the street from the Caldwell County courthouse:

IMG_9268Down past Refugio we spied miles and miles of windmills.IMG_9275

We took the ferry from Aransas Pass to Port A and have been enjoying the waterfront ever since.IMG_9283

It’s kind of rare to find a place to watch the sun set over the water … in Texas.  But our vantage spot from Port A looking west over the ship canal towards Corpus Christi afforded that kind of view.

IMG_4935

Blue Bell fix.  

It was April 20th when Monte and I last picked up a pint of Blue Bell ice cream at Walgreens on the way home.  We each had a scoop or two and then read the news about all their products being pulled from the shelf that day due to listeria contamination, and, sadly people had died. 

Well a long 4 1/2 months later, and after a lengthy cleanup and with FDA approval, Texas’ favorite ice cream is back on the shelf.  We should probably wait a while, but we couldn’t stay away.  

  

And *poof* … 5 years gone by.

Sunday was the 5 year blogoversary for sheila365!  I meant to draft a post ahead of time, and post it bright and early on March 8th.   But I just looked at the calendar and time has snuck by on me once again.

That’s ok.  In these 5 years sheila365 has evolved, and I think I have a bit, too.  My blog started as a post-a-day 365 project during the first year or two, which had me snapping photos during the day to make sure I had something that I judged “share-worthy;”  and now it has become more of a leisurely, post-every-week-or-so project, which I have to say has been much easier, though less artistic in terms of trying to capture beautiful photos, but rather just moments from my day that struck me as special or interesting in one way or another.

So happy blogoversary to me!  🙂    I thought I’d go back through my posts from year 5 and pick a photo from one post from each month that especially makes me smile.  I have to say it was very hard to pick just one picutre from each month. 

 March 2014:  Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.   A visit to the walled El Morro.  Beautiful Caribbean views.

20140330-124351.jpg

April 2014:  British Virgin Islands sailing trip – this was taken while snorkeling off Cooper Island.

Turtle dude surfacing - 2

Turtle dude surfacing – 2

May 2014 – A trip home to Seattle.  One of several last year.   It is a beautiful, special place for me.IMG_4009

June 2014 – Back in Austin for fun on the lake with some of my crazy sailor friends.IMG_4863

July 2014 – An amazing trip to Panama City Beach to celebrate a very special anniversary with a very special family.

IMG_5225

August 2014 – A roadtrip to the Texas Gulf Coast.  One of my favorite places to relax.IMG_5697

September 2014 – A lovely anniversary trip through the Texas Wine Country.IMG_5876

October 2014 – A fun girls’ trip to Washington, D.C.  Lots of laughs, lots of wine, and lots of walking.  🙂

The residential streets are lined with historic townhouses.

The residential streets are lined with historic townhouses.

November 2014 – An oh so special birthday.IMG_6994

December 2014 – Family visiting means showing off Austin and the Hill Country.  Never gets old.IMG_7297

January 2015 – Hiking as many trails as I can before I had to go back to work after taking a few months off.IMG_7688

February 2015 – Yep, more tulips.IMG_7780

What an amazing lap around the sun!

Thanks for coming along for the ride. 🙂

March is here!

March marks the beginning of one of the best times of the year! Sunny, spring days are right around the corner. Although today we are still toughing out the chilly, misty weather. Cabin fever is setting in. Today we headed down to Zilker Park to see the 86th annual Austin Kite Festival. Not your typical turnout, and only the slightest hint of wind – but it was still nice to take in, and all the kids there were having a blast.

IMG_7812

The downtown skyline was shrouded in low clouds.
IMG_7795

Afterwards we headed to the Texas State History Museum – free admission on the first Sunday of the month.   And tomorrow is Texas Independence Day, so it was fitting we popped in.

IMG_7807

Capital capitol.

I was clicking through photos I’ve taken over the last few months.  I found a couple from a visit to the Texas State Capitol in December, when we had visitors from out of town.     It’s a beautiful building – inside and out.   If you get an opportunity to visit, you can take a free guided tour, or this self-guided tour might be more your thing.

But first, a relevant grammar factoid for the day:

Capital vs. capitol

As a noun, capital refers to (1) a city that serves as a center of government, (2) wealth in the form of money or property, and (3) a capital letter. As an adjective, it means (1) principal, (2) involving financial assets, and (3) deserving of the death penalty. There are other definitions of capital, but these are the most commonly used ones.

Capitol has two very specific definitions (outside ancient Rome): (1) a U.S. state legislature building, and (2) the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. State capitols are located in the capital cities of U.S. states, and the Capitol is located in the capital city of the U.S. If you’re not talking about any of these capitol buildings, then the word you want is probably capital.

The Capitol building located in Washington, D.C. is spelled with a capital C, but state capitol buildings ordinarily don’t have the capital (which is not to say that some writers don’t capitalize them anyway).

And now, a few of the shots I took.  The nouth entrance:

IMG_7301

The dome, taken from the 4th level:IMG_7297

Several levels of the rotunda under the dome:IMG_7300

Have a great day!

And the cotton is high…

The words are swimming around in my head:

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high….

I like Billie Holiday’s version.

We took a trip to the Coastal Bend of Texas for a few days.   We come down here nearly every year, and really enjoy it.   Very rustic, but beautiful.   Along the way to the coast, we drive through the cotton fields.   This time we came a little earlier than usual, and we got to see the fields before harvest.   A sea of white fluffiness:

IMG_5697