Oracle Park, Home of the San Francisco Giants, Wednesday, July 10, 2024.

Oracle Park, Home of the San Francisco Giants, Wednesday, July 10, 2024.
Oracle Park, Home of the San Francisco Giants, Wednesday, July 10, 2024.

Monday, July 29, 2013

McAllister Park, San Antonio, TX - Sun., July 28

First off, happy birthday to my sister, Jan. I hope you enjoyed your day today and partied with friends. I look forward to spending time with you in September.

This morning, San Antonio Hill Country Hikers meet-up group met at 7:45 a.m. for a hike at McAllister Park. The early birds were there at 7 a.m. to do yoga warm-up moves before we set out on the trail.

At 7:45 exactly, Paul led us on another trail adventure, faking us out from time to time and taking us around in circles. No disrespect, we love you, Paul. You make the group fun.

McAllister Park is 976 acres with 15 miles of trails on the north side of San Antonio, not too far from the International Airport. Today we hiked seven miles of trails, mainly on the Red and Blue Loops (I think). If you asked me to lead a group of people on the same hike we did, I would be bamboozled as to where, exactly, we went. I'm glad Paul knew where we were going! We didn't get lost in the urban wilderness.

Here are a few photos of our hike.

Paul caught us looking dazed and confused at the beginning.
Now we've got rhythm and someone to follow.
We didn't see any bunnies. : (
Virgin's bower clematis
Snapdragon vine (Maurandya antirrhiniflora)

The hiking train keeps on rollin' down the track.
 I ran ahead to get a photo from the front and they all had to ham it up.

Paul, our leader, wins for the best model pose.

Lots of deer in this park!
Deer in the headlights look.
After seven miles of hiking, eight of us wanted to have breakfast, so we went to The Egg and I. It was a great group with lots of conversation and some really big pancakes!

Ruby ordering.
Jessie with her hazelnut coffee and SmartPhone.
Paul with not one, but two, monster blueberry pancakes.
After the walk and a good breakfast, I went back to the 5er and slept for three hours. (I only had four hours of sleep Saturday night.)

This evening, Bob and I went to see "The Way, Way Back" movie with Steve Carrell and thoroughly enjoyed it. The story is a coming of age tale about a 14-year-old boy going on vacation with his mom, mom's boyfriend and the mom's boyfriend's teen-age daughter. They vacation at the shore and the boy is bored, mortified, and angst-ridden dealing with his mother's boyfriend and the interesting group of people vacationing at the beach. He goes to work at a water park where the owner takes him under his wing and helps him deal with being an awkward teen-ager in an awkward life situation. We both recommend this movie.

The short sale on our rental property in Las Vegas is finally going through after we put it on the market a year ago. Tomorrow we sign papers. One more property off our responsibility list; three rentals left in two western states. Luckily, they are all rented and have property managers. Things are looking up.

Travel Bug out.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Birds, Dragonflies and Spiders, Oh My - Sat., July 27

Rain? It rained sometime during the night or early morning hours. When we got up, Rigamarole was covered in water, the picnic table was wet and so were The Beast and the Escape pod.

My 10K Volksmarch today was at Mitchell Lake Audubon Wetlands in south San Antonio. I would have started much earlier than 8:25 a.m., but the wetlands don't open until 8 a.m. When I arrived at the Audubon Society, I had to go into the office to pay my $2 admission fee and sign in for the Volksmarch. The man working at the Audubon Society was very chatty and that took another 15 minutes or so.

A tour of two people was ready to head out for a bird survey. I guess they try to identify as many birds as they can on the survey.

Upon leaving the building and passing by beautiful, butterfly-attracting flowers, I had to photograph a butterfly or two.
Monarch butterfly (danaus plexippus)
Monarch butterfly backlit by sun.
 The first birds I encountered were a family of purple martins on a line.

Purple martins.
Today was enjoyable because I could take my time, listen to bird calls, and try to spot elusive birds (not too successful on the elusive birds). Bob plays basketball on Saturday morning, so I like to hike somewhere interesting and safe when he's not with me.

Here are interesting finds along my path...

Hairy-looking seed pods.
A couple of wild rabbits darted across my path, but they were too fast; no chance to get my camera in position for a photo.
Silver-leaf nightshade (Solanum elaeagnifolium)
Wild petunia (Ruellia sp.)
Carolina wren.
When the Bird Pond appeared on my right, I started looking for water birds, but didn't see any other than the great egrets. As I walked, a casual glance to my left almost made me wet my pants. I am petrified of spiders and what I saw was a HUGE orb spider sitting in the middle of a web that was, I'd guess, four feet across. The spider in the middle, including legs, was as big as my palm.

Golden orb spider in the middle of its web.
Golden orb spider.
Golden orb spider.
Northern rough-winged swallow.
House finch.
House finch.
While walking near the Bird Pond, I met a man and asked him what birds he had seen. His name is Jim and he writes a blog called Jim's Assorted, Usually Photographic, Ramblings. He said he wasn't looking for birds but was looking for dragonflies. That's his specialty. In fact, in front of us was an Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly, perched beautifully, waiting for its photo to be taken. You can find his photos on his blog. I was able to capture the Eastern Pondhawk as well. Jim explained to me that this particular dragonfly is very mean to other dragonflies and bugs. I would have missed it if it wasn't for Jim pointing it out to me.

Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly.
Once he pointed out that Mitchell Lakes is a good place to spot dragonflies and damselflies, I was on the lookout and you will find a couple more photos of dragonflies today.

Identification, anyone?
Four-spotted pennant.
Roseate skimmer.
As I rounded the corner from the Bird Pond headed for East Poulder, it was full sun ahead: 85-90 degrees with relatively high humidity. My best birding of the day took place in East and West Poulder ponds. The black-necked stilts are in residence and they are gorgeous. They also make quite a racket when a threat comes around.
Black-bellied whistling duck family.
Black-necked stilt
Least sandpiper and killdeer.
Four black-necked stilts in a row.
Black-bellied whistling duck.
Black-bellied whistling duck and willett.
Every once in a while you find something you don't see everyday, like a turtle or armadillo remains. The turtle below was trucking along the trail until I came along, then it got all shy.

Armadillo remains.
Snowy egret fishing.
Neotropic cormorants.
Orb spiders were everywhere today!

Self portrait. Don't you love the hat?
Cacti ready to bloom.
Orb spider in front of cacti.
Beautiful blooms outside the visitor center.
By the end of this walk (which lasted three hours), I was beat. Couldn't wait to get inside the visitor center. The desk person helped me identify the birds in the photos, although he wasn't sure about the sanderling because the photo was so small on my camera screen.

I really enjoy my alone time on walks like this when I can go at my own pace, look for birds and photograph to my hearts content. I would love to learn the songs of different birds to identify them as it isn't always possible to spot them.

Bob worked today. When he came home he could barely walk. He's pretty sure he has plantar fasciitis. He is going to take it easy on his exercising and do stetches to help alleviate the pain. I hope he gets better soon because I'll miss my best walking partner while he's convalescing.

I hope you're all having a good weekend.

Travel Bug out.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Fun on Friday evening - July 26

Tonight Bob and I had a date to Howl at the Moon (no not like wolves), a dueling piano bar in downtown San Antonio. My boss let me off 15 minutes early to change clothes before our night out.

We got there a little before 7 p.m. and were early enough to snag a table. I enjoyed listening to all the music they played...everything from Beatles to Elton John to Journey to Neil Diamond to more recent tunes I don't know the names of.

We had beer and what was left of the appetizer buffet. (It closed at 7 p.m.) Basically, we kicked back and listened to music for two hours. Then we hit Sonic Drive-In for dinner around 9 p.m.

Bob has some work he urgently needs to finish by tomorrow morning. He is working on that while I play Scrabble, Words with Friends, and write my blog.

Here are some photos taken with Bob's SmartPhone. Not high resolution, but hopefully you can see them well enough.
Susan & Bob enjoying some rock 'n' roll music.
At Howl at the Moon rock 'n' roll dueling piano bar
The two pianos
The crowd.
 That's all folks.