Monday, October 30, 2006

Our Little Black Panther

Lola hiding in the bush.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Balcones Canyonlands Preserve

Be sure to visit the home page of this in town nugget and don't neglect to look at some of the photos in the gallery. There are some interesting lifeforms habitating the BCP. Today's trek was close to the five mile mark up and down some rugged hillside. It was very enjoyable indeed.

Could This Be One of My Cats All Grown Up?

I have a new batch of Mexican Sunflowers in my back yard that the Monarchs , Sulphers, and Queens all seem to like quite well.

Friday, October 27, 2006

You Gotta Love Austin

I walked last night for the third time downtown with Thomas. So far each town walk has had many interesting things to check out, but last night was extra cool. There is a group of performers under the direction of Sally Jacques who do a surreal dance of sorts using the unfinished Intel building as their stage. They had the building strategically lit with blue lights and a woman on a wire doing her interpretive moves in mid air with the lit up building as her backdrop. It was pretty far out and I was amazed at the creativity of this group. The name of the dance company is Blue Lapis Light and this particular performance is called Requiem. If you want to catch a performance you better hurry because they will only be doing this a few more days.

Austin is a happening place and if you're a people watcher this is a great town to be in. We saw a myriad of interesting characters on sixth street last night, including a guy that was probably close to 8 feet tall. He and his buddies were dressed up in what appeared to be old 40's style suits complete with hats. There was another group we encountered who were all dressed up in fancy 70's disco garb. I MUST remember to bring my camera next time. The town walks are way more exciting then the walks in my suburban neighborhood. Too bad I can't walk around downtown every night!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The LST is Calling

I'm coming for you's all a matter of time...

Mileage for last night's downtown walk was over 3 miles...probably closer to 4. It was certainly a challenge because I pushed myself to jog more this time, even uphill. I hope to make the town walk/jog a standard for at least two days of the week, and then I'll walk my neighborhood the rest of the days during the week. Oh and of course I'll still have my Sunday hikes to look forward to as well.

But all this walking enjoyment isn't just for kicks or exercise, it's good training for walking miles and miles on the LST(Lone Star Trail), which is 128 miles of trail that goes through the Sam Houston National Forest. I've been reading a hike log by a woman nicknamed "Nocona" who writes of adventure on the LST. It sounds like a great challenge and she is an inspiration to me. The LST obviously has to be done in sections and will take a long time to complete, but the reward of knowing I did it will be sweet.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Lost more weight...

I seem to be off of my weight loss plateau and have lost another six pounds.

Hognose Snake Courtesy of Thomas

Thanks to Thomas I now have a pic of our snake encounter at Walnut Springs.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Backpacking at Walnut Springs Camp

Walnut Springs Camp is a nice little site located between Russell Park and Camp Tejas on Lake Georgetown. We parked one car at one end at Camp Tejas, and the other in Russell Park. We hiked from Russell to the camp grounds, which was a little over a mile, then the next day we walked the 4.5 miles to the car parked at Tejas. It was an easy trip, we had the campsite to ourselves, and the weather couldn't have been more perfect. There were three of us on this trip...myself, Thomas, and a friend of Thomas's named Matt.

The lake was very low and we walked a bit yesterday in the late afternoon over parts that were dried up. It was strange walking on lake bottom through dead trees that would normally be covered up with water and it looked surreal in the dimming light of the evening sun. On our way back to our campsite, we walked up on a snake that appeared to be a "hognose". It flattened it's head, puffed up, and made a menacing hissing sound at us. It didn't try to get away, just stood it's ground looking as fierce as possible. I didn't have my camera with me, so no pic unfortunately. Hopefully Thomas will post a pic of the snake and I can share it. Today we saw a white tail deer cross our path on the trail. Other than those two wildlife sightings there weren't any animals to see, probably because of the hunters in the area. We heard their guns going off today.

I took a few pictures of the campsite and our surroundings, but they didn't turn out very well. I think there was condensation on the camera lens because all the pictures look washed out. Here are a couple of pics that turned out fair.Matt on Left, Thomas on Right
Ironclad Beetle aka Zopherus nodulosus haldemani Horn

Lake flats

Thursday, October 19, 2006

From Thomas's Camera

This shot was taken while we were walking downtown last Sunday. I love bronze statues! Aren't these cool?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Speaking of Monarchs

Woo Hoo! Monarch pillars eating my milkweed. I'm pretty excited about this because I planted the milkweed in hopes that one day the butterflies would find their way to my garden and we would be able to observe them up close and personal.

A few weeks ago while out in the garden, Ben and I watched a Monarch lay her eggs. I was hopeful that we would get to watch the development of the little darlings but the next day when I went to check on the eggs they were gone. I figured some kind of predator must have eaten the eggs and felt disheartened because I wanted Ben to see for himself what metamorphosis is all about. But yesterday I was happy to see that there are pillars, they are Monarchs, and so far everything is going well. Hopefully the pillars will survive and emerge in time before winter hits.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Urban Walk

Yesterday was my first urban walk in downtown Austin which was a completely different type of walking experience from what I'm accustomed to. I enjoyed it, but think that was partly due to the rain and cooler weather. A city walk with the sun blazing away and heating up all that concrete would probably be like torture for me.

Thomas and I started out from his place on West Street and headed up Judge's Hill. From there we walked to 24th street and if memory serves me correctly we turned right onto MLK Blvd. At some point we picked up a paved trail along Waller Creek and treked over to Ceazar Chavez. We went as far as Town Lake and then hooked up with Shoal Creek which took us back to Thomas's place. So to sum up it was about a six mile loop.

I didn't bring a camera because of the rainy weather but wish I could have taken some pictures. We saw at least a hundred migrating Monarch Butterflies gathered together under the tree canopy during one part of our trek, and then continuously saw several more scattered here and there the rest of the way. Some of them flew so close to us you could reach out and touch them! I believe that is the first time I've seen so many Monarchs in one place and felt quite fortunate to see them. It was exciting!

Next weekend I'm heading out to the back country again for another backpacking trip! I can't wait to try out the new equipment I bought last week. I got a new sleeping bag, new sleeping pad, and a new pack all from REI and on sale thankfully. Stay tuned for my next trip report and new photos.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

hiking again...finally!

I hiked about 10 miles this weekend over the course of two days and don't have anything special to report. Boring I know. I didn't take pics either. My next hike should be more report worthy.