You are currently viewing archive for December 2010

2010/12/31: Party Time!!!

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
New Years Eve is the time to party. Unfortunately with my cold I didn't feel up to "a party", so we opted for a quiet evening. Our neighbours John and Carol joined us for a barbecued steak dinner. The evening was warm so we were able to sit outside and enjoy the weather and the meal. I'm not sure if it's just south Texas or all of Texas but the people in this area definitely enjoy setting off fireworks. As the evening progressed so did the number of fireworks we could hear. A few fireworks were even shot off in the park, which Zaph did not like at all. Around 11 pm we moved to the edge of the park and sat by the farmers field so we got a better view of the fireworks in three directions. At mid-night it seemed like the entire sky lit up. By quarter after 12 we had seen enough and toddled back to the trailer and off to bed though I'm sure the fireworks continued for another hour or two.
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Boxing day (that's December 26th for non-Canadians) was a lot of fun. Ed, myself, and neighbours Bob & Jean and John & Carol had commented that Christmas dinner at the rec hall is great but we all missed having leftover turkey. So, I borrowed a roaster from the rec hall (with permission) and cooked up an 11 pound turkey. It's physically impossible to cook a turkey in the oven provided with the trailer thus the need for the roaster. We had a great dinner and great leftovers.

Ed has been very appreciative of the leftovers as I have succumbed to the dreaded Texas crud. I usually stay healthy to early January but not so this year. Hm.... maybe it's a good sign and I won't get sick again this winter. A girl can hope. My excitement this week has been sitting outside trying to bake the cold away.

2010/12/25: Merry Christmas

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Christmas morning has Zaph getting his presents. As usual he was happy with his new friends, cookies and treats.

Mom, what's that?

Wow! three new friends for Zaph.

Ed and John went down to the rec hall this morning and carved the six turkeys for the pot luck. As usual there was lots of wonderful food at the pot luck .... no need for supper tonight!

2010/12/24: Is that a reindeer?

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Look at Caity jump. Caity is a 9 month old Welsh Terrier with her mom, Carol and dad, John.

Zaph and Caity all decked out for Christmas.

That's better, now my bandanna matches.

Caity sitting pretty wearing one of Zaph's Christmas bandannas.

How'd you get your head in the jar?

The candle part of the Christmas eve program.

2010/12/23: Happy Holidays

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
20101224-agnew christmas card 2010 shrunk.jpg
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
We decided to drive the 30 minutes to Estero Llano Grande State Park to see how this park survived the flooding. Happily it was open and seemed to have survived the flooding fairly well. It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed walking around the park with our neighbours John, Carol and dog Caitlin.

Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks taking off.

Anhinga drying it's wings.

Common Pauraque. These birds sleep on the ground during the day, this one was under a bush just off a path. The Pauraque's colouring is its protection --- it's really hard to spot among the leaves and branches.

Hummingbirds are one of my favourite birds. This little guy was busy eating and flying around. John, in his red shirt, was buzzed several times.

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Happily I've managed to play bridge three times and hand and foot once in the four days we've been here. Not bad. Errands have been the priority item on the to do list and we seem to making pretty good progress with them. After one of the errands we decided to stop at Bentsen-RGV State Park (the park close to us) and go for a walk. We were very sad to hear that the park is 85% closed due to flooding over the summer. A summer hurricane filled reservoirs further inland on the Rio Grande. Water was released from the reservoirs causing flooding in the section of the Rio Grande valley where we winter including the state park. A sign at the state park indicated that during the worst of the flooding most of the park was under 3 to 10 feet of water.

Thanks Bob and Jean for the perfect mat. In case anyone forgot our trailer is named "The Doghouse".

2010/12/12: Winter Home

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Just after noon we arrived at our winter home, Oleander Acres RV park. It felt like home though a lot of people haven't arrived yet and as always there are changes. Park models have been sold, new people are here and you hear about people who were unable to return. Our timing was pretty good though, Ed went to the office to let them know our power wasn't working and ran into a friend. About half an hour later Cheryl showed up with two pieces of lemon meringue pie that she had made. Hmmm good.

Spent the afternoon catching up with friends, setting up the trailer and starting the job of removing the desert from the trailer. It's amazing how much sand and fine dirt work their way into the trailer.
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Laredo Texas is just another city on the US / Mexican border but it does have a nice state park on Lake Casa Blanca. Zaph was very happy when he saw the lake and even happier when he was allowed to go swimming.

Zaph was pretty dusty after the ten days in desert areas --- guess it didn't help that he like to roll around in the dirt and sand. Thought the swim would either clean him up a bit or turn him into a mud puddle. Luckily it cleaned him up.

An old building near the campground in the state park. Don't know what it was or how old it is but I like the look of it.

2010/12/10: Seminole Canyon

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
We stopped at Seminole Canyon State Park for the night. Arriving just after 1 pm gave us the time to go for a 12 km hike --- Zaph really enjoyed it especially as he didn't get much of a walk yesterday.

Seminole Canyon where it joins the Rio Grande.

Panther Cave pictograph site.

Part of Seminole Canyon.

2010/12/09: Homes

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Spent seven hours on the road today if you include the time change. Sure was nice when we arrived in Alpine, Texas and got out of the truck. I read a book once where a large part of the story was set in Alpine, so I always wanted to come here and see the town. Unfortunately, now that I'm here I don't remember the name of the book or much about it. What has happened to the great memory I use to have?

Sunset in Alpine.

Our house at home. Thanks for the photo Rob and Ellen. Not missing the cold and snow at all.

Now this makes me almost wish I was home. Christmas lights and snow are always so pretty. Thanks for the photo Rob and Ellen.
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Believe it or not, Ed was up at 6am again and we were at the bird ponds a good half hour before sunrise. There was a sound like a jet engine and then the sky was filled with snow geese --- even more amazing than yesterday. The noise was the sound of hundreds, maybe a thousand wings starting to flap at the same time. There was less wind this morning so I guess this caused the geese to split up, some continued to fly and some landed. This morning we did not get a repeat performance of the mass takeoff. The ponds where a lot of cranes hang out was on the way back to the trailer so we stopped there for a while. I think I forgot to mention that is was below freezing (the truck said –8C) this morning and yesterday morning. As the sun rose we watched the snow geese and cranes fly from the pond and head to feeding grounds.

Back at the trailer we thawed out and packed up. Time to head south (yea!) and east. Today's stop is Alamagordo, NM and White Sands National Monument. The drive was short but interesting --- first we drove through a mountain pass (slow gentle climb to around 6000 feet then a slow gentle descent back to around 4000 feet) then past a lava field. After landing at an RV park in town we drove out to the national monument then followed a hiking trail into the heart of the dunes.

Dawn take off --- very similar to yesterday's photo. Guess that's what happens when you stand in the same spot at the same time and take a photo of the same thing.

Proof that Ed was actually vertical and at the pond before sunrise.

The view at the crane pond. Just love how the morning sun makes everything glow.

This crane was about to takeoff and didn't expect to find ice --- he aborted takeoff.

Disarray. Whose staying? whose leaving?

We found lots of sand but where's the water. It's hot out here and I'd like to go swimming. When Zaph hopped out of the truck he started squinting. With all the glare off the snow we decided he needed to wear his sun goggles.

The dunes aren't very big but they are pretty.

Don't remember what it's called but the sand mounds around plants and becomes very hard. If you pick off a piece you can crumble it your hand.

The news has been reporting huge snow dumps in London, Ontario. We figure the roads there will look similar to this. Plows clean the sand off the roads creating sandbanks.

Sunset at the dunes.

2010/12/07: And even more birds

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
6am, the alarm clock rings and Ed jumps out of bed …. Ok so he grumpily dragged himself out of bed. And what, you ask, was he doing getting up at 6am? Going to watch the snow geese fly just before dawn, yes really and yes it was worth it. Ed, myself and at least 50 other people were standing by the pond with our cameras pointed at the birds anxiously waiting. All at once the hundreds of geese took flight. It was an awesome experience seeing the air suddenly filled with squawking geese. The flock circled us a few times then landed further down in the same pond. We waited patiently for about 15 minutes and the flock flew again all of them taking off at the same time. Even Ed agreed it was worth getting up at 6am.

The camera shutters were busy today as we took over 1700 photos. I did my best and picked only 22 photos for the blog --- some tell the story of the day while others I just like. Sorry there are so many, hope you enjoy them.

Dawn take off.


Ok guys, let go. Cranes lean forward and start to run as they take off.

The firing line …. Lots of photographers with lots of cameras with lots of big lenses.


Not a great picture of a deer but I wanted to show that we did see something other than birds. The preserve has deer, elk, mountain lion, coyote, javelina and other mammals. We only saw deer though I talked to fellow photographer who saw several different animals.

Bald Eagle.

Pin tail ducks.

Sandhill Crane.

Something that's not a bird.

The photographer at work.

Up, up and away!!! A field was filled with Snow Geese and suddenly they just took off in one large wave.

Dogs are not allowed out of vehicles in the main part of the wildlife preserve, so we took a break from bird watching and took Zaph for a walk on the Canyon Trail (dogs are allowed on this trail). Zaph sitting in a natural arch.

Part of the wildlife preserve seen from the lookout on the Canyon trail.

Taking a breather from looking for food.

Coming in for landing.

Watch out!!! Make room, here we come ready or not.

Hit the breaks ........ wow looks like we made a safe landing again.


Just drifting in slowly enjoying the sunset. Kind of reminds me of Mary Poppins.

The sky had turned a pretty pink when this guy returned to the pond.

2010/12/06: Birds, lots of birds

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Today we drove east but mostly north….. I know north is not the direction to go but we only went a couple hundred kilometres north. The last time we were in New Mexico we visited Basque del Apache Wildlife Refuge but as it was March a lot of the birds had left. We figured it was a worth a couple of hundred kilometre detour to actually see the birds. The wildlife refuge is known as a winter home to Sandhill Cranes, Snow Geese and many types of ducks. The main attraction, of course, is the Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese. And see them, we did.

Snow Geese

Sandhill Cranes

Snow Geese

A pair of cranes. Cranes are usually found in family groups of two or three: a male, female and possible juvenile

Sandhill cranes landing.



Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
This morning the phone rang just before 9am --- it was my mom wishing us happy anniversary. Ed and I looked at each other and realized we both had forgotten our anniversary or rather hadn’t realized that it was December 5th and thus our anniversary. We decided after all the travelling we’ve done in the last month; a quiet day was probably a good way to spend our anniversary. Unfortunately it meant no going out for a fancy dinner, we'll just have to do that another day.

Pancho Villa was a Mexican revolutionary who decided to raid the Furlong army camp (now Pancho Villa state park) in Columbus, New Mexico for supplies and ammunition. The raid was not successful and the American army pursued Pancho Villa back into Mexico but did not succeed in capturing him. Each year there is a re-enactment of the battle with many Mexicans riding their horses to the border. The park has a museum with information and items from the fort and several artifacts can be found on the park grounds.

Zaph and I enjoying the sun.

A very interesting looking plant. I don't think this area has had rain in a while as even the cactus plants are wilting.

One of the displays in the museum.

Zaph hanging around in one of the old armoured cars.

Columbus is less than a 5 minute walk from the state park. There isn't much to the town, this is the main street.
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Heading to Pancho Villa State Park in New Mexico today. Several years ago we spent three or four days in this park and really enjoyed it .... hope it's a nice as we remember.

Lots more desert, lots more hills and not much else on the drive between Benson and Pancho Villa state park. Hmm, that sort of sums up Pancho Villa state park as well. But, then that’s why we came here. We are ready for a nice quiet day of doing, well, pretty much nothing.


2010/12/03: Driving East

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
We've decided that if the distance between our departure point and our destination point is more than six hours we'll take two days to do it. It's one thing to do the big drive when you're escaping the cold but another when you're just wandering. With that in mind we stopped in Benson, Arizona. Ed picked a park that met many of his interests ---- observatory, ham radio shack and wood shop. Thought we'd check it out in case we decide to spend more time in Arizona.

The southern portion of Arizona is scarcely populated --- we only passed a couple of small towns in the two hour drive from Yuma to south of Phoenix. The traffic and development increased as we neared Tucson. The scenery was predominantly bumps with cactus though we did see some irrigated land growing cotton.

View at the picnic area.

There's something majestic about these cacti.

Bales of cotton.

2010/12/02: Arizona Market

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Today was a nice easy day --- slept in, went to the market and bought a few things, went to Wal-mart and bought a few more things, went to the grocery store and bought some groceries, went to the pet store and bought Zaph a flinger, went to the gas station and bought some fuel. Hmm..... sort of an expensive day but it was fun.

In case you don't know what a flinger is, it's a stick maybe 18 inches to 2 feet long that has a cup at the end to hold a tennis ball. Using an overhead forward motion causes the ball to "fling" into the air ---- the dog then has much fun chasing the ball and returning it (hopefully) to the "flinger". Anyone who knows Zaph knows this process can be repeated many times. Zaph's flinger had been left at home but as he has been joining in with other dogs we decided to buy him a new one.

We're going to take about two weeks to get to Texas and plan on staying in some state parks (no Internet) so the blogging may be sporadic. Will catch up when I can.

2010/12/01: Texas Here We Come.

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Bye west coast, hello desert. I was surprised to see how mountainous it was between San Diego and Yuma. Don't know why but for some reason I thought it was flatter --- guess I need to study my geography a bit more. Being mountainous it was a pretty drive some of which we got to enjoy at a slower speed --- put road construction reducing the highway down to one lane and a wide, large load together driving uphill in the mountains. After the mountains we came across an area where there were great stacks of baled hay on the sides of the fields --- hard to image growing hay in the desert. This area has access to water thus canals thus irrigation thus hay fields. It was actually nice to see fields of green and red (maybe red leaf lettuce). After the irrigated area came the Imperial sand dunes. When I watch the dune buggies roaring around the sand dunes I always want to buy / rent one and zoom around too. Not far from the sand dunes is Yuma, our destination. The main reason for stopping in Yuma is to go the the Arizona market so we picked an RV park east of town near the market. This area is very interesting as it is 90 percent RV park. Kinda of puts a different perspective on things. We spent a month in Yuma five years ago so have seen all the sights.

We stopped at a rest area and took a few photos.