Monday, April 3, 2006

Gates of the Hill Country, Texas, Page 3

Above, this is what I am going to call a Ranch Gate. The upside down "U" structure is what I am referring to. This one is quite tall, ohhh, guessing 20 feet. There is wrought iron below, a Texas star and a wagon wheel (to the left) of the Ranch Gate. Inside the Ranch Gate structure there are 2 sections, to the left and to the right that have some design. See below, it reminds me of a peacock tail or sun rays, what do you think?

Left, an enlargement of the sun, or the peacock tail.

Above, a Ranch Gate with a curved top, intials at the very top, as well as the name of the ranch, stone columns, flags (US and Texas), wrought iron fencing and some of those entrance mechanisms, one inside the gate, one outside the gate. There are also electric lights on each of the larger columns, which cannot be seen in this electronically enhanced and reduced version of the photo.

Above, this Ranch Gate has a solar panal for power, stone wall and columns (behind which you can see part of a fence line made from tree branches), the house number on the functional portion of the gate and if you look closely, on either side of the house number you will see a Texas Star and Texas State outline. The Ranch Gate portion of this entry is made from some pretty hefty looking metal pipe.

Sunday, April 2, 2006

Gates of the Hill Country, Texas, Page 2


Above, stone (done a bit differently) and functional gates between, plants in the middle. Not sure if this is one driveway or two. The fencing to the left and right of the gate appears to be metal pipe.

Above, same gate, a closer view, note the small black box on a pole on the far left, obviously some kind of entrance mechanism. Also note on the top far right, is a small solar panel for power, saw a number of these, and of course, middle, some kind of skull.

Above, similar building materials, stone, functional gates, and a Texas Star. This star is painted red, many are black or tan.

Above, stone, columns, gate, initial, plants, this gate has it all, I thought it was quite eloquent. The drive goes up a hill. The wall between the shorter columns in front and the taller columns in the back is curved along the ground and also gets taller as it goes towards the back columns. Beautiful craftsmanship.

Above, Texas sized functional, brick columns appear to have been painted. This gate is 8 to 10 foot tall. I find it interesting that they still manage to get some style into their functional gates.

Thanks to the gate builders of the Hill Country of Texas.

Saturday, April 1, 2006

Gates of the Hill Country, Texas, Page 1

Last year when we visited the Hill County, I fell in love with the Gates. I decided if we ever got back I was going to take a LOT of photos of them, to share. I fell in love with the individuality, the art, the simple ones, the outrageous ones. Here are some, Thanks to the people of the Hill County and their great gate builders.

Above, very functional, with a bit of brick at the sides, yucca plants for decoration.

Above, columns of stacked stone, wrought iron, and cattle grate. Note the MK and JK on the columns.

Above, wrought iron, with spear tops, gate & sides the same, initial J.

Above, functional taken into the world of nature. Isn't this fabulous? This gate is quite tall, maybe 10 foot.

Above, columns, local stone, flags. Note the UPS box, on the short column on the left, it is about 4 foot tall.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Montana Travel Reports for 2006, March 27, 2006, Wild Animals of the Rio Grande Valley

These are Javelinas. Otherwise known as Collared Peccary. The link will tell you all kinds of interesting stuff about this animal. We see small bands of them at the State Park, usually 5 to 10 animals in a pack. We keep our distance!

We saw these Javelina babies as we rode out of the park the other morning. They don't look too old, and like all babies, they are kinda cute. You can see the adults are watching us rather closely. We were more than 100 feet away, but those adults were taking NO chances on those humans watching them.

Imagine our surprise when we got back to our rig the other day and found this fierce critter residing in our bedroom????

OHHHHHH, that is for the twins! HAHAHA He is four foot tall, it will take a lot of candy to fill him!

Back on January 25 of the Montana Travel Reports of 2006 we showed you a photo of the palapala out in front of our Montana. The leaves were bare, well, here it what it looks like at the end of March. Not so bare anymore.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Montana Travel Reports for 2006, March 25, 2006, World Birding Center

Not far, less than 1/2 mile from our campsite is the Bentsen Rio Grande Valley State Park, famous for it's birding. Here is their home web page,, it is easier to tell you where to look than to explain it all here. With the new camera in hand, off we went to one of the birding blinds. Here are a few photos:

Left: A Golden-fronted Woodpecker, he is about 10 inches long. His home is Texas and Mexico.

Right:  These lovely little blue birds are Indigo Bunting. Their habitat runs from Michigan to Texas, East Coast to about the Rocky Mountains (from what I can tell from the map in my bird book). I have only seen this bird one other time, and that was in Michigan at one of our State Parks. These little guys are 5 1/2 inches long. These birds were seen at Bentsen Rio Grande Valley State Park on March 31, 2006 and were about 30 feet or more away from us. Al did a great job getting a photo with that new camera.

This is Altamira Oriole. He lives in southernmost Texas and in Mexico. He is such a vivid color he takes your breath away when he comes flying into a feeder area. When seen with the Green Jay (see below) their colors actually seem to enhance each other. This guy is about 10 inches tall.

This is a Green Jay, they are quite prevalent here, he is about 10 1/2 inches long, and I have to tell you, this photo, as good as Al did, does not do this bird justice. His back is a glorious color of green, and has shades and hues that are hard to describe. When seen in a group, they remind me of parakeets and the jungle. His attitude reminds me somewhat of the Blue Jay from home. The Green Jay is considered a Tropical bird, whose range JUST reaches the southern tip of Texas, specifically the Rio Grande Valley.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Montana Travel Reports for 2006, March 24, 2006, Rio Grande Valley Flora

Lets see what that new camera can do.

Left flower from Mexican or Texan Olive, right is the tree, this particular one is right on our site here at Bentsen Palms Village.

This is called Purple Skyflower.

Below:  flower from a Prickley Pear Cactus, the paddles of the Prickley Pear are eaten, and are sold in the local grocery stores.

Right, these everblooming roses are indeed everblooming, they have had flowers on them every day since we arrived, December 31st, 2005. This photo was taken March 24, 2006.

Left, the flower of the Texas Lantana, a shrub that blooms in late winter.


Right:  black eyed susan. These grow wild, they are a 4 foot bushy type plant. This one has it's own little bug, on the right, that black spot.

Above, this riot of "hurt your eyes" bright orange is called Mexican Flame Vine, it is growing in the pool area, and attracts butterflies.

 Also near the pool, growing on the fence, is the Passion Vine. These wonderful flowers were a joy to discover.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Montana Travel Reports for 2006, March 21, 2006, Winter Appreciation Day

March 21st every spring in Nuevo Progreso Mexico is Winter Texan Appreciation day. It is helpful to arrive early in the day, yes, even "can't get her out of bed early" Carol got up and got going.

Street vendors sell everything.

Left, reduction of this photo for the web site also reduces the beauty of the art work, wood, carved and painted.

So, here is a enlargement of just one piece.

Left, strawberries, huge, red, ripe, juicy. Believe they made drinks from these.

Right, wheels for the vendor of nuts and candies.

Left, having some fun.

Entertainment abounds, there are several stages with folk dancing and musicians, all free.

Winter Texan Appreciation Day is all of this and more, it is quite the experience. Something that we hope to do for a number of years.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Montana Travel Reports for 2006, March 10, 2006, Bike Stand and a Little Pickin'

One of the things that we have really enjoyed about our trip to the Rio Grande Valley this year, is having our bikes with us and riding in and out of the park. However, with the winds here, they tend to blow over quite a bit. Several of the fellows took advantage of the wood shop here at the park to build bike stands. One fellow designed and built one, another fellow came along and copied the basic design, with a few tweaks and built his own. Well, we wanted one as well, but did not want to build it from wood as that gets a bit heavy and bulky to transport home. After some discussions, pow wows, and thought, Al, with some very good suggestions (thanks to John B. and John C.), came up with a bike stand built from PCV pipe. It is made in 4 parts and comes apart for travel. Al even figured out how to put water in it to add some weight.

Other improvements and changes we have made this year include a bedskirt, a awning support (helpful in all this wind), a water softener (we really LOVE the water softener), scare lites under the steps of Montana, and a really neat door latch (thanks Vicki and Steve R., and your designer). I have enjoyed my plant shelves in the kitchen so much and we continue to enjoy the lifestyle and our Montana.

At the park this year a number of the residents decided to have jam sessions on Saturday afternoons. All were welcome, they even came up with songbooks. Many times they were playing just yards from our Montana, they were very good, great stuff!

Monday, February 27, 2006

Montana Travel Reports for 2006, February 27, 2006, Los Ebonos Ferry & Biking

Near Mission to the west, is the last hand drawn ferry that crosses the Rio Grande River from the US to Mexico. The ferry holds 3 cars, or 20 bikes and riders. Many Winter Texans find this an enjoyable way to spend a morning. Ride the ferry to Mexico and bike into town for shopping and lunch, bike back to the ferry and cross back to the US. Some of our friends had done this and we decide to do this one day in early March. Well, much to our dismay, the water of the Rio Grande was high, the current was fast and the ferry was not running. They could not get it close enough to load the passengers and vehicles and the current was too strong for the workers to pull us back from Mexico. Here is the ferry-------- and Mexico on the other side ------

And here are the sad faces that could not go biking in Mexico this day. OK, a few of em were laughing, but some of em were crying!

All was not lost, we drove over to Santa Ana Refuge and rode there.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Montana Travel Reports for 2006, February 15, 2006, LaJoya & Parakeets

As we have for the last several years, we attended the LaJoya School District presentation of Mariachi and Folklorico dancing. This year we sat in the balcony, which was very nice, but we found that our ole digital camera just could not catch the action. We enjoyed the presentation, and this is the only photo that is worth sharing. This was called a Ribbon Dance, was intricate and enchanting. Yes, it is out of focus.

The Rio Grande Valley area is renown for birding. "Birders" come from around the world to see some of the birds in this area. Al and I do not consider ourselves extremely serious birders, but we do enjoy seeing different species and learning about them. We heard about the green parakeets that fly from Mexico into McAllen every evening, just before dusk and land on the power lines. So, we found out where this event took place and off we went with another couple to see this "happening." Here is what our camera caught, on our best zoom. Nope, we cannot tell what they are either!

Some of our other friends heard of this little birding phenomenon and off they went, they emailed this photo the next day. After the episode at the LaJoya presentation and then the green parakeets, well, you know where this is going, don't you?? Yep! Al purchased a new digital camera. We now have a Cannon Power Shot digital camera, some of the following web pages will offer flower and bird photos he has taken while learning about his new toy!

In the meantime, aren't these Green Parakeets something? They are about 13 inches long, and have yellow under their wings. The bird books claim they are escapees.

Thanks John and Marge for the photos that show what the Green Parakeets look like!