Travel In The Dry

Last week’s trip to Uvalde County in Texas has proved (after our house guest left) to be…a very strange trip indeed, in light of the school shooting in Uvalde.  We were in the northern bit of the county, where the Texas Hill Country begins, staying between Leakey (Real County) and Concan (Uvalde Co.) , and visiting friends with ranchland east of Concan.   I’ve been to the city of Uvalde before; one of our ranch hosts grew up on a ranch on the Nueces east of Uvalde and went to school in Uvalde…so it’s very familiar territory, though not my own roots in the Border county of Hidalgo.

For tonight, leaving aside the insane and stupid remarks of Texas GOP politicians on the shooting (Cruz, Abbott, Paxton, etc.)  here are a few of the pictures I took of the places we saw:

  Frio River, cypress roots, a storm broken branch, overhanging limb.

Frio Riverside trail (cypresses along bank)

From mountain saddle looking SE.

Taken from road to saddle.  I thought at first these were Sacahuista (Nolina texana) or Beargrass, but the leaves were narrowly toothed, so probably a yucca I haven’t tried to key out.  Not the one I knew in S. Texas.

  More vegetation down the mountain in protected drainages.  In this one there’s Escarpment Cherry (right margin of image, Little Walnut or Texas Nopal, several others, and a steep bluff I’m looking down from.

  Spring-fed pool high on a different mountain, in a smooth-rock drainage.  The smooth rock showed multiple pools recently holding water but now dry, and here (not visible in this picture and I had the wrong shoes on to climb down) two thin trickles of water running out from under a rock shelf into the pool.  Since this region of Texas is in critical drought (10% of its average rainfall for the past 6 months, finding this water is essential for wildlife.  The new owners have removed all livestock and are in the process of trapping and removing non-native wildlife (axis deer in particular.)

Karen and I spent two full days on the ranch, and these pics don’t begin to show everything we saw–which was less than 1/4 of the whole.   Came back Friday, Monday was a whirlwind because while I’d been gone the kitchen drains totally clogged up…and I already had an appointment with my former choir director on Monday…to which was added the plumbers, and then (from a text Sunday night) the farrier to trim both horses.  Tigger does not like unexpected people in the back yard making weird noises (the snake in the line)  and talking in unfamiliar voices, so he behaved badly with his trim.  I was supposed to be talking to the choir director about our piano, but had to be holding an uncooperative horse for far too long.  Anyway….that was Monday and today was Tuesday and taking houseguest back to the city.  We had lunch out, etc. and…it’s been storming since about 11 and is now almost 1:30 am.  MUST go to bed.  Now.

11 thoughts on “Travel In The Dry

  1. It does look like you had a good time though. Texas has some beautiful scenery and a lot of nice people. Also some not so nice people.

    Glad to have you back. Stay safe and sane.

    Jonathan up here in New Hampshire

  2. HI – sorry to pester you again. I subscribe to the Washington Post – in today’s edition is an article that is about horses being help humans heal and thrive.

    Have a nice day

    Jonathan up here in New Hampshire

    1. For those who like them, horses do have a healing effect. My spirits rise. And seeing a horse run across a field–whether in real life or in a video–gives me a thrill.

  3. lovely photos; I’m not familiar with your area of Texas, my grandmother was born in Burnet; her family moved to Oklahoma when she was a girl. I visited that area several years ago and your photo of the Frio River reminds me of whatever the river is that runs through Burnet. My other experience with Texas was going to college in Waxahachie in the winter of 1978-79. My greatest memory was missing the sunrises and sunsets of the Arizona desert. I think now that I had claustrophobia from being surrounded by trees everywhere; it was my first experience at being far from home and I was used to being able miles and miles to the far horizon. I often felt like I couldn’t breathe, but that may have also been the humidity. That winter there were two storms of freezing rain and sleet and the Dallas Fort Worth area did NOT have the equipment to deal with snow and ice. As far as ridiculous politicians, Texas doesn’t have them all. I’m trying right now to find out if anyone is running against the congressman that represents where I live, because if anyone needs to go, it’s Gosar.

    1. Leslie, we’re not that far from Burnet most of the time, but it’s on the Edwards Plateau and we’re on the Lampasas Cut Plains. I know the claustrophobia that comes of being drowned in trees–I felt it in Virginia when I was stationed there.

  4. On my next trip to the pictured area, I will bring an entire library of field guides and other books on native plants, birds, odonates, etc, etc, etc. Also a metric ruler. Also a monopod if not the big tripod. That will probably not be until fall. The beargrass/sacahuista pictures may be a different _Nolina_ species. I need to look very closely at some of the species that overlap at the Edwards Plateau–South Texas Plains–Chihuahuan Desert margins. I used to be pretty good with the South Texas Plains (just north of where I grew up, widely known as “the brush country) but as you shift west, that becomes Chihuahuan Desert, and as along the south margin of the Edwards Plateau, there’s definitely overlap.

    I would flat-out love to do a complete botanical survey on my friends’ property. I think some of those tight little drainage slots, like mini-canyons, on the several hills/mountains may hold real treasures, just from the two days of riding around in the truck and some bits of walking. There should be madrone on the place; there could be bigtooth maple in some back seepy corner, American smoketree, Texas kidneywood, Lacey Oak.

    I need new trail boots or shoes and better walking sticks than some old dry yucca stems.

  5. There’s a riding stable nearby here in northern Illinois that had a program for returning Veterans with PTSD where they stayed several days, learned to ride, trail ride, and take care of their assigned horses; with a professional counselor on site. It really sounded interesting.

  6. We were in the hill country the end of April, chasing birds to photograph. Beautiful country; Lost Maples State Park was an unexpected delight, with a nesting Black-headed Vireo. Very nice.

    The most wrenching thing was the Golden-fronted Woodpecker we found in Uvalde Cemetery, near our hotel. The woodpecker was great, but it’s agonizing to think of the 19 small coffins that are now going to be buried there.

    1. I’ve been in Lost Maples only once, and very briefly–hope to get back to it some day. We have a bigtooth maple growing here, that’s sprouted a couple of “babies” — outside the Hill Country, but we love having it. We used to see Golden-fronted Woodpeckers when we lived in Austin or San Antonio, as well as on forays into the Hill Country proper, and I saw one once here, blown in on a winter storm (like the pyrrhuloxia that showed up at the same time) that was more of a westerly than a norther.)

      Though I had just spend several days in Uvalde County when the school shooting occurred, we hadn’t gone down to Uvalde itself, which I’m sure has grown out of recognition from my last stop there in ’69. It had no hotel then (or we didn’t see it–we had driven up from McAllen on the first lap of our honeymoon, to stay at a rented cabin on the Frio south of Leakey. I can imagine that the juxtaposition of that bird in the cemetery and the children who will be buried there is going to haunt your memory for a long time. It’s propagated backward into my recent trip even though we never entered the town…friends of ours were going to Uvalde the day we left on business and had talked a little about the political situation there, compared to where they had been living.

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