Last weekend I had to go to SeaTac airport to pick up my husband from his business trip. My mom and I ended up with about an hour to amuse ourselves before Karl's flight arrived. We drove around looking for a park to walk our dogs and ended up at the Highline SeaTac Botanical Garden. It was a dog-friendly garden so we leashed up the dogs and walked through their gate. It was a magical and soothing setting. We chose the shade garden path and meandered along the beautiful path. We came to a lovely pond with a couple of benches to sit and enjoy the garden sights.
We continued our exploration of the small garden and in the Rose Garden it appeared that an evening wedding was being set up. I can only imagine how exquisite it must have been. Not only that, the weather was picture perfect as well.
The time passed too quickly and before we knew it, the call came that Karl's airplane was taxiing towards the terminal. Now that I know this place is here, I will be sure to make a return visit so I can continue to experience this wonderful little garden. There is still so much to see!
Work, travel and illness has caused me to neglect my blog the past few weeks. It is time to get back in the saddle and start sharing again.
A few weeks ago, I did spend some time at the CDR. I awoke early that Sunday morning and looked out of my window to a wonderous sight! Two beautiful deer less than fifty feet from my house. I quietly crept into the kitchen to retrieve my camera and then had to shoot through the partially opened blinds. Since the window was open, I had to be very silent and not scare them off. They heard me (or at least the camera shutter) any way and moved on. But not before I managed to fire off a few frames.
The University of Texas-Brownsville campus is a known evening roosting place for green parakeets. While the numbers of birds may be smaller in the summer, there were still quite a few when I was there. I was entertained by this pair.
These are not your typical size parakeets that you might see in a pet store. They are much larger. For more information on them, click here.
If you are in the Rio Grande Valley and are looking to take a nice stroll, visit the Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan Del Valle National Shrine in San Juan, Texas. There you can leisurely wander the path around the beautifully landscaped grounds, passing the fourteen life-sized Stations of the Cross statues.
Often mistaken for chameleons, the green anole is a tree-dwelling lizard that is native to the southeastern United States and Caribbean islands. Green anoles are also found in warm climates throughout North and South America.
Often seen in parks and residential areas on walls, fences, trees, and low bushes, green anoles reach a maximum length of six to eight inches. Their bodies are slender, with a long, thin tail. Like true chameleons, green anoles have the ability to change color; this ability is limited in anoles, however--coloration is usually green, yellow, brown, gray, or a mixture. Most healthy, non-threatened anoles are bright green in appearance. The male anole has a large pink fan of skin on its neck, called a dewlap, which can be extended for courtship or territorial display.
Active and agile creatures, anoles have specially adapted pads on their feet which permit them to climb, cling, and run on virtually any surface. Another adaptation of the anole is its extremely fragile tail which drops off its body when grabbed, allowing the anole to escape from predators; in time, the anole will regrow a new (although generally shorter) tail. Anoles feed on small insects such as crickets, cockroaches, spiders, moths, and grubs.
I spotted this green anole at the Sabal Palm Sanctuary near Brownsville, Texas.
I am not sure if he's waiting for a ride, or perhaps a rider. I didn't see a lot of traffic on this road which runs near the Texas / Mexico border. In fact, it may be one the southern-est roads in all of Texas! Guess that is why it is called Southmost Road.
Another favorite restaurant of mine in South Texas is Dirty Al's. Boy oh boy do they serve up some of the best Gulf fried shrimp ever! I have eaten at two of their locations - the one on South Padre Island and a couple of weeks ago Mom and I checked out their newest location at Pelican Station in Port Isabel. It is definitely worth the trip if you are ever in the area.
Mom and I ate at Dirty Al's at Pelican Station in Port Isabel, Texas recently. I think this in an aptly named place. The restaurant building is an old railroad station. We watched these guys while we had lunch.
When my mom and I visited the Sabal Palm Sanctuary outside of Brownsville the other week, I was captivated by the fairly new border fence. While I've read stories about the border fence being built along the U.S. / Mexico border, I hadn't seen any pictures of it. Then I got up close and personal with it. You drive through an opening in the fence to reach the Sanctuary. Sabal Palm is in the strip of land between the fence and the Rio Grande River which of course is our southern border. Behind the fence is a dyke that the Border Patrol drives along. This fence is about eighteen feet high with openings every five hundred feet or so. I am not sure how I feel about this fence. I understand the reasoning behind it, but feel for the animals and people whose property is trapped on the "Mexican" side of the fence.
Just east of Brownsville, Texas is the Sabal Palm Sanctuary. It is a 527 acre tract of land at a bend in the Rio Grande River. It is one of the most uniquely biodiverse habitats in the United States, containing one of the last vestiges of original sabal palm forest. The Sanctuary provides breeding habitat for may endangered or high-priority birds and is a critical source of shelter and food for migrating and wintering species.
Upon entering the Sanctuary, you drive past a beautiful old plantation house that is undergoing restoration work.
In 1891 Frank Rabb, working with his mother-in-law Maria Vicenta Vidal Starck, began work on a large two-story Victorian house that would dominate the high ground overlooking the Rio Grande a few miles downriver from Brownsville. It was built at a total cost of $15,000.00. At the time, it must have been one of the grandest homes in the region, making a statement of wealth and prosperity for 25 year old Frank Rabb and his new wife--a couple anxious to make their mark on society and politics of the region.
A handwritten note recently found in the Newel Post in the front hall gave some detail to the house’s construction: “The contractor, Jason Meboy Mclery, guaranteed to have it finished before Christmas dinner 1892. Skilled carpenters who worked on the building were Charles Morrison, John Falls, Stafford Corkill, Josefoun Tonks; painters Gallahaut & Bensery; trim by Shaw, Spucha & Ed Lagats. The house was complete on April 8th 1892 . The note ended with: “In god we trust the rest pay cash. Six month with fleas & ticks; San Tomas Ranch; March 28th 1892”
Notable guests at the Rabb-Starck Plantation home included Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan during his regular visits to the region.
Got a hankerin' to play pirate? Go for a sail aboard the Black Dragon berthed in Port Isabel, Texas.
Just be sure to brush up on your pirate lingo before casting off.
Bilge Rat The lowest form of animal life; similar to today’s politicians and lawyers. Bilge-sucking A guy with some real personal problems Blimey! “What the hell?” Bloody The very worst oath in pirate vernacular, as in...
“Yon bloody cannonball took off me leg!” Cat O’ Nine Tails A flogging device with nine separate thongs, each of which contains a small lead ball at the tip. Rarely used in the US Navy today. Davy Jones' Locker The bottom of the sea, where the bones of seamen lie. Hang 'im from the yardarm
"Truss ‘im up and let ‘im rot in the sun.” Head This is a modern term. Real pirate ships didn’t have toilets. That’s what they made gunnels for, hence the term, "Hang it over, Rover.” Hornswaggle To cheat, dissemble and lie. A prerequisite to becoming a full-fledged pirate. Jolly Roger Skull and crossbones flag. Black means “Surrender your ship.” Red means “No quarter” Keelhaul The practice of dragging miscreants naked across the thwarts and the barnacle embedded keel of a vessel. It really must have smarted! Landlubber An awkward, overweight, out of shape human being with nothing much going for him. In other words, anyone who is not a seaman. Powder Monkey The youngest and dumbest crew member whose responsibility it is to handle volatile gunpowder in battle. Privateer Another high-falutin name for a pirate. One who has social aspirations. Run a shot across the bow “Strike your colors or we’ll blow you to smithereens.” Scallywag A young pirate, analogous to a pollywog. Scurvy Contemptible and unclean. A word currently used most often to describe congressmen. Shark bait On one’s way to Davy Jones' Locker. Shipshape Neat and orderly. A condition never seen on a true pirate vessel Shiver me timbers! Comparable to "Holy Crap!" Sprogs Kids or pirates-in-training Walk the plank Yer last opportunity to try a one and a half dive in a tuck position.
Part of the reason for my trip to Texas was to see my mom. She was having some heart issues (that we believe have been resolved) and had to have some testing done at the Heart Institute of Brownsville. That is a heart-shaped window in the tower and there is one in each of the sides. Mom said she was treated very well during her time there.
Next to the airport in Harlingen, Texas is the United States Marine Corps War Memorial, better known as the Iwo Jima Memorial.
The United States Marine Corps War Memorial stands as a symbol of this grateful nation's esteem for the honored dead of the U.S. Marine Corps. While the statue depicts one of the most famous incidents of World War II, the memorial is dedicated to all Marines who have given their lives in the defense of the United States since 1775.
The small island of Iwo Jima lies 660 miles south of Tokyo. One of its outstanding geographical features is Mount Suribachi, an extinct volcano that forms the narrow southern tip of the island and rises 550 feet to dominate the area. By February 1945, U.S. troops had recaptured most of the territory taken by the Japanese in 1941 and 1942. All, except for Iwo Jima, which became a primary objective in American plans to bring the Pacific campaign to a successful conclusion.
On the morning of February 19, 1945, the 4th and 5th Marine Divisions invaded Iwo Jima after a somewhat ineffective bombardment lasting 72 hours. The 28th Regiment, 5th Division, was ordered to capture Mount Suribachi. They reached the base of the mountain on the afternoon of February 21 and, by nightfall the next day, had almost completely surrounded it. On the morning of February 23, Marines of Company E, 2nd Battalion, started the tortuous climb up the rough terrain to the top. At about 10:30 a.m., men all over the island were thrilled by the sight of a small American flag flying from atop Mount Suribachi. That afternoon, when the slopes were clear of enemy resistance, a second, larger flag was raised by five Marines and a Navy hospital corpsman: Sgt. Michael Strank, Cpl. Harlon H. Block, Pfc. Franklin R. Sousley, Pfc. Rene A. Gagnon, Pfc. Ira Hayes, and PhM. 2/c John H. Bradley, USN.
News-photographer Joe Rosenthal caught the afternoon flagraising in an inspiring Pulitzer Prize winning photograph. When the picture was later released, Sculptor Felix W. de Weldon, then on duty with the U.S. Navy, was so moved by the scene that he constructed a scale model and then a life-size model of it. Gagnon, Hayes, and Bradley, the three survivors of the flag raising (the others having been killed in later phases of the Iwo Jima battle), posed for the sculptor who modeled their faces in clay. All available pictures and physical statistics of the three who had given their lives were collected and then used in the modeling of their faces.
Once the statue was completed in plaster, it was carefully disassembled and trucked to Brooklyn, N.Y., for casting in bronze. The casting process, which required the work of experienced artisans, took nearly 3 years. After the parts had been cast, cleaned, finished, and chased, they were reassembled into approximately a dozen pieces--the largest weighing more than 20 tons--and brought back to Washington, D.C., by a three-truck convoy. Here they were bolted and welded together, and the statue was treated with preservatives.
Erection of the memorial, which was designed by Horace W. Peaslee, was begun in September 1954. It was officially dedicated by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on November 10, 1954, the 179th anniversary of the U.S. Marine Corps.
The 32-foot-high figures are shown erecting a 60-foot bronze flagpole from which a cloth flag flies 24 hours a day in accordance with Presidential proclamation of June 12, 1961. They occupy the same positions as in Rosenthal's historic photograph. Hayes is the figure farthest from the flag staff; Sousley to the right front of Hayes; Strank on Sousley's left; Bradley in front of Sousley; Gagnon in front of Strank; and Block closest to the bottom of the flagstaff. The figures, placed on a rock slope, rise about 6 feet from a 10-foot base, making the memorial 78 feet high overall. The M-l rifle and the carbine carried by two of the figures are 16 and 12 feet long, respectively. The canteen would hold 32 quarts of water.
The base of the memorial is made of rough Swedish granite. Burnished in gold on the granite are the names and dates of every principal Marine Corps engagement since the founding of the Corps, as well as the inscription: "In honor and in memory of the men of the United States Marine Corps who have given their lives to their country since November 10, 1775." Also inscribed on the base is the tribute of Fleet Adm. Chester W. Nimitz to the fighting men on Iwo Jima: "Uncommon Valor was a Common Virtue."
The entire cost of the statue and developing the memorial site was $850,000--all donated by U.S. Marines, former Marines, Marine Corps Reservists, friends of the Marine Corps, and members of the Naval Service. No public funds were used for this memorial.
The memorial in Harlingen, TX was gifted to the Marine Military Academy in October 1981 by Dr. de Weldon. It is the original working model prepared by him for the casting of the bronze in Washington. He gifted the work of art to the Academy to stand as an inspiration to young Marine Military Cadets. There were other major factors involved in this site being selected by Dr. de Weldon: the fairly constant temperature and humidity are ideal for the preservation of the molding-plaster figures, the street facing the memorial was appropriately named Iwo Jima Boulevard by the Academy’s founders in 1965, and the Academy is the only place outside of Washington, D.C. where proper honors are rendered with battalion-size dress blue parades. Also, the Marine placing the flag pole into the ground was a Rio Grande Valley man, Corporal Harlon H. Block of Weslaco, whose gravesite resides directly behind the monument. The famous quote on the base of the memorial was spoken by Admiral Chester Nimitz of nearby Fredericksburg, Texas: “Uncommon Valor was a Common Virtue.”
One thing about Texas, you can find good barbeque. The Longhorn Cattle Company in San Benito serves up some mighty fine beef, too. I have been stopping here for years. I think my first trip into the Rio Grande Valley many years ago included a stop at this restaurant.
So of course, this trip had to include at least one meal here. Mom & I stopped for lunch after I got off the airplane on Saturday. Delish!
Birding in Texas is fun! New species to see like this long-billed curlew. The bird guides say that this bird winters here, but it is the middle of summer and they are still in the Brownsville area! I guess they like the heat or something. :)
Not too long ago, I posted a shot of "Moon Lake" (aka Penley Lake). When we went flying the other day, we flew over the lake and got to see it from a different perspective.
There isn't much information available on-line about Penley Lake. I found that it is a saline lake, similar to Mono Lake in California and the Great Salt Lake in Utah. There is some kind of brine shrimp that apparently lives or lived in Penley. Only four lakes in Washington state have this kind of shrimp.
There also used to be a sodium sulfate mining operation at Penley in the mid-70's. The deposits were crystalline cylinders, ten to thirty feet in diameter extending straight down. Those mining areas are probably what we are seeing when we drive by it and also from the aerial view. Apparently mud was trapped inside the crystals and made it too costly to mine so the business went belly up. The mining building and hopper are still there along with remnants of the mining operation.