May 23 – Messin’ with Texas, part one

Flew into Texas yesterday afternoon, and now I’ve been out here for about 18 hours.  Here’s some of what I’ve observed so far:

This was the first photo I took as soon as I got out of the Austin Airport.  The first thing I thought was “oh, this is what dry air feels like.”  Not that we’re in serious desert here, and it’s still kind of humid, but compared to the swampy air of Virginia, it’s quite a contrast.

IMG_4623

On the hour long drive from Austin to my friend’s ranch, I was definitely made aware of the great difference between here and home.  For one, I’ve read that Texas is in the midst of a serious multi-year drought (http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/DM_south.htm), and it definitely shows in the landscape.  The fields are already golden-yellow, and everything just looks parched, especially to my rain-soaked Virginia eyes.  There were a bunch of beautiful roadside wildflowers, which I hope to photograph while I’m here.

After driving through many miles of fields, scrubland, and a couple of small Texas towns, we arrived just before sunset at my friend’s ranch.  A fair amount of drinking and merriness ensued, and I was up pretty late.  Nonetheless, I got up early this morning, figuring I would do some exploring before it got too hot, then siesta in the afternoon.

Here’s what the general landscape around the ranch looks like, some scrubby oak forest…  Image

and some more open, savannah-looking areas:

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The most striking vegetational difference from Virginia is the prickly pear cactus, which is growing everywhere!Image

some of it is beginning to flower.Image

and the flowers themselves are quite beautiful.Image

After my explorations in the scrublands, I returned to the ranch, where a neighbor’s horse and mule came to pay a visit (apparently they do this quite frequently), and beg for apples.Image

One of my jobs this morning was to hand water their garden, which looks pretty good (thanks to frequent hand-watering), especially compared to the dessiccated state of the rest of the vegetation..  I was delighted to see that they had ripe tomatoes, which we aren’t going to get for another month at least at home!  Image

well, that’s all for now.  More updates to come in the days ahead…

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One response to “May 23 – Messin’ with Texas, part one

  1. Texas, one state I have never been.

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