Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Luckenbach, Texas

For my non-country music friends, the song in the video is the one that put Luckenbach, Texas on the map. Start the music and scroll on, unless you want to read the song's lyrics. That's all there is in the video.

I always loved this song and thought I'd enjoy seeing Luckenbach.

Luckenbach is 11 miles from Fredericksburg through some peaceful countryside just off this main road.

This is the town loop road entering Luckenbach. Straight ahead is the post office and the building to the right is the corner of the dance hall.

There is rustic park-like countryside as you enter town.

Here's Roy standing at the door of the dance hall. You can see down in the corner of the picture one of several exotic looking roosters strolling around town. I tried getting pictures of some of them, but without any luck

This is the dance hall stage and dance floor.

This is the seating in the dance hall. We'll have to make our next trip to Luckenbach in the evening for some drinking and dancing!

Roy had his guitar in the truck, so we did a photo shoot in front of the post office/gift shop/saloon.

This kitty sleeping on the post office bench seemed to sum up the slow paced lifestyle.

This is the interior of the post office/gift shop. As you walk on through, you enter a rustic saloon. I wanted to snap a picture, but didn't want to impose on the patrons sitting at the bar.

This is the area to the back of the post office and bar. The building to the left has full plumbing restrooms.

This is a shot of the back of the post office/bar where some entertainment takes place. Behind me and not in the picture is a large stage. This place appears that it could do some serious partying!

This guy is coming out the side door of the bar. I thought the guitar caddy was cool. It makes one think a lot of guitar picking goes on here.

This is a shot across the large parking lot looking back at the center of town. The dance hall is the building to the left and the post office is right of center.

This is looking across the parking lot heading around the loop out of town. To the right sets one house. It's pictured below.

This appears to be the only house in town, but just up the road is a long driveway with what appears to be two more homes.

Here's a little history of the town. Sweet place!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Some Nature Bites

While out walking, I came across this interesting spider web built into a fence.

If you dare, enlarge the picture and look inside. The owner is home. Roy took the close-up. I wasn't getting this close!

Here is an Internet picture of the Funnel-Web Grass Spider. My Internet research says that this spider typically stays inside its web, and only runs to the front of the web when it feels a vibration. It's web isn't sticky like most spider webs, and it depends on other bugs viewing the deck of the web as a nice place to sit awhile. It is not aggressive toward humans, but will bite given a chance. Here's what the Internet has to say about our reaction to its bite:

Symptoms of a Funnel Web Grass Spider Bite:

Unlike snake bites, the person feels great pain at the site of the bite.
Nausea and abdominal pain follow.
The person will also experience difficulty in breathing and a general weakness or numbness of the muscles.
The body also secretes heavily in several areas.
Profuse sweating is usually obvious, along with excessive saliva production.
Heavy coughing is also common.
Virtually all major hospitals in "Funnel-web Country" carry an effective anti-venom.
Provided a pressure/immobilisation method has been applied soon after the bite and medical attention sought quickly, a few days in the hospital is the usual outcome with complete recovery.

Here's a picture to clear your mind of that spider stuff! Look-up in the tree. Isn't this an interesting place for a cactus to grow? Bet you never thought you'd have to watch out for a cactus while climbing a tree!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Johnson City

As part of our wildflower tour, Roy and I drove the road that runs behind our camper. It's called Miller Creek Road. It is a back road into Johnson City. We were surprised at what we found.

We discovered the road runs right through a pasture. Although it's not true free range, it was reminiscent of our years in Idaho encountering cattle in the high desert and mountains. It made my heart race a bit and yearn for the freedom of the wide open spaces that are available to the public further West. Texas lands seem to be privately owned.

Awww, Mama and baby! They look peaceful, don't they.

Further down the road we encountered this Oak, with a sign declaring it to be the largest one in Blanco County.

Check out the flood gauge at the side of the road. This is an area where the road takes a substantial dip. At the bottom of the dip is a creek with a spillway to each side of the road. The only reason I can see for a flood gauge to show this extreme depth is that someone new to the road may think it's flat, and therefore, the water not so deep.

This is the main street of the old business district in Johnson City. The community has a population of approximately 1,500 and is the hometown of President Lyndon B. Johnson. It is a mix of farming, artisans, and history. At the end of the street you see a tall building that was once a feed mill. It's now a restaurant. If you take the side street to the left in the forefront of the picture, you will encounter the president's boyhood home just a block or two away. The street to the right in the forefront of the picture goes past the jail, courthouse, and bank. All date back to the early years of the community. More on all these later.

Here is a picture of the Feed mill Restaurant taken from a metalwork gallery across the street. Metalwork is popular in this area.

This is President Johnson's boyhood home. Tours are available. We'll do that another day, along with a tour of the family ranch.

Here is the side and back yard. I couldn't help but be a little awed by a young boy achieving such a high office from such humble beginnings. I later wondered whether the name Johnson City came about after the presidency, whether the family was well established in the area, or was just coincidence. It turns out the Johnson's have quite a lineage here. Here's a nice synopsis of the founding of Johnson City and the Johnson family:

This jail was built in 1894. With improvements to bring it up to code, it is still in use today. It makes me wonder what famous outlaws from days of old may have spent time here.

Across the street is the courthouse.

This is the original Johnson City Bank. It is no longer used as a bank. It once house Lyndon B. Johnson's offices.

Here is a view down the street to the side of the bank heading back to the main street. The little buildings hold art galleries and whatnot shops. It's a quiet and pleasant community.

On the edge of town is the Benini Sculpture Ranch and Gallery. We'll catch it another day.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Nature Of Things

There's a lot of new and interesting things about nature to learn here in Texas.

The Live Oaks are covered with Ball Moss. You can see them hanging from the undersides of the branches in the picture. I'm told that Ball Moss is an invasive plant, and has not always been in central Texas. The moss is covered with long stems and buds that look like they might produce a bloom. Having gotten the buds to open, I found they put out a fine sheet of fluff that easily flies high in a breeze and would stick to anything. No wonder the trees are loaded with them!

This is an interesting sight that I've only seen on nature shows. This is the steep funnel of an Ant Lion larva. Roy says the funnel is built with the steepest grade it can have without caving in. Along comes an ant who slides with the sand down the funnel into the mouth of the larva's waiting jaws. Yikes, what a way to go. I don't know if they would pinch us, but I don't plan to stick a finger in the hole to find out!

The scary looking larva is actually only about 1/4 inch in length. The flying creature is an adult Ant Lion.

Armadillos: You know those interesting and kind of cute animals associated with Texas. Not so cute when you see the damage they can do to new sod in one night!!! We learned an interesting fact from a local. We were told that Armadillos carry the bacteria that causes Leprosy. I checked this out on the Internet and found it to be true. The article I read said that 95% of people now have a natural immunity to Leprosy, and it is treatable for those that get the disease, but it makes me think it's best not to be touching an Armadillo without gloves.

Fields of cactus: Best to keep your dog on a leash until you've walked the property checking for cacti.

Here's a closer look at a Prickly Pear Cactus. Odie met this one personally! They must smell like Catnip, as I've had to be vigilant to keep him away from them. One moments inattention and he got a needle in the end of his nose, and two more in his lip. I was just praying he didn't fall down before I could grab him! Whew, avoided that disaster, and he seemed okay. Come to think of it, I haven't seen him seek out a cactus since. Now if he'd only learn about bees!!!

It seems lots of things in Texas have thorns. Check out the long needles on the small branch. You may have to enlarge the picture to see all of them. I discovered these when picking up some brush. I wasn't expecting cactus type needles on a tree branch. Roy says the RV Park's riding mower's tires are filled with foam, as without it the tires would often go flat from plant needle punctures.

Roy came across one of these. No, that's not his hand in the picture, but just a picture from the Internet. This striped snake is not poisonous and is the equivalent to a green Garter Snake. You'll be surprised what you do have to watch out for.

This guy is okay. This is a Trans Pecos Whiptail. We see them scurrying about. We mostly see little 4-6 inch ones, but I did see a couple that appeared to be close to 10 inches. This picture is from the Internet. I took about 6 photos and thought I got some good shots, but when I checked my pictures on the computer these fast little characters weren't to be seen in them!

I know, eeeeeeeew!!! Roy came across one of these. I hope I never do or you'll hear the scream! This is a Red-Headed Centipede. They are not aggressive, but will bite if you pick them up. There is another centipede that looks like this that is called a Giant Red-Headed Centipede. It can get up to a foot long. I told Roy that in his Workkamper lawn care duties that he better poke piles of leaves and brush with the rake handle to see what runs out before he picks them up. Ewwwww!

Now for the surprise. This fluffy little one inch long caterpillar called a a Puss Caterpillar (as in Pussy Cat) is also know as an Asp. Hidden in the fur and on the ends of its feet are spines that inject venom. It is one of a variety of poisonous caterpillars. Roy discovered this a couple of weeks ago when he was sitting at the picnic table early one morning wearing flip flops. A caterpillar crawled across his toes. He felt the sting and questioned whether he had been bitten by a snake. The intense stinging lasted a couple of hours, his toes turned red and looked swollen, and he felt nauseous. He soaked his foot in warm salt water. Two weeks later he still has red spots across his toes. Our Internet research found this information:

Puss moth caterpillars can pose a genuine health hazard. Intense, throbbing pain develops immediately or within five minutes of contact with the caterpillar. Stings on the arm may also result in pain in the armpit region. Blood-colored spots may appear at the site of the sting. Other symptoms can include headaches, nausea, vomiting, intense abdominal distress, and sometimes shock or respiratory stress. Pain usually subsides within an hour and spots disappear in a day or so -- however, with a larger dose of the venom, it is not uncommon for the symptoms to last up to 5 days.

This is a Saddleback Caterpillar. It is also venomous. The Internet says this:
Stings can be very painful. They can cause swelling, nausea, and leave a rash that can last for days. It's my opinion that sneakers are the best for walking where you might scoop one of these guys into your sandals.

Well, there you have it. A mini nature tour of Central Texas.