Flora and Fauna (& topography): West of the Pacos

Blue Bonnet

On December 1st we left Baton Rouge for points west. We spent two nights in Houston, a week in TX hill country, two nights in Big Bend National Park, then drove up to NM to see Carlsbad Caverns and Santa Fe. We then headed to AZ, NV and finally CA. On January 19th we arrived back in Baton Rouge for a much needed rest from the road of several days.

Below are pictures of the topography, flora and fauna we encountered. Much of this I have never seen. I am very taken with our beautiful western states, especially Big Sur and north in California.

TEXAS

Mud bird nest in the cliff near the Rio Grande

Mud bird nest in the cliff near the Rio Grande

Mr. Spider:  As big as my hand

Mr. Spider: As big as my hand

Blooming desert

Blooming desert

Purple Cactus.  Who knew?

Purple Cactus. Who knew?

Road Runner.  Meep-Meep

Road Runner. Meep-Meep

The kind of cactus one sees in old movie

The kind of cactus one sees in old movies

Texas Long Horn Cattle, Spectacular and LARGE

Texas Long Horn Cattle, Spectacular and LARGE

TX Hill Country

TX Hill Country

Tiny Hill Country Deer, found in abundance

Tiny Hill Country Deer, found in abundance

Live Oak Trees do not get very large in TX

Live Oak Trees do not get very large in TX

Grieving Angel in Glenwood Garden, Houston

Grieving Angel in Glenwood Garden, Houston

Landscaping, TX Style

Landscaping, TX Style

Wild Horses on Rio Grande

Wild Horses on Rio Grande

Cactus growing from the rocks

Cactus growing from the rocks

Cactus and Sage Grass.  This looks and feels like an aquarium scape

Cactus and Sage Grass (& more). This looks and feels like an aquarium scape

Big Bend Beauty

Big Bend Beauty

Life will find a way

Life will find a way

NEW MEXICO

View from the entrance to Carlsbad Caverns, NM

View from the entrance to Carlsbad Caverns, NM

Carlsbad, too

Carlsbad, too

Carlsbad

Carlsbad

ARIZONA

Painted Desert National Park

Painted Desert National Park

Sedona, AZ

Sedona, AZ

Sedona, AZ

Sedona, AZ

Where the deer and the antelope play...

Where the deer and the antelope play…

Petrified Wood in the Painted Desert National Park

Petrified Wood in the Painted Desert National Park

Raven:  Never More

Raven: Never More

Tumbleweed

Tumbleweed

Blooming Cactus

Blooming Cactus

Petrified Wood

Petrified Wood

NEVADA

Who knew the NV desert has mountains?  We didn't expect it at all.

Who knew the NV desert has mountains? We didn’t expect it at all.

Las Vegas Topography (smile)

Las Vegas Topography (smile)

Blooming Ceiling:  Glass flowers at Bellagio

Blooming Ceiling: Glass flowers at Bellagio

Christmas Flowers

Christmas Flowers

Las Vegas has the rare, endangered golden Lion

Las Vegas is home of the rare, endangered, golden Lion

Hoover Lake.  It looks like the shoreline is painted, This is mineral deposits from the lowering water levels.

Hoover Lake. It looks like the shoreline is painted, This is mineral deposits from the lowering water levels.

CALIFORNIA

Panda:  San Diego ZOO

Panda: San Diego ZOO

Koala:  San Diego ZOO

Koala: San Diego ZOO

JP Getty Museum and Gardens

JP Getty Museum and Gardens

Succulent Tree (I do not know the name, they were all over California)

Succulent Tree (I do not know the name, they were all over California)

Monterey Cedar

Monterey Cedar

Agave

Agave

Sea Elephant

Sea Elephant

RAVEN:  This guy is following us from state to state

RAVEN: This guy is following us from state to state

Mexican Fan Palm at Hearst Castle

Mexican Fan Palm at Hearst Castle

Labra Tar Pits

Labra Tar Pits

Caladium:  Rose Parade Float

Caladium: Rose Parade Float

Life everywhere in California

Life everywhere in California

Big Sur in bloom in January

Big Sur in bloom in January

Whales at Big Sur

Whales at Big Sur

McWay Falls, Big Sur

McWay Falls, Big Sur

Eucalyptus groves (the fragrance was wonderful)

Eucalyptus groves (the fragrance was wonderful)

Seals and cubs

Seals and cubs

Red liken

Red liken

Elk:  Reintroduced to the CA National Seashore

Elk: Reintroduced to the CA National Seashore

California, home of fruits and nuts (smile)

California, home of fruits and nuts (smile)

Giant Redwood

Giant Redwood

Giant Redwood

Giant Redwood

El Capitan at Yosemite

El Capitan at Yosemite

Sequoia the Magnificent

Sequoia the Magnificent

O Canada

We made four trips to Canada.  The First was in August through New Hampshire and it was aborted because we had our gun in the car.  Since 9/11 this is a major no-no (yikes!).  The second was to Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia in September.  The next was a day trip to Campobello, the summer home of Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt.  Finally, in early October, we drove up the St. Lawrence Seaway from Belfast, Maine.  We spent the night in a B&B in Riviere-du-Loup and then drove to Quebec City.  This October trip was off-season with Groupon deals, but the weather was still wonderful (cool, but dry).  Pictures with descriptions to follow.  RECOMMENDATION:  If using Groupon, Booking.com or LivingSocial, find a location, call them first and ask for their best rate.  On occasion, you will find it is less or equal to the online “Deal”.

I have learned, when visiting Mt. Vernon, that a river, lake or ocean facing home (hotel) has two fronts; one facing the road and the other facing the water.  This stands true of The Roosevelt’s Campobello summer home in Canada.

For all visiting Campobello Island the caretakers offer, “Tea with Eleanor” every afternoon. It is a time that she set aside every day, 365 days for rest and conversation regardless of where she was. Our host filled our time with stories about her and her remarkable life.

Campobello Island is a Canadian island located at the entrance to Passamaquoddy Bay, adjacent to the entrance to Cobscook Bay, and within the Bay of Fundy. The island is one of the Fundy Islands and is part of Charlotte County, New Brunswick.

Front, facing the road

Front, facing the road

Front, facing the ocean

Front, facing the ocean

Family Dining

Family Dining

FDR's bedroom

FDR’s bedroom

Family Church on the island

Family Church on the island

St. Lawrence Seaway and Quebec City

Just to see what the towns and topography of the area was like, we drove up to Riviere-du-Loup on the St. Lawrence before going to Quebec City.

Water fall next to our B&B in Riviere-du-Loup

Water fall next to our B&B in Riviere-du-Loup

Beautiful farm land on the St. Lawrence

Beautiful farm land on the St. Lawrence

Beautiful farm land on the St. Lawrence

Beautiful farm land on the St. Lawrence

Sunset view from our B&B

Sunset view from our B&B

View along the St. Lawrence

View along the St. Lawrence

Quebec City, Canada

This is the most European-looking city in North America.  It is so incredibly beautiful, small and feels several hundreds of years old.  The temps were very cool, but not beyond comfort.  We stayed in a very old, lovely hotel.  The rooms were small, comfortable and romantic.  The food and the people were wonderful.  We stayed two nights.  We took a short boat ride down the St. Lawrence River.  We met a precious couple from Monroe, LA.  We invited them to dine with us that evening.  We closed the restaurant down, exchanged addresses and have corresponded.

The Château Frontenac was designed by American architect Bruce Price, as one of a series of “château” style hotels built for the Canadian Pacific Railway company during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  It is the most photographed Hotel in the world.

The Quebec Conference of 1943, at which Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and William Lyon Mackenzie King discussed strategy for World War II, was held at the Château Frontenac while much of the staff stayed nearby at the Citadel.

View of the St Lawrence from Hotel Chateau Frontenac

View of the St Lawrence from Hotel Chateau Frontenac

Hotel Chateau Frontenac

Hotel Chateau Frontenac

Hotel Chateau Frontenac

Hotel Chateau Frontenac

The old city of Quebec is magical.  It is like a clean New Orleans with flowers, beautiful parks, cobblestone roads and hills.  Every local speak both French and English.  They are warm and gracious.  I expected it to be really expensive (like Ireland/Scotland), but I was pleasantly surprised at how reasonable the prices were…with one exception.  We were told that breakfast at the Frontenac was a “must do”.  NOT!  Breakfast was $60.00 US.  I told sweet husband that if I spent $60.00 on something, I had better be able to wear it a long time (smile).  No, we did not have breakfast at the hotel.

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Sweet Husband with his new "pets".

Sweet Husband with his new “pets”.

Our hotel

Our hotel

Our new Louisiana Friends at dinner

Our new Louisiana Friends at dinner

Prince Edward Island (PEI) and Nova Scotia

PEI is a beautiful, rural agricultural Island with rich farms and rolling hills.  The only main city on the Island was Charlottesville.

PEI is most known for the 1908 novel by Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables. It recounts the adventures of Anne Shirley, an 11-year-old orphan girl who is mistakenly sent to Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, a middle-aged brother and sister who had intended to adopt a boy to help them on their farm on PEI. The novel recounts how Anne makes her way with the Cuthberts, in school, and within the town.

It is also famously known for the home of the Acadians who were uprooted by the English.  Two-thirds of the Acadians died in this removal, the balance landed in the region, which is now Lafayette, LA.

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Nova Scotia: Cape Breton Island

We took the ferry from PEI to NS, an easy 45 minute ride.

From the harbor in Nova Scotia we drove up to Cape Breton Island where we found a B&B on a golf course along the ocean. This is the first time I have ever encountered anti-American feelings. Our host was rude and made a few remarks which clearly put us in our place. His loss.

Nova Scotia (New Scotland) still holds its Celtic heritage. Much good Celtic music can still be heard all over the island. It stands in stark contrast to the French Canadians on that end of Canada.

It looks so very much like Scotland (at least Cape Breton). It is beauty around every curve. It took us over seven hours to drive the circumference of the island. It was worth every second.  It is rated the second most beautiful drive in Canada after Banff.

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THE END (finally)

Flora and Fauna: Ireland and Scotland

Sweet husband and I had the opportunity to visit a Christian mission in Scotland to explore the possibility of working with them.  We found a flight “deal” that included a week in Ireland with B&B accommodations and a rental car at the same price as flights from the US to Scotland, naturally we purchased that.  We had a week in Ireland and two weeks at the mission in Scotland.

I have (following) some beautiful shots of flora and fauna in both places.  A brief review of both is also offered.

Ireland:  The land of my forefathers.  If you fly into Dublin, I do not recommend a rental car for several reasons.  Join a tour group.  WHY?  I’m glad you asked.

(1)  The rental cars are mostly manual shift, which is not totally difficult except one has to do it with the right hand because one is driving on the wrong side of the road.  One can get automatic transmission, but there is an additional cost.  Driving on the wrong side of the road is a challenge.

(2)  The cities are very crowded.  They are old cities with 2 lane roads and THOUSANDS of bicycles and pedestrians [imagine NYC or LA with two lane cobblestone roads or just go to Boston and try driving on the wrong side of the road].

(3)  The country side is lovely [what you can see of it from the small car], but there are very high stone or hedge walls on either side of the narrow roads.  There is no room to pull over to try to see over the walls either.  The GPS the rental care company rented us didn’t work [our experience may have been slightly better had this not been the case].  All the Bed and Breakfast have no addresses like we are accustomed to in the US.  They are located by longitude and latitude coordinates.  Due to the kindness of the people we encountered each day, we found or were led to our accommodations.

(4) Once we started driving toward Galway, the walls disappeared.  Sheep roamed freely, we could see the beautiful countryside and this made our trip most enjoyable!  There is a National park past Galway called Connemara National Park.  If you go to Ireland, do not miss this.  Also don’t miss the Cliffs of Moher.

The Cliffs of Moher

The Cliffs of Moher

Kitty Topiary at Belfast Castle Garden

Kitty Topiary at Belfast Castle Garden

Queen Eleizabet Rose in the Botanical Park in Belfast

Queen Elizabeth Rose in the Botanical Park in Belfast

Connemara National Park

Connemara National Park

Blackfaced Sheep

black-faced Sheep

????? Wild Flower at Blarney Castle

????? Wild Flower at Blarney Castle

Atlas Cedar:  Magnificant

Atlas Cedar: magnificent

All the Swans in the UK are owned by the Queen of England.  This one is in Ireland, so she is free.

All the Swans in the UK are owned by the Queen of England. This one is in Ireland, so she is free.

Scotland:  Exploring the possibility of mission work.  We spend two weeks in Dumbarton at the mission site with our hosts.  The mission site is located in a 150 year old, abandoned estate.  The missionaries have spent several years restoring it and getting it ready for the mission’s residents; a large place is needed.

Our hosts took us for a two day trip to the Isle of Skye.  This is a must see area of Scotland.  Sweet Husband and I took a day trip via train to Edinburgh.  This is another must see.

I was either allergic to something within the walls of the mission or I caught a head cold in route as I was sick the entire time we visited.

The former owners of this estate planted many exotic trees, one being a Sequoia.  It was at one time the country estate of a wealthy Scotsman.  It was hundreds of acres and enjoyed a beautiful Victorian Garden.  Only the magnificant trees have survived the years of neglect in the garden.

We left knowing we are not a good fit for this mission, but remain open to exploring the work God has for us the balance of this life.

The richness of the forest floor across from the mission/estate.

The richness of the forest floor across from the mission/estate.

Sequoia

Sequoia

Falls on the way to Skye

Falls on the way to Skye

Cliffs on the ocean

Cliffs on the ocean

Sheep sheltered from the wind on Skye

Sheep sheltered from the wind on Skye

View from the top of the mission overlooking the front garden

View from the top of the mission overlooking the front garden

Atlas Cedar on mission property

Atlas Cedar on mission property

Flora and Fauna: Maine

We had the great fortune to spend four months in Maine (July – October).   It is the most beautiful place.  Flowers galore, extraordinary coast lines, lake and mountain views to take your breath away.  We were told there were many animals we didn’t have the opportunity to see (Moose for example).  I will leave you with choice pictures rather than words, as both do not show justice to my wonderful Maine.  I stand in awe of God’s majestic creation.

Beach Rose (grows wild)

Beach Rose (grows wild)

Thousands of little islands covered in life

Thousands of little islands covered in life

Fuchsia and Friends

Fuchsia and Friends

Wildflower Garden Rockland

Wildflower Garden Rockland

Camden

Camden

Whales off shore from Bar Harbor

Whales off shore from Bar Harbor

Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park

Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park

Korean Dogwood Tree blooming in July in Maine

Korean Dogwood Tree blooming in July in Maine

Dahlia (Maine is overrun with beautiful gardens)

Dahlia (Maine is overrun with beautiful gardens)

??? Just another example for the wild flowers in abundance

??? Just another example for the wild flowers in abundance

West Quoddy head light (Eastern most point in the US)

West Quoddy head light (Eastern most point in the US)

Japanese Garden near Booth Bay

Japanese Garden near Booth Bay

Star Flowers

Star Flowers

Red Mushrooms

Red Mushrooms

Screw Auger Falls, North Oxford, ME

Screw Auger Falls, North Oxford, ME

Blueberry Barren Wild blueberries turn red in the fall)

Blueberry Barren Wild blueberries turn red in the fall)

Vanilla Strawberry Hydrangeas

Vanilla Strawberry Hydrangea

Botanical Garden in Booth Bay

Botanical Garden in Booth Bay

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Who knew grass changes color in the autumn?

Who knew grass changes color in the autumn?

Sweet Rose of Sharon

Sweet Rose of Sharon

Monarch

Monarch

Katahdin Mountain Maine (where the Applacian Trail starts)

Katahdin Mountain Maine (where the Appalachian Trail starts)

Katahdin Mountain

Katahdin Mountain

Beach in Acadia National Park

Beach in Acadia National Park

Lobster in abundance - YUM!

Lobster in abundance – YUM!

Chip or Dale

Chip or Dale

Smoke Bush

Smoke Bush

Japanese Garden near Bar Harbor

Japanese Garden near Bar Harbor

Big Bend National Park

Because it is off season, but (trust me) the weather is still nice in south Texas in the winter, we were able to get a room in the park on short notice.  We were in the same park, in the same lodge at the same time as Matthew McConaughey…so there.  He went hiking/camping with a group, we stayed on the driving route.

It took us the better part of the day to drive from Wimberley, TX to the National Park.  We stopped in Langtry, TX where Judge Roy Bean was the law west of the Pecos.  His actual bar room/court house is still standing.

It (the park) is 60 miles off the two-lane highway.  Gasoline is cheaper IN the park, they have a small grocery store, a nice restaurant, no cell service and poor Wi-Fi, but the views and environment is ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL.  I’m going to give you lots of pictures, but they do not do justice to the beauty and grace of this park.  You must see it and you must take children and you must tell everyone.

Before the area became a National Park it was a private resort.  Some of the buildings and the hot springs tub still stands and are in use.

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Paces River

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Hot Springs on the bank of the Rio Grand in Big Bend National Park.

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Horses on the Mexican side of the Rio Grand

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