Hooves and Paws

This is the prettiest bison I have ever seen.  It was the color of a teddy bear, gently snoozing at Franklin Safari Park.  Franklin is a small town just north of College Station, where A & M University resides.  The Safari Park is privately owned and the animals were really well cared for.  Franklin had a F3 Tornado a few months ago.  I remember seeing it on the news and wondering where Franklin, Texas was.  Many of the workers lost their homes but all the animals survived.  Life is full of curious miracles.  We gave the park a large donation along with the entry fee.

Don’t you just want to cuddle this little calf?  So precious with a cute curly coat.

Breastfeeding the twins in public!

This is an Asian otter who refused to let me take a photo of his lovely wee face so instead you have a photo of his lovely coat and toes.

We don’t have prairie dogs near us so I love them!

Isn’t his stripe down his back lovely?

An Aussie Immigrant

Another Ankole Watuzi – even bigger horns on this one

‘Look at my perfect babies!’

‘Are you sure you don’t have snacks’?

“I only have one wing but my pink feet are so perfect”.  We noticed there were quite a few special animals at this park who were just as healthy and happy as the perfect specimens.  I have a soft spot for broken creatures just like me.

 

 

 

 

Almost Tropical Autumn

Technically, we live in the sub-tropics in the Piney Wood ecosystem, Texas.  I think I prefer Almost Tropical and to illustrate – we go from Hot as Hades to Freeze your Ass off.  Yesterday a cold front came in and unusually we have some autumnal foliage.  Most years a hurricane or storm system blows off the leaves before they can change color.

This is my walking path just at the end of my ‘hood’.  It is so lovely at this time of year with less sunscreen/warm sweaters needed.  You can always tell the recent snowbirds.  They wear shorts all year round and look at my layered sweaters with disbelief.  Having to communicate or at least wave to everyone on the walking path also causes them some consternation.  Bless their hearts…

Usually this display of copper and gold would warm my heart but the Grinch has stolen it.  My depression has been getting better but the time change has messed with my brain.  For the last few months the driving in our town had improved after an obvious police/trooper/constable presence.  Even my ice cold heart was warmed by seeing jackasses in trucks/Mercedes getting tickets or at least a scolding.  On Wednesday I had to return to my trusty physiotherapist because my right arm is sore and numb.  In route back home, I encountered a weaver in a truck.  Three lanes of traffic, going about 50 mph, and yet he felt he could get three cars ahead by weaving in and out of traffic dangerously. He swerved right in front of me and something broke in my brain.  To preface this, honking your horn is almost unheard of down here.  I put my hand on the horn and left it there.  All the lanes seemed to back away from me and I was left in a solitary bubble of road rage.  The next day the police were back and schadenfreude overtook me as I watched car after car getting booked.

Now I am less sore and grumpy, the Grinch has retreated and I am enjoying the autumnal leaves once more.  I even went to the mall to get my Nordstom’s coffee and enjoyed the repartee with the Israeli soap sellers.  Sometimes it drives me crazy and I feel like I have never left the souk.  Can someone tell me how to say, “Stop bothering me” in Hebrew?  Nothing too rude…their employers probably make them use persistent sale tactics.

Northerners laugh at us when we complain about almost freezing temperatures but we are acclimated to a long summer of hot and steamy.  It is usually in the high 90’s but the humidity shoots up the heat index.  When the first cold front arrived the temperature shot down by about 50 degrees.  Today it is bloody freezing and the heating isn’t working – eek!  I phoned our contractor in a panic and they are coming out in an hour even though it is Saturday.  My neurological issues and low blood pressure makes me feel really unwell when I am cold.  The gas fire is on and the space heater, too.

The other week I spotted something strange and big in the garden.  I racked my brain until I realized it was an old Great Horned Owl nest which had collapsed – it was about 3 feet across.  They usually steal someone’s else’s but it was huge and very nicely lined with a plastic grocery bag and pine needles.  Everyone is recycling these days. 🦉

 

Cute Closeups

Miss Franklin, Texas 2019

What a beauty this little girl is – those brown eyes and eyelashes!

Burro Whiskers!

PLEASE give me a snack, Teddy???

Ilford – only the oldies will get that moniker.  I will give you a clue – what color is she??

This is my best side…

I only have one curly horn but still I am handsome…

A glorious little redhead – Cersei, perhaps?

Courtship

These are African grey crowned cranes – although it was silent I imagined I could hear tribal drums.

So many of us start a courtship with a dance.  I met Teddy at my friend’s raucous 21st birthday party and one dance was all it took.  Skip to 38 years later and we just spent a fabulous weekend visiting Franklin Safari Park, just north of College Station.  We rarely took vacations together lately because of our sick elderly cat.  I was desperate to see and touch animals because the house is so quiet and this was just perfect.  Many more amazing photographs to come.

Holy Rosary Church, Rosenberg, TX

At first glance this Roman Catholic church in Rosenberg, Texas, seemed a little plain but the stained glass was spectacular.

The names, on the historical sign, give you a little insight into the original settlers in this little town.  From the memorials, it seemed as though there was an equal mix of Czech, German, Irish and latterly Hispanic.  I was touched by the little rose garden planted for loved ones who had passed on.  Every Catholic Church I have visited in Texas has been open to any visitors and that fills me with hope for a trusting, accepting future.

Rosenberg Railroad Museum

Look at that Caboose!

I admit my ignorance; I had no idea what a caboose was until I visited the Rosenberg Railroad Museum.  This bright red MoPac Caboose went at the end of the train and the engine at the front.  It was an office of sorts for the conductor and brakeman.  This one was built in 1972 for the Missouri Pacific Railroad – don’t these railroad company names give you chills?  It brings back wonderful nostalgia of American movies for me.  With the addition of computerized systems, cabooses are no longer used on trains.

Tower 17 was commissioned in 1903 and was a fully working tower until 2004.  This is still the busiest junction in Texas, south west of Houston.  We could see the old Interlocker which operated the switches and signs but perhaps even more exciting we could view the current computerized map of the trains in that area.  There were soooo many and there was even a traffic train jam while incredibly long trains passed.  It is completely normal to sit for 20 minutes while a train passes at a railroad crossing in Texas.  I am always too amped to get annoyed at the delay; what are they carrying; which railroad company is it?  Sometimes you feel disorientated when looking at a train carrying cars when you are driving parallel on a busy highway.

The computer screen looks out of place…

Then there was all the old office equipment – it reminds me how old I am…  The little children looked with fascination at the antiques.  Does anyone remember duplicators, the precursor to photocopies?  You had to type/engrave a document and roll copies out in blue ink (that got everywhere!)  One little boy, in our tour, was 3 years old but looked 6.  He called his grandma, “Oma” which is the German version.  They were utterly Texan but descended from German immigrants, way back.  She apologized for his endless questions because he was really just a toddler.  He was adorable.

The Quebec

The Quebec above, built in 1872, was a luxury business cabin and fully renovated.  I can only imagine how lovely it was eating a proper meal while looking out at the Texas countryside.

Business Class Dining – ‘old school’

The museum was small but really informative with a miniature gauge railroad.  One of my favorite childhood memories was going on a steam train from St Enoch’s station in Glasgow to Dumfries, a city in the south west of Scotland.  The noise, steam and billowing clouds were so evocative of a different age.

Liiliput

This is one of the lovely historic buildings in Rosenberg with the Railroad Café and outside tables.  Perhaps it would be nice in the winter – the heat index was 108 degrees and even I was wilting.

Finally – the piece de resistance…

Whoo hoo – a real train passing at old Tower 17.  We could see it on the computer map just half an hour earlier – can I infuse any more enthusiasm into this train geek post???  This is the Burlington North Santa Fe Railroad Company (BNSF) whose headquarters are in Fort Worth, Texas.  The most common company I see is Union Pacific but I see others from Canada and Kansas.

Crocodiles, Tortoises and Piggies, oh my!

Kerry with a giant tortoises, more below

He was saying, “I’m not going to talk to you unless you have baby carrots”.  This is a reserve close to Alvin, Texas called Crocodile Encounter.  It was literally in the middle of nowhere on a rough road that had just been repaved.  Even so, there was no room in the car park for me.  It was as hot as hell – 109 head index with humidity through the roof.  The shot below gives you a little feel of the conditions.

It wasn’t raining – this is the humidity on my camera.  I truly love alligators and crocodiles; primeval animals.  To be honest, I don’t know which ones were alligators or crocodiles because the heat had fried my brain.  I prefer reserves to zoos for all the obvious reasons and this sign describes why I liked it.

There are so many predators in the wilds of Texas that small crocodiles could be eaten.  It looked like crocodile heaven and even hog heaven.  I wanted to jump into the pool with the little piggy.

I loved that you could get really close to the animals.  We live alongside alligators all the time in south east Texas and these ones are really well fed.  In Louisiana we saw kittens playing close to an alligator who was basking in the sun.  Plenty of catfish to feed everyone.

This is such a beautiful crocodile, perfectly designed for living in the swamp.

Can you see me?

I love carrots!

On a slightly tangential note, I had a friend in Egypt who kept rescued tortoises, most of whom were endangered.  When they have sex, they moan and groan like they are starring in a porn movie.  It was the most hilarious noise I had ever heard; although the tortoises took love-making very seriously.  I suppose you would, if you were endangered.