Nature Friday ~ December 3, 2021

Nature FridayWelcome to this week’s edition of  Nature Friday where we join our pals, Rosy, Sunny and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard.

This week’s nature moment is a bit of a travelogue from last week’s Thanksgiving festivities from my trip with my Dad and brother to see family in the Lone Star state. It was so special seeing everyone after losing mom earlier in the year. One moment however did dampen the holiday when we ‘encountered‘ a deer at dusk in rural Texas. Other than the deer, the only other casualty was Dad’s car but we were thankfully, unscathed (other than frazzled nerves). Getting there was quite the adventure with miles and miles of wide open spaces that were particularly stunning for this here city-slicker.

With miles of driving, taking hours and hours to reach our destination just outside Austin, our route took us through the northern part of New Mexico’s quiet plains. Vistas with plateaus in the distance and flat-to-rolling plains along the highway showed a “Dances With Wolves” landscape. Wide open and unblemished save for the occasional fence post. It made me wonder what was being corralled for no antelope, deer or cattle were spotted as we drove through.


Apart from wide open spaces, miles and miles of cotton fields were encountered once we reached the Panhandle. It was beyond anything I’d ever seen before. Fields of white fluff as far as the eye could see.

Cotton fields
Image courtesy of Flicker, Northwest Texas

Getting to Texas is a long, challenging drive. My first shift behind the wheel was 5 hours long and yet there was still so much farther to go. After my brother hit the deer and made a turn in the wrong direction, we ended up spending the night in Abilene. We arrived at my sister’s the next day.


Reaching my sister’s took us through pecan country. These beautiful trees can be seen from roadsides as well as directly in my sister’s neighborhood. The pecan tree, like the fruit of other members of the hickory genus, is not truly a nut, it’s technically a drupe meaning fruit with a single stone/pit,  surrounded by a husk produced from the exocarp tissue of the flower (the internal structure of the fruit, i.e. its ovaries). The  nut develops from that structure and contains the seed. My sister said they are a ‘messy tree,’ having spent days and days raking up leaves and hulls before we arrived. I was captivated by the large, wide canopy on these trees.


In addition to pecans, live oaks (which don’t lose their leaves) were abundant. This one was full of  acorns and filled my head with visions of clever craft projects.

Oak tree

The landscape was not all drab, with this colorful beauty gracing the pool area. “Duranta repens” (a part of the verbena family native from Mexico to South America and the Caribbean) is a flowering ornamental shrub. It’s apparently considered an invasive weed in some areas of Australia but is very striking.


Despite warm temps (warm by Colorado standards), Thanksgiving Day was deemed ‘chilly’ in that it only reached the upper 50’s for our traditional family game of football following the tasty meal. There was a brisk wind which, coupled with humidity, made it seem cooler than the numbers might suggest. It struck me how relative perspective played out with each of our interpretations of ‘chilly.’

My canine buddy during the visit was sweet little Miley who decided I was a good auntie and kept me from missing Norman and Elsa too much. A pocket full of tasty treats and belly rubs go a long way.


Our return trip was uneventful and we powered through 13 1/2 hours of driving in one felled swoop. A long drive buoyed by great memories of a family who enjoys celebrating holidays with one another no matter what the cost. Hopefully we can make another trip down there without time restrictions and really enjoy some of the amazing slices of nature along the way.

Now that we’re in December and many of us are preparing for the next holiday, we hope you’ll be able to sandwich in some time during these hectic days enjoying a quiet moment of pleasure experiencing nature at its best. Have a great weekend!

Live, love, bark! 🐾

65 thoughts on “Nature Friday ~ December 3, 2021

  1. We used to drive the 1500 (or so) round trip from our house to my parents, and then onwards to hubby’s family and then back home again. A three pronged affair…but it was fun to see everyone in the same trip. It could be scary times in the mountains if the weather decided to get nasty.
    Deer are such silly creatures with NO road sense at all…hubby has hit one, and three of them ran into our van at the same time one evening. I have had many narrow misses.
    That cotton field! I have never seen that with my own eyes…amazing!

    1. Hitting deer is traumatic…for both the humans as well as the deer. You’re right, they have no road sense seeming to pop up from ditches just as you appear with no room to navigate around them.
      Those cotton plants were absolutely mesmerizing. When we first came on them, it looked like perhaps there was a fungus on the side of the road but then I realized it was cotton tufts that had blown from the plants. The flatness of the landscape underscored the enormity of that image.

  2. Lulu: “Wow, what a long trip! That run-in with the deer doesn’t sound like the kind of wildlife encounter anyone wants, and that’s some funny-looking snow there in Texas, but I’m glad that you got to visit your family. And treats and belly rubs are definitely the way to go. I would be happy to accept some on Thanksgiving, or any other day, really!”

    1. It was a very long trip in a short time period, Lulu, but tasty treats (and seeing family) made it all worthwhile.

  3. Wee are happy you had a grate Thanxgiving Miss Monika! An wee allso happy Miley was there to give you a ‘smiley’ so you not miss Sweet Norman or Elsa too much!
    ***purrss*** BellaDharma an ((huggiess)) BellaSita Mum

  4. When I was in HS my father was invited to a 1 yr seminar at Columbia. My mother said not to xome home if he didn’t take the family. He bought a newer used station wagon and a Sears tent camper trailor. Back then campers had storage room in the trailor, and everything we needed for the year was packed in. We drove up to Washington then across the northern route to Minnesota, partially thru Canada to NY. We came back on the Canadian highway. We rarely went more than 250-300 miles per day. My parents and 2 brothers slept in the camper, my sister and I slept in the back of the car. The mosquitos in Montana were huge, I remember them well.

    1. Those kinds of trips are so memorable in many ways. Sounds like yours made quite the impact. And the scenery must have been incredible!

  5. What a trip! It must have been great to be with your family. (Sorry about the deer and your dad’s car.) And I don’t recall reading about your mom’s passing. Please accept my condolences. It’s never easy…

    1. Thank you, it’s been a rough year or so on the loss meter and expect Christmas to have its fair share of tears as Christmas was Mom’s birthday. Didn’t really broadcast her passing-it’s just too raw and emotional. But this was one of those healing trips that was needed for the rest of us. 💖 First time in a few years I got to see my youngest grandkids. My goodness, who knew kids could grow up so much!?

        1. Oh, aren’t you sweet! If you only knew how old my kids are, you’d understand. 😉

  6. When I was 18, I drove from here (upstate New York) to El Paso. Something like 2600 miles or so. Five days on the road with naps and such. (Traveling with a buddy and a dog in a Ford Pinto with my motorcycle on the roof!) Entered the Lone Star State at Texarkana and drove alllllllllll the way to the westernmost corner of the state. Blew a cylinder in the car 400 miles from our destination! We limped it the rest of the way on three! My buddy was in the Army at Ft. Bliss, and suggested our buddy Jeff and I come down and share off-base housing.
    It was an incredible time, though short-lived, and the story of your road trip and the photos brought this memory back to me.



    1. Oh my goodness! What an adventure that must have been. When you’re young you do stuff like that and live to tell about it. Glad you were able to arrive safely, albeit somewhat hindered.

  7. Really nice share with family. Glad the deer did not hurt anyone in the car and that the car bore the brunt of damage. I am happy all is good. I can see the bond in your family and you are blessed with their love.

  8. So great to hear about your trip and see the pictures, glad that the encounter with the deer wasn’t too serious. I love to do Southwestern road trips, yours sounds like a classic. Love the New Mexico pic!

    1. My family could be National Lampoon contributors. LOL Sadly, it was serious enough for the poor deer. But yeah, we dodged a bullet. New Mexico has such beautiful landscapes and the quiet as you motor along can make one very reflective.

      1. Oh, poor deer. That’s always heartbreaking. It could have been worse for you guys, have heard terrible stories about collisions with larger wildlife. I love New Mexico…we’re pondering it as our future home!

        1. Yes, I use to own a MG Midget when I lived in the San Luis Valley. Terrifying thought of it running into a deer which probably weighs as much as the car!! NM has some exquisite places. Good luck searching for the potential new home.

  9. Sounds like a great trip, minus the deer incident, of course. I hit one a couple of years ago. It just jumped into the road right in front of me and I didn’t see it until I hit it. Damaged my car and the deer, but he hobbled off. Those incidents are very scary.

    Glad your family is so close. You don’t see much of that anymore.

    1. That booming crash sound is enough to terrify anyone! My dad initially thought we had a blowout. Our deer did the same thing-jumped up from the ditch running along the road at dusk and BAM! Our family is lucky in how close we are; we find it odd that not all families are like that. Seems weird to us.

      1. I get it. My family used to be really close – I still am with my mom (and was with dad). But, my brother and I have grown apart. I try, but it is hard when he doesn’t. We do get together for major holidays, but sometimes it is strained and we don’t talk much. We just don’t seem to have much in common anymore and my sister-in-law does not like me at all, so that doesn’t help.

        1. Estranged family are a real challenge. I’m grateful everyone of us is pleasant and loves us, warts and all. 💙

    1. It does, the hill country where my sister lives is particularly scenic. The panhandle, um…not nearly as much 😉

  10. Sounds like it was a wonderful trip (minus the deer incident) and a great visit with family. So many of us were able to see family this Thanksgiving after so long and here comes Christmas right behind. “Tis the season for celebrations” I guess……Have been through Texas but it was on a cross-country trip which mostly was a blur (I was a young teen) but I remember miles and miles of straight highway. I know there are gorgeous places there but I didn’t see any!!!!!

    Hugs, Pam

    1. You nailed it on the long stretches of…how to say this diplomatically as possible…less than picturesque scenery. Thanksgiving was the first holiday without my mom and us kids wanted dad to be surrounded by as many of the family as possible to make it easier on him. Whenever he’d drift into a lifetime of memories, we’d have all the grandkids and great grands go ‘play with Grandpa.’ All and all, it was a good plan (well except for the deer thing). Have a wonderful weekend!

  11. Wonderful that you got to visit Texas and have a great time with family!
    Scary about the deer! Glad it only damaged the car and no one was hurt!
    Happy weekend to you!😊

    1. Family time is the best! I’m just grateful to not have been driving my old MG Midget! Neither of us would have survived.

  12. After my brother hit the deer and made a turn in the wrong direction, we ended up spending the night in Abilene. This would be an excellent opening sentence when you write your Great American Novel. Glad to hear you had a fun time. I recall making those marathon road trips – in fact I miss them – and your post brought smiles.

    1. Argh…any Great American novel potentially penned would definitely NOT include any opening line about the worst navigator on the road. I have no problem driving for hours on end, but cannot drive successfully on unfamiliar, much less unmarked roads with a “Master of Malaprop” as the co-pilot to keep things moving forward. I love my brother dearly but think of it as driving with Norm Crosby. 😈

        1. The whole episode was too disconcerting even for a ‘roadie’ but I did make up for it once we finally arrived. It was just what the doctor ordered then. 😉

    1. Pecans are my favorite nuts so it was interesting to find out a few tidbits about them. Wishing you a super weekend.

  13. Well, for some reason, I can’t make comments from my WP reader anymore, only in my email version. Strange. I’m so sorry about the deer, but glad for the good family time together. Sounds like a wonderful long weekend and holiday.

    1. Sorry about the WP snafu. Some days, right? Yes, despite the poor deer accident, it was a good time had by all with loads of laughter and good food. Have a terrific weekend, Debra.

  14. What beautiful scenery and flora, Monika. Bummer about the deer, though.. Yikes! My grandmother managed to hit three of them in the time she drove (from 50 to 90)… sigh.

    I hope you stayed for more than one night with that much driving to and fro!

    Happy Friday to you and yours.

    1. Thank you. City living is great, but those wide open spaces get me every time. Couple of nights but not nearly enough. Have a super weekend.

      1. Oh, I bet! I love seeing that. Watching Yellowstone, we have a weekly vista in front of us of a humungous ranch. sigh.
        Yeah, definitely not enough!
        Thank you, you too!

  15. A long trip with lots of beauty thrown in. You did have a great holiday though and that pup made it even better.

    Have a fabulous day and weekend, my friend. Scritches to the pups and a smooch to Norman. ♥

    1. Thanks, Sandee. Spending time with the family was pure heaven despite the accident. We’re super close and we all needed to hug one another. Hugs and tail wags from me, Norman & Elsa.

  16. Those photographs interested me…giving a picture of a place I’d never really thought about except as an area on a map.Glad you had a good time together – despite all the driving!

    1. My family is very close and it meant the world for us to get together after the past couple of years. I was shocked at how tall and grown up my youngest grandkids have gotten. Living in a bustling city, I am fascinated by wide open spaces, even those that seem foreign to me. Have a great weekend, Helen and give the thugs ear rubs from me.

  17. Lovely photos! I’ve driven through Texas during three cross country moves, and more; it never ceases to amaze how LONG it takes to get through the state. Brings back memories….Thanks for sharing and happy holidays to you and yours.

    1. Thanks, Cristina. Yes, it’s one of those states where you can drive 12 hours and still be in the state! 😲 Happy holidays to you and yours❣️

  18. Wonderful trip photos! And thanks for the nice explanation of the pecans, live oaks and verbena — I always love learning about plants.
    The temperatures here on Thanksgiving were about what they were in Texas — maybe warmer.

    1. Thanks, Amy. I try to provide a few bits of info. Us nature geeks are like that. It tickled me seeing the Texas folks all bundled up. Upper 50’s to us Coloradans in late November seems like a heat wave. LOL

  19. Yeah, those “Miles and Miles” of Texas. I still vividly remember driving up to Denver to see Mary’s cousin: we drove for 8 hours and were still in Texas! 😉
    Have a wonderful weekend,

    1. It’s a beautiful area though I wish your state had more road signs to let you know speed limits and where the heck one is! 😉

        1. Thank goodness. Although even Siri got a bit confused navigating through countless state and FM roads a couple of time, making us advance a-la maze driving through them.

  20. aren’t you lucky to have a good family to visit! And 50’s sounds perfect for football to me… If anyone asked me now I’d say Colorado is mostly warm with bizarre days sprinkled in like glitter

    1. We’re a close bunch so visits are always meaningful. Our state is indeed warm and probably will get warmer especially if we don’t get some snow soon. Have a great weekend!

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