Saturday, April 26, 2008

Prickly Pear Cactus

Altimira Oriole weaving a nest

Pauline and Louisa at Falcon Dam

The mighty Rio Grand as seen from Falcon Dam

Texas: Day Eight
One last morning in the valley allows us to search out a few specialties of the area.  The Rio Grande is flowing high today, the result of the Falcon Dam releasing the most water I have ever seen in 15 years.  A stop along the river produces Muskovi Duck, only countable in the US when found over or close to the river,  Altimira Oriole, our largest and most colorful oriole, and superb long looks at the elusive Curve-billed Thrasher.

The Rio Grande is the border between the US and Mexico in Texas, with few crossings as interesting as the one at Falcon Dam.  If you drive out across the dam, releasing your fears of armed guards (of which we saw none), you get an incredible view and opportunity to see a part of two countries that few visit.  One can stand on the border, jump back and forth from country to country (which I must have done 20 or more times), and take your friends' picture as they stand on the line at a truly impressive monolithic monument to both countries.  We spend a lot of time here, many of us in a spirit of personal meditation.

Our afternoon is spent on the road moving to the north and the Balcones Escarpment otherwise known as the Edwards Plateau, a lovely refuge from the heat of the desert and  clear contrast to the parched landscape of the previous five days.  Our traditional stop at Dairy Queen in Laredo, Texas was not passed-up, nor was the mandatory liter of coffee for the drivers and double-dipped ice cream wonders for the kids, young and old.

Our lodging overlooks one of the most pristine rivers in Texas.  We can hardly wait until tomorrow to explore some more.



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