Digging Out

We experienced our biggest snow storm in over thirty years!

The historic snow storm hit with a vengeance on December 26 and 27.  The forecasts turned out to be right on target, as we received 11.5″ of the white stuff.

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Today, eight days after the snow stopped falling, we are still covered up at our house.  The melt-off has been painfully slow in our neighborhood, and we have not had any assistance in clearing streets that are not considered “major” streets.  While the overall response initially was nothing short of heroic, in my opinion, the extended response has been very problematic, if not just plain non-existent.

Hubby and I shoveled snow for three days last week in an effort to clear our driveway, part of the street and some of our elderly neighbor’s driveway and sidewalk so that we and/or her family could get to her, if needed.  Our street does not have thru traffic on it, so it is going to take a very long time for it to melt off at our present prevailing temperatures.  Our house faces north, so our front areas caught the brunt of the drifts that were caused by brutal winds of up to 60 mph at times.  I also had to buy a new pair of boots more suitable for this type of snow activity, after I pretty much ruined my one pair of Uggs in the snow.  Fortunately, I found a great pair of Michael Kors lined rubber boots on sale on New Year’s Day and even had a $20 off coupon to subtract from the sale price.  If you have to wear rubber boots, these are a great option, for sure.

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Michael Kors “Devenport” Rain Boots

All of the bad stuff aside, though, it was a truly beautiful snowfall with some epic drifts all around.  As a hobby photographer, I was so sad that I was unable to get out of the house to properly photograph some sights in the area as they were covered by the largest snowfall here in over 30 years, the third largest snowfall in the history of our area.  We ramped up feeding the birds in our yard, so I was able to take some delight in photographing them in the backyard as they dined on their feast of birdseed amid the rare snow-covered beauty.

We also had fun with the dogs, especially watching them maneuver the snow in their familiar backyard turf.  They had such a great time, once they got over some initial hesitation about maneuvering around the drifts.  They were like kids in a candy store, and we laughed and laughed at them throughout the week as they played hard outside in the white stuff.

The largest recorded snowfall here was in 1983, and we personally experienced that 16.9″ of snow and all of the many issues caused in our area at that time.  The second largest snowfall was in 1956 before we were born, so we can only personally compare this storm to the ’83 storm.  The main difference in the two historic storms was the wind.  The ’83 storm did not have the high winds to cause such problematic, but beautiful, drifts like this most recent storm caused.

The damage from the storm here is extensive, and Hubby’s company was just one of many that were hit hard.  Like many other businesses, including our big mall, sections of roofs collapsed under the large drifts that were caused in areas of roofs that were uneven, causing the snow to pile in up certain areas where it was trapped.  I heard this morning that some assistance may eventually be available to those that suffered storm damage, but so far, nothing has been made available, except coverage in effect from private insurance.

If such a historic snow storm had to hit, at least it hit during a week when schools were out of session for the Christmas holidays.  I doubt that schools here could have opened at all last week, due to the poor road conditions.  The snow started falling on Saturday evening, and we were not able to get out in our car until the following Thursday, and it was still problematic that day, too.  We just do not have the same snow removal resources that other northern areas have, nor does it make financial sense to have them to that degree.  However, we do need more than we have at this time, and that fact was made perfectly clear when so many emergency vehicles got stuck in the first two days of the storm.  Many individuals with four-wheel drive vehicles had to literally come to their rescue.  And, as to add insult to the injury in all of this, the city manager left town for the week, and the deputy city manager apparently never even showed up to the emergency operations center while it was activated.  There are already calls by prominent people in the community for their removal from their positions, which is quite understandable.

City officials anticipated that 20-30 people would die in this massive storm, but only one person died.  A homeless man was offered shelter by several different people and one care group, but he refused to come to the shelter anonymously.  There is not much that can be done in that situation, as he could not be forced to go.  Our elderly neighbors were appreciative of the fact that we had our motor home in front of the house, prepared to fire up the generator and take care of as many neighbors as possible in the event that we lost electricity.  Many areas suffered from outages, but thankfully, our neighborhood was good throughout the storm.  One neighbor across the street told us that she thought it might even be fun if we all had to bail out to the motor home together, and she even offered to bring food!  Who knows, it might have been pretty fun after all.

One more tragic result of this storm was the loss of many cattle throughout the panhandle area.  Dairy farms to the north have tragically lost thousands of head of cattle.  Closer to home, many cattle broke free from their fences by walking over them on drifts of snow or through them when they fell.  They took to the roads and even the freeways in town, and one herd was seen on a main road very close to where we live.  Another herd  showed up at a friend’s house that lives just outside of her small town not far away, but she was able to locate their owner through social media.  A group has now been created on Facebook to help reunite cattle with their owners in the area, too.

So, to sum things up at present, we are able to get out in our cars, even though the neighborhood streets are pretty problematic.  City and area officials have a lot to think about and change in their respective responses.  Many homes and business are dealing with extensive damage to roofs and water inside.  But, I’ve never been more proud of the private citizens here that came to the rescue of anyone that needed help during this difficult time.  So many people, especially farmers and ranchers, own 4×4 pickups, and *many* of them just spent those first days after the storm towing out stuck cars and transporting doctors and nurses to work.  We helped as we could, primarily helping our little elderly neighbor “weather the storm.”  Maybe someday, some nice person will do the same for us, if needed.

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Wordless Wednesday – His and Hers

Animal Wonder is up and running once again after a prolonged break! This is also one of my first photos with my new camera, too. 😉

Animal Wonder

Male and Female House Sparrows Male and Female House Sparrows

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Wordless Wednesday – New Camera and Lenses

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Snow Dove

Time is getting away from me in a hurry this year, so I will bid all of you nice friends a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year at this time. May this be a meaningful season for you, filled with joy and gratitude for this precious gift that has been given to us all! — D

Animal Wonder

For my final post of 2014 here at Animal Wonder, I would like to share one of my favorite photos.  I am quite partial to this particular photo because it is one of two photos of mine that have been awarded first place ribbons in local competition.  The actual award-winning photo was a black and white version of this photo that still hangs in our home today in a simple black frame with a white mat.

Snow Dove

I enjoy watching and photographing our backyard birds at the bird bath and the feeders so much, but some photos are just more memorable than others.  This lovely White-winged Dove posed beautifully during a surprise snow storm in March 2010, and it sat there for the longest time, seemingly just relaxing and enjoying the scenery in the yard.

I gave this photo to friends and family on our Christmas cards the next year, the…

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A Fabulous Thanksgiving

We enjoyed a great traditional lunch with family at our home on Thanksgiving Day.  While I did not get a picture of everything we had to eat, here are a few quick photos that I managed to take amid the process of getting everything served.  Sadly, I did not get a picture of the new brussels sprouts recipe that I made, and it was most definitely a hit with everyone, too.  It also had fresh cranberries, pecans and feta cheese in it, and it was such a pretty dish, as well as a tasty one.

Recipe for Pan-Seared Brussels Sprouts
(To make it a bit more diet compliant for me, I omitted the barley and used sugar-free maple syrup.  I used feta cheese crumbles since I already had it on hand.  It came together in a skillet nicely right before we were ready to eat lunch, and this will likely be a regular holiday dish for us now.)

We also had mac and cheese and hot rolls, of course.  I’m glad that my family was just fine to skip any kind of green bean casserole this year.  It seems that we have all grown a bit tired of that particular dish, at least for now, and it’s just no fun to prepare a dish that really doesn’t even sound good.

Thanksgiving Turkey - Alton Brown Recipe
Thanksgiving Turkey – Alton Brown Recipe
Cornbread Dressing Ingredients
Cornbread Dressing Ingredients – I did not get a picture of it after it cooked, but it was so good!
Pioneer Woman Mashed Potatoes
Pioneer Woman Mashed Potatoes – yum!
Pea Salad - Marinated
Pea Salad – Marinated – used fall colors in the peppers
Salted Caramel Fudge
Salted Caramel Fudge – a new twist on my fudge recipe
Lemon Chess Pie
Lemon Chess Pie – “ta die fer” – extra lemon, of course!
Pumpkin Pie
Pumpkin Pie – a must have pie at Thanksgiving

We took off in the RV once again this year after our big Thanksgiving lunch for a nice, long weekend away, carrying most of the leftovers from lunch with us.  After some brutal winter weather only a few days earlier, we had absolutely gorgeous weather for our quick trip, even though it was a little bit windy at times.  A little wind seldom stops us these days, though, and we had a great outing once again this Thanksgiving weekend, instead of opting to stay home and fight the crowds in town for Black Friday weekend shopping.  I am just so done with that now.  I also got to see a friend from high school while we were in the Abilene area that I have not seen since 1976, and that was quite a treat for me indeed.  She is as sweet as ever, too.

This was our first trip to Abilene State Park in the month of November, so it was interesting to compare this trip to past trips there in different months.  The park is actually located near the tiny community of Buffalo Gap but is still only fifteen minutes from the main retail area in Abilene.  I still have not written a post about this nice park yet and need to do so sometime.  We have now been in each of the seasons except summer, and I honestly do not think we will try to go in those very hot months either.  We are quite happy to visit there in the cooler months, even though we ran our air conditioners in the RV on two afternoons on this trip.  Almost every weekend is often booked at this park in the large trailer sites, and winter is definitely the least crowded time for this park.

I also completed the NaBloPoMo blogging challenge on Sunday, having posted every day in the month of November at my new site at Animal Wonder.  If you haven’t yet taken a peek there, I hope you will do so soon.  It is an ongoing project and one that I really enjoyed working on in November.  Many of the photos I shared over the past month are among my favorite bird photos, even though I still have many more favorites to share, too.  I’m excited to continue working on even more animal posts going forward, not just limited to birds that I focused on during the past month.

And speaking of birds, there is some big news right now in birding circles (picture at that site) that is based in my area.  A very rare bird, a Eurasian Common Crane, has recently been spotted among the many Sandhill Cranes at the Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge.  After the news broke a few days ago, I followed their page on Facebook and have been following updates on the rare Eurasian Common Cranes that have been spotted there.  These rare birds have created quite a “circus” at the refuge, according to the people posting the Facebook updates, and people are traveling from as far away as California to see these birds.  So far, I think two Eurasian Cranes have been spotted.  I would love to drive over there soon to see if I could see them, but I’m not sure our crazy December schedule will permit me to do so.  We’ll see.  How I would love to personally take a photograph of this rare bird that is most typically not even seen on this continent!  Birding in our area may be better than normal this year, thanks to some nice fall rains that have left many playa lakes with some much-needed water.

Wikipedia – Eurasian Common Crane

E-Bird Common Crane Sightings (Range Map)

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Sanderlings in San Diego

I’m happy to share a guest post today from Seize the Day RV Adventure. We love to travel in our own RV when on vacation, and I enjoy following the adventures of others that either travel part-time or live full-time in their RVs, too. RV travelers often spend quite a bit of time in natural settings and some are also avid bird and animal watchers. I loved this recent post at Seize the Day RV Adventure and asked their permission to reblog it here. I hope you enjoy this special bird and their great photos!

Sanderlings are in the Sandpiper family, and are sometimes referred to as “peep” sandpipers. Many of us have probably seen them scurrying around on beaches we’ve visited in fall, winter and spring months, too. What impressed me when researching these birds is just how far they migrate each year! Click on the link below at All About Birds to see a map of just how far they travel. I have a new appreciation of these tiny little travelers now, for sure.

“These extreme long-distance migrants breed only on High Arctic tundra, but during the winter they live on most of the sandy beaches of the world.” — The Cornell Lab of Ornithology – http://www.allaboutbirds.org

I hope you will click through to Seize The Day RV Adventure’s original post and share a like and a comment there if you enjoyed their wonderful photos. I wish I was strolling with those cute Sanderlings on the beach today!

Seize The Day RV Adventure

Sanderlings
Silver Strand State Beach in San Diego, CA

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 The Sanderlings ran across the sand so quickly. They looked so cute running in little packs trying to find food.

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What I learned about the Sanderling

  • They are obsessive wave chasers.
  • Sanderlings are small shorebirds that can be aggressive when defending their feeding grounds.
  • Sanderlings are easy to find on sandy beaches during Fall to Spring.

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Happy Birding!

Sharing with- Mosaic Monday

Wild Bird Wednesday

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Wordless Wednesday – Baby Cardinal

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