Thursday, June 18, 2009

yer FACE!

Unripened Blueberries, Copyright (c) 2009 Savie Holtcamp

This conversation will probably not make sense to anyone else but it has me laughing so hard I just have to try to translate. It all started when we were blueberry picking Monday, me, Sam, Savannah and Doug. Savannah and Sam, being siblings, tend to have an arguing problem. I hate arguing. Savannah was calling him lemonade face, or so I thought, or something to that effect and so I had to get onto her about insulting him. She sulked and hid in a blueberry bush and took photos.

Later that evening over a lovely dinner of chicken enchiladas, we were talking about the unfairness of my getting "mad" at her over what she said. Apparently they weren't arguing but "your face" is something "all the kids" say. Why the heck didn't I know this? She started telling me how everyone says, "your mom," and "your face," after pretty much anything and everything. When I acted like I didn't know this, which truly I didn't, she teased me saying if she was talking about the Hipposchleatis gingipliatus [insert random scientific sounding word here] I would know exactly what she was talking about, but I don't know what "your face" means. Doug pipes in, "And then she would say, Oh yes that is a fungus that grows on the humpy tree in the rainforests of Peru. I'm a scientist. I know these things." Ha ha! I can't get a break around here!

So anyway tonight I was putting her to bed and she continues schooling me on the nature of "your face," and how out of date I am to not know this. I said I'm going to start saying Your Face randomly all the time to be cool. He he. She said I grew up soooo long ago it was like the Ho age. I was like, the WHAT?! The HO AGE? What the heck? She said, no I think it was the hobo age, you guys wore awful clothes and had hair that went like this, and she did this really schnazzy little whirly twirly movement around her head I suppose symbolizing big hair. Your face!

I don't remember all that ensued, but suffice it to say I could barely breathe leaving the room!! But I had to write up the humpy tree story from Monday night because it was so funny!!! And I love Your Face!!!! Oh, one of the last things she said was that it's not Your face, it's Yer Face. So there!

Sam and I clowning around.
Unintentional closeup - trying to take a self-portrait does not always work!

The cuteness!

Sam shows his berries, Doug shows his pearly whites. :)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

an awesome Hill Country trip!

This is one of the things I love about being a writer. Well besides the fact that I just get to GO to cool places, I also get paid to do it! Doug and I have talked about a camping trip for a while, and we finally found a good weekend to do it. Then I asked around, to see if I could land a couple of assignments because that would turn a relatively inexpensive camping trip into an opportunity to do some extra fun stuff and get paid for it! (Course I still have the hard work of writing it up - but that's not so bad). I got not one but two assignments! One is to write a feature on bats, and another is a general travel story about the areas I visited. Coolio! So here's a photo recap of our incredibly awesome fun-and-action-packed trip!

We love making silly faces! Just about to embark on our 3 day trip to the Hill Country.
Our first stop was the cool eatery Vivo on the east side of Austin. This shot is a bit dark but there's a waterfall behind Doug, and the outside patio is bedecked with greenery. It has great atmosphere and awesome food! Their motto is "Better than sex Tex-Mex" - LOL.

Doug forgot how to use a fork :) He ordered the quesadillas, and I ordered the California chicken nachos, which were topped with alfalfa sprouts & pico de gallo, and were really yummy!
Doug has a bite of sprouts - lol. He's turning into a chia pet!
Quit taking pictures of me so I can finish this darn message! ;)

The peeps at Vivo eatery give every woman a rose after their meal. Nice touch!

Doug playing an oversized guitar in Austin. We had about an hour to walk around down 6th street before meeting up with a biologist from Bat Conservation International for my stories.
Me and Doug on the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, overlooking Town Lake. About to see a million bats emerge! This weekend was our 6-mo anniversary, and we didn't even plan the trip because of that! :) And Doug wore this Pink Floyd shirt the day I met him. Good choice! :)
Mylea Bayless of Bat Conservation International talks to Doug on top of Congress Ave bridge as we wait for the bats. I had just completed my phone interview with Discovery Channel Earth Live which will air sometime soon!

A view of Town Lake. Some people watch the bats from boats and kayaks.
Bats! This was taken by Doug, at Austin's Congress Ave bridge.

Being silly in the car! We did Mad Libs as we drove. :)

We stayed at the the Fredericksburg Inn & Suites the first night after seeing the bats in Austin and even made it in time to lounge in the not-quite-hot-enough-but-still-nice hot tub! It sits on 5 acres and has a historic building as part of the hotel. These sycamore trees were by a creek running through the property.
The first view of Enchanted Rock from a distance - taken by Doug. We drove there Saturday morning to pick our tent site and set up camp before heading to Colorado Bend State Park to hike and swim.
Me, just arrived at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area about to set up our tent.

Prancing in the rocks at Enchanted Rock. Darn shorts keep falling down! Doug titled this pic on his myspace "The wild Wendee is very rare to spot" or something like that - lol.

Our tent site was awesome! #25 :)

Next we drove to Colorado Bend State Park, which is about an hour away from Enchanted Rock. We got there for a 2pm guided hike to Gorman Falls but got there early with time to swim and play in the swift but shallow Colorado River.

Kissing again! :) They should just attach us at the lips :)

Me and Doug in the Colorado River, Colorado Bend State Park, happy!
Me hiking the trail to Gorman falls.
Me and Doug at Gorman Falls

Gorman Falls
Kissing again!

Gorman Falls. Gorgeous!

Next we headed to the Old Tunnel WMA (Wildlife Management Area), a pseudomaternity cave where mostly female bats roost but also some males. The females don't give birth here like they do at Austin's bridge, but leave to give birth and then come back a few weeks later to raise their pup. Doug is waiting for dusk so the bats emerge.

A view of the "old tunnel" that provides shelter for up to 3 million bats. There were only around 1 million at the time we visited because the babies weren't born yet.

Bat crossing sign at Old Tunnel WMA. TX Parks & Wildlife biologist Nyta Hensley gave a most excellent and informative 20 or so minute presentation on bats. It was really great!

But first... before we watched the bats we grabbed a burger at Alamo Springs Cafe. It's right next to Old Tunnel WMA and you can have an awesome meal while waiting for the bats. This is Mike Tangman, the owner of possibly the best burger in TX!
Burgers up! Alamo Springs cafe outside of Fredericksburg, near Old Tunnel WMA where people see millions of bats emerge- the best burger in Texas?

Our meager campfire didn't last long, but at least we succeeded at starting one!

Some cool rocks at Enchanted Rock St Natural Area. The next morn we hiked to the summit.

Another silly self-portrait while hiking Enchanted Rock.
Doug on summit trail, heading back down the rock.
A vernal pool thingie on top of Enchanted Rock. They were very lush this time. Must have rained recently.
After we packed up our tent, we headed to browse the shops in Fredericksburg but I didn't take any photos! Then we headed to the Sauer-Beckmann Living history farm at the LBJ National Historic Park not far from town.

A view through the homestead window at the Sauer-Beckmann farm.
Don't touch! Ha! All this canned stuff is actually grown and canned etc by staff who work at the farm. Pretty cool!
Award winning wine! Last stop, Becker winery near Stonewall, not far from Fredericksburg.
Bunny Becker at the Becker winery outside of Stonewall, Texas.

We enjoyed a $5 wine sampling session! :)We look like we had about 5 glasses of wine here rather than 5 tiny sips... but alas it's just a bad picture :)

Friday, June 05, 2009

bats bridges camping and enchanted rocks

Gorman Falls at Colorado Bend State Park, Texas Hill Country.
Copyright (c) 2007 Wendee Holtcamp

I feel bad about not blogging more. Funny how it comes in waves. My Animal Planet blog and my book and the kids have kept me triple busy!! I had several flashes of insight in the past week though! I can't remember them though, probably because it's 240am!

I am super excited about going on a ROAD TRIP tomorrow with Doug! It's our first trip together, and my first trip anywhere in a long time. Needless to say, I feel like I'm long overdue. It started as a planned camping trip, but then I ended up landing a couple of assignments. I love when that happens! So that makes it a business trip per se, but as always a total blast of a business trip - lots of outdoor adventures!

I'm writing one article on bats, and one general travel article. The plan is first to head to Austin, eating dinner at the coolest restaurant - Vivo - that my friend Deb introduced me to last time I went there and visited, and then head downtown to walk around a bit. Then we'll meet up with a biologist from Bat Conservation International just prior to the big event - the emergence of nearly one million Mexican freetail bats that roost in the Congress Avenue Bridge over Town Lake. I've seen the amazing spectacle twice now, but it's Doug's first trip to Austin and probably first time seeing a vast cloud of bats ascend into the night sky, so I know this will be quite an exciting event for him to see it for the first time. I will be doing a podcast live from the bat scene for Discovery Channel Earth Live as I did previously for cassowaries in Mission Beach, Australia and sharks in the Coral Sea. (Even though I'll record it live, the producer edits it and it will go online sometime next week or so... I'll be sure to post a link!)

Next is a drive to Frederickburg, the quaint little German town a little more than an hour away from Austin. We will stay in a hotel the first night - the Fredericksburg Inn & Suites which is set on 5 acres and next to a historic landmark. They have a hot tub!! I am hoping we make it there before they close it at 11pm. The next morning we have some wiggle
room but I want to try to do the 2pm hike to Gorman Falls at Colorado Bend State Park. The waterfall there is absolutely breathtaking. We took that hike and camped in that park with Sam's middle school class a couple years ago, and
I wrote about part of that camping trip in my firefly article that I wrote. We then have to make it to set up our tent at Enchanted Rock State Park, and then head to Old Tunnel Wildlife Management Area to see an even bigger emergence of bats - this time 3 million! It's right next to the Alamo Springs Cafe which has gotten reviewed positively in the New York Times, and some reviewers have even said they have the best burgers in Texas. A colleague recommended it to me before I checked out their website, so I decided I just have to try it for myself. (Pic from the top of Enchanted Rock at sunset to the right, Copyright (c) 2006 Wendee Holtcamp)

Sunday we will climb Enchanted Rock - which only takes an hour - and explore around the park a bit. Then we have to hit Lyndon B. Johnson National Historic Park and the Sauer-Beckmann Living History farm on the way home. I've never been there! Most of the places we are going to I've been, other than Old Tunnel WMA and LBJ, so it will be fun showing Doug some of my favorite places from the Hill Country. The weather is supposed to be gorgeous, so I hope that holds!