A Surprise Visit to Italy TX

My father was just out of surgery and not feeling well so Shanna and I loaded up Raphael Jr., and headed for Texas on early Monday morning, you know, two days after that long Tetons trip.  Our first day of driving got us to Burlington Colorado. Lightning lit the sky as we did the final hour of our drive. We didn’t get rained on, but we sure enjoyed the show that seemed just ahead of us.

On the morning of the second day we spotted or rather Shanna spotted then pointed them out to me, thirteen lined ground squirrel in a parking lot behind a restaurant near our hotel.  We also discovered that we had our timing off and ended up stuck in stop and go traffic just north of Denton TX.  What I didn’t know was that after 10:00 they sometimes close pieces of the freeway for repairs, so what should have taken us one hour to get from there to Italy TX took us three.   It would have taken us a lot longer if I hadn’t abandoned the freeway and move to a couple of backroads till I got to 287 Southbound.

Birds on the drive

  1. EC Doves
  2. R. Doves
  3. Crows
  4. Ravens
  5. Sandhill cranes
  6. A.W. Pelican
  7. Magpies
  8. R.T. Hawks
  9. Swainson’s hawks
  10. Red winged blackbirds
  11. Mountain bluebirds
  12. Brewer’s blackbirds
  13. Starlings

The most shocking thing on the drive was the price of gas in Kansas.  Why can’t we have this kind of pricing in Idaho, where it was $2.50 on the day we left.

Of course we spent a lot of time visiting with family. But we also went with my brother Mike, his wife Tessa and their kids Mikey, Catie, Evie, and Frankie to the Perot Museum in Dallas.  My other niece Sydney works there as a volunteer.

There were Common grackles in the courtyard. How long does a parent grackle feed it’s youngster?  I don’t know what the real answer is, but clearly this adolescent bird is as large as it’s parent.

Interesting ceiling art installation of molecules that moved up and down.IMG_0158

My niece Sydney with her adorable stuffed mammoth.  I had to buy one, of course.

Sydney talking to a group about the big Mammoth behind her IMG_0171

There is a great bird exhibit/learning lab where you read about bird characteristics and choose your own pieces on a computer screen at each station. Our birdy creation:

Another floor of the museum housed a huge collection of minerals and crystals.




Niece Evie and nephew Frankie racing the tyrannosaurIMG_0189

There was a huge exhibit on the Mayan people.

Mayan Jade necklace

It was a lot of fun to visit the museum and hang with the Mike family.

Melinda and I also did a day of birding: Italy – Gun Barrel City and back 7/22/17

  1. Mourning doves
  2. Barn swallows
  3. Common grackles
  4. Rock doves
  5. Scissor tailed flycatchers
  6. Great blue heron
  7. Cardinals
  8. Turkey vultures
  9. Double crested cormorants
  10. Cliff swallows
  11. Black vultures
  12. Great tailed grackles
  13. Neotropic cormorant
  14. Mockingbirds
  15. Crows
  16. Great egrets
  17. Eastern bluebirds
  18. Robins
  19. House sparrows
  20. Black chinned hummingbird
  21. Golden fronted woodpecker
  22. Carolina chickadee
  23. Starlings
  24. Sharp shinned hawk
  25. Red tailed hawk
  26. Red bellied woodpecker
  27. Greater roadrunner
  28. Baltimore oriole
  29. Eastern meadowlark
  30. Cattle egret
  31. Snowy egret
  32. Domestic geese
  33. Domestic ducks
  34. Dicksissal
  35. House finches

There’s a reason they call this yellow flower stinkweed. I opened the window to take pictures and YIKES.JLS06675

I wish we could have stayed near this pond longer, but traffic insisted that we move on.

Snowy egret & Cattle egret


Great blue heron


Greater roadrunner


And there were birds to see as I visited family:

  1. Inca doves
  2. Green herons
  3. Greater roadrunner
  4. Mockingbirds
  5. Ruby throated hummingbird
  6. EC doves
  7. Scissor tailed flycatchers

Inca dove just outside of Rebecca’s house JLS06636b


Green heron and red slider turtle at Mom’s house JLS06609b


Green heron


Sadly we had to leave TX so once again we drove and drove and drove.  Somewhere in Kansas we actually spotted a convenient car wash and finally washed the dust off the car that we had picked up on our drive from Ashton to Grand Tetons.  In Wyoming there were hundreds of antelope, some in small groups, some in singles.  And there were a few babies mixed in.


It’s a good think I like to drive. Five days 13+ hours of driving in a ten day period is a little too much for me.  Shanna did take turns with me, but one is still stuck in the car even if you aren’t physically driving. To me it feels much the same.  It was AWESOME to see my family though and I’d do it again, hopefully soon. – Jenny


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