From Texarkana to Memphis

February 25, 2016 10:41 – 10:41

I’m at the Springhill Suites on the east side of Memphis, having made the drive from Texarkana yesterday. The free wireless speed here sucks—only about 2Mbps. I didn’t bother upgrading because a) they make it very hard to get back to the upgrade menu, and b) I didn’t have many pictures to upload (see next paragraph).

I really need to blog more regularly so I can refresh my memory about refuges I’ve visited. For the second time this trip, I revisited an NWR that I’ve been to before. This time, it was Pond Creek NWR, which I visited last year on my way home from Texas. The moment I arrived at the NWR’s HQ on Central Avenue, I knew I’d been there before. Note to self—don’t visit this one or Balcones Canyonlands again (except, that the latter would be okay between March and May, to see the golden-cheeked warblers warbling in the pines).

Looking at last year’s photos, Pond Creek was just as much a bust last year as this year—just pictures of drowned cypress trees and black vultures. I saw those this year, too, but I guess I took a different trail, since the views look different. This year, I parked at the intersection of Tram Road and Salt Lick Road, and walked about 2k up Salt Lick Road, and back to the car. I heard lots of birds, including some unidentified warblers (possibly pine warblers, since they were hiding in the pines), a murder of crows, some black capped chickadees, and a number of hawks shrieking above. I recognized the shrieks of some red shouldered hawks, I believe, but they were hard to spot through the trees.

This one might have been a cooper’s hawk, judging from the feather patterns. But, it seemed too large. Maybe it was lower than I thought.

As I was getting back to the car, I did get a clearer view of a different and much smaller cooper’s hawk that flew about 10 feet above me, but I wasn’t quick enough with the camera. A few minutes earlier, though, I did manage to get a couple of decent, albeit long-distance shots of a different cooper’s—at least enough for an ID, though.

That’s after cropping and enhancement. Below is the original uncropped and unenhanced shot—as you can see, not all of the work of presenting wildlife photos is done behind the camera.

And, here’s another view of the same hawk:

Last year, I saw drowned cypress trees. This year, it was drowned pines, still recovering from the heavy rains that came through the day before. Fortunately, the dirt/gravel road wasn’t too muddy.

Speaking of the road… I saw an interesting rock, too. I often wonder about the strips and the forces and processes that must’ve produced them millions of years ago. That entire area was at the bottom of an inland sea, and I suspect that the white stripes are what remains of once-living sea creatures.

Last night for dinner, I was told about two good places for BBQ—Tops (which is a local chain with multiple locations) and Germantown Commissary BBQ, which is a single establishment. I chose the latter. I had a half-slab of pork ribs and a cup of chili. The chili was okay, albeit a bit too tomato-y for my tastes. The ribs were good, but the sauce was too thick and sweet.

The Commissary’s sauce wasn’t as thick and sweet as the sauce I had with yesterday’ lunch Q, at Fat Boy’s, near Little Rock (in Caddo Valley). At lunch, I had pork loin (sliced—they didn’t have a pork shoulder/pulled option) and brisket. Both were too lean, tough, and chewy. What’s wrong with people? BBQ shouldn’t require that much effort. They should stop trying to make it into health food. I’m not putting either place on my “again” list. Next time I’m in the Memphis area, I’ll try Tops.

Today, I’m heading for Knoxville, but first I’ll be stopping at the Hatchie NWR, which I’m pretty sure I’ve never visited before. At least, I hope not.

I’m booked tonight at the Fairfield Inn & Suites west of Knoxville, in Farragut, TN. EST—here I come! And, tomorrow morning, I’ll hit the road for home. I’m a little worried about the house since I got a report from my backup service saying that my desktop hasn’t been backed up for three days. I’m hoping this isn’t a repeat of last summer, but it’s probably not. I’m guessing that MS pushed a mandatory update and rebooted, and the system couldn’t fully boot because I wasn’t there to enter the password. Other signs indicate that the TiVo is still recording and the phone is on. In any case, my sister is going to check things out and let me know.

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