“A Change of Scenery”

by ESP on July 10, 2014 · 6 comments


Dragonfly wings,


buried in the sand?

It could mean only one thing,

we were off on vacation,


and we had survived the “6 Harry Potters” worth of car-time to get there.

The 12 hour journey was accompanied by the repeatedly repeated phrases from the parental units trying desperately to hold it together…“If you do that again you will loose the iPad for one Harry, do you understand?” and at every gas station: “Did you go to the restroom…did you go to the restroom?

And “stop that humming!”

followed by the final blow

…”you have lost the iPad for a Harry”.

Oh yes, if it wasn’t for the sporadic in-car reading (courtesy of my wife) of the poaching exploits of


I think we all would have all permanently lost it.

DSC06674 - Version 2

We had arrived at Gulf Shores, Alabama.


They jumped out of the car and were on the beach before you could say sunscreen.


I was not far behind them with my fishing rod.


A couple of pompano on my second cast (really it was) caught the attention of this Great Blue Heron down the beach:


I released the fish back into the water but only one made it back to the deep, the other was gracefully harpooned by a formidable beak.

The heron never left my side after this.


It was like the evil penguin on Wallace & Gromit.



Always looming.


This Remora Shark Sucker fish did escape the beak.  These funny looking fish have a sucker pad on top of their head that is used to attach themselves to Shark, Snapper, Cobia etc…they are cleaner fish.

If I had known this at the time I may have attached a couple of these fish to the seat-belt-smudged tattoo that ended up EVERYWHERE.




The tattoo apparently lasts a month!



Her hidden agenda at the beach naturally involved lots of these:


and precisely seven of these:






Time to get some refreshment at our favorite hangout…



Let me guess, something to do with Minecraft and American Girl Dolls?

DSC06731Every so often a buzzer would sound and this would happen which was good as it was noticeably fading the tattoo smudges.

resultFinal day blues.

Thank you D&J, we had the best time.

We decided to break up the return journey and splurge with an evening in New Orleans at the


In the heart of the French Quarter.

Lets just say it made a dramatic change to the Best Westerns we were accustomed to.


Jaws dropped entering the foyer, and off to the side was the amazing


Carousel Bar & Lounge where patrons circumnavigate at one revolution every 15 minutes.

The biggest hit was the mandavilla lined rooftop pool


followed by fresh dressing gowns and chocolates that were found on the bed.


Next morning it was Beignets at Cafe Du Monde,


and a walk through Jackson Square with its specimen multi-trunked Mediterranean Fan Palms.

Chamaerops humilis




Hmm, I think I may not have given mine quite enough space – good job they are slow growing.

Are those…it can’t be…


…Oleanders…the size of trees!


This is not what we looked like after the drive back to Austin.


Stay Tuned For:

“Oh Drupes!


Jungle Babies

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1 TexasDeb July 12, 2014 at 6:36 am

Oh ESP, as people say “You should have been here in the old days”. We had tree sized oleanders all over Austin once upon a time. Cold snaps and a virus took them all down in the space of a few years but I still love them because they evoke childhood memories of growing up here. And the deer certainly leave them alone. All that said I don’t have a sunny spot large enough to accommodate one so I get my oleander jollies here as often as not. Thanks for sharing!

Yes TD I still see a few large oleanders here and there on my travels. My ‘hardy’ reds seem to get nipped by the frost every year requiring me to cut back the dead limbs at the base…good job they grow fast, back up to 5ft this year already.

Oh and as for the oleander skewered hot-dog poisoning story?

2005 toxicological study:

Methods: Hot dogs (Hebrew National Beef Franks, ConAgra Foods) were skewered their full length on either freshly-cut or dried Nerium oleander branches (4 each) and cooked over a disposable charcoal barbecue. The cooked hot dogs were then frozen until analysis of oleandrin content by liquid chromatography/mass spectroscopy.

Result: Hot dogs cooked on dried branches contained 14.3±8.8 ppb oleandrin, while hot dogs cooked on freshly-cut branches contained 7.0±2.1 ppb oleandrin (control: <1 ppb oleandrin). The most contaminated hot dog contained <1.5 mg oleandrin; even allowing for other unmeasured cardiac glycosides, this oleandrin content is orders of magnitude lower than that expected to cause human toxicity if the hot dogs were consumed. In addition, several mechanical difficulties with both the freshly-cut and dried oleander branches make their practical use as skewers to cook food unlikely.

Conclusion: Hot dogs cooked on Nerium oleander branch skewers contain a negligible amount of oleandrin. Poisoning by consuming hot dogs or other food items cooked on oleander branches is probably an urban myth.

Still I wouldn’t risk it.

2 Desert Dweller / David C. July 13, 2014 at 12:03 pm

Great tour, looks fun. Esp. the plant shots (the med fan palm duo is hot!) and NOLA trip, but no beignets? Good for you (to avoid).

Tree oleanders all over El Paso, but many grew back from dying to ground in 2011.

No Beignets?

They were delicious, as was the coffee.

3 Indie July 14, 2014 at 6:48 am

A 12 hour car ride with two kids? You are one brave parent!! I think we max out the crazy at 8 hours. I love your new fishing buddy – too funny! It looks like you all had loads of fun (in between the two car rides, anyway)!

Hi Indie.
Nerves were a little fried at the end but it really helped that we split the journey into two days. I hate to think of the state of affairs if we had done the 12 hours straight…

I have a bunch of pictures with the ‘picture crashing’ heron, it was always there. It was also extremely tame allowing me to get to arms length of it. By the end of the trip it was trying to get the fish as I was reeling them in!

4 Rock Rose July 23, 2014 at 6:05 pm

I love the beach. Well, of course I grew up on one although the sand wasn’t as pretty. And everywhere you put out a line on that coast a heron will join you. And they call seagulls scavengers. Glad you had fun. Now, it’s back to the garden.

5 ESP July 31, 2014 at 12:23 pm

Me too RR though the waters around here are a little warmer and clearer than the North Sea!
I was amazed at how the heron could swallow a fish whole with such a thin neck.
Yes back to the garden…pruning the vitex and lots of weeding.

6 Pam/Digging August 23, 2014 at 4:40 pm

That looks like one fun family trip. We are more accustomed to Best Westerns than fancy French Quarter hotels too — that place is stunning! And yum, beignets.

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