Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Five Mile Hike to Boat Ramp - Rio Grande

Hi all - Dianne here. Not much to write about other than we are FINALLY enjoying some beautiful days here in the Rio Grande Valley. Sunshine, warm, today it will reach the mid 80s. In fact, on Thursday we plan an excursion to the beach at South Padre Island, so stay tuned for an update on that.

On Tuesday we took the dogs on an exploratory hike down the levee
and found our way to the boat launch owned by the developer of our RV park. I guess we are assuming this, because the palapa was the same design as those in the RV park, the area had palm trees and beautiful landscaping. (As we mentioned before, once you leave the environs of our nice park area, the surrounding area leaves a bit to be desired. My Midwest sensibilities do not like graffiti and trash.)

We are scheduled for a kayaking excursion on February 1, weather permitting, so we'll find out for sure if we were there or that we were trespassing on someone else's land!

As we hiked along, we spotted a White-Tailed Kite, an American Kestrel, and an Altimira Oriole, but I did not get a photo of any of them. We also saw what I believe to be a Tropical Kingbird, but I can't be sure of that. (They are spotted here occasionally).
Enough bird-speak.

Our daughter, Robyn, who is definitely NOT a birder, sent me this photo of her and her friend as they drove cross country to help her move to L.A. I thought it was such a funny photo that I wanted to post it. (Apologies to friends and family who I've already e-mailed it to). Be sure to click or double click on this one to see the whole photo; otherwise, it cuts off the ostrich's head which is the funniest part. My daughter is the girl on the left. They had a wonderful time driving cross country, doing kitchy things like stopping at Route 66 museums and the ostrich farm where this photo was taken. So glad she's adventurous!
Not sure how they got the ostrich to pose this way! @robynlnorris Started the day at an Ostrich Farm. This is Per... on Twitpic

On our way home we had a minor incident with Chaplin. As naive midwesterners, we stopped to look at some unusual (fiery red - should have been a clue) ants along the levee path. Poor Chaplin managed to step right onto the ant hill and I had to brush the ant (I think it was just one) that had grabbed onto his foot and was biting him hard. Poor Chap was in terrible pain, to the point that his back right leg became immobile and Roger, being the good dad that he is, ended up carrying 30 pounds of whippet back to the motor home.

I jumped on the internet to see what to do for it, and we immediately washed his paw with soapy water, massaged it, rinsed it off, then dunked it into a cup of white vinegar. Chaplin is a high-anxiety type dog (if he were human, he'd be on Prozac), and the pain in his paw was sending him into a full-fledged panic attack, panting and trembling. The vinegar helped with the immediate pain and at least he calmed down, but it was about three hours before he would use his leg normally. I guess we still have a lot to learn about hiking our dogs out west or in the deep south; at least we know to avoid fire ants at all cost from now on!

After that bit of excitement we spent the rest of the beautiful day sitting outside in the sun, reading (Roger), Sudoku (me), and before we knew it, it was wine-thirty. An advantage of retirement is that it is really easy to waste an entire beautiful day and enjoy every wasteful minute of it!

One of the reasons we are able to make it mostly on an educator's pension is that
most of the

things we enjoy doing don't cost a dime. While working at Amazon I stowed a book one day "Idiot's Guide to Geocaching," so that day after work I hopped on line and ordered one. We've been wanting to start geocaching and we finally have the time to figure out how to properly use our hand-held GPS (a retirement gift from our wonderful friends Jay and Nancy) and go out and actually try it out on its intended purpose. I've been using it all along to post our location (click on the "where we are today" link above to see it), but what we really wanted a GPS for is geocaching. Hopefully soon we'll be able to post about our new hobby.

As night fell,
Roger took some pretty shots of the setting sun outside our windshield, with our Texas Hill Country grape lights
shining on the dash. Life is good!!


Karen and Al said...

Hope the dog recovers from his ant bite. He may have allergy to the ant bite, as some people do. You might want to check with a vet and see if there is something you could give him, should he ever get stung again (ant, bee or something else) My husband is allergic to bees so we keep the benedryl handy and he pops one in as soon as he gets stung (which is regularly as we currently live in the country) I don't know if Benedryl is ok for dogs, but I think I would find something that is and keep in on hand...just in case.

We enjoy Geo-caching too. It helps you find cool areas you would never know about!

Margie and Roger said...

Loved the ostrich photo! I agree with Karen about checking with the vet re: ants and Chaplin.

Travelwithwhippets said...

Thanks, guys. We will definitely ask the vet about it and take precautions. We sure wouldn't want a worse reaction the next time!

Lisa said...

Hi Dianne,

I am a whippet owner and what happened to Chaplin is not uncommon in the South. Having been a born and raised New Englander (Connecticut), I learned the hard way about Fire Ants over 9 years ago when my husband moved us to Georgia. They are nasty nasty ants that cause a very painful burning sting. My guess is that Chaplin had multiple bites, not just one. During the winter months in the South, the ants are sluggish and stay down in the mounds most of the time. When Chaplin stepped in the mound, he probably was bitten by a multitude of ants (there are usually tens of thousands in each large mound) and you only saw one or two still attached to his foot. He actually was very lucky, as it can cause severe swelling at the bite site. Bite Ease, an over the counter bug bite remedy that has ammonia in it will stop the immediate pain of the stings, but that might not be good on a dog. I use it on bites I get, as I am allergic to the bites and it helps ease the swelling till I can get inside and get some benedryl. You can safely give your dogs a 25mg. benedryl tablet (make sure its plain benedryl with NO acetaminophen in it) and soak his foot in water (can be ice cold or very warm water, whichever he can tolerate best). I use water as hot as I can tolerate when I get a bite on my foot or ankle, as I think it helps draw the venon out some. If his foot swells too much, he should be taken to a vet right away. Some dogs (and even people) can have severe allergic reactions to multiple fire ant bites and can actually go into shock from it. Its rare but can happen. Best thing to do if you see those mounds is to stay as far away from them as possible. The warmer the weather, the more aggressive they are. Also be careful in the South walking in or near the woods where moist leaves are on the ground, as there are small scorpions in the South too. They also have a nasty bite.

Enjoy your adventures RVing throughout the country. My husband and I hope to do that too are we retire and will have our whippets with us as well.