Posts or Comments 30 June 2022

Archive for "Texas"

Chihuly Nights &Dallas Arboretum joydeanlee | 09 May 2019

Chihuly Nights—Dallas Arboretum, 2012


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Dallas Arboretum &Texas joydeanlee | 18 Nov 2014

Dallas Arboretum—pumpkins, pumpkins, pumpkins, and a variety of foliage

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Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens is perhaps my favorite arboretum in the U.S. And when it’s autumn, a tour of the grounds is so much fun. According to their website, “Over 65,000 pumpkins, gourds and squash come together to form the nationally acclaimed Pumpkin Village.”

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This year in the Pumpkin Village contained three pumpkin houses plus pumpkins galore. Many more pumpkins were spread around the 66 acres.

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Another asset of the Dallas Arboretum is its location on White Rock Lake. The infinity pool gives the illusion that it runs into the lake whereas it is perhaps a quarter of a mile from the lake.

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Bright splashes of flowers constantly attract the eye.

To view a slide show of all of my photos during my day at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, click on this link and then select the first icon in the upper-right corner:

Marfa &Texas joydeanlee | 03 Sep 2013

Marfa, Texas—Hotel Paisano, the movie “Giant” and the mystery lights

Marfa in West Texas had long been on my sightseeing list. I wanted to spend a night at Hotel Paisano. Why, Marfa? An interest in the movie Giant whose exterior scenes were filmed nearby, the Hotel Paisano where many of the stars stayed briefly, and the Marfa Lights. I visited there last December after a house/pet-sitting job in Las Cruses, New Mexico, as I was en route to Big Bend National Park (See another post National Parks—Big Bend).

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When I checked in Hotel Paisano, I didn’t request Room 223, where James Dean had supposedly stayed in the early days of the filming of Giant, but that was the room I was assigned. Simple but comfortable. Also my first experience with a wall-mounted heater.

The temperature dropped very low that night. I’d been given a remote control and told it operated the heater. I pointed that remote at the old-fashioned radiator I saw in the room, pressing the “Up” button. No heat! After repeating this step several times and getting colder and colder, I noticed a unit mounted high on the wall. Pointing the remote at that unit and pressing the “Up” button produced results. Yes, warm air began to flow out of the unit.

Hotel Paisano’s architect, Henry Charles Trost, designed several buildings in West Texas. Others included the Kerr Mercantile in Sanderson, the Gage Hotel in Marathon, the Holland Hotel in Alpine, and the Hotel El Capitan in Van Horn. The latter three still offer accommodations for visitors. On a later trip through Van Horn, I dined at the Hotel El Capitan in Van Horn: chicken-fried stead with jalapeño gravy.

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The courtyard at Hotel Paisano was brightly lit for the holidays.

Another attraction nearby is the Marfa Lights. “Accounts of strange and unexplained phenomena just outside of Marfa began during the 19th century and continue to this day,” according to the Visit Marfa website ( “The mystery lights are sometimes red, sometimes blue, sometimes white, and usually appear at random throughout the night, no matter the season or the weather.” Are the mystery lights a phenomenon for which there’s a logical explanation? Opinions vary, but you can drive to the official Marfa Lights Viewing Area west of town if you want to chance seeing the lights.

If you plan to visit Big Bend National Park or anywhere south of I-10 in West Texas, include Marfa on your itinerary.

Big Bend &National Parks/Monuments &Texas joydeanlee | 03 Sep 2013

National Parks—Big Bend

Big Bend National Park lies on the Texas-Mexico border where Rio Grande flows through the Santa Elena Canyon, steep mountains rising up from the river on each side. The International Dark-Sky Association has designated Big Bend as an official Dark Sky Park. This is the Association’s description of a Dark Sky Park: “a park or other public land possessing exceptional starry skies and natural nocturnal habitat where light pollution is mitigated and natural darkness is valuable as an important educational, cultural, scenic, and natural resources.”

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The Rio Grande flows through the Santa Elena Canyon. On the left is Mexico and on the right, Texas.

Background: I’d traveled I-10 from Houston en route to and from Mesa, Arizona, at least once a year beginning in 1999 and noticed the signs for Big Bend National Park, but I never had the combination of time and money to make the trek to the southwest tip of Texas. In early December, 2012, I completed a house/pet-sitting job in Las Cruses, New Mexico and planned the trip to Big Bend before my next house/pet-sitting assignment in Houston.

Getting to Big Bend is, indeed, a long trek. Chisos Basin Lodge, the only lodging other than camping in the park, is located far from any major city. From the lodge to San Antonio, 448 miles (7 hrs); from the lodge to El Paso, 340 miles (almost 6 hrs). The park has 1,252 sq. miles, which is larger than the state of Rhode Island. It is the largest protected area of Chihuahuan Desert topography and ecology in the United States, according to Wikipedia.

The awe-inspiring view and the peace and serenity evoked by the surroundings made my stay at the Chisos Basin Lodge memorable; it is the most beautiful setting I’ve ever stayed in. The Window, one of the most photographed views in the park, unfolds before you on the downhill approach into the basin

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The Window can be viewed from the Chisos Basin.

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The Mule Ears is another of the often-photographed rock formations.

Austin &Texas joydeanlee | 01 Apr 2013

Austin Yard Art Tour—April 2010

One of Austin’s slogans is Keep Austin Weird! I witnessed aspects of that movement when I was house/pet-sitting there in the Spring of 2010. My older daughter, Helena, and I spent a Sunday afternoon traveling to as many locations on the Yard Art Tour as we could in our available time.

The range of types of yard art was vast: from colored bottles with their tops stuck in the ground to line yard paths to painted fences to a place with Cathedral of Junk on its mailbox to decorated cars to metal creations to the Smut Putt Heaven Holiness Church.

Enjoy the art!

To view a slideshow of the Yard Art Tour, click on any of the photos below.

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Blue and green bottles lined the paths through flowers and plants in this yard.

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One of the metal sculptures on the Yard Art Tour.

Austin &Texas &Wildflowers joydeanlee | 19 Mar 2013

Texas Hill County—Wildflowers in the Spring

Much of the Texas Hill Country is a glorious, colorful sight in the Spring as numerous varieties of wildflowers cover the hillsides, the roadsides, and even the road medians.

To view a slideshow of my collection of wildflower photos, click on any photo below.

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Texas Bluebonnets.

After a trip to the AAA office for a map in March, 2010, exploring Austin and as many of the small towns around it as time permitted was my goal.

From Lampasas and San Saba northwest of Austin to Llano, Marble Falls, Burnet, and Johnson City on the west and Blanco and Wimberly on the southwest, I photographed wildflowers.

I traveled to Austin in the Spring of 2012 for more photography and again this year, 2013, although for only a couple of days. This year my time in the Hill Country was a bit early for the full blooming of the wildflowers, but I did find a few further east near Navasota.

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Scattered throughout the bluebonnets are a few Indian Paintbrushes and small yellow flowers (I don’t know their name) that share space and contrast with Prickly Pear cacti.

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Indian Blankets

San Antonio &Texas joydeanlee | 20 Nov 2012

Texas Gang’s San Antonio summer weekends

Background: From 2004 through 2007, my Texas Gang of friends gathered at Lake McQueeney for summer fun. We were able to get together through the generosity of the McColleys who loaned us their lakehouse. The Alexanders brought their boat over from Houston. Friends and family from Ft. Worth, Austin, Houston, and even as far away as Indiana and Florida gathered bringing games, music, and food and beverages galore, but the most important element shared was FRIENDSHIP. In an early post on this blog, I shared photos of our antics in 2007. (

For three years the Gang was unable to get together. Then in the summers of both 2011 and 2012, we all met at the McColley home in San Antonio, again because of their generosity. All the same elements were brought together again: games, music, food, beverages, and friendship.

To view a slideshow of the Texas Gang’s 2011 or 2012 activities and antics during those San Antonio summer weekends, click on any photo below.


Julie Gras shows off Max,
the beloved dog I sit with.


Russ and Jody Emerson
enjoy the sunshine.

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Front: Shelley Penrod. Middle: Jody Emerson, Sheila Alexander, Mike Ross, Joy Dean Lee. Back: Helena Abbing, Bill Alexander, Julie Gras, and Dan Thomas.

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Bill Alexander directs…who knows…as Shelley Penrod and Jody Emerson sit poolside. Dan Thomas calculates the volume of the pool’s water. Or maybe Bill is trying to get everyone’s attention to listen to Toby Keith’s “I’ll Never Smoke Weed with Willie Again”

House/Pet-Sitting &San Antonio &Texas joydeanlee | 23 Jun 2012

San Antonio: Pazzo and Enzo

Parson Russell terriers are very active dogs…this I learned during a house/pet-sitting job in San Antonio in late May. Pazzo and Enzo are the delightful critters that kept me entertained for a week. Actually they rested much of their time on the couches, except when surveying the neighborhood to make sure all was safe and that no one was entering their domain, which should be defined as their backyard and that of all the neighbors.


Not quite ready for sleep.

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Yes, we know that we’re very cute.

They tricked me a few times the first day with their whining as though they needed to go outside for necessity. There was necessity all right: deer were within their ability to either see or smell and going outside to chase the deer was all they had on their minds. Actually, standing on the deck barking ferociously or hovering near the fences in the yard while straining on their leashes was the nearest they could get to the deer.

Our nights together were special, too. Because I’m a light sleeper, I placed a large pillow between the dogs and me. After several minutes of pointing and giving a “Sit” command, they would lie down on the other side of the pillow. However, before the night was over, I’d wake up and find one or both of the dogs snuggling next to me. Even if I’d had a brick wall between me and them, they would have crawled over.

Pazzo and Enzo were truly lovable and loving dogs. I’m delighted to have spent time with them.

To view a slideshow of Pazzo and Enzo, click on any photo. If info about the photos is not displayed in the slideshow, click Show Info.

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Pazzo and Enzo


Enzo in the hunting mode.


Pazzo in the hunting mode.

San Antonio &Texas joydeanlee | 19 May 2012

Steves Homestead, San Antonio, Texas

I’d toured the Steves Homestead in the King William District in San Antonio a few years ago, but I wanted my friend Doris to enjoy this slice of San Antonio history also. The home is quite beautiful and furnished with period pieces, many belonging to the Steves family. In addition, it was “…one of the early natatoriums, or inside swimming pools, in San Antonio” according to their website.

For further information on the Steves Homestead, go to (

Another reason for my interest in the Steves Homestead is that my friend and former student, Becky (Drew) McColley, is a docent for the home.

To view a slideshow of the Steves Homestead, click on the photo. If info about the photos is not displayed in the slideshow, click Show Info.

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Galveston Island &Texas joydeanlee | 17 May 2012

Galveston tree sculptures

Hurricane Ike devastated Galveston Island in September, 2008. Rather than just cutting down the damaged trees, sculpture artists created various figures, many so appropriate to the Gulf location.

While my friend Doris and I were sightseeing in Galveston in April, 2012, we drove around photographing some of the sculptures. Some are on private property so sightseers are, of course, asked to respect their rights.

I especially enjoyed the playful dolphins pictured below, but we admired all of the creations.

For more information on the Tree Sculpture Tour, visit (

To view a slideshow of the some of the tree sculptures, click on the photo. If info about the photos is not displayed in the slideshow, click Show Info.

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