Tuesday, August 11, 2015

August 7, 2015

The Start of Something Beautiful
August 7, 2015

On June 5, Ron and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary.  It was a quiet day for us.  We closed the office and drove up the valley.  We did a little shopping, ate lunch at a new Bar-B-Que place, and then spent the afternoon with Jeff and Barbara after they had signed the papers on their new house.  Ron changed the locks on the house for them and then late that evening the four of us went out to supper.
On the way to the ranch for the weekend celebration
We wanted to celebrate with all of our family, but early June was not a good time for some of them.  They all settled on early August for a family gathering to celebrate the event.  It was a great choice.  Two of the daughter-in-laws, spent countless hours on line searching for the perfect place to have our gathering.  The agreed on place was Quiet Hill Ranch in the central Texas Hill Country.  The dates were from Friday afternoon August 7 through Monday morning August 10.  It was an outstanding weekend.
Sign at the gate to the ranch
The reason this blog entry and the ones for the next few days are late is that there was no internet service there and only a couple of people in the group even had cell phone service.  For Ron and me it would have been about a 30 minute drive to an area with cell phone service.  That actually made for a very relaxing weekend for all of us.
The owners live at the base of the hill and the rentals are at the top of the hill
Ron and I left Brownsville early Friday morning after loading supplies for the weekend.  Ron did all of the driving and I slept a little, read a little, and sewed a little.  We arrived in Fredericksburg, Texas about noon and window shopped for a couple of hours, buying nothing in the historic downtown area.  Then Ron located a quilt shop for me on the edge of town and I did manage to do some shopping there.  It was a very nice, clean, fairly new shop and I enjoyed looking at what they had to offer.
The back door of the lodge at Quiet Hill
By the time we finished it was almost check-in time at Quiet Hill Ranch and we decided we would just have sandwiches for lunch when we got there.  It was further out of town than I had expected and way out in the country!  We passed cattle ranches, farm land, goat and sheep ranches, and the scenery relaxed us more and more with every passing mile.
Jeff's family is in that white van in the valley 
and from the top of the hill, we watched their arrival.
When we arrived, we checked out the lodge and cabins, selected our cabins, and began to unload things.  Diana and the kids arrived soon, followed later by David when he got off work. Next came Jeff's family.  They were loaded down with food and bikes, and 5 of their 7 children who were eager to start exploring and swimming.  The other two couples were delayed by road construction and were very late arriving.  Jeff's other two children had been spending time with Bob and his wife and were the next to arrive, with Stephen and his wife being the last to come.
Jeff's family started unloading their van
While we had waited for the others to arrive, I took off for the birding blind.  The birding blind was the thing that settled the deal of renting this ranch for the gathering.  The kids all know how much I love photographing birds.  They know their dad loves the country life.  It was a perfect choice - maybe a cooler month would have been nice.  The birding blind was great.  I had not expected so many birds to be out and about in that area in the extreme heat (100 degrees and more).  There were lots of Cardinals (as many as a couple of dozen at a time), Painted Buntings, House Finches, Western Scrub Jays, an Orchard Oriole , hummingbirds that were flying too fast for us to identify, Lesser Goldfinches, Greater Roadrunners, and more.  What a fun time.  Over the time we were there, I took over 1,100 photographs.
This Roadrunner had just caught his supper
Part of the evening as we waited outside and talked while the late comers arrived, we enjoyed the cool evening breeze and the awesome view of the sky with no city lights around for many miles.  The Milky Way had not been so visible in years and the stars all twinkled and shined.  The grandchildren loved it although Jeff's children often get to see that kind of night sky when they visit their other grandfather in Kansas.
One of our grandsons and I were returning from 
the bird blind late in the day just after sunset.

That night I sat up late visiting with Stephen after he arrived.  It had been a long, but very good day.  It was very quiet on the top of the hill.  The only sounds I heard were the birds and sounds from our group.  In fact the next morning Ron saw the owner who lives at the bottom of the hill and Ron said everyone was having fun and he said, yes, he could hear that.  Sound carries well from the Quiet Hill to the valley below.
The lodge just before dark

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