*Props to my friend Candace for slapping that sticker (the title of this post) on my bumper a few years ago without me realizing it for weeks...*A little nostalgia, my friends, just a little. I've worked with golden-cheeked warblers and black capped-vireos for six seasons. My base and most of the field sites were at one of my most happy places (a gigantic, beautiful ranch in the Hill Country). I won't be there this season, and it's a little bittersweet. I first moved to Texas in 2007 and initially was a little worried about my decision. My friends made fun of me for booking it to Texas and I thought I'd be there for the spring and summer and then get outta town. (Below:Johnny Nutcase at part of the headwaters to the Frio River)
Hilarious! I kept coming back for more. And more, and then some more. Texas won me over. Err, not all of it- just the Hill Country and West Texas, really. And some scattered parts in between. But the point is I started feeling like Leakey (population 422) was home. I've met some of my favorite people in that town and even those whose names I never learned, I'll never forget. Everyone is so damn nice there. I can hardly handle it. I'm partial to tiny towns, but Leakey rocks it. (below: endangered fishook cactus; Frio River; me at the entrance to a badass cave)
I got to explore so much of the Hill Country - most of our field sites were on huge (undeveloped) private ranches or state parks and I got to see so much great stuff. Really great stuff! Ya don't even know! Last weekend I bid farewell to the ranch and to Leakey (I know I'll be back, but not sure when...). Bittersweet.