This is primarily a travel blog in which I write about traveling in our motorhome. Our travels have

Nacogdoches, TX, United States
I began this blog as a vehicle for reporting on a 47-day trip made by my wife and me in our motorhome down to the Yucatan Peninsula and back. I continued writing about our post-Yucatan travels and gradually began including non-travel related topics. I often rant about things that piss me off, such as gun violence, fracking, healthcare, education, and anything else that pushes my button. I have a photography gallery on my Smugmug site (

Monday, December 31, 2012

To Which Decade Would You Return?

This is New Year’s Eve.  The last day of 2012.  The years seem to go by much more quickly now.  Wouldn’t it be great if we had a time machine with which we could roll back the calendar to our younger years?  If this was possible I’m really not sure to what year I would wish to return. 

My teen years were a lot of fun, but I also encountered many problems and painfully unpleasant situations.  Certainly, it was a time of many fond memories, but there was just too much stress for a teenager.  I don’t think I would go beck to my teen years.

My 20’s began during my university years and gave me my first taste of freedom.  Yet those years were also extremely stressful and tough because I had a really hard time studying, resulting in some enormous pressures at exam times.  After graduation I discovered that I did not like being a community pharmacist.  I thought about going back to school to change my profession.  Fortunately, I was persuaded to give hospital pharmacy a try so I became a staff pharmacist in a 500-bed teaching hospital.  It was very rewarding and I felt that I had found my place in life.  Six months after starting on this new career path I was drafted into the Army and sent to Vietnam.  I don’t think I would want to go through those years again.

My third decade was one of indecision and change.  I had come out of the army a different person, but I went back to my old hospital pharmacy job after discharge from the service but was not quite satisfied with being a staff pharmacist.  I wanted to be the person making the decisions so I went back to school for my Doctor of Pharmacy degree, hoping that it would give me a career advantage.   Once I had received the degree I spent two years teaching in the pharmacy school.  However, I wasn’t satisfied with that job either.  Seniors were graduating and making more money in their first jobs than I was making teaching them.  I left academia and took a position as a Director of Pharmacy in a 325-bed hospital.  After 8 years I felt that I had accomplished all I could in that position and there was little hope of advancement.  I was very interested in home care pharmacy and began looking into the possibilities.  I landed a job with Abbott Laboratories as the manager of a regional home-care pharmacy.  There were plenty of good times during my 30’s; however, there was so much uncertainty and frustration that I don’t think I would go back to my 30’s again.

When I became 40 years old my father told me that I was entering the best decade of my life.  Those ten years saw me living and working for Abbott in Atlanta, Dallas, and Chicago.  I enjoyed working for Abbott.  I felt like it was somehow more “prestigious” than all of my previous jobs.  But, those years were also extremely stressful.  I was required to play the corporate game with 60-hour weeks, increasingly unrealistic goals, and working for a micro-managing boss.  I became clinically depressed and was prescribed antidepressants.  Although financially rewarding, those were some of the toughest years of my life.  No, I don’t wish to that again.

At 50 I was in Chicago at Abbott’s Headquarters and hoping that my father had been wrong about the best decade of my life!  At 55 years of age I took early retirement and left Chicago for Texas.  I was reminded how after being defeated for re-election to Congress, Davey Crockett famously said, “You may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas.”   Once in Texas, I spent the next 5 years doing almost nothing productive.  I began working part-time in a local hospital pharmacy to have something to do.  It’s a tough call, but I don’t believe I would like doing my 50’s over again.

I am currently in my 60’s and still wondering which decade was the best and which one I would like to revisit.  Since I can’t decide, I guess I’ll just stay where I am.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

It's A Dreary Christmas Morning

I'm sitting up in bed - drinking coffee and reading the paper, which in itself is a little depressing with all of the recent killings. The weather, before last night, had been beautiful - sunny and warm. During the night the weather took a drastic turn and it has been raining since last night. At 10:30 AM it is still night outside the sky is so dark and the rain so heavy. There is a lot of thunder and a little lightning also. Dallas has a little snow forecast for this afternoon. We are too far southeast of Dallas to expect anything but more rain. Our daughter and son-in-law took our 5 year old grandson to England for Christmas with his other set of grand parents. Our son is in Sun Valley with his fiancé and her family. Carol Ann' sister and brother-in-law are in the same boat - all children and grand children celebrating Christmas out of town. They will come over to our house this evening for Christmas dinner. We don't use the front part of our house (too big) so it stays closed off all but a couple of days a year. Last Christmas we put our fake tree up in the living room. After Christmas we just unplugged the lights and closed the door. Today we will open the door and plug the lights back in. After dinner we will sit up there staring at it and probably drink a little too much wine in an attempt to have a merry Christmas. Perhaps I should take an extra dose of my antidepressant medication today! Bah, humbug!

Hope you all are having a very merry Christmas!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Where's the Anger?

To paraphrase Mario Piperni (


Statistic #1:  Since the beginning of the Iraq/Afghanistan wars on 3/19/03 (almost 11 years now), there have been 6,618 Americans killed in those wars.

Statistic #2:  In the year 2011 (1 year), there were 8,583 Americans killed by firearms in the US.

Question:  Why are we not AT LEAST as outraged by the second statistic as we are by the first?

Friday, December 14, 2012

Guns May Not Kill People, But People WITH Guns Certainly Do!

In a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school this morning, 27 26 innocent people, 18 20 of them children, were shot and killed.  An unknown number were wounded.  Apparently there were two adult shooters, one of which is dead and a manhunt is on for a second shooter.

This was a most horrible and cowardly act.  It was not the first mass murder of school children nor was it the worst to have happened in the history of this country.   There have actually been 128 school shootings/bombings recorded in the past 150 years.  

On May 18, 1927 in Bath Township, Michigan a disgruntled school board treasurer set off 3 bombs in the Bath Elementary School.  There were 45 people killed, including the bomber himself.  At least 58 people were injured and 38 of the dead were elementary school children.  This was the deadliest mass murder in a school in U.S. history.

The Virginia Tech massacre on April 16, 2007, was the second largest school shooting with 32 killed and 17 wounded.  It is the deadliest shooting incident by a SINGLE shooter in U.S. history.  The Columbine High School massacre of April 20, 1999, in Littleton, Colorado involved 2 shooters who killed 12 students and 1 teacher.  An additional 21 students were wounded.

The best records of school-involved killings worldwide show that 77 such incidents have taken place since the year 1966.  Of these 77 school murders, three-quarters (58) of them have taken place in the U.S.  The weapons of choice most often (approximately 75% of the time) have been semi-automatic handguns and assault weapons.  Revolvers and shotguns makeup the remaining approximately 25%.

The killings are not limited to our schools.  But, hopefully, today’s tragedy will give one pause to think about how the US has become such a shooting gallery.  Why are Americans so quick to pull the trigger on fellow Americans?  If this question could be answered, perhaps a solution could be found.

The United States does not have the worst homicide rate in the world, far from it actually.  However, if one only considers the “first world” countries, which we tend to regard as modern and civilized, the US homicide rate is 3 to 4 times that of the other “first world" countries.  Here are some examples as reported by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC):

Homicides per 100,000 population from 1960 to present:

US                  4.2
Canada           1.6
UK                 1.2
France             1.1
Australia         1.0
China              1.0
Italy                 0.9
Germany         0.8
Spain               0.8
Switzerland     0.7
Austria            0.6
Japan              0.3

It is impossible not to bring up the topic of Gun Control in this discussion.   There is actually less gun control now than in the past.  In the past four years, across 37 states, 99 laws have been placed on the books making guns actually easier to own, carry in public, and harder for the government to track.  These laws have caused dramatic changes.  Here are some examples:

Concealed carry is now permitted in 49 of the 50 states.  That in it self is not so terribly bad.  It’s the conditions under which one may or may not carry a weapon which seem to have gone too far.

Although 21 states have an outright ban on concealed weapons on campuses, there are 7 states that allow concealed weapons on college campuses.  These states are Colorado, Mississippi, Oregon, Utah, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Virginia.

The other 21 states have taken the easy way out by leaving the question of concealed carry on campus up to the individual universities and colleges to decide.

In addition to college campuses, some states even allow concealed carry in bars and restaurants serving alcohol. 

In Missouri, a “law-abiding” citizen can even carry a gun while intoxicated and can even fire it if “acting in self-defense”.

In Kansas, permit holders can carry concealed weapons inside K-12 schools and at school-sponsored functions.

In Utah, a person under felony indictment can buy a gun, and a person charged with a violent crime may be allowed to retain his concealed weapon permit.

In Louisiana and 19 other states, permit holders are allowed to carry concealed weapons inside houses of worship.

Virginia law states that weapons are allowed in churches unless a service is taking place, in which case they are only allowed if there is “good and sufficient reason.” The law does not go on to list possible reasons a gun might be needed during a church service.

Virginia has also repealed a law that required handgun vendors to submit sales records.  In addition, the state also ordered the destruction of all such previous records.

More than a dozen states now allow people to bring their guns to work, however, usually on the condition that they remain stored in their vehicle.  The Governor of Indiana signed a law that bans employers from telling their employees they can’t have guns in their cars on the job only two weeks after an Indiana employee was given fifteen years in prison for attempting (and failing) to shoot his boss after a meeting concerning his subpar performance.

There are nearly 300,000,000 (300 MILLION) firearms in the US.  At 88.8 firearms per 100 people, the US has the highest rate of gun ownership by civilians than any other country in the world.  Second place is held by Yemen, with 54.8 per 100 people.  Then there is Switzerland with 45.7 and Finland with 45.3.  No other country has a rate above 40 firearms per 100 people.

We love our guns.  We enjoy shooting our guns.  But should we have so many?  Especially the semi-automatics and assault weapons?  How do we keep Americans from shooting and killing other Americans in such alarming numbers?  I think these questions must be seriously considered by civilized people if we are to remain a civilized people.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Branson Ramblings

The last couple of days were unusually warm with daytime temperatures in the 70’s with 60’s at night.  We are in Branson, MO, it is almost noon on Veterans’ Day, and I am still in bed because I have run out of my “night meds” and didn’t get any quality sleep until after 4:30 AM.  I’ll have to resort to Benadryl tonight, which will help me sleep but leave me with an “antihistamine hangover” in the morning.  Hopefully my "day meds" will get me through it.  Getting old is hell!

The forecasted high temperature has already been reached and is now dropping sharply.  Dark clouds are moving rapidly across the sky, and I can smell the rain that should begin falling at any minute.   The front has arrived.   There is a 100% chance of rain today with up to 3/4 of an inch forecast.  The low tonight is predicted to be 28 degrees with a 60% chance of rain or a mixture of rain and snow (no accumulation expected).  We are supposed to leave Branson tomorrow and the forecast is for sunshine and a high in the 50’s.  I can now hear the sound of rain on the motorhome’s roof and the temperature has dropped from 68 to 57 degrees in the past 20 minutes.  I’ll have to close all of the windows and turn on the heat very soon.

We were late leaving Eureka Springs yesterday because the full-wall slide on Jim and Joy’s coach refused to retract.  After slightly more than 2 hours of trying a multitude of shade-tree mechanic suggestions an RV technician was summoned.  He quickly discovered a loose wire in a fuse box and the slide was retracted.  We all felt at least a little foolish, if not inadequate.

Instead of our planned lunch at Lambert’s (country cooking and celebrated as the “Home of the Throwed Rolls”), 30 miles north of Branson, we had leftovers before leaving Eureka Springs and arrived in Branson a little before 3 PM.  We are now planning on driving up to Lambert’s this afternoon for an early supper in order to be back in Branson for the 8PM “Legends of Rock” show.  Two days in Branson and this will be the only show that Carol Ann and I attend.  The shows in which I was most interested have no performances scheduled for today.  It’s a shame because some shows are offering free tickets to veterans today and tomorrow (it's hard to believe that it has been 42 years and 2 months since I returned from Vietnam).  If we ever return to Branson we will plan ahead, stay a little longer, and order tickets in advance for the shows we wish to attend.  

The other 4 couples will be staying until Wednesday or Thursday to see other shows.  As mentioned in a prior post, we are leaving tomorrow for Searcy, AR because we have a Tuesday appointment with  “The Fog Doctor” to have our double-pane windows defogged and the gaskets replaced.  After that we will jump on I-40 and head down through Little Rock to Texarkana and US 59 south to Nacogdoches.  It's only 340 miles, two-thirds of which is on I-40 and would normally be a fairly easy one-day drive.  However, we won’t be able to leave Searcy before sometime Tuesday afternoon but should be home Wednesday afternoon.

When we get back home I have to get my "flu shot" if I want to do anymore call-in work in the hospital pharmacy.  I also have to get a "shingles shot"or my supplemental health insurance won't cover me if the virus ever results in my having a case of shingles.  Almost all of us are already hosting the herpes zoster virus, especially if we ever had chicken pox.  All it takes is for the dormant virus to become activated and a very painful course of shingles will result.  Like I said, getting old is hell (but it beats the alternative)!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Art in the Ozarks

This morning we made the 34-mile drive up the very crooked and steep US 62 to Bentonville, the home of Walmart.  The road made me wish I were driving one of the Porsches so prevalent in Eureka Springs (Porsche Club of America Escape Weekend).  We had lunch at the Atlanta Bread Company and then went to the Crystal Bridges Museum of Contemporary Art, which was founded in 2005 by Alice Walton.  The museum’s architecture is a very unique work of art itself.  It was designed by Moshe Sadfie and incorporates a bridges theme with water, glass, steel, and concrete nestled in a hardwood forest with several miles of walking trails around it.  Admission to the museum is free (sponsored by Walmart).  While walking through the museum we "ran into" Sen. John McCain who was being shown around by Alice Walton herself.  The Senator was in town to participate in a Veterans' Day event.

After leaving the museum we drove back to Eureka Springs in time to take a photo walk through the historic section before sundown.  Eureka Springs is really a neat town.  Inside the city limits are over 60 natural springs, three lakes, and over 1800 acres of city parks.  It is also home to the Eastern Collard Lizard, the only place in Arkansas.  I’m not sure what a Collared Lizard is.   At first I thought they must be lizards that are found in collard greens, but I did a little research and learned I was a little off base.  It is actually a lizard that has coloring around the neck that resembles a collar.  Also seen around Eureka Springs are white squirrels.  They are not albinos, but genetic color variants of the gray squirrel species.

Tomorrow we leave Eureka Springs and make the short hop up to Branson, MO.  The only show I really want to see is and Eagles tribute.  The Eagles are one of my favorite groups so I hope the cover band does them justice.

I’ve added a new photo page entitled Crystal Bridges and Eureka Springs.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


We went into town today for lunch at an Italian restaurant, DeVito's.  It was good, but not great.  We did have trouble finding a parking place and ended up walking further than anticipated.  The streets in the old historic section of Eureka Springs were laid out as dictated by the very hilly, almost mountainous, terrain on which the city was built.  They are not straight and the blocks are not rectangular, which makes it somewhat difficult to navigate the first time you visit Eureka Springs.  The buildings are very 1880's, mostly constructed of stone or brick with many being of the Victorian style.  The town is composed mostly of "cutesy" shops, boutiques, and eating establishments.  It's a shoppers' paradise, but I am not a shopper.  However, I am looking forward to walking around town with my camera tomorrow.

There was quite a nice sunset this evening and I am including a photo of it in this post.

A Eureka Springs Sunset

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Ozarks

The best part of the drive to Eureka Springs was after we entered the Ozark Mountains. Hardwoods seem to be the trees of choice in the Ozarks as there are very few pine trees to be seen.  Unfortunately, we just missed the brilliant red, yellow, and orange fall colors but the scenery is still quite spectacular.  Of course, viewing this mountain scenery comes with a cost – mountain roads.  The last 30 miles or so into Eureka Springs was on some very curvy and steep uphill and downhill grades.  But it was worth it.   

We arrived about 2 PM.  One of the other couples was already here but the other three were late arriving due to an unfortunate flat tire on one of the cars being towed.  Once everyone was here we went out to dinner at Myrtie Mae’s, a recommended restaurant in the Best Western Inn of the Ozarks.

Eureka Springs is currently hosting the PCA’s (Porsche Club of America) 2012 “Escape to the Ozarks” in which over 300 Porsches from around the country are participating.  A lot of the attendees seem to be staying at the Best Western, as the parking lot was running over with Porsches.  As we walked into the restaurant I really wanted to say, loud enough for those in the restaurant to hear, “Did you see that Porsche get hit in the parking lot?” just to see how many of the diners would jump up and race out of the restaurant.  I really wish I had done it.  Maybe tomorrow.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Off Again

Home barely a week and tomorrow we hit the road again!  Just a short trip this time.  We are leaving tomorrow morning (Election day but we voted early) and meeting four other couples in Eureka Springs, AR, where we will spend a few days before visiting Branson, MO.   

We will be going to some shows in Branson, however, after checking the schedule of shows it seems that many of them have a Christmas theme, being that time of year I suppose.  I really don't care to attend several shows in which a lot of the music will be repeated.  How many times do I want to pay to hear White Christmas performed? 

Some of the shows I am interested in are a Patsy Cline tribute show, a George Jones show (the actual George Jones himself), a Hank Williams tribute show, a Mickey Gilley (himself) show, a Motown show, a Neil Diamond tribute show, the Oak Ridge Boys (themselves), and an Eagles tribute show.  I'll have to narrow the list down as each show costs around $40 a ticket, so that's $80 a show.

After Branson, Carol Ann and I will be going home the long way, through Searcy, AR.  We are going to Searcy to see the "Fog Doctor" and have the windows in our motorhome defogged.  They are double pane windows and after a few years it isn't unusual for the gaskets to leak and the insides of the windows to become "fogged".  The "Fog Doctor" removes the windows, takes them apart, cleans them, rebuilds them with a new gasket, and re-installs them in the motorhome - usually in one day.  We will arrive in Searcy and park at the Fog Doctor's place (full hook ups) the evening before our appointment.

Once back home in Nacogdoches for a week, we will take off again for a rally in Johnson City, TX.  After that we plan on staying home until February when we go to a rally in Lafayette, LA for the five days of Mardi Gras.  Lafayette's Mardi Gras celebration is second only to that of New Orleans.   Should be fun.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The "Time-Compensated Sun Compass"

We left Mission this morning at 9:15 AM, drove 340 miles and decided to stop in Sugar Land (3 to 4 hours south of Nacogdoches).  We will finish our 10-week trip tomorrow.  It will be nice to get home.

We found a nice big Walmart with a Sam's Club next door, both sharing the same parking lot.  The place was busy and it was hard finding a section of parking space on the fringe of the lot into which I could maneuver the motorhome with toad. I drove around the entire parking lot twice without running over anything or looking any of the people staring at me in the eye.  I'm only taking up about 10 parking spaces but there are 2 other motorhomes with toads close by and taking up almost as much space (they aren't as long).  As a matter of boon-docking ("dry camping") etiquette we will not extend the slide outs.  It will be a little cramped but we are only here for the night.

The temperature here is Sugar Land is a very pleasant 71 degrees and a soft cool breeze is flowing in through our open windows.  Since our only power source is the generator it's good that we don't need A/C or heat (at the moment, anyway).  We are parked on the Sam's Club side of the lot, which is good, as they have free wi-fi for their customers and with my USB amplified antenna I am able to write this note and surf the web while sitting in the comfort of my motorhome.

Now we can finish the butterfly lessons by discussing the Monarch's navigation system.

How does the migrating Monarch butterfly find its way?  It’s not easy, that’s for sure.  You will need a clear head to follow my explanation.  So, pay attention!  There will be a test.

An airplane requires several different navigational instruments and aids to follow a defined flight path.  Especially for a flight of 2,000 to 3,000 miles.  The Monarchs have none of these devices, not even a map or a compass.  At least not a physical map or compass, as we would use.  They do utilize a very complex navigational system that is built into their genetic code, which uses their pin-head sized brain and their antennae to give them direction.  It’s like having a built-in GPS in your car.

Scientists call the Monarch’s genetic navigational system a “time-compensated sun compass” with time being measured by “circadian clocks” located in their antennae.  The “sun compass” uses the sun’s position during the day with timing information from the “circadian clocks” to maintain a constant heading.  A “circadian clock” is basically a 24-hour rhythm that repeats daily without the presence of any known external cues.    The rhythms can be adjusted to match the local time.  That just means that they can adjust themselves as the days lengthen or shorten during the year. 

The Monarch has 2 of these clocks.   One is incorporated into each of the Monarch’s two light-sensitive antennae.  Scientist refer to this as a “dual timing system”.  Only one antenna is required for the system to work sufficiently.  Therefore, if an antenna is damaged or lost the Monarch just keeps right on trucking without skipping a beat.  It is therefore a “redundant” system. 

The Monarch’s navigation system works by computing its position relative to the sun to keep it on course.  Timing is required for the Monarch to adjust his course for the position of the sun at any time of the day (think of it as a moving target as it moves across the sky).  The sun’s movement means that the angle of the sun relative to the Monarch is continually changing and therefore is continually being recomputed during the day.  The sunlight is processed through the Monarch’s eyes and antennae to adjust the “sun compass” so that the Monarch knows his position relative to the sun at any time during the day. 

I realize that I may have over simplified the explanation.  But at least you didn’t have to read science-speak such as; “the core mechanism relies on a negative transcriptional feedback loop, which drives self-sustaining rhythms in the mRNA and protein levels of a distinctive set of core clock components.”

By the way, I never did find out if they taste like chicken.  It takes about 400 to 500 Monarchs to make a pound and I never even found one.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

A 3,000 Mile Rountrip

This morning was very cool and overcast.  The temperature at 10:00 AM was only 55 degrees, which is not good for Monarch hunting as they will not be moving.  The sun did come out about mid afternoon and during the half time of the Georgia vs. Florida football game (which my Bulldogs won, by the way.  Go Dawgs!) I went out and continued my search for Monarchs.  I saw plenty of its cousins but no Monarchs.  It seems as though I will be leaving Mission tomorrow morning without any Monarch photographs.  I did see one that was new to me.  Its photo is included here but I have not even tried to identify it. 

With wings open

With wings closed
This year may turn out to be one of the worst, if not THE worst, Monarch butterfly migrations in history!  A 20% to 30% decline in the Monarch population is expected this year in Texas.  It seems that many of the nectar sources used by the Monarchs as fuel along the migration routes did not reach their full blooming potential this summer due to the existing drought that is plaguing  much of the US (beginning its third straight year in Texas).  Drought and heat stress have significant influence on a plants developmental processes resulting in stunted growth and delays in or absence of flowering.  High heat can even melt the butterfly larvae.

The Monarch population began its decline long before the current drought began.  It has been in decline for the past 8 years according to researchers at Texas A&M University.  The reason is thought to be the increasing destruction of their environment as millions of acres of land are cleared and converted to crop use each year.

I should also mention that not only the drought is killing the plants upon which the Monarchs feed.  Monsanto’s weed filler, Roundup, kills many of the plants relied on by the Monarchs.  The milkweed is one of these plants killed by Roundup.  The larval stage in the Monarch’s life cycle requires milkweed for the larvae to survive.  No milkweed, no Monarch butterflies.

Now, about the migration itself.  First of all, the Monarch butterfly is the only butterfly known to make a two-way migration as birds do.  So, why does a Monarch butterfly migrate up to 3,000 miles from Canada to Mexico and back again?  Is it because they don’t like cold weather?  That is partially true.  The fact is that they are not able to survive the cold winters of most of the United States.  In a previous post I mentioned that the Monarch is cold-blooded.  They are unable to fly if their body temperature drops below 55 degrees.  So why don’t they stay in Mexico?  Because the milkweed plant that the butterfly larvae feed on does not grow in Mexico.  As a result, for the species to survive, it must move back and forth between Canada and Mexico.

Let me try and explain how this migration works.  Since it is a continuous cycle I will start in Canada in the spring.  Female Monarchs arrive in Canada during March and April and lay their eggs on milkweed plants.  It takes about a month after the eggs hatch to produce an adult butterfly.  Call these new adults the “First Generation”.  These new adults will live only 2 to 6 weeks so they waste no time in mating and a “Second Generation” is born in May and June and a “Third Generation” is born in July and August. 

The “Fourth Generation” is born in September and October and is very, very special.  These little guys don’t die in 2 to 6 weeks, as did the previous generations.  Although they look the same as the other generations they are biologically and behaviorally different from those earlier generations.  They are not sexually mature for one thing, so they don’t mate right away.  These changes are triggered by the cooler temperatures and shorter days.  They will live 6 to 9 months and fly all the way to Mexico and spend the winter in the mountain reserves of Michoacán (southbound Monarchs begin crossing the Red River into Texas by the first week in October). 

The Monarchs that return to Mexico each fall are the great-great-grandchildren of the Monarchs that left Mexico the previous spring.  Not one butterfly lives long enough to complete the entire 2-way migration.  So how do any of these butterflies know where to go?  It can’t be a learned trait.  Who would teach them?  Therefore, it must be some innate sense they possess.  No one really knows.  What makes it so weird is the fact that they even go to the same trees in Mexico every year.

When spring arrives, these special Monarchs leave Mexico and fly through Texas, mating and laying their eggs in milkweed plants along the way.  These special Monarchs then die, letting their offspring continue the northward migration to the northern US and Canada.  

Next, what kind of navigation system enables the Monarch to migrate to the same trees, as did their great-great-grandparents?  That’s for tomorrow!  Meanwhile, here are a couple of new photos of one of the guys from yesterday (Soldier or Queen?).

Sipping nectar