<![CDATA[Pleasant Parks RV Estates - Blog]]>Fri, 05 Jan 2018 23:31:10 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[May 03rd, 2015]]>Sun, 03 May 2015 07:15:30 GMThttp://pleasantparks.com/blog/may-03rd-2015Creepy Desert Creatures
Yesterday, while walking a couple of dogs around the park, I came across a small (14 inches or so) rattle snake that had been run over.  It reminded me that it is time to start being more aware of my surroundings, as it is the time of year that many of the creepy things that have been hiding through the winter are waking up and coming out to play.

Not having spent much time in the desert prior to coming to West Texas, I found myself dealing with a significant amount of fear as to what might bite, sting or otherwise inflict pain and suffering upon me or my loved ones.  I was surprised to find that some of the things I feared the most (tarantulas) are completely innocuous, while some things I gave the least amount of consideration (ants) could cause excruciating pain!

Knowing that many of those coming to West Texas for work hail from very different climates, I decided now would be a good time to put together a little primer on some of the creepy things of the desert and how we can live peaceably with them…or not.

Tarantulas – Big, slow, hairy, HARMLESS creatures.  I’m sure they can move if they’re chasing a meal, but when they’re looking for a girlfriend, not so much.  Last summer we had quite a lot of them wandering around, both day and night.  (They seemed to like the grass, just FYI.)  But once you get over the ICK factor, they’re really just kind of an oddity.  I don’t want to touch them or anything, but they’re on my live-and-let-live list.

They're so big, they don't really seem like spiders to me...more like an 8-legged puppy.

Black Widows – I’ve had a couple of these in my RV in the past few years - one in my bathroom and one in my closet; then, I had one hanging off my deck a few days ago, which Kevin killed quickly, thank God.  But it wasn’t until I researched them a bit that I realized just how dangerous these little things are.  Black Widows have venom 15 times stronger than a Rattle Snake’s!  These things are NOT to be messed with, because they can really mess you up…and quickly!
That telltale red hourglass gives them away!

Speaking of Rattle Snakes

Prevention is the key when dealing with snakes.  I’ve been told they will usually give you a warning “rattle” before striking, but not always.  So, wear boots and heavy pants if you have to walk in tall grass or underbrush and do not reach into rocky crevices, under logs or rocks.  (And watch where your pets walk, too!)  Always, always, ALWAYS  carry a light when walking around after dark – they love to soak up heat from roads and driveways after dark.  They are especially active on warm nights and first thing in the morning, as they come out to warm up in the sun.  If you see what appears to be a dead snake, do not touch it.  A snake can strike one hour or more after death – even after the head has been severed.  Freaky, I know!! 
This Diamond Back Rattler looks just like the one I came across in the park.
If you find a snake in the park, please call Kevin or me immediately.  Kevin has extensive experience working with poisonous snakes and will be able to remove it safely.

Okay, back to our arachnids: 

Scorpions – I have not personally been stung, although Kevin has been several times while working around the park.  We’ve seen the most scorpion activity around, and in, the trees, so please watch children and pets closely if they are playing around the trees.  The scorpions here in West Texas have comparatively mild venom and should produce only moderate reactions in most people because the poison has little effect on the nervous system.  Anyone stung by a scorpion should be watched closely for adverse reactions, as allergic reactions are possible.
The Bark Scorpions in West Texas are far less dangerous than the ones in Arizona.

Ticks – Ticks are a fact of life in West Texas, and they can carry a whole host of unsavory diseases - for you and your pets.  Check yourself, your clothing, and your pets regularly.  If you find a tick, just pick it off with some tweezers (being sure not to leave any of it behind), drop it into a cup of soapy water (it will drown), then flush it down the toilet.  (If any fever or flu-like symptoms develop, seek medical/veterinary care immediately.)  

If you do have pets, protecting them from ticks is paramount to their health.  Flea and tick preventatives can be purchased locally or online, but I haven’t found any better prices than at www.petbucket.com.  (We use Nexgard, an oral medication that tastes like a treat and works GREAT for killing and preventing fleas and ticks.)
  • More info: http://www.ticktexas.org/diseases/index_diseases.htm

Almost done!  But we really should cover a few….bugs !

Flies – Ugh, right?  They’re gone for like a month (January), and then they’re back with a vengeance!  And, yes, they BITE, especially the little ones.  The good news, however, is that after you’ve been in West Texas for a year or so, you apparently start to smell/taste like a West Texan, and the flies, mosquitoes, etc. aren’t really that into you anymore.  So there is an upside to staying here !  (In the meantime, I recommend something with DEET.  A lot of it.)

Ants – I am from western Washington State where an ant is just an ant.  They don't even warrant a moment’s consideration.  Well, not in West Texas!  You had better be paying very close attention to those ants at all times.  The tiny ones bite just to bite, but the pain disappears in just a second (which is fine as long as you’re not covered in them), and like the flies, they lose interest in a year or so.  The others, however, are the…

FIRE ANTS, and I am convinced they have that name partly because they have crawled up out of the Fiery Pits of Hell.  
PictureSatan's little warriors.
These ants bite you just to hold on while they inject an alkaloid acid with their stinger.  I got one caught under the thong of my flip-flop shortly after arriving here, and he stung me between my first and second toes.  I had no idea something so small could cause so much pain!  I spent the next 4 hours writhing, nearly crying, in pain, and holding ice to my foot while my dear husband laughed at me for being such a baby about an “ant bite.”  (I seriously almost went to the emergency room over that “ant bite!”)  Avoid these at all cost!

Tarantula Hawk – Don’t be alarmed when you see one of these giant wasps buzzing by.  They really have no interest in humans at all.  They are hunting tarantulas.  No, they don’t kill them…at least, not right away.  No, they paralyze them, lay an egg on them, and bury them, so that when their egg hatches, the larva can feast on the paralyzed tarantula.  (Hard to imagine feeling sorry for a tarantula, but I actually do!)  I’ve only seen the orange ones here in Texas, but I’ve seen the blue ones in Arizona, and they are stunning!

If you see these guys buzzing around a mesquite, turn and go in the other direction.

And, finally, WHAT THE HECK IS THAT ?!?
It goes by several names: Wind Scorpion (although, it’s not a scorpion), Camel Spider (although, it’s not a spider), and in West Texas – Creature of the Night (or, alternately, Children of the Night).  It is, in fact, a hideously ugly, yet completely harmless, arachnid (neither spider nor scorpion).  It is also the FASTEST, hideously ugly creature I have ever not wanted to lose in my bedroom.

So, that’s about it - the highlights of the Creepy Desert Creatures.  There are, of course, a myriad of other strange bugs, lizards, snakes, etc. that will be unfamiliar to many of you if you happen upon them.  My recommendation is not to touch anything unless you know for certain what it is.  

And, again, ALWAYS have a light if you’re out after dark.  Actually, the Creepy Desert Creatures do quite a fine job of enforcing our “Quiet Time” rule here in the park, since no one really wants to be outside in the dark with these things...even WITH a light! 
<![CDATA[How'd you end up in TEXAS?]]>Mon, 24 Feb 2014 22:15:32 GMThttp://pleasantparks.com/blog/howd-you-end-up-in-texas“How’d you end up in TEXAS?”

This is a question I still get occasionally. 

"Was it your life-long dream to build and run an RV park?"

Never.  And, yet, here I am.

I remember the things my husband told me when he came home to Washington (the state) after working on an oil rig in west Texas for more than a month.  It was January, and at times the wind chill would bring temperatures to well below zero.  Their coffee would freeze in their cups in a matter of minutes; ice would form on the rig – frozen into unique shapes by the relentless, freezing wind. 

And the next day, the temperature would be in the seventies.  Welcome to west Texas.

He warned me that it was not beautiful.  (Actually, I think he said something closer to “the armpit of America...”)  And he continued to warn me throughout our decision for me to quit my job and join him in Texas; throughout packing up our home and saying goodbye to friends and family; throughout the long, long drive with eight dogs.  And his warnings became more frequent, and more strident, the closer we came to our destination.  Okay, so I was warned.

I actually came to Texas with an open mind and excitement for new experiences.  Texans are uniquely patriotic and proud of their state; most would never dream of living anywhere else.  We've all heard the slogans: “Don’t Mess with Texas” and “Everything’s BIGGER in Texas” – it’s true!  I’d heard all about that “southern hospitality” and how friendly Texans were.  But what I quickly realized was that Texans are just people – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

It was no fun having my bubble burst.  I thought I was walking into some idealized southern experience, but what I learned was:

-        When a small community is overrun by a large influx of transient workers, the locals sometimes get less friendly.

-        Those people who LOVE Texas were not talking about this part of it.  (They meant the part with trees.)

-        Everything really IS bigger in Texas.  (Have you seen 3-liter bottles of Diet Coke? Woo-hoo!)

-        Too much sweet tea and fried okra will make ME one of the “bigger” things in Texas.

Learning to live in the desert was a new experience as well.  In spite of the tarantulas, scorpions, and rattle snakes (oh my!), there is amazing life here.  Tortoises and horny toads, coyotes and bobcats, and migrating birds of every imaginable color.  Although every tree, bush, and weed seems to be covered with thorns – some up to five inches long – the yuccas throw up extravagant shows of creamy flowers, the cacti bloom in red, yellow and fuchsia, and on a year with adequate rainfall, wildflowers, some that have lain dormant for years, burst forth in every color of the rainbow!  It’s true, the dust can just about drive a woman to drink, and dust storms quickly went from an interesting novelty to a complete annoyance, but it also makes for some incredible sunrises and sunsets.  And did I mention the amount of SUNSHINE Texas gets?  Hallelujah!!

However, when circumstances found us, and our eight dogs, searching for a place to park our RV, we discovered that west Texas has one major problem: housing for all those transient workers.  After looking at what RV “parks” (term used loosely) were available, we decided to just purchase some land and build our own RV Park.  We wanted to include some of the things we missed about our “home,” and that make those other parts of Texas so popular, like grass and trees.  We wanted everyone to have some personal space and not feel like their neighbors were living right on top of them.  And, we wanted to make a place for people who, due to whatever circumstances brought them here, needed a safe and comfortable place to live with their family, their children, and their pets.  I think we are succeeding!

In spite of all my husband’s warnings, I still wasn't fully prepared for what I would experience after moving to west Texas. I have learned a lot and adjusted reasonably well.  (Even the dogs have figured out how to avoid getting stickers in their paws!)  As a result, I hope to share my experience, and whatever wisdom I may have gleaned, with others who are coming to west Texas for work.  And I've found that I actually enjoy running an RV Park.  This little community in Texas is not made up of just Texans anymore.