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 Post subject: The Last of the United States
PostPosted: July 21st, 2012, 8:21 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 1:32 pm
Posts: 579
Location: Houston, TX
Hello all,

As some of you know, I moved back to the Netherlands at the end of June. My family and I moved to Houston seven years ago for my dad’s job, but the posting ended. Moreover, I graduated from high school, and I’m now going to pursue a career in biology. This is probably going to be the last cool post you’ll see from me; the total number of herps in the Netherlands just about add up to equal the number found in my Houston neighborhood.

Most of the following herps were found in east Texas, although I went on a west Texas trip as well. I got a new camera along the way; as a result, there’ll be some common species and lots of habitat shots included.

First off, here’s a quick picture of a cottonmouth I took while walking to a flipping spot. This was a bad idea; I was wearing shorts and the grass was very high and mosquito densities were as high as I’d ever experienced. My legs were bright red for the rest of the day.

Agkistrodon piscivorus leucostoma

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Part of the reason my legs got so irritated was walking through high grass to flip a board, yielding this thing.

Lampropeltis calligaster calligaster

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My girlfriend and I went up north to look for milk snakes with a friend. None were found, although I finally got some better shots of this southern specialty.

Coluber constrictor anthicus

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John and I got out a few times.

Alligator mississippiensis

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The rain did the coastal prairie good. Every weekend different flowers would be blooming, causing an ever changing view of the area.

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This area yielded a number of Western Slender Glass Lizards, which I had never found alive prior to this year.

Ophisaurus attenuatus attenuatus

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Kingsnakes of both species have been very common this year.

Lampropeltis calligaster calligaster

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This is probably the ugliest kingsnake alive today.

Lampropeltis getula holbrooki

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Another, darker Prairie Kingsnake from the same field.

Lampropeltis calligaster calligaster

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John schooled me when he called this ringneck AOR in the middle of the day. After lots of effort, this is the first one I’ve seen in this area.

Diadophis punctatus stictogenys

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John and I went to College Station and had an excellent day, for me anyway. Highlights included my lifer Louisiana Milk Snake and a canine helicopter.

The first snakes was a pair of Texas Rat Snakes under a board, but both were in shed. In these situations where photography is not a viable option, you have to find other forms of amusement.

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Masticophis flagellum flagellum

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Lampropeltis triangulum amaura

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I went out with my sister one day to photograph some old buildings, and we worked some herping into it as well. An old board on the edge of a shitty pond yielded one of these, which was one of the first of the year.

Regina grahamii

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A piece of tin around the old buildings yielded this big Western Coachwhip. I was very excited to find it as I hadn’t found many live representatives of this subspecies.

Masticophis flagellum tastaceus

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Later that afternoon, my sister and I found a pretty little kingsnake crossing the road. A car pulled up behind us, containing a family with two kids. We showed them the snake and they loved handling it.

Lampropeltis calligaster calligaster

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During a later trip, the same shitty pond as before yielded this juvenile Small-mouthed Salamander. I can’t say I’m quite pleased with the picture.

Ambystoma texanum

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I was excited to find this Texas Corn Snake in an area where they haven’t been vouchered much from, if at all.

Pantherophis guttatus slowinskii

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Later that day, Grace and I flipped two Prairie Kings in a field.

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The next few weeks were fairly uneventful. We found an eastern edge Checkered Garter Snake in a stock pond.

Thamnophis marcianus marcianus

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On the way back from the coast in April, I flipped a board next to the road with two Texas Rat Snakes and two Speckled Kingsnakes underneath. Judging from my own experience, this isn’t common in Texas; I thought it was pretty cool.

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Earlier that day, we had flipped two Speckled Kings under a board, of which only this screamer was photographed.

Lampropeltis getula holbrooki

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My birthday came around and lots of saving finally paid off in a new camera. All of the next stuff is shot with it, hence some boring subjects.

Ardea alba

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I love this shot of the slider.

Trachemys scripta elegans

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Alligator mississippiensis

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Sylvilagus floridanus

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Anolis sagrei

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A lot of the Texas Rat Snakes in southeast Texas, particularly those coming from prairie or what once was prairie, are quite attractive in coloration.

Pantherophis obsoletus lindheimeri

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Hyla cinerea

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Thamnophis proximus

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I found three Mud Snakes in a period of two weeks this spring, all of them DOR. However, this quadrupled the total number of Mud Snakes I had ever seen.

Farancia abacura reinwardtii

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Subsequently, I set out some traps in hopes of catching some Siren or maybe even a Mud Snake. No such luck, but these two adjacent traps are a reminder to never just grab the trap if there’s something in it.

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Agkistrodon piscivorus leucostoma

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A trip north to the pineywoods was characteristically unproductive.

Terrapene carolina triunguis

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Agkistrodon contortrix contortrix

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The traps were out for a week or two, and they caught many of these.

Nerodia fasciata confluens

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In early June, my girlfriend and I camped in the Big Bend for eight days. Although the focus wasn’t predominantly on herps, we looked for them everyday and cruised about two hours every night. The next part of the post will be heavy on habitat shots, simply because the area is by far my favorite in the state and has some of the most impressive scenery I’ve ever seen.

The first night we watched the sunset before heading out to cruise.

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Glandularia bipinnatifida

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A very skinny, growth-stunted black bear was foraging in the area.

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Due to a full moon, the first few nights were fairly unsuccessful. The trip had an interesting absence of rattlesnakes; only two were observed in the whole week.

Bufo puncatus

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We also saw very few amphibians. Even though there was rain in the area almost every day, we didn’t take the time to chase a lot of storms. Fortunately, I took the chance on the first night to photograph the only Couch’s Spadefoot of the trip.

Scaphiopus couchii

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The next day we did some hiking. I didn’t get any photos of the ubiquitous Chihuahuan Spotted Whiptails, unfortunately.

Cophosaurus texanus scitulus

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Our final destination of the day was this beautiful waterfall.

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A pair of Western Black-necked Garter Snakes was seen basking on the side of the pool.

Thamnophis cyrtopsis cyrtopsis

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That night we also cruised the first live snakes of the trip, right after the full moon rose above the mountains.

Hypsiglena torquata jani

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Trans-Pecos Rat Snakes became one of my new favorite snakes.

Bogertophis subocularis subocularis

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Some interesting arachnids were also encountered.

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I’ll throw up some more photos I like of the area.

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I got three of these long awaited lifers in one night. That was the only night they were observed.

Coleonyx brevis

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We found quite a few variable ground snakes, which in fact were very variable. We found some grey and tan phases, and two of the following. The only good picture I got of one was of the larger one of the two nice ones, so I really can’t complain.

Sonora semiannulata

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More scenic stuff...

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I had really hoped to find Coleonyx reticulatus in this area, as they were my top target. I think I got the habitat right for them, but we just didn’t get to spend enough time here.

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A herp here and there...

Sceloporus merriami annulatus

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And another lifer.

Rhinocheilus lecontei tessallatus

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As aforementioned, there was a strange lack of rattlesnakes. We found one roadkill Crotalus atrox on the drive down, and then only one rattlesnake after that. Thankfully, it was the one I most wanted to see.

Crotalus lepidus lepidus

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And... even more scenic stuff.

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Bouvardia ternifolia

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We watched the most breathtaking sunset I’ve ever witnessed in my life. This was probably the highlight of the trip.

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Followed by the most fantastic place I’ve ever seen a sunrise at. This stuff makes me absolutely not understand the alterna/lepidus style hunting that typifies west Texas.

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We got another Trans-Pecos Rat Snake. Unfortunately, none of my shots of this species came out very well.

Bogertophis subocularis subocularis

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And this roadkill Baird’s Rat Snake was another nice addition to the life list, despite its condition.

Pantherophis bairdi

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On our last day in the Bend, we returned to the waterfall to find many of the garter snakes foraging through the pools.

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Thamnophis cyrtopsis cyrtopsis

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That night, we went out cruising with high hopes for something really cool on the last night. As luck would have it, this beautiful Desert Kingsnake crossed the road when the air temperature was measured at 94ºF.

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Only twenty minutes or so later, a much larger adult crossed the road when the temperature was measured at 97ºF. Both snakes were quite warm to the touch. These snakes are absolutely gorgeous. Jet black heads and slaty-grey venters are hard to top.

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A week or two later and back in the southeast part of the state, my girlfriend and I headed out one more time to find only one live snake.

Lampropeltis getula holbrooki

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Now, on my second to last night in the United States, my friend Brandon and I decided to cruise an area good for Texas Coral Snakes. I still, after years of field herping, had not been able to secure one for photos. Up until that moment, I’d only seen a live one get off the road and a roadkill elsewhere. Without getting all cheesy, this was a great way to end a great era of herping.

Micrurus tener

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Thanks for looking!

Matthijs Hollanders


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 Post subject: Re: The Last of the United States
PostPosted: July 21st, 2012, 8:44 am 

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:42 am
Posts: 1724
Your images are truly lovely. Very enjoyable post.


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 Post subject: Re: The Last of the United States
PostPosted: July 21st, 2012, 9:53 am 

Joined: June 9th, 2010, 3:08 pm
Posts: 19
Great post. I am sure you will be back. Loved the Big Bend pics as I will be visiting shortly after a 30 year hiatus. Remember even though there aren't as many species over there, we still love to see them.


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 Post subject: Re: The Last of the United States
PostPosted: July 21st, 2012, 10:44 am 
Yep, that about covers everything I ever wanted to see. Great sequence of photos. What's with those stinkin' muds always being DOR? Nice shot of the sunset/lighting. The first suboc pic is sweet.

Good luck with your pursuits!

-r


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 Post subject: Re: The Last of the United States
PostPosted: July 21st, 2012, 11:00 am 
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Joined: January 1st, 2012, 7:14 am
Posts: 334
Location: Pike County KY
A terrific photo with tons of great finds and photos! You will have to be sure to come back and visit. The Solifugid creeps me out man! I don't know quite how I would handle seeing the real thing.


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 Post subject: Re: The Last of the United States
PostPosted: July 21st, 2012, 2:31 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 8:36 am
Posts: 374
Location: Sunny Myrtle Beach
I'm not sure your klauberi is a klauberi, but they're so variable that I'll defer to your ID. The BB subocs are very nice, and the lack of Crotes is astonishing. And Grace is very beautiful! Thanx for sharing the adventure.


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 Post subject: Re: The Last of the United States
PostPosted: July 21st, 2012, 3:51 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 4:26 pm
Posts: 522
Location: Gainesville, FL
Superb photography Matthijs! I haven't seen a lot of these on Flickr, or at least missed them. Good luck in the Netherlands, if you ever escape, come on down to FL sometime.

-Jake Scott


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 Post subject: Re: The Last of the United States
PostPosted: July 21st, 2012, 5:36 pm 
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Joined: June 10th, 2010, 7:37 pm
Posts: 1220
Location: San Francisco, CA
Amazing photoset and commentary. The habitat shots realy brought me right there.

Good luck!

Zach


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 Post subject: Re: The Last of the United States
PostPosted: July 21st, 2012, 8:40 pm 
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Joined: May 5th, 2011, 2:15 pm
Posts: 292
Location: Virginia
Thats gotta be one of the best posts I've seen all year - makes me very optimistic about my trip coming up next week! Kudos on the sunset pictures as well, Big Bend has some incredible night skies too!


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 Post subject: Re: The Last of the United States
PostPosted: July 22nd, 2012, 6:56 am 
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Joined: March 18th, 2012, 6:34 pm
Posts: 746
Location: Huffman (NE Houston), Texas
Very nice summary of the year, Matthijs!

Excellent photography as always.


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 Post subject: Re: The Last of the United States
PostPosted: July 22nd, 2012, 12:59 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 5:46 am
Posts: 321
Wow, a stunning array of amazing images!
Good luck in your studies and please keep in touch
I really liked the Kings, the Coral and the Copperhead


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 Post subject: Re: The Last of the United States
PostPosted: July 23rd, 2012, 4:26 pm 
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Joined: June 20th, 2010, 7:17 am
Posts: 523
Location: Kentucky
Thats some fine camera work Matt! I really enjoyed the fine selection of L.calligaster. They have long been one of my favorite species and I appreciate the broad coverage.

Phil


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 Post subject: Re: The Last of the United States
PostPosted: July 23rd, 2012, 9:27 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:14 pm
Posts: 2527
Location: San Antonio, TX
Matthijs,

Sorry to see you leave the Lone Star State. I've always enjoyed your posts and photos.
Don't be too bummed about going back to the Netherlands. We can always use a few more northern European herp posts here, particularly with such good photography.

Chris


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 Post subject: Re: The Last of the United States
PostPosted: July 24th, 2012, 4:53 pm 

Joined: June 11th, 2010, 8:09 pm
Posts: 502
Location: Edmonton, Alberta
Superb post Matt! Are there any herp societies in the Netherlands? You'll be a superstar with all your field experience and will have lots to share. I'm sure with a persuit of biology you'll end up in another herp rich area in no time :)

Ian


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 Post subject: Re: The Last of the United States
PostPosted: July 24th, 2012, 7:11 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 4:26 am
Posts: 3150
Location: Illinois
You've got a real eye for a great shot. For such a young fellow, you've likely got a lot of beautiful frames ahead of you. Good luck where ever your travels take you, and for our sakes bring a camera.


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 Post subject: Re: The Last of the United States
PostPosted: July 26th, 2012, 1:48 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 1:32 pm
Posts: 579
Location: Houston, TX
Thanks everyone!

Don, what klauberi? I don't think there's a single klauberi of any sort in there. We were both astonished by how awesome the subocs were. And I'm not sure what the issue was with us missing all the rattlesnakes.

Jake, I'll hold you to that.

Phil, I've actually always been a big fan of the very dark, nearly patternless calligaster you post.

Chris, thank for the compliments. Hopefully we can herp sometime when I come back to the US.

Ian, there's an organization called RAVON (Reptiles Amphibians Fish Research Netherlands) that I'll be surveying for. Nothing more than just filling in some locality gaps. The thing is, I'd have an easy enough time knocking out all the species, but transportation is the limiting factor. I got a bike and public transport.

I'll still post stuff, it just won't be as good. Here's a teaser from last week.

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 Post subject: Re: The Last of the United States
PostPosted: July 26th, 2012, 9:26 am 
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Joined: September 21st, 2010, 9:03 am
Posts: 479
Location: SE Virginia/SW Illinois
Fantastic post, Fantastic Photography, Fantastic Herps, Fantastic Post!

That photo with the lightning bolt is amazing.


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 Post subject: Re: The Last of the United States
PostPosted: July 26th, 2012, 9:51 am 
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Joined: June 14th, 2010, 11:04 am
Posts: 416
Location: 'God's Country'
Hollanders,

Awesome pics and post! THe coastal prairie grassland shot is one of my favorites. And of course the anthicus. Stunner! Looks like you've done some serious globe trekking, and I think I appreciate that as much as any other aspect of this post, as well as your others over the years. This easily the best post of 2012.

RocK ON!

Dave


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 Post subject: Re: The Last of the United States
PostPosted: July 28th, 2012, 7:06 am 

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 12:37 pm
Posts: 1207
Location: Ft. Smith, Arkansas
Good stuff, Bud. Glad your time out this way has been good to you. It's been good talking to you here and there, and it's a bummer we didn't end up getting to meet up and herp a bit.

It's crazy how much different your Big Bend trip was compared to my Big Bend trip a couple weeks later. Everything you found in numbers, we found little of, but what you missed, we found in numbers.


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