Travel

Fall is a great time to do road travelling with your family and visit some of the festivals taking place in small townships. During this period, schools in these areas are busy with crafts and festivals, decorating, cutting, gluing and pasting posters getting ready to perform musical shows captured during different generations, bringing back memories of famous tunes.

These festivals are full of merchants, selling craftworks and goodies such as caramel apples, cradle popcorn, bake goods and warm clothing for the season. Knitted and crocheted wares made from a combination of different colors with similar textures or bright colors are appropriate for the season.

I and my family have gotten use to visiting some of the local townships located in the South and Southwest of Minnesota – Twin cities heading towards Iowa and South Dakota. During vacations like these, its usually nice to book in advance nearby hotels, mini hotels, eco-lodges or motels depending on your budget and distance from the sites of interest. If you folks plan to enjoy the night life entertainment, you may be looking at locations further form points of interests. It all depends on how you want to joggle your vacation.

Holiday Inn Express, SD

Holiday Inn Express, SD

If you are a family with younger children, you may want to settle in a nearby location close to your point of interest. Before booking your trip, check out the amenities. Swimming pool is always a plus and your family will enjoy the night hours when you folks are off from visiting these locations of interests and season festivities.

Check out state guides for season festivities and also the national park and recreation guides. Pine city, SD, and other nearby state parks may have special activities going on during your vacation.

VALERO – Corporation and Subsidiaries

Valero Corporate HeadquartersOverview

Today, the 200-acre Valero campus includes a main building; two connected newer office buildings; a four-story, separate building; and two large parking facilities. The headquarters also features a beautiful cafeteria, state-of-the-art training facilities, a fitness center, a daycare facility and jogging trails. Valero employees also went to great lengths to protect the environment, saving and relocating hundreds of trees as well as installing a water recycling system to help reduce costs and conserve water.

The headquarter is located in SAn Antonio – Texas and have offices in other locations listed here.

Valero’s natural-gas transportation business diversified in the mid-1980s when the company purchased a 50 percent interest in a Corpus Christi, Texas, refinery owned by Saber Energy. The operation began as nothing more than a vacuum unit and crude unit on a humble plot of land near the Corpus Christi Ship Channel. But in the years that followed, Valero assembled its “Refinery of the Future,” and through its subsidiaries added more refineries starting in 1997, with 15 plants today. Through these acquisitions, the company also branched into retail and wholesale markets, and today supplies independently owned wholesale outlets carrying the Valero, Diamond Shamrock, Shamrock and Beacon brands in the United States and the Caribbean; Ultramar in Canada; and Texaco in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Today, Valero proudly has a workforce of about 10,000 employees and a refining throughput capacity of approximately 2.9 million barrels per day, making it the world’s largest independent refiner — tops among refiners that don’t also drill for oil. The company ranks No. 13 on the current Fortune 500 list, and is still based in its hometown of San Antonio. Valero is also a leading ethanol producer with 11 ethanol plants in the Midwest and a combined production capacity of 1.3 billion gallons per year. Valero also operates a 33-turbine wind farm near its McKee Refinery in Sunray, Texas.

Oil Refineries

Oil Refineries

Valero maintains a strong commitment to safety and stands as one of the most recognized refiners within the federal OSHA Voluntary Protection Program (VPP). The company demonstrates its commitment to excellence in occupational safety and process safety through an intensive, detailed Commitment to Excellence Management System. And it continues to be recognized among the world’s top refining and marketing companies, and among the nation’s best employers.

In the community, Valero is proud of its legacy of support and positive outreach through an international network of Volunteer Councils. Valero Volunteers proudly dedicate more than 136,000 volunteer hours to community outreach annually. Special missions on behalf of the United Way, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Wounded Warriors and countless children’s charities are a source of pride and motivation for every Valero employee. Valero, its employees and its philanthropic organization – the Valero Energy Foundation – annually generate more than $38 million to support worthy charities or causes, through direct donations or fundraising, to improve the lives of those living in communities near Valero operations.

New construction endeavors plant timeline in Iowa:More info
  • January 2003 – Community leaders began working on plans for the plant
  • May 2004 – Announced purchase of land in Webster County near Fort Dodge
  • July 2004 – Construction began
  • September 2004 – Groundbreaking celebrated
  • September 2005 – Operations began
  • December 2005 – Grand opening celebrated
  • April 2009 – Valero Renewables closed on purchase of the plant from VeraSun Energy

Northern Flicker

Northern flickers are commonly found in the Southern part of the U.S. but lately, due to warm temperatures experienced around Canada, they are getting to be very popular all over the U.S. and especially in the Midwest. Because of the warmer temperatures, these species of birds are present throughout the seasons. They travel distances to the South when it starts getting cold to avoid the winter snowy weather.

Northern flickers turn to have their off springs twice a year and the number of off springs ranges from 4 to 6 at a time. They feed on wood chips, barks of wood, nuts and dried bread crumbs.

northern_flicker

Their nests are made of dried sticks, petals and sods with feathers and cotton to add a layer of cushion to protect their off springs as well as keeping them comfortable and save when its cold or rainy. They are early risers and I can hear them chipping, chipping, chipping on wood barks making  wreaky, wreaky, wreaky sounds attracting other birds to their location such as bluebirds, cardinals and yellow birds from the back of my bathroom window. They are drawn and attracted to areas where River birch trees are common and you can see them from a distance flying and landing, creating beautiful colorful sceneries.

 

Monarch butterfly

The Life Cycle(s) of a Monarch Butterfly

Monarch butterflies go through four stages during one life cycle, and through four generations in one year.  It’s a little confusing but keep reading and you will understand.  The four stages of the monarch butterfly life cycle are the egg, the larvae (caterpillar), the pupa (chrysalis), and the adult butterfly.  The four generations are actually four different butterflies going through these four stages during one year until it is time to start over again with stage one and generation one.

In February and March, the final generation of hibernating monarch butterflies comes out of hibernation to find a mate.  They then migrate north and east in order to find a place to lay their eggs.  This starts stage one and generation one of the new year for the monarch butterfly

Butterflies.
In March and April the eggs are laid on milkweed plants. They hatch into baby caterpillars, also called the larvae.  It takes about four days for the eggs to hatch.  Then the baby caterpillar doesn’t do much more than eat the milkweed in order to grow.  After about two weeks, the caterpillar will be fully-grown and find a place to attach itself so that it can start the process of metamorphosis.

It will attach itself to a stem or a leaf using silk and transform into a chrysalis. Although, from the outside, the 10 days of the chrysalis phase seems to be a time when nothing is happening, it is really a time of rapid change. Within the chrysalis the old body parts of the caterpillar are undergoing a remarkable transformation, called metamorphosis, to become the beautiful parts that make up the butterfly that will emerge.
Caterpillarturning intoChrysalis
Monarch: Larvae (caterpillar) turning into Pupa (Chrysalis) Cocoons

Monarch Pupa
Monarch: Pupa (Chrysalis) turning into Adult Butterfly
The monarch butterfly will emerge from the pupa and fly away, feeding on flowers and just enjoying the short life it has left, which is only about two to six weeks. This first generation monarch butterfly will then die after laying eggs for generation number two.

The second generation of monarch butterflies are born in May and June, and then the third generation will be born in July and August.  These monarch butterflies will go through exactly the same four stage life cycle as the first generation did, dying two to six weeks after it becomes a beautiful monarch butterfly.
The fourth generation of monarch butterflies are a little bit different than the first three generations.  The fourth generation are born in September and October and goes through exactly the same process as the first, second and third generations except for one part. The fourth generation of monarch butterflies does not die after two to six weeks.  Instead, this generation of monarch butterflies migrates to warmer climates like Mexico and California and will live for six to eight months until it is time to start the whole process over again.