An Unlikely Infatuation

turkey vultureI’ve developed a fascination or rather an unlikely infatuation with vultures. Ever since my close encounter with the vultures at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge I find myself drawn to these unique birds.

On my daily walks to try and photograph the endangered whooping cranes, there they are; either circling the skies in search of prey or hanging around drying their wings.  These are Turkey Vultures, easily distinguished by their small red head.birds of preybirds of preyOne’s initial thoughts might be, “Gosh, they’re ugly”.  A few weeks ago I would’ve agreed, but after some lengthy, close observation I find them to be quite beautiful.  I say that even after one hissed at me.  Because the Turkey Vulture lacks a syrinx, they are nearly silent.  Their vocalizations are limited to grunts and hisses, no harmonic singing from these guys.

This particular day I observed a group of vultures cleaning up the remains of a duck and perhaps I was getting a little too close to their prey, thus the little hisses.birds of preyOne of the vultures attempted to drag the remains of the duck out of my reach to no avail.  Vultures have weak feet and legs and therefore they do not carry prey back to their chicks.  Instead they will gorge on a carcass and regurgitate food to feed their young….oh, yum!birds of prey

As I watch the vultures feed on the deceased duck, I’m not grossed out.  I’m intrigued by the exquisite system of the universe….the circle of life so to speak.  This particular vulture does NOT kill.  They are rather picky eaters and avoid putrefying dead animals, preferring their food to be recently dead.  They then swoop in and clean up.  They do the dirty work so to speak.birds of prey

Most vultures are bald or almost bald so they can keep their heads clean when tearing apart a carcass.  Their stomach acid is significantly stronger and more corrosive than other animals or birds allowing these scavengers to feed on prey that may be riddled with bacteria.vultures

The Turkey Vulture has excellent eye sight and a sense of smell to help locate food.  They can find a dead animal from a mile away.turkey vulture

My close encounter with vultures at the Aransas Wildlife Refuge consisted of both the Turkey Vulture and the Black Vulture.  The Turkey Vultures were much quicker to fly off as I approached the viewing platform.  It was the Black Vultures that allowed me to get very close.

Birds of preyThe Black Vulture sports a gray, wrinkly skinned head and DOES kill prey. They will attack weak live animals and will also eat eggs.  They are dominate over the Turkey Vulture and will quite often steal prey from them.

Hmm, perhaps that’s why the Black Vultures allowed me to get so close…..they were sizing me up to sense any weakness.  Yep, those talons were itching to rip something apart.  I’m just glad it wasn’t me.

birds of prey

I have a feeling the Black Vultures don’t get along with other animals as well as the Turkey Vultures do because the only place I’ve seen them is at the refuge. The Turkey Vultures appear to live in harmony with other birds and animals.   I see them daily hanging with the cranes or around the cattle.birds of prey

As I watch them circle and soar in the sky, they appear majestic and not at all ugly.  They have a unique beauty and offer a special service by doing the dirty work of cleaning up.  What an exquisite system.  All of God’s creatures have a purpose and a beauty  🙂

The Crossley ID Guide: Raptors (Crossley Id Guides)
American Museum of Natural History Birds of North America Western Region

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Living in a Fog

Ever have one of those days where you can’t think clearly, your mind can’t focus, you’re living in a fog?  I had one of those days this past Friday.  Thursday night the nasty weather started rolling in with high winds and rain.  The temperature quickly dropped from a calm 70 degrees to a blustering 35 degrees. foggy morning Our 5th wheel is nestled amongst a mature grove of oak trees which under a warm sunny day offers some much appreciated shade.  Add wind and swaying branches and the oak trees cease to be desirable.dreamy landscape

Al awoke at 5:15 a.m. Friday morning.  Having a fear of overnight freezing temperatures, he gently and quietly gets out of bed to check our atomic clock – thermometer for the outside temperature (La Crosse Technology WS-8117U-IT-AL Atomic Wall Clock with Indoor/Outdoor Temperature)   Let’s face it, freezing temps and RV’s do not mesh well together.living a dream

Not wanting to wake me by turning on any lights, he grabs a flash light and swings it up toward the wall clock…… and that’s when the coffee maker went flying and the whispered expletives started.  I bolt out of a toasty warm bed and fly down the steps to see what happened.

Yep, coffee grounds and water all over the carpet and down the side of the chair.  I immediately stop Al from attempting to clean up the mess with the thought of letting things air dry, then vacuum, then access.  Most importantly, I clean up the coffee maker and set it up once again.  Gotta have my morning joe.foggy morningHubby finally manages to check the outside air temperature; 32 degrees, we’re fine.  Not cold enough to cause the water hose to freeze.  With that realization and coffeemaker ready, we jump back into bed with the intent of catching a few more winks of shut-eye.  Yeah, who are we kidding.  Thank goodness hubby and I are both morning people.

We have a good chuckle and I come up with a plan.  I say,  “Let’s get dressed.  I have an idea, but it’s a surprise”.  We hop in the truck with me driving of course.  Come on, after living in the area for 30 days I know my way around Rockport – Fulton, Texas, like a local.  With a little detour here and there for photo-ops (the real reason Al doesn’t want to drive) we head off to the local donut store.  Rockport Donuts has some of the best donuts ever….fluffy, soft, and fresh.  We make our selections and hop back in the truck.

Next we need to find a latte for Al.  I already have my portable coffee mug filled with steaming hot black java.  Al is not a coffee drinker but does enjoy the occasional ‘designer’ coffee especially on a cold, blustery day.  We stop at McDonald’s for a mocha latte and drive across the street to a little scenic pull-out.  I position the truck toward the water for an optimum view.living the dreamThe sun is barely up.  The bevy of birds are busy fishing for food.  The fog is lifting.  The truck is warm and the seat heaters have our bums toasty as well.  Donuts and coffee with a view.  Yep, pretty awesome way to start the day.brain fogWe return to the RV and tackle the spilled coffee grounds.  With the use of a little carpet cleaner in a small spot, one would never know the mess that occurred in the wee morning hours.  The fog outside may have lifted……..

brain fog
the beginning of a new day….sunrise

But the fog in my head is another story.  As the day progressed: I made garlic bread and forgot the garlic…. nice buttered bread.  We ran out of propane…duh, it’s cold outside.  Ran to the grocery store and forgot the very thing I went there for.  The day was filled with additional faux pas but with a foggy brain, who can remember?  This too shall pass….
Columbia Women’s Kruser Ridge Softshell Jacket, Quill, Small

Pretty in Pink

pink birdsUpon check in at our RV Park here in Rockport, Texas, I asked the gal checking us in about things to see and do in the area.  She very quickly responded, “Driving up and down Fulton Beach Road is a favorite pastime with many”.  I found this response to be a little strange and somewhat unexpected.  That sounds more like something bored teenagers would do; cruising the streets in their souped up cars.

However, curiosity got the better of me.  The first thing the next morning I hop in the truck and go cruising up and down Fulton Beach Road.  The little fishing town of Fulton, Texas, is a harbor town with a population hovering around 1,600.  There’s no long beach to walk but there is plenty to see.  First time through I’ll admit I didn’t ‘get it’.pretty in pink

I had to really slow down and look.  I even parked the truck and walked here and there.  That’s when I noticed the hidden ponds with unique birds, the wind-swept oak trees, the beautiful houses, and the fact everyone waves at one another.  This is a place to take things slow, enjoy the surroundings, and just be.

During one sunny, beautiful morning while driving slowly down Fulton Beach Road on my way to the fish market, I spotted something pink in one of the ponds.  I quickly pulled over, grabbed the camera, and jumped out of the truck.  I knew this wasn’t a pink flamingo.  This unusual bird was feeding in the shallow water swishing it’s spoon-shaped bill back and forth.  I saw some of these guys at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge but they were so far away all I was really able to grasp was their brilliant pink color.

pretty in pinkIt’s pink feathers are absolutely gorgeous, but the face….I’ll call it unique.

I was busy snapping away when a lady on her morning walk stopped and said, “Oh, you found a roseate spoonbill.  This one is a little early.  They usually don’t show up until about 10:00”.  I make a mental note of that tidbit.

I try and get a little closer.  I spend a good fifteen minutes watching this interesting bird before I drag myself away.  Oh, did I forget to mention, I had ventured onto private property in an attempt to get closer and thus did not wish to over stay my welcome.  Had it not been for the ‘no trespassing’ sign clearly I would have stayed for the next hour in hopes of capturing those pink wings spread in flight.pink feathered birdsUpon my return to the RV the first task at hand is to Google roseate spoonbill. Roseate spoonbills grow to a height of 32 inches (81 cm) with an average wingspan of 50 inches (127 cm).  They eat primarily small fish and crustaceans and are found throughout the Gulf of Mexico coastline.  Roseate spoonbills are silent and often solitary when they feed.  That could explain why this one was alone.roseate spoonbill

Like many other bird species with beautiful plumage they were nearly hunted to extinction during the 1800’s.  Their striking pink feathers were popular adornments on women’s hats and fans.  Today’s threats come as a result of habitat loss.roseate spoonbill

I was so excited to capture a few shots of this pink beauty….. I love that pink body.  Some say the pink is a result of all the shrimp it digests, others disagree.  Regardless of the reason, the roseate spoonbill is one pretty in pink bird.pretty in pink
Birding Corpus Christi and the Coastal Bend: More than 75 Prime Birding Sites (Birding Series)

There’s More to it Than Birds

The Rockport / Fulton, Texas area has more to offer than birding.  Although you have to admit, the birds are pretty spectacular and if you weren’t a birder when you first arrive, you just might turn into one by the time you leave.birding in Texas

The little town of Fulton sits just to the north of Rockport.  This is where I find myself spending most of my time – cruising up and down Fulton Beach Road.  I call it ‘my scenic route’ to the store because I’ll take the extra time to travel off the beaten path on my way to the H-E-B Grocery Store and Super Wal-Mart which are located off the main drag – Highway 35.shrimp fishingfresh seafoodThe title Fulton Beach Road is a bit of a misnomer because there is no sandy beach.  The town of Fulton is more of a harbor town.  The working fishermen along with their boats are quite often found docked in the harbor by late afternoon.  This is a great place to pick up fresh shrimp and fish.  Our favorite is the Grouper.Gulf of Mexico

I assure you, my little RV freezer will be well stocked with grouper and shrimp by the time we leave this beautiful part of Texas.Texas shore

Since I’m fighting a bit of a head cold, the brain isn’t working in the writing department so I’ll leave you with more images of the area and you’ll see why I know Al and I will return to this part of Texas again 🙂fresh seafoodGulf of Mexicosunrise across the GulfAllegroGulf shoresoak treeGulf of MexicoRVing in Texasbirding in TexasGulf of Mexico sunset
The Traveling Birder: 20 Five-Star Birding Vacations (Traveling Sportsman Series)
KEEN Women’s Newport H2 Sandal

Aransas Wildlife Refuge continued

birds of preyAs I stand on the 40 foot high observation platform at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, I’m mesmerized by the vultures.  I savor the quiet solitude as I stand against the rail.  I watch the vultures gracefully soar through the air while hunting for prey.

There’s a deer in the meadow below.  I see flocks of birds in the distance.  With eyes closed, I tilt my head to the sky breathing in the scent of the sea air while basking in the warmth of the sun.Rockport Texascranes

I’m totally lost in the moment. I’m in my own little word….that is until I’m abruptly snapped out of my trance by the shrieking tantrums of a three year old.  So much for my fifteen minutes of solitude.  Forty feet below me is the minivan whose occupants are clearly not happy.birding in Texaswildlife refuge

The disgruntled family can be heard across the marsh.  The deer move on.  Birds fly off including my vulture friends.  As I hear the wheels of a stroller clickety clacking over the slated decking with a crying occupant making it’s way up the platform ramp, I take that as my que to move on as well.birding

I scurry down the ramp passing the frazzled family.  We exchange smiles and “good mornings”.  I’m sure I was sporting a look of sympathy, although I’m not sure who I should feel sympathetic for; the kiddies who would prefer to see the likes of a Mickey or Minnie or the folks trying to expose the kiddies to some of natures beauty.  Ah, I remember those days fondly.

With the truck started, the intent is to make my way back via the same road…..nope, changed my mind and I take the 16 mile Auto Tour Loop inland.  This single lane, one way, paved road provides a leisurely ride through the ‘Texas savannah’.  Along the way one might see deer, hawks, javelina, bobcat, or the occasional snake crossing the road.  There are pull-outs every now and then, but since I’m the only one out here, I feel free to stop occasionally in the middle of the road. I jump out of the vehicle from time to time to photograph the landscape.  Yep, just the landscape as this gal did not encounter any other wildlife – well except for the wasp wanting to free load a ride.  Yeah, not the brightest thing I did that day leaving my car window open in front of this sign.birding

wildlife refuge

Loop completed, I stop once again at the ‘Heron Flats’ viewing area.  Earlier in the day I had this place to myself.  Now there are two other cars and a couple of cyclists.  I look off to the right in the first marsh….nothing.  I continue to the viewing platform…..very few birds.  On my return to the truck a woman asks me if I’ve seen the whoopers.  I respond, “I don’t think so.  What do they look like again?”……Light bulb!  “Oh, they were here earlier this morning”.  Now I know.  I’ve seen and photographed the endangered whooping crane without effort while folks from around the country are traveling to this area in hopes of their own personal glimpse.whooping crane

While having a pleasant conversation with this woman, her husband who had remained by the marsh near the beginning of the trail yells out to his wife, “alligator”.  She and I swiftly join him at his side as he points out the rather large gator in the distance.   There are no fences or barriers.  The alligator looks well fed and ready for a nap. I did not notice him earlier and am grateful the gator was pointed out to me.

alligator
Can you see him?

alligators

alligator

Happy with my wildlife sightings this morning, I decide it’s time to return home.  We won’t mention the growling stomach.  Next time I’ll bring snacks.pelicans

Would I recommend a visit to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge?  I guess it depends on ones expectations.  I talked to some local wildlife photographers near my RV Park and they personally have never had much luck with their bird photo captures from land at the refuge.  I hear, via boat is the best way.whooping craneThe refuge is located 35 miles north of Rockport, Texas, out in the boonies.  I made the mistake of not packing a lunch.  I think it’s a great place to learn and experience.  However, I was disappointed several trails and viewing platforms were closed due to damage.  I enjoyed the day and would go back, but I would go early in the morning and prepare to spend the day.

That said, I have had better luck photographing birds off Fulton Beach Road and Lamar Beach Road……near Goose Island State Park, Texas.
Exploring the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail: Highlights of a Birding Mecca (Exploring Series)
Birding Trails Texas Gulf Coast

Aransas National Wildlife Refuge

It’s quarter to eight on a Friday morning in early January.  I grab a full cup of coffee, camera gear, and hop in the truck.  Today’s destination is the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.  I have the directions jotted down on a piece of paper….. in large print so I can read them without the aid of glasses.  No GPS for this gal.  Hildi stays home.Aransas Wildlife Refuge

It’s a longer drive than I thought it would be on rural farm roads.  I keep my eyes peeled for deer and am grateful I noticed them in time to stop for all to cross.  Somehow I don’t think hubby would be pleased with a deer mounted on the front of his truck.White Tail Deer

I arrive at the visitor center at 8:30 and am the first visitor of the day.  The refuge opens a half hour before sunrise but the visitor center doesn’t open until 8:30.  So I’m sure I’m not the first guest, just the first to the visitor center. There are bound to be other folks already running around the refuge.

The two women and one gentleman behind the counter are all volunteers and fellow RVer’s.  They get a free place to park in exchange for a little volunteer time.  All three volunteers were passionate and quick to share information about the refuge.

We’ve already established I am not a birder.  Many a time I’m unfamiliar with the name of a bird I’m photographing.  I’m ok with that.  I have enough stuff swirling through my head day in and day out without having to remember the names of birds. Half the time I forget what’s his faces name and call him hon or hubby so remembering a birds title is low on the totem pole (you can laugh, he is!  After thirty years of marriage, it’s all about the laughter).

One of the volunteers lights up and says, “Oh, I hear the whoopers were seen this morning off Heron Flats trail and the blah blah blahs were seen……. And the watcha ma call it’s can be seen….. ”   It was all Greek to me, but I pretended to know exactly what she was talking about, smiled and enthusiastically replied, “Oh, how exciting.  Thank you.  I better get going before they all fly off.”  I nod as if I understood all the information, wave goodbye, and am off to capture some birds on film media card.

With map in hand, I jump in the truck and drive up the road stopping at the various viewing areas.  For the time being I have the place to myself.  The first stop is to see if I can spot an alligator.  I know – alligators in Texas? – Who’d a thought!   No alligators, moving on.

I stop at the Heron Flats viewing area.  I do remember the volunteer highly recommending I stop here.  I cross a foot bridge looking into some swampy water for any signs of wildlife…..none.  I continue and walk onto the viewing platform.  There are two really big large white birds in the distance off to the right.  Hmm, wonder what they are.  (I know now that they are the endangered whooping crane) They are magnificent.  I look off to the left and see ton’s of birds.  There were all kinds of different birds, even some pink ones but they were all pretty far away.  None the less, I enjoyed being an observer.whooping cranes

wildlife refuge
wildlife refugevultures

I remembered there were a few cars that had pulled into the visitor center as I was leaving.  Enjoying the solitude and tranquility, I wanted to savor this place alone for awhile.  Thus, I continue down the road and only slowed at the next few viewing areas vowing to stop and explore on my return to the visitor center.  My goal was the 40 foot platform at the end of the road.

Upon my arrival, I’m excited.  Not another car in the parking lot.  But I wonder what all those black things on the railings are?  I know they’re a bird of some kind.  As I start climbing the platform walkway, I’m concerned these birds aren’t flying away.  Just how close will they allow me to get?  Should I continue?  Images of Tippi Hedrin of Hitchcocks “The Birds” come to mind.  Gosh, I’m out here all by myself.  No one would ever hear my screams.Alfred Hitchcock Tippi Hedrin

talonsI continue but in a rather slow non aggressive pace up the platform.  Bird one flies off….she wipes the sweat from her brow…..bird two flies off…..feeling more relaxed she continues.  Bird three….doesn’t move.  Ah, sh*t, why isn’t he flying off.  As is my custom, I talk to the animals.  “Hey, there handsome.  Let’s you and me make a deal.  I’ll walk past you slowly and I won’t pepper spray you if you don’t claw my eyes out with those talons.  Do we have a deal?”

vultures

vultureI press my back up against the railing and shuffle past this unique creature all the while making small talk.  I’m so close if I reached out I could touch him or her.  Apparently, we had a deal as my eyes are still intact. I continue up the platform with less concern and a new found fascination for what I assume is a vulture.

From the 40 foot high viewing platform one has a bird’s eye view of the refuge below.  To be continued…..wildlife viewing

Endangered Whooping Cranes

When Al and I were invited to join friends in Rockport, Texas, for the month of January, we weren’t sure what to expect.whooper

The arrangement for our month long stay at a RV Park was set up by the friends.  I’ll admit my initial thought upon pulling into this park was less than favorable, but little did I realize I was within a bicycle ride of an endangered bird.

Birder I am not, but I am a huge fan of all kinds of wildlife.  That said, I was surprised that on my morning walks or bike rides I would routinely see a bird that is regarded as a special and rare treat to behold.endangered species

Hailing from Canada, the whooping crane arrives to the Gulf of Mexico around mid-November.  The whooping crane is the tallest of the North American birds standing at 4 to 5 feet tall with a wingspan of 7 ½ feet.   During their migration south, they average 400 miles a day gliding on thermal currents.whoopers

Their plumage is white with patches of red along the top of their heads and streaks of black under their eyes.  Young whoopers have rust colored markings.whoopers

Whooping cranes are one of the best known of all endangered species.  It’s believed only 15 or 16 survived the winter of 1941-1942.  The present world population is about 475 wild and captive whoopers.  Only one self-sustaining population survives in the wild and they spend their winters in Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.whooping cranes

Our RV Park is located on the other side of the St. Charles Bay from this refuge.  It appears there are several whoopers who like to visit my side of the bay, just down the road.  I know, how cool is that?whoopers

More birding tales to come and I’m working on my camera settings.  Check out this video clip on how some Wisconsin folks are helping the whooping crane population.  Very interesting.  It’s short and worth watching 🙂
http://www.nbcnews.com/video/nightly-news/54042956/#54042956

Stuck on Auto

It’s been two weeks since we set up home here in Rockport, Texas.  The weather has made it a wild ride thus far.  Thank goodness the polar vortex has moved on and we’re back to normal temperatures for the area.seagullEven with all the crazy weather, I’ve been having a wonderful time getting to know my way around Rockport.  Due to cold and rain, my explorations have been tempered, but with fairer weather upon us I hope to take in more of the sights and wildlife.Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Our RV park is nestled among some mature and unique oak trees located a couple of blocks from the Aransas Bay.  Its a lovely walk or quick bike ride to the shoreline.  This part of Texas is known as a birder’s paradise.Aransas BayJust across the bay from our RV Park is the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.  I’ve already made one trip there and plan to return.  I’ve discovered photographing birds is very difficult, especially when they move…haha.   I guess now is the time to take my camera off “auto” and start experimenting with custom settings.  I’m open to any suggestions regarding bird photography because thus far, delete has become my new BF….sigh 😉Pelican

Who’s the Better Kisser?

It was mid-December when we were in the midst of the Christmas shopping season. Al and I were out and about running some weekly errands when Al sees a Best Buy and recommends we step in to check out some DVDs. Since we don’t have satellite TV, we rely on our RV antenna for television reception. Our location dictates how many over the air channels we’re able to pull in. With a limited WiFi plan, streaming isn’t an option for us.

sister wives

Ridgway State Park in Colorado and Moab, Utah, presented zero reception, as in nada, zilch, none. We were excited while boondocking in Quartzsite, Arizona, when the scanner seemed to pick up 5 channels. That is until we realized only one channel was in English. No hablo español. So it’s at these times we resort to our DVD collection.

Guadalupe River

So, we head into the Best Buy store in search of some new DVDs to add to our library and that’s when Al sees her; just down the aisle to the left of the DVDs. He’s drawn to her sleek hard body. He finds her irresistible. Ever so cautiously he approaches her. He finds his hand slowly gliding down her side. She doesn’t respond.

He lovingly touches a button off to the left and that’s when she responds. Al’s face glows in delight as she lights up and verbally responds to his touch. He freely fondles her with both hands and that’s when she appears to get skittish. He slows his touch, she responds. The two are totally engrossed with one another.

I stand off to the side with my arms crossed. Personally, I don’t know what he sees in her. And that voice …. monotone and annoying, but Al is enthralled. He barely notices me standing there. I wonder if I need to get a bucket of cold water to pry the two apart. Finally, the trance is broken. Al pulls himself away as we walk to the next aisle, but not without a final glance her way.

We pick up the final season of “Big Love” to add to our DVD collection, but before heading to the check out aisle, we walk back down HER aisle. It is the Christmas season after all. Al’s a good husband and puts up with my shenanigans. Tis the season to give. I turn to Al and say, “Hon, if you want her, you can have her”. He responds wide-eyed, “Seriously, you’re ok with this”? “Yes, let’s take her home. Mind you, I’m not sure I trust her, but I’ll have an open mind”. Meet Hildi, our Garmin GPS.  (This post contains affiliate links)

On that note, we brought Hildi home and welcomed her to the family. Now, Al has two wives telling him how to drive. Isn’t he lucky? Hildi sits between Al and me in the front seat. She remained quiet for most of our journey from Phoenix, Arizona to Canyon Lake near San Antonio, Texas.

With no prior reservation made, we were unable to snag a campsite at Canyon Lake. Fortunately, the camp hosts were able to recommend a private RV park about 20 minutes away.  Now we were driving in unfamiliar territory as we needed to find the Rio Raft RV Park in New Braunfels, Texas.

I fumbled with my maps in an attempt to get my bearings. Al is fondly stroking Hildi and she responds in that monotone voice of hers. It’s a battle of the wenches and clearly, Hildi won this first round. Feeling somewhat dejected, I accepted the fact that Hildi did do a great job of getting us to the Rio Raft RV Park.

Texas highway

A few days later, it was time for us to head to Rockport, Texas. We hopped in the truck and Al turns Hildi on, which is easy to do, but she’s a touchy temperamental little gal.  Thankfully she has this cute little return arrow that seems to calm her down. I pull out my atlas and review the route I’d like to take. There are two possible routes to get to our destination. Al thinks I’ve picked the slightly longer route while Hildi has picked the shorter. I disagree. Poor Al was torn between which wife to listen to. It became clear when I asked him, “Who’s the better kisser?” I thought so … I’ll always be wife number one.  I win this round!

We’re cruising down the road. Hildi tells Al when and where to turn and even beeps when we approach a school zone, as a reminder to slow down. Al’s beginning to wonder what he has gotten himself into and responds, “Great, now I have two women telling me how to drive”. I smile and think, “Hmm, maybe she and I will get along after all”.

As we approached Interstate 35 in south Texas, Hildi tells Al to make a right. I tell Al to make a right. It looks to be more of a frontage road than an on-ramp, so Al does NOT make a right. The sister wives recalculate. Al wants to turn around, but his two wives tell him to go straight and make the next right. He’s outvoted and therefore listens to the two women. The quick I-35 jog was circumvented and we found ourselves on the correct road in short order.

It was at this point that I informed Al to let Hildi determine the rest of the route and promised not to override her, but I was keeping a close eye on where she was taking us. I still didn’t trust her. Al’s happy his two wives wouldn’t be fighting. He still remembers earlier in the day when I disagreed with Hildi and asked the question, “Who’s the better kisser?” 🤣

Texas longhornHildi takes us south through the town of Goliad; the very route I had mapped out. She and I are in agreement and Al is once again outvoted and overruled. He’s not complaining though. He gets to focus on driving and not worry about directions. Traffic was very light. The scenery reminded us of our childhood home state of Illinois; farmland with rich black soil and cattle roaming on fenced private land.

And then there are the vaguely familiar gray overcast skies, not the azure blue skies we’ve become accustomed to in the desert southwest.

After a laughter-filled, enjoyable three-hour drive, we arrived at our destination; Goose Island State Park in Rockport, Texas.  I’m sure the tale of two wives shall continue…..

 

For some unique entertainment, check out this 2006 HBO series and you’ll understand why I refer to Hildi as my sister wife.


Big Love: The Complete Series

No Room at the Inn

The Hilltop RV Park in Stockton, Texas proved to be a great spot to overnight.  We could’ve saved ten bucks by staying at a Passport America park but that place was literally next to the interstate.  The Hilltop RV Park, aptly named since it sits high above the interstate on a hill, was convenient and quiet and even offered a view of a lovely Texas sunset.

speed limit in Texas
Everything is bigger in Texas and faster – speed limit 80 mph

Texas is a BIG state…..How big is Texas

It’s December 29th and we’re anxious to get to our next location to stay long enough to ring in the New Year.  We hit the road shortly after sunrise knowing we have about a 5 hour drive in front of us.  Our destination is a Corps of Engineers campground at Canyon Lake just northeast of San Antonio, Texas.  We first heard about this place from fellow blogger Donna and a nice comment from her had us calling the COE to double check for vacancy.  There were three sites still available at the Cranes Mill Campground.  Potters Creek was full.

Having commitment issues lately, Al and I decide to roll the dice and not make a reservation.  By the time we arrive at the Cranes Mill Campground around 3:00 in the afternoon, we are politely turned away….no room at the Inn.  What? And no overflow lot for boondocking?  Really?  You snooze, you lose!  Plan B.

Five minutes away is a private RV Park called Rio Raft or Rio Guadalupe Resort.  They accept our Passport America discount card and we pull into a very nice pull-thru site for $17 a night with full hook-ups.  The park sits along the Guadalupe River.  We pay for one night and the next day pay for another.  Gosh, we’re indecisive.  I love it!

Guadalupe River
Guadalupe River

I had all these grand plans to explore around the Texas hill country and visit the San Antonio River walk.  Susan’s blog has been providing me with oodles of information on the area.  The cold humid air chills Al and me to the bones.  We’re just not used to this kind of weather anymore.

So these two wusses wimp out and travel on the very day they vowed not to travel….Dec. 31st.  We arrive at our Rockport, Texas destination 5 days early in some attempt to circumvent the inclement weather.  BUT just because we made it to south Texas does not mean we averted the “polar vortex” that has engulfed most of this country.  Nope, we’ve been graced with freezing rain and 25 degree F overnight temperatures.  Oh, joy!  The adventure never ends.  Thankfully, fairer weather is on the horizon.

how big is Texas
no end in sight!

Random Texas facts…

  • The bowie knife is named after the Alamo hero Jim Bowie (1796-1836).  His brother designed the hefty weapon.
  • It is still a hanging offense in Texas to steal cattle or to put graffiti on someone else’s cow.
  • It is illegal to indecently expose or swear in front of a corpse.
  • In Galveston, Texas, it is illegal to have a camel run loose on the beach.  Camels were imported into Texas in the 1850’s by the U.S. War Department in the belief that they would be handy animals to use during the Indian Wars.
  • Oscar, the Academy Award statuette, was named for Texan Oscar Pierce, whose niece worked in Hollywood for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.  When she saw the gold statuette, she reportedly said, “Why, that looks just like my Uncle Oscar.”
  • At 268,601 square miles, Texas is the second largest U.S. state.  Alaska being number one.
  • Texas is the second most populous state.  California is number one.
  • Charles Alderton (1857-1941) a Waco, Texas, pharmacist, first created Dr Pepper in 1885.  The oldest working Dr Pepper plant is located 94 miles west of Waco.  Oh and there is no period after the “Dr” in Dr Pepper.
  • Each year Amarillo, Texas, hosts the World’s largest Calf Fry Cook-off.  “Calf fries” are bull testicles.
  • John Wayne and Chuck Norris are honorary Texas Rangers.  The Texas Rangers are the oldest law enforcement agency in North America with statewide jurisdiction.
  • The world’s largest and oldest rattlesnake roundup is held every March in Sweetwater, Texas.

AND on a final note……….here’s a photo of my friend snorkeling in Minnesota

snorkeling
snorkeling anyone?