A Fresh Start

I love watching the sunrise, and just like the beginning of a new day there’s something refreshing about flipping the calendar to a new year.  It’s like being given a fresh start.  As one year comes to an end a new year begins.  I’ve been known to make a New Year’s resolution or two in the past, and although I haven’t made any official resolutions this go around, I do have high hopes and plans for the New Year … I’m sure there’s something in there about diet and exercise as well – me along with millions of other American’s, huh 😉 sunrise

We hit the road three days after Christmas…. two days later than we originally planned.  Bad weather in southern New Mexico and western Texas necessitated an adjustment to our schedule, considering parts of Interstate 10 were temporarily closed due to ice and snow.  While hubby and I kept an eye on news reports pertaining to the Whooping craneslatest happenings including airport closures and flight cancellations, we agreed we sure don’t miss those years of air travel.  The flexibility associated with RV travel has really spoiled us and we can’t imagine traveling any other way.  Well, yes we can imagine it, we just don’t ever want to do it again.

That said, our drive from Phoenix, Arizona to Rockport, Texas went well with the exception of having to deal with unwelcome cold weather.  We spent the first night in Deming, New Mexico, at the Dream Catcher RV Park (an Escapees park), and although we had a full hook-up site, we kept the water hose and sewer pipe stowed choosing to hook up to electric only due to the below freezing temps.

Snow in Deming, NM

Snow in Deming, NM

Night two was spent at a regular stopping point for us; the Hilltop RV Park in Fort Stockton, Texas.  We thought about overnighting at the Walmart but once again with the extreme cold, we opted for hook-ups.  I will say it was interesting as we passed the Walmart the next morning, the parking lot looked like an RV Park.  I don’t ever recall seeing so many RV’s overnighting at a Walmart.  Turns out, not only was the Hilltop RV Park full that night, but so was the Walmart.  I think the inclement weather affected a lot of people and their travels causing Fort Stockton to be overflowing with RV’s.

Moving on – We planned on spending night three in San Antonio at the Elks Lodge.  I was looking forward to revisiting the Shops at La Cantera , located within walking distance from the lodge.   From an architectural and aesthetic point of view, this outdoor mall is absolutely beautiful and it was my hope to see it decorated for the holidays with lots of Christmas glow.  However, as we approached the Elks Lodge we encountered a sea of RV’s.   I’m not sure how they all managed to squeeze into such a small parcel of land, but every nook and cranny seemed to be wedged with various RV’s.  An RV chili cook off festival at the lodge had us moving on down the road in search of plan B.  A holiday visit to the Shops at La Cantera will need to be saved for another time.

About an hour south of San Antonio off Interstate 37 is the Choke Canyon State Park. We scored a great site – #133.  We enjoyed the campground and would definitely stay here again.

On day four with twelve hundred miles behind us, we arrived at our destination just before noon.  While I helped hubby position the RV into our new spot for the month of January, I’m greeted by a familiar sound in the distance; the sound of whooping cranes.  As Al steps out of the truck to assess his handy work, I assault him with a child like exuberance that has him rolling his eyes.whooping cranes

He quickly remarks with a chuckle, “Can we please finish setting up and have lunch before you run off to see your birds?”  With a hesitant nod, I slowly respond, “But of course!  After all, I have the next thirty days to commune with my feathered friends.”

So folks as you might have guessed, we’re back in Rockport, Texas, in the very same park and site we were in 365 days ago.  Seems as though we’ve come full circle and returned to a familiar starting point to kick off the New Year.  We’re once again rendezvousing with the birds along with friends from our old sticks and bricks neighborhood in southern Colorado.   What started out three years ago as a sojourn whooping cranesstrictly for hubby to get together with a buddy to engage in sporting activities has since turned into my opportunity to commune with birds.  I don’t consider myself a birder, but merely someone who has a passion for cranes …. and maybe spoonbills, egrets and herons, but who’s counting 😉

This has obviously turned into an unexpected passion for me, and I can see myself returning to this area time and again.  You can click here to read more about how my passion for cranes developed.

endangered whooping cranes

Last winter, it was quite exhilarating to have these two whooping cranes fly right over me. I could literally hear the rush of wind as they flapped their wings. A rare treat considering there’s less than 500 of these magnificent birds left in the world. Photo taken at 160mm zoom.

Although the weather this first week in January is expected to have less than stellar conditions for gallivanting about with the camera, I’m still excited to be back along the Texas Gulf Coast.  Cranes are considered to be a symbol of luck. I’m hoping by starting off the New Year hanging around these intriguing creatures of luck, that 2016 is a great year.

One of my most memorable places in 2015 was camped amongst 20,000 plus sandhill cranes.  You can read about that visit here.

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year filled with lots of good wishes AND good luck!

Good luck y'all and Happy New Year!

“No lady, you can’t rub my head for good luck!”





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107 thoughts on “A Fresh Start

  1. You are definitely a “birder” kiddo! Dictionary definition: Noun, 1. birder – a person who identifies and studies birds in their natural habitats birder – a person who identifies and … That said, I love your whoopers! Do you and hubby catch the bluebonnets in Texas next month? I would love to see a fild of those sometime.

    • Haha… ok, maybe I’m a birder, but just a little bit. I don’t own a set of binoculars. For me it’s all about the photos. We’ll hightail it back to Phoenix on the 1st and I’m excited to do so. One; we get to spend time with the kids, and Two; with all the rain they’ve been getting, the wildflowers should be in abundance. One of these days, I’ll hang around TX long enough to see those bluebonnets but not this year.

  2. How wonderful to be able to return to Rockport, Ingrid. Your ability to stay flexible to schedule changes and weather detours is impressive, and your love for cranes is infectious. I know you are going to have an awesome time there.

    • Thanks Jet. We’ve endured way too many weather events at airports, to the point we rarely fly anywhere anymore (this coming from a former Flight Attendant married to a former pilot). The flexibility of RVing is awesome and the only way we fly these days, but I so enjoy watching those cranes in-flight 🙂

  3. Loved this post! Share your enthusiasm for birding…though not a birder, myself. 😉 Your recent posts on birds made me rush to the river to see my beloved friends. Though the fog was dense and the temps brisk…I did enjoy a short visit until poor visibility and a looming dinner time made me retreat.

    • I do enjoy a morning engulfed in a little fog. Not good for photography, but calming for my soul. Glad you went out visiting your feathered neighbors.

  4. Already commented in the post above, but can’t stop applauding your whooping crane photos, Ingrid. How awesome they are, and how awesome that you get to hang out around them again, sending your pics back to “the real world.” That photo of the three, sort of on a running take off – it’s just so completely wonderful.

    • Thank you. Those whoopers are so much fun to see and photograph. I feel honored to be able to see this group of wild ones in a natural enviornment.

  5. So glad you got to Texas safe and sound with all that terrible surrounding weather. I heard Santa Fe was cold, as well as the wacky weather in Texas, one side hot, the other getting floods. I’m here in Phoenix, and this week is rainy off and on and cooler than normal, thanks to the cold front from California. But, it’s still beautiful Arizona. 🙂 Happy New Year Ingrid. 🙂

  6. What a wonderful site. Thank you for following me, as I will enjoy following you. I share your passion for cranes – and could not resist checking out your prior posting about Sandhill Cranes. Every morning, on our way to work, Hubby and I drive through a bird sanctuary. In October and November, it’s full of cranes. Wish I we could stop to enjoy them, but the area is closed and the best I can do is look out the window as we clip along the Interstate. Your photos are breathtaking. Happy New Year!

    • I could sit and watch cranes for hours… oh wait, I’ve already done that. It’s too bad you can’t get access to that property to spend time observing the sandhills. Thanks for stopping by and I look forward to following your blog as well.

  7. Wow — how cool is that?! That reminds me of when we saw California Condors in Big Sur — there are only about 30 of them on the CA coast, and we saw *four* of them at once. It felt so, so special.

    Hope your 2016 is off to a great start! Enjoy your time communing with the cranes! 🙂

    • Whenever one can see an endangered species in the wild, it’s a special treat. They flew right over me again today – what a thrill. Congrats on those financial goals.

  8. I still remember your beautiful bird photos you took last year at the Rockport, and you ran into very cold weather in Texas… Love the crane images here. The sunset shot is incredibly beautiful! 🙂

  9. Coming back round full circle to look at the birds again. It’s almost poetic. I hope you have a wonderful and interesting 2016 (because then we can all read about it). 🙂

  10. Well you may not call yourself a birder, but your bird shots are great! Great to hear you’re back in an area you can cultivate that passion. Looking forward to more great bird pics.


    • Thanks Nina. I appreciate the compliment coming from an accomplished photographer as yourself. Cheers to an exciting and adventure filled year!

  11. I am most positive that “your” birds have welcomed you with open wings! Wonderful, beautiful photos of these magnificent birds!

    Welcome back to Rockport and I look forward to seeing many more photos of “your” birds!!


    • They are such a joy to watch and I’m excited to see what kind of photo opportunities I have this year. The weather is expected to break and I can’t wait to run around in search of willing models 🙂

  12. So glad you delayed your departure and missed those nasty winter storms.
    Well Im really looking forward to see my most fave feathered friends from the coast thru your lens. I missed them but your captures will surely satisfy my longing.
    Cheers to another great year of adventure, and hope we cross our path again somewhere.

    • I bet you’re saying, “better me, than you” huh! I know you don’t miss Texas so I will try and get plenty of photos for you of these magnificent birds. I am dealing with some crazy weather so who knows how this visit will play out. I’m sure somewhere, sometime we’ll be meeting up again and we’ll need to get in a serious hike instead of a stroll. Although the stroll and lunch was super fun 🙂

    • And a Happy New Year to you two as well. The sun is finally trying to peek out which will hopefully keep me from more baking and take me out and about with the camera 😉

    • I know you’ve been a very busy guy lately so thank you for taking the time to stop by. And cheers to a wonderful and culinary filled New Year 🙂

  13. Glad you made it back ok and didn’t get caught in the awful storm. We had reservations for Fort Davis again but had to cancel this time. Enjoy your time with the birds! I’m officially envious as we are stuck in the snow right now.

    • As we traveled east on Interstate 10, there was snow everywhere. When we passed the exit for Fort Davis, the mountains were covered in a thick layer of white. Thus, a good idea you canceled but no need to be envious…. It hasn’t stopped raining since we got here 😦 Hopefully we’ll be getting a reprieve soon. Stay warm and wishing you a much better year. I know 2015 was a rough one for you.

  14. Happy New Year to you and Al. We’re on our way back to Arizona from our holiday in Santa Fe and are at the LaQuinta right in front of the Dream Catcher RV Park. We left Beluga in Benson and we’re anxious to get back to her but decided we were just too tired from the holidays so we stopped.

    Sounds like you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be for the beginning of the New Year. Enjoy the birds, I’ll keep finger’s crossed for nice weather!

    • That was our first time staying at Dream Catcher and for a quick overnight it was a great location. Sounds like you had a wonderful time in Santa Fe celebrating the holidays. I’m hoping the weather here will break soon so I can start gallivanting around with my camera. Cold I can handle – wet I can’t. Enjoy the DRY warm desert. I’ll be returning in February 🙂

  15. What a wonderful way to begin the New Year! I hope the weather cooperates for you this year. Your photos of the cranes are fabulous. Wishing you health, joy, grand adventures, and great birding in 2016! 🙂

    • Thank you Laurel. I wish you a New Year filled with new and exciting adventures. I can’t wait for this rain to let up so I can visit with all my feathered friends. Let the communing commence 😆

  16. It’s so easy to understand your enthusiasm for these wonderful creatures. I clearly remember your wonderful bird photos from last year. Only 500 whooping cranes left! That’s pretty close to extinction, how sad.

    • In the 1940’s there were less than 20. It’s exciting to see their population increasing… albeit slow. Considering how endangered the whooping cranes are, makes my visits with them even more special. Happy New Year!

    • I’m grateful we didn’t run into any problems in route. I know many travelers weren’t as lucky. The whooping cranes are indeed a thrill to watch and I hope they and the weather are feeling cooperative this visit. Happy New Year to you as well 🙂

  17. Happy New Year Ingrid, Gorgeous photos of the cranes. I’m of much of a bird fan either, but those are beautiful. I did spend some time last year watching great egrets on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
    Our epic journey is over, but we plan to do some short trips beginning in April. The first one will be to Zion National Park.

    • That was indeed an epic journey. You sure covered a lot of territory. There are so many amazing places to visit not far from Vegas (Zion included) that you could keep that RV rolling to some great sights within a days drive. Wishing you a very Happy New Year.

  18. Looks like a lovely place to spend the New Year. I LOVE the crane and egret photos. I hope you enjoy your time here and have a happy new year!

    • Thank you Meghan. Since I’m much more comfortable with my camera, I’m hoping to get some great photos during this visit…. weather permitting. Hope the New Year is filled with exciting new adventures for you.

  19. Lora often assaults me with a child like exuberance. I’m sure Al finds it as amusing and endearing as I do! Thanks for sharing part of your lives with us!

    • It was such a fantastic experience. I don’t expect it to happen again, but I’ll keep trying to place myself in the line of flight. Hope you enjoy a warm winter in the south this year 🙂

      • Thanks, Ingrid! Hope it warms up for you also. We had a delightful 11 mile bike ride along A1A this morning…even though the last 2 miles was a misty rain. Glad we packed our rain gear! 🙂

  20. Happy New Year! Enjoy the beautiful cranes and their feathered friends. We’ve had an intense winter so far. It is a balmy 15 degrees this morning. But, that doesn’t stop us from getting our daily 10,000 steps and there is beauty in the white capped mountains all around us. Happy 2016 adventures!

    • There’s a beauty to the snow and stillness in the air surrounded by mountains that I occasionally miss. But after one snowshoe outing, I’d be over it and heading back to the desert LOL. Keep getting in those steps and wishing you a wonderful New Year 🙂

  21. So glad to hear you are safely in your new home. Poor Texas has seen it all lately and not in a good way. I sure hope conditions change for you and Al:) I look forward to lots info about all your different activities with Al’s buddies and your crane conversations. The Whooping Crane is a gorgeous bird. I’m not a birder at all, but I do enjoy all the large birds. They have such personality. My favorite is the Roseate Spoonbill. I totally get your excitement as I was the same way as we arrived into saguaro country again. I am so taken by these big guys:) John is very patient as we comb through thousands on each hike to find that crested prize!

    A very Happy, Healthy, New Year to you and Al! We look forward to our meeting up again in the near future:) Keep the recipes coming:)

    • After one quick stroll around the neighborhood to lay my eyes on the big white birds, I haven’t left the RV since… grrrr. The rain hasn’t let up even for a few hours. Fingers crossed we get a reprieve soon. We’ll be back in the valley of the sun sometime in early February and hang around until mid April. Hopefully, we’ll manage to squeeze in a visit with you guys (and Sue & Dave) if you all are in the valley.

      Cheers to an adventure filled New Year. I’ll keep the recipes coming if you keep the hikes coming 🙂

  22. So you’re down “here” at the coast just now! 🙂 Our favourite spot on the coast is Port Aransas, but we like Rockport/Fulton, too. [http://tinyurl.com/hhp6mkq] I hope the weather will not be too bad, and that you’ll enjoy your stay and will have lots of opportunities for birding.
    Have a splendid time down at the coast, and all my best wishes for 2016,

    • My folks used to spend 6 months every winter in Port A and we would visit them. Last year we spent a month on the island and loved it. We stay in Lamar (near Goose Island SP) so the guys can launch the boat easily and head off to some favorite spots. I do enjoy the birding around this part of Texas. Now if only this weather would cooperate. Wishing you a wonderful New Year as well 🙂

    • Thanks Jim. It’s always nice to hear and see the unique and beautiful birds around here. However, if this weather doesn’t clear, we may be visiting Cibola NWR next year and I’ll be teaching Al to shoot with a camera LOL.

  23. Happy New Year to you and Al!! Enjoy your whoopers and cranes, while we’re missing the TX Gulf coast we’re not missing the weather…we’ll be interested to hear what kind weather you do get this year. I’ve wondered about Choke Canyon and thought about staying there, looks like a nice place. Enjoy and we’ll see you when you get back to AZ.

    • Choke Canyon turned out to be a great stop and we’ll definitely keep it in consideration in the future. I think you guys made a wise choice to spend the winter in Phoenix. I’m questioning our decision to head to Texas, but hey it’s only a month and we’ll be back in the valley of the sun. I’ll let you know when we return and maybe we can get together for a hike at Spur Cross (wish I could hike it TODAY).

  24. How fun you get to see your cranes again. I hope the weather cooperated for you, and you have warm and sunny days. Happy New Year!!

    • Thanks Mary. I do believe my weather in Texas will cooperate about as much as your weather in the PNW did 😦 I’m looking forward to returning to the desert as much as you are. Have a great New Year!

  25. Such beautiful birds Ingrid! How could you not be enamoured with them? Looking forward to hearing about your adventures in 2016! Safe travels😃

    • They are a fantastic sight. I never tire of watching those cranes. I’m still planning out our travels for the year, but hoping to explore some new places in 2016. Stay tuned 🙂

  26. Isn’t it funny to end up at the same campground 365 days before? !? Pretty kewl. I have my long term resolution to be joining you on the road in less than 10 years. It actually doesn’t seem long in my mind. Life moves faster on the downward side of the hill 😉
    Your really got great shots of those whoopers! I hope they bring you luck in 2016 and beyond!

    • Thanks H and hope you have a great 2016 as well. When we lived in Colorado I used to use the Continental Divide as an analogy for aging – It’s slow going up hill from the front range and once you summit (age 50) it’s all downhill on the western slope and it’s much faster going downhill LOL.

  27. Great photos of your feathered friends, Ingrid. Hope your weather cooperates you to get lots more pics. Happy New Year to you both. I look forward to reading about more of your adventures in 2016. 🙂

    • Thank you Sylvia and I always enjoy your photos of your local neighbors. Hope 2016 is the year for the big reveal on your remodel. We’re interested in doing something similar 🙂

  28. Sounds like you have the year off to a good start with a successful trip to a favorite spot. I look forward to sharing in your travels in 2016.

    • Hope a couple of new knees will have you out and about exploring some mountains in 2016. We’re just now talking about our summer options. So many places, it’s hard to choose 🙂

  29. Your posts are always so entertaining to read. Glad you and Al are experiencing a little part of paradise. Happy New Year to you both.

  30. Loved the comment about travel: “The flexibility associated with RV travel has really spoiled us and we can’t imagine traveling any other way. Well, yes we can imagine it, we just don’t ever want to do it again.” We share your feelings!

    I’m sure you’ll have a great time there. You surely seem at home there. And perhaps in a year or so we may be back ourselves. We enjoyed a lot about S. Texas. But we owe it to ourselves to try at least the FL approach to winter and the AZ approach — so this year we’ll pretend to be Easterners.

    Take lots of great photos! Always love your images.

    • By the time February rolls around, I’ll be ready to head back to the desert to dry out. The beauty of the home on wheels is we get to enjoy all these unique places on our terms. I look forward to following your journey around FL.

      • We will go exploring from our base near Ocala but at present the plan is to just stay in that one place. So, we’ll have our share of road trips, but not much by way of park reviews.

  31. Love those whoopers! Reading this post reminded of how much we enjoyed our stay at Goose Island State Park. We talked about returning there this year for a longer stay but it’s just not going to work out. I will enjoy reading your posts and seeing looking at your amazing photos. Happy New Year!

    • This area of Texas certainly isn’t for everyone, but I love hearing the cranes in the distance and being able to walk to their feeding grounds. Once this weather breaks, I’ll be off in search of spoonbills and egrets. Fun times! Hope 2016 includes some exciting travels for you.

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