The Happy Hooker and Getting Loonie

The Happy Hooker and Getting Loonie

Our five days in South Dakota were over before we knew it, and before long, the RV wheels were rolling down the road heading toward our summer destination in northern Wisconsin. It was the third week in June and with severe storms coming and going throughout the Midwest, we opted to move quickly and not linger along the way. We also decided to stick with Interstate roads where feasible. We were on a mission to get to our summer home as soon as possible and avoid getting caught on the road in one of those nasty storms.

Whenever we travel through a major city, we try to plan on doing so on a weekend morning in hopes of avoiding any rush hour traffic or other heavy traffic. Although the drive through St. Paul, Minnesota on a Saturday morning was uneventful, I think the next time we drive through the area, we’ll take the truck/bypass route (494 to 694 back to 35E).

Driving I-35E through St. Paul, MN

Once we made it to Hayward, Wisconsin, Al’s sister met us at the local Walmart so she could help direct us to her and her husband’s place, our home for the summer. We were really glad we followed her to the house because our GPS was just a smidgen off. Normally that’s not a problem with just our truck, but when pulling an RV things get a little more difficult especially when the roads are densely wooded and there’s no spot big enough for us to turn around.

(To enlarge a photo in a gallery, simply click on any image)

The Happy Hooker

After a relaxing first day at our new RV campsite, it was time for some summer fun. High on our agenda was visiting the Happy Hooker. A few miles down the heavily tree-lined road from our RV site on private property is a cute little store called the Happy Hooker Bait and Tackle shop which is like an old fashioned country store that has a little bit of everything.

In addition to a large selection of fishing tackle & bait, they have gasoline, ice, beer, liquor, clothing, gifts, groceries, and most importantly … bug repellent. Just about anything you might need in a pinch with the convenience of not having to drive the thirty-minutes into the town of Hayward.

It was here that Al and I purchased our Wisconsin fishing licenses for the summer. Yep, the Happy Hooker is all about fishing. What did you think I was talking about?

That first week back in the Midwest took a bit of adjusting. First off, the bugs. Boy, I’d forgotten how annoying mosquitos are and as much as I tried to stay away from the harsh bug repellent, that first tick bite had me grabbing a can of spray-on Deep Woods Off. Yeah, bring on the “Deet“.

How many lakes does Wisconsin have?

Water recreation during the summer in northern Wisconsin is huge and the state is home to more than 11,000 lakes. With approximately 1 million acres of lakes to choose from, it’s no wonder that folks from the Chicago and Milwaukee areas flock to their favorite lake for a summer vacation, or better yet, they actually own a second home on lakefront property for regular weekend getaways. Who doesn’t dream of owning lakefront property? (Ok, maybe those of you who prefer oceanfront property ūüėĄ)

Growing up in the Chicago suburbs, our family summer vacations were always spent at a campground on a picturesque lake, usually in Wisconsin. One of our family favorites was on the Chippewa Flowage just outside of Hayward, Wisconsin. We had a popup trailer at the time and my dad had a fishing buddy that would regularly join us so he could bring up our boat.

When my sister-in-law and her husband moved up to Hayward, Wisconsin, from northern Illinois, I couldn’t wait to visit them and revisit some of my childhood stomping grounds.

This was the campground beach where my brother and I spent most of our time playing when we weren’t learning to waterski. Still looks like a ton of fun today! Our little sister was too young to join us without mom nearby. Revisiting was rather emotional for me as thoughts of fond childhood memories flooded my mind. Oh, how I wanted to call my dad to let him know where I was, but that wasn’t possible. It has been just shy of a year since his passing.

Getting Loonie

All that water not only provides a great deal of recreation, but it also provides a water source to an abundance of wildlife. When Al and I decided to spend our summer in northern Wisconsin, high on my wishlist was capturing a nice image of a Loon, one of my favorite birds. Not only are they a beautiful bird, but their sound is so unique. There’s nothing like a quiet morning on the water in a canoe listening to their calls.

Although we no longer own a canoe, we do have a pontoon boat at our disposal this summer … perfect for lake cruising and fishing. During one of our boat rides, I noticed something white in the tall grasses near the shoreline. Initially, I assumed it was a plastic (Walmart) bag and directed Al to get near so we could retrieve it and dispose of it properly. Before getting too close to shore and possibly getting the boat prop tangled in weeds, I used my camera’s lens to zoom in and confirm that it was indeed a plastic bag.

Surprise, surprise, surprise! It was not garbage but rather a nesting Loon. To say I was giddy with excitement would be an understatement. Al turned the boat so we wouldn’t get near the nest and disturb the beautiful Loon. Loons only have one or two chicks and the last thing we wanted to do was stress the mama and cause her to leave the nest.

Al slowed the boat and for the next ten minutes, we cruised by her a few times. With my 600mm zoom and a little crop in processing, I was rather pleased with a few of my images. For the first couple of weeks in July, every outing on the boat included a slow cruise past Lily the Loon.

We knew hatching time was near when her partner was easy to spot. Normally loons dive when a boat gets near them, but one evening, it appeared Papa Loon was becoming very protective and refused to dive or get out of the way of boat traffic (which is thankfully rather light around here). This forced boaters to go around him to avoid potentially hitting him. Most boaters, like us, slowed down to capture a few photos of this rare treat. Guess I’m not the only loonie one around here.

It was thrilling to have Mr. Loon swim right alongside our boat.

Trivia; The $1 Canadian coin is nicknamed the “Loonie” – derived from the picture of a solitary loon on one side of the coin. Canadian’s have the coolest currency. Eh!

More wildlife sightings

Although my encounters with the Loons have made every mosquito, fly, and tick bite worth hanging out in the northwoods, I encountered another wildlife first. I’ll save that for a another post.

For the latest and most up to date info on our travels, be sure and follow me on Instagram @ livelaughrv

(Thank you for shopping my affiliate links)

Off Deep Woods Insect Repellent
Electric Bug Zapper – Insect Trap Racket for Indoor and Outdoor
Citronella Scented Candles – Outdoor and Indoor

For the Birds

I’ve discovered traveling by RV adds a whole new dimension to my overall travel experience, and it has exposed me to experiences well beyond my wildest dreams….

Brown Pelican

…. dreams I never imagined. I never thought that traveling to the Texas Gulf Coast would stir a passion within me … a joy I couldn’t have fathomed … the joy of photographing birds. Bird photography!

Roseate SpoonbillThe first time I glimpsed the stunning pink hue of the Roseate Spoonbill had me yelling at Al to stop the truck. We were driving along Fulton Beach Road along the Gulf Coast in Texas when a shimmer of pink in shallow pond water caught my attention. I had never seen such a beautiful, yet weird, bird in my entire life. That was just the beginning of my journey into photographing birds …. the beginning of my interest in birds as a photographic subject.

Turkey VultureIt was during that visit when I became fascinated with all large birds, including the beautiful Turkey Vulture, and yes, I said beautiful. Okay, I’ll admit beautiful wasn’t the first word that came to mind when I began photographing vultures. No, that took time, and over time, an admiration for this unique creature grew, and the more I observed them, the more my admiration grew.

Did you know turkey vultures are very social and don’t kill? Fascinating! I also felt a kindred spirit with the turkey vulture. If you’d like to know more about our similar tune carrying talents, click here.

bird photography

And then there were the cranes I discovered. I think we can all agree, they are magnificent and beautiful birds. I became obsessed with cranes, so much so, that Al and I made a special trip to the International Crane Foundation located in Baraboo, Wisconsin. I was officially a Craniac!

One of my more memorable RV excursions was camping amongst 20,000 roosting sandhill cranes. That was an unbelievable experience and just one of many reasons why I love RVing. It’s the only way to travel in my book. I’ve enjoyed adventures that can only be experienced by RVing. You can read my post about¬†sleeping with sandhill cranes here.

Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Cranes

Yeah, I never thought I’d develop such a passion for photographing birds, but I find that they make such an interesting subject to photograph that it’s almost impossible for me to pass up the opportunity to make at least a few images …. or maybe a thousand or two when I encounter these entertaining characters.

Grebe

Wandering Wednesday theme – birds

For this weeks photo inspiration I’ve chosen the prompt birds. Do you enjoy taking photographs of birds?¬† We’d love to see your images. Leave a comment below with a link back to your blog or link back to this post in your blog. Share and connect!

Brown Pelicans

Wandering Wednesday – Ingrid’s Inspirations

Each Wednesday I post a different photo theme as a way for bloggers to share their love of photography and engage with other like minded bloggers. Perhaps this prompt will serve as a little inspiration to pick up the camera in search of a composition or a reason to go through your archives. Whether you shoot with your phone, a DSLR or something in-between, don’t be shy ūü§ó share your photos!

Egyptian Duck

I wrote a post awhile back about the lessons I’ve learned regarding bird photography. If you’d like to see my failures and successes, click here to read that post.

hummingbird

Upcoming prompts – Black & White, Reflections, Sunrise …. get out and shoot or peruse those archives!

(affiliate links)

 Complete Guide to Nature Photography: Professional Techniques for Capturing Images of Nature and Wildlife
Audible Membership

Laughlin and a Wildlife Refuge

After our little side trip to Oatman, we were back on the road heading toward Laughlin, Nevada. With tummies full and a perpetual smile plastered across our faces, we wondered why wild burros had such a heart warming impact on us. I think most of us will agree, baby animals are absolutely adorable and these little burros were so incredibly cute that I couldn’t help but smile.

wild burros Oatman AZ
There’s something entertaining about wild burros roaming about!
wild burros Oatman, Arizona
This little one was taking a nap, or at least trying to.

Continuing down the road

We arrived at the Golden Nugget Hotel in Laughlin, Nevada, right around 1:00 in the afternoon. The gal behind the counter was super nice and did her best to find us an available room with a king size bed, but none were quite ready for check-in.

Golden Nugget Casino Laughlin Nevada
Golden Nugget Casino Entrance

Golden Nugget Laughlin NV

So with a little time to kill,  Al and I headed to the lower level for dessert at Bubba Gumps. Not only was the dessert delicious, the outdoor dining was sheer perfection.

Bubba Gump dessert
OMG – so good!
Bubba Gump dining in Laughlin, NV
the outdoor dining area was perfect – overlooks the Colorado River

We found the ambiance of the outdoor dining at Bubba Gump so delightful that we returned a few hours later for dinner and discovered their early bird menu. I ordered the fish tacos (yum), and Al ordered soup and salad. Al loves a good New England Clam Chowder and he said this was some of the best he’s ever had. His Caesar salad was also very good. The next day, we returned for lunch and ordered fried shrimp and more clam chowder. Yep, I’d recommend dining here especially if the weather is perfect for sitting outside, which fortunately for us, it was.

Casino in Laughlin Nevada

Laughlin, Nevada, is pretty small, and Al and I soon found ourselves feeling a tad bit bored. We’re not much into casino gambling these days, especially after having lived in Las Vegas in the mid 1990’s. So we strolled up and down the river walk and in and out of the casinos several times a day getting in some exercise and doing some people watching.

It perplexes me the number of people who smoke cigarettes. I’m reminded gambling, smoking and drinking seem to go together. It was obvious, many of these smokers were dealing with failing health. Sad! I guess not everyone knows how to make healthy choices … that or they don’t care ūüė™

Laughlin Nevada
getting in our steps along the riverwalk as the sun was rising

We also took the opportunity to check out all the available RV parking opportunities in the area. Most of the casinos offer dry camping in designated sections of their parking lots. There’s also a RV Park with full hook-ups right on the main drag.

Laughlin, NV
most of the casinos allow boondocking in designated sections of their parking lots

On the east side of the Colorado River is Bullhead City, Arizona. This is where Al and I ran a few errands by stopping in at Sam’s Club, Target, and Bed Bath & Beyond.

Just north of Bullhead City is a great campground called Davis Camp. It’s located right along the water and just below the Davis Damn which forms Lake Mohave. Al and I stayed here during our first road trip with the 5th wheel back in 2012. Further up the road is Katherine’s Landing on Lake Mohave. Although the lake looks inviting, the campground here not so much. But from what we’ve heard, this is where the campers in the casino parking lots come to dump their tanks and take on water.

Laughlin NV
Laughlin along the Colorado River

Laughlin Nevada

With our explorations of Laughlin and Bullhead City complete. Al and I were eager to hit the road and return to our RV, but a stop along the way was in order.

pelicans in the desert
Pelicans in the desert?

Stopping at a wildlife refuge

Our route back to Lake Havasu City would take us along the Havasu Wildlife Refuge boundary. I had high hopes to encounter a bunch of birds. Oh, how my camera and I have missed photographing the birds at the Texas Gulf Coast this winter.

Havasu Wildlife Refuge
Havasu Wildlife Refuge

I didn’t prepare to take bird photographs on our little jaunt to Laughlin, Nevada, and therefore left my favorite camera behind. Oh well, this wasn’t a serious photography outing anyway. My point and shoot camera¬†will have to do.

We made a few stops at the Havasu Wildlife Refuge, and although I found a raw beauty in the landscape, the birds were rather elusive.

Havasu Wildlife Refuge
Havasu Wildlife Refuge … in search of birds

During our second stop, I did spot some ducks off in the distance. I walked over to the palm tree on the far right (seen in the photo above) and just then a cormorant flew by.

cormorant in flight
cormorant flies by while a coot bobs in the water

I continued to stand at the water’s edge scouring the landscape. I spot a lone egret in the distance in one direction and some ducks floating in the water in the other direction.

egret Havasu Wildlife Refuge
a lone egret in the distance
Red Heads
Red Head Ducks

Although we didn’t spot an abundance of birds, I did enjoy my quick visit with what few birds we did see. Perhaps if we had a kayak, we could see more of the refuge and possibly more birds.

pelicans Havasu Wildlife Refuge
It’s strange seeing pelicans in the desert. I associate them with the ocean, but I’ve also seen them in Colorado.

All in all, we enjoyed our little vacation. It was a nice three-day get away, but we were glad to get back home to our RV.

Havasu Wildlife Refuge

(affiliate links)
All photos in this post were taken with the
 Panasonic Lumix DC-ZS70  and edited in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 6

Shhh! It’s a Secret

I was deep in thought as I glanced out the truck window watching the never-ending west Texas landscape pass by. ¬†It’s times like these that my mind wanders and I do my best thinking. ¬†Yes siree, Texas is one big state and a state that has a lot to offer; diverse landscape, fun cities, quaint towns, a Gulf Coast, tasty food, and a variety of weather.¬†¬†I’d say, a little something to please anyone’s interests.

Medina River
Bandera, Texas – Medina River

Along with a few new discoveries made this winter, I found myself revisiting a bunch of my¬†favorite spots. ¬†For me, it’s all about nature and looking at life through the lens of my ospreycamera. ¬†With that said, what I love about Texas may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s fine by me. ¬†How boring and crowded¬†it would be if we all liked the same things.

I put a map together to share with you, my¬†wonderful blog followers, ¬†a few of my special haunts along the Texas coast, but shhh, let’s keep these sites between us.¬† It’ll be¬†our secret¬†¬†ūüėÉ ¬†After all, we wouldn’t want the world discovering this unassuming area or encroach on my birds. ¬†Then it just wouldn’t be the same.

pelican
Listen up!

Alright, I’ll admit most of the sites noted on the map aren’t exactly secret, especially during the peak tourist months in summer or¬†those popular¬†holiday breaks, but even then, not everyone knows where to¬†find these magnificent birds.¬† But I do!whooping crane

Now don’t go getting mad at me if there aren’t any birds at the noted sites. ¬†My feathered friends do have wings and a mind of their own. ¬†And they’re really bad about birdschecking in with me – almost as bad as my children!

Obviously, there’s a bunch of things I left off the map. ¬†I really could’ve added another dozen markers, but decided to¬†focus on the¬†sites I personally have a tendency to frequent the most.¬† I’m never at a loss of things to do around here and make new discoveries all the time.

With a little time and exploration along the Texas Gulf Coast, I have no doubt that you too will¬†discover your own favorite spots¬†– spots¬†I might even be¬†unaware of – in which case, you’ll be obligated to share!

After spending two months enjoying the Texas Gulf Coast, it was time for us to hit the road and return to the desert southwest.  Crossing west Texas can seem never-ending, Texas Longhornbut with a little foresight and armed with helpful information about hidden gems, the drive can be bearable and maybe even enjoyable.

Before we can get to west Texas, we’ll need to get to Interstate 10. ¬†The last several times we’ve driven through this part of Texas, affectionately called the hill country, we’ve always included a stop in San Antonio. ¬†Wanting to change things up a bit¬†and avoid the big city, we came up with an alternate route.

Besides, driving through San Antonio with an RV is an adventure unto itself, and not always a pleasant one especially when the GPS and wife are at odds. ¬†Poor Al ūüėę

Texas Hill Country
Spring in the Texas Hill Country – adorable!

Thanks to a recommendation from a wonderful blog follower/friend, we discovered the quaint little town of Bandera, Texas, which is located northwest of San Antonio and south of the town of Kerrville and Interstate 10.

sleeping duckTalk about a great place to overnight and avoid traveling through San Antonio.

Next year, I think we’ll stay here longer and explore the town of Bandera. One night was definitely¬†not enough.¬† Our RV park neighbor mentioned a¬†tasty place for breakfast located within walking distance from the RV park that piqued Al’s interest.

I remained smitten with all the birds along the river and if the weather prediction for west Texas had been better, we absolutely would’ve hung around another day or two. ¬†But with impending wind and rain in the forecast, we felt it best to keep on rolling west. ¬†Yep, it’s crucial to keep an eye out for that Texas weather, especially high winds that can cause brown out conditions or spur up tornadoes.

Eygyptian Goose
Egyptian Goose checking on her eggs

So where did we stay for our overnight in Bandera, Texas?  On the trip down to Rockport, we stayed at the Skyline Ranch RV Park, and on our return to Arizona we stayed in town at the Pioneer River Resort.  Both places are located along the Medina River, but Pioneer is located right in town while Skyline is a few miles out of town.  You can count on being packed in pretty tight at either RV park.

Bandera Texas RV Park
Pioneer River Resort, Bandera, Texas
Bandera Texas
Bandera Community Park along the Medina River. Pioneer River RV Park can be seen in the far distance on left. Sits on the other side of the highway. Easy walk for me to spend time with these guys.
Bandera RV Park
Skyline Ranch RV Park – photo taken as I was walking back from the river.
Skyline RV Park
At Skyline Ranch RV Park it’s all about the deer. The Axis deer are so cute with their spots.

We really enjoyed both RV Parks and it would be a toss up as to which one I’d recommend. ¬†Guess it boils down to whether one prefers staying in town or hanging in the country.

gazebo
This gazebo reminded me of the ‘Gilmore Girls’

On that note, I think I’ll let the photographs do the rest of the talking and show you what makes Texas special¬†to me ….

Medina River
Bandera, Texas РMedina River Рcommunity park.  White momma duck sitting on her nest.
axis deer
Axis deer – Bandera, Texas

Egyptian goose

Medina River

 

 

 

 

 

 

chicks
Spring is in the air!

duck

duck

 

 

 

 

 

 

heron
great blue heron roosting site
pelican
Now that’s a mouth full!
roseate spoonbill
roseate spoonbill
Charlies Pasture
Interesting trails!
cormorants
Life along the coast!

killdeerbird

 

 

 

 

 

sunrise

 

birding center

 

 

 

 

 

Always something interesting to see!

egret

 

 

 

 

 

 

egrethawk

 

 

 

 

 

 

blogging

roseate spoonbills
Until we meet again, my pink beauties!

Adios Texas, until next time…. and yes there absolutely will be a next time!

VIAIR 300P Portable Compressor

the Next EXIT 2017

 

Things to do in Rockport

After a fantastic two month stay along the Texas Gulf Coast, we’ve hitched up and started our journey back to the desert.¬† I love having the¬†freedom to split¬†our time between two such diverse places; the Texas Gulf Coast and the Arizona¬†desert. I’m¬†grateful I don’t have to pick one or the other because each place offers something special and unique.

St. Charles Bay
Sunrise over St. Charles Bay, Texas

First, let’s talk about the water.¬† Gosh, what’s not to like about water, beaches,¬†and sunsets, or in my case, sunrises!¬† All this water is the main attraction and the reason folks year round flock to the Rockport¬†area.

Copano Bay
Rockport is popular with anglers

Rockport BeachYou won’t find much of a beach scene around Rockport/Fulton, but it is an anglers delight.¬† For miles of sandy beach, you’ll want to visit Mustang Island.¬† With that said,¬†there is¬†a small stretch of sandy beach to enjoy at the ¬†Rockport Beach.

The Rockport Beach is a one mile long strip of land with sandy beach on one side of the road and a¬†migratory¬†bird area¬†on the other side.¬† This is a fee use area and you’ll¬†need to leave pooch at home.

There’s a small¬†area roped off¬†so nesting birds won’t be disturbed, making this a worthwhile stop for¬†birders and photographers.¬† It’s also the perfect place to get in a little kayaking and paddle around an island¬†to view¬†nesting migratory birds.great blue heron

Although summer is considered peak tourist season, you’ll find plenty of snowbirds in the winter hanging¬†around and calling themselves winter Texans…. us included.

friendship
Having friends over to our place.

Because this is such a popular place to escape the harsher weather to the north, you never know who you’ll run into around here.¬† Our friends, Faye and Dave, were wintering on Mustang Island, an easy one-hour drive away from our camp and we¬†enjoyed a few get togethers with this entertaining couple.¬† We also managed to squeeze in a few other social engagements.

friendship
And then a get together at their place on Mustang Island.  Faye and Dave on the left.  Al and me on the right

This was our fourth¬†year spending January¬†in this part of Texas¬†and our first time spending February.¬† Thus, I’ve had¬†time¬†to¬†put a dent in¬†this list –¬† 51 things to do near Rockport.

Fulton, TexasRockport/Fulton are quaint, small town communities where everyone waves.¬† You won’t find any high-rise condos around here, although it is a very popular spot for folks from the big cities of San Antonio, Austin, and Houston to own second homes.¬† There’s also no shortage of RV Parks.

roseateThe original draw for us four years ago to visit the Texas Gulf Coast was for Al to meet up with his buddy and do manly things with manly men ūüėȬ† Little did I realize during that first visit, how I’d come to embrace and relish our visits to the Texas Gulf Coast.

And now it’s a toss-up as to¬†which one of us looks more forward to these visits.¬† Thankfully it doesn’t matter considering we’re in full agreement¬†that we’ll continue returning until it no longer fits.

Fishing and hunting is extremely popular round these parts.  We usually roll into town sometime during the last week in December which happens to be duck season.

duck hunting
Duck hunters know how to treat their dogs. Dog gets its own seat, wears a life vest and ear protection.
One hunter says to the other, can I borrow …. truck yes, wife maybe, dog never!

The airboats can be heard going out every morning starting around 5:30 a.m.  Once the Christmas/New Year holiday week is over, the morning noise lightens up during the oyster boatweekday but continues in a steady stream on weekends.  By the end of January, duck season is over and the only airboats going out are anglers and they tend to go out at a much more reasonable hour.

The St. Charles Bay can be rather shallow which is why airboats are so popular.  But during certain tides, the sight of oyster boats are common.  Oyster fishing is huge business around here and the first weekend in March is the Oyster Festival.

A lot of anglers fish from shore or don chest waders and fish while standing in the water.  There are public duck blinds for anyone to use on a first come basis for duck hunting during the season.

duck hunting
These two hunters are wading out to a public blind.  St. Charles Bay, Lamar, Texas.  Oyster boats in the distance.
whooping cranes
There’s a public duck blind in the water above the left crane and arrow sign

Texans love their outdoor recreation.  Allow me to share my winter Texas neighborhood along with the diverse activities taking place within relative close proximity to one another.  AND everyone gets along, respecting recreational choice.

I alternate between walking and riding my bike around the neighborhood.  Envision me having a Julia Roberts moment Рa scene from the movie Eat, Pray, Love.  There I am Light at the end of the tunnelriding my three speed bicycle with a cute basket on the front (gotta have the basket, you know), camera slung across my body. As I pedal slowly, I glide down the tree-lined road.

My long flowing hair blows gently in the breeze (in reality the¬†uncontrollable curly¬†frizz is tightly bound and tucked under a cap¬†in a battle against the extreme humidity and gusting winds ūüėĖ).¬† I take in the sights and wave to passerby’s.¬† As I exit the trees, I’m greeted by the expanse of the bay in the distance.¬† Further down 8th Street, I see several cars parked along the road.¬† The endangered whooping cranes can be seen in the field¬†along with my favorite Brahma calf and a slew of other birds can be seen¬†mingling¬†near a¬†pond.Texas Gulf CoastOf course, I too stop and start taking photographs (duh! like I’d pass up a chance to work that shutter).¬† Folks from around the country and the world visit this part of Texas for the birding.¬† Seeing¬†a family of¬†endangered whooping cranes is a rare and special treat.

Kayaking anyone? He launches at the end of 12th St. and Lamar Beach Road
Truck guy launches kayak at the end of 12th St. and Lamar Beach Road while whooping crane family looks on.  These birds are used to the flurry of activity, but they still stay far away Р600mm zoom and crop
A little later and you can see the green kayak in the water
A little later, you can see the green kayak in the water

There’s several of us lined up along the fence taking photographs of the whooping cranes.¬† Locals and visitors a like engage in idle chit-chat.¬† The loud boom, boom, bang, bang in the distance has a visitor questioning what the noise was. I, considered a winter local, along with another local dweller, exclaim nonchalantly, “Oh, those are the duck hunters in that blind out in the bay”.¬† With that said, we were back to our photo taking and chit-chatting about the birds.Rockport Texas

After snapping the camera’s shutter one too many times, I continue my bike ride along Lamar Beach Road. ¬†I ride¬†by several fishermen enjoying the day.¬† A kayaker in the bay was off paddling¬†while the duck hunters were gathering up¬†their decoys.¬† I¬†roll by¬†pedestrians and¬†other bikers and regardless of who I pass, hellos and waves¬†are exchanged as if we know one another.

Pelican
Pelicans act like begging dogs at the fish cleaning station at Goose Island State Park.

A short time later, I’m pedaling around Goose Island State Park.¬† Although the shore birding around the park can be hit¬†or miss, I can always count on pelicans to entertain me, especially if there’s someone cleaning fish at the cleaning station.

Pelican eating fish
Who needs a human when I can catch my own! ISO 100 F4.0 1/1000  (600mm)
Boat & RV left side-This is our 82 yr old neighbor who is an avid fisherman. He launches, docks, does everything himself and never gets his feet wet! Winters here and spends summers in Montana
Boat & RV left side-This is our 82 yr old neighbor who is an avid fisherman. He launches, docks, does everything himself and never gets his feet wet! He winters here and spends summers in Montana.

Let’s see, so far I’ve biked around the neighborhood.¬† I’ve taken hundreds, actually more like thousands, of bird photographs.¬† I’ve¬†also enjoyed photographing interesting sights and¬†amazing landscapes.

foggy morning
a foggy morning along the coast had me out of the RV by 7:00 a.m.
spider web
a foggy morning provided mystery and interest
marina
marinas offer tons of photographic material – lots of interesting things to see

I can’t forget to mention, a visit to¬†a marina shouldn’t be missed.¬† There’s so much great blue heroncharacter and intrigue to see.¬† Or how about doing a little shopping¬†at Rockport’s historic downtown or touring an art gallery or two. This gal always manages to work in¬†a few¬†days of frivolous shopping.

On a rainy day, I get a kick out of¬†visiting gift shops and checking out the crazy souvenirs. Who thinks up these things, and who buys it? ūüėȬ† Oops – guilty!

Here’s a write-up I did last year sharing a few more¬†sites like the Fulton Mansion.seashells

Hmm, I¬†might write up one¬†more post about the Texas Gulf Coast and then we need to move on.¬† Ah yes, I already miss her…. miss the water and the birds and look forward to¬†returning at the end of the year.¬† But the desert is calling.¬† The desert in bloom can’t be missed!Texas Gulf Coast

Browning Neoprene Dog Waterfowl Hunting Vest, RTM4,M 1303002202 Medium

 

Sougayilang Boot-Foot Chest Waders Waterproof Fishing Hunting Boot Waders (12.5)

 

 

Birding Corpus Christi and the Coastal Bend: More Than 75 Prime Birding Sites (Birding Series)

Love is in the Air

Valentine’s Day … a day for love.¬†¬†Love is in the air here along the¬†Texas Gulf Coast and it hasn’t eluded me.¬† I have a new love in my life whom I find totally¬†irresistible and adorable.¬† Oh, not to worry, I haven’t replaced Al …. yet ūüėÜ

First, I’ve been thoroughly entertained by observing the Great Blue Herons in the neighborhood.¬† They have been hard at work building their nests.

roosting grounds
I love watching this couple build their nest together.
Great Blue Heron
The male retrieves the building materials and together they build their nest
Great Blue Heron
Then the female works on fine tuning the nest – making it just right

And while it seems the Great Blue Herons have already partnered up, some of the other shore birds are still in the courting stage.

roseate spoonbill
There was a lot of vying for attention going on in this group
Grebe
This cute Grebe couple appeared to be discussing lunch options
cormorant
cormorants sitting in silence – awkward ūüėÜ
coot
Coot, they are a hoot
shovel ducks
shovel ducks –¬†out for an afternoon paddle together
skimmers
skimmers taking a break – they’ve decided to see other birds
roseate spoonbill
roseate spoonbills having fun on the pier – first date, going well
spoonbill
singles club

AND now for the latest love in my life ……

brahma bull
kiss me now!

I am in love with this little brahma calf.¬† Isn’t he the cutest?¬† So adorable and irresistible. Think Al will notice the elephant brahma in the room.

brahma bull
let’s play!
brahma
We love our daily visits.  While his cousins play with each other (in the background), Bammi and I visit.
brahma
Can I come home with you?

This is one time, Al is grateful we don’t own acreage.¬† Unfortunately, I’ll be saying goodbye to¬†Bammi the Brahma soon.¬† I have high hopes for this little stud muffin – a world where he never hears the word hamburger.

brahma
Don’t leave me … it is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all!

Wishing you all a very Happy Valentines Day … a¬†day filled with love and joy.¬† My romantic husband has already¬†surprised me with my favorite chocolates, a single red rose,¬†and will be taking me out to lunch – a lovely seafood lunch.¬† I’ll pass on the hamburger, thank you!

great blue heron
Watching and waiting for her man to return!

Set of 4 Love Throw Pillow Cover Valentine’s Day Home Decorative Cushion Case 18 x 18 inch Cotton Line, V-day Gift by 4TH Emotion

 

Acanva Decorative Accent Throw Pillow Cover Cushion Sham Case, Inspirational Sweet Love Quote Print

Comedy of Errors

It was another early morning around the RV.  Once again, Al and his buddy were heading to the marina by 6:15 a.m.  While I sat in bed enjoying my first cup of coffee, I contemplated how energetic I felt.  I determined, not very!Rockport, Fulton, Texas

While sipping my second cup of coffee, I read emails and glanced out the RV window checking for cloud conditions.  Looks like another morning of ho-hum skies, eliminating any urgency to leave the comforts of the RV post-haste for a photo-op.

roseate spoonbillFinally around 8:30, I hopped in the truck and headed on over to¬†one of my¬†favorite areas¬†to walk.¬† I figured, I might as well get in some exercise since the day won’t be about photography.¬† But this gal never goes anywhere without her trusty camera slung around her neck.¬† One never knows when a rare photo-op might present itself!

There’s a relatively new housing development being built not too far away from our RV park near Rockport, Texas.

This former home builder¬†still likes being around new construction and enjoys checking out the latest trends in the housing industry.¬† I¬†even enjoy¬†the smell of lumber!¬† I know, weird ūüėŹ

new homes
I still like checking out new construction housing developments – walkway lower right.¬† This photo was taken on a¬†beautiful sunny day …. just one of many.
paver boardwalk
this is the walkway aka boardwalk in the new housing development. Houses are on the right Рmarsh and Gulf on the left. This photo was taken on that foggy morning in my previous post

Anyway, I love getting in daily strolls in this gated community.¬† Most of the homeowners are only here occasionally … maybe on weekends or holidays.¬† The houses are used primarily as second homes.¬† Thus, I usually have the “boardwalk” (their label, not mine) to myself.Gulf shore birds

I parked the truck in my regular spot and took the path to the walkway.  As I started down the boardwalk, I immediately gasped in awe and glee.  The little ponds in the marshes were loaded with shore birds. Thank goodness, I brought my camera.  It was a gloomy, overcast morning and my camera seemed to have difficulty focusing.  Perhaps, it was camera shake due to my excitement.

Texas birding
this may¬†be reality ¬†…. but
colorful birds
This is what my mind saw – a flurry of color – where to look? where to point the camera? To say I was excited would be an understatement!

I was elated to have stumbled upon so many shore birds.  I did my best not to startle them, but the slightest movement on my part seemed to send them flying off to the roseate spoonbillnext pond. I slowly followed in their direction and my camera continued to work in overdrive.

Well over an hour¬†later, it was time for me to leave.¬† Oh, how¬†I¬†wanted to stay¬†longer, but my teeth were floating from the coffee ingested earlier.¬† As I approached the truck, I dug around in my bag for the keys.¬† I couldn’t seem to find them.¬† I entered the code on the keyless entry pad¬†on the driver’s side door of the truck and began searching the vehicle floor, ignition, passenger seat and still no keys.¬† It is so not like me to misplace my keys.egret

I began to wonder if the keys had somehow fallen out of my bag while I was retrieving a new camera battery.  After all, there was a lot of excitement going on and while I dug in the bag for the battery, I kept my eyes on the birds.

So it was back to the boardwalk to retrace my steps.¬† Still no keys.¬†¬†Eek!¬† I’m¬†frazzled and really need to pee but the last time I used the construction porta-potty, I attracted a lot of attention from the workers … something I was hoping to avoid this go around.¬† Plus,¬†I was in no mood for jovial sparring.

egret
someone’s feathers are ruffled

“Check the truck again, Ingrid”, I said to myself.¬† I tried punching in the code on the keypad but had a total space out.¬† Oh my gosh, I¬†can’t remember the code!¬† ūüėĪ¬† Just then, one of the¬†landscapers yelled something out to me.¬† In a daze, I asked, “I’m sorry, what?”¬† He repeats, “Did you get some nice shots?”¬† “Oh, yeah”, I responded, still frazzled.¬† heron

All I could think about was loosing all the keys on my key chain.  The truck key was one thing, but the other keys, holy sh*t, not easily replaced!!!

As I responded to the landscaper, something to the left of¬†him caught my eye.¬† Ah-hah!¬†¬†There was a¬†lone porta-potty in the distance and after a quick visit, I was¬†once again able to thick clearly.¬†¬†I still couldn’t remember the keyless entry code on the truck though.¬† Talk about a brain fart ūüôĄ

Oh well, I shrugged. I’ll walk back to the RV Park and get Al’s keys which he always leaves behind¬†while boating.¬† I¬†thought about¬†calling my friend and neighbor in the RV park, but I forgot to take my cell phone with me – grrr.¬† So¬†that wasn’t an¬†option.¬† Well, I needed the exercise anyway considering I got sidetracked earlier by all those birds.great blue heron

So it was off to the RV Park by foot.¬† Along the way, I discovered the roosting grounds for Great Blue Herons and a delightful pond.¬† ¬†Once again, I was sidetracked and found myself meandering through a grove of twisted oak trees all the while my brain kept saying, ‘focus – tend to business’.

pond
note the tops of the trees – great blue herons nesting

I couldn’t help but¬†get sidetracked, but soon logic took over and I was once again on¬†my way to the RV Park.

But then ….¬†the unique sound of the Black Bellied Whistling Ducks stopped me in my tracks.¬† These¬†squeaky guys¬†always make me smile and I can’t resist looking up to the skies when I hear them to catch a glimpse of their beautiful coloring.¬† Little did I know, I was in for a treat.¬† As I stood still trying to blend in to the truck of an oak tree, I¬†watched them circle.¬† Hundreds of whistling ducks landed not far from me.¬† Then to top it off, a deer emerged from the brush.

whistling ducks
black bellied whistling ducks

whistling ducks

Alas, after being sidetracked a couple of times, I finally made it to the RV¬†to retrieve Al’s keys.¬† I stuck my cell phone in my bag (just in case) and briskly returned to the truck.¬† Well…. maybe¬†briskly is an over statement since there was a slight detour back through the oak trees¬†and the¬†heron nesting grounds.¬† But I swear, it was brief ūüėČ

great blue heronBy the time I returned back to the RV with the truck, Al was home.¬† He and his buddy had a great morning out on the water.¬† He¬†had worked up an appetite and wanted to know, “What’s for lunch?”¬† Twenty minutes later, we were sitting at the local dive up the road indulging in an awesome shrimp po-boy sandwich arguing over the code to the truck keypad.¬† Seems I confused Al, as well as myself.

To wrap up the day …. I had one of the most exciting bird photography¬†mornings ever along with a very cool location discovery.¬† My close proximity to the shore birds is what lent to the thrill.

I lost my keys and later found¬†my keys¬†on the backseat floor.¬† Don’t ask ūüėܬ† I ended up walking about four miles that day.¬† I took hundreds of blurry photos.¬† Therefore, broke my camera.¬† Oops!¬† User error?¬† Maybe!¬† Fixed my camera.

sunrise
someone woke someone early!

I confused my husband¬†regarding the keyless entry code on the truck, but not to worry.¬†¬† The code was recalled in the wee morning hours the next day …. I believe someone waking someone exclaiming, “I¬†REMEMBER THE CODE”¬†was involved.

Lost my keys.  Found my keys.  Walked four miles.  Broke my camera.  Fixed my camera.  Communed with hundreds of birds.  Confused my husband.  Husband remains confused (living with me thirty plus years, confusion justified lol).  What an exciting day.  Ah, rarely a dull moment in the life of a full-time RVer!seagull

Fitbit Charge 2 Heart Rate + Fitness Wristband, Black, Large

 

Adobe Lightroom 6 / CC Video Book: Training for Photographers

Enjoying it All

Is there anything prettier than a desert sunset? Or how about the beautiful fall colors in the Rocky Mountains?  And then there’s the dawning of a new day as the sunrises over the Gulf of Mexico.Gulf Coast

I love fantastic scenery, and all these various places are pretty special in their own¬†unique way. I’m grateful I don‚Äôt have to choose a favorite, at least for the time being.¬† With my little house on wheels, I get to change up the scenery as often¬†or as little as I like.

Great Blue HeronAs I was watching the sunrise over the Gulf of Mexico this morning, I began wondering, “Could I live here”?¬† Sure, I’m living here for two months, but could I live here longer? You know, own a sticks and bricks house here!

Al and I know that some day,¬†we’d like to find a home base. That doesn’t mean we’d stop RVing or stop traveling …. it just means, we’d have a place to return to and regroup.

Our original plan all along was to move into the¬†RV full-time¬†for a year or two until we found “that place”, that special somewhere.¬† And here we are, four years later and no closer to finding that place.¬† In reality, I’m not sure we’ve looked very hard ūüėȬ†This mobile lifestyle can be addicting.¬† It allows us the opportunity to enjoy a multitude of diverse landscapes.¬† We get to enjoy it all.

Fulton Beach Texas
Hmm, not a bad neighborhood …¬†But no mountain views around here!

I love visiting the Texas Gulf Coast, but I already know come the end of February I will be Texas Shore birdsready to move on.¬† I’ll want to see some mountains, some red rocks, and of course see my children.

Thus, the Texas Gulf Coast will remain a favorite place to visit, but not¬†a place¬†I’d want to live full-time.

Perhaps if one of my children were to move to Texas … perhaps then, I’d change my mind.

So what do I like about the Texas Gulf Coast? First and foremost is the wildlife, as in the birds.  I love the shore birds and can watch and observe them for hours and quite often do.

seagulls

shore birds

Birds are definitely a challenge to photograph.  When I do manage to snap that special shot, I get super excited.  That excitement is usually short lived once the photo is uploaded onto the computer.  Disappointment is followed by the desire to get back out into the field and see if I can do a better job and capture a clear image.

No two days are the same.  I can never count on the birds being in the same spot.  I know, how rude of them not to leave breadcrumbs for me!

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron

Cormorant

I spend most every morning in search of photographic opportunities.¬† It’s the perfect excuse for me to get out of the RV and get in some exercise …. walk or ride¬†my bicycle.¬† I do have to drive to some places though.¬† There’s no beach near our RV park.

Rockport Beach
Rockport Beach, Texas

When the birds are being illusive near camp, I’ll hop in the truck and go in search.¬† I have some favorite areas I like to scope out.¬† When all else fails, I’ll walk the beach¬†looking¬†for¬†seashells.¬† There’s¬†always¬†an interesting¬†discovery to be made, or at the very least, a photo-op.Rockport Beach

This is my first year strolling¬†the Rockport Beach.¬† It’s a fee use area if you choose to¬†drive in toward the picnic area and pavilions.¬† I’ve been¬†parking near the blue crab or marina and walking along the waters edge.¬†¬†It’s a lovely beach and a great way to get in those exercise steps.Blue Crab

If you’d like a bit more information on the area, you can always check out some of my egretposts from previous years or feel free to contact me.

Here’s a post I did about camping options along the Texas Gulf Coast.

Since this is a snowbirders haven, we always manage to connect with fellow full-time RVer’s. Here’s¬†a post on one such rendezvous.

There’s also a bunch of museums and¬†aquariums in the area worth visiting.¬† Here’s the post about us visiting an aircraft carrier. (all colored text is linked)

More bird photos forthcoming …. you’ve been warned!

Texas: A Historical Atlas

 

Texas BBQ: Meat, Smoke & Love

Exquisite and Graceful

This is our fourth winter RVing along the Texas Gulf Coast, and it has not disappointed. The weather has been enjoyable this year with no mention of a¬†polar vortex,¬†thank goodness. With that said, I’m taking full advantage of getting out of the RV everyday to commune with my feathered friends.Shore birds

I don’t consider myself a birder, but merely, someone who admires birds, especially shore birds. ¬†My fascination with these birds was piqued during that very first visit to the Gulf of Mexico. ¬†I’ve always enjoyed wildlife photography, but bird photography was a new game. ¬†It challenged me then, and continues to challenge me now.

Family of whooping cranes - mom, dad, juvenile
Family of whooping cranes – mom, dad, juvenile

I always look forward to our return trips to Texas to observe and photograph the exquisite and graceful whooping crane, an endangered species who’s numbers were in the teens back in the 1940’s and are now in the 500+ range. ¬†Habitat and poaching still threaten these magnificent birds, but efforts are¬†being made by various organizations to help these cranes.

Whooping Cranes - endangered
A family of endangered whooping Cranes

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention this beautiful pink beauty … the roseate spoonbill. Her deep pink is truly stunning. Actually, it’s the male of the species that sports the deepest of the hue. ¬†This is one dude who knows how to wear pink well!roseata spoonbil

However, I find the egret embodies a certain grace and elegance.  Her snowy white plumage, long black legs, and bright yellow feet have me comparing her to a princess. He or she?  In the case of the egret, both sexes are bright white and thus difficult to decipher.egret

Tri-colored HeronTri-colored Herons feel equally as regal and exude a unique level of gracefulness. Their grayish blue coloring with patches of deep purple is truly stunning.

Ah, then there are the pelicans … oh those pelicans. What can I say about these whimsical creatures?

When in-flight they exhibit a grace comparable to the whooping crane, but when they plunge into the water fishing for dinner, well let’s just say, the sight is anything but graceful and is downright comical.

I’m still trying to capture a video of a pelican diving for fish, but am always in the midst of laughing and fail to point the camera in the right direction. ¬†I’ll keep working on that!

pelican yoga!
pelican yoga!

Overall, I find pelicans to be rather entertaining and full of character and when they aren’t flying, they exhibit absolutely no grace what so ever.pelicans

I’ve got another month hanging along the Texas Gulf Coast with my feathered friends. ¬†I hope to capture more photographs of these amazing shore birds, and in the process, work on getting in my exercise steps ūüėé

Birding Corpus Christi and the Coastal Bend: More Than 75 Prime Birding Sites (Birding Series)

Fitbit Charge 2 Heart Rate + Fitness Wristband, Black, Large

 

 

 

This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure can be found here or in the sidebar.

Wordless Wednesday

I took a¬†lot of photographs last month and while going through them, I realized it really is¬†true; a picture is worth a thousand words.¬† Here’s a bunch of reasons why we enjoy visiting the Texas Gulf Coast…..Rockport

sandhill cranes
sandhill cranes

photography

Getting ready to find some babe's - "Hey Joe, do I have bad breath?" "Joe, smell my armpit"
Getting ready to find some babe’s – “Hey Joe, do I have bad breath?” “Joe, smell my armpit”
Morning yoga - proud warrior
Pelicans make me smile. Morning yoga – proud warrior pose
downward dog
downward dog
running into like minded folks!
Running into like minded folks! Although my equipment doesn’t come close, we all share a passion for photography and the birds.
Hearing their wings as they flew over me was exhilarating. I'm ok with the fact that I didn't achieve good focus. They were moving over me relatively fast and I got a little jittery excited. Taken at 300mm and almost no cropping.
Hearing the wings of this whooping crane and sandhill crane as they flew over me was exhilarating. I’m ok with the fact that I didn’t achieve good focus. They were moving over me relatively fast and I got a little jittery and excited. Taken at 300mm w/minimal crop.

Egret

photography

egret

photography

photography

birding

birding

Corpus Christi, Texas
Corpus Christi, Texas

photography

The beginning of a new day!
The beginning of a new day!