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 😆

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 😆
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!

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

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’t 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 😉 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

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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Moving down the coast

Whew!  We made it back to Arizona and are now camped near the town of Benson.  All I can say is Texas is one BIG state.  Before I start posting about our Arizona adventures, I want to finish up with the places we stayed while in Texas…….Rockport Texas

After a very fun stay in Galveston, Texas it was time to hit the road again.  We had four days in between reservations.  That meant, we had four days to do a three and a half hour drive.  Now that’s what I call meandering.

We still hadn’t firmly made up our minds about where we wanted to stay during that four-day time frame.  So we just hit the road moving south along the Texas Gulf Coast.  We had two options in mind; the Matagorda Bay Nature Park or Goose Island State Park.  Hmm, decisions!

When you purchase the yearly Texas State Park Pass for $70, you and your accompanying guests get free access to all Texas State Parks plus you’re given four cyber coupons good for 1/2 off a night of camping.  With that in mind, we decided on Goose Island State Park and put one of those coupons to use.

Beach camping
Goose Island State Park – Bay side campsites

Goose Island State ParkWe opted for a bay side site wanting to bask in as much sunshine as possible.  The other camping loops are nestled in a grove of oak trees with lots of low-lying branches and plenty of shade.  The folks at Goose Island State Park are very accommodating and upon check-in they will allow you to drive through the campground first and pick out Beach campinga site.  That’s a huge bonus as many of the bay side sites are not very level.  Some have a huge hump.

The campsites located in the loops with the oak trees could be challenging for bigger RV’s, so it’s nice to lay eyes on the sites first.

We lucked out with excellent weather during this 3 night stay.  Keep in mind while camping close to the water that salt spray is very corrosive and it only takes a couple of days for rust to show up. Last year, when the wind and weather kicked up, we saw a wave or two actually hit some RV’s camped in these bay side sites, but it doesn’t take actual contact to start the corrosion.

FYI – this part of Texas has sketchy Verizon coverage.  We had no problem with our internet but we did have issues talking on the phone.  This is AT&T country.  We received about 3 TV channels with our Jack Antenna.

Texas State Parks
A view of the fishing pier out my RV window at sunrise at Goose Island State Park
Mustang Island State Park
Mustang Island State Park – parking lot style camping

Port Aransas TexasFrom Goose Island State Park we continued down the coast to Mustang Island State Park for our scheduled two-week stay. This was a 45 minute drive and included a ferry crossing.

The campground isn’t the greatest but we love the area.  Within a short walk from the campsite over the dunes are miles and miles of gorgeous beach.  Corpus Christi, Texas is an easy 20 minute drive away with plenty of sights and shopping.  The quaint beach town of Port Aransas is 10 minutes up the road.

At Mustang Island State Park we had good Verizon coverage – internet and phone.  We pulled in a dozen TV channels with our over the air antenna.  When you book a week, the rate is discounted. The on site bath house is probably the oldest and most rustic we’ve encountered in the last couple of years.  I’m trying to be diplomatic, but between you and me, I thought the showers were pretty bad – old with lack of privacy. But overall we enjoyed our stay at Mustang Island State Park and would definitely stay here again.

Sand dunes
Me relaxing amongst the dunes and listening to the waves at Mustang Island State Park

How about some other camping options on Mustang Island?  Trust me when I say, you won’t run out of choices.

Mustang Island State Park

Boondocking
These tents were pitched along the shipping channel near Charlie’s Pasture Nature Center
Port Aransas
This RV was parked on the beach in Port Aransas near I.B. Magee Park

BoondockingBoondocking in the area?  YES!  Overnight camping is allowed in quite a few areas on Mustang Island but requires a permit from Nueces County for a fee.  Padre Island National Seashore has miles of sandy beach geared toward tenting and offers two dry camping campgrounds for RV’s.  Fees are very inexpensive

On the Aransas Pass side of the channel there is free boondocking and usually one or two RV’s at any given time can be spotted.  On weekends it can be busier.

Do note; the ground is rutted with some soft, sandy spots.  It would be wise to be able to read the lay of the land and have a good understanding of low tide versus high tide.

Mustang Island offers a multitude of private RV parks.  My folks used to winter at Pioneer RV Resort and it’s a very nice RV park.  If luxury is your thing, check out Gulf Waters RV Resort.  There are at least 3 more RV parks I drove by in the town of Port Aransas but they all seemed cramped and something I wouldn’t be interested in, not to say they aren’t nice, just not my cup of tea.

Polly Anna
Buy shrimp right off the boat in Port Aransas

Ok, let’s wrap up this post with the RV park where we spent the month of January.  This was our second January at this park and I viewed it a whole lot differently this year than last year.  I found it more enjoyable this go around, perhaps because I knew exactly what to expect.

Hidden Oaks RV Park
Entrance – Hidden Oaks RV Resort

First, the park was chosen by Al’s buddy and if you recall the whole reason for us being in Rockport, Texas, was for the guys to do manly things with manly men.  That said, Hidden Oaks RV Park is a no frills, rustic kind of place and located just down the road from Goose Island State Park.  It’s an ideal place for Sportsmen.  There’s even an apartment available in the club house for a nightly/weekly rate.

Although there aren’t any Park Models on site, there are trailers kept here year round as second homes.  The sites are close together, grassy with some gravel.  There are oak trees and low branches making maneuvering a bit of a challenge in spots.

Hidden Oaks RV Park
We stayed in one of their newer sites this year

The unique oak trees are pretty much a theme around Rockport as are goat heads…. you know, those tiny little burrs that stick to everything including pooches poor paws. We’ve encountered those little suckers everywhere in southern Texas and boy do they stick…. and hurt!

Last year I did check out a bunch more RV parks in the Rockport area and did not find anything more inviting than Hidden Oaks. On that note, let me share what I DID enjoy about the place.

Hidden Oaks RV Resort is located in a rural residential area and just down the street from the state park making it great for bike rides and walks.  Whooping cranes and Sandhill cranes hang out just a couple of blocks away and I could hear the cranes from my RV.  On occasion they even flew over the RV Park.  Management and guests are ALL extremely helpful, friendly, and engaging.  And the price is right at $300 for the month plus electric.  It fits our needs and interests and we would stay here again.  Remember this part of Texas is a birder’s and angler’s paradise.

Verizon and TV coverage is sketchy – same as I noted for Goose Island State Park.Corpus Christi Texas

So that’s it for my Texas campground review.  Let me know if I missed something or if you have any questions.  Happy trails!

Set of 20 Red LED Mini Valentine’s Day Heart Christmas Lights – White Wire
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Majestic Beauty

I’ve been a little under the weather as of late and thus a tad on the quiet side.  That said, few words are necessary when it comes to the Whooping Crane.  Allow me to share the majestic beauty of the endangered Whooping Crane.  Watching these guys always leaves me speechless.

whooping crane
Beautiful family of three. Mother, Father, child.

With less than 500 left in the world, I feel privileged to be able to see these magnificent creatures every day as they winter just a couple of blocks away from our RV Park.whooping crane

It’s also not uncommon for me to hear their loud, distinctive calls while sitting in my RV.  I can’t see them from the RV, but I sure can hear them.

During one of my morning strolls, a foggy morning I might add, I managed to witness a heated exchange.

whooping cranes
the 3 teenage whooping cranes eyeing the young juvenile.

The exchange took place because dad did not like the way the three teenagers were looking at his daughter (I don’t know if the juvenile is a girl, but it sure did look like an over protective dad protecting a daughter).  As the three teenagers (yes, they are teenagers at 2 years of age) started walking toward the family, dad was quick to let them know it was time for them to move on.  The loud whooping calls continued amongst the group until the dad had finally had enough and ran toward the three teenagers.

whooping cranes
Dad is not happy with the teenagers. “Stop looking at my daughter!”
whooping cranes
the teenagers are run off by dad

This type of encounter is common as families are territorial and don’t like to mingle with others when they have a child.  Their priority is protecting their young one.

whooping cranes
the teenagers hang out with the sandhill cranes

The three teenage whooping cranes are still too young to partner up thus these three whooping cranes can be found hanging together all the time and sometimes they hang out with the Sandhill Cranes. Once they do find partners, they mate for life.whooping cranes

Even though the 3 whoopers have lost all the rust coloring of juvenile status, they don’t come into mating age until they are about 3 years of age.whooper

I’m still awed by these magnificent birds.  They stand 5 feet tall (1.5 meters) and have a wingspan of 7.5 feet (2.3 meters).  They can live to be 22 – 24 years old in the wild.  All the whoopers I’ve photographed here are wild whooping cranes and not one is banded.whooping cranewhooping cranesMy most memorable moment thus far was the day they flew right over me.  I can’t believe I managed to hold my camera steady as I whooping crane looked up in awe…. such a rare experience.  Did you know this group of whooping cranes spend their winter here along the Texas Gulf Coast and their summers at the Wood Buffalo National Park in far northern Alberta, Canada?  That’s a 2,400 mile journey.whoopersThere’s also another group of whooping cranes in Wisconsin.  You can read more about this group and the International Crane Foundation here.whooping craneEven though I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again…. I don’t consider myself a birder, just someone who appreciates the beauty of wildlife.  And the whooping crane is one fine and rare beauty that draws me back to this part of Texas time and again.endangered cranes
The Man Who Saved the Whooping Crane: The Robert Porter Allen Story
Sandhill and Whooping Cranes: Ancient Voices over America’s Wetlands

Happy Hour (s)

I’m sitting in a new location looking out my rear window enjoying a great view, and although I’m looking forward to exploring my new surroundings, there’s a part of me that’s sad.  Normally I’m ready to move on to a new location after a 2 to 4 week stay in any one spot, but not in this case.Rockport Fulton Texas

Ok, maybe I was ready to change the location of the RV, but I wasn’t ready to leave the area.  Perhaps its my newfound infatuation with the endangered whooping cranes.  Maybe its the serene sunrises or sunsets.RVingHappy hourOr maybe it was a culmination of things that lead to one heck of a good time.

The beauty of staying in one location for a month offers us the ability to scope out local shops, local eateries, and make connections with fellow RVer’s and bloggers.

Al and I found ourselves returning to Moon Dog Seaside Eatery several times during our stay and enjoyed introducing new friends to this fine establishment.  Great food, $2.50 margaritas during happy hour, a table near the water watching dolphins swim by, and Fido is welcome…..worth at least one visit.

So speaking of happy hour and fellow bloggers, when Donna and I realized we were camped just down the road from each other, it didn’t take long for us to set up a time to meet at Moon Dogs.  It was fun meeting Donna and her husband Dennis for drinks at my favorite hole in the wall joint.  Small world sometimes…..turns out, not only did Al and Donna grow up in neighboring small towns in Illinois, they actually dated in high school.  Unfortunately, Donna didn’t dish any dirt from those high school years….perhaps more alcohol was needed 😆Moondog Seaside Eatery

Fun times and the fun continued…. The next day, Al and I were out riding our bikes around the neighborhood.  Another couple were riding their bikes in the opposite direction (with the ladies in the lead of course).  As we approached each other, our pedaling slowed, glances were met….. “Are you Faye?”  “Yes, are you Ingrid?”  Sounds like it’s time for happy hour at Moon Dogs again.  The four of us had a great time sitting outside watching the fishing boats, the birds, exchanging tales, and enjoying good food and drinks.  I know our paths are bound to cross again as we’ll be traveling around to similar locations.

happy hour
Al, Faye, Ingrid, Dave

Between the birding, the exploring, the socializing, the eating, and the drinking we had a fabulous month in Rockport, Texas.  I think I’ll let my photos do the rest of the talking…..don't mess with Texas

whooping crane

I loved tracking down the endangered whooping crane and found myself observing these beauties at every opportunity that presented itself.  To hear their unique sound click on this short you tube video;
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTWOnLst0-4&feature=youtu.beBlack Bellied Whistling Duck

Snapping a photo of the Black Bellied Whistling Ducks in flight was a treat.  The Pintail ducks are especially pretty.

pintail ducks
pintail ducks

And then

Heron & Egrets
Great Blue Heron & Great Egret

there were the various Herons and Egrets…….

great egret
great egret

The Long Billed Curlew and Cormorant were a treat…….

As were the Seagulls and Pelicans…..

Turkeys, Vultures, and Spoonbills….oh my!

But my favorite were the cranes.  I was duly entertained by the sandhill cranes and whooping cranes and can’t wait to return to this part of Texas next winter to revisit these magnificent birds.  Farewell Gulf Coast – until we meet again!

Sandhill crane
Sandhill Cranes
whooping cranes
whooping cranes – mother, father, child

whooping crane
whooping crane
Bushnell Powerview 16×32 Compact Folding Roof Prism BinocularNational Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, Sixth Edition

51 Things to Do

Last Tuesday…..

As another ‘polar’ vortex makes its way south to the Texas Gulf Coast, hubby and I stay nestled inside our 250 square foot home on wheels.  With plenty of propane, electric, and a couple of layers of clothing, we stay toasty warm as the high winds rustle the trees and rock the rig.Rockport Texas

As much as the swaying trees and limbs would occasionally make me nervous, I was glad to be surrounded by the mature grove of oak trees breaking the wind.  This is when I got to thinking more about these unusual oak trees.whoopers1,000 year old tree

I don’t know about you, but when I envision a coastal town I see beaches, palm trees, multi-colored houses, high rise condos, and quaint shops in a beach town setting.  Rockport, Texas, is a combination of all that……well not exactly; no high rise condos, very little beach, and instead of palm trees the area boasts an abundance of wind swept oak trees.  Oh, there’s the occasional palm tree here and there, but it’s all about the oak trees.

When we turned off Highway 35 to get to our RV Park I was surprised by the trees.  The above photo is the road that leads to Goose Island State Park as well as Hidden Oaks RV Park….. pretty, but a little nerve wracking when driving or pulling a high clearance vehicle.

sandhill cranes

Usually when folks talk about Rockport they’re quite often referring to the area which is technically more than one town; the town of Rockport, Texas, with a population slightly under 9,000 and the town of Fulton hovering around 1,600.  The dividing line between these two communities is somewhat blurred as one town blends into the other.  Therefore, it’s common for one to refer to the area as Rockport – Fulton or just Rockport, but to confuse you even further Goose Island State Park is actually located in the town of Lamar which is just across the Copano Bay with a population of around 600 but still referred to as ‘Rockport’.Hidden Oaks RV

I never tire of riding my bike or walking around this neighborhood in the town of Lamar, Texas.  The trees and vegetation are dense. The only evidence of the presence of any homes are the driveways leading into the grove of trees. It isn’t uncommon for me to startle deer, birds, or other wildlife as I meander down the roads. The occasional clearings give the cranes room to land.boondocking This particular road (12th Street) ends near the shore of the St. Charles Bay, and also takes you to an oak tree reportedly over 1,000 years old.  Aptly titled the “Big Tree”, this mature oak tree measures 11 feet (3.41 meters) across the trunk, 44 feet tall (13.4 meters), 35 feet around (10.71 meters), and 89 feet across the crown (27.1 meters).

oldest oak tree

wind swept oak trees

The fence was put around the tree to keep people from walking near the base of the tree thus compacting the roots which makes it hard for the tree to get water.  Visiting the Big Tree is listed among one of 51 things to do in Rockport.Lamar cemetary

Visiting the Lamar cemetery is also listed as a ‘thing to do’ especially for history buffs; burials from Confederate Army soldiers, WWI soldiers, as well as other’s dating back 150 years. Even in the cemetery the oak trees are a feature adding a sense of mystery and character.whooping cranes

whooping crane

During storms and high winds, the trees act as shelter for a sorts of wildlife perhaps even the whooping cranes.whooping cranes

So let’s see…… we’ve visited the Big Tree, stopped at the Lamar Cemetery, and saw the whooping cranes; 3 down, 48 left of the 51 Things to do in Rockport.  Hmm, doubt I’ll whittle down that list since our time in Rockport is coming to an end.Rockport

We’ll be hitting the road and one of our stops will be Fredericksburg, Texas.  Any recommendations on places to camp or things to do in the area would be welcome.  Either comment here or email me at livelaughrv@hotmail.com   Thanks and I can’t wait to be in better Verizon territory.  This intermittent connectivity is driving me crazy!

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

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)