What A Difference A Few Hours Makes
Thursday, 15 February 2007 - It's now afternoon as I continue this morning's report (see entry below) and I'm back in my oh-so-comfortable recliner with the RV back on its campsite.
Despite Camper Clinic's past organizational failings, they had the new microwave installed and working and us back on the road in a little over an hour this morning.
We had the RV backed into its spot, camp setup, and the satellites accessed by a little after 11:00am, celebrated with lunch out at Taco Baell, shot some photos at nearby Little Bay in Rockport, returned home and got a nap (neither of us having slept well last night).
And, in a spirit of cooperation, the weather has cleared and the sun has warmed things up to 50°F/10°, so in a matter of only a few hours things have returned more or less back to normal, although tonight is supposed be even colder than last night. At least we won't have to deal with moving the RV again in the cold. According to the long range forecast, we've seen the end of this chilly weather for at least two weeks, but I've seen that forecast before and it proved to be completely wrong, so I'm not holding my breath, but the sun sure looks nice.
The photo above is of a road lined by live oak trees only a few miles from here near Goose Island State Park.
Repairs Being Done
Thursday, 15 February 2007 - As I write this report I'm sitting in the waiting area of Camper Clinic in Rockport, Texas. Nothing seriously wrong with the RV, just the appointment we scheduled for the RV's defective microwave to be replaced.
We could have paid $65 to have it replaced onsite in the RV park and I'm now sorely regretting not having done that because the temperature tanked last night, dropping all the way down to freezing, which not only means we had to pack up, hitch up, and move the RV into town this morning, having to deal with everything outside being very cold, but worst, also running the risk of the plumbing freezing and bursting its pipes once the RV is sitting on the clinic parking lot without the furnace running. Fortunately though, the temperature had gone up a couple degrees by the time we actually arrived here, so I'm no longer worried about the plumbing.
If Camper Clinic had shown any signs of being organized, I'd have opted to forget about the appointment this morning and wait until they could work an onsite appointment into their schedule, but this is the place that never called when they said they would and lost contact information and even appointment information, so the chances are too high they wouldn't have shown up until after we leave here in a week or two and I'll just be happy if they get the new microwave installed this morning and life can get back to normal.
Then yesterday the truck developed a problem with the dash lights not working properly. They work until any of the outside lights are turned on (headlights or running lights or parking lights) and then the dash lights dim until they can't be seen during daylight. Sigh! Fortunately, tomorrow we are scheduled to take the truck in for its next scheduled maintenance and hopefully they can take care of the problem then. The truck has also developed a slow fuel leak where the intake hose attaches to the top of the fuel tank. This is only a problem when the tank is full and probably involves nothing more than tightening the hose clamp. That too should be rectified tomorrow.
So, it rained last night, almost turning to freezing rain, and this morning it is near freezing and overcast with the threat of more rain...the worst possible day we've seen in a long time to have to deal with moving the RV, so if anyone thinks the nomadic lifestyle is a walk in the park everyday, think again.
The photo above was taken during one of our recent brief glimpses of the sun and is of a family of sandhill cranes that was in a field near the back road to Bayside. This has become a common scene for us as we drive through that area.
Nothing Much Happening
Tuesday, 13 February 2007 - Due to mostly cloudy weather and scattered showers having moved back in, we haven't done much of note since my last report, but at least the weather has been generally mild and even warm a time or two. We have had a few glimpses of the sun, but they've been brief.
Nor am I complaining about so much cloudy weather. It looks like serious winter has finally arrived up north and down here we can still go out sometimes in short sleeves.
Between showers, I've been walking more with Sandra recently. The photo here is of a couple horses that I took on one of those walks and is just down the road from the RV park. We've also walked along the beach in Rockport and around its downtown some, although there's still more to see there, and we walked around one of the bird sanctuaries in town (the Connie Hagar Cottage Sanctuary), but saw no birds to speak of, naturally. They're all over the place around here, just not in the areas set aside for them. Go figure.
For Sandra's account of the last few days, visit her blog by clicking here.
We Whoop It Up
Wednesday, 7 February 2007 - Not really relevant to anything, but today would have been my parents' 63 wedding anniversary, had they still been alive.
The weather has improved greatly the last few days (although the forecast is for another period of clouds and rain), so Sandra and I have been out and about quite a bit, taking advantage of the sun while we had it and making a determined effort to see some of the local birding hotspots we hadn't been to before, plus revisiting some of the old standbys.
Aransas National Wildlife Refuge
Then yesterday, we drove up to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, about a half hour by road north of here. It is best known for being the winter home of the once almost extinct but now recovering Whooping Crane. Unfortunately, you can't see these cranes from within the refuge since they roam far from the road and at best are mere white spots in the distance. In fact, you can't see much at all of any great interest from within the refuge, but it's still a nice drive and the resident alligator (photo above left) was near the viewing fence. Most interesting this time though was the park service wasn't charging an entrance fee because they were doing a prescribed burn right by the road about halfway into the refuge, which meant they weren't letting visitors drive past that point. The burn was quite interesting though (photo below left).
Back to Refugio
From there we headed west, intending to return to the town of Refugio, but taking a short detour along the way to see the village of Austwell, since it was there. Turned out that Austwell looks surprisingly like Bayside, a cluster of nondescript seedy houses with a fishing pier extending out into a large body of water. We didn't stay long in Austwell, not even stopping except to photograph a couple wild pigs we saw near the pier.
It's 30 miles (50 km) from Austwell to Refugio and a large part of that drive is through vast featureless flat-as-a-pancake farms with gigantic fields that extend to the horizon and the rest is through equally vast ranches, or it might have been just a single ranch, but we saw far more wildlife on the drive than we saw in the refuge, typical for my experience with those places. In fact, the only refuges we've ever been to where the wildlife was actually close enough to photograph was at the George C. Reifel Bird Sanctuary near Vancouver, British Columbia and the nearby (for now) Leona Belle Turnbull Birding Center in Port Aransas, Texas.
Anyway, on the drive to Refugio, we saw sandhill cranes, egrets, herons, deer, wild pigs, and too many small birds to name. So if you're ever in the area and want to see birds, don't waste your time in the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.
We had no plans to return to Refugio, but Sandra had seen a 'Shop Naked' billboard there on our earlier visit and decided she wanted a photo of it. Turned out it was for an unfinished (naked) furniture store. Cute. While there we saw more of the town and contrary to what I wrote a few days ago, they do have a downtown area and it was moderately interesting.
We Whoop It Up, or...Back to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge
Today's activity though might prove to be the highlight of our stay in the Rockport area. We took a whooping crane boat tour with Rockport Birding and Kayak Adventures, sailing on Captain Tommy Moore's boat Skimmer back up to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, but this time the approach being from the water, of course.
We'd heard from numerous people that this is the only way to get a meaningful view of the whooping cranes and they were right. The tour, which is as much a birding tour as it is specifically to see the whooping cranes, started out rather slowly with our first sighting of some whooping cranes being from quite a distance, although still much closer than what can be seen from the road in the refuge since the cranes tend to stay near the edge of the water and not inland.
From there, Captain Tommy (a very interesting fellow and knew the name and background of every species of the myriad birds we saw) got us progressively closer to cranes as we continued northward, even having a couple fly right over the boat (photo above right), until we came to shore near two of them that couldn't have been more than 50 feet away. Not tame, but certainly used to boats being nearby.
So the tour turned out to be outstanding, even at $35 each, and we got far better photos of the cranes than I could have hoped for.
As always, click on the photos for a larger view.
For Sandra's account of the last few days, visit her blog by clicking here.
A Happening Week
Friday, 2 February 2007 - Considering it's been cloudy and rainy all week, although the sun did come out late yesterday, quite a few things happened this week.
Most interesting to me is the new photo equipment we bought, a new camera for Sandra and a new lens for my digital SLR camera.
After several years of excellent service and around 10,000 shots, Sandra's beloved little Sony P10 pocket digital camera finally got sick and had to be replaced. Her new camera, a Sony W100, is much like her old one except it has more resolution and features. It's quite a nice little package and was around half the price of her old one.
My new lens is a Canon 70-300mm telephoto zoom that replaces my 75-300mm telephoto zoom, which is still working as it has for two years, but shortly after I bought it a problem developed with its image stabilization not being able to be turned off, so this meant I haven't been able to use it on a tripod, which while limiting wasn't something that was a constant annoyance. I could have sent it in for repair, but was never in a good place where that could be done from one of the limitations of the nomadic lifestyle.
In the interim, Canon came out with a replacement lens that is better in all ways than the old one and since we're in a location at the moment where I can receive deliveries, I ordered one of the new lenses from a camera store in New York City that I respect.
The new lens arrived yesterday, so as good fortune would have it, the sun came out shortly after the lens arrived and we were out testing it.
Photo above is last evening's moonrise which occurred just as the sun was setting. The water is Copano Bay, west of Rockport near Bayside, and the things in the water are the remains of a pier. Since I was involved with the sunset taking place in the west, I might have missed this beautiful scene taking place in the east if Sandra hadn't pointed it out.
Our microwave has also developed a problem with its stove hood vent fan and light and we got things setup this week for that to be replaced and are now waiting for the RV repair place to call when the replacement microwave arrives.
We also attended the potluck dinner held here in the RV park on Wednesday evening. This one was much better than the last one we went to, in Port Aransas. Our table was the second one to be called to the line, so there were plenty of gluten-free selections still available. As usual we met some interesting people. RVers are generally very nice people.
For Sandra's account of the week visit her blog by clicking here.
For Older News
To read details of our previous stops and camps, visit the News Archives.
Updated Thursday, February 15, 2007
Copyright © 2007 by Gordon L Wolford .
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