Early February 2009

Goose Island, Texas USA
Mustang Island, Texas USA


A Quiet Time So Far

So far, our stay here at Mustang Island State Park has been quiet. While the weather has stayed pleasantly warm, it clouded up a couple days ago and stayed that way, which limits our enthusiasm for going out and doing much more than walking on the beach.
    Although, Thursday there were a few surfers out trying the waves near one of the park's jetties, which was interesting, and late Thursday we drove into Corpus Christi on a shopping mission, with Miss Pinky failing miserably to get us to a specific Wal-Mart. I suspect her maps are getting outdated. On the way home, we had supper at Taco Bell.
    Friday started out foggy, so in the dark before dawn I figured out how to unlock and open the park's entrance gate (which is closed between 10pm to 7am) and drove the 14 miles (22 km) up to the Horace Caldwell Pier in Port Aransas, because I like how it looks in fog before its lights go out for the day, as can be seen here and here.
    Yesterday afternoon, despite the continuing cloudy weather, we did our usual tour of Port Aransas and saw the usual things, although the town was very crowded everywhere we went. Even the parking lot at the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center was full, a situation we've never encountered there before, and we had to park beside the road. One tiny bit of excitement we did have was when we tried to leave the South Jetty and had to use the 4-wheel drive to get through the sand.
    The worst thing for me though so far is that I'm suffering from sunset withdrawal. Up to this point during our stay in Texas this winter, I've been blessed with being in a location where scenic sunrises and sunsets were both within easy walking distance. Here, that applies only to sunrise since the power lines and utility poles that run down the middle of the island interfere with a clean view to the west and it requires a bit of a drive to get beyond them.
    That said, out of desperation on Friday evening during a brief break in the clouds, I did get the sunset shot above, taken from the beach and using the dunes there to block out the clutter of man on the other side of them.
    For Sandra's account of the last few days and her photos, click here.
    For more of my photos taken during this stop of the Odyssey, click here.

From A Goose To A Mustang

Today, as planned, we moved from Goose Island State Park to Mustang Island State Park and it was an absolutely beautiful day for it. The extraordinarily high winds we've been having were gone, the sun was out, the temperature was ideally warm, and everything went like clockwork.
    There are two routes to get here from Goose Island: 1) through Corpus Christi, which takes 66 miles (106 km), but it's basically all freeway, so it's fast and easy; or 2) the shorter route that's 42 miles (68 km) and more direct, but goes through two towns (Aransas Pass and Port Aransas) and requires taking a ferry to cross the Corpus Christi shipping channel, so while that route is shorter, it takes longer. Depending on how good or bad the local traffic, ferry connection, and stop lights are, it can take an hour longer.
    Anyway, because of the short distance we were traveling, regardless of which route we took, we had no need to be in a rush, so we didn't get away from Goose Island until around 11:30am, decided on the fast and easy route through Corpus (click here to see it), and arrived here around 12:45pm at which time we found out at the gate that it was a good thing we had made reservations in advance or we'd have been turned away since the campground was otherwise full.
    We paid for our planned two week stay here and were on site by 1pm and completely setup by 3pm, so we celebrated by taking a walk on the beach where the very cooperative terns pictured above stretched their wings for me.
    Goose Island State Park is a tenth the size of Mustang Island State Park, but is far more diverse in what it has to offer however it has no usable beach, whereas the main attraction here is a very long and very nice beach on the Gulf of Mexico itself, not on a bay behind calming barrier islands, so the beach has the kind of waves one expects to find along an ocean. In fact, a few miles further north in Port Aransas is some of the best surfing in Texas. Pity I don't surf, but this environment does offer its own assortment of photo ops, so I'm happy.
    For Sandra's account of the day and her photos, click here.

A Quiet But Windy Weekend

Since my last report, probably the most interesting thing we've done (for me anyway) was later that day we met for lunch at Jalisco's restaurant in Rockport with fellow photographer and PBase member Tom Munson, who is one of the preeminent bird photographers there. He's photographed birds I've never heard of, let alone seen, let alone photographed myself. His PBase gallery is most impressive. He and his wife are visiting Rockport for a while to escape their winter back in the US state of Washington.
    Friday, the wind started building until Saturday it was almost howling, especially near the bays. Fortunately, it was from the south so at least it brought nice warm weather with it. North winds bring just the opposite.
    Saturday, I again joined the park's Bird Walk, but because of the high wind not many birds were out, although we did see a few, including a first for me, the Eastern Phoebe pictured above.
    Then, early afternoon I got in the mood to see some sights, like the road west of Rockport where we have often seen sandhill cranes, but none were there on this occasion, so we continued on around the southern end of Copano Bay to the village of Bayside, where we have found roseate spoonbills before, but they too were somewhere else, which is just as well because the wind there was blowing so hard it was impossible to hold the camera steady anyway.
    We then headed back for Rockport, stopping on the way south of town at Aransas Woods, a wetlands preserve, but due to the drought they're experiencing here, all the wetlands were dried up and little could be seen but dried up marsh grass and cattails, so tall you couldn't see over them and the only bird that showed itself was, appropriately, a vulture circling overhead.
    From there we drove into town, stopping at the Connie Hagar Cottage Sanctuary, an in-town bird refuge, but found the same situation – everything dried up and only one bird to be found, this time a mockingbird.
    From there we drove along Beach Road, and Eureka!!! We finally found some birds, the most obvious being several large flocks of American Avocets wading around in Little Bay. I've never seen so many Avocets. It was quite a sight. My photo here shows just part of only one of the flocks. There were also a large number of other birds along there, such as coots, cormorants, ducks, egrets, gulls, herons, pelicans, and skimmers, and a few other people photographing them.
    It always amazes me that we can go to areas set aside for birds and wildlife and seldom see any, but drive into Rockport itself, a fair-sized town and the kind of place you'd think birds would avoid, and find hundreds of them. Go figure.
    Anyway, yesterday the high wind was still around, but abated for a while somewhat late in the day. The first couple of days we were here Sandra saw deer on her morning walk, so I started walking over to the area where she had seen them, but neither of us have seen them since, so we decided since the wind had died down some, an evening drive might increase our odds of finding some deer, who like to come out around sunset. With this in mind, we headed out late in the afternoon and drove along a section of highway where we've seen deer before, but of course, none were out this time.
    However, along that same stretch of road is a spot we were told about by Ellie & Jim where two whooping cranes have been hanging out lately and they were there last evening. Due to the drought, the cranes are having trouble finding an adequate supply of suitable food so some of them have started showing up outside their normal feeding range, such as those two, one of them pictured above right. They are frequently here because a couple of large feeders are located on that spot. You can see the cranes from the road, which is quite rare, but they are still a good distance away and it takes a long telephoto lens to get any kind of decent photo of them.
    On our way back to the RV, aglow from our outing finally having some success, we stopped for a bite to eat at Pop’s Tavern & Café, a real down-home kind of local roadhouse that we've been by countless times but never before stopped in. The place always looks busy, judging from their parking lot always being nearly full, so we were curious what the attraction was to the place, especially since it's essentially out in the middle of nowhere, off the beaten path on a side road. We found this is not a place you dress-up for, but the food and service were good and the prices reasonable and that's usually a winning combination, so I guess that's the attraction to the place.
    For Sandra's account of the last few days and her photos, click here.
    For more of my photos taken during this stop of the Odyssey, click here.

An Educational Day

Yesterday proved to be a fairly busy day for me.
As usual, I was out on the pier to await the sunrise and pictured here is what the prescribed burn from the previous evening (and covered in my last report) looked like at that point - just a bit of smoke wafting away from the smoldering remains and a mere shadow of what had happened there.
    Then a short while later I joined that morning's Bird Walk, an event hosted by the state park and led by a couple of its bird hosts, who walk along the bush near the shoreline of the bay and identify whatever birds are within sight for the group of people who've joined them. This is very useful since so many of the birds around here all look the same to me. The problem for me is being able to remember everything the bird hosts tell you.
    One thing I do remember though is one of them told me that the prescribed burn I'd witnessed hadn't been unusual, so from that I gather the fire had not been out of control.
    Then late in the afternoon, Sandra went with me to attend a photography workshop sponsored by the park and hosted by a professional photographer and being held in the park's rec hall. I wanted to go mostly out of curiosity to see what the workshop was like and it always interests me to hear what a pro has to say. It was okay, but what he covered was very basic and while he tried to translate the technical things he talked about into plain English, they probably still went over the heads of most people attending. Neither Sandra nor I learned anything notable, but despite that, it was still reasonably interesting...once. Doubt we go for an encore visit though.
    For Sandra's account of yesterday and her photos, click here.
    For more of my photos taken during this stop of the Odyssey, click here.

Our Goose Island Stay So Far

It's hard to believe our two week stay here at Goose Island State Park is almost half over.
    The only thing of note we've done other than putter around the park and the area was to attend a shrimp boil on Sunday that was hosted by Ellie & Jim and Dortha & Mark, who are all staying at the Last Resort south of Rockport, and also joining us were Debbie & Rod, who are staying at the Big D RV Resort west of Rockport. Ellie, Dortha, and Debbie (don't know about Mark and Rod) are online RV chat buddies of Sandra's.
    The occasion for the shrimp feast was the Super Bowl and the food and company were excellent, much better than the game. Not that the game was bad, I just don't get too worked up over football anymore, although I do enjoy it enough on those times when I end up watching it for some reason, but the hype for the Super Bowl (which usually ends up being a fairly mediocre game) has reached ridiculous proportions. Soccer is a much more interesting game.
     Anyway, other than the Sunday shrimp boil, the only other memorable event took place last evening when a prescribed burn in the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge (visible from here across Saint Charles Bay) continued on past sunset and the flames and how they were lighting up the smoke became visible (photo above). It was a spectacular sight. Normally, these burns dissipate at the end of the work day. The photo was taken from an oyster reef that's accessible from the pier here in the park.
    Otherwise, I've been down on the pier each morning waiting for the sun to come up and we've been doing a lot of hiking around the park.
    For Sandra's account of the last few days and her photos, click here.
    For more of my photos taken during this stop of the Odyssey, click here.


For Older News

To read details of our previous stops and camps, visit the News Archives.

Updated Friday, April 10, 2009

Copyright © 2009 by Gordon L Wolford .
All rights reserved.


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Just want to say 'Hi?'

Didya Know?

A flea can jump 150 times
its size (the same as a
human jumping 1,000
feet in the air).

Dragonflies can fly up to
50 mph (80 kph).

A mosquito flaps its wings
500 times a second.

A Spot O' Humor

What do you call a
foreign ant? Import-ant.

How many ants are
needed to fill an
apartment? Ten-ants.

Parting Thot

Teaching a child not to
step on a caterpillar is as
valuable to the child as
it is to the caterpillar.

– Bradley Millar

Cast of Characters

For those reading this page who might
not be familiar with the people in
my life, these are who I often refer to
without noting who they are
(in alphabetical order)...

Becky - Nick's wife
Betty - Sandra's older sister
Caden - Grandson
Carol - my younger sister
Danica - Margie's daughter
Eric - Son-in-law
Faith - Granddaughter
Garth - Betty's husband
Grace - Granddaughter
Ian - my son
Iris - Granddaughter
John - Margie's husband
Lillian - Granddaughter
Luke - Grandson
Margie - Sandra's younger sister
Michelle - my daughter
Miss Pinky - our GPS navigator
Nick - Margie's son
Rick - Carol's husband
Sandra - my most wonderful wife*
Tracy - Daughter-in-law

*(a.k.a. 'Grammy' to some)