Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Not All Who Wander Are Lost
October, 2017 - Mexico

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Frolicking Dolphins

Yesterday we had very strong winds all day with gusts in excess of 50 mph. It was warm and sunny, so we had the door open for a while. By the end of the day, everything inside was covered with a layer of dust. This morning I wiped down every surface.

Today was finally a beautiful day. We got out and walked around for three hours. We had actually walked out to the jetty last week too, but the tide was high and the rocks were slippery so we didn’t walk out very far. These people must not have been aware the water was rising, and their truck ended up being stuck. Luckily, the other truck was able to pull them out.

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We also saw this pelican on the jetty that day. He was so close to the fishermen. I’m sure he was hoping for a handout. I’m not sure why he is so much more colorful than the other brown pelicans, but isn’t he amazing! He is definitely giving me the evil eye :)

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Today the tide was low and we were able to walk all the way to the end of the jetty. The water in the channel was the calmest we’ve seen it. It was just an absolutely gorgeous day!

We saw several sea turtles. Usually, all you see is their head pop out of the water and they’re gone again. One of them was finally nice enough to stay near the top long enough for me to get a few pictures.

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There were several large ships waiting out in the Gulf to be allowed into the channel. Last week we saw one of these large ships coming down the channel with dolphin jumping in front of it. I was really hoping to see that again today. The pilot boat was going out, so we figured one of the large ships would be coming in soon. Sure enough, a large ship came in and some dolphin were having a good time jumping in front of it. What an amazing sight!!

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Do you see all three of them in the last picture. Click to enlarge if you want a better look. I was super excited to see these dolphin frolicking out in front of the ship!!

At the end of the jetty, there were several boats with lots of fishing poles in the water. If you enlarge the picture, you can see the fishing boats on the right, a pelican on the water in front of the boats, the pilot boat coming back in on the left and several large ships waiting to enter the channel.

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This lady looked like she was having a good time out on the paddle board.

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Along with the boats at the end of the jetty, there were many, many people fishing on the rocks of the jetty. We saw two different guys pull in very large fish. I overheard one of the guys say he had caught his limit of five for the day.

One of the blogs I follow regularly is written by Judy. She often ends her entries with a picture of the backside of something titled The End. This one is for Judy.

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The End

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

University of Texas Marine Science Institute Wetlands Education Center

P1130981The University of Texas has a Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas with an outdoor Wetlands Education Center. They offer free public tours on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. However, this weekend is the Whooping Crane Festival in Port Aransas so there were extra tours offered at the Institute.

 

 

It was finally a nice day on Saturday so we joined the noon tour. We learned about estuaries and what is being done to preserve the Texas coastline. An estuary is where fresh water flows into salt water. We also learned about some of the native plants that grow on the sand dunes and how important those plants are to the preservation of the barrier islands.

This Snowy Egret was watching over the marshes.

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The highlight of the day was while we were at a spot overlooking the ship channel. There was a very large ship coming into the channel and several dolphin were playing at the bow of the ship. We’ve seen dolphin in the area before, but they just come up enough to see their back and fin. These dolphin were having a great time jumping completely out of the water in front of the ship. Apparently, this is fun for them and they can be seen jumping in front of ships from time to time. I wasn’t able to get a picture, but it was an absolute delight just watching them!

Friday was cool, overcast and windy, but I was sick of staying home so we headed to Rockport where there were two indoor places to visit.

We took the free ferry across the channel where we saw another dolphin swimming along next to us.

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We parked near the Rockport Beach where there is a very large blue crab statue. It is the symbol of Rockport and measures 25 feet wide and 27 feet long. The original crab was a bit smaller and was on top of a local restaurant. It survived three hurricanes. It was replaced in 2012 by the current statue.

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P1130979We walked over the the Rockport Aquarium and looked around. Not too much to see there. Next we walked to the Bay Education Center and watched a program about the oceans. The center had some interesting displays including a life size statue of a whopping crane. The whopping cranes are an endangered species. They estimate there about 300 of them that migrate to this area in the winter. This week we’re going to go to Goose Island State Park where there is a possibility of seeing some of these rare cranes. It sure would be cool to see them!

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Windy!!!

This week it has been very windy every day with sustained winds between 20 to 30 mph. So, we haven’t been out and about too much. At least the temperatures continue to be nice with highs in the 70s.

Saturday afternoon was nice so we rode our bikes over to the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center in Port Aransas. There is a boardwalk and viewing tower that extends out into a marshy area. We saw lots of shore birds and one very large alligator. The alligator was sunning himself and didn’t look real. I did see his eyes open and close, so I wasn’t going to go down and stick my head in his mouth to see if he was alive :)

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These Anhingas were enjoying the sun.

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The marsh was full of birds. I saw several I had not seen before. This Green-winged Teal was beautiful.

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I can’t figure out what this one is, but he sure was unusual looking.

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There is a Wednesday morning bird tour at this center, but the weather has not cooperated each Wednesday we’ve been here. We have one more week to try and attend.

When we got home Saturday afternoon, Kevin pointed out that there was a large group of birds on the huge cell tower outside of the park. I think they were Turkey Vultures.

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P1130953While hanging out at home, I’ve been sewing and we both worked on a puzzle. It took us a while, but we finally finished this 750 piece masterpiece.

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday was windy, but sunny and warm. I suggested we drive to Mustang Island State Park and walk along the beach. The surf was really pounding. We walked along the beach and out on the jetty for about an hour. By the time we were done, my glasses were covered in salt spray, and I had a hard time seeing anything. I was yelling at Kevin to not get too close. I think I’ve seen too many movies where people are washed off the rocks by a giant wave.

Mustang Island State Park Kevin

Last night we tried to have dinner at a place called Kody’s where they have an all you can eat fried shrimp dinner on Wednesday nights. We had been told to arrive early. They open at 4:00 and we got there at about 4:45. The place was packed. You have to find your own table and then order at the bar. There was not a single table open so we left. Neither one of us deals well with crowds. Instead we visited Whataburger for the first time. The burgers were good, but nothing too special.

Cathryn sent me a few more engagement pictures, so I’m going to share.

Korey and Cathryn Engagement 3

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

King Ranch

When my dad retired, my parents spent several winters exploring the southern United States. Upon hearing we were going to Texas this winter, my mom told me to make sure and visit King Ranch.

Friday was forecast to be another beautiful day, so we headed to Kingsville to tour the ranch. It took us a little over an hour to get there. Along the way we saw many, many acres of farm fields.

We arrived just in time to board the small bus for the 1.5 hour tour. The cost was $12 per person.

King Ranch was founded by Richard King in 1853. He was born to poor Irish immigrants in New York. At the age of 9 he was indentured to a jeweler who didn’t treat him well. So, when he was 11 years old he ran away, and stowed away on a ship headed to Alabama. He ended up working on ships and became a successful captain. At 29 years old, he was in Texas and saw the potential for ranching. He bought two large plots of land and became a rancher. His story is quite amazing.

The ranch now covers 825,000 acres in southern Texas. They also own 75,000 acres in Florida. It is a private corporation. The family no longer runs the ranch, but all shareholders are descendants of Richard King. Some of the employees are 7th generation descendants from Mexican families Richard King brought to the ranch to help him work it.

The main business of the ranch is cattle. They have about 60,000 head of Santa Gertrudis cattle. About half of the cattle are sold for their meat and the other half are used for breeding purposes.

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Originally Richard King raised Longhorn cattle. They were the only breed that could withstand the weather conditions in south Texas. However, the meat was very tough. In the early 1900s they developed a new breed by breeding Brahma and Shorthorn cattle together. This was the first time in over a century that a new breed of cattle had been developed. The breed was very successful.

There is still a small herd of Longhorn on the ranch. Our tour guide told us that many ranchers in Texas keep small herds of Longhorn for historic and tourist purposes.

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Aren’t the babies cute!

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At one point, there were thousands of quarter horses on the ranch for the cowboys to ride. Now vehicles and even planes are used more than horses. However, they still have about 200 of the horses for breeding and for the 200 cowboys working the ranch to ride.

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We saw some Sandhill Cranes on the ranch. Our guide told us that this is the second year of drought. In a normal year there would be thousands of the cranes. This year there are just a few.

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We also saw some wild Javelinas. I was excited about that. We had only seen them in captivity, and I was really hoping to see some in the wild.

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There was a chuck wagon on display at the visitor center. Although the ranch has had a number of brands, the longest lasting one is the rolling W. It was chosen because its very difficult for cattle rustlers to change the design.

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The family home is over 30,000 square feet in size. It is no longer occupied full time, but is used by family members as a vacation home. It is surrounded by large trees so I am including a picture of a photo in the visitor center.

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This building is the oldest on the property. It was used as a commissary for the hundreds of ranch workers. There is still a village on the property for ranch workers to live in with about 100 families living on the property. They even have their own school in Kingsville.

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We enjoyed our visit to King Ranch, and would recommend it as an interesting place to visit in south Texas.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Valentine’s Day at the Seashore

Last week when we visited Padre Island National Seashore, we discovered they have a guided bird tour at 3 pm. We didn’t have time to stay for the tour on our first visit, so we planned to return this week for the bird tour.

Before we headed south, we stopped at the Port Aransas Microbrewery for lunch. We had read on a few blogs that the beer was not good, but we had heard they have good burgers. I don’t like beer, but Kevin had a wheat beer that he said was just fine. He had a burger which was good, and I had the special of the day Calzone. It was also good. So, our review of the place is everything was good, but nothing spectacular.

Thursday’s weather was perfect, and what better way to spend Valentine’s Day with your sweetheart than at the seashore.

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We got there early and spent an hour and a half walking along the beach. Last time we were here, the ranger told us that this tree was blown here by a storm about three years ago. A great place for a cormorant to perch for a rest.

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Six people showed up for the bird tour. A very nice volunteer couple were the guides for the day. They split us up into two park vehicles and off we went. We drove to an area that is closed to the public. One of the ponds had about 2,000 ducks in it, an amazing sight. The majority of them were Redhead Ducks.

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We drove past a storage area. All of this large debris washed up on shore after Hurricane Ike. To get an idea of just how big these items were, the green vehicle in the background is a garbage truck. The force of nature is incredible!

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One of the water treatment ponds had many more ducks on it. There was a Peregrine Falcon perched on the fence looking for dinner. He’s a bit hard to see through the fencing. He’s perched on the backside. Click on the picture if you’d like to enlarge it.

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We also saw a White-tailed Hawk in a tree where it has a nest. The hawk is on the left and the nest is on the right about half way up the tree. That’s a large nest!

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We saw Sandhill Cranes in a couple of different spots on the tour. These guys were on a dune and there are two more flying by on the right. Very cool!!

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One of the great things about this tour was that we visited three different areas of the park, grasslands, Gulf of Mexico beaches and the Laguna Madre side.

On the Laguna Madre side we saw this Long-billed Curlew in the grasses where he was well hidden.

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These Snowy Plover were so cute, but blended in so well with their surroundings that I would have missed them if our guide had not pointed them out.

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At the end of the two hour tour, we came upon another group of Sandhill Cranes closer to the road.

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If you find yourself at Padre Island National Seashore, I would highly recommend the birding tour. Kevin is not interested in birding, and even he enjoyed the tour.

So, we had a wonderful Valentine’s Day together. Life is definitely good!!

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Happy Mardi Gras

Yesterday was Fat Tuesday, and Port Aransas celebrated with a Mardi Gras parade.

There were lots of people lined up along the route. We had gone for a walk earlier in the day, and some people had put out their chairs to save a spot hours before the parade started. I guess this parade is a big deal.

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I think these guys were the kings and queens.

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There were a couple of boats decorated as floats. This one was from the bar The Gaff where we watched the belt sander races last Saturday. If you click on the picture to enlarge it, you might see the dog sticking its head out of the hole in the side of the boat. Very cute!

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I thought this guy was interesting. So did the reporter who was asking him his name. Where do you buy a duck you can wear?

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These guys were the toilet seat brigade, clapping the seats in rhythm. I’ve never seen that before in a parade.

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Most of the entrants were decorated golf carts. The parade lasted about an hour. Lots of beads and some candy were being tossed to the crowd. I ended up with a dozen necklaces without even trying. Even the dogs got into the spirit.

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One group was handing out Moon Pies. I’ve heard of these, but have never eaten one. The package said to microwave for even more enjoyment. It was very sweet and just okay. Kevin doesn’t like marshmallow, so he wasn’t interested in sharing. I did eat the whole thing, but I don’t think it was worth the 300 calories.

The weather has been rather cool, damp and windy the last few days, so we haven’t been doing much. That has given me time to work on some sewing projects. Tomorrow is supposed to be nice again. We’re headed back to the seashore!

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!