Friday, January 14, 2011

Life on the Gulf

Feb 4th  
I guess this is what I would call an Interesting Day. Yesterday as it was so cold and threatening freezing rain overnight, we got all prepared for moving, as I had a couple of appointments for ELTORO. Late in the afternoon we wrapped up all the moving things that we do prior to moving. Slides in, bird feeders away, awnings up, lawn chairs away and carpet stored, etc, etc.  This morning, 8:30AM,  we had an appointment for a Workhorse brake recall problem at Rockports Camper Clinic, and then in the afternoon, four new tires on the back duals. So, our day started at 6:30AM with a couple cups of coffee. Over night there had been some freezing drizzle as I soon discovered when I stepped out and landed flat on my ass. Yes there is some Ice!!  But didn't seem too bad that I couldn't deliver ELTORO the 5 miles to Campers Clinic. 

Arrived there just prior to 8:30AM. All gates still locked. Waited a while and finally one employee showed up to open the ice encrusted gate. I parked in front and went into the office, and was politely asked, "What could we do for you?"  I said I had an appointment this morning, but they just looked at me like I was nuts, and said, "Nobody here today. All highways shut down."  Now in South Texas, icy roads are an unknown item, like nobody has ever driven driven in these conditions, so the Texas DOT has no alternative, but to shut them down. Sanding Trucks, ha ha ha!!  The lady tells me"We have no techs on site today as most of them live in Lamar and the bridge is shut down do to the ice.  All major highways are shut down, San Antonio is shut down as is Corpus Christy. All bridges are barricaded!"  When do you think you might be able to reschedule?  "Maybe Monday, hmmm, maybe not."  Now that throws me into a real bind as I have already reserved an RV spot in McAllen, Texas for Sunday night. I go outside to confir with the "Boss," but when I come back in there is one tech on duty and he says "Lets just give it a whirl right now, but it will take longer than usual as I will be working alone."  That's great, so I leave the keys and Denice and I head off the "Sonics" for some breakfast. On the way there stop at Craigs Tire to let them know that Campers Clinic may take longer than planned, but guess what, nobody there either.  From Sonics, after a light breakfast, we drive around for a while. We find almost all the stores in town closed for the day. Denice wanted to stop at her favorite Kitchen store, but it was closed too.  Finally by noon the four mile long bridge to Lamar opens, so we cross to see if there are any Whoopers to be seen this morning. We find our favorite 3 are there, but today right on the beach where we can get some close ups. 

I set up the big scope and take a bunch more, and finish the film in the camera. The birds are so close that I am only able to get one whooper in the lens at a time. Hope these turn out!!! Also down the beach are another four of the big birds, Mom, Dad and twins.  
  Now it is time to head back to see how ELTORO is coming along.

Some of the other shore Birds are smart enough to seek shelter on a lee side, out of the cold wind.
 A mile from Campers Clinic they phone to let us know it is done. Great!!  Tire shop still not open, so we pick up the motor home and head back to the RV Park. Get a first hand check of the new brakes, when a @#$&*(%@# car cuts me off when he makes an illegal left  hand turn.  But BRAKES work well!!  No fender bender. Back to the R.V. park, but park in another easier to access pull through site. We get set up, then have a well deserved Rum Caesar.
Feb 3rd

What is the matter with this picture of my computer screen??
 Cold again today. At 8:30AM it was only 27F.
 Feb 2nd
 Cold and windy. Did nothing but rest and read. 
Overnight the water line froze up, so had to bring it inside to thaw. TEXAS,  Hummmm!!!
Unhooked the hose again after dark to keep it from freezing again as it is supposed to be cold again tonight.
Feb 1st
 Fairly quiet day, as it was windy and cold outside. My day did start early at 6:00AM when a gusty wind and rain came up, so I had to get some clothes on and go outside to put the awning up. Sat around and read a fair amount. Then in the afternoon we took a short drive back down to Lamar Beach  to see if the Whoopers were back now that we had loaded the 35mm camera with 200ASA film. They were there so we took another batch of pictures. They were rather taken quickly because the wind was cold, and I didn't want to spend a lot of time huddled over a camera on a tripod. Took about 10 shots. Maybe will  more if an agreeable day comes along before we leave on Sunday, other wise we will be happy with what we have.
Jan 31st
 Went up town this morning and picked up my35 mm films at Walgreens. I was hoping for some great shots of the Whoopers, but was some what dissapointed with the quality. Some were fairly good, but I believe the 35mm ones that are a little foggy, may be a combination that they were ASA 800, and were expired from the Best Before date of 2005. Do you think so??  Yesterday when we took them in we bought some ASA 200 film, so now we need to go back and retake some of the whoopers again. Murphy's law says they will likely have left the area by now. We'll see.
While up town went to order new tires for ELTORO. The sales person gave me a price of $535/tire, but I bauked, telling him the owner had quoted me $450/tire + mounting and balancing. Since the owner was there he went and talked to him and came back and agreed to the  $450/tire. But fore the balancing, he wanted to use the Dynabeads inside the tire, since their balancer will not accomadate a truck tire. I was skeptical, as I really did not want this type. I guess I am from the old school and wanted the lead weights on the rim, so I delayed oredering until I could "Google" the best balancing methods. I was surprised that all the reviews I was able to bring up confirmed that the Dynabeads were by far the best method..  Later in the day went back to Craig Tire and "Ate my words" and ordered them up for a Friday afternoon install. 

JAN 30th

 Took a little tour inland today to Sitton, Goliad and Refugio. 
They do have wind Turbines down here too, lots of them
 We wanted to go to Goliad to see and old mission there. It was here that more soldiers were killed by the Mexicans during the Texas Revolution than the combined number at The Alamo and San Jacinito. A total of 375 were executed here. For more details you can go to: 

This has been a well used hanging tree!!

The old townsite is restored with all the stores resembling the original types. An interesting little town! To complete the day made a circular route returning by Tivoli and back to Rockport.
Jan 29th
 Short trip uptown  to buy a couple of things for the Motor Home. I needed a new vent cover that was damaged by the hail storm a couple of days after we arrived here. Then I needed to order new tires for the rear of the motor home to be installed on the afternoon of Feb 4th.
In the afternoon we went back to Lamar to see the Whooping Cranes again. We were gifted with the siting of 9 of them being there. More photos!!
Jan 28th
 Today we wanted to ty and get some better pctures of the Whooping Cranes so we got out Denice's Celestial Telescope and set it up with an old 35mm camera that we pack for that very reason. Digital Cameras will not connect to this type of telescope, at least not to our knowledge. I believe if a person had a DSLR you would like;y be able to connect. Anyway after getting it coupled together we went off down to Lamar where we had taken the precious digital pictures. Of course when we arrived there, they were nowhere in sight. We returned home for soup and then went back at about 3:00PM and they were now there. Now, of course we had to figure how to use the old 35mm as we had not used it in several years, but after a while it all came back to us. Luckily I did have a battery that fit it, to activate the light meter. After all that I was able to get it into focus through the telescope and snapped a bunch of pictures. Also of some spoon bills and even a vulture. Now the downside of taking with a 35 mm. No preview!!  No idea how they may turn out!  Just have to go back a few years and wait and see. 

At the end of the day we had almost 2 films full. The next problem may be where can we get them developed. Not sure who does that in todays world, but I am sure somebody will. 

Jan 27th
 Pretty relaxing day today - little to report other than to Walmart for a few groceries, Was actually warm enough today to spend a little time outside under the awning
Jan 26th
 After breakfast this morning Denice packed a picnic lunch and we headed off the Aranses National Wildlife Refuge, some 20 miles to the east of Rockport. We were on the road by 10:30AM, but stopped a few times for bird pictures. Watched a group of Crested Caracara covorting and doing their acrobatic thing in the air where one flips over and locks tallons with another and the spiral toward the ground until one breaks off and they resume normal flight. We saw two of them do this a couple of times, but we were never quick enough to get it on film. Could have been a shot of a life time!! 
Once at the refuge we checked in with our National Park Pass and headed up the 16 mile loop road. Along the road is a wetland invested with Crocks so had to get a few shots of them!

Look closely and you will see two of them laying along the bank.

Stopped at a picnic area and had our lunch. Was a little cool, but the lunch was good. Salmon sandwiches, pickles, fresh veggies, chips and cheese, canned peaches and nuts completed the menu.

The loop is a wildlife experience drive, and only allowed a 25 MPH speed limit. Birds of many species are usually plentiful, and gators are quite common as well as wild pigs, snakes, and white tail deer. Whooping Cranes winter in the area to fatten up on Soft Blue Crabs for their 2500 mile migration back to Wood Buffalo Park on the Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Yukon common border. We saw many birds, but not the variety that we had hoped for. At one point 3 wild pigs crossed crossed in front of us, but jumped into thick bush before we could snap a picture. We stopped but none could be seen, so we start to move ahead. Then we noticed the 4th one crossing behind us. I stopped and opened my door quietly and stepped out with my camera to get this shot behind us. Now this is a narrow one lane paved road with little traffic so it is not a concern on which side of the road you drive on. At this point I was on the wrong side, so when I stepped out stepped into the grass on the shoulder of the road and in my haste to get a good "Pig" shot was almost devoured by an eight foot Gator. 
There on the shoulder of the road was this big guy just laying there soaking up the sun. I had come within about 4 feet of stepping on his tail. Wonder what would have happened!! Forgot about the pig!!! We also climbed the observation tower the extends above the top of the surrounding oak trees. 
From the observation platform you can see the bay and a lot of marshland along the shore where the whoopers usually spend their time. However none where visible today.  We were planning on a couple of bird viewing walks, but as usual our time started to run out, as Denice wanted to be back to the gift store before closing time at 4:30PM. We made it, and allowed her to fill her treasure chest with goodies. 
Here is a Dragline even older than me!!

Now that is perspective at it's best
And the Drilling Still goes on in Texas
 On the way home made another tour down near Goose Island again at Lamar and found the three Whooping Cranes were still there. 

These are Sandhill Cranes

Took  a few more shots of them. Tomorrow want to try getting some with Denice's large astronomical Telescope tomorrow, so were happy to see them still there. Since it was now almost sunset time we stopped at the east end of the Copano Bay Bridge in the fishing pier parking lot and waited until the sun  started down. 

It was a great sunset, so we have some nice shots of that. For dinner we stopped just across the highway from our RV Park at Stevie's Bar-B-Que, and picked up some brisket and chicken. We took it home and chowed down. Another successful day!!
Jan 25th
 Nicer Day today. Talked to Tom and Linda, our Friends from Warner, on the phone today. They are in Quartzsite, AR. Been there for a week or so, and Tom says it is quite warm. Some nights cool but warms well in the day time. They have spent some time at the RV show there but bought little. They are going to spend a few more days there and then to Yuma for a week, then Casa Grande for a week, then Tucson Area. Maybe we will see them somewhere around there.
After noon we went for a little drive back to the Goose Island State Park area again. Luck was with us for picture taking. First of all as we drove along the beach we came upon a flock of Roseate Spoonbills. Some great pictures. 

Then we took lots of shore birds and the the highlight. Three Whooping Cranes were out in the field along a slough. We stopped and took a Hundred ???? photos of them. They were a little far away, probably a couple hundred yards, so it stretched our Digital lenses to take good ones of them. 

Covered road to the sea shore

 A great day for a camera buff.
Jan 24th
 Denice down loaded an upgrade today. Took her uptown to The Coastal Spa, gave her a couple of hours there, and out popped an almost new woman. Flowered Toe Nails, Shiny Red Fingernails and an Upgraded Face. Wonder if I could do something like that!!
Jan 23rd
 Cloudy and cool today, so another rest Day
Went to HEB to fortify our vitals. Seems that is all we do. Eat, buy groceries, and eat some more. And its starting to show!!
Talked to the kids today on SKYPE. All is well. Don and Shannon going to Calgary today to  get their Passports
They are planning on coming down Feb 20 to 27th I think, probable to Tucson, or maybe Phoenix . We received an email later in the day, that they drove all the way to Calgary to the Passport Office only to find it closed on Sundays. We were concerned about that, but they had said that they looked on the web, and it was supposedly open, but I guess they failed top read the fine print. Now they will be in a quandary, because they are not able to go back to Calgary during the week so will have to apply through the web or snail mail. That may take at least a couple of weeks, and until they have their passports in hand, they are not able to try to book flights. If it is even doable, will likely cost additional funds.
Jan 22nd

 Full sun today, but still a little cool. Only 45 F at 9:00AM. Seemed like a nice day so decided to do the Aransas Pass, Port Aransas and Padre Island tour today. Left home about 11:00AM, and headed on down the road. From Aransas Pass townside turned south across the Island Interconnect bridge  and across the ferry at Port Aransas

Headed south and west on Mustang Island. A few miles down the paved road turned off on to Highway 1A. Now Highway 1A is a sand road right on the beach. We cruised along it for about 15 miles before returning back onto the main highway a couple hundred meters inland.

Traveled on through a section of Corpus Christy that is on the Island, and then on south another 10 miles on Padre Island to Padre Island National Seashore. 

Footprints in the sand
Wandered around there facility and out on the beach for a while. A great beach with very few folks on it. Bu now it was getting late in the afternoon so we decided it was time to head home via Corpus, as Denice needed to stop at Michaels for some more of that floss for her stitching that she is working on. We have been to Corpus now enough times that we have a little idea how to get around there, and each time it gets easier. We got the floss she needed and were home to ELTORO before dark.
Jan 21st 
 Sat around and read most of the day - Finished my Wilbur Smith Book, Elephant Song, today. I gave it a 9 out of 10.
Started a new one by Clive Cussler called Madusa. Will see how that turns out
Decided to go out for Dinner so went to the "Big Fisherman" on the west end of Rockport at about 4:30PM when we knew it would not be too busy, as it is a rather favorite of a lot of "Q-Tips". Do you know what I mean by "Q-Tips?  Well that is seniors with white hair.  Har,Har.Har!!!  Anyway Denice had Osters Rockefellar, Salad and and 6 oz Fillet. I had the Grilled Jumbo shrimp on the half shell and a 6 oz Rib Eye. It was a great meal. 

We did manage to eat it all, but then stuffed. On way home stopped at Rockport Beach Park for  some sunset photos. Turned out to be a good night to be there. A great sunset!!
Here  is a little conversation I picked up from a couple of Fishermen on the beach today when they met:
A said, "Hiyamac"
B answered, "Lobuddy"
A said, "Binearlong"
B answered, "Coplours"
A said, "Cetchanenny
B answered, "Goddafew"
A said, "Kindarthay"
B answered, "Bassencarp"
A said, "Ennysizetoom"
B answered, "Cuplapowns"
A said, "Hittenhard"
B answered, "Sordalike"
A said, "Whatchoozin"
B answered, "Gobbaworms"
A said, "Fishanonaboddum"
B answered, "Rydononaboddum"
A said, "Whatchadrinkin"
B answered, "Jugajimbeam"
A said, "Igoddago
B answered, "Tubad"
A said, "Seeyaroun"
B answered, "Yeahtakideezy"
A said, "Guluk"
On the way home stopped at Rockport Beach Park and Marina for some sunset shots

Jan 17th to the 20th
Just doesn't seem to be a whole lot to "Blog" about these days. We are in a nice RV Park, the weather is fair, and we are just relaxing a lot of the time. Reading is taking up a lot of our spare time. Denice continues to read a Harlequin Romance a book a day. I finished one called "Thriller". It was one edited by James Patterson, although not written by him. It was a collection of about 25 short 1 chapter stories written by a lot of good writers. It was OK, but I only gave it a 5 out of 10 on my evaluation of books I have read. Once finished that, I started on a Wilbur Smith book, "Elephant Song", and like all of his books is based in Africa. His books have become my favorites, and I always keep an eye out for any that I have missed. This one is another good one, dealing with the saving of the elephants in Ubomo, a small country of Africa. Of course he weaves a tale of intrigue, deception, corruption, and passionate alliances, into the story. I am over half way through it, in only a little over a days reading. Although not quite as good as some I have read, I think my rating will be about an 8 out of 10 on my evaluation.
The only other items I have of interest over the last few days are the pictures we have been able to snap close to home. Here are a few of the best ones. One day we drove over to Goose Island State Park and to the "Big Tree".

Touch Down!!

This is one of the "Catches of the Day". They tell me that is a "drum"
Now that is camping on the beach!!

Here are a few from right in front of us at the RV Park
Yesterday I went down to the local Michelin Tire Dealer, here in Rockport, Craig's Tire, and had four new skins installed on the jeep. I have needed them for some time now, and they have been of some concern ever since we left home, as I knew they were due. Especially after talking to a guy from Ontario, who had one blow, on the front of his jeep, while he was towing it, and before he could get stopped, the flying rubber had demolished the front end of the jeep to a point where it was a write off. I don't need that to happen to us!!! I find tires are not much difference in price than they are at home. The jeep takes 235/65R/17". These are an expensive tire, but what can you do? I also should replace the rear tires on the motor home, and probably will before we leave here. Craig, at Craig's Tire gave me a price of $450/tire. That is about $50/tire less than in High River.
Jan 16th
Heavy, heavy rain over night, but a much warmer day today - the sun even shone a little, a very welcome sight
After lunch took a little drive down to the beach, and drove a few miles along it back into Rockport - Lots of shore birds to take pictures of and larger birds as well. We say and took shots of Pelicans, both brown and white, Blue Herons, Turkey Vultures, Egrets, Kestrl (a small hawk), Kingfisher, White Ibis, Cormorants, gulls and terns, ducks, coots, and even a Roseate Spoonbill. It was just a short drive, but well worth the time.

Jan 15th
A rest Day
Jan 14th

Another cool day but appears to start warming up. I'm ready for that!
Jan 11th, 12th, and 13th
Spent day checking into availability of Virgin MIFI
Went to Radio Shack, but the had none
Advised to order on-line
Got on the web this morning to fact find and locate a Virgin MIFI 2200 device that would broadcasts WIFI within the motor home. I had asked at Radio Shack yesterday and they did not have any in stock and were not planning on bringing them in. They said if I ordered through them it would be at least 2 weeks before it arrived. They suggested going on-line and ordering it myself, so rather than order it I thought I would try Best Buy in Corpus first. I found their number on th web and called them, was told they have a couple in stock, so I had them hold one for me, telling them I would be in, in a couple of hours. So then went off into Corpus Christy to buy MIFI Device at Best Buy. When we got there they had it at the Customer Service counter. Good Service!! Paid for it and took 2 yr warranty for $20. Wandered around and bought a few other items. As it was now after noon we went to the Olive Garden and had soup and salad as well as a couple of great appys, Stuffed Mushroom Caps and Calamari. THEY WERE GOOD! headed back home and stopped at DQ for a peanut buster parfait. Really needed that ! There goes supper. No desire to eat for the rest of the evening now. Does this qualify for dieting?
A rather frustrating day. Decided to activate my new Virgin MIFI. Seemed like a pretty straight forward plan. AlI I had to do was follow the 5 steps to be on the web, easy eh!!
Step #1 - insert the battery and charge the unit
Step # 2 - Turn it on and Connect
Step #3 - Activate and create your account
Step #4 - Program your MIFI Device
Step #5 - You are good to go
Now that does not seem too difficult. Well all went well through steps 1 and 2, but when I came to step 3, you need to fill in some info about yourself. It asks for credit card numbers to charge monthly charges to and your home address. Here in lies the problem. The form will not take an Alberta address nor a Canadian postal code. I tried without filling that part in, but was rejected, so I call their help desk. You probably know most of the story from here as it is in some cheap labor area of the world where English is a little known language. Im not sure where that was but Anna was anything but fluent in English as we know it. After worrying through a long broken conversation where I explained my situation about only being in the USA for a few months in a motor home and having no US address, she tried to input my info, with no success either, but she was able to give me an account number and an ID number. I was able to fill in a password. Anna told me I would not be able to add any additional monthly funds with my credit card, but would have to buy update cards. OK, I guess if that is what I have to do, it will probably be acceptable. So now I head down to Radio Shack to buy a card. Now, again they won't except my Mastercard to buy additional Virgin time. Sorry, I don't understand! Go find an ATM to get cash. Back to Radio Shack and make purchase. Back home and activate. Works good. I guess it's all in learning for the day. They say you should learn at least one thing everyday of your life, so this was mine for today.

Jan 9th and 10th
Heavy, heavy rain over night accompanied with violent lightening and some hail as well. The pandemonium started at about 4:30AM and woke us with a start. Lightening and thunder was non stop. A couple of bursts were right on top of us! Then rain and hail just beat down on us with a vengeance. I'm sure the two inches of rain that was forecast fell in 15 minutes. We agreed that this was probably the worst thunder storm we have ever been in. After the initial burst things settled down a little with just sheet lightening and steady rain. At daylight when we got up to survey damage.
we found the outside carpet and pad absolutely covered with oak leaves, branches, and oak acorns. Climbing on top of ELTORO found the roof covered as well. One vent cover was cracked, but no damage to the rubber roof evident. Thank God!! Spent a few hours sweeping and cleaning up around us. The next day was too cold to do much outdoors, so spent most of the time inside reading with the furnace running. Hard on the propane, but since we have a good deal on the Park costs, will absorb the propane cost.