Saturday, March 27, 2010

Spring Flowers at The Rockport Cemetery

When I think of cemeteries, I think of well cared lawns and tombstones. We visited one in Boston that was really old and filled with winged angels. I usually try to avoid them but Renita had been asking if we could go to the Rockport, Texas, cemetery and see the spring flowers. What a surprise it was!
Everyone had been telling us about the profusion of yellow flowers but when we neared the cemetery we were both amazed at the solid yellow carpet! See the cemetery is quite simply filled with wild flowers, or at least seeded ones and they are everywhere!
The tombstones rise here and there and I can think of no better tribute to ones loved ones then the sea of flowers. There were quite a few other visitors there and cameras were out as all were taking pictures of the wild arrangement. Hidden among the yellow daises were patches of blue and purple and red and orange, Texas bluebonnets peeked through in places but the daisies were the winners.
For once I am at a loss for words so enjoy Renita's pictures. Clear skies.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Birding Paradise at Paradise Pond, Port Aransas

"Did you all get the birds?", I could see that the instructor was from the University of Texas and that she was leading the group of birders. I meekly asked what birds and one of the students told me to look over there and see the hooded warbler.
Another chimned in and told me to look for the Louisiana waterthrush. Oh and make sure to see the prothonotary warbler another added. My mind was reeling as I tried to remember the names and at the same time glass the dense wooded pond.
I caught the hooded warbler and wood thrush, I even got a picture. Renita came up and asked me what was happening and we both saw a black and white warbler. Yellow crowned herons were everywhere and we both keep adding to our list.
Roy was trying to get a picture of the black and white warbler, when a green throated warbler landed on a nearby branch and dared me to take its pictures. I clicked and clicked and clicked and hoped all my efforts would not be in vain.
Pam calmly asked me if I wanted to use the binoculars and I almost ripped them from her grasp as she lifted the strap from around her neck. Apologizing, I got them just in time to see another black and white.
We were on a birding adventre and had just came from the Birding Center. There we had walked along the boardwalk and watched the green and blue winged teal display their breeding colors. Renita pointed out a cinnoman teal, so aptly named for its brown head and flanks.
Over fifty roseatttes preened themselves as a black stilt waded between them. What a day and what beautiful breeding colors! Roy spied a common moorehen and we just kept adding to our list.
Our plan was to go to Charleys Pasture and continue birding but we were to tired and so we had a picnic lunch and threw out some poles for the huge black drum, that were in their spawning run. None disturbed us but it was ok as it would have been to much to ask for such a great day. Spring had finally arrived and with it the warblers! Clear skies.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Week With Family

"The bird sounds like its laughing", Pam said, and she described it exactly as the laughing gulls song is so distinctive. It was the first day of a week long visit with Pam and Roy, Renita's sister and her husband, and we were showing them the sights of Rockport and Little Bay.
Temporary escapees from the Iowa winter they had fianlly come down to visit us and we were glad to see them. We were playing tour guides and it was really easy as they are two of our most frequent blog readers and so had a menu of things to do along the coastal bend.
The weeks plans were to go birding at the Aransas National WIldlife Refuge, try fishing at the jetty, do the beach of course, and just see what was happening. So our first day was just going to be a quick jaunt around the area. Of course things happen and so after leaving the Rockport City Beach we drove to Lamar and saw the whoopers.
Two were feeding along the bank and as we watched them six more flew and landed near the pair. It didn't take long before the male charged towards the interlopers and raised its wings in a threat display. The six teenagers, two year olds, quickly flew away and so we got to see whoopers flying.
Anothe day and we went to the beach at Padre Island National Seashore. There we were a little surprised by the crowds of people, it is spring break after all, but we were able to find our own piece of beach.
Roy and I cast out poles which were quickly hit by whititng. We reeled them in and rebaited as Pam and Renita headed down the beach looking for shells and seadollars. Pam found quite a few including a really large one and so we had a good day of fishing and catching and shelling.
Another day the girls went shopping so Roy and I headed out to the jetty. We took along fresh and live shrimp and frozen mullet so I really had high hopes but the fish weren't biting. Dolphin's entertained us along with a loggerhead turtle who was feeding on the jellyfish. The jetty was crowded with fisherman and boats and no one was catching any fish so we didn't feel bad. It was a nice quiet day and a day of fishing isn't counted as a day of your life, its just a bonus day as my Grandpa Huber used to say.
We spent a day inside as it rained. Another day we traveled to Corpus Christi where Renita and I worked in the rockshop while Pam and Roy toured through the USS Lexington. Roy told us he had actually fueled it while he was in the navy and aboard a fleet tanker.
We also went rock hounding as we bought more rocks from a minister and his wife who are selling their business and moving into a retirement center. Looking at all their stuff it made us glad that we had sold our house and went full time,(and no our house doesn't look like Lucy and Desi's trailer in the movie the Long Long Trailer, at least not yet).
A good week with family, another blessing and we have been so luckily so far. Kind of a simply blog entry, but a really nice one of good times and good food and time with family. Clear skies.

Friday, March 12, 2010

A Week With Friends

I use to refer to our friends as new friends, those we have met since full timing, and old friends who are our friends in Gillette. Its not that the old friends or the new friends are any more or less, it was just a way for me to keep some order. The distinction, for me at least, has blurred now to simply friends.
The weather finally warmed here and so our thoughts turned to fishing and canoeing. Renita and I have been anxious to go beach combing on the spoils. There we hoped to find beach glass, shells, and maybe even some fossils, like our rock friends Jerrold and Linda shared with the society.
Both Val and Rosie agreed to accompany us on a day of beach combing and so we launched our canoe and kayaks at the Lighthouse Trails park. The wind was blowing from the east and we fought both the wind and a strong incoming tide to paddle to the Lydia Ann Channel. There a series of high bluffs marked the spoils where material had been dredged up to deepen the channels and where the promise of finds drew us.
As we neared the shore it surprised us to see a beach almost covered with shells It was obvious that no one had shelled in the area and so we walked and shelled and even found some nice beach glass. Renita did find a piece of fossilized bone and so it was really pretty neat!
The girls continued to search as I fished but the fish were pretty uncooperative. Some whiting stole my bait and I finally did catch one on my 5/0 circle hook. Jelly fished floated by and as we paddled we were amazed to see so many large white jellies, their bells full of water while swimming but collapsed along the sand.Renita spotted one with a red fringe on the mantle and we wondered what it meant?
The next day the wind blew stronger and George and I went to the south jetty. There we hoped to hook a big redfish or black drum but they didn't cooperate. I did catch a large sting ray and some small sheepshead but the days entertainment consisted of
watching jelly fish and ships and loggerhead turtles.
No one really did much, fishing wise, even though a number of large redfish had been caught the day before. The spring breakers have started to arrive but we made it onto the ferry in pretty quick time.
Another day and more friends as we had lunch with Bob and Molly and Howie and Norah and Tom and Pauls, just to name of few of the escapees athat gathered together at China "Eh", as a Canadian friend describes it. We enjoyed the buffet and each others stories of travel and adventure.
Another day we got a chance to visit with Jim and Nancy,(Running Down Our Dream). They are heading to Louisiana and their favorite rv park, Betty's. I warned Jim that if they went back to many times he would turn into a "Cajun Coonass", a term that a Grand Isle Resident used to describe what can happen to people that visit there to often.
We talked of our future plans and trips and discussed going to Alaska, but not this year. We also talked of the many places we have been, since fulltiming, and how it has allowed us to renew so many friendships with people we have exchanged Christmas cards through the years.
I often use the phrase, "We have been truly blessed," and its not a phrase that I came up with but a phrase heard many times from another friend, Frank Sanders. It really describes the many people we have met as we travel down the road in a lifestyle that most can't understand. Clear skies.

Monday, March 8, 2010

48th Gulf Coast Gem and Mineral Show, Robstown, Texas

We had been anticipating the annual gem and mineral show ever since we joined the Society, and especially since we agreed to put up a display of our rocks. So it was with a little trepidation that I took off early Friday morning to setup our display and to help with the show.
The first thing we had agreed to help with was to help load the display cases from the storage unit in Corpus Christi. Leaving early, 6 am, I arrived at the Navigation exit off interstate 37, took it, and proceeded to get lost.
Now I had been told to take a right and then a left, or was it a left and then a right? Figuring it couldn't be that hard I drove and drove and turned and turned and didn't find the group. In fact I managed to miss any storage units in the area. Disgusted with myself, I decided to head to the fairgrounds in Robstown as I could help with the unloading.
Now I had forgotten the gps, not like I had any address anyway, but the fairgrounds were supposed to be obvious. As I entered Robstown there was a train that blocked my view, and you guessed it, I drove right by the fairgrounds and towards Kingsville.
Stopping to ask directions, don't tell Renita, I was told that I had driven past it and sure enough there it was!
After I arrived at the Exhibit Hall A, I recognized several familiar faces. Soon the trailer arrived with the cases and props and it wasn't long before the cases were assembled and lined up. Calvin and Dick were in charge of making sure everything was straight and they installed the electrical works.
I joined in and even got our case set up. We had decided on a Wyoming Rocks Display of the Elimia Tenera, fossilized freshwater snail, and the Opalized wood of the Blue Forest. Renita had suggested we put the Rockhounding Wyoming book in and of course she was right, We had a nice display!
The next day we took off and headed to the show. We had volunteered to help with the tickets, and had just got settled in when the doors opened and the show begin. It was a little confusing at first, was that a ten or a twenty the lady gave me, but I soon figured it out. We took turns manning the entrance tables and even got a chance to check out the other displays and the vendors.
The displays were impressive, trilobites and sharks teeth, lots of petrified wood and cabochons. everyone proudly sharing their love of rocks and minerals with the public. The food table was really neat as all the food was actually rocks! It took us two days and a lot of help to finally figure it out.
The Six Points Rock Shop had incredible petrified wood and stunning minerals for sale and The Flowers wire wrapped cabochons were the most exquisite wire wraps we have ever seen.
We were both surprised at the value of the rocks we had so patiently been grinding and shaping and the displays also made up realize that we were doing a pretty good job for being such newbies!
We returned and helped on Sunday, even though we hadn't signed up for that day and it was really nice to meet so many Society members and to see how everything came together. We watched as the annual scholarship was awarded to a college junior, majoring in Earth Science,(if you wondered what the club does with the money it raises, wonder no longer).
Five o'clock finally arrived and it was time for the tear down, and so we retrieved our rocks from the case and helped a little with the tear down before heading back to Fulton and the ever vigilant watchdog, Molly. It had been a very enjoyable weekend and we both felt good about helping with the show! Clear skies.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Deep Sea Fishing Aboard the Kingfisher Party Boat, Port Aransas

It was still dark as we loaded aboard the Kingfisher, a seventy foot Port Aransas party fishing charter, and headed out into the Gulf of Mexico. Gerry and I were both a little concerned about motion sickness but it was a needless worry as the Gulf was like glass. Too excited to go inside we watched the jetties glide by and the headed east.
We passed an anchored fleet of tankers and then two groups of gas platforms. All the while the deck hand worked patiently on tying lines, making steel leaders, cutting bait and rigging poles. Watching his hands I was able to figure out how easy he made his work seem. It was obvious that the boat was lucky to have such a talented crew member.
The plan was to head out about sixty miles to a place called Bakers Rocks. Now Bakers Rocks are near the edge of the continental shelf, where the ocean plunges to its depth, and we were heading there to catch vermilion snapper. The ride was a three hour journey and it seemed endless, although another fisherman told us that the ride home would be the trying time.
As we neared the spot the deck hand brought clothes baskets and placed them along the rails, He also brought bait buckets of squid, already cut into pieces. We all lined both sides of the boat, baited our hooks and waited as the boat slowed and the anchor was set.
Dropping the line, we were using an eight ounce bell sinker with two circles hooks above on drop lines, I waited for the bottom but never felt it. It was about 200 feet deep here and so the deck hand brought us all another eight ounce sinker. We were now fishing with a pound of lead! It still tok a count of sixty five before the rig hit the bottom and my reel stopped and make an ugly backlash.
Clearing the line I asked what the bite would be like and my neighbor said it would be a slight tick. Jigging up and down, I felt a slight bump and then another. Reeling in I definitely felt that a fish was on but it was so hard to pull up the heavy rig that I wasn't sure it was still on as it neared the surface. I had a double, two blue runners! It turned out that they were bait fish and so the mate unhooked them and tossed then back overboard..
I rebaited and dropped again and as soon as the rig hit bottom I felt another bite. This time it was a vermilion snapper, the desired fish and so the hand unhooked the fish and brought a rope stringer. Placing the fish on the stringer he told me to remember number 65, so I could retrieve my fish at the end of the day.
Another drop and another fish. They were biting as fast as you could get to the bottom, when the work would began as you reeled the fish and the bait back in. The next fish was quite a bit larger! It was a beautiful red snapper, about five pounds, but red snapper season was closed and so it went back overboard.
Soon everyone was catching red snapper after red sapper and so the captain decided to move the boat to another spot. There we found more vermilion snappers but the red snappers were almost as plentiful.
One of the fisherman who had brought his own pole caught a bonita tuna, and was jigging a minnow when he suddenly yelled shark and ran to the back of the boat. There a pole had been rigged with a pop bottle for a bobber and tow large baits placed for just such a fish.
Grabbing the pole the shark took the bait and the fight was on. I was amazed to see such a large fish as the mako made a run near the back of the boat. The fish was about seven feet long and 140 pounds and it was all the hands could do to gaff the fish and bring it aboard.
With the excitement over they quickly dispatched the shark, so no one would get injured or bit. They bled the fish and we all went back to fishing for snapper.(It was really a mess and I won't post my picture of it as it was well, a mess).
Now the red snapper moved in again and so we went to another spot. Here I added to my stringer, but all to soon it was time to make a run to a place and fish for king mackerel.
As we rode to the next spot the mates went up and down the boats putting wire leaders and prerigged hooks on each pole. They then baited each hook with a large sardine like fish. Arriving we all took our positions on one side of the boat and as we started to drift we put out our lines, about thiry feet away from the boat. Chum was thrown into the water and a bonito swam up and grabbed my bait. The circle hook missed and the fish swam away.
When no mackerel appeared we moved to another spot and then another. Each time the process was repeated with no success. One of the deck hands baited a rig with a heavy sinker and dropped it down lower. He quickly had a fish and he handed the pole to a kid next to me who fought the large mackerel for about ten minutes before it pulled free and swam away. Just then my pole twitched as a fish grabbed my bait, but again it never got hooked. I was zero for two!
No more mackerel appeared and so the boat headed to another spot for shark fishing. As we moved the mates retied all the poles and baited them with cut up pieces of the bonita tuna. Arriving we dropped our rigs to the bottom and in no time at all my neighbor was fighting a shark. Two others soon had sharks on and I watched with envy as they were gaffed and brought aboard. Now my friend Lannie had told me how to clean shark and I had brought my knife along for such a job. My pole jerked and I waited for the circle hook to work but the fish got away. I was now 0/3 on big fish.
Too soon it was time to head back to port and so we woumd in and sat down for the long trip back.
The sun was setting as we arrived back at the docks and we were all tired from the long day. The weather had been perfect and the sea calm. Hundreds of dolphins had swam alongside the boat on the way in, and it had been a day to remember, even though I only had enough fish for one meal.
Now it may seem that I catch a lot of fish but I usually release most, only keeping enough to eat, and so it really had been a great day for me. Gerry and I both agreed that it was an experience that we both had enjoyed, even with the six hours of running in and out from the port.
We cleaned the fish and split them into two packages as it was the right thing to do when you share an adventure. I have been blessed again to have so many adventures and to have such good companions! Clear skies.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Fishing the Fina Docks, Naked Mans Cove, and The Red Roof Bar

George and I were already loaded up to go to Tin Can, when we saw Lannie and Judy. Stopping to chat we instantly changed our plans when Lannie invited us to go out on his boat, and so we unloaded poles and gear and we were soon launching the boat at Conn Brown Harbour.
Now the fish had been on, the day before and Lannie had caught and released red after red, so our first stop was South Bay, We set the Cajun anchor and power pole and cast out dead shrimp. There wasn't any wind blowing or current from a moving tide and so it didn't surprise us when we didn't have a bite,
It didn't help matters at all when a stupid person roared in and ran right over our lines. Luckily George wasn't armed and so no one was shot. I tried to calm things down by mentioning that there were two things you can't control, the wind and stupid people.
The sp then got stuck in the shallow water and proceeded to rev his engine tearing up the seagrass. Now the sea grass is protected and the stupid person was lucky that no law enforcement people were there to arrest him.
We pulled up our poles and anchors and headed to another spot,the Fina Docks. This is a place where the sheepshead move in during March and is almost wall to wall boats. While there were a few boats there, it was soon obvious that the fish hadn't arrived. George did have a monster black drum on, and he fought it for quite a while before it pulled him into the sunken structure. Breaking off we all agreed that he couldn't have done much else and the chances of landing the fish were near zilch.
Our next run was to a place called the Naked Mans Cove. Here a Vietnam Vet man lives in a tent and the place gets its name when he is sunbathing in a tan colored speedo. I didn't take any pictures there and we didn't get any fish. A barge passed us and Lannie asked if we were in a hurry to get home.
He said that the barge can sometimes move so much water that the water will surge and withdraw, causing movement and turning the fish on. Heading further on the Intercoastal we passed the barge and set up on an oyster bar called the Red Roof Bar.
We waited and hoped, all fisherman are optimists, but the barge didn't displace much water and no man made surge happened. It was still good as I had learned a new trick.
We loaded the boat without catching any redfish, and thats ok, as we would have just released them anyway. Some days are great fishing and some days actually have some catching, Today was simply a day of great fishing with friends! Clear skies.