Total Pageviews

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Day 5: Rockport-Fulton, Goose Island State Park, Padre Island

I was up at 4am: the 68F warmth kept me from sleeping any more. I worked on some photographs, at 6am I went inside for coffee and biscuits/gravy and left at sunrise to sit at the beach. Shrimpers and other fishermen were already getting ready for the day’s catch.

It was overcast and the sunrise was nonspectacular (again!) so I drove north on Fulton Beach Drive and waved at the people walking their dogs. The street was speckled with beautiful beachfront homes, some covered in dense live oak colonies. When I crossed over the Copano Bay bridge I could see the shrimpers off in the distance, moving out in a convoy.

Goose Island was soothing. I was the first one on the southern fishing pier and caught so many more birds I haven’t noticed before: waders with yellow beaks, sandpipers of course, blue herons, white and brown pelicans. In a distant oyster bar I could see and hear the whoopers gacking .in the Aransas Bay

And the most surprising thing was seeing a grackle wading in the shallow water. What’s a landlubber bird doing in the water? She didn’t seem to care. I walked off on a oyster bar to photograph more birds, picked up two cans to throw into the recycling bin when I got back, chatted with a Colorado couple who come here every year for a few months to fish and relax. The husband had just caught a speckled trout, but they only fish to release, they don’t eat what they catch.

I spent over two hours on or near the bay. I didn’t plan this, but the relaxation, the salt on my face, watching the birds and the sounds of the shallow waves relaxed me. It looked like a storm was coming off the water. I was in no hurry.

I drove all over the state park, walking the one-mile Turks Cap Trail and turningit into a two-mile walk when I made the wrong turn. I stopped by a very old cove of live oak, including the Big Tree that is over 1000 years old. Several other people were near the Big Tree, and I asked an elderly man “You think that tree’s older than me?” and he replied good-naturedly “I’m sure it’s older than you, Hon, but I’m not sure about me.” The trunk of the oak was impressive. The same group of people told me to go down to 8th street to see three whopping cranes, and sure enough, there they were pecking around in an open field. Soon other cars came by to stop, gawk and move on.

I finally left the Rockport-Fulton area after noon, heading to Port Aransas (“Port A”) via a free ferry, saw dolphins in the bay “They follow us all the time” said an elderly woman who came out of her car to watch them as we ferried across the water, spent a good hour at the Birding Center where I watched various bird species intermingle (gulls and pelicans), saw muskrat. And from there it was Padre Island.

I bought the national pass, now $80 since I’ll need to pay $20 for Big Bend anyway and plan to use a few other national parks, and drove down to the Malaquite Visitor Center, where the park ranger gave me a very informative briefing on wading birds. Some species differ only in black or yellow legs.

Weather was yucky, and the sky a dull grey. The cordgrass was a dull brown, so my photos were dull without enhancing them. I walked down the beach from the visitor’s center and found four helium balloons in various stages of deflation, five plastic bottles and some broken plastic. The view was minimal, the wind brisk. On a clear day this would have been a spectacular visit.

I saw the Portuguese Man-O-War (a sea snail) for the first time today, small blueish blobs that lay on the shoreline, inflating to various positions and resembling balloons or condoms, depending on size. They were all over the shore, along with kelp and other ocean plants. I even drove along the shore for ten miles on my way back out of the park.

I stopped in Corpus Christi for the night, staying at the NavalStation that shares land with the Army Depot. (This place must be a riot during the annual Army-Navy football games) I showered at the E Street Gym. A “Tropical Cyclone Conditions are in effect” signs were all over base, and that storm that’s due in tomorrow afternoon may determine whether I get up early and sign for the beach clean-up on Padre Island that I heard about on a local radio station. Winds of over 30mph are expected, with possible hail. I have decided to hunker down in CC for the weekend. I feel safe on military bases. Weather is suppose to sunny back up again Sunday and I really, really wanted to see the city in the sunlight and ride my bike along the Ocean Drive boardwalk before heading down to Brownsville.

A young tree near my van swayed in the winds in the early evening, but I slept soundly. At 4:30am a vehicle pulled up next to me. I looked outside: it was dry and calm, but thirty minutes later I thought I heard thunder. You just never know what those sounds are when staying at a military base

No comments: