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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Day 3--Bernard Natl Wildlife Refuge, Palacio, Indianola, Port Lavaca

I had a very productive day yesterday, from the wildlife refuge in the morning, to slow drives through coastal towns like Palacio, Port L and Indianola. The land inbetween reminded me both of southern New Jersey and the Carolina Lowlands: both flat and scenic, yet off-the-beaten path and at times squalid and neglected, from dilapidated buildings barely standing, stray animals (I stopped to feed a stray mother dogs whose puppies kept crawling out of an abandoned building's foundation hole) to the ubiquitous roadside trash. I drove from wild scenery to nuclear plants and Dow Chemical plants.

Of all the things yesterday that struck me the most was Indianola. It's a small town off Matagorda Bay, with homes that are at least thirty years old and which the real estate market seems to have forgotten. Which is fine with the locals as they want to keep it that way. There are people living there on the shore in trailers that look like they were built in the 1950s.

Indianola was once an Indian town for the Karankawa Indians but the Spaniards and then the Texians did a good job of destroying those people. In the 1840s a German group of pioneers originally from Karlshaven came down the Guadalupe River to settle here. Many of them died in a subsequent hurricane, and a second storm in 1886 destroyed any remaining buildings. There's only a foundation of one house left of that era. Indianola now is a quiet town, but for anyone interested in German-Texas history, this little town is a must-see.

It was here over the inlet that I saw the sun set, the first time in three days we had clear skies.

Port Lavaca itself isn't much but a port town with large shrimp boats. Most of the residents are Mexican, Mexicans who have been here for decades and who work the farms and boats here.

Weather today will be warmer; it was already 59F when I got up at 5:30am. But rain is again forecasted for the following three days, so I'm debating whether to drive up to Goliad today or run down to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and Matagordo Island today. A Kansas couple that I met yesterday said that Aransas is THE place to be for birders. That place has everything, the Leavenworth couple told me, from alligators and turtles to every bird imaginable. It also has a very interesting visitor's center. I'll gladly pass on the alligators but the birds are one thing on my to-do list. I've already spotted a Mexican vulture in a plowed field and whopping cranes!

I will have to post photos later. There are too many good ones from my birding experience but I may put some people to sleep talking about them all.

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