Back in August 2021 I wrote some free flowing words to describe a trip to the Texas coast in 2013. In August of 2021 Covid was keeping us home and one of my travel fantasies was going to the beach. And it was not just Covid. Our aging, ill dogs kept us home. We finally headed out a few weeks ago, January 10th, for a 2 night stay away. This time our destination was Rockport and further. Our goal was to enjoy nature and see the wintering Whooping Cranes and scatter some of the ashes of both our dogs.
Rockport is only 200 miles from Austin (about a 3 and 1/2 hour drive), but in my pre-trip brain it seemed far, far away. I get anxious before any trip, but once on the road most of my anxiety dissolves. I like to head out the door and get out of town. But, first, we had some delays. I had a dirty windshield and no wiper fluid…trip to store to get that. Had to pull over on the outskirts of Austin to deal by cell phone with a company in another city about being guarantors for my daughter’s first apartment. This took a long 20 minutes of my husband giving them lots of information. Finally, we were headed south on highway 183. Then road work south of Cuero…one lane only with pilot cars guiding us through.
Picked up Whataburger burgers for lunch and ate those in Goliad State park, our mid point break. Got to stretch here and start the birding portion of our trip. Meadowlarks, phoebes, vultures, warblers and little sparrows.
Made it to the Holiday Inn in Rockport where we would spend 2 nights.
The next morning we headed out to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is 48 miles from Rockport and much of the trip is a drive around plowed, barren winter fields. It was windy that day, not ideal for birding. But, we saw quite a few interesting critters, some from the car and some from walking the numerous trails. Here is the first one I took a photo of:
At Jones Lake we saw these beauties:
Further away, we spotted a few more White Tails amongst quite a lot of feral hogs. The two species of mammals seemed to be getting along just fine. I had never seen deer and hogs together and thought the hogs would be too aggressive.
We saw a variety of birds: lots of Black vultures; some Turkey vultures; Great blue herons; Snowy egrets; Great egrets; Little egrets; Osprey; Red tailed hawk; Grebes; Moorhen; Pelican; Terns; Kestrels; Ducks; Caracara. We checked out the observation decks searching the marshes for Whooping Cranes, but only spotted one, a tall white dot far in the distance. Several other visitors told us they had seen Whooping Cranes at Goose Island State Park in Rockport and we pondered checking it out.
On the 9 mile Auto Loop in the Refuge (one way only), we saw something new for both of us. There were a handful of Black vultures bathing in a marsh. Who would ever think seeing vultures bathe would be a treat?
As we prepared to leave the park, we stopped and walked out onto a pier over San Antonio Bay. Here we let go of our beloved dog’s ashes, mindful of the wind.
Leaving the park we saw more deer:
We had a hearty meal that evening at The Boiling Pot. The waiters cover your table with butcher paper and dump your dinner in a pile in front of you. Shrimp, sausage, corn on the cob, and usually crab, which they were out of that night. We took the offered plastic bibs and made a mess eating with our fingers.
The next day we decided to check out Goose Island State Park before we headed home. We got out of the car and walked around The Big Tree. Experts think it is 1,100 years old and huge (my photos didn’t do it justice). We drove around the park and saw deer, numerous birds, and people fishing, but no whoopers. We drove back to the park entrance and my husband went in and asked the ranger where the whoopers might be seen. She told him exactly where to see them, just outside of the park. And find them we did. The closest I have ever been to them (but not close enough for good photos with my little camera). And they weren’t just standing and walking like I had seen from afar in the past. Some would fly to a different area of this private property. There were at least 3 juveniles among them. Sandhill cranes, Egrets, and Herons were nearby. It turns out that they love this property because of the deer corn feeder.
And a Kestrel on a wire nearby:
So, a good get away for us. We came home refreshed and renewed. Two weeks later we are sick…my husband has Covid and my head feels stuffy and I am tired (my Covid test was negative). And, Yes, we have been fully vaxed and boosted.
6 thoughts on “My Beach Trip Part II”
A somewhat haunting post, Betty! Well before the closing with “illness” I was sensing “sad”. Probably because of your mission to spread ashes. Our elderly Labrador has saddened my days increasingly over the last couple of months. I cannot see that she enjoys life sufficiently to make her go through obvious discomfort for the majority of her awake hours. But she still eats! Still knows her name if spoken loud enough that she can hear it. We’ve not discussed what to do with ashes, but somewhere watery appeals.
Enjoyed your photos!
Thank you Jazz! Yes, the trip was long anticipated as a nice vacation…but there is still much sadness. We lost 2 dogs recently. I really miss the one who was with us the longest. Recently had to go into Petsmart to pick up cat litter and cat treats for our lone pet…I almost began to cry when I realized I would not be going into the dog food section! ….A follow up note to the ending of my blog piece…after I published it, I took my temperature…99 degrees…then I took another covid test and tested positive! So, we are both sick and taking care of each other. I can’t believe I avoided covid for 3 years and now…Interesting timing too…Our ice storm is keeping us quarantined anyway!
Thank you for sharing your trip here Betty. I remember birding with you and your super duper good vision and knowledge of birds by sight. I’ve been to that restaurant and can say the crab boil is quite an experience. Good napkins required.
It is hard to lose a steadfast good loving companion like Millie. You gave her a good life! She added to yours too. Mourning Millie, missing her, though sad is part of loving her. Love is good.
Haha, the whoopers go for the field with deer corn!
Get well soon!
Hi Liz, Thank you for your kind words! I love your words about Millie…”steadfast good loving companion”…great description of her character. Glad you enjoyed the blog piece. I know how much you enjoy the coast.
Joan traveled with you vicariously! The trip was such a treat to my eyes and imagination. Thank you Betty.
I am glad you enjoyed the trip!