Natchez Trace Parkway
We stopped for lunch by this Cypress swamp.
How appropriate .... vintage cars on a vintage road.
The campsite at the state park. Our trailer is on the right in the trees. It was a very pretty spot as the the campground looked out at a small lake.
This tree was by our trailer.
You have to look closely to notice that the long object just in front of the shore is a barge being pushed by a tug. The Mississippi is high being at 49.7 feet --- the highest crest was 53.1 feet.
The walkway along the river took you under the bridges that cross the Mississippi River.
The flowering bushes were incredible.
One of the historic homes in Natchez --- this was a bordello. You can tour some of the homes in Natchez and this may have been one as the women on the balcony was dressed in a period costume.
Another historic home, I believe this one has a restaurant in it now. The grounds were full of flowering shrubs.
The outside of the King's Tavern.
The third floor is still set up as a guest room (at one point people could stay in the room) and this is where the ghost is normally seen.
Starting the Drive Home
Seagulls looking for handouts. We were on the ferry leaving Galveston Island. The wait and loading time for the ferry was about an hour but it sure beat having to drive through Houston.
This waterway is fairly busy as there are large docks in Galveston. It looks like the tug and the ferry are racing.
Our trailer on the ferry.
I think this bridge is at the Texas Louisiana border as you cross the Sabine River.
Beach Day 7
Beach Day 6
Took the big lens over to the birding area in hopes we would see some of the birds we saw yesterday. Luck was with us and we saw the Yellow-crowned Night-herons, the White-tailed Kite and the Crested Caracara.
On the drive into the park we passed an Italian restaurant (Mario's) that looked like it might have good pizza. As I missed the "pizza outing" in Mission, we decided that it was time for pizza. The pizza was very good, but the crust wasn't quite perfect. I may be remembering it better than it was but I still lust after a "grandmothers pizza" at Mothers Pizza.
Three Yellow-crowned Night-herons.
White-tailed Kite coming in for a landing
Beach Day 5
Some of the pretty spring flowers.
More pretty flowers.
Beach Day 4
Yes, Zaph got his beach walk when we came back from photographing the birds.
A Black Skimmer
Black Skimmers in flight
I'm not sure of the proper name but I'll call it a "kite car". The vehicle ran up and down the beach powered by the kite.
Beach Day 3
Guess what we did today? If you guessed beach walk you're right.
The beach was just about deserted so no leash today.
As dinner time was approaching we decided to stay in town and eat. The restaurant of choice was Benno's on the Beach specializing in Cajun seafood. This is a very casual dinning, you go to the counter and order your food and someone brings it to your table. First a couple of cups of Jambalaya then crawfish boil. Crawfish are like little lobsters, you break off the tail, pull the meat out and throw the rest away. The Jambalaya was amazing, the crawfish very good.
Looking down the main channel towards the port
Black Skimmers, Gulls and Terns and a Cormorant --- it was fairly windy out and they were all facing into the wind
Black skimmers coming in for a landing
Beach Day 2
As Zaph and I were up early we decided to do a beach walk and headed out just after sun rise (7:30am). The beach was pretty empty so Zaph was given his freedom so he could splash through the waves without dragging me.
Galveston Island State Park has two parts too it, the beach side where the day use area and large campground can be found and the bay side which has a small campground, swamp, trails and a variety of birds. Today we hiked one of the trails and looked for birds and found some --- several Osprey, Roseate Spoonbills, Northern Mocking Birds (there everywhere in Texas), Meadow larks, Sparrows and Egrets.
Zaph being the lucky dog that he is got to go for a second beach walk /swim. There's just something so peaceful about walking on the beach.
This little guy was on one of the hiking trails, a reasonable distance from water. He was laying upside down when we found him so we think a bird might have dropped him.
Hmmmm...... this shark doesn't look dangerous.
A beautiful moon rise over the water.
The Last Texas State Park this Trip
As I haven't done laundry for awhile it was time to search out the local laundromat --- or as it is called here "washateria". I was thrilled to find another 9.5 --- clean, nice machines and nice attendant.
Back at the park we took a good look at the units around us and noticed that the two units across the road and one just down the road from us have Ontario plates and one of them we met at Goose Island State Park. Small world.
Trade my Dog .... No Way
While walking down a trail we came across a mother and her son .... obviously there was some problem as the son was crying that he didn't want to go home. The mother looked at us and asked if we wanted to trade our dog for her child ---- that was a no brainer.
On another trail, we stopped to chat with some people for a minute as Zaph and their dogs wanted to say hi. There was a split in the trail, so they asked us to suggest which way they should go. After I answered, the woman looked at me and said, "You're Canadian aren't you? You have a Canadian accent." I know I don't sound like a Texan, but it still surprised me to have someone figure it out. I think most people just think I talk funny.
On another trail we stopped to look at some alligators and turtles in a small lake. When I turned and looked on the other side of the trail where there was a large valley with a creek, I saw what looked like a vulture convention. There must have been forty or fifty vultures just sitting on the ground hanging out. Later when we saw a ranger, I asked him about it. He said though it was windy, the winds and temperature weren't quite right for soaring so the vultures just hung out.
When we were here in December 2006 there was an area near the road where the vultures roosted. Just before sunset we drove over to the area to see if the vultures were there --- not as many as we remember from a year ago, but there were still a lot of vultures in the trees. It was a sight worthy of a horror flick.
Zaph and I walked on the far side of the path as we passed this little fellow.
Hmmm, maybe he wasn't so little after all.
A view down one of the horseshoe lakes.
A tree of turtles. The turtles were out in full force enjoying the sun.
The trees here are full of Spanish Moss.
I'm not sure why he was lying there with his mouth open but after a good look at those teeth I'm certainly not going to get too close.
This little gator didn't care that the turtle had already claimed the log, he climbed up and the turtle moved out of the way.
Do you think the little turtle is dreaming of being as big as the big turtle?
Lots of dragon flies on one of the trails. This guy stopped and posed for Ed.
The bumps on the tree branches are vultures. Birds kept arriving as the sun continued to set.
The lake took on the colours of the sunset.
Birds and Alligators
Little Blue Heron
Common Moorhen --- the red shield on the beak is only seen during breeding season (February to September).
There's lots of American Coots in the ponds here. These guys are very vocal --- if you can't see them you're bound to hear them.
What is the alligator doing sitting in a field? Ed said he was watching Zaph and me walk by --- glad I didn't notice.
Zaph wearing his St. Patrick's Day bandanna.
Off to the Next State Park
As Carol and Darryl had a six hour ride to get home, they left right after lunch. We finished packing up and left about ten minutes later. Over the two half days, we had a very nice visit with them.
Lucky us, we only had a two hour drive before we arrived at our destination; Brazos Bend State Park. We stayed at this park in December 2006 and really enjoyed it. Hope this visit is as good.
Visit from the Dentons
This park didn't have a fire ban as the last two did, so we bought a little red wagon load of wood and had ourselves a campfire. It was a beautiful evening for it, not too cold and a clear sky with lots of stars.
Off to Lake Texana
Just Another Day
Later in the day we took Zaph for walk on the trail through the park and then out to the fishing pier. We decided that Goose Island is a very nice campground though we hear that the wood section does get buggy as the weather gets hotter.
Did You Know It's Still Dark at 6:15am
By 7:30 the boat was on it's way. The beginning of the trip was interesting as we were driving in the dark in the fog --- luckily Captain Tommy knew where he was going and had both GPS and radar. About 15 minutes into the trip the sun rose --- very pretty indeed.
The trip was very successful as we saw a lot of Whooping Cranes. It helps that the Whooping Cranes are territorial and return to the same territory each year. First we saw a family of four which was unusual. Whooping Cranes lay two eggs but the stronger baby usually kills the other one to ensure sufficient food. Then we saw three other family groupings (three cranes) before stopping to watch a young pair of adults. On the return trip to shore we saw a group of young birds that left their families but not yet found their mate. Oh, we did see lots of other birds on the trip as well.
The summer and winter rains have ensured a good crop of Blue Crabs this year which makes the Whooping Cranes very happy .... it's one of their favourite foods. Adult Whooping Crane in the foreground, juvenile in background.
Probably a Long-billed Curlew
A flock of migrating Ibis.
Four Roseate Spoonbills and a Tri-coloured Heron
A pair of adult whooping cranes.
This photographer had the boat to himself.
Unfortunately, for the above photographer, the cranes took to the air a few minutes after he had arrived --- fortunate for us as we got to see them fly by.
Cormorants on a natural gas rig
Late in the afternoon we decided to drive the mile or so from the park and see the "big tree". The Goose Island Oak Tree is more than 1,000 years old, has a circumference of more than 35 feel, an average trunk diameter of more than 11 feet and a crown spread of 89 feet.
When we arrived at the "Big Tree" parking lot, we were surprised to see a number of vehicles --- apparently a wedding was about to begin. It was a very casual wedding --- none of the guys wore jackets, the bridesmaids wore pants and the flower girl and ring bearer went barefoot.
Here an Armadillo, There an Armadillo, Everywhere an Armadillo
There were lots of alligators in lots of sizes.
A posing armadillo --- it was kinda of weird but most of the armadillos we saw were on Ed's side of the truck --- do you think they were wanting their photos taken?
A flowering yucca
Besides being totally different species you can easily tell a boar from a javelina as boars have tails and large ears.
A Great Egret
The Whooping Crane family flew from the water where they were very visible (though far away) to the tall grass where they were not.
Butterflies hard at work making more butterflies.
This White-tailed deer obviously lives in a protected area as he stood there for a long time while we took his photo.
Zaph reluctantly hanging out by one of the "big trees" in the refuge.
Zaph wanted to go see his new friend. This little girl had no trouble with Zaph's size as she has a Great Dane and a Chihuahua at home.
Lots of drift wood on this beach.
Our timing was pretty good, we arrived and set up just before the skies opened up and the rain came down. We turned on the TV in time to see the "emergency weather reports" that asked everyone to stay in doors for the next hour or so. Being ones to follow instructions we decided what better way to stay in doors than to have a nap. The three of us crawled onto the bed and slept through the storm.
This afternoon we drove into Port Aransas so I could do the laundry. You never now what you will find when you walk into a laundromat ---- happily this one was at least a 9.5. I think there were 58 sparkling washers and at least 40 dryers down one wall. One end of the laundromat had patio tables and chairs, with lots of books, magazines and puzzles.
Did I mention that Ed and Zaph went birdwatching while I was doing the laundry?
A Great Blue Heron having to share his island with a group of visiting Roseatte Spoonbills
Shortly after this Zaph was given his freedom --- do you think cold wet feet were part of my motivation?
Padre Island National Seashore
In Texas the beach is considered a road, thus vehicles are allowed to drive on it. Today the "beach road" was particularly busy as it was "beach clean up day". Volunteers and their vehicles drove down the beach looking for and picking up the garbage that washes ashore from the gulf. And there appears to be a lot of garbage as we saw many trucks and trailers filled with bags of it.
Several types of gull`s heads turn black during breeding season, I'm going to guess that this is a Bonaparte's Gull because of the black beak.
Great Blue Herons love the seashore, you'll usually find one near when someone is fishing.
Windsurfers in the protected waters of the Laguna Madre
Just Hanging Out
Zaph's all wrapped up in his walk.
an aerial view of rough terrain ???? OK, just wind swept sand on the beach
Big Wind, Big Rain
Zaph was happy though as we got back to the trailer in time to take him for a long walk on the beach.
You looking at me???? A Great Blue Heron with a different slant on life
A swimming Nutria
A slightly different bird.
Juvenile Black-crowned Heron
Roseate Spoonbills and a couple of American Coots.
A Roseate Spoonbill flew over us.
Bird Watching Time
Returning to the state park we walked down to the beach. What a difference from yesterday, the water is calm and there were people about including a few people camping on the beach.
A couple of Nutria --- we think a mom and a youngster.
Tri-colored Heron fishing near the board walk.
Black Crowned Night Heron, a adult in the middle of the photo and a juvenile at the top right, hanging out at Paradise Pond
A better view of a juvenile Black Crowned Night Heron
Bet you can guess how this fellow got the nick name of "butter butt".aka, Audubon's Yellow-rumped Warbler.
Pieces of coral were washed up on the beach --- this one still had live little critters in it.
Hard to believe this is the same beach that was in yesterday's photos. We think these are horned Grebes, doing a little body surfing as the waves crash over them.
On the Road
The drive was uneventful, though a little slower than usual as the wind was knocking us around a bit. After we were settled in we decided to take a walk on the beach which was deserted. The water was brown from sand it had picked up and the waves were huge --- wouldn't want to be out there today.
I wouldn't want to be out in those waves.
Even Zaph wasn't keen on getting wet today. Interesting, the winds were very strong towards the water, but the waves still crash in...
One happy puppy bouncing down the beach
Ed made sure that we attended the ice cream social --- it'll probably be next year before we get another large chunk of ice cream for 50 cents. This also gave us a chance to say good-bye to some of the people we had met this year.
As timing seems to go, Colin and Margaret arrived in the valley March 1st and we're leaving on March 3rd so today is about the only chance will have in getting to see them before we both get back to Ontario. Joe's Crab Shack was chosen as our meeting place. Dinner was yummy and we were able to catch up with everything that has been going on in our lives.
The Big Tree
Today is Darlene and Richard's fiftieth wedding anniversary --- so yup a bunch of us went out for dinner --- would you expect anything else? When were returned to the park it was time to give them our cards, a dozen sort of gold colored roses and a cake. Luckily some other people came by to give there best wishes and helped to eat the cake.
The "big" tree --- the Montezuma Bald Cypress is thought to be over 900 years old
It took seven of us to go around the tree .... if we didn't mind stretching a bit more we may have been able to do it with just 6 of us.
Richard and Darlene posing by there cake and flowers.
I don't trust these women .... you try it first.
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