Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Goose Island State Park + Aransas Wildlife Refuge

Roger here...
We are a few days behind on posting - doing too much. In a couple days we will tell you about the extraordinary two days in Abbeville, LA at Betty's RV Park, but today I'll fill you in on the great day that we had in Rockport Texas.

When we pulled into our site at Goose Island State Park, the frustrations of the police escort earlier in the day melted. What a view!!!!! From our front windshield we could see nothing but water on three sides. It looked like we were on the bow of a cruise ship. This is why we are living in a motorhome.

We only had one full day to explore the Rockport area, so we limited our options to three.

PART ONE... We started the day at the nearby Aransas Wildlife Refuge. Along the way we photo'd the expansive view of the sky that we seem to see everywhere here. (Dianne here: I took the two sky photos as we were driving; one out the front

windshield, and one out my side window. We Midwesterners aren't used to seeing clouds all the way to the

horizon on all sides!)

The draw to the refuge was catching a site of the very -endangered whooping cranes (tallest birds in North America). There was a lot of wildlife to see. We stopped to take several of the short trails during the first eleven miles - glad we did not take the "boys," as alligators are attracted to them. We saw several alligators that were waiting for choice morsels. We eventually arrived at the Whooping Crane Observation Tower, sans the cranes.

It was a beautiful area with a great view and lots of birds, but none of the cranes that were guaranteed to be there. We did see three whooping cranes the next day on the way out of town; very cool, but too unexpected to take a picture. (Dianne here: I couldn't believe how tall they were! About 5' tall!)

The next leg of the drive was a one-way, sixteen-mile trip that seemed like a safari through Africa without elephants.

We stopped the car several times

to take pictures of deer and snowy egrets. (The wild hogs that we saw were too far away to photograph - no javelina song this time.) It was a great drive; no traffic, calm, lots of wildlife, just too cool.

On our way out of the refuge Dianne, the day's photographer, yelled, "Stop the car - Armadillo!" I said, "What?" She said, "Stop the car!" I said, "We are in the middle of the road, we'll block traffic." She said, "I don't care!" So of course, we stopped. I have to admit that it was a pretty good shot of the ugly animal swimming in the water.

(Dianne again: There was no traffic, either ahead or behind us, as far as the eye could see. Another example of Roger's anal-retentiveness!!)

As we approached the exit of the park, there was one more trail that we thought we would try. It advertised cuckoo birds, which we have not seen. Dianne got a shot of a young alligator, on the move,

at the parking area - probably running to tell its parents that dinner was on the way. A few steps into the trail, we spotted an alligator staring at us from the water (only six feet away), creeped us (me) out.

We skipped the trail. We'll listen to cuckoos another time. (I've already heard them in my Grandma Hays' clock.)

PART TWO (The Big Tree).... In most places we have visited, the locals give outstanding features a name, i.e. Niagara Falls. We are finding that in Texas, they just use a common adjective. When we were at the wildlife refuge, one of the trails was called The "Big Tree" Trail.

As we drove back to our campsite to relax for an hour by the gulf,

we noticed a series of

signs directing traffic to The "Big" Tree. We decided to follow them, and were not disappointed. The "Big" Tree, which was only about a mile from our campsite, is over a thousand years old.

Wow, think of 1066 and William the Conqueror. It was truly something to see - now protected by a chain link fence, props to hold up the limbs, and cables to do the same, it was the most magnificent live oak tree I have ever seen.

Apologies to the English composition teachers who always insisted upon very descriptive adjectives in student writing (enormous, scraggly, oakus, gigantis) - "big" does truly describe the 42'

circumference of The Big Tree.

PART THREE (Dinner)... To save my precious pension money, we usually eat in the motor home - besides that, Dianne is an exceptional cook. But, when we are in an area where local food is an event, we try to sample the local cuisine (a lot of that to come in our future Cajun posts). We had read several great reviews of the Boiling Pot in Rockport, so off we went. (Nick Russell of the Gypsy Journal wrote a few months ago about the Boiling Pot Restaurant. Nick really knows his food, and we follow his advice whenever we are in an area he has reviewed. That was the deciding factor in our entering the Boiling Pot.)

Wow, we almost did not go in, turned around three times. The outside of the place was covered with graffiti.

There was a man (probably the owner - very friendly) pounding on the covered area with a mallet and knocking two-by-fours onto the ground. We finally decided to be adventurous and go in. GLAD we did.

What a unique meal for a couple of people from the Indy area. The boiled seafood

and sides (shrimp, crab, boudin sausage [obviously not seafood], corn-on-the cob, potatoes) were dumped onto sheets of waxed paper. Lots of condiments to dip the fresh seafood into. Delicious! The walls were

covered with crayon drawings from the paper table cloths from previous patrons, so I made one for the two of us.

Livin' Large in Texas, and lovin' it!

Dianne again: The final photos are sunsets at our site at Goose Island State Park. This was our last night in Texas after three months, so the sun was setting on our Winter Texan adventure. 'Bye, Texas, 'til next year!

1 comment:

suewysong said...

Just some insider info! If you ever get back to Goose Island during the winter, go straight past the Big Tree, take 2 right turns and watch in behind some buildings, in a pasture with cattle, during mid-late afternoon. Almost guaranteed whooping crane family with a baby! In December baby will still have his darker coloring too. This year there are 2families in that area and one pair has twins-extremely rare. They are quite a site and much much closer viewing than anywhere else in the wild.