Saturday, January 3, 2009

Rockport Area

The Big Tree
A raccoon searching for food along the water.
Feral pigs which are a major problem in the refuge.
If you look closely, there are 13 gators and a snake in this little waterhole.
A ship passing in front of the ferry as we waited to cross the channel to Port Aransas.
Click on this pic to blow it up and you will see a dolphin jumping at the bow.
A very wet Miss Terry helps Jim launch.
All dressed up to welcome in 2009. The beautiful backdrop was painted by Shirley. We hope this is the only snow we see this year.
Mike, Shirley, Mark, Renita and Nanc get ready to celebrate.

The weather in Texas has gotten better and we have been doing a few more things in the area. One afternoon we drove to the Big Tree, which is the largest live oak in Texas. The tree, located at Goose Island State Park in Lamar, is 44 feet high with a circumference of 35 feet and a crown of 89 feet and is estimated to be over 1000 years old. It is surrounded by many offspring creating a grove of live oaks. While there, we had another small world thing when we met four people who were originally from PA and one couple has a son who lives in Charleroi which is near Wash, PA. That day we also visited Aransas National Wildlife Refuge where we saw a lot of animals but did not get up close with many birds. There are several walking trails and a 16 mile auto loop for viewing the wildlife. The refuge is the winter home to over 200 whooping cranes which were nearly extinct in 1941 when there were only 15 in North America. The whoopers summer at Wood Buffalo National Park in Northwest Territories, Canada. We are planning on taking a boat trip from Rockport to get a better look at the whooping cranes on the outer islands of the refuge. We went back to Port Aransas on Mustang Island to spend some time on the beach. To get to the island you have to take a short ferry ride across the shipping channel where large ocean going ships pass through. As the ships move through the channel, the dolphins can be seen "surfing" along in the swells pushed up by the bows. Port A has a lot more commercial development than Rockport but is still a neat area with much to do.

Because we are often around water, we have talked about getting kayaks to get out on the water. I saw on Nick's Blog that Nick Russell was interested in selling his kayak so I contacted him and went for a test paddle. While it was a great deal we decided that the timing was just not right since we would have to buy a second one for Nanc, a car rack and many other accessories. Unfortunately, while helping me launch, Nick's wife Terry slipped and went into the water up to her chest and over her cell phone. The good news she was only wet and not injured and they were due for a new phone from their plan. We really appreciated them taking the time to show us the kayak and even though we decided not to buy just yet, the information was quite helpful and we have a better understanding of what it all involves.

We had a great time ringing in the new year with many new friends at a party in the park's clubhouse. As usual, there was plenty of great food, music, dancing and conversation. Many of us even stayed up to midnight to officially welcome in 2009.

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