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Posts from the ‘Travel & Places I’ve been’ Category

One Lane Road and Two Orchid blooms

People ask me if I am still working. Could it be my hair which mysteriously and when I wasn’t looking became mostly gray? Or is it because I should volunteer to do something?

The credit union and bank think I should continue to work–they seem to put their hand out expecting something every month. Of course, one of the things happens to be my new truck—Big Mack.

Big Mack is bright red–candy apple red(yay)  but an automatic (groan) but a diesel (yay) and extended cab (too long) and made of aluminum (yay I can lift the end gate without thinking I am lifting weights at the gym) and great big side mirrors(yay while driving and a nightmare when parking).

So I should probably post a picture here—and I will but not today.

Today Big Mac and I went to Galveston. This means a ferry ride off Bolivar Peninsula. Going means a drive along the gulf with the waves splashing over the barriers and then a one lane road as the inevitable summer road work is carried on. This was my view.

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And I could have been a bit aggravated over the wait and the smell of all that asphalt but this is what I could see out the side.

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There is just something calming about watching all those waves and the occasional pelican or sea gull flying by.

I rode in the middle lane–plenty of room on either side of me—and watched dolphins playing in the water, dancing around a trawler, pelicans diving, sea gulls overhead looking for scraps of bread to be tossed.

The doctor visit–the reason for the drive was so-so—I can’t say I am impressed by the academic knowledge—perhaps it is because they do not expect any of their patients to give a cogent history.

On the way back, I was crammed in between an oversize semi and the interior of the ferry—I had exactly six inches on the driver’s side and four inches on the ferry side—not so happy to get a scrape on those wonderfully sticky-outy mirrors without the automatic fold in feature.  I could see a few grackles wandering underneath the semi–it was hot–and no breeze–blocked by that truck—-

However, in my dining room is this orchid. It blooms every summer around this time. But this is the first time I have seen two different colored flowers on the same stalk–a dark purple and a light lavender. The blooms last a long time and every time I walk past it, I smile.img_2066-m

And just to clarify—Big Mack is also a F250 but my first car/vehicle was my gold F250 always referred to as ‘THE F250″. It has 532,000 miles on it—and my husband has claimed it—so it is still in the family and should last another 2 or 3 hundred thousand miles–maybe some new tires along the way and the occasional oil change.

 

Catching Up

Life has been more than a tad busy over the past few weeks.  Somehow I volunteered myself to establish and work on a website for a local art group—a group of folks who are all well-intentioned but struggling to recover from several years of minimal attention to such details as filing tax returns or pruning their files.  It has consumed a great deal of time but hopefully things are now ready to move forward for them and I can return to writing and art.

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One of my adventures this summer was a wonderful week spent in the mountains of Colorado. Texas Gulf Coast in July is HOT, HOT, and HUMID with as many exclamation points as anyone could wish to add.  Of course the Colorado folks complained of the heat there with the highs in the upper 80’s—but then its all about what everyone is accustomed.

 

Of pelicans and seagulls and grackles

grackle20along20fo20rthe20ride-mGalveston is a seashore city accessible by two routes; one by interstates and a lot of traffic. The other is by ferry. Now, occasional ferry rides are a fun interlude in daily life. Waiting in the hot sun for access to work is probably not. I have the luxury of only the occasional trip to Galveston; to see the new rheumatologist my insurance company has deigned as ‘in-network’.

Lining up on the ferry access road requires some patience, we are motioned to drive onboard and park closely to the vehicle ahead of us. After the ferry is loaded, the ride begins. Returning is the same process.

I always hope to see dolphins swimming alongside; but this week there were only seagulls and pelicans–the seagulls hoping for bread and the pelicans for fish turned up by the ferry’s engines. There was a lovely breeze and it wasn’t too hot and the wait not too long–so a pleasant crossing.

shirmper-mOcean going vessels and shrimpers are a common sight and the ferry must maneuver around them being much quicker and more agile than the large vessels—I never knew how big they really were until some years ago, I was invited to a dinner aboard–and told to drive my truck onboard. Unlike most parking garages, there was plenty of overhead clearance…some of these vessels transport fighter jets and tanks around the world.

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More photos are here: https://sylviaweirphotos.smugmug.com/Texas/2019-Texas/

 

 

MeadFest and Bottle Brushes

Our driveway had puddles; the skies had puffy white clouds floating across the bay, and there was a gentle breeze. Our drive through the marshes of southeast Texas was pleasant enough in itself but we hoped we would not be too late for the MeadFest.

A versatile musician was singing and playing a sax–a variety of songs appealing to those of us who remembered when we bought the vinyl records; vendors were offering samples of their mead, one offered  beautiful wooden mugs, and then there was the winery offerings.

I attempted to take photos of the bees harvesting nectar from the bottle brush shrubs–wildly waving blooms despite a helping steadying hand from husband.bee20at20bottom20of20bottle20brush20tree-m

And then there was the dog.

Glen nearly always has dog biscuits in his pants pockets.

This dog was not quite so sure about this.

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Of Levees and Tertiary Drainage Ponds

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Tyrell Park is on the south side of Beaumont and has the typical features of a park; picnic tables, picnic shelters with grills, restrooms, and plenty of green grass and trees. There is also a golf course, greenhouses, formal gardens suitable for special occasion photographs such as graduations, quincinaras, engagements, weddings, and a riding stable.

But the best part–for me–is the Cat Tail Marsh.

It is huge and I’ve never walked all the way around it.

And every time I go, I take a gazillion photos of the birds.

Most of them catch the bird in not so elegant poses–sort of like taking a family portrait at the dinner table–forks looking like they are stuck on someone’s nose, mouths open, hands reaching, and so forth. But with people, you can ask them to stop and say ‘cheese’ but birds aren’t interested in their image recorded for posterity or looking their best with their hair combed and without spinach in their teeth.

So I toss a lot of photographs.

And then sometimes I catch one that reminds me of home.

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Another Morning at CatTail Marsh

Gray skies did not look promising for bird watching or photography. But we headed out to Tyrell Park armed with a box of donut holes from Dunkin Donuts. We each enjoyed a cup of coffee while chatting with the Visitor’s Bureau representative; and picked up a map of local bird preserves.

We could hear birds as they floated about searching for their breakfast. I thought we heard alligators but Husband Glen decided it was a bull frog.

other20side20of20board20walk-mWalking along the levees, dodging a few potholes, noting the primroses in bloom, and thinking about where we could put a few beehives. There are plans for a garden for pollinators in the future.

view20from20boardwalk-mA few sprinkles fell on us as we got back into my truck—a good way to begin a day–good coffee, conversation, donuts, and a walk. And seeing a Great Blue Heron–reminding us both of our days in Potosi Wisconsin.great20blue20heron-m

 

A Northern Flicker and Seaport Coffee

glen20overlooking20cat20tail20marsh-mThe south side of Beaumont features a tertiary water treatment area maintained as a wildlife/bird refuge called CatTail Marsh. It is 950 acres of water and marsh and reeds and alligators and frogs and birds. And now there is a lovely overlook with Seaport Coffee offered on Tuesday mornings.

We drove out expecting to see some of the 40 people who had expressed interest–but met only about four or five. Glen helped put together a coffee stand for the station; and we watched cement parking lot stations being fastened in the parking lot. It was cloudy and promised rain; not a lot of birds were out.

I did capture the red-winged blackbird—a reminder of my home in southwestern Wisconsin. red20winged20blackbird-m

We picked up a brochure and map labeling all the birding sites in the area—a new project for us–that sounds like fun–if only the dogs would behave for such a project.

And then we were gifted with a plushie Northern flicker and a bluebird–each with their song playing when pressing a button on their back. AND learned of an education program featuring looking at the birds to earn a plushie. We are a tad too old to participate but hopefully this will be a fun grandchild thing.

Hunting for ork

img_0611-mThis week’s new photo assignment is to find something that rhymes with ‘ork’. Going through the alphabet led me to ‘Stork’. Maybe the spoonbills were out at Cat-Tail Marsh.

It has been a few months since we’ve been there. A new observation post has been set up, the parking lot is nicely paved and level replacing the gravelly rutty one, and it was a fine day–in the 70’s after a few days of miserable gray dreary cold days.

img_0613-mPeople were out…with small children, dogs on leashes; one was a dedicated runner, another was a casual bicyclist. Then there were the photographers—dressed in camo with yard long lenses.

I had my trusty little Canon SX10 and no tripod.

The spoonbills were not to be seen.

img_0620-mIn fact, there didn’t seem to be many birds. Maybe they were frightened away by all the building commotion. We did learn a large eagle nest with chicks was at the far end of the pond and spoonbills were plentiful at Anahuac.

img_0616-mAnother time–perhaps—-but it was a nice day to be out.

 

Shoveling Sand

view20of20the20river-mSomehow January always flies by along with all of my good intentions. With the federal government in disarray we chose to do our First Day of the Year hike in Village Creek State Park. One of the trails had been re-opened after Harvey with extensive work by the rangers. We marveled at the amount of sand the river had deposited…one ranger told us that sand covered the trees and vegetation..almost like snow!

We learned that work days were planned for volunteers to come in and assist with getting the park back into visitor readiness. On the first Saturday of February, a group of about ten folks arrived with work gloves and ready to work.

sand20in20the20air-mOur job was to smooth out one trail and to reclaim two picnic sites. The flooding had deposited 6 to 12 inches of lovely white…and HEAVY sand on two of the sites. We shoveled and raked and hauled sand for three hours….I did some shoveling and raking–but spent more time taking photos until I filled up my card.working20the20trails-m

The two rangers worked along with us–putting as much if not more effort into the project. We offered all sorts of suggestions of needed equipment and wished TxDOT would repair the bridge soon–easier and safer for needed equipment to drive over a bridge that doesn’t have a huge hole underneath..but the state moves slowly.

But then, the quiet and stillness of just a few people shuffling through the sand and no engines, just the wind whispering in the tree tops, the hawk soaring overhead….maybe it is just fine that the bridge is low on their to-do list.acorns20and20acorn20caps-m

A few more photos of the day are here: https://sylviaweirphotos.smugmug.com/Texas/Village-Creek-State-Park/i-gvZs9Ns/A

Sun Dew Trail

overhead-MWe are fortunate to live near the Big Thicket. This happens to be part of the swamp land extending to Florida. At one time and probably still does, people wishing to avoid the consequences of illegal activities hid out in this thickety swampy area. Early missionaries, soldiers, explorers, and ‘the law’ frequently gave up on penetrating this area.

Today, though, large sections are blocked off with boardwalks and trails throughout.

After attending a Christmas party in the country and eating far too much, we decided to take a walk on one of the nearby trails….the Sundew.pitcher20plants-Mdozens20of20pitcher20plants-M

We may have spied one sundew plant but there were absolutely no bugs out–a delight for us–but no dinner for the sundews or the pitcher plants.

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