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

A Bonsai Tree and a Fountain

Thursday I had a doctor’s appointment in Houston. I normally schedule these to include a trip to the art museum to see the latest exhibits and to check in on my favorites—Matisse’s bronze backs in the Cullen sculpture garden and the European impression wing; I’ve stopped by the Menil on occasion too–but the Menil is closed and the MFA is open by appointment. Not knowing how long a doctor’s appointment will last, I contented myself with a walk through Herman Park.

While it is not as large as Central Park in New York City, it is not small either. There is a golf course, a zoo, a small railroad, bikes for rent and many long trails and pathways for walkers and runners. The bird population is plentiful ranging from ducks and geese to pigeons and I’m sure others–but those were the ones I saw begging on the pathways. It reminded me of student days in Madison where no-one dared sit near the path–they would be covered with birds seeking bread.

img_4260-mThis tree near the ticket booth for the zoo has always fascinated me. Although it is full size, to me it looks like a bonsai tree—something a few of my medical school classmates and I tried during student days—not money involved in raising one from a tiny sapling dug from the side of the road somewhere and destined for mowing. My bonsaid morphed into miniature roses when I did my residency—but they stayed behind when we moved to Texas.

img_4262-mIt was warm—no–HOT—and this fountain looked deliciously appealing. Two paddleboats circled around it, the passengers laughing as they encountered the spray. Had I been more appropriately dressed and with a companion blessed with a good pair of calves, I would have joined in.

 

An Ocean View

shipThursday was a fine day for a trip to the beach and a picnic. We live just 30 some miles from the Gulf but our favorite time to visit is during the winter months. Quarantine days and social distancing have grown more than a tad old; our days seem to run together with little change. The weather is hot and humid but Thursday was clear and sunny.

 

I packed a simple lunch—yeast roll with cream cheese and slice of ham and a chilled wataermelon–did not think to provide a cutting board and utensils but I did remember to stick in a large knife.

We drove to McFadden National Wildlife refuge, opted to not drive out to the beach although Tessie si 4 wheel drive, walked up and down the beach. I had to get my feet and ankles and the bottom of my pants legs wet in the waves. There were a few other people there–not many as it was not yet the weekend.

A largish mesquite tree provided some shade for our lunch and we made a mess of the watermelon.

Our next stop was the Dick Dowling State Park. In the past, there were two restaurants offering barbecue crabs; they have been gone for many years—tax problems and there are no more re-enactments of the famous naval battle fought there. It has been renamed as a historical battlefield site. It also was nearly deserted but with a lovely long walkway along the river.

All told we drove about 120 miles or so—a fun day.

I’ve put a few more photos of the day in this gallery for your viewing pleasure without the heat and humidity—you’ll have to provide your own watermelon.

 

Zooming In

After taking Plaquenil for about six months, I began to notice some really strange visual things—sparkly colors, reversing colors of images. After reporting this to my ophthalmologist, I was scheduled to see a retinal specialist. He did some sort of fancy scans and it was determined I was one of the unlucky few to have Plaquenil deposits around both macula–the site of our most acute vision. Plaquenil was immediately stopped and very slowly some of my vision has returned. However, not enough to use that tiny little view finder on my camera.

I could be frustrated with having to use the pull-out window on my Canon SX 50 but sometimes the results are rather amusing particularly with the zoom feature.

One of our favorite spots is the tertiary treating area at Tyrell Park here in Beaumont. There are long walkways around each containment area, the occasional alligator can be spotted along with hundreds of birds.

This was an avocet on an overcast day and my attempts to get some good closeups. That camera can take photos of the water droplets on a duck from a considerable distance but that doesn’t mean it can tell I want the whole bird in the photo, not just its legs.

Tell me what you think!

Here is my subject.

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First attempt with actual bird parts visualized. I omitted the ones of the just the water.

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And another try.

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so I back up the zoom and find that silly bird again.

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my best effort—and I decided it was going to have be good enough.

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Trees in the Middle of the Road

Our recent trip to Rockport and surrounds included several ‘big trees’. I dutifully took pictures of them all, reflecting upon the similar big trees we have here in Beaumont Texas, many of which fell victim to Hurricane Rita, then Ike, and a few more to Harvey and Imelda.

Thinking back upon trees from other places, though—–

A very large cottonwood tree stood in the middle of Blackhawk Avenue in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. It was reported to be the meeting place of Blackhawk, the Indian chief during one of the discussions during some of the wars fought in that area. I recall seeing old photos of that tree…Blackhawk Avenue is the primary commercial street. It was cut down after being hit by lightening in the 1920’s to a lot of consternation from some, and good riddance to others. Another legend has Geronimo hiding out in one of the local caves.

There is also a large tree in the middle of the street in several Texas towns and perhaps other cities as well. They tend to be in the not so commercial areas. I seem to remember Gonzalez; there is one in Columbus and I’m sure there are others.

Here is one in LaGrange Texas, just two blocks north of the courthouse square.

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Heading Home

img_3261-mWhooping cranes posed for us and for several other locals including a couple from Corpus Christi who had lived there for over 30 years but had never seen the whooping cranes. They have a festival in late February early March but by the second week of March, the cranes are headed north.

I took a few more photos and of the sun rise that morning–and it was time to head home.

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Houston traffic is always iffy but we were there slightly before lunchtime.

We arrived home in time to collect Toby and Dora, take them to the dog park, and attend the monthly bee meeting.

New adventures await us.

 

Goose Island’s Harvey Memento

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Goose Island State Park is surrounded by water and suburbia. Along the banks facing the intercoastal bridge were two large areas of picnic shelters and two really nice bath houses. Unfortunately, Hurricane Harvey left these areas in what can charitably called disarray–and funds to repair have been slow in coming.

The road has large pits and is very uneven but a few fishermen were out including one with a fishing kayak.

We strolled along the banks of the levee—noticed the jelly fish floating near the shore. jelly20fish-m

The day was cold and windy–and we quickly retreated to our little cabin—by now we had figured out the optimum arrangement of the small electric heaters.

Mustang Island State Park

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Mustang Island is the northern island of the Padre Island complex ranging from Corpus Christi to Brownsville. The beach is a long white sandy one—and the day we picked to visit had perfect temperatures.

We were mostly by ourselves on the lower portion of the beach and there was some wind–enough to keep us moving but not so much as to make it unpleasant. We strolled the beach, picking up a few shell fragments here and there–that urge is irresistible for Midwest natives—although we have quickly grown accustomed to thinking 50 degrees is COLD and required heavy coats–and definitely no water play.

Near the levees we found fisher people and lots of these little birds pecking away at something that must have been quite tasty amid the moss covered rocks. There were quite a few kites out–they are so fun to watch and so hard to get decent photos.img_3128-m

There were some Hispanic men with their children–tossing footballs, digging in the sand, playing with Tonka dump trucks, and eatimg barbeque sandwiches set up on a table underneath and small tent shelter—no girls except those under six were visible–a guys weekend out—and all were having a blast—their music was a nice selection and quite lively.

My step count for the day was nearly 16000 and my feet and back agreed.

A Parade of Pelicans

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Late in the afternoon on our arrival and nearly every day while we were there, we walked down to the harbor–actually the Intercoastal Waterway. On the first night, a flock of pelicans flew in and swam across the small harbor. They were so elegant in the water and resting for the evening. Later we found them resting on one of the piers.

Some piers have been rebuilt but others are still in disarray.

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I don’t know if this is the result of Hurricane Harvey or whether this one was just one maintained but I enjoyed the graphic quality of those piers jutting out at various angles against the backdrop of ocean and barrier island

Fish and Flamingoes

The day promised to be very chilly, windy, and rainy…not a good day for these arthritic bones to enjoy hiking. The cabin did not have central heat and we finally wised up and put one of the small space heaters in the bathroom so we did not have to work to soap between the chill bumps.

We drove about half an hour or a bit more to the Texas State Aquarium. Glen had been there when it first opened, thought it to be smallish and not to be compared to Shedd Aquarium in Chicago–the first aquarium I’d ever seen and full of art deco details.

We were very surprised when we got to the Aquarium. There is a lot of road construction (isn’t there always) but some of it was repair work due to Hurricane Harvey.

The place is quite large with large glass domes. The ticket price was also a surprise ($35 each and that might have been the senior discount). But inside—-there is a Starbucks and a restaurant inside. We toured the Caribbean area first and were entranced by the 12 coral flamingos.flamingoe204-m

There were sloths, scarlet ibis, a screamer bird, macaws, not to mention deep tanks of fish you could see from on top and then from the side.l-m

Lion fish are so dramatic but they have taken over and are at the top of the food chain elbowing (if fish have elbows) other creatures.

We tried to identify the dolphins as they swam round and round in their tank; the otters came out to play–they are always so delightful, watched part of a bird show, and finally watched a 4 D Planet Earth movie.

It was a full day—and there were docents everywhere—all ready to explain the creatures and answer questions.

It was well worth that $35 dollar ticket.

 

Aransas Wildlife Refuge

Some years ago, I had the misfortune to slip and fall breaking the patellas on my left leg. I was fortunate enough–or dumb enough to work while on crutches. Having a standard vehicle meant I could not drive myself to work; husband drove me to work and while I was at work, took his motorcycle to various nearby places to photograph some of the wildlife. This wildlife refuge was one of his favorite places.

it had sustained some damage during Hurricane Harvey but had two large very tall lookout areas. Whooping cranes could be seen in the far distance and according to the rangers, there were several pairs.

It was windy and chilly up there but a great view.

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This was labeled the alligator pond but none had read the brochure stating they would be available for photo ops that day.

We did find this young fellow crossing the road—there will be more about him much much later

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And another BIG TREE—-I can’t remember how many we did see and we wondered if perhaps some of the ones we saw with multiple trunks within a very small area were a community instead of individual trees.

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Forgot to mention the best part of our trip. Because we both qualified and did buy National Park Senior Forever Passes and then a Texas State Park annual pass–we didn’t spend all that much money on entry fees—except for tomorrow’s entry.