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

The Big Tree

LIve oaks are known for their longevity along with sequoias. When we toured the western states retracing the footsteps of Lewis and Clark, everyone else was stunned by their size—and took dozens of photos with one of us standing in front of a tree with our arms spread wide–to give an estimate of their size.

These trees are not as tall but they are equally large. Each area seemed to have a ‘Big Tree’ for us to admire. These trees have huge branches that lean down to the ground, some of them requiring props. One tree was thought to be over 500 years old, sprouting from an acorn when Coronado was looking for gold.

It is hard to see just how big they are as this one on Goose Island was fenced off but they are huge. In Beaumont our street is lined with them and in the McFadden Ward House museum there are two trees, brought back as saplings from a battle near San Antonio by a McFadden.


A week on Goose Island State Park

Wanderlust appears occasionally but with bees, chickens, and dogs, it takes some organization to plan even a short time away from home. The bees don’t require much work this time of year, time is spent building frames, boxes and planning for splits and honey collection.  The chickens have gotten rather spoiled; they expect to be let out of the coop early in the morning, forage about in the yard for yummy grubs and bits of grass they convert into eggs—-dozens of them! And the dogs expect trips to the dog park rain or shine and disapprove of rainy cold nasty weather—if they had lower lips to stick out they would—and they eye us with disdain whenever the weather is not to their liking.

However, we got ourselves organized and took off for Goose Island State Park just a bit north of Corpus Christi. It was an easy drive and we arrived at our Air BnB around 2 in the afternoon.

Rockport was hit hard by Hurricane Harvey and recovery has been slow. Congress has been busy with other things. Some houses are without windows; plumbing problems seemed to abound, and only a few restaurants were open; one of them opening the last night of our stay.

Whooping cranes were once on the endangered species list–probably still are. They migrate annually from North Dakota, Wisconsin and such to areas along the Gulf Coast including Goose Creek Island State Park and the wild life refuge. I was surprised and pleased to see and hear whoopers upon our arrival.

The people across the little salt water marsh had a deer feeder; three or four whooping cranes and sandhill cranes gathered around it every morning and late afternoon. I could hear the whoopers flying overhead—what a noisy bunch they are.img_3068-m

Getting updated

One of the requirements of keeping a license in Texas is mandated continuing education including ethics. They must also be approved by the state Family Practice organization. Fortunately they put on some great conferences and the ethics hours are always a breakfast or lunch meal so relatively painless.

This year I attended the conference held in The Woodlands. The lectures were mostly interesting although I skipped the last half of the one on medical marijuana and CBD oil in favor of walking along the waterway behind the hotel.

The weather was absolutely perfect, sunny, cool but not too cool—perfect for walking. I really wanted to take a ride on one of those duck/swan/goose boats but did not see where they were launched.paddle20ducks2-mpaddle20ducks-m

It is not up to Riverwalk in San Antonio but it is pleasant.

There are various benches along the waterway–each one different.chiluly20chair20with20refletions20in20glass20building-m

I found a group taking Quincinara photos and another taking high school graduation photos.quicnineara20photos-m

Then there were the tile murals under the bridge.




Sunsets in Del Rio

One of my jobs involves doing disability exams for social security. This means a lot of driving and one of the places I go is Del Rio.

I usually leave around 9 or so and arrive around 5. I don’t drive particularly fast and I have to allow for traffic snags, the bridge being out in Channelview, road construction everywhere, and the occasional accident.

Del Rio is a border town with many people living in Mexico, getting medical care and medications in Mexico. The Rio Grande has been dammed creating Amistad Reservoir, a huge lake with lots of fishing. The surrounding area is desert with yucca, palm trees, and various cacti.

This last weekend, I hiked along two trails; was pleased not to see any creatures who had lost their legs in their ancient family tree. The weather was perfect–not too hot, not to cold, and with just a snitch of a breeze.

The reservoir was relatively full and the grass and vegetation looked lush, compared to other visits when just scuffing my shoes made me wonder if that would ignite a fire.

The sunset Saturday night was spectacular and taken from my second story room.


Friday night sunset from my window overlooking Veteran’s Boulevard in Del Rio


View of the reservoir from one of the trails


Another view of the reservoir with some of the fishing floats constructed of huge tractor tires


Sunset Saturday night; photo does not accurately display the gorgeous colors; looking toward Veterans boulevard in Del Rio Texas

More photos of Texas from this year are in this gallery:

In Search of Goldenrod

turtle204-mWeather in this part of Texas can be and usually is hot and steamy. Sometimes we get a front from the north along with the lovely fragrance of the paper mills. But this past weekend was perfect–temps in low 80’s, low humidity and just a bit of a breeze to keep the mosquitoes away. It was a perfect weekend to be outdoors.

After the dogs had their twice daily trip to the dog park to check out all the other dogs and owners, chase frisbees, tennis balls, and bark at random bicyclists and skateboarders and other disliked dogs, we (sans dogs—they are not good travelers–Toby prefers to drive and Dora needs to alert us to all persons or creatures within her eyesight–and she has excellent eyesight) spent some time at Tyrell Park on the south side of Beaumont.

We were surprised  we had the place mostly to ourselves but enjoyed walking around the ponds. This is the tertiary treatment area for our sewer system; and is filled with water birds, alligators(ddidn’t see any), turtles (we saw two) and frogs (heard them but didn’t see them). Two nice young men were walking their three dogs and I tried to get their portraits (the dogs–not the young men–although they were nice looking but thought husband might have been a tad offended—or maybe not–I took photos of him)

another20purple20flower-mFlowers were blooming in the garden part of the park, but my goal for the day was to capture some great goldenrod photos for an art project I have in mind. It is still in the thinking stage but the photos will wait patiently for me on my smugmug site for the next phase.

You can take a look at the photos here:

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.


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.


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.


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.


More photos are here:



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.


Of Levees and Tertiary Drainage Ponds


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.