The Rest of the Story

Yesterday I posted this picture on Facebook and asked everyone to guess where we were going, that we weren’t going on a Dolphin Watch, but we did see dolphins. And that they should standby for more information.

Well here is, to use a famous Paul Harvey saying,  “The Rest of the Story

 

A week or so ago I found out that Sea Turtle Inc. were going to release more turtles.  We had seen turtles being released from the beach before, but this time they were going to be released from a boat.  We had to go.  I quickly called and was put on a wait list, we were in spots 3 and 4.  The person I talked to said they would be calling everyone before the event to ensure they were still coming and if there were any cancellations, they would let us know.  We were a little disappointed, but hey, a lot of things can happen in a week.

The boat was scheduled to leave at 5:30 PM yesterday, Saturday March 24th. We did not get any call to say we were now on the confirmed list. So on the off-chance there was room, we headed out to the dock for 5 o’clock.  The young lady I spoke to at the dock sort of smiled when I told here our situation and she told us we could wait and see. They were still waiting for a few more passengers to check in. We settled in at a table in the shade.  In a short period of time this same young lady smiled and motioned to me to come over.  It seems there now was room on the boat.  I paid for our boarding passes and by 5:20 we were standing in line to get on one of the two boats doing the release.  The picture above is the boat we were on.

The Captain told us that there were 5 sea turtles in each boat.  Five would be released from the back of the boat we were on and the people at the back could see that. The other boat would do the same, except the boat we were on would then be pointed at their stern.  The people at the front of our boat, that was us, would get to see those turtles being released. Being one of the last people to board and at the front of the boat, we might have gotten the best seats.

We headed out to between the jetties at South Padre Island and Boca Chica. Along the way the Captain gave us a short talk on the original causeway and the dolphins in the bay. Here are a few of my dolphin pictures.

While scooting around in the bay we passed the Black Dragon Pirate Ship.  It is normally docked at Pirates Landing where we have eaten a few times.

From between the jetties at South Padre Island and Boca Chica, we headed back toward Port Isabel.  We passed by the original causeway. As a side note, this bridge was decommissioned after only a few years because the sea water they used to make the concrete was eating away at the rebar used in the construction. We then passed under the new causeway which is named the Queen Isabella Causeway.

Old Causeway

Queen Isabella Causeway

Queen Isabella Causeway

Once we got through the causeway the two boats came together and the turtles were released.

Flippers are a Flappin’ let me go, let me go.

Getting ready for a Big Plunge.

There you go.

Are you ready?

Hang on, you’re almost there.

Are you ready?

After we got back to the RV, I did a little looking’ around and found that Sea Turtle Inc had video recorded the release.  You can get a look at it here.  You may even see or hear someone you know. With everyone in their new home we headed back to port.  Along the way we saw a lone Osprey sitting at the base of a power pole, waiting for lunch to pass by.

As well, I was able to get two panorama shots of South Padre Island. You should be able to click on the picture and then expand it so you can get a larger view.

After our excursion, we stopped in at Dirty Al’s Seafood Restaurant.  There was quite a line up so we stood by the bar and ordered our’s to-go. Their Blackened Shrimp Tacos are really good.

We had a really nice day yesterday, unfortunately we were unable to say Good-Bye to our friends, Steve, Cindy and Ruby who slipped away this morning for new adventures at Big Bend National Park.  We wish them safe and happy travels as they make their way home to Colorado.

 

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Winding Down

Well Spring Break is all finished and things have started to slow down again. There are still some young folk to be seen, if you travel into town, but for the most part we are back on “Island Time”.  When we looked at the calendar the other day we were reminded to get into the park office and pay our rent.  So in we went, and sadly paid for our last 2 weeks on the Island.  We will be heading home on April 2.

With only a limited time left we are trying to get the last of our “to do’s” done.  We have a list, and I suspect things will ratchet up next week. In the mean time, I thought I had better get some of my pictures off of the camera.  They have been adding up. So in this post you will see an odd collection of pictures and my associated ramblings.

The Brazos Santiago Passwhich is at the south end of the park and leads into the Brownsville ship channel and the Laguna Madre, is quite busy with ship traffic.  There are many tour and shrimp boats, that can be seen pretty much at any time.  There are also huge ships using this pass.  We can see them out our living room window. Unfortunately, by the time you realize the ship is entering instead of leaving the channel, you hardly have time to walk down to have a look.  Here are a few of the Alpine Marina. If you Google the ship you will find she is a chemical tanker. When I took these pictures, she was heading to Brownsville, today she is heading to someplace in Mexico.

The entrance to the pass is defined by two long jetties, one which is attached to the park.  I am always amazed at the number of people who fish from the jetty and it always fun to see the sea crashing into this barrier.

Another thing that is phenomenal here on the island, are the sunsets. I don’t have a very good location here at the RV, to capture them with the camera and it is pointless to search out a better spot as the weather changes in a matter of minutes. So you may think the sunset will be a non-event only to wait and get a spectacular display. Or you may head out because the sky looks just right for a magnificent show and by the time you get set up the clouds have cleared and there is nothing to capture.

Sometimes we also get interesting shots of the moon.

And the stars.  These are a little harder to capture because of the humidity. At night it is not uncommon for the air to condense resulting in water running down our window screens.  And when I open the RV door at night to see what the sky is doing, the outside grab bar is often dripping wet.  It took a couple of nights for me to capture these.

70 minute exposure from the RV, looking South-West back into the RV park.

52 minute exposure looking North-East over the dunes and the Gulf of Mexico.

On my way over the dunes the other day I noticed this little fellow scurrying around.  If he hadn’t moved, no one would have seen him.

Here is another picture of the beach, looking north.  You can also see the flock of pelicans. It is interesting that we are now also seeing flocks of white birds. They aren’t close enough to shore for a positive identification, but they look like they could be Snow Geese.

Two shore birds just hanging’ out

The jetty’s resident Snowy Egret

The jetty’s resident Snowy Egret, other side

These next two shots are panoramas taken from the jetty. You could probably tell from the last two pictures, that I walked out on the jetty to get a different view of the gulf as well as the RV park.

A view looking back from the middle of the jetty.

A view looking back from the middle of the jetty.

A view from the end of the jetty.

While on the jetty I was able to see a small turtle, with his head popping up out of the water.  I also got a chance to see a few dolphins, dorsal fin only.  But didn’t capture any pictures.  I also got to see a huge disturbance on the water surface. When I looked close it appeared to be a school or schools of small fish swimming around frantically in the water.  I talked with one of the fisherman and he thought they were Spanish Mackerel.

As we are almost on the ocean, there is always a breeze.  Sometimes it is gentle and other times not so much.  With the wind comes the kite boarders.  They can be seen right on the beach or up-island on Laguna Madre.

Getting ready to escape the beach

We are off

Great times riding the wind.

Well, that’s all the pictures there are.  As I mentioned thing will be getting a little crazy for the next week so you may not se another post until we get home.

Thanks for riding along with us and we hope you had as much fun as we did.

Dog Gone Wedding

Today we experienced something completely different.  Here is a little bit of back information to set the stage:

Our neighbours, Sylvia and Charlie, have a golden-doodle dog, Amber.  We all enjoy Amber and earlier in the week Sylvia invited us to a fund-raiser event for the local dog rescue, SPI Friends of Animal Rescue. The event was being held at a local watering hole, and was promoted as A Dog Gone Wedding.

Now we have seen some pretty unusual, or should I say crazy, behaviours from dog owners.  Of course we have seen small dogs with coats when the weather is cold, we have seen dogs with booties while walking in the snow, but.  Have you seen dogs being walked, or should I say pushed in a stroller or in a wagon behind a bicycle? Have you seen dogs rolling up the isles in a grocery store in the front of a shopping cart?  How about costumes for dogs, have you seen those?  If you want to see costumes, you needed to be at the wedding.  From flowing skirts, bow ties, tuxedos and sun glasses, they were there.

The MC did an excellent job of keeping the program running smoothly even though some of the participants were more excited than others.  First off, there was a parade of dogs that were currently at the shelter and were available for adoption.  Next we got to see the tricks dogs do. If you knew Max (see picture below) you would say his trick was laying down (scratch my belly). Some of these tricks pretty good.  Then we had a parade for the best dressed man followed by the best dressed lady.

I think the judges had a difficult time picking the winners but they had a little bit of time to sort things out while the wedding was taking place.  It had already been decided that the bride and groom would be rescue dogs.  They were presented, front and centre, while the wedding vows were read.  The crowd went wild when the dogs were pronounced married.  The crowd also showed their support when the awards were given out for the competitions.  Just so you know, Amber won Best Dressed Girl.  She is quite a pet.

After the program, the winners of the raffle were announced. During the program, raffle tickets were on sale for a weekend for 2 plus water park passes at the schlitterbahn, a basket of wine and first place was a booze bucket. This bucket, as the name implies, was full of booze and included everything you needed to make a boatload of margaritas.

The raffle winners were being drawn while we were leaving.  When the booze bucket was awarded, the winner donated it back to the event so it could be auctioned off. As we reached the street the bid was up to $120.  I am not sure where it settled out but I do know all proceeds went back to the Friends of Animal Rescue.

The Bride

Max

Amber

Amber

Ruby

The Bride

The Groom

The Lucky Couple

The Dogs from our neighbourhood. Amber, Ruby and Max.

 

 

I Got A New Tail

We woke up today and didn’t know what the bright disk was in the sky. Upon a second look, we discovered it was the sun.  OMG, We haven’t seen the sun for so long. And it was very warm in the RV this morning. Normally in the morning, I have to put on a sweater at breakfast, but not today.

The sun was out, so there were things to do.  First up was a bike ride over to the office to pay next months rent and get the latest on spending the rest of March in the park and reserving a spot for next winter. Next was bike over to the construction site where they are building a new multi-purpose building and amphitheatre, (nothing much changed here).  Then back to the RV.  It was so nice out we needed to get to the beach.

After a quick collection of all we needed, off to the beach we go. Once we got settled in out came the kites.  I have two, and can usually anchor the lines to our beach wagon.  That way I can fly them both at the same time and don’t have to worry about hanging on to the lines. Well I had previously purchased a new long tail for one of the kites and was anxious to try it out.  Well it turns out the two kites wouldn’t get along with the new tail, so one had to come down.  This was all right because the wind was getting stronger and the tension on the kite lines was moving our wagon. With only one kite in the air, all was good.

My new tail

As we expected, the wind was picking up and the fog was starting to roll in, so we headed back to the RV around 3:30.

We have new neighbours beside us who pulled in the other day. They are farmers from northern Manitoba. When we got back, they were out, so I went over to have a little chat and let them know about the grand opening of the sea turtle rescue building.  They were interested and might take it in.

Before you know it, it was Happy Hour.  There was quite a gang there today.  We hadn’t been together for a week because of the weather.  These times together are getting more and more important as the days wear on.  Members are starting to head home after spending the winter here.  We had one leave today.  Another couple are heading out on Saturday. As the days pass, more and more will be leaving.  It is sad to see our new friends leave.  We wish them safe travels and hope we meet up again next year.

Warm and Cold or is it Sunny and Cloudy?

Yesterday was a magnificent day. The sun was out and if you could get out of the breeze, it was quite warm.  So, you can imagine we spent the majority of the day sitting in front of the RV, sheltered from the wind, basking in the sun.  It was wonderful.

Our neighbours at the end of the block (Greg and Vanessa) who are also from Ontario, were celebrating that evening.  It turns out it was Vanessa’s birthday and Greg had arranged to have   a surprise dinner at Pirate’s Landing Restaurant. We were all to arrive around 5 P.M. and would sit at the “Big” table.  They have a huge round table with a stuffed pirate hanging above the centre.  Of course there is another, somewhat smaller table that spins, suspended above the main table.  It is used to pass things back and forth to your table mates. It is required because this Big table seats 20. The meal was excellent and the birthday girls was surprised.

Now today, what a change in weather.  Last night we drove home under a clear and starry night and a heavy thick fog rolled in soon after and it stayed all night.  This morning was overcast and cool.  We didn’t feel like getting out and doing anything special, but today is South Padre Islands Kitefest.  We had to go.

We didn’t get out to the “flats” until later in the afternoon. The crowds that I expected weren’t there.  I think, partly because it was so late in the afternoon and the weather wasn’t that great.  I think if the sun had been out there would have been many more spectators.

We were able to park out on the flats and get a good place to park and see the action.  The area for flying was divided into two.  One side had all the kite flyers, in the kite circle they are called pilots.  This side held the static kites anchored to a stake in the ground or to a car bumper. There were also the kites that danced around.  On the other side of the field were the demonstration flyers.  These were quite interesting to watch with the accompanying music.  It looked like the kites were dancing to the music.  I was able to capture some photographs, enjoy.

 

Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge

The Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge was on our To-Do list last year, but we never made it out to this wildlife refuge.  We didn’t make it for two main reasons.  One, we ran out of days and two, we couldn’t find it.

This year, we talked to a couple we met last year, Fred and Jill, who showed us a brochure they had with all the birding places in southern Texas. Laguna Atascosa was included with detailed driving instructions. Jill had warned us to make sure we had lots of time to get there.  It wasn’t that far away from the RV Park, but the road conditions were very bad and slow speed was required.  Or you might damage your vehicle.  With this knowledge and the fact I know the street signs are sometimes non-existence, I obtained the GPS coordinates before we left.

Well the roads weren’t all that bad, until we came to the section that was closed and under construction.  As we sat in the truck in front of the barricade that was preventing us from proceeding, we are both thinking that we weren’t going to get to our destination today.  However one of the workers that were standing by some equipment at the barricade, sauntered over and asked if we were going to the Wildlife refuge.  We answered yes and he told us to proceed around the barricade, go slow and go around the barricade at the other end of the construction zone. After missing our next turn, turned around and corrected our error, we were at our destination.

The soul purpose of the trip was to get detailed information on the tram ride they offer through the refuge that is otherwise closed for public traffic.  We got our information and will return in the near future to take the tram.  But while we were there, we hung out at a couple of bird blinds and I took to a few of the hiking trails.  Here are some of the pictures we captured.

There were a number of these flowering Yuccas on the way into the Refuge.

This little guy was on the side of the road when we entered the refuge and was in the same place when we left. I was able to get quite close. The volunteer at the Refuge Welcome Centre mentioned that the armadillo has poor hearing and eyesight and that was probably the reason we could get so close.

There wasn’t all that much to see on the hiking trails, except if there was a bird feeding station.

I hike in the friendliest areas

Green Jay

Green Jay

Green Jay

Green Jay

I think the Green Jay is the most colourful bird I have ever photographed.  We are looking forward to the guided tour of the other part of the Refuge. Stay tuned for more pictures.

Sun and Wind

No fog today, yea!  The sun was actually out and it felt quite warm.  But, if you happen to be out in the wind, that feeling of warmth quickly faded away.

Because the sun was out and the sky was clear, I could see the gulf was angry. From the RV you could hear and see the surf crashing onto the beach.  I had to get out and try to capture the angry ocean.

From this video you can hear and see the ocean crashing against the jetty.  Well everyone here calls it a jetty, I would describe it as the breakwater that protects the opening on the Brownsville shipping channel.  Its windy and cold, but there are still people out fishing.

It also wasn’t cold or windy enough to dissuade a snowy egret or a tri-colour egret to abandon their post, as they wait for a quick meal.

Tri Colour Egret

Snowy Egret

The weather also didn’t stop the Segway Tours or people out walking the beach.

Segway on the Beach

Two Lovers on a Stroll

There was also one, lone kite boarder out on the water.  There was no way he was going to be deterred by the weather. He really liked getting air underneath his board.  I think he spent half the time in the air. Boy, it looked like he was having so much fun.

You can see in the last photo, little white spots in the sand.  Those are shells that have been washed up by the rough sea action we have had over the last few days.  In places on the beach, the shells are so plentiful, you couldn’t help but step on them.  You had better have shoes on or you might cut your foot.

All in all it was a pretty good day.  Windy and warm.