Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Rockport, TX

Wow!  Another remarkable day!  You know, we never even had this place on our radar, until we met this woman on the ferry in Dauphin Island, AL--I think I've mentioned her before, but she's a retired history professor from LSU, but when we told her we were going to Texas, she said she was a native and said we should not miss this town.  So, that's how we got to Goose Island State Park, which is actually somewhere out from town, between Lamar and Rockport.  Just another lesson on how important it is to pay attention to the moment, to what opportunities are being presented.  Also proves once again the wisdom of my dear friend and teacher, Sharyn Faro, who taught me her 4 rules for successful living:  1) show up; 2) pay attention; 3) tell the truth as best you know it; and, perhaps the most important 4) don't be wedded to expectations and outcomes.  Had we not been willing to just be as free as we can to ideas on how to change our schedule or listen to the message of what to see, we would not be here.  Anyway, the day never really got any sun showing, nor did it get as warm as had been predicted, but we had a wonderful time exploring.  We drove down to see the Big Tree, an oak over 1000 years old--they have it fenced off to keep people from climbing on it or trampling the root system, in an effort to preserve it.  It's nearly been destroyed through the years by natural forces like storms, and some attempts by some of the settlers to burn it.  Anyway, it is quite impressive, and there will be severl pics later on.  It's in a glade of a number of other quite beautiful oaks, with branches bending low and running along just a few feet off the ground.  For those of you who saw my post from last night, my reference to Ocala, FL, where I grew up, was because there was an infamous parking spot for high schoolers out from town called the Big Tree, where couples would park beneath the branches and avoide those without dates who would make sport out of "running up parkers,"  driving up on an unsuspecting couple with fogged up windows and shining bright lights into the car--such is the excitement of small town Americana in the 50's and 60's!  Anyway, this tree makes the Ocala tree look like a midget!  It's remarkable.

Drove on into town, which is a lovely little seaside town on the Bay of Aransas, with lots of quaint little shops, tons of commercial shrimpers, a wonderful maritime museum and Bay Education Center, where we saw one of the most incredible exhibits we've ever seen.  It's a project called Science on the Sphere, maintained by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association.  It's a large sphere, onto/into which a series of projectors and computers project data maps of every kind imaginable.  You can see almost real time displays of the progress of storms and hurricanes--for example they showed all the hurricanes from 2005, including Katrina, and you could watch the path of it progress across the coast--it was fascinating.  I had always thought that hurricanes originated somewhere near the Caribbean, but learned that most hurricanes actually originate off the west coast of Africa and travel across the ocean--except right around the equator.  There are storms above and below the equator, but this mapping showed a band of storm free space all around the equator.  They also showed mapping of other data:  you could see all the airline flights from the entire world all day/night long--looked like little ants scurring around the globe--and you could see the patterns, e.g., how flights from the US to Europe are light during the day, then pick up at night.  It's really hard to describe this without seeing it, but suffice it to say that it was really impressive.  You'll see a pic later on of the sphere after the presentation.

They also had exhibits of some of the flora and fawna of the region, including a life sized model of a whooping crane.  I never knew how big these birds were--I had always thought they were similar to an egret or heron, but you'll see from one of the pictures, it's almost as tall as Trisha!  Unfortunately their migration through the area pretty much ended about a week ago so we haven't been able to see any live ones.

One of the most enjoyable surprises has been the remarkable wild flowers we've seen just everywhere--around the Big Tree, along the roads and sidewalks, in the grassy areas of parks, just everywhere, and some varieties we've never seen before.  Another Texan we met in Breaux Bridge told us about all the wild flowers in the Texas Hill Country, which we will visit in a couple of days or so, but just to see them all over here has been quite nice.

Had to do some laundry this afternoon, and since we're in a state park and not a commercial campground, there are no facilities here.  So we found a laundromat in town, run by these two wizened older guys who were really nice--had a great time talking with them as we did our laundry--they said it was mighty impressive that folks from Georgia would come all the way to Rockport, TX just to use their laundromat!  

Sitting here in the RV, listening to the sound of the waves from the Bay of Aransas splashing against the seawall, feeling the wind rocking the van, hoping I can sleep later on without the excitement of tomorrow's adventure keeping me awake.  This morning, as we were having our coffee, Trisha began reading an article from one of the area what to do mags, and found this wonderful description of a boat tour of the bay to see dolphins, other fish, wildlife, etc., run by a captain who used to only take out professional photographers and serious birders, but recently began opening up to others.  The article talked about how nice it was to be on a boat with a small group and how wonderful this captain was.  We called him, thinking it would be a long shot to have it work out, but he said he was taking a magazine editor and photographer out tomorrow, and he would have to call the man to see if he minded us tagging along.  Fortunately the man said fine, so it will just be five of us and the captain.  Not sure the weather forecast is for the best weather, but all signs indicate it should be a wonderful day.  Have to meet him at the dock at 6:00 AM, so it'll be an early wake up!

Here are today's pics:
Road approaching the Big Tree; in many places, the branches of the live oaks completely met over the road, making a solid canopy.

 Grove of trees leading up to the big one.
 Interesting growth patterns among these other trees, all originating from acorns from the big kahuna.
No way a photo can give you the true perspective--had to use more of  a wide angle setting to get it all, and you're so far away that you really can't get a true feel for how big it is.
 The base of the trunk, 35' in circumference
 The back side, showing where some massive limbs have been lost.
 You'll have to enlarge these some to read the writing, so hopefully the focus will still be okay

Some of the wild flowers around the big tree area.

 Trisha sitting on one of the low branches of one of the many "grandchildren" of the Big Tree--Todd, you would have loved this tree for climbing as a kid!
 Some deer just chillin' and checkin' us out as we drove by.
 Looks like Indian paintbrush but it is different from what we have back home.
Seagull grabbing a quick drink from this beautiful blue pottery fountain outside the Rockport Visitors Center.

 Check out the size of the hibiscus!
Outside the Bay Education Center among some dwarf bottle brush.

Inside the center, Trisha with life sized model of whooping crane.
She's got the whole world in her hands, she's got the whole wide world . . .
View of the View, looking across from the Education Center to the Art Gallery, lovely statue in background, near flagpole with US and Texas flags flying at half staff following the horrific tragedy in Boston.

Two seagulls, two palms.
Just some random wildflowers in the grass as we walked across the park to the art gallery.
Guess this heron didn't read the sign, huh?  This is along the wharf where commercial shrimpers are crowded with their boats, markets and gear.  Even a sign on the road saying "Watch out for nets and equipment spread out on the street"  Learned that there is a large Vietnamese community here--a large influx of refugees settled here after the war, virtually all of them shrimpers.  The program leader at the Education Center told us that initially there was great resentment toward them by the locals--they were hard workers, the whole family worked the business and they did quite well financially, leading to a lot of jealous feelings turning into anger.  Evidently the success of a local football hero, Dat Nguyen, who excelled at Texas A & M and then with the Dallas Cowboys, went a long way toward thawing the chilled relations between the locals and the Vietnamese, and supposedly there is much less of a problem now.
 Local watering hole on the road out to Goose Island State Park--since our grandson calls me Pop, thought he'd get a kick out of this pic!
Well, better hit the hay, as 5:00 AM will come quickly!

1 comment:

  1. Looking forward to the boat tour pictures.

    Enjoyed another great post.