Saturday, November 10, 2018

Back in Rockport, 2018

We arrived early in Rockport and set up our rig for the winter. The drive had been uneventful and as we entered the area, we noticed that much of the hurricane damage had been repaired. Terry and Evelyne had arrived a few days earlier and Terry had already been fishing.
Renita and I went down to the dock and I threw out my cast net hoping to get some mullet for bait.
The first cast yielded nothing but small jelly fish. Moving a little further out, I made another throw and caught a few nice size mullet. I also caught some pin fish, another good red bait, and so we made plans to go fishing the next day.
Plans change, as does life and the next morning I took Molly out for a walk. She was barely able to walk a few steps and was in pain, so we took her to the vet. The outlook was not good, and we left in tears without her, we both never want to have another dog again.
A few days later I went fishing with Terry and while I caught quite a few fish, none were big enough to keep. Terry had caught several keeper speckled trout, (Terry is amazing when he is fishing for speckled trou), and we decided to go back the next day. Terry again caught several keeper trout, but I was stymied catching lots of undersize reds, sheepshead, and small black drum.
At the last spot I cast out a live shrimp and my bobber slowly started to move. The next moment it disappeared, and I was onto a large fish. During the first run the hook came out, it wasn’t meant to be. Throwing back out to the same spot nothing happened for a bit and then the bobber disappeared.
It was another large fish, perhaps the same one, and it took me awhile to fight the fish in to the shallows. I finally saw that it was a large red and the fish finally tired and I was able to beach it. I did have a measuring tape and the fish measured just under twenty-eight inches, a legal red!
As I had been fighting the fish Terry set the hook on another and he skillfully beached his fish. It was another keeper red, these one twenty-five inches long. Returning to the our rv park we stopped and showed our wives before heading down t the fish cleaning station.
There is nothing like fresh fish for dinner and one fillet was enough for both of us. I made it using the crusted parmesan recipe but I modified the recipe using quite a bit more of the tabasco sauce. It was very good!
Yesterday a strong cold front moved in, with heavy rain, high winds, and temperatures in the fifties. It will be awhile before we go fishing again so any more fishing plans will have to wait. Perhaps a movie is in order!  Clear skies

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Harvest Moon Regatta

We had left Grand Isle and spent the first night at Beaumont. The next day was a short one as Renita had found us a spot at Galveston Island State Park. I don’t like driving through Houston, especially when pulling our fifth wheel, and so we turned off at Winnie and headed to the Ferry at the end of the Bolivar Peninsula.
As we crossed the bay, Renita pointed out the large numbers of sailboats. Looking it up on Google, she found out that the Harvest Moon Regatta was taking place. It’s a race from Galveston to Port Aransas. There are often over two hundred sailboats that race/participate and by the time we had set up at the state park, many had already started to go around the curve of the earth.

If you look closely and blow the images up, you can see that the hulls of some of the boats have disappeared. At the time of Columbus, no one believed that the earth was flat, the real argument was the size of the circumference of the earth and whether Columbus would be able to sail around the world.
There is a formula that tells you how much of the boat disappears, the horizon is the square root of (your height in meters times 13) and it’s a little over one foot for each three miles. Renita had also found out the race had a live web page that showed the names of each boat, the crew, and its current position.
By the time we reached Rockport, the next day many of the boats had beat us by sailing all night using the full moon, (the lead boat averaged 7.9 knots per hour and took less than a day to travel the one hundred and seventy five mile distance).
There was free coffee and doughnuts on Sunday morning and so we arrived as many of the boats were leaving the Port of Aransas, heading back to Houston.
I later mentioned to Renita that we should sell everything, buy a sailboat and travel around the Caribbean, but she didn’t really like the idea. Now maybe she would change her mind if we could find a small pocket cruiser, a type of sailboat that can cross the Atlantic? Clear skies

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Molly B

Molly B
B 12/13/2001
D 10/29/2018

On Monday morning, our dear, sweet, precious, and beloved Molly traveled over the Rainbow Bridge. We were blessed to have had her in our lives as a loving member of our family's pack for nearly seventeen years. She filled our hearts with love and joy and we will remember her always.
In our minds and forever in our hearts, enjoy your newfound youth as you wait for us in Heaven's fields.  Sweet dreams precious Molly.  We miss you and love you.   
Clear skies . . .

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Grand Isle, October 2018

We arrived at Grand Isle State Park on October the 19th. On the way in we beeped our horn as we passed my sister’s house, even though she and Gary weren’t there. You do have to respect tradition after all. Setting up we were chased into the fifth wheel by a veritable cloud of mosquitos, some of the largest ones we have ever seen.
I checked with some of the other campers and Renita and I went and purchased my fishing license. Our friend Terry and Evelyn were arriving later and after spraying myself with repellant, was able to talk to some of the other campers about fishing.
Redfish and sand trout were being caught and when our friends arrived I gave the fishing report. Terry and I decided to fish the bridge for big reds. I had no luck catching any bait and so the next morning we bought some shrimp and frozen mullet and went to the Camadrie side of the free fishing bridge.
It didn’t take long before we had a nice fish one, but it was gaff top sail catfish.  They are good eating, so I kept one and then another as they were biting on every cast. Unfortunately, the bull reds were not biting, no reds were, and shrimp only produced small bait stealers.
We finally called it a day and decided that we would fish the back waters of Elmer’s Island. The results were the same, dismal and so we headed toward Port Fuchon, fishing the bridges as we went. Reaching a spot, I had never fished before Terry caught several sand and speckled trout, but they were all small.
Heading back towards Grand Isle we stopped and made a cast along some flooded black mangroves. Terry had a pickup and he fought and landed a nice twenty-three-inch red. I tried several spots before I caught a keeper red, but that was it.
We fished more bridges before returning to Elmer’s Island and fished one last hole. I caught another keeper red and Terry caught a nicer one just as we were about to leave. Deciding we had enough for the day we cleaned our fish and went back to the campers.
The next day we decided to try something different, surf fishing. Now things have changed a lot at Elmer’s Island and you can no longer drive along the beach, limiting you to the places you can fish, (you need to walk in). There were quit e a few shrimp boats working further out and right in front of us a porgy boat was trawling for porgy’s, (they are a small oily fish and are harvested and processed to make fish oil and fish meal).
Clouds of birds were feeding by the boats, and probably all the big reds. We never had a bite, unless you count hard head catfish. They are reported to be one of the worst tasting fish the ocean produces, (we have a book that rates the table quality of all common ocean fish), and so we fished for a while before heading to the State Park. After lunch we walked to the beach at the park and the fishing was even worse, more hard heads.
Heavy rains were heading in and we had one last day of fishing. Returning to the back waters we fished the spots where we had caught reds, but they weren’t there. Terry did manage to catch a small black drum.
That night our dog got sick and so we found a vet where we could take her.  The next morning it was raining hard and we headed up the bayou to the vet. Terry and Evelyne left for Rockport and after returning from the vet we left the next day.
Its always nice to visit Grand Isle but the fishing was some of the worst I have ever seen, and we will not plan another trip in October. Clear skies

Molly report, (Our dog) She had a bad seizure and while she has recovered we are taking her to our usual vet in Rockport.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Heading South from Kansas

After four days of steady winds it finally calmed enough and so we headed south. Our next goal was Livingston, Texas but we took two days as we don’t drive as far as we when we were younger. Before we left, we had to dump the holding tanks and it was a weird turn into the dump station.
Running over a curb, I hadn’t done that in quite a while, we emptied the tanks and headed for a one-night stay in Ardmore, Oklahoma. Arriving I tried to unhook from the hitch and the hitch wouldn’t release. It took me a bit, but we finally unhooked only to find that the truck hitch had cracked.
There happened to be a repair man in the park and he urged me to buy a new hitch. I called a local auto parts store and they found just what we needed. It arrived the next day and so I sent my day assembling the new hitch, removing the old hitch, and installing the new one. It was rated higher than the old hitch and now we should be good for another twelve years, (longer then we plan on pulling trailers across country).
The next day we drove another three hundred miles and arrived at Livingston, Texas. We spent the next five days here mostly resting from the long trip. We have our mail forwarded from the Escapee Park and so we were able to walk over and pick up our mail. Among the mail we had two envelopes with our absentee ballots and we filled them out, mailing them the next day.
It also gave us the time to renew our prescriptions, eat out at a couple of catfish places, and get money for our time in Louisiana. The next leg of our trip was to our favorite rv park, Betty’s in Abbeville, Louisiana. Betty, as always was her usual warm self, and she also told us about her cruise!
The park was almost empty, but the happy hour was still at four thirty and we met the other two couples that were camping there, (usually Betty's park is packed full, but she had just opened). We only stayed one night but we went out to a restaurant called Dupree’s where Renita had the crab cakes and I had the best yellowfin tuna! It was cooked rare and is the only way to eat tuna!
The last leg of our trip was a short but rough drive to Grand isle Louisiana. There we met our friends Terry and Evelyne. Our plan was to spend seven nights there and concentrate on fishing> Now if the weather would just calm down and no new hurricanes form, we an relax and have fun…………Clear skies

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Strataca: Touring an Underground Salt Mine in Hutchinson, Kansas

As we descended into the mine, we were plunged into total darkness. Underground miners would turn off their lights to prevent methane explosions and even thought the present-day miners don’t use open flames the tradition continues. It didn’t take long to reach the bottom, even though it was six hundred and eighty feet underground.
The last time we visited Bob and Nancy, Bob told us about the underground mine tour. That visit we didn’t have time but now we were stranded in Kansas as Hurricane Rosa’s remnants, high wind and heavy rains, kept us from traveling further south.
I was a bit apprehensive about going underground but as soon as the elevator gate opened I beheld mine faces glittering with crystal halite, (salt). Unlike the salt domes in Louisiana the mine here works in the Hutchinson Formation, which is a Permian formation about two hundred and seventy million years old. It represents the drying out of an ancient inland sea and took about one point six million years to form.
Most of the mine tour was self-guided, with great displays telling the history of the mine and the methods used to extract the salt. The salt here is primarily used for highways, however there are voids filled with extremely pure sodium chloride.
Renita worked for a coal mine and understood the kerf and the method of bringing the wall apart as it’s the same method used in underground coal mines. She posed with a pickaxe and it fit her nicely, even though it’s a little larger than the one I bought her for her birthday, (she uses it while rockhounding).
What went down the mine, tools, trucks, railroad cars, etc. stayed inside the mine and so many of the displays were of old discarded equipment.  The tour through the displays usually takes about an hour but Renita and I were so engrossed that we were the last ones to finish. They even had to send a rider to look for us, worried that we had wandered off…..
The rider told us that the last train ride was about to begin and so we hurried to the train loading area. The conductor told us to keep our arms inside the car and to keep our heads down as the ride passed through areas where the mine height barely allowed us to pass through.
One of the first stops was where the mine roof had fallen/collapsed. The roof of the mine sags, and you could see the sag in many areas. The conductor explained that the floor also heaves up as the mine is trying to seal itself due to the tremendous pressure, (the salt is under so much pressure that it behaves as a plastic material and even though solid, flows).
The roof was kept from collapsing due to forty-foot pillars and the occasional wooden cribbing. Ventilation was provided by huge fans blowing air from the surface through the shafts, over one hundred and fifty miles, and dynamite boxes filled with salt that sealed unused passages.
The train ride ended at the gift shop, surprise, and they had some boxes full of rocks!  What a great gift shop!  I had to be dragged away form the rocks, I did purchase some, as the last dark ride was loading. On this ride a guide drives you through other areas of the mine and turns the light off, to envelop you in total darkness.
Returning to the main tour area we stopped and walked past displays of movies and movie artifacts. The superman costume was one   worn by the tv superman in the nineteen sixties. Although active mining still is taking place old areas have been turned into storage archives.
The tour ended, and we loaded back into the elevators. We were the last ones to reach the surface and it was only fitting that we ascended in total darkness. The mine tour is not a place for anyone who suffers from claustrophobia, but we enjoyed the tour immensely! Clear skies

Sunday, October 7, 2018

A Day at The Botanica Garden of Witchita

Bat Faced, Chicken Gizzard, Candle plants were just a few of the unique names that adorned the name tags.
We were simply overwhelmed with all the different types of plants as we walked along the paths at the Botanica Garden of Wichita.
Bob and Nancy had suggested that we would like to spend an easy day viewing the flowers and plants at the Garden. As soon as we arrived and strolled through the gateway, we were surprised to see such a profusion of flowers. It was fall, a time when we don’t expect such color back home in Wyoming.
As we continued Nancy pointed out the large number of Monarch Butterflies. It seems we had lucked out just as the Monarch migration was moving through the area! The Monarchs were everywhere but were especially attracted to the nectar from a blue floweing plant. How many can you see in the image above?
A few had been tagged with a dot on their left wing, someone was conducting a migration study, but the dot didn’t seem to bother the butterflies. Hummingbird moths were also feeding on the same plants, but their frenetic feeding did not allow us a chance for a great image, they were moving too fast!
One part of the garden was filled with plants that would attract birds and we did see a crested titmouse, along with a pygmy nuthatch. There were other lgb’s, little grey birds, that we were not able to identify, but that’s par for the course.
Hibiscus stood out along the paths in brilliant reds, yellows, and oranges.  A strange looking milkweed had huge balloon shaped pods and of course I can’t remember the full name.
To paraphrase Enrico Fermi, ‘If I could remember the names of all the plants I would have become a botanist.’
Another beautiful and delicate flower with an appropriate name, was called cat whiskers.
A butterfly dome was another attraction and upon entering we saw a delicate orange winged butterfly along with a zebra moth, aptly named because of its stripes.
Leaving the dome, we entered the Haunted Forest where trees had been created from stone and wood to make a delightful fairy garden.
I was able to climb down through the hollowed-out head of a tree giant, it was probably meant for children, but as a retired person I also qualify.  The rules change when you are retired! Another path led us to a series of chimes and we all stopped to play the pipes and drums.
It would be fun to set one up at our place in Star Valley, but I am sure the neighbors would soon tire of the ringing.
A small grotto contained the largest kaleidoscope we have ever seen, and the focus was a large potted gardenia. We all took turns looking through the spy glass while spinning the potted plant. The entire garden was a series of beautiful flowers and magic like devices!
We ate lunch at the cafeteria and then entered the Chinese Garden. The entrance way was adorned with beautiful jade figurines, and two large Foo Dog Statues guarded the entrance. As we neared the pond a school of Koi swam to us looking for food.
It was a great day with friends, and a great way to relax and forget about the tiring drive across the Rockies. The thing I will most remember is the plethora of colorful flowers, the multitude of Monarchs, and the quiet of the Botanica Garden.   Clear skies
Thank you, Nancy and Bob!