Saturday, January 28, 2017

New Kayaks, Fishing St Charles Bay 2017

We left our kayaks in Star Valley and missed them terribly while in Florida. It was the first year that we didn’t float the cypress trails in Pinellas Park or the Crystal Springs of Crystal River. Arriving in Texas, we decided that we simply needed to get on the water, and after a brief search found two inexpensive Pelican brand kayaks.
Of course the wind blew like crazy, and so we didn’t have a chance to test them until a week later. Then the winds abated, slightly, and so we launched them at Big Tree in St Charles Bay. Quickly we discovered that the yaks were fast and turned on a dime. Being shorter made them crab a little, but not too bad.
Shortly after launching the yaks the wind picked up so we paddled into a hidden cove for lunch. It’s a place where we have caught quite a few fish but they just weren’t there. Still we were treated to the sight of a whooping crane flying low overhead.
After lunch, we left the cove and discovered that the wind had picked up! The yaks stayed dry but we paddled back to the truck deciding we needed to find a quieter spot. Driving to a new kayak launch near the airport road, we launched the boats and fished a set of partially submerged piers.
Renita, of course had a redfish take her bait and she fought it in like the pro she is. I netted her fish and after measuring it released it as it was under the slot limit. Still it was the first fish in our new boats. I paddled to another spot but the fish just wouldn’t take my bait. Two other kayaks launched and we watched them catch two nice speckled trout.
We never did catch any more fish that day but at least we had found a new spot where others were catching keepers. It was another four days before the wind quieted and so we headed back to St Charles Bay.
There were other spots that have produced fish, for us, and so after a long paddle we anchored and cast out live shrimp. Time passed and the poles didn’t move. We watched a great blue heron fishing across the bay and of course the bird caught a nice trout.
The trout was nice and we didn’t think the great blue could swallow it. The bird then took the fish to shore and let it flop around till it stilled. Carrying it back to the water it dunked it several times before taking it back ashore. Other herons moved in and so the blue took the fish in it’s beak, positioned it just right, and swallowed the large trout!
It never moved while we were there, but we did as we couldn’t catch anything. The wind had picked up and so we had a long hard paddle fighting head winds and whitecaps. The waves splashed over the sides of our new yaks and we both got a little wet.
We did try to fish two more spots but it was just too much trouble and so we called it a day. Exhibiting grace, I stepped out of my kayak and wading through some slippery mud and fell in the water. Talk about adding insult to my fishing and paddling skills! 

Another yaker arrived and he told us that it has been a late afternoon and early evening bite. Still it had been a good day on the water and while the fish hadn’t cooperated the great blue heron provided us with some fun entertainment. Oh, and we are getting tired of cornbread. Clear skies

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Up to the Usual in Texas: Birds, Fishing, Rocks, and Friends

We are adjusting to the usual routine while wintering in Texas.  In other words, we are birding, fishing, playing in the lapidary shop, and of course spending time with our friends. Of course the schedule varies as the weather on the Coastal bend of Texas is windy!
One of the things we did was to purchase two new kayaks. Then we had to outfit them with anchor rigging, and fishing supplies. We also use them for birding as the two activities always overlap. The wading birds especially tend to ignore their low profile and quiet approach.
Trying to go fishing we headed out to Copano Bay. The winds were blowing at a steady twenty miles per hour and so we didn’t buy any bait. It was a good decision as the waves were too strong and the had churned the water into a murky soup. Changing our plans, we went to look for whoopers and we are glad to say we got some good views of a family group!
While the parents and chick were resting a long way from us, we were still able to capture and crop some images. The adults were easy to spot, they are five feet tall, but the chick still had some brown and so blended in with the reeds. They were also on the edge of a large flock of sand hill cranes.
Every Monday we head to Corpus to work in the rock shop. That used to mean lots of time sawing rocks but now that we have a rock saw in Wyoming we have time to work on special projects. The projects this winter are learning how to work Indonesian blue amber and making cabochons from our Ethiopian Wello opals.
I am trying to keep my dental work up to date and I did make an appointment with a dentist in Corpus, but there seems to be a communication problems with our Idaho Falls Dentist. Rescheduling my appointment, we went over to visit our lapidary mentor. He’s ninety-two and has given up on working stone as his eyesight just isn’t good enough.
Still he showed us his cane that he made from a tree in his front yard. He added a nice touch by decorating the cane with a few Montana star sapphires. They are ones he mined near Dillon Montana, and then sawed, ground, and shaped. He also showed us another cane he made from the same holly tree and decorated with Texas fossilized palm wood.
Another advantage to stopping here are the numerous oyster bars. There is quite a fleet that heads out every day, and nearby is one of their harbors. Every Tuesday and Wednesday the Oyster bar has a weekly special, fresh oysters on the half shell, and the price is only five and a half dollars per dozen.
Our happy hour group heads down there every other week to enjoy the great oysters and live music Renita actually ate a raw oyster and pretended to enjoy it. I of course didn’t have any problem eating the rest of them. They are really good here but nothing beats the sweet and fat oysters of Grand Isle,( at least before the Deep Water Horizon).

So today we are heading out to eat breakfast before loading the kayaks. The wind is forecast to be light and so we are hoping for fresh fish for dinner. However, I do have lots of cornbread mix stored in our pantry. Clear skies

Friday, January 13, 2017

Our first week in South Texas, 2017

Arriving in Texas we set up on our rv park. Friends came over and after the usual and welcome hugs we settled in and waited for the cold front to pass.  A north wind blew with gusts over forty miles an hour and the temperatures plunged to a cold twenty-seven.
Two days later the winds switched and became southerly bringing above normal temperatures reaching eighty degree. Our first trip out was to the Gulf Coast Gem and Mineral Society’s shop. It was the first time we had seen our friend Mark, who is the shop foreman and of course we had to show and tell of each of our past years finds.
Mark had been busy acquiring quite a lot of Turkish agate, buying from a dealer he found on Facebook. Our biggest find has been the Indonesian blue amber gifted to us from a former student Rick. He works on a deep sea drilling platform in Indonesia), collects rocks and also does lapidary.
As to the shop, we don’t have a lot to do this winter as we got so much done last year in our summer studio. Still we needed to cut a block of black jade down to size and try to figure out how to work the blue amber.
The following day we went to Lamar looking for whopping cranes. There weren’t any in the usual fields but we did get glimpses of one feeding on a grassy berm. A flock of rosette spoonbills landed in a small pond but the images was from a long way away and their beautiful pink plumage didn’t image properly.
We spent a third day at the Mission River, where we tried our luck fishing and cast netting for mullet. The fishing was just that fishing, as the blue crabs stole our bait as fast as we threw out. We tried to stop several others places but the winds were too strong.

We did find a new kayak launch spot near a giant shrimp farm. It’s one of several enclosures where they raise colossal shrimp. The only place where we thought we had a chance to catch fish was at the Sailboat Channel. Again, the blue crabs stole our bait and so it was another dinner of cornbread. Clear skies

Friday, January 6, 2017

A Quick Trip From St Petersburg to Fulton, Texas A Rocks Revenge!

We left St Petersburg on New Year’s Day. The morning is a good day to travel as many people were still sleeping and so the traffic was light. The plan was to take six days to reach Rockport, Texas but as usual the plan quickly change.
Upon reaching Quincy, Florida the forecast had changed dramatically. Tornados and high winds with hail were forecast for the next day’s stop, (Gulfport, Ms), and we decided to stay another night, waiting for the passage of the storms.

The next morning, we woke to a dense fog and as the day progressed storm warnings and flooding were being reported. As the front reached us we stayed glued to the local weather channel. Three tornado's past us to the north. It’s quite unnerving and when you live in a fifth wheel trailer you are living in a place with no safe haven, (our standard plan is to evacuate to the truck and drive north or south depending on the storm paths).
The next day we left and drove past flooded ditches and streams, swollen from the heavy rains. Reaching Gulfport, Mississippi, we drove through mudpuddles before parking on a raised cement pad. Deciding we needed a nice meal we ate out, a rarity for us. The restaurant had a special, two meals for sixteen dollars and the meal was really tasty!
The following morning, we drove to Beaumont, Texas, about three hundred miles down the road. It’s always neat to cross Mobile Bay and see the Battleship Alabama, moored. We had toured the Alabama years ago, when we had just started our retirement.
The last day our plan was to take the Galveston ferry and thereby bypass Houston pulling the rig through the inevitable traffic jam. While it adds some time to the trip it was an easy journey until we had almost arrived at Rockport. Unfortunately, we passed a cement truck just as it hit a bump and dumped rocks on our truck. One rock smashed the window behind Renita!
Trying to get the truck drivers attention we lucked out as a police car saw the whole thing and stopped the truck. The driver had been oblivious to it all and well, cement truck drives can’t hear anything. Luckily no one was hurt but our dog was shaking as it was her window.
Stopping at a Walmart a very kind worker showed me the location for heavy duty plastic runners and we were able to patch and duct tape the window before continuing  on to our winter haven, (The reason we had pushed so hard was because of a massive cold front, forecast for the next day).

Now we are huddling in place and glad we don’t have to move for three months. Stuff happens when you travel, and even when you don’t. It’s the third window we have had shattered by rocks and none of them occurred when we were in Alaska. Go figure! Clear skies

In case you don't know we collect rocks, hence the revenge title!