Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Jewelry, Fishing, Music, and A Crawfish boil! Retirement is a Busy Time!

It’s been a crazy busy week! Last week started off slow as it was too nasty to go fishing and so I taught a refresher wire wrapping class with our neighbor, Sue. She’s a retired art teacher and quickly remembered her lesson from last year!
The next day, I had hoped to go fishing but the weather was too windy for my kayak. Instead I was talking with my fishing buddy Terry, when a neighbor drove up and asked me if I wanted to go out in his boat! Of course, I said yes, and we were soon heading out across the five-mile-wide bay heading to San Jose Island.
We anchored and Bob had a bite on his first cast! He missed it but throwing back to the same spot his bobber disappeared and he set the hook on a nineteen-inch red fish. Now a nineteen is one inch short and so it went back into the water, a good release!
My turn was next as my bobber started to swim away and I set the hook on a nineteen-inch black drum, (black drum are one of my favorite eating fish)! Soon Bob was onto another black drum, but this one was twenty-three inches, a great fish. Not to be out done I caught two the same size before Bob set the hook and landed the biggest fish of the day, a twenty-seven-inch black!
We barely got back in time for the free concert in our clubhouse. One of our friend’s son, Kevin Motsinger entertained us with two sets of Country and Gospel music.
He has a good voice and he sure knows how to pick his guitar! He had already put on an impromptu concert that afternoon, so it was great to see forty people in the audience.
Saturday the weather turned windy, too windy to fish, so Renita and I worked on getting ready for this weekends Gulf Coast Gem and Mineral Show! It’s the first big show of our year and it is also an opportunity for us to buy needed gem stones.
I did have to take a break as Terry, Dave, and I went to the local fish market to pick up our order of shrimp and crawfish. Sunday we were having a crawfish/shrimp boil and o we needed two coolers for twenty pounds of shrimp and thirty pounds of crawfish. I asked the lady behind the counter about keeping them alive overnight and she said that wasn’t her job, that once they left the store it was our responsibility, (so I looked it up on Google). Suffice it to say I will never buy any seafood there again even though it’s the main seafood place in Rockport/Fulton.
The next day Jane and Dave organized the boil, cleaned the area, set the tables, and we started cooking. The potatoes and corn were first and when they were done, we put them into a cooler. Next came the shrimp, after pouring a huge bag of spices into the boiling water. They only took three minutes, most people cook them too long, and while Dave was doing that, I was purging the crawfish.
Now to purge them you cover them with water, some add salt which only kills more crawfish, and them stirring them with one of our kayak paddles. As you stir them the dead ones float up to the top and you cull them and throw them away.
We had a lot of dead ones, about ten pounds, and John came over and helped me pick out the live ones. Into the boil they went and after five minutes, (we did three batches), dinner was ready.
Now it’s always difficult to cook Cajun food for so many mid westerners and so we told the people to wash them off if they were too spicy. It really didn’t matter, as the crawfish and shrimp were excellent! It was a great boil and a lot cheaper then going to a restaurant.
The rain has started again today and if it stops and the wind dies down, I hope for a few hours in the kayak. Thank you to Bob, Kevin, Dave, Terry, Jane, John, Dan, and of course Renita. It was a great week!  Clear skies

Monday, February 18, 2019

Valentines Party, and Getting Out Fished By a Bird

Another crazy busy week and I hardly know where to begin. One day Roy and I went kayaking in the Sail Boat channel, another day saw all of us at the beach at Padre Island, and Valentine’s Day ended with a feast prepared by our friends Zeta and Alan!

The fishing has been poor. Roy, Terry, and I decided to try the Sailboat Channel near Aransas Pass. We unloaded our kayaks and started at the place where Terry, Renita and I had caught fourteen keepers, just the week before. Unfortunately, the fish had moved.
We did get a chance to watch a rosette spoonbill feed and we had small baitfish take bait after bait, so after an hour we moved to a second spot. There we caught several small red fish and a stingray, which is never fun to take of a hook when you are sitting in a kayak.
Another day found us at Padre Island National Seashore where we were joined by Pam and Roy’s friend, Chris and Michelle. No matter how hard we tried we only caught two small fish.
The first one was a nice grunt but when I took it off the hook and tossed it behind me, a great blue heron landed and grabbed the fish. It flew a little further away and then swallowed it whole!
We did find a few shells and I spotted a starfish that had been washed ashore. Renita took it up to show the ladies before she safely released it back into its home, (it is against the law to keep living creatures).
Renita did catch a whiting, but the Great Blue landed near us and caught a larger one that it again swallowed whole, (barely).
A few days later Valentines day arrived and the long-awaited dinner in our rv park.
Alan is an accomplished chef and he smoked and cooked prime rib for everyone in the park. It is the fifth year that Alan and Zeta have prepared the feast and as always, it was excellent!
The weather has continued to be windy and cold and so we are now hunkered down, waiting for a break. Perhaps then the water will warm up and the fish will start to bite.
Still it has been a good week as we had fun and haven’t had to endure in bitter cold and wade through heavy snow. Clear skies

Monday, February 11, 2019

The Blue Lagoons Show, Our first show of 2019

Our first show of the year finally arrived, and we moved our show goods about one hundred yards to the recreation hall. The purpose of the show is to get everyone out of their rv’s and show everyone in the park what skills and art/crafts are available. Renita and I organized the show, about five years ago, and the show is limited to people from the park or people that have stayed here.
Not everyone sells their crafts and we did have some empty spots, the weather here was cold, wet and rainy, so several people decided to not display.  Renita and Pam had driven around the area and placed posters about the event, (Pam and Roy, are from Iowa and also sell Roy's work at an art coop in Bentonsport, Iowa).
We arrived early, seven am, and soon Sue, Pam and Roy  carried in their supplies and arranged their tables. Sue crafts teddy bears, that she hand knits!  Pam and Roy also grind rocks and make their own style of jewelry.
Art returned with a new batch of his maple syrup, and he also had brought a slide show, demonstrating how he collects and boils the maple sap turning it into liquid ambrosia, (maple syrup from his Michigan land).
Evelyn paints, using watercolors for her medium, and she usually concentrates on birds and wildflowers. One of her works caught our eyes, a beautiful kingfisher, and so we had to purchase it! Diana crafts bracelets, silver wear holders, and other items, and we were happy to have her in the show.
For the first year, there were no quilters on display and one of our quilters who had committed had just left for two months in Florida. Another table, occupied by two sisters, sold flags and bead kits, (I am amazed at how small the beads are that they use to string into a picture). If I tried it, I would have beads all over the floor!
So the show was a success, because people enjoyed talking and sharing their passions, and even sold some of their work. Allowing them to buy more supplies! It also reminded us of all the friends that have shown in years past, we miss them all! Finally, we would like to thank Blue Lagoons for allowing us the space to hold the show. Clear skies

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Wind and Cold Temps, Means Birding and Jewelry Making Time

The reason we spend our winters here, along the Coastal Bend of Texas, is because we love the water. It means good fishing, kayaking, and exceptional birding. However, the winter occasionally intrudes, and the temps plunge to the low fifties and even into the forties making outside activities prohibitive.
Still the temps and winds did abate and so while kayaking and fishing were still out of the question, we did get out to do some birding. This past week we took the short drive to Lamar to check out the whooping cranes. Arriving at the Big Tree we spotted quite a few birds. The whooping cranes are impossible to miss as they are five feet tall and dominate the shorter sandhill cranes.
There’s a pair in the pasture that looks like they have made their lifelong commitment but there are no chicks, so it must have just happened. A little further away a group of four whoopers, two and three-year-old still gather together, (pairs stake out a square mile of territory and do not allow any other whoopers into their feeding grounds).
I was exited to get to listen for the definite whooper call, but they were silent and the long squawks we heard were from the sandhill’s. With my new hearing aids, I should be able to hear them when we walk around the Big Tree trail. We did see a falcon/ kestrel, but we couldn’t get a good enough image to prove it was an Aplomoda falcon, which is a very rare falcon that is slowly reestablishing its range.
The pond in the cow pasture, where the whoopers are, also has a large flock of bright pink rosette spoonbills, black belied whistling ducks, American white ibis, and cattle egrets. We were also able to spot some night herons, who of course were sleeping during the day.
A few days later another break in the weather allowed us to travel to Port Aransas. There we crossed the free ferry, and then turned on the road to the birding area named Charle’s Pasture. They have rebuilt some of the road and you can almost reach the pasture but the parking was muddy and so we turned around and drove to Paradise Pond.
Paradise Pond has taken quite a hit form Hurricane Harvey and many of the large trees were knocked down. There are good signs for its recovery as new trees, wrapped in burlap, were waiting to be planted. We did manage to see quite a few yellow rumped warblers, several rosy crowned kinglets, pied billed grebes, and lots of red eared turtles.
Our next stop was at the Lora Turnbill Birding Center. You may recall from last years post that the boardwalk was destroyed but it is being rebuilt in a better location with a new tower that will have a separate section for photographers.
The work has just restarted as the funding had dried up due to the government shutdown. (hopefully the funds will not be diverted for Trumps wall). All the work is supposed to be completed by the end of April, so we will have to wait till next fall to see the finished walkway. There was a large gator laying on the mud and it was surrounded by night herons and spoonbills who seemed unconcerned by being so near to the sleeping giant.
After a nice lunch at our favorite restaurant, we drove out to look at the south jetty. While there were quite a few fishermen, and fisherwomen, there wasn’t a lot being caught. One woman had caught a small sheepshead, and her husband told us that they had only caught four keeper fish n the last two months, (they were using dead shrimp, the sheepshead here prefer live ones)
A fisherman did catch an oversize red, 45 inches long, and he let a person hold it up for a picture! That person is probably back home telling everyone about the big fish he caught. You can see that Renita cut him out of the picture.
The last thing we noticed is that the old Fina docks are being dismantled and new docks and a pipeline are going to be built to accommodate the filling of super tankers. So much for one of the best fishing spots. Large warning signs have been posted and cranes were working on the old structure as we watched.
The weather is supposed to warm up and the winds might calm down enough for us to go fishing today. Pam and Roy