Friday, March 20, 2015

Spring Break - Back Home

After a long day in the car we made it back home this evening. Over the next two days I'll get caught up with everything left behind in KC and the girls will be spending some time at Crown Center before a day of relaxation at home. Tonight however the girls journaled their favorite parts of the trip.

Christine and I talked about the same topic on the way home: Christine's top three were the Spoonbill Rookery, Kayaking, and Pleasure Pier rides while my two favorites were Spoonbill Pond at Anahuac NWR and watching the girls at Pleasure Pier.   Soon I'll get to animals and tell the stories of Anahuac, the Rookery, and Mike from Buffalo.....but not tonight.

Michaela's Journal

Danielle's Journal

Spring Break - Galveston

With the late night at Pleasure Pier yesterday we were quite happy to have a hotel room to relax late into the morning,  Continental breakfasts are much better than the yogurt, applesauce, sandwich meals we've had while living out of the van.  After a short visit to Apffle Park at the east end of Galveston Island (where I added a lifer Clapper Rail) in heavy fog we sat down for Chinese Buffet before heading to our afternoon surprise.  The girls are terrible at guessing surprises, second guessing themselves yesterday after driving by Pleasure Pier.  Today was no different as they still hadn't figured out what it was until we started talking to the guy with kayaks, which was our surprise.

Michaela is in the front seat, trust me.

Danielle is holding a hermit crab.
With daily heavy fog and rain we were blessed with a small window of sunshine and paddled near South Deer Island and Oxen Bayou in West Bay. With no wind to start our guide Mike mixed in wonderful information and conversation as we looked at all the birds and houses. We found two Tri-colored Herons (another lifer) in the Bayou and stopped on a Oyster Reef where we found Hermit Crabs. 

Danielle found an Lightning Whelk shell where the muscle was dead. The decomposing muscle and shell is now gracing our van with its unique perfume.

We were out for almost three hours and are a bit sore with sunburns where we missed sunscreen. The wind picked up while we were out and we are also a bit sore from paddling against the wind on the way back to the van. We found misty weather within half a mile of driving away, soon the fog had rolled back in and overtook the Bay.

Afterwards we stopped at Taco Bell, the first of the trip, and switched into dry clothes and grabbing supper before starting our drive north.  We made our way to Corsicana before crashing for the night and have a day in the van planned for Friday.

Michaela's Journal

 Danielle's Journal

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Spring Break - Pleasure Pier

At the beginning of spring break Christine and I had planned to visit a couple of places in Houston, but the continued driving (mostly getting here but also camping an hour away from Bolivar and Galveston) took a toll on us and we decided to instead spend a leisurely day around Galveston. 

The sweetgum tree leftovers needed to be cleared for a camping spot.

We spent a hour and half packing camp and the tent in heavy fog and a light mist. The rain stopped 10 minutes after we left camp as we were driving by Anahuac NWR so we checked out Skillern Tract and went for a short walk. Luckily the rain held off long enough for us to stop by the Rookery again today as well.

Close views of Roseate Spoonbill, Great Egrets, and Cormorants at this rookery.

Rain hurried us back to the van and we headed toward Galveston around noon. The ferry ride offered another glimpse at dolphins and photo opportunities of flying Laughing Gulls. Danielle enjoyed tossing bread for the gulls after she tired of taking photos. Fortunately the fog thinned and we headed to Pleasure Pier after taking a quick shower at a hotel.

Danielle's Journal

Michaela's Journal

The girls had an amazing time, as they luckily take after their mother rather than father when it comes to rides. It is only appropriate the carousel had ocean creatures on their ride in addition to normal animals and horses.
A couple of the animals they rode.
They didn't ride everything, but Michaela got her first rollercoaster ride and all  three rode an insanely high swing and water coaster.  The videos below can be viewed in HD if you choose settings within YouTube.

BTW - Added Inca Dove today.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Spring Break - Anahuac and High Island

We started today at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge and drove Shovelers loop.  We had many awesome sightings but perhaps most startling were the number of spider webs along a boardwalk.

Heavy fog limited visibility and we headed toward the beach, stopping along the way at a Roseate Spoonbill rookery where the lizards stole the show.

We found more fog at the beach unfortunately and animals were the highlights. I'll let today's follies be described with the girl's journals.... but will add bird details and pictures tomorrow once we have WiFi and a table without mosquitos to work on.  We camped two nights, but are ready for a shower and a bed that keeps air.

Michaela's Journal

Danielle's Journal and Drawings

The girls need more relaxation... luckily it is coming tomorrow. BTW 400 is in the mirror!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Spring Break - Camping

For the third day in a row we spent much of it in the car. Our goal was to get camp set up before dark, but not much else was planned for today. We had some highlights, but I will let you read about them on the girls journal.

Christine and I struggled to get the girls to pay attention to what was outside the windows, and tomorrow we are planning on staying close by the camp with more time walking and biking.

We were successful in setting up camp and are the only people in the city/county park.  There are bugs, but not too many.  I'm sitting out under a lighted picnic area typing this in pitch dark but not getting bit.  We are only 10 miles from the Anahuac NWR entrance and feel like the middle of nowhere.  Deer crossed the park while we ate sandwiches and salad for supper and Whip-poor-wills called at dark.  Of course the bugs and dirt have Michaela a bit freaked, but hopefully it will grow on her. 

Danielle's Journal 

Michaela's Journal

Griswolds eat your heart out.
BTW - 384 is Reddish Egret, 385 is White Ibis, 386 is Roseate Spoonbill, 387 is Crested Caracara, and 388 is Boat-tailed Grackle. 

Spring Break - Austin

For the second day in a row we got a late start. Michaela had stomach aches and was throwing up in the hotel room, a pleasant blessing in disguise rather than being in a tent. After a leisure morning we showed the girls are old apartment in Waco and headed south.

Along the way I spent 90 minutes looking for the striped sparrow east of Austin, which if accepted will be the first record of this species in the US. I believe I had a quick glimpse, but it was at the edge of my binoculars and I could not confirm 100% from other possible sparrows. Instead I left unsuccessful, not feeling too bad as others had looked off and on as well. One couple even showed up with folding chairs, waiting for it to appear on the road!  Michaela believes I was unsuccessful because she went for a walk and came back with three stray dogs.
In the afternoon we met up with old friends in Austin and played at a park.

Danielle's Journal

Michaela's Journal

We didn't get far with late night driving headed east as we were exhausted. We still have a ways to go today before we set up camp.

Michaela loved the palm tree/bushes.

BTW - 383 is White-winged Dove (Photos upon our return)

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Spring Break 2015

All of our spring breaks coincided this year, so we are on a road trip to the Gulf.

Today was our first day of the spring break trip and we slept in (not our original plan) as Michaela has been fighting a fever for 3 days. We were able to leave shortly before 10 a.m. and spent the entire day driving. We arrived in Texas after supper and stopped in Waco.

A family photo will be added once we return and I can Photoshop two pictures together.

Not much happened today; the three girls watched Tinkerbell and the Legend of the Neverbeast four times, they colored and read books, and I got to enjoy TX road construction. We plan to have the girls journal often and will share them with you, along with some pictures. They wrote the journals below thinking ahead to this trip.

Michaela's Journal  

Danielle's Journal  

BTW - #382 is Black Vulture