A belated happy Mothers’ Day to all of my friends and family who are mothers!  My own two daughters are fabulous mothers, and I couldn’t be more proud of them and my four grandsons.  Joy to all of you!  As I sit here Monday morning, at the very edge of the west coast in Big Sur Park (Sand Dollar Beach, to be exact), I can’t help but think about the Texas Gulf Coast and the month I spent in Texas.  I believe that is the only blog missing to get caught up, so here goes!  One comment:  cell phone service is non-existent out here, so I must rely on a very erratic wifi service back at the campground, available for staff only.  My plan is to make posts each time I am in the Bay Area, every few weeks. (Addendum May 31:  drove to Cambria this morning to blessedly use free wifi and cell service at coffee stop.) A belated public thank you to all of our active service men and women.  And to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice over many years and wars, my gratitude and admiration knows no bounds.  Our freedom is because of you.  Many heartfelt thanks!

Mid March, following the Leland MS build, I packed up and headed to Houston, TX to visit my brother and sister-in-law in Kingwood.  Because it was so convenient and something I have been intending to do for a long time, I stayed overnight at the Escapees Rainbow’s End Park in Livingston, for the sole purpose of having Leon and Kwincy professionally weighed and evaluated for safety.  Being underweight when loaded applies to Kwincy, which is a very good thing……..but I was alerted to think seriously about upgrading Leon to a Ram 3500, a larger engine.  So, this is added to my prayer list and wish list.

Dog lovers that they are, Chuck and Helen greeted Mojo with open laps and loving arms.  He fit right in, happy to be off the road, being the clown he can be!  A few days later, Judy, a dear friend from CA, who had never visited Texas, flew into Houston so we could begin our birding adventure.  Allow me to interject a comment here:  one of the primary reasons I chose the Texas route was to see family, of course, but I have been following Ingrid, a fellow fulltimer and blogger, since I first started, and she spends winters near Post Aransas and Rockport and is a fabulous photographer!  I look forward to her postings, as she in both informative and very entertaining.  She has dropped me a line or two to offer tips now and then.  I look forward to having our “real” paths cross some day. Thanks, Ingrid! Live Laugh RV  Go check out her site and those fabulous pictures.

Prior to leaving for the gulf coast, Judy and I drove out to see the beautiful painted churches of Schulenburg, TX.   Though several were closed, we were able to visit four of the seven, and what a feast for the eyes.

Because of the recent storms in Texas, Mustang Island contacted me regarding closure of the campground due to water damage and electrical failure.  We quickly changed plans to stay in Rockport for the two weeks on the gulf….good central location to so many wildlife preserve areas.  Prior to heading to Rockport, I wanted to introduce Judy to the “Rookery” near High Island.  It is the nesting grounds for both Great and Snow Egrets, the Roseate Spoonbill Cranes, Kormorants, and a few other species.  Yes, there were alligators and turtles as well.  Chuck and Helen had brought me here two days before, and it is absolutely breathtaking!  Chuck set me up with a tripod and one of his cameras with a huge lens, and I clicked away to my heart’s content.  Needless to say, I was very content, and then some!

Now these particular photos above are from the Kingwood Country Club, where Chuck and Helen play regularly, but were obviously unable to play in the recent rain storms.  Wow!  These water hazards are all new……and temporary, of course.

Once again, on the second visit, the Rookery on High Island did not disappoint.  I had to all put pull Judy away so we could begin our trek further south to Rockport.

Mix of Great and Snow Egrets, Roseate Spoonbills, and Kormorants.  The pictures I took with my brother’s camera are on my computer back with Kwincy….so I will post some of those under my All Creatures tab later.

Another wonderful stop was a visit to the Painted Churches of Fayetteville County near Schulenburg.  What a feast for the eyes!  To borrow a phrase from Texas Escapse, “The term “Painted” comes from the elaborate faux-finished interiors – painted by itinerant artists who advertised in church bulletins and newspapers. Several were resident artists in San Antonio. Gold-leafed, stone and polished marble columns and ceilings are (upon closer examination) actually finely-fitted woodwork. The paint – mixed on site – is still vibrant and bright – even after all these years.”  The details are spectacular.  I hope my iPhone images do them justice.

We pulled into our camping spot mid afternoon and were pleasantly surprised by the very nice amenities at this park.  It was modern, great services, indoor pool, laundry, great bathrooms, library, meeting rooms, all for a very reasonable price.  They can handle any size RV, and I recommend it highly, especially because of location and great price.

Thinking a guided tour of the birding possibilities would benefit us both, as newbies, we booked a tour on Captain Tommy’s Birding Tour boat out of Fulton, and headed out the next morning to explore the gulf waters.  In three hours, we spotted, with Captain Tommy’s help, more than thirty different species of birds, including the endangered Whooping Cranes.  What a thrill!  Coming back to shore, Captain Tommy announced he would have some fun with the approaching dolphins.  As they were practically slapping the side of the tour boat, I was one of the fortunate ones to capture a picture with any semblance to a dolphin.  We had them jumping in pairs as well.

Captain Tommy is extremely knowledgeable on the migrating birds and has written several books with his own photography.  Children’s books are among them.  A tour well worth taking.

We spent several days in the Aransas Preserve and could have spent many more.  The hiking trails were wonderful, filled with small song birds to the Great Egrets and Blue Herons.  The forty foot viewing platform is phenomenal, and you must remember to bring along a good strong pair of binoculars, which we had.  Other days were spent exploring the small towns of Rockport and Fulton.  The Educational Aquarium at Rockport is a must-see.  Donations accepted.  The Apple Dumpling Cafe became our favorite eating place at a recommendation from a downtown merchant at the shell shop.

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Needless to say, our two weeks on the gulf coast passed all too quickly, and soon we were on overload …….. overload on JOY!  Judy flew out of Corpus Cristie to visit family in Denver, and I headed up to Beaumont, TX for the last Habitat build of the spring for me.  My next destination:  Big Sur, CA.

Moments of grace:  words fall short trying to give justice to the magnificence of our Father’s creation.  The beauty of the tiniest of details and the natural organization is almost incomprehensible.  Thank you, Lord, for your gifts of nature!

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