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Monday, January 31, 2011

A Day of Discovery In Coastal Bend Country

This past week Ivan and I decided to take a little round trip up island and see what there was to see, with no specific agenda.First,after crossing a small waterway,we found that we were now on Mustang Island headed for the resort town of Port Aransas,an area with several RV parks and one State Park,which we checked out for future reference.Then we took a small ferry ride back to the mainland over to Aransas Pass.

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And up through the towns of Rockport/Fulton,(no pic’s) but another pretty resort area, only a little larger,and a spot I would seriously consider for next winters hunker down time.The area has many nice looking RV parks,most with an abundance of shade trees.

Then it was over the causeway and bridge across Capano Bay to Goose Island State Park for another future reference look-see.

A thing of note,due to the local terrain,everywhere you travel in this coastal area,you travel over dozens of bridges and causeways like this,and there just seems to be no end to the spots where you can pull off along the shoreline of the many bays and waterways.Having a boat in this part of the world,I would say is a must.Even many of the newer homes just about everywhere you look have waterways and boat docks at their back door instead of a dusty laneways like most places.

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The Goose Island State Park campground was almost full.It has two camping areas,one back in the woods,very private where you cant even see your neighbour,or like the photo above and on the right,out along the beach with a beautiful view.

From there we moved on a little further north to the entrance to the--

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Where really you need more time to explore and enjoy what there is to see,but this part of the tour wasn’t really planned….It just happened….Actually my long range plan was to make a special all day trip here,…..So next time…Actually we did cover a lot of ground in the short time we had in the refuge.

The main thing was to see the Whooping Cranes from the viewing stand(pic above) but they were not to be seen this day.Many other varieties were out on the bay but the distance was really disappointing and you really needed a spotting scope.There was a spotting scope but it was surrounded with folks who didn't seem to want to give it up.There were many Rosette Spoonbills,but as my photo shows,full 20X zoom really wasn't enough.Thank goodness we at least had some binoculars.


But we did visit a small lake nearby in the refuge, because Ivan wanted to go “Dancing with the crocks.”We found one over on the other side but he wasn't in a dancing mood.

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So it was time to head back,this time through Corpus Christi,McDonalds,and home to the beach.I will again put my little area map up to show the lay of the land that we covered.


I want to finish this post off with some of my wanderings along our beach here,first off showing a beautiful Texas sunrise out of the Gulf of Mexico.

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And some of the shorebird scene.The one standing on one leg (left pic) actually, I believe has only one leg, because even though they were all at one time standing on one leg….This one hopped away on one leg when I approached…..The others walked away on two legs. The second photo is of (I believe) a Gull Billed Tern.

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There were many of them hanging around with an equally large flock of Royal Terns seen below.

045 Quite a striking bird,and pardon the pun,but as far as getting up on those old pilings below…………..Wait for it………….

We all want a tern.


So!…..By the time that I post this entry,I will be a long way from the beach,as I said my goodbyes to Ivan and Hailey his guard cat on Saturday morning. My present location as I post this, is already 600 miles away,so I travel in stealth mode to……….?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The “USS LEXINGTON”…The Blue Ghost

Our tour of this magnificent old aircraft carrier was 6 hours of pure joy for me, since its heyday was in a time period of my younger life.

I’m not going to go into detail of its full history but have provided a link on Wikipedia that I think explains it well for those who are interested.. here

I will concentrate on showing the tour through the eyes of Ivan and myself as we scrambled around her decks and compartments.

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It was nice to have an early morning start with no crowds, and as it turned out as the day went on, that crowds were not a factor, making it an enjoyable and relaxing tour.

Early on, we entered the Joe Jessel mega theatre,at the forward end of the hanger deck to watch an I-Max movie called “Fighter Pilot”which being my first I-max movie,had me wide eyed and excited.(I don't get out much)SmileIt was all about training exercises in the Nevada desert combining the fighter pilots of many countries,including our own,Canada.This had nothing to do with the Lex,but did set the stage for an interesting day……I must say we were both impressed as we felt like WE were sitting in the cockpit of the F16’s………I even thought that I had pulled a couple of G’s just sitting in my movie seat.

When the movie ended,our next visit was to go up to the flight deck,where they have many different vintage planes on display.

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Below is a shot taken inside one of the big gun turrets where Ivan is checking out the situation.Plus a little silly Willy photo op…Hey its my blog….I can do what I want.Winking smile

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Here’s another… Nah!..Don't you just love these photo op displays that they put up just waiting for turkeys like me to come along and embarrass myself.


Up to the bridge for a look see,where I sit in the captains chair and Ivan is back behind me steering the ship…..Ivan! Your looking the wrong way…Remember what I said about kids in a candy store?

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Now a few views taken down on the hanger deck…A lot bigger than some of the hangers I worked in during my air force days.They had a nice little mess deck cafe at the rear of the hanger deck, so we grabbed some lunch to fortify for the coming afternoon.

Nearby was also a nice souvenir store where I bought my (been-there…done-that).. tee shirt.

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All 5 self guided tours started and ended on this hanger deck,so you could choose any tour at any time and go at your own pace and see the exhibits and learn of the ships history,and because it is a former US Navy vessel,the ship does have steep ladders,low overhangs and some hazards to look out for,and BOY! They weren't kidding.

Tour 1 covered the Flight Deck area

Tour 2 covered the Foc’sle….Quarters, exhibits and anchor equipment.

Tour 3 covered the Gallery Deck…Combat information centre,ready rooms,etc.

Tour 4 covered the lower decks,engine room,sick bay,dental clinic,crews galley,mine exhibit and more.

Tour 5 covered the hanger deck.

There was so much to see that after awhile we realized that to do this ships 5 tours properly,you almost need to spend 2 days here…..That is if you like to read and really look at everything they had on display.We even stopped snapping pictures after awhile as it was becoming overwhelming……Below are some random shots that we did take……Captains Cabin.

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Control Centre,and Junior Officer Quarters.

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This Foc’sle section was also a movie set used in the movie “Pearl Harbor”for a scene taken on a Japanese ship.

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We were amazed at the sick bay and dental clinic as to the large size of these areas,and so well equipped,but by this time we stopped taking pictures and just took it all in.There was just too much to absorb…..And thank goodness for all the signs directing you because it is really easy to get lost with all the compartments and passageways…Hell I get lost just coming out of a mall by a different door.

The right hand photo below is a view of a very small portion of the engine room.

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Finally a little piece of her history below.


With a little more explanation below.


And there’s the spot up there with the Japanese flag.


So with that I say goodbye old Lex….It was a pleasure and an honour to visit you.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Familiarizing With Our New Area…The Coastal Bend.

Just to carry on from the last blog post,I wanted to set the stage,(so to speak) for my upcoming blog entries and follow the daily sequence's since arriving in this area.

First off,a map and scene of the general area,and I know that some readers have been in this area,but for those of you who haven't,we are located at the position of the green balloon.

For anyone interested, the live Google map in my sidebar can be used for a more concise look at the area using a satellite view and zoom,but this gives a general overview of the areas that I describe.



So!…Ivan and I are parked somewhere down there on 50 some odd miles of unspoiled beach that have beautiful sunrises coming out of the sea.

Going back to last Sunday which dawned a little cloudy and cool,we decided to take a drive into Corpus Christi and take our first look around.Again like many times before we both agreed just how easy it seems to be,driving around some of these Texas cities with the expressway systems that all seem to be laid out the same,both here and down in the Rio Grand Valley,using one way frontage roads on each side with U turn lanes going under the overpasses.

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Corpus Christi seems to us to be a very clean and modern city (pop 277000) with miles and miles of beautiful beachfront and parks, which would make this place a real treasure in the summertime.They say that swimming in these waters is good until late December.If you look at the map you can see the city sits on a large protected bay,protected by Padre Island, and from the city you can hardly even see the island.

Below is some beach area where it meets the shipping area.Both of these photo’s were taken from the aircraft carrier Lexington,one from the fan tail and the other from the flight deck,showing this general area of the city’s north end.

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Below is a ship coming out from under the bridge shown above.

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And heading out into the bay.Padre Island can barely be seen in the background.


You will note that these photos were taken on two different days when you see both cloudy and clear skies.The reason for this is that yesterday Ivan and I took the tour of the aircraft carrier Lexington and that gave me some more photo opportunities to view the city from a different angle for this blog entry.

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So on my next blog entry I will cover a wonderful and exhausting 6 hour, self guided tour of the “LEX”and its colourful history of battle in the south pacific during world war 2….Ivan and I were both like a couple of kids in a candy store with a look of wide eyed amazement as we climbed all over and down through the ship…. Next time.