April 10, 2006

Texas (non-birds)

Hello everyone. Well, we made it back in central New York on Saturday night, safe and sound. Went from temperatures in the 80s and 90s to the mid 30s when we got in. It was actually kind of nice in a weird and twisted sort of way. But it's good to be home. Now obviously, I have a lot of very exciting, bird-related things to post about but I'll restrain myself for now and give you a nice, generic overview of our trip.
Like so..........

Okay, here we are with Rhonda Beckman. She's the organizer for the festival we played at. We also stayed at her house over the weekend (see my previous post). We left Dallas Sunday night and headed south. On Monday morning we did some birding at Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge just west of Austin. It's was certainly the hill-iest part of our trip; everywhere else we went was unbelievably flat. Our next stop was actually just south of Austin at the big Cabela's Superstore in Buda. What a wild place! I mean, I might actually want to go shopping at JC Penny if they had giant stuffed bears and elephants and stuff all over the place. The store was so big it even had an aquarium in one corner and a whole restaurant on the second story. Yeah, that was a pretty neat place but it did get a little old after about three hours. Thanks mom. But by Monday night we'd made it all the way to Port Aransas, just north of Corpus Christi. We stayed at The Tarpon Inn right near the ocean. The Inn is 120 years old and it was really nice. I couldn't get over the palm trees. Then we spent two days in the Rockport area. Lots of birding, more on that later. Everyone said we needed to go see "The Big Tree" while we were in the area so we took a quick trip up to Goose Island State Park to find out what they were talking about. Now this isn't just "a big tree." This is "THE Big Tree," a live oak that's supposedly over 1000 years old and something like 30+ feet in diameter at the trunk. It was pretty cool but the mosquitoes were so bad here we could only stand it for about 5 minutes. They all attacked us and even when we were in the car they were covering the outside of the windows. Anyway, on Thursday we went to the King Ranch in Kingsville which was founded by Captain King who was apparently more-or-less the unofficial king of south Texas. I think they said it was over 800,000 acres. Sounds cool, right? Wrong. Well, at least the part we saw was extremely boring. Our tour guide, who was very appropriately named Milton, was this really old guy with an extremely dreary, monotone voice that sucked the interest out of everything he talked about. The area was pretty much flat and brown and dusty with just a few horses and cattle. There may have been a cowboy in a cage but he wasn't moving. The temperature was in the upper 90s and to top it off, there was this kid in the back who managed to scream at a certain pitch that reverberated around the bus so loud I thought the windows would break. Kind of a long two hours. But soon we were on the final leg of our trip. Thursday night and Friday morning we spent in San Antonio which is one of the most beautiful cities I've ever been to. They have this "river walk" that runs along all these canals in downtown with great big trees and shops and restaurants. It was really nice, we kind of hated to leave. But Friday night we played a contra dance in Austin and by Saturday afternoon we were on our way home. It was an amazing experience, every part of it. Okay, so there's my friendly, sociable, non-birds Texas post. See... I told you I could do it.