Monday, March 12, 2018

Friends and Tucson

Tucson/Lazydays KOA
Tucson, AZ
February 12-March12, 2018

Tucson is a yearly stop for us...usually sometime in February.  We are always busy with appointments which include doctors for us and a list of things for Belle (our bus).  
The pool area at Lazydays
This year was no exception.  We arrived on Feb. 12 and on the 13th, it all started with the dreaded dermatologist visit.  We both had spots frozen and a couple of biopsies taken.  So happy to report this is the first year that Joe did not need any MOHs surgery.  Also, very excited and thankful to say Joe is cancer free...starting his fourth year.  

Seeing friends here is the best part of coming to Tucson !  Carol and Ronnie, and of course Cooper, were here for a couple of days when we pulled in.  We were invited to their home for dinner.  What a nice treat for us after a long and tedious 4 day trip from the Texas Gulf coast.  Right down the street from us were Sue, Dave and Lewis,  two rows over were Pam and John and MonaLiza and Steve were around the corner.  Sue and Dave had all of us over for a fun get together...awesome folks these people are and so much fun to hang out with.  MonaLiza and Steve left and in rolled Jodee, Bill and Tessa.  Jodee made yummy tacos and we enjoyed a chilly evening at their home...thanks for the blanket Jodee !  Jodee and Bill left after a couple of nights.  

The day before the Banks and the Wrights left, we had a get together here.

I even made a lemon chess pie with lemons from the tree in "our yard".  It was messy, but tasty !
L to R: John, Pam, Sue, Dave and Joe

Steve and Joe

MonaLiza and Steve returned to Lazydays so we had one last visit with them.  Joe, with Steve's help, grilled veggies and steak for fajitas.  Joe and I were disappointed in the fajita steak we bought at Dickman's . MonaLiza brought over a tray of delicious mango, pineapple, strawberries and blueberries...the best part of dinner !

In between doctor visits, and fun get togethers, Belle had some much needed work done.  First on the agenda was a new windshield.  Andy Rothman with Superglass was great to work with.  
Andy(on the far right) and his crew...
He handled all the insurance stuff, returned to fix a leak after a heavy nights rain and then returned to make sure we were good to go after we had Belle washed.  The best part about the replacement is it is done on sight ! 

We also met Kenneth and Rachel the owners of Cameron's Reliable Maintenance and Mobile Service.  They make a very good team...reliable, honest, great quality and hard workers. 

We are very pleased with our new slide toppers and look forward to having a few more things done next year when we return.    

Every year Jason does a fantastic job washing and waxing Belle.  This year I forgot to get a picture.  Thanks again Jason ! 

We did enjoyed a few quiet, lazy days...
 ...and when Jack is no where to be found, I know just where to look.  Sometimes he is completely hidden behind the pillow !

There are a few places we enjoy shopping here with REI being at the top of the list.  Definitely our go to place when we need outdoor shoes.  

A couple of years ago we discovered Tucson Premium Outlet Mall.  

A clean, comfortable and eye pleasing  place to go if we need other stuff.  And a big has never been crowded when we have been there.

I mentioned Dickman's Meat and Deli.  
Another dear friend who we met the very first time we visited Tucson is Randy.  Randy is usually in Tucson this time of year as he has a son, daughter, and several grandchildren who live here.  Well, Randy suggested we might want to try Dickman's.  Joe and I were disappointed in the fajita meat we bought which is the end pieces of their patented Ugly Steak.  We won't buy that anymore.  Several days after dinner with the Lowes, Joe grilled the Ugly Steaks we had also bought.  Yummy...tender like in cut with a fork tender and very tasty.  
So returned to buy more steaks and black angus ground beef for the freezer.  All their beef comes from Iowa.  Dickman's is a family run business that has served the Tucson area for more than 30 years.  According to the family, Ugly Steak is trademarked and a well kept secret.  On Mondays the deli serves Ugly Steak sandwiches...might just have to try one next year !  FYI, some two-dozen types of brats are created in house and draw a crowd also.  

That wraps up our month in Tucson.  Tomorrow we head north and arrive in Moab on Wednesday.  We are so excited to be healthy and heading north.  
Wile E has had lots of attention thanks to Jeff, owner of Dirt Squirrel Motors and our neighbor and good friend in Moab. Stay tuned !

Until next time...enjoy your day and


Thursday, February 8, 2018

Rockport, TX

Majestic Oak RV 
Rockport, TX
February 3-8, 2018

The Texas Gulf has been on our radar for several years.  We have made plans in the past and for one reason or another, plans changed.  Since we made the trip back to Georgia in January, this was the year !  It's all about the birds...birds we have never seen before...that drew us here.  Galveston was unharmed by Harvey, but it's a different story here in Rockport (less than 180 miles away) where the eye of the storm hit land.  Folks are working hard and will be for months to come, but everywhere we go, people are smiling, are friendly and have stories to tell centered around hope and the future.  

Majestic Oak RV was our home for the 8 nights we spent here.  It's all new concrete roads are wide and pads are strategically placed for spacing.  

And...the oaks are still here.  

We went birding 4 of the 7 days during our visit.  A couple of the days were cold, drizzly, and windy (We don't do cold !).  I have read all of Ingrid's blogs about Rockport so I knew that a pasture near Big Tree was a good place to see Whooping Cranes.  The first time we were there, we did see the stately  Big Tree, but no Whooping Cranes.
Low clouds hiding the sun... 

We rode along the St. Charles Bay.

There are no more docks and piers, but we did see a few birds.  I read that Crested Caracara (in the falcon family) often feed on carrion and will chase vultures away from road kills.  Road kill was present and so were the vultures (quite a few of them).  This Caracara sat for awhile deciding what to do...

...eventually he flew away. Just look at those talons !

Also, hanging out along the shore were...Great Blue Herons, Tricolored Herons, Roseate Spoonbills, a lonely Killdeer and a Greater Yellowlegs.
Great Blue Heron and Roseate Spoonbills

Tricolored Heron

Killdeer (a member of the Plover family)

Greater Yellowlegs (in the Sandpiper family)
 We visited the pasture several more times and did see the Whooping Cranes at a distance.  It was a struggle to get pictures of them.  

One day we rode about 18 miles (which includes a free ferry) to Port Aransas.  Port A (as the locals say), is the only established town on Mustang Island.  Our first stop was Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center.   

A damp morning on Port A...

We were reminded that alligators live here too...beware!

After a very short walk, the boardwalk came to an abrupt stop.    
Mornings start out a little foggy here...

We stood for awhile enjoying the Ibis.  It was fun watching this White Ibis try to eat his breakfast of yummy crab...taking one bite at a time...  

 until the immature White Ibis was sure he was invited.  
The Ibis with his catch of the day politely wandered off to a less busy spot.

We did spot a big gator a ways away.  
Click on the picture for better detail.

The next stop was Joan & Scott Holt Paradise Pond.  This birding spot also had damage prohibiting our view of much of the 2 acre habitat and pond.

We enjoyed a nice walk and picnic at Roberts Point Park before heading home.  It's a nice park with a marina and fishing and a huge grassy area for picnics and playground.

One day after our visit at "the pasture", we stopped at the pier on the south side of the Copano Bay Bridge.  The pier is closed, but there is a path to access the shore.  I had spotted a group of White Pelicans from the bridge as we drove know what that means !

As with most crowds, there is always one in the group that stands out.  Pelicans are no was this fellow that caught my eye.

Our last excursion was aboard the Skimmer with Captain Tommy.  His 3 hour birding journey makes it's way to Aransas NWR.  

Aransas provides a protected habitat for endangered Whooping Cranes as well as many other birds and wildlife.

It was awesome to see several pairs (they mate for life and raise their chicks together) of one of the rarest and largest birds of North America.  

These birds (about 600 of them) that winter on the Texas Gulf will make a 2400 mile trek north to nest in Wood Buffalo National Park in central Canada.  

 Whooping Cranes love blue crabs.  That's a good thing because blue crabs are needed to build up their body resources and reserves for their long journey home and for successful nesting.  Not only are the blue crabs high in protein, but the meat and shells are highly rich in calcium, necessary for strong bones and for forming eggshells. 

An adult crane can eat up to 80 crabs a day.

Not a real clear photo, but we did see an immature Whooper.  According to Capt. Tommy, they are only 4 to 5 months old when they make their first trip south.

We also saw other birds.  American Avocets have the prettiest blue/gray legs and feet. 
Adult non-breeding...a first for us!

 American Oystercatcher (the bird with the red beak) was yet another first sighting.  

Guess what oystercatchers like to eat...duh!  Below they are gathered on a live oyster bed enjoying a mid-morning snack !

That wraps up our time on the Texas Gulf.  It has been a fun adventure full of lots and lots of wonderful birds.  I'm so happy we finally made it here.   

Today was another chilly day with a high of 46 degrees.  It was nice and warm inside our cozy little home.  A great day for puppy snuggles and naps.  Tomorrow will be cleaning and packing day along with some cooking.  Saturday we begin the three day drive to Tucson for doctor visits, MH stuff, and hopefully some fun.    We are looking forward to some warm temps and I can't wait to see the Saguaros. 

So until then, take care and...

Great Blue Heron, St. Charles Bay

Immature White Ibis as Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center, Port A

Ducks at Joan & Scott Holt Paradise Pond, Port A

Roseate Spoonbills in flight on a foggy morning, Aransas NWR
Aransas NWR

Red-tailed Hawk, Aransas NWR