May 1, 2013
As we move up the Tennessee River, through the river towns, signs explain we are traveling the Tennessee River Trail and much of that trail has to do with the Civil War. We spent an hour at the Savannah Museum and it was very comprehensive and well done. Well worth a visit for anyone passing through. It is divided into prehistoric history and early Native American history. Both of which I skimmed through except to say that flat Tennessee was an alluvial plain and shells and fossils are only 15 to 30 feet deep in their soil. Also from Tennessee 450 Chickasaw families were rounded up and made to follow the infamous Trail of Tears to Oklahoma Territory along with 16,000 Cherokees.
Along the river, and nearby Savannah are some old Indian Mounds if you like archaeology. They are just mounds of earth but once resembled the photo above; ceremonial altars, honorable places for a chief to live.
All river towns have a steamboat history which was pretty exciting. Savannah has a steamboat logo for the town stamped in the sidewalks and on every sign and letterhead.
Joshua C. Stoddard invented the Calliope and every steamboat on the river had to have one. Made of from 8 to 56 graduated steam whistles the music could be heard for miles in every direction. Children squealed and screamed, dogs barked and grownups smiled and held their breath with excitement as all made a mad dash to the river to meet passengers, pick up their mail or goods.
The graceful old paddle-wheelers like this one were made on the Ohio river. It is obvious from this museum that rivers were the major roads of the day, with danger, excitement, and goods traded up and down the river.
Steamboats came before train bridges. They carried trains across the river to the tracks on the opposite side. The displays explain the dangers and disasters that happened to them, hitting snags, or boiler fires, accidental rammings, and running aground on sandbars.
A steamboat needed a compass, whistle and a list indicator. I don’t know why that amused me, it is so simple.
And those speaking pipes we saw on the old movies with submarines? They were first used on steamships. You can whisper down this tube and your partner can hear it on the upper or lower deck.
Then there was war. The Iron Clads had six cannon per side and could guard the banks, deliver men and supplies to the battle. Many forts were built along rivers and the ships played a vital role in the Civil War. Before the Iron Clads were built, regular steamers were outfitted with rail road iron three-quarters inch thick above the water line and special protection for her boilers.They were called Tinclads..
On land, within 300 yards, cannon were very effective. They could shoot two rounds per minute and a station of six cannon could pour about 9,700 balls at the enemy in two minutes. The balls could mow down small trees and expose soldiers cover. The history of this area cannot be told without the horrors of the Civil War.
A gruesome task made real.
Bedford was a hero. (Click to enlarge)
The City of Savannah has this to say about heroes posted on their war memorial near City Hall.
We visited City Hall, and drove by the River Park. More about that tomorrow.
After asking three people about where to enjoy good food, we got the same answer all three times: The Hickory Pit for barbeque and Hakes for fish. Hakes wasn’t open on Tuesday and since chicken was served at “The Pit” we enjoyed a great lunch.
Hickory smoked chicken and green fried tomatoes for me. Fried potato skins served with REAL bacon,cheesse, green onions and ranch dressing or sour cream and half a smoked chicken. Delicious. I asked was there a local specialty in the area. The waitress said no, but the menu was definitely a mine of specialties that may not seem special to her.
Deep fried dill pickles, green beans, mushrooms, mozzarella sticks, and corn nuggets. You can get chicky and pig frys, which are french frys with pulled pork or chicken on top. And neon frys with cheese and meat on top. They offered nine different vegetables with okra, slaw and just about anything else you can think of. And, the tomatoes and potato skins are nicely flavored, not over dependent on salt, home-made, delicious and all given with excellent service. Stop in and enjoy this very southern restaurant. (The southern accent is a bonus.)
April 15, 2013
Neighbors always gather at the party animal’s house. That’s Jan, (a non drinker) whipping up a batch of margaritas. Her own recipe is tequila, vodka, rum and sugar on the glass with limeade for the mix. Basically a let’s clean out the liquor closet margarita.
She was shocked when the worm actually “jumped” out of the bottle and into a glass. I guess she thought the worm was somehow guaranteed to stay in the bottle. You have to know Jan. It didn’t taste like a margarita, but it was pleasant to drink.
We snacked on the deck before the main event. Neighbor Brian, a gourmet cook, brought a parmesan tart with tomato and a leaf of fresh basil. Excellent. He is currently playing with mole sauces with chocolate. I’ll miss it since I fly tomorrow.
Jan’s pond is much bigger than mine and she attracts more large animals looking for water, often cougars and even a bear. I told her about wildlife certification and she agreed to apply.
Neighbor Atilla and his daughter Kera played pool. I hadn’t seen Kera since she graduated High School. Now, age 30, she was visiting her parents and joined the party.
Kera’s mother, Patty. Great cooks, all. Maybe that is why we like to party.
I made a salad niciose, without the green beans. There were none in the market. Like the margarita, it is a clean out the fridge kind of salad with olives, baby spinach, arugula, papaya, red pepper, eggs and marinated red potato slices. Hardly true to the original, but no one cared.
Jan’s grandson preserved her a turkey wing from his hunt in Montana. Jan spent a year with her daughter from March 2012 to March 2013.
Before the berry pie, everyone had a turn at pool. Jan and I avoid playing pool together because we can’t take the game seriously enough not to cheat. I never cheat at cards or other games, but I LOVE cheating at pool. Of course, we warn everyone in advance. She reminded me about an obnoxious boyfriend she lived with for a year who was a poker fiend. Her friend Sally brought a second deck, cheated, and took all of his money. At the end of the game, Jan asked, “aren’t you going to tell him?” She smiled and said, “Nope, he deserved to lose.” Ya’ gotta watch these women.
April 5, 2013
I worked two days on designing a small house to replace the flooded mobile home for my Oregon property. I wanted to limit it to 1000 square feet or under. Plus, I wanted to make it wheel chair accessible which calls for wider doorways and hallways. My thought was that as the population ages, handicapped accessible dwellings, will be in more demand. Who knows, it might be me? I love Portland and looked to buy a retirement condo there, but Oregon is an unfriendly tax state for retirees if you make over 250,000. While that doesn’t affect me, the Beaver State shares with Hawaii the distinction of imposing the highest tax rate on personal income in the nation for incomes over $250,000. No tax on social security, but, Oregon’s inheritance tax even applies to investments and bank accounts. They have no sales tax, but property taxes are high. If you love Portland its best to buy in Van Couver, WA. and trip over to Portland by bus and cross the border to buy non-taxable items. Hmmm! I f I ever sell my house, that is what I’m going to do.
Hey, Oregon isn’t the worst. Vermont has the highest property tax in the nation.
Minnesota taxes social security, and all retirement income no matter where it was earned.
Nebraska is slightly worse than Oregon, then comes California ranking number 5 with its top income tax rate kicking in for folks earning $46,767. An odd number.
Or maybe I’ll go where the good food is. Louisiana is so friendly and fun besides. But, in summer, they have mosquitoes as big as helicopters.
If you love Thai food, my recommendation is retire to Mission Viejo for the best Thai Food ever. I’ve been to at least 30 different Thai restaurants not counting those I visited while in Thailand. There is only one entre, fried squash blossoms, superior in Thailand to this restaurant in Mission Viejo. Siam Cuisine Restaurant, 27001 La Paz Dr. I never miss it when I travel there.
If you are a barbecue fan, I have a friend, Bud Harlan, who says the best is in Crawfordsville, GA. at a place called Heavys Bar-B-Que. It is where they filmed part of Sweet Home Alabama.
Well, now that I’m on the subject of food, they say Diamond Jim was a big eater, but how about this bit of trivia:
An average dinner eaten by King Louis XVI (1643-1715) consisted of four plates of soup, a whole partridge, a whole pheasant, two slices of ham, a salad, mutton with garlic, pastry and hard-boiled eggs. At his death it was discovered that the king’s stomach was twice the size of a normal stomach. (It would have tripled if he’d lived in Louisiana.)
March 16, 2013
Isn’t America wonderful? We have such a polyglot of cultures we can be Irish and cook Jewish on St. Patrick’s Day. Well, what the heck. Good food belongs to everyone. I don’t remember where I got this recipe, but I can tell you it is good.
1 brisket, as large as you can find with the bone in, (not corned.)
Boil two hours covered with 4-5 bay leaves and a large onion. Use a stainless steel pan and add 1/4 cup of vinegar to the water. Once cooked, drain and move to a baking pan. Stud with whole cloves and slather with Dijon mustard mixed with 2 tspns dk brown sugar. Add a can of peaches, spread juice and peaches around the base of the brisket and bake it until it is tender enough to cut with a fork. (About an hour.)
I’m going to try making it this year with the brisket already corned and see how it turns out. Mainly because my housemate, who has been invited to a friends for St. Patricks, feels cheated because she doesn’t get any leftovers for sandwiches. She bought me a brisket with red new potatoes and carrots, and cabbage, and said, “there better be enough leftovers for a sandwich for me!”
Tomorrow, I’ll cover the St. Patricks Day festivities in town, but, I still haven’t solved my picture problem. Maybe, I’ll have better luck today. If not, I’m going to begin blogging old photos. Shoot, I have plenty thousands of them.
February 27, 2013
We drove about 7 miles to Ville Platte, a town of 8,000 population. The Chamber of Commerce suggested we visit this beautiful old restored bank building, Jack Miller’s Sauce and Seasonings Company, and Slap Ya Mama Cajun Seasonings Co.
The restored bank building has been turned into an upscale restaurant called The Cocks Tail.
It is as beautiful on the inside as the outside.
The gorgeous old gas lamps have been wired for electricity.
The old broken tiles replaced with new stuff; period border tile sets off the brick and flat tile.
Ditto the metal ceiling tiles and corner decorations. Replaced with a replica of what was there.
What a delightful place. A great menu as in shrimp etouffee stuffed baked potato, portobello soup, all the usual southern fried dishes and a huge variety of tempting sandwiches, flatbreads and wraps. Yum.
We headed out to Jack Miller’s place promising to go back for lunch. We were intrigued by the fact Jack Miller’s carries a line of salt free seasonings. This is a picture of a picture of Jack Miller, the founder of the company, now deceased.
His son Kermit Miller runs the company with his wife, two sons and one employee. The no salt seasoning is an interesting story. His parents owned a restaurant where Jack was always fooling with sauces and seasonings for his dishes. He had a friend whose daughter was born without the ability to tolerate salt, none at all. Jack fooled around with spices and flavors and made seasoning for the daughter without salt until she finally grew out of the condition. During that time, he perfected a tasty concoction that suited other people’s needs who prefer not to use so much salt.
Jack Miller’s Bar-B-Que sauce though, is their top seller. It was developed out of need. Jack Miller’s American Inn Restaurant couldn’t get enough ground meat, beef, during the war years. In 1941 all these service men were in town and they were hungry. He realized the farmers in the area had some pork and lots of chickens. So, he fooled with sauces to make it tasty and it was. Over the years, people would come to the restaurant with their own jars and ask Jack to sell them a little of that sauce. (The sauce pictured above as raw ingredients, ready to cook.) Jack turned one part of the restaurant into a sauce “factory”.
Kermit’s son, Christian, loads one of three steam tubs where the sauce is cooked.
It flows by pipe into the next room where it is bottled.
We happened in at the end of a run. Kermit hit the handle of the auto filler to make it squirt out the last bit of sauce. (Partially filled jars.)
His employee hand fills the jars and sends it back through the bottle labeler and capper.
The finished product that is made daily, 500 to 700 gallons a day. Come May when the weather warms, it flies out of the warehouse. Kermit talks fondly of his father’s ways. He did everything by hand. On a restaurant stove, stirring and stirring the product so it wouldn’t burn. He would deliver to a Mom And Pop grocery and sell the a case of sauce and explain, I’ll come back and if it doesn’t sell, I’ll take it back and give you your money back. “You can’t do business like that anymore,” says Kermit.
Walmart approached him about selling in their stores. He has several products other than the original sauce. It is carried in all Louisiana Walmarts. He ships to a winery in California, to Chef Prudhomme, to Japan…literally all over the world from on-line. Tabasco asked him to design a sauce that added tabasco, and they sell it under Tabasco’s name and worldwide reach. Prodhomme sells his own seasonings but keeps Jack Miller’s name on what they buy from him.
Kermit is a true Cajun, laid back, friendly and humorous. He calls this his secret Cajun Engineering. A huge sewn together plastic bag, fitted with a wood stove damper, from which he dispenses cellulose packing “peanuts” or nuggets for shipping his product. He reuses boxes and prefers to use the biodegradable cellulose instead of styrofoam. What a neat guy and an interesting success story. He sent us home with a gift pack of his product. And, recipes. I’ll get some of them on the blog sometime soon.
February 25, 2013
We watched the sun set on the small town of Iota but everything was closed up tight on Saturday. Sunday morning, we headed to Chicot State Park for a five day stay since it is fairly central to Eunice, Iberia and other smaller towns we can visit on day trips.
After we got settled in, I took a bike ride around the park while Jim napped. (His bike has a flat tire.) Flowers seeded into this puddle and braved the cold.
The woods have few leaves but plenty of moss.
The park is huge. It has a boat launch, lake, arboretum, swimming pool, lodges and cabins. And a lot of wood. Many people in camp have or had fires.
I happened on this gravel road and took it for about two miles and found three lodges, empty of guests; neatly painted. A nice, quiet place.
I’ve seen this flower before, but never attached to its stem and leaves. Not only beautiful but fragrant.
I ran into a couple taking each others picture and offered to take theirs together. They were just cooking gumbo and invited us to join them for dinner. I took a picture of Shawn stirring the pot.
Huge pieces of chicken and a rich gravy. I could have sworn I took a picture of both Shawn and his wife, but I took three of them with their phone and thought I’d taken one on my camera. Dang!
They left the gumbo to finish cooking and went kayaking for the afternoon. They wanted to check their yo-yo’s and hopefully find a couple of catfish to bring home. I had no idea what yo-yo fishing is. Annette explained it as a bobber that is like a yo-yo. You pull the hooked string and it dangles in the water. The yo-yo itself is tied to a nearby tree. When the fish bites, the string zips up to the bobber and hooks the fish.
At six p.m. I walked over without Jim to bring the California hippy salad I’d promised for dinner. (Jim wasn’t feeling well.) I expressed my regrets but this Italian Cajun cooks a mean gumbo and she insisted I bring some home. “You gotta eat it with potato salad, that is tradition in our family. The potato salad goes right in the gumbo”, she emphasized. Absolutely delicious. We didn’t have a chance to visit long. She is a grammar school teacher. Shawn works testing and xraying welds on the pipe lines. They leave this morning and I didn’t even get their last name. Double dang. Some days you forget to take your brain with you. The weather is supposed to be wind, rain, hail, possible tornado. We’ll probably stick close to the park.
February 22, 2013
We are parked next to the American Legion in Lake Arthur, Louisiana, waiting for good weather. The patrons here told us we have to stay through Thursday, because they cook jambalaya for everyone for lunch. The cooks arrived about nine. Flys was cutting cabbage for the coleslaw.
Norman was taking a break while Mark cut up the pork meat.
Most of the fat comes off, but not all of it. Then it is set to brown.
When it is almost browned, the sausage is added and it gets stirred some more.
In another pot, fresh crowder peas cook. And still another pot holds rice.
Sally added water and seasoning and took her turn stirring.
Norman gave it his approval and Sally began loading styrofoam trays with the free lunch for everyone in the bar.
We bought a round of beers for the cooks and others did the same. Julia, the bartender is very able and practically runs, she is so busy.
The patrons here depend on the friendships they’ve developed. It is their social life and joy to get together, drink and eat. The bar always has peanuts, pork rinds, or something to nibble on. Beer here is lite and only comes in 10 oz cans. The man standing closest to Jim, is Shannoo. He owns the LA Bar downtown. Everyone has dictated that we HAVE to go to the LA Bar and after we had lunch and a beer, we did.
It is in an old historic building and according to some of the pipeliners, it is well-known outside Louisiana.
It is one of those places that has jokes and stuff and a big horned deer head hanging on the walls; dollar bills pinned to the ceiling, and 75-year-old whiskey. Shannon, doing bartender duty, is the owner’s wife. Her husband is also named Shannon, so he removed the n, added an o, and goes by Shannoo.
We were told the LA Bar serves the very best bloody mary money can buy. It was different, spicy and delicious with a green bean, carrot stick and okra pickle, an olive and lemon slice.
When the previous owner died, the bar was closed for four years. The locals are appreciative that this young couple in their thirties rescued their famous icon. Shannon told me some of these bottles are 75 years old and have never been opened. They are no longer for sale.
I enjoyed taking pictures of humorous signs.
Some are as old as that whiskey.
This one is barely readable. It looks like politicians were just as popular 75 years ago as they are today. Politicians and drunks not permitted on premises.
We walked toward the boardwalk at the lake. A beautiful oak greeted us at the end of Main St. Then the winds and rain suddenly started up again, and we had to abandon our walk.
We read for most of the day. Then back in the American Legion bar for a nightcap. Mark and Marlene were back as well. Mark will take us out to net catfish in his boat this morning if the weather isn’t too wet and too windy. Everyone seems to like everyone in this community. You never hear them grumble and complain about their neighbors. Fine salt of the earth people who know how to have fun. Tonight there will be a dance with a DJ.
February 10, 2013
The gumbo cook off was a tasty, wonderful, loud mob scene. We went late and spent about two hours. This is outside the Civic Center which had gumbo booths we didn’t ever get to.
From above, you can see what it is like. You pick up a bowl and taste and walk to the next booth.
Inside the building, it was the same, gumbo booths around the perimeter with about 30 booths and every one tasting different.
The Krewes compete for best gumbo and they don’t stint on ingredients. Sausage, chicken, ham, bacon, duck and at this booth a hock in every bowl. OMIGOSH! Everyone I tasted was better than Steamboat Bill’s gumbo. You can’t describe the flavors, and how they differ, but I was in foodie heaven. We would beg them to give us one SMALL bowl, then Jim and I with two spoons would taste. Everyone throws what they didn’t eat in the garbage. I quailed at the waste.
These ladies are from Le Krewe Du Le Originales Et Les Enfants. Toni, on the right, has a son in the State of Washington at McCord Airforce base, Jim’s old stomping grounds. We may be going to their ball and chicken run.
While you taste, the band plays and people dance.
This character, we assume from the winning Krewe in the parade the night before, walks around holding this scepter?, or whatever it is, with his entourage. He makes a swing periodically through the crowd to much applause and noisemakers, and hoots.
When the band identified a Krewe, they all hollered and made sure you knew who they were.
Members of the Entourage from the winning Krewe, danced along with everyone else. The Krewe is the Madelaines.
These two women were the best dancers on the floor. The woman on the right moved so fast, it was hard to get a picture of her. Cajun and Zydeco tunes are jumpin’. It was wonderful to watch the dancers.
This woman was, I think, trying to help the band play and dance at the same time. I might mention that this fun fueled event is not fueled on alcohol. Beer is available, but people don’t seem to swill and get drunk. We enjoyed the spirit, the mobs of friendly people and hated to see the end of all that good food though we could eat no more.
Then we went to the children’s parade. Many cars carried “winning, elected” children honored for something. A local event of some type decides who rides an honor, from very young like this tiny girl on top of a car throwing candy to teen-aged kids.
Everyone loves a good band.
This little girl was standing next to me.She and her mom kept offering me candy the kids picked up. I gave her my beads before we left. Kids are so photogenic and responsive.
This little puppy is only seven weeks old.
The dogs have to be registered, and this great dane could hardly stand still. It took five people to get her dressed for the parade.
It looked worth the effort.
This woman was hugging, and cooing and comforting her baby who was shaking and reluctant to be part of this mob of dogs.
There were cute kids everywhere. This little girl was peering warily at Jim as he tried to get her to smile.
Little brother kind of waved at me and moved closer to his sister. Shy, but he wanted his picture taken too.
And this little girl too. The kids love the camera.
All these bands play “modern” washboards, two of them. Quite a difference from the first Cajuns who used a washtub, washboard or whatever made sound to get their joy and spirit across.
Sitting next to me, Pam, a 65 year old nurse who still works. She was originally an entertainer in Columbia. I loved her hair and she was obviously very proud of her beautiful tresses. Oh, that I could have hair like that. I’d show it off too. So much talent and beauty in one day. Wowzer, baby, wowzer!
January 30, 2013
Galveston’s wharf reminds me of San Francisco’s wharf. We went to see the Elissa, an old masted sail boat with a crew that sails her regularly. They are beautiful, no doubt about it. When we got there, you can pay to board her and walk around.
If you’ve never done it, it’s worth the price, $6 and $8 dollars, senior/ student and adult prices. We visited one in New Bedford, MA. and watched the crew prepare for sail and make a staged water rescue in 2010. I visited a tall ship in Boston Harbor and another in San Francisco, so we passed and just took pictures. The seafood restaurants smelled tempting. We watched a guy unload gunny sacks filled with oysters. It was way to early for us to eat.
This pile and a couple more like it are $250,000 dollars worth, we were told. I have to cry for the old growth forest, while I admire a beautiful piece of lumber. I wish I could bring the smell home to my carpenter son.
We walked around town again today. I took pictures of things you don’t often see. Like this cigar store wooden Indian.
This is a solar parking meter. We laughed, but it is very effective.
The entrance to this store has a painted-on rug. What a hoot!
The businesses are getting all gussied up for Mardi Gras.
A 27 inch tall. Wow!
Decadent, velvet and old wood. The city placed a huge banner across one of the major streets. Everybody is talking about Mardi Gras.
This is Jonnie Cooks who made a charming ceramic for her Uncle Fred. For Mardi Gras she makes fantastic costume heads out of cardboard of her own invention. (I only got to see a picture.) Her method is original and well crafted. She may be selling them at Mardi Gras this year. It is the biggest event of the year. A half-million people come to Galveston for Mardi Gras.
When visiting the seaside, the general wisdom is to eat seafood. Some woman coming out of The Gumbo Bar shoved a couple of coupons in my hands and mumbled something about the best gumbo she ever tasted and I was intrigued. Jim had chicken and sausage and I had Shrimp, oyster and crab gumbo. It was a huge bowl. Plus I got my first decent beer since arriving in Texas, an Abita Turbo Dog. The woman was right. Mine had huge shrimp. There was a shrimp in every bite, down to the last spoonful in the bowl. Gumbo heaven!!
From the day previous, a Rene Wiley painting. Rene’s husband, Ben, told me she paints about 50 hours a week and she has a huge following and sells about 300 paintings a year. This one is from her Galveston Alley series.
Hibiscus blooming in January? I think of all the gulf cities we’ve visited, Galveston has the most to offer as a vacation spot, or a place to live, at least in winter. It may be hot and muggy in summer.
I thoroughly enjoyed my visit here. I think Galveston is the star of the coast cities. They’ve wrested the best from their stormy spot on the coast and have it pretty well protected, a great arts community, friendly people, vibrant economy, great food, tourism and a decent beer.
January 22, 2013
Jim read a post on Google from a man who saw 300 whooping cranes at the Aransas Wildlife Refuge on January 14th. These birds have a wing span of seven feet and stand 5 feet tall. I saw one as a child of eight years old. My father pointed to it and said, “get a good look because they are going extinct and you’ll probably never see another one.” Then it flew with the whoop, whoop, whoop sound of its wings. Unforgettable. I’ve learned since that the whooping crane was down to 65 pairs.
There is no camping at the refuge but the small town of Austwell has a City Park with camping. On-line information said it was closed. He called the City Hall and got an answering machine and no call back. Who knows? Maybe they are closed on Mondays. He found a private camp ground and got an answer. The woman told him, City Park is open; she charges $21 a night at her campground. The City Park was $24. Her husband is the Mayor and also the Postmaster. (He used to be the fire chief.) We laughed and laughed. We got there and no one was around at City Park to take our money. The town looked like poverty row, pretty vacant, with enough houses for 20 families. The sign above kind of tells the tale. We didn’t see anybody there, either.
The Wildlife Refuge, five miles from Austwell, seems to be the major income for the town. The area on shore is slightly swampy in places, with low brush and an occasional cactus.
Texas shores tidal flats follow the terrain of the land, which is flat and stretches out for half a mile or more. The birds were so far away, you could only view them with your binoculars. When you take a picture, you can’t be sure what is in it. In this one, a long beaked curlew, gulls, a few ducks. Not too exciting.
This heron was so far away, I couldn’t identify what it was. Disappointing after all the beautiful birds we saw at the National Shore at Port Aransas.
Even without the birds in sight, it was a beautiful day, and we couldn’t help but think how nice it is to be out scouting birds rather than sitting around with nothing to do. The little speck about center-far right in the photo is the pintail duck below.
We followed a loop trail around the refuge. We climbed this huge tower which put us above the tree line. The trees are oak and stunted. The view was a pleasure, so different from home. The woods have fox, javelina, a small type of wild cat, deer and other critters. One couple reported seeing a javelina on the trail.
A view from the tower pointing west. There is a heron sitting on a fence post that you can’t see without a binoculars.
Another pretty view.
This is what the birds look like with the camera from the tower. Two pelicans in the background can only be identified by shape.
The visitor center is very nice, with a video and a stuffed whooping crane. They said they have three pairs in the refuge right now, but, they were hiding from all of us. No one we met on the trail had sited one. We missed the major migration obviously. And, when we got back to Austwell, there still was no one there to take our money. So, we picked up and headed for Port Lavaca and stopped at a very friendly VFW for dinner, drinks and the night. Life is good.