Sunrise over Lower Red Rock Lake

Sunrise over Lower Red Rock Lake
Sunrise over Lower Red Rock Lake

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Weekend at Choke Canyon State Park

I had to drive about five hours for a checkup on my rehabilitation progress after my surgery, so decided I might as well drive another four hours and spend a long weekend with friends at Choke Canyon State Park. I invited my friend, Julie, from Florida to come join me and arranged to get her paddling equipment so she could go have fun.

I finally made it to Corpus, after having started off at 6:45AM  from Galveston, so I would have time to stop at a Texas Birding Hotspot or two and bird on the way down.  I was only five miles from my first planned stop, and an hour from Galveston, when I discovered I had lost my phone.  I was sure it had fallen out in Natalie's bathroom so drove back to get it.  So I missed birding at Quintana, which usually has a few wintering warblers. After a few more minor adventures, I made it to the Corpus Christi airport to pick up Julie.  I hadn't had time to go grocery shopping, so that was our first task.  Then we had barbeque before heading to the state park. I had gotten Winnie to pay the money I still owed so we could have a prime campsite. We found out site just after dark, then set up camp before going back to build a campfire and visit with Winnie and Wayne, the only other campers on site.


Galveston sunrise as I left

We spent Friday looking for cheap firewood, and after an offer to follow a guy home for free wood, came back with my Honda about a quarter full of firewood as well as with beets, shallots, and two huge cabbages. Julie planned to take hers cabbage back home on the plane. We spent the rest of the day hiking, and Julie also did a short paddle in Winnie's kayak.  I cooked supper in my crock pot to share with Winnie and Wayne. People started coming in that afternoon and early evening.

Then we got a scary call from my friend, Bob.  He was in the emergency room with his friend, Karen and they didn't know if they would even make it.  Since he was bring a kayak for Julie, this was devastating news.  We were very worried about Karen, who had recently spent eighteen days in the hospital with spleen and pancreas problems and were afraid she was starting a repeat. However, an hour later,  we got another text that they were on the way.



Julie loves to be in trees and this one was just too inviting

Saturday, Wayne and I followed the kayakers down to their put-in on the Frio River.  Wayne has just retired as a drone pilot for the Border Patrol and has several drones he flies for a hobby.  He wanted to take still pictures of the group leaving. And I wanted pictures as well .


Loading up the kayaks


Winnie ready to leave


Julie boarding 


Bob drawing over for the pre departure group picture


The group picture as seen from the  drone


Wayne's drone with camera


The last view the drone got of the paddlers


Then I mostly hung out in my hammock as the temperature climbed to ninety-three degrees. This was the hottest day I'd have to suffer through in two years. The paddlers all had a great time and Julie came back with pictures that she shared with me so I could be duly envious.

I hiked back to the group site to see if the Mother-of-thousands was still growing there.  Many years ago, I took a piece home and easily got it growing in a pot.  Then I found it was invasive so destroyed it.  However a tiny plantlet grew in a crack in my steps all summer without water. It's a very tough plant and makes lovely blooms in the late winter.



Mother-of-thousands bloom


This duckweed covered red ear slider was searching for diggable dirt - in very short supply there


Tree tobacco was also in bloom 

On Sunday, everybody wanted to go home and not do another paddle, so Winnie loaned Julie her kayak and I took her to the put-in in camp.  Then I went to the previous day's put-in to retrieve her.  In between, as well as before, I birded and hiked. Sunday evening Julie and I packed up everything but our tents.


The rising moon on Sunday night


We got up early on Monday to go visit the Padre Island National Seashore and set Julie off on another short paddle from Bird Island Basin.  She got back in time for us to drop off the kayak at Winnie's house and  to go eat Galveston Bay oysters before putting her back on a plane.



Julie paddling behind a sandbird of loafing birds


Picture by Julie of the some of the sand dunes she paddled by

Then I drove the four hours back to Galveston, and managed to see Natalie a few minutes before going to bed so I could get up early and head back to Louisiana.