Saturday, March 17, 2018

Will we sink or swim? Spending Time on the Coast

We are camped just a couple miles from the Gulf of Mexico, and we enjoy being near the water. We took a drive out to the bay to a spot we had "experienced" two years ago. We were standing at this same spot two years ago when we spotted a couple dolphins playing in the water in front of us.

Two years ago we had done the research on the Texas paddling trails that start here. Kayaks can be launched here into the Aransas Channel. By following the red or yellow "trails," we could paddle all over the bay. That day two years ago, we were so excited to be in the salt water, chasing those dolphins, that we forgot to watch where we were paddling.

That's when we hit the oyster bed under the water. The razor-sharp oyster shells cut our inflatable kayak in several places before we could reverse and get out of there. We paddled like crazy to return to the shore as the air was quickly escaping from our blow-up boat. We remembered the traumatic turn of events from two years ago well. So as we stood on the same shore today, now older and wiser, we thought about trying it again. Those kayakers out enjoying the beautiful weather right in front of us certainly tempted us. But what about those sharp oyster beds?

Call us crazy, but we decided to pump up our new Sea Eagle kayak, and give it another try. How do you think this adventure is going to unfold this time? Will we sink or swim?

We would have liked to explore the grassy maizes in the shallow water of the bay. But we soon found that oysters like that shallow water as well. So we threw our paddles in reverse and tried to stay in the main deeper channel. The good news is that there were no dolphins today to distract us.

There were, however, plenty of birds to distract us. As we got further from our launch point, fewer spots were available for bird perches. Every pylon had a bird resting on it, and this trio of cormorants let us paddle quite close.

But when we got a little too close, they unfurled those dark shiny wings and took off.

As we continued on our paddling trail, the three drilling rigs in the distance got close enough to take a picture.

Denisa has a weakness for lighthouses, and we had no idea that one was in this area. We kept paddling until we got close enough to at least take a picture of this privately-owned Lydia Ann Lighthouse.

Even though we paddled the kayak for miles in the bay, we kept finding posts and wooden boxes that the birds could set upon. We also knew that these permanent structures gave the oysters something to cling onto. Again, we gave this area a wide berth to keep those razor-sharp oysters away from our boat. We're so far away from our car by now, we're not sure what we would do if we sliced a hole in our boat.

We were a long ways from our put-in site when we saw this quartet of birds enjoying the views above the water. It was a perfect temperature, but the winds were beginning to pick up. So we decided to head back to the car.

We were both still smiling as we got back to our launch site. Our adventure today ended on a much happier note than two years ago. We didn't see any dolphins, but we arrived to the shore with our boat still inflated!

We hadn't planned to kayak when we left the motor home this morning. But the beautiful weather was just too nice to refuse the opportunity. Likewise, we hadn't planned to go to the beach today, but we found ourselves on the ferry to Mustang Island.

Besides the six ferries shuttling people to Port Aransas, this channel is also used by massive cargo ships. It's hard to define how huge this ship is, so we pictured a tug boat that was escorting it through the channel. The full-size tug looks like a toy boat. The dolphins that had eluded as in the kayak, were chasing the cargo ship. We caught sight of them playing in the waves pushed up from such a big boat.

We had a view of the beautiful blue sky and calm water as we  neared Port Aransas.

This is spring break week, and we were surprised that the line to get on the ferry was only 20 minutes long. They had six different ferry boats running this afternoon, taking the happy vacationers to Port Aransas. Most of the hotels on the island are still closed from all the hurricane damage, so more people are having to stay on the mainland and take the ferry this year.

We parked the car near the pier, and took off for a walk down the busy beach. It was filled with family groups, out of school for the week.

There weren't many shells on the beach, so it was almost miraculous that Mark spotted this unbroken tiny sand dollar in the surf. As we held that tiny and intricate shell in our hands, we realized that we had wandered into another of God's wonders.

We also spotted this large jellyfish, which had just came ashore with the high tide.

We were glad to find the beach to be so family-oriented, with not a single crazy college kid in sight. Then we saw this unusual contraption. It was a big-wheeled skate board, powered by that kite catching the wind high above us. The "kid" rolling down the beach on this wind-powered skate board was older than us!

Denisa picked up a few tiny clam shells on on our four-mile walk up and down the beach. She had just enough to spell out a momento of this spring break walk on the beach.

We enjoyed every moment of the perfect weather day we were blessed with. We were in or on or by the water all day, and we're proud to say that we did not sink!

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