Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Ernesto through Florence

Fort Worth Stock Yards

This Cowboy Code rings throughout the Cattle Country of Texas

Normal Texas Bar

The Admiral could not wait to take a ride on this Longhorn!

BBQ at Risckys Not the best I have had but it is Mighty Fine

Notice the only flags flown at Billy Bob's are the National Flags of Texas

We got the Senior Daytime discount, FREE.

We had to dance to a country song under this Disco Saddle spinning over the Dance Floor.

The Admiral beat me in a game of 8 Ball at Billy Bob's.

We managed to get some early evening Jazz by this trio at the Scatt Lounge in
Downtown Ft. Worth

The only place to see a Limpkin is in Florida, this is our first.

Lettuce Lake is really a river that runs through Lettuce Lake Park

Beauty, birds and Gators in every direction.

In the background you can see a board walk that winds throughout the park.

one picture just can not capture it all
This couple is headed upriver.

These are Cypress knees that are part of the root system of the trees, scientist have yet to determine their function.

The Spanish Moss is related to pineapple and you can eat it!

We saw at least 5 gators this size but there were lots more out there for sure.

This baby one was right by the boardwalk just hanging out, about 3 feet long.

The invasive Channel Apple Snail lay these bubble gum colored eggs, we saw several of these on the trunks of trees.

Here is a close up, how many eggs do you count from this one snail?

Our Park Ranger Guide spotted this non-poisones Banded Water Snake for us

She also pointed out this Hummingbird nest, about the size of a golf ball...we would have never noticed it in all this vegetation.

and near the end of our time at Lettuce Lake Park this Black Vulture landed right in front of us, it was like he was a pet around here.

Ernesto and Florence
Ernesto and Florence were developing as we were making plans to go back to Texas.

Whenever you are consider leaving your vessel for an extended period during Hurricane Season the topic foremost on your mind during Hurricane season is the Tropical Forecast for the Atlantic, Caribbean, and the Gulf of Mexico. We planned to take a break and return to Austin to visit family and take care of some routine business and we knew it would be at least a two-week stay but was unsure if we would want more time in Austin. After watching the Weather Channel like hawks and visiting the NOAA and weather underground websites everyday for a week we bought one way tickets to Austin not knowing exactly how long we would be away. I could always get a ticket back if a storm headed into the Gulf of Mexico to come back and secure the boat. The rule is to always leave it tied up with double lines everywhere just in case something weird happened and you could not get back to the boat. We left our canvass and sails on since it is a lot of trouble to go through just for a couple of weeks and would have to be a really weird situation keeping me from getting back in to see after Wand’rin Star before a storm. I drove from Austin to Houston and then to Kemah the day after Ike to check on her so I had the prior experience of navigating through very weird situations the day after a major Hurricane, You just have to take your time and be ready to deal with the weird stuff. This means packing your own food, water, and extra fuel.

We love Austin, this is apparent even more so since we left Texas. We just have not seen anywhere that can compare to the friendly, fun loving culture that is so accepting to everyone and has the diversity, and dynamic energy that drives a healthy economic climate that is resistant to types of problems we have seen across the Southern U.S. The vibrant community just will not allow the polarizing politics, bitterness or despair you hear about in the every day news media to live there.

We ended up staying three weeks since my brother was going to be on the road and asked us to house sit. We managed to eat at all our favorite spots: Amaya’s, Tres Amigos, Central Market, Whole Foods, Taco Deli, Tino’s, and our son’s family introduced us to Zu Zu’s. We caught a couple of my brothers shows at Zachary Scott and got a great relaxing visit with our entire Austin Family. We saved the last two days to visit the Admiral’s parents in Ft. Worth and since we had the time we spent a day at the Ft. Worth Stock Yards. This is the first time we both had been there since we lived in Ft. Worth back in the 60’s and early 70’s. Very easy to spend more than 1 day there especially if you can take advantage of the night life there. We did not have time this round to participate in the night parties but there is always next time. We did have time for a early morning walking tour, Lunch at Risckys BBQ, and a dance, Beer, and a game of 8 Ball at Billy Bob’s. We topped it off with a early evening at the Scatt Lounge in Downtown Fort Worth with a neat little Jazz Trio. In bed by 11:30pm and up at 4:30 AM to catch our early flight out of DFW to Tampa.

We were back at the boat by 1230 hrs and had to gingerly step aboard around the Guano. The Birds had a big party on deck and I had some cleaning to do. The first thing to check upon entering a boat from after a long absence is the bilge. Good news it was dry, next try and determine why the forward AC unit was just blowing warm air. After diagnosing the problem I figured it was the out line was clogged with debris so I attached a vacuum to suck out any stuff and then attached a water hose to blow out the rest. Wow, worked better than ever. I am sure the Bromine tablets that I left in the strainer while we were gone had killed any creatures in the tubing for the cooling water and the dead shell was the culprit. I got the deck cleaned up with beer in hand and all was back to normal by sunset.

The Admiral heard through her grapevine that the Fall Migration might be starting early due to the drought and dwindling food sources for the birds. She searched for some new birding grounds and found Lettuce Lake Regional Park: http://www.hillsboroughcounty.org/Facilities.aspx?Page=detail&RID=437 . After a couple of days to acclimatize to Florida time we were up early Sunday morning to make a Nature tour of the park. We got a private tour by the very knowledgeable park ranger since it was early Sunday morning and we were the only ones who showed up. You just do not have to go far from the city to find incredible natural beauty and wildlife in Florida. This little 240 acre spot has lots to offer everyone and the ranger said it is the most popular of the Hillsborough county parks.

The August weather patterns has the rain beginning no later than 2pm and very heavy downpours across the area now. If you stay in one spot you might miss them but if you drive just a couple of miles you will surely get caught in one. The thunder storm cells are not predictable at all so taking the boat out for an after noon sail will not happen till the summer rains are over. Central Florida gets 2/3 of it’s annual rain fall during the Summer months. For now we will continue to just explore the Tampa bay area by truck and dodge the thunder storms.