Saturday morning we decided to head into Corpus Christi to go to the botanical gardens. Unfortunately, the weather was quite hazy and cloudy, and not so good for photography. Which was fine with Tristan, as he didn’t want to prolong the 45 minute drive any more than necessary.
The botanical gardens were pretty cool, quite different than I expected. It was small, but had many very interesting and beautiful displays of different types of plants. Tristan liked smelling the flowers quite a bit, and running around like a crazy person. There was also a small playground, which suited him nicely. The plumeria exhibit was in the process of being trimmed, so most of the leaves were gone, but Bama was right, their scent is lovely!
After a quick lunch, Tristan fell asleep, so we decided to take the scenic route home, around Corpus Christi Bay. We had lots of big bridges to go over, which always pleases me, and some great views of the very flat saltpan landscape. After a very short ferry ride (about 5 minutes, but we saw dolphins!) we were back in Port Aransas, where Tristan finally woke up.
He was pretty grumpy until he found out we were at the beach. Then he had a great time for almost 2 hours. First he got totally soaked in the big surf, then he found a sand dune and rolled around in it, ensuring he was filthy from head to toe. We had to pour a water bottle over his face to get the sand out of his eyes, then strip him down before we could even put him in the car. Fortunately, he didn’t pee all over the carseat during the 10 minute drive back to the hotel.
The next morning we availed ourselves of the free continental breakfast (which always includes waffles in Texas), then decamped and headed north. Nathan had high hopes for Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, a few hours away. We took our time getting there, and stopped on Goose Island to see the Big Tree – an oak over 1000 years old. It was cool, but nothing compared to big trees at home. At least it grew straight, unlike most of the other oaks we saw in the area, which were severely affected by the strong winds coming off the Gulf.
Alas, Aransas NWR was a bit of a bust. Lots of nice trails, but all the viewing platforms and boardwalks were off limits because they “weren’t up to code”. All the wetlands were dry, and the forests were very quiet. We hoped to see Whooping Cranes, as this is where they winter, but no luck. In fact, no lifers were to be had here at all. Lots of mosquitoes, though.
Disappointed, we continued north. We hoped to make it all the way to Galveston while Tristan slept, but again, we forgot to let him in on the plan. So we stopped for the night in Bay City, where he ran around the hotel for ages before he had enough wiggles out to finally go to bed.
Nathan’s Texas bird count: about 117