Last weekend Monte and I sailed up river about 30 miles from our marina. We left on Saturday morning, minutes after a thunderstorm rolled through. The calm after the storm made for breezes on our nose, so we motor sailed most of the way.
Kurt and Kevin joined us on their boat. We anchored up together in a cove below John and Wendy’s lake house. We fished, paddled, floated, and enjoyed catching up with some friends we haven’t seen in a very long time. The sail back home on Sunday was sporting, to say the least. The winds had clocked around and were 5-10 gusting to 20. Good sailing, but lots of grinding on some legs. I was sound asleep about 15 minutes after we got home that night.
This week I headed to the Gulf Coast of Texas in search of birds. Doray met me at High Island a day before a cold front was expected, which is a good thing if your goal is to see some colorful birds during Spring migration. On an ordinary day, the migrants just keep flying north once they cross the Gulf of Mexico – they’re on a mission. In the face of strong northerly winds and inclement weather, they will stop for a bit on the first land they come across to rest, which, for many migrants, are the woods on High Island.
Over the course of 3 days, I logged nearly 100 unique species of birds; a real treat for this birder. Doray and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. On Wednesday, Doray was heading home, and I was staying an extra day. We decided to stop in together at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge to see what we could see, and then go our separate ways. As I got into my car to head back to High Island, I was greeted by a flat tire. In the middle of pretty much nowhere.
Changing a tire is not daunting. My dad showed me how to change a flat when I bought my first used vehicle way back when, and I’ve changed many a tire since then. However, this flat was a teensy bit more challenging due to a jammed lug nut, which didn’t want to come off. Eventually, the lug nut and bolt broke off. Which was not great. BUT if it hadn’t broken off, I would not have been able to change the tire at all. Silver linings! 🙂 So, I changed the tire. Doray stayed with me till I figured out my next move, which was to drive back to my hotel on the emergency spare and then get the tire fixed. Driving on the emergency spare is slow going. Driving with 4 of 5 lug nuts was a little concerning. But, in the end, everything worked out great. The repaired tire and one missing lug nut were enough to get me back home safely the next day, and the dealer is fixing the broken bits as I type this.
My 3rd day of birding was cut short, but it was a great trip, seeing many, many colorful warblers and other migrating birds. I didn’t get many bird photos to share here, but they are forever in my mind’s eye.
Wowza. I’m sad to acknowledge that I haven’t posted here on sheila365.com for THREE MONTHS. I’ve had this photoblog for over 12 years now, and this is by far my longest period of radio silence. I can only blame an extended creative funk that I’ve been in.
Ok. With that said, I won’t linger on a long-ish, nostalgic post, I’ll just leave a few views from my day that make me happy.
I ventured down south this week to check out The Austin Winery’s tasting room. It is on St. Elmo off South Congress. It’s surrounded by lots of other spots to visit, a food truck, outdoor patio, and a big, open warehouse space inside. Pick a tasting trio of wines, a glass, or a bottle, and nice nibblies.
It’s a nice spot to enjoy happy hour. Check ‘em out!
A year ago, it was anyone’s guess how 2021 would roll out after the cluster that was the year 2020. Today I paused to reflect on a few of the memories I captured from the last twelve months.
January – I started to direct my energy towards making things and sewing. I asked Monte to make me a rack for my growing collection of spools of thread. It turned out perfect, as usual, and has been well used by me over the last 12 months.
February – The deep freeze descended upon Texas. We were incredibly lucky to not have lost power during the prolonged freeze. So many people were really hurting during the weeklong outages. I can’t deny that I loved the temporary snowscape around the house. But I was happy to see it go.
March – The power across the state eventually came back on. The weather warmed up. Things started to bloom. The leaves fell and were raked up. I think we set a record for leaf bags set out on the curb. The City of Austin yard waste collection crew even took a picture of our curbside menagerie.
April – Incredibly, a year after this shit-storm started, COVID vaccines were available to the masses, and we got in line. For both of us, the reactions were pretty mild. The worst thing I can report is a temperature of 100 degrees F.
May – I flew to Charleston to help Lori take Trident north to Annapolis. We had some great days and nights on the water, including several legs on the outside. Sadly, my precious little Keeto died while I was away. Nearly 10 years old, it was still too soon. I’m sorry I wasn’t there for my sweet baby bird. And I’m sorry Monte had to go through it alone. It still brings a tear to my eye. He was just the best bird ever.
June – Nirvana received lots of TLC. A prolonged bottom job. New batteries. Scheduled maintenance undertaken by me and Monte. Inverter replacement. Cushion repairs. Some new running rigging. And many hours with friends and family spent on her this year.
July – We had fun family visits this month; the first since the pandemic descended. And, as we do every year, we took a boatload out on Lake Travis to watch the July 4th fireworks.
August – Monte and I continued enjoying Nirvana and the lake throughout the summer. One week, we spent several days sailing 30 miles upstream, anchoring up around mile marker 44. Our goal was to watch the Perseids meteor shower. We did see some meteors. It was just nice to be out and about on the boat so much this summer.
September – We crewed for Kurt & Kevin for the Austin Yacht Club Fall Series Regatta on Camelot. We helped them nab 2nd place for their class in the end. Huzzah!!
October – I flew up to Baltimore to join Lori on Trident for the Annapolis Sailboat Show, my first. This was more of a for-fun trip than a move-the-boat trip, and I really enjoyed the two day trip we took sailing to St. Michaels and back across Chesapeake Bay. After the boat show, we drove back together to Austin, stopping at 4 US National Parks along the way. Amazing!
November – We enjoyed more time out and about this fall. Monte took me curling for my birthday. We both had loads of fun. And I think we’ll do it again!
December – Wow, the year flew by. Again. We took another boatload out for the Christmas boat parade. Unfortunately, COVID fears are starting to seep back into our lives. But I really hope that by this time next year there are many more fun outings and visits under my belt. I just can’t take another lockdown.
Time flies. We are immensely blessed. It’s easy to complain about the events swirling around us, but I’m focused on celebrating the small day-to-day good times that we spend together and with friends and family.
I wish you all an amazing, healthy, and happy 2022.
This year was my fifth year participating in the Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count. Doray and I joined a bunch of other birders to count birdies in the Westcave area. Over 8 hours we logged 7+ miles and ~40 species over 3 different properties. I haven’t birded much this year. Other things have crammed their way in to fill my free hours. But I do enjoy walking around with my eyes on the treetops.
The temperatures started out in the mid-60s this year, instead of the 30s, for a change. No rain. Just a perfect day to tramp around the hill country trying to tell one Sparrow species from another.
Last night Monte and I went curling. Yes, that’s right. After spending many hours apres-ski on the couch in our condo on countless ski trips watching curling in the Winter Olympics, we tried the real thing. And we had a blast, eh!?
CurlAustin is a club that has its own ice (called the “Pond”), competitive curling leagues that anyone can join, and it also has for-fee 2 hour group lessons. They had us curling, safely, in no time. They are located right next door to Austin Beerworks, which is convenient for grabbing a frosty post-bonspiel beverage.
We joined six other newbies, divided up into two teams, and finished several ends. It was loads of fun. I highly recommend giving it a try.