My Birthday Road Trip is essentially a photo expedition on or around my birthday of February 6. In a sense, it’s my perverse way of being eccentric… How many people prefer the beach in the middle of winter? And on my way to and from the beach I stop and photograph nature. The first stop, because it’s between me and Surfside, is Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge. The route I took can be seen in this image.
Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge
I can always find photo subjects just laying around down there…
Here is a closeup of the little guy…
Those were actually the very first shots of the day. Continuing on the auto tour in the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge I began to take a number of shots of the water birds hanging out in the shallow ponds.
Driving around Oyster Creek on my way to Surfside I caught a couple of shots of a Red-tailed Hawk that I really like…
Which eventually got me to Surfside Beach…
And… If you click on the images above to see the full sized shots, you’ll see why I like the beach in winter… even a winter that doesn’t feel like one has lots of peace and quiet on the beach… Only one vehicle and a couple walking their dog in both directions. Love it.
Nash Prairie Preserve
I left Surfside and headed over to Quintana, but nothing caught my eye. I headed north on Texas 36 out of Freeport and drove to West Columbia. I grabbed a sandwich and a drink in West Columbia before driving to the Nash Prairie Preserve for lunch sitting in the hatchback watching the wind blow over the prairie.
After leaving the Nash Prairie Preserve I stopped on my way to Brazos Bend to photograph a phenomenon I had noticed as I traveled along the river. It was evidence of the high water mark from last years flood. If you look closely at the following shot you can see the color change above the water line…
All along the road, even into Brazos Bend that dark below light above was visible… I don’t know how many times over the years I have seen this section of road go under water.
Brazos Bend State Park
Which gets us to our final stop on the road trip…
And my favorite bench to while away some time enjoying nature.
I seldom find myself rising with the sun… At least not since the fall of 2008. And so, I don’t see all that many sunrises. Be that as it may, this shot from just around the corner from my house, is still one of my favorites…
The entire (well mostly anyway) reason for our jaunt up the road to the middle of the country wasn’t to see the famous Arch. It wasn’t to celebrate history. It wasn’t even to find a cooler climate, though, that seemed to happen on the one day that mattered. The reason for the trip was to visit the special facility the citizens of St. Louis had built for the simple pleasure of watching the summertime antics of a flock of red birds. Cardinals of the subspecies Americanis baseballus St. Louis.
A beautiful facility to spend and evening watching the largest group of birdwatchers I have ever seen in on place watching the fewest “birds” being watched…
The first birds to put in an appearance where of the species Dixie Chicks. It was to see this endangered species that we spent two days on the road. It is almost impossible to find a local in this species natural habitat of the Southern United States in these post-Bush years. So anyone wishing to see the Chicks has to travel into other locals, if not foreign countries to get a sighting.
Once the music started it was as if they never stopped touring. The music rocked. Their energy levels were as high as I’ve ever seen…All in all, the girls sounded great. Seeing them was worth the trip and the main reason for the long trip to a concert that we could have seen in Houston otherwise.
I must stand up for the girls here. Back when it all hit the fan I agreed with Natalie Maines. Just like many other Texans, I too have been embarrassed by George Bush and his connection to Texas.
I felt the entire flap around the Chicks was overblown at the time and being driven by publicity hounds looking for an issue to change the subject. The whole issue was a lot like the Tea Party movement of today…Angry people angry at anyone who disagreed with them. It seemed to me that the problem was that these folks who were so angry about that personal statement by a single person are the same ones who are so angry every time someone voices any opinion that is different from their own.
Personally, I am glad to see the girls back at playing their music. But even more, I am happy to see that they still are not ready to play nice.
I wish to tell them all to hang in there and keep making music. There will always be fans wanting to hear them play.
Which brings us to the headliners of the night and the species of bird that most of the crowd was here to hear…The Eagles.
For the past few years I have been trying to arrange for a meeting with these guys and my wife. Whenever they have been in Houston they have played the Toyota Center and the only seats I have ever been offered have been pretty bad.
At a couple of hundred dollars each it just never seemed like it was worth it. So when I heard that the Eagles and the Dixie Chicks were going to be in St. Louis during Sherry’s vacation, and we hadn’t made any plans at that point, well it just seemed like a natural meeting.
Keep in mind that thirty some odd years ago my wife attended a Eagles concert in Houston. When we met she seemed to be perpetually dressed in the shirt she bought at the concert. Her favorite DVDs are from the band. She has almost every CD. To the right you will see a photo of the girl who stole my heart back then. I still remember her anguish when the shirt finally wore out…Though, truth to tell, she may still have it tucked back in storage somewhere.
So we all waited for the stage to be changed from one group to the other… Then the whole stadium came to their feet when the music started again with the band on stage in the dark…And the whole stadium stayed on their feet through at least the first four songs.
So here we were way off of stage right on the field. Sitting in seats that were far to the left of where we were shown on the ticket site…So far to the left in fact that the section of seats to our left on the diagram weren’t even there…As you can tell from the pictures we were almost out of sight behind the mixing boards and lighting controls. Makes you appreciate the big screen in front of our seats. Sadly, at what our tickets cost, I could have had a better seat at home in front of my TV. The only thing that made it palatable was the energy of the crowd and the friendly folks sitting around us…All of whom shared our disdain over the seats.
So we enjoyed the show. We enjoyed the people. When it was over we wandered back to our hotel to wind down watching the lights over the river before going to bed that night.
The next morning we got up when the sun streaming in the window made sleep impossible. Once up it was pack and checkout to hit the road for home. The original plan was to drive into Texas and stop for the night but I decided to push on through in one full day of driving. So after leaving the hotel and getting on the road about 9am we made it home at 11:30 pm…In time to get a full nights sleep in our own bed.