Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My Bags are Packed

Sadly, my winter visit with my daughter has come to an end.  She has been so very  accommodating, making sure I had my time in nature.  She claims that she is not a birder, but she is the best non-birder there is!  She spots them and hears them often before I do!  If I keep to the bigger birds, she'll remain engaged for hours.  She drove me down country roads, hiked trails, arranged for a cruise in a glass-bottomed boat, wandered the wetlands, cared for me when I had the flu, and brought me bird books from the library.

The New Braunfels area lies on the Balcones Enscarpment, the dividing line between the Coastal Plains and the Hill Country, but only a few hours away from the Piney Woods of the Houston area, and she made sure I experienced it all, with the support of her 'intended', a young man any mother would be proud to call "son-in-law".

I will certainly miss my time with her, although I'm sure she's heaving a big sigh of relief knowing that my plane will be taxiing down the runway tomorrow morning.  Next stop, the Dallas/Ft. Worth area for a few days reuniting with some teacher friends, then back to New England.

A ride on a glass-bottomed boat, you ask?  Oh, yessiree, and what an interesting tour of the springs of the San Marcos River, at the Aquarena Center, Texas State University, San Marcos, TX.

Ever wonder what a 'spring' looks like?  I, for one, had no idea!

Here we have springs. 
Tiny, sandy spots on the bottom of the river where water flows out, sometimes so rapidly and at such volumes, there is no vegetation for several feet around the perimeter.

And, just for fun, check this out:

We weren't the only ones enjoying the tour.

Reflected from the water.

Another glass-bottomed boat just like ours, built in the 1960's
and very well maintained.

Located on the site of an old, 1940's theme park, the Aquarena now plays host to scuba enthusiasts, underwater archeologists, and biology students, as well as providing nature and geological history at it's best for visitors to the center.  The theme park closed in the early 1990's when diving pigs in an underwater theater could no longer compete with parks the likes of SeaWorld in nearby San Antonio.

 Adjacent to the property is a floating boardwalk through what remains of the wetlands,
 which are being restored to their natural state.  Blue-winged Teal, Coots, Wood Ducks, and turtles entertained us this day, but other water fowl freguent the springs, as well.

We met the most delightful, elderly gentleman birder who visits the wetland daily, and helped us locate and identify a Swamp Sparrow, new to my lifelist!  He told me that the Zone-tailed Hawk I had seen a few days previously was on all of his birder friend's wish lists, and that he'd only seen one once.  Imagine that.  And it was flying right over my daughter's backyard one afternoon!!  I almost blew it off as 'just another vulture', but boy was I glad that I kept my eye on it!!

It was a fun day and after a little picnic lunch, we wound it up by taking all back roads home, stopping along the way at every opportunity - but that's fodder for another day's post.

If you ever find yourself in the San Marco area, be sure to find time to visit the Aquarena Center.  There's even a little aquarium, featuring some rare and endangered species, like the Texas Blind Salamanders. 

The welcome mat is always out!

The winners of my give-away have been notified and their books are on their way!


texwisgirl said...

I'm so glad you had a great time in Texas. Your daughter and future son-in-law sound like true treasures to have entertained you so well with all the things you enjoy. :) God bless 'em!

I hope you have a safe trip back to the NE. I'll let you know when I get my bird guide!!! SO excited! :)

Simone de Klerk said...

Mmm, I can see and read, that you had a wonderful day! How fun the Aquarena Center must have been!
I can imagine you will miss your daughter, after such a nice winter stay. I am sure she will miss you too.
Have fun, catching up with your friends!

Azhita said...

Wow, that sounds like a fantastic place! I (along with my boys) would be fascinated by the glass-bottomed boat excursion. Glad you have a great visit with your daughter!


Lois Evensen said...

That looks like so much fun! What a great time! Thanks for taking us along. :)

Dina said...

Sounds like you had a great trip. Nice pictures of the river. We have some glass bottom boats here and always forget about them. I'll have to put them on my list.

John S. Mead said...

Awesome post! As a Dallas resident I have to get down there & take that ride! Thanks for opening my eyes to a new experience!

Linda Reeder said...

How wonderful for you to have had this time with your daughter, loads of natural places to explore, and sunshine on your shoulders.

A piece of news said...

Wait. What? Diving pigs? That place sounds worthy of a trip!

Marvin said...

Wow! You really hit a MEMORY button. I grew up on the Texas coast down around Corpus. Family vacations usually meant camping in a state park within a reasonable driving distance and visiting nearby attractions. One of those trips included visiting Aquarena Springs. I can't remember exactly when, but I'm sure the glass-bottom boat in which we road was close to brand new at the time.

Have a safe trip north.

Michelle May (Shell) said...

Sounds like a beautiful trip and your daughter....every bit as beautiful a person. :)
xx, shell

Just Ramblin' said...

What a wonderful time and experience you have had with your daughter. I'm sure she will miss you and you her. But, it is always nice to return "home". It has been fun to read your posts and enjoy some of the "sights" you have seen. Thanks so much for sharing and for "educating" me along the way. Will look forward to more posts as you return home. Nola

Kathiesbirds said...

Oh, what a wonderful trip you had! I love the shots of the spring bubbling up! Sounds like you have a marvelous daughter. I miss mine so much. She currently lives in Colorado, so far away from me, but she would do the same thing when we lived near each other. She would drive me out to look at birds and keep me company. How blessed we both are to have these girls!

Have a safe trip back to the northeast. We'll try to warm it up a bit before you arrive!

Sondra said...

What a great visit you have had!! The glass bottom boat looks like a fun thing to do---
Safe trip home!

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

Karen: I will miss your Texas adventures but I know we have treats to come from New England. I love that turtle photo.

Quidi said...

Nice it!!!

MyMaracas said...

Sounds like you had such a great time. And what fun that glass boat must have been.

Thanks for sharing your trip with us! I really enjoyed the post.

Carrie P. said...

Well, you certainly have had a fine visit with your daughter. You got to do lots of exploring.
Enjoy your visit with your friend.
I went on a glass bottom boat many years ago down in Florida. It is so neat.

Rambling Woods said...

I hope to get down to PA to see my daughter next month. Illness for both of us has put off a visit from Feb and this month.. safe travels... Michelle

walk2write said...

It's great that you had such a nice long visit with your daughter. I hope your trip home is safe and uneventful.

Do you know I've never been to Texas? Your wonderful posts about it have made me want to visit.

JDS said...

I'm sorry your trip came to an end but I'm glad you enjoyed it. I am looking forward to your future posts and hoping to see photos of New England!

Denise said...

Karen, first of all your gift arrived while I was away and I can't thank you enough. It was very exciting to open it up and know that this was all your beautiful handiwork. I shall use it always.

Happy to hear you have had such a great time with your daughter. All good things end too soon. Happy and safe travels home.

Audrey said...

It's so nice to have a great visit, but I'm sure sad to go too.
Beautiful photo's as always :)
I did see some Canada geese last Friday - spring is coming!!

mkircus said...

Thanks for reminding me of how much fun it was to take my grandson there when I was living with his family in Dripping Springs. But we visited in the big drought when the springs were barely bubbling. Need to go back in a wetter time.

Pieces of Sunshine said...

What a wonderful time with your daughter you had. It's nice to be the touritst sometimes.