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Twice Leaving
Written By: O.C.Fotoguy
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Twice Leaving
Twice Leaving
Twice Leaving
Twice Leaving
Twice Leaving
Twice Leaving

    I’ve decided to leave twice, it’s April 8th, and time to be heading back to O.C.  Then was astounded by Mother Nature and I was reminded that there is another reason for my travels. It’s not just being warm, but what I’m shown that most people never see in a life time. When I went to sleep I was thinking about walking the streets of Victoria, what looked like an authentic old western Texan town, and I want to take a closer look. As I began to drive, I heard a weather forecast for 85-90 degrees and no rain for the next two days. Gee, do I really want to leave that? The day before I got to Port Isabel, across the bridge from South Padre Island, where I’ve joined the spring breakers party. I bragged in an email about how good the weather had been for the first 3 1/2 months of my trip to the warm places of our country, while it’s freezing in Ocean City this year and most of the rest of the country north of Florida. Florida was record warm! When I got here the wind was blowing 30-35mph and the next day the fog rolled in and stayed all day.
    The evening before I found out that the spring breakers had opted to go to Cancun, Mexico, rather than here, so in the fog I decided to leave. I heard a forecast for the weather in Houston and they were getting severe thunderstorms and expected hail. I decided to take the fog and made a U turn. As I drove downtown I saw the flea market that I like so much was setting up.  There’s a rock dealer where I bought some neat crystals for a couple $$$ and I wanted to buy some Texan plants for gifts. I bought a half dozen cactuses (cacti) and later some unique bulbed lily-like plants, all for next to no $$$.  That’s my style!  The rest of the day I lei’d back and sipped a couple ACBs, loved life, and edited my Big Bend N.P. photos. The next day was the NCAA Basketball March Madness finals. I wanted to go to the beach, but the weather was chilly.
    This morning I decided, I have a beach in my backyard in O.C., so I don’t really need this one and I headed out. The forecast broadened my horizon to include the Laguna Atascosa Wildlife Refuge (  It was within ten miles and I’d been there before and knew it was an outstanding birding spot. I’m not really a birder, but I’m always seeking an astounding sighting, although I didn’t expect what was in store.  I drove by the visitor’s center, where there are bird feeders and a planted area that attracts birds. That’s cheating, but is good for photos, anyhow! I headed for a more remote area, where there are several trails.  The scrub trees and bushes were alive with bird calls, but I saw few of what was singing. A birder knows the birds by their call, not me. I recorded some. My digital recorder is a new toy for this trip and I’ve finally figured it out. The sun was shining brightly and the temperature was rising as I was walking the dirt road back to my nest (slide-in camper on a pickup truck). After I turned around to head back I saw fresh cat “scat” (feces). It wasn’t there when I passed a few moments ago. I didn’t see it, but it surely saw me, maybe a panther or large ocelot! I labored to get a photo of several birds, but the scrub tree branches were just too dense. Then about 50 feet in front of me I saw a branch at the side of the road. That wasn’t there before either, so it got all my attention. As I advanced, the branch proved to be much more, as it moved towards the center of the road.  I got within 20, then 5 yards. OMG it was a huge snake. My first thought was “Have the pythons invaded Texas, too?” No, this snake had rattles, and it held them high, like a large finger protruding up. It had to know I was here, but could care less. I was too close to get its five foot length in a photo with my 400mm lens and it was very thick, so I backed off.  Really for two reasons: one too get farther away, so I could use my camera; and the other for my own safety. I know a killer beast like that needs to be respected and given its space. It was at least 50 pounds of snake and I’ll bet if it stretched out it would be seven or eight feet long, plus I counted the rattles on the LCD screen of my camera. There were thirteen!  If this guy decided to come after me and bite me; it would be curtains for me! If it launched itself from a coiled position and hit my leg it would surely break it, plus the bite would kill me, because I couldn’t get medical attention fast enough, so give it its space and stay safe. I got some photos, but from a distance, a safe distance!
    The Refuge is on the banks of Luguna Madre across from South Padre Island.  The water was very picturesque with its sandy to turquoise color. It’s also close to the megamart lot where I overnight, so I’ll come back at sunrise and have the benefit of the facility when lots of wild stuff is active, rather than in the heat of the day.  This is the only location where I’ve seen green jays, Altamira Orioles, Summer Tanagers, and more. I haven’t seen any Baltimore Orioles, though. I’ll be ready to go to the beach for my own spring break, then. I don’t need all those partiers, although they did put on quite show!
Bob R  o.c.FotoGuy
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