Monday, July 23, 2007

The Lexington, Part Dos

I will present these photos with few comments. I love airplanes, and wish I could have flown many of these. I did get a chance to fly a T-34 when I was a puppy! No takeoffs or landings, just in the air stuff. The recruiter navy pilot escorting me did a few barrel rolls and G turns, and was amazed that I didn't get sick. Much fun. Wound up in the AF instead. Never did get to fly anything. Bummer.

Tom Cat, my favorite, Retired like me. Too old I guess.

I spent 4 years working around the F-4 above. Really fine air craft. Retired like me.

Above center, is a gunship from the VietNam era. Below are more shots.

I watched them in action at night.
Awsome firepower in such a small aircraft! In the lower center is an electric motor powered Gattling Gun.
They also used electricly primed rounds. They shot a mix of HEI, slug, and tracer Ammo. (HEI=High Explosive Incendiary)
You wanted these pilots to be your friends

Back then we had rockets of the shoot and pray type, completely balistic after firing. Today we have the HellFire and more Guided Rockets and other munitions.

That's Stormy to the right, unsuspecting. Ha!

The Blue Ghost-Lady Lexington

The Lexington played a large role in our defeat of the Japanese Navy in WWII. She was almost sunk by Kamakazi's, but was repaired and lived on for many years. Now on display at Corpus Christi, Texas, she is now a link to the past for anyone wanting to see how our Sailors and Airmen lived during the war. The flight deck would be much too short for our modern Fighters, but is a good display ground for many aircraft, as you will see.

First, the Lex:
To the left, the super structure. Not a good place to be when you are taking incoming fire. It was a long way down to the Poop deck!

If the south Texas coast is in your travel plans, you need to visit this grand old lady. She served us well, as did the life blood of our nation who served on her. She stands as a tribute to our resolve in WW II. God bless our Veterans who served!

Here is a good history link for those of you interested.

Next, a good front shot. A bit patched and dented from war, but a good and faithfull ship.

The above views were from our balcony across from the beach about 1000 yards away.

We were on the top floor, so the view was wonderful.

Back to the Lex

The AA Guns were inreresting to look at.

In the foreground, 20MM cannons. The pods to the far right are life rafts. Seems a precarious location to store inflatibles. The ship also had a few 40mm cannons (5").

Next the aircraft on (and under) deck. New post coming up.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

King Ranch mansion fly by

And in front of the KR Mansion, we have the Parking Dog.

And a nice cannon to warn off the bad guys.

Engineer's and Cowpokes automatic gate (Sorta)

This gate was designed by Humble Oil Engineers in the '20's ??? because they hated to get out, open the gate, drive through, get out, close the gate, and ditto on the return trip.

To the bottom right of the gate, there is a wood bumper strip. To pass through the gate, the driver eases up and taps the gate with his front bumper, and the gate swings open to the left, winding the chain around the pole ( hopefully not so hard as to to swing it around and wipe out a left tail light). If he didn't tap it hard enough, it left a nice scratch down the side of his truck.
After passing through, the gate swings closed on it's own when the chain above unwinds. It works the same going out.

Longhorns and BBQ beef

I got some good shots of some of KR's purebred longhorns. The one above has Character.

And below, some BBQ on the hoof, Santa Cruse breed. ( Developed by King Ranch)

They are all saying " Eat moo chiken".

King Ranch

This is the best part of our King Ranch tour. A pair of Crested Caracara. Not as clear as I would like through the tour bus window, but "OK".

We saw a few more while driving down here, but they either spooked when we stopped, or were flying and we couldn't get a clear shot.

As Stormy commented below, they had a young one on the ground that we didn't see untill we were under way. I fired off a shot, but it didn't turn out well.

Trip to Corpus and Beyond...

We decided to stay home on the 4th (to avoid reckless drivers) and headed to the coast on Thursday. We headed off for Fulton/Rockport as usual. I was a bit worried that we had not made reservations in advance -- but it was a good thing! Due to all the rain, the road that ran by the Aransas Wildlife Reserve was flooded. We were only planning to spend the night in Fulton and head on to Corpus, so we ended up skipping Fulton and went on.

As it turns out, it had been raining the night before, so the Indepen- dence Day fireworks display was held on the 5th! Shooting fireworks was a new experience for me. Lesson #1 -- ALWAYS use a tripod! As you can see, it's hard to hold still for multiple seconds. This is one of the better of the shots.

I didn't take a lot of pictures on Thursday -- it was pretty soggy everywhere. But I did get one really great shot of Marc -- very introspective.

The next day we visited the USS Lexington -- this was Marc's goal. He wanted to get some good airplane shots with his new camera. I'll let him post those, I only took a couple. The one really good picture that I took on the Lex was a shot of my favorite Veteran in front of the flag on the bow.


On Friday we headed for Kingsville with the hope of seeing some Green Jays -- this is the bird currently at the top of my wish list. I was a bit excited to read that Kingsville has named the green jay the "official bird of Kingsville" -- cool! They can be seen at feeders throughout the winter, and in trees and brush year-round... or so they say.

We went to Kleburg Park -- a possible good site. We saw lots of mocking birds (as always), sparrows, night jars (of some sort), and another bird that we couldn't identify (at the time).

It turns out the other bird was a Golden-Fronted Woodpecker (a new one for the life-list!). The golden front seems to be on it's forehead, as the breast is a creamy white. This first shot (above) may be the male, while the second (on the right) is the female.

King Ranch

On Saturday, we took a tour of King Ranch -- a very little bit of it! It was very interesting -- the largest ranch, still owned and run by the original family.

This was my last chance to see the Green Jay -- but I was disappointed. The day wasn't a total waste (from a birding perspective), however. On the tour we saw two Crested Caracara in a tree. A third was on the ground. Of course, when we stopped the tour bus to take some pictures, the two in the tree flew off. We didn't notice the third one until we were leaving. It was a bit smaller than the other two, so I'm guessing it was a juvenile (though juvies are not always smaller in birds of prey).

It was challenging to take pictures on the tour bus -- and many of the shots I took did not come out well. We saw several wild turkeys, like this tom. One was actually displaying, but I was unable to get a shot of that one.

In addition to the turkeys, we saw an egret rookery, with some tri-colored herons and a spoonbill thrown in for good measure. I might have seen a black-crested titmouse, but I'm not sure. The one bird we were able to add to our life-list was the Groove-billed Ani -- unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of that one either. On the grounds of the residence we saw a pea hen, and later a peacock -- they like to get on low branches so their tails can hang down.

Since the King Ranch is a working ranch that specializes in cattle and quarter horses, there were plenty of both around. I did not get any shots of the Santa Gertrudis or Santa Cruse cattle, and the longhorn shots I took did not come out well. However, this beautiful foal is a lovely picture of a future quarter horse.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

More Rain

My apologies to everyone for not posting much recently. We've been out a couple of times, but more often than not it's raining, or certainly darkly overcast. We're pretty lucky to live up on a hill with a creek running through our property, so it picks up the local rainwater and carries it off to the river. But the Brazos river takes the outflow from a huge water shed.

During low water times, you can often see sandbars in the river. I don't think this is quite to flood stage, but it's getting close. If you look right down the middle from the joint in the bridge rail, you can see lots of debris being carried downstream.

We took our cameras with the intention of getting this shot from the I-10 bridge, but there is a lot of traffic and I didn't feel comfortable having us stop (even on the shoulder). So, while you can't tell it, I've taken this shot from a much more interesting (or at least historical) location. This shot was taken from the bridge on FM1458, just outside of San Felipe, Texas, looking south. San Felipe was the home of Stephen F. Austin and his original 300 settlers to Texas. Just west of this spot is the Stephen F. Austin historical area, which contains a house and a store (or the old buildings at least).

I read recently, that the settlers to the east of the river had a lot of trouble getting to the official settlement where business and legal transactions took place. When you see the river like this, you can understand why!

For more information on this historical area, search for "Stephen F. Austin" or "Old Three Hundred".