|What a different experience this trip to Port Aransas/Aransas Pass/Rockport has been for me during the month of January. First of all, we didn’t drive Gypsy. Secondly, we didn’t have Presley with us. I can best describe this first month of 2019 as one of reflection, healing, sacrificing, and just “carpe dieming” (yes, I think I made up a word).
Now, about the Port Aransas territory. Texas continues to amaze me with its varietal ecosystems. This area is a well known fishing and birding sanctuary. There are over 120 different types of birds to be seen, including an endangered crane species, the whooping crane that migrates to the area for the winter. On the deck of the home I rented overlooking the Aransas Bay, I was able to view several different types of pelicans, herons, egrets, ducks and hawks.
Without a doubt though, the Aransas area is a fisherman’s paradise. You won’t see many sport boats, huge yachts, and pontoons. Just fishing boats. All types of fishing boats...and everyone has one. Well, everyone, but me. I was almost sad I don’t fish because the canal to the bay was beckoning me each day.
I attempted to take a dolphin watching tour (several times) to no avail, but it wasn’t necessary as I watched dolphins play while crossing the bay on the ferry and during the time I was eating at a restaurant deck overlooking the bay. Glorious!
The home I rented sat between the city of Rockport and Aransas Bay. Rockport hosts the only “blue wave” beach in Texas. No, not necessarily because the water is blue, but because it is clean, managed responsibly, and has a focus on the protection of human health and the environment. Guess that is why they limit the area in which you can walk a dog on the beach!!
It is a little ironic I ended up in the area since I do no fish, and do not consider myself a “birder”. That last point was evident on a trip to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. The park was officially “closed” due to the government shutdown, but the gates were open and it was free, so we responsibly (meaning we carried our trash out...as in Ossy’s poo) entered in search of the whooping crane. My friend Cathy had joined Os and me for the journey and as we approached the trail in which the crane had been seen, it quickly became obvious we had no idea what we were doing. We had no binoculars (yes, we were the only ones there that did not); and oh yeah, we had no idea what a whooping crane looked like!
We stopped a couple on the trail and asked the simple question about the whooping crane. They literally looked disgusted with us as they had traveled a great distance (we believe Australia) to view the creatures. Oy!
Pretty sure we didn’t see a whooping crane, but we did see an alligator (we knew what that looked like!) and many species of birds (of which, we could identify approximately none).
Port Aransas is home to 18 miles of beautiful beaches in which you are able to drive right up to the water...overnight, walk, let dogs run and play, fish, fly kites, etc. I can see why the beach is a local and tourist haven. Although there was some rain and lots of wind, the weather during the month hovered around the 50’s and 60’s. Not a bad way to spend a winter month!
Friends. I’ve heard you can tell a lot about a person by the person’s chosen friends. I believe that to be true, and if so, then I’m a pretty cool person because I have some amazing friends! I spent the first week alone...just me and Os. It was difficult. Things just were not the same without Pres. Everywhere I looked and everything we did, I imagined what Presley would be doing had she been with us. It was hard, sad and put me in a funk most of the first week. I finally forced myself to “move” by reaching out to a former colleague I had not seen in 10 years that lived in nearby Corpus Christi. She and her husband hosted Os and me for a Sunday afternoon shrimp boil. It was a wonderful time of reminiscing, laughing and feeding the neighbor goats.
Then, college roomie Kimmie showed up! What a difference a day and a friend makes. We toured the island, walked the beach, ate some great fish and embarked on a time of sacrifice together. Kimmie left on a Monday morning and the same afternoon, my friend Cathy arrived. Perfect timing! The weather was a little better during Cathy’s stay so we were able to spend more time on the beach, as well as areas like the Wildlife Refuge and the Big Tree (a 1,000 year old live oak) in Goose Island State Park. She was a great support during my time of sacrifice, and as always, was a tremendous comfort to me as I reminisced and discussed a life without Presley.
Ossy. As this trip was this trip a healing time for me, it was hard on Ossy. He is now 13 1/2 years old and his hind legs just cannot keep up with his energy level. The house I rented was on stilts and the constant climb up to the house was a huge effort for him. Fortunately, I purchased a hip harness that assisted him in the climb up and relieved some of the pain. But, by the time he went up and down the stairs, and tried to keep up with the daily walking/hiking, he just could not control his hind legs (or move them). We started experiencing nightly fecal incontinence (I am now a master house pooper scooper!!). After much research on Google, I finally connected the dots concerning his exhausted hind legs with the loss of his bowels. I, therefore, immediately reduced his walking to about 1/2 mile a day...or less. The fecal incontinence stopped immediately.
So, where do we go from here? There is no question 2019 will be a momentous change in my life. There is no Presley and Ossy is clearly running out of steam. There will no longer be 3 to 5 mile hikes, chasing after a ball, or exploring a new town on foot together. It’s a life I never imagined and quite frankly, not one I look forward to much. But, after spending a month reflecting, healing, and sacrificing, I am determined to “live in the moment” and enjoy every last second I have with my precious son.
We leave tomorrow to head back to Oklahoma for the month of February. If the plans stay as is, we will load Gypsy up and head north toward Cleveland in March (snow...please go away by that time....fingers crossed). No doubt, I will miss Presley the rest of my life, but I will say this month on the Texas gulf coast was an answered prayer. God is so so good and He...with a little help from friends and my best companion...is helping to heal the pain.