I don’t get to sleep till after 3:00; he wakes up at 4:30. At 7:30 we both decide to try again, so by the time we are ready to do anything, it is late morning.
“Why don’t we go out for breakfast?”
We pick a restaurant nearby that looks like it would have all day breakfast, but when I try to order an omelette the waitress informs me there is no breakfast between 11:00 and 2:00.
“Can you recommend something else?” I list off my allergies.
Corn chips and salsa it is. Ric has a turkey dinner with all the fixings.
We’ve decided to go back to Goose Island, so I think I better use the washroom first. I turn back as soon as I walk in the door.
“That’s a no go!”
We stop at a Dollar General on the way, so I can get a juice. Ric asks if they have a washroom. They do, and…it is out of order.
“I’ll be okay.”
On the way to Goose Island there is a boardwalk and bird viewing area that expands over some marshland. We pull up there, and walk the length only to find that this area was devastated in the last hurricane.
“Let’s just get to Goose Island Park,” I tell Ric. “I know their washroom works.”
While he checks in, I run to the washroom. The wind has picked up and the sun diminished.
“Doesn’t look like we’ll see anything.”
He’s right about that at the shoreline, and when we get out at the crane viewing area, I hear a loud raucous – Whooping Cranes flying away.
The pelicans are out in numbers, and we stop to witness the feeding frenzy at the fish cleaning station.
Only one bird shows up in the viewing garden, and not willing to let the day be a total disappointment, I suggest we go find the Big Tree.
We follow the signs, and when we get to the viewing area, Ric drives right past.
“Oh, that was it?”
“Yes. Turn around!”
“I will at the end of this road.”
The road leads back to the waterway. On the right is a large pasture with cattle. Several birds are gathered at the edge of a pond. One appears to be quite large.
“Slow down. What is that?”
Ric pulls off the road and we are distracted by a jeep that roars past us. Up ahead two cars are pulled over and people with tripods are set up pointing huge lenses towards the water. We creep up beside them.
Seven Whooping Cranes are grooming in the shallow water!
We whisper excitedly not wanting to disturb the birds. In the 1940’s there were only fifteen known to be in existence. Recent surveys indicate there are now closer to five hundred, but these birds are still considered endangered.
An eighth crane flies overhead and joins the others. We take our pictures and move back across the street towards the pasture. Two more cranes wandering amongst the large horned steer. What a sight!
We drive along the water a bit further, and witness the flock of cranes heading to their next destination.
Then, we head back and visit the Big Tree. A thousand-year-old Live Oak. The tree is a marvel, but we are still chuckling to ourselves about how this day – such a let down in the beginning – turned out so miraculously.
“Good thing we didn’t give up.” We both agree.