Friday, August 05, 2005

Fun With the Kids, Galveston Road Trip, Better Times at Work

If I've been quiet lately it's because I've been having some computer problems. In the last two weeks I've spent much of my free time struggling with a host of issues, including viruses, corrupted files, and a dead modem. I eventually gave up and bought a new computer - Troy has my old one and I hope he has better luck at restoring it than I did. The good news is that Michelle and I finally got a high speed internet connection, so it's goodbye to dialup and those eternal downloads!

This week we had house guests - Michelle's mom came over from Mandeville, and Michelle's niece, Morgan (age 11), and her nephew, Jack (age 5), from Bossier City were staying with us. Michelle is taking them home today, and I would have gone too except I had to work. The kids were great, very well behaved and fun to have with us, I just hope they didn't get too bored hanging around the house - we exhausted my supply of kid-appropriate videos in short order. You can only watch Pee Wee's Big Adventure so many times...

Michelle is Episcopalian, so on Sunday morning we all went to St. Marks Episcopal Church in downtown Beaumont. Before services started we took some pictures in the church's garden, which features a couple of huge live oaks. Because of the urban setting it was a bit of a surprise to find a Barred Owl there. The owl was agitated by our presence, and spent most of its time nervously watching us from high perches and evasively moving from branch to branch. Maybe I've finally discovered a good reason to attend church...

On Monday we drove to Galveston. From where we live this involves driving through High Island, then out to the end of the Bolivar Peninsula, and from there taking the free ferry across the bay. Usually I get to see a few Bottlenosed Dolphins on the ferry crossing. This time they were bow-riding and put on a real show for the kids.

Magnificent Frigatebirds are sometimes seen from the ferry in summer, but I had to settle for Laughing Gulls and Sandwich Terns.

In Galveston we had lunch at the Disneyesque Rainforest Cafe before going to Moody Gardens. Moody Gardens is a natural history museum with aquarium and rainforest exhibits inside a couple of big pyramids. It also has audio-animatronic dinosaurs, an IMAX theater, etc. There are some nifty tropical birds in the Rainforest Pyramid, including Scarlet Ibises and a Sunbittern (I've missed Sunbittern on three trips to Costa Rica - if you really want to see one try the rainforest in Galveston).

The kids loved "Ridefilm," a motion simulator trip through a dinosaur-infested island with an exploding volcano. I would have enjoyed it too, if the bumping and jerking didn't induce nausea. After Moody Gardens we went to the beach to do some vital shopping (I got a alligator head for living room decor) and get our feet wet.

A few bird notes...lately our garden and feeders have been attracting lots of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, and I frequently hear Pileated Woodpeckers calling. A Belted Kingfisher was at the pond on July 31, and one was heard flying over on August 3. According to the TOS Handbook of Texas Birds(and personal experience) this is not a species to be expected here in summer. The TOS Handbook indicates that it is rare or very rare in summer outside its north Texas breeding range. So is it evidence of some larger incursion or merely a coincidence that I also saw one earlier this week between Winnie and High Island on our way to Galveston? Hmmm.

There's some good news on the job front - up until recently I was working in Port Arthur, where for almost a year I've been assigned to the location known as "Deep Gulfway" (deep as in "deep trouble"). There I endured constant abuse from the most difficult & unpleasant clerks it has ever been my misfortune to work with. Their hostility, insubordination, and disrespect twice prompted me to write to the district manager begging for a transfer. So I was overjoyed when I found out I was being moved to the store in Lumberton. Now I'm back in civilization, working much closer to home, with a team of dependable hard-working employees. Definitely a positive change.


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