It's kinda hard to tell from the photo but this boat is pushing six big dry bulk barges...and a Steermaster. The steermaster is the little short barge in the very front. The steermaster gives the captain quite a bit of extra control as it gives him the capacity for being able to have steering capability at the front of the tow as well as the back...very handy when you have big loads, narrow channels, high crosswinds and other difficult conditions.
The name of the boat is "Safety First" and she's owned by AEP. Yep, that's right, the same AEP that has the electric lines going into our houses. AEP got into the towboat/barge business years ago to bring coal to their coal burning power generation plants. Originally they pretty much just operated on the big rivers back east. From the Ohio river, they could access the coal mines of Kentucky and West Virginia. Their fleet has grown over the years and they now have one of the (if not THE) largest barge transport operations in the country. The last report I read said that coal accounted for only 30% of their cargoes now...they haul for hire and specialize in dry bulk...cement, minerals, even grain. Most of their operations are still on the big rivers but you see a few of their boats down here from time to time.
At least that's what they used to say back in the 60's and 70's!
I don't know how this guy kept from blowing out of the tree today! I'm getting very tired of this incessant wind...they even canceled a few flights today at the Corpus Christi airport because of the wind.We've all been praying for rain but it's been so windy that if we got any rain...it would probably blow into the next county before it hit the ground.
I actually took this picture a few days ago and wasn't happy with it...so, I've been playing with it for a few days in photoshop...still not happy with it but I guess I'll post it anyway...as an extra.
Rockport is about eight miles north of Aransas Pass and is a pretty nice town. Rockport followed the American pattern years ago...you know, downtown moved to the suburbs. Downtown Rockport used to be a thriving business area with all the stores, restaurants etc. that you would expect to see in an American town but then, all those businesses closed down and everything was reinvented in the strip malls and shopping centers on the north edge of town. Unlike many towns, there was a successful renewal project in the old downtown area and the old historic buildings now contain art galleries, boutiques and resale shops galore.
Long a Mecca for the art community, Rockport boasts several excellent galleries and several more of a slightly more dubious reputation. Art is in the eye of the beholder, I suppose, but some of these joints are just there to cash in and they handle some work that just doesn't really show much artistic value....more like craft shops than art galleries...nothing wrong with craft shops but if you're a craft shop, call yourself a craft shop, not an art gallery.
I've always loved this old building...the period architecture, the weathered red brick and especially the twin, inset double doors with the arches above them. It's the only building on the block that hasn't painted the brickwork and covered the front with garish colors that would look more at home in a carnival midway than in an area that bills itself as a heritage district. The Estelle Stair Gallery was one of the really good ones...not only did she handle good work, she had the good taste to preserve the integrity of the building. The gallery closed a couple of years ago for renovation...I hope they open again soon! Anybody that would paint over century old weathered red brick should be tarred and feathered...at the very least.
Another of the good ones.
I'm a fan of steel sculpture and I really like this one!
Not a gallery but a Rockport fixture for a long time.
It's not every town that has Great Blue Heron roaming the streets.
This bronze statue sits in front of the Rockport Center For The Arts at the yacht marina (about as many shrimp boats there as yachts) I really like it too... I don't know, maybe it's the dogs.
You'll notice that I cleverly incorporated the "Rattle" into this photo...Hey, she's a work of art too!
It was another cloudy, hazy, windy day in the Coastal Bend but I headed out to see what I could find...I stopped at the boat ramps at Ingleside On The Bay and saw this man and 4 boys wading in the bay.
A lot of the Old School local fishermen, like I used to be, never go to the bait shop to buy bait...They catch their own with a cast net...it's just part of the fishing trip. Looks like this guy was showing the kids how it's done.
I'm glad dads still take their kids fishing...it's a great way to spend good family time and to pass along our coastal traditions.
Meanwhile, this reddish egret (another old school fisherman) was after the same thing...I could distinctly hear him mutter; Nets?...we don't need no stinkin' nets!
First image with the Konica-Minolta 28-75/2.8. All others with the Sony 70-200/2.8 G
I've kinda been in the bird shooting mode for the last couple of days so when I went out today, instead of carrying the bag, I just took a single lens...the Minolta 500/8. Wouldn't you know it, I spotted a cooperative butterfly just begging to be shot. The 500 is an excellent lens for some things but it's a little long for shooting butterflies in the weeds...but what the heck, when opportunity knocks...snap the shutter! I had to shoot through the grass but I guess it'll just have to do.
Sometimes I travel the roads around here looking for pictures and sometimes I just pick a peaceful spot and wait for the pictures to come to me. I was feeling kind of tired today and with gas selling for 3.79 per gallon, that sounded like a pretty good plan...so, that's just what I did, drove to one of my favorite spots at the harbor and just waited. A few pictures did happen along.
This guy flew past, headed south. A tip for anyone that wants to shoot birds (especially pelicans) in flight; look for them on a breezy day when they're flying into the wind...they're much slower then and they do a lot less wing flapping and a lot more gliding...like shooting fish in a barrel. Of course, it helps if they're close! At the harbor there's a concrete bulkhead that runs along the water's edge to prevent erosion. The wind hitting that bulkhead creates a strong updraft and these guys love to fly in that free lift...to them, it's like they were riding their bike downhill...a free ride.
The "Brown Water I" wasn't having a free ride, she was having to work pretty hard, pushing three big covered barges.
She made it past me and pushed on, under the bridge.
Another "Easy Glider"
The Gulls like to ride the drafts too.
Gulls of all kinds
I'm not sure what they call a group of pelicans...a flock?...a gaggle?...anyhow, I looked back to the north and here came a whole herd of them!
They paid me no mind and flew right past.
Some of the gulls picked my peaceful little spot as their destination...maybe they decided to just sit and wait...like I did.
Gulls of all kinds!
All of my shots today were with the Sony 70-200/2.8 G
Well, due to an unfortunate accident, I've had no computer for a couple of days. It was another learning experience...lesson learned:...don't leave a glass of Coca Cola next to your open laptop when you have a playful dog in the room. Sorry I haven't posted, commented or answered e-mail for a few days but I'm back with the program. These birds are from yesterday's trip to the harbor.