I don’t plan well. It’s never been a strong suit of mine. I feel like it takes out so much of the element of surprise. I tend to be more spontaneous, setting my direction on a whim, changing things on a moments notice. Sometimes this doesn’t work out well, leaving me in predicaments that cause more stress than they’re worth. More often than not though, I wander into breathtaking moments with life lasting memories.
I had one of those days recently along the gulf coast of Texas, one that I’m sure will remain with me forever. The sense of discovery that this little slice of land offered up was unexpected but I guess the best things in life usually are. That’s what makes them so good.
I was in Southern Texas trying to figure out something to do. SN10 was ready to launch but delay after delay kept pushing the test and I was at my whits end with waiting around Brownsville. The Aransas Wildlife Refuge seemed like a good choice to kill a day with me still being able to get back for the next days hopeful launch.
Being ever cursed with Texas’ 80mph speed limit, the 232 mi round trip (charger to park gate) was doable but I would have to be aware of how much I drove around inside the park. It’s ironic how a high speed limit can be a bit of a damper in areas that have spread out charging. There were a bunch of level 2’s around the park just in case I needed one though.
The refuge was the perfect combination of coastal forest and marshland which was sure to provide excellent wildlife viewing opportunities. And without disappointment, not twenty feet away from the first path I parked by was an alligator sleeping in the sun. This was a sign of a good day to come!
I eagerly headed into the brush where I could hear movement of some sort. Whatever it was, it was sure to be interesting.
Everywhere I looked I could see evidence of life. Herons and cranes walked in the marshland while ducks swam about. The sounds of birds echoed throughout the air as hawks flew over head. And hidden in the long grasses were alligators galore.
I felt as if I was a tracker analyzing the signs of them slithering across the path. Claw marks ripped deep in the mud and matted grass showed their exits and entrances.
There was probably like… a 30% chance I would get eaten.
Dead end and my phone was about to die. Time to turn around. I had left my wallet locked in the car meaning my back up key was locked away as well. A dead phone would leave me stranded with no service. I was sure to make it though. Only two miles to go.
A quarter mile left and at 2% I don’t believe what I see. A giant alligator sitting in the middle of my path. It’s huge canines stuck out the side of its mouth begging me to come forward as we locked eyes. I didn’t know what to do. It seemed like the only choice I had was to turn my phone off and wait for it to move. Hopefully it would turn back on.
Fifteen minutes later, the staring contest was still going strong. I somehow got the bravery and took one step forward. He went from laying to standing.
Oh fuck… is he going to come at me? No. that small movement convinced him to slunk into the water. Time to get back to the car.
After some much needed charge and a snack, the sound of crashing waves beckons me into the woods to find where they are. A strange smell fills my nostrils as I push forward. An overwhelming oceanic odor gets stronger and stronger. What could it be?
I exit to the sand and see the cause, thousands of dead fish floating up on shore. Their putrid guts rotting in the afternoon sun. What could have caused this? Was it the recent freeze? Or was it pollution from the fishing and oil industry? I was in the Gulf of Mexico after all, one of the most polluted sections of our worlds oceans. Whatever it was, the cause came back to humans.
Down another trail, I see movement in the bushes. A swamp rabbit peaks its head out of the bushes and tries to decide if I am a threat. I position my camera ever so slowly at the place I think it will exit, that way I won’t have to move once it comes out, lessening my chances of scaring it.
One step, two step… a little less caution. We lock eyes as my shutter silently clicks away. Timidly, it walks by but does not run as I move slightly to follow. We are at peace, or at least it seems.
Down on a boardwalk I’m approached. by a couple. Hey, what’s that car you’re driving there?
I love when I’m reminded of my bubble. They are from rural Alabama and had heard of the company but never seen one. I often forget how rare they are when compared to the amount of cars out there.
We sit and talk about Tesla and then about photography. Two new friends made and once again I find a connection with those I never would have thought twice about. Something in common is much easier to find than the average joe would think.
A crested cara cara sat in a tree enjoying an evening meal. The sound of ripping flesh could faintly be heard above the wind if you took time to notice it. As morbid as that sounds, it was quite satisfying to me to know that I was fully immersed in nature, that this wildlife refuge truly was just that. That I was the one out of place here.
It seemed like an apt way to end the day, being reminded of the mortality of life. Keeping that in the forefront of ones mind, we may be able to cherish what we have just a little bit more. And if we take the time to cherish what we have, maybe we will notice the life going on all around us as well as acknowledge what we destroy just by being human.
Closest Supercharger: Kingsville TX
2400 S Hwy 77, Kingsville, TX 78363
Aransas National Wildlife Refuge
1 Wildlife Cir, Austwell, TX 77950