“Carry On Camping”

by ESP on July 27, 2015


A quick camping excursion to the Gulf – just me (my wife knows better), the kids, nature, and oh yes, a future sand storm.

North Padre Island

We exited society and the tarmac at North Padre Island, crunched the truck’s gearbox stubbornly into 4-wheel-drive and we were off, hurtling down the deserted coastline to look for a suitable camping spot.

Beach Camping

Attracted to the large log, we settled on this spot in the dunes – the beach was deserted as far as we could see in both directions…hmm, that should have been a clue.

Beach Life

They immediately got busy in the sand while I set up camp and erected the tent and an improvised tarp attached to the bed of the truck to store coolers (and other random camping stuff that was later to be buried in sand).


I settled uncomfortably into my newly purchased (and extremely cheap) Academy chair (pictured above) and poured a piña colada buzz ball over ice to get into the holiday mood.

hqdefault(Thanks L)

I was hoping for a more reclined and relaxing beach posture to enjoy my liquid libation but unfortunately I was ergonomically challenged by a Chinese manufacturer into a bolt upright position – knees pushed so high against my chest cavity that it hindered breathing.

You get what you pay for.


The chairs were a perfect size for them as it turned out.

The fire-pit was lit, we had chicken wings and marshmallows on the BBQ, the stars came out over the oil rigs,

I had another piña colada buzz ball…it was just about perfect…a quick torch-lit crab hunt then it was time for ‘bed’.

After a rather rough night comprised of:

a) Incessant wiggling, and an excess of irritating / abrasive sand in the tent,

b) An infestation of sand flies that chewed on us all…all night,


c) The gross misconception that sand is a soft medium to pitch a tent on (and sleep soundly on over the age of 10)…


…dawn could not come soon enough for me.

Luckily the coastguard gave us all an early start which initiated some post-breakfast beach-combing.


We found a plethora of beautiful / deadly and disgusting Gulf-Coast wash-ups on the morning tide.

Plenty of these,


Portuguese Man of War:

(Physalia physalis)



A little disconcerting considering they were dotted at regular intervals down the beach.

We found…


one of these,

a baby hammerhead who had met an unfortunate end,


and, lots and lots of these coquina clams…her favorite (over and above the other random dead and decapitated things).



This was the last image I took before the above-mentioned sand storm blew in and destroyed the camp, (you can see the storm clouds building in the distance), unfortunately I have no pictures of it as I was fully consumed:

a) Trying to control a rather large tarp that insisted on throwing even more sand in my face while slapping at me wildly. The tent was buckled over to the ex’tent’ ahem that through the haze of sand I could make out the silhouettes of two small people huddled together, the canvas contouring to their bodies, one was crying…having fun at the beach yet kids?


b) After giving up on the tarp and ultimately cutting it loose (the long metal sand spikes attempting to hold it down had become a legitimate concern / potential Darwin award at this point) and upon entering the now buckled-over tent for my own protection, I realized the temporary domicile was filling up with sand faster than one could say ‘what the King Tut is going on?’


It was time to evacuate before we were buried alive, buried alive I say.


We threw everything that was not yet buried into the back of the truck, jumped in and slammed the doors.

It was so quiet.


This is how I looked (after I had already brushed myself down) as I checked into a local Best Western Hotel.

Never has a shower felt so good…and never have I witnessed my kids wanting a shower so much that I had to take third place in line to get one.

That was a first.


The following morning we woke up to a great view and felt refreshed after finally getting some quality sleep.

After our experience we were only too happy to be tourists for a while.

Corpus Christi

Corpus Christi

They had a fine time exploring “The Blue Ghost” aircraft carrier (USS Lexington),

USS Lexington

which housed a display case containing an impressive amount of knots, yes knots. If you like knots, this display case is for you.


We returned home only to find Kumo in a spot of bother with a garden spider.

Argiope aurantia

It was a beauty, with a web spanning 7ft.


No shortage of foliage this year for web spinning.



Another less dramatic excursion took us recently to the Hill Country Water Gardens:



Even in 100 degree weather, this place with its shade trees and an abundance of water features makes it feel like 98.


The ponds are stunning and so well maintained, well worth a visit.

Looking at them reminded me that I had a decade worth of organic sludge burping and fizzing at the bottom of my pond,



These fish heads were still attached to their colorful bodies.

Hill Country Water Gardens

This was the star attraction for them and one I fear I will be roped into constructing in the not too distant future.

Hill Country Water Gardens

A living fairy garden.

Hill Country Water Gardens


Returning home, I just had to make a start:


Stay Tuned For:

“By the RRRight…Quick March”



All material © 2015 for eastsidepatch. Unauthorized
intergalactic reproduction strictly prohibited, and
punishable by late (and extremely unpleasant)
14th century planet Earth techniques.



We threw a few gourd seeds into this container a few months back and with all the rain they went ballistic.


The first tiny gourds were met with excitement,

when we checked in on them the other day…


…the conversation immediately went to “so what are we going to make with them?”


I did notice that some of the smaller gourds have been cut from the vine this past week and I fear they are not for the creation of tiny tribal drums, decoration, or drinking vessels.


I think you know where I am going with this.

Moving quickly along…


Rain on top of rain on top of rain on top of Lamar Blvd.


It is a good thing these steps had a hand rail.

Pathways have turned into rivers many times over the past few weeks and I cannot recount ever emptying out the rain gauge so many times.


Some things never change even though his dimensions do.


This enormous sun flower had it’s stalk flattened and split by the rain and wind.

It continued to grow and curled around an old cedar stump before shooting up two feet to deliver this impressive flower.














Phytolacca americana

This pokeweed volunteer,

Phytolacca americana


has got very large at the base of my post oak.

I will let the berries mature for the birds.


Seems like yesteryear.

My sago palms have also responded to the moisture influx,


with lots of new growth,


and another one of these to put under my trench coat:



This high-rise came with some permanent residents.

largus nymphs

I guess these two Largus nymphs have not found my ‘Macho Mocha’ mangave yet.


I found this odd looking purple martian-mold earlier this year on an old post oak branch,


and now this striking tan growth, complete with velveteen texture.

These are about as interesting as lichen :-)



“He’s wittering on about mold and lichen again dear!”


See no weevil, hear no weevil, speak no weevil!


Okay, not so much a weevil as a whole bunch of bordered plant bugs (this time largus nymphs).


The adults attacked this plant earlier this year.


What is it with Largus bugs and ‘Macho Mocha’ mangaves?


Stay Tuned For:

“Carry On Camping”


All material © 2015 for eastsidepatch. Unauthorized
intergalactic reproduction strictly prohibited, and
punishable by late (and extremely unpleasant)
14th century planet Earth techniques.

{ 1 comment }

“Bridge Over the River Why?”

by ESP May 2, 2015
Thumbnail image for “Bridge Over the River Why?”

This week I am out and about exorcising ligustrum trees with a chainsaw to cleanse an environment I have been working on.

7 comments Read the full article →


by ESP March 22, 2015
Thumbnail image for “Tulipomania”

Tulips, inebriated cactus and a bit of history feature in this weeks episode. Grab a Mocha mangave, your going to need it.

2 comments Read the full article →

“Nosy Parker”

by ESP February 15, 2015
Thumbnail image for “Nosy Parker”

Stitched noses, Scale infestations and a new installation feature in this weeks episode.

8 comments Read the full article →

“The Appendage”

by ESP January 23, 2015
Thumbnail image for “The Appendage”

An x-rated Sago-Palm, frost damage and the odd ghost grace this latest entry.

3 comments Read the full article →

“Whats in Your Stocking?”

by ESP January 2, 2015
Thumbnail image for “Whats in Your Stocking?”

Christmas…New Year…drunk Largus bugs? Plus the usual splattering of fried eggs and purple mold.

5 comments Read the full article →

“Barf or Peach?”

by ESP December 9, 2014
Thumbnail image for “Barf or Peach?”

This week suffer leaf-drop, bad puns and equally bad Photoshop. I get up close to a particularly large Tachinid Fly.

7 comments Read the full article →

“Shelling Out”

by ESP November 16, 2014
Thumbnail image for “Shelling Out”

Cold weather, large fires and child-labor feature in this weeks random dialogue.

8 comments Read the full article →

“Under the Knife”

by ESP October 23, 2014
Thumbnail image for “Under the Knife”

This week I try my hand at some cosmetic surgery…as you do.
The infamous villain “Mr Snout-Nose” is up to his old shenanigans and I contemplate how ear-protection would look set against an iced turban?…Random events you could go the rest of your life without knowing about.

7 comments Read the full article →

“Beans, Boots & Mullein”

by ESP September 28, 2014
Thumbnail image for “Beans, Boots & Mullein”

This week it is about exhaling work boots, birds nest fungi and a bunch of other nonsense that you should now be accustomed to.

6 comments Read the full article →

“Wail of a Weekend”

by ESP September 13, 2014
Thumbnail image for “Wail of a Weekend”

This week we hop north with the Silver Thistle Pipe Band to compete in the Capital District Scottish Games in Albany. See what rum does to an opuntia and witness some mites sucking the life out of rosemary.

8 comments Read the full article →

“Pain In The Neck”

by ESP August 17, 2014
Thumbnail image for “Pain In The Neck”

This week I get up-close to some damselfly parts.
A peek under one of my stock tanks causes me to break into yet another non-adjudicated Highland Fling.

7 comments Read the full article →

“Oh Drupes!”

by ESP July 29, 2014
Thumbnail image for “Oh Drupes!”

Snakes, drupes, you name it, I will be running at you with any dead critters I happen to come across in the Patch.

5 comments Read the full article →

“A Change of Scenery”

by ESP July 10, 2014
Thumbnail image for “A Change of Scenery”

This week we pack up the car and venture to Gulf Shores, Alabama and New Orleans. I make a heron friend and we check-in to a hotel that is not a Best Western!

6 comments Read the full article →

“The Normandy Phase”

by ESP June 20, 2014
Thumbnail image for “The Normandy Phase”

This week get to witness what the ‘Normandy phase’ of an installation looks like on a front garden in South Austin. I take a quick trip down memory lane and highlight a couple of plants that have waged war on me.

5 comments Read the full article →

“Oh Frass!”

by ESP May 26, 2014
Thumbnail image for “Oh Frass!”

This week I discover a new word and use it way too much. Best put your food down to read this latest splattering from the Patch.

8 comments Read the full article →

“Uncle Wiggily wants his Ovaltine”

by ESP May 18, 2014
Thumbnail image for “Uncle Wiggily wants his Ovaltine”

Munching and hoarding insects, wizard wands and buried treasure this week in the ESPatch.

8 comments Read the full article →