After five days of bone chilling cold and relentless rain, the first rays of sunshine brightened the morning sky. It was with prolonged eagerness to make an escape that we grabbed our backpack, put the red Silverado in gear, leaving a trace of rubber in the rear view mirror. Although a January day trip in Texas is always a gamble with uncertain temperature and weather conditions, we made our escape, rarin’ to go somewhere. A near 100 mile journey from home on Lake Conroe in Montgomery, Texas to Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge delivered us from the shackles of all four walls.
An enthusiastic arrival was met with a sign that read, “Restrooms will reopen when the government reopens.” Need I say more? We managed the situation through alternative options and moved on. After parking Big Red, the first hike began just behind the check?in office. Not being expert birders, we were ill? prepared for what Mother Nature had in store for us here. Eagerly we walked along a winding boardwalk around fields and ponds offering abundant views of marshland and pond life that had transitioned into a state of dormancy clothed as a wintery wonderland barring a single flake of snow. A small pond mirrored the bright blue sky as a long? legged Great White Egret stalked its way around, looking for a tasty aperitif.
We then leisurely cruised a 2 ½ mile loop around Shoveler Pond. The large pond was home to aquatic plants including horsetails, cattails, water lilies and additional grasses emerging as faded ribbons tossed about by the wind. Winding around the loop, a habitat of unimagined wetland wildlife was revealed. Bellowing through the reeds and rushes the calling of Blue?Winged Teal, Black Bellied Whistling Ducks and American Coots echoed through the marsh. Gators? and?turtles?and?ducks, oh my! All awaited us to capture a few of the frolicking moments in the life of these graceful creatures.
After several hours exploring the sanctuary and never once reaching for a cell phone, we reluctantly headed Big Red to the bridge connecting with Bolivar Peninsula. We had scarcely explored a small portion of the 37,000 acres, but the clock was ticking for us to determine a different route back home.
If you are in need of an escape for the day, then grab your backpack, binoculars, camera and head out to Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge. Some memorable lyrics from Steppenwolf may help get your battery charged. “Get your motor running, head on down the highway, looking for adventure or whatever comes your way”.