Best Laid Plans

Dear Friends and Family, sorry I haven’t been communicating with you much in the past year.  I’ve been on a bit of a roller coaster ride, health wise.  Thankfully most of the issues are resolved or well on their way.  But I did have to cancel some travel plans.  My first travel adventure in a long while was to visit dear friends in Texas.  Having sold my condo in Corpus Christi last fall, I spent this winter in Portland. Missing the sunrise over the bay as well as all the good friends, I flew from Portland to Austin on February 22nd.


This was easier said than done, as it had been snowing for several days in Portland. I love the Blue Star Shuttle for reliable airport transportation, and I save almost half the fare by walking over to the hotel across the street from my house instead of having them pick me up at my door.  Dragging the luggage down the snowy street took more than the usual effort, and the traffic and slippery streets made the trip into an hour adventure instead of the usual 20-minute drive.

I flew into Austin to visit friends and our original plan was to drive up to Denison, TX, just northeast of Dallas, to visit our friend Kippy–unfortunately the fun girls road trip succumbed to a variety of illnesses, and it was just me in my rental car and the I-35 road construction. Fun stop: if you’re ever on I-35 between Waco and Dallas, don’t miss the Czech Stop in West, TX famous for their kolaches. We feasted for breakfast the next day.


Friday night’s entertainment was one of those great small-town traditions…a fund-raiser band concert with pasta dinner. Kippy’s grandson Ricky did a great job in this horn ensemble.


As soon as I left Austin for Denison I started having an incessant, barking cough that was impervious to all the usual over-the-counter remedies.  I wasn’t the most energetic weekend guest, but we still had lots of fun talking and catching up. I left Sunday and headed towards Corpus Christi, with a brief stop in a little town I’ve always wanted to visit, Panna Maria.

Panna Maria (Polish name for the Virgin Mary) is a small town settled by Polish immigrants in the 1850s. It is the oldest Polish settlement in the US. Many of the original settlers were brought here from the Upper Silesia region of Poland by a Franciscan missionary.  They even speak a unique local dialect of Polish known as Texas Silesian. The beautiful Church of the Immaculate Conception is a landmark for the whole area, which includes other Polish settlements such as nearby Kosciusko.


Currently a new Polish Heritage Center is being constructed in Panna Maria, directly across the street from the church.  I will definitely have to go back and visit again once it’s completed!  The current Panna Maria visitor center was closed when I was there on Monday, so I’m anxious to learn more about this area and its history.


It was interesting to see that so many of the visitors in the guest registry were from Poland!

I finally got to Corpus Christi that afternoon where I stayed with my old friend Phyllis.  My cough kept getting worse so I called Kaiser, my HMO back in Portland. They have nurses you can talk to who ask a zillion questions and give medical advice, and they told me to go straight to the ER without passing go.  They were concerned that with some of my recent health issues, and the long flight from PDX to Austin, I might have a blood clot in my lung! Several hours, doctors, and tests later, they admitted me to Bay Area Hospital with a severe case of pneumonia!


I want to thank all the great nurses and doctors at Bay Area for the care I received, and all my friends who came to visit me when I stood them up for our long planned lunch dates.  I did get to see almost everyone I had hoped to connect with, once I got out of the hospital Wednesday afternoon.  Thursday I drove out to Port Aransas, which had been very hard hit (135 mph winds!) by Hurricane Harvey.  The town seems to be on the way to recovery, lots of construction going on. Sadly my favorite spot in Port A –the Birding Center–is an understandably low priority compared to getting people’s homes and businesses restored.


Where you see the grass strewn around, there used to be a boardwalk along the length of the water here, leading to the observation tower. It was one of my favorite birding spots in South Texas, and seeing a roseate spoonbill was almost a sure thing here.  Every time I came I saw something I hadn’t seen before–red-eared turtles, red-wing blackbirds, a variety of teals, and of course, lots and lots of pelicans and cormorants.  I left a donation in the collection box and hope others are doing the same, so Leona Turnbull Birding Center can someday be restored to its former glory.

I’m home now, feeling a lot better but still taking it very easy while the heavy-duty antibiotics do their work.  Hoping after this minor setback I can continue to rebuild my strength and stamina in time for my next planned travel–Brazil, Argentina and Chile in November! Thanks to all of you who took care of me and worried about me while I was on the road, and since I returned home.





2 thoughts on “Best Laid Plans”

  1. Andrea, thanks as always for sharing your journey! Sorry you’ve been so sick, and I hope you’re feeling much better. I love these photos- your posts make me want to get out on the road!


  2. Great to read your always interesting blog and great pictures. It does make me want to get going on some kind of a trip. Hope you are well on your way to recovery from pneumonia. It was such a treat to get to visit with you and catch up while in Corpus. Take care and want to hear about your travels in South America. It sounds like it will be awesome. Hope to hear from you my dear friend. Love ya Carla


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