Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Brazos Bend State Park, Texas
The Lone Star State: Almost immediately the pines gave way to deciduous trees, the cajun restaurants gave way to steak roadhouses, the swamps & bayous gave way to vast flat cattleranches, and the traffic on the highway became dominated with pickup trucks and SUVs.
After fighting our way through downtown Houston, with its road closures, high-clearance vehicle restrictions, and countless merges (thank God for Garmin!) we made our way at last to Brazos Bend State Park. It's a good 30 minutes past the edge of the endless urban sprawl of greater Houston and Sugarland. The park is huge - its a 3 mile drive from the gate to the campground - and the sites are spacious, paved and level. The Verizon signal was very weak, but after turning on the Wilson amp we got a strong enough signal for a workable internet connection.
Then, the rains came. It started raining in the night and poured steadily until late the next afternoon. We stayed inside until mid afternoon, then went into town to do a bunch of chores. We found a laundromat that offered wash/dry/fold service, which is awesome, then went off to buy auto parts, pet supplies, diesel fuel and groceries. The congestion in amongst all of the big box stores and supermarkets was insane. Made me long to get back out into the country. But, all was acomplished, we picked up our laundry and headed back to camp. Gotta have a crappy weather day once and a while to get these types of things done.
The next day the weather cleared, so we got out and explored the park. They have a nature center with displays of all of the local flora and fauna, plus live spiders, snakes and alligators.
This little guy's 5 months old and about 12 inches long:
The volunteer on duty pulled one of the babies out for us to touch. Here is Nancy petting the baby alligator:
And here she is touching a scarlet kingsnake:
We took our bikes out on some of the park's extensive trail system:
And walked some more trails with the dogs, including out next to a large shallow lake with a viewing tower:
We saw many kinds of birds, including moorhens, coots, white and white-faced ibis and teal. We hoped to see adult alligators, of which the park has a large population, but it was too cold out and they were all in hiding.
Next, we're heading down to the coast, to get one last look at the ocean before heading inland for the next six weeks or so.