Wagon Train

It’s not the first time we’ve passed a wagon train while on the road. This one was pretty long. While we waited for them to pass, we had time to get a few pictures. Alan doesn’t think riding a horse looks like fun.

Can you see the bakery sign in the background? We are back tracking a bit on our way to Lake Somerville State Park.  Since we had to go right past the kolache place again, we decided that it wouldn’t be right not to stop.

Whooping Cranes

We were only a half-hour drive to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge so we planned a day trip over to see if we could spot some of the 250 whooping cranes that winter here.

The whooping crane is endangered and there were only about 40 at one point. Now, the species seems to be on the road to recovery. We wouldn’t know that unless they had told us though. It wasn’t like we really saw any of the big birds (they stand about 5 feet tall.)

Apparently to really see them, you have to approach from the water side (San Antonio Bay). We did take the drive down to the 40′ observation tower where we could see two white dots in the distance. With the binoculars we could make out the shape of two big birds. They never flew so we are just taking it on faith that they were whooping cranes. We did take some pictures that we will blow up on the computer to (hopefully) confirm the spotting.

We did see a lot of alligators. I hadn’t realized there were so many big alligators in Texas. We were pretty close but they weren’t interested in us. I wasn’t even sure they were real until one of them moved (barely moved would be more accurate.)

We also saw a bunch of armadillo. You don’t often see them in the day but they were foraging around all over the place.

The other surprise was the water. It was very clear. I was expecting another Galveston where the water is cloudy and kind of dirty. San Antonio Bay was pristine. I wanted to go for a swim.

Goose Island State Park

We made it the roughly four hours to Goose Island State Park near Corpus Christi yesterday. This is an interesting Park – half the sites are on the Bay and the rest are in the woods. We took a wooded site. The beach can be windy.

Today we took a nice bike ride around the Park and visited The Big Tree. It is a live oak (which I think means it doesn’t really lose it’s leaves – one of you native Texans out there please feel free to correct me.) It is 35 feet in circumference with a 98 feet span and more than 1000 years old. Pretty cool! There were also a bunch of other big trees around but none came close to The Big Tree. I’ll post pictures when we get home or near a wi-fi connection.

Not to gloat or anything, but here is Alan sitting out in shorts while he watches the pork on the BBQ. It is sunny and 80 here today. Hope y’all in the North East warm up and thaw out soon!

More Food

For those of you who aren’t familar with Texas history – a large number of German immigrants settled in this area. The sausage we had at the BBQ places was from old german recipes. Also, Shiner Beer was started by German immigrants. The last part of the equation are the Kolache’s.

On our way out of Buescher we stopped at Weikel’s. We only sampled the fruit kolaches so far but we bought a bunch of the sausage-filled pastries for lunch.

Barbecue

The last time we visited Buescher State Park we spent our days hiking and fishing. This time we did hike and fish a little but our visit was really all about the barbecue.

First was our trip to City Market in Luling. I loved the beef sausage. It wasn’t too spicy and had a nice snap when you bit into it. The gave you some nice soft white bread and a slightly sweet sauce on the side. I wouldn’t really call it a BBQ sauce. The ribs and brisket were also terrific. I loved this place.

On Sunday, we drove to Elgin to eat at the East Side Market. It was good but I like City Market better. East Side also had a sausage but it was partially pork and didn’t have that same flavor. The brisket was very moist – almost like pot roast.

Brush Fire in Bastrop

Saturday we headed out on a hike around the Park. As we got to a pipeline clearing, we could see smoke passing up the hill. We decide to detour and see what we could see. It’s not like we wanted to be walking into a brush fire.

There was a lookout where we could clearly see the area where the fire was burning about five miles away. A Park employee came by and assured us that we were safe continuing on our hike. The fire was burning in the other direction.

By the time we looped back around 2 hours later there were dozens of cars stopped and people watching the fire from the overlook. Some said they had houses in the area but didn’t know what was happening. We saw at least one guy evacuating his horses.

We didn’t hang around long because it was pretty depressing. We watched the planes and helicopters drop water and flame retardent for a while and then headed back to the campsite.

Our neighbors told us that the Ranger had come around and said they would give plenty of warning if we had to evacuate but it didn’t look likely.

The only scare came when we made a quick trip out for ice (we had used the last two bags to keep the back of the truck cold the day before.) As we came back into the Park, there was a Sheriff who didn’t want to let us in. We told him we were camping in the Park and our Trailer was in there. At first he didnt want to let us in. Then he relented and said you better go get your stuff and get out now.

When we got to the camp site, no one was packing up. We went over to the Park Host. He called the Park Superintendent who said there was nothing to worry about and they weren’t evacuating. The Sheriff was confused. The road where we had been looking out over the fire did go into the burn area and they were keeping people off of it.

Sunday, we headed to Elgin for more barbecue. We drove right by the remnants of the fire. There were houses totally untouched but completely surrounded by charred brush and grass. We did see a couple of burnt out structures. The news was reporting 25 homes lost and 700 acres burned. It looks like they’ve got it pretty much under control today.

The command center was right off the highway. It was still hopping as we came back from Elgin.