Part 5: Gonzales, TX to Brazos Bend, TX


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The Trip

We finished our hunt in Gonzales, TX and our plan was to head south toward South Padre Island and from there, to the west to Laredo.  Laredo is on the border and would offer an interesting contrast to the border areas where we usually travel.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

South of Gonzales, we encountered huge fields of wild flowers with bright, nearly painful, colors.  The patch above was a particularly nice one.

The road side flowers were orange, red, blue, yellow white and purple.  Above is a close up of one of the purple flowers.  Note the fine structure in the center of the flower.

A close shot of the red flowers.  I do not know the formal name, or the common name for that matter.

The yellow flowers had a totally different structure.

We traveled south until we hit Port Lavaca on the Gulf Coast.  We located a camp site right on the water, so we took it at Lighthouse Beach.  From our site, we could see a large causeway to the north east of our position.

Our site was right on the beach and could not have been closer to the water without getting wet.

Surprisingly, there were some attractive women in view.  Most of the bathers I saw would look rather odd in a bikini, if not downright offensive.

From Port Lavaca, we headed for Mustang Island State Beach, right on the coast.  To get there, we had to take a ferry and we loaded first, so we had a front row seat to the passage across the channel.  One of the other ferries is visible in the upper right of the photo above.

We managed to get a spot on the beach that was quite a distance from other campers.  From our site, we could see the oil rigs in the gulf.

I walked to the top of a near-by dune and got a shot of our spot on the beach.  The white object on the horizon is a fog horn that added an interesting mystique to the evening hours.

Mustang Island was a nice camp.  On the beach the park had installed potable water faucets and showers.  But, sadly, the showers were just "rinse off" showers and therefore cold.  Best of all, it was clean.  We would definitely go back again.

From Mustang, we headed to Corpus Christi to see the sights and visit a friend.  From Corpus, we headed south toward South Padre Island right on the Mexican border.  Along the way, we overtook this motor pulling a sizable train headed south to Brownsville.  I think the trains have limited their speed at 55 mph and we just barely overtook him.

A monument to the Padre on South Padre Island.  This statue is on the south limit of the island.  We stopped for lunch and then toured the island.

On our tour of the island, we came upon this amphibious vehicle, so we pulled over for a photo.

We went as far north on the island as the road would allow, then headed back south on the beach.  There was trash everywhere, every trash can full to overflowing and trash blowing in the wind.  It seems that there was a Mexican holiday, and the partying was intense.

We passed this utility truck that was stuck in the sand, so we were going to pull him out if the forklift failed.  But he was not that stuck and the fork got him out on the first try.

When we hit the south end of the island again, we decided to stop early for the day.  We stayed at a nice KOA there and did laundry and chores.  From our camp, we had a commanding view of the long causeway that connects South Padre with the mainland.

From South Padre, we headed inland toward Laredo to see a friend of Kathleen's who lives there.  Along the way, we passed through Mercedes.  And you thought it was only a car brand!

On our way to Laredo, we decided to stop over at Falcon Reservoir.  We were exploring one of the roads to Falcon Dam and nearly made the mistake of crossing over the dam, which would have put us into Mexico.  That would have been bad, since we had our hunting rifles with us. 

We chose an RV park that was right on Falcon Lake.  There was plenty of wildlife out at dusk.  This park was no exception to that rule.

We spent some time talking with one of the park visitors that was from Argentina.  She stated that Falcon Lake has world-class bass fishing and that she and her husband fish daily.  Above is a photo of their boat after they launched it.

The gal we were talking to was Monica, and she was the driver for the boat launch.  She had clearly done this before (like every day).  Kathleen took a photo of me taking the previous photo.

As we were leaving the park, we encountered a bunch of Prickly Pear cactus that were just coming into bloom.

From Falcon Lake, we headed into Laredo and encountered a large collection of Texas Rangers and Border Patrol personnel.  We were passed by several large passenger vans with tinted windows earlier and it seems that they were transporting illegals from a pickup point near where we were camped.

Once we got to Laredo, we had lunch with a friend from Kathleen's TransCore days.  Above is Kathleen and Rafael Garcia.  Rafael REALLY liked the mog.  But most "real men" do, so that was not much of a surprise.

From Laredo, we headed back north toward Corpus Christi and then toward San Antonio.  At one of our stops, I spotted the nice flower above.

Close by, I shot this nice red and yellow blossom.

That night, we camped at the state park at Lake Corpus Christi.  The park was nice, clean and well cared for.  Many of the camp sites picnic areas had gazebos to provide sun protection.  While not an issue for us, I am sure that in a few months they would be very valuable.

When in San Antonio, you have to visit the Alamo (state law).  We decided to see the IMAX show first before visiting the actual site.  After the movie, the physical site was somewhat underwhelming.  Historically relevant, no doubt, but the size belies the importance of the site.

I was totally surprised by the size of some of the oak trees at the site.  This one was huge.

The oak trees were filled with squirrels that knew how to work the visitors for treats.

Some of the cactus at the site had odd looking shoots.

When we finished at the Alamo, we decided to hike over to the "River Walk" along the San Antonio River.  The area has been developed into a nice walking experience.  In the river, there were tour boats as well as "booze cruises" where they served liquor and food.  We chose a restaurant right on the edge of the river and had a nice steak.

From San Antonio, we headed north toward Austin to visit a work mate from Musicmatch days.  Along the way, we camped on the outskirts of San Antonio and then along the Guadalupe River outside of New Braunfels.  Our camp at Braunfels was first rate, we were right on the water's edge with nobody close.  We had a great view of the cliffs on the other side of the river.

We visited our friends Kevin and Melody in Austin and then headed east toward Houston to meet another work mate.  Along the way, we stopped at Lake Bastrop and again got a great camp site in an uncrowded area.  Above is a shot of the large grassy areas behind our camp.

From Bastrop, we continued east to Brazos Bend State Park.  I was surprised to spot a 'gator on the banks of the lake.

A tried to get a bit closer for a better shot, but he spotted me but did not bolt.  In the shot above, he is blinking.  Note the covering over the eyes that helps him remain stealthy while hunting.

Brazos Bend had some nice big trees that were covered in Spanish Moss adding some additional ambiance.

During this segment of the trip we met some great folks and stayed at a few really nice spots.  This section of Texas is very scenic and is worth some extended visitation to get the full flavor.  In fact, we may make a trip to this area of the state as the focus of the journey.  There are many state parks in this part of the state and the parks are nice and in good repair.  Brazos Bend was quite nice and the thick trees were a real treat.  Tomorrow, we head into Houston to meet another work mate from Muze days and from there, back to the gulf coast.

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