Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Brazos Bend State Park, Texas

Before we left Louisiana this morning, I gave the park WiFi one more chance. It caused warnings that its security certificates were not acceptable, but I forged ahead determined not to do anything sensitive. This time I got a familiar page that I had seen before in gathering park information so I nearly ignored it as useless, but then I saw that there was a little new area with a blurb and button to accept the parks access conditions which I clicked. The speed and access was amazing -- too bad that their security certificates aren’t current or up to regular Internet standards. So there is another [at least partial] plus to our top ratings for Louisiana State Parks.

Brazos Bend State Park is about 20 miles southwest of Houston and about 185 miles southwest of Lake Charles. So Morty did a great job getting us here through a few showers and lots of road grime – he was covered in it. My first order of business was giving him a thorough scrubbing so he is looking a lot better now. I tried to use a plastic nozzle that I had used a couple of times before, but today, it seemed all stretched out and unable to stay on with moderate water pressure. There’s $2 and change down the drain. I’d return it to Meijer except that I’ll probably have forgotten about it before we get back into their Midwest market.

We somehow lost our drainpipe cap. So that will have to go on our list for the next Wal-Mart stop. On yesterday’s stop we picked up a 9 x 12 foot patio carpet for those sandy sites to help keep the interior a little cleaner. It is supposed to be available in a variety of colors besides only the tan and white that we have been able to find. We finally discovered how much we do like the tan and white combination. We also have an annoying rattle in the roof area that is coincident with speed. Looked at the TV antenna wiring and the surrounding area on top of Morty, but could not find any likely suspects.

In looking at the web site to plan this stop, we noticed that Brazos Bend is on Texas route FM something or other. When we got here we finally figured out from the road signs the FM stands for FarM Road. That may be a little misleading to those of us from smaller states because here it means a wide smooth concrete paved highway that just happens to be in farm country. In taking Route 8 around Houston, we encountered 3 tollbooths needing a total of $5 -- just sayin’. Texas parks have a $3 daily charge per person [over 65] or a $65 annual pass on top of the $20 camping fee. That makes the break-even point 11 nights of camping. That seems like a lot for our current schedule, so we will defer getting the pass for now. Other Brazos/Texas details: only about 5% full, excellent back-in sites – many triple-wide, 30 amp power, water, very friendly rangers, large rambling park grounds, camping sites are relatively few for such a large park, no-license required for park fishing more than 25 TV channels in English and probably more than 15 in Spanish.

We are getting warm scattered rain showers here at Brazos, so we left the bikes in the garage and walked to the park’s Nature Center -- very nice display of the park’s wild life. Afternoon temperature today was 69. We learned that alligators don’t hibernate in the winter. They just move to the bottom of the lake and surface for a breath only once in as much as 10 or 12 hours. Their summer breathing when submerged is more like once every 5 or 6 minutes. If I had web access right now, I would verify those numbers for you.

Small observation: in Ohio big car dealers and such who want to stand out fly huge American Flags. They do in Texas too, just that it’s the Lone Star flag. It seems like we have seen about 20 times more Texas flags today than American – just sayin’.

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