Sunday, August 10, 2008

Brazos Bend State Park

We left Thursday morning for Brazos Bend State Park and decided to stop in Brenham to tour the Blue Bell Ice Cream factory.
What an interesting tour! While waiting for our tour to begin, we visited their ice cream parlor and for $1 a cup, we had a generous helping of Dutch chocolate, peaches & vanilla, and mint chocolate chip.

We watched a cute video on the history of Blue Bell creameries and learned that they only serve fresh ingredients - milk, nuts, fruits, etc - that are grown LOCALLY within a 200 mile radius -- including SEASONAL flavors. The most recent flavor they were manufacturing (while we were touring) was cantaloup!

After the tour, we got our free ice cream (another generous cup) and we sampled triple chocolate, old fashioned vanilla and cookies & cream. They were all so good, but we were FULL of ice cream. Each small town afterwards, we'd spot Blue Bell ice cream at the stores and gas stations and groan.

Thankfully, Brazos Bend was opened after tropical storm Eduardo, so we were able to secure a camping spot!

The first alligator we spotted was from a pier.

After leaving the pier, we bumped into a children's author who stopped to ask us questions:

"Excuse me, but does this park REALLY have alligators??!" We reassured her it does and watched her visibly shudder. She explained that she was on assignment and needed to write a story (for Disney) about the area. I asked her if she was taking pictures, and she explained that she didn't do pictures, just write. I couldn't imagine visiting the area and not taking pictures.
Click to view!
When we first arrived to the park, we drove the speed limit 30 mph, but couldn't understand why everyone else was crawling at 1o mph. We then realized WHY. Throughout our entire stay at the park, we had to slow down to keep from hitting animals left and right. The last thing we wanted to do was hit another deer like we did at Perdenales State park.
Armadillo's on the side of the road.
We stopped our car at one of the trails and noticed a raccoon walking towards us, getting closer and closer. It was odd looking (not the usual markings) and it didn't seem afraid. Not sure whether it had rabies, we had to climb into the car. It circled the car spying on us from the windows. We ended up driving away and parking at another spot. It followed us and kept approaching us. We tried to shoo it away several times. Thankfully it spotted a pick-up truck and climbed inside.
Golden Silk spiders were EVERYWHERE -- We dodged their webs while walking the trails. Some were 3 inches in size and very unnerving. Alan walked into one of their webs after dark. (One of the reasons why I refused to walk the trails at night.)
Overlooking one of the creeks.

A delicate rose-looking wild flower. I sure wish I knew the name of this plant. It resembled a rose bud.
Fishing off the pier. No fish caught, but lots of bites --- we did see some interesting fish jumping and hopping over the water. We didn't stay long as we wanted to tour more and set-up camp.

Raccoons were very friendly --- thus the reason we weren't supposed to feed them. Some were very aggressive.
With the threat of a thunderstorm, we were reluctant to pitch the tent outdoors, so we secured a screened cabin.

Unfortunately, after dark, we noticed HUNDREDS of bugs crawling all over the floor. To Alan's reluctance, Pamela and I insisted on pitching our tent INDOORS to zip out the bugs! UGH! After we turned out the lights, we could hear the raccoons circling our shelter and trying to open our door.

Early the next morning, we hiked and enjoyed the sunrise. Off in a pasture, the mist was thick and we silently watched a herd of deer grazing peacefully. It was so beautiful.
A bullfrog peeking up at us.

We walked a trail to the observation tower and I spotted this gator. It reminded me of a dragon.

Click to zoom -- I call this GATOR SOUP. Everywhere we looked we could see alligators in the water.

Gators were sunning themselves and unafraid as we approached. We had to step around them.

Overlooking from the observation tower.

What an amazing park! It was hot and humid, but well worth the visit! WOW! But we were anxious to hit the road. We stopped off at a small country cafe and ordered some amazing burgers. One of our favorite things is to visit off the wall places and to people watch. One patron looked like he wrestled gators for a living.
We drove as far south as we could, hitting the Gulf of Mexico. We stopped at the Surfside Beach to dip our toes.

We arrived at Galveston Island state park and rented a camping spot for the night. The day was perfect for sandcastles and beachcombing.

After playing on the beach, we pitched our tent and drove to the boardwalk to find a place to eat.
Taking our flashlights we walked the beach after dark and went crabbing.

About five-something in the morning, I noticed lightening in the sky. Worried we'd be packing in a downpour, we broke camp before the sun appeared. Feeling pretty good about getting an early start, we arrived at the exit and realized we were locked in! State parks lock their gates after 10pm and reopen at 7:00 AM. We couldn't locate the combination number that our ranger had marked on our entry pass. Finally, Alan had to search for an emergency phone number at the office bulletin and call for the pass.
We stopped in at the boardwalk to eat breakfast and then drove into Houston. From there, we took Interstate 290 all the way into Austin.
We arrived home in time to shower, change and get ready for Josh and Caitlin's wedding shower. The shower was held at the farm potluck style. It was a lot of fun and I tried to take pictures. I had forgotten to clear my camera of our vacation pictures, so what few pictures I DID take, turned out blurry and my card said FULL. So no pictures! :(

We're already planning our next Texas state park trip!


Posh And Trendy said...

Looks like a fun trip but some nappy looking water.. swamp lands?
Thanks for sharing.. loved all the pictures.

Texas Mom said...

Swamps, the Brazo's river, creeks and all kinds of marshes -- and NO SWIMMING ALLOWED!!

The Hartsfields said...

Wow you got lucky last week we where there and did not see any alligators your pictures look so good you should try picasaweb apparently if it rain they are out we will make sure we go after a rain we are going to Inks Lake and then to Village creek hey maybe we can hang out together let me know we LOVE camping
Bianca H

Cindy Cates said...

Loved seeing all the pics of your trip. I don't imagine I would do to well with alligators all around me!

Sunny said...

Wow!You came so close to the alligators!!You were not afraid of an attack??

Patty said...

I would have been so scared walking around all those alligators! Did any of them have hunger showing in their eyes?

Texas Mom said...

Honesty, I was never once scared of the alligators. I figured if they were MAN EATERS, the park would have closed down.

I was more worried about walking into one of those huge spider webs.

Dave said...

Looks like a fun get-away - minus the bugs, of course... Nice t-shirt in the cow statue photo, too! ;)

Anonymous said...

The shirt has an awesome message but the handsome face above the shirt is what really sets it off.