Freedom and Liberty

Freedom and Liberty
I travel in Freedom but sleep in the security of Liberty (not only on the road, but in this amazing country of ours)

Saturday, February 15, 2020

An Incomplete Jetty Walk

Location: Quintana Beach Country Park and RV Campground; Quintana Beach, Texas

Stop #10
I was at this campground about a year ago and figured I wouldn't be back. I was wrong. As I was looking for campgrounds on this trip, this one kept bugging me to come back but I didn't know why. So I re-read my blog post from back then and discovered why it was gnawing at me. You can read it here,

I guess my mind was telling me to come back to complete the walk along the jetty. I couldn't finish the walk last year due to the waves crashing over the jetty. I had wanted to get to the end but couldn't. I had to turn around. Even with not completing the walk, it was a very special time that remains fresh and alive in my "silent echoes". So, with that in mind, I figured I would stop here for a few days and complete the walk. But as they say, ",,,,the best laid plans of mice and men." The weather forecast was iffy for the three days of my stay here. The wind was the main culprit along with high temperatures in the mid-50's for the first two days. I chose day two to hit the jetty because even though today (Saturday) would be better weather-wise, the weekend would bring tons of people to the park and jetty. A walk along a jetty is OK with people, but it is just much better alone. The windchill was down into the upper 30's for the walk with winds steady at 15 to 20, with gusts near 30. It was not a pleasant day for a walk, but I gave it a shot. Even though I was about midway between high and low tide, the wind was playing heck with the waves. As I got to about the half-way point I could tell I wouldn't make it to the end. The wind was blowing the waves in and across the jetty at the very end. Maybe it is like this all the time except on no-wind, low tide days. I'm a planner, but this walk wasn't important enough to try to coordinate all of those events. So I went as far as I could, AGAIN, and turned around. I will not be back for a third attempt.
This is the beginning of the jetty. The ship channel is on the left which was the wind-ward side today. On the right is a beach and swimming area and the lee-ward side today. Notice the small speck on the horizon just to the left of the jetty. We will get to that later.

This is the swimming area and you can see it is at low tide. 

A little bit farther along the jetty. Lots of large driftwood has blown up on the jetty. Notice the speck on the horizon again.

Looking back to shore. You can really see the difference between the calm area on the left and the whitecaps on the right.

This picture shows how wet it is at the end of the jetty due to waves crashing over it. I was only able to go just a little bit more. I didn't want to take a chance on getting wet with it being so cold outside. The speck has become a ship entering the harbor.
I was rewarded with a plus though. As I was on the jetty, a semi-large tanker came into Freeport harbor. Two tugs met her and escorted her to her berth. I guess it was a half and half walk. I didn't make it to the end of the jetty, butt to the end, but able to see the ship pass close by as I was walking.
It's a tanker. Not a big one, but still a tanker. 

The pilot boat has already passed and I didn't get a picture of it. There are two tugs waiting on the tanker. I was very surprised at the speed she was going. I expected it to be much slower. 

Now she's past with one tug on the starboard side and one following astern. 
 My only purpose of stopping here was the jetty walk. Tomorrow is moving day and I'll be going to one of my favorite places that holds many great memories for me not only in my solo travels, but vacations from long ago with my wife and children.
My campsite. It's the same site I stayed in last time.

I'm putting this picture here as a reminder as to how cold and windy it was. A less hard-headed man may have waited for a better day, but not me. (wait a minute, that doesn't sound right)
Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Matagorda Bay and Colorado River (Texas)

Location: Matagorda Bay Nature Park and RV Campground; Matagorda, Texas

This is stop #9

The weather front finally pushed on through late last night. It brought chilly weather with temperatures in the mid 50's but no fog. It wasn't perfect weather but it was good enough for me to do some exploring. The clouds are suppose to clear out and bring in clear skies with plenty of sun over the next few days. But, I'll be seeing that nice weather from a different location since tomorrow is moving day. Even with the poor weather, I think I've seen what I came to see and won't need to come back. This place is sort of out of the way and off the beaten path. It does have a great beach to beachcomb, but in much better weather. I doubt that will be enough to bring me back.
A nice picture of Liberty out the side window of Freedom.
The campground is at the end of a peninsula of land that runs parallel with one of the legs of the Colorado River (Texas). It empties into the Gulf of Mexico about a thousand yards from the campground. The nearest town, Matagorda, is about 7 miles north of the campground. It's a small, two gas station, town. There isn't much activity or many places open since it's the off-season. I imagine it is really hopping during the summer though. 

Long straight highway from Matagorda to the Nature Park. That is the Colorado River on the right side and on the left side is the back water from East Matgorda Bay.
How is this for lucky timing. I stopped to snap a picture of the Welcome sign and a small shrimp boat was underway going down the Colorado towards the Gulf. 
This place is close enough to San Antonio, Austin and Houston for people to come on the weekend. I'm glad I came without the crowds. I was able to wander around and explore essentially all by myself. 

One of the things I wanted to see was the ship locks on the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) where the Colorado River crosses it. Even though they are called locks, they serve more as flood gates when the Colorado River gets high. The Corp of Engineers and others have screwed around with the water flow in this area for many, many decades. Mistakes were made and corrected by shifting the river around. There are now essentially two legs of the Colorado with the  locks/floodgates installed sometime in the 60's (I think). I drove around trying to find a way to get a closer look at the locks but I couldn't get past some of gates across the access roads. Lots of these restricted access points are a result of 9-11. Oh well, I did get one picture that is worth posting.
I got this picture by stopping on the top of the new bridge that crosses the Intracoastal Waterway. It is a new, elevated bridge and replaces an old lift bridge. Timing my crossing so no traffic was coming, I was able to stop and take a couple pictures out the side window of Freedom. In the picture you can see the lock in the far background is open on both ends. The middle portion of the water is the main leg of the Colorado River that empties into West Matagorda Bay. Upstream is to the right and downstream to the left. The lock in the foreground has one gate open and one closed. The water meandering off to the left is the east leg of the Colorado that goes on to the campground and the Gulf. 
While driving around Matagorda trying to find an access to the locks, I stumbled on an old abandoned house. It must have been one of the best houses in town during its day. A two story house with several dormers and a large spire with windows must have been really elaborate when it was new. I was hoping there was a local museum so I could ask about the house but there wasn't any listed on Google Maps. Oh well, it will be just another one of those things that will rattle around inside without any definitive answers.
It's hard to estimate the age but I would guess it may be from the 1920's. I doubt something like this would have been built during the Great Depression or the War Years. It seems older than the 50's or 60's plus the style doesn't match for those decades. It must have been something when it was new. If only houses could talk.
 The last thing I wanted to do was walk the elevated boardwalk from the Nature Park to one of the jetties. It's about 1/3 of a mile long and goes out over the beach and surf. I noticed it on Google Earth a few years ago when I planning a different trip. It was out of the way on that trip so I put it on my list of places to see later. Well, later was now and I saw it today. It was a little chilly with the wind blowing but was a great walk with a really nice view. As usual, I was the only one there which made it extra nice.
The beginning of the walkway headed to the Gulf

Looking back at the walkway and up the coast at the surf line. 

Looking ahead to the end of the walkway. You can go down to the beach or to the jetty.

Have to look backwards every now and then just to make sure you remember where you came from. 

The view of the open Gulf and jetty from the end of the walkway.

A view up the coast from the end of the walkway.

Looking out to the Gulf and beyond. It was a nice viewing spot.
Like I said, tomorrow is moving day and it will be another short tow to a place I've been to before. Last time I was there, I didn't finish something that I started, so I'll give it another go this time. The weather seems like it will be in my favor. 

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.    

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Thinking Sites Along the Way

Location: Matagorda Bay Nature Park and RV Campground; Matagorda, Texas

Stop #9
It was a short tow of only 120 miles but I needed to stretch it out to about a three hour trip so I wouldn't show up to early here at Matagorda. I was also watching the weather since storms were passing through the area and I knew I may have to slow down or speed up. The roads were in great shape so I just locked in cruise control at 55 mph and took my time. It was a very easy drive with the roads mostly straight and flat. I wished it had been a clearer day since it was a very dense overcast sky with misting rain off and on. The temperature was in the low sixties, perfect for window down, cruising weather. It was one of those days where the traffic was light and I could let my mind wander. It was a good thinking drive. 

A couple of things along the way got me to thinking. One was an isolated shade tree in the middle of a freshly plowed field.

It got me to thinking about how it got there, who planted it, how old was it, how many men stopped under it for their noon meal, how many wives or girlfriends met their men there for a picnic or to bring them fresh cold water. I imagined a story about the many generations of men and women who worked this land. I thought of the first man who cleared the land and planted the first crop. With that crop, a sapling grew. Every time he passed it he told himself to cut it down before it got bigger. But, instead, he let it grow. Now, seventy five years later, his great great grandson is working in the same field in the middle of a very hot summer. The sun is beating down with barely a breath of breeze. Every step brings a puff of dust from underfoot. On towards noon he would be soaking wet with sweat and dusty from head to toe. As he reaches for the lukewarm water jug in the tractor he glaces towards the old shade tree and there she is; his wife of many years, standing under the tree with a fresh jug of iced cold water. It was as if she read his mind and knew he needed a break. As he walked towards her, he sensed he wasn't alone. Alongside him were three other men walking towards their wives. While he was kissing her and reaching for the water, the rest of the people faded away leaving only him and her.

The land around the tree looked to be freshly plowed, so I felt good in knowing that at least one more generation was enjoying the tree. But as I drove on by, I wondered how many more future generations the tree would provide shade for such loving acts.

On down the road, I saw another interesting sight. 
I saw the flags first. The American and Texas flags were flapping in the wind and caught my attention from about a mile away. 

As I got closer I noticed the building was actually a church, but something looked odd about it. All of the windows were shuttered. Thinking about it, shutters on a church seems rare. And for them to be closed seemed ever more rare. It told me it wasn't used that often. Maybe it was part of a chain of churches using a circuit preacher. That is still done in parts of Louisiana so maybe it's here too. Also, the church was not facing the roadway and it had no parking lot, that was odd. Then I noticed the graves surrounding the church-house. Now roadside graveyards are not unusual for these parts of Texas and most of the south, but these were different. From what I could tell as I whizzed by, almost all of the graves had new headstones. What could have happened here? Was there a family tragedy that claimed many family members at the same time? Perhaps the land had changed ownership and the new owners wanted to establish a family graveyard. I've traveled a lot of roads around this country from border to border and coast to coast, but I've never seen a set up like this.

It is still rainy, chilly and foggy here so no explorations today. There are a couple of things I came here to see and I hope the weather clears out of here tomorrow since that is my last day here. The slow moving cold front is supposed to pass on out into the gulf late tomorrow. We will see.

My campsite here at Matagorda
Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road. 

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Serendipity at Goliad

Location: Goliad State Park; Goliad, Texas

This is Stop #8
Yep, you read that right, I'm back at Goliad. I'm here for a couple reasons besides it being conveniently located. I was looking for a place to rest up a little and do laundry. I originally planned to be here only two days but changed that to three so I would leave on a Monday. My next campground is a Passport America campground and the half price is for Monday thru Wednesday. So, Goliad fit the bill.

This was the last drive on the beach at Mustang Island. It's definitely in my top 10 places. Good vibs.

A serendipitous find before leaving Mustang Island State Park. This is the Chapel on the Dune in Port Aransas, Texas. It's been there for awhile and it's history, although hard to find, is available online.

The chapel wasn't open when I dropped by but I was able to get a decent picture through the window. It's a nice stop along the way.
Serendipity? I first ran across that word back in the early 70's when it was part of the name for a folk band, The Serendipity Singers. I was curious at the time and looked the word up and found it to mean "something good that happens by accident". The important word in that definition is "good". Something that is serendipitous can not be a bad, only good. 

As I was checking in to the campground here, I was told about a ranger led guided tour on Saturday of the Mission Espiritu Santo. It is the Spanish church-house/fort located on the grounds of the State Park. The church and the real fort located about a mile away, were built to show the French that this was Spanish territory. The history of this area if very interesting but I won't go into it here. But it is well worth a read on the internet on a rainy day. I didn't know about the tour before deciding to come here so it was a serendipitous event.

The old Spanish Church on the ground of the State Park. The stone wall is the remnants of the original wall that stood 10 feet high.

The main entrance to the sanctuary.

I found a thinking bench and it was very comfortable. 

There are three entrances to the church. The main entrance which I showed in the picture above. This entrance is the "door of death". Notice the skull and cross-bones over the door. This was the entrance for funeral, etc. Highly symbolic.

On the opposite side of the church is the "door of life". Notice the cross over the door symbolizing eternal life through Christ. 

The altar

The window at the top allows direct sunlight to shine on the altar. There is also a place for the choir in the loft above the door and a small confessional on the left. 

The view from the main entrance to the altar. The "door of death" is on the left and the "door of life" on the right. It was nice and interesting to this old Baptist Boy, but I'm sure Catholics would have enjoyed it more. 

The name of the Greyhound is Menlo. I asked if it was from Menlo Park where Edison did his inventing and she said she didn't know. Menlo used to race at a Greyhound Race Track before she was rescued by the lady. I asked if she liked to run when off-leash and the lady said only when other dogs are around. They live on a large plot of land and when other dogs come to visit Menlo likes to run around real fast then come back to the visiting dogs and stop,,,, as if to say, "what do you think of that?". It was a nice serendipitous short visit.

While on the tour, I overheard a couple of the other tour members discussing the Goliad Trade-days in town. I didn't know about that either before showing up here. Apparently it is a very big thing in these parts with lots and lots of vendors. I'm not big on buying things while traveling so I usually avoid places like trade-days. But, I figured I didn't have anything else planned and it would at least be good for people watching and maybe there would be a good food truck. So, after the tour, I headed to downtown Goliad. The trade-days surround the courthouse which is another typical of Texas, architecturally over-the-top courthouse building. Another serendipitous event.
That's the top of the Goliad County Courthouse in the background. Impressive uh?

The entire courthouse square was lined with vendor tents selling anything and everything. 

This was taken from near the courthouse building looking out over the vendors and people.

I serendipitously found one thing to buy. It is a knife for my son, Brandon. Since he lost the use of his right arm with the stroke, he can't cut up food, like steaks, with only one hand. This knife allows him to cut it up with one hand. He bought something similar a year or so ago but his didn't have a sheath. I've been on the look-out for a sheath for his ever since. They wouldn't sell only the sheath, so I bought the whole thing. Great find.  
And some people say I plan too much and should just let things happen. I think I'll stick with the planning and accept serendipity when it shows its beautiful head.

I'm off to do laundry today or maybe something else will show up. I need to go before these storm roll in so I'll proof read this later, but posting now. 

Tomorrow is moving day and I'll be heading to the coast again. This time it will be Matagorda Beach. Thunderstorms are predicted for tonight through tomorrow evening. I feel like I'm an old hand at dodging storms while towing but we will see tomorrow if my luck still holds true. I'll be taking some farm to market roads so I'm hoping for some serendipitous pictures opportunities along the way. Ok, Ok, I won't use the "S" word again.

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.       

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Goodbye Mustang Island Area (Mostly Pictures)

Location: Mustang Island State Park; Corpus Christi, Texas

Still at Stop #7
Today is the seventh day here at Mustang Island. Seven days are the maximum time I stay at a place when on the road. That amount of time seems about right to do some exploring around the area and to have a lazy day or two. The big draw at this park, for me, is the close access to the beach. Anyone can drive on the majority of Texas beaches. Texas has made a point to keep them as public places instead of semi-owned and controlled by commercial or residential parties. So, when I'm camped here, I can jump in Freedom and be on the beach within minutes. The other day I drove about ten miles on the beach between the State Park and Port Aransas. 

I've enjoyed my time here even though two cold fronts have passed through which brought a little rain and cooler temperatures but mostly wind and haze. I expected as much and was one of the reasons for the seven day stay. I figured maybe three to four decent weather days out of the seven. 

The remainder of this post will be mainly pictures with captions. They aren't in any particular order since they are from different times over the last few days. I won't post the pictures from a massive bridge construction site I visited. In fact, as I started taking the pictures of the site, I thought to myself, I'm the only one that would be interested in this, so I didn't take many. It was hard to whittle the 100's of pictures I've taken around the area to just these, but here goes:

One of the sunrises over the Gulf

The gulls were up early too.

I guess the gulls woke the pelicans up because they were flying somewhere in as a straight a line as they could with the wind.

Freedom at sunrise

A couple pelicans found a smooth spot of water to sit and fish. It was the only smooth spot for miles. I bet they come there regularly.

Another sunrise picture

I'm running out of things to say.

A long drive along the beach.

A combination of surf fishing and sitting/thinking. Either way, he seemed to be enjoying himself.

As I got closer to Port Aransas, the beach widened out a lot. They blade the beach on a regular basis. I saw two graders working on the day I passed through. Imagine this place on a hot summer weekend. I'm glad I'm here in the off-season.

This is near the State Park. Those are picnic tables and are available for use.

There were a few tent campers on the beach within the State Park limits. They definitely should have put up some kind of wind-break. I'm guessing after a while, they will just become part of the dunes unless they leave.

The long open road to Padre Island National Seashore. It's a nice drive but the beach is the same as everywhere else

The City of Corpus Christi seems to have annexed a lot of open land for future development. 

This home-made RV belongs to a guy named Patrick. He is one of the camp hosts at the bay-side campground (Windsurfer). I stopped and talked with him for a little bit. He's from Montana and travels around the country, like a crazy person. He came to Padre Island to camp and after two weeks was ready to leave when they offered him the camp host gig. He will be here a few weeks now. 

Three large off-shore drilling platforms at Port Aransas. It looked like they were getting some repairs done while in port. They are massive and can be seen for miles. Industry and tourism, co-existing. I like it.

I like this picture the most. It sort of sums up why I came here. That is Freedom waiting on me to return after walking up the beach for awhile. No one was around and it was perfect weather for a thinking/exploring walk.

I couldn't remember the last selfie I posted so I figured out how to do it on my new cell phone.
Tomorrow is moving day and I'll be headed back to Goliad. That place seems to be located exactly where I need it to be when I need it. 

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.