Friday, October 31, 2014

Moving Day (Village Creek State Park, Texas to South Toledo Bend State Park, Louisiana)

Location: South Toledo Bend State Park; near Hornbeck, Louisiana
(click picture to enlarge)

Not much to report on tonight. It was a short and easy trip with a stop at Walmart in Jasper. This state park is located at the southern end of Toledo Bend which is the 5th largest man-made lake in the U.S. The other interesting thing about the lake is that it was built without any federal funds, which is extremely rare. It may be the only time such a large public works project was built with only state funding. 

I'll do more exploring tomorrow but for now here are a few pictures.

Liberty's new home

First view of the lake from my campsite

More lake view

A relaxing view from the visitors center.

A viewing dock located a couple campsites
over from mine. It is a good place to see
the sunsets.

One of the coves with fishing dock

A nice view of the lake

Sunset over Toledo Bend Lake

More sunset

Just after the sun sets
Ya'll take care of each other. Cya down the road.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Pictures posted in previous blog and New Campground

Location: Village Creek State Park; Lumberton, Texas
(click pictures to enlarge)

Note: I was able to post the pictures to the last blog entry. The problem turned out to be with my browser, Internet Explorer. Apparently, there was an IE update that created a problem with the blog program that I use, "blogger". I downloaded Google Chrome and that solved the problem. I'll now use Chrome for the blog and IE for most everything else unless I find Chrome to be a better browser. I guess it makes sense that Chrome and Blogger jive pretty good since both are Google products. A paranoid person might think Google sabotaged my IE problem in an attempt to get me to change over to Chrome. Hmmmmm. :)

Yesterday was moving day and it was only about about 100 miles to my new location. This is a small state park located about 15 miles north of Beaumont, Texas. I chose it because it is close to a place that I needed to take care of some family business. I'll only be here for two nights before moving on to South Toledo Bend State Park in Louisiana. I'm slowly working my way back to my hometown so I can vote next Tuesday. The country needs a change in direction because the last "hope and change" didn't work out at all. We have learned that the job of Community Organizer is not a preparatory job to be the president of the U.S. DUH!!!!

The only pictures in this post is of the campsite. It is a snug fit for Liberty but she backed right in there with just enough room for the slides. The site was level and did not require any leveling blocks. Each site is separated from the next one by trees which gives you a feeling of "roughing it", except of course you have heat, air conditioning, bathroom, queen size bed, stove, refrigerator, etc. Oh well.

Liberty snugly parked in Campsite no. 1

Another view with picnic table and the BBQ grill (which I never use)

Side view of Liberty showing her blue LED lights. I had them turned on in case I got back after sunset. It get's pretty dark here in the "woods". LOL

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

The Mother of Texas, Fort Travis and assorted pictures

Location: Bolivar Peninsula RV Park; Crystal Beach, Texas
(Click pictures to enlarge)

I am still on the Bolivar Peninsula just across the bay from Galveston. The peninsula is a very laid back and easy going place. Nobody is in a big hurry here and people actually stop to talk to strangers in the grocery store. You can park on the beach and walk until you can't walk anymore. Remember teh rule to turn around before you give out entirely. But even if you go too far, you can sit and rest as long as you need before continuing back to your vehicle. There is no rushing here. A nice ride across the ferry and your in Galveston where you can casually walk on the beach or find a place to sit and watch the people go by and the waves come in. You can take a slow drive along the seawall with the windows down and the breeze blowing the scent of the gulf through the truck. As you pass each restaurant you get a smell of their specialty, steak in one place, BBQ in another, spicy Cajun mixed in between. It is a peaceful place, especially in the early morning or late evening. I will miss this place and I guess that is why I always come back to it.

Today I went to Fort Travis Seashore Park. It is on the tip of the peninsula right before the ferry. In the late 1700's the Spanish built a very simple fort made up of most dirtwork. It was used to defend against the aggressive Indians in the area called the Karawanka. The Spanish didn't stay long due to other happenings with their country. Around 1820 a man named James Long showed up on the peninsula with a young bride and several "adventurers" looking to fight the Mexicans in an attempt to take what would eventually become Texas. The Mexicans had just won their independence from Spain and was not itching for a fight. James Long built a fort and made new plans to take on the Mexicans. The pirate Jean Lafitte was staying on Galveston Island during that time and Mr. Long approached him about aiding in a fight against the Mexicans. Lafitte refused because he was sitting on the fence between the U.S., Spain, Mexico and the French. He did not want to take sides because that would affect his privateering deals with those countries. James Long had no choice but to travel inland in search of other people that believed in his goal of taking the land from Mexico. He left a small band of men behind to man the fort along with his young wife and child. This was in September of 1821. His wife's name was Jane and she had already had a tough life with more to come. She was born in 1798 in Maryland to a family that taught her about the finer things in life. The first hard knock came where both of her parents died when she was 14. She met James Long, who was a doctor, when she was 16 and they married when she was 17. When she was 23 she was living in a small fort on the tip of a peninsula in what is now Texas with one child and pregnant with another. Yep, her husband left her behind as he went in search of a fight. He and the majority of the men left in September of 1821 and wouldn't you know it, that winter was the worse one in a long time. The food ran out, the men that Mr. Long left behind ran off, the Karawanka Indians were still mean as a snake, there were Pirates just 20 miles away on Galveston Island and she is about to deliver another child. To keep the Indians and Pirates at bay, Jane fires a canon every morning to let them know the fort is still manned. Her husband took the red flag that he flew over the fort when he left, so every morning along with the canon firing, she runs her red petticoats up the flagpole in an attempt to fool the enemy. The one female "servant" of Jane's got extremely sick and couldn't help Jane with her delivery, so Jane delivered the baby herself in the middle of a cold winter. That baby is one of the first babies born in Texas to an English-speaking mother. Many people tried to talk her into leaving the fort and going to a civilized place. She refused to go anywhere because she believed her husband would be returning. (I guess in her mind she was going to have his dinner ready and warming on the back of the stove as if he was getting in late from work or something.). Finally in the spring of 1813, after a long winter, she is informed that her husband has been killed and she is now a widow at the ripe old age of 24. She stayed around Texas and was influential in several aspects of the new state. It was said she was courted by the likes of Ben Milam, Sam Houston, M. B. Lamar, Jean Lafitte and William Travis. She rejected all proposals and stayed a widow to her first and only love of her life, Mr. James Long. She died December 30, 1880 at the age of 82. Due to everything she did for the state of Texas and giving birth to one of the first English babies in the state, she is referred to as the Mother of Texas. Her portrait hangs in the State Capital Library in Austin. The main road that runs the length of the Bolivar Peninsula is named in her honor as the Jane Long Memorial Highway.  

Fort Travis was manned at different times after Jane abandoned it. It was manned by the Texans during their Revolutionary War, the confederates during the War for Southern Independence, the United States during both World Wars. After World War II it was declared excess and sold to the highest bidder. It is now owned by Galveston County.

Today is moving day and I'll be heading to a small state park near the town of Lumberton, Texas. I have a few things to take care of in the town of Silsbee which is about 15 miles from the state park. I'll be there for 2 nights before moving again to somewhere.  

The following are some of the pictures from Fort Travis and some others from around this area.

This is a picture of the seawall, cruising street and a storm rolling in. This is a good time to be here, the weather is great and not many people.

The Jane Long memorial highway. I think she deserves recognition.

A look towards the ferry with the Bolivar Lighthouse in view

Looking at the line of ships waiting to go into Galveston Bay you can see the importance of the location of Fort Travis if you job is to protect the bay from surface ships

A World War "pill box" (gun implacement) 

The seawall that was built to project Fort Travis from storms. The concrete on the right dates back to the period after the big storm of 1900 that wiped out most of Galveston.

Looking at one of the main gun batteries from the perspective of the ships 

I even found a bench to sit and watch the parade of ships go by.

From the bench looking along the seawall/walking area. Notice the lack of people :)

This is a combination picture showing the bench, the lighthouse, Freedom and the edge of the gun battery.

This is the backside of the main gun battery. The openings are where the shells and gunpowder where stored. It is protected from shelling from the ships by the large amount of dirt covering it. Residents of the peninsula used to come here for protection from storms.

That ends the pictures from Fort Travis, the rest are from around the area.

I was riding around some of the neighborhoods on the peninsula looking to see what I could see. I timed it right as I came down this deadend street. That is a tow boat pushing a barge on the intercoastal canal. It was so close to the house you could hit it with a rock. 

See caption on picture above

The peninsula is cut in two about the middle by Rollover Pass. The pass is a channel that  connects the Gulf on one side to the Bay on the other. During lowtide people descend on this location to fish. That line of cars are along the channel. They are on both sides and they are fanatical about the fishing. Tents and campers were set up so the people would be in the right place at the right time. 

This to the Bay side of Rollover Pass. You can see how low the tide is by the mud flats before reaching the water. 

Looking back at Freedom and Liberty as I was walking around the campground close to sunset.

Ut oh! A "bench" swing. And it is looking right at Freedom and Liberty.

The bench swing was a nice place for a crazy old man to sit and wait for the sunset.

The clouds made this sunset worthwhile. 

It was a good day.

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

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Sunset over Galveston Bay, Texas

Location: Bolivar Peninsula RV Park; Crystal Beach, Texas
(click pictures to enlarge)

Yesterday was a lazy day with grocery shopping after sunset. I planned the trip so I could see the sun as it set over Galveston Bay before boarding the ferry.

Only sunset pictures for the rest of the post, except for one of the ferry. I thought it might be interesting to see which sunset picture people like the best so I've captioned each one with a number. If you want to participate in this unofficial poll, then put the picture number as a comment. Remember you can enlarge the picture by clicking it. It won't hurt my feelings if nobody comments, so don't worry about that. :)












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

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Shortest Move, a Few Pictures and Random Thoughts

Location: Bolivar Peninsula RV Park; Crystal Beach, Texas
(click pictures to enlarge)

Yesterday, I moved one mile to this campground. It is more to my liking with it's openness, grassy and aggregate roads. The other place was gated, smaller campsites, concrete everywhere and more expensive. I needed the concrete to be able to get under Liberty to do some maintenance work, but once that was done, I move to this place. I like this place a lot. It is about 15 miles to the Bolivar Ferry which takes me to Galveston. This time of year, there is very little traffic so the waiting line for the ferry is short. I've crossed twice since I've been here and the maximum waiting time was about 10 minutes. The weather has been great with the daytime temperatures in the upper 70's to low 80's with a gentle breeze blowing in off the Gulf of Mexico. My original plan was to move this Sunday but I think I will probably extend through at least Tuesday.

The new campsite at Bolivar Peninsula RV Park

Another view of the campground

Nice hamburger and so-so French fries.

While I was waiting for the ferry to get underway, I was able to catch a couple birds as they were landing.

The sky was interesting so I took this picture while I was hanging out down by the seawall.

A nice picture of the Gulf and sky. This is also at the seawall

This picture shows a little bit of everything at Galveston. The Gulf, the amusement park on the pier, the seawall and people cruising :).

I drove into Galveston yesterday evening looking for some place to eat supper. I couldn't decide what I wanted to eat so I stopped at a CiCi's Pizza Buffet. It was a few blocks away from the seawall so the people in the place was mostly locals. As I was eating, I looked around the room. There were Asians, Blacks, Whites, Mexicans and Middle Easterners. I was reminded that America has been described at a melting pot and I wondered if that was still true today. The term "melting pot" comes from a play written in 1909 by a Russian-Jew named Israel Zangwill. The play is about how America assimilates immigrates from around the world. The best description of that "melting" process is from a 1998 article in the Washington Post written by William Booth. He described America, immigrants and the "melting" as "... the promise that all immigrants can be transformed into Americans, a new alloy forged in a crucible of democracy, freedom and civic responsibility."  This was very obvious in the early 1900's. There were 18 million immigrants that legally entered America between 1890 and 1920. It is clear from the stories that most of those people tell that they felt they had reached the "promised land". They had abandoned everything in the old country and knew their trip to America was on a one-way ticket. They knew in order to succeed in this country they would have to adopt new ways of doing things. They learned English, worked hard, learned how the government worked, participated in elections. Over a very short period of time, they became Americans. They fulfilled the American dream for themselves and their family. They fought and won two world wars, survived the great depression. As generations passed, their descendants became more and more Americanized until the "old country" was just a memory. It is unclear if the immigrants of today are doing the same thing. So many of them are starting in this country on the wrong foot by entering it illegally. It is as though they are only temporarily here and want to keep one foot in the old country. Trying to live two lives is not good for either life. I don't know what the answer is but somehow, someway, we all need to come together as Americans.

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