Happy Trails

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 So we completed our four-week tour of Texas last week and our conclusion is that it is definitely worth a visit—and we only were able to see a small portion of the state. We entered Texas traveling on I-10 (which we don’t recommend) but we spent most of the trip on the back roads passing ranches, farms and, occasionally, small towns. Back east, country roads tend to be scenic and relaxing with speed limits rarely above 55 mph. However, in Texas the speed limits on rural two-lane roads are as high as 75 mph (faster than the interstate). We theorize that Texas has high speed limits for one or more of the following reasons:

  • It’s a big state so most trips involve a lot of driving.
  • Texas is a global leader in the energy industry and more oil/gas consumption = more oil company profits and jobs. (Texans use more energy per capita than any other state.)
  • Texans don’t like the government telling them what to do, including how fast to drive.
  • Head-on collisions at 75 mph are not much worse than collisions at 55 mph.

Whatever the reason, we sped through Texas pulling our Airstream and trying not to slow traffic too much. Besides high speed limits, we found other reasons to be concerned as shown on the following photo:

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A seedy character along the side of the road—after taking this photo we quickly sped away.

We have discussed White Russians in previous blogs but we hesitate to bring up the subject again because: 1) we don’t want to promote excessive alcohol consumption and, 2) we don’t want our readers to think we are alcoholics. However, our experience with White Russians illustrates the challenges of life on the road so we feel justified in discussing the subject once again.

Two weeks ago we had to avoid drinking White Russians due to a shortage of milk. Last week, milk was not a problem but we were almost out of Kahlua and vodka so we went in search of a liquor store. We should have known we had a problem when Patty asked our lunch-time waitress where the nearest liquor store was located. She had a confused look on her face and could only respond that she had no idea. No problem—we used our smart phone and started searching for liquor stores. We drove to one location but couldn’t find a store. Driving to another store with the word “liquor” on the outside, we discovered that they only sold beer and wine. We soon learned that the sale of hard liquor was illegal in the county, and beer and wine had only become legal several years earlier. Determined to not be thwarted again in our attempts to enjoy our favorite alcoholic beverage, we got directions and headed for the county line. Just across the line we found the real liquor store and bought what was probably the most expensive bottle of Kahlua ever. Depending on your point of view, our experience shows that: 1) perseverance pays off, or 2) the cost of sin is high.

Last week we camped at Martin Dies, Jr. State Park, located north of Beaumont, TX. This was our sixth Texas state park and our overall impression of the parks is a good one. The camp sites were typically large with plenty of space between sites, and the showers were functional—what more do you need?

Martin Dies is located on a man-made lake on the Neches River in southeastern Texas. This area of Texas is part of the Piney Woods and (surprise) it consists of forests dominated by pine trees. Geographically, it has more in common with Louisiana than the rest of Texas, with cypress trees and even an occasional alligator. We are not big fans of man’s attempts to modify nature (it’s almost never an improvement), but we have to admit that waterfront camp sites are very nice.

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Patty in the Piney Woods

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 Not sure what type of lizard this is but it’s very pretty.

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A not-so-pretty relative?

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A dragonfly—another one of those prehistoric animals that were hanging out with the alligators before dinosaurs existed. If you find it annoying that they are buzzing around you, just remember that they eat mosquitoes.

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Ed got up to watch the “blood moon”. He was a little disappointed—his photos weren’t great and the world didn’t end.

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 Kayaking among the cypress trees

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Alligators in Texas—who knew?

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Water and sky

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 Sunset and cypress trees – part 1

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Sunset and cypress trees – part 2

Ed has a new hero—John Muir who helped save the Giant Sequoias and Yosemite Valley and founded the Sierra Club. Ed just finished reading the Pulitzer-prize winning biography of Muir by Linnie Marsh Wolfe, written in 1945. As a result, in addition to Thoreau quotes you may be seeing Muir quotes in future blogs. Here is one:

“Keep close to Nature’s heart…and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”

 

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