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Monday, February 29, 2016

Learning Birding From Don & Sharon

Aloha Everyone,

Don and his wife Sharon have been birders for about two years. Both retired from Texas A&M University, Don was active in teaching, research and extension (working with industry) in Horticulture while Sharon was a well liked and respected Academic Advisor for Undergraduates. They have downsized and relocated to Galveston. In between their active volunteerism, including as bird hosts in Galveston, Don and Sharon drive their camping trailer to various state parks to enjoy birding and other outdoor activities.

It was fortuitous for J.J. to start a conversation. Finding that I am a novice birder, they invited me to join them this morning on their walk. So many birds to see and so much to learn.

When J.J. and I met them again on our evening walk, our lively conversation ended only when the sun has set and mosquitoes began hanging around my face.

To add variety to our recent rib eye steak dinner with baby spinach salad (sorry we started to consume the steaks before taking  photos), J.J. and I went into the town of Katy and a found Mexican Restaurant at a small strip center. Roman, our server gave us exceptional service.

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Stephen F. Austin State Park in San Felipe, TX

Aloha Everyone,

Our first destination Lake Summerville State Park was closed for repairs due to damages caused by recent floods. We continued on to Stephen F. Austin State Park.

We stopped by Austin Colony: the First Colony in Mexican Texas to learn about Stephen Fuller Austin, also known as the "Father of Texas."

The park is located just off I-10 only 51.7 miles or a little over an hour's drive to downtown Houston. There are 10 clearly marked trails which are designated as "easy" and each trail takes 10 minutes up to 60 minutes.

Copperhead Trail that leads into the primitive area of the park have had sightings of bobcats and gray foxes.  

J.J. and I are looking forward to enjoying our next two days at Stephen Austin State Park.

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Day Trip to Monument Hill and Kreische Brewery

Aloha Everyone,

The State Park Guide produced by Texas Parks & Wildlife along with Heart Of Texas Wildlife Trail maps are invaluable in planning our travel through this beautiful, state with amazing, ever changing landscapes.

Monument Hill and Kreische Brewery are located on a bluff overlooking the Colorado River.

The tall granite monument marks the tomb of Texans who died during the Dawson Massacre.

The Kreische site includes the house of Heinrich Ludwig Kreische, a German immigrant, and the ruins of a brewery he had built.

J.J. read the signs warning about Copperhead snakes.  I was extra cautious and mindful as to where to step as I tried to spot birds.

To our comment that we've noticed many towns with Germanic names, Dennis, the Park Superintendent as well as Park police officer explained that a large number of Germans as well as Czechs and Poles had immigrated to Fayette County.

On our return, we drove by The Fayette County Courthouse located in historic downtown La Grange. The architecture looks European.

We stopped by at Buc-ee's to load diesel and J.J. purchased a Pastrami Reuben sandwich for lunch. I opted for a vegetarian plate which I whipped up.

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, February 26, 2016

Bastrop & Buescher State Parks

Aloha Everyone,

Upon entering the Bastrop Park headquarter, Rangers Layla (left) & Andie (right) greeted us with their friendly, enthusiastic Texas welcome.

After securing an excellent site on top of a hill for the next two nights, we drove back to the city of Bastrop to have lunch at Panda Express.

My lunch - Honey grazed walnut shrimp, stirred fried vegetable & brown rice

J.J.'s lunch - Honey grazed walnut shrimp, chicken mushroom & fried rice

Bastrop and Buescher State Parks are connected by a 12-mile road which at times looks more like a trail. In 2011, a wildfire burned 96 percent of the park.

After enjoying the ultra clean shower and restroom facilities. J.J. and I took an evening walk to enjoy spotting birds and seeing buds starting to open. The weather is slowly getting warmer.

Poignant portrait of Honu set against the charred remains of the "Lost Pines."

Aloha -- Cathi