Galveston Beach at Dawn

Galveston Beach at Dawn
Galveston Beach at Dawn

Sunday, March 1, 2015

A Visit to Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park

I visited my daughter and her family in Dripping Springs, Texas last weekend. The weather was unusually cold and wet and just got worse.  I planned to camp all week as I worked my way to Choke Canyon State Park and had reserved two nights at Pedernales State Park, a truly beautiful and birdy park.  I extended my stay with my daughter one day, then went to the state park early Tuesday morning to go birding.  But there were no birds at either of the two blinds and and no one came to add food.  So I decided to leave and not stay at the park that night.  Since the weather was so bad, birds everywhere were in hiding so I decided to finally visit the LBJ Ranch, just out of Johnson City.  

The ranch is on the Pedernales River, one of the most beautiful rivers in Texas.  President Johnson loved the ranch and it and the river was his inspiration for  some 300 bills on clean rivers and other environmental and conservation.  Both he and Lady Bird Johnson are buried there. 

The ranch maintains a small herd of bison

View of the river and the dam  built by Johnson, as well as the low water crossing

One of the few cypress trees along the river

The one-room school house where Johnson learned to read at four

Johnson's childhood home, rebuilt

View of one of the rooms in Johnson's childhood home

President and Lady Bird Johnson are buried almost across from his childhood home

The view of the Lutheran church, where the Johnsons worshiped,  across the river from the cemetery

The only cost to visit the ranch is the guided tour though the Texas White House. This building was Johnson's aunt's house.  He traded her his mother's old house in Johnson City, plus $100 per month for life for it.  The left side is original but there are at least two huge bedrooms added to the right.  We were not allowed to take pictures inside, but the house is probably worth less than $250,000 if is was in Houston. It was amazingly unpretentious.

The Texas White House

Johnson  got 250 acres with the house his aunt traded him but soon purchased enough more land to have a 2700 acre ranch.  He learned to be a cattle rancher and raised prize winning Herefords.  This is still a working ranch and has descendants of the original cattle. 

A few of the herefords

Johnson loved to give BBQ's on the Pedernales River.  He served them out of his chuck wagon.

Rear view of the chuck wagon

There was an entire herd of these goats - maybe 50

I decided to just go on over to Junction, Texas and get a motel room.  I stopped at the Fredericksburg Library to make a reservation.  Between Fredericksburg and Junction I passed through a very icy area.  I had to stop to take pictures and found that fog had frozen into crystals.  The landscape was gorgeous but the close ups were fascinating. 

Ice on cactus

These ice crystals grew horizontally on the barbed wire fence

Monday, February 23, 2015

Krewe of Barkus & Meoux Parade

Whoops! I forgot to set this up to run last Sunday.  Currently postponing my next adventures due to icy mist and cold.  But I'll be camping at three different state parks this week.

I multitasked Sunday afternoon, February 14,  and got in a walk as well as taking in a parade. I thought the pet parade might be fun to watch and was not disappointed.

Most of the pets were dogs, but there was one pony, one turtle, one snake, one laid-back cat, 3 or 4 ferrets. and 2 goats, one of which walked as well on a leash as any dog.  Many of the spectator pets were as dressed up as the participant pets.  I walked up the Boardwalk from about 43rd street until I passed all the parade.  Then I just turned around and went back home.

Here are a few of my favorite pictures. If you love looking at pets, the rest are here.


All the young at heart had a good time

Two of the ferrets

The leash -trained kid

The only pony was having to work

The totally laid back cat.....

..... was followed by an equally laid - back bloodhound

Most of the snake was around front but I wanted its head

Many children and dogs were in strollers or wagons, sometimes together

This guy was WAY more decorated than was his dog

This very sweet dog is looking for a forever home

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Wild Bird Wednesday - Sunset at the North Jetty, Bolivar

I spent most of a long day getting myself, and my sinker cypress board (to use to build new thwarts and gunnels for my canoe) home from Hammond, Louisiana.  This is usually only a  five hour trip, but it took about 2 hours more to detour to pick up the board, then get it to ride on the car.  I had forgotten to put my racks on so was working with foam carriers.

At Old Wood Reclaimed, where I finally located a board long enough for new canoe gunnels

Then my car was irresistibly pulled into turning down the road that leads to the Creole Nature Trail that runs through Sabine National Wildlife Refuge.  Then, since, the highway no longer exists along the coast from Port Arthur to High Island, I chose to drive to Port Arthur, back up to I-10 at Winnie, and then back down to the coast  on Bolivar Peninsula to drive to the Galveston Ferry.  I anticipated lots of birds but very few were around.

By the time I was on the Bolivar Peninsula,  the light was getting really beautiful. I would be a little early to see the sunset but the perfect way to kill another hour popped into my head in time for me to hunt down the North Jetty. This is on the west side of Audubon's Bolivar Flats, 1.7 miles from the ferry, and is the place to find birds in good light in the afternoon.  The Jetty is nearly a mile long, so there are lots of great views.  And there is a little oyster reef just at the end of my camera's range,  that attracts loafing and roosting birds.


Marbled godwit with food

Laughing gulls are molting into breeding plumage

Marbled godwit pair

Red knots

Snowy egret and willet

A few of an estimated 500 skimmers - they were coming in to roost and their numbers kept growing

Willett and greater yellowlegs. 

White pelicans flying to feeding area on west side of the dike 

Feeding time - there were at least 25 pelicans in this group

Willet trio

Black-bellied plover

Unsuccessful fisherman coming back

Sunset over Fort Travis 

I ended up staying there until almost dark.  It was a wonderful time. And I managed to have one more small adventure when I couldn't start my car to drive off the ferry and had to be pushed by some of the ferry crew to get started. Thankfully, I still drive a stick shift.  I spent two more days getting the battery replaced - you don't want to know - before  finding that I had a bad fuse causing the problem. Two days later, I had to be jumped again and this time my jumper cables caught on fire. I slightly burned my fingers grabbing the cables off both cars.  I think the main problem was a loose connection to my positive post. I went to an Auto Zone  and bought a little gizmo that fits over the post and reestablishes connectivity.  So far, I'm good and my fingers can feel again.

Check out Wild Bird Wednesday