Monday, July 20, 2015

Hiking with the Alligators

During my recent visit to Houston, my daughter and I went out to Brazos Bend to hike this lovely Texas State Park. The trail started out under the canopy of trees covered with Spanish moss.

Quickly, we were traveling beside Elm Lake. At the edge of the lake is some type of lock or spillage gate.

Along this area of the lake are many water plants with light, bluish flowers. We were amazed by the density of the plants growing in the lake. It looks like a meadow of wild flowers.

Fortunately for us, we took the wrong path. We had planned on traveling around Horseshoe Lake and over to the Big Creek Loop. Instead, we were on the Spillway Trail that took us over to the observation tower by 40 Acre Lake. The Spillway Trail had two alligators resting on the trail. And, we counted four more alligators swimming in the swamps that we walked beside while hiking the trail.

The trail etiquette is to stay on the trails and to stay clear of grasses, twigs, and soil near the side of the trails since alligator nests are found along the water's edge. 

We weren't about to venture off the trail to get a closer look at the pretty green waters. Even though the trail is wide, seeing an alligator resting at trail's edge is very scary. 

The warning is to keep at least 30 feet from an alligator, and don't assume that they are slow moving.
During our walk along the path we saw a turtle cross the path at record speed. I wasn't about to piss off an alligator to see how fast it could move.

From the observation tower there were stunning views of the flat and swampy Brazos Bend. 

After climbing down from the observation deck, we headed back in the direction we came- along this trail. Back at the junction with the lock, we took the Old Horseshoe Lake loop. We never did make the trek out on the Big Creek Loop since it was closed to hikers. This State Park has a campground. If ever my husband and I take an RV trip to Houston, I plan to stop here for a couple of days. There are many interesting trails to explore. So next time I visit my daughter, I will venture here again to hike and learn more about this beautiful area.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

A Midweek Break

We took a couple of days off to visit and explore the coast north of Jenner, CA. Since we didn't have reservations at a campground, we were fortunate to stayed at the lovely Stillwater Cove Campground. Our site was right next to the empty site on the left, the picnic table area.  We were lucky that the campground during midweek wasn't in full use. Even the bike-in/hike-in site behind us was empty.

Even though Highway 1 was close to the campsite, we hardly heard any road noise.

Stillwater Cove Campground is situated in a lovely area of forest that is along the coast. From the campground one can take a short hike down to the beach or walk alongside a stream that feeds into the ocean. The plus is that dogs are allowed to hike these trails. Thank you Sonoma County!

Naturally, we did both short hikes.

In the evening, we ate hamburgers with bacon and fried onions and mushrooms. I'm preparing dinner.  It was such a wonderful bug free, cool evening that we relaxed and enjoyed our leisurely meal at the picnic table. We took a couple of strolls around the campground and met the wonderful hosts, Sue and Betty. It was fun chatting with them. They have been full-timers for at least eight years and this is one of their favorite places to be camp hosts. They sure do make one feel very welcome!

We also drove up to Sea Ranch area and walked a short section of a trail along this stretch of beautiful coast.

As we headed back to Jenner and home, we stopped to look at the sea lions lounging and sunning themselves on the beach. They look like tiny dots lined up along the waters edge of the beach.