Texas State Parks

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We are leaving Texas on Thursday heading to Louisiana and then moving north to Cincinnati.  Our plans at this point are to be by Zach and Lauren’s around the 10th of March.  It has turned cold as has most of the country so the long johns have come back out.  We are thinking that we will be using them for awhile since we are going north a little early this year.  Why are we so foolish?  We want to spend time with the kids both in Ohio and Minnesota before we head to Alaska mid-May for the summer.  That is our plans as of now but things can always change.

In the last three weeks we have stayed at three wonderful Texas state parks.   Each was so different but loved all of them.   As with so many state parks we have stayed at Texas has an entry pass fee.  If you don’t buy their $70 per year pass you will pay $5 per person per day entry fee over the cost of your camping fee.  So the first park we stayed at, Goose Island, Rockport, TX,  the camping fee per night was $22 and if we wouldn’t have bought the yearly pass it would have been $32 per night.  We stayed there nine nights which would have cost us $90 just for the daily entry fees.  So for us the pass was a no-brainer.  Plus with the purchasing the pass you get 4 nights at half price if you stay in four different parks.  It worked well for us.

CampsiteGoose Island State Park sat on a bay off the Gulf Coast in Rockport.  We had a nice site backed against the water’s edge.  We enjoyed watching dolphins and birds out our window or just sitting in the sun.  The biggest thrill at Goose Island was the migrating Whooping Cranes that spent their winter in a nearby marsh/field.  The Sandhill Cranes also migrated to this area so we were able to watch them also.    Both were enjoyable to watch and Joe loved photographing them although they stayed a distance away from all the people who came to get a glimpse of them.  Whooping Cranes are listed on the endangered list but are making a comeback because of conservation efforts.  I always feel it is a privilege to witness birds like the whooping crane in the wild.

Weekend Fishing Winds effect shape of tress Dolphin Whooping Cranes Parks Pier Gulf Coast

We really enjoyed the Rockport area and met so many nice people camped at Goose Island.  In fact we camped next to people from Minnesota and met several others that were also from MN.  We definitely would go back to this area again.

Brazos Bend State ParkOur next stop was at Brazos Bend State Park .  We were unable to get into this park on weekends because it was booked so we reserved from Sunday to Friday.  We would have stayed longer if we could have.  Coming in on a Sunday was a little bit of a mistake.  In all the state parks we have ever gone to, and that has been more than I could count, it is the first park that when we came in on a Sunday afternoon we had to wait in line with about 40 other cars and campers to check in.  The park is known for its biking and walking trails along with birding and alligators.  It was a beautiful warm day and the people were out to enjoy the park.  We set-up and decided to wait until Monday when the park cleared out before we explored.  We were fortunate to have five fabulous days at this park.  We enjoyed biking, hiking, campfires, bird-watching and alligator watching.  We saw so many alligators on and along the trails as we either walked or biked.  Sometimes they were just a little too close to the trail.  Only once did we turn around and go back after a gator was just a little too much on the trail for our comfort.  We talked to a ranger about the size of some of the gators and he said they tagged one that measured 12.5 ft two yrs ago.  That is one big guy!   The birding was pretty great also.  We saw for the first time a Black-bellied Whistling Duck, a Black-crowned Night Heron (which remind us of a penguin) and an American Bittern that likes to camouflage itself against the weeds.  It is fun to see birds we hadn’t seen before and look them up in the bird book. We loved Brazos Bend and would definitely go back.

American Bittern like to camouflage  IMG_6997 IMG_7025 IMG_7125 IMG_7153 Alligator on sunny day

Our last stop in Texas and where we currently are is Fairfield Lake State Park, Fairfield.  This is a very nice park that has three loops on Fairfield Lake.  One loop where we are was redone last year and is very nice.  The other two loops are in desperate need of fixing.  The park doesn’t have a lot to offer as far as hiking trails or birding but it is very peaceful.  I’ll take peacefulness any day and would love to come back.

When we got our mail in January Joe received his Medicare card.  Can it be that he is going to be 65 in March?  This is a fact that is hard for both of us to believe.  So he (me) had to shop for an insurance supplement for his Medicare and I would have to look for insurance since we would be dropped from Toro’s insurance when Joe turned 65.    Joe would tell you that it is not fun to be around me when I have to work on things like this.  I just want to be able to make one phone call and I’m done.  But it just doesn’t work like that.  Our biggest hurdle to jump over was that we are South Dakota residents but want to keep our Minnesota doctors and want to be covered anywhere we travel.  After many phone calls and web checks we finally both have plans.  I discovered that I can stay on our current plan through Toro which is great.  I just need to find out the cost.  It can’t be that much can it?  Eighteen months to go and I’ll be looking again but this time it should be easier.

We are off to a Louisiana State Park in a few days.  Getting closer to the kids makes me get a little excited.  Our son Eric is flying to OH while we are there so it will be nice to be with our two boys and Lauren.  We are looking forward to see all the work they have completed on their house.

In two different state parks we ran into a very nice couple from MN who have been married for 48 yrs.  We had great visits with them each time.  They told us that every evening they celebrate because it was another day of being together.  I was so touched by this and thought it was words to live by.  So today as always we are so grateful for having the opportunity to live our dream and we celebrate each day together.

Stay safe!  Love to our kids and especially Cate and Alex.  See you all soon!