"Of all the paths you take in life make sure a few of them are dirt" US Forest Sevice

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Down in the boondocks...

Caddo Lake State Park, Texas
We left Austin a few days early when we were able to snag three nights in Caddo
Lake State Park.  Bald cypress trees draped with Span­ish moss tower over the maze of bayous, sloughs and ponds of Caddo Lake is located on the Texas/ Louisiana border. It is Texas's only natural lake at 12 feet below sea level.

Being quiet brings back childhood memories sometimes. Watching the fish from the pier reminded me of a time when I was a young girl, Mrs. Lukezic took Jimmy Oliver and me ( Deb) fishing on the Arkansas River. She said that a good fisherman never gets the tip of his pole wet. Why that came back to me, I haven't a clue.  Not having internet for a while can be a good thing.

Eerie night time pictures of Mills Pond

The best way to see Caddo Lake is on the water. There are several tour companies
that go out on pontoons. But we wanted to go out on the Go Devils ( john boats)
to get into the back channels.  We called Johnson Ranch and he replied with his
Southern accent for us to drive 5 miles down a backroad. When we arrive he would call
a guide to take us out on the water. Just don't arrive before 8 am.

We were out early to check out the area and decided to have breakfast at the marina
before our adventure. Plus, we didn't want to arrive too early. The grits and
biscuits were so good we considered returning the next morning. The waitress was
quite taken with Mike. While she fussed over him and "loving the sound of his voice".
I took a walk along the pier to listen to the bayou sounds

 We found Johnson's Ranch. The lady managing the ranch called Chaz with a "Z" to
pick up the boat and he would be there in a while. We had plenty of time to check
out the area and find the restroom, which reminded us of our time in Costa Rica.
Mike scouted out ahead to make sure it was clear of critters.
 The fishing camp store and bar

The bar was old and pretty cool.

Uncertain’s aging downtown, a two-lane road with a couple of seafood restaurants, a convenience store, and some ragtag motels, and cross the bridge to the island. Everything is damp and mossy; shacks with lapsed roofs, rusted pickups parked under the pines. Occasionally you come across an abandoned house that is entirely overrun by weeds and vines, its rooftop barely visible behind a frenzy of foliage
 The restrooms way down that path
Chaz with a "Z" showed up with his ride and we were off. I asked if we should put on
the life jackets. He said "Nah". I was good with that. They were covered with spider
webs. I doubt is they would have been much good with the alligators if we fell in.
When I looked back and saw the cigarette hanging from his mouth by the motor, I
thought the lifejackets really were a nonissue.

Once he shook off the tiredness and not feeling well, he told us stories about the
history the lake. He shared with us about the invasive green plants
and their affect on the environment. We watched birds, turtles, frogs and fish as
we trolled through the channels. He also told us stories about the people that
live in this area over the years.

 Chaz grew up on the lake and was very passionate about it.

 A person that didn't know the area could get into trouble going down the back channels.

 The channels were well marked if you knew what you were doing.
 He showed us many of the duck blinds he has built and uses to take hunters out in the fall.
I got  a dragonfly in my mouth as we were going along at a good clip but managed to get him out before he went down. Not a good taste. I kept my mouth closed after that one.

 This establishment on the East side of Lake Caddo was in a Wet county where the laws were lax and loosely enforced. On the west side where Uncertain is located, the county was dry and no alcohol was allowed to be sold.  The only way to get to this establishment was by boat as it was out in the swamp, but on the East side of the county line. They sold liquor, held dances, gambled, and served as brothels and were proud of the fact that they allowed anything to go on.  There is an old sign posted on the front of a tree.
#1 There ain't none
#2 There ain't never been none

Returning to Johnson Ranch
When we had arrived at our campsite the previous day, a couple on the boardwalk
suggested that we check out the town of Jefferson. When we planned to see Caddo Lake, we
hadn't really researched the area and decided to checkout the place.

Great hiking trails with plenty of poison ivy. We put on our long pants but it was a  nice walk in the woods.
 Another CCC building

Big Cypress Bayou River

Jefferson is a touristy kind of place that really only gets a big influx of people
a couple of times a year. They have a big Civil War reenactment in May but we could
see history everywhere we looked.
Much of the small town has been restored. While geocaching in Jefferson, we went to find one outside the police station called "At the Popo". Once we found it, an officer came out and visited with us for a while after asking if we found the cache. He said that they don't have much crime with only 10,000 people in the county except when they have their special events.  Much like the small towns we both grew up in, if you did something wrong sooner or later your parents would hear about it. Usually, sooner than later.

The state of Texas, we found, is so diverse, just like the rest of our country. We were so glad that we made this stop in this strange and mysterious place we had never heard of before now
We wouldn't change a thing about this experience.


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Austin"s McKinney Falls

Recently, we were pulling into a campground and heard a high pitched sound. We looked around wondering what was making that awful noise. As we were driving to our spot, people were looking at us in a questioning way. It was us!  We have had our bikes stolen in the past and prefer to keep them and not bother the insurance company for new ones. We had put an alarm on our bikes that is supposed to scare off potential thieves if they cut the chain or messed with the lock.

We haven't had TV for a couple of weeks.  We turned on the news to hear another storm  and  tornado warnings on the way for round two. We were surrounded  by trees that made us uncomfortable. We dodged the bullet by being south of Austin and just got a lot of rain. Onion Creek has risen quite a bit once the sun came out.
 We stayed in McKinney Falls State  Park and had purchased a state parks pass that gives us half off the second night. The RV park in town is $100 /night during the spring. This was a good choice even if we had to battle the traffic to get into Austin.
Fishing in Texas's state parks does not require a fishing license even if we weren't residents. The bass and catfish are huge. But after the storm the creeks were too muddy to fish.
 We had to check out downtown Austin. Good thing we had our trusty GPS and a good backseat driver to maneuver the strange flow of the city. The traffic that we had heard about lived up to the hype.

Plenty of street art.
We stopped at the Driskill Hotel to share a huge amazing cinnamon roll after lots of walking. It was Saturday and the wait for brunch was quite long.  We opted for the bakery and coffee with a window view of  the baker at work.
Built in 1886 as the showplace of a cattle baron, The Driskill remains a landmark of legendary Texas hospitality, located on Sixth Street in the heart of downtown Austin, From the magnificent columned lobby with its marble floors and stained-glass dome to the classic, newly revitalized d├ęcor, it was fun to imagine a time gone by.

 After finishing our cinnamon rolls we headed down the street to the capitol. It is amazing to me to see the amount of money spent on fixtures and fountains. There must have been a lot of tax money coming in during the cattle and oil growth. The door handles were pretty fancy.
The hike bike trail around Lady Bird Lake is 10 miles long with bridges and loads of people walking and biking even on a Monday morning.

Turtle conga line

Downtown Austin from the boardwalk

Lady Bird Boardwalk
Back at McKinney Falls lower falls.

Shelter Rock along Onion Creek
On to Bayou country...