Friday, July 15, 2011

Take a Hike

Now that I have some hiking gear I must use it. As if I need an excuse to get outdoors. ;-)

This week I took the kids out for a hike at Brazos Bend State Park. I adore this place. When it was hit by Hurricane Ike in 2008 I called as soon as phone service was restored to see if there was any way I could help clean up. It's almost like a second home. Our family has become rather attached to this park and its wild inhabitants.

It was a hot day when we went this week so we were sure to pack plenty of water and some snacks. My goal was a 6 mile trail but in the end we just hiked 4 miles.

We saw a Great White Egret.
 A beautiful lily pad flower.
 There's a new observation deck at Elm Lake! Charlie is sporting his brand new daypack from REI.
 We saw baby moorhens. I could just squeeze them they're so cute.
 A momma moorhen and her babies.
 The black-bellied whistling ducks really do whistle.
 This anhinga was panting in the heat. The lakes were very low from the severe drought.
 A green heron looking for a fishy lunch.
 The trail around Elm Lake is sunny. Rachel is scratching her leg. I took her to the doctor the next day. Turns out she has a tick bite that had become infected. She's on a round of antibiotics that has her taking 4 per day! All from hiking in the woods the weekend before in shorts.
 A trip to Brazos Bend wouldn't be complete without an alligator sighting.  They seem to all be congregated in one lake because of how low the other lakes are. They're a little cranky and fussy over territory so we got to hear them growling at each other.  They don't mind the people walking the trails. I guess they're used to the traffic but they certainly mind other alligators coming into their territory. A little secret: I've touched one or two on the tail before. Living on the wild side, I am. Or the stupid side.
 A hot red-bellied woodpecker.
 Great Blue Herons look so beautiful and graceful but they have a terrible "grock" call. Definitely not a song bird.  They usually fly away anytime I get close but this one stood there. Maybe the heat was making it lethargic. I took the opportunity to get a few pictures.

 This juvenile Yellow-crowned Night Heron was intent on catching some lunch. Such concentration. He didn't move a muscle.
 I wore a Buff as a headband to catch the sweat before it ran into my eyes but it was soaked by the end of our 4 miles. It dries pretty quickly and by the time we got home it was almost dry.

After cooling off and eating some lunch I took the kids to Galveston State Park to grab our last geocache in the Houston area's Texas Parks and Wildlife Geocache Challenge.

Charlie found it without a problem.
 While in Galveston we decided to grab a couple of other geocaches in the area. One took us to an historical marker that told us about Cabeza de Vaca, LaSalle and Jean Lafitte. These were all of the things we had been studying about in Texas history! I love it when that happens.

Then we headed to another one that turned out to be a deserted, run-down mansion. It's supposed to be haunted if you believe in those sorts of things. Certainly looked like it!  The giant live oaks on the property were killed during the hurricane because of all the salt water.
 This is the Stewart Mansion vacation house. Stewart from Stewart Title Company and the war profiteer.

The house was falling apart and kind of creepy but also beautiful at the same time. We walked into a courtyard that had a water fountain and a fireplace trimmed in blue tiles and accented with handmade tiles of Spanish and Mexican scenes.

 A tiled scene of a Spanish conquistador.
We (actually it was Charlie who found it again) found the geocache inside an old oven on the back porch near the courtyard then went on to explore the house. 

The house was built in 1924 on the very grounds that Jean Lafitte fought the Karankawa Indians. Inside the ruined mansion is a room with a fireplace and a ruined piano. On the walls are three pirate scenes. They're painted directly on the walls. This one is of Jean Lafitte. There is a legend that his treasure is buried on the island somewhere near this house.
 It's a shame that these paintings and this incredible home is being left to fall into ruins. I wish someone or the historical foundation would buy it and restore it. At least save some of the amazing features of it.

Another pirate painting.  I found it kind of strange that a war profiteer and title company owner had such a fascination with pirates.
I can only imagine the parties this house used to host. I wish I had the money to buy it and the 10 acres it sits on. But my money tree seems to have died.

I did a little research when I got home and read that the house had been purchased by a development company and they plan on building condos and this magnificent home will either be torn down or turned into a community center. Kind of makes me sick.  I think I may go back and take more pictures before it's completely destroyed.

I did get in plenty of exercise but I ruined it by eating a not-so-healthy dinner. But tomorrow is always a brand new day with a clean slate. No sense fretting over the things I can't change. Instead, I look to the future.

I know this was a rather long post. Thanks for coming along with me on the journey. Wish you were here to see it in person.


  1. WOW...what a fantastic post. LOVE all the photos (though I did "eww" out loud when I saw the one of the gator. Scary!) Thanks for taking us along on your hike with you!!!

  2. Beautiful pictures Kelly! What a shame to get rid of that house instead of restoring it.

  3. I LOVE LOVE Your posts Kelly! Such beautiful adventures you and your family go on. I love seeing the pictures and reading about your day. So exciting.

    I've been very busy lately and don't get to comment much, but I do read every one of your posts and a few other of my favorite folks!

    Have a FANTASTIC weekend!!


  4. Great pictures - I especially liked the heron shots!

    That house is really amazing - there is no way it should be torn down. Where is anyone's sense of history!?!

  5. Great pictures of the wildlife...but the alligator was scary! I am used to them residing in the zoo...or are those crocodiles???

    The house is gorgeous...especially the blue tiles.

    Enjoy the weekend and I hope Rachel is fine!!!

  6. I visited the Stewart Mansion recently too (and blogged about it, because it was so fun). I feel the same way about the house! It's so beautiful and I wish that a development company didn't own it because I really don't think that bodes well for the mansion at all. I really don't know if they'll want to put the money in to salvage it, as it will be quite the project. Thank you for taking pictures!


I love comments. Tell me what's on your mind. :)