Archive for February, 2015

The Rest of Texas Travels!

After Clay’s institution I headed out to Surfside Free beach near Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge. Though I had pioneer intentions of camping on the beach in my van, someone offered me the use of their beach house for the week instead…it would be rude to refuse, right!?

Sunset over Jetty Pier as viewed from Surfside Free Beach in south Texas!

Sunset over Jetty Pier as viewed from Surfside Free Beach in south Texas!

But I did take bigblue out on the beach and had a very pleasant day fishing with Scott! And met a hitchhiker named Jesica that didn’t mind the accommodations of the back of the van for the 13 miles she needed a ride.

Big Blue on Surfside Free Beach with a bird and the moon! Dolphins were frolicking out past the sandbar!

Big Blue on Surfside Free Beach with a bird and the moon! Dolphins were frolicking out past the sandbar!

Then it struck me…I’m nowhere near a tv and it is time for the superbowl! So that Sunday after church at “The Anchor” (a Hebraic messianic southern Baptist group) I went one last time through Brazoria and finally got to see the roseate spoonbills I’ve been wanting to see as well as some long-billed curlew, white ibis, Northern shoveler, and Gadwall.

Three snapshots of 2 roseate spoonbills hanging out at Roger's Pond in Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge in south Texas. They are so incredibly complex and beautiful!

Three snapshots of 2 roseate spoonbills hanging out at Roger’s Pond in Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge in south Texas. They are so incredibly complex and beautiful!

Then I turned bigblue toward Houston so I could see the superbowl with my favorite football watching companion—Jill! Great game…though it did kind of break my heart for Russell Wilson L And as a bonus for heading to Houston to watch the game, I was then able to stay until Wednesday morning so I could see Greg and Mary! What a blessing that was!

Long-billed Curlew hanging out at the Brazoria  National Wildlife Refuge in south Texas.

Long-billed Curlew hanging out at the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge in south Texas.

Oh, and one other thing I did while in Houston, was visit the incredible Lanier Theological Library in northwest Houston. The private collection of this lawyer is quite phenomenal. It should make my brother appreciate just how small my library is that he is housing for me!

Privately owned collection of theological books and artifacts...they don't let you check out books but you do get to scan for free! And it is a great place to study...lovely environment!

Privately owned collection of theological books and artifacts…they don’t let you check out books but you do get to scan for free! And it is a great place to study…lovely environment!

My mom has been talking a lot about the Empty Cross sculpture in Kerrville, so I headed that direction and spent my first night there.

Two of many sculptures found at Kerrville, TX. The Divine Servant of Jesus with the Empty Cross in the background. "I did not come to be served but to serve!"

Two of many sculptures found at Kerrville, TX. The Divine Servant of Jesus with the Empty Cross in the background. “I did not come to be served but to serve!”

Then I headed to Judge Roy Bean’s neck of the woods to get one last gas fill up before forging deep into Big Bend (and they happen to have a great cactus garden at the visitor center as well). I met a 70 year old gal there who has lived there her whole life…oh the stories she had!

Sunset in Judge Roy Bean's neck of the woods in Langtry, TX. My toilet is attached to the back of the van so that no critters decide to investigate in the night!

Sunset in Judge Roy Bean’s neck of the woods in Langtry, TX. My toilet is attached to the back of the van so that no critters decide to investigate in the night!

Big Bend

Wow! I so wish I knew how to take pictures of stars but instead, I just had to lay back in my lounge chair and enjoy them through the night!

Preparing myself to start counting the stars as they slowly appear as the sun kisses me and BigBlue goodnight!

Preparing myself to start counting the stars as they slowly appear as the sun kisses me and BigBlue goodnight!

 

Not a single flight pattern seems to cross over Big Bend. I could count the stars as they made their appearance in the sky at the beginning of the day, but after star number twelve showed up, they all started coming out by leaps and bounds…uncountable!

I couldn't figure out how to convince my camera that the object was NOT too dark to focus on, so I have borrowed a photo from Joe and www.joesroadtrip.com to convey just what it is like to camp under Big Bend's sky!

I couldn’t figure out how to convince my camera that the object was NOT too dark to focus on, so I have borrowed a photo from Joe and http://www.joesroadtrip.com to convey just what it is like to camp under Big Bend’s sky!

The land is vast, the roads seem never-ending, and the solitude is priceless! Though a coyote did cross my path (no pictorial evidence though), and a family of 7 javelinas dared to cross bigblue’s path (only caught the “deborah” of the litter though [ie, the youngest).

One of 7 javelinas that graced me with their presence crossing the road in Big Bend National Park!

One of 7 javelinas that graced me with their presence crossing the road in Big Bend National Park!

Camping in Big Bend was a treat because there was just so much to see and it only cost $10 for 14 days. I even managed to catch a snap shot of a vermillion flycatcher on the Rio Grande Village eastern part of the park.

Oh boy, if this little critter did not just light up when the sun caught his breast! Such brilliance red-orange...with a little masked bandit look! Vermillion Flycatcher seen on the east side of Big Bend by the Rio Grande.

Oh boy, if this little critter did not just light up when the sun caught his breast! Such brilliance red-orange…with a little masked bandit look! Vermillion Flycatcher seen on the east side of Big Bend by the Rio Grande.

And then I was able to manage a trek into the Santa Elena Canyon on the western part of the park along the Rio Grande River whose water level was quite low. It reminded me somewhat of Zion’s Narrows.

Looking up the Santa Elena Canyon following the Rio Grande River on a beautiful sunny day!

Looking up the Santa Elena Canyon following the Rio Grande River on a beautiful sunny day!

In the center of the park was the Chisos Basin where I finally gave in and grabbed a bite to eat at the restaurant which overlooked more beautiful mountainous scenery at sunset. All you can eat salad, soup and bread bar…ate like a little javelina while enjoying the sun setting down behind the mountains!

View northward towards Big Bend from the mouth of the Santa Elena canyon.

View northward towards Big Bend from the mouth of the Santa Elena canyon.

After having completed the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, I headed up to Guadalupe Mtns via the El Camino del Rio which follows the twists and turns of the Rio Grande River through Big Bend Ranch State Park up to Presidio. Continual eye candy for those who enjoy rugged mountains and flowing rivers!

Big Bend Ranch State Park has an incredible scenic byway called El Camino de Rio that is as rugged as a John Wayne movie! Beautiful in Texas and Mexico!

Big Bend Ranch State Park has an incredible scenic byway called El Camino de Rio that is as rugged as a John Wayne movie! Beautiful in Texas and Mexico!

I then headed north to Marfa and then on to Ft. Davis (the highest town in Texas) to begin the Davis Mountain Loop Scenic Drive (Davis Mountains are also known as the Texas Alps!). Heading west along the Elbow Canyon rim, the mountains in the distance are absolutely gorgeous.

Big Blue in front of the Davis Mountains...the Alps of Texas! Gorgeous terrain all the way around the Davis Mountain Loop scenic byway!

Big Blue in front of the Davis Mountains…the Alps of Texas! Gorgeous terrain all the way around the Davis Mountain Loop scenic byway!

After that scenic drive was complete, I headed the extra 40 miles to get to Van Horn for the night. On the way there, listening to “Great Teaching Courses” American Identity, I heard my check engine light go on. I was in the middle of nowhere without any noticeable problems while on the road, so I went ahead and completed my trek to Van Horn.

Check Engine light on as we head to the Guadalupe Mtns. (Daisy's birthday flower on the mirror, Diana's dancing daisies on the dash, Clay's generous Christmas present lets me hear the audio books without a problem, Paige and mine's first concession to getting old...glasses, and the kindness of Larry Adkins gets me to each place with great ease!)

Check Engine light on as we head to the Guadalupe Mtns. (Daisy’s birthday flower on the mirror, Diana’s dancing daisies on the dash, Clay’s generous Christmas present lets me hear the audio books without a problem, Paige and mine’s first concession to getting old…glasses, and the kindness of Larry Adkins gets me to each place with great ease!)

I arrived in Van Horn and discovered through off-on x3, read the odometer trick that it was battery and transmission related. I thought I’d give BigBlue a break and stayed in Van Horn for a couple of days and worked at the library and camped locally. I met several folks, one even resulting in a marriage proposal. Oh the story behind that encounter! I think some men might confuse the attractiveness of the gospel of Jesus Christ for being attracted to me!

The location of my third marriage proposal since this trip began! It was a very tasty dinner for sure, but even that could not convince me that "yes" was suppose to be my answer! Chuy's at Van Horn.

The location of my third marriage proposal since this trip began! It was a very tasty dinner for sure, but even that could not convince me that “yes” was suppose to be my answer! Chuy’s at Van Horn.

Finally, I headed up to Guadalupe Mountains National Park and then on to Carlsbad, NM to get a new battery and get more specific transmission codes for my van. Guadalupe…I believe national parks are designed to make the participant feel small, very small!

BigBlue at Guadalupe Mountains National Park. The hiking trails are very doable and afford incredible scenery as far as the eye can see. It was a very clear day! Guadalupe Peak is the highest mountain in the old confederacy.

BigBlue at Guadalupe Mountains National Park. The hiking trails are very doable and afford incredible scenery as far as the eye can see. It was a very clear day! Guadalupe Peak is the highest mountain in the old confederacy.

The heights of Congaree hardwoods, the expansiveness of the Everglades, the vastness of Big Bend’s sky, the depths of the Grand Canyon, the broadness of the west Texas hill country viewed from Guadalupe’s peak, the majesty of the Grand Tetons, etc, etc. The only exception seems to be is the feeling of bigness that occurs when attempting to navigate the passages in the Carlsbad Caverns narrow passages! But even that leads to a cavernous room in the end!

Here at the vast cave mazes at Carlsbad Caverns on fee free weekend for Presidents' Day Weekend! So I had absolutely no problem finding someone to take the photo! It was a popular spot...only being 45 miles from Carlsbad, NM.

Here at the vast cave mazes at Carlsbad Caverns on fee free weekend for Presidents’ Day Weekend! So I had absolutely no problem finding someone to take the photo! It was a popular spot…only being 45 miles from Carlsbad, NM.

With a new battery in from Walmart in Carlsbad, NM the check engine light went off and I was able to conclude my Texas travels and begin my New Mexico and westward journey…the last leg of Big Blue Chrysler’s journey.

Big Blue on the lonely roads of west Texas! Gorgeous contemplative area!

Big Blue on the lonely roads of west Texas! Gorgeous contemplative area!

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The Rest of 2014 Travels with BigBlue

Some type of yellow flower shown in four various stages!

Some type of yellow flower shown in four various stages!

After the Everglades I returned back to Ocala National Park where Ivan and Nina live nearby, and got me a “Hollywood shower’ (a term I now understand to mean, a long hot shower in a clean facility!) and did another load of laundry! Ahhh.

Big Blue in Ocala National Forest just north of Orlando, FL...it was a rainy time of the year...but warm!

Big Blue in Ocala National Forest just north of Orlando, FL…it was a rainy time of the year…but warm!

I then headed up to Thomasville where the oldest restaurant in Georgia is “the Plaza Oyster Bar.” The name is not the least bit enticing as I don’t care one iota for oysters nor do I drink alcohol…but it was an old building with an old smell with not a customer in sight. I had the pick of the house as far as seating and I splurged for dinner getting a rib eye well done, baked potato, salad, and rolls…accompanied by BBQ sauce! DEE-LISH-OUS!

Not the type of sign you'd expect to find on the oldest restaurant of an eastern state...but it did have a tasty well-done rib eye and baked potato!

Not the type of sign you’d expect to find on the oldest restaurant of an eastern state…but it did have a tasty well-done rib eye and baked potato!

I had facebooked my sister-in-law’s sister a day or two before wondering if I could stop by for Thanksgiving in Pensacola Florida, and I got word Thanksgiving Eve that it is all systems go! I hadn’t seen her 30+ years and a lot of living has transpired in the meanwhile. I didn’t meet her whole crew, but I did meet enough of them that one of her daughter’s Beth had to draw up a family tree(s) for me to get them all straightened out in my mind! And the food was yumm-o…exactly what one would want for Thanksgiving day…what a great unplanned treat those two days of seeing Shirley, Melanie and the others was!

(unfortunately I have absolutely no pictures from that time! So here is a lizard instead!)

 

Cute little critter scurrying his way to shelter when he saw me coming with a camera!

Cute little critter scurrying his way to shelter when he saw me coming with a camera!

After Pensacola, I went up to Canton to see my dear friend Paula one more time, then the idea was to see GSMNP covered in snow, but the high roads were closed off. So I stayed on the lower levels and then headed over to Nashville to see Kathy!

It is the middle of winter even though I don't have a jacket on! Nor a hat...gulp! I wanted to get up to Clingman's dome but the roads were closed due to snow...still beautiful countryside!

It is the middle of winter even though I don’t have a jacket on! Nor a hat…gulp! I wanted to get up to Clingman’s dome but the roads were closed due to snow…still beautiful countryside!

After being at her beautiful place for a season, I headed to Hot Springs, AR but it was cold and grey there. I’m going to have to do Hot Springs at a better time. Things were quite grey and shivering!

The higher I got up into the mountains the colder it became...here is why they call it the Smoky Mountains!

The higher I got up into the mountains the colder it became…here is why they call it the Smoky Mountains!

So I headed off to Houston via Crockett National Forest and Sam Houston National Forest. I need to revisit those too when it is a little bit more green! But hey…no mosquitos!

Big Blue stopping for gelato near my brother's house!

Big Blue stopping for gelato near my brother’s house!

Stayed at Clay and Jill’s for a month for Christmas and his installation at St. John the Divine. I got to see C&J’s kids, my parents, Diana, my other brother and sister-in-law, 2 of Jill’s sisters, Bethany and Tyler, Bishop Bill, Slovaks, Lindseys, Reisners, Michies, Tomlinsons, met Ali and a bajillion others at SJD.

Mom and Dad with Clay and Jill after his institution at St. John the Divine. It was great to have my brother and sister-in-law there too! (Dan and Stacey!) Great time of celebration!

Mom and Dad with Clay and Jill after his institution at St. John the Divine. It was great to have my brother and sister-in-law there too! (Dan and Stacey!) Great time of celebration!

But the only one who slept with me…was St. Nick (aka Heathcliff, aka Simba)! He was discovered wandering SJD campus after midnight service on Christmas Eve. Just look at him…doesn’t that look like a white beard for a man dressed in red!? He stayed with me from Christmas to New Year’s day!

The Little Fellow who kept me company between Christmas and 2015!

The Little Fellow who kept me company between Christmas and 2015!

Well, that closes out my first leg of the journey across the nation! God willing, more will be forthcoming in due time!