Big Bend, TX

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Big Bend National Park is named after the big bend in the Rio Grande where it takes a sharp turn north.  It is literally in the southwestern point of TX and miles from everything.  It is at least 100 miles south of I10 and mostly out of reach of any TV, Radio, internet or phone service.  So, if you really want to get away from IT ALL, this is the place to go.

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The park is bordered on the south by the Rio Grande and Mexico, it includes the entire Chisos mountain range and a large part of the Chihuahuan Desert.  Which makes for some amazing geological features.  Mountains, desert and a mighty river all in the same place for a 100million years and this is what you get.  From the ocean floor to dinosaur habitat to what you see now.  Femur bone from a dinosaur found in the park.

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The Rio Grande was a mighty river before irrigation diversions along the way.  Although it swells with seasonal rains while we were there the river levels were very low its hard to imagine the river being navigable but it must be, there are lots of outfitters.  There are three major canyons within Big Bend carved by the Rio Grande.  West to east they are Santa Elena, Mariscal and Boquillas canyons.  Mariscal is only accessible via high clearance 4×4 and a long hike, so we did not get to see it.

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The river flows gently out of Santa Elena so gently it’s hard to believe that over thousands of years that meager river cut thru solid rock creating 1,500 feet high cliffs that are as close together as 30 feet in places.

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The layers of rock on the canyon wall make the river appear to be running steeper than it actually is, this created a real weird visual mind game about what level actually is.  Pretty cool optical illusion.

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What an awesome canyon, and when you got deep enough in that the cliffs provided shade the temp dropped at least 15 degrees!!!  We did see canoe/kayakers paddling up river into the canyon, guess the steep sides squeezes the water into a narrower path with enough depth to paddle, still looked pretty shallow though.

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On the other end of the park the river flows into the Boquillas Canyon.  This canyon and the surrounding Del Carmen mountains contain the longest and deepest canyon at 33 miles long without put in or take outs and over 7,000 feet from this tallest peak of the Del Carmen’s (Pico peak) to river level.

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We found it hard to understand how a river could flow into a mountain range and the canyon when the river is what supposedly cut the canyon???  It should be flowing out of the mountains not into them.  And the surrounding area is mostly flat desert???  That is when we learned that over these 100s of millions of years, the surrounding desert actually sank leaving the large sheer cliffs around Santa Elena and the craggy mountains of the Del Carmens.  The Boquillas canyon does not have the straight up canyon walls of Santa Elena, but is beautiful in its own right.

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Peace, Love and Justice for all!!!

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Brownsville and Laredo, TX

Texas sized yucca not a Joshua Tree, hard to tell the difference sometimes.

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Since we’re in south Texas figured we might as well go as south as you can.  Brownsville why not.  Weather was nice even with the big polar vortex our coldest day was low 50s, so not too bad.  Over 80 today.   Being unsure of the government status (had been closed for over a month) we wanted to kill some time in the warm south before heading west to Big Bend.

South Padre Island was only about 30 min east of us and offered a beautiful area to explore.  Padre Island reminded me a lot of Assateague Island off the Delmarva Peninsula.  Very long barrier island designated National Seashores so protected and inaccessible except via 4×4 and maybe not even that some places.   Nice to have natural areas stay natural!!!  Check them out on the map very similar in form and purpose???

We enjoyed the beach,

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But doubt these dogs enjoyed it as much as Nellie.  Hahaha

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Billie shared a memory of a visit she and Dad had one time, they rented a dune buggy to play around on the dunes.  That is no longer allowed, but I imagine that they had a wonderful time. Can hear Daddy giggling as I think about it.  Thanks for the love and memories Billie.  She also mentioned that he got the name for Bridgepoint from a resort here and we happened to ride by so here’s to Bridgepoint and Dad’s love for travel.

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South Padre Island (SPI) also had a kite festival while we were there, did not pay, but found a nice viewing spot for our picnic that day…  Note what looks like a large bird in these photos is actually a kite too.  My favorite, but couldn’t get a better picture of it!!!

Padre Island approximately 130 miles long, is the eastern barrier of the Laguna Madre.  Laguna Madre is a very long and shallow lagoon between Padre Island and the mainland.  It has an average depth of 3.6 feet and is 4 to 6 miles wide.  The average depth is only 0.66 ft to 1.1 ft if you don’t include the 12-foot-deep Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.  This body of water has a salinity of 36 ppt, higher than ocean water, making it one of only 6 hypersaline lagoons/bays on earth.

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Brownsville is the furthest south you can get in TX, actually it is almost as far south as southern Florida.  Temperatures seem similar, but climate is much drier.  This puts us really close to our “southern border”.  Not really sure what we are supposed to call it with the “wall” controversy of late.   Here and for all of TX, the border follows the Rio Grande making it a wiggly border not a straight line, not really sure how they would build a wall in the middle of the river anyway.  Here is a sample of the border fencing found in downtown Brownsville.

An interesting find in Brownsville was Palo Alto Battleground.  This is where the first battle of the Mexican American war 1846-48 was fought.  This war started as a dispute over the land between the Rio Grande and the Nueces River (near Corpus Christi).  When President James Polk celebrated the Republic of Texas being added to the US as the 28th state he claimed the republic extended to the Rio Grande, but Mexico had other ideas.  The end result of the war was the US territory reaching all the way to the Pacific Ocean, bordered on the south by the Rio Grande.  My biggest concern was all the cactus, seemed like it would be difficult for the soldiers and horses to navigate around the cactus, but apparently, they are a new addition to the landscape.

Moving west towards Big Bend, Laredo was next.  Short visit and too large of a city for us to enjoy, but a much different border than we saw in Brownsville.  Here the river is the only border, no fence or wall.  As a matter of fact, there were people fishing on each side of the river for the same fish.  Wonder which side the fish would choose if there were a wall???

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We did see some blimps along the highway, we assume that they are some sort of border patrol???

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Peace Love and Justice for all.

Port Aransas, TX

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South of San Antonio and the Triple L Ranch is not much except Corpus Christi and surrounding area.  Of course we stay away from the big cities, so settled in Port Aransas on Mustang Island barrier to Corpus Christi and its bay.

Except on the way in and out we never visited CC proper.?.?.  We ventured up the coast via the shortest ferry ever – crossing time is <2 minutes but wait time can vary widely.  From the north end of the island it is the best way to the mainland and used a lot.  There were at least 4 boats running when we crossed and there are 4 or 5 stalls on each side.  Nice drive to Rockport and beyond.  The ferry crosses the incoming boat traffic from the Gulf, which seems to be pretty busy.

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Just south of Mustang Island and only separated by a small canal is Padre Island and National Seashore.  It is the first National Park that we have visited during the Government Shutdown.  The gates were not manned and the campground was closed, but dumpsters were emptied, campers were in the visitor center parking lot and the beach was open.  Guess all in all things were normal as could be.

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Port Aransas and most of Padre Island is vehicle friendly.  Of course we couldn’t go where 4 wheel drive was required, but parking/camping on the beach was a thing.  You don’t see the BIRD on the beach for a reason.  1 – we didn’t know it was possible, 2 – salt and 3 – salt.  We enjoyed the beach and am sure these campers did as well.  Beautiful camp sites and beautiful blue skies.

The most entertaining thing we saw were these “pole covers”.  Not sure where they came from and neither is the town, but they are quite entertaining and creative.  Love things like this – part of why we visit small towns…..

These are some of the best.

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But they go on forever…

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Not sure where they got the idea, but I may copy, loved making hats that one year.  Anyway i think the idea came from this post no cover needed for expression.

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Peace, Love and Justice for all!!!

 

Quick Catch-up

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From Montgomery we went south to Mobile, AL.  Not too interested in the downtown although we did ride around, we as usual are not big city kind of folks.  The most interesting thing about downtown is that it is so tight that there are tunnels under the big buildings on I10 and another tunnel under the harbor so you go directly from downtown to the industrial port area in seconds.

South of Mobile we visited Dauphin Island (pronounced Dolphin haha).  There is a lot of military history with Fort Gaines which was established in 1821 and best known for its role protecting the Mobile Bay during the Civil War.  We planned to walk around the fort until we were thru the gates and they were charging $8 each to walk around.  We still prefer to find free entertainment on our adventures.

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Dauphin Island also had some major storm damage, I assume from 2018 storm Michael??  The western end of the island was in bad shape and there were still utility crews repairing the electricity.  Most streets were covered in sand and it appeared that the houses were on the strand, no dune line remaining at all.

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But just a couple of miles back, at the public beach access where we enjoyed a picnic, we were surprised to see how much dune there was.  This was a healthy dune with views of off shore oil platforms???  Again, I am against off shore drilling.  It is an eye sore and, in my opinion, dangerous for our ocean and the ecological life of barrier islands.  But it appears that it is the norm in this area and a lot of the Gulf of Mexico from here west.

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From Mobile we headed west on familiar Interstate Highway 10 thru Mississippi and over the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge.  We landed in the middle of Atchafalaya wildlife area.  If you have ever crossed Louisiana on I10 you crossed the 20 plus mile bridge over numerous bayous, deltas, rivers, creeks etc. ever body of water you can imagine several miles inland.  Interesting fact… I learned the difference between a delta and a bayou…  A bayou is a very shallow river.  A small sluggish waterway through lowlands with almost imperceptible flow of water I assume that much of the Everglades would be considered a bayou??  While a delta is the fan of river sediment that some times forms a land mass at the base of a river, other times forms a fanned shaped shallow area.  The sediment is washed down river and settles where a river enters an ocean, sea, lake or other body of water. .  They are similar to moraines that were formed from glacier formation that we have seen elsewhere in the country.  Southern Mississippi and Louisiana are covered with both of these water features.

We stopped on one of the only exits from this extra-long bridge near Butte la Rosa.  Nice no frills campground with lots of open space.  Day tripped a little along numerous rivers most with levees, guess that’s a norm here but messes up the river views…  This church in Martinville remind me of the yellow church in Prince Edward Island, Canada and come to find out that many Acadian people were exiled from Nova Scotia (near PEI) and settled here in LA…  ergo connection to yellow church???

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From there East Houston uggg.  Not much to say.

And a wonderful as always visit at the Triple L Ranch.  Love you guys and can’t wait to see you again.

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Peace and Justice to all.  And Love!!!

Peace and Justice

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We found our way to Montgomery, Alabama mostly because of Anne and Ron’s recommendation of the Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice.  Also, there is a shop we thought would be able to do a front-end alignment on the bus, they are not that easy to come by.  So, the short story is that the shop kept the bus from 8:15am until almost 4pm to determine that they couldn’t do the job.

The long story is centuries old and more disturbing than we (randy and I) have allowed ourselves to believe.   The Legacy Museum is sponsored by eji – Equal Justice Initiative.  “They are committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the US, to challenging racial and economic injustice and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society.”

I am not sure how to share the story.  It is something we all know but often choose not to think about.  We (Randy and I) are white Americans, middle class Americans trying to live in a bubble.  Much of this story has not affected our lives the way it probably should have.  Every one of us needs to open our eyes and hearts to the plight of the less fortunate “most vulnerable” people in our communities.

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The story of course starts with the forced enslavement of millions of African men women and children being shipped against their will to be bought and sold, owned and abused.  Importing slaves became illegal in the US in 1807, but the slave trade continued for much longer.

Slavery by itself is abhorrent and should have never happened, but the belief that black people are less intelligent and unable to take care of themselves so they were being helped by being enslaved is unbelievable.  We all know about the Civil War and its “end” to slavery with the thirteenth amendment, right?  This finally happened in the 1860s 50 years after importing slaves became illegal…

End of story right, ummmm no.  During the next 100 years – let that sink in 100 MORE YEARS.  Blacks were segregated, treated as non-people, lynched, murdered, spit upon daily.  They lived and worked in the USA and were not allowed to vote or participate in government of any sort, hell they couldn’t even choose any seat on a city bus or which bathroom they wanted use.  Not all white Americans believe in the superiority of the white person, but enough did and still do to make life hell for many black people.

When slavery became illegal other means were found to keep the black people in their places.  Segregation of all public services became LAW – bathrooms, water fountains, city buses, restaurants (you know the Jim Crow Laws) – and when segregation didn’t work public lynching occurred.  Lynching is when a mob of people kill a person or multiple people for any ALLEGED offense with or without evidence or conviction for the offense.   The killing could be hanging, burning, drowning mostly in a public venue.

A large part of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice is dedicated to remembering the victims of lynching since slavery was abolished.  They have a column for each county in each state where documented lynchings occurred with the names of the victims if known and dates of the event.  It is daunting!!!

Below are some of the details of documented lynchings.  UNBELIEVABLE

 

I am sure that many protests, marches, revolts and other actions were taken by black people to obtain their dignity and worth as US citizens (originally brought here unwillingly/forcibly), but we mostly learned about Montgomery and near-by events.  Again, I know we all learned this in school, but that was a long time ago and I think this is worth revisiting.

Rosa Parks – I knew the name and story of her not giving up her seat on a city bus for a white person.  But I didn’t realize that this one act of defiance in 1955 – get that 1955, started the Montgomery city bus boycott.  Black people throughout the city refused to ride the buses for over a year.  Just imagine being so unquestionably involved in a protest that you are willing to walk to work for a year to prove a point???  And not just you but most every black person in the entire city.  Would like to think that some white people boycotted as well???

1965 – the year I was born.  March of 1965 to be exact, a constituent of about 600 people tried to march from Selma, AL to the Capitol Montgomery, AL to guarantee voting rights for black people. The march was stopped after less than a mile at the Edmund Pettis Bridge by the state patrol and other interested citizens wielding guns and tear gas.  On their third attempt with National Guard protection and judicial authority the march was successful.  Later that year in August Lyndon Johnson passed the Voting Rights Act which guaranteed the right to vote to all African Americans.  This right was granted in 1870 by the 15th amendment to the constitution of the US, but not enforced until 95 YEARS LATER….

Now that slavery is illegal and black people can vote and elect people to protect their

interests, there had to be another way to hold them down.  In the 1970s for various reasons the rate of incarceration began to increase dramatically.  Statistics as shown on the below graph speak for themselves.   How could we turn a blind eye to this???  I have heard the stories, seen the news, absorbed the gripes and complaints, all the while believing that the USA is a fair and just country that will protect its own.  Who could be more our own???

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People in my opinion this is terrorism plan and simple Domestic Homegrown Unforgiveable Terrorism.  Forget the wall stop yourselves!!!!  May we all learn and react?!?!

The incarceration rate is decreasing, but not as fast as it increased.  I am not sure what the future holds for American, men women and children that happen to have darker skin than I do, but I do understand why they live in fear!!!

Peace and Justice for all!!!

 

 

 

Augusta, SC and GA

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Last unexpected but quite enjoyable stop with family, N August, SC.  Had wonderful visits and meals (still can’t believe there is a buffet all you can eat for less than $5) with Uncle Joe and Aunt Anne.  Dinner with Patty Jo and Eddie was such a treat we stayed an extra day to be able to see them, so nice to be flexible with our schedule.  What wonderful memories we revisited and caught up on how the family has grown, with children having children and those children having more children.  This is where grand and great grand children come from.  Looks like childhood cousins have developed into wonderful families and we are sorry it has been so long since sharing love with this branch of the family.

Family is always a piece of you and not matter the passage of time, it is just like we were together yesterday.  Enjoyed every minute and hope to do it again sometime.

Again no pictures, but much love —  GO Clemson in the Championship next week

We also visited downtown Augusta, GA across the Savannah River from N Augusta, SC they have a nice river walk along the levee on the GA side protecting the downtown area.  Not sure what flooding does on the north side??  No levee in sight…  Augusta became known in the late 1800s as a winter retreat from the cold north states, and has grown into one of the best known golf communities in America – you might know about the Augusta National Golf Tournament.

Peace and Love and Happy 2019 to all!!!

November and the Holidays

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Feels like the last two months have been running this fast…  Lots of great times and lots of hard work – sad to leave all the loving wonderful family and friends, but time to resume our adventure.

Guess what I did not pull the camera out once during our holidays.  So, unlike me, but must mean that I was enjoying the company more than documenting the moment??!!??  We spent a couple of weeks in Oak Island reliving a lifetime of memories and many lifetimes before ours.  So very cool to visit a different era, when people use to write letters, hand make clothes, make photo albums, make your own furniture, have family heirlooms and fine china.  Today everything seems so disposable…

And I am one to talk since we disposed of almost everything nonessential when leaving on our adventures.  Anyway 27 Yaupon Way holds so much love and memories with many more to come.

Back to the visit and holidays.  We really  enjoyed Thanksgiving with Aunt Anne and Uncle Ron, the entire family was there much love Rhonda Rodney Ella and Mason – Rich Leah and Regan – Hailey and Michael – Gibson and Lydia – Beth, Geneva and anyone I may have missed.  Mason left shortly after for a big adventure in Park City, UT, so  happy for him  – hope you Have a Blast!!!

Christmas was in Greensboro with the Turner, Tyson, O’Kelly families and more.  Lots of great family time, baking and painting cookies, carols including the 12 Days of Christmas with 30, dirty Santa, Italian cuisine, Chinese on the Eve, candle light church service, Christmas day gifts and breakfast, etc.  What a wonderfully special time we had thanks to the hostesses and host, Wendy Millie and Brian!!!  Loved seeing and visiting with each of you Millie Wendy Brian Hannah Patrick and Parker – Ricky Jennifer and Richard, – Robert Janice Ben and Jillian – Polly and Jerry – Dave Pam and Conner – Cindy Chuck and extended family – Josie Kimberly and extended family.    And anyone else I missed, we love you all and had a blast thank you.

Even more love to those we saw Larry and Louisa – Greg and Teresa – Jimmy – Billie Kris and Scott  – Bobbie Anne and Dave and those we didn’t see You all make us like calling North Carolina home!!!

Peace and Love and a wonderful 2019 to all!!!