Road Trip Report One

Road Trip Report One

Recently I completed a 682 mile loop through East Texas. It was great fun and I want to tell you all about it. I promise to spread out the reports and intersperse the posts with birds and other things to keep it lively. But let's get started.

Houston to Lufkin, 138 miles

Houston to Lufkin, 138 miles

The plan was to have a place reserved to stay each night and some ideas of what to explore. But not a hard schedule; I wanted time and space to see what turned up.

You can't really plan adventures, by their very nature they just unfold.  

So, the first day's drive was a whopping 138 miles to Lufkin. It took me about 5 hours :-)

I had decided to take the business cut-offs to each little town and just see what was there.

In case there was something there :) 

The first stop was in Splendora, Texas. There isn't a great deal to report about this little community, but I wanted to take pictures of the bluebonnets.  I had to change my shoes so I could stomp off in the ditch to get the shot I wanted. After that, I wore my hiking tennis shoes everyday, everywhere. Just in case.

Our state flower in full bloom beside Hwy 59

Our state flower in full bloom beside Hwy 59

Soon, I needed food. I had a great breakfast at the Hot Biscuit Family Restaurant in Cleveland, Texas - population 8000 more or less.

No wifi, but really good food. I was far enough from Houston that the ... atmosphere was changing. Every single customer had on a shirt with writing on the front and back.  

Cleveland Water Tower

Cleveland Water Tower

Cleveland is one of those railroad towns. Of course, the freeway bypasses the town now but the trains still pass through the center of downtown. I didn't see a station, but you know there was one at some time. It was big business shipping all that timber from the forests to distant places. Downtown is a row of storefronts with its own street on each side of the railroad track.

Railroad crossing

Railroad crossing

It is kind of odd to stand on the railroad tracks. I was there on a Sunday morning and everything was closed. I walked all over, crossing the streets anytime I wanted to. That was fun.

The parking is still diagonal in front of the stores. 

Texan picture show

Texan picture show

This was on a cross street to the main drag. We never called them 'theaters' growing up; it was the Picture Show. I was so excited to see this marquee I can't tell you if it was still in operation or turned into an ... antique store.

Plants against the wall

Plants against the wall

So many of the storefronts have been modernized or turned into aforementioned antique stores, I learned the interesting sights were on the sides and backs of the buildings. This appears to be a wheel mounted on a stand and might have functioned as a hose reel at one time. Who knows what it really is, but it just looked kind of cool.  Anyone have a better guess?

Gazebo in city park

Gazebo in city park

This was a small park a few blocks off the main street. The gazebo was kind of sad and dilapidated but I thought I might find some birds. 

What I found was ... cats.

Wild kitteh

Wild kitteh

The zoom let me get close to this one just for a moment. She has some scratches on her nose, but maybe she is semi-tame since her long fur coat looks pretty good. Maybe someone lets her sleep on a porch or in a shed.

Food for the wild kittehs

Food for the wild kittehs

I found this by the fence, and even more food spread on the ground by a big tree. I think the squirrels have acquired a taste for kibble.

Wild shy and sekrit kitteh

Wild shy and sekrit kitteh

I couldn't get a focus on this kitteh in the bushes behind the fence. When I moved a bit, he ran away. I could see trails all in the tall brush of the lot next to the park; no telling how many cats are living wild. But someone is feeding and watering them.

While I was chasing cats, I became aware of a lot of bird noise. Just across the street was this:

Purple Martin pair in their house

Purple Martin pair in their house

I went to a Purple Martin roost last fall in Stafford (that is a suburb of Houston for you out-of-towners). Kazillions of Purple Martins flock to the trees in front of the Fountains Shopping Center on the Southwest Freeway. The flocks are so big you can see them on radar! This link is to an event in Austin, but it was the same here. That night, the Purple Martins were just a mass of birds. I was glad to finally see them up close. 

Back downtown where I left my car... I got to see the train pass by. 

Train going south

Train going south

After all this picture taking and exploring I headed back north. I have no idea what happened to Livingston. I have no pictures of the town, I don't even remember it.

Truck stop in Corrigan, Texas

Truck stop in Corrigan, Texas

I did stop in Corrigan for some snacks. Those big truck stops are clean, have great bathrooms and free wifi. Usually there is a small restaurant and they sell just about anything.

There were a lot of those timber trucks on the road, trucks from Wal Mart, trucks from everywhere.  I noticed that Texas has spent some money on signs; every County Road has a marker, and there are signs to all the small cemeteries.

It is amazing how many ... manufactured housing ... sales lots there are in the small towns. But, there were a lot of miles of trees and open spaces. I took my time and enjoyed the drive.

Later, I will tell you all about Lufkin. And the rest of the trip.  

Have you taken a road trip lately? Do you have a strict plan to follow or do you take it easy? Where would you like explore? Do you ever want to just take off driving and see where you end up?

Brazos Bend Again

Brazos Bend Again

A question of squirrels

A question of squirrels