The Texas Road Runners !!!!!
Road Trip Adventures, Roadside Attractions, Crazy DIY Projects, Texas Fishing, Rock Hounding and more......
Hello Brazosport, TX 2004 Part I
The sights include : Sea Center Texas, The Brazosport Museum and Arts Center, Brazosport College, The Great Mosquito Festival, The Brazos Canal, Wilderness Park, the Brazos Shopping Mall's dirty little secret, Alvin Community College, The Nolan Ryan Center, Alligators of the First National Bank of Alvin, The Lake Jackson Historic Museum, Shy Pond, The Alamo House, NOT!!!, Bailey's Prairie
Forward : (As always, click on the picture for for a larger image and click on the links for photos surprises.)
I hope you enjoyed the Summer Road Trips of 2004. First, my apologies for not updating this site on a timely manner. However, you were warned. Being back in college again does not give me the luxury of heading out anytime I wanted to.
Mom got jealous that I wrote a whole page on the sights to see and visit in the Waxahachie and Ellis county areas. So, to make things right, I decided to write about all the things to see and do in my new digs in the Brazosport area, especially in Lake Jackson area. Perhaps this page will encourage some you to give us a visit down here. We're not all chemical plants and prison farms! Although I am not a "Bird Watcher", this area is famous for being one of the highest rated bird watching spots in the country. These signs are all over the place around here! I think I will stick with bat watching! So, put on your Bob Philip's hat and read on.
It has been over twenty years since I was a swamp rat (Those who grew up and resided in the Lake Jackson area), so I definitely needed to find some new activities down here to keep me off the streets when not I'm not in class. The Brazosport area offers no great Hill Country trails or those leading in into any canyons or up some big mountain or plateau. Nor are there any great areas to hunt for rocks or fossils. In contrast, it is always green here, it is flat, it rains all the time and we have boring lizards to look at, not like the horned toads or those dragon like lizards you see out west or in the Texas Panhandle/Plains. We don't even have road runners here! So, I started to look around and check out what I missed here while growing up and also make some new discoveries of my own. The events reported below cover quit a few months, so I decided to break up the little sight seeing trips into several parts. At least this way I won't have to worry about new material for next semester unless I hit the road during the Winter and Spring breaks.
Star Date : 07/13/2004 - Sea Center Texas (Bird Watching Opportunity)
I made it on in early to mom and dad's for my Pharmacy Technology classes for later that evening. Oh my God, we have been invaded by the Llewellyn's. Them Llewellyn rug rat/mini-road runners were getting pretty restless and generally driving mom nuts, so mom threw me the keys to the car and off we were. But to where? Oh yes, to see the big fish at Sea Center Texas. Sea Center Texas is a salt water sea fish hatchery operated by the Texas State Parks and Recreation department. The kids just love coming here to check out the big fish.
We finally found the Sea Center behind the local Randall's grocery store off of Medical Dr. and made our way in. Unfortunately, there were no refrigerator magnets to be found at their gift shop. And they have just the nicest restrooms. The kids had a great time checking out the touch and feel tank. After exploring the various saltwater tanks : (Salt Water Tanks 1, Salt Water Tank 2, Salt Water Tank 3), we made our way outside.
The first site we noticed was this huge salt water pond for raising the smaller fish to an appropriate size before being released back into the ocean which was powered by this salt water plant. We then followed this boardwalk which allowed visitors to check out all the coastal birds indigenous to the Brazosport area and additionally to all the migrating birds.
Oh, I almost forgot to tell you, it was also little Jake's birthday. so, we took him to his favorite place to eat.
Star Date : 07/15/2004 - Brazosport Museum and Brazosport College (Bird Watching Opportunity)
You guessed it, the Llewellyn rug rats were driving mom insane again. So I was thrown the keys to the car again and Deborah gathered up the crew and I took them to the beach. I told Deborah to give us a call when they had enough fun and I high tailed it back home for some peace and quiet. I few hours later, I got the call and picked them up. They were all very excited due to all the interesting shells they collected. They even found a Lighting Welch, the State Sea Shell of Texas, in near perfect condition.
Needless to say, we really had no idea of all the shells they collected. So after lunch, we headed out to the Brazosport Museum of Science. The museum is located just on the corner of College Dr. and Hwy 288 B. Next to the Brazosport College where I will be taking classes this Fall semester. The museum is named one of the ten best museums in Texas by Frommer's Travel Guide to Museums is home to the largest collection of shells on display in the South with shells from around the world. We should be able to get these shells identified here! The museum also offers a planetarium, an art center and another hiking trail for you bird watchers. While the kids tried to identify their finds, I hit their impressive gem, mineral and fossil collections. As far as their mineral collection is concern, you could tell they obtained their display ideas from the Cullen Collection at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. The kids needed some help with their shells, and thanks to a very nice lady volunteer, they were all identified. The museum also has a small puppet stage with many fishy characters. So bring the kids. My work here is done! Have a nice day.
Star Date : 07/30/2004 - The Great Mosquito Festival in Clute, TX
At the end of every July, the city of Clute, TX has it's annual Mosquito Festival. I had not yet returned to Waxahachie, so I grabbed the ole' camera and took off to see what this was all about.
I headed down to the Clute Municipal Park and was first greeted by the mother of all mosquitoes! It was your normal small town festival which included your cook-offs, live music, craft booths and lots of people. There were quite a few contests including who had the the best mosquito legs and the annual parade of bikers and skaters. I think this guy won.
Ok, it was hot! Thank God home was just five minutes away! If you can stand the heat, check it out next year.
Star Date : 08/26/2004 -Brazos Canal Historic Site : (Texas Historic Spot)
The first day of the Fall semester. At least for Pharmacy Technology classes. I better get my school supplies and quick. Chemistry at Brazosport College starts on Monday. Like I said before, the Pharmacy Technology program that I am enrolled in is at Alvin Community College in Alvin, TX. My main route from Lake Jackson is to head north on Hwy 288 and then head east on FM 1462 into Alvin in which the road literally dead-end's into the college. If I had taken FM 1462 west from Hwy 288, then I would have gone through the city of Rosharon and ultimately to Brazos Bend State Park. Now, I have already covered this park in the Texas Bats and Alligators 2004 article last January. So, don't expect any more coverage for now.
As usual on the first day of class, we were let out early. I retraced my route back home and decided to try a short-cut through a north Lake Jackson residential neighborhood on North Yaupon Dr. This was not a good short cut. I got lost. However, I did have my camera with and found this historic spot off of Crape Myrtle just past Beachwood street.
Chartered in 1841, the Brazos Canal Company was the result of local landowners' efforts to build canals to connect inland plantations to Gulf shipping ports. Construction began in 1847 on a canal, referred to locally as the "slave ditch" because it was dug by the slaves of company owners. A one-mile section, twenty-four feet wide and three feet deep, took two years to complete. The project was soon abandoned. A rival company, the Galveston and Brazos Navigation Company, completed a canal between the Brazos River and Galveston Bay in 1856. By the way, I followed the canal until it dead ended in front of someone's drive way.
Star Date : 09/11/2004 - Wilderness Park and the Jackson Plantation Archeological Site. (Bird Watching Opportunity),(Texas Historic Spot)
Ok, it is starting to cool down in the mornings and I thought I would finally check out the local trails. The ole' parental units first told me about Wilderness Park just north of town off of Hwy 332 as you head into Brazoria. Well, as I headed out of town and just to my left was the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory. Unfortunately, the preserve is only open during the weekdays. So I pulled back out and finally hit Wilderness Park which was just on the other side of Buffalo Bayou to the left. Although this is another bird watching spot, I was mainly out to look for a good hike.
Before I made it to the parking lot, I noticed this historical marker in which marked the site of the Hawkins family who settle here as part of Stephen F. Austin's colony. The park facilities included a boat ramp for your fishing boat and a picnic area. I finally found the a trail sign and a map of the trail and started on out.
The trail was actually a dirt road which I guess was used for some utility purpose. I finally got to a point where I noticed that the Buffalo Bayou was dammed up and a little further down I saw where the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory was from across the river. Further on up by the river, I noticed several huge white coastal birds, unfortunately like little children, they were uncooperative with my camera. I continued on up till I hit the Brazos river. Remember folks, if you pack it in, then pack it out. The trail then took a perpendicular shot to the right along a small creek. So I continued until I reached this weird dam and then all the sudden this wild havilina popped out. He ran one way and I ran the other until I did hit the end of the trail. Ok, enough wild critters with big teeth for me, I heading back home.
The route home took me past the Brazos Shopping Mall. Although it is kind of cheesy, it does beat having to drive to Houston. However, the mall does have one dark evil secret that the developer do not want anyone to find out! Just behind Dillard's, is an old slave graveyard. Back in high school, we would bring the girls out there to give them a good scare. God forbid anyone who finds out about this or the poor land developers would loose the land for further development. I'm sure these are the remains of the slaves who worked the old Abner Jackson Plantation just on the other side of FM 2004 from the mall. I'll have to visit the Jackson Plantation archeological site on a later date.
Star Date : 09/16/2004 - The Nolan Ryan Center, The Alligators of the 1st national Bank of Alvin, The Lake Jackson Historic Museum and Shy Pond. (Texas Historical Spot)
Our Pharmacy instructor let us out early today. Hum, I have my camera, so lets have some fun. Like I said before, I am taking my Pharmacy Technology classes at ACC, Alvin Community College. It is your standard community college with one exception, they are well known in the area for their Health Science Programs and therefore the reason I am commuting up here for my "Pharmacy Technology" education.
Alvin is the home town of base ball great Nolan Ryan. In fact some of the old Hwy 288 between Lake Jackson and Houston is now called the Nolan Ryan Expressway. Furthermore, The campus of ACC also houses the Nolan Ryan Center which is used for by the college to house their (Continuing Education) department. The center is also used for local civic events and also houses a museum in honor of Nolan Ryan and his achievements to baseball.
I have been to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, so lets see this one. I made my way in and first noticed, you guessed it, another movie to watch! Actually, the folks who put this museum together did a first rate job! Here's a few shots of the exhibits :
The Hall of Strike Out Records
They did have a nice little gift shop and yes I did pick up another refrigerator magnet for my collection. Since I grew up in the Houston area and spent the last years of Nolan's career in the Dallas area, I am having trouble deciding which jersey I like best. Well, its not the Angles!
My tour of the museum was over, so where to next? Teresa, a lady in one of my classes last summer, told me about a bank in Alvin that had alligators in it. She said it was on the corner of Hwy 6 and Hwy 35. Alright, I should check it out. I found it, the 1st National Bank of Alvin. Yes, there are alligators inside. There are two of them! The bank had built an atrium in the center of the building with a tropical environment with several pools for the reptilian beasts to swim around in. Even though I had professional experience with these creatures, they still wouldn't let me inside. So the pictures were taken from behind the glass.
Well, time to head on home. I was bored with my usual route, so I took Hwy 35 south into Angleton, the county seat of Brazoria county. You guessed it, time for another county court house shot.
I got my shot, so I continued south on Hwy 288 Business back into the Richwood/Lake Jackson area. I noticed that jack Hudson also set up his Patio Furniture between FM 2004 and College Drive. If you are in the area, be sure to check it out. It beats driving all the way to the Texas Hill Country to see his work.
Ok, I'm back in Lake Jackson, so I took College Drive which turns into Oyster Creek Drive and headed west into downtown to buy some stamps needed to pay some bills. Fifteen years may not sound like a long time, but where our post office? I drove around the downtown area and never could find it. But, I did find the Lake Jackson Historic Museum. And by luck, it was free today!
Lake Jackson must be mighty proud of its origins to build such a museum. It was quite interesting on that day due to the fact that there were quit a few refuges from Louisiana (Due to Hurricane Ivan) there.
The first floor galleries consisted of coarse the history of the are beginning with the Kawakawa Indian moving to the Abner Jackson Plantation days and of coarse the company town of Dow Chemical drawn out by Mr. Dow himself. The upstairs galleries provided a perfect view of the Windecker plane, the first plastic plane made from materials from Dow Chemical. It even included a flight simulator in which I managed to safely take off and land. Included was the old Lake Theater in which I saw many a movie as a young kid. Of coarse there was Dr. Beutel himself, who is responsible for the development of Dow Chemical in the Brazosport area.
My little tour of the museum was over, so I drove around town some more to look for the post office. I never found it, so I headed on home.
On the way home, I decide to head north from Oyster Creek Drive onto That Way Street. After a few blocks, I came to the old Shy Pond area. Now, the whole area is all developed. There are houses all around the pond now and also a playground for the kids. As kids, we would come to this neck of the woods to hike around, build our forts and hunt for Indian artifacts. In fact, many of the artifacts that were found, now reside at the Brazosport Museum of Arts and Sciences. Time to head for home.
Star Date : 9/25/2004 : The Alamo House, Not! and Bailey's Prairie (Texas Historical Spot)
It was time to get out of the house again. In John Kelso's book "Texas Curiosities", John describes the Alamo House in the Holiday Lakes subdivision west of Angleton, TX. I told mom I was going out there to get a pick of the Alamo house and then all hell broke loose. I was given a quick sermon on how bad things were out there due to drug dealers and criminals hang out there. Mom, who retired from CPS, told me of all the children she took out of there. Hum, my curiosity took a hold of me and out the door I went! I think I hit that road a little too hard.
I took off north on Hwy 288 and then traveled west on Hwy 35. I first had to travel through Bailey's Prairie. First, a quick word on Bailey's Prairie.
Bailey's Prairie is most widely known for its ghost, Brit Bailey and the beautiful Bar-X Ranch, a planned subdivision that features a corral and horse stables. Nearby, along state highway 35, are several historical markers detailing points of interest from early Texas history (Such as the Munson Plantation), including one marking the approximate location of Brit Bailey's home site.
Brazoria County boasts of some interesting ghosts, the most famous perhaps, being that of Brit Bailey, Scots-Irish colonial settler and descendant of William Morris of Braveheart fame. When he died, Brit was, at his own request, buried standing-up, facing the west, with his gun at his side. He wanted to take his jug along too, but his widow said no. Since then, every seven years or so, a light appears out on Bailey's Prairie. Many have pursued that light but to no avail. It is, of course, Brit's lantern. He's out there, still trying to find his jug.
Well, I never saw ole' Brit and had to take a series of back road to find this so called Alamo House. I found it! But only the foundation. Its gone now. Hey John, update your book! I did find an article on the Internet concerning the house and an old newspaper picture of it.
Well, that's enough to chew on for now. As I spend more time in the area and explore it more, I'll be sure to report on those adventures for a Hello Brazosport Part II. And one last thing, we had a White Christmas this year. Mom, I hope your happy now.
So, until next time, take care and I'll See you... on the road, or in the workshop, (which is really just my garage) !!!!
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