The Texas Road Runners !!!!!                

Road Trip Adventures, Roadside Attractions, Crazy DIY Projects, Texas Fishing, Rock Hounding and more......

Past Adventures

Cullen Gem and Mineral Exhibit 2004

Plus a trip to Fort Parker State Park, the old Parker Fort and the Confederate Reunion Grounds.

Star Date : 1/12/2003 :  The Drive to Mom and Dad's  (As always, click on the picture for for a larger image and click on the links for photos surprises.)

          Well, being still unemployed, I hit the streets again as a bum.  You meet the most interesting people there.  Now I wish I paid more attention to the signs at my previous employment. 

          I then knew I needed to update my computer skills and therefore set off to build a small computer network in my office.  Mom was getting a new PC so I headed back down to see the folks and pick up her old PC.

          Just south of Houston on the southwest corner of Hwy 288 and Belfort Road, I noticed a new set of "Roadside Attractions".  These were huge animals fabricated out of iron.  Check them out :

Largest Armadillo , Painted Cows , Another Dinosaur , An Eagle  ,

Largest Road Runner, Watch out Ft. Stockton ,

Last, but not least, Snoopy!

          I continued on and unfortunately, as I approached my old home town, my car broke down.  It seems I was stuck in Lake Jackson for a while.

Star Date : 1/13/2003 : The New Book

          While waiting for my car to be fixed, mom took me to the mall and I found a new book, "Rockhounding Texas" by Melinda Crow.  It was a good supplement to my "Gem Trails of Texas" and "Roadside Geology of Texas" books.

          In Melinda's Introduction in the book, she describes various aspects of Texas including a description of the Cullen Hall of Gems and Minerals at the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences. I really have to quote her description :

"Rather than simply line up the stones in rows of square glass cases, the museum chose to match the mood of the gallery with the drama of the stones.  In places the visitors get the feeling they have ventured underground to view the treasures hidden below.  It has been said that after viewing the first room, the second and third rooms almost seem like overkill, so breathtaking is the beauty of the collection."

          Ok, this I gotta see and its less than an hours drive away!  I finally convinced mom and dad to drive me up to check it out!

Star Date 1/14/2004 : The Cullen Gem and Mineral Exhibition.

          So after mom cleaned the house and fed me and dad, we headed out to Houston.  Once in Houston, the first thing I wanted to do was to pick up a few photos of the county's courthouses :

Harris County Civil Courthouse

Harris County Judicial Courthouse

Harris County Courthouse (Under renovation)

          We finally made it to the museum district and mom parked the car.  We got lost in some man made jungle, but we finally made it there.

          We paid for our tickets and ran up to the second floor to the exhibit.  Of coarse what is a museum without some dinosaurs and other ancient creatures that roamed this earth!  I turned around and found the gallery.  No, it was not quite like a cave, but it did certainly set the mood as Melinda had described.

          The hall was dimly lighted while each gem case shined its own focused light on each of the specimens.  Not only was this the finest collections I have ever seen, but also the best displayed. 

Click on the picture below for a larger image........

     A nice hunk of pegmatite.

          Rhodochrosite polished slabs.
     Selenite crystals.

     Smokey Quartz.

     I forgot to write down its name.  But its really cool.      The biggest Aquamarine crystal I have ever seen.
     Beautiful Azurite.      Florescent Calcite minerals.
     Green Amazonite.      Malachite in the background and Stibnite in the foreground.

          The above are just a small sample of what can be seen there.  I highly recommend this exhibit for any rock hound young or old.

          Another interesting exhibit was the Wiess Energy Hall with displays of the petroleum industry.  It reminded me much of the petroleum exhibits at the Plains Museum in Canyon, TX.  This exhibit displayed a more modern approach to drilling, pumping and refining the oil.  Whereas the Plains Museum took a more historical approach with aspect to technology used in the local area.

          It would have been nice to check out the planetarium or even the Miller Outdoor Music theater (Where we used to go see concerts), but hunger crossed our minds and it was time to head for home base again.

Star Date 1/15/2004 : Fort Parker State Park

          Finally, my car was fixed and it was time to head home.  I got tired of watching the news about the big freeze in the Northeast.  I made a sack lunch and headed out.  However, what could I do to turn this into a little adventure if the weather would hold out?  Ah ha, after checking with a map, I noticed I could stop in the Groesbeck area and visit some of the historical and park sites there for lunch.

          I took my usual route home, Hwy 288 north to Houston and I-45 north to the Dallas area.  However, around Buffalo, I took Hwy 164 west.  As I drove west, I passed the Jewett coal mine which is a good source for fossils and petrified wood.  Once in Groesbeck, I noticed that it was the county seat of Limestone county.  I also did a little antique shopping but found nothing I wanted.  However, the lady at the shop was most helpful.

          I then headed north on Hwy 14 till I saw the sign and drove west on Park Road 35 which led me to the reconstructed Fort Parker.  After another gate, the road finally led to the visitor center.  One has to enter the visitor center and pay a nominal fee before entering the fort grounds.  Inside the visitor center was the customary gift shop and to my surprise a kitchen and an eating area.  Additionally, some of the remains of an ancient mammoth are displayed here which were found in the nearby Pin Oak Creek.  The fort is actually managed by the city of Groesbeck.

         From the visitor center, you enter the grounds via a fenced boardwalk and through the gates of the fort.  Bear in mind, only the grounds are original, again, this is a reconstructed fort.  However, as you move through the grounds, several houses are furnished with articles of the period.  Outside the fort area stand a replica of their Baptist church. Also, the third house contains a mini museum and a video of the history of the fort. 

           The Parker family, along with eight other families migrated here to Texas from Iowa.  They built this fort for protection from the Comanche Indians.  Unfortunately, the fort was not enough from an Indian raid in which Cynthia Ann parker was captured prisoner and lived with the Indians until finally being rescued by the Texas Rangers 24 years later.

           Ok, it was a nice stop, but I left and continued north on Hwy 14 until I reached Park Road 28 and turned west, finally into Fort Parker State Park.  At the park headquarters, I paid a nominal day use fee of only $2.00 and picked up a map. 

          The park is fairly typical, plenty of camping and picnicking areas along with the local Fort parker lake to fish in.  However,  the park also contain Springfield Cemetery in which is buried an American Revolutionary War veteran.

           The picnic areas were in the middle of the park, over looking Lake Fort Parker, in which I was finally able to have lunch.  In this area was the Bur Oak Nature Trail which led one back to the Springfield Cemetery and around back to the park headquarters. 

           From some of the local literature I picked up, I noticed the Confederate Reunion Grounds were nearby.  I packed up again and headed out of the park north on Hwy 14 again and took FM 1633 west to the park. 

          The Confederate Reunion Grounds is a memorial for those who served in the Civil War.  In 1889, a brotherhood of confederate soldiers set this area up as Joe Johnston Camp No. 94 in an effort to remember fallen comrades and aid disable vets and surviving families.  The park consist of several picnic areas and a pavilion.  A vintage cannon is also on display.  Unfortunately, it was plugged up so I couldn't have any fun with it.  Several annual events are held here and please call the Fort Parker State Park at (254) 562-5751 for more information.  Also call the park for camping information.

          The weather turn uncooperative for me to stay any longer and I still had a ways to go before reaching home.  So, I got back onto Hwy 14 headed north till I reached Mexia.  since I was already so far west of I-45, I decided to hit Hwy 84 west to I-35 north.  This lead me to Waco.  In Waco I heard of an antique shop with a dog museum.  I found, but it was not much more than an area set aside for anything that is old and memorabilia to the canine species.  So, I finally got back onto I-35, headed north and finally reached home.

          Well, back to the job search, I think I found something on Monster Dot Com.  I better get a new haircut before my next job interview. 

       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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 Copyright 1999 by [The Texas Road Runners - Francis Kiefel]. All rights reserved.