The Texas Road Runners !!!!!
Road Trip Adventures, Roadside Attractions, Crazy DIY Projects, Texas Fishing, Rock Hounding and more......
More Bats of Texas - 2006
The sights include : The Waugh Street Overpass Bats of Houston, TX; a Fossil Hunt off of Hwy 183 south of Lampasas; the Salado Bats of I-35 & Exit 286; the McNeil Street Overpass Bats of Round Rock, TX and the Latest Update on the Mexican Free-Tail Bats of Casa De Largo Apartments in Lake Jackson, TX. And let's not forget some more wacky Texas Roadside Attractions and Courthouse photos.
Forward : (As always, click on the picture for for a larger image and click on the links for photos surprises.)
First, I apologize for the lateness in this report. It was a very busy Fall semester with school and of coarse starting up my new on-line jewelry and gift shop. Please see the link below :
However, I did sneak in some time to get my bat fix again before last Fall semester started up. I checked out a few more bat emergence sites across Texas. Last July, during my trip to the Bracken Cave Bat Emergence, I learned about the bats at the McNeil Street Overpass in Round Rock, TX. While researching for that site, I found that Houston had their own bat emergence at the Waugh Street Overpass. While researching that site, I learned that there was another bat colony near Salado, TX that was worthy of investigation. Lastly, I learned of another site in San Angelo, TX. But for now, that's just to far for me to take a road trip for. So without further adieu, we begin with the Waugh Street Overpass in Houston, TX.
Star Date : 08/12/2006 - The Waugh Street Bridge Bat Colony of Houston, TX
Well, it was the morning of the big Cultural Psychology final at the University of Houston. It would be a commute over there, so while up there, I wanted to find something to do. I had heard of the Waugh Street Overpass Bat Colony so while studying the night before, I called up cousin Paula in Pearland to see if she and the kids wanted to check out the bats that evening. They were all cool with the idea, so I chiseled the plan into stone.
On the way up, I decided to take the fast lane on ole' Hwy 35 from Angleton to Pearland. Just before reaching Pearland, I found it's latest roadside attraction on the west side of the highway :
The Tamale Man
After the final was over, I got out my Houston maps and decided to find the place first before bringing the crew out that evening. Once I found the Waugh Street bat site, I found a place to graze and then headed on over to Paula's place. We then visited for a while until it was time to go!
We headed back into Houston and parked at the visitor parking lot of the American Towers which allowed us a short walk down to the bat observatory. It seems the Lyondell Oil company had funded the platform. We checked out the place and made sure we read all the signs.
While under the bridge, we heard the bats chirping away while they were snuggled in tight in the expansion joints of the bridge.
After a little while, more bat enthusiasts had arrived along with a volunteer from the Houston Parks Department to give us the usual lecture on the bats. One worthy note that was addressed, was the fact that the Mexican Free-Tail bat's ears are slightly misaligned like us humans to aid in their echo-location process. Hum, that was not in my report! The park's volunteer also stated that the bats would come out first by circling counter-clockwise and then take a dip into the bayou for a drink before heading out for their night's grazing.
Ok, time for some photo's. Unfortunately, these bats don't emerge until sunset. So, it really was too dark to take some decent shots with my camera. Well, these three photos were the best I could come up with :
A Waugh Street Bat Wanna Be
Waugh Street Bats Bridge 1
Waugh Street Bridge Bats 2
All the rest rest of my photos sucked too bad to post. So, I did some surfing on the web and found some video to show you what we saw :
Waugh Street Bat Video
* Note : It's a big file, so please be patient or download it for later.
I only have a few comments on this bat site. First, you can get pretty close to the bats and even get under the bridge during the emergence. That's one point on the coolness factor for this place. However, it seems these bats only come out right at sunset, so you really do not get enough light to take some decent photos. Whoever took that video from the link above, obviously had one hell of a professional video camera!
We headed home after this. And yes Sierra, you smell like bat guano so, your riding on top of the car! At least finals are over and I can relax for a while. Not!!!! See the above The Lone Star Mine link to see what I stressed myself over during most of the break.
Star Date : 08/25/2006 - The Bat Colony of Salado, TX
It was my last free weekend before classes started back up for the Fall' 2006 semester. You would have thought that I had enough of bats from the July and last story, but I still needed another fix before they all migrated back south again. I made plans to stay with Cousin Kathleen and family in Georgetown, TX while I checked out the bats that roost under culvert on Exit 286 off of I-35 near Salado, TX and the bat colony of Round Rock, TX.
Therefore, It was another very early start out. Why? Well I hear there's fossils in them hills, um, I mean road cuts just south of Lampasas. But first, let's get there.
So, to avoid some of the traffic and traffic lights, I took a modified Hwy 36 route to Rosenberg and once there, I felt sort of nostalgic and decided to take the ole' Hwy 723/Hwy 359 to hit I-10 at Brookshire.
Ok, this is for all you former A&M students from the south side of Houston during the late 70's and 80's. Remember Fulshear and stopping at Dossiers BBQ and Grocery for the most awesome BBQ sandwich and a beer on your way to Aggie Land or on your way back home? Well I made the stop minus the beer, (You know, times have changed) and took the scenic route to I-10. Hey Jim, while driving around the ole' Heinz Nursery, is this your new neighborhood?
Of course from there was a hop, skip and a jump to Columbus and Hwy 71 to Austin. I then took Hwy 183 north to the road cuts south of Lampasas.
Lampasas Fossils :
In Melinda Crow's "Rockhounding Texas" book, she describes a series of road cuts just south of Lampasas on Hwy 183 which were prime fossil collecting sites. The following stops were made :
My first stop was at the GPS coordinates of :
30° 53.676 N and 97° 57.711 W
|Site 1 road cut .||Typical oyster Fossil.|
My second stop was at the GPS coordinates of :
30° 56.490 N and 98° 01.528 W
|Site 2 road cut .||Small fossilized clam.|
My third stop was at the GPS coordinates of :
30° 57.886 N and 98° 03.145 W
|Site 3 road cut .||Another fossilized clam, but a bit bigger.|
My last stop was at the GPS coordinates of :
30° 59.929 N and 98° 06.634 W
|The devil toenail or Texas toenail fossils were mainly found here.|
After the fossil hunt, I headed north on Hwy 183 to Lampasas for lunch and to acquire another Texas county courthouse photo :
Lampasas County Courthouse - Lampasas, TX
After the courthouse photo op., I then took Hwy 190 east to Belton to and picked up the Bell County courthouse photo :
The Bell County Courthouse - Belton, TX
The Bell Statue at the Court House
After this little photo op., I then traveled south on I-35 to Salado to find the culvert off of Exit 286. There was still some time before Bat-Thirty, so I headed into town and checked out their shops. Salado is another great place for gift and antique shopping. See the link below :
Salado, TX - The Jewel on I-35 between Waco and Austin, TX
I closed down the shops there, NOT! Remember, I'm a poor college student now. It was then time to get back to the bat cave, um, I mean bat culvert? After a little waiting, I snapped the photos below :
Park at the Holiday Inn Express off of I-35 & FM 2484 on Exit 286
No, Not the First Culvert
Follow the Sidewalk to the Big Culvert
This is the Culvert
Salado Bat Emergence 1
Salado Bat Emergence 2
Salado Bat Emergence 3
I apologize for the emergence photos. I was way to close to all of the action. After the bats finished their emergence, it was time to drive to Kathleen's place. After visiting a while I crashed for the night.
Star Date : 08/26/2006 - The McNeil I-35 Overpass of Round Rock, TX
After a great breakfast, thanks Kathleen, I decided to first locate the McNeil Street/I-35 Overpass in Round Rock, TX. I took I-35 south to Round Rock and I hunted down the the Cabbage & Kings Craft and Antique Mall on the Northeast corner of I-35 and McNeil Street.
I shopped a little and finally picked up an Austin refrigerator magnet for my collection and another little souvenir. While paying for my new booty, I ask the lady running they place when the bats were going to rolling out. she told me to come back around 8:00 pm. She also told me that there were (3) waves of bat emergences totaling around 1.8 million bats all together. The timing seemed a little late to me, but that still meant I had some time to kill. I did notice this sign on their door and then as I walked back to the car, I saw a Round Rock Animal Control Officer out collecting stray/sick bats from around the building. Well, I'll be back this evening.
I needed to burn some more time, therefore, I checked out the Inner Space Caverns again and I will report on that in another issue. After the cave tour, I remembered that although I had passed though Burnet on several other earlier road trips, I never did capture a photo of their court houses. So back on the road to collect the following :
Burnet County Courthouse - Burnet, TX
After collecting the photo I did a little shopping back in the Georgetown/Round Rock area and finally made it back to the bat observatory in front of the Cabbage & Kings Craft Mall for the bat emergence.
I first notice many other bat enthusiasts out for the bat show including volunteer representatives from the Bat Conservation International, Inc. Once closer to the overpass, I noticed this sign. And then I saw this sign. It was 7:29 pm. The bats were already emerging. Did I get here late? Wow, that was short!
First Bat Emergence 1
It was now 7: 35 pm. Here comes the second wave :
Second Bat Emergence 1; Second Bat Emergence 2
Second Bat Emergence 3; Second Bat Emergence 4
Second Bat Emergence 5; Second Bat Emergence 6
Afterwards, I chewed the fat with the BatCon folks and learned that the first emergence occurred around 7:25 pm and they said it was better than the first. I could just ring the neck of that craft mall lady for giving me the bummer info. Thank God I decided to arrive back much earlier than I had planned.
Around 7:47 pm, the last bat emergence occurred and it was far less dramatic. The remaining bats simply just fluttered out in small groups as opposed to a swarm that creates the great light show of silhouettes across the evening sky. But, here's some photos anyways :
Third Bat Emergence 1
Third Bat Emergence 2
Third Bat Emergence 3
One final note on the Texas bat bridge emergence, it lack the "other" type of entertainment which was abundant at the Austin, TX Congress Street bat bridge. After the last emergence, I made it back to Kathleen's place and was attacked by the kids. They too are Junior rock hounds in the making and I happily identified their collections before retiring for the night.
After a great breakfast, thanks to Kathleen and Nathan, I headed back home the way I arrived. Hopefully I can make it back for church services this evening. A few miles west of Bastrop, I did notice this new Roadside Attraction :
The World's Second Biggest Golf Ball
I also hit Lorene Kohut's place again, The Little Gallery & Rock Shop in the Smithville area. I pick up a few items to wire wrap with. Once back home, mom updated me on the latest bat issue of Lake Jackson :
Inspectors, Conditions were Right for Bats by Jen Salbury
All those bats did get me into a great mood for the Halloween season. Now that Halloween is over with, I need to start cleaning up after those Trick-or-Treaties. Actually, I really shouldn't be talking.
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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