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

Past Adventures

Summer Road Trips 2004

The sights include : Washington on the Brazos, Anderson and Plantersville, TX, , another Gem Trails of Texas, NOT!! (Whiskey Bridge east of Bryan), Independence, TX, The Blue Bell Ice Cream Creamery the Congress Bridge Bats of Austin, more Texas Roadside Attractions and the hunt for Grandma's Old Country Store.

What’s New ? (As always, click on the picture for for a larger image and click on the links for photos surprises.)

          I hope you enjoyed the Good-Bye to Waxahachie and Treasures in my Backyard  2004When the waters go back down from all the recent flooding, I suggest you hit that creek for your own treasures.  Like I said last time, I haven't been sending out updates, so check out the Past Adventures Page to get caught up.

          I want to thank those again who showed up to my farewell get together.  I know some of ya'll said not to post pictures from the party, but I couldn't resist!  Don't worry, I didn't catch anyone acting like an idiot.  Well, at least not on film.  But, thanks again.  I will miss you all.  Now Larry, please find a good home for my bat house.  May you produce bats and rid your gardens of those pesky insectoids.

          I finally sold my truck.  I just couldn't keep up two vehicles while being a poor college student again and the car gets better gas mileage.  It was best.  Although it took me on many adventures, it also got me in trouble sometimes.  But she sure was good to have to help me me move back down here.  I sure will miss her.

 Forward :

         As I have stated before, my trips back-and-forth between Lake Jackson and Waxahachie tend to be quite boring and sometimes I look for other routes.  The only other sight I would like to check out on the I-45 route would be the Sam Houston Memorial Museum in Huntsville. 

Star Date : 07/25/2004 - Washington on the Brazos, Anderson and Plantersville, TX.

Washington on the Brazos :

          Instead of taking my usual route down to Houston via I-45, I took I-35 south to Waco and then Hwy 77 south to Cameron, TX.  Cameron, is the county seat of Milam County.  From Cameron, I continued south on Hwy 77 until it intersected Hwy 36 and I continued south on Hwy 36 until I reached Caldwell.  It seems Caldwell is the county seat of Burleson County.  From Caldwell, I took Hwy 21 northeast and then Hwy 105 southeast to Washington to check out Washington on the Brazos - State Historic Site.  Once in Washington, I simply followed the signs into the park.  Or, check out this map.

          Now I remember.  I had been here before as a small kid with my cousins.  About all I remember is running around wild with my cousins, the cool guns in the museum and hanging out on the Brazos river.  Generally, I guess we were just driving my mom and aunt nuts.

           My fist stop was the visitor's center. There, I obtained a map of the park and headed to the gift shop for another refrigerator magnet.  Additionally, I found a wonder stone/sandstone coaster.  The interesting thing about the coaster is that the condensation from your beverage soaks into the stone.  Thus, the coaster will not attach itself to your glass when you lift it up and/or the condensation will not roll on over to you table's finish.  I highly recommend these coasters.  Now I am getting thirsty.

          The next stop was the Gallery of the Republic.  It was mainly a historic gallery depicting the events which led our Texas forefathers to sign the Declaration of Independence for Texas.

          I then headed out the door and followed the trail to the Star of Republic Museum.  Along the way, I noticed that the park had an amphitheater for plays and presentations.  Yes, this was the place with the cool guns.  I finally made it to the museum and once inside, you paid a nominal $ 4.00 fee and then a movie with a further story of Texas' Independence.  Finally, the exhibits :

Animals of the Plains

Period Housing and Tools

Something for the Kids

The Texas Ranger Display

          After my visit to the museum, I followed the path to check out their Barrington Farms exhibit.  It was basically a working farm using the period tools and methods of the time of Texas' Independence.  Unfortunately, they wanted another $ 4.00 from me so I turned around and headed back to the main visitor center. 

          Once back at the visitor center, I finally followed the path to the Texas Independence Hall.  Ok, this isn't the original, but a recreation of what it once was.  At least our Texas forefathers had the needed facilities to take care of their business.  I also found the trail to the Brazos river that I remembered as a kid.  This trail trail follows the river for some distance and end to the picnicking areas of the park.  Time to eat some lunch.

Anderson, TX :

          At this point, my tour of the park was over.  I then retraced my route back to Navasota and continued east on Hwy 105.  After some driving, I saw a road sign to Anderson, TX and headed north on Hwy 1774.  I knew this was another photo-op for another court house picture for Grimes county!  This little town had its square for tourist and a small memorial for their fallen soldiers of the American Civil War.  As I looked around some more, I noticed several old buildings on the corner.  I knew my grandmother's old country store in Plantersville, TX had been moved to a nearby city to be setup as an old fake of town and to be used to sell antiques in.  I also heard that the project to do so had failed.  Could grandmother's old store be one of these buildings?  Well, dad, mom?

Plantersville, TX :

          I then headed back south on Hwy 1774 and back tracked to Hwy 105.  From that crossroad, I continued my journey east on Hwy 105 until I managed to hit Plantersville, TX. 

          Plantersville has had a bad rap recently due to the nudist colony there.  However, it is also known for the Texas Renaissance Festival.    But for me, it is where my father grew up at, many trips to visit my grandmother and my cousins.  This area also claims fame to it's beautiful painted churches, such as St. Mary's Catholic Church which I used to attend when visiting there.  Artisans from Europe would make their means by painting many of the old churches around the country including many in Texas.  Not much has changed except for better roads.  But, where was grandmother's old country store?

          My Aunt and cousins were nowhere to be found, so I continued south on Hwy 1774 and past the entrance to the Texas Renaissance FestivalI also past Henry's Hide Out whose claim to fame is being one of the oldest Roadhouse Dance Halls in the state of Texas.  I also passed by this want-to-be Alamo house before entering Magnolia, TX.   I continued to Tomball, TX and took Hwy 249 to Houston and around the Beltway 8 I went until heading  south on Hwy 288 to Lake Jackson.  I did notice a few more giant works of iron art at the Texas Pipe Supply Company off the southeast corner of Belfort Road.  They added a giant spider, some kind of a big painted animal and a man on a crane.  Unfortunately in in the Tomball area, it rained and my poor "Texas Curiosities" book by John Kelso was almost ruined.

          I also showed my parents the photo of the old buildings I found in Anderson and asked if grandmother's old store was one of them.  No, they said, it was moved to Independence, TX.  Hum, I will have to check this out on another trip.  It's late no and I'm hungry.  Time to order some pizza.

Star Date : 09/04/2004 - A Gem Trails of Texas (Not!) 

          I received an e-mail earlier from Dee who wished me luck on my move to the Houston area.  She also told me more about the Houston Gem and Mineral Society.  They had a big write up on the Whiskey Bridge on Hwy 21 just east of Bryan, TX.  It is at the Whiskey Bridge, where one can find plenty of Eocene fossils.

Whiskey Bridge :

          So, I decided on another scenic drive back up to Waxahachie to take care of some house business.   My initial route took me north on Hwy 288 to Houston and then northwest on Beltway 8 around the city and then west on Hwy 290 to Hempstead.  Then from Hempstead, I took Hwy 6 north to Bryan and then Hwy 21 east.  While passing through town, I made sure I stopped for a photo of the Brazos County Courthouse.  Just a few miles west of Bryan, I came to the bridge.  It sure did look familiar.  Oh yea,  This was the route we took to Austin to party on the weekends when I was at school at Texas A&M.  No wonder it took me so long to graduate from there.  

          I was able to pull off on a frontage road that led under the bridge.  I walked along the east side of the bank and took in the view from accross the river.  I really didn't find much among the soil.  At least nothing to take home.  Maybe I will get more involved with the club and find someone who really knows this river site better.

          Oh, by the way, you are probably wondering why the bridge is called "Whiskey Bridge"?  Well, long ago, Brazos county was a dry county.  So, those poor Aggies had to cross this bridge into Burleson county to get their booze!

Independence, TX :

          Before I left the bridge, I consulted my map and discovered that Independence, TX wasn't that far away.  Just a little further west on Hwy 21 was Hwy 50 which led south to Independence.  Off I went.

          There really wasn't much to independence.  However, was this grandmother's old country store?   Well Dad, Mom?

The Blue Bell Ice Cream Creamery :

         After the little photo-op, I noticed on the map, if I continued south on Hwy 50, it would intersect Hwy 105 which would lead me to Brenham, TX.  And you know what that means.  I scream for ice cream and none other than Blue Bell Ice Cream

          I pulled into the parking lot and made my way to the hospitality room where the tour started.  I only had to pay $ 3.00, but ice cream sure is worth it.  You guessed it, another movie to sit through.  But this was a good one telling the story of how old Miss Annie started selling her cream here and how it evolved into a modern day production facility.  The ice cream plant was appropriately named for all the bluebonnets that grew in the area.

          After the movie ended, the tour of the plant began.  Unfortunately, we were not allowed to photograph any of the plant.  Heck, any good process engineer could figure out their production facility without photos from a camera.  They had everything labeled. 

          We finally arrived at my favorite part of the tour, the sampling room.  I grazed on a few flavors and then hit their gift shop.  It was a typical gift shop and I found another refrigerator magnet for my collection.  These folks didn't bag your items.  Instead, they used their ice cream cartons!

The Congress Bridge Bats of Austin :

          After the tour was over, I headed out west on Business Hwy 290 until I reached the Washington County Courthouse.  After that photo-op, I continued west to  Austin.  I had heard so much about the Congress Bridge bats, that I decided to hang around.  I headed south on I-35 and then took Riverside west until I hit Congress Street.  From Congress Street, I headed north and pulled into the parking lot of the Austin American Statesman, the local newspaper.  Just follow the map.

          I got there way too early, so I decided to explore the area a little.  On the northwest side of the parking lot just next to the bridge, the newspaper and the Bat Conservation International, Inc. had built a bat observatory.  The observatory provided a lot of good information on the bats and also an information hotline.  I called up the bat number and found out the bats would not take off until around 7:30 PM.  Well, I still had quite a wait and decided to look around some more.  Then all of the sudden, I caught up with this little guy.  He should be migrating back to Mexico about the same time as these free tail bats.

          Of coarse Batcon had their big banner out and plenty of warning signs about the bats as I hit the trails around the Lake.  I could also see the cracks in the bridge where the bats roost in during the day.    As I walked west along the bank, I noticed that you could shell out $ 8.00 for a boat ride below the bridge to watch the emergence. 

          I turned back to check on my car again.  They only allow visitors to park there for the bats after 6:00 PM and I really didn't want to be towed off.  The car was fine so I headed up to the bridge to walk across.  Before I came to the stairs, I noticed another a kiosk with more bat info.  Once on the bridge, I noticed this bat sculpture from across the street.  I also noticed someone on this bridge was previously a little batty themselves.  The bridge did provide a good view of the State Capital as well as the lake.  After crossing the bridge, I noticed that the folks at the Radisson Hotel were quite batty also.  Their TGIF restaurant did provide a good observatory for bat watching.

          By the time I got back to the bat observatory, a crowd of bat watchers were already gathering.  It was quite a circus.  There was some guy selling ice cream to the kids, unfortunately no Blue Bell, a lady going around and making bats out of balloons and selling them to the little kids, someone was selling neon necklaces, the bat girls were out and the cops came and busted a guy for cruelty to bats.  But I think the bat girls were the best part of the warm-up show.

          Finally around 8:00 PM, I grabbed my camera and caught the following pic.'s "

Bat Flight 1

Bat Flight 2

Bat Flight 3

Bat Flight 4

Unfortunately, due to the lack of light, my pictures didn't come out as well as I had hoped for.  But there is always a next time.  I finally got back on the road again and hit Waxahachie rather late.

Star Date : 09/18/2004 - History Detective

          I woke up rather late, from staying up too late, from the night before and found dad out in the garage going full force with his saws.  Hey!  What's up?  Dad stated he was going to build a scale model of grandma's old country store.  I guess all those questions I had been asking about it set him off into a nostalgic frenzy. 

          Ok, if we're to do this right, I better start doing some research.  I ask mom to pull out some articles of the old store.  I began reading the first article and then finally the second article.  It appears that grandma's ole' store had been bought by a Mr. Ray Winkelmann who had it moved about (4) miles east of Brenham.  He was in the process of buying up quite a few old buildings and created a little old town for which he named after himself, Winkelmann, TX. I'm already beginning to feel like those History Detectives on PBS.  We finally found an old picture of the store.  I guess the next time I head back to Dallas, I'll take a little side trip to Winkelmann, TX.

Star Date : 09/24/2004 - The Quest for Winkelmann, TX

          I had to pick up my last load of stuff from my house.  Yes, I finally sold it!  So I headed on out again taking the old Hwy 290 route from Houston and headed west.  I didn't really come across anything interesting except a lot of traffic.  I just simply wanted to find the little village of Winkelmann, and see if Grandma's old store was there.

          I found it!  Just as one of those articles stated, it was found on the south side of Hwy 290 just 4 miles east of Brenham, TXI parked off the road and noticed first off that yes indeed the little town had been shut down.  There was no trespassing signs everywhere!  So I had to be careful.  I walked around the little village and I could see how this could be a great place to visit if driving from Austin to Houston.  According to one of the articles I read, this place died in the 1980's.  Now that Hwy 290 is a big four lane road with much more traffic, it could be easily revived again.  I could picture the little restaurants and antique stores inside.  Well, dad, I think I finally found grandma's old country store when I walked around back.  Granted, it is only a picture of the rear of the store.  I couldn't get a picture of the front.  However, from walking behind the fenced in area, I estimated the length of the store at 23 paces.  I'll figure it out in feet for you later when you get back to work on your model you are building.

          I finally left the little ghost town of Winkelmann, TX and continued west to Austin and then north on I-35.  However, while passing through Giddings, TX, I did notice that Giddings is home to the Lee County court house

          I finally made it home, packed up the last of my remains and sold my lawn mower to my neighbor, Maria.  Good-bye house.   Thanks for keeping me warm and dry.  It is now officially the end of Summer and the end of this report!  Oh yea, Dad, start working on that store!

          That's enough to chew on for now.    Mom was a little jealous of my Waxahachie report.  So to keep her happy, I will do my next page on the Brazosport area.  One last thing, on one of those back-and-forth trips, I did manage to catch a photo of the Montgomery County Courthouse in Conroe, TX. 

       So, until next time, take care and I'll  See you... on the road, or in the workshop, (which is really just my garage) !!!!

                                                     Francis                        

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