The Texas Road Runners !!!!!                

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

Past Adventures

Texas Bats and Alligators 2003

Sites visited were : Now I am adding Alligators to the list due to a visit to Brazos Bend State Park!

 

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

          I hope everyone had a great holiday season.  First some house keeping chores. 

          For the Kiefel and Llewellyn family holiday pic.'s, click the link below for those photos :

Kiefel and Llewellyn Family Holiday Pic.'s 2003

                    Ok, on to Texas bats and alligators !!!  You don't need to hang on to your arm chairs so tight this time.  we only hit one park and the rest of the adventure was a stay at home one.

Star Date : 12/2-13/2003 : Bats!

        I Since I was laid-off, I started my own business in the city.  Well, that didn't pan out so well and I couldn't even make it as a bum.   So, I decided to work on a few projects around the house.  I had been collecting plywood to make more storage space up in the attic.  After laying down the new floor and putting up a bunch of boxes and bins from the front bedroom to turn that room back into an office again (Project # 2), I noticed a familiar smell.  Bats!!!!  I walked around to the HVAC unit and found guano droppings on one of the ducts.  It was then I looked up and saw those furry little creatures.

          Well, these certainly aren't the Mexican Free-Tail bats since would have already migrated back to Mexico by now.  They must be the kind that hibernate during the Winter season and come back out during the Spring. 

          I quickly got on-line with the Bat World Sanctuary based in Mineral Wells.  Granted, I really like bats and have visited several caves and tunnels in the Texas Hill Country to watch them emerge in the evening. (See : Texas Panhandle 2002 and Texas Hill Country 2003 Part I) However, not in my attic!  I quickly found the local rescue pages and called up Mr. Cosper.  Mr. Cosper finally stopped by the house on Saturday armed with gloves and a cardboard box.  All together, there were (3) little creatures which he just placed in his box.  I retrieved my book on Texas bats and we quickly determined that they may be a Southeastern or a Cave Myotis.

          Mr. Cosper explained that he had a bat aviary and in the Spring time he would let them go free if healthy enough.  Hum, I have a friend who put up a bat house and is still waiting on bats to inhabit it.  Maybe it is time for me to put a bat house up so they will avoid my attic again.

          I then got on-line and proceeded to research the Bat Conservation International website.  It was there where I found plans to build my own bat house!  Since I am living like a poor college student now, I really did not want to spend much money.  Also, the plan called for groves to be cut on the inside for the bats to cling onto.  Unfortunately, I had no tools such as a router to perform this task.  The plans did describe an alternative plastic mesh and gave some on-line sources for the plastic mesh product, however, this mesh proved to be too expensive for my budget.  A quick phone call to dad and yes he had some spare plywood and maybe a tool for cutting the groves.  I e-mailed dad the plans and we would look things over when I arrived for the Christmas holidays.  Before leaving for the holidays, I researched bat houses on-line some more and there is this guy near Austin, TX who built his own Bat Cave!  I also experimented with making groves in plywood with a hand saw, unfortunately, this also was another setback.

Star Date : 12/24/2003 : Wednesday - The Trip to the Parental Units.

          You would think that once I had arrived, I would start shaking the presents.  But no!  I ran to the garage to check out dad's old plywood.  Unfortunately, it was not what I needed.  So dad and I discussed how we could cut grooves in the plywood and I wondered if using a miter saw versus a hand saw would work due to miter blades cut horizontally.  Well this led to a trip to Lowe's.  We checked out various saws and concluded that a router would be the best tool for the job although it would be time consuming.  While there, we asked if they had any plastic mesh or hardware cloth.  I had previously checked the Home Depot and they didn't have any.  Lowe's did and the roll only cost less than $10.00 for a 2 ft X 15 ft roll.  That's $ 80.00 cheaper than the Bat Conservation resource for the same product!  Ok, I can afford that.

Star Date : 12/25/2003 : Thursday - Time to open presents!

          It was the usual gig, just much more quiet with out the rest of the family.  However, thanks to Jackie and John, I got this!  Now I can afford the needed plywood for the bat house!

Star Date 12/26/03 :  The Llewellyn's.

         Deborah, Mark, Rachel, Jake and our new little Charlotte flew in from Atlanta.  It was time to entertain the little ones.  Last Thanksgiving, I wanted to hit Brazos Bend State Park to check out the alligators as part of that road trip.  Unfortunately, the weather was not cooperative.  I wonder if I can convince this mini Road Runner to check them out with me?  I think she is getting tired of playing with the neighborhood kids.

Star Date 12/27/03 : The Alligators at Brazos Bend State Park.

          What a great day for alligator hunting.  Mark and I gathered up Jake and Rachel and away we went.  From Lake Jackson, we headed north on Hwy 288 and took FM 1462 west through Rosharon and over the Brazos River.  Finally, we headed north on FM 762 to Park Road 72 and made it to the entrance of the park.  It was there where we were warned of the dangerous alligators.  But, that's not going to stop us.  Not even the snakes, the insects or the man eating deer.

          Our first stop was at the park's headquarters for paying our day permit fee of only $3.00 per adult, grab a map and pick up some goodies at the park store.  Of coarse I needed another refrigerator magnet for my growing collection.  While at the park's HQ, one of the rangers told us the best chance of hooking up with some alligators were the trail around Elm Lake.  We were off.

          While driving to Elm Lake, one will notice that you are literally in a massive swamp.  However, the park has (3) main camping grounds with many bike and hike trails around (6) ponds and along the Brazos river.  Although the facilities are nice, watch out for those birds.  They even have a small amphitheater for group presentations.

          We finally made it to Elm lake and it was time to hit the trails.  Stop clinging to your dad, all I see is just a bird.   About half way around Elm Lake we came to New Horseshoe Lake and it was here that we knew we were close.  So, Jake re-read the alligator rules to us. Jake, would you please read that again!   So we continued our hike till we found our first gator!  They camouflage well when in the water.

          We continued on the trail till Jake and Rachel could walk no more.  I gave the keys to Mark and told him I would continue to hunt for more gators and would meet them at the George Observatory. Yes, this Texas state park has its own Telescope Observatory run by the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

          I continued over this bridge which crosses Plant Lake to their observation tower used by the bird watchers.  I finally found another gator as I headed south along 40 Acre Lake.  It is amazing how close you can get to these creatures.  Even mark, Rachel and Jake found another alligator on their way back to the truck.  As I made my way back to the observatory, I noticed that this bird and these turtles would make a much better meal for the gators than I would.

          Finally, the sign to the George observatory which led me on another hike.  Well, I found the telescopes and the visitor center, but no fierce road runner alligator hunters.  There they are, back at the truck having a tailgate party.  We then hit the Brazos Bend Nature Center where a park ranger let Rachel and Jake pet the baby alligators.

          After all this excitement, it time to head on out.  We were all very hungry, so we hit the nearest Burger King.  These poor mini Road Runners.  I wonder what they are dreaming about?  A new belt or boots perhaps?  I certainly hope I do not get into any trouble.

Star Date 12/28/03 : The Drive Home.

          Nothing new here, but I did once again pass by the ole roadside attractions of the statue of Sam Houston in Huntsville again and the world's biggest fishing pole near Corsicana as described in my Thanksgiving 2003 Road Trip Adventure.

Star Date : 12/29/03 : Procurement of Bat House Wood.

          Not much to say here.  Thanks again to Jackie and John, I put my Home Depot Gift Card to good use and procured (2) 2' X 4' sheets of plywood, (2) 3/4" X 1 1/2" X 8' finishing strips, some Hunter Green Paint and a light bulb for my closet.  My car barely made it home.

Star Date : 12/30/03 : Day 1, Bat House Raising Party.

         I studied the bat house plans once more and headed for the garage.  I put on my best Jesse James hat or was that Paul Jr.'s or Vinnie's?  I did my best with my saber saw to fabricate the needed pieces.  Then the paint job and final assembly.  Finally, complete with roof and some inviting bats!  Oh my back, where were the Monster House people when I was working on my attic project?  Time to mount it, but that will have to wait for tomorrow.  I have a two day completion date or I don't win those new tools from Jesse. Ha ha ha, I wish!

Star Date : 12/31/03 : Day 2, Houston, We Have bat House.

          Well, I finally dragged that thing up and mounted it on my chimney.  Alright bats, now stay out of my attic!  Come on Jesse, I made the completion date.  give up some of those tools!  Now Rachel, the next time you come to Texas, we're going to look for some bats!

          I only had one last project to be completed before the end of the year.  A couple of years ago I picked up some very big antique spindles during a trip to Canton.  I decided to convert them into lamps for my office.  Not bad.  I guess this years projects should include an alligator house, not!!!!  Just a minute, the phone rang.  Oh, I got a new job!

       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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