Posts Tagged ‘Lake Jackson’

There's gotta be a tasty morsel down there somewhere -- Photo by Pat Bean

“For man, as for flower and beast and bird, the supreme triumph is to be most vividly, most perfectly alive.”– David Herbert Lawrence
Bird Talk
Went birding this morning instead of posting my blog. So all you get today is a picture of the great egret I watched fishing for its dinner at the Sea Center in Lake Jackson, Texas.  I hope you had a great day, too.

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‘An old dog, even more than an old spouse, always feels like doing what you feel like doing.” — Robert Brault


White ibis coming in for a landing at the Sea Center in Lake Jackson on a cold morning. -- Photo by Pat Bean


Travels With Maggie

I braved the cold yesterday morning to walk the boardwalk at the Sea Center in Lake Jackson. It’s a great place to watch birds, as well as being a fish hatchery, beach/seashore museum and an aquarium.

Check it out at: http://www.texasexplorer.com/SeaCenterTexas.htm


A new sign marks the Bobcat Woods Trail in San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge. That's my son, Lewis, in the background. -- Photo by Pat Bean

While I had a pair of warm gloves, I never kept them on long enough for my fingers to warm up. I was too busy checking out the Audubon Bird App on the new smart phone my son gave me as an early Christmas present and taking pictures. I can use my binoculars with my gloves on, but not the phone or camera.

My photo above of the white ibis was my reward for braving the cold. It did warm up later on in the day, and my son, Lewis, and I found about 40 species. After the Sea Center, we walked Bobcat Trail at San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge.

My dog, Maggie, wasn’t happy, however. I had left her home so she could stay warm and cozy in the RV. But the dirty looks she gave me for the rest of the afternoon indicated she had wanted to go birding, too. Or at least gone for the ride.

Gypsy Lee has been parked for a week and Maggie is already getting antsy.

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“Reading about nature is fine, but if a person walks in the woods and listens carefully, he can learn more than what is in books … “  —  George Washington Carver

Chasing Birds


While I didn't have my camera the day I walked in the Dow Woods, I've taken it often to the San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge, where Lewis and I have trod this boardwalk through Bobcat Woods. -- Photo by Pat Bean

A new addition to Texas’ wildlife sanctuary complex, the Dow Woods, opened this past week. Located just five minutes from my son, Lewis’, home in Lake Jackson. We two avid birders had to check it out of course.

The 338-acre site, designated as part of the San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge, currently includes two loop trails, totaling 2.5 miles, that run along Bastrop Bayou. Plans are in the works to put in more trails in the near future.

The land was donated to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by Dow Chemical, which was actually responsible for creating the town of Lake Jackson in the 1940s so its employees would have a place to live.

Lake Jackson, where our family lived from 1956-1971. is called the City of Enchantment, partly because of the vast number of trees that were spared when the swampy forest was cleared and drainage canals were dug so the land would be livable.


A crested caracara that I spotted at the San Bernard NWR. -- Photo by Pat Bean

 It’s nice to see that in a time when corporate greed is so rampant that a large employer is still both giving to the community and conserving the landscape.

The actions, along with the jobs the company provides the area, ease a bit the large footprint the chemical plant also has on the local landscape.

Lewis, whose favorite birding site, is the San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge’s main location, is delighted that this new addition to is so close to his home. And we both found it a delightful place to walk and look for birds.

I, however, was a bit upset with myself because while I remembered to bring my binoculars, I left my camera at home.

If you’re in the neighborhood, you should drop by. Dow Woods is located on Old Angleton (or County Road 288) about a mile north of FM 2004.

I plan to go back soon and take my camera. Perhaps I’ll see you there.

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David Hasselhoff as I remember him back in about 1989. -- Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

“There is a certain relief in change, even though it be from bad to worse! As I have often found in traveling in a stagecoach, that it is often a comfort to shift one’s position, and be bruised in a new place.” Washington Irving

Travels With Maggie

A text from a grandson last night took me on a journey down memory lane. It was the only traveling I did yesterday.

“So um, david hasselhoff is here in lake jackson (Texas) hosting a reality show, how random,” 16-year-old Dallas alerted me.

It was an opportunity for this former journalist to impress her grandson by informing him that I once interviewed Hasselhoff. Of course my grandson wanted to know the details. After a bit of brain scratching I told him as much as I could remember.

It was about 1989, after Hasselhoff’s stint on “The Young and The Restless” and his role as the “Knight Rider” had ended. When I met him he was the bare-chested life guard hero of Bay Watch.

His reason for appearing at the Layton Mall in Northern Utah was to promote his newly begun career as a singer. Tall and good-looking, and not yet 40, Hasselhoff’s appearance had the ladies there to see him all a giggle.

“Take off your shirt,” several of them urged him. He didn’t, however. He sang, and he joked with his mostly female audience, but remained gentlemanly and modest.

Thinking back on that day now, and comparing it to some of Hasselhoff’s more recent shenanigans, left me thoughtful. The years change us, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse, and sometimes a bit of both. You see Hasselhoff ‘s current reputation doesn’t take into account his long-standing charitable efforts with the Make a Wish foundation, or his numerous visits to children’s hospitals around the world.

It makes me glad to know that when I interviewed Hasselhoff , I got to see his better side.

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This is all I could see outside my RV window at 7 a.m. this morning. -- Photo by Pat Bean


“If you want to see the sunshine, you have to weather the storm.” — Frank Lane

Travels With Maggie

I’m writing my blog this morning as pelting rain drums a tune on the roof of my RV, which is rocking and rolling with the wind. A clash of distance thunder sounds the cymbals.

There’s something in me that loves an enthusiastic storm, especially when I’m all snug and cozy in warm flannel pajamas with a good book to read. A cracking fireplace blaze would be nice, but when living in a 22-foot home on wheels, one has to make sacrifices.

My canine traveling companion, Maggie, since it is only 7 a.m., is still sleeping. If left undisturbed – and thunder and lightning don’t normally wake her – she’ll sleep until about 9:30 a.m., when she’ll wake up and give me that “I’m ready for my morning walk RIGHT NOW” look.

This scarlet cheer was tucked beneath a hedge. -- Photo by Pat Bean

This scarlet cheer was tucked beneath a hedge. -- Photo by Pat Bean

If it’s still raining, we’ll use my large umbrella. Maggie knows the drill. And she won’t dawdle, as she normally does.

I usually dawdle, too, another reason why Maggie and I are the perfect traveling companions. I carry binoculars around my neck and frequently stop to search out any bird sounds I hear.  Yesterday a knock-know drumming alerted me to a cute little downy woodpecker in the tree above my head. A soft whistling then refocused my binoculars to a tufted titmouse in the same tree.

 I also take time to snap a picture or two with my small digital camera. Remembering to stick it in my pocket for our walks took me a long time, but these days I feel naked without it.

The first bloom on the Japanese magnolia tree in my son's yard. This tree blooms before it puts on leaves and is always a winter treat. -- Photo by Pat Bean

A few minutes ago, on a whim, I shot a view of the storm outside through the inside of

my RV window. Looking at it, I thought about the photos I took yesterday of winter color around my son’s Texas Gulf Coast home, where winter never fully settles in for the duration.

 The contrast between the images speak to me of the silver lining behind every storm.

Do they say something to you?

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Poppy by Georgia O'Keeffe

 “When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else. Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower. I want them to see it whether they want or not.” Georgia O’Keeffe

Travels With Maggie

 I love art museums. I can wander through them for hours, admiring the miracles created by the likes of O’Keeffe, Monet, Van Gogh and Homer, as well as those in an exhibit of work by second-graders, whose works usually contain a colorful freshness.

Winter never fully comes to the Texas Gulf Coast town of Lake Jackson, where the leaves on a tree in my son's front yard still linger. Its colors reminded me of Georgia O'Keeffe's painting above. -- Photo taken yesterday by Pat Bean

The two most important factors in art are the eyes of the artist and the eyes of the viewer. Anyone who has ever been in an art class, where all the students paint the same subject, know that each of the finished canvases will be different, perhaps even drastically different.

Whether we are creating or viewing, what each of us sees is unique to ourselves.

But one doesn’t have to go to a museum to see art. It’s all around us. Simply pulling my RV into my son’s Lake Jackson, Texas, driveway this week, was almost as good as walking through the doors of the Louvre, which someday I hope to do. But until that day comes, if ever, I’ll happily console myself with beauty closer to home.

I captured some of Mother Nature’s artistic miracles when I went walking with Maggie yesterday. And since this really is one of those times when a picture is worth more than words, I’ll now shut up.

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I can drool over maps for hours in anticipation of an upcoming journey. This is the route I chose for today's drive. I always right up a cheat sheet for my dashboard that includes right and left-turn directions.

 “… On the road again/ Going places that I’ve never been/ Seein’ thing that I may never see again/ And I can’t wait to get on the road again.” — Willie Nelson

 Travels With Maggie

 Willie Nelson and I share this love of being “on the road again.” And today I get to indulge myself. I’ve been up since before dawn, drinking coffee and reviewing the route I will take from my daughter’s home in Camden, Arkansas, to a son’s home in Lake Jackson, Texas.

 My dog, Maggie, is as eager as I am. She started getting excited as soon as I began packing things snugly away in the RV.

The journey is 427 miles long and I’ll be making it in one run, which means most of my sight-seeing will take place from behind the wheel. If it were spring, and I was truly on the road again and not just hiding out the winter catching up with family, it would probably take me two weeks to go this far.

To speed the time along, I’ll probably be listening to my audible copy of Ken Follett’s “Fall of Giants” along the way. But certainly not during the sections of road that will be new to me.

Mike Nomilini captured this picture of the bridge in Coushatta that crosses the Red River at sunset. While I'll be crossing the river today, it's going to be well before noon so my view will be much different.

 I added 15 miles to the shortest route  so I would pass through a few places I’ve never been before. Coushatta, Louisiana, for one. The Red River passes through this rural town. And I’ll be crossing over it on a 900-ton bridge that was  built in 1989 — not crossing it on horseback as John Wayne did in the 1948 film, “Red River.” 

 It was many years ago when I saw the film, but I still remember it.

There’s something in me that also loves river crossings. While the Red River might not compare to the thrill I had crossing the Yukon on a ferry in 1999, I’m still looking forward to it.

 Did I tell you, “I just can’t wait to get on the road again.”

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A northern mockingbird was my first bird of the new year. -- Photo by Pat Bean

 “Use what talents you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.” — Henry Van Dyke

Travels With Maggie

I’m a passionate birdwatcher, who keeps a list of birds I’ve seen. My life list now totals 696 bird species. It’s a respectable number for this late-blooming birder, but far from spectacular.

If you want to know more about the birding numbers game you should read “The Big Year” by Mark Obmascik. It’s a great read even if you aren’t a birder. It’s about three guys who spend a year chasing birds all across North America. At the whisper of a rare bird alert, they would fly thousands of miles on a minute’s notice.

Although I did once drive 400 miles to see one particular bird, these days I usually just bird where my travels take me. I check out bird festivals going on while I’m in the vicinity, and hook up with local Audubon chapters for birding field trips. This past year these efforts, including one day when I hired a guide to help me find the golden-cheeked warbler that I had been trying to find for three years, earned me 12 new life birds. And yes, the warbler was one of them.

I spotted this yellow-crowned night heron at the Sea Center in Lake Jackson, Texas. -- Photo by Pat Bean

This year’s birding efforts, meanwhile, have begun slower than normal. I’ve been parked in my son’s driveway here in Harker Heights all this week and a cold front moving through the area seems to have kept the birds tucked away.

At least they’re not falling out of the sky dead, as red-winged blackbirds and starlings have been doing in Arkansas the past couple of days. That’s a scary thing because birds, like the canaries coal miners carried into the tunnels with them as their bad air detectors, are indicators of an environment’s health.

My first bird of this new year was a northern mockingbird, appropriate since it’s Texas’ state bird. It was a brilliant gray and white fellow with yellow eyes that landed on a fence about eight feet from my RV window. As I watched, it flashed its long tail in the air – then pooped.

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