Texas Beaumont Woodville Brenham

Texas: Beaumont, Woodville & Brenham

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Some Key West Adventures ** More Texas Adventures ** 2001 Travel Adventures


Texas: Beaumont, Woodville & Brenham

Places visited: Texas: Beaumont, Woodville & Brenham

Friday April 6, 2001:
TREK Mileage: 25392

We crashed today complete with sleeping late.

Mike repaired the exhaust break system today by replacing the ¼" air hose between the air pump and reservoir. The original hose was defective and would not stand up to the heat and air pressure. Additionally, after talking with my trusted mechanic, Mike Mason, back in Pensacola we decided that the motorhome transmission temperature gauge was working properly. Mike had installed the gauge just before we left Pensacola and we had not run the transmission up to normal highway temperatures before we left town. The gauge was only reading around 140º running down the interstate. I thought that the temperature of the transmission would roughly approximate the temperature of my diesel engine which runs 90°/210°. The air temperature was in the mid-80's on Thursday as we motored toward Texas and the transmission temperature increased to 155°/160° while the diesel temperature was running its normal 190°/210°. Mike Mason explained that I have a very large transmission cooler that is located in front of the engine radiator; therefore, I should have ansmission
temperatures that are less than the engine temperatures. It looks like I will have plenty of cooling power to deal with the western mountains.

Joyce and I ate lunch at Jaime's "TAQUERIA & BUFFET". I am not sure what a "taqueria" is but the food was good. It was a Mexican family restaurant and only one lady spoke any English in the entire restaurant. The most unique part of the buffet meal was the drinks. They offered (watermelon or tamarind).

I had both. Excellent!! The cook actually took fresh watermelon and ran it through a blender to make the watermelon drink. As good as it was they probably added some sugar. The tamarind drink is made from the tamarind seed. They boil the seeds until soft then add sugar. Both the watermelon and tamarind drinks have a good bit of pulp. I looked tamarind up in Webster's and found that it is "a tropical "Old World" leguminous tree, its fruit has an acid pulp often used for preservatives or in a cooling laxative drink". Oh boy!!! A cooling laxative drink!!!!! And to think that I drank about 20oz. Things should get exciting soon.

The only lady that could speak English said that they also make fresh pineapple and cantaloupe drinks. I got a good laugh at Joyce when she got a good serving spoonful of "green beans" while going through the buffet line. On her first bite of the "green beans" her eyes got big and she started grabbing for a cool drink. It turns out that her "green beans" were cactus strips. She thought they were hot. They were spicy but not very different than spicy green beans. Add cactus strips to things we have tried. I do not think Joyce will try them
again. If anyone is interested in locating Jaime's "TAQUERIA & BUFFET" it is located in Beaumont, TX on Fannett Rd. just west of the intersection of Walden Rd. @ exit 848 on I-10. Beware this is not a five star establishment, but we heartily recommend it.

The remainder of the day was spent reading about the "Big Thicket" and attractions around that area.

Friday, April 7, 2001:
Trek mileage: 25,466
We moved the motorhome from Beaumont, TX to Paradise RV Park (409-283-7018) 143 Hwy. 190 West in Woodville, Texas. Woodville is located about 50 miles north of Beaumont and is on the north side of the "Big Thicket" national park. Guy and Linda Lafloy own and operate this modem friendly park. They are super host.

Upon entering Texas we started seeing patches of pink evening primrose in the right of way. This must be the beginning of the famed Texas wildflowers. They add a beautiful splash of color to the roadside all over east Texas. While moving the motorhome from Beaumont to Woodville we spotted our first heard of longhorn cattle. Chalk that up as a first for us.

In Woodville we toured the Heritage Village which features a walking tour through Eastern Texas history. This is an excellent museum. The tour included shingle-splitting demonstrations, a fascinating collection of hand tools from an earlier day (mid 1800's to early 1900's) a chair factory (where the legs were lathed and leather seats stretched). There was a Village blacksmith shop in working shape equipped with a bellows forge and an anvil and tools used in the 1880's. A complete barbershop with accompanying bathroom, literally, the bathroom was a room behind the barbershop with a copper bathtub and cast iron stove in it. In 1836 men would come to town periodically and pay .15 ¢ to get a hot bath. The hot water was heated on the wood burning cast iron stove in the room. Did you know that when men went to the barbershop for a shave they carried their own shaving cup and razor? They did this to keep from getting the things that could be passed by sharing shaving equipment. Obviously this was before the world learned about killing germs with boiling water.

The Heritage Village gift shop featured a 350-year-old Bald Cyprus tree trunk cut crosswise where you could clearly see the growth rings. Someone had counted the rings and had placed pins in the particular ring representing significant years. The year the Mayflower sailed. The civil war. Years of major drought were obvious in the rings as well as being document in courthouse records.

Also on the Heritage Village property is the world famous Pickett House Restaurant. The Picket House operates in a "boarding house" style. You sit down at a large table with a group that arrives about the time you do. Then they bring bowls and bowls of good home cooked food. Two restaurants that rival this come to mind, the Dillard house in Dillard, Georgia and the Apple Barn in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

One couple touring the country in their motorhome has a hobby of taking pictures of funny signs that they run across. They have a really good collection. I wish that I could remember their web site. If I think of it I will surely share it with you. Joyce and I both started laughing at a "No dancing on tables ------------with spurs" sign in the Cajun restaurant in Lafayette, Louisiana. In Texas we have now twice spotted a "reduce speed ahead" sign then 300 or 400 yards down the road is a 60mph sign. In Florida, where we are from
you are never allowed to go over 60 unless you are on an interstate highway so a "reduce speed ahead" sign followed by a 60mph sign is unique to us Floridians. On a very long and sweeping turn complete with solid double lines on both sides of the middle there were three signs "no passing" then "pass with caution" then another "no passing". This one must have been a prankster!!!!! There was NO WAY to pass on that curve "with caution".

We were able to download & upload e-mail at the RV-Park office (Paradise RV-Park). Ain't life great?

Sunday, April 8, 2001:
TREK mileage: 25,466

Early this morning there was a knock at our door. It was the Linda, the park manager, with a beautiful rose cut from her rose garden. How nice. We are meeting the very nicest people.

We attended First Baptist Church of Woodville. The sermon was on not collecting grudges -- instead give good for evil. It was taken from 1 Samuel 24:1-22. This is a powerful message and one that we should all pay more attention to. The pastor told just one joke about a woman that went to a photographer. Upon viewing the proofs she gasped and
told the photographer that his pictures did not do her justice, to which he replied, "with a face like that you don't need justice you need mercy".

After church we to the Alabama-Coushatta Indian Reservation for a tour through their tribal lands. These Indians migrated to the Big Thicket area around 1790 from Alabama. They lived much the same way as the European settlers. They did not live in teepees or wigwams. They lived in buildings similar to European settlers. They made charcoal out of magnolia trees.

To finish off the afternoon we toured the Turkey Creek unit of the Big Thicket National Park. The trail we walked had an amazing diversity of plant life. The ranger told us that the whole area had been clear-cut during the 1930's so the trees we were seeing were no more than 70 years old. What a shame that none of the really big trees were spared the saw.

Monday, April 9, 2001:
Trek mileage: 25,629

We moved 163 miles west to Lake Somerville, SP (Nails Creek Unit) a few miles NW of Brenham, Texas. Pete & Fay Jones friends from RV-Talk are camp host here. We were not sure whether they would still be here when we arrived. However, the check in office told us they were here for another month.

Upon leaving Woodville this morning we exited the piney woods area and left the pine trees behind. Once we got west of Livingston, 30 miles west of Woodville, the landscape turned into rolling hills, pastures, lakes and post oak trees. The roadsides were covered with bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush. It was a beautiful drive. Texas has some nice
roadside picnic areas that we took advantage of today.

Tuesday, April 10, 2001:
Trek Mileage: 25,629

We put about 80 miles on the Saturn today. It has been three days since we have been able to download e-mail, what a bummer. We have been able to get a phone line but for some reason my ISP has not been answering their phone. Another day or so of this and I am going to get upset.

Our first stop this morning was a visit to the Chamber of Commerce / Visitors center in Brenham, Texas. They provided us with some good tourist information but the manager would not let us download e-mail. He told us they did not have a spare phone line when I could plainly see one attached to the idle fax machine. I have to wonder who he knew to get his job? I could see this attitude at the local Wendy's but the Chamber of Commerce?

A few miles down the road we took the Blue Bell Creameries Tour. This is a tour of the manufacturing facility for Blue Bell Ice Cream. It is an excellent tour with samples of Blue Bell Ice Cream at the end. We joined a tour of "old folks" on an outing from the First Baptist couple that had relatives in Milton, Florida a bedroom community of our home in Pensacola. It turns out that his brother-in-law is Bob McCay. Bob and I are fishing friends. He is a charter boat Captain and was a the Commanding Officer of NAS Whiting Field a "few" years
ago. Isn't it a small world? Will one of you in the "BOS" area pass this on to Lou Garza since Lou and Bob are big time fishing buddies"?
Thanks in advance, ------- John/JC/JR_

Fifteen miles up the road we stopped at the Antique Rose Emporium.Located on an early settler's homestead in historic Independence, Texas the 8-acre retail display garden center is beautifully landscaped featuring romantic old garden roses, native plants, old-fashioned cottage garden perennials, herbs, and a wildflower meadow. Several unique restored buildings include an 1855 stone kitchen original to the site, an 1840's log corncrib, an 1850's saltbox house, and an early 1900's Victorian home. Admission was FREE. Three tour busses unloaded while we were there. Locals were carrying wagons of plants out of the place. This is a place we will probably visit again before we depart the area.

Within a mile of the Rose Emporium is the Texas Baptist Historical Center-Museum. This is an integral part of one of Texas' most historic sites organized in 1839. The original site of Baylor University for men and women was founded through the church in 1845. Sam Houston was converted and baptized into this church in 1854. Sam Houston's mother-in-law was so overcome with joy when Sam was baptized that she purchased a large bell for the church in honor of the occasion. According to manuscripts the bell was shipped from the Old Meneely Bell Foundry in Waterbvliet, New York in October of 1856. The bell weighed 502 pounds and was made of 78 parts copper and 22 parts tin, which is the most sonorous bell-metal known. The bell, which hung in the bell tower beside the church, for 113 years fell on March 5, 1969. Of course the bell broke in the fall but it has been "restored" and is on display in the museum. Restored in this sense means they used some kind of super glue and put the pieces together again. The cracks were clearly visible and the bell must have been in 6 or 8 separate pieces.

The Independence Baptist Church is still alive and growing. We met pastor Butch Strickland and found that he had been a missionary in South America. Of course we asked him if he knew David & Melissa Chism (church friends from Pensacola that became missionaries in South America). As luck would have it David and Butch went through language school together. What a small world. I sent David an e-mail telling him that we had met Butch and passed along Butch's e-mail address. (my address for David and Melissa was from 1999 and may not be good so any of you with a current address for the Chism's feel free to provide it)

One of the unique things about this Southern Baptist Church is the lack of a (baptistery). All Southern Baptist know that directly over the choir loft is the "baptistery". J They had some large glossy prints of some individuals getting baptized in a creek full of lily pads with the congregation standing on the bank. What a site for a city boy! The pastor told me that the creek was where baptisms were performed even today.

The remainder of the day was spent cruising down country roads viewing the wildflowers listening to Joyce say "WOW, stop and let me get a picture".

Once back at the State Park we visited with Pete and Fay Jones our RV-Talk friends. We make plans to dine together Wednesday night.

Wednesday, April 11, 2001:
Trek mileage: 25,629

We were able to download e-mail this morning. Halleluiah!!! Praise God for this miracle!

Dave Damouth sent me an e-mail informing me of what I suspected, and that is that my "distribution list" was sending everyone's name and e-mail address. This is NOT what I wanted to happen. Hopefully, this travelogue will just have "travelogue" in the "TO" space of the header. I am new to distribution lists but it seems easy enough with a smattering of trial and error. Thanks to friends like Dave who are thoughtful enough to help a novice through new learning experiences.

Dave also asked me to explain what boudin is. That is a tough one since no Cajun makes it the same way. It is a popular meat item that I would classify as a "rice sausage". If you purchase it in a grocery store it will likely come in a sausage casing approximately one foot long and a little over an inch in diameter. If you see a Cajun he will likely be driving down the road with a link of boudin in one hand and a cold beer in the other. Boudin recipes vary from store to store, restaurant to restaurant, some are heavy on the giblets, others are
spicy with plenty of lean pork. I like mine with rice and crawfish. I also like mine fried into balls about the size of a tennis ball. The fried balls have obviously been removed from the casing or possibly were never placed in one. When traveling in Cajun country you can get a fried boudin ball in almost any country grocery store, gas station, restaurant, etc., that also sells cokes or beer. The bottom line on boudin, in my estimation, it is a highly seasoned rice and meat sausage that will be different each time you purchase it from different vendor.

Back to our Wednesday in Brenham, Texas. The highlight of our day was a tour of the Brenham Historical Museum. We were fortunate to have Mrs. Jessie Lofton a, 95-year-old lady, as our tour guide. This lady was born in Brenham as was her mother, her deceased husband was a Texas Ranger who was in on the killing of Bonnie and Clyde. He then
became the Mayor of Brenham for 28 years. There was absolutely nothing about Brenham that she did not know and she told us most of it. This lady had a walking stick but she mostly used it to point to things. Her mind was sharp as a tack. I know several 87 year old who would have a tough time trying to keep with this dynamo. (Dad & Pop's)

One of the most remarkable stories she told us about was how the Klu Klux Klan tried to start a chapter in Brenham, I think in 1923. The townspeople decided that they did not like the idea and had a big Bar-B-Q with 12,000 in attendance to show that all nationalities and races were united and welcome in Brenham. The Klu Klux Klan was not wanted and would not be tolerated. The pictures they had of this Bar-BQ were incredible. Folks, what they called a Bar-B-Q was a stout pole holding a whole steer or pig over a bed of coals. The bed of coals were in 300 yard long trenches with the roasting steers & pigs every yard or so. There was an incredible amount of Bar-B-Q being cooked. The tables complete with white tablecloths were set up in a HUGE field (remember they were feeding 12,000). Back to the Klu Klux Klan story, I was impressed by the number of blacks in the pictures and commented to her that they seemed to be fitting in real well. Mrs. Jessie then informed me that the Klu Klux Klan were not wanting to run the blacks out of Brenham it was the Germans. Dah!!!! Stupid me. I just assumed the Klu Klux Klan was forming to run off blacks. At this time Brenham was being populated with Jews, blacks, Polish, zechoslovakians, Germans, Irish and a smattering of other nationalities. Anyway, the point of the story is that this community sent a message that the Klu Klux Klan was not welcome in Brenham and
that the community was going to be a place where everyone could live in peace and harmony. What a powerful story. It is heart warming to see such documentation where good people stood up to wrong.

Mrs. Jessie was telling us the best roads to view bluebonnets when she said to follow Texas 36 to a small town. I asked her something about the town and she told me that once a city gent was traveling down Texas 36 and stopped to ask a country boy if he knew where Kenny was. The country boy replied "stay put, don't go forward or backwards".
When we passed through Kenny later in the day we understood the full significance of the story.

Since the Blue Bell plant was less than a mile away we decided to drop by and have another "sample". The Blue Bell banana pudding is simply to die for. What a way to sin! Amen!

The rest of the afternoon was spent with Mike driving and Joyce directing him on where to stop so she could take another picture. On one stretch of road we were able to see eight to ten scissortail flycatchers on the power lines. These birds are easy to spot and identify with those long tail feathers. We saw one or two of these flycatchers in Southern Louisiana then over here we were able to see a group of them. This is not a bird we see in Florida.

We passed an advertisement for a red deer farm. We could see a 10' fenced area with about 20 deer in it so we took the gravel road next to it. A short way off the highway in another field was several large herds of these red deer. I shot some video of this incredible heard of deer through the fence so that there would be no fence showing in the picture. I intend to take a JPG of this group of deer and send it to a deer-hunting buddy of mine (Galon, I am talking about you). I want him to see what a deer looks like. Galon, you can expect your present in a week or so.

We ate dinner tonight with Pete and Fay Jones our friends who are camp hosting at the State Park.

A good friend of mine has suggested that we include areas where we plan to visit in the future so that readers could pass along good things to see and do. It sounds like a good idea to me so here goes:

The next several weeks will be spent around Austin, San Antonio, the entire "Hill Country", New Braunfels etc.,

Mike & Joyce Hendrix

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Until next time remember how good life is.

Mike & Joyce Hendrix

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