Natchez Trace Parkway

Leaving Natchez we drove north following the Natchez Trace Parkway. The Natchez Trace follows an old trail going from Natchez to Nashville, Tennessee and is meant for "tourist traffic". The speed limit is 80 mph, commercial traffic is prohibited, access points are limited and there are historic and nature points of interest that you can stop at. Nice for driving and as a bonus the scenery is good. Tonight's stop was at a Mississippi state park at about the 3/4 point of the parkway.

We stopped for lunch by this Cypress swamp.

How appropriate .... vintage cars on a vintage road.

The campsite at the state park. Our trailer is on the right in the trees. It was a very pretty spot as the the campground looked out at a small lake.

This tree was by our trailer.




Todays drive was from Kinder, Louisiana to Vidalia Louisiana which is across the river from Natchez, Mississippi. As it was only a three hour drive we were able to spend the afternoon wandering around. The campground is by the river so we went for a walk along the river and watch the barges. Natchez is a very old, very historic town and is very beautiful in the spring when all the flowers are in bloom. Friends had told us that the King's Tavern in Natchez has the best smoked prime rib anywhere so based on that recommendation we had dinner there and yes the smoked prime rib was wonderful and they even had some that was rare for Ed. The tavern is reported to have it's own ghost --- all guests are invited to tour the upper floors and look for her. Unfortunately, she didn't appear for us. We did have a chat with a couple at a table across from us --- turned out we were all Canadians. Ed and I are from Canada and they were from Canadian, Texas (it's a town in the panhandle area).

You have to look closely to notice that the long object just in front of the shore is a barge being pushed by a tug. The Mississippi is high being at 49.7 feet --- the highest crest was 53.1 feet.

The walkway along the river took you under the bridges that cross the Mississippi River.

The flowering bushes were incredible.

One of the historic homes in Natchez --- this was a bordello. You can tour some of the homes in Natchez and this may have been one as the women on the balcony was dressed in a period costume.

Another historic home, I believe this one has a restaurant in it now. The grounds were full of flowering shrubs.

The outside of the King's Tavern.

The third floor is still set up as a guest room (at one point people could stay in the room) and this is where the ghost is normally seen.



Starting the Drive Home

When we drove down to Texas in December we pushed fairly hard and did it in three days. Remembering how tired we were after those three days of driving we decided to take it a little slower going home and maybe even stop and smell the spring flowers. Today would take us from Galveston Island to just south of Kinder, Louisiana. The park we landed at was pretty much in the middle of nowhere and still had a few of the trailers that housed people who lost their homes in Katrina.

Seagulls looking for handouts. We were on the ferry leaving Galveston Island. The wait and loading time for the ferry was about an hour but it sure beat having to drive through Houston.

This waterway is fairly busy as there are large docks in Galveston. It looks like the tug and the ferry are racing.

Our trailer on the ferry.

I think this bridge is at the Texas Louisiana border as you cross the Sabine River.



Beach Day 7

Our last day on Galveston Island. Zaph figures this means lots of time on the beach and he was right. He also got to play with an Italian Greyhound that moved into the site beside us.



Beach Day 6

No we're not getting bored being at the beach. Zaph says it's impossible to get bored at the beach --- well maybe if you're not allowed to go swimming. For us it's a lot of fun to watch Zaph having fun. Beside there's something soothing about sand and waves.

Took the big lens over to the birding area in hopes we would see some of the birds we saw yesterday. Luck was with us and we saw the Yellow-crowned Night-herons, the White-tailed Kite and the Crested Caracara.

On the drive into the park we passed an Italian restaurant (Mario's) that looked like it might have good pizza. As I missed the "pizza outing" in Mission, we decided that it was time for pizza. The pizza was very good, but the crust wasn't quite perfect. I may be remembering it better than it was but I still lust after a "grandmothers pizza" at Mothers Pizza.

Yellow-crowned Night-heron

Three Yellow-crowned Night-herons.

Crested Caracara

White-tailed Kite coming in for a landing



Beach Day 5

We missed hiking one of the trails on the other side of the park so today was the day to hike it. The trail was a lot longer than we expected but well worth the hike as we saw a White-tailed kite, six Yellow-crowned Night-herons and a Crested Caracara. Unfortunately they were too far away for good photos with the small lens.

Some of the pretty spring flowers.

More pretty flowers.



Beach Day 4

Ed wasn't happy with his photos of the Black Skimmers with the small lens so we drove back to Galveston with the "big" lens in hopes that the Skimmers would be at the some spot. Happily they were. While Ed was snapping photos of the Skimmers as they suddenly took off, I was watching the reason they took off. An Osprey had flown over them. The Osprey dove, caught a fish and took off again --- it was amazing to watch.

Yes, Zaph got his beach walk when we came back from photographing the birds.

Black Skimmers

Rudy Turnstone

A Black Skimmer

Black Skimmers in flight

I'm not sure of the proper name but I'll call it a "kite car". The vehicle ran up and down the beach powered by the kite.



Beach Day 3

As tomorrow is the scheduled day of departure we thought we should figure out where we're going so we got on the internet and started checking places out. If we follow the coast we'll get to Alabama and Florida --- no dogs on the beach; if we start heading north ---- no beach. Somehow Zaph managed to get some extra votes and we're staying put till it's time to head north on Saturday.

Guess what we did today? If you guessed beach walk you're right.

The beach was just about deserted so no leash today.




This morning was windy, cool and overcast --- so just a walk on the beach, no swimming though Zaph did try to drag me to the water. Galveston, the city, is about 15 minutes from the park and as the beach wasn't as inviting today we decided to drive into town and check it out. At the far end of Galveston is a main channel so we got to see several large ships, some barges as well as the ferry. The most exciting part for us was the flock of black skimmers. We've seen a black skimmer before but just as a solitary bird not part of a flock. Mixed in with the flock were gulls, terns and a variety pack of sandpipers.

As dinner time was approaching we decided to stay in town and eat. The restaurant of choice was Benno's on the Beach specializing in Cajun seafood. This is a very casual dinning, you go to the counter and order your food and someone brings it to your table. First a couple of cups of Jambalaya then crawfish boil. Crawfish are like little lobsters, you break off the tail, pull the meat out and throw the rest away. The Jambalaya was amazing, the crawfish very good.

Looking down the main channel towards the port

Black Skimmers, Gulls and Terns and a Cormorant --- it was fairly windy out and they were all facing into the wind

Black skimmers coming in for a landing



Beach Day 2

The truck had started complaining that it needed an oil change so Ed decided that he would get up at 6:15am (yes, the night owl decided this all on his own) so he could be at the local Wal-Mart by 7am in hopes that he wouldn't have to wait long (the lube center opened at 7am). Happily he was second vehicle in.

As Zaph and I were up early we decided to do a beach walk and headed out just after sun rise (7:30am). The beach was pretty empty so Zaph was given his freedom so he could splash through the waves without dragging me.

Galveston Island State Park has two parts too it, the beach side where the day use area and large campground can be found and the bay side which has a small campground, swamp, trails and a variety of birds. Today we hiked one of the trails and looked for birds and found some --- several Osprey, Roseate Spoonbills, Northern Mocking Birds (there everywhere in Texas), Meadow larks, Sparrows and Egrets.

Zaph being the lucky dog that he is got to go for a second beach walk /swim. There's just something so peaceful about walking on the beach.

This little guy was on one of the hiking trails, a reasonable distance from water. He was laying upside down when we found him so we think a bird might have dropped him.

Hmmmm...... this shark doesn't look dangerous.



Beach Day

On Zaph's insistence we went for a walk on the beach. Even though it's not that warm (low 70's) there are lots of people sunning and a fair number in the water --- OK the ones in the water are mostly kids and we know they can't feel the cold. Zaph really wanted to play with all the kids in the water but we kept him on his leash and he had to be content with splashing through the waves on this own.

A beautiful moon rise over the water.



The Last Texas State Park this Trip

Time to pack up and drive an hour and a half to the last Texas state park we'll stay at this trip (at least that's the plan as of today). Not sure what caused the hold up but it took at least 15 minutes to drive 2 km when we reached Galveston Island --- maybe it was volume or maybe it was the two policemen and the truck. All three of us were very happy to land at Galveston Island State Park, where we spent a few days before Christmas last year. It's a lot busier this year --- no reservation no site. Wonder if Easter weekend has anything to do with it?

As I haven't done laundry for awhile it was time to search out the local laundromat --- or as it is called here "washateria". I was thrilled to find another 9.5 --- clean, nice machines and nice attendant.

Back at the park we took a good look at the units around us and noticed that the two units across the road and one just down the road from us have Ontario plates and one of them we met at Goose Island State Park. Small world.



Trade my Dog .... No Way

Woke up to a beautiful morning, a little windy but a clear sky. Today we'll check out some of the areas we missed two days ago.

While walking down a trail we came across a mother and her son .... obviously there was some problem as the son was crying that he didn't want to go home. The mother looked at us and asked if we wanted to trade our dog for her child ---- that was a no brainer.

On another trail, we stopped to chat with some people for a minute as Zaph and their dogs wanted to say hi. There was a split in the trail, so they asked us to suggest which way they should go. After I answered, the woman looked at me and said, "You're Canadian aren't you? You have a Canadian accent." I know I don't sound like a Texan, but it still surprised me to have someone figure it out. I think most people just think I talk funny.

On another trail we stopped to look at some alligators and turtles in a small lake. When I turned and looked on the other side of the trail where there was a large valley with a creek, I saw what looked like a vulture convention. There must have been forty or fifty vultures just sitting on the ground hanging out. Later when we saw a ranger, I asked him about it. He said though it was windy, the winds and temperature weren't quite right for soaring so the vultures just hung out.

When we were here in December 2006 there was an area near the road where the vultures roosted. Just before sunset we drove over to the area to see if the vultures were there --- not as many as we remember from a year ago, but there were still a lot of vultures in the trees. It was a sight worthy of a horror flick.

Zaph and I walked on the far side of the path as we passed this little fellow.

Hmmm, maybe he wasn't so little after all.

A view down one of the horseshoe lakes.

A tree of turtles. The turtles were out in full force enjoying the sun.

The trees here are full of Spanish Moss.

I'm not sure why he was lying there with his mouth open but after a good look at those teeth I'm certainly not going to get too close.

This little gator didn't care that the turtle had already claimed the log, he climbed up and the turtle moved out of the way.

Do you think the little turtle is dreaming of being as big as the big turtle?

Lots of dragon flies on one of the trails. This guy stopped and posed for Ed.

The bumps on the tree branches are vultures. Birds kept arriving as the sun continued to set.

The lake took on the colours of the sunset.



Lazy Day

When we got up this morning it was already windy and overcast. As it looked like rain we decided that it would be a good idea to stay fairly close to the trailer. This meant that Zaph's morning walk was around the two camping loops not out by the ponds. Just after lunch there was a knock at the door, a ranger had come to tell us that there was a tornado watch and if it looked bad we should head to the washrooms --- the nearest concrete structure. Good excuse to snuggle down with a book for the afternoon. It rained in the afternoon but no sign of a tornado.



Birds and Alligators

It's a beautiful day and perfect for a nice long walk. We grabbed a couple bottles of water, camera, binoculars, Zaph and we walked over to the largest lake in the park. There are a number of lakes in the park, several of which are joined together by trails, so over the course of the afternoon we visited four different lakes, seeing many different birds and lots of alligators.

Little Blue Heron

Common Moorhen --- the red shield on the beak is only seen during breeding season (February to September).

White Ibis

There's lots of American Coots in the ponds here. These guys are very vocal --- if you can't see them you're bound to hear them.

What is the alligator doing sitting in a field? Ed said he was watching Zaph and me walk by --- glad I didn't notice.

Tricolored Heron.

Zaph wearing his St. Patrick's Day bandanna.



Off to the Next State Park

Carol and I decided to see what the nature trail was like by taking the short loop ....ooops... we missed a turn and did a much larger loop, taking an hour more than we had planned on. We both deserved lunch by the time we got back to the campsite.

As Carol and Darryl had a six hour ride to get home, they left right after lunch. We finished packing up and left about ten minutes later. Over the two half days, we had a very nice visit with them.

Lucky us, we only had a two hour drive before we arrived at our destination; Brazos Bend State Park. We stayed at this park in December 2006 and really enjoyed it. Hope this visit is as good.



Visit from the Dentons

As it was a weekend, and the park was in driving range, Carol (my sister) and Darryl (my brother-in-law) decided to hop on the motorbike and come for the weekend. Luckily they really enjoy riding as it was a 6 hour drive each way. They arrived mid afternoon and after a short rest we walked them around the campground --- I think they really needed to stretch their legs.

This park didn't have a fire ban as the last two did, so we bought a little red wagon load of wood and had ourselves a campfire. It was a beautiful evening for it, not too cold and a clear sky with lots of stars.



Off to Lake Texana

As we missed Lake Texana in our previous travels to Texas State Parks, we decided this was the year to stop and see it. We packed up and left Goose Island this morning, driving north east for about two hours to reach our destination of Lake Texana State Park. It didn't take long for us to decide that this was a very nice family park --- large sites and lots for kids to do. Probably not a park we'd go back to though as there didn't appear to be many birds.



Just Another Day

Today we went into town to pick up some groceries and to get Ed's ears lowered. I think Ed was trying to see if he could go more than 3 months between hair cuts but he was starting to look pretty scary. It must have been haircut day as we ended up waiting an hour for his turn --- but it was worth the wait.

Later in the day we took Zaph for walk on the trail through the park and then out to the fishing pier. We decided that Goose Island is a very nice campground though we hear that the wood section does get buggy as the weather gets hotter.



Did You Know It's Still Dark at 6:15am

Another reason for stopping in the Fulton area was to take a birding trip on the Skimmer with Captain Tommy. The alarm was set for 5:20am but true to schedule I woke up at 4:46am --- well before the alarm and unable to go back to sleep. After I was showered and dressed I woke Ed and Zaph up --- Ed to get ready, and Zaph to go for a walk. Outside it still looked like the middle of the night, dark and a sky full of stars. By 6:30 we were on the road and arrived at the Skimmer dock at 6:45 a good 20 minutes early --- oh well, Ed didn't want to be late.

By 7:30 the boat was on it's way. The beginning of the trip was interesting as we were driving in the dark in the fog --- luckily Captain Tommy knew where he was going and had both GPS and radar. About 15 minutes into the trip the sun rose --- very pretty indeed.

The trip was very successful as we saw a lot of Whooping Cranes. It helps that the Whooping Cranes are territorial and return to the same territory each year. First we saw a family of four which was unusual. Whooping Cranes lay two eggs but the stronger baby usually kills the other one to ensure sufficient food. Then we saw three other family groupings (three cranes) before stopping to watch a young pair of adults. On the return trip to shore we saw a group of young birds that left their families but not yet found their mate. Oh, we did see lots of other birds on the trip as well.

Whooping Crane

The summer and winter rains have ensured a good crop of Blue Crabs this year which makes the Whooping Cranes very happy .... it's one of their favourite foods. Adult Whooping Crane in the foreground, juvenile in background.

Probably a Long-billed Curlew

A flock of migrating Ibis.

Four Roseate Spoonbills and a Tri-coloured Heron

A pair of adult whooping cranes.

This photographer had the boat to himself.

Unfortunately, for the above photographer, the cranes took to the air a few minutes after he had arrived --- fortunate for us as we got to see them fly by.

Cormorants on a natural gas rig

Late in the afternoon we decided to drive the mile or so from the park and see the "big tree". The Goose Island Oak Tree is more than 1,000 years old, has a circumference of more than 35 feel, an average trunk diameter of more than 11 feet and a crown spread of 89 feet.

When we arrived at the "Big Tree" parking lot, we were surprised to see a number of vehicles --- apparently a wedding was about to begin. It was a very casual wedding --- none of the guys wore jackets, the bridesmaids wore pants and the flower girl and ring bearer went barefoot.



Here an Armadillo, There an Armadillo, Everywhere an Armadillo

The Aransas National Wildlife Refuge is the winter home to the Whooping Crane and is one of the reasons we stopped in this area. We had a pretty good day at the refuge sighting a family of Wooping Cranes, about 15 alligators, a bunch of javelinas, three wild boar, a white-tailed deer, many Armadillo and of course a number of different birds. We were told several times that alligators like to eat dogs, and suggested one should carry their dog .... NO...... try option 2, Zaph was kept on very short lead making him an extension of me. It must have worked as I don't think the Alligators even noticed us.

There were lots of alligators in lots of sizes.

A posing armadillo --- it was kinda of weird but most of the armadillos we saw were on Ed's side of the truck --- do you think they were wanting their photos taken?

A flowering yucca

Besides being totally different species you can easily tell a boar from a javelina as boars have tails and large ears.

A Great Egret

The Whooping Crane family flew from the water where they were very visible (though far away) to the tall grass where they were not.

Butterflies hard at work making more butterflies.

Common Moorhen

This White-tailed deer obviously lives in a protected area as he stood there for a long time while we took his photo.

Zaph reluctantly hanging out by one of the "big trees" in the refuge.

Zaph wanted to go see his new friend. This little girl had no trouble with Zaph's size as she has a Great Dane and a Chihuahua at home.

Lots of drift wood on this beach.



Goose Island

Today is moving day and the computer indicates it will take us at least an hour to get to the new spot. It actually took just under 2 hours as we had to wait for the ferry and I think we hit every red light between the two campgrounds. Goose Island State Park is on the Gulf just north east of Fulton which is north east of Corpus Christi.

Our timing was pretty good, we arrived and set up just before the skies opened up and the rain came down. We turned on the TV in time to see the "emergency weather reports" that asked everyone to stay in doors for the next hour or so. Being ones to follow instructions we decided what better way to stay in doors than to have a nap. The three of us crawled onto the bed and slept through the storm.



Laundry Day

We've spent a lot of time walking on the beach this past week and today was no different. There were a few tents at the beginning of the beach but after that it was deserted so we decided Zaph could have some fun. We let him off his leash and he raced through the waves and chased his ball down the beach. One very tired puppy returned to the trailer.

This afternoon we drove into Port Aransas so I could do the laundry. You never now what you will find when you walk into a laundromat ---- happily this one was at least a 9.5. I think there were 58 sparkling washers and at least 40 dryers down one wall. One end of the laundromat had patio tables and chairs, with lots of books, magazines and puzzles.

Did I mention that Ed and Zaph went birdwatching while I was doing the laundry?

Green-winged teal

A Great Blue Heron having to share his island with a group of visiting Roseatte Spoonbills

Shortly after this Zaph was given his freedom --- do you think cold wet feet were part of my motivation?



Padre Island National Seashore

It was going to be a nice day today though a bit on the chilly side .... high of 69F (it's all relative), so we decided to head to Padre Island National Seashore. First we checked out the birding areas to see who was around .... pretty quite though we did find some shore birds in one of the pond. Next we drove out onto the beach, parked and went for a walk. Zaph wanted to walked the length of the entire beach but we decided that walking more than 60 miles was not a practical thing to attempt. We compromised and walked a couple of miles.

In Texas the beach is considered a road, thus vehicles are allowed to drive on it. Today the "beach road" was particularly busy as it was "beach clean up day". Volunteers and their vehicles drove down the beach looking for and picking up the garbage that washes ashore from the gulf. And there appears to be a lot of garbage as we saw many trucks and trailers filled with bags of it.

Several types of gull`s heads turn black during breeding season, I'm going to guess that this is a Bonaparte's Gull because of the black beak.

Great Blue Herons love the seashore, you'll usually find one near when someone is fishing.

A starfish.

Windsurfers in the protected waters of the Laguna Madre



Just Hanging Out

The winds were still blowing pretty hard today so we decided to take it easy --- figured the birds would be hiding, so we might as well too. Zaph did talk me into a walk on the beach in the morning and then after lunch he talked Ed and me into driving about 5 miles down the road so we could walk on another beach --- It was just as windy there. It was interesting to note that the water was fairly calm, I guess that happens when the winds are from the north west.

Zaph's all wrapped up in his walk.


an aerial view of rough terrain ???? OK, just wind swept sand on the beach



Big Wind, Big Rain

Todays forecast includes strong winds and thunderstorms, so Zaph and I went for a walk on the beach first thing this morning. Good thing too as the forecast was correct. We had a few errands to do, so we drove into Corpus Christi and before we were done the skies opened up and the rain came down. The rain only lasted a couple of hours but the winds continued to shake the trailer most of the night. The local TV station reported that a EF-1 tornado touched down in Corpus Christi, hitting area we had driven through only 50 minutes beforehand.



More Birds

Yup, you guessed it, we got up early and went bird watching. Went to the usual spots and saw the usual birds. A woman at the boardwalk told us that she had been told that some of the birds have moved areas as water was drained from around the boardwalk to fill the ponds on the new golf course. That might explain why we didn't see anything exciting, although we didn't see any birds in the ponds when we drove past the golf course.

Zaph was happy though as we got back to the trailer in time to take him for a long walk on the beach.

You looking at me???? A Great Blue Heron with a different slant on life

A swimming Nutria

A slightly different bird.

Yellow-rumped warbler

Juvenile Black-crowned Heron

Roseate Spoonbills and a couple of American Coots.

A Roseate Spoonbill flew over us.



Bird Watching Time

The sun is shining and the wind is down to a reasonable speed making it a perfect day to check out some of the birding spots on the island. First stop is the Birding Centre in Port Aransas. As it was just before noon, we weren't expecting to see a lot of birds and were pleasantly surprised with the number and variety that were hanging about. A lot of the ducks were napping with their heads tucked under a wing making it hard to identify them. We did identify Blue Wing Teals, Green Wing Teals, Northern Shovelers, Brown Pelicans, Great Blue Heron, Tri-colored Heron, Snowy Egret, Black-necked Stilts and Cormorants. The second stop was Paradise Pond. When we were on the island two years ago this pond was dry, this year the pond is full of water and the air was filled with bird songs.

Returning to the state park we walked down to the beach. What a difference from yesterday, the water is calm and there were people about including a few people camping on the beach.

A couple of Nutria --- we think a mom and a youngster.

Tri-colored Heron fishing near the board walk.

Black Crowned Night Heron, a adult in the middle of the photo and a juvenile at the top right, hanging out at Paradise Pond

A better view of a juvenile Black Crowned Night Heron

Bet you can guess how this fellow got the nick name of "butter butt".aka, Audubon's Yellow-rumped Warbler.

Pieces of coral were washed up on the beach --- this one still had live little critters in it.

Hard to believe this is the same beach that was in yesterday's photos. We think these are horned Grebes, doing a little body surfing as the waves crash over them.



On the Road

The forecast for today is WINDY --- that's what "weathernetwork.com" showed for Mission and Port Aransas. The wind speed is suppose to increase over the course of the day so we decided that we would leave by 9am ---- and somehow we did. The people we hung around came by to say good-bye --- I'm thinking Zaph was the main attraction as he got a lot hugs and pets. At one point he ran over and went into Glen and Linda's trailer and didn't want to come out. Consensus was that he was trying to tell us he wasn't ready to leave the park yet. Hopefully, everyone will make it back to the park next winter.

The drive was uneventful, though a little slower than usual as the wind was knocking us around a bit. After we were settled in we decided to take a walk on the beach which was deserted. The water was brown from sand it had picked up and the waves were huge --- wouldn't want to be out there today.

I wouldn't want to be out in those waves.

Even Zaph wasn't keen on getting wet today. Interesting, the winds were very strong towards the water, but the waves still crash in...

One happy puppy bouncing down the beach



Packing Up

Today is our last day at Oleander Acres so that means time to pack and clean. We had kept everything reasonably organized so packing mostly consisted of putting away items like the barbecue, satellite dish, lawn chairs, piano, etc. and cleaning included dumping the holding tanks and catching up on the laundry. We were done in a couple of hours but it still amazes me how long these jobs can take.

Ed made sure that we attended the ice cream social --- it'll probably be next year before we get another large chunk of ice cream for 50 cents. This also gave us a chance to say good-bye to some of the people we had met this year.

As timing seems to go, Colin and Margaret arrived in the valley March 1st and we're leaving on March 3rd so today is about the only chance will have in getting to see them before we both get back to Ontario. Joe's Crab Shack was chosen as our meeting place. Dinner was yummy and we were able to catch up with everything that has been going on in our lives.



The Big Tree

Harold had been talking to some one in the park and had heard about a "big" tree that wasn't too far away. A different Harold and his wife Lorna had seen the tree 4 years ago so they had an idea of where it was but tracked down directions to refresh their memories. A bunch of us climbed into 3 vehicles and drove off in search of the tree. We made a wrong turn but managed to get onto the correct road then we overshot our turn --- we weren't sure that the purple house we saw was the correct purple house --- it was. After turning around we missed our turn again ---should have turned into the gravel lane way, so we turned around again .... third try we found the correct road. The people in the vehicles behind us were beginning to wonder just where we were going. Now we were driving on the levee as the instructions indicated. The next instruction was to go half a block then turn left but we had a problem ---- there are no roads or houses along the levee so just how far is half a block? Our first attempt caused the three vehicles to drive down a hill ending up at a dead end. With no room to turn around we all backed up the hill --- that was a lot of fun. On the second attempt only one vehicle went down the hill --- again not the correct road but we did see the "big" tree across a field. This time we could turn around so going up the hill was a lot easier. Third try brought us to the tree ---- hoooray. The tree is a Montezuma Bald Cypress that is thought to be more than 900 years old.

Today is Darlene and Richard's fiftieth wedding anniversary --- so yup a bunch of us went out for dinner --- would you expect anything else? When were returned to the park it was time to give them our cards, a dozen sort of gold colored roses and a cake. Luckily some other people came by to give there best wishes and helped to eat the cake.

The "big" tree --- the Montezuma Bald Cypress is thought to be over 900 years old

It took seven of us to go around the tree .... if we didn't mind stretching a bit more we may have been able to do it with just 6 of us.

Richard and Darlene posing by there cake and flowers.

I don't trust these women .... you try it first.

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