Brazos Bend – I guess you could say it was lucky that I even found this place. At least lucky is one word that one could use. Ok, I was overriding the maps app that kept wanting me to get on an interstate to get there faster. The 1st challenge was that I had the wrong park queued up as the next on the list. Again, not prepared. Imagine my surprise when I spied the Brazos Bend State Park sign. As I cancel the navi and make the turn the first thing that you see on the entrance sign is a big alligator.
I knew that one of the parks on this trip was one that had alligators, it turned out to be this one. I also didn’t realize the sheer amount of alligators that were present. Remember I have two 10lb monsters that would make yummy gator snacks. The gate attendant advised picking them up if I saw a gator. She also said that there had never been an incident in the parks history where there were any human or pet run-ins with a gator that resulted in any loss of life or limb. Well I assumed that I was set and off I went to drive around the park and pick my trail. The gate attendant was very helpful in pointing out which trails would be best. We will talk more about that later.
I knew that I was in a foreign land. This was not habitat or environment that I was familiar with. It just as well have been called Ft Boggy. This was wetland and marsh and swamp. I am sure that this place would also have some beautiful greenery in the spring and summer, but I got to see through the trees without leaves. After landing on a parking spot that seemed central enough, off we trotted down the trail. This place looks quite peaceful and I had the plan of going around Elm Lake (1.7 miles). The lake that the gate attendant assured me that I would not see any gators. Right. This place also has an abundance of all kinds of birds that I have never seen and turtles upon turtles. I am sure that there were snakes too. Luckily I did not have to see any of those on my journey. I saw the first alligator hanging out on a log with a turtle at the end of his nose. They were soaking up as much sunlight as they could find on that partly cloudy day. I blissfully thought that this must but like the starter pond of smaller alligators to grow up.
After about 1/4 of the lake and me being brave, I decided to take the Spillway Trail (.59 miles) over to 40 Acre Lake. OMG, I saw my first medium sized gator on the spillway.
There was luckily an elevated bridge that went over the area and I took multiple pics of this first, in person, no fences or barriers, not in a zoo gator. And off we trotted and around the next lake area. I even stopped to take some videos to capture the wind blowing through the grass. Then there were some amazing live oak trees, it was all very picnicky.
Finally the turn for the journey back to the spillway almost completing this 1.2 mile loop. Along the way I spotted a little gator hanging out on a log the had some bright green moss hanging on his snout. I thought that was a good pic and snap, snap, snap.
I was being pretty still, and so were the dogs Then I moved and about for 4 gators all leaped into the water splashing all about. OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG I think this is where I lost my sunglasses. Needless to say, I then realized that we were surrounded by gators and this was definitely not a safe place for my gator snacks. Let me take a minute to explain the “trail” that we were on. It was maybe elevated 4 to 5 feet from the edge of the water hard packed dirt and maybe 6 to 8 feet across. That is all that separates you from the gators. At this point it did not feel like it was enough separation. I was going at a brisk walk, and quite frankly freaking out at this time. I then came around a corner and there was someone else on the trail, It was sunny and I thought I should put on my sunglasses But they were gone… So I am freaking out some more. I don’t wear cheap sunglasses. I really did not want to leave them at the park, but I also needed to get the gator snacks to safety and we had a hiked a lot farther than I originally had planned. We were all getting a bit tired.
Back to the Spillway we go. And OMG there is another medium size gator there now, and he is a medium size bigger than the first one. And his head is up in the air, sniffing my gator snacks. I am really not handling this well now, I did get to take some pics of this guy too. After spotting a few more gator trails through the water I ended up back at Elm Lake with the little gators. Decision time – Puss out with the short way back to the car or go ahead and go around that lake like the original plan. Well, well, well, after deciding to go the distance, guess what monster I come across along the way!!! This was not baby. It was a behemoth! Luckily is was on the island in the middle of the lake and not on the side of the trail like the others. I probably would have died right there. And my girls would have most definitely been gator snacks. Needless to say this was not calming. All I wanted was off this miserable trail going around this gator infested swamp and back to the safety of beastie.
Next on the list for the day was Stephen F Austin State Park. Which was just a little further up the road. Off I went, escaping the alligators. On the way I passed San Felipe or Sealy (FM 1458 I think) cemetary that must be the best and most complete use of plots that I have ever seen. I did not stop because I thought I needed to get to the next park. So I kept going with the mental note that if I was in the area again, I needed to plan a stop. Once I finally ended up at the entrance to Stephen F Austin I was met with a sign that the park was CLOSED!!!
I was mildly entertained by this. Can I say once again that researching before you go is just good practice . Well After I looked up the park on my phone it was indeed closed until March 2017. So, I will be back in the area.
I was not sure how long it would take to get to the hotel so off I went. There is a San Felipe historical site and another one is the process of being built. So I stopped at the historical site and walked around the items that were on display. The end of this exciting day.