Travels With Dick and Judy

Follow us in our trials, triumphs and tribulations, while on the road in our motor home "The Liberty Belle". We chose to forsake the conventional lifestyle in our 3,000+ square-foot home to move into a 40-foot Winnebago Ultimate Freedom. Travel with us as we take you on the road with us in our new lifestyle.
I may grow older, but I'll never grow up!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Brazos Bend State Park – January 1, 2013 through June 30, 2013

Again, life has gotten in the way and, even though we have been posting regularly to Facebook, we have not updated our blog since the first of the year – which means those who follow our blog and are not on Facebook have not been able to follow our travels.  Once more, I hope to catch up (while we have an excellent Internet connection) and keep our blog updated, so we also have our life and travels “memorialized”.

Brazos Bend SP

Dick and I initially arrived at Brazos Bend State Park (“BBSP”), Southwest of Houston, TX, on January 1st for a 3-month commitment as volunteer park hosts.  Within a week, we realized we would like to stay longer and were approved for 6 months – through June 30th.  Dick wanted to take pictures in the park through more than 1 season, and I was thrilled to be within an hour of our kids, 3 grandsons, family and friends.  We now know that the better time to be at BBSP is the Fall and Winter due to heat, mosquitoes and snakes, including the garter snake that managed to find its way inside the RV in late June, but it was definitely an experience!

BBSP has lots of hiking and biking trails, a really nice Nature Center (with weekend programs), camp store, campgrounds, playgrounds, picnic areas and the George Observatory, a satellite facility of the Houston Museum of Natural Science.  For more information on the park and to plan a visit, check the following website:  At this site, you can also click on a link to the George Observatory to check their viewing schedules and upcoming activities.

At BBSP, our commitment was 25 hours per week per couple, but we quite often had more hours.  If a host planned to work for the day, he/she attended a meeting at the Ranger Hut at 8:00 a.m. and received his/her duties.  Dick’s “duties” included cutting grass on the riding mower, picking up trash, taking pictures, riding trails and building picnic tables.  I worked in the park store registering incoming day use visitors at the window and assisted monthly with inventory.  We also had a week of patrols around the park for a few months, all of April and 2 weeks in June, which was not hard, but time-consuming and very tiring – and during those weeks, we usually put in a combined 40-50 hours (being on-call from 8 a.m. to around 10:30 or 11:00 p.m.).  For those who may not know, as a volunteer park host, we received a site for our RV with water, sewer and electricity, plus a 20% discount on purchases in the camp store.

We had been at our site for less than a week when my brother Tom from PA, whom I had not seen for almost 3 years, drove out for a visit with my sister Betti, brother-in-law Jim, niece Shannon and great niece Elena, plus our daughter Michelle and grandson Logan were also visiting.

Photo: I know it's been over a month since my brother Tom (who lives in PA and who we had not seen for almost 3 years) visited us at Brazos Bend State Park (with the Actons), but it's taken me that long to focus on uploading pictures of the last few months.  I just have to post this one of me with Tom and our grandson Logan!

Another plus to being at BBSP was being able to have our 3 grandsons visit occasionally.  The first weekend Logan spent with us, we visited the Nature Center and attended a program on owls presented by the park naturalist Dave and watched him dissect an owl pellet.


On a hike in mid-January – Dick and Logan

Photo: On a hike with Dick and Logan

In late January, Dick and I took our favorite bike ride around 40-Acre Lake and Elm Lake (about 5 miles) and viewed lots of alligators and other wildlife.

In mid-February, our son Mike, DIL April, Colby, Ben, Michelle, John and Logan camped at the park for the weekend, and we celebrated my birthday (2/12) and Logan’s birthday (2/15).  Below, Ben (4), Logan (12) and Colby (almost 6) took a rest on a bench on the trail at 40-Acre Lake after alligator viewing.  Ben and Colby have the new walking sticks that Dick (Grampa) made them.  Logan has one, too, but he did not have it on this hike.

March was a month of visits from family and friends.  On March 2nd, our friend Carol and her husband Jake visited us on their way back to the Texas Hill Country following a cruise out of Galveston, TX.  We drove through the park, since it was their first time to visit, and took a short hike at Elm Lake.  It was great to see Carol after approximately 20 years and to meet Jake, and we hope to visit again in the future.


Michelle also drove to the park with the boys for a day, and we took them on a picnic and to play on the playground.  Below, Ben, Logan and Colby took a break near the dining hall.

Dick and I had a great visit on March 20th with our cousins Gordon and Linda, and saw a few alligators at 40-Acre Lake.  Linda and I are on the pier at the lake, which is great for fishing (and catching), too.

Photo: Dick Mott and I had a great visit today with cousins Gordon Gouldin and Linda Gouldin, and saw a few alligators at 40-acre lake, too

On an evening walk around Elm Lake, I caught this awesome sunset picture in late March!

The third weekend of March brought our friends Michael and Olivia with their 2 children to the park for a visit (and Michael's sister came with her children for day visits, as well).  We first met Michael and Olivia when we were park hosts in Estes Park, CO last summer and, then, they camped at Fort Parker State Park last December and, now, they came to check out BBSP and visit us.  How cool is that?!  They live near Dallas and, hopefully, we will have a chance to get together again soon.


Toward the end of March,  our friends and former co-hosts Dave and Janice (who were park hosts at Stephen F. Austin State Park at this time) drove to the park for a visit, and we took a bike ride around 40-Acre Lake and had numerous alligator sightings. It was great to see them before they headed to the Northeast for a few months and we headed further west in Texas.  Hopefully, we will catch up again in the Houston area over the holidays!
On March 26th, prior to a number of hosts leaving, we had a pot luck supper for park hosts and staff of BBSP with everyone bringing their yummy dishes.  Park Host Volunteer Coordinator Tina presented certificates to volunteer hosts who will be leaving soon.
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Dick and I made many friends among the staff and other hosts while at BBSP.  On March 30th, we had a delicious Mexican lunch with our friends Felix and Loretta before they returned home to Illinois for the spring and summer.  We hope to catch up with each other after the first of 2014.


Dick and I had heard horror stories about Easter Sunday at BBSP (March 31st) – the busiest day of the year – and every host was on duty.  I was feeling a bit down about not having our usual Easter with our kids and grandsons when I received the following text on my phone.

Photo: Here is our Easter surprise

It took a few moments to register, but I suddenly realized that Mike, April, Ben and Colby had driven to the park to surprise us and spend a couple hours.  We even found time for an Easter egg hunt in the overflow camping area near our RV site.


Needless to say, my day was much brighter after this surprise and, yes, our duties for the day kept us quite busy.  Dick and I were scheduled to greet day users on the drive from 12-2 and distribute “rules” for the day and other information.  Then, we began a month of patrol (Sundays after 2 p.m. through Fridays after 9 a.m.), which kept us running around the park – in a park truck – until around 11 p.m. that night.

The first weekend of April, Dick, Logan and I took road our bikes around 40-Acre Lake and Elm Lake - again sighting numerous alligators and other wildlife.


On April 24th, BBSP staff members, park hosts and Nature Center staff and volunteers had complimentary tickets to Moody Gardens in Galveston, TX, including a tour guide, following which Dick and I ate lunch at Benno’s and took a walk on The Strand before heading back to the park.


While in the Houston area, we also had a number of visits with my sister Betti, BIL Jim and great niece Elena - and getting to know Elena.  Here she is with her Grandpa Jim and Great Uncle Dick during a visit on April 25th.  Elena loved bringing all of her toys to Dick for him to "play" with her.

On Mother’s Day, Michelle and Logan drove to the park to spend a few hours with us and have lunch prepared by Dick, which was a very special way to spend our day.


One bright spot when on patrol through the park was our drive-through between 9 and 10 p.m. and seeing wildlife that stay hidden during the day, particularly, the 2 Barred Owls that seemed to wait for us at 40-Acre Lake on a number of occasions.  Dick caught this shot with my camera on May 13th!

Photo: The 2 owls were waiting for Dick Mott and I at 40-Acre Lake on our last patrol tonight, and Dick was able to get this awesome shot of one of them with my camera!

A few days later, while on a drive-through, Dick captured this photo.


Logan spent about 5 days with us just after the middle of June, and we had great quality time.  His last evening, he went with us on 2 patrols and, between 9 and 10 p.m., we saw dozens of deer, including a few bucks and a number of fawns, families of raccoon, armadillo, a hog and rabbits. We also enjoyed the super moon and a sky full of stars.  A great ending to his visit and memories until we return to the Houston area in November!

Toward the end of June, Assistant Superintendent Jacob presented Dick and I with our certificate for serving as volunteer park hosts at BBSP.

Our last day as park hosts was June 30th; however, Assistant Superintendent Jacob said it was okay for us to stay in our site for another week to prepare to leave, visit family and travel to LA for my class reunion and a visit with family and friends.

So, during the first week of July, we had 2 days of quality time with grandsons Colby and Ben.  They wanted to drive around the park at dark, and we saw lots of wildlife.  The highlight was Colby spotting a Barred Owl on a post across the road from the 40-Acre Lake parking lot!  Also, we saw lots of deer (does, fawns and a buck), rabbits, raccoon (mama with 6 babies), 3 armadillos, a bat and fireflies.  A very successful night!  Oh, and I forgot to mention the numerous green tree frogs that “hung out” on the awning of our RV – and especially the 1 that rode on the window of our vehicle down to the campground and back.  Colby thought that (and the fireflies) were the coolest!

Photo: Although the weather has been horrible, I took a minute when I was putting our awning back up and shot a pic of this little fella.  I had been wondering where the serenader had been hiding.

Colby and Ben also enjoyed visiting the Nature Center, and Ben would always pet the snakes and the alligators.  Colby was not so sure!


On the 4th of July, we drove the boys 1/2 way to Katy from the park to meet up with their Dad and Mom and to tell them “see ya” until November.


For additional photographs that Dick has taken of our adventures, please check out his photographic website: – “The Wild Side”.  Here are a few of his photographs which I believe sum up our experiences at BBSP.

Photo: It's Spring here at Brazos Bend!


Missing Man Formation

Photo: Missing Man Formation


Our final weekend before heading out for our next adventure was spent traveling to LA for my class reunion and to visit my 92-year-old Aunt Ruby and other family.  Dick and I found a “deal” on a room in Iowa, LA (about 15 minutes from Lake Charles) and spent July 5th-7th “on the road” without the RV.  On Saturday, while Dick visited a photography friend he had not seen for about 25 years, I went to an all-class pep rally at Lake Charles High School and met up with friends, including my classmates from 1965, and family.

It took going to a high school event to see my SIL Sharon and brother Jim, 2nd cousin Lisa, 1st cousin Ginny and 2 of Ginny’s granddaughters (and her grandson Matthew, who somehow was not in this picture).

Following the high school all-class event, the ladies of our Class of 1965 had a luncheon in downtown Lake Charles and, although our numbers were lower this year - it has been 48 years - it was great catching up with high school classmates.

Once again, Charles and Karen Woodard hosted our class event at their beautiful home, and it was great continuing our visit with my high school classmates.

On Sunday morning, since we had so little time to visit with Jim and Sharon, we met them at the Waffle House for a yummy breakfast and a visit to last until November/December when we return from our next adventure.

Photo: With Sharon Tolin Enjoying breakfast with Judy Tolin Mott & Dick Mott

It goes without saying that I have lots of pictures so, if you would like to see more, send me a "friend request" if not already a "friend", and check out my Facebook page under “Judy T. Mott”.

That’s all for now and I will pick up in a few days with the next chapter of “Travels With Dick And Judy”!  Enjoy the ride and see ya!  ~judy~