A Sunday Drive: In Search of Bluebonnets

Barely out of the car, Annie is panting in the hot sun at Washington-on-the-Brazos State Park. These were some of the few bluebonnets we encountered.

Having finally accomplished the long-put-off doing of my income taxes before noontime, and with the yard and garden work already finished for the weekend, I coaxed Annie into the car and off we headed out 290 in quest of bluebonnets.

The bluebonnet is the the Texas state flower, and for a few weeks in spring, the roadsides and pastures can be ablaze in color from the bluebonnets and other wildflowers, especially the Indian paintbrush

Without seeing a glimpse of a bluebonnet, we drove as far as the quaint, old town of Chappell Hill and turned onto a side road.  This asphalt lane, like so many other roads in the Texas Hill Country, seems to be filled with natural beauty and history.  It never ceases to amaze me how on one piece of land you’ll see a humble dwelling that probably was once a share-cropper’s house, and then, not even a quarter mile down the road, a 6 or 7 figure “swankienda” stretches out into the acreage.  But these, along with the green meadows and wooded creeks, make for a drive that forces you to go at a speed slower than that of Granny going to church.

After about 50 miles of driving, a small, hillside field showed off its indigo glory, but the cars and motorcycles that were already stopped left no place to pull over and try to take pictures of a small dog romping amongst the bluebonnets.

So on we went a few miles, and ended up at Washington, Texas, which is the place where the Texas Declaration of Indepedence from Mexico was signed.  Many years ago, a big part of the area was made into the Washington-on-the-
Brazos State Park
.  It’s really a wonderful place, not too overdone with the history part.  There’s a museum and a visitors center, but there are also places to picnic and lots of trails to walk and discover the history as well as nature’s beauty.

With a 92-degree south wind pushing at us, a maybe mile-long walk was about enough to do in a guy and a little dog.  I’d brought water for her, which she lapped up when we got back to the car, but after getting the AC going, I began looking for a convenience store to find a cold drink for myself.

We did find some bluebonnets in the park, but either it’s still a bit early or the drought has caused the bluebonnets to suffer this year.  Whatever.  We had a good day on our quest, finding more than the flowers.

Independence Hall, the site of the signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence. This looks like a replica to me; maybe some of the boards are original.

Some of the flowering plants growing along the pathways. The pinkish-purple appears to be a native verbena. The white blossoms on the other plant were pretty, but the stem looked very prickly.

The park has many trails to wander, some along the Brazos River. Here and there, youll find informational signage, telling about the history of the site, but these signs do not interfere with just enjoying the tranquillity of the area.

Pieces of history, like this old water well, are evident throughout the park, but because the park has not been "over-developed", the visitor can almost feel like he is discovering artifacts.

Located outside of the state park, current-day Washington, Texas holds hardly more than some kind of eatery and a post office.

Last Christmas Cactus Bloom of the Year, For the Sultry Days of Summer Are upon Us

How do you like my new banner photo? It’s not so easy to take (or find) long, horizontal photos to fit. I’m sure some of you will recognize the jogging trail that goes for three miles around Memorial Park, with the golf course just visible inside. The bluebonnets from the previous banner are already gone but there are still some Indian Paintbrushes and other red posies filling some of the open spaces. They’ll soon be gone too with the heat coming. It was near 90 degrees today, but I’m sure it made it there or higher in some places north and west of town.

My Christmas cactuses have just wanted to keep putting out blooms. I posted earlier about some coming way after Christmas. Then just this past Saturday I noticed that the red one and the yellow each had a single bud. With the heat, they opened quickly. The red one has already dropped off and the yellow one is going fast. This evening it’s already starting to fold up. It looks white but is a shade of pale yellow.

Pale Yellow Christmas Cactus, May 7, 2009

Pale Yellow Christmas Cactus, May 7, 2009

I have a tiny little fuschia plant that I was given more than a month ago with a few flowers already in bloom, but they didn’t last. These plants usually don’t take the heat here, but this little plant is staying strong with sprinkles of water every day, and now is just full of buds. I hope they open soon, and if so, I’ll share a photo here.

Bluebonnets–Blankets of Color in the Texas Spring

Checking Out the Bluebonnets

Checking Out the Bluebonnets

Last week I put up a new banner photo, but I didn’t mention where it’s from. Actually, during a rain shower, I jumped out of my car and took a few shots of the bluebonnets on the esplanade on Washington near the entrance to Memorial Park.

It’s the time of year for bluebonnets (the state flower), which grow wild in the meadows of Texas, especially in the Hill Country around Austin. For a few weeks each spring, these elegant sprigs pop up with rows of miniature “bonnets” on them, producing a lush blanket of blue along roadsides and in the adjoining pastures.

Getting a Good Whiff

Getting a Good Whiff

These days, many Texas roadsides are seeded with bluebonnets and other native wildflowers, which all started with the Highway Beautification Act of the 1960s, a project spearheaded by then Lady Bird Johnson, wife of a Texan, President Lyndon Johnson.

A Burst of Color

A Burst of Color

Today I went back to the esplanade with Annie to try out my new digital camera, a Nikon Coolpix S230, which I just got yesterday to replace my old one, a Canon Powershot S410, which had started having lens problems, making every photo look psychodelic. I had been holding off getting a new camera, using the still setting on my JVC Everio Camcorder, but I’m glad I got it. The best thing about it is that it has a touch-screen menu. Actually, that’s not the best thing; the best thing is it’s easy to use. I figured out how to take both still shots and video and get them loaded onto the computer the first day! I have to say that I never really understand how to use all of the functions of the Canon.

(Here’s a little video I took with the same camera.  As you can see, it took lots of coaxing to get some of the other shots.)