Thanks for letting me share my Texas Bucket List adventure, but mostly thanks for being my friend and my tour guide. This trip was great because of you.
Three of us, my dear friends Rick and Kelly Reece, and I left Western Nebraska on Wednesday morning with a goal of experiencing two destinations: Mark Balette's ranch near Goveton, Texas; and the Gulf Coast.
We left in a freezing cold blizzard. After 12 hours of driving, we called it a night in Ennis, Texas. Little did I know, we were in the blue bonnet capital of the world. Yes! Another bucket possibility. I had always wanted to lay in a field of the beautiful flowers and take my picture. So, I did! here's the funny thing, once I told Texans about doing it, they got a good belly laugh out of me, because there are some slithery creatures that love to lay in the fields of flowers as well. I was lucky I didn't come nose to nose with one!
The further south we went, the greener and warmer it got. Open spaces closed in to the Piney Woods. Roads had flooded. It seemed every house had it's own fishing pond, and the closer we got to Groveton, the more excited the male in the pickup seemed to get. Ok, I confess, I was so excited I forgot to check my mic cord, so as I'm describing what I'm seeing, the sound seems as if it's coming out of a 1920s radio.
The wildflowers were everywhere, not just the different kinds of bluebonnets, but Indian Paint Brush, little yellow flowers, and a red plant I have yet to identify. When we met Mark, face to face, I'm sure he felt like I was shooting questions at him like a pellet gun.
It made me giggle when he took us out in the buggy to see all the animals, and there above the rear view mirror was a sign saying there was a limit on the number of questions you could ask. I might not have followed that rule.... We saw axis deer, red deer, water hyacinths in the lake, but there was not a pig in sight.
The tour ended, Rick was left at the cabin to be joined the next day by our friend, Tom Robinson, for the hunt, and Kelly and I headed SOUTH, well southwest to be exact.
You hear that Texas is big, but until you actually get out there and drive it, I'm telling you, you have no idea. Over six hours of windy roads, fog, and no one else on the road later, we pull into Rockport and find our little house on the canal. It was heaven.
We settled in, got a great nights sleep, and the next day headed for another must-do to have lunch at The Boiling Pot. It's an old shack looking building, and when you sit down, they tear lengths of butcher paper off, cover your table, and tie bibs around your neck (I'll bet your momma was the last one to do that to you). Blues is bouncing off the walls, and before you know it, here comes this pot of steaming fresh shrimp, blue crab, potatoes, and corn on the cob. What more could a girl want? Cross off two more bucket items.
Off we went on the ferry to Port Aransas. I might not have liked it Kelly loved it. We got our feet, maybe even our jeans wet in the Gulf, drove on the beach in the surf (we had to, the waves were coming all the way up the rocks, watched shrimpin boats with men working on their engines and fixing their nets, saw a pod of dolphins, drove across causeway after causeway, picked shells on Mustang Island, explored Corpus Christi, dropped by to visit friends who had moved from Western Nebraska, and on our way back to Rockport on our very last night came one of my favorite unexpected surprises.
We took a different way back to our house on the water, and there in a pasture was about 30 pickups mudbogging. They had a jump house for the kids, bbq grills going, and they were lined up along the bog like it was a Friday night football game. People were cheering as one by one they would see who could make it the furthest, who could get stuck the deepest, and who could pull their friends out after they'd buried the truck to the axles. I had the best time, but our time was short, and the hunters were waiting.
Let the fish stories begin. The bottom line is they had the best time with Mark Balette, B&C Outfitters. They saw a huge variety of animals close to the blinds. They loved the hunting cabin. Mark is a magnificent host.
We took home three pigs in the cooler, and even though they froze their buns off one day, they'd go back in a heart beat.
And the ladies say... we'd like to spend some time in Hill Country next year, because on the way home, we may have discovered the home of the Junk Gypsies.
We're all (plus a few more) saving for next year, watch out Mark Balette, we're bringing the men back to you, and then the ladies are off to cross a few more things off our bucket list!