We wanted to get an early start, so I was up before light. Soon there was a beautiful sunrise at our overnight stop in Lake Charles.
Linda got up and had her coffee and started packing things up while I was doing the Journal entry and mapping our route. Since we hadn't unhitched, I had very little to do outside.
We knew Mark had some early morning appointments, so we said our goodbyes last night. We did get hugs from Sue before we left as we thanked her again.
We got on I-10 and headed west. Whew, there are some terrible sections of road along the way.
We were supposed to exit toward Port Arthur and by-pass Beaumont, but I missed the exit. Oh well. We didn't run into any serious traffic, but the construction was a bit nerve-racking.
Once near Houston, we took the Beltway toll road. We really wanted to get to Brazoria in the early afternoon and meet with our supervisor, otherwise we would have chosen a different, more leisurely route.
We made one wrong turn as our map to Brazoria from the website was just a little off and the directions were not quite specific enough.
But after 211 miles (10.8 mpg towing), we finally made it around 1:30. I called Lee, the Refuge Assistant Manager. There are eight sites at the "Volunteer Village".
Lee told us to take any one of the sites available on the large loop and he would be over to see us a little later. We sized them up and chose a site fartherest from the little county road.
I was a little late in taking pictures. It was 72 degrees and sunny when we arrived. But the clouds rolled in shortly after and I missed my chance at blue sky photos.
Satellite certainly isn't a problem here. We got the only site with two trees. :)
In this site, the one tree is too close to use our awning, but hey, it's Texas, so the wind keeps us from using it most of the time anyway.
I just wanted to make sure our views were of refuge property and not the road or power lines or of the few houses back the road.
Okay. Comparison time. At Santa Ana last year, we drove back a half mile gravel road to a fenced compound with paved pads. Here, we are on pavement all the way to the wide open "village". Then only the loop is gravel, and the sites are as well.
At Santa Ana, the compound had not been maintained very well and it was overgrown upon arrival. There was no grass and Linda did some of her own weeding and trimming to make it look nice. Here, we are in the middle of a grass field that seems to be mowed and maintained fairly consistently.
I'm betting the bird life around our site at Santa Ana was much more abundant than it will be here. But the undocumented aliens should be far less here. :)
At Santa Ana, we were 7 miles from the nearest town and decent grocery. Here, we are about 12 miles away.
At Santa Ana, our compound was pretty isolated but only a half mile from a major road with lots of trucks. Here, our village is really isolated with almost no traffic. And the road to get to our road doesn't allow commercial "thru" trucks.
There is a nice public fishing area on the Bastrop Bayou about a minute from our village. And there is a even a local bar under the bridge - the Under The Bridge Bar - over the bayou walking distance from our village. They may not be a good thing. :)
At Santa Ana, we got a new laundry shed in the compound with three new washers and dryers. Here, there is an older shed with one washer and dryer.
And we are told the washer, though new, uses very little water and takes an hour and fifteen minutes. So free laundry will take a long, long time. :)
At least we have a big fridge to store extra grocery items if we want. There was no fridge in our shed at Santa Ana.
The surroundings at neither Santa Ana nor here are very attractive. But the refuge itself at Santa Ana was a pretty little oasis. We'll have to get out and explore more here.
One thing that we do know is there is much more water that we can access. Fishing is allowed all over the refuge and we can launch both of our boats in several places. At Santa Ana, there was no fishing and there was nowhere to canoe other than on the Rio Grande (and that was only on our guided trips with notification to Border Patrol).
So positives and negatives at both places. I think we are going to like it here, but we'll have to wait until our time is done for a final conclusion.
One of the volunteers, Mary Jane, brought us our shirts and hats and told us a little bit about the place. She and her husband, Gene, have been year-round volunteers here for four years.
As we were talking to Mary Jane and Bob & Jill, full-timers out of Michigan, Lee pulled in. He handed us a welcome packet and said we could follow him to the refuge office to pick up our keys, sign our volunteer agreements, and see the schedule.
We are about a mile from the office which is in a temporary location amongst a little community of private homes near a marina on the bayou. Mary Jane told us the volunteers all get together for hamburgers at the marina on Thursdays at 5:00.
We got our paperwork done and signed for our keys. Looking at our schedule, it is much more haphazard than the one we had at Santa Ana. We work three days a week, but it could be any three days.
We don't work at all this weekend, have orientation on Monday, and then don't work until next Friday & Saturday. So we have to show up one day in our first week - I like this job. :)
We will be helping out in the Discovery Center which is where the public comes to get information and where schools bring kids on field trips. We will also have various other duties along the way.
After leaving Lee, we saw Floyd, the Refuge Manager, hosing down an airboat. He and volunteers, Mac & Joyce, had been out in the marshes doing some work. We have airboats? Cool. :)
Floyd is the reason we are here. He took our tram tour last year and gave us his card. He told us to call if we were ever interested in coming to Brazoria. So we did. :)
We spoke to him a little while. He wants us to get involved with the "Friends of Brazoria" and brainstorm some ideas with them to raise funds. It seems he might have some special plans for us.
It's clear they don't have the amount of visitors Santa Ana does, nor the staff, nor the facilities. And as laid back as Santa Ana was, it appears the vibe here will be even more informal.
We'll know more after orientation.
Back at the rig, we got things completely set up for our 2 1/2 month stay. I gotta tell you, after all the driving the last three weeks, I'm ready to stay put for a little while.
Later, we got in the Jeep and headed for Lake Jackson. It's about fifteen miles from our village and we found the Lowe's, the Home Depot, and the Super Wal-mart. We picked up a new shower hose/head and some groceries. Couldn't find a kitchen faucet that would work.
On the way back we found a Kroger in the town of Clute. It is a much nicer grocery and is only about 12 miles from our village.
The other good news is it looks like there is a really nice public golf course in Lake Jackson. And there is another one in Freeport which is also about 12 miles away. So we are pretty close to Gulf beaches as well.
We've got lots of exploring to do. :)
Back at the rig, Linda heated up some leftover gumbo from Rollie & Gina while I installed the new shower head. Yay! It works. It's not perfect since we went cheap, but it is quite adequate.
After dinner, I was fast asleep in the recliner while Linda was sharing our day in the Chat Room.
Tomorrow I have to make some roof repairs again. It seems the low hanging branches got us on the road from Tickfaw State Park. Bummer.
But we've got time and good weather. I'll try to keep things interesting for you while we are here. It may be tougher since we have been warned that much of our time in the Discovery Center will be very boring. :)
Maybe it will give me a little more time to write and take pictures. Y'all come see us now, ya hear! :)