Sunday, April 24, 2011

Detour to Martin Dies Jr. State Park

On our way up to Jasper we passed signs for several parks - Lake Livingston State Park, Martin Dies Jr. State Park, and a Corps of Engineers Park.  On the way home, while the boys napped, we took the scenic route home and stopped by the first park we came to, Martin Dies Jr. State Park.  Checking out first one side, and then the other.

Looking at the map we noticed a .8 mile nature trail on an island so after we had toured the whole park and the boys had woken up from their nap we headed back to the trail head and set off to explore.

We crossed the slightly wobbly bridge keeping an eye out for alligators, fish, and turtles.  We had seen a baby alligator near a bridge elsewhere in the park and wondered if we might be lucky enough to spot some more here. 

But at least at first glace all we saw were the beautiful cypress trees. 

And their reflections over the calm, still water.

So we ventured over to look at the taller bridge and see if the folks fishing were catching anything.  The first group reported catching some white bass, while another group said they had good luck with the perch.

As we watched in the clear shallow water at the far end of the bridge we saw some minnows, and a few perch.  As we started a trek back across the bridge headed for the trail I happened to catch some movement out of the corner of my eye and spotted another baby alligator.

We watched as he sat perfectly still the water for a few minutes.  Though excited about the alligators the boys were chomping to explore so we headed back to trail and set them loose.

They tore down the paths in spurts, stopping as they wiped out over roots or waited for us to catch back up.

About halfway around they came upon another group calmly and quietly watching a turtle near the path's edge.  The boys excited exclamations and active prancing around sent him scurrying for the safety of the water.

With effort he managed to climb to the other side of the log before bouncing down the steep bank before plopping into the water with as much grace as a cannon ball in his haste to escape.  :)

There were a number of large old trees down alongside the path.  They would have made for nice resting spots to listen to the bull frogs or perhaps see more of the wildlife had the boys been willing to sit for anything longer than a entertained photo op. 

But they were far too excited to explore to even consider stopping.  So we made quick work of the trail and headed back to the main bridge to see what was on the other side.  Unfortunately the sun was already headed down and the bugs were out in full force.  So after going about a 1/4 of a mile we tuned around and sprinted back to avoid the swarms of bugs coming out for the evening.  The bugs weren't the only nocturnal creatures starting to stir.  We would see half a dozen alligators from the bridge on our way back along with another turtle.  I even think we saw a rather large alligator eat a bird frantically trying to escape off in the distance.

Needless to say we enjoyed our short trip to the park and will definitely have to come back again when we have more time.  The park would be a great place to enjoy by boat though I am not sure I really want to be quite that close to the alligators, because I firmly believe where there are babies and teenagers their mothers can't be too far off.... :)

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