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Archive for Texas

Big Bend National Park 2014

We departed Austin, TX around 9am, Monday, May 26th.  We made several stops in near Johnson City and Fredericksburg, looking for last minute gear.  We passed through a storm front that was pretty strong and had dropped the temperature from the 80’s down to what felt like the mid 50’s.  We eventually passed through the storm by the time we reached I-10.  I’ve made the drive through west Texas once before and there wasn’t much new to see.  A lot of rolling hills with the occasional wind farm out in the distance.  From I-10 you head south on 385 near Fort Stockton.  A few miles south of the town of Marathon you’ll encounter a Border Patrol checkpoint.  We didn’t see any activity on the way into the park.

We had been watching the time, wondering if we would make it to the park by 5pm.  We read that the ranger stations close at that time.  Our goal was to grab a backcountry camping permit for the night.  I had set my phone navigation to the first station, what I believe is Persimmon Gap Ranger station.  We made it there by 4:45pm.  Unfortunately, the park does not issue backcountry permits at that station.  We’d need to go to Panther Junction, about an hour away.  The ranger told us we could stay at the Chisos Basin campgrounds, which costs $14 a night.  We made the drive and set up at campsite 49, right across from the bathroom with running water.  There were trees there, which meant I could set up my hammock.


While Scott worked on dinner, Russ and I took a short hike down Window Trail.  We didn’t go far, as we noticed it was a constant descent, which meant a hike up on the way back.  Two things I noticed that I didn’t come across in my research of the park; the high winds at night and the large population of house flies.  The winds would get crazy at night.  You could hear the wind coming over the surrounding mountains, then time it before it hit the campsite.  The flies were abundant, but you get used to them after a while.  Quite a few other larger bugs come out at night if you have a lamp or other light source at night.

The next day we headed to the Chisos Visitor’s Center to speak with the ranger there.  Guy named Brian.  We got to talking for a bit, turned out he spent some time at Tulane in New Orleans a number of years ago.  He gave us suggestions on where to go and what to check out.  His computer was down, so he was unable to get us a backcountry permit.  We would need to go to Panther Junction for the permit.  A portion of the South Rim was closed off this time of year due to nesting falcons.  We wanted something along the south rim, so we figured we’d check on availability there before we planned anything else.  We checked out the convenience store next to the visitor’s center while we were there.  They have close to everything you’d need during your stay.  Beer, wine, Camelbak hydration systems, a full selection of camping supplies, etc.  None of it seemed overpriced either.  Definitely commend the park on that.



We headed over to the visitor’s center at Panther Junction next.  The ranger there suggested we grab campsite SW4.  It was a few minutes walk from the South Rim.  Availability was open, so we chose the next night.  The ranger suggested that we reserve a second night on the mountain, for no other reason than it didn’t cost any extra.  We chose a site in Boot Canyon.

From Panther Junction, we proceeded to hike Lost Mine Trail.  We packed small backpacks with Camelbak bladders for water, along with walking sticks.  This trail is just under 5 miles round trip.  We stopped a few times on the way up for breaks and to take photos.  A guide is available at the trailhead which describes 25? marked points of interest along the trail.  There are many nice views from this trail and the end of the trail is spectacular.  There’s a view of the Lost Mine as well.


The next day we broke camp from the Chisos Basin and headed over to the Chisos Lodge area, which is the beginning of the trail to the South Rim.  We packed for two days, which seemed pretty heavy.  I had a full 100oz Camelbak, as well as a MSR Dromedary hydration bag (DromLite; I believe it was 4 liters?).  Now that I’m doing the math, that comes out to 1.8 gallons.  A bit shy of the recommended “1 gallon of water a day” out there.  For food, each of us took one MRE (circa 2008) and a few canned goods.  We also took a number of energy gels and chews, as well as some trail mix.  We started around 10am.  The hike up was pretty strenuous.  At one point, we encountered a Mexican Blue Jay.  He was very talkative.  We stopped for a bit, then moved on.  The Jay continued to follow us, so at one point I stopped again.  I dug out some trail mix and offered him some.  He grabbed a raisin, then became very excited.  He flew off, chirping very loudly.  Apparently, he was calling the family.  Three more Jays appeared and landed all around us.  I was able to coax one of them to land on my arm and eat from my hand.  Likely frowned upon by the park rangers, but it was apparent this wasn’t the Jay’s first time.  We moved on and the trail became steeper.  I believe we reached our campsite, SW4, around 4pm.  We ate a small meal, then set up camp.  After that, we ventured off to see the South Rim.  Approximately 5 minutes walk from our site, the view is amazing.  We walked up and down the Rim, taking photos and video.  We probably stayed over two hours before deciding to head back to camp for dinner.  We wanted to be back at the Rim for sunset (around 8:15ish), but wanted to have dinner and camp stuff taken care of before dark.  There’s a compost toilet a few minutes walk from our camp as well.  We watched the sunset, took more photos, then crashed for the night.  Again, the wind was very strong.  I believe the temperature dipped down into the low 50’s that night.

We woke up around 6:30am and had breakfast.  For me, that consisted of a can of steak and potatoes, and a pop tart that was in my MRE from the night before.  We made our way over to the Rim again to catch the sunrise around 8:15 or so.  Again, the views are amazing.  There wasn’t a view of the horizon where the sun rose, but the light and shadows over the hills and mountains in the distance made for a spectacular view.  We stayed maybe an hour or so, then returned to camp to pack up.  I had completely drained my 100oz Camelbak the night before, so I was already into my 4 liter water source.  The views along the Boot Spring Trail heading north were equally amazing.  There was some confusion as to the trail route when we approached the Boot Spring, but we eventually figured out the way to go.  Most of the portion of this hike was in the shade due to the time of day.  We made our way to the trailhead for Emory Peak.  There we stored our large packs in the bear lockers and took only water and small packs.  This trail was also pretty strenuous.  A lot of sections with steep inclines.  We eventually arrived at the base of the summit.  There are two summits.  I didn’t see a clear way to reach the top of the summit on the right, so I went left.  The climb was sketchy and had lots of areas where if you slipped, you were going to have a very bad day.  After reaching the top of the summit, I could see that the other summit was slightly taller.  They both have an antenna array and solar panels, but the one I climbed did not appear to have a survey marker.  Oh well.  The view was still impressive. I saw quite a few ladybugs huddled up in large masses in various corners of rock on the summit.  A number of butterflies along the trail as well.  Not much room for more than 3 people up there.  There was another set of hikers right behind us, and then two more showed up before we came down.  The hike down was certainly easier, but still rough.  I ran out of water about half way down.  That left me with approximately 6 miles to go without water.  From there, the hike was mainly just trying to get back to the Chisos Lodge area without dehydrating.  There are a number of Texas Madrone trees along the trail down; very pretty.  They look as if they were painted bright red.

Takeaway points: Bring more energy gels/chews, and definitely bring more water.


That evening we had decided to leave a day early, which would cut out some of the activities we had planned.  No one was really up for more hiking, so we decided on some back roads we could drive on.  We broke camp Friday morning for the last time, then headed to Panther Junction to fill up the gas tanks and check in with the ranger station.  From there we headed down Glen Spring Road on our way to the Mariscal Mine.  It’s an off road trail that’s fairly easy to navigate.  There are a few spots that were a bit tricky, but doable if taken slowly.  We stopped for more photos along the way, then arrived at the mine.  We didn’t venture too far from the trucks.  I noticed a large collection of old tin cans that had been discarded many years ago in a nearby dry stream bed.  I believe the time was around noon by this point, so we decided to head back north.


Guadalupe Mountains Nat. Park, TX

The second leg of our journey ended at Guadalupe Mountains National Park in west Texas, and when I say “west Texas” I mean 450 miles west of Austin, all driven in one sitting, with no air conditioner, in the summer. We gleefully hopped off the interstate at Van Horn, TX and skirted the foothills north towards the heart of the Guadalupe Mountains.


Highway 54, headed north (away from Van Horn and towards the park).


The founder and CEO of recently purchased 290,000 acres of land in this area north of Van Horn. This wind pummeled, sun scorched land will be the future home to Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin, a company that will sell seats on sub-orbital space flights, a vertibale travel agent to space!





The entrance to the Figure 2 Ranch just off Hwy. 54. The last of the Apaches were run off this land in 1881. After that, the property passed through different hands over the years.

Sign reads:

The lands which now lie within the boundaries of the Figure 2 Ranch were occupied in the 19th century by nomadic Native American tribes. One of the last battles between Texas Rangers and Apaches Indians occurred in the mountains west of this site in 1881.

James Monroe Daugherty (1850-1942), who came to Texas from Missouri as a small child in 1851, served as a Confederate express rider at age 14. Following the Civil War he returned home to Denton County and became interested in the cattle business. He participated in numerous cattle drives and by 1872 purchased his first ranch. He was a charter member of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.

As his empire grew, Daugherty acquired additional ranches in several states. In 1890 he purchased land here and founded the Figure 2 Ranch. Taking up residence here by 1905, he was active in local politics and served as one of Culberson County’s first commissioners upon its creation in 1911. Due to his failing health, Daugherty sold the Figure 2 Ranch in 1933 to legendary millionaire businessman James Marion West, Sr. (1871-1941) of Houston. Although West did not live at the ranch, he visited often and the property remained in his family until 1992.


Here we finally see the two goliaths of Guadaulpe Mountains National Park. The 8,085-foot El Capitan juts out and forms the most prominent feature in the range, while the slightly taller Guadalupe Peak (the highest point in Texas at 8,749 feet) sits modestly in the background. My brother and I climbed Guadalupe in 2004 as part of a road trip through the Southwest. This visit would not include a trip to the summit but would involve some hiking and exploring.


Angela and I set up our Marmot 2 Earlylight tent for the first time (I’m not counting the time we tested it out on our living room floor). From my previous experiences here at Pine Springs Campground with my brother, I knew Guadalupe to be extremely windy. Guadalupe is known for its legendary strong winds that sweep across the open plains, gain strength like a downhill train, and then collide with everything in its path. Spring and winter winds can average 30+ MPH with gusts of 70+ MPH! We staked down the tent as securely as possible and hoped for the best.



Saoptree Yucca



Which trail should we take? Devil's Hall sounds compelling...





We were excited to see the desert in bloom!





After an hour or so hiking down to Devil's Canyon (which I found to be an ironically pleasant miniature canyon) we headed back to the tent.

Our evening at the Pine Springs campground in Guadalupe was thankfully not very windy, nothing like my time here in the Spring of 2004 when our tent spikes simply would not stay in the ground. We woke early the next morning, had our Jetboil coffee and Cliff bars, and pointed the car towards Carlsbad Caverns, just across the Texas/New Mexico border.

Austin, TX

In the summer of 2008, Angela and I embarked on a road trip of semi-epic proportions – New Orleans to Yellowstone and back again. The price of gas soared above $3.50 per gallon, the heat index pushed 100 degrees everywhere south of the Mason-Dixon, and our Ford Focus wagon was starting to fall apart at the seams: air conditioner turned full-time heater, a persistent rear wheel bearing issue, and an engine hiccup just frequent enough to ignore. What better time to tack 5,000 miles onto the odometer?

I spent months tweaking the route to and from Yellowstone, charting each stop on the way in an attempt to visit the most worthy sites. The final course had us traveling west through Texas and New Mexico, up into Colorado, dipping down into Arizona, and back up through Utah and Idaho to Wyoming. Our first stop on the journey was Austin, TX where we would take in a few sites, sounds, and local Tex-Mex cuisine.

James D. Pfluger pedestrian bridge, crossing the Colorado River in Austin. This automobile-free crossing point was erected in 2001 as a solution to the accident-prone Lamar Street Bridge, 200 feet to the west. Here cyclists, joggers, walkers, and many a four-legged-friend can enjoy an amble through Austin. The well maintained path, part of Zilker Metropolitan Park, stretches along both sides of the Colorado and is connected by this bridge. A major attraction along the path is the Congress Avenue Bridge. People gather around the bridge at dusk, not to admire the architechture, but to witness the feeding habits of the world’s largest urban Mexican Free-tailed bat colony.



A gathering of the frendliest leash-free dogs I've ever seen! We strolled down to the 1st Street Bridge and back again, marvelling at Austin's beautiful Zilker Park and all of its inhabitants.


I expressed interest in finding a place to eat with food and music. My brother, who lived in Austin at the time, reccomended that we eat dinner at Threadgill's.


Threadgill's is an Austin institution founded on food and live music. Sadly, the band was much more memorable than the food. Lee Duffy, Marvin Dykhuis, Will Sexton, Joe Manuel, and Floyd Domino kept us entertained with their folky, twangy harmonies as we chewed and swallowed our middle-of-the-road burgers.


Food and music at Threadgill's. Originally founded in 1933 as a gas station and food pit stop.

After dinner we toured the Texas state capitol in Austin. I was surprised to find out that a person can tour the capitol building at 9:00 PM. It was too dark to view the monuments and statues on the grounds, but the interior was totally accessible. We enjoyed views of the rotunda studded with protraits of former Texas state governors. From the Texas State Preservation Board web site:

Completed in 1888 as the winning design from a national competition, the Capitol’s style is Renaissance Revival, based on the architecture of 15th-century Italy and characterized by classical orders, round arches and symmetrical composition. The structural exterior is “sunset red” granite, quarried just 50 miles from the site. Additional structural support is provided by masonry walls and cast iron columns and beams. The foundation is limestone. Texas paid for the construction not in dollars, but in land: some three million acres in the Texas Panhandle that would later become the famous XIT Ranch.

An extraordinary edifice by any measure, the 1888 Texas Capitol is the largest in gross square footage of all state capitols and is second in total size only to the National Capitol in Washington, D.C. Like several other state capitols, the 1888 Texas Capitol surpasses the National Capitol in height, rising almost 15 feet above its Washington counterpart.

Find more information on the Texas State Capitol here .


Texas State Capitol in Austin.


There shall be a Seal of the State which shall be kept by the secretary of state, and used by him officially under the direction of the governor. The Seal of the State shall be a star of five points, encircled by olive and live oak branches, and the words, 'The State of Texas" - Texas Constitution, article IV, section 19.

The Republic of Texas was a sovereign nation from 1836 to 1846, and this terrazzo floor harks back to that decade. Surrounding the Texas seal are seals from the United States of America, the Kingdom of Spain, the Kingdom of France, the Republic of Mexico, and the Confederate States of America.


A magnificent rotunda with a lone star in the center.



From the second floor of the rotunda.


My brother Parker and my wife Angela, standing before an original staircase, cast-iron and restored to the original green and gold paint scheme.

The next day, on our way out of Austin, we followed another reccomendation to Maria’s Taco Xpress. We drove past all the other taco stands, there may be one on every corner in Austin, and stuck to the plan – GET BREAKFAST TACO. Taco Xpress did not dissapoint. This place was nothing if not interesting, with both interior and exterior covered in funky decorations. We arrived quite early in the morning and beat the locals, but from what we were told, this place is hopping for lunch and in the evening.


Maria's Taco Xpress


The place was filled with crazy stuff like "Hippie Sunday Church".


The breakfast tacos were super cheap and were literally finger-licking good. For $2.00 you get two toppings of your choice (extra toppings are $.30), jam-packed into a flour tortilla, and fused together with cheese. We constructed four breakfast tacos with egg, potato, bacon, and cheese. The breakfast snacks were simple but outstanding. We ate them on the go that morning, but we hadn't gone very far before they were all gone. Angela started making them on a semi-regular basis when we returned to New Orleans.


The egg, bacon, potato, and cheese breakfast taco from Taco Xpress! Yummy.

Here is a list of some of the awards won by Taco Xpress:

2003: Best Storefront/Sign
2002: Best Place to Eat Tacos, Read Poetry, and Get Drunk: Not Necessaily in that Order
2001: Best Storefront/Sign
2000: Best Restaurant Decor Design
1998: Most Necessary Restaurant Expansion

Find more information on Maria’s Taco Xpress here .


Next, we headed east 520 miles to Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

Big Bend National Park – Texas

by Taylor Lasseigne and Angela Driscoll / August 19-20, 2005

In August of 2005 my wife Angela and I left New Orleans and headed West. After visiting my brother in Houston, we continued West to Big Bend National Park, stopping at Amistad National Recreational Area to cut the driving time in half.

The main reason for stopping at Amistad, like I mentioned before, was because of the park’s located – about halfway between Houston and Big Bend National Park. It was a great place to rest between two stretches of long, monotonous highway. But Big Bend was always the reason for the trip.


The Big Bend entrance is still 26 miles from the park’s main visitor center at Panther Junction and 35 miles from the Chisos Basin and the beginning of our trailhead.


Angela and I at the Chisos Basin and the beginning of the Pinnacles Trail - which leads to the Boot Canyon Trail, the South Rim Trail, and then loops back around and back to the beginning, about 12 miles round trip. We plan to hike the whole thing in two days.


This is Casa Grande, "Big House" in Spanish. The peak reaches up to 7,325 feet and can be seen from the very beginning of the Pinnacles trail. Prickly pear cactus can be seen at the bottom of the photo. By the way, all of the mountains seen in these pictures are part of the Chisos Mountain Range.


Clouds came suddenly over the mountains and before we knew it, we were ducking for cover under a stone wall. We were in hiding for about twenty minutes before the hard rain let up. We had to keep going, so we threw on our rain gear and sloshed on.


A spring (possibly Boot Spring) where we stopped, snacked, drank, and re-energized.







I tried to figure out what kind of tree this was, but came up empty handed. My guess is some kind of pine maybe??


6.3 miles from the trailhead, Angela finds herself perched atop the 7,403 foot tall Southeast Rim, overlooking the rest of the Chihuahuan Desert and the Chisos Mountains.


Panoramic from the South Rim (click image to enlarge)


We set up camp just a few paces from the rim, and we had to do it quite quickly because a huge storm was chasing us up the mountains.


The storm was just a bluff. I don't think a drop fell from the sky. Seeing that the coast was clear, we ate some grub. Here is Angela referencing her Big Bend Nature Guide, sitting on bear lockers (used to store food safely).


Stands for southeast camp 3



We woke early the next morning to this beautiful sunrise over the Southeast Rim. You can see two thunderstorms on the horizon.



There's Angela on the rim, not quite awake yet.



Funny story about this Mule Deer; Latin Odocoileus hemionus. I stepped about 30 feet away from the camp to brush my teeth, not wanting to attract any unwanted friends. About ten minutes later I saw this Mule Deer licking up the toothpaste from the area I had constituted as my “sink”. She walked all around the campsite looking for more treats, found nothing, and walked off into the woods.


This is Senior Chisos (named after the Chisos Mountain Range). He is one of hundreds of toys found in Kinder Eggs (a European candy). Senior Chisos enjoys banging his cymbals together, long road trips, and teetering on the edge of the South Rim in Big Bend.


Century Plant; Latin Agave havardiana. The Big Bend Nature Guide says, “This medium sized agave is generally found in dry mountainous areas. Its sword like grayish-green leaves have teeth pointing downward and grow in a rosette at the base of the plant. The flower stalk appears in 8-20 years. Each branch bears a cluster of yellow flowers.”


As we head back toward the beginning, just before the trailhead to Emory Peak, Boot Rock juts out in the distance.


This is the trailhead to Emory Peak - only one way up and down. By the sign you can see that we have just hiked 2.3 miles from the South Rim and have 3.5 miles until the Chisos Basin (that's where the car is). But first, we must climb this side trip to the top of Emory Peak - the tallest peak in Big Bend at 7,825 feet. Notice the sign also warns about bears, "BEAR COUNTRY DO NOT LEAVE BACKPACKS UNATTENDED". There are bear lockers here, so we take off our large packs and stick them inside, leaving only our small packs on our backs with a few snacks and water. We start to climb.


We can see the top! But how much longer will it take to reach the summit? There are almost no flat spots here. Its all vertical. In the photo you can see that the peak is a sheer rock wall at the very top. This would prove to be the most challenging part of the entire trip. Actually, it was quite scary. We had to climb straight up large boulders, some completely covered in ladybugs! A wrong step could have spelled disaster, but we took it slow and made it to the top.


Angela atop Emory Peak - notice how the packs are tiny.


Taylor atop Emory Peak - notice the solar antenna on the left.


Panoramic from Emory Peak (click image to enlarge)


Solar powered antenna are scattered on Emory. I suppose that's what often happens on the highest point in an area.



Going up the last 30 or so feet of Emory, I was a bit too freaked out to get out the camera, but on the way down I just had to shoot some of these ladybugs. These photos don't really do the situation any justice - there were ladybugs as far as you could see. Whole rocks were covered - boulders even. Take a close look... looks like hanky-panky to me.



Yes, those are ladybugs again!


This photo shows how uncomfortably rocky the Emory Peak Trail was. Once we reached the bottom though, it was only a few more miles to the car.



Big Bend Nature Walk

On the second day of the trip, hiking from the South Rim, up Emory Peak, and back to the Chisos Basin, Angela found many interesting examples of flora and fauna. She would now like to share them with you:


Angela examines a plant closely...





Nopal "prickly pear" cactus; Latin Nopal opuntia





Amistad National Recreational Area – Texas

by Taylor Lasseigne and Angela Driscoll / August 18, 2005

Via I-10, the trip from Houston to San Antonio is about 240 miles and then another 155 miles from San Antonio to Amistad via Hwy 90. Just 5 miles before reaching Amistad, we stopped in the large border town of Del Rio to stock up on water and food for the next 2-3 days.


Leaving the grocery store in Del Rio, I got a bit discombobulated and accidentally wound up facing the US/Mexico border patrol! I swerved off the road to avoid visiting Mexico and found myself staring at some sort of bus parking lot filled with goats.

Finally we arrived at Amistad National Recreational Area. Aside from a few guys launching a boat at Black Bush Point, three men fishing, and two ladies that would only stay for about one hour, we were the only people out there.

According to the park brochure, Amistad means “friendship” – fitting for a location on the US-Mexico border where the boundary is blurred by a giant reservoir whose recreations are shared by citizens from both countries. The brochure states, “The reservoir was created by the 6-mile-long Amistad Dam on the Rio Grande. The United Sates and Mexico cooperated in developing a combined recreation area, flood control, water storage, and power generation project. The waters present an extraordinary blueness because of their great clarity and the area’s limestone character and lack of loose oils.”


Here is our campsite before we set up the tent. Each site is equipped with a sheltered table and grill.


The path leading down to one of many swimming areas accessible to us at Amistad.


Angela and I braving the mysterious waters of Amistad. It felt really strange to put on goggles and swim so close to these submerged trees you see there in the water. The trees look perfectly normal above the water, but underwater they look frosted with some kind of greenish-white growth. The floor drops off quite suddenly just three or four feet in and the trees go down to a surprising depth. There's an eerie feeling down there because the water, while being relatively clean, is just murky enough to keep you from seeing at comfortable distances. Several times I surprised small schools of with, and they surprised me.


Here again are the trees I mentioned before. I believe they are ocotillo plants; Latin Fouquieria splendens. What you see here is the tip of the iceberg. There are many many more, whose tops do not reach the water line.



Turkey vulture; Latin Cathartes aura


Our camp was situated on a small peninsula called Governors Landing just along the east side of Hwy 90. This is the bank on the other side of camp.



Nopal "prickly pear" cactus; Latin Nopal opuntia


There were 8+ campsites in our area of Governors Landing, and we shared these facilities.


More prickly pear cactuses or cacti... there is actually some ongoing dispute as to which is the correct spelling.


Hwy 90 crossing the Amistad reservoir. Notice the men fishing on the rocks.


We decided to set up camp so that the tent would be positioned under the roof of the shelter. That way, we would probably not have to put the tent cover on if it rained. This created a problem - the tent was on pavement, so we certainly could not use spikes to keep it from flying away in the strong winds. In the end we used gallon jugs of water. They can be seen in the image.


With the day coming to an end, Angela and I were quickly running out of things to do, so we built a tower of flat rocks as a tribute to the artist Andy Goldsworthy.


At last it was suppertime. We unloaded all the groceries from Del Rio: bread, green onions, red and green peppers, sausages, and for desert a nectarine. Now how was I going to make a fire? I had totally forgotten to pick up charcoal at the store, and there was no real wood in sight (all the wood you see in the picture was useless). All I had were a few fire starter sticks and no more than two leftover charcoal briquettes. I finally decided, after many failed attempts with the useless sticks, that I would go to all the campsites, collect all the leftover charcoal, and bring them back to out grill. It worked. We were enjoying grilled sausage and veggies before long, and the grilled nectarine was surprisingly scrumptious.

That night we hit the sack early so that we might wake early and get a jump on the second leg of our trip. The wind blew fiercely until the sun went down. Then the wind, as though powered by the sun, completely stopped. The temperature rose quickly in the tent. Neither of us got much sleep.

A quick anectode: We did wake early, before the sun came up even. We quickly packed the tent and gear into the car and were ready to hit HWY 90 when I decided it would be a good idea to walk down to the water again, to see what it looked like at night (it was still pitch black). Angela said she would wait in the car. I grabbed my mini maglight flashlight and started down the rocky trail to the water, only able to see about five feet ahead at most. I was almost at the water when I noticed a set of eyes staring at me from the direction of the water. I stopped and then noticed another set of eyes. Then something happened that completely frightened me, both sets of eyes came together and started slowly moving toward me! Thinking of all the nice creepy crawlies in these parts, I slowly started to back up. The eyes were gaining on me so I turned and ran for it. I ran straight to the car, threw open the door, and lept in. I can’t remember the expression on Angela’s face. I can only remember wanting to get out of there. “There were two animals coming for me out there!” I said to her. I backed out of the parking spot and as I put the car in forward the beasts walked right out in front of the car – two ferocious kitty cats; Latin Felis catus.

Houston, TX

by Parker Lasseigne / January – March 2005

Hello folks! Parker Lasseigne here, and with me is the long delayed Houston Slices of America. I have been living in Houston now for five years, and I have never taken a single picture of the city for the site, until now. The occasion – I have recently made a serious upgrade in my photographic equipment, so this seemed like the perfect testing ground before I begin traveling on photography trips. These pictures were taken from January – March of 2005. I would have been done sooner had the weather cooperated.

Houston is pretty accurately depicted here. I tried to get all of the major locations and points-of-interest. The only big thing I left out was the NASA Space Center. I know, that seems like a big one to leave out, but it’s not the most photogenic place in town, plus it’s really far away.

Before we begin, I would like to thank the Houston Film Commission for helping on certain locations. I would also like to thank Eric and his security folks at the Wedge International Tower for their extremely generous cooperation in letting me use their rooftop for shooting the Houston skyline and other aerial shots. I would also like to thank the Wells Fargo Plaza for their semi-cooperation in additional skyline shots. On to the slices…