Friday, March 21, 2014

Seminole Canyon, Texas

We stopped here a few years ago, only to find out that the Canyon itself was not open to the public unless you took a 'guided' tour, which was only offered on certain days.  This was reasonable, as so many in the past have left graffiti that often destroyed the ancient petroglyphs and pictographs........along with the natural beauty of the area.
However for us, this meant we drove a long way to get to this State Park and then had nothing to view, so moral of this is not to arrive on the wrong day.  This time however, I called ahead.. Lucky for me they were offering tours daily for the next 2 weeks due to Spring Break campers.

Seminole Canyon is noted for natural caves along a drainage basin of huge proportions, where nomadic people and later Indian tribes left evidence of their lives and thoughts in primitive art.

The word Seminole actually is attributable to the black soldiers that fought some Indians here in the 1800's.  The black troops were called Seminole or Buffalo soldiers.
 The 'canyon' is actually a drainage basin for water running off the rocky land after showers.  We were told, that while this basin is dry most of the time, when a thunderstorm does occur, this basin will fill with 20' of water running down to the Rio Grand.
 Looking South.
This archaeological site is up in the cliffs side, under a large overhang.  Evidence seems to show this site was used for temporary shelter and probably religious ceremonies, but not permanent settlement as was Mesa Verde.

 The art spanned thousands of years and many different tribes or indigenous populations.

The campground itself, was on a hill near a section of the long abandoned Southern Pacific Railway.  This structure was a baking oven used during it's construction in the 1880's was a hundred feet or less from the old rail bed, so assume this was a major camp during construction days and probably because the rail road had to build a wooden bridge over a tributary to the canyon-a time consuming chore.
 I spent several days in Seminole Canyon hiking it's trails.  This one was an 8 mile loop.  A bit over my planned attempts for daily hikes, but I decided to go for it.  At times, the rocky trail and careful footing necessary slowed me down but all and all it was a great day.
 Nature fought its way to sunlight here and there.  Stunted growth but surviving.

 On the trail there were droppings from grey foxes.  They seem to like marking trails for some reason.  All of it was full of javelina hair.  Javelinas, normally nocturnal, seem to be the grey foxes primary food source, although I often saw plenty of cotton tail and mule rabbits.
 Evidence of Petroglyph etchings were found along the hiking trail if you keep your eyes open.  The square is believed to be a representation of their 'world' North, East, South and West.
Also, I noted fossils of sea creatures in rocks in and near the trails. (CLICK TO ENLARGE ANY OF THESE PHOTOS) 
 Sadly, later on I talked with other hikers who took this trail and none of them noticed these..  They seemed hell bent to just 'hike' and talk as if on a treadmill at their local health club.
They really missed a lot!

Viewed here about 3 miles into the hike....the Seminole Canyon, south of the caves leads down towards Mexico and the Rio Grand.

Finally at the Rio Grand looking east.  The river was normally not this full, but a dam was built in the early 70's I believe, down near Del Rio, Texas, creating a reservoirs that now holds the water back.
 Looking west on the Rio Grande.   Native Americans ate the red flowers and when the flowers turned to seeds, as these are now,  they were crushed and used as flour.
 The cliff here is about 60' above the river.  Off on a ledge, I noticed a large cactus, not seen on this hike growing from a crack.  Reddish purple.

 Our rangers or Border Patrol use horses on occasion to check on things.  Out far from the road, was this water troth...I presume for them.
At times, there was a small spot that must hold moisture and here things grew and life seemed to do well.

Seminole Canyon State Park, Texas.

Lost Maples, Texas

 Pete loved this country driving.  There was always something to see. Cattle are his favorite, but horses, goats and of course another dog will boost his spirit too, but here, he got his first view of emu's... THAT, threw him.  He looked and whined.  Like "heck that's a big bird!"

 Leaving Bastrop, I had booked a couple of nights at a special campground, tucked into a canyon west of San Antonio called Lost Maples State Nature Area.  Sounded interesting and the location again put me into a natural setting and only a half days drive west.  This fit my parameters of trying to drive 200 miles or less per day in a casual sight seeing manner and end up at an area with it's own special beauty.  Plan also was to stay for 2 or 3 days at each location, to chill out and absorb what was there.

 Lost Maples SNA had great walking trails in rugged country and some that were more gentle.  Several streams ran together to form one of decent size that ran near the campground.  Serene setting, clear water and very quiet except for the sound of birds.. The canyon was an oasis for them and this was a place 'birders' will enjoy.  Their sounds created a very relaxing environment to say the least.

 I got a chance to chat with a senior couple traveling by bike, from St. Augustine, Florida to the Pacific/San Diego actually.  At least that was their hope. They were from New Hampshire and this was their 2nd attempt.  First attempt, they collided on the road with the result of her breaking her collar bone.  Trip ended!  So now, a few years later, they are trying again.
 There sure was a lot of effort for them every day, not only the strenuous effort peddling in this hill country, but often strong winds to contend with but also rain and time consuming setting up and breaking down of their campsite each night and morning.  Add to that personal issues and meals.  However they were smiling broad smiles and that is what's important.
 A surprise was to hear of the Lone Star Motorcycle Museum nearby.  Keep in mind, we are miles and miles from any large population center..  this is out in the country, where there are only 2 or 3 small towns of minimal population.  The draw here, was this was motorcycle country.  Riders commonly travel these roads for the shear enjoyment of the roads and the scenery.
 The owners, Australian by birth, had retired to a piece of land here and in their lives had collected a large and wonderful collection of motorcycles.  So, they built a building to store them in and so began the Lone Star Motorcycle Museum.  Of course, they had a few Harleys, but also Indians, Enfields, Nortons, BSA's, Triumps, Brough's a Ducati' and yes, even a CB 750 4 cylinder Honda (I had owned one way back and loved it... but also on display were a dozen more brands that I cannot remember at the moment.
All of them look to be in running condition. He did have a machine shop in the back of the building.
The wife also had a little restaurant set up serving Aussie dishes and some beverages.  I was surprised to see a half dozen patrons already inside, the morning I showed up but even more so, when I left, there was over a dozen folks there taking photos and chatting with the owners.  All 'Bike Talk', lively and animated.  A fun place!
 I had never seen a Brough but he had one on display.  Interesting that Lawrence of Arabia died on one.
 Many Indians, of varying years and models were on display. One, two and four cylinder models all in wonderful condition.

 The span of years was incredible too, which made it so interesting to view the changes in technology from early to later years.  Just look at this Head "Lamp" on this early BSA (Birmingham Sword and Arms) Company.  And...the fuel delivery system!
 OK, fun was had sitting on an old Harley with side car.  My parents dated on models like this.  Side shifters, wide handle bars, fun basic machines that pushed the envelope at the time.